Viewing cable 05MUSCAT194
Title: OMAN ONLINE: OMANI DETAINEES AND IRAQI ELECTIONS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT1942005-02-02 13:04:00 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 000194 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/ARPI (TROBERTS), NEA/PPD (CWHITTLESEY), NEA/P 
(FFINVER), IIP/G/NEA 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KPAO SOCI MU
SUBJECT: OMAN ONLINE: OMANI DETAINEES AND IRAQI ELECTIONS 
 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet chat rooms "Al-Sablah" and "Al- 
Majara" -- 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, they nevertheless offer a 
worthwhile window into the hot topics and unvarnished views of 
the day.  This edition of Oman Online contains the following 
topics: 
 
-- Ministry of Information statement on detainees 
-- Iraqi Elections 
 
End summary. 
 
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Attempting to Arrest Rumors 
--------------------------- 
 
¶2. On January 30, the Omani government addressed the much-rumored 
arrests of an unspecified number of Omanis for "national 
security" reasons.  In response to the statement, one Al-Sablah 
participant wrote, "Finally the government has been forced to 
acknowledge this issue to the people, but we do not know whether 
this is due to internal pressure or pressure from the 
international community." 
 
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1970's Redux 
------------ 
 
¶3.  Many subscribers reacted negatively to Al-Rashdi's statement. 
One said, "He explained nothing.  The only new thing (he adds to 
the discussion) is that he is not telling the truth."  Others 
expressed concern that a high level official would give such a 
vague explanation for the arrests.  "When government officials 
respond in this way, they undermine their own credibility.  Do 
they think that we are living in the 70's and that we can be so 
easily deceived?" 
 
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Crossing Red Lines 
------------------ 
 
¶4.  Other participants went farther stating, "The Minister 
himself is not even aware of what is going on.  We should call 
for his resignation."  Al-Majara chat room participants expressed 
many of the same opinions about the Minister's statements.  One 
Al-Majara subscriber wrote, "The Minister accused the detainees 
of crossing red lines in regard to national security.  The real 
red lines should be a media that arouses sexual desires, the sale 
of alcoholic beverages, a growing sex trade under the cover of 
tourism, dirty songs and dancing, and pornographic magazines and 
videos." 
 
¶5.  Some Al-Sablah participants called for the creation of a 
committee to follow the cases of the detainees and provide 
support for their families.  One participant suggested, "Let us 
form a committee to ensure that the detainees are treated 
fairly."  Another skeptically stated, "This will not happen 
unless the elite families of the detainees take the lead in 
creating a committee to protect their rights." 
 
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Elections And Democracy 
----------------------- 
 
¶6. The elections in Iraq have been widely discussed in Al-Sablah 
and Al-Majara.  One Al-Sablah subscriber sarcastically wrote, 
"According to Mr. Bush, Iraq is going to be a democracy and 
America will withdraw its forces from the country if the Iraqi 
government asks it to."  Many participants doubted that an 
occupied country could have fair elections.  "If freedom is the 
basis of any democracy, how can Iraq be democratic?  Allawi will 
win by 100% as did Karzai in Afghanistan." 
 
¶7.  An Al-Majara subscriber stated, "Most probably Allawi will 
win a bullet between his eyes."  However, a few responses were 
more optimistic.  One Al-Sablah participant said, "The elections 
may not have been perfect, but they are the only way to stop the 
violence and help Iraqis to move toward a brighter future." 
 
BALTIMORE