While the Vietnam conflict was in full swing, not too far away another war of similar nature was taking place. Although the Dhofar War (1963-1976) didn’t attract the same publicity as its infamous American contemporary, it was certainly no less — and probably even more — important for the global power balance.
Whereas a terror of falling dominos provoked America’s spirited commitment in Southeast Asia, the safety of the Strait of Hormuz, the oil lifeline of the Western economy, triggered that of Britain in Oman. Indeed, the deserts, mountains, and scrub of Oman were a Cold War battlefield of no less significance than the hills of Korea, the jungles Vietnam, or the bush of Sub-Saharan Africa. The fight for material and ideological gains between East and West was bitter and prolonged.
The peculiar nature of the war saw British, Omani, Pakistani, Indian, Jordanian, Baluchi, and Iranian soldiers (the Shah was still in power) fighting together against the communist insurgents. The Popular Front for the Liberation of the Occupied Arabian Gulf (PFLOAG), in return, received training and arms from South Yemen, the Soviet bloc, Iraq, China, and Egypt.
From a troop number point of view, the war was small: a few thousand allied troops pitted against a couple of thousand communist insurgents. Such numbers, however, shouldn’t fool us about the conflict’s intensity and significance.