UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MUSCAT 001608
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI, NEA/PPD, NEA/P, IIP/G/NEA
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: HOT TOPICS FROM AFGHANISTAN, LEBANON, AND
Â¶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
Â¶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."
Â¶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
Â¶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."
Â¶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
Â¶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."
Â¶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