Firqa (military)

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Firqa irregulars on parade with regular SAF units in 1981

A Firqa (Arabic: فِرْقَة‎, sometimes called Firqat colloquially in the plural) is a local militia unit loyal to the Sultan of Oman raised in the Dhofar region of Oman during the Omani Civil War (1963-76).[1] The British were known for utilising Firqa during their counter insurgency operations in support of the Sultan's operations in the region, converting former enemies into pro-government militia to aid in counter-insurgency;[2] this was a tactic the British had successfully employed in Malaya.[3] Forming local Firqa was therefore great way to employ surrendered enemy personnel (SEPs) and thus pacify areas of the Dhofari Jebel and set the conditions for infrastructure development.[4]

During the insurgency in Dhofar Firqa forces proved invaluable as both a tactical and psychological weapon; although their use beyond Jebali tribal areas was problematic.[5]

Firqa continued at least until recent times; as recently as 1990 the Omani government was issuing payments of 120-140 rials per month. This payment was both to maintain a pro-government paramilitary force, as well as to enable nomadic Omanis to continue living in their traditional areas.[6]


  1. ^ UK, National Archives. "FCO 8/2707, Firqa Forces (tribal fighters) in Dhofar Oman". The Discovery Service. 
  2. ^ Sr, Major Thomas E. Walton (2015). Headed The Wrong Way: The British Army’s Painful Re-Acquaintance With Its Own COIN Doctrine In Southern Iraq, Chapter 3. Pickle Partners Publishing. ISBN 9781786252319. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  3. ^ DeVore, Marc. "The United Kingdom's last hot war of the Cold War: Oman, 1963-75". Cold War History: 11. doi:10.1080/14682745.2010.498823. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  4. ^ "Oman 1965-1976". Small Wars Journal. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  5. ^ White, Rowland (2012). Storm Front: The Epic True Story of a Secret War, the SAS's Greatest Battle, and the British Pilots Who Saved Them. Transworld Publishers Limited. pp. 270–271. ISBN 9780552160216. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 
  6. ^ Mundy, Martha; Musallam, Basim (2000). The Transformation of Nomadic Society in the Arab East. Cambridge University Press. p. 168. ISBN 9780521770576. Retrieved 18 August 2017. 

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