358. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Near Eastern Affairs (Meyer) to the Executive Director of the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (Washburn)0


  • Re-opening of U.S. Consulate at Muscat

The Sultan of Muscat and Oman agreed, in 1956, to the re-opening of our post at Muscat subject to the prior modification and modernization of our Treaty of 1833.1 Our study of the matter indicated that it would be desirable to negotiate a new treaty rather than revise the 1833 text; accordingly, negotiations were entered into, which concluded with the signing of a Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights, on December 20, 1958.2 Instruments of ratification have yet to be exchanged; the Sultan, however, has indicated that he would have no objection to our making arrangements for Consular premises in Muscat before this exchange.

During the negotiations, an FBO representative visited Muscat to examine possibilities for housing the Consulate. His investigation indicated that there is no suitable property available for lease commercially, and that, consequently, a complete compound would have to be constructed. A plot of land suggested by the local authorities was inspected in May, 1958 by our Consul from Dhahran, who was additionally accredited to Muscat, and a description thereof forwarded to the Department. Further progress would involve negotiations for purchase of the land, construction of buildings and installation of the somewhat elaborate equipment necessitated by the extremely severe climate and the virtual absence of public utilities and services.

Our attention, meanwhile, has been focused on a nearby area of the Arabian Peninsula: the Yemen. In March, 1959, it became possible, after several years of negotiations, to establish a resident post at Taiz.3 In view of the growing penetration of the Sino-Soviet bloc in this country, it was found imperative to devote all possible resources of funds and personnel to meeting this immediate threat to U.S. and Western strategic and political interests.

[Page 793]

The original basic reasons for re-opening the Muscat Consulate remain valid: the political unrest in inner Oman, the strategic location of the Sultanate on the flank of the tanker route to and from the Persian Gulf; continuing oil exploration activities by the American-owned Cities Service Company and by Petroleum Development, Oman, Ltd., in which U.S. interests are associated; and the apparently developing interest of the Sultan in trade and economic cooperation with the U.S. We have taken steps to strengthen our non-resident representation in Muscat by transferring this function from Dhahran to Aden; Muscat is more accessible from the latter post; Aden is the British information-gathering center for Muscat and Oman; and the transfer has the additional advantage of eliminating the accreditation to the Sultan of U.S. officers who are also accredited to the Saudi Government, with which the Sultan is at odds and which, in his eyes, is lending at least moral support to his rebellious subjects in inner Oman.

Review of recent developments in this area has led us to a reexamination of the urgency of establishing a resident post at Muscat. The disturbances in Inner Oman have been brought under control, at least for the time being. The oil explorations in the Sultanate have not so far revealed commercially exploitable deposits, and in any case the scene of Cities Service operations, Dhofar Province, is more accessible from Aden than from Muscat itself. Representation in the form of visits to Muscat by officers of our Consulate in Aden appears to be working satisfactorily. As Aden has recently been relieved of primary responsibility for Yemen, and as its responsibility for areas in the Horn of Africa will terminate when a post is opened at Hargeisa, anticipated in FY 1961, the Consulate is in a position to undertake representation in Muscat, at least as a provisional measure. We therefore believe that we should continue for the present the practice of accrediting officers of our Consulate at Aden to the Sultan of Muscat, while keeping a close watch on developments in the area to determine whether changing circumstances will at some time require the establishment of a resident post in order adequately to protect and further U.S. national interests.

  1. Source: Department of State, NEA Files: Lot 61 D 43, Arabian Peninsula, General. Official Use Only. Drafted by Stookey.
  2. Text in Charles I. Bevans, Treaties and Other International Agreements of the United States of America, 1776–1949, vol. IX (Washington: Government Printing Office, 1972), pp. 1291–1293.
  3. 11 UST 1835.
  4. See the source note, Document 368.