Revolutionary Papers

Revolutionary Papers is a transnational research collaboration exploring 20th century periodicals of Leftanti-imperial and anti-colonial critical production. Read More

Sawt al Thawra
1. Sawt al-Thawra
2. Revolution and Counterinsurgency
3. Gulf Solidarity
4. Women’s Liberation
5. Solidarity and Support Committees
6. Political Movements
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Sawt al Thawra

Sawt al Thawra

Voice of the Revolution

Presented by

— Marral Shamshiri-Fard
Marral Shamshiri-Fard is a PhD candidate in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has an MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She is interested in the histories of the Iranian and Arab revolutionary lefts in the Middle East in the 1960s and 1970s. She is a Council Member of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and a Managing Editor of the journal Cold War History.

Journal Referenced

Last Updated
This tool is intermittently updated to integrate new information sent to the authors.

21 April 2022

Sawt al-Thawra (Voice of the Revolution) was a weekly bulletin published by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Oman and the Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG), or Jabha al-Shaʻbīya li-Taḥrīr ʻUmān wa-al-Khalīj al-ʻArabī in Arabic, from 1972. The PFLOAG was a Marxist-Leninist organisation engaged in armed revolutionary struggle in Dhofar, Oman, against a counterinsurgency commanded by British officers with the assistance of Iranian, Jordanian and other forces. The 9th of June 1965 was declared as the first day of the Dhofar Revolution which continued until the formal end of the war in 1976, although revolutionary activities, including in the cultural sphere, extended beyond this date. Sawt al-Thawra was a key periodical which articulated the PFLOAG’s revolutionary conception of the world, placing the Dhofar Revolution within the global constellation of revolutionary Third World, leftist and anticolonial networks. Sawt al-Thawra was written, edited, and published in Aden, the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY), which was the main support base of the revolution.

Its pages are filled with news items, articles, reports and interviews concerning not only the revolution, military operations, the counterinsurgency and its collaborators, but connections with and mentions of global revolutionary movements and socialist states across the world. This Teaching Tool considers the periodical as an important archival source and offers a detailed and contextualised exploration of how Sawt al-Thawra constructed an internationalist revolutionary worldview through analysis of key themes: connections with the transnational Left in the Middle East including the Palestinian Revolution and the Iranian Left; references to various national liberation movements and figures from Cuba to Vietnam; attention to women’s liberation in the PFLOAG’s project of social transformation; and engagement with solidarity and support committees in the global New Left. Beyond its abundant expression of a politically situated and imagined revolutionary subjectivity, Sawt al-Thawra presents a window into the material transnational and transregional links between the Dhofar Revolution and the tricontinental world in the long 1960s.

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    Sawt al-Thawra
    2
    Revolution and Counterinsurgency
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    Gulf Solidarity
    4
    Women’s Liberation
    5
    Solidarity and Support Committees
    6
    Political Movements
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    1

    Sawt al-Thawra

    A map of the Arabian Peninsula’s colonial formation and connected waters in 1939. Present-day Oman is located on the southeastern coast of the peninsula. On this map Dhofar lies on the western border with Aden Protectorate, part of present-day Yemen. The relationship between Muscat and Oman, and Britain, in the 19th and 20th centuries was defined by imperial domination and patronage as Britain was involved in overseeing the internal and external affairs of Muscat and Oman. Throughout the Al Bu Sa’id dynasty, a client state existed as rulers were propped up or deposed in line with British security, economic and strategic interests in the Indian Ocean and Western interests over the oil reserves of the Persian Gulf. In 1970, Britain replaced Said bin Taimur with his son, Sultan Qaboos bin Said. 1 See Abdel Razzaq Takriti, “The 1970 Coup in Oman Reconsidered,” Journal of Arabian Studies 3:2 (2013): 155-173. Source: “Arabia 1939” by Erik Daugaard Photography – Copenhagen is marked with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

    Photograph taken in Salalah, Dhofar in 2018. Dhofar is known for its mountains and monsoon season. The green highlands and thick monsoon clouds provided important cover to the PFLOAG’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) for guerrilla operations and the transportation of supplies. Source: Personal archive of the author.

    Sawt al-Thawra was set up by three members of the PFLOAG’s media and foreign relations section, Abdulnabi Alekry and Abdullah Al Mtiwea from Bahrain, and Abdullah Al Saad from Kuwait, who formed a media committee with a small number of other members. The periodical was published in both Arabic and English, with the English issues usually a brief, summarised version of the Arabic. Many of the people of Dhofar were unable to read or write, while the language common to many of the natives of Dhofar was the jabali (mountain) dialect, among other modern Southern Arabian languages in the wider region. The publication of Sawt al-Thawra in Arabic and English was therefore intended primarily for a global audience as a way of cohering and engaging with internationalist political currents and movements in and beyond the Gulf region.

    1. See Abdel Razzaq Takriti, “The 1970 Coup in Oman Reconsidered,” Journal of Arabian Studies 3:2 (2013): 155-173.
    2

    Revolution and Counterinsurgency

    In a communiqué dated 9 June 1965, the Dhofar Liberation Front (DLF) announced the commencement of armed struggle against the British-backed Sultanate of Muscat and Oman, marking the beginning of thawrat dhufar, the Dhofar Revolution (1965–76). The Arabic term al-thawra 1Thawra; Arabic: ثَوْرَة, meaning revolution, was the concept used by the revolutionary political movement in Dhofar to define its struggle. It was used by the editors of Sawt al-Thawra, meaning voice of the revolution. was used by the popular revolutionary movement to describe and legitimise the armed struggle, in contrast to how the majority of the studies, historiography, and cultural production on Dhofar in the English language have framed the events of 1965–76, which as the historian Abdel Razzaq Takriti has argued, avoid “the term ‘revolution’, relying instead upon such terms as ‘insurgency’, ‘rebellion’, ‘war’, and ‘campaign’”.2Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman 1965-1976 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 7-8.

    This poster made by the Iranian Students Association in the United States (a member of the transnational student organisation, the Confederation of Iranian Students – National Union [CISNU]) refers to the more than $3 billion worth of US arms sales made to Iran in 1972, when Iranian purchases rocketed from an annual $150 million per year to several billions per year. Source: University of Kansas Libraries.

    Sawt al-Thawra reported weekly on a wide range of the revolution’s military, social and political developments. The military activities, losses and successes of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) against the British-led counterinsurgency comprising Iranian, Jordanian, Baloch, Omani and mercenary assistance or troops as well as Saudi support were publicised in the periodical. Documenting the revolution’s resistance in a colonial war, Sawt al-Thawra revealed how despite Britain’s ostensible military withdrawal from the Gulf following the “East of Suez” policy from 1968-71, Britain’s military involvement and presence in the region actually continued in the early 1970s through the secret war in Dhofar.

    After the British were forced out of Aden in 1967, the People’s Republic of South Yemen became the first, and only, Marxist state in the Middle East. In the aftermath of the British withdrawal from its strategic bases in the Gulf, Iran became the regional power to fill Britain’s historic security role in the region. Iran’s position was reinforced by the Nixon Doctrine, as the US sought to reduce its interventionist foreign policy and limit the deployment of troops abroad following the Vietnam War, thus encouraging allies in Asia to effectively fight their own wars: “let Asians fight Asians”.3See Marc Pellas, “Oman: How the Shah of Iran Saved the Regime,” Orient XXI, https://orientxxi.info/magazine/oman-how-the-shah-of-iran-saved-the-regime,3681 and Marral Shamshiri-Fard, “Why Oman Loves Iran,” Foreign Policy https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/16/sultan-qaboos-oman-loves-iran-shah/. The US however continued to play a role in promoting anti-communist interests in Asia without committing ground troops.

    With Iran’s newfound role in the region, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, the shah of Iran, intervened militarily in Dhofar by sending military assistance and several thousand ground troops to defeat the revolution. In May 1972, the shah signed a “blank cheque” deal with the Nixon administration which allowed Iran to effectively purchase any US weapons except nuclear ones.4See Stephen McGlinchey, US Arms Policies Towards the Shah’s Iran (London: Routledge, 2014). The shah consequently merited the title of ‘policeman’ of the Gulf by commentators and detractors alike, equipped with billions worth of sophisticated arms and weapons from the US – which were used in Dhofar under British command.

    A photograph of Sultan Said bin Taimur, father of Qaboos, with Colonel David Smiley, 1958. Source: Wikimedia Commons. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.

    In order to undermine the local ruling classes involved in crushing the Dhofar Revolution, Sawt al-Thawra frequently used the hyperbolic language of puppetry in reference to the sheikhs, shahs, and sultans of the region who had ascended their thrones through coups and imperialist or colonial undertakings. The puppet-master language and analogy was thus used as a strategy intended to delegitimise the Gulf’s rulers. In the context of the resource-rich and strategically important Gulf region, the analysis of Iran’s role was somewhat akin to a structural system of sub-imperialism in which the sub-imperialist power, the shah of Iran, was seen as colluding with the imperialist core, Britain and the United States, in the wider setting of global capitalism. 5The theory of sub-imperialism was developed by the Brazilian economist Ruy Mauro Marini In the 1970s. On its application to Iran, see: Feroz Ahmed, ‘Iran: Subimperialism in Action,’ Pakistan Forum, vol. 3, no. 6/7, Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), 1973, 10–20.

    In a 1976 issue of Sawt al-Thawra, the penultimate article titled “Puppets in Muscat and Fascists in Chile are Two Faces on One Coin” criticised the establishment of diplomatic relations between the “natural allies” of Oman and Chile. Here, a transregional thread was recognised between the experiences of the two states, as both regimes had come about as a result of coups orchestrated or backed by Britain and the US: Sultan Qaboos was installed by the British in 1970 to replace his father, while the US-backed coup in Chile in 1973 removed the democratically elected socialist Salvador Allende and resulted in the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. 6 Sawt al-Thawra, [unnumbered], 17 March 1976.

    Articles published in Sawt al-Thawra, whether observing the revolution’s developments or condemning the counterinsurgency, were intended for an international audience to raise public awareness about the atrocities in Dhofar. Regular reports of arrests, imprisonment and detainees filled the pages of the periodical. News items travelled in various forms within a transnational counter-public as Sawt al-Thawra issues were circulated through global support networks and even reprinted outside of Dhofar. For example, Gulf Solidarity was a periodical published by the Support Committee for the Liberation Movement in the Gulf, based in California, US, which reprinted excerpts from Sawt al-Thawra in English to “encourage active support for the revolution in the Gulf”; to inform the people of the US about developments in the Gulf; and to raise money and material aid for the PFLOAG. 7 The Gulf: Solidarity, vol. 1, no. 1, October 1972. Subsequent issues were titled Gulf Solidarity: Solidarity with Revolution in Oman & the Gulf.

    Sawt al-Thawra was received not only in networks that were supportive of the revolution but also by the counterinsurgent forces as an important form of political communication that was monitored by the Oman Research Department and the British government. 8 For example, see: FCO 8/2031; FCO 8/2485; FCO 8/2489 (London: The National Archives). Hereafter TNA. The Oman Research Department was the successor to the Oman Intelligence Service, an agency set up by intelligence officer Malcolm Dennison in 1958 as part of the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF), then under the command of Colonel David Smiley, to monitor popular revolutionary activities deemed subversive. 9 Oman’s military, the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF), which led the counterinsurgency against the revolution was commanded by a series of British SAS officers following Smiley who had served in colonial counterinsurgency campaigns in Palestine, Cyprus, India, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Aden and Malaya. In addition to local radio and the PFLOAG magazine 9 Yunyu (9 June), Sawt al-Thawra provided a significant source of intelligence.

    1. Thawra; Arabic: ثَوْرَة, meaning revolution, was the concept used by the revolutionary political movement in Dhofar to define its struggle. It was used by the editors of Sawt al-Thawra, meaning voice of the revolution.
    2. Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman 1965-1976 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), 7-8.
    3. See Marc Pellas, “Oman: How the Shah of Iran Saved the Regime,” Orient XXI, https://orientxxi.info/magazine/oman-how-the-shah-of-iran-saved-the-regime,3681 and Marral Shamshiri-Fard, “Why Oman Loves Iran,” Foreign Policy https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/16/sultan-qaboos-oman-loves-iran-shah/.
    4. See Stephen McGlinchey, US Arms Policies Towards the Shah’s Iran (London: Routledge, 2014).
    5. The theory of sub-imperialism was developed by the Brazilian economist Ruy Mauro Marini In the 1970s. On its application to Iran, see: Feroz Ahmed, ‘Iran: Subimperialism in Action,’ Pakistan Forum, vol. 3, no. 6/7, Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), 1973, 10–20.
    6. Sawt al-Thawra, [unnumbered], 17 March 1976.
    7. The Gulf: Solidarity, vol. 1, no. 1, October 1972. Subsequent issues were titled Gulf Solidarity: Solidarity with Revolution in Oman & the Gulf.
    8. For example, see: FCO 8/2031; FCO 8/2485; FCO 8/2489 (London: The National Archives). Hereafter TNA.
    9. Oman’s military, the Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF), which led the counterinsurgency against the revolution was commanded by a series of British SAS officers following Smiley who had served in colonial counterinsurgency campaigns in Palestine, Cyprus, India, Kenya, Northern Ireland, Aden and Malaya.
    excerpt

    Sawt al-Thawra, no. 39, 17 February 1973

    In this article, a Reuters news report on Oman’s granting of oil concessions to four foreign companies for exploration was recounted. Sawt al-Thawra criticised the granting of concessions by the “puppet Qaboos authorities” for handing over the wealth of the people to foreign monopolies.
    Sawt al-Thawra, no. 39, 17 February 1973. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

      3

      Gulf Solidarity

      Covers and Table of Contents from Gulf Solidarity: The contents pages from the following issues demonstrate the original sources of the reprinted articles from Sawt al-Thawra as well as other periodicals, bulletins and communiques including the PFLOAG’s monthly magazine 9 Yunyu (9 June). Source: Personal archive of the author.

        Cover of The Gulf: Solidarity, vol. 1, no. 1, October 1972.

        Cover of Gulf Solidarity, vol. 2, no. 4, May 1974.

        Cover of Gulf Solidarity, vol. 2, no. 5-6, Winter 1974-5.

        Cover of Gulf Solidarity, vol. 3, no. 1-2, Spring 1975.

        Gulf Solidarity, vol. 2, no. 4, May 1974.

        Gulf Solidarity, vol. 2, no. 5-6, Winter 1974-5.

        Gulf Solidarity, vol. 3, no. 1-2, Spring 1975.

        4

        Women’s Liberation

        A poster of a female cadre photographed by Christian Freund. Source: Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG).

        A striking aspect of the popular revolutionary movement in Dhofar was the PFLOAG’s commitment to the liberation of women, a policy that was adopted at the 1968 Hamrin Conference. The PFLOAG believed that the liberation of women was central to the success of the revolution which would not come about automatically but through a sustained struggle against the “objective backwardness” of society. 1 This was based on a Marxist, materialist conception and analysis of society. The Dhofar Revolution was influenced by Maoist thought, including on the equality of female cadres, popularised through Mao’s famous declaration that “women can hold up half the sky”. 2 Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (London: Vintage, 2019). Women’s political participation in the armed struggle alongside men was deemed an important aspect of equality while specific policies were later implemented in the liberated areas to transform the social position of women, such as the banning of female circumcision, polygyny, and the reduction of the bride price after unsuccessful attempts to abolish it completely.

        The PFLOAG’s policies remarkably challenged the “unhappy marriage” between feminism and Marxism, as conceptualised by the Western feminist scholar Heidi Hartmann in 1979 – in other words, the tension between women’s liberation and national liberation.3Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Toward A More Progressive Union,” Capital and Class 3:2 (Summer 1979): 1-33. The PFLOAG recognised the double oppression faced by women, both in terms of their position as women in relation to men, and in terms of their position as women in relation to the economic system. Attracted to the PFLOAG’s radical position, the Lebanese filmmaker Heiny Srour travelled to Dhofar in 1971, capturing documentary footage of women fighters later used in her 1974 film The Hour of Liberation Has Arrived (Saat El Tahrir Dakkat).4The film is currently available online: https://kinoforward.net/film/the-hour-of-liberation-has-arrived/

        I was a defeated feminist in Lebanon. The Lebanese Left was not interested in feminist issues and kept closing the subject under various pretexts, one being that the women will be free when the main enemy, Imperialism, is defeated. […] I couldn’t believe my ears when the representative of the Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf opened the subject of women from his own initiative and proudly said that the Front was fighting against women’s oppression — because women were not just oppressed by imperialism and class society, but also by their father, husband, brothers. I dropped my other film projects and put all my energy into making this film. 5 https://www.screenslate.com/articles/heiny-srour-hour-liberation-has-arrived

        The campaigns for, and implementation of, the above mentioned policies came through the initiatives of revolutionary women, the Bahraini cadre Laila Fakhro (Huda Salem) for example pushed the PFLOAG to ban female circumcision and limit the bride price.6See Takriti, Monsoon Revolution, 107-131. Laila Fakhro also played an important role in the revolution through political education, teaching, care-work, women’s activities, and the PFLOAG’s media and foreign relations.7Bassima Al-Ghassab, Hagh al-Hulm: Bahrainiyun fi Thawrat Dhufar (Riyad Al Rayyis, 2021). The PFLOAG’s other main periodical, 9 Yunyu (9 June), was a monthly magazine which preceded Sawt al-Thawra’s founding, set up in June 1970 by Laila Fakhro and Abdel Rahman al-Nuaimi (Said Seif).8Abdulnabi Alekry, Zakerat alwatan walmanfaa (Faradees, 2015).

        Sawt al-Thawra promoted women’s political participation in armed struggle, drawing parallels to female fighters such as Vietnamese women and thereby placing the PFLOAG’s revolutionary women in the wider tradition of the revolutionary Third World. The periodical highlighted and documented women’s protest, arrests and mistreatment of women and girls by the British-backed regime, and women’s internationalist activities. Women’s representatives and delegations took part in many regional and international conferences, prior to and after the official establishment of the Omani Women’s Organisation in June 1975, a committee headed by Wafa Yasser.

        The first official visit by an Omani women’s delegation, comprising Nadia Khaled and Huda Muhad, took place in July 1975 in a symposium on women’s economic development organised by the Soviet Women’s Committee in Alma-Ata, Soviet Republic of Kazakhstan. Following this trip to the Soviet Union, the delegation visited the Democratic Republic of Vietnam at the invitation of the Women’s Federation of Vietnam.9Sawt al-Thawra, no. 165, 9 August 1975; Sawt al-Thawra, no. 161, 13 July 1975. These encounters were important for producing strong ties of solidarity, the exchange of experiences and ideas, and direct engagement with a major source of their own inspiration, the Vietnamese people’s struggle. Most significantly, these material links demonstrate that Dhofar was not a detached revolution in a little-known and distant part of the Gulf, but one that was globally connected and which importantly placed emphasis on women’s political participation.

        1. This was based on a Marxist, materialist conception and analysis of society.
        2. Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History (London: Vintage, 2019).
        3. Heidi Hartmann, “The Unhappy Marriage of Marxism and Feminism: Toward A More Progressive Union,” Capital and Class 3:2 (Summer 1979): 1-33.
        4. The film is currently available online: https://kinoforward.net/film/the-hour-of-liberation-has-arrived/
        5. https://www.screenslate.com/articles/heiny-srour-hour-liberation-has-arrived
        6. See Takriti, Monsoon Revolution, 107-131.
        7. Bassima Al-Ghassab, Hagh al-Hulm: Bahrainiyun fi Thawrat Dhufar (Riyad Al Rayyis, 2021).
        8. Abdulnabi Alekry, Zakerat alwatan walmanfaa (Faradees, 2015).
        9. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 165, 9 August 1975; Sawt al-Thawra, no. 161, 13 July 1975.
        excerpt

        Women’s Liberation: Excerpts

          ▴ An excerpt of an essay titled “Women and the Revolution in Oman” written in 1975 and published by the Gulf Committee and Oman Solidarity Campaign in the pamphlet Women and the Revolution in Oman. The essay begins with the quote, “We suffered under four sultans. We had the political sultan – the Sultan of Muscat; the tribal sultan – the sheikh; the religious sultan – the Imam; and the family sultan – the father, brother and husband”. The publication recognised the oppressions faced by women on multiple personal and political levels. Source: Personal archive of the author.

          ▴ An article in Sawt al-Thawra on the first conference of Omani women: “A special supplement on the occasion of the first conference of Omani women: The revolution’s leadership confirms its support for the Omani Women’s Organisation”. In this article, the details of the first congress of the Omani Women’s Organisation, held on 18 and 19 June 1975, were outlined, when a working programme, organisational procedures and a central committee were established. The conference was widely attended and supported by observers and representatives from different areas of the Dhofar Revolution – the PFLO’s central executive committee, the local executive committee of the Dhofar region, the Revolution Schools, the PFLO’s Aden office, the PFLO’s office in the PDRY’s sixth governorate, the National Union of Omani Students – PDRY branch, the People’s Liberation Army and Popular Militia, the central media committee, and the General Union of Yemeni Women. Fighting illiteracy and improving women and girls’ social relations was central to the Women’s Organisation’s workplan. This was in contrast to the state-sponsored Association of Omani Women led by Awatef Arraimi, also designed to counter illiteracy among women, which was shut down by state authorities when it was discovered that Arraimi had held debates on how women were traditionally controlled in Omani society. In 1972 she was said to have been interrogated, dismissed, and forced underground with her activities by the British-backed Ministry of Information, Social Welfare and Labour, before being recalled again, interrogated, and threatened with imprisonment if she did not stop her destructive activities. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 160, 5 July 1975. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

          5

          Solidarity and Support Committees

          The emergence, activities and meetings of an organised global network of support committees in solidarity with the revolution in Dhofar and the Gulf in the early 1970s were reported in Sawt al-Thawra. The solidarity movement was geographically extensive with numerous committees formed across the so-called First, Second and Third Worlds including Algeria, Bahrain, Belgium, Denmark, France, West Germany, Italy, Kuwait, Lebanon, Somalia, the Soviet Union (initially Kiev, Moscow, Warsaw), Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, the United Kingdom, the United States, and elsewhere.1Sawt al-Thawra, no. 47, 14 April 1973. The global 1960s – a period of radicalism and protest, social and cultural revolutions in Europe, decolonisation and Cold War struggles in the Third World, and civil rights struggle in the US – enhanced these connections.2See for instance: Kristin Ross, May ’68 and its Afterlives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002); Quinn Slobodian, Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012); Jeremy Suri, Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Detente (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005); Chen Jian and Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, Mary Nolan, Marilyn Young and Joanna Waley-Cohen, eds., Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties (London: Routledge, 2018).

          In this context, a common vision and purpose against war and in pursuit of justice and freedom tied students and activists in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Africa with the revolutionary liberation movement in Dhofar and the Gulf. The membership of these committees combined Arab students, workers, and progressives with local left-wing students and activists. In many of these committees, particularly in metropolitan centres where large numbers of Iranian students were studying abroad, there was a significant presence of Iranian students who opposed the Iranian collusion in the war. The Confederation of Iranian Students – National Union (CISNU) played an important role in and alongside committees with Arab student unions in organising opposition to the shah’s role in the Gulf.3Afshin Matin-asgari, Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah, (California: Mazda Publishers, 2002).

          ▴ A solidarity poster produced by the Iranian Students Association in the US to commemorate 9 June, the anniversary of the Dhofar Revolution. Source: Center for the Study of Political Graphics (CSPG).

          The committees undertook various political and intellectual activities to demonstrate solidarity and support, raise awareness, and campaign for an end to the war. They organised the raising of funds, collected medical equipment and medicine, created and distributed educational pamphlets and materials, hosted seminars and film screenings, wrote articles and pursued media coverage, established ties with supportive organisations and parties, lobbied their respective parliaments, and sent representatives to congresses, meetings and conferences.

          ▴ In 1975, the French Support Committee of the Revolution in Oman produced a double-sided vinyl titled “Revolutionary Songs from the People of Oman Yemen, and Iran”. The record contained 10 tracks, documenting the voices and struggles of the popular movements across the Gulf. The text on the sleeve read: “if the ‘revolutionary peril’ sealed the union of imperialist forces and reactionaries in the Gulf, the peoples of the Arabian Peninsula and Iran are also united by deep ties and common interests”. The imagery featured in the songs comprised mountains and towns in Dhofar, a free society with no place for sheikhs and sultans, the mass demonstrations of August 1972 in Yemen, the mountainous Siahkal in northern Iran, and an Iranian plea to Iranian soldiers to end their support for Sultan Qaboos’s regime against the people of Dhofar.

          The second international solidarity conference took place from 27-30 December 1974 in Paris. This photo from the conference was published in Gulf Solidarity with a list of the committees in attendance. Gulf Solidarity, vol. 3, no. 1-2, Spring 1975. Source: Personal archive of the author.

          Photograph of Fred Halliday and PLA fighters in Dhofar. In the April 1973 solidarity conference, the Irish activist and later LSE academic Fred Halliday was elected President of the support committees. At the time, he was writing the book Arabia without Sultans following his first visit to Dhofar. Halliday was involved in establishing the Gulf Committee in Britain, alongside other individuals including Helen Lackner, Fawwaz Traboulsi and Kamel Mahdi. Source: LSE Archives and Special Collections.

          Two important international solidarity conferences took place in 1973 and 1974 in Aden, PDRY, and Paris, France, respectively which brought together representatives from various support committees. The first of these, the Congress of the Committees in Support of the Revolution in Oman and the Arabian Gulf took place from 16-19 April 1973 in Aden. The purpose of the conference was to establish practical working programmes for maximising solidarity efforts and supporting committee work. The delegations that were present in this congress were from the committees in France, Britain, West Germany, Belgium, Somalia, Kuwait, Poland and the Soviet Union.4Sawt al-Thawra, no. 48, 21 April 1973.

          In documenting and listing the diverse network of support for the revolution, Sawt al-Thawra publicised the contours of a counter-alliance of global political actors – students, activists, and progressives – working together to oppose foreign intervention in Dhofar and to support the anticolonial revolution. International congresses were an important site of mobilisation and exchange in addition to the frequent cables, messages and telegrams of solidarity published in Sawt al-Thawra.

          1. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 47, 14 April 1973.
          2. See for instance: Kristin Ross, May ’68 and its Afterlives (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002); Quinn Slobodian, Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (Durham: Duke University Press, 2012); Jeremy Suri, Power and Protest: Global Revolution and the Rise of Detente (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005); Chen Jian and Martin Klimke, Masha Kirasirova, Mary Nolan, Marilyn Young and Joanna Waley-Cohen, eds., Routledge Handbook of the Global Sixties (London: Routledge, 2018).
          3. Afshin Matin-asgari, Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah, (California: Mazda Publishers, 2002).
          4. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 48, 21 April 1973.
          excerpt

          Solidarity and Support Committees: Excerpts

          In this Sawt al-Thawra supplement from the April 1973 solidarity conference, a representative of the Palestinian resistance praised the initiatives of the support committees for “their effective role in serving the revolution and breaking the information embargo struck on it”.1 Sawt al-Thawra, no. 48, 21 April 1973. An important aspect of the respective committees’ work was bringing the complicity of the counterinsurgent forces to the media, particularly given that there was a general policy of silence in the British establishment. In the UK, controlled media restrictions were monitored by the British government in order to keep Britain’s colonial war out of the public eye and to determine the acceptable language and framings that were presented to the few defence and foreign correspondents who were invited by the government of Oman, under the approval of British defence officials, to report on the war.2FCO 8/2470, TNA. See also Ian Cobain, The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation (London: Granta Publications, 2016), 74-5. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 48, 21 April 1973. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

          1. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 48, 21 April 1973.
          2. FCO 8/2470, TNA. See also Ian Cobain, The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation (London: Granta Publications, 2016), 74-5.
          6

          Political Movements

          Sawt al-Thawra was the organ of the PFLOAG which by the time of the periodical’s publication in 1972 was the main organisation of the revolutionary political movement in Dhofar. The PFLOAG emerged out of the DLF at the Hamrin Conference in September 1968, adopting among other resolutions a commitment to armed struggle, a strategy of connecting the struggle in Dhofar to the wider revolutionary struggle of the Gulf region, and an ideological position of scientific socialism. Regarding the latter, the adoption of a Marxist-Leninist ideology not only brought about elements of Soviet and Chinese support but also positioned the struggle in Dhofar and the Gulf in the tricontinental network of the revolutionary struggles of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

          Reporting on and publishing the telegrams, messages and visits between the PFLOAG and socialist states, political organisations, student associations, trade unions, and other connected movements, Sawt al-Thawra documented and revealed a geographically vast web of the PFLOAG’s political and foreign relations anchored in the often overlapping socialist world and the revolutionary Third World. As the official archives of the Dhofar Revolution based in Aden were lost during the 1994 Yemeni civil war, Sawt al-Thawra offers an abundant source of information, detail and documentary evidence on the PFLOAG’s international activities and connections.

          In this issue of the PFLP Bulletin, the authors reported on a visit by the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam to Dhofar between 16-26 September 1972. A joint communique was issued pledging the support of both parties to one another, including the Vietnamese delegation’s denouncement of “the regional plans of imperialism in the Gulf, and the attempt to suppress the people’s struggle and maintaining the area under the control of the oil cartels and their local Sultan agents”. The delegations both declared their unequivocal support for the Palestinian people.
          PFLP Bulletin, no. 4, 1972. Source: Institute for Palestine Studies.

          “We are with you, o revolutionaries of Oman”: A special section on the Dhofar Revolution in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s periodical Filastin al-Thawra on the tenth anniversary of the revolution.
          Filastin al-Thawra, no. 146, 8 June 1975. Source: Institute for Palestine Studies.

          The coverage given to Palestine in Sawt al-Thawra displayed the extent to which the Palestinian Revolution was important for the PFLOAG both materially and symbolically. The PFLOAG had close relations with organisations such as the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PDFLP), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and Fatah. Regular communications and exchanges with Palestinian organisations were published in Sawt al-Thawra in addition to poetry, interviews and articles about the Palestinian cause. 1 See for example: Sawt al-Thawra, no. 133, 7 December 1974 on the Palestinian issue; Sawt al-Thawra, no. 166, 10 August 1975 on a statement from George Habash, Secretary General of the PFLP, about the Omani and Palestinian revolutions; Sawt al-Thawra, [unnumbered,] 3 February 1976 for a poem by Sakher Habash, a leading figure in Fatah.

          A few Palestinian volunteers took part in the Dhofar Revolution, such as Nazmi Khorshid (Doctor Marwan) who joined via the PDFLP, alongside other cadres and medical volunteers, such as the Iranian sisters Mahbubeh Afraz (Docturah Zahra) and Rafat Afraz from the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (Marxist-Leninist), and a Cuban medical delegation that established the Martyr Fatima Ghanana (al-Shaheeda Fatima Ghanana) Hospital in Al-Ghaydah. 2 Halliday, Sultans, 385; Takriti, Monsoon Revolution, 302; Naghmeh Sohrabi, “Where the Small Things Are: Thoughts on Writing Revolutions and their Histories,” Jadaliyya, 21 May 21 2020, https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/41154; Fernando Camacho Padilla, “Las Relaciones Entre Latinoamérica E Irán Durante La última década De La dinastía Pahleví,” Anuario De Historia De América Latina 56 (December 2019): 66-96.

          In addition to the student-based solidarity activities of Iranian students studying in metropolitan centres mostly in Europe and North America, a number of clandestine Iranian Left organisations including the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (Marxist-Leninist), the Organisation of Iranian People’s Fadai Guerrillas and the Star Group operating under the Organisations of the National Front of Iran Abroad (Middle East Branch) established relations with the PFLO. 3 See the excerpt below. Through these connections, small numbers of Iranians volunteered in the revolution as abovementioned as medical volunteers; as fighters in the People’s Liberation Army; as teachers; and some worked in the revolution’s media and foreign relations department. The extensive coverage in Sawt al-Thawra following the shah’s activities included regular translations from Iranian newspapers, which was made possible by the physical presence of an Iranian cadre in the PFLOAG’s media committee.

          1. See for example: Sawt al-Thawra, no. 133, 7 December 1974 on the Palestinian issue; Sawt al-Thawra, no. 166, 10 August 1975 on a statement from George Habash, Secretary General of the PFLP, about the Omani and Palestinian revolutions; Sawt al-Thawra, [unnumbered,] 3 February 1976 for a poem by Sakher Habash, a leading figure in Fatah.
          2. Halliday, Sultans, 385; Takriti, Monsoon Revolution, 302; Naghmeh Sohrabi, “Where the Small Things Are: Thoughts on Writing Revolutions and their Histories,” Jadaliyya, 21 May 21 2020, https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/41154; Fernando Camacho Padilla, “Las Relaciones Entre Latinoamérica E Irán Durante La última década De La dinastía Pahleví,” Anuario De Historia De América Latina 56 (December 2019): 66-96.
          3. See the excerpt below.
          excerpt

          Political Movements: Excerpts

            ▴ In this issue of Sawt al-Thawra, military communique no. 17 issued by the Iranian People’s Mojahedin Organisation was translated into Arabic from the Persian and republished, in which the Mojahedin explained why they had carried out revolutionary explosions across Tehran in March 1974 to protest the visit of Sultan Qaboos to Iran in solidarity with the people of Dhofar. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 104, 18 May 1974. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

            ▴ In this article, the PFLOAG participated in the eighth anniversary celebrations of the Palestinian Revolution in 1973, called by the Palestinian national liberation movement Fatah. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 33, 6 January 1973. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

            ▴ In this example, Sawt al-Thawra published a congratulatory telegram sent to the Central Committee of the PFLOAG by the PFLP. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 84, 29 December 1973. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

            ▴ Sawt al-Thawra documented the PFLOAG’s connections to student networks and socialist state actors in Eastern Europe. On page 2, Sawt al-Thawra published a telegram of solidarity demanding the release of political prisoners and detainees received from the International Democratic Youth Conference in Budapest in 1973. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.

            ▴ Page 3 provided a report on a PFLOAG delegation to Eastern Europe which included “Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Democratic Germany, Poland and Hungary on invitations from the Afro-Asian Solidarity Committees in these friendly countries which support our struggle”. Highlighting further the vast socialist and Third World network in which the PFLOAG operated, the following article in this issue reported on the participation of a PFLOAG delegation in the Asian Peace Conference in Dhaka, Bangladesh, between 23-25 May 1973. Sawt al-Thawra, no. 53, 26 May 1973. Source: Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Exeter.