Atheer – Oman History
Nasr Al Busaidi
The Arabian Gulf is one of the world’s most strategically significant geographical locations. Over time the major powers have sought to undermine the Gulf in its attempts to take control over the resources of this particular region. The current regional political climate is tense, with a number of Arab countries showing great hostility toward one another, as is exemplified by the recent Qatar crisis and the ongoing Yemen war.
Since the beginning of the Blessed Renaissance in 1970, under the leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos, Oman has been taking steady steps towards establishing peace by attempting to encourage dialogue between all parties, particularly at the peak of political dilemma. The position of His Majesty, who has encouraged this diplomatic approach from the very beginning, reflects the steadfastness of the Sultanate’s stance towards others. Oman is committed to a policy of non-interference and it works quietly behind the scenes.
Speaking on the topic of his country’s foreign policy, Sultan Qaboos told Jordanian magazine Addustour in 1973 that Oman was “pursuing a policy of non-interference in the internal affairs of [its] neighbors.” We are always keen to strengthen our relations with the Arab countries and establish a friendship with all others,” His Majesty said.
As for the keenness of Omani diplomacy in preserving regional security via its policy of supporting dialogue, His Majesty speaking to Egyptian newspaper Al Mosawwer during the same year, claimed “there is no doubt that if we achieve security in the region and cooperate in this regard, we will protect ourselves against any external threats.”
In 1979 His Majesty the Sultan told Time Middle East that “the Sultanate is not biased towards any side in the Arab world.” His Majesty stressed from the outset that Oman aspired to establish peace in the region through its diplomacy. “Oman’s political ambitions in the region are to maintain a balance in all policies and to limit extremism in any direction,” His Majesty added in 1983, while giving an interview to magazine Al Mustaqbal.
Oman has a significant strategic importance given the fact that it maintains control over the Strait of Hormuz, which serves as the gateway to a vital corridor running between Iran, Oman and the other Gulf states. During times of crisis the Strait of Hormuz is vulnerable to instability, however Oman does not close its doors to anyone, as witnessed by the crisis that has ensued of late between Qatar and a number of other regional players.
It is well documented that Oman maintains relations with Iran, something which has traditionally set it apart from most of its Gulf counterparts. Speaking on this subject in 1985, His Majesty claimed “here in Muscat we do not think that it would benefit the security of the Gulf to make Iran feel as though we are creating an Arab military alliance, or that we are seeking war with Iran. Ultimately we all live side by side and there is no alternative to peaceful coexistence between the Persians and Arabs.”
In the same interview His Majesty went on to add “I think that if the focus is on the idea of integrated roles, as opposed to those of leadership, or the idea that someone has to play the leading role, then the Arab states will be able to find a reasonable formula for attaining solidarity and mutual coordination. Why don’t we try to compliment each others shortcomings rather than become distracted by the idea of leadership? This only results in further polarisation and division. This is where the crises that exist among the Arab nations stem from.”
Thus, Oman, under the leadership of His Majesty the Sultan, remains a platform of peace and dialogue, in which only the language of reason prevails as a means of solving crises and finding peace and stability throughout the region.
Abu Aoun, Nasser. (2015) Journalists in His Majesty’s Royal Court, 1971-2011. 1st edn. Dar Kunouz Al Ma’rifa Publishers, Jordan