According to Yemeni security officials, Oman has closed its border crossings with the country out of fear of attacks by militants associated with the Islamic State. The officials reported that the Omani government had actually instituted this policy earlier this year, but did not provide an exact date. With the exception of the Sana’a airport, these closings seal off the only unrestricted means of passage out of the country. So far, Oman has chosen to stay uninvolved with the Yemeni civil war, being the only Gulf monarchy not to join the Saudi-led coalition forces. Some observers suggest that Oman, having a majority Ibadi Muslim population, has no stake in what many perceive as a sectarian proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
Instability along the Yemeni border has been a historic concern for the country’s Gulf neighbors. This was a major issue during the era of the Yemeni civil war in the 1960’s and 1970’s. Now, Oman’s decision to close off Yemen’s last open border crossings in response to the current conflict may worsen the already deteriorating humanitarian situation in the country, with 82% of the population in need of basic humanitarian assistance and at least 2.3 million people displaced from their homes.
Margaret Bailey is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.