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Demonstrations continued across Oman shortly after the Sultan agreed to cede some powers. The protestors had political and economic demands.

 

Before the resumption of the protests, which took place across the country, the government said it would double monthly welfare payments and increase pension benefits. The Sultan also announced that he planed to grant legislative powers to the partially elected council.

 

Last week, the protesters added to their demands, saying the sultan's new police chief must investigate sacked ministers for alleged corruption. Sultan Qaboos has fired 12 government ministers so far, as well as his police chief.

 

March 1-15, 2011

 

 

Analysis and Forecast: Increasing Risk


 

The Sultan appears to have given substantial concessions to the protesters. However, as with other countries in the region, they are seen by the protesters as too little, too late. This is demonstrated by the fact that demonstrations have continued afterwards. Oman is not at a serious threat of Sunni-Shiite violence as the country's majority follow the Ibadhi sect of Islam, which is neither Sunni nor Shiite. The Sultan is also personally liked by many in the country, despite concerns about succession. As a result, there is no imminent or substantial threat to the regime. This could change over the coming few weeks depending on how the regime decides to address the protestors increasing demands. As with other states in the region, there appears to be a race between new demands being made, at the time that old ones are answered. So far, Oman has fared better than other states in the region, but insufficient to address the protestors increasing demands.

 

The risk of civil unrest is higher and although can largely be quelled by further action by the regime, the longer it takes, the more substantial the risk. There may also be a spill over of the unrest in Bahrain, not on religious or ethnic grounds, but by mere popular encouragement, making the need for immediate and drastic steps vital.

 

The figure below shows the ethnic make-up of Oman: