KeywordsGovernment and Political Science
Sociology and Law
Military Forces and Organizations
*UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
REACTOR FUEL ENRICHMENT
AIR BASE ACCESS
FREE TRADE AGREEMENTS
IRANIAN NUCLEAR FACILITIES
IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM
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AbstractThe Sultanate of Oman is a long-time U.S. ally in the Persian Gulf. It has allowed U.S. access to its military facilities for virtually every U.S. military operation in and around the Gulf since 1980, despite the sensitivities in Oman and throughout the Middle East about a U.S. military presence there. Oman also has fully and consistently supported U.S. efforts to achieve a Middle East peace by publicly endorsing the peace treaties that have been achieved between Israel and some of its Arab neighbors, and by occasionally hosting Israeli political leaders or meeting with them outside Oman. It was partly in appreciation for this alliance that the United States entered into a free trade agreement (FTA) with Oman. The FTA was considered pivotal to helping Oman diversify its economy to compensate for its relatively small reserves of crude oil. Perhaps because of the extensive benefits the alliance with Oman provides to U.S. Persian Gulf policy, successive U.S. Administrations have tended not to criticize Oman's relatively close relations with Iran. Oman has a tradition of cooperation with Iran dating back to the Shah of Iran's regime and Oman has always been less alarmed by the perceived threat from Iran than have the other Gulf states. Oman's leaders view possible U.S. military action against Iran's nuclear facilities as potentially more destabilizing to the region than is Iran's nuclear program or Iran's foreign policy that supports Shiite and some other hardline Islamist movements. Still, there is a long-standing assumption among U.S. policy makers that, in the event of a U.S.-Iran confrontation, Oman would at least tacitly back the United States. Another major U.S. priority in the Gulf region has been the promotion of human rights and democracy and the empowerment of civil society. Although some Omani human rights activists and civil society leaders, along with many younger Omanis, believe the democratization process has stagnated over the past 5 years.
CRS Report for Congress.