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US Air Force/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

In a rebuke to the countries boycotting Qatar, the US has suspended military exercises with its Gulf allies.

According to the Associated Press, US Central Command said the aim is to show that the military wants its allies in the region to work together.

“We are opting out of some military exercises out of respect for the concept of inclusiveness and shared regional interests,” the newswire cited Col. John Thomas, a Centcom spokesman, as saying.

Qatar is home to the largest US air base in the Middle East. President Donald Trump initially supported the blockade against Qatar in June.

But US officials are now working to end the months-long dispute.

Will it work?

GCC nations have not commented on the decision.

But analysts said it could be perceived as a “slap in the face” to the boycotting nations, which include Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

The Qatar Insider

For illustrative purposes only.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Andreas Krieg, assistant professor at King’s College in London for defense studies and a former adviser to Qatar’s military said:

“Joint military exercises are essential for the Gulf militaries to build capability.

All Gulf states want to appeal to the U.S. as viable partners in achieving joint strategic interests, so this announcement is really a slap in the face,” he said.

Another analyst told the AP that the US appears to be running out of patience because the dispute is distracting from its war on terrorism.

One theory is that the Pentagon could step up pressure for reconciliation by freezing weapon sales to Gulf nations, as an American lawmaker suggested months ago.

Thoughts?

Sheikh Joaan

Mutaz Barshim

Silver Olympic medalist Mutaz Barshim has been shortlisted as one of the world’s top male athletes.

The high-jumping hero is among 10 men nominated for the 2017 World Athletes of the Year.

The award is given out annually by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

IAAF

IAAF award nominees

Other people up for the honor include British distance runner Mo Farah and American pole vaulter Sam Kendricks.

Barshim has had a blockbuster winning streak in 2017, clinching a gold medal for Qatar at the World Athletics Championships in August.

According to the IAAF, he has been undefeated in all 11 competitions this year.

And last year, he took home Qatar’s first silver Olympic medal in Rio.

Vote online

Fans can help boost Barshim’s chances of winning by voting online.

This can be done by liking him on Facebook or retweeting this post on Twitter.

The IAAF said public votes will count for 25 percent of the final result, with IAAF officials’ feedback determining the rest of the decision.

Voting closes at 2pm Doha time on Oct. 16. On that day, three male and three female finalists will be declared.

The winners will then be announced live at the IAAF Athletic Awards 2017 on Nov. 24 in Monaco.

Thoughts?

Ray Toh

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

After falling for three months over the summer, Qatar’s population reached 2,634,234 at the end of September, according to new government figures.

That’s up almost 190,000 people from August, and an increase of 3 percent from the previous September.

Population numbers usually rebound after summer and Eid holidays.

Reem Saad / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

They then tend to peak in November before people go out of town again for winter break.

September’s figures show that Qatar is inching back up toward its higher-ever population of 2.7 million, which was recorded in May this year.

Tapering off

Though Qatar’s population continues to increase, growth has slowed from double digits in years past to below 5 percent this year.

This is partly because of declining demand for labor as some infrastructure projects near completion.

There have also been layoffs in several sectors due to belt-tightening measures.

The Ministry of Development, Planning and Statistics had forecast this shift previously, saying it expected growth to taper off by the middle of this year.

Thoughts?