Category Archives: Oman

Eyes on Aden and Oman: How the Saudis Were Outsmarted by their UAE Allies…….

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The war in Yemen has been going on for over three years. The best armed military forces in the Middle East are Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and they have been fighting and constantly bombing North Yemen and the capital Sanaa which is held by an alliance of Houthi tribal fighters and elements of the former Yemeni Army. The Arab neighbors even have had heavy involvement of American and British personnel. But the war has been a failure, so far.

Now reports indicate that the Americans are getting more directly involved against the Houthi alliance. Perhaps Mr. Trump thinks he can somehow change the course of the war. He has not learned the recent lessons of Afghanistan or the history of Yemen. But then they say he does not read (or write). A futile war so far, although the Saudi-UAE coalition have hopes that Trump will try to pull their royal nuts from that fire. Something their bought and well-paid foreign mercenaries from Africa, Australia, and Colombia have failed to do. But Donald Trump does not come cheap: it will be for a fee of many billions of dollars.

The Yemen case is complex: it involves multi-faceted wars involving various sides. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are fighting the ruling Houthi powers in the capital of Sanaa, claiming they are trying to eject Iranian influence from their border region. That would be a passable excuse, except that they have failed to show us one single Iranian or Lebanese captive from the battles in Yemen. Then there are Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and now the Saudi invasion has also expanded the domain of ISIS in Yemen.

Then there are the Southern secessionists (Hirak) who want to regain the independence of Aden and the Southern provinces.

But a major new headache for the Saudis are their current allies in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE has a citizen population just barely over one million, and it also has some 7-8 million foreign expatriate laborers and others who rotate every few years. The secret of why it is doing better than their Saudi allies is their foreign mercenaries plus better training for their own native forces. They have formed elite units of fighters from among experienced foreign mercenaries, and have outmaneuvered the Saudis out of contention for Southern Yemen. They effectively control the urban parts of Southern Yemen, and they have made hints at supporting the secession (or return to independence) of the South. Even the Saudis may have come to accept that.

So, the Saudis are stuck with facing the tough Houthis just to their south. They take their frustrations on Yemen by destroying the infrastructure with daily bombings, with reported targeting and mid-air refueling done by alleged American and British experts.

Enter the case of the GCC member country of Oman, actually a reluctant member of the Gulf Cooperation Council. Oman is an interesting case, the only Gulf state that had built a small overseas empire up to the late 19th century. Now the UAE borders the neutral Gulf country of Oman from the north. Oman always keeps away from Gulf and Arab petty disputes, preferring to face towards the Indian Ocean and Iran. You never hear or read of Oman complaining about Iranian (or Lebanese) meddling, unlike the ruling family of the Saudi satrapy of Bahrain, for example.

If the UAE rulers can control South Yemen, they would be squeezing Oman from the Southwest as well. They will be able, along with their Saudi partners in war, to wreak havoc in Oman, possibly make her face some new problems, although like Qatar, Oman has better ties with Iran and other countries. The Marxists who ruled the independent South Yemen tried to encroach into Oman in the 1970s, but failed.

The Saudis and Emiratis have tried recently, through their media and proxies, to coerce and pressure Kuwait to the north. That attempt failed spectacularly, given the political history of Kuwait and that it is a special case and shares borders with Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. The Emiratis are also reportedly creating (actually renting) bases on the impoverished Horn of Africa, not bad for a tiny Gulf country. It is unlikely the Saudis will be comfortable with Emirati (actually Abu Dhabi) influence encircling them to the south either. There are already increasing signs of Saudi discomfort that the much smaller UAE is outsmarting them in Yemen (and in Libya). You can read it in some media and in the social media comments of some top officials. 

So, the Arab places to keep an eye on in the next few months and years are South Yemen and Oman.

More to come……

Mohammed Haider Ghuloum

Mystery of Oman and the Never-Ending Arab and GCC Wars……

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Every Arab country is engaged in some kind of war these days.
In fact every Middle East country, including Iran, Turkey, and Israel are involved in some kind of warfare. Look at the map, and name one country that is not fighting either its neighbors or its own people (civil war)  or somebody else. We can’t blame it all on Iran or Israel or the West, can we?

For example ISIS/DAESH is a purely Arab creation, although now it has Chechens, Uzbeks, Bosnians, etc, etc. There are no Iranians or Israelis in North Africa, none that have been caught and blamed.
Saudi Arabia and its allies are fighting directly in Yemen (there are no Israeli or Iranian or Lebanese forces in Yemen). They are fighting indirectly in Syria. There are wars in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Sinai, Libya, Tunisia, North Africa, East Africa. You name it, it is involved in some war. Even Jordan is involved in Yemen, Syria, and possibly other places.

I can think of one Arab state that is NOT involved in any war, I think. At least not yet. It is Oman, right at the southern tip of the Persian Gulf. For some odd reason Oman is not involved in any regional war. And it never claims to be threatened by anyone, at least by anyone that is not Arab. Unlike Bahrain, Oman does not claim to discover weekly plots by Iranian agents nor by Hezbollah, nor does it ever feel that its national security is threatened by anyone. At least not by anyone outside the GCC.

In fairness the UAE and Qatar also never seem to uncover any such plots either. Not since the Qataris uncovered a Saudi plot to overthrow their regime in 1998. The same is mostly true for Kuwait, where the most serious current security threat seems to come from Wahhabi Jihadists. Kuwait has recently convicted one network of Iranian espionage agents and plotters, a mix of Iranians and locals. But it has also uncovered several Wahhabi terrorist cells (the country had two lethal bombings of Shi’a mosques by ISIS sympathizers last year). Bahrain of course claims to uncover such plots on an almost weekly basis (grain of salt alert).

Odd, no, about Oman? Can it be that they are wiser than their neighbors? Is it their historic focus on the sea and beyond, away from the rest of the Arab world and its troubles? You figure it out…….
Mohammed Haider Ghuloum
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Sahel Oman: Coast of Oman and Rewriting History in the Gulf of Mercenaries…….


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Rewriting history and faking history has become a habit in our native region, especially in the Gulf GCC states. But it is a good thing that ‘facts’ are stubborn, mostly. This week’s political noise about an Al-Jazeera documentary film on the Coast of Oman is a good example.

When we were children growing up on the hot shores of the Gulf (Gulf of Mercenaries? Persian-American Gulf?) we knew about Sahel Oman (ساحل عمان) from readings and from family members. We called the whole coast south of Bahrain and Qatar by one name: Sahel Oman (Coast of Oman). We had student colleagues and friends from what is now the UAE and we called them ‘Omani students’: they did not seem to object. Dubai existed as Dubai, a commercial center, as did Al Sharjah and maybe Ras Al Khaimah. Abu Dhabi existed, but barely. We never heard or read about Abu Dhabi or some of the other emirates. Maybe we were ignorant, but we called the region: Sahel Oman. As did the other Arab media whenever they paid attention to the Arab side of the Gulf beyond Bahrain and Kuwait. In those days Bahrain was were the political action and political news were: even then the people were in constant rebellion against the absolute Al Khalifa clan and their British advisers (how some things never change!). Not much has changed in Bahrain: except for the unwelcome intrusion of Saudi troops and other imported foreign mercenaries shoring up the regime.
Now this recent recent documentary film on Al-Jazeera about Sahel Oman has riled up the UAE (mainly Abu Dhabi), and some of their Saudi allies are also making the right supportive noises. Saudi mouthpiece Asharq Alawsat (owned by Crown Prince Salman) had its obedient chief editor blast the film as a Qatari insult to the United Arab Emirates. The film is reportedly non-political, although the Qataris must have suspected that it would upset up the ruling potentates of the UAE who fancy themselves the heirs of the Greek-Persian-Roman-Babylonian-Umayyad-Abbasid empires (now they can add ancient Egypt through their share of the Gulf investment in Generalisimo Field Marshal Al Sisi). 



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Oman-Iran Gas Deal: of Revolutionary Guards and Neighborly Tanks………


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“Oman’s plan to build a $1 billion natural-gas pipeline from Iran is the latest sign that Saudi Arabia is failing to bind its smaller Gulf neighbors into a tighter bloc united in hostility to the Islamic Republic. The accord was signed during Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to Oman last month, and marks the first such deal between Iran and a Gulf Cooperation Council state in more than a decade. Oman is in good standing with the U.S. too: a $2.1 billion purchase of air-defense systems from Raytheon Inc. was announced during a visit by Secretary of State John Kerry last year. Oman, led by 73-year-old Sultan Qaboos Bin Said Al-Said, hosted secret talks between the U.S. and Iran in the run-up to November’s Geneva agreement..………..”

have never been able to satisfactorily answer one important question: why are the Omanis not seeing Iranian (and Hezbollah) plots under every bed as the Saudis and their Bahraini stooges claim they do (as do some Washington Post columnists)? Does the Sultan Qaboos Bin Said not worry about the scowling mullahs sweeping across the Gulf, skirting the mighty U.S. Navy and other Western armadas and Jordanian mercenaries in order to take over his country? Come to think of it: why don’t the Qataris seem worried about this? 
I have tried in the past to think it through, in my older posts here. 

This is no doubt partly related to the fact that Omanis know how the Wahhabis look at their (the Omani) version of the Islamic faith. They fear neighborly hegemony, as do many others in the Gulf GCC states. They all know that Iranian Revolutionary Guards would have to cross the sea and pass by the U.S Navy in the unlikely event that they go irrationally as mad as mad dogs and try to attack Oman (or Ras Al Khaimah or Um El Qewain). They all also know that Saudi tanks can just drive in as they did in Bahrain. 
It is also related to history, where the Omanis have always looked away from the Peninsula and across the seas. That is how they have forged their relations in the past: across the Gulf and across the Indian Ocean.

Iranian Pakistani Omani Hezbollah Naval Exercises, General Salami is no Baloney

GCC Rifts amid Arab Unrest: Wild Attempts at Gulf Hegemony, Swallowing a Bone

Disinformation about Secret American-Iranian Negotiations

GCC Summit: a Salafi Tribal Dream Team, Taqiyya and a Real Existential Threat

Qatar and Oman: Is Iran Cracking the GCC Front?

Iranian Pakistani Omani Hezbollah Naval Exercises, General Salami is no Baloney………


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Salami made the remarks after the Iranian and Omani naval forces staged their 4th joint exercises in the Sea of Oman and the Persian Gulf on Monday. He described the drills as successful, and said, “Based on a treaty between the Islamic Republic of Iran and Oman’s navies, the joint marine relief and rescue exercises are held every year in one of the two countries and the next drills will be conducted next year in Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.”……….. He said that Iran and Oman’s adjacency to the strategic Strait of Hormuz……………….”

“The Pakistani and Iranian navies have engaged in a four-day joint naval exercise east of the Straits of Hormuz this week in an effort to improve security cooperation between the two neighbors. The participating Pakistani warships, which arrived in Bandar Abbas on March 5, include the Agosta-70 class submarine Hashmat and the indigenously constructed missile boat Quwwat. They were returning from participating in the Doha International Maritime Defence Exhibition, which was held in Qatar………….”

So said Brigadier General (not admiral) Salami, and that is no baloney.

Iranian forces have been holding joint maneuvers with neighboring countries. No, not with Saudi Arabia or Bahrain. They have been holding joint exercises with Pakistan, and others with Oman, both not far from the Strait of Hormuz. It is notable that both countries overlook either the Indian Ocean or the Arabian Sea. Oman has a small outlet on the Persian Gulf, that is the Musandam Peninsula right on the Strait of Hormuz. Most of its ports are on the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea. It is interesting that the Omanis, who prefer to look outward to the sea rather than to their Wahhabi neighbors, have had good relations with all Iranian regimes. They even had an Iranian expeditionary force in the Shah’s days. This seems to continue. 
Apparently the legendary (very) secret Persian Gulf Branch of Hezbollah (established in Riyadh and Manama and the Washington Post columns) does not pose a serious threat to Oman, yet.

Nothing new to get excited about here. The Gulf and the Arabian Sea are bristling with warships from every corner of the planet. All doing various exercises. The whole neighborhood looks like a schoolyard, with kids and navies playing war games around each other. And that is not counting the various foreign mercenary forces imported by lovable and beloved regimes to keep their peoples happily repressed.

GCC Rifts amid Arab Unrest: Wild Attempts at Gulf Hegemony, Swallowing a Bone……


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“Rumours suggest the Saudis have quietly threatened to seal their border with Qatar, the emirate’s sole land link to the outside world, as well as to close Saudi airspace to Qatar-bound flights………… .Qatar, meanwhile, has served as a haven for fugitives from Egypt, including hardened jihadist extremists as well as besuited Brotherhood politicians. Al Jazeera’s Arabic channels, demonised in Egypt to the point that staff in its independently run English-language division are being tried as terrorists, have become lonely pulpits for the Brotherhood. Al Jazeera’s star preacher, Yousef al-Qaradawi, rails against Arab regimes that he says were complicit in the “crimes” of Egypt’s coup leaders. Mr Qaradawi lives happily in Qatar. An explanatory joint statement from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE accused Qatar of breaching a pledge, made by Sheikh Tamim in November, to tone down such invective and “abide by the principle of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs”. Less officially they are said to be demanding the expulsion or extradition of Islamist exiles. On March 3rd a court in the UAE sentenced a Qatari doctor to seven years in prison for alleged conspiracy………………”

Tensions have always existed between the Gulf GCC countries, as they are expected when several states interact. It is silly to pretend otherwise. But the GCC potentates have always tried to pretend that there are no such tensions. The people, however, are smarter, people know better of course: at home we have always said that there are no secrets in Kuwait. That may also apply to the other Gulf states. Here is a summary of recent tensions that have surfaced, or resurfaced:

  • Qatar: Qataris are supposed to be the moderate ‘Wahhabis’, mostly. They have had long disputes with both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. The past disputes with Bahrain have been over borders and territory. The disputes with the Al Saud princes have been more about politics. Don’t get me wrong: neither country is democratic. In fact none of the three are. The disputes have also been over relations with third parties (Iran, Egypt, Syria, Hezbollah, Gaza, Muslim Brotherhood) as well as about Qatari rebuffs of Saudi attempts at hegemony over the Gulf GCC states. The Qataris share a huge offshore natural gas field in the Persian Gulf with Iran, so their relations with the mullahs are mostly cordial. They have also adopted the role of financial and political supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood, and this last one is what irks the Al Saud and Al Nahayan brothers now. The Qataris have given asylum to some Egyptian MB clerics and members, like Al Qaradawi, just as the Al Saud did in the 1950s and 1960s. No need to rehash the Saudi-instigated coup attempt in Qatar in the 1990s after which a group of senior Saudi intelligence officers were imprisoned in Qatar for many years. You can find something in one of my links below (or in my other GCC posts).
  • Bahrain has no dog in that specific fight but the regime obediently and subserviently follows the Al Saudi policies. The Saudi King can wake up tomorrow and issue a fatwa that it is Wednesday, and soon after a Bahrain decree will declare that, yes, tomorrow is Wednesday. Life is simple when you don’t have to decide for yourself, no?
  • Bahrain: they had some outstanding
    issues and claims with Iran under the Shahs, but that was finally
    settled with independence as an Arab state and the first election that
    followed. The country, however, has remained potentially politically
    volatile, with occasional domestic unrest related to strained ties
    between the rulers and those they ruled. At the peak of the Arab
    Uprisings which had reached Bahrain in 2011, the island (s) was invaded
    by forces from Saudi Arabia and some from the UAE. Presumably through an agreement with the ruling
    family, presumably. Yet dangling the perennial idea of an “Iranian threat” across the impenetrable armada of the U.S. Navy has served the rulers of Bahrain well with willing but naive American politicians. It has also changed the subject from democracy an equality to sectarianism. This has served the ruling family (and their elite tribal allies) with their Sunni population and around the Gulf.

  • UAE: They have had their own Saudi problems since before the seven emirates were joined. There are grievances over border territories usurped by Saudi Arabia. These problems occasionally emerge and create temporary tensions, as when the Saudis occasionally close border crossings and create a partial economic/trade blockade. The Emirates have had local Muslim Brotherhood -MB- activity for some time, but apparently the shaikhs and potentates were not aware of their extent until the recent two years. Especially when a bunch of academics from local universities came out in the open calling for political ‘reform’. They were summarily thrown in prison, their citizenship revoked (apparently it is a privilege bestowed not a birthright). Now, for more than a year UAE media have been focused on attacking the MB.
  • The UAE rulers are also reported to have heavily financed Egyptian groups opposed to the elected Mohammed Morsi government. I would not be surprised if Field Marshal Al Sisi appointed one of the Al Nahayan brothers (owners of the UAE) as one of his vice presidents and an Al Saud prince as his other vice president. Adly Mansour Al Zombie can be his real vice president. I am also only about three-quarters kidding.

  • Oman: I have often written here that Oman looks more across the seas: beyond the Gulf and across the Indian Ocean. They pay lip service to GCC integration and even less so to Arab affairs. Historically they have had footholds in East Africa (they ruled Zanzibar) and even toe-holds in India. They also have no use for the Wahhabi clerics who consider the faith of many Omanis some kind of heresy. In the worst of times Oman has managed to keep on good terms with the mullahs (oddly, they were also on very good terms with the Shah when he ruled Iran).

  • Kuwait: Has refused to officially and directly join the Saudi-UAE-Bahrain anti-Qatar circus. It is politically the most un-Saudi of the GCC (if you disregard some tribal links). It is politically the most complex of the GCC countries. There are certain checks and balances, although occasionally overlooked. There is a relatively old constitution of more than half a century that guarantees certain political and religious rights. There is also an active political life both in an elected legislature and also in private gatherings and in the outspoken media. It is the hardest Gulf place to control politically.
  • Kuwait was also the target of repeated Wahhabi military aggression and attempts at annexation. The last time was in 1920 when the Ikhwan, the Al Saud zealous militias, again sought to annex it to their new Kingdom without Magic. That invasion failed and I am quite thankful for that. As schoolchildren they used to take us on field trips to the Red Fort (in the Jahra oasis) where the last battle was fought. The old defensive wall around the old city was later torn down, a dumb (or maybe deliberate) mistake. Iraq also famously invaded in 1990 and Baathist forces were expelled by American forces in 1991. Iranian espionage networks have been arrested in the past. Memories are long along the Gulf.

  • Saudi Arabia: Need I say anymore? It is the source of most tensions along the Arab side of the Gulf. I am leaving Iraq and Iran out of this for now because they are not GCC, but all three together are quite a load. None of the three is a regional sweetheart by any standard. The Al Saud family seems to think the solution to their fears of the empowerment of their own people is to control more of their neighbors. In some cases it is like trying to swallow a bone: one can choke on it.

I attach here a few of my more recent posts on the Gulf GCC issues in case you have more time to waste:

Brotherhood of the GCC, Wahhabis of the GCC, Feuding Misfits of the GCC

GCC Summit in December: Auld Lang Syne and L’Internationale

Beggar Thy OPEC Neighbor: Oil and the Economics of Nuclear Programs

Gulf GCC Joint Police Force: DOA or WTF or BOTH?

Owning the GCC: What is in a Name? Burj WTF and Al Einstein

GCC Bestseller Book: Gulf Dynasties for Dummies, a Theory of Sustainable Looting


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GCC Summit: a Salafi Tribal Dream Team, Taqiyya and a Real Existential Threat……


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“Some in the al Khalifa elite appear to be willing to be subsumed into such a union and this is a startling reflection of their heightened concerns. Given the lack of oil and gas resources in Bahrain, the exodus of European banks seriously damaging confidence in this key industry, the profound socio-economic problems that lie mostly unacknowledged at the root of Bahrain’s political troubles, and the hardening political crisis, there are concerns as to Bahrain’s longer term viability as an independent economic entity. Saudi Arabia already gives Bahrain’s elite huge subsidies and support and there is no sign that this could be reversed soon. From the al Khalifa perspective, therefore, if those in Riyadh are not willing to simply continue the economic support without deeper political concessions, with no end in sight to the political and economic crisis, securing guaranteed long-term backing from Riyadh to maintain the status quo may seem sensible. Overall, while Saudi Arabia taking on Bahrain as a loss-making, politically unstable appendage with a majority Shiite population may seem to be unattractive, it is preferable to the alternative. They could conversely see the slow implosion of a fellow Sunni monarchy and the potential ascendance to power of the Shiites next door to Saudi’s Eastern province, which contains not only a majority-Shiite Saudi population but also most of the kingdom’s oil fields and facilities……….”

The Gulf GCC leaders are scheduled to meet in Riyadh next week. The Saudis and their supporters are trying to market the half-baked idea of a GCC “confederation”. They have been at it for months, ever since the al-Saud realized that inviting Jordan and Morocco into the GCC was a stupid idea (from their point of view not mine: I knew it won’t get anywhere). Morocco and Jordan have been toying with more democracy, something the Saudi princes could not allow (an elected government would release prisoners and pack some of the princes to prison). Saudi-paid journalists and affiliated tribes and Salafis in some Gulf states are encouraging the idea of closer ties to the Wahhabi kingdom. The Salafis especially, being advocates of the Saudi royals, are pushing for it. The pressure is being applied, but they won’t get anywhere.

In Kuwait

, for example, the Salafis claim they want more freedom from the (divided) ruling family, but that is a phoney argument, a Salafi-tribal taqiyya or deception. The Salafis and local Muslim Brothers and their tribal supporters, now a majority in the assembly, are advocating for the Saudi regime, the most repressive Arab regime in modern times. It is an oddity of the Gulf Salafis that they admire both the al-Saud princes and they admire the al-Qaeda terrorists. Their Dream Team would be to rejoin the two Wahhabi sides (al-Saud and al-Qaeda) and live happily ever-after. But Kuwait still has some sort of civil society and the people, most of them (at least the city folks) will not accept getting too close to their former Wahhabi invaders. The only invasions of Kuwait in modern times have come from Saudi Arabia and from Iraq (both in the 20th century). People don’t forget where they were invaded from.


was a shaikhdom not long ago. It became a kingdom a little over a decade ago. Now it is a full-fledged state of rebellion, has been so for some time. The rulers of Bahrain have tricked the people several times: at independence when they voted for a “constitutional” monarchy, then again over a decade ago when they voted again for a weaker version of the same system. The rulers are trying to do the same again, promise reform while they tighten the screws some more. In Bahrain, the al-Khalifa and their small core of supporters would do anything to keep the old corrupt prime minister in power and to keep their ill-gotten privileges, even at the cost of handing the once-progressive island to the repressive Wahhabi princes.

The Qataris

have been bitten before by their “current” Saudi allies. There was a Saudi coup attempt against the current Shaikh of Qatar in 1998. It failed, but several high-ranking Saudi intelligence officers spent ten years in a Qatari prison and some border-straddling tribes were implicated.


is suspicious of Wahhabi ideology which does not look kindly on the religion of most of its people. Besides, the Omanis have always preferred to face the sea (Gulf of Oman, Indian Ocean, Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea): less trouble from those directions in recent years.

The UAE has had border disputes with the Saudis since the days before independence from Britain (before there was a UAE). The al-Nahayan are highly unlikely to hand over any iota of their independence to the “sisterly” neighbors they have never fully trusted. The UAE has a dispute with the Iranians over Abu Musa and Tunb in the Gulf, but the real “existential” danger to all the smaller Gulf GCC states does not come from across the Gulf, not from beyond the Western fleets, it comes from across the land border. The rulers realize his, as do most of the people.

In the end

, they will all pay lip service to the idea of an “eventual” move to closer cooperation or coordination or whatever. With all the usual committees, commissions, councils, etc. My guess is they will form a body or a council for foreign policy that will be meaningless, an advisory council to the existing council of foreign ministers.


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The Next War: Saudis Succeed in Aligning Gulf States with the American-Israeli Position……..

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Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi has advised Saudi officials against making injudicious remarks about boosting oil production amid European countries’ efforts to impose oil sanctions on the Islamic republic. “We expect the countries in the Persian Gulf region, particularly Saudi Arabia, with which we have always called for the best relations, to avoid injudicious discourses,” Salehi said on Tuesday in response to Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi, who has said that his country will make up for any shortfall in world oil supply caused by sanctions against Iran. “If Saudi officials’ recent remarks are to be regarded as their official view, we advise them to respond more thoughtfully and sensibly to regional issues,” Salehi added. Al-Naimi told CNN on Monday that his country could increase production by two million barrels “almost immediately” if sanctions are imposed on Iran’s oil industry. Iran exports roughly 2.5 million barrels per day. The Saudi minister also expressed his doubts that Iran could successfully close the Strait of Hormuz..……..” Mehr News Agency (Iran)

It looks like the Saudis have succeeded in pushing any hesitant Gulf state toward the American-Israeli position on Iran. With the likely exception of Oman which usually marches to its own music. The Saudis are taking an openly harder line now: the minister said his country is willing to produce about the same amount of crude that Iran would lose in exports. Even more telling, he opined that Iran can’t close the Strait of Hormuz. It sounds like he was inviting the West to go ahead and march toward the destructive regional war that some Gulf oligarchs want the Americans to wage again. The Saudi king and the UAE rulers may get the wish they have expressed in the past (Wikileaks). And there is no doubt that it would be a regional war this time around.
All this is reminiscent of the 1980s, when most GCC Gulf states sided with Saddam Hussein after he invaded Iran. Not only did they supply Saddam with financing and weapons, some of them also sold their own crude oil on behalf of Iraq. Once Iranian’s ability to sell oil was cut, they started the tankers war in the Gulf. That led to confrontations with the U.S navy in the Gulf (of course the Iranians didn’t do well in those confrontations). After that war ended Saddam turned his brotherly neighborly guns south toward the GCC. History may be about to be repeated, but on a larger more destructive scale.
Of course the GCC states have the right to sell as much oil as they want and to whomever they want to. Even to poached former customers of Iran. Still all perfectly legal, more legal than the expected new war that the West may wage in the Gulf. But in time of war and desperation this type of logic is meaningless in reality, and is thrown out the window. The Iranians will correctly see it as an attempt to help the Anglo-American-Israeli war effort against them. The oil embargo is not sanctioned by the United Nations, but is purely American, with Israeli instigation.
From the Iranians’ point of view, they will see the same neighbors again siding with an ‘aggressor’, this time without the convenience of the aggressor being an “Arab” side.


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Qatar and Oman: Is Iran Cracking the GCC Front?………….

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Sultan Qaboos said that regional states should keep vigilant toward the plots of sowing discord in the region. Referring to the latest developments in the region, he called for an urgent settlement to the problems and heed the demands of the people. Iran-Oman excellent ties will ensure interests of the two countries and the entire regional nations, he said. Salehi arrived in the Omani capital city of Muscat on Wednesday morning. He was warmly welcomed by his Omani Counterpart Youssef bin Alawi. “Without doubt, Salehi’s first visit to Oman would be constructive,” bin Alawi said. Bin Alawi added the visit is the best opportunity to foster mutual ties. Omani government is keen to enhance Tehran-Muscat cooperation, he noted. Iran and Oman have expanded cooperation in a variety of areas such as economy and defense since Iran’s President Ahmadinejad took office in 2005. The two countries signed a security agreement in August 2009….Fars News (Iran)

Just before this Salehi visit to Oman, he had been in Qatar. Even during the peak of the Arab revolutions and the Bahraini regime crackdown on the people’s uprising last March, high Omani officials and the Qatari crown prince were in Tehran for the celebration of Nouruz, the Iranian New Year. As I have posted before here, Oman has always marched to its own music, paying lip service to the Saudi-driven GCC band. Oman has always looked across the seas, even long after its territorial interests in East Africa were gone.
Qatar has been an active thorn in the Saudi side, although the Qatari regime has moved closer to the Saudi position as the Arab revolution moved closer to the Persian-American Gulf. But there is serious bad blood between Doha and Riyadh, ever since the 1990s when Saudi Arabia was involved in a plot to overthrow the Emir of Qatar. Several high ranking Saudi security officers were sentenced to prison in Qatar for their role and were only released a year or so ago. They returned to a heroes’ welcome by the al-Saud princes in Riyadh.

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