Iranian Counterinsurgency Operations in the Sultanate of Oman, 1973-1979

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Institutional Affiliation : 
Jagiellonian University
Academic Bio: 
Jerzy F. Kotarba is a Ph.D. candidate in Iranian Studies at the Faculty of Philology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow (Poland). He holds an MA in Iranian studies and an MA in Arab Studies from the same university. His two Master’s theses were titled, respectively, Oman w XVII i pierwszej połowie XVIII w. w perskiej historiografii i literaturze podróżniczej. "Historia ekspansji Persji za panowania Safawidów i Nâdir Šâha Afšâra” [in Polish; "The image of Oman in the 16th and first half of the 17th centuries based on Persian historiography and travel literature. The history of Persian expansion during the Safawî and Nâdir Šâh Afšâr reign"] and “Diplomatic and Military Relations between the Sultanate of Oman and Imperial Iran, 1968-1979.” His research interests include political and military history of the Persian Gulf area in the 19th and 20th centuries, and particularly between 1945 and 1979. In addition, he is interested in the cooperation of Arab and Iranian Leftist movements following World War II. His publications comprise the following articles: Kotarba J. “Communist propaganda and indoctrination in the Sultanate of Oman during the Ẓufâr conflict, 1965-1974. An introductory study of the insurgency documents and the problems of their translation into English.” Oriental Languages in Translation, Polish Academy of Sciences Press: Krakow, 2008. Kotarba J. “Support and cooperation of the underground Iranian leftist movement with the Omani communist insurgency in Ẓufâr.” [in review].

The essentially passive Iranian diplomacy of the post-war period was replaced by more involved and imaginative foreign policy in the aftermath of the British withdrawal from Aden in 1967 and the January 1968 announcement of the Britain’s military withdrawal from the Gulf prior to December 1971. The most well documented and analysed Iranian initiative to police the Persian Gulf and the Indian Ocean basin was the occupation of three Arab islands: Abū Mūsā, and Greater and Lesser Tumbs in November 1971. However, it was the involvement of the Shah’s Iran in the conflict in Ẓufār, the southern province of the Sultanate of Muscat and Oman (renamed in August 1970 Sultanate of Oman, arab. Salṭanat ‘Umān), which became the most crucial and visible demonstration of the Iran’s new stance as the guardian of the Persian Gulf region. The deployment of the Iranian task force in support of Sultan Qābūs bin Sa‘īd al-Būsa‘īdī's anti-insurgency efforts in December 1973 posed the first challenge to Soviet interests and began a new era in the history of Iranian-Omani relations and the Iranian Armed Forces. This paper is an account of the Iranian counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Ẓufār in the period between 1973 and 1979. The study has been based on all the available publications in Persian, Arabic and English. The paper closes with a review of the benefits and disadvantages of the Iranian intervention in Oman. Keywords: Iran – Foreign relations – Oman; Oman History – Dhofar War; Irregular warfare

Academic Discipline : 
Iran – Foreign relations – Oman; Oman History – Dhofar War
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