WHY QATAR’S ISOLATION IS CAUSING OIL PRICES TO RISE
There was a fair bit of concern on the streets of Qatar after Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt and Bahrain snapped all ties with the nation over its alleged support to Islamists and terrorism. A shipment of food is on its way from Iran but residents of the nation weren’t taking chances and began stocking up on food and other essential items. Qatar has protested the sudden isolation and even apologised for two news pieces that were reportedly perceived as slights.
Qatar has been targeted multiple times in the past for its ties with Iran, but never to this extent. Qatar could have looked to the US, Britain or Turkey for support in the past. But while Turkey has promised to help defuse the situation and little else, there haven’t been strong words of support from the others. Another perceived ally, Israel, has welcomed the sanctions. This leaves its last ally: Iran. While Iran has promised all forms of assistance, closer ties with the Shia nation mean more fraught relations with the others. Which might explain why it’s not just Qataris, but oil traders who are also worried about the immediate future.
DO THE DONALD’S TWEETS MATTER?
They’re brash, arrogant, almost always politically incorrect and one of them has possibly even given the English language a new word. But his advisors would like you to believe that Donald Trump’s tweets don’t really matter. Despite the US President tweeting from his handle about every local or world event, his advisors keep trying to play them down saying they don’t reflect his stand or opinion.
But that doesn’t mean it’s not causing problems. His latest tweets on the travel ban have distracted from his government’s plan to focus on infrastructure this week. They could also potentially be used against him in the investigation into alleged ties between his campaign and Russia. None of this is likely to stop the President from expressing himself though. And no one’s complaining. Except, maybe his communication staff.
DID RUSSIANS HACK VOTING SOFTWARE FOR US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS?
The Intercept reports that the US National Security Agency had probed whether Russian military intelligence tried to hack into a U.S. voting software supplier and the computers of 100 election officers before the presidential election in November 2016.
The report says that in August 2016 hackers targeted a US company that provides voting software and hardware for elctions. The hackers are suspected to have used data from that operation to launch another phishing campaign against US local government officials. The officials targeted are suspected to have been involved in voter management services, including voter rolls. However, the National Security Agency remains unclear on what was done with any data obtained and whether it was used to influence the election in any way.
POLICE IDENTIFIES TWO INVOLVED IN TERROR ATTACK
Two of the three men involved in the terror attack in London that left seven dead have been identified by the police. Khuram Butt, a 27-year-old, lived in the east London neighbourhood of Barking with wife and two children, while working two jobs. The New York Times reports that Butt was well known in the neighbourhood as a conservative Muslim, who dressed in a traditional gown. The son of Pakistani immigrants, he was an Arsenal fan and was wearing the team’s jersey while carrying out the attack. Butt briefly appeared in a documentary about extremism in London and was also on the radar of intelligence agencies. However, authorities said there had been no indication he would be involved in such an attack.
The other man was identified as Rachid Redouane, a 30-year-old Libyan-Moroccan that the Guardian reports was a pastry chef in Dublin. Redouane is believed to have settled in Ireland five years ago and was separated from his wife. His wife was among the 12 people arrested after the attack but subsequently released by the police.
THE FACE OF ALLEPO’S SUFFERING IS WELL…OR IS HE?
Omran Daqneesh became the face of the suffering in the Syrian town of Allepo when pictures of him sitting stunned in an ambulance after an air strike emerged in August 2016. A report now says that he is now well, but lives in anonymity. A pro-Syrian government television presenter has put up images of the boy with his family on social media, in which the boy appears to be healthy.
Daqneesh’s father told the presenter that he had rejected offers to leave Syria that he claims came from people who wanted to damage the reputation of the Syrian armed forces. He aso claimed that he had changed his son’s name and hairstyle to protect him from kidnappers and rebels who have been threatening him. However, as the Guardian points out, it’s not clear whether the family was coerced into the interview by the Syrian government that has been rewarding those who speak up against the rebels.