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Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani meets with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 

Qatar will work with the US to establish a better way to combat terrorism financing, officials have announced.

The countries signed an agreement this week as Qatar continues to be embroiled in a dispute with its neighbors in part over allegations that it financially supports terrorist groups.

However, the boycotting nations have said the move is “not enough.”

QNA

For illustrative purposes only.

In a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency, they said they will continue to isolate Qatar until “authorities are committed to the implementation of the just and full demands that will ensure that terrorism is addressed and stability and security are established in the region.”

Meanwhile in Qatar, Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said yesterday that the new deal has been in the works for weeks.

He added that it had “no direct or indirect connection to the Gulf crisis or the siege imposed on Qatar.”

That said, Al Thani signed the MoU with his counterpart US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson yesterday during the US official’s visit to Qatar.

Tillerson is in the region this week specifically to help mediate the ongoing Gulf dispute, which has left Qatar at odds with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt.

Few details

Officials did not go into specifics about what the MoU entails, but Tillerson said it outlines the steps each country will take to stop terrorism financing globally.

It also sets a timeline for its implementation.

According to AFP, the official expressed optimism about the Gulf dispute after meeting Qatar’s Emir:

“I’m hopeful we can make some progress to bring this to a point of resolution.

I think Qatar has been quite clear in its positions and I think very reasonable and we want to talk now … how do we take things forward, and that’s my purpose in coming.”

However, mediator Kuwait expressed clear exasperation yesterday as the crisis continues into its second month.

According to Kuwait’s official news agency, Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah expressed “bitterness” and is “extremely concerned” over “unprecedented developments” regarding the dispute.

He will however continue to help with mediation efforts.

And Tillerson will meet with foreign ministers from the four boycotting countries in Saudi Arabia today.

Thoughts?

Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways offered laptops for loan to premium passengers during the ban

A ban on bringing larger electronic items onboard some Qatar Airways flights has been scrapped, more than three months after it was introduced.

In a statement, the airline said restrictions on carrying items like laptops and iPads onboard direct flights to the US had been lifted “with immediate effect.”

It added that the carrier and Hamad International Airport have both met all of the US Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) new security guidelines.

MOI

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

DHS has not explained what these new measures entail.

But CNN said they include “greater scrutiny of passengers entering the US, enhanced screening of electronic devices and better deployment of canines that detect explosives.”

The lifting of the ban is a spot of good news for Qatar Airways. The carrier has seen many of its flights grounded amid an ongoing Gulf dispute.

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

“We would like to express our thanks to the US and local authorities for their support during this process,” the airline said.

Doha is the fourth of the affected cities to have the US-imposed restrictions removed.

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad saw its ban lifted on Tuesday, while Emirates and Turkish Airlines both announced they had met new security requirements yesterday.

Laptop ban

The so-called “laptop ban” was introduced without warning in March.

At the time, DHS expressed concerns that terrorist groups were looking for ways to attack aircraft, including smuggling explosive devices in electronics.

In response, the US restricted carrying of larger electronic items on direct flights from several Arab cities.

Frankieleon / Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Saudi Arabian Airlines has said that it hopes to be flying restriction-free by July 19.

But for now, the ban remain in place on direct flights from Riyadh and Jeddah to the US, as well as Cairo, Amman, Kuwait City and Casablanca.

Thoughts?

Boeing

Silent Eagle fighter jets

Gulf states must work out their differences before they can buy any more weapons from the US, an influential American lawmaker has warned.

Yesterday, the chairman of the US Senate Foreign relations committee Bob Corker expressed concern about the ongoing Gulf crisis.

In a letter to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he said “recent disputes among the GCC countries only serve to hurt efforts to fight ISIS and counter Iran.”

Corker added:

“Before we provide any further clearances during the informal review period on sales of lethal military equipment to the GCC states, we need a better understanding of the path to resolve the current dispute and reunify the GCC.”

Escalating crisis

It’s been three weeks since Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain cut off diplomatic and economic ties to Qatar for political reasons.

The crisis escalated last week after the nations presented a 13-point list of demands to Doha. They included closing Al Jazeera, shutting down a Turkish military base and cutting off ties with certain political groups.

Paul Keller/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Corker’s pledge to halt arms sales comes a day after Tillerson said that many of the demands would “be very difficult for Qatar to meet.”

On Sunday, he urged GCC nations to sit together to work out the dispute, adding that “a lowering of rhetoric would also help ease the tension.”

F-15 deal in question

A US arms embargo would directly affect recent weapons orders by both Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this month, Qatar signed a deal to purchase $15 billion in F-15 fighter jets. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia has been talking about buying some $110 billion in weapons from US manufacturers.

Boeing

F-15 fighter jets

In the US, big arms sales come across the desk of the chairman of the House and Senate foreign affairs committees for preliminary approval.

Congress then has about a month to review the deals, and decide whether to take action against them.

According to some analysts, the threat of withholding sales could provide an impetus for the GCC nations to resolve their differences.

Qatar’s foreign minister is expected to meet Tillerson today, as the deadline for responding to its neighbors’ demands draws near.

Thoughts?