SOHAR, Oman (AFP) – Turbaned troops in armored cars have put the genie of Arab revolts back in the bottle in Sohar, a reputed hometown of ”Sinbad the Sailor” and focus of violent protests in normally sleepy Oman.
As gas flares shoot up outside the industrial city on the Arabian Sea, a no-nonsense security deployment aims to ensure no repetition of the lawlessness of February 28 when a supermarket and government offices were torched.
Armored cars, hundreds of soldiers in full combat gear, dozens of anti-riot police, a sinister-looking black water cannon and a helicopter on Friday ensured the weekly prayers in mosques passed off without incident.
”Omanis are not greedy. We don’t want too much, but we do want change and we want to be able to make a living and raise our families,” said a 28-year-old onlooker in Oman’s traditional ”kumma” white flat cap and dishdasha robe.
”We should also be a well-off country, like our neighbors. We have oil, we have gas, we have gold,” said the young man, who himself works for Oman’s police force.
Inspired by uprising across the Arab world, demonstrators at the southeast corner of the Middle East where 40 percent of the population are under 15 have been agitating for jobs, economic benefits and an end to corruption in Oman.