Oman May Not Join the Abraham Accords Anytime Soon, but Its Relationship with Israel Is Improving

Sept. 20 2022

Like many Arab nations, the Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman has no formal relations with the Jewish state, and those with Israeli passports are generally barred from entry. Yet its covert ties with Jerusalem date to the 1970s, and in recent years these ties have become increasingly public. Yoav Limor, after returning from several days touring Oman—using a non-Israeli passport—praises the country as a tourist destination, and comments on its place in the Arab world:

Oman is very different than the rest of the Middle East. You won’t hear people shout or swear or honk. Everything is calm and everyone is courteous.

This is perhaps why the sultanate doesn’t usually grab the media spotlight. Compared to its flashy neighbors like the UAE and Qatar, Oman is more modest. But underneath this veneer, there lies a country that is definitely worth a visit—perhaps more so than any other Gulf destination.

Oman lies on the eastern part of the Persian Gulf. . . . It has also been influenced to a large degree by India and Pakistan and by the legacy left behind by the British, whose decades-long rule ended in full only in 1971. It belongs to the Gulf Cooperation Council alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, and Kuwait, but unlike those countries, it espouses neutrality. That’s why it refused to join the Saudi-led coalition to fight the Houthi rebels in Yemen. This allowed it to enjoy a peaceful border on that flank.

This is also why Oman has not joined the Abraham Accords, and probably won’t do so in the foreseeable future. However, beneath the surface, it has maintained good relations with Israel, which have been managed by Mossad. Efraim Halevy, who was Mossad director, . . . visited the sultanate for the first time in 1974. Since then, the Mossad chiefs have visited this place quite often, but not only them. Yitzḥak Rabin, Shimon Peres, and Benjamin Netanyahu all visited Oman as prime ministers. Various cabinet ministers and government officials also visited Muscat when Israel-Arab relations flourished (such as during the heyday of the Oslo Accords), but also when things turned south in the region.

Recently the two countries have seen an uptick in cross-border engagements.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Oman

Don’t Let Iran Go Nuclear

Sept. 29 2022

In an interview on Sunday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stated that the Biden administration remains committed to nuclear negotiations with the Islamic Republic, even as it pursues its brutal crackdown on the protests that have swept the country. Robert Satloff argues not only that it is foolish to pursue the renewal of the 2015 nuclear deal, but also that the White House’s current approach is failing on its own terms:

[The] nuclear threat is much worse today than it was when President Biden took office. Oddly, Washington hasn’t really done much about it. On the diplomatic front, the administration has sweetened its offer to entice Iran into a new nuclear deal. While it quite rightly held firm on Iran’s demand to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from an official list of “foreign terrorist organizations,” Washington has given ground on many other items.

On the nuclear side of the agreement, the United States has purportedly agreed to allow Iran to keep, in storage, thousands of advanced centrifuges it has made contrary to the terms of the original deal. . . . And on economic matters, the new deal purportedly gives Iran immediate access to a certain amount of blocked assets, before it even exports most of its massive stockpile of enriched uranium for safekeeping in a third country. . . . Even with these added incentives, Iran is still holding out on an agreement. Indeed, according to the most recent reports, Tehran has actually hardened its position.

Regardless of the exact reason why, the menacing reality is that Iran’s nuclear program is galloping ahead—and the United States is doing very little about it. . . . The result has been a stunning passivity in U.S. policy toward the Iran nuclear issue.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy