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The British Union Jack flies over Gibraltar
The British Union Jack flies over Gibraltar

GIBRALTAR — There is a troubling side story jutting into the Brexit debate from this tiny British territory at the southern tip of the Iberian peninsula.

Madrid-based daily El Mundo reports that in Gibraltar — affectionately known as "the Rock" — locals and the government alike are opposed to "Brexit", a British exit from the European Union, which is up before a national referendum this summer.

The territory, home to a British military base, has been under British control since 1704. Every day, around 10,000 workers cross the border from Spain to work in Gibraltar, which has open borders with Spain thanks to the UK's membership in the EU.

The Rock maintains its own autonomous parliament and fiscal regime, a solution that locals consider the best of both worlds between the UK and Spain, which still holds an outstanding claim to the territory.

But if Gibraltar's 30,000 inhabitants are dragged out of the EU by their compatriots 1,200 miles away — even if they vote to remain in their own local referendum — they will lose the right to free movement across the border to Spain, and trade will become subject to border controls.

"We are more protected within the EU," says Natasha Passano, a local schoolteacher, to El Mundo.

The debate has grown tense as Gibraltarians, known as llanitos, consider the repercussions a vote could have on their lives. "I will vote to remain in the EU," says Daniela Caruana, a pharmacist. "My boyfriend works here but he is from across the border, and we live in Spain because the rent is cheaper there."

Gibraltar's government is a strong supporter of remaining in the union, and Chief Minister Fabian Picardo recently warned that Brexit could rekindle the long-standing diplomatic conflict between Spain and the UK over ownership of the territory. Spanish authorities declared that if Britons were to decide to leave the bloc, the matter of sovereignty would have to be discussed immediately.


When British voters go the polls on June 23rd, they could decide the fate of this centuries-old possession. "I don't think the Spanish would erect a border fence," says a shopkeeper. "But we would be in limbo."

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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