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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Egypt eases travel restrictions on Qatar

Egypt marginally eased travel restrictions on Qatar and will allow airlines and aircraft that are not registered in Egypt or Qatar to use its airspace to fly to and from Qatar, the civil aviation ministry said on Tuesday, according to Reuters. This follows a series of similar decisions by the UAE and Bahrain to set up a hotline to handle humanitarian issues resulting from the blockade which came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called for easing the blockade. This appears not have been enough for US ambassador to the Qatar Dana Shell Smith, who reportedly has resigned over US President Donald Trump’s criticism of Qatar, according to the Hill.

This comes as LNG traders were “relieved” and had their concerns “eased” following deliveries of Qatari LNG into Egypt and the transiting of several Qatari vessels through the Suez Canal, Platts reports. This came after initial concerns that followed Qatar’s decision to divert two LNG cargoes through the Cape of Good Hope instead of going through the Suez Canal, sparking concerns that Egypt is restricting access to the waterway, but market experts said the decision was likely Qatar’s rather than Egypt’s.

Yet somehow, the GCC’s Disneyland is still trying to flex whatever atrophied muscles it has, with its Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani defiantly stating that Al Jazeera is off the table in any negotiations to end the rift. Speaking at a press conference in Paris, Al Thani said that the channel was an “internal matter,” according to Al Jazeera. Meanwhile, the channel may be getting the boot outside the Arab world, with Israel considering shutting down it the channel, the Associated Press reports.

Meanwhile, Egypt has reportedly offered Hamas consistent electricity supplies to the Gaza strip and easier access through the Rafah crossing in exchange for security demands, according to Al Sharq Al Awsat. Egypt’s demands include the extradition of 17 people convicted of terrorism charges, protecting the border between Sinai and Gaza, and security cooperation. A source told the paper that the Hamas delegation, led by Yahya Sinwar, had agreed to cooperate on security matters. Haaretz also has the story. Egypt had reportedly shut down power lines to Gaza earlier in the week for maintenance.

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