For a long time, analysts of the Middle East have justifiably focused their attention on Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, three Gulf states holding massive hydrocarbon deposits and financial resources. Their leaders are the main “movers and shakers” of regional affairs and enjoy tremendous influence on the international scene. Still, other Gulf states play significant roles in shaping the Middle East's economic and strategic landscape. Such is the case with Oman, which has been a major US ally in most regional crises and has played a crucial role in mediating Gulf conflicts. This article, based on several visits to the sultanate and interviews with senior officials, analyzes the domestic, regional, and international dynamics being navigated by Sultan Haitham bin Tarik, who succeeded Sultan Qaboos bin Said in January 2020. The argument is that the new Omani leader is likely to follow the domestic and foreign policies of his predecessor, with minor adjustments. Oman may witness major changes when Crown Prince Theyazin succeeds his father. For now, given the crucial role Muscat plays in mediating regional conflicts, the sultanate expects more attention from its counterparts in Washington.
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