Wednesday, October 19, 2011

US Sec. State Clinton visits HM Sultan Qaboos to say "Thanks" on Iran.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits Oman today, seen here touring the Beit Al-Zubair Museum. Photo AFP

Nice to see US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dropping by today for a 121 with HM Sultan Qaboos. My take on the US agenda:

1/ Say a big Thanks from the President for paying the Iranians and negotiating the release of those stupid American idiots. We owe you one.

2/ Discuss Iran (again), and the plot to assassinate an Ambassador of a fellow GCC state in the USA. [If true, this would be anathema to HM].

3/ Discuss and coordinate on the situations in Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, and the GCC involvement in the search for solutions. Plus Afghanistan & Pakistan; Turkey & Israel. Iraq.

4/ Cautious praise on the recent elections: right direction, more power to Majlis eagerly awaited. And need more women.

5/ Talks on the Arab Spring, esp. Egypt and Libya.

6/ US support for HM. HM has done an excellent job as a regional & moderate peacemaker, and was the first leader to visit Iran after their most recent 'elections', hence the backchannel. Appreciation for his continuing to be a strong US ally in the region, and his cooperation on all levels.

It got Oman into the venerable Washington Post, with the gem:
... talks in Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id’s lavish palace, in the capital of this tiny Gulf state,....

The Secretary certainly praised Oman lavishly in the press release.

..."The Sultanate of Oman has made more progress than any country in the world in the past forty years, which has laid the stability at home and peace with its neighbors. ...It must be for other countries to learn how to become the Sultanate in this short period of time, a unique model of development ... in the Middle East. "

I wonder if she raised civil rights, and developments in the arrest and trials of journalists? (For those who care, the appeal was delayed until the 22nd October)

Also in Bloomberg here:

Clinton in Oman for Talks on Iran, Protests Across Arab World

By Indira A.R. Lakshmanan - Oct 19, 2011 10:10 AM GMT+0400

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is visiting Oman today to thank the Gulf state’s ruler for his role in securing the release of three American hikers jailed by Iran, and to discuss efforts to meet demands for greater economic and political freedoms in the sultanate.

Clinton will also hold talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al-Said on the recent alleged plot by Iran to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, and protests in nearby Syria and Yemen that have claimed the lives of demonstrators as the countries’ leaders cling to power, a U.S. official told reporters traveling with the secretary of State.

The U.S. is seeking to exert pressure on Iran, which it views as a rogue state that threatens global security, and Oman is key to that effort as a rare U.S. ally that has a friendly relationship with the government in Tehran, said the U.S. official, who spoke on condition that his name not be used because of the sensitive nature of the talks.

Qaboos was instrumental in the release last month of Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer, who spent two years imprisoned in Iran on charges of illegal entry and espionage, and in last year’s release of a third hiker, Sarah Shourd.

Lawyers for the three said Oman arranged for $500,000 in bail to be paid for each as a condition of their release. The trio, who denied spying, said they were trekking in Iraq in July 2009 when they were beckoned to approach a guard who then arrested them for illegal entry into neighboring Iran.


  1. "...this tiny Gulf state..."

    America! F*ck yeah!

  2. muscat daily printed the afp article today with the same refernce to oman. What the hell?!

  3. The Italian press (which invaded Muscat for the Opera House opening), used exactly the same expression: "tiny country". The amusing thing is that Oman is actually bigger than Italy!

  4. AZ. it's not. Considerably.
    301000 sq km (Italy), 212000 sq km (Oman).
    Oman is actually tinier even than small European country, the UK.

  5. Hazchem, Oman appears to be much bigger than you think. Both Wikipedia and the (much more reliable) CIA World Factbook, refer to 309500 sqkm.This is confirmed by the UN website.

    In any event, Luxembourg is a tiny country, Oman is definitely not!

  6. Er, yes.......apologies AZ, you are right. It seems the sources I chose to trust are much less reliable than yours! But strangely if you google "size of Oman" the figure I gave comes up quite a lot. Just shows how misinformation can spread around the internet!

    And Oman is bigger than the UK as well. By the way I used the word "tiny" ironically, in the same way that Mrs Hazchem also does on a regular basis. I think.

  7. Mr. Hazchem, I would never comment on any ironic use of the word "tiny" by your better half :)

    You are right, on Google you have to scroll down quite a lot to see something different from 212000 sq km. How peculiar...

  8. The Wikipedia entry for "Geography of Oman" is also strange: according to official estimates, covers a total land area of approximately 300,000 square kilometers; foreign observer estimates, however, are about 212,000 square kilometers. Are foreign observers thick, or devious. Has someone secretly stolen, or hidden 90,000 square kilometres of Oman. What's going on?

  9. Very strange indeed. I think that UD should look into this!

  10. By my reckoning:
    Mainland Oman 347000 sq kms
    Musandam 1950 sq kms
    Masirah Island 525 sq kms

    Didn't measure with great accuracy, but would be surprised if I was out more than 10%


  11. Could be that the mysterious village of Bahla and its surrounds appear one day, and not the next lol

  12. Al, how do you measure a country? (just curious)

  13. AZ,
    Various methods to measure areas of irregular shapes, for example countries:
    1. Overlay the country with a grid of one km squares and count them. Very tedious, but this is how it was done before the planimeter was invented.
    2. Use a planimeter.
    3. Use a computer. Display the country outline in appropriate software. Digitise map border and area is automatically calculated
    Error will be due to how carefully you follow the outline, so the bigger the map scale, the smaller the error.


  14. Yes, while the area of Oman should be fixed, and Al is spot on above, note the error is usually found wrt the coast line length. Coast line is a scale dependent measurement.

  15. Dear friends,

    Her Majesty the queen of the Netherlands is planning a state visit to Oman. Of course this is giving food for thought in my country. Our prime minister today said the situation in your country is 'stable enough' for a visit of the queen. What is your opinion? Have recent political changes really made a difference? Please mail me at with your opinion.

    Keep up the good work!

    Harry van Bommel MP


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