When Jimmy Carter became the U.S. president in January 1977, the United States and Oman did not have any formal security arrangements, apart from occasional landings of U.S. military aircraft on Oman's Masirah Island. Although Oman's leader, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, hoped to establish closer security ties with the United States, the Carter administration chose to continue President Richard Nixon's policy of relying on the “twin pillars” of Iran and Saudi Arabia to reinforce Western security in the Persian/Arabian Gulf region. Oman remained mostly a strategic afterthought until a series of crises unfolded in the greater Middle East: a Communist coup in Afghanistan in April 1978, the fall of the Shah of Iran in January 1979, and a war between Marxist South Yemen and North Yemen shortly thereafter. In November 1979, Iranian terrorists backed by the Islamic regime stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran and seized dozens of hostages. This was followed a month later by the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. With the fall of the Shah and the collapse of the “twin pillars” policy, the Carter administration began a sustained effort to create a Rapid Deployment Force for the Middle East and to gain access to Oman's strategic military facilities. After several months of arduous negotiations, Carter and his team were able to conclude a Facilities Access Agreement with Oman in June 1980, a transformative process that gave Washington the ability to insert U.S. military personnel into the Gulf and Indian Ocean on a contingency basis. The Carter administration's effort stands as a significant achievement, converting Oman into the most reliable U.S. ally in the Gulf region in the 1980s.

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