Is Oman another proxy for Iran and Qatar?
Qatar, in collaboration with Oman, is leading feverish efforts to divert the issue of legitimacy in Yemen and split the legitimate government camp by creating groups and entities within that front that oppose the Arab coalition, which is trying to save Yemen from Iran’s grip represented by the Houthis.
Muscat’s diplomatic efforts have been, at best, dubious, especially as they coincided with the beginning of Iran’s appetite for playing with the national security of the countries of the Gulf region.
Iran had found in Muscat the ideal diplomatic conduit for some of its plans, then its efforts shifted towards Qatar when Doha chose to break away from its Gulf environment. The Qatari regime began playing a role that Muscat is celebrating so as not to appear to be as the only Gulf country throwing itself into Tehran’s embrace.
Oman’s bias, however, has gone beyond acting as Tehran’s diplomatic arm in the region and moved from coordinating between the West and Iran and of beautifying Iran’s image in Western diplomatic circles to creating a political arm for Tehran in the sultanate and for expressing Iran’s ambitions in the region from within the Omani environment.
These efforts were made to appear to be providing support for the official Omani political process guiding the country’s diplomacy. It has been serving Tehran’s interests for some time.
There is no doubt that Muscat has become the preferred meeting place for Iran’s friends, proxies and agents and all those wishing to get close to it. Under the cover of the shaky Omani diplomacy, meetings take place and delegations come together to work on pleasing Tehran and scoring political victories on its behalf.
There has been a spurt in the manifestations of rapprochement with Iran with celebrations and rituals. Omani opponents, for instance, monitored changes in this year’s Shia celebrations on religious occasions in one of the sultanate’s regions. The celebrations followed what amounted to a semi-official announcement of the birth of Omani Hezbollah, to join the family of Iran’s arms in the Arab region.
Among recent moves sponsored by the sultanate in favour of Iran and the Houthis and to co-opt Yemeni legitimacy, Muscat hosted what was supposed to be a secret meeting that included three figures from the “legitimacy camp” in Yemen. The secrecy bubble cracked even though Omani media tried to camouflage its nature.
That these obscure meetings had to do with highly suspicious schemes can be deduced from the fact that even the prime minister of the legitimate government of Yemen was not aware of their details, even though they involved ministers working under his leadership.
What Muscat has been doing for some time is not only covering up its non-participation in the Arab coalition, but also acting against the coalition in various ways to the benefit of the Iranian side.
It is common knowledge among diplomatic circles that those wishing to communicate with the Houthis and their political wing should travel to Oman. Muscat has been turned into the headquarters for Houthi political leaders and it facilitates their travels between Tehran, Muscat, Beirut and other capitals, as well as helping them spread their lies before human rights organisations.
Whoever makes the effort to examine the situation closely will find that the Omani side will continue its approach of playing a role that allows it to continuously be close to Tehran at the expense of the security of the Gulf.
The most prominent item on the agenda of the meetings sponsored by Muscat was taking a stand against the Arab alliance, through the formation of an alliance that tends to adopt the Iranian viewpoint. Its aim would be to enable the Houthis to come up with a distorted peace process that does not serve long-term stability in the region.
Muscat’s involvement in arranging unannounced visits by leaders from the legitimacy camp who are known for their Qatari leanings goes in the direction of torpedoing the coalition’s efforts and of bringing the Houthis back to the fore to legitimise their illegal coup.
What has been leaked from the Muscat meetings refers to coming appointments aimed at overthrowing the legitimate government with Qatari-Omani-Iranian help, under the cover of a so-called National Salvation Front.
From the first statement by this group, there is a clear idea of the extent of Qatar’s role in it. Doha is pushing for a deal between the Houthis and some parties in the legitimate Yemeni government, thus obliterating the coalition’s efforts.
The Qataris and Omanis are tampering with the Yemeni file in ways that aim to turn the problem in Yemen from a coup against legitimacy by Iranian agents into an internal crisis between Yemeni parties. The beneficiary of the path Muscat is trying to sponsor in cooperation with Doha is Iran and its branches in Yemen and the region.
Muscat has not been far from events happening in the Yemeni file. On the contrary, it contributed to hindering coalition efforts and has never ceased to play a major role in support of the Iranian approach.