Chronicle of the Middle East and North Africa

International Community

Obama with Omani Prime Minister (Photo by Jim Watson / AFP)

From the outset, the reaction of the Obama Administration to the protests was very restrained. Sultan Qaboos is a loyal US ally. The US State Department eagerly welcomed the first moves toward reform, as announced by the Sultan. It encouraged the Omani authorities to continue to implement reforms that increase economic opportunity and move toward greater political participation. Neither the United Sates nor the United Kingdom altered its policy towards Oman despite continuing protests in 2012. Both provide Oman significant economic and military aid and maintain a military presence in the Sultanate.

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) promised Oman USD 10 billion for the next ten years, as part of a plan to support Oman (as well as Bahrain and Yemen). The plan seeks to improve economic conditions and living standards, offering housing and employment opportunities. This pledge of support is typical of the response to the revolt by the Gulf monarchs: buying people’s support for the status quo, and silencing political dissent.