Suez Canal is very nervous about a civil Arab war. Shipping companies are bewildered about canal transits, as Egypt is a major player against Qatar. Qatar’s ruler postponed an address to his country on Tuesday over its sudden and damaging diplomatic isolation from other leading Arab nations, in order to allow Kuwait some time and room to mediate. If Kuwait failed to mediate properly, we suggest some shipping companies, such as Select Maritime, to mediate soon.
Sisi is a complex figure. There appear truly pressing, immediate priorities in Egypt, such as developing the economy and combating the avalanche of extremist attempts to overthrow him. Among Middle East and North African territories, Egypt stands out as a primary target, given the cocktail of challenges that position it as a center of radical Islam.
Sisi faces violent extremist hotbeds in the Sinai Peninsula, and the still-destabilizing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood (a political arm of violent radicals). Most notably, Sisi brought a reality check to the Arab Spring when he led the military overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, ushering a spiritual and cultural Islamic reformation with widespread popular support from Egyptians on a grass-roots level.
Sisi faces more than just militant and political extremists within Egypt’s borders; he is also walking a theological tightrope. Egypt is home to the regressive theocratic influence of the most revered Islamic institution in the Sunni world, Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, which openly views freedom as a ticking time-bomb.
Being held hostage intellectually by the grip of Al-Azhar University ensures that there is a constant supply when it comes to producing the next generation of militant and political Islamists.
Egypt also faces extremist infiltration from neighboring Libya, a nation caught in a power vacuum after the murder of its leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi. This vacuum has been readily filled by Islamic militants, including ISIS.
In a sign of the potential consequences for the Qatari economy, a number of banks in the region began stepping back from business dealings with Qatar. Qatar’s foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, told us Doha was ready for mediation efforts after Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain severed diplomatic relations in a coordinated move. They said the break was prompted by Qatari support for Jihadis and Iran, something Doha vehemently denies. Yemen, Libya’s eastern-based government and the Maldives joined later and transport links were shut down.
Qatar’s ruler Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani spoke by telephone overnight with his counterpart in Kuwait, which has maintained ties with Qatar, and decided to postpone the speech, the minister told us. Doha has also decided not to retaliate against its neighbors’ moves, he said.
In one sign of the impact of the measures, some Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates commercial banks were holding off on doing business with Qatari banks, such as letters of credit, because of the diplomatic rift. Qatar’s stock market rebounded in early trade on Tuesday after plunging the previous day but the Qatari riyal fell against the U.S. dollar.
Qatar wants to give Kuwait’s Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber al-Sabah the ability to proceed and communicate with the parties to the crisis and to try to contain the issue, Sheikh Mohammed told us.
Kuwait’s emir had an important role in a previous Gulf rift in 2014 and Qatar’s Sheikh Tamim “regards him as a parent and respects his desire to postpone any speech or step until there is a clearer picture of the crisis,” Sheikh Mohammed told us.
Sheikh Mohammed told us that the measures taken against Qatar affected its citizens and family ties in the Gulf Arab region, but said Doha would not take counter measures. He said Qatar believes such differences between sister countries must be resolved through dialogue and proposed holding a session to exchange views and narrow differences, while respecting each other’s views, without giving details.
Kuwait’s emir, who has spent decades as a diplomat and mediator in regional disputes, hosted Sheikh Tamim last week as the crisis was brewing.
Monday’s decision forbids Saudi, UAE and Bahraini citizens from traveling to Qatar, residing in it or passing through it. Residents and visitors of those countries must leave Qatar within 14 days. Qatari citizens also have 14 days to leave those countries.
The measures are more severe than during a previous eight-month rift in 2014, when Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE withdrew their ambassadors from Doha, again alleging Qatari support for militant groups.
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