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Arabian Peninsula in Deadly Grip of Coronavirus

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It is quite clear that the Coronavirus has resulted not only in a significant impact on people and their health, and in a negative effect on economics and politics but also in the break-up of fragile alliances that were the pride of many nations at some point in the past. For example, the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (CCASG or the Gulf Cooperation Council, GCC) has come to the end of the road as of recently.

It was established as far back as 1981 in Riyadh and comprised a number of nations of the Persian Gulf. The author believes that Saudi Arabia aimed to consolidate its power via the GCC in this important part of the world. At the time, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia were part of the alliance. It is important to point out that the former ruler of Oman, Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said, always had a unique independent stance on many major issues and was often at odds with Saudi monarchs. He was one of the few Arab leaders who did not sever ties with Egypt after the latter had signed the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty in 1979. In 1994, Oman became the first Arab nation of the Persian Gulf to host a serving Israeli Prime Minister (still the two nations do not have diplomatic relations with each other)

The Sultanate of Oman maintained a friendly relationship with Iran, a rival of its allies – the United States and Saudi Arabia. From 2013 to 2014, informal negotiations between the USA and Iran on restricting the latter’s nuclear program took place in Muscat, the capital of Oman. In March 2015, the Sultanate of Oman chose not to join the coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, which then conducted air strikes against Houthi rebels who had seized power in Yemen. Diplomatic contacts between the Houthis and the Yemeni government continued in Muscat. In 2017, in line with its foreign policy built on neutrality, Oman decided not to go along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, and chose not to sever diplomatic relations with Qatar. This helped Doha survive the economic blockade initiated by the Arabic nations. It would seem that all of the aforementioned examples are sufficient to demonstrate that the former Sultan followed an independent policy, and often did not consult with Saudi monarchs on issue that arose. The current Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq Al Said, is not particularly keen on cooperating very actively with........

© New Eastern Outlook