Kuwaiti emir visits Oman to discuss regional tension
MUSCAT // The emir of Kuwait on Monday held talks with Sultan Qaboos bin Said to ease tensions between Iran and Arab Gulf countries.
Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah started a three-day visit to the sultanate following visits by Iranian president Hassan Rouhani to Oman and Kuwait last Wednesday.
“The peaceful solution in the region will not be complete without a consultation with the Emir of Kuwait after the sultan’s talk with the Iranian president,” a Kuwaiti delegate accompanying the emir told The National.
He said the discussion between Sultan Qaboos and Sheikh Sabah would be far-reaching, “not just to improve relations, but to bridge the gap on political ideologies in the Syrian and Yemen conflicts”.
The delegate said the two leaders discussed ways to “bridge the gap between Iran and Saudi Arabia” so that the two feuding countries could “find a common ground to work for a feasible and permanent solution”.
Oman is a traditional mediator in the region and has led discreet attempts resolve Middle East conflicts.
Unlike its GCC neighbours, Oman maintains good ties with Iran, a key backer of Syrian president Bashar Al Assad. It is also the region’s only Arab monarchy not to have cut ties with Damascus.
On Sunday, Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister Adel Al Jubeir told delegates at the Munich Security Conference that his country rejected Iranian calls for dialogue, saying Tehran was the main sponsor of terrorism in the world, a destabilising force in the Middle East and wanted to “destroy us”.
Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries accuse Iran of supporting proxy militias in countries like Yemen and Syria and meddling in the internal affairs of Gulf countries.
They also fear a deal struck with world powers for Iran to reduce its nuclear programme in exchange for a cut in sanctions could empower the Islamic Republic to become even more aggressive in the region.
“Oman and Kuwait cannot do it alone and would need the blessing of Saudi Arabia to make any headway to this conflict,” said Ahmed Al Falahy, a political commentator and a former Omani diplomat. “The Saudis are key to end this standoff. The rest of the GCC countries will follow if Saudi Arabia decides to do so.”
Last month, Oman’s foreign minister Yusuf bin Alawi said the sultanate was “exhausting all efforts in the diplomatic channels to find a lasting solution both in Yemen and Syria”.
Updated: July 21, 2017 06:54 PM