Oman joining the Islamic Military Coalition will definitely be mentioned as one of the most important events witnessed by Gulf arena in 2016.
The importance does not lie in the addition of another Islamic state to the coalition, which includes 41 of them, noting that the coalition’s military potentials and readiness allow it to achieve its goals without the need of any other state.
However, what distinguishes Oman’s consensual accession to the coalition is its strategic goal rather than a military participation.
The joining of Oman to the coalition carries with it an essential political message that could never be neglected on both official and popular level among GCC states.
Oman’s Sultanate has been aiming for decades to combine irrelevant states together, in a step that could be described as almost impossible in a complex region.
The decision to be neutral in the Middle East could only be explained as attempting to hold a stick from the middle using only one finger.
Nevertheless, no one can deny that Oman’s policy adopted has always been known for its miraculous ability to maintain balance when it comes to its regional relations, no matter how complicated are the events it these regional countries.
Oman also succeeded in playing the mediator’s role several times among regional parties, which helped Muscat keep its distance from Iran.
For instance, the Gulf state has always been capable of retaining its full independence in all cases and situations; at the same time, it also maintained its strategic alliance with the United States and the United Kingdom along with its historic relations with GCC states.
Oman’s constitution, which does not permit any military intervention outside its borders, let it adopt a firm and strategic stance towards its neighboring and brotherly countries in the GCC and especially towards Saudi Arabia, which first established and is leading the Islamic military coalition.
Preceded by its interference in liberating Kuwait in 190, Oman’s participation in the coalition is considered the first in the Sultanate’s history and a major transformation in Oman’s policy in general.
Notably, Oman’s accession to the coalition has failed the many attempts carried out by regional and international parties to describe it as sectarian.
Despite the fact that once the coalition was established it announced that it is directed against terrorist organizations classified by the international community rather than targeting a specific country, Oman’s military participation could be benefited from in the political and diplomatic roles played by the Sultanate in favor of the stability and peace of the Gulf states when it comes to the complicated regional issues.
In this case, Riyadh is to take the credit for absorbing differences among countries with exceptional relations as it makes sure these differences are kept within the normal condition of international relations.
Therefore, Saudi Arabia was keen to let Oman participate in the coalition even though many believe that Oman’s chances to return are impossible.
In this matter, Oman’s serious and essential step taken proves that it deals with other countries based on its diplomatic policies; thus, superseding all claims that it is against Gulf convergence.
Oman is one of the founding countries to the GCC and has been working for 35 years to let it succeed in its goals and plans.
It also contributed, along with the international coalition, in liberating Kuwait from Iraqi invasion, and it submitted a bill to establish a united Gulf army in 1991, yet it did not succeed in implementing this project back then, which ignited its rage for so long.
Oman’s accession to the Islamic Military Coalition, undoubtedly, opens new prospects for Omani relations, yet it also infuriates regional parties that view this convergence as negative since it does not serve their interests.