Viewing cable 05MUSCAT428
Title: OMAN ONLINE: THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT AND THE FTA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
05MUSCAT4282005-03-10 10:11:00 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.
UNCLAS MUSCAT 000428 
 
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: THE HUMAN RIGHTS REPORT AND THE FTA 
 
 
¶1. Summary:  The Omani Internet chat rooms "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: 
 
-- The Human Rights Report: Need for Online Arabic Version 
-- FTA and Israel 
-- FTA And Jobs for Omanis 
 
End summary. 
 
------------------------------ 
Human Rights Or Secret Agenda? 
------------------------------ 
 
¶2. Discussions in Al-Sablah continued to focus on the State 
Department's Human Rights Report for Oman.  One subscriber 
expressed his negative response to the report writing, "America 
writes these things to divide us, so that we will not join 
together to protect our interests."  Another participant 
commented, "The report is meant to prepare the ground for 
America's real objective which is to put pressure on the Gulf 
after it has imposed its will on Damascus, Cairo, and Beirut." 
In contrast, another subscriber gave credence to the report 
stating, "The Omani government will embarrass itself 
internationally if it continues to violate human rights."  The 
Human Rights report was also discussed in Al-Majarra.  Many 
subscribers in the chat room lamented that the State Department 
website does not include an Arabic version of the report. 
 
---------------------------- 
FTA:  The Israeli Connection 
---------------------------- 
 
¶3. Al-Sablah subscribers also discussed an Al-Arabia Satellite 
Television report that the U.S. would demand that the UAE stop 
boycotting Israeli products and end ties with countries that it 
does not like as a condition to signing an FTA.  Another opined 
that the U.S. will "...use the FTA as a tool to protect Israeli 
interests in the region and to oblige Arab countries to normalize 
relations with the Jewish state."  Several Al-Sablah subscribers 
expressed skepticism about the FTA negotiations commenting, "Oman 
will almost certainly accept these unreasonable U.S. conditions." 
 
------------------------------------ 
FTA: US Investment = Jobs for Omanis 
------------------------------------ 
 
¶4. A significant number of al-Sablah participants viewed the FTA 
positively.  One subscriber wrote, "We should be realistic and 
begin encouraging foreign investment.  It can only work to our 
advantage."  Another subscriber wrote, "More American companies 
means more jobs and a higher standard of living for us." Al- 
Sablah subscribers also speculated on whether an FTA would revive 
Oman's stock market.  However, many participants opined that it 
would not improve the economy.  One subscriber commented, "The 
FTA will not benefit us.  It will not create more jobs."  Several 
writers stated, "There are positive and negative aspects of such 
agreements.  The outcome will depend on how well Oman 
negotiates."  Another, subscriber wrote, "The FTA will almost 
certainly create jobs and bring new life to the markets. 
However, it will also bring a cultural invasion.  The FTA is not 
just about commercial agreements." 
 
BALTIMORE