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Monday, May 16, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Oman Army takes 'active role', suppresses protests

ABU DHABI — Oman has launched a military crackdown in an effort to quell rising unrest.


Opposition sources said the Western-trained Royal Army of Oman as well as security forces have arrested scores of protesters in the Gulf Cooperation Council sultanate, Middle East Newsline reported. They said the Army dispersed a sit-in organized to protest unemployment and poor conditions.

"We are seeing the Army in a much more active role," an opposition source said.

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On May 14, Omani troops opened fire to break up a protest camp outside the office of the governor of Salalah. The sources said troops destroyed tents and arrested at least 100 people, taken away in Army buses.

Over the last three months, Omanis have taken to the streets, particularly in the south, to call for democratic reforms as well as employment and better work conditions. Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled since 1971, has announced a $2.6 billion development plan.

The unrest was said to have been reported in Muscat, Salalah and Sur. The sources said the military has targeted and detained leading reform activists, identified as Basma Al Kiyumi and Ibraim Said.

"Some of the protesters were released, but the leaders have been kept in jail," the opposition source said.

The sultanate has acknowledged the crackdown. An Omani security source said the demonstrations were led by what he termed "provocateurs."

"They have no justification to continue gatherings and sit-ins," the source told the official Oman News Agency.

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