US watching for a friendly successor to the sultan – Omani Sultan Qaboos Bin Said is said to have colon cancer, and rumours suggest his condition may be grave, reports Bilal Y Saab of Foreign Affairs. The sultan has personally led an effort to modernise Oman and raise its standard of living and regional profile, so US officials are concerned that the next leader might be less interested in a strategic partnership with their nation.
“Indeed, Oman has long had tremendous strategic significance for Washington – although, unusually for the region, not because of its oil,” writes Saab. “Rather, it provides a rare regional example of domestic tranquillity, cosmopolitanism, religious tolerance and skilful diplomacy.”
The Sultan has a plan of succession, but any number of changes – including denied access to Seeb International Airport or the Strait of Hormuz – would have major consequences for US military strategy in the region.