Dhofar Rebellion

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Dhofar Rebellion
Part of the Arab Cold War and Cold War
Oman. Dhofar 1970 (8596723373).jpg
Government soldier in 1970
Date9 June 1963 – 11 March 1976
Location
Result

Omani government victory

  • Defeat of insurgents
  • Modernization of Oman
Belligerents
Old Flag of Oman.svg  Oman [1]
State Flag of Iran (1964-1980).svg  Iran [1]
Flag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom [1]
Supported by:
Flag of Abu Dhabi.svg  Abu Dhabi (to 1971) [1]
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg  United Arab Emirates (from 1971) [1]
Flag of Saudi Arabia.svg  Saudi Arabia [1]
Flag of Jordan.svg  Jordan [1]
Flag of Egypt (1972-1984).svg  Egypt [1]
Flag of Pakistan.svg  Pakistan [1]
Flag of the Dhofar Liberation Front.svg DLF (1962–1968) [1]
Flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf.svg PFLOAG (1968–1974) [1]
Flag of the Ba'ath Party.svg NDFLOAG (1969–1971)
Flag of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman.svg PFLO (1974–1976)
Supported by:
Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg  China [1]
Flag of the Soviet Union.svg  Soviet Union [1]
Flag of Iraq (1963-1991).svg  Iraq [2]
Flag of South Yemen.svg  South Yemen [1]
Strength

Old Flag of Oman.svg Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces:
10,000
Firqat irregulars:
1,800
State Flag of Iran (1964).svg Imperial Iranian Armed Forces:
4,000 [3]
Flag of the British Army (1938-present).svg British Army:
500
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg Royal Air Force:
500
Flag of the United Arab Emirates.svg United Arab Emirates Army: small troop unit [2]

Contents

Flag of Jordan.svg Jordanian Army: 1 squadron engineer
800 rebels
1,000 local fighters
Casualties and losses
Oman:
187 killed
559 wounded
United Kingdom:
24 killed
55 wounded
Iran:
719 killed [4]
1404 wounded [4]
1,400 killed
2,000 captured (Iranian estimate) [5]
10,000 civilians killed [6]
Part of a series on the
History of Oman
Coat of arms of Oman.svg
Flag of Oman.svg Omanportal

The Dhofar Rebellion (Arabic : ثورة ظفار), also known as the War in Dhofar (Arabic: الحرب في ظفار) or the Omani Civil War (Arabic: الحرب الأهلية العمانية), was waged from 1962 to 1976 in the province of Dhofar against the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, which had British support. It ended with the defeat of the rebels.

Background

In 1962, Oman was a very underdeveloped country. Sultan Said bin Taimur, an absolute ruler under British control, [7] had outlawed almost all technological development and relied on British support to maintain the rudimentary functions of the state. Dhofar itself was a dependency of Oman but was culturally and linguistically distinct from Oman proper.

Oman Arab sultanate in Western Asia

Oman, officially the Sultanate of Oman, is an Arab country on the southeastern coast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. Its official religion is Islam.

Said bin Taimur Sultan of Oman

Said bin Taimur was the 13th Sultan of Muscat and Oman from 10 February 1932 until he was deposed on 23 July 1970 by his son Qaboos.

The province of Dhofar consists of an intermittent narrow, fertile coastal plain, on which stand Salalah, the provincial capital, and other towns such as Mughsayl, Taqah and Mirbat. Behind this are the rugged hills of the Jebel Dhofar. The western portion of this range is known as the Jebel Qamar, the central part as the Jebel Qara and the eastern part as the Jebel Samhan. From June to September each year, the jebel receives moisture-laden winds (the Khareef or monsoon) and is shrouded in cloud. As a result, it is heavily vegetated, and for much of the year is green and lush. The inhabitants of the villages and communities on the jebel are known as jibalis (Mountain people). To the north, the hills slope down via rough wadis and cliffs into the gravel plains and sand seas of the Empty Quarter.

Salalah City in Dhofar, Oman

Salalah, is the capital and largest city of the southern Omani governorate of Dhofar. Its population in 2009 was about 197,169.

Taqah Town in Dhofar Governorate, Oman

Taqah is a coastal town in the Dhofar governorate, in southwestern Oman. It is located at about 17°2′14″N54°24′13″E.

Mirbat Town in Dhofar Governorate, Oman

Mirbat is a coastal town in the Dhofar governorate, in southwestern Oman. It is located at about 16°59′19″N54°41′32″E. It was the site of the 1972 Battle of Mirbat between Communist guerrillas on one side and the Armed forces of the Sultan of Oman and their Special Air Service advisers.

History

Early years of the rebellion

In 1962 a dissatisfied tribal leader, Musallam bin Nufl (Mussalim bin Nafl), formed the Dhofar Liberation Front (DLF) and obtained arms and vehicles from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia and Oman had earlier clashed over ownership of the Buraimi Oasis, and the Saudis had already supported two failed insurrections in the Jebel Akhdar in the interior of Oman in 1957–59. The DLF also received support from Imam Ghalib Bin Ali, the exiled Imam of Oman, who had led these earlier revolts.

Musallam bin Nufl, was a key insurgent leadership figure of the Dhofar Liberation Front (DLF) which was the main rebel force in Southern Oman in the 1960s. He was also a senior member of an influential and large Dhofari desert tribe known as the Bait Kathir.

Dhofar Liberation Front

Dhofar Liberation Front (DLF) was a communist front which was established to create a separatist state in Dhofar, the southern province of Oman, which shared a border with South Yemen.

Saudi Arabia Country in Western Asia

Saudi Arabia, officially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, is a sovereign state in Western Asia constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula. With a land area of approximately 2,150,000 km2 (830,000 sq mi), Saudi Arabia is geographically the largest sovereign state in the Middle East, the second-largest in the Arab world, the fifth-largest in Asia, and the 12th-largest in the world. Saudi Arabia is bordered by Jordan and Iraq to the north, Kuwait to the northeast, Qatar, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates to the east, Oman to the southeast and Yemen to the south; it is separated from Israel and Egypt by the Gulf of Aqaba. It is the only nation with both a Red Sea coast and a Persian Gulf coast, and most of its terrain consists of arid desert, lowland and mountains. As of October 2018, the Saudi economy was the largest in the Middle East and the 18th largest in the world. Saudi Arabia also has one of the world's youngest populations; 50 percent of its 33.4 million people are under 25 years old.

Bin Nufl and his men made an epic crossing of the Empty Quarter to reach Dhofar. As early as December 1962, Bin Nufl's guerrilla band performed sabotage operations on the British air base at Salalah and ambushed oil industry vehicles; however, they then withdrew, having been sent by Saudi Arabia to Iraq for more guerrilla training.

Rub al Khali desert

The Rub' al Khali desert is the largest contiguous sand desert (erg) in the world, encompassing most of the southern third of the Arabian Peninsula. The desert covers some 650,000 km2 (250,000 sq mi) including parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. It is part of the larger Arabian Desert.

Iraq Republic in Western Asia

Iraq, officially the Republic of Iraq, is a country in Western Asia, bordered by Turkey to the north, Iran to the east, Kuwait to the southeast, Saudi Arabia to the south, Jordan to the southwest and Syria to the west. The capital, and largest city, is Baghdad. Iraq is home to diverse ethnic groups including Arabs, Kurds, Chaldeans, Assyrians, Turkmen, Shabakis, Yazidis, Armenians, Mandeans, Circassians and Kawliya. Around 95% of the country's 37 million citizens are Muslims, with Christianity, Yarsan, Yezidism and Mandeanism also present. The official languages of Iraq are Arabic and Kurdish.

From 1964 the DLF began a campaign of hit-and-run attacks on oil company installations and government posts. Many of the DLF were trained former soldiers of the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (SAF), or of the Trucial Oman Scouts in the United Arab Emirates.

Sultan of Omans Armed Forces combined armed forces of Oman

The Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF) — Arabic: القوات المسلحة لسلطان عمان, transliterated:al-Quwāt ul-Musallaḥatu lis-Sulṭān ‘Umān) are the Royal Army of Oman, Royal Navy of Oman, Royal Air Force of Oman, Sultan's Special Forces and other defense forces of the Sultanate of Oman. Since their formal establishment in the early 1950s, with British assistance SAF has twice overcome insurgencies which have threatened the integrity or social structure of the state, and more recently have contributed contingents or facilities to coalitions formed to protect the Persian Gulf states.

The Trucial Oman Scouts was a paramilitary force that the British raised in 1951 as the Trucial Oman Levies, to serve in the Trucial States. In 1956, the Levies were renamed the Trucial Oman Scouts. In 1971, upon the formation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Scouts were absorbed into the Federal Union Defence Force (UDF). The Trucial Oman Scouts were a highly respected and impartial gendarmerie and were regarded as well trained, well paid, and efficient.

United Arab Emirates Country in Western Asia

The United Arab Emirates, sometimes simply called the Emirates, is a country in Western Asia at the southeast end of the Arabian Peninsula on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman to the east and Saudi Arabia to the south and west, as well as sharing maritime borders with Qatar to the west and Iran to the north. The sovereign constitutional monarchy is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. Their boundaries are complex, with numerous enclaves within the various emirates. Each emirate is governed by a ruler; together, they jointly form the Federal Supreme Council. One of the rulers serves as the President of the United Arab Emirates. In 2013, the UAE's population was 9.2 million, of which 1.4 million are Emirati citizens and 7.8 million are expatriates.

The Sultan had relied on the "Dhofar Force", a locally recruited irregular unit of only 60 men, to maintain order in the region. In April 1966, members of this unit attempted to assassinate the Sultan. This event apparently changed the nature of the conflict. The Sultan retired to his palace in Salalah, never to be seen in public again. This only served to add to rumours that the British were running Oman through a "phantom" Sultan. The Sultan also launched a full-scale military offensive against the DLF, contrary to the advice of his British advisors. Heavy-handed search and destroy missions were launched in Dhofar, villages were burned and wells were concreted over or blown up. A member of the SAF reported that after receiving heavy resistance, it "proved that the position was unattainable, and after blowing up the village wells we evacuated the camp." [8]

An emboldened movement

From the early days of the rebellion, Nasserite and other left wing movements in the neighbouring Aden Protectorate, later the Protectorate of South Arabia, were also involved. In 1967, two events combined to give the Rebellion a more revolutionary complexion. One was the Six-Day War which radicalised opinion throughout the Arab world. The other was the British withdrawal from Aden and the establishment of the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). From this point, the rebels had a source of arms, supplies and training facilities adjacent to Dhofar, and fresh recruits from groups in the PDRY. Training camps, logistical bases and other facilities were set up in the coastal town of Hawf, only a few miles from the border with Oman.

The Dhofari liberation movemement adopted a Marxist-Leninist ideology with the objective of liberating "all of the Gulf from British imperialism." [9] Political scientist Fred Halliday reported during his visit to the area that "wherever we went we saw people wearing Mao and Lenin badges, reading socialist works and discussing." [10] Works included Lenin's, the German playwright Bertolt Brecht's and of some who were associated with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) such as the writer and strategist Ghassan Kanafani. Discussions were published by Sawt al-Thawra and 9 Yunyu." [11]

In May 1968, an attack by a battalion of the Sultan's Armed Forces against a rebel position at Deefa in the Jebel Qamar was defeated by heavily armed and well-organised and trained rebels. [12]

At a "Second Congress" of the insurgent movement in September 1968, most of the official posts within the movement passed into the hands of radicals, and the movement renamed itself the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (al-Jabha al-Sha'abiya li-Tahrir al-Khalij al-'Arabi al-Muhtall), or PFLOAG. The move towards Marxism–Leninism ensured that the PFLOAG received sponsorship from both South Yemen and China. China in particular was quick to support the PFLOAG as it was a peasant-based organisation, giving it a strong Maoist credibility. Chinese support for the PFLOAG also had another benefit for them, as it acted as a counterbalance to increasing Soviet influence in the Indian Ocean. China was quick to establish an embassy in Aden and "the Yemeni regime allowed its territory to be used for channelling weapons" to the PFLOAG. [13] Both the Chinese and Soviets also provided members of the PFLOAG with indoctrination and training in unconventional warfare.

The transformation of the DLF, combined with a new supply of Chinese and Soviet [14] weaponry and better training, ensured that the armed wing of the PFLOAG turned into an effective fighting force. [15] However, it also led to a split between those such as bin Nufl who were fighting mainly for local autonomy and recognition, and the more doctrinaire revolutionaries (led by Mohammad Ahmad al-Ghassani). One of bin Nufl's lieutenants, Said bin Gheer, was an early and influential defector to the Sultan. [16]

Nevertheless, by 1969 the DLF and PFLOAG fighters had overrun much of the Jebel Dhofar, and cut the only road across it—that from Salalah to "Midway" (Thumrait) in the deserts to the north. They were known to the Sultan's Armed Forces as Adoo, Arabic for 'enemy', or sometimes as 'the Front', [17] while they referred to themselves as the People's Liberation Army or PLA. [18] They were well-armed with such weapons as the AK-47 assault rifle. They also used heavy machine guns (the DShK), [19] mortars up to 82mm in calibre and 140mm BM-14 or 122mm "Katyusha" rockets. By 1970 communists controlled the entire Jebel. Terror was then used to break up the traditional tribal structure. Five elderly sheikhs were pushed over a 450 feet high cliff. Other sheikhs were machine gunned with their sons. Children were forcibly removed from their families and sent to train in Yemen. Young men were sent to train for guerilla warfare in China and Russia. [20]

A "hedgehog" defensive sangar, made from oil drums filled with sand, protecting Salalah airfield Oman. Dhofar 1972 (8626836339).jpg
A "hedgehog" defensive sangar, made from oil drums filled with sand, protecting Salalah airfield

The units of the Sultan's Armed Forces were under strength with only 1,000 men in Dhofar in 1968. They were also badly equipped, mainly with World War II vintage weapons such as bolt-action rifles, which were inferior to the PFLOAG's modern firearms. These rifles were replaced by the FN FAL only late in 1969. Even the SAF's clothing and boots were ragged and unsuitable for the terrain. The units of the SAF were generally not properly trained to face hardy guerrillas on their own ground, and no Omani held a rank above that of Lieutenant (a result of the Sultan's fears of opposition to his rule among the armed forces). The SAF generally were unable to operate in less than company strength on the jebel, and were mainly restricted to Salalah and its immediate area. At various times, small detachments from Nos. 2 (Para), 15 (Field) and 51 (Field) squadrons of the British RAF Regiment, and other units (a Royal Artillery locating troop, a 5.5-inch medium battery of the Royal Jordanian Artillery, and a 25-pounder battery of the Sultan's artillery) [21] had to be deployed to protect the vital airfield at Salalah from infiltrators and from harassing mortar and rocket fire.

Other insurgents in the northern section of Oman formed a separate resistance movement, the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf (NDFLOAG). In June 1970 they attacked two SAF posts at Nizwa and Izki. They were repulsed but the incident convinced many (including the Sultan's British advisers and backers) that new leadership was required.

Coup

In the 1970 Omani coup d'état on 23 July 1970, Said bin Taimur was deposed and went into exile in London. [22] He was replaced by his son, Qaboos bin Said, who immediately instigated major social, educational and military reforms. Qaboos was well educated, first in Salalah by an old Arab scholar and then at Sandhurst, after which he was commissioned into the Cameronians, a regiment of the British Army. He then completed his education sitting in on councils, attending committee meetings and visiting industry and administrative centres in Britain before returning to Oman. [23] His "five point plan" involved:

Within hours of the coup, British Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers were flown into Oman to further bolster the counterinsurgency campaign. They identified four main strategies that would assist the fight against the PFLOAG:

The military commanders on the ground (rather than the UK Ministry of Defence) suggested the implementation of a "hearts and minds" campaign, which would be put into operation primarily by a troop (25 men) from the SAS. The British government (then under Conservative leader Edward Heath) supported this unconventional approach to the counterinsurgency campaign. It approved the deployment of 20 personnel of the British Royal Engineers, who would aid in the construction of schools and health centres, and drilled wells for the population of Dhofar. [25] Royal Army Medical Corps Field Surgical Teams and some Royal Air Force medical teams would also operate out of Salalah hospital, in order to open a humanitarian front in the conflict. The British government additionally provided monetary support for the creation of the Dhofar Development Programme, whose aim was to wrest support from the PFLOAG through the modernisation of Dhofar. The operation was almost a carbon copy of a system that had proved successful in the Malayan Emergency some twenty years previously.[ citation needed ]

To assist in the civil development and coordinate it with the military operations, the command structure in Dhofar was reorganised, with the newly appointed Wāli or civilian governor (Braik bin Hamoud) being given equal status to the military commander of the Dhofar Brigade (Brigadier Jack Fletcher to 1972, Brigadier John Akehurst from that date).

Caption on British poster: "The Hand of God Destroys Communism" Hand of God.jpg
Caption on British poster: "The Hand of God Destroys Communism"

A major effort was made to counter rebel propaganda and induce the Dhofari population to support the government. In particular, appeals were made to Islam and to traditional tribal values and customs, against the rebels' secular or materialistic teachings. A significant outlet for government propaganda was the many inexpensive Japanese transistor radios which were sold cheaply or distributed free to jibalis who visited Salalah and other government-held towns to sell firewood or vegetables. Although the PFLOAG could also broadcast propaganda by radio, the Government's propaganda was factual and low-key, while that of the rebels, broadcast by Radio Aden, was soon perceived to be exaggerated and stereotyped. [26]

Government counter-attacks

One step which had a major impact on the uprising was the announcement of an amnesty for surrendered fighters, and aid in defending their communities from rebels. A cash incentive was offered to rebels who changed sides, with a bonus if they brought their weapon. Following the split between the PFLOAG and DLF wings of the rebel movement, several prominent rebel leaders changed sides, including bin Nufl himself and his deputy, Salim Mubarak, who had commanded the eastern region. [27]

The rebels who defected to the Sultan formed Firqat irregular units, trained by British Army Training Teams, or BATTs, from the Special Air Service. Salim Mubarak played a major role in establishing the first Firqat (and the only one to be formed from members of more than one tribe), but died, apparently of heart failure, shortly after its first successful actions. [28] Eighteen Firqat units, numbering between 50 and 150 men each, were eventually formed. [29] They usually gave themselves names with connections to Islam, such as the Firqat Salahadin or Firqat Khalid bin Walid . [30] (Some of the PFLOAG units also gave themselves ideological names such as Ho Chi Minh or Che Guevara.) [31] These firqat irregular groups played a major part in denying local support to the rebels. Being jibalis themselves (and in many cases with family connections among the communities on the Jebel), they were better at local intelligence-gathering and "hearts and minds" activities than the northern Omani or Baluchi personnel of the regular SAF, [32] although they exasperated commanders of the regular SAF by refusing to take part in operations outside their tribal areas, or during Ramadan.

The first serious step in re-establishing the Sultan's authority on the Jebel took place in October 1971, when Operation Jaguar was mounted, involving five Firqat units and two squadrons of the SAS. After hard fighting, the SAS and Firqats secured an enclave on the eastern Jebel Samhan from which they could expand. [33] The SAS introduced two new weapons to support the mobile but lightly equipped firqats: the rapid firing GPMG, which could lay down a heavier weight of fire than the Bren light machine gun previously available to the SAF, [34] and the Browning M2 heavy machine gun, which was deployed to match the DShK machine guns used by the adoo.

Meanwhile, the regular units of the SAF were expanded and re-equipped. Extra officers and NCO instructors from the British Army and Royal Marines (and also the Pakistan Army) [35] were attached to all units (there were nominally twenty-two British or contracted personnel with each infantry battalion) while Omani personnel were educated and trained to become officers and senior NCOs. British specialist elements, including mortar locating radar troops and artillery observation officers, also rotated through Oman over several years.

The revitalised SAF created fortified lines running north from the coast and up to the summit of the Jebel, to interdict the movement of rebels and the camel trains carrying their supplies from the PDRY. The "Leopard Line" was established in 1971, but this line had to be abandoned during the following monsoon season as it could not be supplied. [36] The more effective "Hornbeam Line" was set up in 1972, running north from Mughsayl on the coast. The lines consisted of fortified platoon and company outposts on commanding peaks, linked by barbed wire. The posts possessed mortars and some also had artillery, to provide cover for patrols and to harass rebel positions and tracks used by them. The SAF soldiers continually sortied from their outposts to set ambushes on the most likely enemy infiltration routes and mount attacks against rebel mortar- and rocket-launching positions. Anti-personnel land mines were sown on infiltration routes. The rebels also used anti-personnel mines against suspected SAF patrol bases, and even laid anti-tank land mines on tracks used by SAF vehicles. [37]

The Sultan of Oman's Air Force was also expanded, acquiring BAC Strikemaster aircraft which provided air support to units on the ground, and eight Shorts Skyvan transport aircraft and eight Agusta Bell 205 transport helicopters which supplied firqat and SAF posts on the jebels. A flight of RAF Westland Wessex helicopters also operated from Salalah.

On 17 April 1972, a battalion of the SAF made a helicopter landing to capture a position codenamed Simba at Sarfait near the border with the PDRY. The captured position overlooked the rebels' supply lines along the coastal plain, but did not block them. Although the demands on its transport aircraft and helicopters to maintain the post at Sarfait forced the SAF to abandon some positions in the eastern Jebel, Sarfait was nevertheless retained for four years. [38]

Defeat of the rebellion

British Base at Mirbat which was a site of the hard-fought Battle of Mirbat Dhofar-BATT house (2).jpg
British Base at Mirbat which was a site of the hard-fought Battle of Mirbat

Immediately after China established relations with Iran, all support to the rebels in Dhofar was cut off by China which had changed its mind about insurgencies, since it viewed them as counterproductive to countering the Soviets. [39]

As a result of the various measures undertaken by the Omani government, firqats and regular SAF, the rebels were being deprived both of local support and supplies from the PDRY. To retrieve the situation, they mounted a major attack on the coastal town of Mirbat during the monsoon season of 1972. On 19 July 1972, at the Battle of Mirbat, 250 rebel fighters attacked 100 assorted firqat under training, paramilitary askars (armed police) and a detachment of the Special Air Service. In spite of the low khareef cloud cover, air support from Strikemaster aircraft was available, and helicopters landed SAS reinforcements. The rebels were repulsed with heavy losses. [40]

From this point on, the rebel defeat was inevitable. In January 1974, after several splits and defections, the rebel movement renamed itself the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman. This public contraction of their aims coincided with a reduction in the support they received from the Soviet Union and China. Meanwhile, the rebels were steadily cleared from the Jebel Qara and Jebel Samhan by firqats and were driven into the western part of the Jebel Qamar.

As a result of Sultan Qaboos's diplomatic initiatives, the Shah of Iran had sent an Iranian Army brigade numbering 1,200 and with its own helicopters to assist the Sultan's Armed Forces in 1973. The Iranian brigade first secured the Salalah-Thumrait road, while their helicopters played a vital role in keeping the isolated Simba position supplied. In 1974, the Iranian contribution was expanded into the Imperial Iranian Task Force, numbering 4,000. They attempted to establish another interdiction line, codenamed the "Damavand Line", running from Manston, a few miles east of Sarfait, to the coast near the border with the PDRY. Heavy opposition from the rebels, which included artillery fire from within the PDRY, thwarted this aim for several months. Eventually, the town of Rahkyut, which the PFLO had long maintained as the capital of their liberated territory, fell to the Iranian task force. [41]

Nevertheless, the adoo kept the respect of their opponents for their resilience and skill. In January 1975, the SAF attempted to capture the main rebel logistic base in the Shershitti Caves. A SAF company from a battalion which took a wrong route blundered into an ambush in an adoo "killing ground" above the caves and suffered heavy casualties. [42]

The view from Akoot, in the Jebel Qara, at the start of the khareef (monsoon) season Oman. Dhofar 1972 (8626144207).jpg
The view from Akoot, in the Jebel Qara, at the start of the khareef (monsoon) season

During the next few months, the SAF seized an airsrtrip at Deefa, but were unable to make immediate use of it during the khareef. Some regular troops from the PDRY reinforced the PFLO's fighter, [43] who also deployed SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles for the first time. [44] However, their premature use of this weapon deprived them of the advantage of surprise. Also, the Sultan's Air Force had acquired 31 Hawker Hunter aircraft from the Royal Jordanian Air Force. The SAM-7 was much less effective against these aircraft than against Strikemasters.

In October 1975, the SAF launched a final offensive. An attack from Simba, intended to be a diversion, nevertheless succeeded in descending cliffs and slopes 3,000 feet (910 m) in total height to reach the coast at Dalqhut, and thus finally cut off the adoo from their bases in the PDRY. [45] While the Iranian Task Force threatened the Shershitti Caves from the south, another SAF battalion advanced from Deefa, threatening to surround the remaining adoo territory in the Jebel Qamar. Hawker Hunter aircraft of the Sultan's Air Force attacked artillery positions in the PDRY. Over the next few months, the remaining rebel fighters surrendered or sought sanctuary in the PDRY. The Rebellion was finally declared to be Jebel defeated in January 1976, although isolated incidents took place as late as 1979.

Foreign involvement

Baluchis

The port city of Gwadar in Balochistan, Pakistan had been Omani territory until 1958. Baluch troops formed a substantial part of the Sultan's Army. [46] During the rebellion, Oman sought to hire more Baluchi troops. Baluch Students Organization (BSO), a leftist students' organization, expressed solidarity with the Dhofari rebels. In 1979 BSO activist Hameed Baloch tried to shoot at an Omani military officer who was visiting Balochistan to recruit more Baluchi troops. The Omani officer was unhurt, and Baloch was convicted by a Pakistani military court and executed.

SAF operating bases

As with many military operations the British were involved in the use of nicknames was commonplace and these were used alongside local names: [47]

SAF Nickname (if used)Local nameFunction during InsurgencyUnit AssociationCurrent SAF useGeo Coordinates
Operating Bases with a Nickname
Eagle's NestSummit of Jebel SamhanSAS BATT Firqa temporary locationFormer Adoo siteNot used
Manston [48] AydamAirstripForward helicopter and STOL aircraft MOBOfficer and soldier training academy 16°59′23″N53°21′32″E / 16.98972°N 53.35889°E / 16.98972; 53.35889
MidwayThumrayt (Thumrait)AirstripForward helicopter and STOL aircraft MOB, plus SOLF unitsOperational RAO and RAFO base 17°38′35″N54°01′13″E / 17.64306°N 54.02028°E / 17.64306; 54.02028
Raven's RoostZeekSAS BATT Firqa locationForward helicopter and STOL aircraft MOBSSF base in the vicinity 17°16′40″N54°07′16″E / 17.27778°N 54.12111°E / 17.27778; 54.12111
Simba (including Mainbrace (main HQ and fire support base), Capstan & Yardarm positions)Sarfayt (Sarfait)Forward infantry and artillery fire baseInfantry battalion group base and STOL airstripSAF Base still evident on imagery 16°42′00″N53°06′32″E / 16.70000°N 53.10889°E / 16.70000; 53.10889
White CityMedinat al HaqqFirqa baseSAS and SAFNot used 17°10′42″N54°14′55″E / 17.17833°N 54.24861°E / 17.17833; 54.24861
Operating Bases using local place name
N/AHabarut (Habrut)Border fortDhofar Gendarmerie manned fortNot used now in Yemen 17°18′19″N52°44′25″E / 17.30528°N 52.74028°E / 17.30528; 52.74028
N/AHeironFortified villageBaluch Training Centre and manned fortNot used 17°02′17″N53°21′27″E / 17.03806°N 53.35750°E / 17.03806; 53.35750
N/AMakinat ShihanBorder strong pointDhofar Gendarmerie manned position with some artilleryNot used now in Yemen 17°47′08″N52°29′05″E / 17.78556°N 52.48472°E / 17.78556; 52.48472
N/A Mirbat Fortified coastal town SAS British Army Training Team (BATT) house and DG/Firqa manned fortNot used 16°59′31″N54°41′31″E / 16.99194°N 54.69194°E / 16.99194; 54.69194
N/ATawi AtirOperational & Training baseSAS BATT and FirqaNot used 17°06′23″N54°33′32″E / 17.10639°N 54.55889°E / 17.10639; 54.55889
N/AUmm al Ghawarif (UAG)A established and substantial operating baseHQ SAF and SASStill a SAF HQ and base in Northern Central Salalah 17°01′39″N54°08′14″E / 17.02750°N 54.13722°E / 17.02750; 54.13722

Linear defensive positions

The following were the nicknames of the north-south blocking defences in western Dhofar:

Other sites mentioned not yet identified

The following are mentioned as operational sites but not yet identified: [49]

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 "The Dhofar Rebellion". countrystudies.us. Retrieved 5 May 2016.
  2. 1 2 "The Insurgency In Oman, 1962-1976". globalsecurity.org.
  3. Allen & Bigsbee, p. 72
  4. 1 2 "Oman (and Dhofar) 1952-1979". www.acig.org. 26 August 2007. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 4 November 2018.[ better source needed ]
  5. "Oman(and Dhofar) 1952-1979".
  6. Political Science. Middle East/North Africa/Persian Gulf Region. University of Central Arkansas. Retrieved 2011. [ failed verification ]
  7. Cobain, Ian (8 September 2016). "Britain's secret wars - Ian Cobain". The Guardian via www.theguardian.com.
  8. Hepworth, Captain N.G.R (1970). The Unknown War. 6. The White Horse and Fleur de Lys.
  9. Halliday, Fred (2002). Arabia without Sultans. London, UK: Saqi Books. pp. 320–321.
  10. Halliday 2002, p. 330.
  11. Takriti, Abdel Razzaq (2013). Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empire in Oman, 1965-1976. UK: Oxford University Press.
  12. Fiennes, pp. 116–120
  13. Calabrese, J. (1990). From Flyswatters to Silkworms: The Evolution of China's Role in West Asia. Asian Survey. 30. p. 867.
  14. Jeapes, p. 124
  15. Beasant, J. (2002). Oman: The True-Life Drama and Intrigue of an Arab State. Edinburgh. p. 108.
  16. Fiennes, pp. 127–129, 153–157
  17. Jeapes, p.238
  18. McKeown (1981), p.53
  19. Fiennes, p. 173
  20. Jeapes, pp. 26–27
  21. Oliver, Kingsley M. Through Adversity. Forces & Corporate.
  22. White, pp. 23–27, 32–37
  23. Jeapes, p. 28
  24. TNA, DEFE 25/186: UK Forces in Oman, 26 July 1971[ clarification needed ]
  25. Walter C. Ladwig III, "Supporting Allies in Counterinsurgency: Britain and the Dhofar Rebellion", Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (March 2008), p. 72.
  26. Jeapes, pp. 36–37
  27. Jeapes, pp.30, 40
  28. Jeapes, pp.88-89
  29. Walter C. Ladwig III, "Supporting Allies in Counterinsurgency: Britain and the Dhofar Rebellion", Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (March 2008), p. 73.
  30. Jeapes, p.101
  31. White, p. 50
  32. Gardiner, p. 159
  33. Allen & Rigsbee, pp. 68–69
  34. Jeapes, p.62
  35. Gardiner, p. 60
  36. Jeapes, pp.140-141, 164
  37. The SAF supposedly marked and recorded all mines laid; but some were moved by the adoo or by animals, and the records of mine locations were subsequently lost. Gardiner, pp. 124–126
  38. White, pp. 157–160, 169
  39. Garver 2006, p. 49.
    Robinson 1995, p. 338.
    Garver 2015, p.336.
    Sutter 2013, p. 270.
    Sutter 2011, p. 85.
    Jones & Ridout 2012, p. 190.
  40. White, pp. 257–364
  41. Allen & Rigsbee, pp. 72–73
  42. Jeapes, pp.198-206
  43. Jeapes, p.226
  44. Jeapes, p.227
  45. Jeapes, pp.228-229
  46. Walter C. Ladwig III, "Supporting Allies in Counterinsurgency: Britain and the Dhofar Rebellion," Small Wars & Insurgencies, Vol. 19, No. 1 (March 2008), p. 68.
  47. White, Rowland (2012). Storm Front: The Epic True Story of a Secret War, the SAS's Greatest Battle, and the British Pilots Who Saved Them. Transworld Publishers Limited. p. 499. ISBN   9780552160216 . Retrieved 20 August 2017.
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Related Research Articles

History of Oman aspect of history

Oman is the site of pre-historic human habitation, stretching back over 100,000 years. The region was impacted by powerful invaders, including other Arab tribes, Portugal and Britain. Oman once possessed the island of Zanzibar, on the east coast of Africa as a colony.

Dhofar Governorate Governorate

The Dhofar Governorate is the largest of the eleven Governorates in the Sultanate of Oman in terms of area. It lies in Southern Oman, on the eastern border with Yemen's Al Mahrah Governorate. It is a rather mountainous area that covers 99,300 km2 (38,300 sq mi) and has a population of 249,729 as of the 2010 census. The largest city, as well as capital of the Governorate, is Salalah. Historically, the region was the chief source of frankincense in the world. The local variety of Arabic is Dhofari Arabic, which is quite distinct from that of the rest of Oman and from Yemen.

Battle of Mirbat

The Battle of Mirbat took place on 19 July 1972 during the Dhofar Rebellion in Oman, which was supported by Communist guerrillas from South Yemen. Britain assisted the Omani government by sending elements of its Special Air Service both to train soldiers and compete against the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG) guerrillas for the "hearts and minds" of the Omani people.

Royal Army of Oman Land warfare branch of Omans military

The Royal Army of Oman is the ground forces component of the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces. It was founded in 1907 as the Muscat Garrison. It has a current strength of 25,000 personnel.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman was a Marxist and Arab nationalist revolutionary organisation in the Sultanate of Oman. It fought against the Sultan (ruler) in the Dhofar Rebellion from the PFLO's foundation until the suppression of the insurgency in 1976.

Sultanah Mazoon bint Ahmad Ali Al-Mashani was the second wife of Sultan Said bin Taimur and the mother of Qaboos bin Said al Said, Sultan of Oman. His first wife, Sultanah Fatima Al-Mashani, was her cousin.

The National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf was a guerrilla movement in the Arabian peninsula.

Firqa (military) organization

A Firqa is a local militia unit loyal to the Sultan of Oman raised in the Dhofar region of Oman during the Omani Civil War (1963-76). The British were known for utilising Firqa during their counter insurgency operations in support of the Sultan's operations in the region, converting former enemies into pro-government militia to aid in counter-insurgency; this was a tactic the British had successfully employed in Malaya. Forming local Firqa was therefore great way to employ surrendered enemy personnel (SEPs) and thus pacify areas of the Dhofari Jebel and set the conditions for infrastructure development.

Internal Security Service national security intelligence agency of Oman

Internal Security Service transliterated:Jahaz al Amn al Dakhly, is the national security agency of the Sultanate of Oman. The agency focuses solely upon domestic security while foreign intelligence operations is specifically handled by the Palace Office, which controls external security and coordinates all intelligence and security policies.

Major General Anthony (Tony) Showan Jeapes, is a former British Army officer who commanded the 22 Special Air Service Regiment during the Dhofar Rebellion.

Jebel Akhdar War 1954-1959 effort by Imam Ghalib bin Ali Al Hinai to protect the Imamate of Oman lands from the Sultan Said bin Taimur, won by the Sultan in 1959 with assistance from the British armed forces

The Jebel Akhdar War or the Jebel Akhdar rebellion broke out in 1954 and again in 1957 in Oman, as an effort by the local Omanis in the interior of Oman led by their elected Imam, Ghalib Alhinai, to protect the Imamate of Oman from the occupation plans of Sultan Said bin Taimur, backed by the British government, who were eager to gain access to the oil wells in the interior lands of Oman. Sultan Said received direct financing to raise an armed force to occupy the Imamate of Oman from Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC), a consortium of oil companies that was majorly owned by what-is-known-today as Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ExxonMobil and British Petroleum (BP); the latter was majority-owned by the British government. The Imamate was eventually supported by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The war lasted until 1959, when the British armed forces decided to take on direct interventions using air and ground attacks on the Imamate, which won the Sultanate the war. The declarations signed by the Sultans of Muscat to consult the British government on all important matters, the unequal trade treaties signed by the two sides favoring British interests, the cessation of the Omani Kuria Muria islands to the British, and the vast control over the Sultanate's government ministries, including defense and foreign affairs, exerted by the British rendered the Sultanate a de facto British colony. The UN General Assembly adopted the 'Question of Oman' resolution in 1965 and again in 1967 that called upon the British government to cease all repressive action against the locals and reaffirmed the inalienable right of the Omani people to self-determination and independence.

Major General John David Carew Graham, CB, CBE, CStJ was a British Army officer who was instrumental in the installation of Qaboos bin Said as Sultan of Oman in the 1970 Omani coup d'état.

Operation Simba (Dhofar Rebellion)

Operation Simba, and the subsequent fighting around high ground near Sarfait, was the longest running conflict of the Dhofar Rebellion. On 17 April 1972, a battalion of the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces (SAF) landed by helicopter to establish a position on a dominating ridge at Sarfait, near the border with the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY). The aim was to interdict the supply lines used by the guerillas of the PFLOAG from the PDRY to the interior of Dhofar, which ran along the narrow coastal plain beneath the foot of the escarpment at the southern end of the ridge.

Sultans Special Forces Special operations branch of Omans military forces

The Sultan's Special Forces (SSF) — Arabic: قوات السلطان الخاصة, transliterated:Qawat al-Sultaniya al-Khasah is a separate force branch within the Sultan's Armed Forces (SAF) and although equipped to carry out land defense operations, it is not part of the Royal Army of Oman.

Northern Frontier Regiment (Oman)

The Northern Frontier Regiment (NFR) was formed in March 1957 and was one of the first two properly constituted infantry regiments that Sultan Said bin Taimur of Oman formed. The regiment's crest is two crossed drawn traditional Khanjar daggers pointing downwards, with scrolls carrying the regimental title in Arabic i.e. Kateeba al Hudood al Shamleeah. Members of the Regiment who served in Dhofar are entitled to wear the General Service Medal Oman, its ribbon design illustrated on the right.

1970 Omani coup détat 1970 Coup in Oman which led to the bloodless overthrow of the erstwhile ruler by his son.

The 1970 Omani coup d'état was the bloodless overthrow of Sultan Said bin Taimur by his son Qaboos bin Said al Said in Oman on 23 July 1970. Occurring in the midst of the Dhofar Rebellion, the palace coup was executed with the support of the British military and saw Sultan bin Taimur deposed and sent into exile to Great Britain. The coup was a pivotal moment in modern Omani history as Sultan Qaboos swiftly set in motion numerous wide-ranging modernization reforms in the kingdom, transforming Oman from a backwater and underdeveloped state into a country on par with many Western nations in terms of peace and economic development. Today, Sultan Qaboos is the longest serving current ruler in the Middle East.

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