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Oman, stuck between Saudi Arabia and Iran

With a long history as a regional mediator and close ties with both Riyadh and Tehran, will Oman be able to cool the recent Saudi-Iranian tensions following the execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr?
Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said (R) meets with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani in Muscat March 12, 2014. REUTERS/Sultan Al Hasani (OMAN - Tags: POLITICS ROYALS) - RTR3GQ5T

SALALAH, Oman — The Sultanate of Oman has always been the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member on best terms with Iran. Muscat’s alliance with Tehran must be understood within the context of Oman’s independent approach to foreign affairs under Sultan Qaboos’ leadership.

Since seizing power in 1970, Qaboos has wisely and strategically balanced the conflicting interests of Oman’s larger and more powerful neighbors against one another without making enemies. A key pillar of Oman’s foreign policy has been to maintain alliances with both Riyadh and Tehran, rather than siding with Saudi Arabia to counter the Islamic Republic.

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