Viewing cable 05MUSCAT1608

05MUSCAT16082005-10-26 12:11:00 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.
E.O. 12958: N/A 
¶1. Summary: The Omani Internet message board "al-Sablah" is the 
liveliest and most comprehensive Arabic-language forum 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, this popular site nevertheless offers a worthwhile 
window into the hot topics and unvarnished views of the day. 
This edition of Oman Online contains the following topics: 
-- Alleged Desecration In Afghanistan By U.S. Forces 
-- The Mehlis Report 
-- Saddam Hussein 
End summary. 
Heated Emotions 
¶2. The subject of U.S. forces immolating two Taliban bodies in 
Afghanistan set off a round of emotional postings on the Internet 
message board.  Nearly all of the 17 responses (out of 680 hits) 
sharply criticized the burning of the bodies.  One respondent 
captured the mood of this majority: "These U.S. soldiers are 
really the dregs of society.  It is an established fact that the 
majority of these troops are either unemployed or criminals, who 
joined the armed forces merely for the sake of material 
interests.  They are cowards in actual battle zones, as evidenced 
by their treatment of the Vietcong, the Iraqi resistance 
fighters, and now the Taliban." 
¶3. However, some respondents attempted to make broader - and even 
positive - statements about the American people.  "When events 
like this happen, sometimes you might think the Americans are the 
stupidest people in the world because of their poor awareness of 
the cultures of other nations.  Unfortunately, they do not try to 
educate themselves in this regard.  And successive American 
administrations have exploited this feature for their own 
purposes," claimed one writer.  Another volunteered, "These 
soldiers do not represent the American people in any way.  From 
my stay in the U.S., I can confirm that the American people are 
very friendly, and they have treated me in a good manner.  In 
fact, in some instances, the American people are better at 
supporting Arab and Islamic causes than are Arab and Muslim 
countries themselves.  Just look at their charitable activities." 
A Loud Report 
¶4. Equally passionate postings surfaced in a discussion of the 
Mehlis Report.  With 401 hits and 10 responses, the subject 
touched off a number of fiery questions from al-Sablah members. 
"Where was the honest, impartial U.N. investigator after the 
American occupation forces killed thousands of innocent Iraqis? 
Why didn't we see a report after U.S. troops set fire to two 
Afghanis?" cried one author.  Another remarked, "The Israeli 
butcher Sharon has slaughtered Palestinians in places like Sabra 
and Shatila, and assassinated Sheikh Yasin and Abdulaziz al- 
Rantisi, and yet the U.N. did nothing." 
¶5. Focusing on the slain Rafik al-Hariri, another respondent 
observed, "Since when did the blood of al-Hariri become a source 
of sadness and pain to the `sublime' people of the West, who 
normally have no problem with the killing of Arabs and Muslims? 
Let us beware: the West will use al-Hariri's death as yet another 
justification to punish Arab countries, especially those which 
stand up to the American, European, and Israeli hegemony." 
Saddam, This Is Your Life 
¶6. The October 19 commencement of Saddam Hussein's trial by the 
Iraqi Special Tribunal prompted one al-Sablah member to ask, 
"What are some of the most important achievements of the former 
Iraqi president?"  885 forum participants viewed the topic, and 
15 provided responses.  Among the more laudatory comments were: 
"He was the first ruler in the world to stand up to the arrogance 
of America, facing these tyrants for 13 years without showing any 
exhaustion";  "He procured the necessary resources for the severe 
struggle against American forces in Iraq, and provided the 
weapons for the resistance which are currently inflicting such 
heavy losses on the invaders"; and "He drove the U.S. and British 
governments into a state of frustration." 
¶7. The praise continued: "President Saddam has made the Americans 
pay a high price by diverting hundreds of billions of dollars 
from the U.S. treasury since 1991 to the occupation of Iraq. 
These funds might have been used otherwise by Washington to 
suppress and subjugate other nations."  Another contributor 
noted, "Hussein set a new record in the number of casualties he 
has inflicted upon the Americans since 1991, and U.S. soldiers 
are still bleeding from the attacks of the brave resistance 
movement."  Summarized one author, "We can say that it is an 
honor for President Saddam that his name and the name of his 
country are still in the headlines of all the major newspapers of 
the world."