Hundreds arrested in Oman as security forces disperse protesters


Dissatisfied by their ruler’s response to their demands, Omanis who kept their protests’ momentum on the roll witnessed security forces clearing their protest camps with hundreds being arrested on Saturday.

According to protesters, security forces have also stamped out two more demonstration centers.

Many protesters dubbed Sultan Qaboos’ response to their demands for economic and social change, as lacking or too slow. In March, he sacked 12 ministers without naming a reason, but protesters demanded they be tried for corruption.

In the southern port of Salalah, security forces fired shots in the air to push out protesters camped outside the provincial governor’s office late on Thursday, destroying their tents and arresting dozens and possibly hundreds of protesters, witnesses said. No one was seriously injured.

Oman lifts 800,000 barrels of oil a day but has a poorer population than its wealthy neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, which produces 2.2 million barrels a day.

More jobs, better wages, an end to graft and more democratic reforms are the protesters’ demands

“They are trying to crush our movement,” an activist in Salalah, who asked not to be named, told Reuters by telephone, indicating the government was extending gains made when it put down protests in the northeastern industrial city of Sohar.

Omani security forces suppressed unrest in Sohar by deploying armored vehicles and troops to break up roadblocks and a protest camp, while arresting hundreds. At least two protesters were killed during protests there.

But in the capital Muscat, security forces did not use force as much since protesters complied when they abandoned their daily sit-in.

Sultan Qaboos Bin Said, a US ally who has ruled Oman for 40 years, promised a $2.6 billion spending package in April after nearly two months of demonstrations inspired by popular Arab uprisings across the Arab world.

(Dina Al-Shibeeb, an editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: [email protected])