Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oman denies denying offer of Patriot Anti-Ballistic Missiles. Secretary general Ministry of Foreign Affairs misses the memo

Great press release yesterday from Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, the Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denying Oman had denied an offer from the USA of some new generation Patriot Missiles.

Fair enough. Iran and Oman have long maintained cordial relations. And it's true that Oman was most concerned a couple of years ago that the US not stage attacks against Iran from the US 4 airbases based in Oman (Thumrait, Masirah, Seeb and Al-Masanah). Supposedly that's why good ol' Dick Cheney dropped by, to assuage HM's concerns as things were getting extra-tense.

The Iranians would be nuts to lob missiles at Oman. Not only would Thumrait be rather hard to hit, the Patriots would be unlikely to offer too much protection and the bases have hardened bunkers for the planes anyhow.

So either we don't need them because the Iranians will not fire on us, or we don't need them because they would be ineffective if they did fire. A few Aegis ships in the Gulf of Oman and around the Straights of Hormuz can do the job if required to say, protect the big radar installation in Mussandam, without us needing to draw a big target on ourselves with a measly couple of Patriot batteries. The US military assets in the countries that allegedly have accepted Patriots are host to some serious and more vulnerable US kit, like the 5th Fleet. It's rather hard to put an aircraft carrier in a hardened concrete and steel bunker.

Oman and the US military relationship is described at Global Security.org

As the US State dept says "U.S.-Omani relations were deepened in 1980 by the conclusion of two important agreements. One provided access to Omani military facilities by U.S. forces under agreed-upon conditions. "

Photo: Sayyid Al Busaidi, addressing the IAEA (file photo)

It seems pretty obvious that these conditions are along the lines of 'no attacking GCC or Iran'.

However it is common knowledge that the US and the UK based attacks on Iraq from Oman in both Gulf War I and II, and for the attacks on Afganistan (although most ordinary Omani have no idea that the US has big airbases here, nor that Oman was a key staging point for the Gulf wars). In addition, some NATO (and both UK and US military) support for the on-going AFPAK war is based out of Oman.

So perhaps 'the region' in the Ministry's definition does not include Afganistan or Pakistan? And agreeing to host the US airforce and stocks of US war materiel don't count as an alliance.

Ah, of such subtleties is the cloth of Diplomacy woven.

The Ministry's statement is here.

Oman denies receiving any offer from US

Times News Service
02 February 2010 05:52:16 Oman

MUSCAT: The Sultanate yesterday denied that it had received any offer from the United States offering to deploy missile shield in the Gulf against Iran.

This came in response to a report in The New York Times, published on its website on Saturday, indicating that military officials and administrative officials in the Sultanate had rejected this offer, which was apparently accepted by several countries in the Gulf region.

Sayyid Badr bin Hamad bin Hamoud Al Busaidi, secretary general, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the Sultanate’s position on such matters is fixed and that it does not accept bids from anyone or enter into alliances or axis against any state.

Al Busaidi also stressed that the country does not allow its territory to be used to carry out any military operations against any country in the region.

Patriot missiles
The New York Times, on its website, on Saturday quoted US military and administrative officials as saying that Qatar, the Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait had accepted the deployment of (Patriot) missiles of America in
their territories.

The newspaper quoted a senior official in the US administration, who did not reveal his identity, as saying: “Our first objective is to deter Iranians and the second objective is to reassure Arab countries, so that they do not feel the need for nuclear weapons to defend themselves; there certainly is another factor as well, that is to calm the Israelis.”

1 comment:

  1. very interesting. lets see how it plays out. the US tactic has moved from engagement to containment


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