Challenges Await Oman’s New Sultan as Mourning Period Ends
- Elena DeLozier
- Content Type
- Policy Brief
- The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
- Sultan Haitham will now be free to put his own stamp on the country's government and foreign policy, and a
recent dust-up on the Yemeni border could provide the first indicator of his approach.
On February 20, Oman will begin its next era in earnest. The new sultan, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, was officially
sworn in on January 11, but he has remained quiet and mostly out of sight during the forty-day mourning period
that followed the death of his cousin, Sultan Qaboos. Now that this period is drawing to a close, he is free to put
his stamp on Omani policy.
Notably, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will lead the first international delegation to see Sultan Haitham in
the post-mourning period. When the meeting was first scheduled, the secretary likely saw it as a chance to get to
know the new leader, and also as a symbolic visit to make up for sending such a low-level delegation to offer
condolences. Yet the two may have more to talk about now. Earlier this week, a flare-up occurred between Saudi
forces and Omani-backed locals in the Yemeni border province of al-Mahra. The confrontation may be Sultan
Haitham’s first regional test, and identifying the actors who help him get through it could help Washington discern
future power centers within Oman’s often opaque government.
- Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Government
- Political Geography
- Middle East, Yemen, Oman, United States of America, Gulf Nations