Viewing cable 05MUSCAT1397
Title: OMAN ONLINE: BLOTS, BROADCASTS, AND BOATS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT13972005-09-14 13:25:00 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 001397 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: BLOTS, BROADCASTS, AND BOATS 
 
¶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: 
 
-- Confessions Of A Former Secretary 
-- Al-Jazeera: The Voice Of America? 
-- The Sinking Of The "Majan" 
 
End summary. 
 
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Mea Culpa 
--------- 
 
¶2. Colin Powell's recent interview on ABC's "20/20" received wide 
coverage in al-Sablah, particularly his comment that his remarks 
to the UN in February 2003 were a "blot" on his record.  The vast 
majority of respondents displayed either anger or suspicion about 
Powell's statement.  "This apology will not benefit anybody, 
since a lot of innocent people have already died," wrote one 
contributor.  Another added, "Notwithstanding Powell's admission, 
American policy has always been to destroy other countries." 
 
 
 
¶3. Continued another, "This man was the one who came before the 
United Nations with supposed `proof' of Saddam Hussein's WMD 
program.  Now he is apologizing that he was mistaken?  This is 
just another media trick to win people's hearts and sympathies." 
Attempting to explain Powell's comments, one al-Sablah 
participant noted, "The Americans are losing the war in Iraq, and 
the insurgents are causing great damage to them.  That is why 
they are looking for opportunities to save face."  The discussion 
received 815 hits and 30 responses. 
 
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A Stealth VOA? 
-------------- 
 
¶4. Spawning a topic that generated over 1,300 hits and 46 
responses, one al-Sablah author declared, "Al-Jazeera is the 
voice of America, because it only mimics the American reporting 
on Afghan and Iraqi casualties.  American losses are never 
shown."  Many respondents rushed to al-Jazeera's defense:  "The 
station is obliged to report reliable and accurate news from good 
sources.  The Americans are usually quick to provide up-to-the- 
minute reporting, so why not use their material?"  Another wrote, 
"Al-Jazeera may not be as reliable as when it was first launched, 
but it has still transformed news broadcasting in the Arab 
world." 
 
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Under The Sea 
------------- 
 
¶5. Forum members also commented on the sinking of the "Majan," a 
reproduction of an Omani Bronze Age sailing vessel made out of 
reeds.  After a gala launching ceremony to send the crew off on a 
ten-day voyage to India, the boat unfortunately took on water and 
sank.  "It is very sad to hear the tragic news.  Everyone looked 
forward to this voyage, because Omanis are known as the 
historical masters of the sea," lamented one participant.  Others 
called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding 
the sinking.  Many of the 51 respondents expressed disappointment 
over the loss of the "Majan," but al-Sablah members showed signs 
of optimism:  "We hope to overcome the defects that existed in 
the boat, and try it again." 
 
BALTIMORE