In December, 2015 bilateral relations between Saudi Arabia and Oman became considerably more complicated. The reasons were the refusal of Oman to take part in the “Islamic anti-terrorist coalition” which was declared recently with pomp in Riyadh, and divergence on the Iranian question as well as concerning settlement of the Syrian conflict.
The main thesis of the current foreign policy of Oman is “preservation of neutrality with respect to ongoing conflicts in the Council countries; limitation of its own efforts in the format of military activity to be strictly within the framework of the security pact of member countries of the Cooperation Council of the Arab State of the Gulf [GCC]”.
Muscat does not see for itself any possibility of participation in a treaty to create pan-Arab military forces or such forces within the GCC format. In this regard, Muscat suggests limiting military cooperation to joint military doctrines and exchanging reconnaissance information on the partner channels of intelligence services. Riyadh on the contrary considers cooperation in this sphere with Oman “dangerous” because relations of Muscat with Tehran are too close. The Oman leadership was also reproached for preserving relations with Damascus.
The main points of an Omani initiative to settle the Syrian crisis are: conclusion of a general truce; conduct of presidential elections without B. Assad’s participation; amnesty and exchange of captives; guarantee of judicial non-prosecution of functionaries of the present regime; and maintenance of Russian and Iranian armies in Syria . This last point also causes Riyadh great irritation, as also does the activation of contacts between the foreign intelligence service of the Russian Federation and the intelligence services of Oman. But Oman has always played an intermediary role in the Middle East, and the attempt of Riyadh to change this situation has no prospects of success. So Washington actively used the services of Muscat during the organization of the negotiation process on the Iranian nuclear program.