For a long time it was the general perception that Oman’s foreign policy discerned with the other GCC members dramatically: Its friendly approach to Iran created mistrust and suspicion among the others and especially in Saudi Arabia as key enemy of the regime in Teheran. Particularly, Oman’s hidden diplomacy with the Americans and Iranians in 2015 that resulted in the final agreement of the nuclear deal caused anger on the Arab Peninsula. Along these lines, the latest move of Oman to join the Saudi-led coalition of Muslim countries fighting terrorism (Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT)) has been seen as a great transformation away from Sultan Qaboos long tradition of balancer and interlocutor between the two regional powers.
However, this move should not be overemphasized. Still, Oman is not backing Saudi’s war in Yemen and has “have kept open channels to the Houthi rebels and the supporters of former president Ali Abdullah Saleh, who are fighting the Saudi coalition“. While Oman’s intentions of “entering IMAFt remain unclear” it will be seen if this has any further implications in the form of another step towards a unified Arab Gulf that is still Saudi’s top priority, a deterioration between Teheran and Muscat or no impact at all.