EghtesadOnline: Oman's deeply conservative culture, along with a fear of domestic unrest, will prompt the Arab country to retain its long-held values of peacemaking after the loss of its long-serving leader, a Middle East expert said.
Mohammad Saleh Sadeqian also told Iranian Diplomacy that given the conservative culture of Omanis and their acknowledgement of Iran's powerful regional role, it appears that the Persian Gulf Arab state will preserve its neutral role in the troubled region.
Following the death of Sultan Qaboos at 79 on Friday, his cousin and former culture minister, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, was named the successor to the towering figure, giving rise to speculations on the new sultan's foreign policy.
"At a time of major crisis between Tehran-Washington and Tehran-Riyadh, the new sultan will continue to ease tensions involving the three countries due to the potential repercussions of any more conflict on security, economy and politics in the region," he said.
During his inaugural remarks, the Oxford-educated sultan stressed that his foreign policy will conform with his predecessor’s.
According to the Middle East expert, Oman is also wary of shaping a divided society that could turn the country into another Kuwait or Bahrain, whose citizens are split over their government's Iran policy.
Oman will also maintain its quiet policy when it comes to the lines drawn in the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council, refusing to join Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their boycott of Qatar or their stance on Tehran.
On the relations of Muscat with the US and Britain, Sadeqian noted that due to the current fragile state of affairs in the world, Oman would not be willing to disrupt bilateral ties with either country.
Delicate Transition of Power
Asked about the rumors that Oman's Foreign Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah is vying for power, Sadeqian said, "Although it is true that armed forces were present in the streets of Muscat after Haitham was sworn into office, this could simply be a warning to those thinking of opposing the new sultan."
Under Omani law, a royal council chooses the next sultan. If they do not reach a conclusion in a few days, they can open a letter with the deceased sultan's suggestion. The family council skipped the first step and opened the late Sultan Qaboos' letter to find Haitham's name on it.
Sadeqian added, "Yusuf bin Alawi is a kind and reserved man, and would not want domestic turmoil or a crisis in his country."
On whether Sultan Haitham will allow Yusuf bin Alawi to keep his post as Oman's foreign minister, Sadeqian said, “Considering the existing conditions that have worried all West Asian countries, and given bin Alawi’s successful track record in foreign policy, I find it hard to believe that Haitham would assign a new minister in these sensitive times in the region."