Iranian and Omani navies signed a cooperation agreement calling to provide “peace and stability” in the region, says communique of the two naval commanders.
Primarily, the question is control over the Strait of Hormuz which is a traffic route for 85% of oil produced by the Persian Gulf countries, writes Izvestiya.
“Northern part of the strait is controlled by Iran, and the southern one – by Oman. Among other Gulf states, Tehran has historically good relations with Oman, so the cooperation agreement is quite logical”, explains Vladimir Sazhin, professor of Oriental Institute, Russian Academy of Science.
Numerous Iran’s threats to block the Strait of Hormuz cause worldwide concern because it may level up oil prices to stratosphere. Tehran’s cooperation with one of regional countries may give it an access to plans of Iranian leaders.
“This agreement gives advantages to all parties. The West would acquire information about Iran’s intentions through Arabs, and Tehran would display transparency of its plans”, believes Rajab Safarov, director of Research Institute for Contemporary Iran.
Concluding an alliance with one of the strongest regional players and being a small country on the coast of strategically important Straight of Hormuz, Oman may count on certain protection in case of local conflicts.
According to Vladimir Sazhin, Oman went for agreement only after consultations with the Gulf Cooperation Council, a high-powered organization with headquarters in Saudi Arabia. The council coordinates economic, cultural, and some issues of military cooperation amid the Gulf countries.
Such cooperation is especially worth-while as relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia have recently soured so that Tehran has become almost as grave enemy as Israel. The reason is strengthening of Sunnism in the region and, consequently, confrontation between Sunnites and Iran-backed Shiites, writes the newspaper.
“Iran’s relations with all Gulf countries except for Oman leave much to be desired”, explains Rajab Safarov. “United Arab Emirates claim for several Iranian islands near the Strait of Hormuz. Face-off between Sunnites and Shiites in Bahrain is heavy. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, and Qatar are pro-American”, the expert said.
The agreement between Tehran and Masqat is a political issue. The question is unlikely a full-scale military cooperation because combat capabilities of Iran and Oman are incomparable.
“Main striking force of Omani Navy is gradually commissioned three Khareef-class multipurpose corvettes”, said Igor Korotchenko, director of World Arms Trade Analytic Center. “To compare corvette class, Iran operates five ships”.
In addition, Iranian Navy has in inventory submarines, cutters, antiship missiles, naval aviation, marines etc.
Sure, it is unlikely that Oman would block the strait with Iran. However, it can become an intermediary enjoying confidence of both Tehran and its opponents.
Naval Today Staff , February 13, 2012