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Volume :3 Issue : 11 1977      Add To Cart                                                                    Download

THE OPENING OF AMERICAN COMMERCIAL AND CONSULAR RELATIONS WITH THE SULTANATE OF MUSCAT – OMAN DURING THE REIGN OF SAYYID BIN SULTAN ( 1856 – 1933)

Auther : Pr. Richard Paul Stevens

 

         The American Revolution had an immediate impact upon trade relations of the new state with East and West Asia.  Freed from the restraints of British mercantilism American ships, especially from Salem, Massachusetts, were attracted in large numbers to the east African Coast, Madagascar and the Arabian Peninsula.  The growth of Salem shipping interests in this region was reflected in the activity of Captain Edmund Roberts who first reached Zanzibar in 1827.  Following his suggestions a formal treaty was signed by Roberts on behalf of the United States with the new ruler of Zanzibar, Sultan Seyyid Bin Sultan of Muscat – Oman in 1832.

         Seyyid Bin Sultan’s occupation of the east African coast from Somalia to Mozambique was a reassertion of his family’s hereditary claims.  Completed between 1821 and 1827, the occupation also led to the transfer of the Sultan’s capital from Muscat to Zanzibar in 1832.  Although the Sultan’s efforts to achieve a consolidated Arabian base had been facilitated by Egyptian attacks upon the Wahabis and British containment of the Jawasmis in the Gulf, the astute Seyyid Bin Sultan had no desire to become a British client.  Thus, the arrival of the Americans was viewed by the Sultan as an opportunity to enjoy trade contracts with the western world while possible balancing the growing British presence in the region.

         It was in this atmosphere of mutual interest that the Treaty of Amity and Commerce, dated September 21, 1833 was signed.  This treaty, still in effect until 1958 not only provided for a consular link and an implicit diplomatic relation but also introduced the principle of extra-territoriality in favor of the American consul.  The treaty considerably improved the advantages enjoyed by American traders and lead to an increased volume of trade. On at least one occasion a ship belonging to the Sultan visited the United States and was received according to treaty provisions.  Because the trade was limited in size and demand it could be made profitable only if it were more or less monopolized.

         Although the details of the American commercial relationship reveal little in the way of startling trade statistics, the various consular reports do point up certain features of American competition, general conditions of life in the region and growing foreign pressures upon the domains of the Sultan.  They also underline the internal dynastic tensions which, following the Sultan’s death in 1856, led to a division of the dominions.

         Under British arbitration the effective separation of Muscat-Oman from Zanzibar and its dependencies was accomplished.  While the later region soon succumbed to the imperialistic policies of Germany and Britain, Oman’s sovereign status, on the other hand, was not formally set aside.  Nurtured by such international contacts as was exemplified by the American-Omani relationship, the Sultanate survived the imperial era.  Its sovereign status was recognized in 1934 with the arrival of an American diplomatic mission in Muscat to celebrate the centenary of treaty relations and in 1936 Sultan Said Ibn Taimur al Busaid was formally received by President Franklin Roosevelt in Washington.

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