Viewing cable 05MUSCAT1305
Title: OMAN ONLINE: REPORTING EVACUATIONS AND VACUOUS REPORTING

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT13052005-08-24 14:42:00 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 001305 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: REPORTING EVACUATIONS AND VACUOUS REPORTING 
 
¶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: 
 
-- Gaza Disengagement 
-- Oman's Media 
 
End summary. 
 
------------------------ 
Going Through Withdrawal 
------------------------ 
 
¶2. The Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip was a popular 
topic in al-Sablah, generating 1515 hits and 103 responses.  Many 
respondents expressed skepticism about the event; "Is this a 
Palestinian victory or an Israeli trap?" wondered one member. 
Another claimed, "This is another trick of Sharon's.  He would 
not have given up the Gaza settlements unless the Americans 
promised him something bigger - in other words, more settlements 
in the West Bank."  One contributor cited the small number of 
settlements in Gaza compared to the West Bank as "proof that 
Sharon had the bigger picture in mind." 
 
 
 
¶3. Not all forum participants shared this view; some felt the 
evacuation validated the Palestinian resistance, while others 
chose not to pick sides.  "Finally, Sharon came to learn that war 
does not benefit anybody, and peace and coexistence are the only 
real solutions," wrote one respondent.  Agreed another, "The 
withdrawal should not be considered as a victory or a loss. 
Rather, it should be seen as an effort by both sides to move 
beyond the uselessness of killing and war." 
 
¶4. Tangentially, al-Sablah members also discussed the prejudices 
of the American media towards the Gaza disengagement.  As one 
author put it, "The American media concentrated heavily on 
showing the crying and sobbing of Israeli families as they were 
evacuated, while ignoring the killing of innocent Palestinians 
that was going on simultaneously." 
 
------------------ 
Pressing The Issue 
------------------ 
 
¶5. A topic on press freedom allowed Al-Sablah contributors to 
return to familiar territory: criticizing the Omani media.  "When 
will we see the birth of a free press and an objective media that 
discusses issues of societal morality and government corruption?" 
questioned a reader.  Another complained, "The media in our 
country exaggerates everything the government does...they report 
that some government services are offered free of charge to 
citizens, but nothing is free here."  Several members singled out 
the privately owned Arabic daily "al-Shabiba" for praise, 
commenting that "Shabiba used to be a sports newspaper, but 
recently it has tackled issues such as price increases and 
homelessness in Oman." 
 
BALTIMORE