OMAN POLICY IN YEMEN, WORK WITH SHADOW
Since the early of Houthis preparation to invade the Yemeni capital, Sana'a, before September 14, 2014, the role of Sultanate Oman was present. However, as exception among the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), it distanced from the participating in the military operations of the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia to support the legitimacy of the Yemeni president Abdu Rabbo Mansour Hadi against Iran-backed Houthis.
Oman's foreign policy is always based on the distance of the country out of regional and international conflicts especially conflicts that don't concern with non-interference in the affairs of others. Its foreign policy also based on faith of dialogue, peaceful solutions and far from emotions and ideology in dealing.
Oman believes that entering into the midst of those conflicts is a gamble for its internal security, undermining for its approach that is going for it since decades and for the gains it regionally and internationally achieved.
OMAN ROLE ON THE NEGOTIATIONS
With that precept of dialogue and avoiding hostility towards any party of the Yemeni people, Oman made many initiatives. According to events and facts, Oman submitted compromises to Peace and Partnership Agreement which signed at night of that day of Houthi rebels controlling of the capital of Sana'a at September 21, 2014. Oman also provided an initiative, based on composition of a presidential council to headed by Hadi, after Yemeni president and his Prime Minister's resignation submission in Februry, 2015 when Houthis rebels besieging the Yemeni president in his house.
Although Oman's successful compromise with Peace and Partnership Agreement, it is failed to convince all for its compromise. Later, Dr.Abdul Karim AI-Iryani- a political Yemeni who died last year- revealed on a press interview that the Omani mediator was going to Iran and come back loaded with group of set-points that Houthi rebels' representatives agree directly.
In April of 2015, after a month of the beginning of the military operations, Oman made a compromise with 7 points highlights the withdrawing for Houthi rebels and forces of the former president Ali Saleh from all cities and force them to give back the weapons and returning the legitimate authority to Yemen headed by Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi. Also, quickly conduct parliamentary and presidential elections at the earliest with compatibility on the new government that includes all regions of Yemeni people and their parties; change Houthis to a political party participating in the political field through legal ways. It also highlights holding a conference for international donors in order to help Yemeni economy and finally make a proposal to make Yemen as one of GCC countries.
At that time, this initiative welcomed only by Iran and later soon it became disappeared with continuous fighting within the country. However, Oman attempted to restore stability for its geographic neighborhood expressing its concerns about the impact on the economy and demotic politics of its.
Muscat represented that confluence of Houthis point and a place to pass through for United Nations aircraft through exiting for consultations with the government of Yemen. Muscat was also a place for consultations background included Western diplomats and consultations involved the rebels' delegation with those diplomats.
In last September, Iranian media reported that the compromise file moved from the United Nations to Oman after the United Nations failed to achieve progress in the consultations of Kuwait, which ended in August expecting more positive role with a broad welcome from allies' team war in Sana'a.
Oman again wanted to broker an end to the Yemeni conflict and participated in drafting an American vision to United Nations rejected by the Yemeni government and welcomed by Houthi rebels and former president. Oman criticized many times for the fact that its initiatives serve Houthis.
OMAN'S ROLE SETBACK
The new Omani-American mission represented the setback for its earlier role in the Yemeni dialogue and appeared stance in support for Houthis that lead Yemeni government to accuse the two countries for announcing an agreement that it did not consulted on it. This agreement kept weapons of Houthi rebels until formatting a new government. In addition, this agreement target the legitimacy of the Yemeni president, Abedo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, and noted transfer all powers to a vice who will be agreed by all. This was the road map which submitted by Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed to the Yemeni parties.
Since the beginning of the consultations, Oman position has appreciated by Houthi rebels and Ali Saleh due to the warm reception for Houthi and Ali Saleh's negotiation delegation further to the humanitarian and medical supporting from Oman to Yemeni wounded people.
Yemeni authorities official position indicates that Oman seemingly embracing the coup parties that lead to enable Houthi rebels and Ali Saleh forces to make various connections on the external level including connections with Iran, Hezbollah and the Iraqi government which is well known to be backed by Tehran.
Oman charged many times to blind eye to Iranian smuggling weapons to Houthi rebels through its territories. Sultan Al-Arada, the governor of Marib, which is an oil-rich governorate, said on last 18, September to Al-Hayat newspaper that governmental forces in the city seizure a shipment of arms smuggled by three trucks with Omani identifications were in their way to rebels in Sana'a.
The activity of smuggling may not be Oman government's will but it seems that parts of Oman are not subjected to be adequately controlled by the authorities there. That matter enabled Iran to configure its own lobby and create a boarder relationship with local and tribal authorities in Dhofar, a border territory with Yemen.
Oman is well known with its role of releasing hostages and it facilitated the release of Americans, British and French hostages.
Oman says that it wants an urgent solution for the Yemeni crisis ensuring endless stability for its southern neighborhood country. According to United Nations, Oman has received about 52 thousand Yemeni refugees since March. Local sources in Al-Mahra governorate have spoken to Mosnad News that Oman has started to face and stop the UAE expansion by grant privileges for the tribes' leaders near its borders.
The local sources that preferred to anonymity indicated that Oman expressed its concerns to the tribes' leaders for the UAE Red Crescent activities in Al-Mahra governorate and the island of Socotra. Oman concerns are about the political and security expansion of UAE on Al-Mahra governorate such as controlling of Abyan, Aden and Hadramaut governorates, which will lead then to threat Oman national security.
It is well known that the far relations of Oman with Gulf Cooperation Council and good relations with Iran are behind the close tempers to Houthi rebels as well as to the Gulf constant frequency for the Yemeni file of a political solution based on negotiations or decisive military confrontation against Houthis.
Omani-Iranian relations have played an important role against the international and regional blockade on Iran. Some expressed that relations as a back door to get out Saudi Arabia complex crisis to link Riyadh-Tehran while others interpreted that as an attempt for Oman to get rid of the dominance of Saudi Arabia.
Comments by Christian Coates Olrachesn, a researcher at Rice University in the college of Public Policy saying" In fact, it is not important to be one of the two analyzes is true. What we see is the developments of decades of relations. He also pointed out that the mutual relationship between the two countries characterized by a degree of historical depth and warmth that characterizes Oman from the rest of the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council including Qatar.
ITS POSITION HAS NOT CHANGED DURING THE RULE OF SULTAN QABOOS
Oman is aware of what happening in its neighbor of Yemen, so it puts its options on Yemen like a position of neutrality at least from the point of view of the foreign policy. Its positions about the Arab issues like it did not cut off relations with the late Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, after the agreement with Israel at Camp David. It stood on the sidelines during the Iran-Iraq war. Oman has had good relations with Iran since the time of Shah's regime that Oman got helping from Iran to face the revolution of Dhofar Rebellion. Although the Iranian revolution made fears for Oman causing its joining to the Gulf Cooperation Council, it opted the treatment with these concerns differently.
We believe that there is Iranian-Omani convergence, but the Omani foreign policy is unique independently built. Although this policy is able to work on shadows refusing to engage in the Arab coalition and to participate in one currency and to take part in a full union of Gulf States in 2013, it is condemning Iran attacks in the Arab region and share that Iran is responsible for what happening in Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria in all Arab consensus.
Moreover, the second Gulf War strained relations between Oman and Iran after Iran's cut through Oman oil tankers that cross the Strait of Hormuz further Oman make anti ships missiles near its border. Therefore, Oman appearance with this way just to serve its foreign policy despite this policy did not appear with the Yemeni government but it will get rid of its approach with Houthi rebels. Oman policy with Gulf countries are for several reasons.
- If there will be a war between US and Iran, Oman, US ally, will find itself in a difficult position for its options, which will lead to become the lands and waters of Oman a place of war raises that will help to make internal conflicts on the internal regime and people.
- Oman has border disputes with its neighbors, Saudi Arabia and UAE, that are still going on and did not subside in the corridors of diplomacy between the countries, which made Oman to rely on Iranian gas rather than Gulf gas.
- Opening up new horizons for economic cooperation between Oman and Iran with the lifting of sanctions imposed on Tehran, which is very important for the Omani economy at this stage.
- With regard to Yemen, Oman fearing from the Gulf polarization campaigns in Al-Mahra and Hadramout governorates and the Island of Socotra after being able to normalize its relationships with tribal leaders there and strayed far from smuggling secure border in the absence of the current authority there.