Catch21 - Our Charity ArmCatch21 is a charitable production company set up in 2005 which trains young people to make videos and engage with their communities.Catch Creative - Our Video Production ArmCatch Creative offers a complete video production service, from Conception to Distribution.Catch EngagementCatch Engagement is the new video interaction platform from Catch21 which allows you to run a campaign using both user generated films as well as professionally shot ones which are displayed via Video 'Walls'. Catch Engagement is all about using films to build an online community - welcome to the future of video.

We shoot cutting edge videos and provide a forum to give people a voice.
Engagement. Discussion. Empowerment.


All content featured on our charity site is produced by young volunteers with the support and mentoring of our professional production team.

International no image

Published on April 10th, 2012 | by Taylor Heyman
Image © Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn't it? You may not know this, but in recent years, the Sultan of Oman has been pivotal in relations between Iran and the US.  In 2011 Sultan Qaboos Bin Said orchestrated the release and, it is rumored, paid the bail of the 2 American hikers captured and imprisoned by Iranian Authorities in 2009.  I am of the belief that this and many other smaller acts could be the beginning of finding a way out of the escalating crisis over nuclear capability between the US and Iran. Oman is in a perfect position to mediate between Iran and the US.  Oman's relationship with Iran continues to be strong, they have agreed a gas pipeline running between the two states, and have set up a joint bank. In terms of diplomacy, Sultan Qaboos visited Iran in 2009 and signed a security pact, as well as setting up a Persian Language Centre in Muscat, capital of Oman. Both states took part in war Games in the Hormuz Strait in early 2011 reiterating their close military bond.   Omani-US relations are similarly strong, although without the advantage of close geography. In 1980 the two states signed a facilities access agreement allowing the US to use Omani military bases under certain conditions. Since this time bonds have only become tighter, most recently with the release of the American hikers mentioned above. However, the Sultan has proved he is no American lapdog. Oman has already warned the US and Europe of aggravating Iran over the nuclear issue, and the Sultan has a deep knowledge of the region so his opinions should be heard. As far as Oman is concerned:  “The sultanate hopes Washington will engage in a ‘direct dialogue’ with Teheran to resolve the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program. The sultanate has no reason not to believe Iran’s assurances that its program has purely civilian purposes. This region, no doubt, does not want to see any military confrontation or any tension". This is probably the reason why relations continue to be good between Iran and Oman; as with the Gulf war of 1980 the Sultan will not take sides. Given this relationship I think they could go one step further: why not try and encourage the Sultan to act as arbitrator between the two nations to lead them to direct and meaningful talks? Obviously the issue is endlessly more complicated than installing a negotiator, especially one who heads a country which refuses to recognise Israel, but it could be worth a shot. Yes, i am aware he is a dictator. However, he is a progressive one, who began reforming long before many in the Gulf were pushed to by the West or by revolution. He sees that movement towards real democracy is easier if begun by the ruling power, and after deposing his father in 1970, he began to make meaningful changes to governance in Oman. There is still much to be done, especially in regions outside of Muscat, where people feel they are sidelined or forgotten about, hence why the largest demonstrations in 2011 were in Salalah, the southern Port, and Sohar in the industrial North. People feel the Shura should be given more power and more should be done about youth unemployment.  I would argue that the West has dealt with more unsavoury characters in the past, and if genuine progress is being made towards a fairer Oman then there is no harm in taking what is offered from them. Oman also has previous form on liaising with Iran's nuclear efforts, whatever they may be. In January 2011 Omani officials were part of a touring group who visited Iran's nuclear facilities. It may be possible for Iran to once again let Omani specialists and officials oversee nuclear development on behalf of, or as part of the UN- a body that the Sultan is keen should be involved as much as possible. This would eliminate accusations of US and Israeli over involvement, but also reassure those worried about Iran's capability. It has the potential to be a win-win-win situation at the most, and an avenue open for future  negotiation at the very least. Some may argue that bigger states may be better mediators, or even that the UN would be better placed to take control. However, I would argue that Oman, as a smaller power with good relations with both, and interested in peace in the region is better equipped than either. Big states such as China and Russia have less previous form in the region and lack the necessary good relations with both sides;  and Iranian leaders Ahmedinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei view the UN with suspicion. I am not arguing that this is the only option- only that opening up as many avenues as possible to dissipate the growing tension between Iran and the US must be a good thing. Israel is of course very important in this debate, but I believe that tackling issues with the US and Iran would help the situation with Israel too.

2

The Sultan, Uncle Sam and the Ayatollah…

Sounds like the beginning of a bad joke doesn’t it? You may not know this, but in recent years, the Sultan of Oman has been pivotal in relations between Iran and the US.  In 2011 Sultan Qaboos Bin Said orchestrated the release and, it is rumored, paid the bail of the 2 American hikers captured and imprisoned by Iranian Authorities in 2009.  I am of the belief that this and many other smaller acts could be the beginning of finding a way out of the escalating crisis over nuclear capability between the US and Iran.

Oman is in a perfect position to mediate between Iran and the US.  Oman’s relationship with Iran continues to be strong, they have agreed a gas pipeline running between the two states, and have set up a joint bank. In terms of diplomacy, Sultan Qaboos visited Iran in 2009 and signed a security pact, as well as setting up a Persian Language Centre in Muscat, capital of Oman. Both states took part in war Games in the Hormuz Strait in early 2011 reiterating their close military bond.   Omani-US relations are similarly strong, although without the advantage of close geography. In 1980 the two states signed a facilities access agreement allowing the US to use Omani military bases under certain conditions. Since this time bonds have only become tighter, most recently with the release of the American hikers mentioned above.

However, the Sultan has proved he is no American lapdog. Oman has already warned the US and Europe of aggravating Iran over the nuclear issue, and the Sultan has a deep knowledge of the region so his opinions should be heard. As far as Oman is concerned:  “The sultanate hopes Washington will engage in a ‘direct dialogue’ with Teheran to resolve the crisis over the Iranian nuclear program. The sultanate has no reason not to believe Iran’s assurances that its program has purely civilian purposes. This region, no doubt, does not want to see any military confrontation or any tension”. This is probably the reason why relations continue to be good between Iran and Oman; as with the Gulf war of 1980 the Sultan will not take sides. Given this relationship I think they could go one step further: why not try and encourage the Sultan to act as arbitrator between the two nations to lead them to direct and meaningful talks? Obviously the issue is endlessly more complicated than installing a negotiator, especially one who heads a country which refuses to recognise Israel, but it could be worth a shot.

Yes, i am aware he is a dictator. However, he is a progressive one, who began reforming long before many in the Gulf were pushed to by the West or by revolution. He sees that movement towards real democracy is easier if begun by the ruling power, and after deposing his father in 1970, he began to make meaningful changes to governance in Oman. There is still much to be done, especially in regions outside of Muscat, where people feel they are sidelined or forgotten about, hence why the largest demonstrations in 2011 were in Salalah, the southern Port, and Sohar in the industrial North. People feel the Shura should be given more power and more should be done about youth unemployment.  I would argue that the West has dealt with more unsavoury characters in the past, and if genuine progress is being made towards a fairer Oman then there is no harm in taking what is offered from them.

Oman also has previous form on liaising with Iran’s nuclear efforts, whatever they may be. In January 2011 Omani officials were part of a touring group who visited Iran’s nuclear facilities. It may be possible for Iran to once again let Omani specialists and officials oversee nuclear development on behalf of, or as part of the UN- a body that the Sultan is keen should be involved as much as possible. This would eliminate accusations of US and Israeli over involvement, but also reassure those worried about Iran’s capability. It has the potential to be a win-win-win situation at the most, and an avenue open for future  negotiation at the very least. Some may argue that bigger states may be better mediators, or even that the UN would be better placed to take control. However, I would argue that Oman, as a smaller power with good relations with both, and interested in peace in the region is better equipped than either. Big states such as China and Russia have less previous form in the region and lack the necessary good relations with both sides;  and Iranian leaders Ahmedinejad and Ayatollah Khamenei view the UN with suspicion. I am not arguing that this is the only option- only that opening up as many avenues as possible to dissipate the growing tension between Iran and the US must be a good thing. Israel is of course very important in this debate, but I believe that tackling issues with the US and Iran would help the situation with Israel too.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


About the Author



  • Agree with this!!__The Sultan is influential and trusted in the region, he would seem to be the obvious choice of any thinking person especially as the Sultan doesnt seem to need or want to be in the spotlight.. Maybe he is already working behind the scenes.? __It cant be a coincidence that this is one Middle Eastern country where violent protest doesnt seem to to be a problem ,

  • john

    Interesting article and a fascinating point of view.

    I agree that the US and the West has dealt with much worse dictators in the past, and this really might be the opportunity to broker a peace deal before it escalates into war. I suppose for the West , Oman as peace broker might have more traction if there was a roadmap to democracy with a timetable initiated by the Sultan. But perhaps the current situation requires action now.

Back to Top ↑