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Salem al-Jahouri

Oman: the diplomat among the generals

Oman has had traditionally good relations with Iran [AFP]

Date of publication: 27 March, 2015

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Analysis: Five reasons why Oman has not taken part in GCC-led military action against the Houthis in Yemen.

Oman has kept itself out of the military side of the GCC-led "Decisive Storm" operation in Yemen, but its non-participation does not mean it is out of step with the GCC.

Its non-participation has been agreed by the other GCC member states, as proven by the fact that those states have not commented on the Omani position. Here are some reasons behind the sultanate's position:

Non-interference
The country has a fix policy on non-interference in the affairs of other countries, which it expects others to reciprocate.

No obligation
The GCC defence charter states that an attack on one member is an attack on all. However, the Houthis of Yemen have not attacked the GCC, and Oman does not have an obligation to respond.

Future negotiations
Oman has acted as a neutral intermediary in the aftermath of the Saudi-led campaign, as was the case in the Iran-Iraq war, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the US invasion of Iraq. This role cannot be carried out if Oman were to take part in the coalition.

Cross-border ties
Oman shares a southern border with Yemen and residents of the southern region share family and economic ties with Yemenis across the border, putting Oman in a difficult position.

Iranian relations Oman has strong ties with Iran, which has always raised questions among observers. Oman wants Tehran to keep the doors of negotiations open, or for it to press Houthis into a power sharing deal in case the military operations were not successful.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

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