Sunday, May 15, 2011

Tension in Salalah

And I'm still baffled. After Thursday and Friday's drama, things calmed down a bit. However, the army are still occupying central Salalah and making anyone in the area feel like an offender. Hundreds of protesters were taken to Arzat Prison and are still in there. Their families/friends are outside the prison all day demanding their release.

From what I've seen, many locals are upset because it almost feels like an invasion (my opinion). Worth noting that the soldiers and security forces are (no offence) are from the north of Oman. Not one southern face (and of course it's easy to tell the difference because southerners are a completely difference race). I'm talking about 'soldiers'. The only Dhofari security forces seem to be the Firqat Forces (unique to Dhofar from post-rebellion era) and they're not visible at all. I've driven around the 'occupied' area at least a dozen times and have not seen one. The relationship between the North and south has always been a weeee bit sensitive because people remember the rebellion in the 60s-70s. I'm not against people from the north at all, don't get me wrong. Some of my closest friends are from the north. We're all one country and we're loyal to one leader. I'm just saying this clear discrimination is worrying, and it leaves a bad taste in the mouths of Dhofaris. However, there's no point getting mad at the soldiers because they're just doing their job, regardless of where they're from. Remember, this is my PERSONAL opinion only.

Several head speakers from the protests were arrested and sent to Muscat immediately (namely Nasser Sakroon, Bakhit Al Mahri, Fahim Al Mashani, Salim Al Mashani, Amer Hardan , and others). God only knows where they'll end up. As for the remaining several hundreds who are in prison here, they're refusing the sign the committment form until the Muscat bunch are released. So, I don't anticipate them leaving prison anytime soon.

On a more cheerful note, it poured and poured and poured this morning. Rains of change, we say. Rain brings good things. The mountains are looking greener and visibility today is unbelievable. Poor soldiers though. I hear they got really wet.

Please pray for Salalah and pray this ends peacefully. No more injuries (and yes there have been injuries). These sit-ins were peaceful for 10 weeks. Completely peaceful. There's no reason to turn violent and bring the whole friggin army down here to 'break it up'. Salalah protests were never a threat to security. They stuck to the same parking lots for 10 weeks, and life was not disrupted. Bringing all these security forces to intimidate them was a bad move as far as I'm concerned. Dhofaris are hot-blooded, proud, and don't appreciate being intimidated. Remember this is my personal opinion only. I have nothing against the army and I believe the protests should have ended but not in such an aggressive manner.

We made it to international news at LA Times here, here and Al Jazeera here. And for a more balanced opinion in Arabic, read Mahfaif's post here.


  1. Nadia,
    Do you think any1 there is for other purpose other than doing what he is paid for? (talking soldiers).

    I must i didn't like the way you started this blog, either not happy of the way things are handled this weekend (2 wrongs never makes it wright)

  2. Personal blog. Personal opinion.

  3. Have you forgotten the substance of the messages these so-called peaceful protesters were sending last Friday? They may have been peaceful, but now they are nothing but instigators and saboteurs.

  4. Hi,
    It is an army tradition not to send soldiers from the same area to deal with a problem. So there is nothing strange in sending soldiers from places other than Salalah to disperse the demonstrators.

    Allah Bless Oman.

  5. It feels like an invasion? Southerners & Northeners?

    It's not a good timing for such statements. With all due respect.

  6. I'm still staggered at the fact you brought up the whole "it felt like an invasion" for the mere fact that the soldiers were from the North. In the end they are just doing what they were told to (their job) and to top it off, it has been known throughout the world that soldiers from a different background are sent to the area so as to be neutral.

  7. suleiman brazza ,

    Do u wanna clarify abit as to what substance was it?

  8. Dear Nadia,
    there are many Soldiers from the south with the army @ Salalah right now.
    and when I say many I don't mean 10 or 20 I mean in hundreds.
    you say u don't have anything against Northerns I say we don't have anything against Southerns :).. Yet when anyone states that, One thing comes to mind (we have a north south issue)
    Thanks for the post but kindly double check your source in regards to Soldiers.

  9. The people of Salalah are very different from the North, as they all stick together and stand very firmly for what they feel is their right. If they take action it will involve the vast majority. So I'm very disappointed the Government decided to intervene, as I can not envisage a good ending, at this moment in time.

    If the Government had at least taken action against some of the corrupt Ministers, there would be a perception that we're heading in the right direction, but to date absolutely nothing. The most corrupt of all the Ministers are still in office as well...

  10. I agree with Anonymous - the soldiers who broke up the Muscat camp were probably from Dhofar. I believe that many were the new recruits.

    I suspect there were very good reasons for the action of the authorities.

  11. It is not a military tradition to use the army on your own people when NO violence is happening. Typically National Guard forces are used internally for violent threats. Words are simply that words--no one in Salalah was being violent or destructive. Therefore, absolutely no reason to use the army or force.

    Here is a suggestion--as others have suggested in the past--have the Sultan address the Omani people. Its ridiculous, that in a country of roughly two million, you see less of the leader--and hear even less from him--than countries with populations one hundred times that of Oman. Think about it, Obama was on Oprah!!! When is the last time you saw Sulatan Qaboos on TV answering questions or addressing the people??

  12. They are from the north to do their jobs. If the soldiers were Dhofari it will be difficult to deal with people they know and they will be a bit reluctant to do what they are supposed to do as soldiers!!!! You know the mentality of Dhofaris 3aad.

  13. Keep the debate going guys. . . I appreciate all your input and I have edited a few statements so I sound less bitchy now.


  14. you are saying that yo southern different race from the northern?what kind of races you are? sorry i thought your mentality bigger than that

  15. Dear Anonymous,

    Race as in genetics. People from the North of Oman are pale, have different features and most of their ancestors came from places like Iran, Iraq, etc.

    As for Dhofar, most of the population are from the mountains. Mountain people moved from Africa (Ethiopia mostly). They look difference. Tall, dark skinned, high cheekbones, etc.

    It's reality. There are many difference races in Oman.

  16. If you spend even a little bit of time in Salalah, then people would understand why the sit-in continued. Look around here. Why do former minister families have so much money, land, etc? If you ask, you are told "well, he was a minister". What does that tell you? While the average Dhofari struggles to make ends meet, the former ministers and their families sit comfortably in large homes with huge land parcels. Drive by thier homes and you will see goverment cars parked in thier driveways. How does that happen? Muscat has tons of infructure. What does Dhofar get? But certain families get to keep thier house right next door? Yes, the people being kicked have been given money, but this is not the way things are done. Everyone realizes how much that land in Haffa is worth and how much more it will be in the future, yet, the people being kicked out are getting a small fraction of what its worth.
    And the army against your own people???? When nothing bad is happening??? Please. And of course the north and south are different races and different cultures (language, food,etc).
    How many colleges in the north? That tells it all.

  17. I must say, the intervention seemed excessive... but then, I don't know what these people were saying.

  18. Everyone knows that, protesting gives a country a bad image. As a result, this will scare off tourists and ruin any government's plan to transform the country from oil dependant to a tourist dependant nation. With regards to the military crackdown which happened a few days ago, i believe the government made the right decision to send troops to Salalah. The reason why Dhofaris are protesting is because of foreign influence. They imitate whatever they see on TV.

    Also, i believe that there is a hidden issue between the North and the South. The protests in Salalah give us a glimpse of the past, when the Adoo were marching to the small town of Mirbat carrying AK-47's and grenades. They had one goal, to transform the country into a communist nation. However, this is not the case. There are some demands that will take time to take shape. Dhofaris are simply impatient, no offense Nadia :P


  19. SOUTHERN indeed!!! such attitude made it easy for some people to believe silly rumors like that the real intentions of some of the protestors in Dhofar is to have a revolution and be separated from Oman. I have lived for five years in a girls dormitory and I have seen how SOUTHERN girls cluster in little colonies of their own..apparently because they are from a completely different race! good to know, thanx for enlightening me.

    SOUTHERN people prove again that being SOUTHERN is more important than being Omani. The idea that they look at the Omani soldiers and actually not see Omani army but a bunch of northern soldiers instead is just absurd. And the idea that the good SOUTHERN people are offended by this is so freaking weird.

  20. There was no justification to use such excessive force against innocent peaceful demonstrators.
    I'm not "southern" but I do believe in human rights, and what has happened is totally inexcusable - and just to reinforce that, why has it not been covered by the news???????
    It's like if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to see it or hear it, did it really fall?? Pretend nothing happened, and then nothing happened.
    Anyhow, Isnt it a bit strange when the army is made to shut people up and shoot rubber bullets and tear gas at people cause they are sitting eating meat and drinking tea in a town square, talking about their dreams for a better future, God forbid!! Certainly that is a crime to shoot at! How dare the people believe that such behavior is acceptable!?!
    Ooooh I better not write here either, How dare I have an opinion