Dhufar Rebellion

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Armed insurrection against the ruler of Oman in the southern province of Dhufar (19651975).

In 1965, the Dhufar Liberation Front (DFL) initiated an uprising against the rule of Sultan Saʿid bin Taymur Al Bu Saʿid of Oman, whose neglect of social and economic development in the Dhufar region was especially pronounced. At first the uprising was primarily a tribal separatist movement, organized by the DFL in a part of Oman never meaningfully integrated with the rest of the sultanate, and it received encouragement from Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

The course of the rebellion changed dramatically in 1968 after a Marxist state had emerged in neighboring and newly independent South Yemen (People's Democratic Republic of Yemen; PDRY). The uprising then had a secure PDRY base and a steady flow of money and weapons from the Soviet Union, China, and other Communist states that also offered training to the rebels. The movement's goals were reflected in its new name, Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG). By the end of 1969, PFLOAG controlled all of Dhufar except for a coastal enclave around the capital, Salala. When another rebel movement, the National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf (NDFLOAG), emerged in northern Oman in 1970, disaffected Omanis, including the sultan's exiled uncle, conspired with military advisers from Britain and with Qabus ibn Saʿid Al Bu Saʿid, the sultan's son, to depose Saʿid. Qabus, who came to power in July 1970, made defeating the Dhufar rebellion his first priority.

Support from Britain, especially in the form of seconded and contract military officers, was crucial, and Iran's supplies of material and manpower were important in countering a determined insurgency in mountainous terrain where, for half the year, monsoon weather severely reduced visibility. Also significant were Jordan's loan of military officers and large financial infusions from the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, all of which feared the radical leftist threat.

In 1971 PFLOAG and NDFLOAG merged, becoming the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf. The insurgency, however, succumbed over the next four years to Qabus's combined military, political, and economic initiatives, including, importantly, amnesty for rebels who laid down their arms. The success of the government's counteroffensive was reflected in the rebel move-ment's assumption of the more modest title Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman (PFLO) in 1974. By the end of the following year, only isolated pockets of resistance remained in the rugged interior, and the rebellion essentially ended.

See also Al Bu Saʿid, Qabus ibn Saʿid; Dhufar; Ibadiyya; National Democratic Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arab Gulf; People's Democratic Republic of Yemen; Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf.


Allen, Calvin H., Jr. Oman: The Modernization of the Sultanate. London: Croom Helm; Boulder,CO: Westview Press, 1987.

Halliday, Fred. Arabia without Sultans. Baltimore; Harmondsworth, U.K: Penguin, 1974.

malcolm c. peck updated by eric hooglund