A turbulent Middle East needs centers of calm to curb its conflicts, and another showed up this week. It came, rather tellingly, just before Iran and the United States resumed talks about reviving their defunct nuclear deal. In fact, an extension of the ceasefire in war-ravaged Yemen on Tuesday was due in large part to Oman, a small, poor country on the edge of the Arabian Peninsula, whose even and peaceful mediation helped secure the original 2015 to set. nuclear deal.
Leaders in Oman were able to renew a four-month-old truce in neighboring Yemen by once again acting as a trusted mediator through back-channel diplomacy. The Middle East “needs an environment of calm,” Omani Foreign Minister Sayyid Badr Albusaidi told Al-Monitor news website, and the best approach is through “ways of dialogue” with everyone.
Omani diplomats were crucial intermediaries in persuading the Houthi rebels allied to Iran to renew the ceasefire, which began on April 2, with a Saudi-backed Yemeni coalition. The cessation of hostilities has put a seven-year war on hold, saving lives and allowing humanitarian aid to flow to more than two-thirds of Yemen’s 30 million people in dire need.
The ceasefire also opens the door to a permanent solution to the political divide in Yemen, a country that experienced a brief period of democracy after the 2011 Arab Spring. And the latest agreement may be an indication that Iran is willing to compromise with the US in nuclear talks.
Inclusiveness, Oman’s foreign minister said, is the country’s core value. “Going forward, there is no other way than understanding to talk directly to each other, not to each other, to achieve that ultimate goal of understanding and cooperation,” he said.
Oman’s diplomats are adept at being serene and balanced listeners. “We will continue to believe in the power of dialogue,” the foreign minister said. Such calm confidence is a necessary antidote to the weapons and swagger of the Middle East.
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