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Oman Names Haitham bin Tariq al-Said As New Ruler

DUBAI: Oman has named Haitham bin Tariq al-Said as the country’s new ruler after the death of his cousin Sultan Qaboos bin Said late on Friday

There was no independent confirmation of the report by the Qatar-based channel, which was citing its correspondent.

Oman’s ailing Sultan Qaboos bin Said, one of the Middle East’s longest serving rulers, passed away on Friday and the Gulf state’s high military council called on the ruling family to convene to choose a successor.

Three days of official mourning have been declared, with flags flown at half-mast for 40 days for the Western-backed Qaboos, 79, who had ruled since taking over in a bloodless coup in 1970 with the help of former colonial power Britain.

State news agency ONA did not give a cause of death, but Qaboos had been unwell for years and spent a week in Belgium undergoing medical treatment in early December.

There has been wide speculation over the succession as domestic challenges loom large, from strained state finances to high unemployment.

The sultan’s death comes at a time of heightened tension in the region between Iran and the United States and US ally Saudi Arabia.

Oman maintains friendly ties with Washington and Tehran and helped mediate secret US-Iran talks in 2013 that led two years later to the international nuclear pact which Washington quit in 2018.

“Sultan Qaboos had such charismatic authority and became so synonymous with Oman as a modern nation-state that it will naturally be difficult for any successor to replicate that, at least at the