Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq Al Said arrived in Iran on Sunday for a series of talks on security, trade and other issues. He also met Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei on Monday.
Oman has traditionally been a neutral state in the Gulf, generally open to warm talks with Iran, but also close with its other Gulf neighbors. As such, Oman has played a key role in talks to resolve the Yemen conflict. In 2018, Oman also hosted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a meeting that could be said to have foreshadowed the Abraham Accords.
Khamenei met with the sultan and used the opportunity to bash Israel and warn about the “presence of the Zionist regime” in the region, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported.
Clearly, Iran is seeking to reconcile with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf on the one hand, while doing outreach to countries such as Oman. But it also seeks to confront Israel as the same time. Iran has long raged against the Abraham Accords and tried to encourage countries not to reach out to Israel.
Iran opposes Abraham Accords
Iran doesn’t want to see more normalization. As such, Khamenei’s comments on Monday reflect Iran’s larger concerns and its Janus-faced attempt to push diplomatic moves on the one hand and also incite against Israel on the other.
Iranian reports also indicated that Khamenei suggested more cooperation in the Strait of Hormuz, where Iran has harassed Western tankers, and also more cooperation with Egypt.
The delegations from Oman and Iran also met in Tehran with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. According to various reports from Iran and the region, the talks are intended to improve commercial and trade ties.
This is important for Oman. It has also sought to improve trade with Qatar and other states. The meetings in Iran are part of a larger series of diplomatic initiatives by countries in the region that are designed to create a kind of new diplomatic era. For instance, the Arab League has welcomed the Syrian regime back into its fold.
The Iranian “president said that the shared views and the stances of the leaders of the two countries to strengthen the regional integration, along with the capacities and potentials and suitable fields that the two sides offer to each other, can expand the relations between them in the bilateral and regional fields,” Iran’s Mehr news Agency reported.
The leaders discussed trade, defense and security. They also signed four cooperation documents.