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US turns to Oman to mediate hostage release in Syria

The Omani national flag waving in the wind in the capital Muscat on 18 September 2020 [HAITHAM AL-SHUKAIRI/AFP/Getty Images]
The Omani national flag in the capital Muscat. [HAITHAM AL-SHUKAIRI/AFP/Getty Images]

Oman has stepped up its mediation efforts in hopes of releasing US hostages held in Syria through effective mediation at the request of the US, according to Intelligence Online

The report, translated by The New Khalij, said that the recent strategic dialogue session between the US and Oman, held on 8 November, addressed the sensitive issue of US hostages detained in Syria, including independent journalist and former Marine Corps officer Austin Tice.

While the meeting discussed developing artificial intelligence, automatic control tools and strengthening the Omani intelligence apparatus as bilateral priorities between the two countries, the meeting also addressed the issue of US hostages in Syria.

The website indicated that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke openly to his Omani counterpart, Sayyid Badr Bin Hamad Bin Hamood Al-Busaidi, about his desire for Muscat to act as a mediator in talks with the Syrian regime about the crisis.

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Al-Busaidi visited Damascus and met with the Head of the Syrian regime Bashar Al-Assad in December 2021 to deliver a message from Sultan Haitham Bin Tariq about Tice. Tice went missing in Syria in 2012 and is presumed to be detained, along with another US hostage named Majd Kamalmaz.

The report pointed out that Oman was the first regional country to reopen its embassy in Syria in October 2020.

The website indicated that Washington's request for Muscat's mediation in this matter came after the decline in US confidence in the director of Lebanese General Security Service, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, who had played the main role of mediator.

According to the report, the US-Omani strategic dialogue session on 8 November was preceded by a meeting on 2 November of the same month chaired by Deputy Prime Minister for Defence Affairs Shihab Bin Tariq Al-Said, the brother of the country's sultan, along with Muhammad Al-Nu'mani, the head of the sultan's court, for the Omani side. He is a senior figure who oversees the intelligence and state security apparatus in the sultanate and has already begun negotiations on the issue of the hostages.

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