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Britain's counter-terrorism training for Oman alarms exile

AN OMANI dissident in Britain voiced his concerns today over Whitehall delivering counter-terrorism training to the repressive Gulf regime.

Khalfan al-Badwawi is a human rights campaigner who fled Oman in 2013 after having been repeatedly detained by police.

He told the Morning Star: “After the Arab Spring, protest organisers like myself sought asylum in Britain.

“When we did this, our friends and family in Oman were questioned by local police for sending us money, which they said was support for terrorism.

“The Sultan of Oman treats peaceful opponents of his regime as terrorists, so when the UK delivers counter-terrorism training there is a real risk it will be used to stifle dissidents.”

The sultan — Qaboos bin Said al Said — was installed on the throne by British troops almost half a century ago and has clung to power by suppressing left-wing revolutionaries.

In the latest sign of British support for the sultan, Whitehall is delivering a series of classes on counter-terrorism policing including a session on “crisis communications.”

The Cabinet Office’s emergency planning college (EPC) is also coaching Oman’s civil defence committee under a similar scheme.

The EPC, based in York and managed by Serco, has provided crisis management packages for the country’s state-owned national airline, ferries, civil defence and ambulance organisations.

The EPC works with other repressive Gulf regimes including Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Its scheme in Oman involves Major General Michael Charlton-Weedy, a former army officer who is now director of “international resilience training” at the Cabinet Office.

He recently delivered a crisis management session in Oman that reviewed Britain’s response to the Manchester Arena and 7/7 suicide bombings.

The Cabinet Office, EPC and Metropolitan Police have been approached for comment.

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