Palace Office (Oman)
Government of Oman and its national security (external and internal) |
Qurum, Muscat Governate, Sultanate of Oman|
The Palace Office (Arabic: مكتب القصر) transliterated: maktab al qasr is one of the most senior and therefore powerful ministries in the Sultanate of Oman. It is a government body that has most influence in national security and intelligence issues and the minister in charge has been the de facto national security advisor to the Sultan. The Palace Office also acts as a foreign liaison focus on all international intelligence and security matters.
The minister holding the post has the full title Minister of the Palace Office and Head of the Office of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. The Palace Office Minister currently serves as the chair of the Defence Council (on behalf of the Sultan). The Defence Council is an extra-parliamentary body tasked with coordinating the actions of the country's various security and armed forces.
The current Minister of the Palace Office is General Sultan bin Mohammed al Nua'mani (appointed in 2011); he had been Secretary General of the Royal Court Affairs. Nasser bin Hamoud al Kindi took over the latter post.
Although the Palace Office as is may not have been established until the 1980s there is evidence that British advisors had begun the work of setting the office up as early as 1972. Certainly influential characters such as Brigadier Sir Timothy Landon and Sheilagh Bailey were critical in developing the early functionality of what would become the Palace Office. It was particularly important that the small nucleus of trusted advisors made arrangements to secure the ruler of Oman in the 1970s and establish contacts with neighboring states to ensure their cooperation.
The functions of the Minister of the Palace Office are:
- To head the office of the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
- Be a lead member of the Sultanate's Defense Committee.
- Oversee the functions of special security capabilities within the Sultanate (e.g. the ISS and Sultan's Special Forces)
- Act as external liaison to international intelligence and security agencies.
- Act with the Royal Oman Police and ISS to form and implement anti-corruption policy in the Sultanate.
National Security Challenges
It seems certain that the main National Security Challenges affecting Oman are internal rather than external and an attempted coup d'etat in 2005, which was easily quashed and street unrest in the spring of 2011 and later in 2012, all point to a simmering unrest with the status quo.
In early March 2011 HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said decided to replace two key ministers who were seen by many as not keeping in touch with young Omanis not benefiting from Oman's national advances. The long-standing favorite advisor of the Sultan General Ali bin Majid al Maamari was replaced by the relatively unknown and younger General Sultan bin Mohammed al Nua'mani. The current Minister's remit appears unchanged.
The Sultanate has also experienced challenges in maintaining its neutrality in the conflict in neighboring Yemen. It has been accused by its GCC partners of not being genuinely neutral and favoring the Houthi rebels.
Past Palace Office Ministers
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- "Chiefs of State and Cabinet Members of Foreign Governments". www.cia.gov. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
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- "Sheilagh Bailey Collection" (PDF). St Anthony's College Oxford. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Dorril, Stephen (2002). MI6: Inside the Covert World of Her Majesty's Secret Intelligence Service. Simon and Schuster. p. 733. ISBN 9780743217781.
- Allen, Calvin H.; Rigsbee, W. Lynn (2014). Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996. Routledge. p. 79. ISBN 9781135314309. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Ibid., p.91
- "Transformation Detail on Oman". www.bti-project.org. BTI. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "Omanis Handed Jail Terms for Coup Plot". Arab News. 3 May 2005. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- "BBC NEWS World Middle East Oman pardons 31 coup plotters". news.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Valeri, Marc. "Simmering Unrest and Succession Challenges in Oman". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
- "Oman sultan sacks two ministers after protests". Al Arabiyah. Retrieved 15 August 2017.
- "Just how neutral is Oman in Yemen war?". Al-Monitor (in Turkish). 12 October 2016. Retrieved 16 August 2017.
- Allen, Calvin H.; Rigsbee, W. Lynn (2014). Oman Under Qaboos: From Coup to Constitution, 1970-1996. Routledge. p. 41. ISBN 9781135314309.
- Jones, Jeremy; Ridout, Nicholas (2015). A History of Modern Oman. Cambridge University Press. p. 256. ISBN 9781107009400.
This article incorporates public domain material from the CIA World Factbook website https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/index.html.