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Since the seventh century, Oman has
been an Islamic country, falling under Portuguese rule in the early
1500s. In 1650, Omani citizens revolted, regaining control of the
majority of their land until 1741 when Persia took over. Upon signing a
friendship treaty with Great Britain in 1798, Oman gained independence,
but its troubles were not over. Between 1932 and 1970, a repressive
ruler, Sultan Said bin Taimer, sparked a series of revolts in the Dhofar
province, which ended when the Sultanís son, Qaboos bin Said,
overthrew him and began modernizing the country. Today, Oman is working
to clear the landmines left over from these disputes.
Landmine / UXO Overview
The number of landmines that exist in
Oman is unknown at this time, but reports indicate that the United
States may be stockpiling approximately 10,000 anti-personnel mines in
various storage units throughout the country. Roughly 12 different types
of landmines have been found in formerly occupied areas of Oman. The
majority of Omanís landmines are found along the border of the Dhofar
province, and several major roads pass through landmine-infested
regions. Omani officials report that they do not produce landmines and
do not have a landmine problem. Currently, they are considering signing
the Mine Ban Treaty, but they are not members of the Convention on
Conventional Weapons or the Conference on Disarmament.
Although the exact number of
mine-related accidents is unknown, 103 have been reported since 1971,
and the effect of these casualties has been severe. The nomadic
population, which inhabits areas where landmines and UXO are often
washed during rainfall, is most threatened by landmines.
In December 1999, the United States
agreed to assist Oman in humanitarian demining training beginning in
February 2001. The Royal Army of Oman (RAO) established a Mine Clearance
Troop in 1984 with 40 deminers (four sections of 10 deminers) and 20
support personnel. This group has performed demining activities
throughout Oman and is currently focusing on old battlefields and
formerly occupied regions. There are no records of which areas have been
demined, and no donors support Oman with its demining efforts at this
time. However, the United States may allot $2.2 million (U.S.) in 2001
once the land has been surveyed to evaluate the countryís needs.
Since gaining control in 1970, Sultan Qaboos bin Sain
has worked to modernize the Omani society. This involved allotting more
freedom and establishing a more stable health, education and housing
structure. Despite these advancements, Oman remains a secluded country
with little international relations.
Major Alhunaini Ahmed
Ministry of Defense for Oman
P.O. Box 1462
Tel: 00968 613602