Viewing cable 05MUSCAT573

05MUSCAT5732005-04-06 15:56:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 SECRET//NOFORN Embassy Muscat
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
S E C R E T SECTION 01 OF 03 MUSCAT 000573 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/06/2015 
REF: STATE 60749 
Classified By: Deputy Chief of Mission William R. Stewart for 
reasons 1.4 (b, c, d). 
Summary and Overview 
¶1. (C) Oman is a successful example of cooperation in the 
Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).  Military cooperation is 
perhaps the brightest area of achievement owing to Oman's 
benefit from the Foreign Military Finance (FMF) program, 
which is beginning to fill gaping holes in its maritime and 
border security.  Our base access agreement and Oman's 
willingness to host coalition ship visits is a key element in 
our GWOT efforts in this theater of operations.  Substantial 
resource requirements remain, however, and full funding of 
our FMF requests are of critical importance.  Oman's banking 
system enjoys a strong reputation for proper oversight and 
control, yet can benefit from technical assistance to develop 
a specific law on terror finance and to bring informal 
remittance systems under supervision.  Training opportunities 
for the Omani police under DS's ATA program have brought 
strong dividends in terms of raising capabilities and 
enhancing cooperation, and need to be continued.  State's 
EXBS program and Custom's Container Security Initiative (CSI) 
are key to addressing shortfalls in Oman's customs inspection 
¶2. (C) Counterterrorism cooperation with the Omani government 
is good, and their capabilities are as effective as limited 
resources and Oman's difficult geography allow.  Oman is one 
of the very few states in the region not to have suffered a 
terrorist attack, owing at least in part to the success of 
internal security services in capturing suspected terrorists 
before operations could be launched.  This achievement is all 
the more remarkable considering the prevailing security 
situation in neighboring Yemen and Saudi Arabia (with which 
Oman's shares long land borders), and the fact that the 
Sultanate straddles strategic sea lanes used by nationals 
from Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, and other countries of concern. 
 Oman's willingness to cooperate in the Proliferation 
Security Initiative(PSI), as evidenced by its hosting a 
PSI-related air interdiction exercise in March, is a major 
success in our GWOT efforts in this strategic region.  End 
summary and overview. 
Military/Border Security 
¶3. (S) Oman need only look to its immediate neighbors, 
particularly Saudi Arabia, to see the dire consequences of 
inaction and lack of cooperation in the GWOT.  Although Oman 
is a strong USG partner in counterterrorism across the board, 
the military sphere is in many ways the most successful field 
of cooperation.  The Sultanate gives the USG wide access to 
military bases, hosts port calls by coalition navies, and 
permits our storage of pre-positioned war readiness materiel 
(WRM).  Oman has permitted the U.S. military to operate both 
combat and transport aircraft from the Sultanate, and 
supports multilateral joint-combined military exercises. 
Omani journalists have also taken part in media visits aboard 
USN vessels patrolling the region.  All of these efforts have 
had direct and indirect benefits in the GWOT. 
¶4. (S) Unfortunately, Oman's nearly 2000 km. long shoreline 
and nearly as lengthy terrestrial borders across hostile 
terrain far outstrip the limited financial and personnel 
resources of the Sultanate's 2.3 million population, despite 
its spending over 30 percent of the government's annual 
budget on security and defense.  Oman is investing heavily in 
fast interdiction boats (USD 25.5M of FMF funds) and naval 
vessels, and is redeploying military forces to aid the 
overstretched police in guarding land borders with Yemen, 
Saudi Arabia and the UAE.  It has spent USD 5.3M on tactical 
communications systems that facilitate command and control of 
special operations forces and aid interoperability with U.S. 
forces.  Oman plans to invest USD 2.7M for night-vision 
devices for its navy, army and special forces.  It has 
participated in joint training exercises with U.S. forces 
with all of those assets currently in its inventory.  Oman is 
also using CENTCOM funds to send a Navy captain to the NDU 
Counterterrorism Fellows Program, and to bring a Mobile 
Training Team to train the Royal Oman Police Coast Guard in 
boarding operations. 
¶5. (S) But Oman still requires considerably more marine and 
air reconnaissance assets, as well as an integrated radar and 
camera surveillance system, to shore up coastal monitoring 
that persists as a vulnerability exploited by human 
smugglers.  We anticipate that Oman will continue to employ 
its FMF resources to enhance these border security efforts. 
A critical boost to this endeavor would be certifying Oman 
for funding under Article 1033 of the Defense Authorization 
Act that would permit Oman's procurement of new 
communications and sensors to complete its USD 30M phased 
upgrade of the coastal surveillance system.  Oman is also 
vulnerable to open border policies for GCC nationals that can 
make it difficult to track suspects from those states. 
Terrorism Finance 
¶6. (C) Oman is inhospitable terrain for would-be terrorist 
financiers.  It is not a major center of financial activity, 
and it boasts a well-respected and stringent banking 
oversight regime.  The local banking community is small (5 
local and 9 foreign banks are in operation), and the Central 
Bank of Oman (CBO) has a reputation as one of the strictest 
in the region.  Islamic banks are illegal, and Islamic 
charities and other organizations are denied access to Oman 
as a result of its strict laws on public associations.  CBO 
officials have demonstrated their implementation of terror 
finance designations (under the UNSCR 1267 Committee), but to 
date no assets have yet been uncovered. 
¶7. (SBU) Oman does not have a formal law criminalizing terror 
finance as it does for money laundering, but anti-terror laws 
are understood to encompass financial activities.  One of our 
important bilateral goals is for Oman to develop a more 
explicit, legal prohibition against terrorist finance; this 
could be a prime area of cooperation for MENA/FATF in 
Bahrain, of which Oman is a member and early supporter.  We 
continue to press Oman to ratify the International Convention 
for the Suppression of Terrorist Financing, one of the two 
remaining international CT conventions to which Oman is not 
yet a party. 
¶8. (C) Another area of lingering concern is the alternative 
remittance system (i.e., hawalas and hundi), since such 
operations fall outside the well-regulated and carefully 
monitored formal banking system.  The USG would be 
well-served in providing technical assistance to Omani 
officials to address this situation, possibly through the 
auspices of the G-8 Counterterrorism Action Group (CTAG) 
Intelligence/Law Enforcement 
¶9. (S) The Omani security services are well-trained, 
well-funded and motivated to do their jobs, even if 
information-sharing and cooperation among them is sometimes 
wanting.  The Omani Royal Office (akin to the NSC and CIA 
combined) also tackles security policy issues related to the 
GWOT, and has proven a reliable partner within the 
constraints of its resources.  Though innately hesitant about 
sharing information on Omani citizens, the Omani services 
generally provide threat information as and when they deem 
appropriate if there is a connection to U.S. persons and 
interests in the Sultanate. 
¶10. (C) Assistance from the Royal Oman Police (ROP) for the 
protection of U.S. personnel and facilities, including 
visiting ships, has been forthcoming whenever requested. 
There is no doubt that this cooperation and the ROP's 
professional capabilities have been greatly enhanced by the 
training support afforded under Diplomatic Security's Office 
of Anti-Terrorism Assistance Programs (DS/T/ATA).  The ROP 
and other security agencies receive these opportunities 
extremely warmly, and the training has had a notable impact 
in their ability to detect, deter, and counterterrorist 
activity in this very challenging environment. 
¶11. (SBU) Recent training programs under the Department's 
Export Control and Border Related Security (EXBS) program 
have revealed significant needs among ROP Customs officials 
in the areas of detecting and interdicting weapons, illicit 
cargo and WMD.  Inspection of cargo containers, for instance, 
are still done manually with dog teams, limiting their volume 
to just 1 or 2 containers inspected each day.  The container 
port in Salalah is fast becoming one of the leading 
transshipment ports of the region.  Oman is therefore in 
great need of additional EXBS programs, particularly those 
involving practical components taking place on-site at Omani 
ports.  ROP Customs has also requested advanced equipment and 
training for use in cargo inspection and the identification 
of dual-use items.  Oman formally requested to the U.S. 
Customs Commission in March to participate in the Container 
Security Initiative, which would be a tremendous benefit to 
these efforts. 
Resource/Action Requirements 
¶12. (S) Drawing from the above, the following summarizes our 
resource requirements: 
-- Maritime and border security remain key vulnerabilities 
for which Oman requires substantial assistance to address. 
The bulk of our Foreign Military Finance requests (USD 71M in 
FY06, and USD 74M in FY07) are directly targeted at these 
needs and deserve full funding. 
-- We need certification of Oman for funding under Article 
1033 of the Defense Appropriate Act to complete a USD 30M 
phased upgrade of its coastal surveillance system. 
-- We must include Omani ports (particularly Salalah) in the 
Container Security Initiative. 
-- Oman can use technical assistance, either directly from 
the USG or multilaterally through the G-8 CTAG or MENA/FATF 
mechanisms, to improve terrorist finance legislation and 
address vulnerabilities from the alternative remittance 
-- We require continued funding under the EXBS and DS/ATA 
programs for counterterrorism training of Oman's police and 
security forces and to enhance customs controls.