Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq paid an official two-day visit to Iran on May 28 at the invitation of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Given that both Tehran and the Sultanate of Oman are concerned with the developments of the Yemeni crisis, which has entered its ninth year, the eyes of the Yemenis were directed to this visit contributing to putting an end to what is happening inside Yemen and push the parties to the conflict in the Arab country to reach a political settlement to the Yemeni crisis, especially since all the efforts that the Sultanate led during the last period and is still making have not yet succeeded in persuading the Houthi militia to settle the crisis, as a result of the latter’s demand for gains as a result of the success of the negotiations with the legitimate Yemeni government, at the top of which is the legitimate government being forced to pay the salaries of civil and military employees in the Houthi areas from oil and gas revenues in the liberated areas under the control of the legitimate government.
Accurate timing and significant semantics
This visit bears important connotations of its timing, as it comes a year after a visit by Raisi to the Sultanate, and after Tehran concluded reconciliations with several regional countries, headed by Saudi Arabia, as relations between Riyadh and Tehran returned under Chinese auspices after a seven-year rupture. The Sultanate played a role, in cooperation with Iraq, during the years 2021 and 2022, in resolving the Saudi-Iranian dispute. The visit also comes a few weeks after the Omani-Saudi delegation’s negotiations with the Houthis in Sanaa stopped as a result of the intransigent terms of the militia.
In addition to the issues discussed by the Omani Sultan during his visit to Iran, it is expected that the Yemeni file will be among the discussions of this visit, given that the Sultanate shares common borders with Yemen, and the continuation of the crisis in this neighboring country will negatively affect the Gulf state. Accordingly, the Sultanate of Oman is keen to establish security and stability in the Yemeni lands.
It should be noted that the Houthi militia has once again pushed its officials and media to threaten to resort to the “option of escalation” and strike vital targets and installations not only inside Yemen but also outside it, specifically in the countries of the Arab coalition, in particular Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The aim is to put pressure on these countries to return to the negotiating table with the Houthis and respond to all the militia’s conditions, in addition to intensifying its cooperation with terrorist organizations such as ISIS and al-Qaeda to target the southern forces of the Southern Transitional Council, which are leading efforts to combat terrorism in southern Yemen.
Regarding the impact of Sultan Haitham bin Tariq’s visit to Iran on the Yemeni file, Osama al-Hatimi, a researcher specializing in Iranian affairs, said there is no doubt that the Omani Sultan’s visit to Iran mainly aims to settle many thorny files related to Iranian-Arab relations, including the Yemeni crisis that is entering its ninth year without a real solution that heralds an end to the crisis, leading to Yemen experiencing a human tragedy, which is the most dangerous, according to the description of the United Nations.
In an exclusive statement to the Reference, Hatimi explained that what distinguishes the Sultanate of Oman from other mediating parties is that it has good relations with both the conflicting parties in Yemen, namely the government and the Houthis, in addition to its good relations with the parties supporting the disputing parties, namely the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Iran, which qualifies it to propose a consensual formula can bring Yemen out of the dark tunnel, or at the very least create more effective mechanisms for joint dialogue.
Hatimi added that Oman is interested in this crisis as it is a neighbor of Yemen, and therefore it is one of the countries that suffer from the negative repercussions of the Yemeni crisis, prompting it to do everything in its power to reduce chaos and tension on the borders, which will be important in the Omani-Iranian talks, as Tehran will be keen to respond to Omani requests in order to preserve their relationship together, after Oman proved to be a loyal friend who succeeded in achieving much of what Iran aspired to.