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.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Abraham Accords, Israel diplomacy, Oman

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy