Workers' Weekly On-Line
Volume 51 Number 26, November 20, 2021 ARCHIVE HOME JBCENTRE SUBSCRIBE

UK Carrier Strike Group

Ominous Visits of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace to Oman

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace with Oman Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs, His Highness Shihab bin Tariq, onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth

On November 5, a government defence press release [1] reported that Ben Wallace, Defence Secretary, was visiting Oman for "joint exercises with Oman". This is the second time that he has been to Oman this year. During the visit he hosted the Oman Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs, His Highness Shihab bin Tariq, onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, the Navy's flagship aircraft carrier, which was docked at that time [2] at Duqm port in Oman. This was timed as the UK Armed Forces carried out joint land, sea and air exercises with the Omani Forces, which are still ongoing.

Previously, on September 12, Ben Wallace had announced that the British Joint Logistics Support Base on Oman's south east coast will be enhanced with a further £23.8 million in funding for infrastructure expansion [3]. Also, revealed during the the Defence Secretary's visit to Oman, the investment in Duqm port will "triple the size of the existing UK base" and help facilitate Royal Navy deployments directly through the Arabian Sea to the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific. At the same time, the Duqm base is strategically located to support the operations of the Anglo-US forces and their allies in the Persian Gulf, mainly threatening Iran in its own territorial waters, and complementing the recently enhanced UK Naval Support Facility in Bahrain on the other side of the Hormuz Strait in the Persian Gulf.

Run as an Omani joint venture with the British-based company Babcock International, Duqm Naval Dockyard has two dry docks capable of receiving Britain's new Queen-Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers and handling major ship repairs. It is also offering its services to other navies and has won repair contracts for two US fleet tankers and an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. In addition, the port has a military-grade 4,000-metre airfield, and it is reported that London will likely use Omani warehousing and maintenance facilities to store equipment for an armoured brigade group.

This according to reports is said to be very significant for Britain's ability to fast-generate forces in the Gulf without needing to place permanent manpower in the region. This is a demonstration of how Britain, along with the US and their allies, aim to continue their military interventions having been forced to withdraw from Afghanistan, Syria and other countries in the Middle East and West Asia following their invasions and occupations that caused so much death and destruction. Now they want to continue their warmongering by expanding the ability to rapidly deploy and intervene with navies, armies and air force anywhere without having to ship out heavy weapons and equipment which will already be installed in their expanded bases like Oman. During the visit, the government statement points out: "RAF Typhoon jets arrived in Oman in advance of Exercise 'Magic Carpet' - a joint air exercise between the UK, Oman and Qatar Air Forces which will take place in the coming weeks."

The visit by the the Defence Secretary was also described as a "renewal" of a "hugely valuable relationship" with Oman when Britain had already signed a new Joint Defence Agreement with Sultan Qaboos in February 2019. So what are the British imperialists renewing for the US and their allies? Britain first signed treaties with Oman which go back to 1798 and 1800. The treaties barred other powers from Oman and gave Britain exclusive access in communication and navigation for the British East Indian Company and its Royal Navy so that they could carry out their brutal colonial exploitation and rule over India and other colonies in Asia and Africa. In return, Britain guaranteed the Sultan's rule over Oman against its rival powers and in brutally suppressing the Arab people of Oman who rose up against injustices and the occupation of Britain and other powers of Arab lands in the following centuries.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

The present situation in which the old sultan had died in January 2020 without a son, bringing his Royal line at an end, has called into question the Joint Defence Agreement he signed in 2019. As one defence commentator put it [4]: "That agreement was interpreted [by US and Britain] as the ailing and fiercely Anglophilic Sultan Qaboos making institutional arrangements that would outlast him, in keeping with the spirit of the original 1800 agreement, which declared that the bond between Oman and Britain should be 'unshook till the end of time'." The current Sultan is Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, reigning since 2020. Oman's open policy towards China in these circumstances is the concern of the Anglo-US imperialists as they see Oman as integral to their attempt to dominate the Indian Ocean and Asia Pacific and surround Russia and China. Ben Wallace claimed that his visit represented "the UK's integrated approach to defence and foreign policy and the UK's enduring commitment to working with Oman and Gulf partners on promoting regional security and stability". But the interests of the Anglo-US imperialists are the opposite of integration. Their plan is to exclude Oman's neighbour Iran, as well as Russia and China. Neither has it anything to do with friendly relations with the people of Oman and the Arab peoples, nor is it aimed at "regional security and stability".

Regional security and stability can only start to come about if Britain ceases its expansion, and its occupation of Anglo-US military and naval bases in Oman, Bahrain and elsewhere. Britain should get their Carrier Strike Group and all Britain's forces out of the Persian Gulf and Arabia and all foreign lands and recall them to Britain immediately. The necessity is to oppose the warmongering ambitions of the British ruling elite and its Westminster consensus alongside the US. The people must continue to affirm the right to be of all nations and peoples of the world, and take a stand for the renewal of international relations based on international law rather than a self-serving "rules-based international order". International issues and world security cannot and must not be settled by force of arms.

1. "Defence Secretary Visits Oman for Joint Exercises"
2. HMS Queen Elizabeth at time writing has come through the Suez canal and is presently in the Mediterranean sea, whilst British-led military exercises continue in Oman.
3. "Defence Secretary announces investment in strategic Omani port"
4. "Britain in Oman: Washington's Strategic Partner", Jonathan Campbell-James, The Washington Institute for Near East Studies


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