The United States made a strategic deal with Oman this Sunday. The port deal allows the United States military to have better access to the Middle East region. This will help lower the number of ships that need to be sent through the Strait of Hormuz, which is a maritime choke point off Iran.
The U.S. embassy released a statement that the agreement included details about the access to ports and facilities in Salalah and Duqm granted to the United States military. The statement also mentioned that the agreement reaffirms the commitment by both the countries towards mutual security goals.
Oman is attempting to develop Duqm while trying to preserve its neutral role in Middle Eastern politics. The deal has come at a time when the U.S. is greatly concerned by Iran’s expanding missile programs. These programs have been improving in recent times despite the diplomatic pressure and sanctions placed by the United States.
According to a U.S. official, who spoke anonymously, the deal will prove significant in improving access to ports that will further connect to a network of roads to the wider region, giving the United States military greater access in case of a crisis.
According to a U.S. official, the U.S. used to function on the assumption that the military would be able to steamroll into the Gulf. However, the recent developments in Iranian missile programs have raised concerns.
In the past, Tehran has threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, thereby not allowing U.S. military any access to the region. The threat was made in retaliation to any hostile action by the U.S. like attempting to block Iranian oil exports by imposing sanctions.
For Oma, this port deal will allow it to transform Duqm, which is a fishing village located 550 km south of Oman’s capital, Muscat. This transformation will allow Duqm to diversify the economy of the village beyond oil and gas exports.
With the United States in direct competition with China, the deal will help better its position.
Chinese firms had planned to invest over $10.7 billion in Duqm. This was supposed to be a commercial investment rather than a military arrangement.
An official said that the Chinese relationship had not moved forward. The section that was set aside in the Duqm industrial zone for the Chinese remains the same, and no changes have been made yet. China has already shown no problems in rubbing against U.S. military facilities in the past.