Iran-Oman Relations Since the 1970s: A Mutually Beneficial Modus Vivendi

Marc Valeri

At the end of 2013 the Sultanate of Oman, whose long-lasting credo has been to attract limited attention in the global arena, made the international affairs headlines on two occasions. In November, when the interim Geneva Agreement on the Iranian nuclear program was signed between the P5 + 1 (Britain, China, France, Russia and the US, plus Germany) and Iran, the US media revealed that secret meetings between US and Iranian officials had taken place in Muscat since March 2013 (Bengali 2013). A few days later, in preparation for the 34th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) summit on 10-11 December 2013, the Omani Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin 'Alawi, declared that Oman would not prevent the upgrading of the GCC into a union of six countries, but would simply “not be part of it” if it happens (‘Gulf Union,’ 2013).1 These successive revelations can be understood within Oman’s perception of political vulnerability in a region disrupted by recurrent convulsions. This approach, whose corollary has been the country’s unquestioned political and military dependence on Britain and the US, has been illustrated by Oman’s desire to promote relations between the GCC states and Iran. Besides Sultan Qaboos’ eternal

M. Valeri (*)

Center for Gulf Studies, University of Exeter, Exeter, United Kingdom e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© The Author(s) 2017

G. Bahgat et al. (eds.), Security and Bilateral Issues between Iran and its Arab Neighbours, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-43289-2_7

gratitude for the shah’s decisive military effort in the 1970s during the Dhofar war, Oman’s difficulties to propose a new socioeconomic contract replacing the old patrimonial model based on the clientelist distribution of the rent at home have made the interest in maintaining good relations with Tehran a long-term priority. This is compounded by the sharing of the sovereignty over Strait of Hormuz, through which approximately one- third of the world’s sea-borne trade in crude petroleum passed in 2013.2

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