Omani ruler Sultan Qaboos bin Said (right) hosts US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Muscat almost exactly a year ago, on January 14, 2019. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Oman’s Leader Dies at 79, Cousin Named as Successor

Sultan Qaboos bin Said, longtime ruler of the Gulf nation of Oman, died on Friday at 79, without having designated an heir. On Saturday, a cousin, Haitham bin Tariq al-Said, was named to succeed him. The childless Qaboos took power in 1970 after a British-supported bloodless coup against his father, Sultan Said bin Taimur, whom he accused of not doing enough to develop or modernize the country. Oman has large oil reserves, but its chief importance is seen in its location at the eastern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where it guards the Gulf of Oman and the approaches to the strategic Strait of Hormuz. It is also well placed for international trade. Qaboos did his utmost to keep Oman neutral in regional disputes and was often looked upon as a local mediator. He remained friendly to both Iran and the West – including Israel, whose leader, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, visited in October 2018. No cause of death was given, but Qaboos was known to have been in ill health in recent years. Oman is now in three days of official mourning.

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