Tuesday , 6 June 2023

Sultan of Oman to make first visit to Iran amid regional thaw

Al-Monitor – The Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, will travel to Iran on Sunday, his first visit to Tehran since coming to power in 2020, Omani state media reported.

The sultan will stay in Iran for two days upon the invitation of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. His delegation will include Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr bin Hamad Al Busaidi, along with other defense, investment and royal officials, the official Oman News Agency reported.

“The visit will also touch on means of promoting cooperation between Oman and Iran in different spheres,” the report said.

Why it matters: Oman has maintained the role of mediator between Iran and Gulf states. Just this week, Sultan Haitham visited Egypt in likely mediation between Cairo and Tehran as they attempt to normalize relations.  

Last month, Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited Muscat.

Sultan Haitham’s visit comes amid Iran’s improving relations with Oman’s neighbor Saudi Arabia, and a thaw between Arab states and Iran’s ally in Syria Bashar al-Assad. 

In March, Saudi Arabia and Iran agreed to resume relation in a China-brokered deal, ending years of hostility between the two. On Tuesday, Iran named a new ambassador to Saudi Arabia. While the deal was culminated in China, both Oman and Iraq helped in the secret talks leading up to it.

Oman has been linked recently to efforts to negotiate the release of Iranian-Americans imprisoned in Iran. 

This includes Iran. In May of last year, Raisi visited Muscat. Iran and Oman signed oil and trade agreements during the visit.

Sultan Haitham ascended to the throne in early 2020, and made his first foreign trip to Saudi Arabia in 2021. Last May Raisi visited Muscat, and the two countries signed oil and trade agreements during the visit.

Know more: In April, Iranian forces seized an oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman. The seizure may have been a response to US seizures of Iranian oil, Al-Monitor’s Pentagon correspondent Jared Szuba reported at the time.