It is no secret that the six leaders of the Gulf Coordination Council (GCC) countries hold widely disparate views on two issues: the extent of the Iranian threat, and how to resolve the conflict in Yemen.

This discrepancy has made it difficult for them to come to an agreement on any one policy to challenge Iran’s so called boorishness, without propelling the region into open conflict. So far, such efforts have focused on improving regional defense capabilities and U.S-GCC security cooperation. In particular, the Trump administration has hinted that it will help the Saudi-led alliance combat the pro-Iranian Houthi mutiny in Yemen by offering cutting-edge munitions as well as logistics and intelligence support. According to White House sources, President Trump will be visiting Riyadh later this month.

Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are contriving to enterprise on these fissures, by isolating the Saudis from their smaller Gulf partners. But Iran itself is plagued by internal policy differences over how to deal with the Gulf states. Moreover, as presidential elections loom, Rouhani is conscious that increased regional tensions will only weaken his position with the hard-liners who encircle Ayatollah Khamenei. Cooling the current atmosphere of anger in the Gulf will yield him a foot in the door to secure re-election.

Solving the Yemen crisis is cardinal for solving the GCC’s problems. After last year’s Kuwait round of Yemeni negotiations (read stalemate), the Saudi-led coalition concluded that only a change in military balance would bring the Houthis and their allies, loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, at some mediation juncture. Plans to drive the Houthis off the Red Sea coast — the Yemeni repository for the arms-smuggling route that begins in Iran — and thus take over the vital port of Hodeidah. The Saudi-led coalition wants to salvage the port from the Houthis. However, humanitarian aid workers warn that fighting in Hodeidah could completely cut off a key lifeline of the country.

With just weeks to go before the holy month of Ramadan, an agreement to return the port of Hodeidah to full-scale potential would be a godsend for the devastated Yemeni population. According to UN estimates, 70 to 80 percent of the country’s humanitarian conveyances along with an even greater percentage of commercial food and fuel imports come through this port.

In recent times, concerns over the difficulties of a military operation to drive deep-rooted forces from a city of at least one million people has led the alliance to consider closely its position. Yemen’s Hadi government, along with the Saudis and Emiratis, has showcased its readiness to consent to a peaceful transferal of the city and port to a unbiased third party. This party would be accountable for revamping damaged port facilities, allowing unrestricted entry to humanitarian relief organizations, and guaranteeing that the port would not be used for arms smuggling. There are enough signs that are evidence that both the Houthi and Saleh forces may come to an agreement on this proposition.

Oman has always been particularly disinclined in the GCC’s yearning to challenge Iran primarily because it does not want to instigate regional tensions. Caught between two vast neighbours who are locked in a regional struggle, Oman has long been to the Middle East what Switzerland is to global diplomacy. But now its neutral policy is becoming taxing. Oman has never found it easy to balance relations with Saudi Arabia and Iran, and increasing enmity between the region’s main Sunni and Shia powers is challenging its much admired strategy of impartiality particularly. With Iran specifically, Oman has conventionally had close business and diplomatic relations, and it is eager for Iranian investment to help it manage economic pressure due to low oil prices. Reciprocally, Oman too is becoming a bridge for Iranian companies looking to enter new African, Asian and Arab markets, much to Saudi exasperation. A key element of the Omani sultanate’s foreign policy has been to equipoise the benefits of its more powerful neighbors off one another to develop its own interests and securities.

By exercising Omani savoir-faire to realize broader GCC goals in Yemen, and to see to it that the country is not a persistent basis of uncertainty and insecurity in the Arabian Peninsula, incongruent GCC views can finally reach a settlement. Such an arrangement, if unobstructed, will also bring Yemen’s two-year old conflict to a peaceful inference.