Oman: Guardian of the Strait

While war rages nearby, a strategic ally marks an anniversary

Jaguar fighters in tight formation buzzed over crowned heads, proud Presidents and starchy ambassadors. From a hill overlooking the sports stadium, mounted cannons boomed out a 21-gun salute. A 500-member band, complete with bagpipes and scores of drummers, rapped out a tattoo to which more than 1,000 arm-swinging soldiers marched, filling the morning air with the anthem of Oman's Royal Guard: "We do not fear death. If Qaboos calls, we obey."

On hand for this display was an impressive lineup of dignitaries, including Jordan's King Hussein, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, India's Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Pakistan's President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq and...

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