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Oman’s rising diplomatic role in Yemen met with mixed reaction in GCC

Oman's strategy of constructive engagement with the Houthis has been met with pushback from Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

On March 31, the UN special envoy to Yemen, Martin Griffiths, met in Muscat with the chief Houthi negotiator, Mohammed Abdulsalam. They discussed ways to facilitate the implementation of the Stockholm agreement for peace in Yemen. While these negotiations were largely inconsequential, they highlighted Oman’s rising profile as a diplomatic arbiter in Yemen, as they occurred a month after British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt held a rare meeting with Abdulsalam in Muscat.

Since the start of the Saudi Arabia-led military intervention in Yemen in March 2015, Oman has attempted to position itself as a critical mediator in the conflict. Unlike its Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) counterparts, Oman has consistently maintained a position of neutrality in Yemen, and questioned the feasibility of the Arab coalition’s efforts to subdue the Houthis through force alone. In order to burnish its credentials as a mediator, Oman has pursued a strategy of constructive engagement with the Houthis.

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