US And Iran Held Secret Meeting In Oman To Discuss The Ongoing Middle East Crisis

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The US conducted confidential Oman-brokered discussions with Iran in January this year to persuade Tehran to curb the attacks by Houthis, backed by Iran, on commercial vessels in the waters of the Red Sea, per a report published on Wednesday.

The delegations were headed by Biden’s administration, Brett McGurk, the Middle East czar, Abram Paley, the special envoy on Iran, and Ali Bagheri Kani, Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Iranian and US officials informed the Financial Times.

The two sides, however, didn’t meet directly. The negotiations had been mediated by some Omani officials who were shuttling between them. It was the first engagement of this kind from the since-stalled “proximity talks” regarding Tehran’s nuclear mission in May, which were held in Oman.

The US and Iranian officials informed the outlet that the US delegation based in Oman in January raised concerns regarding the nuclear project without further explanation.

A round of discussions scheduled for February was delayed as McGurk redirected his focus on the efforts to secure a somewhat temporary truce and hostage release contract between Hamas and Israel.

Another deal with Hamas continues to be elusive over three months following the last temporary truce with the terror group in late November, whereby 105 hostages of the 253 captured during the 7 October massacre were released.

In solidarity with Hamas, the Houthis, who are members of the Tehran-aligned axis of resistance against Israel, the US, and allies, initiated horrific missile strikes on Israel and began attacking commercial vessels in the Red Sea, claiming that Israeli vessels were acceptable targets.

However, they have targeted vessels with no clear connections to Israel, hindering shipping on a crucial route for worldwide trade and energy shipments when supply strains put upward pressure on inflation worldwide.

The attacks have escalated despite a US-headed multinational response, which has included interceptions and strikes for defending vessels in the waters of the Red Sea. Britain and the United States have launched their strikes on Houthis in Yemen and also redesignated them as a terrorist group.

The Houthi rebels reportedly seized Sana’a (Yemen’s capital) in 2014 and currently control vast swaths of the nation. The indirect diplomatic channel with Tehran is viewed by the White House as a means for raising the range of threats that emanate from Iran, a person who was familiar with the discussions said, adding that the medium permitted the US to convey to Iran how to prevent a more significant conflict in the region.

Iran has been saying that it just maintains a form of spiritual influence on the rebels. Per an Iranian official, they cannot dictate the Houthis but can try negotiating and talking. Contrary to Iran’s statements that the Houthis act independently, the Biden administration has gone ahead to accuse Tehran of being involved deeply in the planning of attacks as well as the weapons supply.

The Houthi strikes on the waterways flowing to the Suez Canal, which accounts for around 10% of world trade, have forced numerous maritime corporations to detour their vessels.

Firms have reportedly told vessels to remain in place and not enter the Bab el-Mandeb Strait on the southern end of the Red Sea until the security situation has been addressed. The Houthis launched weapons such as drones and missiles toward south Israel, which were intercepted by modern air defence systems.

Reference: FirstPost

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Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

About Author

Marine Insight News Network is a premier source for up-to-date, comprehensive, and insightful coverage of the maritime industry. Dedicated to offering the latest news, trends, and analyses in shipping, marine technology, regulations, and global maritime affairs, Marine Insight News Network prides itself on delivering accurate, engaging, and relevant information.

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