The Green Rebellion, Jabal Al Akhdar 1958-1959.

The following is taken from:

In the 1950's particularly after the Suez Crisis in 1956, Arab nationalists, encouraged by President Nasser of Egypt, put nationalistic pressures on their rulers. This added to already existing unrest by long-standing disputes between Arabian tribes. In 1955 Imam Ghalib of Nizwa had seized power in the mountains, but was overthrown only to reappear two years later to incite the hill tribes. Britain had been an ally of the Sultanate since 1798 and in the 1950's the Sultan received military advice from the British. In December 1957 a lieutenant and six senior Royal Marine NCO's from Frigates detachments in the Gulf, were sent to help train the Sultans forces. They were flown from Bahrain to Izki and immediately found themselves involved in one of the fiercest battles of the year.

As well as his coastal domain Sultan Said bin Talmur claimed rulership of the mountainous interior as the Sultan of Muscat and Oman. The Imam of the mountains, Ghalib who had refuted these claims in 1955 had in the mean time been disposed of by his brother, Talib, who had fled to South Arabia to gather his supporters. Talib returned to Oman in 1957 to stake his claim. During 1958, Talib led the tribes on Jebel Akhdar, the Green Mountain, in a revolt against the Sultan. By the end of October 1958 the Sultan had re-established control in the country, except for the mountain area of Jebel Akhdar where the rebels had withdrawn to.

The area was controlled by the Beni Riyam tribe under Shaikh Suleyman. The tribes must have considered the mountain fortress unpenetrable by outside forces and considered themselves safe on the Saiq plateau.

In January 1959 the Jebel was cleared by British forces including marines seconded to the Sultan's Army, with the assistance of 22nd SAS, who where on their way back from Malaya.

In a first attempt to clear the area, the D Squadron 22 SAS scaled the sheer cliffs of the Jebel under a protective barrage of machine gun and mortar fire and surprised the rebels in their caves. Close-quarter fighting ensued and the SAS inflicted some casualties without loss to themselves. This first engagement indicated that a single squadron of SAS could not take the Jebel alone and a second squadron would be needed to do the job. On 12th January 1959 A Squadron 22 SAS flew in from Malaya. A Squadron immediately moved in to give D Squadron a rest and acclimatize as fast as possible. It was decided that a direct assault on the Jebel would be made on the night of 25th/26th January, from the shortest route. There was no path but the route chosen appeared to be feasible and unguarded. Various diversions were undertaken, including offensive patrols by the SAS and Trucial Oman Scouts, diversionary attacks in the Tanuf and Izki areas, and false intelligence was fed to the rebels. On the night of the attack, of the 100 pickets guarding the Jebel only one was posted on the track the SAS used. The operation was postponed 24 hours due to low cloud.

At 2100 hours on the evening of 26th January, A and D Squadron of 22 SAS supported by dismounted Lifeguards assaulted the Jebel. Some tribal irregulars were involved and a platoon of the Muscat Regiment was involved. RAF Venoms and two helicopters were available. The 5.5-mm guns of the Sultan’s forces provided artillery support for the operation.

A third of the way up the side of the Jebel, a stray snipers' bullet exploded a grenade in an SAS troopers pack, seriously wounding the trooper and two other men. All were evacuated by helicopter but two of the three died from their wounds the next day. The leading SAS troopers came under 0.5inch Browning fire soon afterwards from the only picket guarding their route. This was silenced in minutes and the SAS made their way to the top. The leading SAS Squadron made the top by first light. The Lifeguards, close on the heels of the SAS, set up their machine guns and secured the heights. Three RAF Valettas dropped 30,000lb of equipment, ammunition, food, and water to the troops. The Venoms made low-level passes over the plateau without finding any targets. The supplies had been mistaken for parachutists and the three rebel leaders had fled. The SAS pressed on unopposed and discovered hastily abandoned intelligence, arms, and ammunition. The tribal irregulars now had the task of establishing the Sultan's authority throughout the area. The rebel tribesman gave up after being told that no reprisals would be taken against them, giving up great stockpiles of arms with Saudi Arabian Army markings. British troops and the SAF patrolled the Jebel for two weeks. The area was extensively mapped and a landing strip constructed. A company of the Northern Frontier Regiment (SAF) established a camp by the airstrip and a British officer attached to SAF was appointed Military Governor of the Jebel Akhdar.

Suleyman's Saiq palace was utterly destroyed as an example to the tribes. The village of Tanuf suffered the same fate. The fortress of Bait Ar-Redidah was heavily damaged in the fightings.

The SAF (Sultan's Armed Forces) retained a garrison and camp on the Saiq plateau to keep an eye on the rebellious tribes to this day.