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Sunday, 29 July 2018

What we’re tracking on 28 July 2018

First, it is the Space Force. Next, a NATO-style Arab alliance: US President Donald Trump could be holding a summit with Arab leaders in Washington on 12-13 October to discuss the establishment of a NATO-style Arab military force, sources told the Washington Post. The force that could be “tentatively known as the Middle East Strategic Alliance (MESA)” would include an alliance between six gulf Arab States, as well as Egypt and Jordan. We had first heard of the idea for the alliance last year, when it was floated as a means of countering Iran’s growing influence in the region.

The Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) will present its remarks on the Finance Ministry’s new and improved Customs Act this week, FEI tax committee chair Mohamed El Bahey said last week. Their points of concerns include stipulations requiring importers to submit letters of guarantee from an accredited bank covering the cost of customs duties and taxes, in addition to higher penalties for customs evaders and smugglers. The FEI’s notes come as a preliminary “national dialogue” between the ministry and business associations on the law. Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had previously told us that the ministry would introduce a “whitelist” of importers who benefit from expedited clearance of goods. The new act will replace the current one.

Saudi Arabia temporarily halted the movement of oil shipments through the Red Sea’s Bab El Mandeb Strait, “virtually [halting] oil shipments through Egypt’s Suez Canal or the SUMED crude pipeline that link the Red Sea and Mediterranean,” Reuters reports. Saudi said that Yemeni Houthi militias attacked two of its oil tankers while they passed through the strait, which means it is “unlikely to reverse the decision until it’s confident that crew, ships and cargoes are safe.” Bloomberg answers all the FAQs here.

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