Karim Sadjadpour on Sultan Qaboos’ 'honest broker' role in ending US hikers Ordeal


Karim Sadjadpour on Sultan Qaboos’ 'honest broker' role in ending US hikers Ordeal
by Darius Kadivar

A friend of the Shah of Iran's, he is said to have been deeply troubled by the 1979 revolution. Oman’s Sultan Qaboos has developed a unique foreign policy in the region. Sultan Qaboos seems equally at home in traditional Arab and modern Western society. (see Related News)

Karim Sadjadpour Comments on Oman’s Particular Relationship with Iran:

The Sultanate of Oman, involved in the U.S. hikers' release, is being held in Iran. CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom reports.






To understand Oman's current foreign policy is to understand how skilled diplomacy works--how balancing interests, tolerance toward differences, and a determined search for mutual benefits can open international doors and keep them open,even during conflict. While other nations in the Middle East have been drivenby ideology and short-term gains, the Sultanate of Oman has pursued its own course, holding to the belief that peaceful negotiation is essential to the overall, long-term goals of Omani security and prosperity.

Oman's most important foreign relations accomplishment in the 1970’s concerned Iran, which assert edits hegemonic claims by taking three islands in the Persian Gulf. Oman at this time had few resources for solving its internal problems, let alone region alones. Acknowledging the Shah's regional pre- eminence, Qaboos sought and obtained Iranian military assistance in fighting the Dhufar rebellion, as wellas an Omani-Iranian border agreement in the Straits of Hormuz. By offering the Shah the explicit support and direct involvement in quelling Omani instability that could spill over into Iran, Qaboos secured a border agreement, essential aid, and the stature associated with being treated as an equal by the region's then most powerful country.

Recommended Reading:

Oman: A Unique Foreign Policy (RAND Corporation)







Palace Coup:

Qaboos bin Said Al Said rose to power after overthrowing his father, Sa‘id ibn Taymur,in a palace coup in1970. He is the 14th-generation descendant of the founder of the Al Bu Sa'idi dynasty

US President Ronald Reagan Greets Sultan Qaboos (1980’s):

Silver Jubilee: Oman TV on the Celebrations marking his rule:

Queen Elizabeth Greeted By Sultan Qaboos Bin Said In Oman :

Photo Essay of Sultan Qaboos’ Reign:






The Kingdom of Oman :

In English, a documentary film about Oman, its culture, history, heritage, poeple,tourism and economic and HM Qaboos achievements. 
Produced by Oman TV 2010 in the anniversary of 40th National Day 
Directed by Amer Al Rowas

Part I:

Part II:

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque Oman :

Oman in 'honest broker' role again as U.S. seeks freedom of Iran hikers by Tim Lister (cnn)

(CNN) -- The Sultanate of Oman is ararity in the diplomatic world: It enjoys "cordial" relations with both the United States and Iran. And once again, it is closely involved in trying to help win the freedom of Americans held in Iran.

In 2010, Omani sources paid $500,000 bail to help win the release of American hiker Sarah Shourd, who with her fiancé Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal was detained in 2009 after allegedly straying across an unmarked stretch of the Iran-Iraq border. The Omanis are now involved in brokering the release of Bauer and Fattal.

Sultan Qaboos, who has ruled Oman for more than 40 years, has gone to great lengths to strike a balance in relations with Iran -- Oman's neighbor across the Strait of Hormuz -- and his traditional allies in the west, especially the UK and U.S.

According to a U.S. diplomatic cable from December 2009, the Omani foreign minister,Yusuf bin Alawi, offered to set up discreet talks between the United States and Iran.

"When thanked by the Ambassador for Oman's on going advice to Iran to work with the West, YbA offered Oman as both an organizer and a venue for any meeting theU.S. would want with Iran - if kept quiet," the cable said. Anything to avoid "heated atmospherics," in the words of another Omani official.

The same cable showed that the Omanis are more relaxed than others in the Gulf about Iran's nuclear ambitions, with bin Alawi telling the U.S. ambassador that "even if Iran developed nuclear weapons, this action would not destabilize the region, a point vigorously countered by the Ambassador."

The open door to Tehran is part dictated by geographical necessity but also helpsOman follow a foreign policy independent of its giant neighbor, Saudi Arabia,the most powerful member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Qatar has a similar approach, much to the annoyance of the Saudis.

Theodore Karasik of the Institute of Near East and Gulf Military Analysis says that "from the Omani point of view, they see the other GCC states as being 'over there' behind the mountains; we're in front of the mountains. That separates them from the rest of what the GCC states are thinking. That's why they feel that they can have a special relationship with Iran."

Oman is separated from other Gulf states by the long and largely impenetrable Al Hajar mountain range. At its northern end, the range gives way to the Persian Gulf and the narrow Strait of Hormuz, where the territory of Oman and Iran is just 18 miles apart.

More than 15 million barrels of oil (40% of the world's total output) pass through the Strait every day, which makes it a security headache for both countries.They have a joint military commission dealing with security in the shipping lanes (which are mostly in Omani waters) and smuggling.

Omani sources say smuggling gangs use fishing boats to traffic Afghan and Pakistan immigrants, as well as weapons and drugs across the Strait from Iran to Oman.

Not that Qaboos feels any ideological affinity with the Islamic regime across thewater. A friend of the Shah of Iran's, he is said to have been deeply troubled by the 1979 revolution. The sultan, who has no designated successor, is by all accounts an erudite figure equally at home in traditional Arab and modern Western society.

One dispatch from 2008 prepared for a visiting U.S. envoy said, "You will findthe Sultan an engaging interlocutor. He is an intellectual whose interests range from sustainable agriculture to classical music."

Heis also a pragmatist who has personally steered Oman's foreign policy. As one U.S. diplomatic cable from the Embassy in Oman puts it, "A common saying in the region is that Oman is a friend to all and the enemy of none."

Qaboos visited Iran in 2009 (for the first time since 1974), signing a number of agreements while urging Ayatollah Khamenei to engage in dialogue with the U.S.over Iran's nuclear program and other disputes.

A U.S. diplomatic cable from 2010 published by WikiLeaks described Oman'sperspective this way: "Although they do not find the threat imminent, Iran is Oman's number one strategic threat; however, the GoO fundamentally believes the threat can be mitigated through careful management of the relationship."

One example of that management is the recent establishment of a joint Oman-Iran investment company. Given its proximity, Iran should be a natural trading partner for Oman, but it can't offer the help Oman needs in developing its mineral wealth and diversifying its economy.

For those goals, Qaboos looks west. Oman has a free trade agreement with the U.S., allowing American companies to establish businesses there. It also buys U.S.military hardware, such as F-16s.

Even so, Omani authorities are careful not to antagonize public opinion by too closean association with the United States. The Oman is were quick to reject reportslast year that they would host U.S. Patriot anti-missile batteries, with a senior official stressing that Oman "does not allow its territory to beused to carry out any military operations against any country in the region."

Similarly,both in private and public, Oman has been highly critical of U.S. policy toward Israel, repeatedly appealing for Washington to exert greater pressure on Israel in negotiations with the Palestinians.

One diplomat in the region likens Oman's role to that of the Swiss or Swedes elsewhere: avoid making enemies but avoid entangling alliances.

Related Pictory:

pictory: Shah ofIran Greets Crown Prince of Iraq (1949)

Diplomatic History:Shah and King Faisal discuss Future of Persian Gulf (1971)

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Darius Kadivar

John Simpson speaks to Oman minister on Iran tensions

by Darius Kadivar on

Oman minister on Iran tensions (BBC, VIDEO)


Iran's relations with the West took another turn for the worse this week when the EU agreed to impose an embargo on Iranian oil. One key player in the increasingly tense stand-off is the Gulf state of Oman.

It is in the almost unique position of having good relations with both Iran and the West, and also lies on the strategically important shipping lane, the Strait of Hormuz.



Speaking to the BBC's world affairs editor, John Simpson, Oman's minister of foreign affairs, Yusif Bin Alawi, spoke of the possibility of the current crisis escalating. 

Darius Kadivar

Sarkozy thanked Sultan of Oman for help in Hostage Release

by Darius Kadivar on

French hostages 'freed in Yemen' (bbc)

Three French aid workers who were kidnapped in Yemen in May have been released, the French authorities say.

They had been seized by suspected al-Qaeda militants in the town of Seyun, 600km (375 miles) east of the capital, Sanaa.

The two women and a man were worked for French charity Triangle Generation Humanitaire.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy thanked the Sultan of Oman for his help in securing their release.

"The president warmly thanks the Sultan of Oman and the Omanese authorities for their crucial help, as well as all those who contributed to this happy resolution," said a statement from Mr Sarkozy's office.