This is the second part of the article regarding SAS involvement in proxy operations during the Cold War. You can read Part I here.

Historically, the Mahra tribe had lived in a tri-border area that overlays Saudi Arabia, South Yemen, and Dhofar.  After the British withdrew from South Yemen in 1967, and the country went communist, the Mahra were exiled from their tribal lands.

The Mahra tribal lands (Facebook).

In 1969, a Mahra leader requested Omani support to start a rebellion in his homeland. Sensing a fine opportunity to frustrate an undeclared enemy and the adoo’s haven, Qaboos’ father agreed to help them. And when Qaboos assumed power a year later, he significantly increased the support.

London, however, was sceptical about the merits of proxy war and cross-border operations in South Yemen. SAF’s leadership, who were seconded British officers, mirrored its scepticism.

Both feared an escalation that would either require further British support — thereby hurting its Northern Ireland and Cold War commitments — or a withdrawal of current support from the Sultanate — thereby risking Oman going communist, with the concomitant danger to the Strait of Hormuz and West’s oil supply.

With or without the British, however, Qaboos was going for it. So, it was thought best to humour him — thus controlling the amount of escalation, whilst satisfying his desire for reprisals.