Viewing cable 05MUSCAT1061
Title: OMAN ONLINE: DISARMAMENT, DISCONTENT, AND DISSENSION

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT10612005-07-06 11:20:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS MUSCAT 001061 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: DISARMAMENT, DISCONTENT, AND DISSENSION 
 
REF: MUSCAT 815 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet message boards "al-Sablah" and 
"al-Majarra" are the liveliest and most comprehensive Arabic- 
language fora for political and social discourse in the country, 
touching on issues and personalities rarely addressed in the 
conventional media.  While not totally free, nor wholly 
reflective of Omani public opinion, these popular sites 
nevertheless offer a worthwhile window into the hot topics and 
unvarnished views of the day.  This edition of Oman Online 
contains the following topics: 
 
-- Poll On Disarming Hizbollah 
-- Call For More Public Universities In Oman 
-- Reflections On The Sohar Investment Boom 
 
End summary. 
 
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Brothers In Arms 
---------------- 
 
¶2. The latest publication of al-Sablah's unscientific polls asked 
the question, "Do you support the disarmament of Lebanese 
Hizbollah?"  Of the 69 members who responded to the poll, 57 
(83%) answered in the negative.  Some of these respondents 
supplemented their vote with comments, including "The French, the 
Americans, and the Israelis are behind the idea of disarmament," 
and "Israel is known to break its promises and truces with her 
neighbors, and she could attack Lebanon at any moment, so the 
Lebanese should be prepared." 
 
¶3. The 11 participants who supported Hizbollah's disarmament also 
provided some clarifications to their vote.  One writer stated, 
"Lebanon is now under a unified army, and that army should 
control all the weapons in order to solidify its legitimacy." 
Another author offered, "Hizbollah should take its place as just 
another societal interest group in Lebanon.  They should not be 
involved with arms." 
 
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Government Has No Faculty . . . For Planning 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
¶4. A number of al-Sablah members called for the establishment of 
a new public university in order to absorb the large number of 
Omani secondary school graduates.  "We urge the Minister of 
Higher Education to look into this matter, because it is vital to 
the students.  Most people can't afford higher education; that is 
why we need a plan for a new university," declared one writer. 
Another accused the government of "leaning towards the personal 
interests of the owners of private universities, who block the 
construction of public universities so they can make more 
profits."  One respondent asked, "Why does the government 
constantly talk about investing in higher education, but never 
seems to do anything about it?" 
 
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Putting The `Protect' In `Protectionism' 
---------------------------------------- 
 
¶5. Many al-Sablah contributors complained about the rising land 
prices in Sohar, a city that is fast becoming Oman's investment 
boomtown (reftel).  One writer feared, "Since the land prices are 
so high, the locals are selling their land to foreigners, 
especially from the United Arab Emirates.  This is a danger for 
the national economy."  Another agreed, saying, "If this 
continues, the locals will not be able to own any land in Sohar." 
Others refuted these claims: "We do not think there is any harm 
in these transactions, because the first beneficiaries will be 
the Omanis themselves," wrote one member, while another stated, 
"High land prices are not necessarily dangerous, but the 
government should have a plan for Sohar city to avoid any 
negative social consequences." 
 
BALTIMORE