Middle East crisis: Gulf media predict more sanctions on Qatar

Traders monitor screens displaying stock information at Qatar Stock Exchange in Doha

Earlier this year, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain and Egypt isolated Qatar diplomatically and economically after claiming it supports terrorist groups and implements policies that could jeopardise the equilibrium of the region.

The conditions include severing ties with the Muslim Brotherhood, scaling back relations with Iran, Saudi Arabia's rival for regional hegemony; shutting the government-funded Al Jazeera television station, which has been critical of other autocratic governments in the region; and end Turkey's military presence in Qatar.

Shukri also accused Qatar of failing "to realize the gravity of the situation", AP reported.

The Saudi and UAE markets are larger than Qatar's, and some foreign companies may already be taking informal steps to make sure they do not anger the two bigger countries.

That deadline was extended by 48 hours on Sunday, when Qatar responded to their demands.

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Qatar Airways said in a statement early on Thursday the ban had been lifted after the airline and its hub airport Hamad International met with all new United States security requirements.

Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, criticized the four Arab nations for trying to isolate Qatar "under the banner of fighting terrorism".

Qatar faces further isolation and possible expulsion from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) if its response to a list of demands made almost two weeks ago is not deemed satisfactory.

"Qatar must change its policies for our stance to change, and we will take the right steps at the right time", Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said.

UAE minister of state for foreign affairs Anwar Gargash said in a tweet Qatar faced "greater isolation, incremental measures and reputational damage" if it did not heed the demands.

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The Egyptian foreign minister went on to say that media outlets in Qatar were guilty of "glorifying terrorist activities".

Observers, including diplomats and analysts based in the Gulf, said there is more latitude for economic - rather than political - pressure to be ratcheted up, with steps that dent Qatar's reputation and increase risks for worldwide companies and banks doing business with Doha.

Egypt is part of a quartet of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia boycotting Qatar over alleged ties to terrorism.

Any further steps taken against Qatar would be "taken at the appropriate time" and be "in line with global law".

In addition, Doha excludes the possibility of closing the Turkish military base, arguing that the Charter of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCCC) does not prohibit such cooperation with other countries.

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It cited a United Nations expert panel as saying the company has violated a ban on trade in luxury goods with the North. The Trump administration is increasing pressure on Chinese financial players amid growing tension with North Korea.

Also on Wednesday, the White House announced that a telephone conversation was held between US President Donald Trump and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fatah el-Sisi.

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