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New crisis and old

Subdued oil prices and intractable wars cast a shadow over the year

The backdrop to the Middle East and North Africa stage in 2017 illustrated the two key themes of the previous 12 months: low global oil prices; and continuing violence in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. But other crises emerged. On 5 June, Saudi Arabia, with the backing of Bahrain, the UAE and Egypt, took the world by surprise by imposing an economic blockade on Qatar. The country was being punished, Saudi Arabia and its backers said, for failing to honour previous pledges to change domestic and regional policies towards political Islam and Iran. Qatar rejected what it called attempts to infringe upon its sovereignty. It circumvented the blockade by increasing imports of food and goods from I

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