In Focus – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Tue, 08 Jan 2019 13:36:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Gabon soldiers attempt to stage coup, government says situation under control Tue, 08 Jan 2019 09:00:43 +0000 President Bongo has been out of country since October amid reports suffering from a stroke

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Gabon’s army soldiers have attempted to stage a coup in Gabon’s capital Libreville on Monday morning, Reuters reported.

An unusual state radio broadcast saw soldiers coming on air to read a speech which indicated their doubts regarding President Ali Bongo’s ability to rule, according to AFP. Local news outlets reported that shots were heard in the area near the state television’s offices in the centre of Libreville.

The soldiers said that the president’s recent televised New Year’s Eve address “reinforced doubts” about Bongo’s “ability to carry out the responsibilities of his office,” according to Lieutenant Kelly Ondo Obiang. Obiang leads the self-declared Patriotic Movement of the Defence and Security Forces of Gabon. 

Opposition leader Jean Ping is a strong rival to Ali Bongo

Gabon is one of Africa’s top oil producers, France’s closest ally in the region, and has been ruled for more than 50 years by the Bongo family. Ali Bongo succeeded his father, Omar, who died in 2009. 

President Ali Bongo, in power since 2009, has been out of the country since October amid reports that he endured a stroke. He recently addressed the country in a New Year’s message that was filmed in Morocco, where he has been receiving medical treatment.

A spokesperson for the government of Gabon, Guy-Bertrand Mapangou, said that the political situation in the country is “under control”, following an attempted military coup. He told BBC that four of the rebels were arrested by the authorities. A fifth is on the run, he added.

The 59-year-old president was hospitalised in October in Saudi Arabia. Since November, he has been continuing his treatment after the stroke he sustained in Morocco. 

Bongo previously acknowledged his health problems in his New Year’s speech, but stated that he was recovering. 

Following the coup, a curfew was imposed over the capital, Libreville, and the internet was cut. The city on the Atlantic Ocean coast is being patrolled by military tanks and armed vehicles. No violence has been reported.

The coup attempt took place days after US President Donald Trump deployed military personnel to Gabon, as stand by in case turmoil breaks out in the neighbouring state of Congo.

Elections took place in the beginning of the month in  Congo, after the electoral authorities announced that less than half of the ballots were counted.

The election was stalled by delays and irregularities which triggered a violent political standoff that left dozens dead across the country. Both domestic and international observers appealed to the government to step up its efforts towards a peaceful electoral process. 

Moreover, Western powers have also increased the pressure on the Congolese government to release accurate election results.

In a letter to the Congress, Trump said the troops were sent in response to “the possibility that violent demonstrations may occur” in reaction to the outcome.  

The US ordered its “non-emergency” government employees and family members to leave the country ahead of the vote and issued a warning to its citizens to avoid large crowds and demonstrations.

Congo’s last two elections were in 2006 and 2011, both won by long-time leader President Joseph Kabila, which were marred by bloodshed, and many feared a repeat if the results are placed in doubt.

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Egypt’s economic outlook remains positive, backed by tourism, natural gas: Credit Suisse Tue, 08 Jan 2019 07:00:49 +0000 Weak FDI, reliance on hot money, inflation still challenging

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Throughout the past three years, Egypt initiated a series of tough, yet essential economic reforms, undertaken by the authorities and supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The economic reform programme aims to transform the country’s economy through improving public finances, curbing the budget deficit, and getting the currency shortage under control, all while achieving sustainable growth.

The Egyptian economy has started to recover, with GDP growth improving, foreign reserves reaching their highest level on record. This renders 2018 a potential turning point for the country, following years marked by turbulence and uncertainty, accompanied by numerous challenges that faced the Egyptian economy, from political unrest and declining tourism, to foreign currency and fuel shortages.

The country’s economic momentum has eased, but Egypt’s fundamental recovery story remains intact, according to the Middle East Overview Outlook 2019 report issued by the Switzerland-based investment bank, and financial services company, Credit Suisse Group.

Credit Suisse maintained a positive economic outlook for the Egyptian economy, yet they highlighted some challenges such as reliance of reserves on hot money flows, weak foreign direct investments (FDI), elevated headline inflation, and policy uncertainty rising from unexpected tax amendments.

“We continue to see the recovery in tourism and transition to being a net gas exporter driving growth and underpinning currency stability into 2019,” the report states.

Adding that from their vantage point, Egypt’s equity market sell-off is overdone, but with technicals – analysis employed to evaluate investments and identify trading opportunities by analysing statistical trends gathered from trading activity, such as price movement and volume – still looking weak a near term recovery looks difficult.

Economic momentum, growth slowing, long-term recovery remains intact

According to the report, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which measures the performance of manufacturing and service sectors, dropped to an 11-month low on slowing economic momentum. After being above 50 (expansion) for two consecutive months – the first time since September 2015.

Consequently, this is also reflected in industrial production growth, which has fallen from its Q3 of 2017 peak.

However, Credit Suisse believes that Egypt’s growth levels are still far from being contractionary, and there are early signs of stabilisation.

The report indicated that, taking into consideration the scale of structural reform required in Egypt, a recovery was never going to be in a straight line, and that the investment bank remains positive and confident of the long-term recovery trend.

Inflation elevated, still within CBE’s target

Headline inflation shot higher to 17.7% in October 2018, primarily on food inflation but also due to planned adjustments in regulated prices, before dropping to 15.7% in November, yet it still above the CBE’s outlook of 13% (±3%) in Q4 of 2018.

However, the report indicate that such rates are not a significant issue, especially since core inflation has continued its decline to the lowest level in almost three years.

In a measure to control inflation, the CBE hiked interest rates by 700 bps since the 2016 devaluation, and the report forecast further rate cuts. However, elevated oil prices, investor risk aversion toward emerging markets (EMs) and high headline inflation will likely prevent any such cuts near-term and we look for a further rate cut in Q1 of 2019 at the earliest.

Fiscal deficit, debt profile on a recovery path

According to the report, Egypt recorded its first primary surplus in 15 years for 2017/18, and the bank forecast it is on track for its targeted 2% primary surplus next fiscal year (FY).

These positive developments were also reflected by Moody’s action to upgrade Egypt’s sovereign rating outlook to positive (from stable) in end-August, due to its business sector reforms and continued improvements in its fiscal and current account balances.

The report indicates that, although debt levels are elevated overall, they are projected to decline consistently over the coming years on fiscal consolidation. Repayments are expected to ease after peaking this FY.

LNG imports halt, improving current account position

With production at the Zohr gas field ahead of schedule, Egypt officially stopped being a net LNG importer this month. Daily gas output fell from 7bn cubic feet per day (bcf) in 2010 to 4 bcf in 2016 but rose for the first

time in several years to 4.5 bcf in 2017.

The report indicated that over the next three years, production is projected to increase to 7.7 bcf, well above Egypt’s domestic needs of 5.2 bcf. On-going exploration activities have the potential to further boost Egypt’s production capacity.

Consequently, strong improvement in Egypt’s current account balance are expected, thus it is one of the key factors behind the investment bank’s expectations of the EGP’s stability into 2019.

Exports, tourism, remittances, leading the way to recovery

Egyptian exports have clearly started to recover, driven by the removal of currency-related uncertainty, the report states.

Furthermore, looking at the long-term history in both dollar terms and as a share of the GDP, it is clear that there is considerable scope for further recovery over a multiyear period.

Credit Suisse believes that the export industry is a critical part of the economy, and is also a key source of hard currency, hence its recovery will be important to monitor.

On the tourism front, the report indicates that revenues show impressive strength, affirming its position as an important source of both forex and labour employment.

The sector is firmly in recovery, with tourism revenues approaching previous peak levels despite the number of tourists still well below the 2011 peak – which the report believes is due to a change in the mix of tourists and the EGP depreciation. The recovery and sustainability of these flows is absolutely key.

However, the investment bank believes, that Russia’s decision to reinstate flights to Cairo after a break of almost 2.5 years is positive, as restoring flights to Egypt’s resort cities of Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada, would further boost tourism arrivals, especially since it could prompt the UK to resume its own flights as well. Both Russia and the UK are among Egypt’s most important sources of tourists.

In regard to remittances, a surprising increase in remittances has led to sharp upward revisions in the IMF’s projections and has also provided support to Egypt’s current account balance.

However, according to the report, this is unlikely to be sustainable since it has been driven in part by expats leaving Saudi Arabia in the wake of its Saudisation efforts. The level at which remittances will stabilise at is critical.

Moreover, the report highlights, slow foreign direct investments (FDI) is the primary area of disappointment in Egypt’s economic development. Not only it has significantly lagged expectations, but the momentum has slowed,

with the 12-month moving average having peaked in end-2016.

External balances showing strong improvement, all time high reserves support currency

Reserves continue to reach new all-time highs, backed by the IMF programme, successful bond issuances, and an ongoing recovery in tourism.

“We remain concerned over the reliance on ‘hot money’ flows, but we see reserves as being sufficient to keep from another EGP devaluation,” said the report.

The report indicates that taking into consideration, the CBE recent decision to end the repatriation mechanism, fluctuation around EGP 18 can be expected, as all flows will now go through the interbank market.

However, the investment bank forecast that the government will want to avoid sharp weakness in the EGP as this could attract speculative pressures and may risk social unrest.

Consequently, the report expects just a modest EGP weakness, despite the sustained dollar strength and risk aversion against EMs.

T-bills continue to offer compelling returns, despite decline

Foreign holdings of Egyptian treasury bills (T-Bills) have declined significantly in recent months, although they

remain just above peak-2010 levels. Moody’s upgraded Egypt’s outlook to Positive from Stable in August 2018.

As a result, Credit Suisse continue to hold a positive view on T-bills, which they believe are oversold, noting that yields appear to be rolling over.

“We see limited downside risk to returns from EGP weakness. The cancellation of long-term T-bond auctions in September was worrying, but we believe it was a function of EM trade tensions and not Egypt’s fundamentals. Indeed, we believe it points to encouraging discipline from the Egyptian government,” the report added.

Credit Suisse maintains positive view on equities, despite recent sell-off

The report cites, the recent sell-off in Egypt and EM equities coupled with continued growth in Egyptian earnings expectations has pushed Egypt’s price to an earnings ratio (P/E) which is at a 3-year low.

However, the investment bank maintains their positive view on Egypt, and sees the recent sell-off as an opportunity to add exposure. Taking into consideration the recovery in earnings forecasts since the devaluation, although in dollar terms, the economy has just now returned to pre-devaluation levels.

The report indicated that it is important to keep in mind that over the past two years, earning per share forecasts have increased 42% in Egypt in USD terms (65% in nominal EGP) compared to 14% for the Middle East and 28% for Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) EMs.

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Probe: US military exit to embolden Iran, Russia in Syria, change game rules Sun, 06 Jan 2019 10:00:33 +0000 "Problem with current US approach to Syria is like building an aeroplane while it is flying," analyst says

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Almost three weeks ago, US President Donald Trump abruptly decided to withdraw 2,000 US US forces from Syria, declaring that the Islamic State (IS) was “already beaten”. The move is expected to embolden both Russia and Iran, the foreign supporters of the embattled Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad, in the civil war-torn country. 

“We have won against ISIS. We have beaten them, and we have beaten them badly. We have taken back the land and now it’s time for our troops to come back home,” Trump said in a video posted on Twitter last December.

However, after a week, Trump seems to backtracked his sudden announcement, giving the US military four months to pull out the troops. Yet, it is not certain if the full withdrawal might take longer time or it might be suspended over the fear of the anticipated increase in Iranian influence not just in Syria, but on a wider scale. 

The White House said that the military began pulling out the US troops in different areas in Syria, without giving a specific timeframe for the withdrawal or further details. Likewise, Trump said when he addressed the US cabinet for the first time in 2019. 

Big win for IS

Trump’s announcement came as a surprise for US senior officials, and was criticised by the Republicans who view the decision as a “huge mistake.” In a statement, Sen Lindsey Graham of South Carolina was among the first Republicans to denounce Trump’s decree. Graham said that the US withdrawal “is a big win for ISIS, Iran, Al-Assad of Syria, and Russia.”

“The problem with the current US approach to Syria is that it is like building an aeroplane while it is flying,” Nicholas A Heras, Middle East Security Fellow Centre for a New American Security informed Daily News Egypt.

Heras added, “Trump’s decision was so much of a surprise that the US government was not prepared to actually execute his order, which is why there is now a longer timetable for the withdrawal of US forces.”

“This fact also means that until the US has actually withdrawn from Syria, it continues to be the most powerful actor in determining Syria’s fate,” Heras highlighted.

On 2013, former US President Barack Obama decided to take military action against the Syrian government for its apparent chemical weapons use, two years after the Syrian demonstrations first broke out.

A year later, the US-led global coalition against the IS network was formed with the participation of 79 countries including France, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The coalition’s mission is to fight IS forces wherever they have been, in Iraq, and Syria.

The US military bases, which support Kurdish fighters in Syria, are located in areas such as the town of Manbij, the Ayn Issa Sub district, and Tal al-Saman north of the city of Raqqa. Moreover, the Kurdish force known as the People’s Protection Units (YPG) has been the main ally for Washington in the battle ground, controlling much of the Turkish-Syrian border from IS.

During the US cabinet’s meeting on 2 January, Trump pledged to protect Kurdish fighters in Syria. However, he said that the US forces will not stay there forever. Trump also said that he was not happy that “the Kurds were selling oil to Iran.”

Addressing Trump’s remarks, Saleh Muslim, a senior Kurdish politician, said in a short interview conducted by Mutlu Civiroglu, the Syria and Kurdish affairs analyst, that the “Kurdish do not sell oil to Iran at all,” asserting that “their oil is only for domestic consumption.”

Following Trump’s December announcement, the Syrian army declared that its forces have entered the Kurdish-held Manbij town for the first time in six years, after Kurdish fighters appealed to Damascus to protect them from attacks carried out by Turkey. However, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that Syrian troops just entered a strip of territory at the edge of Manbij, and that they did not enter the town itself.

Empowering Iran in Middle East

Furthermore, during the January cabinet meeting, Trump justified his withdrawal announcement and said that Iran “can do what they want.” He pointed out that military exile from Syria operations will be slow.

“Al-Assad would hope to benefit from this situation, but much still depends on whether and how the US withdraws from Syria,” Heras stated, adding that “Americans are still worried about Iran spreading its influence throughout Syria and benefiting from the US withdrawal and how Trump’s team approaches this central dilemma will have a powerful effect on the future of Syria.”

Heras highlighted that “All the regional powers-and Russia-are interested to see how the Americans square the circle of wanting to withdraw from Syria while simultaneously diminishing Iran’s influence in Syria.

Furthermore, Heras articulated that “Trump’s administration is in the middle of a fierce internal policy fight, with the Iran hawks seeking a Syria withdrawal that minimises Iran’s ability to step into the breach that would be caused by the US leaving, while protecting Israel’s ability to turn Syrian into a free-fire zone to strike at Iran.”

Determining US strategic position

Over the last year, Trump kept warning of pulling out US troops from Syria, but no one predicted that he will take such a significant decision abruptly in a surprise announcement last December. 

Unlike the pull out of the US troops from Iraq in 2003, this withdrawal might “determine” the US strategic position in the Middle East, German journalist Kersten Knipp wrote in an opinion piece in Deutsche Welle earlier on April last year. 

Knipp argued that the US withdrawal would be “be a fatal misstep,” adding that Trump “would be handing the region over to players that would create even greater chaos.”

Knipp opined that “a US pullback would seal the fate of not only Syria but the whole region, for decades to come,” adding that it “would lead to Russia’s dominance, however discreet. Less discreet would be Iran’s dominance over large swaths of Syria, through Lebanon to the border with Israel. The “Shiite Crescent” would become a stark reality.”

Conflict’s Future in 2019

Al-Assad’s regime, which has been crowded out be most of the Arab and regional countries months following the Syrian uprising broke out in 2011, is currently witnessing a breakthrough.

Two weeks ago, the UAE announced that it will reopen its embassy in Damascus, for the first time in seven years. The move—a significant diplomatic shift—is expected to boost Al-Assad’s regime and his influence in Syria.

The move also came after Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to Damascus, who became the first Arab leader to visit the war-torn country since the Syrian civil war erupted. Analysts predict that the UAE would be followed by other Arab countries, whose stances varied toward Damascus.

Moreover, Syria, which was suspended from the Arab League in 2011, is expected to return back to its past position before the Arab Spring.

“Al-Assad’s best hope presently is actually the Arab effort to re-engage with his regime, which is now fully underway,” Heras said.

Over and above, Heras added that ” Arab states are not working with Al-Assad out of any great love for the Syrian leader, but out of the hope that he can keep groups like Daesh and al-Qaeda at bay, and that over time they can convince him to be an Arab leader who reasserts his authority over Syria at the expense of Iran.”

“This new Arab Effort to re-engage with Al-Assad is meant to knock Iran down to size in a critical region of the Middle East,” Heras concluded.

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Protesters renew march before presidential palace despite restrictions Wed, 02 Jan 2019 10:30:05 +0000 Al-Bashir expressed on Sunday his full satisfaction with performance of police in Sudan

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A crowd of protesters gathered in central Khartoum to march on the presidential palace early Monday while chanting slogans, including “freedom, peace and justice,” as well as, “revolution is the people’s choice”.

Sudanese police fired tear gas against the protesters in the capital Khartoum, while they were planning to move towards the palace of President Omar Al-Bashir to demand his abdication.

Despite security restriction, Sudanese demonstrations continue, as this move

is considered as the second attempt for the people to march on the presidential palace.

Last Tuesday, Sudanese professionals called for a peaceful in front of the presidential palace demanding from Al-Bashir to step down, however security forces dispersed the protest.

Just one day before this, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir said in a speech to the police force that “his country will get out of the crisis despite all those who are fighting Sudan.”

He further expressed his full satisfaction with the performance of the police in Sudan, saying, “The performance of the police is to protect the citizens’ security and not to kill citizens”.

The march was scheduled to begin at 1 pm local and continue until the New Year. It started from the capital’s Qandoul Square towards the presidential palace in another attempt to continue their uprising.

Sudanese journalist Majeed Mohamed Ali said, “The people are the one who lead the protests and they are the ones who determine the current political movement in the country, not the government and the opposition.”

“Only a few days ago, Sudan was a file on all the discussion tables in Washington, Paris, and France, but now it is in the hands of the masses,” he added, noting that, “the continuity of demonstrations and moving from one area to another and from one city to another indicates the strength and ability, and the masses have exceeded the government and opposition parties in their movements, and are no longer waiting for anyone to determine its work.”

Moreover, Sudanese writer and political analyst, Abdullah Rizk, said that with the government’s inability to find a way to get out of the crisis, it is expected that the protests will continue amid “the system’s failure to address the crisis and the use of excessive force”.

The protests started launched in Sudan since December 19, denouncing the deteriorating living conditions, which marked the “biggest populous challenge” of Al-Bashir’s government, which ruled the country 29 years ago.

Sudan has been facing a severe economic crisis since last year as prices of some goods such as bread and medicine have doubled, inflation has risen by nearly 70% and the local currency has depreciated. Several cities have suffered a significant shortage of availability commodities over the past weeks.

The Sudanese government announced the death toll of the protesters to 19 people, while 219 civilians and 187 members of the security services were injured.

The protests were the latest in a wave of demonstrations that began across much of Sudan first against a rise in prices but later against the government of President Al-Bashir power since a 1989 military coup.

However, It is not the first time Al-Bashir has faced protests against his rule, as there were demonstrations in January over the same issues, but police used tear gas to disperse protesters in Khartoum. Similar protests were held in Sudan in late 2016 after the government cut fuel subsidies.

President Al-Bashir has long been a member of Sudan’s military establishment, which has dominated the country in the last six decades since its independence in 1956. He came to power after he joined forces with the Islamists in a 1989 military coup which toppled a freely-elected but largely ineffective government.

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Increase in children, teen’s suicides raise queries over parental legal responsibility Wed, 02 Jan 2019 10:00:23 +0000 'If parents act violently, resulting in child's suicide, they have to be held responsible,' law professor says

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In view of the increase in children and teens’ suicides, queries emerged over parents’ legal responsibilities for these cases, and if they ought to be held accountable and charged with neglect.

Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14 according to the Canadian Centre for Suicide Prevention.

Unfortunately, there are low chances, shortage of information and statics regarding the numbers of suicide cases among children and teens in Egypt in recent years.

The Egyptian monitor, ‘Daftar Ahwal for Archiving and Documentation’ issued a report on suicide cases from 2011-2017. It found that the total suicide cases numbered1,746 cases, including 283 attempts, while only in 2017, 422 cases were reported, including 62 attempts.

The report stated that 279 reported suicide cases involved minors, including 47 attempts.

Parental responsibility

“Would you ever imagine that a parent could neglect to the extent which might lead their child to think of or actually commit suicide?” Fawzia Abdel Sattar, a veteran professor of law at Cairo University informed Daily News Egypt. “Most children commit suicide because they their educational exams,” Abdel Sattar added.

However, Abdel Sattar argued that if the child suffers from depression and their parents were aware of their illness and did not take an action, then in this case, they have to be held responsible and questioned.

“But if they did not know, I cannot ever say that parents should be blamed for the suicide,” Abdel Sattar stated. “If parents acted in a severe violent manner which resulted in their child’s suicide, they have to be held responsible,” Abdel Sattar highlighted.

Abdel Sattar indicated that suspected parents will be only charged with committing “unintentional crime or killing,” and its punishment ranges from six months to three years in prison.

Furthermore, Abdel Sattar pointed out that in such cases, judges usually review all the case’s circumstances and then decide according to the evidence and forensic report.

Exams, mental disorders

During this year, Egypt witnessed an increase in the number of suicides among children. Earlier in November, a preparatory school student committed suicide himself by hanging himself. Investigations revealed that the 13-year boy commits suicide after his parent beat him up in order for him to study.

Another case was a female 18-year-old young woman whom attempted to commit suicide but survived in Al-Behira governorate, who was suffering from mental and physiological problems.

Why do children and teens commit suicide?

According to physiological experts, the majority of children and teens who attempt or commit suicide might suffer from depression, anxiety, and substantial mental health disorders.

Therefore, there is a significant responsibility which parents must bear, to monitor their children’s behaviours and notice if there are any changes in their mental states or actions.

Reasons differ from one child to another

Adults and children might commit suicide over the loss or death of a family member or a friend. A 2017 study by the University of Manchester found that bereavement was the most common suicide reason of with 25% of people under their 20s committing suicide due to bereavement; 28% people between 20-24-year-olds, an equivalent to around 125 deaths per year. The death of a family member or friend was more common in cases under 20-year-olds, the report added.

Experts believe that it differs from a child to another to commit suicide,however, there are some common reasons.

Children and teens exposed to the danger of committing suicide might suffer from low self-esteem, depression, stressors, and troubles at school or home and of course exams and the fear related to them, according to research by the Stanford Children Health (SCH).

Warning signs

According to the same SCH research, signs to be taken seriously including perceptible changes in eating, sleep, unusually violent, or rebellious behaviour, withdrawal from family or friends, underperforming scholastically,  and of course, speaking or writing notes about suicide.

Child Law amendments

Egypt’s Child Law punishes with a fine not less than EGP 200 and not exceeding EGP 1,000 any person to whom the child was bequeathed and, as a result of neglecting his duties, the child committed a crime or was in danger, according to one of the cases set forth in this Law.

Furthermore, Article No 96 stipulates that “the child shall be considered at risk if he is exposed to a situation threatening the sound upbringing that should be made available to him, or in any of cases including: If the conditions surrounding the child’s upbringing in the family, or at school, or in care institutions, or others, places him at risk, or if the child is exposed to neglect, abuse, violence, exploitation, or vagrancy.”

MP Enass Abdel Haleem seeks to upgrade the punishment of parents who proved to have neglected their children with “up to 10 years in prison”. Those amendments are still under discussion the parliament.

In a statement released last August, Abdel Haleem stated that it concluded some amendments in the Child Law to “criminalise the neglect that caused the death of children, or exposed them to danger or accidents.”

Abdel Haleem stated that in most cases, and when the child died, the law case is suspended or closed for the family’s welfare.

“Parental neglect should be treated as unintentional crime or killing as I said before, which its punishment should not exceeding three years and of course not 10years,” Professor Fawzia Abdel Sattar commented.

Abdel Sattar compared two crimes, if a mother neglected her child and this lead to the child’s death, and if a driver killed someone by mistake with their car. “Both are unintentional crimes. Both have to be treated equally,” Abdel Sattar stressed, concluding that 10 years in prison in such cases is shameful.

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Economic woes mark end of 2018, global conflicts to watch in 2019 Sun, 30 Dec 2018 11:00:00 +0000 US leadership of international order fades, more countries seek influence by meddling in foreign disputes amid lack of impunity

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The end of 2018 has seen quite a few months full of action. Crises are sweeping countries across the globe, with a particular condemnation of economic distress and increased concern for deteriorating human rights circumstances.

US-Saudi relations are closely monitored for their impact in shaping regional policy, as Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, the country’s young Saudi leader, has come under fire over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi as well as atrocities in Yemen.

A ceasefire in Yemen’s Al-Hudaydeh last week has hardly been in place. In a Friday statement, the UN said Yemen’s warring parties have begun the process this week of implementing a comprehensive ceasefire agreement throughout the key rebel-held port city, “raising hopes that ground-breaking consultations convened by the UN in Sweden can lead to a lasting peace through further talks next year.”

Major US shifts include the decision to halt military assistance for Saudis in Yemen and pull out from both Afghanistan and Syria, where President Bashar Al-Assad has been regaining control. Damascus is in diplomatic talks with Arab countries, including the UAE which has re-opened its embassy and is holding meetings with Egyptian security officials.

More global unresolved conflicts are expected to continue next year.

Mass demonstrations denounce economic difficulties

Dozens of people have been killed in protests in Sudan as they enter their second week. The numbers range between 37 killings estimated by Amnesty International and 19 killings announced by the local government as reported by the Sudan Tribune.

The demonstrations, started on 19 December contesting an increase in bread prices, are likely to continue escalating as more groups are joining in, as the government’s security forces violently pursue and arrest opposition leaders and journalists.

Thousands of Sudanese protested on 25 December in the capital Khartoum among other cities, criticising the economic situation and demanding that President Omar Al-Bashir step down. Repressing the protests, Al-Bashir received support of other government leaders.

A few weeks earlier, France made global headlines for its own turbulence as the ‘Yellow Vests’  movement launched protests in mid-November. Clashes between security forces and protesters turned the landmark Champs Elysee street into a blazing battleground.

Protesters erupted against fuel price hikes and tax reforms which have burdened the middle class, with a voiced opposition to French President Emmanuel Macron, forcing him to suspend the decision.

But the protests have continued, and more are scheduled to take place on New Year’s Eve, with reports that demonstrators even tried to storm Macron’s summer retreat along the Mediterranean coast last Thursday. Concerns of the impact on the French economy and tourism are growing.

The scenario was reproduced in Belgium with protesters inspired by the French movement which police faced with tear gas and water cannons. “The demonstrations in both countries come from the same sense of struggling to make ends meet every month,” France 24 reported on 9 December.

Iran also witnessed protests in past months over unfavourable economic conditions. There is also a growing fear among governments such as Turkey and Egypt that protests would spread to their countries. Egypt is facing a similar economic situation, where it is lifting subsidies on energy as part of a loan programme with the International Monetary Fund.

Global conflicts continue

In 10 Conflicts to Watch in 2019, Crisis Group’s President Robert Malley writes, “As the era of uncontested US primacy fades, the international order has been thrown into turmoil. More leaders are tempted more often to test limits, jostle for power, and seek to bolster their influence – or diminish that of their rivals – by meddling in foreign conflicts.”

In his report published by the Belgium-based non-governmental group and Foreign Policy magazine on Friday, Malley lists Yemen on top of the conflicts’ list, where he points out to seizing the UN-sponsored ceasefire opportunity is key to stopping further deterioration of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Over 16 million Yemenis face food insecurity, according to the UN. A Saudi-led coalition of Arab states waged a war in 2015 against Houthi rebels to restore the power of the Saudi-backed Yemeni President Abd Rabbou Mansour Hadi.

Second on the list came Afghanistan, which Malley describes as the “deadliest fighting” as he highlights the count of 2018 at more than 40,000 killed civilians and combatants. As US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of his troops, fears of an extended civil war emerge as the Taliban controls half the country. A US absence could also leave room for other regional players to meddle.

The rivalry between the US and China is the next conflict to watch, although not deadly, it could have “graver geopolitical consequences than all of the other crises listed this year,” Malley stated, adding that a trade deal would help ease the tensions.

Meanwhile, major players in the international scene include the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel aligned against Iran. Washington pulled out from a 2015 nuclear deal; the Saudis vow to fight back Iran in Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq while Israel is confronting Iran in Syria.

In Syria, it seems the regime of Al-Assad, backed by Iran and Russia, is winning the battle, at the same time the war against the Islamic State (IS) group is coming to an end. Malley does not see a problem in the US retreat of ground troops in the fight against IS but hastiness would leave allies like the Kurdish group exposed to Turkey and Al-Assad.

Moving to Nigeria, the presidential election scheduled for February 2019 sparks fear of violence, especially amid the fight between government troops and Islamist Boko Haram militants and other clashes between Muslims and Christians which reached a peak this year, killing at least 1,500 people.

The situation in South Sudan remains unstable despite a ceasefire agreement signed in September between President Salva Kiir and his main rival, the former vice president-turned rebel leader Riek Machar. Protests against President Al-Bashir in the north could also be destabilising for the south.

In the Cameroon, militias are facing government forces. According to the International Crisis Group’s estimates, fighting has already killed nearly 200 soldiers, gendarmes, and police officers, with some 300 injured, and also killed over 600 separatists. At least 500 civilians have died in the violence. The UN counts 30,000 Anglophone refugees in Nigeria and 437,000 internally displaced in the Cameroon.

On a different note, neither the Ukraine nor Russia has taken steps to end the war. In November, Russian and Ukrainian vessels clashed in the Sea of Azov, and Russia effectively blocked access to the Kerch Strait. Meanwhile, fighting in the Donbas continues, and civilians living along the front lines are paying the price. Kyiv refuses to devolve power to Donbas until Russia withdraws arms and personnel from separatist-held areas, which Moscow shows scant willingness to do. Proposals for possible peacekeeping missions have not gone far, the report stated.

Lastly, Venezuela, facing a migration crisis as more people are fleeing economic hardship heading towards Columbia, is feared to provoke a regional crisis. Poverty, malnutrition, and disease are worsened by a government that has stripped the opposition from powers as President Nicolas Maduro is about to start a second term. Malley warns that economic sanctions by the US and Europe could worsen the situation, suggesting that instead, outsiders should discourage talk of armed intervention and press for a peaceful transition, likely involving negotiations on political and economic reforms between the government and the opposition, and some form of transitional administration. 

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Ancient Egyptian secret roots of Yoga Wed, 26 Dec 2018 12:00:47 +0000 Celebrating rebirth of Nile heritage on Dahabeya

The post Ancient Egyptian secret roots of Yoga appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Author and creator of the new school of ‘Afrikan Yoga A Practical Guide to Smai Posture, Breath and Meditation,’ Pablo Imani—a Jamaican of Mali origin, raised in England—claims that the practice of yoga originated from indigenous cultures, particularly, the ancient Egyptians.

Ten years ago he was invited by Nile photographer and Dahabeya Director Karina Piaro, who co-conceptualised and pioneered a retreat to share Imani’s yoga wisdom on the Dahabeya.

Piaro also marketed his endeavour as well as photographed him as he shared is yoga wisdom on the Dahabeya.

He will once again do so in February 2019, in support of this significant re-launch chapter representing the Nile heritage to a wider audience from the platform of one of the most historical vessels existing in Egypt. Again, this shall portray a historical first both in terms of his holistic process and the Dahabeya heritage.

Imani’s yogic school—which has been recognised by the International Yoga Alliance of India—basically, means the science of breath. However, “it also means union, and there are Smai depictions throughout the temple walls in ancient Egypt. The word Smai, Sma, Sema or Sem is an ancient Egyptian word which translates to the science of breath and union. In the Sanskrit language, dating back 600 BC, the word yoga is commonly known, rendering the language and word around 2,400 years old. Smai is an African term for what we would call yoga today. The Smai hieroglyph is a representation of the Metu Neter, a language dating back to 10,000 years ago, that was spoken, written, and used in hieroglyphics. The Smai glyph is commonly seen as a tube descending into a bulbous figure at the end of it. If you go to Luxor temple in Karnak, there is a statue of Ramses, he’s sitting on his throne, on each side of the statue, and there is a relief. The relief depicts two beings, two persons standing and pulling a rope that’s binding a particular symbol. The Smai symbol is the lungs and the oesophagus which is the symbol of the breath and these two being on one side is the depictions of Horus and Seth. Sometimes you’ll see the symbol with Hapi, Hapi representing the Nile, so you would have Hapi on one side and Hapi on the other side pulling, and at the feet they have papyrus leaf growing and lotus leaf growing, which represent the two parts of Egypt, Upper and Lower Egypt. But it also means the binding of two states whether they are masculine and feminine, the higher state the lower states, animal state, spirit state, spirit and body. Horus represented the higher self and Seth represented the egotistical self, so that’s what the Smai symbol is” explained Imani.

Furthermore, Imani elaborated that Smai portrays the central column which in the human body represents the trachea, commonly called the windpipe, which descends down into the lungs. Its other meaning is the Djed column or spine in the body with the pelvis attached to the end of the spine, where the two figures of Hapi principle force of the Nile have their left and right feet on it.

Meanwhile, December 2018 marks the revival of a unique concierge charter service through The Niles New Wave which is devoted to shaping a new aesthetic through the sharing of transformational journeys on the Nile. “Expect a personal guided immersive experience echoing the ambience of an almost forgotten age; the elegant simplicity of 18th century travel combined with 21st century comforts on the Nile,” Piaro said, adding, “specialising in river bound heritage craft, historically and uniquely found on the Nile called the Dahabeya, it partners beautiful white lateen wooden shuttered sailing craft with specialists and masters in the fields of heritage, arts, philosophy, and holistic wellbeing” said Piaro, stressing that, “this is truly a rare opportunity to immerse in the phenomenal holistic power and out-of-time sensibility that reflects a contemporary Nile enlightenment.”

Now the connection is basically in ancient Egypt they had priests who were called Kheri-hebs or Hari-hebs. These Hari-hebs, were known as funerary priests who conducted many rituals concerning the cleansing of the body inside out, and “yogic practice was used for that in terms of cleansing from the inside out” added Imani. So, this is one of the connections of the actual yogic practice in ancient Africa. They used what is called hekau or heka which is found in the ‘Per Em Heru’ which has been mistranslated as the Egyptian Book of the Dead but it is really the book of Coming Forth by Day, that’s what ‘Per Em Heru’ actually means,” stated Imani. Heka is what is referred to as mantras, so they would also use mantras or word sounds of power. Nowadays these would be known as mantras but also as positive affirmations, to manifest things. So, this is all a part of yogic lifestyle today, using positive affirmations and meditations, often now referred to as mindfulness and positive visualisations, according to Imani.

In parallel, since the beginning of the 21st century, Karina Piaro has been pioneering, as the first female Dahabeya Director of the new age, a new narrative which has had the purpose of raising awareness of the importance of conserving the Nile heritage. As part of this heritage pioneering initiative, Piaro invited yogic holistic wellbeing practitioner Pablo Imani a decade ago, to synergise his style of yogic process and wisdom with the Dahabeya heritage.

Concurrently, Piaro welcomed Pablo Imani to teach with students coming internationally on the Nile Dahabeya retreats, which can be as long as seven nights and eight days, sailing from Luxor to Aswan. “Unlike large modern cruisers, this unique rare historical 1800s craft, one of the last remaining ones of its kind in existence, can berth at sites rich in Nile heritage significance, including Gebel el Silsila, an ancient Egyptian quarry, as well as islands in the middle of the river which are all normally unreachable by modern boats” stated Piaro, adding, “the Dahabeya is thus ideal as a platform to share a stronger sense of reconnecting with sites of heritage significance but through the Nile itself.”

Imani had been initiating his accredited school of yogic process directly from a Nile source of knowledge and holistic process, and Piaro felt that this synergising of both elements, the yogic with the Dahabeya, as both are a transformative process, would be an appropriate platform to share another aspect of heritage emanating from the Nile itself.

Afrikan yoga, pioneered by Pablo Imani, is therefore the first known yogic process to work synergistically with a Dahabeya in the new age, and the revival of this concept begins again in December 2018.

Another connection to that of Kheri-hebs or Hari-hebs, added Imani, is that in India at the time when yoga was first discovered, they say it was first founded by people who lived in the forest, and these people “were known to use particular animal archetypes and animal totems just like in ancient Egypt” declared Imani, adding, “for example you have Horus who has a falcon head, Sekhmet who is a lioness, you have Tefnut too who has a lion head, and these are known as the Neteru or the cosmic forces of nature.”

In the forest in India, these same people also have these same symbolisms that they were using, and there was a group or a family that discovered these people in the forest and they were known as the Gorakshanath, a family of Hindus, according to Imani‘s research. So they noticed how these people were using animal forms and copying these animal forms to create postures, and to better themselves in some shape or form. Therefore, the Indians also decided that they were going to copy these people that lived in the forest.

Now there’s a story that some of the priests of ancient Egypt would exile themselves into different parts of the world during times of war. Some went into western Africa so you have people like the Yoruba of Nigeria who claim that they came from ancient Egypt, the Dogon of Mali, the Igbo in Nigeria also claim they came from ancient Egypt. The Zulus in South Africa also claim they came from ancient Egypt, and the Maasai of Kenya claim that too. Hence, we are talking about different people exiling themselves out of Egypt into other parts of Africa, but also into other parts of the world. Hence, you had a priesthood which practiced yoga exiling themselves also into India. Now at the time Egypt was much bigger and of course it wasn’t known as Egypt, it had many names, such as Kemet which is a well-known name that’s been expounded often today, but it was also known as Tame-re. Thus, these priests who exiled themselves into India took their practices into the forests of India during one of the many invasions of Egypt. Various books by for example, Ivan Van Sertima, who wrote They Came Before Columbus, or by Cheikh Anta Diop, who wrote The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality, as well as several scholars state that information in addition to written information regarding India as well, according to Imani.

In addition, Imani indicated that back then Ethiopia and East African languages had similar dialect to Indian languages and customs were also shared along with trade, so it just stands to reason that yogic practices may have been exchanged too. So, this is how Imani made those particular connections. “A lot of people asked me well who came first, was the African, Egyptian or Indian system that came first. My reply is usually that there was a lot of debate around that, but to me it does not mean much who came first, but just to recognise that yogic practices were practiced in Africa as well as in India, and I go as far as to say that yogic practices were practiced by indigenous cultures worldwide, they just did not call it yoga. They had their own name for connecting to source, or connecting to a higher self, a higher purpose, through their particular rituals and practices” proclaimed Imani.

The Afrikan yoga school is also known as Tama-re Smai Taui. Afrikan yoga can be broken down into Ta, which stands for earth, Ma, water, Re, sun or solar energy or one of the ancient names of Egypt which is Tama-re, meaning the beloved land, as Imani explained. Consequently, the practice is known as Tama-re. Smai, means the science of breath, or union, and Taui means two states. That is Afrikan yoga, which again comes from the Nile valley, and it uses the elements which are earth, water, air and fire, as in Tama-re. It also has a practice in it called Hudu. Hu means ‘creative force of will’ and the du is related to the use of rhythm, so it is known as a creative force of will through the use of rhythm, which can be transcribed as intention, and the meaning of Tai chi is intention, so the Hudu is really an Afrikan form of Tai chi, with the use of postures that come from temple walls that originate from ancient Egypt, not postures that derive from India, but literally from temple walls of Egypt, and that’s what makes it very special, very particular, and very powerful.

The school is based on several disciplines. First of all the movements are based on the movements of the Neteru, which is found in the temples of Luxor, the temple of Horus at Edfu, and on scientific methods, mentioned in the Ebers papyrus, the rhind papyrus,  and these are known as the pyramid texts which are the oldest books in the entire world.

The philosophy of the Afrikan yogic school system is based on the philosophy of Ma’at, which is found in the ancient Egyptian book known as the ‘Per’Em Heru or the Coming Forth by Day, and it uses the presets of the 42 Declarations of Innocence and the 10 Virtues of the Initiates.

The 10 Virtues of the Initiates and the Wisdom Texts are based on the philosophies of  Ptahhotep and Amennakht, Kagemni, Tehuti-Hermes Trismegistus and Seti I, which are comparable with the Noble Paths of the Buddhist Dharma and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali.

“However, the ancient Egyptian system is almost 2,000 years older than the yoga sutras of Patanjali as it is based on the philosophy of Ma’at, Hermes Trismegistus, also known as Tehuti, Ptahhotep, Kagemini, and Seti I.

That is the basic background and philosophy of the Afrikan yoga system that I teach, and which originates from the Nile valley, that’s the first thing. This is how it stems from, not only what people refer to as Egypt today, but also the whole of ancient Egypt” stressed Imani.

When Karina Piaro and Imani ran a yoga retreat 10 years ago on a Dahabeya it was very special because, first of all, it was not just any kind of yoga. It wasn’t Ashtanga or Kundalini or something like that which comes out of India, and is popular now in Egypt today, it was Tama-re Smai Taui, and so they used the Afrikan system of yoga that Imani taught on the Dahabeya.

They were the first to do this 10 years ago, and the special thing was it was like yoga coming home basically, and it was a beautiful experience which they both intend to launch again in February 2019, and they are telling the world about it because they are two of the very first people to ever do this and not on a boat— but on a Dahabeya.

“What is supremely specially is that it is an Afrikan-Egyptian system and not an import, but something that actually comes from the region, a system of yoga that comes from the region” declared Imani.

“The beauty of being on a Dahabeya is the movement of the boat as it floats down the river through the use of the elements instead of an engine. It’s using the wind; it’s using Shu, and sailing down, and it is one of the most glorious feelings because of the movement of the glide, and the slide and the gentleness of how it flows” asserted Imani.

“One of the beauties of the practice that Imani teaches has that air movement, which also has this flowing motion that goes with it, and it just has a connection that provides a profound experience” concluded Piaro.

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Bread Protests against price hikes, worsening economic conditions Sun, 23 Dec 2018 11:00:32 +0000 Curfew, schools closed across Sudanese states as authorities curb demonstrations

The post Bread Protests against price hikes, worsening economic conditions appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Amid weeks-long mass demonstrations of the ‘Gilets Jaunes’ against increasing fuel taxes, spreading from the streets of France to Belgium, widening the condemnation of the economic burden and country leaders’ policies, another uprising feared to cause chaos is now in process a continent apart, in Sudan.

Popular protests erupted Wednesday in a number of Sudanese provinces against price hikes and worsening economic conditions. An increase in the price of a loaf of bread is causing public outrage.

At least eight demonstrators have so far been killed in clashes with riot police, news agencies reported, six of them in the city of Al-Qadarif.

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors, an independent doctors’ union which seeks to improve healthcare conditions, said the six protesters killed in Al-Qadarif included a 13-year-old boy who was shot in the head. It listed at least 27 injuries, seven of which who are in critical condition. Most casualties resulted from fire shots.

The list included many youth. Dozens of high school and college students reportedly took to the streets and were joined by dozens of residents.

In a Friday statement, a spokesperson for the government identified as BisharaJumaa was quoted by the Sudanese News Agency (SUNA) that the government was aware of and is working to solve the crisis, asserting that security forces did not oppress civilians who were practicing their constitutional right to protest.

“However, the peaceful protests deviated from that path and were transformed by infiltrators into destabilising activity targeting public institutions and property, burning, destroying, attacking and burning some police headquarters,” he added.

The government representative added that some political entities have tried to take advantage of the situation in order to advance their own agendas, and that law infringements and sabotage would not be tolerated.

Protests took place in the states of Al-Qadarif, River Nile, Red Sea, North Kordofan and more contained ones in Khartoum.The Sudan Tribune reported that eyewitnesses in the Atbara town of River Nile State in north-eastern Sudan said the police and army didn’t interfere to disperse or arrest the protestors, but that some riot police officers threw tear gas at the demonstrators.

On the other hand, the headquarters of the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) in Atbara was set on fire by protestors. Schools were suspended and a state of emergency and curfew were declared. The Tribune further noted that President Omar Al-Bashir was in Port Sudan, Red Sea State, to attend the closing ceremony of a military exercise conducted by the Sudanese army.

The movement was seen as the largest since September 2013, when riots broke out to contest government subsidy cuts on fuel. Hundreds took to the streets in Khartoum and across the country, notably in Omdurman. At least 185 people were killed by violent repression; the majority were shot in the head or chest, according to Amnesty International.

Economic crisis

Economic conditions in Sudan have deteriorated in recent months. Last year, Sudan celebrated the US’s lifting of economic sanctions imposed for decades on the country over accusations of supporting terrorism.

However, it seems not to have brought the desired relief for Sudan’s economy, which has witnessed a drastic inflation rate, climbing to over 60% since May.

The country’s GDP growth rate has declined from 4.9% in 2015 to 4.2% in 2017, according to World Bank (WB) data. Sudan projects economic growth of 5.7% and expects a budget deficit equivalent to 5.2% of output in 2018, Prime Minister Motazz Moussa said on Wednesday, according to Reuters.

Some media reports said the wave of protest in the provinces over increased bread prices in some regions was caused by the government reducing the quantity of subsidised flour allocated to the states in order to cover the large deficit in Khartoum state.

Critics attribute the deteriorating living condition to corruption, lack of production policies, and the scarcity of economic reform vision following the secession of South Sudan.

Sudan lost 75% of its oil reserves after the southern part of the country became an independent nation in July 2011, denying the north billions of dollars in revenues. Oil revenue constituted more than half of Sudan’s revenue and 90% of its exports and Sudan’s economy has struggled to recover from the loss.

Sudan devaluated its currency three times in 2018. In October, Sudan slashed the official value of its currency by over half against the dollar, pegging the Sudanese pound at 47.5 against the dollar.

The move led to further price increases and cash shortages, while the gap between the official and black market rates has continued to widen. Boosting foreign currency has been a critical challenge since the 2011 secession.

In December 2017, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) described authorities’ measures including exchange rate flexibility and reduction of fuel subsidies “helpful” but “insufficient to turn the tide toward sustained macroeconomic stability and broad-based growth.” The report noted that Sudan remained in debt distress, especially external payment arrears, including to the IMF.

The report warned that fiscal and monetary policy settings were likely to hinder prospects of growth following the revocation of the US sanctions. In fact, it stated that reduction of energy and wheat subsidies would generate substantial increases in prices, and that the authorities were concerned that it could raise social tensions among vulnerable groups and the middle class.

“They indicated that after suffering for 20 years under sanctions, it would be difficult to ask the population to make further substantial sacrifices with no clear guarantee that reforms would better their lives,” the IMF noted.

Commodities’ high prices caused protests in January over bread prices after the government decided to cut wheat subsidies, amid economic measures recommended by the IMF.

In other words used by Sudanese journalist Reem Abbas back then was that the country was heading towards “a total shutdown,” as she expected devaluation to continue since the country had neither any foreign reserve nor production of some sort.

Abbas highlighted how factories were in facing tough financial conditions leading to increasing their market prices and how people could not afford food, medicine and fuel.

Political conflict over Al-Bashir’s presidency

“Down with the regime” and chants against President Omar Al-Bashir, was voiced by protesters and also became popular hashtags for social media trends.

Activists also began reporting attempts by the government to cut them off from the internet through local telecommunication operators. One of them, Zain Sudan, said Friday that “the blocking of some websites was for reasons out of the control and authority of the company.”

On Thursday, the presidency announced the appointment of a new director of the General Authority for Telecommunications, without providing further explanations.

Al-Bashir’s presidential term expires in 2020 but his supporters have pushed to extend it, which opposition figures have rallied to prevent for months.

Earlier this month, members of the Sudanese parliament presented signaturesto amend article 57 of the country’s Constitution of 2005 regarding the duration of the presidential term, to be open without specifying more than one term.

The opposition Umma Party, which has endorsed the recent demonstrations and called for the downfall of the regime, rejected constitutional amendments’ proposal and denied that its presidentSadiq al-Mahdi had accepted it.

Al-Bashir, a military officer, came to power in 1989 in a coup that ousted the elected government of Sadiq Al-Mahdi, the then prime minister.

In recent months he has dissolved the government, named a new central bank governor and brought in a package of reforms, but the moves have done little to contain an economic crisis, Reuters reported.

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US Senate condemns Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi murder, Trump reiterates support for Bin Salman Sun, 16 Dec 2018 10:00:14 +0000 Yemen peace talks progressed as US lawmakers push for ending military assistance to the Saudi-led military coalition

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Pressure on Saudi Arabia and its Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman could mount again as American lawmakers disputed US military assistance to the kingdom in the Yemen war and seek to sanction it over the controversial murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The US Senate passed a resolution last Thursday “to direct the removal of US Armed Forces from hostilities in Yemen that have not been authorised by Congress,” with a 56-41 vote.

According to Reuters, this was the first time Congress had backed a resolution to withdraw US forces from a military engagement under the War Powers Act, a 1973 law limiting the president’s ability to commit US forces to potential hostilities without congressional approval.

“Today was a victory for the Constitution and the separation of powers,” tweeted Republican senator Mike Lee following the vote.

“With this vote, we are one step closer to reviving our constitutional framework – where the power to declare war lies with Congress, not the executive branch – and we have taken a step towards removing ourselves from the spread of human suffering in Yemen,” he said in a second tweet.

Seven Republicans joined Senate Democrats to back the measure. Moreover, the Senate also unanimously backed a resolution blaming Bin Salman for Khashoggi murder.

The rare move comes in defiance to President Donald Trump who has maintained support for his Saudi friends ever since the outbreak of Khashoggi’s case in October.

Despite weeks of debates over the resolution, it remains largely symbolic and unlikely to become law. “The non-binding ‘war powers resolution’ calls upon President Trump to remove all American forces engaging in hostilities in Yemen, except for those combating Islamist extremists,” the BBC reported.

In a letter addressed to the presidents of the House of Representatives and Senate earlier this month, Trump stated that the US, in a non-combat role, “have continued to provide military advice and limited information, logistics, and other support to regional forces combatting the Houthi insurgency in Yemen.”

But the US ended aerial refuelling of regional forces’ aircraft in November 2018. If turned into a law, the resolution prohibits the resumption of that practice.

Debate escalating on US-Saudi relations

Debates over support to the Saudis grew after the Khashoggi issue, with concerns over turning a blind eye to blatant infringements of human rights, holding them accountable over that particular incident or revaluate US commitment as a whole.

Trump and his administration insisted on providing support to the kingdom and the crown prince following global outrage over the killing of Khashoggi, who criticised the latter in his writings, inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

Last month, Trump refuted suggestions that Bin Salman had been involved in the premeditated operation against the journalist and distanced himself from a CIA report saying the Saudi crown prince was likely to have ordered it. He reiterated support for Bin Salman in statements to Reuters.

“Maybe he did, maybe he did not,” Trump said as he held on to the relationship with Saudi Arabia, “a great ally in our very important fight against Iran,” he added, asserting that the US intends to “remain a steadfast partner” of the kingdom. Trump’s words were mainly addressed to congressmen seeking to “go in a different direction” as he put it.

Likewise, the US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lobbied efforts to convince senators in closed-door briefings this week and last month to continue the military advising, logistics support, and intelligence that have for years been shared with Saudi Arabia.

But according to statements they gave to the press, senators were further frustrated and more convinced of Bin Salman’s role in the Khashoggi murder.

The resolution was written by Lee and Senator Bernie Sanders. It was voted against in senate back in March of this year, as Bin Salman was on a highly publicised tour in the US, in which he met with Trump and Mattis among other current and former senior US officials and public figures.

As the vote went through this time, Sanders tweeted “In the last three years, 85,000 children have died and millions are on the brink of starvation. We must tell Saudi Arabia that the United States will no longer support their despotic regime’s role in the horrific war in Yemen.”

Republicans agreeing to the Thursday’s resolution included Lee, Susan Collins, Steve Daines, Jeff Flake, Jerry Moran, Rand Paul, and Todd Young of Indiana.

On the other hand, five Democrats sided with Republicans earlier on Wednesday in the House of Representatives voted in favour of preventing such a legislation. They included Al Lawson, Jim Costa, Collin Peters, Dutch Ruppersberger, and David Scott.

The Republican-led House of Representatives is therefore not expected to take a vote on the resolution, thus adjourning the issue to next January where there will be a new Democratic House majority, while Trump previously threatened to use his veto power.

Most Republicans supported the military alliance between the US and Saudi Arabia until the Khashoggi case came along. The recent move indicated a growing sense of urgency among lawmakers in both parties to punish Saudi Arabia for Khashoggi’s death, and to question a tradition of Washington averting its gaze from the kingdom’s human rights abuses in the interest of preserving a strategically important relationship, The New York Times reported last Thursday.

Billions of dollars of American arms sales to the kingdom are at stake. According to Trump, the Saudis also agreed to spend and invest $450bn in the US.

This, Trump said, was “a record amount of money” that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs, tremendous economic development, and much additional wealth for the US.

Out of the $450bn, $110bn will be spent on the purchase of military equipment from Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and many other great US defence contractors.

Progress on Yemen truce

Yemen peace talks held in Sweden last week brought some positivity into the humanitarianly disastrous war launched by a Saudi-led coalition in 2015 to push back against Iran-supported Houthi militias and restore endorsed President AbdRabbu Mansour Hadi to power.

The Yemeni Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Yamani represented the government in the recent UN-sponsored summit as he shook hands with Houthi spokesperson Mohammed Abdelsalam.

The parties agreed on a ceasefire in Hudaydah city where there has been escalation in fighting in the past weeks, as well as easing the situation in Taiz, in addition to an agreement on the exchange of thousands of prisoners.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres affirmed that there would be a full withdrawal of troops from the city and port of Hudaydah in addition to offering a supervisory role to the UN, as local authorities will make security arrangements, the details of which yet to be formalised.

“As we all know, Yemen is the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. More than 24 million people – three-quarters of the population – need some form of assistance and protection. Some 20 million people are food insecure, and 10 million of the total number do not know how they will obtain their next meal,” Guterres said.

Both the US and Saudi Arabia welcomed the agreement. “Although many details remain subject to further discussion, these consultations between the Yemeni government and the Houthis marked a pivotal first step,” Pompeo said.

Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, the Saudi Ambassador to the US, praised efforts of the UN envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths to reach this agreement as “an important step towards restoring the sovereignty and independence of Yemen,” the Saudi News Agency reported.

Both the rebels and government alliance stand accused of failing to protect civilians. The UN last year blacklisted the Saudi-led coalition for the killing of over 600 children in air raids.

The Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubair had previously expressed confidence in a UN process as “the only viable process” for a resolution of the crisis. “We have great respect for Martin Griffiths. I think he is approaching it the right way,” he said in a September interview with the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) think-tank.

But the minister strongly defended his country’s involvement in the war in response to the CFR’s question about some congressmen’s concern about the direction of the war and US arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

“I do not believe it is a quagmire and this is a war that we did not choose. This is a war that we did not want,” he stated, explaining that the Saudis responded to “reverse the coup that the Houthis staged, and over the past three and a half years —almost four years—the Houthi control of Yemen has shrunk from 80% to 20%.”

“Do we want a Hezbollah-controlled country on our southern border? No. Not going to happen […] Do we want to give Yemen to the Iranians? No.” Al-Jubair stressed.

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Calls returned to omit religion from national ID Card in Egypt Thu, 13 Dec 2018 14:00:35 +0000 Nasr El-Din asserted he will insist on bill, will submit it to parliament next week

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One year after the parliament has rejected a draft law to omit the religion field from the Egyptian national ID card, another parliament member, Ismail Nasr El Din, renewed the call to enforce the draft law to fight societal discrimination.

Two days ago, Nasr El-Din submitted a draft law calling on the government to omit the religion field from the national ID card and from all official state documents.

The move reflects the insistence of the parliament members to pass the law to the legislative and constitutional affairs committee, for referral to the government in order to be applied within the state institutions.

In 2016, about 63% parliamentarians rejected the proposal dubbed ‘citizenship’ that was submitted at the time by MP Alaa Abdel Moneim, member of the legislative and constitutional affairs committee. The proposal stirred a controversial debate among parliament members, some of whom supported it in the belief that identifying religion creates a discriminatory state between citizens while other saw it as important to mention it to determine the civic situation.

Nasr El-Din said that the constitution stipulates that there should be no discrimination among citizens and that all Egyptians have the same rights and duties.

“The constitution is set up to respect its provisions, and if we disagreed with it, there is a constitutional path that determines how to amend them, but as long as we deal with the current constitution, we must respect its provisions and apply them,” said Nasr El-Din.

The member continued that: “If we want to establish a genuine civil state with the values of citizenship, we must start with official papers. Just as we have eliminated the divorced title from the national ID, we must apply the same with the religion.”

Nasr El-Din asserted that he will insist on the bill and will submit it to parliament next week, and after the committee finishes reviewing the draft law, he will collect members’ signatures.

He pointed out that his move came after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi spoke before the entire world about the freedom of worship during the second World Youth Forum,  where believed that it is a sign for him to suggest the law one more time.

Al-Sisi said during the forum which took place in Sharm El-Sheikh last week, that each citizen has the right to worship or not worship, and that the state does not interfere in this matter. His statements came to justify that there exists no discrimination between Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

Members and activists praised the proposal and called for its swift application starting from the beginning of 2019 in order to limit discrimination and enhance citizenship and its achievement among people, while others criticised it.

A group of people view the issue as a symbolic one since people’s names can indicate one’s religious identity, while others believe that every citizen has right to feel safe and should not be treated with any form of discrimination.

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) believes that omitting the religion field from the National ID card is a positive step which will send an important message to citizens that the state is neutral towards religious beliefs, and that it’s not necessary to disclose your religion during one’s daily dealings.

Moreover, parliament member Mohamed Abo Hamed said that the constitution confirmed citizenship rights and the development of anti-discriminatory behaviours, and that abolishing the religion field entails details in social matters such as marriage and work, and that he supports the abolition of the religion field if it will not result in any legal default.

The head of the Egyptian Union for Human Rights Naguib Gabriel said the existence of religion field in the card is contrary to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights signed by Egypt and the international covenants that the Egyptian Constitution requires respect and commitment to.

Gabriel added that existence of religion field in the national ID card is a form of discrimination between citizens on the basis of religion, which violates Article 53 of the Egyptian Constitution, which states that citizens are equal according to the law and the rights, freedoms and public duties, and that there is no distinction between them for any reason.

He suggested that the existence of religion field in the national ID led to sectarian congestion because some people have exploited the religion disclosure in acts which promoted discrimination, citing that businesspersons, and decision-makers can put regulations to not hire Christians in their vacant job announcements.

Meanwhile Hafez Abu Saada, member of the National Council for Human Rights, rejected in a televised interview the calls to remove the religion field from the ID at the current time, believing that it will stir social issues that will not help to solve the discrimination crisis.

In response to fears of marriage problems, Gabriel said that abolition of the religion cannot lead to Christian marriages to a Muslim, saying that this is untrue because Christians must obtain a certificate from the church to confirm their religion.

Professor at Al-Azhar University Mohamed Wahdan said that what is proposed is good, but the timing is not appropriate, as passing such bill needs a prelude period since there are some extremists, and first we need to conduct a community dialogue on the matter, and the presence of the religion field in ID cards does stir nor represent any discriminatory behaviour. As for his opinion on the draft law, he said that Islam respects religions and the freedom of others, both Muslims and Christians believe in God, and we are all Egyptians, and we do not walk in the street pointing out each other’s religions.

Religion is important only when we are burying deceased people, to differentiate between Muslims and Christians, he concluded.

Every citizen must hold at all times Egypt’s national ID card, which will include basic information about individuals including age, occupation, place of residence, marital status and religious affiliation.

According to Article 53 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution, citizens are equal before the law, possess equal rights and public duties, and may not be discriminated against on the basis of religion, belief, gender, origin, race, colour, language, disability, social class, political or geographical affiliation, or for any other reason.

Coptic Christians make up 10-15 percent of Egypt’s 104 million population. In the last several years, Coptic churches have been the target of several deadly terrorist attacks, which left tens dead and injured. In one of the latest attack, seven people killed in the terrorist attack against buses carrying Copts in Upper Egypt’s Minya a few weeks ago.

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Parliament drafts new law to face ‘fatwa chaos’ amid division between Azhar, endowment ministry Tue, 11 Dec 2018 13:00:48 +0000 Dozens of invalid fatwas spread recently, debated by religious scholars

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Amid ongoing disputes between the two major Islamic institutions, Al-Azhar and the ministry of religious endowments, over finding an appropriate vision to renew the religious discourse, the Egyptian Parliament drafted a new law to regulate the process.

Discussions about the renewal of religious discourse were immensely tackled in the media in the past years, while also being addressed in different seminars and conferences, to combat terrorism and protect young people from extremist thoughts.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has been calling for the renewal of religious discourse since he took office in 2013. On several occasions, he asserted that a religious reform is required to harmonise with the latest developments of the current age.

Al-Sisi believes that there is a problem concerning the understanding of religious texts and that it needs to be re-revised, especially after the worldwide distortion of the image of Islam as a result of acts of violence and hate speech conducted by extremists in the name of Islam. Thus, the president stressed the importance of renewing the religious discourse as one of the basic elements to fight extremism and terrorism with.

Egypt’s concern about the issue did not come out of the blue, but due to the challenges long suffered in the region as a consequence of political Islam, which is believed to be the main instigator of terrorist operations.

Al-Azhar and the religious endowments ministry have organised several campaigns to fight extremism and terrorism, but nothing was completely satisfactory and up to the standards expected by the ambitions of the Egyptian president.

Draft law to regulate fatwa chaos

MP Omar Hamroush, secretary-general of the religious affairs parliamentary committee, who drafted the new law, said that it would help Al-Azhar and the ministry of religious endowments to reach common grounds.

“The law is of great importance in the renewal of religious discourse and will confront abnormal fatwas – ruling of Islamic law – which dramatically spread in Egypt,” Hamroush said, adding that his draft law will prevent extremist clerics from issuing invalid fatwas by criminalising the issuance of fatwas without obtaining licenses from Al-Azhar or the ministry of religious endowments.

He noted that invalid fatwas harm the stability of the state, as many were issued by extremist Salafi clerics that legitimised extremism by encouraging youth to join terrorist groups to bomb churches and monasteries.

Hamroush pointed out that such invalid fatwas began when the Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Salafists came to power in Egypt in 2012.

Osama El-Abd, head of the committee, said that if the differences between the two institutions were not settled soon, the parliament will intervene to solve the issue.

Another member of the committee, Mohamed Abu Hamed, said that Al-Azhar seemed as if it were rejecting reforming religious discourse, however it is not the sole religious arbiter in accordance to the constitution.

Article 7 of the constitution states that “Al-Azhar is the main reference on religious sciences and Islamic affairs”, but does not stipulate it is the sole reference. The parliamentary member noted that this article opens the door to other institutions and intellectuals to give their views on religious issues.

The state attempts to regulate the chaos of fatwa which recently appeared, as many invalid fatwas have been spreading and were widely debated which caused widespread backlash.

Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Iftaa, Egypt’s principal Islamic legal institution for issuing fatwas, are set to prepare a list of only 50 religious scholars and clerics who will be permitted to issue fatwas via the media.

In 2017, Dar Al-Iftaa launched fatwa kiosks at the Cairo Metro to offer religious advice to commuters and fight extremist ideas. It focused on daily life issues, such as marriage, divorce, and inheritance, as well as correcting misinterpretations of Islam.

The division between religious institutions occurred when the ministry of religious endowments said it has the right to issue fatwas, while Al-Azhar rejected the ministry’s interference in this regard, insisting that one of its affiliated committees has been tasked to issue fatwas since the 1980s and it should continue to do so.

A fatwa is normally issued by a recognised religious authority or individual based on the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s teachings for guidance (Sunnah) on the routine of daily life subjects, such as marriage and inheritance.

In Egypt, Dar Al-Iftaa, under the ministry of justice, is the official institution devoted to issuing fatwas, along with Al-Azhar’s clerics in nationwide offices. For example, all court sentences of death ought be approved in consideration with Dar Al-Iftaa.

However, the state’s top clerics and religious scholars, mainly those affiliated to Al-Azhar and the endowments ministry, are still unable to agree on a fixed vision for the reform, as some believe they have to adhere to the Holy Quran only and minimise the independence on Sunnah.

The difference between Al-Azhar and the ministry of religious endowments reached a crescendo last week when the representative of Al-Azhar announced he would not attend any more meetings on the law.

Stances of Al-Azhar and endowment ministry over Sunnah

The Minister of Endowments, Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, had contradictory visions over the new anticipated discourse which that clearly apparent during the celebration of the Prophet’s Birthday (Mawled) in November which was attended by Al-Sisi.

The minister urged that the renewal of religious discourse should consider the requirements of the current age and place as well, saying that the “early scientists succeeded to come up with religious discourse corresponding with the conditions and circumstances of their time, so in terms of changes and developments, now we have to take into account the circumstances of our times and conditions.”

Gomaa cited one of the sayings of the Prophet that was applicable in previous eras, explaining that it cannot be followed in the current time due to developments and changes.

Al-Tayeb said that he rejects questioning the validity of the Prophet’s sayings and Sunnah in general, while Gomaa suggested coming up with a new legislation that will be suitable with the current conditions of people.

Al-Tayeb also highlighted that the Sunnah is the second source of legislation in Islam preceded by Al-Quran, pointing out that it provided more details that were not mentioned in Islam’s holy book, and that there is a need to maintain the Sunnah along with Al-Quran in the legislation and provisions for Muslims.

His statements came in response to calls of excluding some of the Sunnah from the legislation process, stressing that these calls are not new, as they were initially launched in India in early 20th century.

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Time bomb: Egypt’s growing population reaches 98 million Sun, 09 Dec 2018 11:00:55 +0000 Experts warn growth rates will hinder economic stability, 2030 goals

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Egypt entered a critical transitional phase after two waves of political unrest which started eight years ago. In 2014, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power over a country in serious economic decline.

While declaring a war on terrorism, Al-Sisi’s regime has, in parallel, made Egypt’s economy a priority of its governmental policies. In 2016, Egypt sought a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to help boost its economy.

Stressing the need for reform, the government embarked in November 2016 on an IMF-supported programme, allowing its currency to float freely, and launched a wave of subsidy cuts on energy, with the aim of reducing government expenditures, and to reduce budget deficits.

Two years after, progress has been made on a macro-economic level, obtaining the IMF’s approval that Egypt was on the right track, as the GDP growth rate increased to 5.3%, up from a 4.2% rate, at the beginning of the programme.

Also, for the first time in over a decade, the government managed to achieve an initial surplus, estimated at EGP 2bn for the current fiscal year, according to Finance Minister Mohamed Moeit, as reported by state-media on Monday.

Unemployment and inflation rates have been decreasing throughout the year, but still remain high, as Egypt is aiming for single digits next year.

According to an ambitious sustainable development strategy known as ‘Egypt Vision 2030’, the economy should enable the country to become an active global player, generating decent and productive jobs, as well as a real the GDP per capita, reaching the high-middle income countries’ level.

Accordingly, the new strategy focuses on balancing population growth and the available natural resources, meeting the aspirations of the public for a better life, providing the public with equal access to basic services, and attaining higher levels of human development. Egypt also aims to reduce poverty by half by 2020, and eliminate it by 2030, as 27.8% of the population was estimated to be below the poverty line in 2015.

Egypt’s population, growing at an annual rate of 3.5%, mostly lives along the Nile river, poses a significant challenge to such strategic goals, and threatens the beneficial impact of economic development.

In September 2017, Egypt’s population was estimated to be 94.8 million, with another 9.4 million abroad, according to Abu Bakr Al-Gendy, the former head of the CAPMAS, the country’s official census institution.

The internal population is reaching 98 million this week, Hanan Girgis, vice executive president of the Egyptian Centre for Public Opinion Research (Baseera), declared during a Wednesday conference hosted by Cairo University, discussing the socio-cultural context with the aim of finding new strategic vision.

Issues of unemployment, food security, and water security are becoming harder to address, especially the latter, confronted with major risks of shortage, amid the yet-to-be-completed filling of Ethiopia’s new Renaissance Dam, highly disputed by Egypt.

Addressing the public in a conference earlier this year, Al-Sisi called on citizens to keep the limit at two children, and to have gaps of a couple of years between every child.

But experts on population studies remain sceptical on the possibility to reduce growth rates in the next decade, estimating figures to reach at least 150 million by 2050. They point out to two further population problems besides rapid growth: geographical misdistribution, and degrading demographic characteristics.

Surge in fertility rates, state policies

Stalled fertility levels between 1995 and 2005 increased after the 2011 revolution, from 3 to 3.5 child per women in 2014. A slight decrease occurred in the past year.

“Egypt is increasing at the rate of entire nations every year,” Minister of Planning Hala El-Saeed said during the Wednesday conference, who estimated the current rate at 2.7 million new-borns annually.

Article 41 of 2014’sconstitution declares “The state is to implement a population programme that achieves a balance between population growth, and available resources and maximise the investment in human capital, in the context of sustainable development.”

The state’s developmental approach is focusing on balancing population growth with the available resources, while maximising the benefit from human resources, Al-Saeed explained. “At the same, time we need to regulate population growth rates as it affects the individual share of development revenues,” she added.

Despite an increase in the GDP, people are unable to properly spend on health, education, transportation, or housing as the state’s vision aims to stop population growth from bypassing its abilities to provide services.

Al-Saeed also pointed out plans to increase women’s participation in the workforce through SMEs, which she said would not only adjust birth rates, but also increases economic growth.

In May, the ministry of solidarity launched a family planning awareness campaign labelled ‘Two are Enough’, aiming at introducing services to marginalised areas. The project includes the launching of planning offices and clinics, across several villages, including in Upper Egypt, as well as a media campaign, with the participation of over 90 NGOs, according to the Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wali.

The initiative targets over one million women under the age of 40, supporting them with job opportunities, literacy programmes, healthcare, and childcare, Wali said in recent press statements.

Education, awareness vs. cultural, religious beliefs

Maged Osman, director of Baseera, stressed on “Education, empowerment, and employment,” as the three necessary elements to look at, when addressing the problem of overpopulation.

“It is not possible to solve the population growth problem on the short term, but it is possible to turn the population into a productive force, which is not happening at the moment,” Osman said during the Wednesday conference.

The issue of education has two sides in this context. The first is that the a large population becomes an obstacle to receiving quality services of education, and health.

As Girgis put it, school classes need to either be reduced by half or doubled. At current population growth rates, she estimated the number of classes tobe multiplied by two or three, and the number of teachers by more than double, by 2030.

On the other hand, experts cite illiteracy as one of the factors driving population rates higher. Upper Egypt’sgovernorates, including Minya, Beni Suef, Assiut, and Sohag have the highest illiteracy rates. School drop-outs have also increased in the past few years.

“We are still discussing reading and writing, while the whole world is talking about internet illiteracy,” Girgis commented.

Moreover, the government’s strategies of family planning have always been faced by a counter-religious rhetoric, banning contraceptive methods.

Amr Hassan, secretary-general of the National Population Council, criticised the availabilityof media platforms to religious figures who contradict efforts to reduce population growth. “The people’s compass is lost,” he said.

Last month, a cleric from Al-Azhar appeared on a popular TV show in Sada El-Balad, calling family planning a Zionist conspiracy against Egypt.

“Every year we give birth to what could be a nation on its own, but without resources, education, or patriotism. These people become easy targets for extremist groups,” Hassan argued.

Gender gaps, child marriage, labour

Magdy Khaled, former director of UNFPA Egypt, compared other countries’ successful strategies in controlling population growth, and fertility rates by adopting awareness campaigns, women’s empowerment policies, and family planning mechanisms.

The Egyptian government strategy is focusing on the empowerment of women, by enrolling them into the workforce and encouraging SMEs, in order to reduce birth rates, and contribute to a higher GDP.

Women represent half of Egypt’s population. The age average for marriage was estimated by the CAPMAS in 2015, at 24.5 for women compared to 30 for men. Female in labour force statistics were 23.6%. The CAPMAS figures for 2016 put the illiteracy rate at 14.4% for males, and 26% for women.

Laws on child labour, and child marriage need to be implemented, experts say.

Al-Saeed, called for more awareness campaigns to overcome the problem of people considering children as sources of income. He added that 111,000 girls under 18 are married in Egypt.

Egyptian MP Inas Abdel Halim of the health committee, stated in the conference that discussions were ongoing to raise the legal age of marriage to 21, saying that numerous undocumented child marriages end up in the non-legal recognition of children resulting from such marriages, in addition to high divorce rates.

Good news for military

Hesham Tayar, a former military officer currently working at Nasser Military Academy, presented the effects of population growth on military power, during the conference.

According to Tayar, the military looks at the number of people in the workforce, to assess whether civilians would be functioning in the state of war, a key to assessing the length of any war.

It also takes count of the available military power, the number of those eligible for service annually,  and those who can be counted as reserve power.

“There are about 35 million available manpower for service, which could make two or three armies,” he stated, adding that another 1.5 million are eligible for service every year.

From a military perspective, the large database of youth is “perfect.”

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100 happy Operation Smile, just what doctor ordered Wed, 05 Dec 2018 10:00:52 +0000 Hope floats. And from the 6 to the 12 of the December hope will float for the very first time for 100 lucky children in Luxorsuffering from cleft lip or palate. Established in 1982 on an international scale, and operating in Egypt since 2005,Operation Smile is a non-profit surgical mission which will visit Luxor for …

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Hope floats. And from the 6 to the 12 of the December hope will float for the very first time for 100 lucky children in Luxorsuffering from cleft lip or palate.

Portrait of Karina Piaro, Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Thebes. Image copyright Karina Piaro-The Niles New Wave

Established in 1982 on an international scale, and operating in Egypt since 2005,Operation Smile is a non-profit surgical mission which will visit Luxor for the very first time coinciding with the launch of a significant Nile Heritage narrative initiative. The Niles New Wavenarrative Heritage, is established by Nile-based photographer Karina Piaro.

Piarohas previously participated in a mission with Operation Smile which took place in Aswan in 2016. As a gesture of unity and celebration, Piaro will be inviting the mission to experience the Nile at Luxor on one of the oldest working Dahabeya on the river.

According to their website, Operation Smile is “an international medical charity that has provided hundreds of thousands of free surgeries for children and young adults in developing countries who are born with cleft lip, cleft palate or other dental, and facial conditions. It is one of the oldest and largest volunteer-based organisations dedicated to improving the health, and lives of children worldwide through access to surgical care. Since 1982, Operation Smile has developed expertise in mobilising volunteer medical teams, to conduct surgical missions in resource-poor environments, while adhering to the highest standards of care and safety. Operation Smile helps to fill the gap in providing access to safe, well-timed surgeries by partnering with hospitals, governments, and ministries of health, training local medical personnel, and donating much-needed supplies and equipment to surgical sites around the world. Founded and based in Virginia, US, Operation Smile has extended its global reach to more than 60 countries through its network of credentialed surgeons, paediatricians, doctors, nurses, and student volunteers.”

The Story

Karina Piaro is a British born visual artist with a camera whose heritage emanates personally and creatively from the Nile.

For three decades Piaro has been creating a heritage narrative devotionally and professionally through the lens on the Nile in Egypt. At the turn of the 21st century, she became the first ever female Dahabeya director on the Nile, pioneering thevisually significant Nile Heritage on one of the rarest existing working Dahabeya remaining on the river, dating back to the late 1800s. Previous owners include the celebrated artist Farid Al Atrash, with distinguished guests such as notable members of the Aga Khans family, the current Earl of Carnarvon, and an array of international clientele have sailed the Nile with Piaro.

Message from Operation Smile

A paediatrician’s findings are shared and discussed with the medical mission’s clinical coordinator, paediatric intensivists, and anaesthesiologists to determine if it’s safe for the patient to be put under anaesthesia – the aspect of surgery that presents the most risk in any environment, including the world’s most advanced hospitals.

“By investing in bringing in the full cadre of specialties, local health systems take notice and will aspire toward exceptional patient care. We believe that anything less than excellence is unacceptable,” said Bill Magee, co-founder and CEO of Operation Smile, adding, “In the settings we go into, we know that patients may not have access to the full complement of these specialties, so we’ve always set the stage for excellence – never modelling mediocrity,” stressed Operation Smile’s CEO.

“Why go to these lengths? The answer is simple: our patients deserve it, “says Operation Smile’s website.

Portrait of Karina Piaro, Hypostyle Hall, Karnak Temple, Thebes. Image copyright Karina Piaro-The Niles New Wave

What is Cleft Lip?

The lip forms between the fourth and seventh weeks of pregnancy. As a baby develops during pregnancy, body tissue and special cells from each side of the head grow toward the centre of the face and join together to make the face. This joining of tissue forms the facial features, like the lips and mouth. A cleft lip happens if the tissue that makes up the lip does not join completely before birth. This results in an opening in the upper lip. The opening in the lip can be a small slit or it can be a large opening that goes through the lip into the nose. A cleft lip can be on one or both sides of the lip or in the middle of the lip, which occurs very rarely. Children with a cleft lip also can have a cleft palate.

What is Cleft Palate?

The roof of the mouth (palate) is formed between the sixth and ninth weeks of pregnancy. A cleft palate happens if the tissue that makes up the roof of the mouth does not join together completely during pregnancy. For some babies, both the front and back parts of the palate are open. For other babies, only part of the palate is open.

Researchers believe that most cases of cleft lip and cleft palate are caused by an interaction of genetic and environmental factors. In many babies, a definite cause isn’t discovered.

The mother or the father can pass on genes that cause clefting, either alone or as part of a genetic syndrome that includes a cleft lip or cleft palate as one of its signs. In some cases, babies inherit a gene that makes them more likely to develop a cleft, and then an environmental trigger actually causes the cleft to occur.

Risk factors

Several factors may increase the likelihood of a baby developing a cleft lip and cleft palate, including:

  • Family history:Parents with a family history of cleft lip or cleft palate face a higher risk of having a baby with a cleft.
  • Exposure to certain substances during pregnancy:Cleft lip and cleft palate may be more likely to occur in pregnant women who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol or take certain medications.
  • Having diabetes:There is some evidence that women diagnosed with diabetes before pregnancy may have an increased risk of having a baby with a cleft lip with or without a cleft palate.
  • Being obese during pregnancy:There is some evidence that babies born to obese women may have increased risk of cleft lip and palate.
  • Complications:Children with cleft lip with or without cleft palate face a variety of challenges, depending on the type and severity of the cleft.
  • Difficulty feeding: One of the most immediate concerns after birth is feeding. While most babies with cleft lip can breast-feed, a cleft palate may make sucking difficult.
  • Ear infections and hearing loss:Babies with cleft palate are especially at risk of developing middle ear fluid and hearing loss.
  • Dental problems: If the cleft extends through the upper gum, tooth development may be affected.
  • Speech difficulties:Because the palate is used in forming sounds, the development of normal speech can be affected by a cleft palate. Speech may sound too nasal.
Celebrating Nile Heritage. A late 1880s Dahabeya sets sail on Nile at Thebes. Image copyright Karina Piaro-The Niles New Wave


According to their website, Operation Smile was “founded in 1982 when Dr. William P. Magee, Jr., a plastic surgeon, and his wife, Kathleen, a nurse and clinical social worker, traveled to the Philippines with a group of medical volunteers to repair children’s cleft lips and cleft palates.

What they found was overwhelming. “People pushed their babies at us,” recalls Kathy. “They tugged at our sleeves with tears in their eyes and begged us to help their children.” In Naga City, approximately 300 families arrived hoping their children would receive surgery, but the team could only treat 40 children. As they prepared to leave, the Magees made a promise they would return to help more children.

They began soliciting donations of surgical equipment and supplies from manufacturers, threw themselves into grassroots fundraising, and assembled a volunteer team of 18 doctors, nurses and technicians for their own medical mission to the Philippines. They helped approximately 100 more patients, but again, hundreds still waited.

They saw the need and Operation Smile was born.

How you can help: give a life-changing surgery

According to Operation Smile: “Every 3 minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip or cleft palate. It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.

Your donation today means new smiles…new lives…new futures for children who have waited their entire lives for a life-changing surgery. Please don’t wait. Donate now.


Operation Smile’s “medical programmes are almost entirely volunteer-based, so we rely on medical professionals who can take charge of their roles with confidence, conviction and world-class skill. These traits have made Operation Smile a global leader in performing safe cleft surgery in resource-limited environments for more than three decades. Guided by our Global Standardsof Care, medical volunteers must be able to work as a team to balance the highest possible quality of care, with the efficiency to serve as many patients as our time and resources will allow. This demands stamina – physically, mentally and emotionally – as long hours and a fast pace are expected of our volunteers. Our work also requires travel to locations across the globe, which presents its own set of demands and challenges.”

Child in post-op process at Operation Smile surgical mission in Aswan. Image copyright Karina Piaro-The Niles New Wave

Partner with Operation Smile

Operation Smile aligns with leading global corporations that share their vision of a world where no child suffers from lack of access to safe surgery. Each of their corporate partnerships is customised to form a mutually successful and engaged relationship, based on a shared passion for helping children in need. When Operation Smile partners with businesses, they offer a global presence, brand recognition, and marketing and public relations support. Some of their partners includeJohnson & Johnson Family of Companies,Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals, Exxon Mobil Corp, PayPal Giving Fund, and PepsiCo Inc.

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Egypt to amend 33 articles of those restricting NGOs’ work Tue, 04 Dec 2018 07:00:45 +0000 Committee considered NGOs members’ comments, only few rejected, says Abu Hamed

The post Egypt to amend 33 articles of those restricting NGOs’ work appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt is expected to come up with a new version to the existing non-governmental organisations’ (NGOs) Law, after a year of the government’s silence towards rejections and civil society’s demands.

The controversial law was drafted by the Head of the parliament’s Social Solidarity Committee, Abdel Hady Al-Kasby, and was ratified by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in May 2017, to replace Law 84 of 2002, six months after its approval in parliament.

The law, consisting of 89 articles, was approved, while another draft was sent from the cabinet to the parliament in September, but was not discussed.

The current law gives the government the power to decide on who can establish an NGO and its purpose, obliges groups to stick to the state’s development plans, therefore severely restricting the work they accomplish in the areas which the government does not consider a priority. The law also bans domestic and foreign groups from engaging in political activities, or anything that the government considers a harm to national security, public order, or public morals.

Civil society organisations have long been calling on the government to announce the new law, in order to limit the restrictions to which they are subjected to by government forces, and after a long time of illegally operating. Following court sessions, several activists were accused of illicitly receiving foreign funds, thereby freezing their assets.

Even though the law has been ratified a year ago, the cabinet did not issue a bylaw till our present day. Recently, the president responded to calls to amend the controversial law, and ordered the formation of a committee.

Youstina Tharwat, one of the youths attending the second World Youth Forum, addressed the president by saying, “Civil society organisations’ Law needs your attention and constitutional powers”. The president agreed  with Tharwat, saying that during the time of the law’s issuance, there were some fears which resulted in the presence of some flaws.

Al-Sisi said that there are over 50,000 NGOs and civil society organisations operating in Egypt. He added that NGOs are organisations which the state needs, in order to be able to reach out to, and support all those who are really in need.

On 17 November, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly ordered the formation of a committee in order to oversee the amendment of the NGOs Law. The committee will be headed by Egypt’s Minister of Solidarity, Ghada Wally, who is expected to come up with a comprehensive vision to amend the existing law, and prepare a report with the suggested amendments within a month. The amendments will then be introduced for an open social dialogue, so as to ensure that the new law is satisfactory to everyone.

Previously, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said that MPs were keen on ensuring the law’s transparency, allowing NGOs to be formed by notification, and auditing NGO activities’ should follow international monitoring standards.

What are the main amendments?

Member of The National Council for Human Rights, Hafez Abu Saeeda, stated that the committee will consider a draft law that was submitted by the Supreme Committee of Civil Work, under the decision of former Minister of Social Solidarity, Ahmed El-Borai in 2013.

Abu Saeeda continued in a press statement, “NGOs increase volunteer work, and civil work helps the development of all sectors. We have to adhere to the implementation of the provisions of article 75 of the constitution, to be entirely reflected into the law.”

Abu Saeeda stated that the council issued 20 comments over the NGOs Law, and sent them to the newly-formed committee, explaining that these comments included the abolition of some articles, specifically articles 70 – 77, concerning the work of national authorities regulating NGO activities.

He also added that the comments included a suggestion to remove articles imposing prison sentences as a result of administrative offences, and reduce the fines currently levied, ranging from EGP 500 to EGP 20,000.

The amendments will focus on the articles related to the process of NGOs’ registrations, financial registration and fees, the period granted for approving the establishment of NGOs, NGOs’ necessary licenses, and amending articles that included interference in NGOs’ affairs.

Thirty-three articles will be amended to conform to article 75 of the constitution, which states that “All citizens shall have the right to form non-governmental associations and foundations on a democratic basis, which shall acquire legal personality upon notification. Such associations and foundations shall have the right to practice their activities freely, and administrative agencies may not interfere in their affairs or dissolve them, or dissolve their boards of directors, or boards of trustees, save by a court.”

Meanwhile, the Deputy of the Social Solidarity Committee, Mohamed Abu Hamed, said that the committee considered NGOs’ members’ comments, and only a few of them were rejected for not being suitable with the country’s conditions. Abu Hamed added that among the articles which caused the most controversy over the law was requiring NGOs’ founders to provide a 1% tax on the funds they obtain, a condition that was rejected by many parties.

Regarding the delay of the bylaw issuance, he stated that this came as a result of some state institutions’ vision, asserting that the law should include more facilitation for the organisations by easing the restrictions.

Around 47,000 local associations, and 100 foreign employees in Egypt are required to work under the new law, which is dedicated to regulating the work of civil society organisations. In August 2017, the US decided to reduce $290m of military aid allocated to Egypt, justifying its decision was due to Egypt’s low human rights record, highlighting flaws of the NGOs’ Law. Later in last July, the aid was reinstituted.

Current disputed articles:

Article 8: Related to the establishment of NGOs, and stipulates that an official document on the NGO’s work be submitted, specifying its location. A fee of EGP 10,000 should be paid to launch the NGO, and be presented along with its founders’ criminal records and financial disclosures. Executive regulations may require that more documents are to be submitted.

Article 9:  States that NGOs will only be established after its founder has received approval, and it should not be approved in the event of submitting any inaccurate papers or failing to submit any of the required documents.

Article 19: If any NGO wants to be partners with another organisation, whether local or international, in any civil work that aligns with its purpose, it should first receive a licence from the authorities permitting such work. The Administrative Authority will be responsible for settling the conditions for both NGOs to cooperate.

Article 21: Stipulates that any NGO can relocate its headquarters and open a new office in any governorate, but only following ministerial approval. The NGO must submit documentation which discloses the new headquarters, including any new activities that will be carried out by the NGO in this space.

Article 24: NGOs should notify the administration of any financial grant, and if no response is received within 60 days, that means that the grant has been rejected. On the other hand, the government’s law says that the NGO should seek approval from the coordination committee.

The post Egypt to amend 33 articles of those restricting NGOs’ work appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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“It is more than sexual violence. We are fighting gender-based war,” Egyptian women say Mon, 03 Dec 2018 09:00:20 +0000 50,000 women were killed last year at hands of intimate partners, family members: UN study

The post “It is more than sexual violence. We are fighting gender-based war,” Egyptian women say appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

In order to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a group of Egyptian women spoke out about their experiences and the forms of violence they face, or believe need more attention.

Women in the whole world struggle with various forms of gender-based violence. According to the World Health Organization, one in three women experience either physical or sexual violence, most likely from their intimate partners.

The types of violence do not just include sexual violence (sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape, sexual exploitation) but also forced early marriage, domestic violence, marital rape, trafficking, and female genital mutilation (FGM).

According to the UN, 87% Egyptian girls and women, with ages ranging from 15 to 49, had been subjected to FGM starting from 2015. 

The UN defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.”

Forms of violenceincluded economic, physical, psychological violence, which also have been reported among women and girls. According to a Daily News Egypt’s poll, which included 70 Twitter users, on which of the previous forms of violence is the most prevalent in Egyptian society, 40% of people voted for the sexual violence option, 21% for physical violence, 27% for psychological violence, and 12% voted for economic violence.

Gender-based war

“The first thing comes to my mind when you say violence is how men treat women in a degrading manner in the streets and at work. This is a very violent act,” Evangeline informed DNE. “Even when my male colleagues burden me with more tasks at work based on my gender, it is an act of violence,” she added.   

The young art director said that her male manager is “a mad and abusive man,” adding that he bothers her whenever he gets a chance.

She continued, “He always tries to put me down. He does not come to work so I have to accomplish his tasks. However, this does not satisfy him but makes him angrier.” She added that he sometimes tries to soften things up but eventually returns to his “annoying manners.” 

Evangeline mentioned that a clash between her and her manager recently erupted, after which she was fed up by his behaviour.”He tried to hit me, and insulted and cursed me. However, my colleagues supported me. But they justified his behaviour by saying that when he comes face-to-face with a woman who is more skilled, or smarter than him, he feels his masculinity is threatened.”

Furthermore, Evangeline believes that Egyptian men try at any chance they can to jostle women in lines or streets because they consider them weak. “We are still fighting a gender-based war. They want us to be jailed in our homes. But we will never be imprisoned. We have got some earnings, but the war is still ongoing.”

Moreover, Evangeline said that Egyptian society asks of women to “remain silent because if she speaks up or fights for her rights people consider her ill-mannered.” 

“Men are afraid of their fake positions (in society). They are afraid of women’s success. And if she’s successful in her career this could threaten their position.”

Rape, kidnapping among female refugees living in Egypt

“The term violence” became associated with rape incidents which female refugees are facing inside Egypt,” said Menna, a case manager on gender-based violence for refugees, whose work depends for some time on gender-based violence.

Menna elaborated that, “most cases were rape incidents in the streets, or kidnapping in a microbus or even while at their workplace, as most of them are domestic workers.”

Cases of domestic violence, physical violence, and honour killings are also reported, Menna added.

It is not just sexual violence, they harm you physically

On a daily basis, Egyptian women and girls face distinct forms of sexual violence in the streets of Egypt, in both public and private places, whether in transportation vehicles or in workplaces. It could be verbal or physical harassment, and sometimes escalating all the way to rape. Women are usually blamed by society for being subjected to such acts. They are accused of ‘provoking’ men via their outfits or actions.

“I regularly face sexual violence. A group of young men once passed by me in a car. One of them grabbed my arm and dragged me in the street, I could never forget this,” said Heba, a journalist. 

She said that she regularly faces similar situations, adding that once a sexual harasser threw a burning paper at her handbag. “This also includes verbal harassment, and curses due to your rejected outfit for them,” Heba noted.

“Sexual harassment is not just about touching your body without your permission, or bothering you in the street. They intended to harm you physically,” Heba concluded. 

“He punches me in the face over a car accident” 

“Five years ago, I had a car accident as my car collided with another one. The car’s male driver got out of his vehicleand started shouting at me. He cursed me and opened my car as he wanted to take my keys by force. He then punched me in my face,” Shereen recalled.

“I cried and screamed and people gathered to urge him to file a report at a police station, they said: you do not have the right to hit her,” Shereen said.

However, she noted that she also filled a report over what he did, but nothing happened. “We paid him money for his car repair, but for me, nothing happened. He was not punished for what he did. And it took a month to recover from my severe injury,” Shereen concluded.

Egyptian women drivers reported they face struggles on a daily basis in the streets, as male drivers consider them ‘less skilled’ than them because they are females.

“I always face difficult situations while driving in Cairo, from male drivers or the valet parking guards who are responsible for parking in streets. They force you to pay money in order to allow you to park your car.  If you refuse they could smash your car,” said Sarah. “I always think, if I was not a woman, would they behave the same way?”

About 87,000 women lost their lives in homicides

The UN’s recent study in 2018 issued on the IDEVW, disclosed in a stark finding, a new report has unveiled that globally some 50,000 women were killed last year at the hands of intimate partners or family members, urging greater coordination between police, justice, and social systems to better protect women and girls.

Globally, about 87,000 women lost their lives in homicides (intentional killings) in 2017, according to the global study on homicide: the gender-related killing of women and girls, issued by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

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Hope for Yemen talks amid US-disputed military support for Saudi Arabia Sun, 02 Dec 2018 10:30:45 +0000 Fighting continues as coalition faces mounting pressure

The post Hope for Yemen talks amid US-disputed military support for Saudi Arabia appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

A UN-brokered summit in Sweden is in preparation to be held in the coming week, prospects for which are unknown amid a disastrous inconclusive war in Yemen.

UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock arrived in the capital Sana’a on Thursday, from where he expressed concern over the deteriorating humanitarian situation, and called on parties to end the fighting.

Delegations from both sides, Houthis and Abdel Rabu Mansour Hadi, have been reported to attend the summit. 

However, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday played down hopes for an imminent breakthrough on ending Yemen’s brutal war, AFP reported.

“I don’t want to raise expectations too high, but we are working hard in order to ensure that we can still start meaningful peace talks this year,” he said ahead of the G20 summit in Argentina. “But, as you know, there have been some setbacks,” he said, pointing in part to Saudi Arabia’s concerns over continued rocket attacks by the Houthis.

Since March 2015, a Saudi-led coalition comprised of Arab states has been at war with Iranian-backed Houthis over power in Yemen.

This comes as fighting continues and has escalated since the coalition launched an offensive attack agaist the port city of Hudaydeh, driving thousands of people out of the area.

According to the UN Human Rights Office, at least 6,660 civilians were killed and 10,563 were injured between March 2015 and August 2018, yet real figures are estimated to be higher.

Humanitarian crisis and coalition responsibility

“Fighting continues in eastern and southern areas of al Hudaydah. The main road to Sana’a remains inaccessible to humanitarian partners due to fighting,” UNICEF said in its latest report in September.

Over 85,000 children have died because of a war-induced famine since the beginning of the war, and millions are at risk of starvation.

The UN has described the war in Yemen as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. “As the conflict enters its fourth year, more than 22 million people – three-quarters of the population – need humanitarian aid and protection,” Secretary-General António Guterres remarked in an April donor conference in Geneva.

In August, the UN panel of experts issued a 40-page detailed report, mandated by the UN Human Rights Council, to carry out a comprehensive examination of the human rights situation in the country. 

“Among their conclusions, the experts say individuals in the government of Yemen and the coalition, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, and the de facto authorities have committed acts that may, subject to determination by an independent and competent court, amount to international crimes,” the report said.

It noted that coalition air strikes have caused most direct civilian casualties by hitting residential areas, markets, funerals, weddings, detention facilities, civilian boats, and even medical facilities. 

“There is little evidence of any attempt by parties to the conflict to minimise civilian casualties. I call on them to prioritise human dignity in this forgotten conflict,” said Kamel Jendoubi, chairperson of the Group of International and Regional Eminent Experts on Yemen.   

Along came the Khashoggi case for Saud Arabia

The outbreak of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder inside his consulate in Turkey led to an increase in the criticism of the kingdom over the Yemeni war, and the dire humanitarian situation.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, whom according to a leaked CIA report is believed to have ordered the killing, is making his first international appearance this week in the G20 summit in Argentina under global scrutiny, as questions soar over how world leaders will handle his presence.

The crown prince last week visited with regional allies, or “brotherly countries” as described by Saudi officials, including the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt, where he received a warm welcome. But in his last stop, Tunisia, organised protests decried the recklessness of bin Salman’s policies, citing “crimes against humanity” in Yemen.

In Tunisia and in Argentina prosecutors are also separately looking into bringing charges against the crown prince over crimes in Yemen, seeking to invoke international jurisdiction.

However, besides supporters among Arab countries, bin Salman enjoys the support of the administration of US President Donald Trump on the Khashoggi case.

“King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman vigorously deny any knowledge of the planning or execution of the murder […] but it could very well be that the crown prince had knowledge of this tragic event – maybe he did and maybe he didn’t!” Trump remarked in a 20 November statement signalling support for the kingdom.

Vague US position

After the Khashoggi case, ethical questions intensified in the US about supporting the kingdom, especially in the Yemen war.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate voted to advance a resolution that would end all US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen by an overwhelming majority.

Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to convince senators to do the opposite in a briefing before the vote, despite having previously showed interest in a ceasefire in Yemen, and encouraged political talks expected in Sweden.

“The suffering in Yemen grieves me, but if the United States of America was not involved in Yemen, it would be a hell of a lot worse. What would happen if the US withdrew from the Yemen effort? Guess what: The war wouldn’t end,” The National quoted Pompeo as saying on Wednesday.

In a commentary to the Wall Street Journal, he argued that American politicians have and are still using the “kingdom’s human-rights record to call for the alliance’s downgrading.” He added: “But degrading US-Saudi ties would be a grave mistake for the national security of the US and its allies.”

Saudi Arabia would gladly withdraw from Yemen if the Iranians would agree to leave,” Trump also said in his November statement.



  • 79% of the population is poor compared to 49% in 2017
  • GDP per capita has declined 61% in the last three years

People in Need

  • 75% of the population, 22 million people, need some form of humanitarian assistance and protection

Food Security

  • 60% of the population, 18 million people, are food insecure
  • 8.4 million people do not know how they will obtain their next meal


  • Less than 50% of health facilities are functioning
  • 18% of districts have no doctors
  • 56% of the population, 16 million people, do not have regular access to basic health care

Water and sanitation

  • 55% of the population, 16 million people, do not have regular access to safe water and basic hygiene
  • 73% of the population does not have access to piped drinking water


  • 25% of population, 7.5 million people, need nutrition support, and 50% of all children are stunted
  • 2.9 million children and women are acutely malnourished; the number of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition has increased 90% in the last three years


  • 48% of women are illiterate
  • 25% of children are out of school
  • 11% of schools are destroyed or used for other purposes


  • 72% of girls are married before the age of 18
  • 44% of marriages in hard-hit districts involve girls under the age of 15
  • Less than 50% of births are attended by skilled health personnel


  • Two million people are displaced, 76% are women and children
  • One million people have returned to their home areas


  • 1.25 million civil servants are not receiving salaries
  • Basic food prices have increased 98% and fuel 110% in the last three years
  • In hard-hit areas unemployment rates are as high as 50%

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UAE, Egypt’s strategic ally for 47 years Sun, 02 Dec 2018 07:00:38 +0000 Egypt enjoys diversified sturdy relations with UAE, trade exchange with UAE hikes by 6.5%

The post UAE, Egypt’s strategic ally for 47 years appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt’s relations with its strategic ally, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), date back to 1971, when a federation was created between seven Emirates, currently the United Arab Emirates. Recent years have witnessed close coordination between the two countries on key regional issues such as the Palestinian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Libyan, Yemeni, and Syrian matters as well as combating terrorism and extremism.

The UAE’s support to Egypt since the June 30 revolution increased the Egyptian state’s capability to confront internal and external challenges. The UAE also backed the Egyptian economy after the decision to float the pound, as the UAE deposited $1bn in the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for a period of six years, to sustain the Egyptian exchange market.

On 2 December, the UAE celebrates its National Day which marks the country’s Union Day between the seven emirates of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman, Fujairah, and Umm al-Quwain in 1971. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan was the country’s first president. On the occasion of the UAE’s National Day, Daily News Egypt is honoured to issue a special coverage concerning the joint relations to shed light of several aspects of cooperation.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a strategic partner of Egypt and one of the Gulf countries that supported President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi since he took power in June 2014. On several occasions, Egypt’s President, reiterated his country’s readiness to confront any aggression if the security of the Arab Gulf is exposed to any threat, which confirms both countries’ sturdy relations.

Egypt’s diversified relations with the UAE include business, trade, military, and political aspects. The Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) statistics illustrate that Egypt’s trade exchange with the UAE increased by 6.5% during fiscal year (FY) 2017/18 up to $5.822bn from $5.815 in FY 2016/17.

Ambassador Gamal Bayoumi, former assistant minister of foreign affairs and secretary general of the Arab Investors Union, said, “Egypt is the oldest Arab country and the Emirates is one of the newly independent Arab countries, however, both countries enjoy high-levels of bilateral relations.”

Egypt has notably solid relations with the Arab Gulf states, particularly with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, stated Bayoumi, adding, “Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan established remarkably sturdy relations with Egypt. He was the UAE’s Godfather sand ruler of Abu Dhabi for 38 years. He is the founding father and the principal driving force behind the formation of the UAE.”

UAE main economic, trade, investment partner

The UAE is one of the biggest investors in Egypt, while the trade exchange is high, according to Bayoumi, who called for increased efforts to boost Egypt’s exports to the UAE, as there exists a significant opportunity for further exports.

Egypt’s imports from UAE reached $3.311bn in FY 2017/18 in comparison with $2.920bn in FY 2016/17, declared the statistics, while Egypt’s exports to UAE decreased to $2.512bn in FY 2017/18 in comparison with $2.896bn in FY 2016/17.

Youmn Al-Hamakki, an economic expert, informed Daily News Egypt that Egypt’s economic cooperation with UAE is at the highest level, noting, “the UAE is the first Arab country importing Egypt’s exports. It is one of the main trade and investment partners.”

In October, Egyptian media reported that EgyptAir signed a a partnership agreement contract with the UAE-based KMK Investment and the US-based Safe Ports Holdings to establish a logistics village at Cairo International Airport.

The deal comes as part of the civil aviation ministry’s development strategy, led by Minister Younis El Masry, as per the reports, adding that in line with the deal, Emirati KMK Investment will be responsible for funding, building, and running the village, in addition to supervising EgyptAir projects for transporting goods and exports, in collaboration with the American Safe Ports Holdings.

The UAE hosts quite a respectable number of Egyptian expatriates, which lens an extra advantage to the joint relations, said Al-Hamakki, affirming the importance of Egyptian expats’ remittances towards supporting Egypt’s economic external position.

Remittances from Egyptian expatriates rose by 1.5% during the first quarter of FY 2018/19, reaching $5.9 bn, compared to $5.8 bn in the same quarter of FY 2017/18, according to the CBE on 18 November.

Remittances are one of Egypt’s main foreign currency sources, which have been on the rise since Egypt floated its local currency in November 2016.

Egypt the UAE are in complete coordination with one another regarding their regional views and foreign policies, Al-Hamakki noted, adding, “both countries have similar views on the issues in Yemen, Syria, Palestine as well as Qatar.”

In June 2017, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt severed ties with Qatar, and imposed a complete blockade on Doha, accusing it of “supporting terrorism.” Qatar vehemently denied the allegations.

13 bilateral visits, 8 of them by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed to Egypt

Egypt received the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, about eight times since June 2014 while President Al-Sisi visited the UAE about five times.

“If the Gulf security witnesses any danger or threat from any side, the entire Egyptian population, not only the president, will agree to send forces to repel aggression and support our brothers,” the Egyptian President said in November during the secondWorld Youth Forum, further asserting that, “Egypt will not accept any aggression against Arab national security.”

In August 2018, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed landed in Cairo, beginning his official visit to Egypt. He was welcomed at Cairo International Airport by Egyptian President Al-Sisi.

“The UAE and Egypt are united by a long-standing historical relationship which is constantly growing ever stronger,” Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed said in a statement on Twitter. “We stand together firmly against all attempts to interfere in the internal affairs of the Arab region or to undermine its security and stability.”

In February 2018, Al-Sisi visited the UAE, Abu Dhabi, where he discussed bilateral relations, regional and international issues of mutual concern.

In September 25, 2017, President Al-Sisi paid a two-day visit to the UAE, in order to discuss bilateral and regional issues, particularly the situation in the Gulf region. Furthermore, President Al-Sisi visited the UAE on 3 May 2017, for two days to boost economic ties. On 1 December2016, Al-Sisi visited Abu Dhabi once again. 

On 27 October 2015, Al-Sisi visited the UAE, and was received by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. On 22 July 2017, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Egypt to participate in the inauguration of the Mohammed Najib Military Base in Al Hammam City, west of Alexandria, the largest military base in the Middle East and Africa.

On 10 November 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Egypt. On 21 April 2016, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan visited Egypt and returned again on 22 May 2016, as well as on 16 June 2017, where he was received by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

On 17 September 2014, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi received Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE’s Armed Forces and Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at the presidential headquarters in Heliopolis.

On 7 June 2014, Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, arrived in Cairo to attend the inauguration ceremony of Egyptian President Al-Sisi at Al Ittihadiya presidential palace.

The UAE also supported the Egyptian economy after the decision to float the pound as Dubai Port World, the largest port company in the world, started on February 1 2016 to deal with dollars on land services provided to owners and recipients of goods, instead of dealing with the Egyptian pound. 

The UAE deposited a $1bn in the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for a period of six years to buttress the Egyptian exchange market.

Military activities

On 14 March 2017, Egypt’s armed forces and their UAE counterparts continued the activities of the Zayed 2 joint military exercise, which comes by virtue of of the annual joint exercises between the two countries.

The military exercise comes against the backdrop of the distinctive relations binding Cairo and the UAE. Ground forces, marine units, and air forces from the both sides participated in the military drills. The exercises showed that the armed forces in both countries have personal and technical capabilities that would enable them to confront any dangers which could pose a threat to the security and stability in Egypt and the UAE.

March 2014 witnessed the end of the military training between Egypt and the UAE to augment the historical and strategic relations between the two countries.

The joint military training included three phases starting with the arrival of the Egyptian forces in the UAE, followed by specialised training and practical exercises using live ammunition, Mirage 2000 jets, fighter jets, and warships. In addition, artillery units and attack helicopters were deployed as well as marines, special forces, and paratroopers.

The training was attended by the UAE’s Vice President and Prime Minister Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces Sheikh Mohammad bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the at the time Egypt’s Minister of Defence Field Marshal Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, and Saudi Deputy Minister of Defence Emir Salman bin Sultan bin Abdel Aziz.

The military attachés of the two countries are following-up on the military affairs and cooperation.

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The years-long tale of going after Mubarak wealth Sun, 25 Nov 2018 10:41:41 +0000 After the revolution, a new goal appeared: restoring that money, with the illusion of distributing that money to the people, plus some calculating each person’s share in the wealth estimated at the time to be between $40 to $70bn

The post The years-long tale of going after Mubarak wealth appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egyptians took the streets in January 2011 to protest against policies of former president Hosni Mubarak. They resented him and his family over their inflated wealth and widespread corruption.

After Mubarak resigned on 11 February that year, revolutionaries wanted to see him held accountable for his regime’s crimes over 30 years and the killing of protesters.

While Mubarak and his men walked free of these charges, revolutionaries still rejoiced when a court convicted him and his sons of corruption, giving them prison terms in a case of embezzling state funds intended to renovate presidential palaces.

After the revolution, a new goal appeared: restoring that money, with the illusion of distributing that money to the people, plus some calculating each person’s share in the wealth estimated at the time to be between $40 to $70bn.

Exaggerated or not, in other estimates that fortune was established at $700bn, worth of cash, gold and other state-owned valuables, according to a document reported by The Washington Post in 2011.

Activists called him a thief, as dozens if international media reports discussed how the former president accumulated his fortune by encouraging corruption, which left the people in poverty and despair.

In one report by Deutsche Welle in February 2011, experts tried to trace the wealth of Mubarak, his wife Suzanne and his sons Alaa and Gamal. They argued that most of the wealth was obtained through illegal means such as cheap selling of state-owned lands, therefore there was little official records on that.

The report presented two main ideas. The first was that most of the funds were abroad, most famously Swiss banks. The second was that an official request by the Egyptian government, when he was no longer in power, would be the only way for banks to freeze the accounts of Mubarak and his family.

In the following seven years, at least five committees were formed to restore Mubarak funds from abroad but with no results. They included one formed in 2011 by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, one under the rule of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi, and one by former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb in 2014. President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi formed a new committee in 2015, headed by the Egyptian Prosecutor-General.

Following the issue between 2013 and 2016, Al-Ahram Weekly’s Hayat Hussein predicted that hopes of recovering assets smuggled out of Egypt were dim. According to Hussein, these hopes “received a further blow” when the Swiss Attorney-General visited Egypt in 2016, and insisted that Egyptian courts would have to prove the money stashed in Swiss banks was obtained illegally in order to move forward with its restitution.

EU Court upholds freeze on Mubarak assets

On Thursday, the General Court of the European Union (EU) upheld a 2011 decision by the Council of the EU to freeze the assets of the Mubarak family.

“That decision, which was renewed in the years following 2011, concerns, inter alia, Ms Suzanne Saleh Thabet, the wife of the former Egyptian President Mr Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, their sons, and their sons’ wives, on the ground that they are subject to judicial proceedings initiated by the Egyptian authorities for misappropriation of State funds,” the court said in a statement.

The court further responded to challenges presented by the concerned individuals, in which they asked for the annulment of the acts renewing the freezing of their assets, questioning their legal basis.

Rejecting their claims, the court argued the “restrictive measures must, in principle, be maintained until the conclusion of the judicial proceedings in Egypt.” It added that it found no reason to believe the individuals’ rights were compromised by Egypt’s political and judicial systems and therefore will continue to cooperate with Egyptian authorities.

On 21 March 2011, the council issued its decision, citing “readiness to support the peaceful and orderly transition to a civilian and democratic government in Egypt, based on the rule of law, with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and to support efforts to create an economy which enhances social cohesion and promotes growth.”

Swiss authorities: from cooperation to abandonment

Since 2011, Swiss authorities froze an estimated CHF 650m ($664m) smuggled out of Egypt during Mubarak’s era to Switzerland, and began investigations into the funds of a dozen people including Mubarak.

In 2016, Swiss Attorney-General Michael Lauber visited Egypt to examine the latest developments in ongoing criminal proceedings. By then, about CHF 180m had been unblocked since 2011.

While six out of 13 people were still being investigated by Swiss authorities for money laundering or supporting a criminal organisation with frozen assets amounting to nearly $418m, the Swiss government was to re-examine the extension of the freeze the following year.

In August 2017, Swiss authorities informed the Egyptian Prosecutor General that it was ceasing mutual legal efforts over the charges for lack of results.

In a statement on October 2017, the independent Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said, “despite the opening of criminal investigations in Switzerland and Egypt, it appears that the confiscation of this money is increasingly unlikely.”

Not only Mubarak: how the Egyptian state dealt with stolen funds

Money and assets belonging to Mubarak, his family, grandsons and extended family were not the only country’s stolen funds. More than a dozen Mubarak-era ministers and businessmen were brought to trial after the revolution and their assets were frozen.

The EU Council’s decision to freeze assets in overseas territories included a list of 18 people besides Mubarak. His wife, sons and their wives were among them. There were also ministers, their wives and children.

A 2012 article published by the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt on its website documented the situation back then: “After a year and a half of investigation, the government has identified some $10bn in overseas assets held by 45 families with ties to Mubarak, says Ahmed Saad, a senior counsellor with Egypt’s Illicit Gains Authority,” the article read.

It added that no money has been repatriated, and highlighted public discontent over the “slow rate of return” by those who seek justice, but are also “looking to the funds as a quick salve for Egypt’s battered economy.”

But despite court cases and collected documents, revelations on corruption means could still not fully expose the amounts of stolen funds.

The fortunes of business tycoons were subject of extensive investigations too, including fugitive Salah Salem and Ahmed Ezz, among others, who have sought to clear their names and obtain legal immunity through an Egyptian adopted reconciliation law in 2015, by which they could return a sum of money to the state and not be prosecuted for corruption in return.

In 2016, a judicial source announced that the Egypt’s government has officially concluded a reconciliation deal with Salem to drop charges against him in exchange for the business mogul giving up EGP 5.3bn (approx. $596.5m). This figure accounts for 75% of his assets inside and outside Egypt, according to state-owned website Ahram online.

In March this year, Prosecutor-General Nabil Sadek declared that Ezz would pay LE 1.7bn, of which LE 600,000m were already recovered from abroad, as part of a reconciliation deal.

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Palermo summit on Libya yields uncertainty over joint effort for solution Sun, 18 Nov 2018 09:00:48 +0000 Al-Sisi among few country leaders to attend, summit conclusions support unified military dialogue hosted by Egypt

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After an anticipated two-day high-profile summit held in mid-November in Palermo, Italy, disputed opinions erupted on whether it was able to advance constructive solutions to the Libyan crisis. News on who attended and who walked out also overshadowed the political gathering, highlighting divisions.

Italy and the UN praised the conference’s success in bringing Libyan and international leaders together, and maintaining a political solution which would include holding a constitutional referendum and presidential elections in 2019—a plan that the UN initially intended to complete this year but was stalled due to ongoing violence.

Prime minister of the internationally recognised Libyan government, Fayez Al-Sarraj, and army commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar attended, although news on the latter’s participation remained confusing until he showed up on Monday but decided to only take part in side-line meetings.

One Tuesday meeting hosted by Italy Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte was attended by UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame; Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev; Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi; Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi; EU Council President Donald Tusk; French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and Algerian Premier Ahmed Ouyahia.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Head of the High Council of State (HCS) Khalid Al-Mishri and President of the House of Representatives (HoR) Aqeela Saleh were in Palermo too, as well as EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, while Western leaders such as US President Donald Trump, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have given the conference a miss.

A statement released by the Italian government on the conclusions of the conference said participants reaffirmed their strong and unequivocal commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya, refuting a military solution to the crisis.

Yet, the conference revealed internal and international divisions on the Libyan file. The situation will continue to unfold in a Libyan-led inclusive national conference to be held in the first weeks of 2019 in Libya, called for by Salame.

Palermo conclusions in points

  • Recalling the Libyan Political Agreement signed in December 2015 as the only viable framework to pursue the stability of Libya
  • Reaffirming full support for the UN action plan for Libya and Salame’s efforts
  • Underlined the importance of concluding the subsequent constitutional framework and electoral process by spring 2019
  • Pledged to actively support the outcomes of the national conference and to exert pressure on the concerned leaders and institutions to implement them without delay
  • Adopt the referendum law
  • Respect the results of the elections when they take place
  • Agreed to support all efforts against terrorism and recalled the sacrifices made by all Libyan parties in this fight
  • Expressed support to the Egyptian-led dialogue in building unified military institutions, under civilian authority
  • Reiterated the international community’s readiness to take targeted sanctions against those who violate the ceasefire in Tripoli
  • Stressed the need to step up coordination of regional and international efforts to tackle the common migration challenge
  • Commitment to further comprehensive monetary and subsidy reforms based on the road map presented in Palermo
  • Implement the agreement on the terms of reference for the financial review of the Central Bank of Libya and its eastern parallel branch, and to work toward the reunification of the economic institutions, through UNSMIL-facilitated dialogue

Palermo and internal reactions

Al-Sarraj and Haftar met on Tuesday, Reuters reported, as a photo of a handshake between the two circulated. After the meeting, Salame told reporters that Haftar was committed to the political process. Media also cited sources from the meeting stating that Haftar accepted that Sarraj stays in power until the elections.

The second Deputy Head of the High Council of State Fawzi Al-Oqab said the Palermo Conference for Libya “did not bring about results but concluded with frustrating and disappointing facts,” The Libya Observer reported on Thursday. He expressed disappointment at the lack of national will to avoid chaos and suffering in addition to a sense that “Libyans don’t own their political process.”

In a video interview, Al-Mishri said he discussed certain issues with Saleh and hopes to have him in Tripoli soon.

Meanwhile, Jibril Oheida, member of parliament, said that the engagement of the HoR in discussing the two most important files, the economy and security arrangements, which Sarraj’s government has been working on since the recent security events in Tripoli, is another indication of Aqailah’s recognition of Sarraj, the Libya Observer reported.

He pointed out that the meeting between Al-Sarraj and Khalifa Haftar in Palermo confirms that the agreement between the HoR and the HCS to replace the presidential council has become ‘obsolete’ and that Sarraj will remain in power with the support of the international community, the report added.

Rival stances by regional, international players

Competition between France and Italy on handling the Libyan file has topped media coverage of the Palermo conference, suggesting Italy sought European and international recognition of its managing role, against the backdrop of French efforts which gathered Libya’s factions.

In May, a Paris meeting that included Al-Sarraj and Haftar concluded with a declaration that remained unsigned by the parties who agreed to its principles, including holding elections in December 2018.

Mogherini stressed upon EU presence in Palermo “to support the Libyans – our Libyan friends that we have been supporting over all of these years with not only political support and security work and cooperation, but also with more than €370 million in support of the Libyan people.”

In a statement on 13 November at the conclusion of the Palermo conference, the US Department of State said it welcomed the suggestions announced by the Italian government, particularly endorsing Salame’s action plan.

Expressing ‘deep appreciation’ for the Italian government for hosting the conference, the statement asserted the US’s willingness to support economic dialogue in coordination with the UN Support Mission for Libya (UNSMIL), the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.

“We also commend SRSG Salamé’s leadership in de-escalating violence in Tripoli and the UNSMIL’s ongoing partnership with the government of national accord to put in place more durable security arrangements for the Libyan capital,” it added.

With both US and Russian presidents’ no-show in Palermo, Russian senior representatives participated in talks on Libya, affirming their country’s position in favour of overcoming inter-Libyan disagreements along the lines of a broad national dialogue in the interests of ensuring the unity, territorial integrity, and state sovereignty of Libya, reports citing the Russian foreign ministry said. Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Mikhail Bogdanov met with Mishri.

“Over the last few weeks, apart from the usual Syrian track, Libya has dominated Russia’s Middle Eastern agenda,” Al-Monitor reported, recalling Haftar’s visit to Moscow earlier in November, where he held talks with Russian Défense Minister Sergei Shoigu and the head of the general staff of the Russian army, Valery Gerasimov. The report tackled different aspects of Russian sought influence in Libya. 

In an analysis prior to the conference, the Atlantic Council had pointed out that US interests would have an upper hand on the Libyan situation over Russia, Qatar, and Turkey.

These two other regional presences at Palermo soon became subjects of controversy. Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and Turkish Vice-President Fuat Oktay went to Palermo.

On the sidelines of the conference Italy’s Premier, Giuseppe Conte, hosted a high-level summit. He said it was intended to “support ending the armed conflicts and help Libya stabilise”.

As Turkey was left out of the meeting, Oktay stormed out of the international conference. “Turkey is leaving the conference with deep disappointment,” he added, stressing that what Libya needs for stability is “less foreign intervention, not more,” the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Conte also reportedly commented his regret that Oktay left the conference. “I read his remarks and I didn’t see anything negative about Italy. We must admit that there may be special sensitivities in such decisions,” Conte said according to the Hurriyet.

Media reported that Al-Mishri explained Al-Sisi’s rejection of the Turkish delegation’s attendance of the closed meetings.

For his part, Al-Sisi stressed the need to reach a comprehensive solution in Libya which shall be spearheaded and implemented by all Libyans, and be based on implementing the political agreement on Libya, a presidential statement said.

The Egyptian president expressed support to UN-led efforts for a comprehensive political settlement, and said that Egypt sought to unify the military institution in Libya out of its conviction in the importance of providing a security infrastructure that is commensurate with the political settlement, the statement added.

This comes as the LNA spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mismari told Sky News Arabia that Qatar and Turkey were defending the interests of terrorist groups.

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Terrorism in the US; gun uncontrol Sun, 11 Nov 2018 11:00:38 +0000 Over 12,000 people killed by firearms, 307 mass shootings in 2018 in US

The post Terrorism in the US; gun uncontrol appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Telemachus Orfanos, 27, was all over the media as news of a mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks, north-west of Los Angeles, broke out late Wednesday night. Orfanos was killed alongside 11 others. Last year, he survived a similar attack in Las Vegas which killed over 50 people.

“I don’t want prayers, I don’t want thoughts. I want gun control,” said his outraged mother in a video interview.

A gunman identified as a 28-year-old former US marine Ian David Long, opened fire at the bar. Officials said he was allegedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD for short. He served in Afghanistan from November 2010 to June 2011, officials said, and was found dead at the scene, the BBC reported.

The recent tragedy comes less than two weeks after nearly a dozen people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting on 27 October. The assailant was reported to have insulted Jews before opening fire, an attack described as one of the deadliest against the Jewish community in the US.

Robert Bowers, 46, was arrested at the scene and accused of the heinous killings in a 44-count indictment which included charges of hate crimes. According to USA Today, he pleaded ‘not guilty’ during a brief arraignment in federal court, where prosecutors emphasised, he faces the possibility of the death penalty.

Some survivors said they have been using the bar as a safe place to meet since the Vegas massacre. “Borderline was our safe space,” Brendan Kelly, who survived both attacks, told ABC News. “It was our home for the probably 30 or 45 of us who are all from the greater Ventura County area who were in Vegas.”

Stephen Craig Paddock, 64, had opened fire on a crowd on some 20,000 people attending the Route 91 Harvest Festival, from a hotel room inside the Mandalay Bay resort. He killed himself before SWAT officers could enter his room.

Meanwhile, Long was killed at the bar. “It’s a horrific incident,” Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean told the media after the Thousand Oaks shooting. “It’s part of the horrors that are happening in our country and everywhere.” Authorities have not determined the motive behind the attack, but accounted for the shooter’s unstable mental condition.

Washington-based non-profit corporation Gun Violence Archive counted at least 307 mass shooting incidents in the US in 2018. More than 12,500 people including some 3,000 children and teens were killed this year in gun-related crimes.

None of the perpetrators have faced terrorism charges, nor were the attacks they carried out were labelled as acts of terrorism. The US-based Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI) has a data-driven map counting terrorist attacks worldwide in 2018, established at 1,234 attacks, with 6,252 fatalities. Numbers and casualties resulting from gun violence in the US remain higher. The ESRI has only included the Pittsburgh synagogue attack among terrorist incidents.

American youth fight for gun control

On 24 March 2018, hundreds of thousands of students rallied in Washington and across the US against gun violence. The movement was planned by student survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Parkland shooting in Florida on Valentine’s Day which left 17 dead.

“Though Washington hosted the main event, more than 800 sister marches were held across the country, from Boston to Los Angeles, and around the world. Students, teachers, parents, survivors of school shootings, and celebrities took their defiant message against gun violence and the gun lobby to the seats of power,” CNN reported at the time.

Students as young as 11-year-old Naomi Wadler gave the most powerful and heart-breaking speeches the world watched.

“As a nation, we continue to witness tragedy after tragedy, yet our politicians remain complacent. The Parkland students, along with young leaders of all backgrounds from across the country, refuse to accept this passivity and demand direct action to combat this epidemic,” the movement’s mission statement declared.

“Gun violence does not always look the same; this issue includes mass shootings, suicides, domestic abuse, violence on our streets, and more,” the movement, which continues tour campaigning, added.

A total of at least 65 shootings took place on school campuses throughout the US in 2018, according to monitor groups, although not all incidents resulted in casualties, yet dozens of students and people were killed and injured. Several incidents involved armed students.

Donald Trump’s stance

Trump mourned the victims of the Thousand Oaks shooting in a Twitter statement on 8 November and praised police action, receiving hundreds of replies with calls for gun control measures.

In a video interview following the Pittsburgh synagogue incident, Trump blamed it on security protection inside the temple, and advocated toughening up laws to deliver death penalties to shooters of innocent people.

But, asked whether the shooting would be an opportunity to revisit gun laws, Trump said “this [violence] has little to do with [that].”

Also addressing the public after the Parkland school massacre, Trump asserted his administration was working closely with authorities to investigate the shooting and help secure the schools and “tackle the different issues of mental health.”

Yet gun control measures were not among the things Trump mentioned, as he insisted priority be given to make schools safer.

The Parkland shooting sparked media to highlight the National Rifle Association’s (NRA) support to Trump’s election campaign spending about $11m, in addition to supporting legislators. It reportedly also spent millions in advertisements against Democrats.

New congressional promises of action on gun control

Hopes for action are being renewed in light of last week’s midterm elections which brought a Democrats majority in the House of Representatives.

According to CNBC, gun control proponents outnumbered gun rights advocates. “The new majority includes dozens of candidates who support gun control, including Lucy McBath in Georgia, whose 17-year-old son was fatally shot in 2012, and who made gun violence the centrepiece of her campaign,” the report said, citing some supporters among 17-newly elected House Democrats who back stricter gun laws.

However, The Guardian noted that the Republican-controlled Senate is likely to block “even moderate, bipartisan gun control measures from becoming law,” quoting Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell as saying on Friday “it’s highly unlikely there will be restrictions passed.”

In 2016, the Senate rejected restrictions on gun sales, despite the fact that one of the deadliest shooting in US modern history had taken place on 12 June at an Orlando gay night club killing 49 people.

California has the strictest gun laws in the US. However, in many attacks, including this week’s shooting, firearms were reported to have been acquired legally in California.

Still, Senator Dianne Feinstein upheld her pro-gun control stance. “Some will say California’s strong gun laws didn’t prevent this shooting, but without stronger federal gun regulations, there’s little California can do to keep guns coming in from other states,” Feinstein said in a statement on 8 November.

Feinstein added that while Republicans would argue that gun policies shouldn’t be debated after mass shootings, advocating the opposite argument that these are the best times to discuss them as to reduce the frequency of these murders.

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Mortgage finance fund, best answer to overcome deceleration in real estate market: developers Wed, 07 Nov 2018 07:00:43 +0000 Next year will witness major changes in real estate market, focused primarily on categorising serious, committed developers, capable of managing variables imposed upon them during next stage

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Although the government has so far provided approximately EGP 17.5bn as mortgage funds to serve 200,000 clients, real estate developers are unsatisfied regarding the state’s conduct regarding this issue.

Additionally, the real estate mortgage finance portfolio of 11 companies operating in the Egyptian market reached EGP 9bn by the end of the first quarter (Q1) of the current year, compared to EGP 8.47bn in December 2017—an increase of EGP 554.5m.

Developers believe that promoting mortgage finance systems is the best and ideal method to revive real estate sales and avoid a recession in the market.

Managing Director (MD) and Board Member of Tatweer Misr, Ahmed Shalaby, expected that the market would witness a hiatus in sales during the coming phase, especially with the continued focus on a specific residential segment, in addition to the lasting stability of customers’ purchasing power.

Shalaby added that real estate companies have played their role during the previous spell, apropos economic and market variables and maintaining market operations, which may discontinue in the event of new reforms, as these companies have a financial solvency which must be maintained, so providing any new arrangements linked to company’s capital must have limitations in order for the company to be able to remain in the market.

The government must reconsider the mortgage financing system, which currently is the most prominent option to reinvigorate sales operations in the real estate market, indicated Tatweer Misr’s MD.

ARCO’s CEO Ayman Ibrahim noted that the mortgage finance rate is rather limited, and that it must be changed. Naturally, it is not less than 90% of the total customer numbers—as in the rest of the world—and the government must compensate the interest in mortgage financing, clarifying that there are international mortgage finance benchmarks which can be applied.

Next year will witness major changes in the real estate market, focused primarily on categorising serious and committed developers, who are capable of managing the variables that will be imposed upon them by the market during the next stage, Ibrahim elaborated,

Companies which have a solid financial solvency will survive, through which they will provide payment periods and a unique payment systems for their customers to encourage them to take a purchasing decision, stressed ARCO’s CEO.

Amlak Finance and Real Estate Investment’s CEO, Hatem Amer, said that the real estate mortgage sector is facing certain challenges, including the lack of awareness among Egyptians about the importance of real estate funding.

Amer added that the CBE’s initiative to support mortgage finance has succeeded in increasing the spread of mortgage finance, noting, “The increase in interest rates is another challenge to mortgage finance, especially after the raises in the value of the interest rate in the past period, which negatively affected the sector.”

Premium Assets for investment and Real Estate CEO, Riad Eladly, said that the shortage of affordable residential units created a upswing of illegal construction, without government permits during the past three years.

Eladly elaborated that the complication mortgage finance law forced some people to purchase units at low prices in some informal areas, however, if the government provides an affordable mortgage finance, it will eliminate and decrease informal buildings.

The mortgage system in Egypt needs more practicability to attract more clients and increase real estate market’s sales, stressed Eladly.

Asser Hamdy, executive chairman of Orientals for Urban Development, said that it is noticeable during Q3 of the current year that demand for projects implemented in some areas such as New Cairo, Sheikh Zayed and Sixth of October, is still.

“But, in general, the segments where most companies compete in began to saturate, especially with the high volume of competition, and the supplying of attractive offers which led to the split of residential segments between companies, decreasing each company’s share to that its previous state,” Hamdy elaborated.

He explained that the high prices in those areas resulted in increases in land prices and construction expenses, with the supply increase, especially after the growth in the volume of projects in East Cairo during the recent period, which may be the main reason for tranquil demand operations in the real estate market, which drives companies to reformulate an alternative plan, in the event of a subdued demand.

Hisham Shokry, chairman of Rooya Group for Real Estate Investment, said that real estate market is witnessing a deceleration, denying an imminent bubble driven by increased demand, since about 900,000 couples marry annually, and every five years developers provide about 50,000-60,000 units, which obviously does not match demand.

He also requested that the government provide increased incentives for developers, denying that developers’ profit margins are not highly driven by high land prices.

However, Ashraf Dowidar, CEO of ARDIC Real Estate Development, said that banks are wary from offering loans with low interest to developers, and therefore developers provide units at high prices.

There is no bubble, but it occured in a special segment of real estate projects, Dowidar indicated.

The government’s intervention in the sector may participate in the sector’s decelaration, however, the state can be responsible for identifying market needs and addressing their problems, remarked ARDIC’s CEO.

Mohamed El Barouny, head of Corporate Banking at CIB, said that banks are acting as technical supporters and supervisors for companies and developers and not just fund providers.

El Barouny noted that banks are interested in providing finance for infrastructure development in projects such as new cities, road networks, and other utilities.

He reaffirmed that the size of mortgage funds and developers’ loans is very small.

No downtrend in real estate sales

However, CEO of Brickzey Property Management, Ahmed Selim, sees that there is no downtrend in real estate sales, despite the recent high competition level among the companies on a specific residential segment, especially above middle-income and luxury housing, however, that segment still needs more housing units.

Selim pointed out that the market’s overall delivery, in general, is less than marketed, stressing that the vast and strong companies—who have a strong financial and outstanding solvency and commitment with their customers—are outside the competition, and they managed to survive throughout the market changes.

However, Selim believes that the mortgage finance fund is not the best solution to revive the sales in the sector because the mortgage plays its role in serving people who want to purchase property for housing purposes only and not as investors.

It is illogical to have a mortgage finance to purchase a unit for investment purposes, noting that there is a real demand and sales in the sector, Selim pointed out.

Ali Gaber, CEO of Impact Commercial Real Estate, agreed with Selim that the mortgage finance is not solution to the deceleration in the market, however, price land increases and cost spikes affected the market because the clients’ purchasing power remained unchanged.

Gaber noted that mortgage finance, along with exporting property, can lead to the recovery of the real estate market with the condition of eliminating bureaucracy—especially since there exists controls which ensure all the financer’s rights.

However, the real estate market must decontaminate itself of the fanciful developers whose financial abilities do not exceed paying the amount of land contracts in the New Capital.

Developing a new mortgage finance system at an appropriate interest rate with less bureaucratic procedures, will contribute towards in stimulating sales operations, especially in some segments, which are saturated, Gaber elaborated.

Government increases mortgage finance

Head of the Mortgage Finance Fund (MFF), Mai Abdel Hamid, said that banks’ financing provided under the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) mortgage finance initiative increased by EGP 1bn in one month.

Abdel Hamid added that banks raised their financing share which was introduced into the mortgage finance initiative until the end of October, to reach approximately EGP 17.5bn compared to EGP 16.5bn by the end of September.

The CBE has allocated EGP 20bn towards the mortgage finance initiative four years ago, with a subsidised interest rate for a low-income and middle-income citizens, and a decreasing interest rate ranging from 5% to 7% for low-income people, 8% for middle-income and 10.5% for above middle-income citizens.

Deputy Minister of Housing for National projects, Khaled Abbas, said that the size of mortgage finance under the initiative of the CBE will reach EGP 20bn by the end of this year.

Abbas added that mortgage finance faced a big problem during the past period, where it was wrongly marketed, elaborating that mortgage financing does not focus on the interest rate.

Abbas noted that the Ministry of Housing successfully solved the crisis of mortgage finance for low-income and middle-income people.

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Egypt’s Copts targeted by terrorism, again Sun, 04 Nov 2018 11:00:59 +0000 ‘We have suffered from this incident and previous ones,’ says Pope

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Photos and videos showing bodies soaked in blood and distorted faces of men and women emerged Friday afternoon on social media. They were taken at a desert area, near the St. Samuel Monastery in the governorate of Minya, Upper Egypt.

At least seven Egyptian Copts were killed in an attack against their buses

At least seven Egyptian Copts were killed in an attack against their buses. Over 20 people were injured, the Coptic Orthodox Church Spokesperson said in a Saturday statement on Facebook.

Noontime on Friday, unidentified gunmen opened fire at two small buses returning from a visit to the monastery, one carrying members of a family from Minya, and the other with people from the governorate of Sohag.

Gunmen opened fire on the Sohag vehicle injuring six people, but the minibus was able to escape and made its way through to a hospital. Attackers then shot seven people dead, including two women, in the second bus, according to Bishop Makarius of Minya and Abu Korkas.

In a video circulated on social media, a man is heard crying. “What a loss,” he repeatedly said. “The gunshot got you in the head, my boy.”

The Islamic State group (IS) claimed the attack, saying through its affiliated news agency ‘Amaq’ that the gunmen who attacked the monastery’s visitors were IS fighters. Egypt’s police said they were looking for the perpetrators.

The terrorist occurrence is the second to take place in the same area. On Friday 26 May 2017, IS-affiliated gunmen killed 28 Copts in an attack against their convoy as they were on their way to the monastery.

“Another St. Samuel Monastery incident. Security and police officers don’t [even] have a tent here,” a man standing next to the bodies in the same video said.

The violent act is the first in nearly a year after the mosque terror in North Sinai, the country’s largest attack which killed more than 300 men and children when gunmen besieged Al-Rawda mosque during a Friday sermon.

Since he came to power, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi pledged protection to the Coptic minority in Egypt, especially after sectarian assaults and church fires reached a peak under former President Mohamed Morsi’s Islamist regime.

Al-Sisi is in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh where he is sponsoring the World Youth Forum.

Government reaction, Pope call for resistance

Al-Sisi is in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh where he is sponsoring the World Youth Forum. The president sent out his condolences to the families of the victims, and stood with the forum’s attendees for a moment of silence.

Neither the Ministry of Interior nor the armed forces have issued official or mourning statements. The ministry referred to the below statement which cited an unnamed security official, calling on the press to stick to “official statements.”

The statement sent out to the press and media said the main road to the monastery has been closed for security reasons because of the unsafe desert area and absence of telecommunications network. It added that the victims had sought alternatives pathways to reach the monastery.

As for Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark, he thanked Al-Sisi for a phone call offering condolences to the families of the victims, and a conversation during which the president stressed upon Egypt’s determination to stand against terrorism.

“We suffered today after this incident in which a number of our children became martyrs and wounded on their way to the [monastery]. We have suffered so much during such incidents,” the pope said in a statement early Saturday morning.

“We know that such incidents do not affect us Copts only, but affects the entire Egyptian society and we are aware that the most valuable things we have are our unity and cohesion,” the pope added.

Shortly after the May 2017 attack, the Ministry of Interior had issued a statement announcing the initial number of victims and explaining that gunmen used three four-wheel drive cars in the attack.

In August 2017, the ministry announced the killing of three terrorist suspects involved in the bus shootings during a fire exchange in a desert area near the Qena governorate.

Terrorism targets Coptic worshipers constantly

In August, a suicide bomber failed to infiltrate the worshippers gathered at the Virgin Mary Church for a service.

Security around the church prevented him from doing so, however, and he subsequently detonated his explosives on top of a nearby bridge in the Qalyubia governorate on the outskirts of Cairo, killing himself in the process.

Police then arrested seven alleged militants with relations to the foiled bombing.

The targeting of Coptic pilgrims and worshippers in mass terror attacks has increased in the past couple of years.

Last December, a gunman killed at least 10 people at the Mar Mina Church in Helwan in the southern suburb of Cairo.

On Palm Sunday in April 2017, a twin suicide bombing took place at St. George’s Church in the northern Egyptian city of Tanta on the Nile delta, and Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, the principal church in Alexandria, seat of the Coptic papacy, where the pope was giving a sermon. The attacks killed at least 45 and injured over a hundred.

In December 2016, at least 29 people were killed and over 40 injured as a suicide bomber targeted St. peter and St. Paul’s Church, a chapel next to Saint Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral, seat of the Coptic Orthodox Pope, in Cairo‘s Abbasia district.

In North Sinai where security forces have been leading an anti-terrorism war since 2013, Coptic citizens were regularly the target of extremists, shooting them dead on the streets and in their houses, or beheading them and destroying their properties. By February 2017, dozens of families had fled the peninsula.

Minya, Coptic community faces extremism in Upper Egypt

On Friday 31 August, Copts of Demshaw Hashem village in Minya were subjected to sectarian violence. At least two people were injured. Assaulters stole money and golden objects from them, destroyed household electronic equipment, and set fire to their properties, according to Bishop Makarius of Minya.

While the incident comes in a long series of such attacks against Coptic communities in Upper Egypt, largely in Minya, Assiut and Sohag, Bishop Makarius implied negligence on behalf of the security apparatus.

He stated that talks about a possible attack already existed few days before it happened, and security forces were informed but then arrived at the village after the attack.

He also added that another attack had taken place weeks earlier at another village called Ezbet Sultan. The motives behind sectarian attacks was more or less similar throughout the months and years; extremists objecting to Copts having a worship place to gather, whether it’s a church, an affiliated building or an unlicensed house.

In July, the Sultan village witnessed a protest with anti-Coptic chants, displaying power and defiance and an official promising them to respond to their demands at the cost of Copts rights to perform their religious rituals.

Al-Sisi vowed to protect the Coptic community in the aftermath of violence and churches burning in post-2013.

But in July 2016 as attacks mounted, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) counted at least three incidents in the Minya governorate alone between June to July.

A report said that ten cases were documented since January 2016 and 77 cases since 2011, not including attacks on churches, religious structures, schools, civic associations, and private property owned by Copts from August 14 to 17, following the crackdown on the sit-ins of the supporters of the deposed President Morsi and pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins of Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Nahda Squares.

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Coffee across globe: 1.8% more production, 5.7% more consumption in 2018 Tue, 30 Oct 2018 08:30:33 +0000 Coffee consumption in Finland highest, reaching 12kg per capita annually according to ICO

The post Coffee across globe: 1.8% more production, 5.7% more consumption in 2018 appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The world loves coffee. This is something everybody knows. That warm tingle in your stomach in the morning, the smell of the freshly-brewed beans at your favourite coffee shop, and the varying kinds of coffee, welcoming all kinds of coffee drinkers every day, and everywhere.

However, some countries are more obsessed about their hot morning drink than others. Coffee consumption across the world has always been interesting to look at, as well as coffee production.

On the 1st of October of each year, the world celebrates ‘International Coffee Day’, making it a good opportunity to look at the figures and understand the world’s coffee consumption, production trends, and to dig deeper into that delicious world.

When it comes to countries that produce coffee, Brazil has the lion’s share as the world’s largest exporter. It ships about 5.7bn pounds of grounds each year, the Telegraph reported. It has managed to remain in its position as a main exporter for over 150 years, supplying about 80% of the world’s coffee in 1920s. However, that figure has recently fallen to around a third. The second largest exporting country is Vietnam, exporting 3.6bn pounds each year, followed by Colombia with 1.8bn pounds, Indonesia with 1.5bn pounds and Ethiopia with 847m pounds.

According to a September 2018 report by the International Coffee Organization (ICO):

“Global coffee production has seen some changes, including changes in prices. World production in coffee, in 2017/18 is an estimated 5.7% higher with a total output of 164.81m bags. Arabica increased by 2.2% to 101.82m and Robusta by 11.7% to 62.99m bags. The larger supply in coffee for year 2017/18 is reflected in increased shipments in August 2018, as global exports increased 6.3% to 11.1m bags compared to August 2017. For coffee in 2017/18, world consumption is estimated 1.8% higher at 162.23m bags, but coffee production exceeded this by 2.58m bags. This surplus has contributed to the low prices this season. The ICO composite indicator fell to 98.17 US cents/lb. in September 2018, 4.1% lower than in August 2018, the lowest monthly average since October 2006 when it reached 95.53 US cents/lb. Prices for all group indicators fell for the fourth consecutive month in September 2018. The largest decrease occurred in the average price for Robusta, which fell by 5% to 76.70 US cents/lb. followed by a decline of 4.4% to 99.87 US cents/lb. for Brazilian Naturals.”

As for coffee consumption, the Telegraph has reported that Finland has the highest coffee consumption rates, reaching 12kg per capita per year, followed by Norway at 9.9kg, Iceland at 9kg, Denmark at 8.7kg, and the Netherlands at 8.4kg. The US ranks 26th and the UK ranks 45th on that list.

Noteworthy, the leading company in the black coffee market is Starbucks, followed by UCC, Pacific Coffee and Chameleon.

On the other side of the globe, specifically in Egypt, Egyptians’ consumption of coffee spiked in 2018, reaching about 45,000 tonnes of coffee during the first half of the year, compared to 40,000 tonnes in 2017. This is according to a report issued by the Coffee Division at Cairo’s Chamber of Commerce, showing a 30% increase in demand for coffee, especially following the month of Ramadan.

Egypt imports 100% of its coffee, with 70% of from Indonesia, given the reasonable price and good quality.

The global trends of coffee production and consumption across the world may keep changing, but one thing is for sure, coffee is popular and is not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Egypt has potential to become industry focal point, trading centre for electric vehicles Tue, 30 Oct 2018 07:00:51 +0000 Environment Ministry is working to expand sustainable transportation projects

The post Egypt has potential to become industry focal point, trading centre for electric vehicles appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The Friedrich Ebert Foundation has concluded its ‘Sustainable Transport in Egypt’ conference entitled ‘Cleaner Mobility and the Advent of Electric Vehicles’.

The conference was held in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, the Centre For Environment & Development For The Arab Region & Europe (Cedare), the UNDP facility, and the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) on 24 and 25 October. The conference discussed means of using clean energy in the transport sector, policies and legislations, and providing infrastructure to rely on electric vehicles throughout Egypt.

Environment Minister Yasmin Fouad

The conference was attended by Environment Minister Yasmin Fouad; Representative for Egypt’s Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Country Office Richard Probst; Regional Director of the sustainable growth sector at CEDARE Hossam Allam; Representative of the New Administrative Capital on behalf of Ahmed Zaki Abdin, Mahmady Eid; Chairperson of the New Administrative Capital; Representative of the UNEP  Alexandre Corner; a Jordanian delegation to present its transformation experience into electric vehicles; several Egyptian and international experts in the field of electric mobility and sustainable transport, and a few Egyptian automotive company representatives.

During the conference, Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad explained that the ministry began seven years ago to coordinate with international and local partners to plan for electric vehicle-based sustainable transport, given its major role in reducing harmful emissions, provide a clean environment, green economy and improve life quality.

She added that it goes beyond importing electric vehicles, up to to implementing a comprehensive operation system. Currently, the Environment Ministry is working to expand sustainable transportation projects to save fuel consumption in the sector in Egypt and improve the environment.

Furthermore, Fouad is also cooperating with several local and international partners as well as with university students, to utilise their potential and projects in serving sustainable transport. The minister hopes that Egypt be successful in reducing harmful emissions within Egypt’s 2030 Sustainable Development Plan.

Additionally, the environment minister praised the conference because it is a real opportunity to exchange experiences on how electric vehicles and infrastructure are needed in different countries by presenting a research paper on the general status of electric vehicles in Egypt, as well as the case study of Jordan, and overviews of China and Germany.

Representative for Egypt’s Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Country Office Richard Probst

Richard Probst, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung representative, urged the need for a community dialogue with all stakeholders at all industry levels, including trade and environment, as well as strengthening local and international companies based on the Green Economy Roadmap for the UN, which heavily relies on innovative change in the transport sector, and shifting towards sustainable transport.

Egypt has the potential to become an industry focal point, and a trading centre for electric vehicles, indicated Probst, noting that electric vehicles are one of the most prominent pillars which can have a permanent positive impact on the community’s economic indicators.

He also stressed the need to exchange experiences on how to trade electric vehicles and the necessary infrastructure in different countries.

He also expressed great pleasure in the Egyptian government’s attempt to transform according to sustainable transport, based on the use of electric vehicles, in addition to the presence of local dealers and agents of local cars convinced of the need to move towards electric vehicles, and whom have recently  already started introducing models in the local market.

Mohamady Eid, representative of Ahmad Zaki Abdeen, president of the New Administrative Capital, confirmed during the conference that the New Administrative Capital is currently building the first electric train out of a total of two trains for public transport, in cooperation with Chinese partners, which will start operating within two years.

Eid added that the New Capital will be environmentally-friendly, according to Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad’s recommendations, which require using environmentally-friendly tools, including electric vehicles. He indicated that one of each lampposts will have a charger, and much more, where the New Administrative Capital will be Egypt’s first smart city.

The Capital allocated only 25,000 feddan for roads, which is 15% of the total area, so that the width of each road will range from 240m to 40m, to keep the environment clean, and ensure low carbon combustion, stressed Eid.

The New Capital also includes green areas on 22,000 feddan, in addition to an 8,000 feddan green river which will produce oxygen and eliminate carbon emissions.

Hossam Allam, CEDARE representative, said that the debate about introducing means of electrical transportation in the Arab region started two years ago, especially in Egypt, pointing out that cars are a small part of what Egypt can unlock in terms of substitutable development, and what they contribute to economic and social development.

During his speech at the conference, Allam said that Egypt is qualified to become a station and a centre for electric car manufacturing, especially in the SCZone, which can become the most important areas in the world for electric vehicle manufacturing, given that Egypt has important international agreements, such as COMESA and Agadir, pointing out that there were countries who have applied similar experiences, such as Morocco five years ago, which has now become a manufacturing hub.

Allam also highlighted that besides in addition to the negative impacts of traditional fuel, it also consumes government subsidies, which costs the state billions annually, mentioning that fuel is less efficient than electricity for motor vehicles.

Furthermore, he declared CEDARE’s commitment to develop a strategic plan, in cooperation with the concerned authorities and research centres, to identify the roles and policies and build an institutional framework in order to achieve the desired objectives of sustainable transport, and the distribution of electric vehicles.

Representative of the UNEP  Alexandre Corner

Alexander Corner, representative of the Air and Navigation Unit at UNEP, presented an e-Mob draft to enable the use of electric vehicles in developing countries, in cooperation with the Global Environment Facility, which focuses on the local potential of these countries for electric vehicles, through the infrastructure and local electric transmission project, which is working to rehabilitate 30 countries worldwide.

Corner explained that there is significant potential Egypt, including developing electric transport policies, analysing and developing local affairs studies, relying on electric buses and trucks, developing electric car industry policies , and starting activities to raise consumer awareness.

In Addition, he recommended developing a special version of the national project of electric transport in Egypt.

Ahmed El-Dorghami, Environmental and Energy Expert at CEDARE, presented several studies on the damage of all environment aspects in Egypt due to transport pollution, especially in overcrowded cities such as Cairo, stressing the importance of transforming to electric vehicles to preserve Egyptian lives.

He pointed out that 95% passenger cars are spent on parking, hinting at the need to increase reliance on electric public transportation to serve the sustainable development goals in Egypt.

The government exempted electric cars from customs, while other electric vehicles are subject to 40% in customs, which hinders sustainable development operations, and Dorghami urged the government to reconsider this, adding that the existence of a city to scrap old cars is necessary, as they are the most prominent reason of pollution.

In addition, there is concern about the laws and policies related to electric vehicles, especially licenses, so it is necessary to develop an integrated general strategy for electric transport in Egypt, concluded Dorghami.

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Western media role exposed Khashoggi’s true fate Sun, 28 Oct 2018 10:00:53 +0000 Case topped news agenda for weeks pushing world leaders, Saudi Arabia to seek accountability

The post Western media role exposed Khashoggi’s true fate appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, 53, was assassinated last October in a car bomb. Swedish Kim Wall, 30, was murdered and her body decapitated last August. Slovakian Jan Kuciack, 27, and his girlfriend were shot dead in their house earlier this year. This month, Bulgarian Victoria Marinova, 30, was just found murdered.

With little justice served so far in the brutal murders of these journalists, targeted for their work, by those in power be it government-linked members, organised crime groups or other individuals.

But one new case finally turned things upside down, bringing global attention to a gruesome act committed against a journalist and topping the global agenda for weeks.

Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi, 59, was killed earlier this October inside his consulate in Istanbul. His case has shaken things at the highest command level of the kingdom’s ruling family.

As the world watched, King Bin Salman Abdul Aziz had to sack intelligence officers and an advisor to the court. Saud Arabia is yet to completely put out the fire out of this one after a series of official Khashoggi scenarios failed one after the other.

Media pressure pushed world leaders, even US President Donald Trump who sees media as enemies and whom Khashoggi was critical of, and Saudi Arabia to seek accountability.

Despite accusations to the media of biased coverage or misleading reports, what the media established about the fate of Khashoggi winded up being correct: he had disappeared after last being seen entering the consulate but never coming out and he has been killed inside, although the details of what happened to remain subject of investigations.

Since his disappearance on 2 October, media raised concerns. More than two weeks later, media reported his murder citing unnamed Turkish officials, casting doubt on the Saudi government.

Media painted the large picture. Khashoggi, living in self-exile in the US and criticising some policies adopted by Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, had been lured into the consulate– killed and his body put out of sight.

Khashoggi had first visited the consulate on 28 September, willingly, to finalise divorce documents in order to marry his Turkish fiancée and was asked to come back on 2 October.

By that time, a plan to deal with him would be set up, as Saudi Arabia later confirmed, arresting 15 suspects reported to have flown to Istanbul to meet Khashoggi.

While most Arab media contents politicised the case to attack or support the kingdom, with Saudi and pro-Saudi media focusing on slamming Qatari and Turkish media, the Western media, particularly American newspapers and TV led the quest for truth in the case.

Pictures of Saudi journalist Khashoggi are placed on security barriers during a protest outside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul

The Washington Post on the hunt for contributor fate

The situation for the Post was different from that of other media as the case concerned one of its own, putting out the first information on Khashoggi on 3 October.

“A Saudi journalist who has written Washington Post columns critical of the kingdom’s assertive crown prince has gone missing after visiting the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, the newspaper and his supporters said Wednesday, raising concerns over his safety,” it said. Two days later, it printed an empty column by the writer.

Columnist David Ignatius, Khashoggi’s longtime friend, and Karen Attiah, Khashoggi’s editor at the Post talked about the missing Post contributor and his work. According to Ignatius, Khashoggi was very positive during the Arab Spring but Attiah said years later he was worried about the degree of oppression.

“As far as for the Post, we’re not gonna let this go, we shouldn’t let this go and his words aren’t gone,” Attiah said.

Jamal starting writing for the Post in 2017 when he left Saudi Arabia to the US as censorship on him increased back home. The Post often published an Arabic version of his articles too. They published his last article on 17 October, saying they had received it from his translator after his disappearance.

Media, one step ahead, imposes truth revelation

Western media quickly picked up the Post’s first reports of their missing journalist. Hatice Cengiz, Khashoggi’s fiancée, was the main source, as she accompanied him to the consulate and waited outside for him to come out, in vain. Thus, media began searching to solve the mystery.

Relying on Turkish officials leaks, media reported that Khashoggi has been intentionally killed inside the consulate and his body feared mutilated. The media published a load of details, although unofficially confirmed, but enough to spark global scepticism to Saudis response that he had left the consulate intact and that they had no information on his whereabouts.

As media continued analysing the impact of the case had it been confirmed that the Saudi government was linked to the murder, possibly jeopardising Saudi-US relations, the kingdom tried to put up a more plausible story and arrested Saudi officials and nationals.

Going form an investigation gone wrong to a fistfight, Saudi officials may now be on their way to fully admit this was a premeditated murder and that somebody must be held accountable for it.

Leaks to Turkish media kept the story in the headlines, according to New York Times Megan Specia who wrote in a Wednesday column that Turkish authorities strategically began leaking information to pro-government news outlets, offering descriptions of audio recordings revealing how the body has been dismembered.

“The leaks, some of which were confirmed by President Erdogan in a speech on Tuesday, put pressure on the Saudi government to offer an explanation on Mr. Khashoggi’s whereabouts,” Specia wrote.

Media reacts

“WHERE is Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi? We are watching and we need answers. A valued colleague for decades, his courageous reporting is vital for any informed citizenry,” CNN Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour tweeted as news of his disappearance emerged.

By the second week of Khashoggi’s disappearance, international media companies began pulling out of Riyadh’s economic conference as sponsors of the event.

CNN, CNBC, the Financial Times, the New York Times and Japanese media company Nikkei all withdrew.

Finola McDonnell, chief communications and marketing officer at the Financial Times tweeted on 12 October: “The Financial Times will not be partnering with the FII conference in Riyadh while the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi remains unexplained.”

New York Times columnist and editor Andrew Ross Sorkin tweeted: “I’m terribly distressed by the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi and reports of his murder. I will no longer be participating in the Future Investment Initiative in Riyadh.”

According to CNN, Zanny Minton Beddoes, the editor-in-chief of The Economist, and Los Angeles Times owner Patrick Soon-Shiong have also cancelled plans to speak. Eventually, Fox Business Network was the last sponsor to pull out a few days ahead of the conference.

According to Reporters Without Borders, between 25 and 30 professional and non-professional journalists are currently detained in Saudi Arabia, which is ranked 169th out of 180 countries in 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

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‘Coffee plantation work hard, but we love it, got used to it,’: Indonesian workers Mon, 22 Oct 2018 07:30:10 +0000 Daily working hours extend 10 during harvest season, says Yati

The post ‘Coffee plantation work hard, but we love it, got used to it,’: Indonesian workers appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

With delighted faces where hard work signs are obvious, Indonesian coffee plantation workers welcomed the Daily News Egypt reporter at their old standing coffee plantation “Banaran” in the city of Semarang.

Mul Yati, 47, has worked at the Banaran coffee plantation since 1984, and she became a supervisor at the plantation, adding, “I’ve been working here since the 1980s to help my mother, but I was not a legal worker.”

“The work here is hard, but we got used to as our grandfathers did and we really love it,” said Yati, adding that she works for hours daily. However, working hours extend to 10 hours during harvest season, which include the months from May to September annually.

The Banaran coffee plantation, which dates back to 1908, includes 400 employees in the harvest collecting season, and 250 in regular months.

Yati mentioned that her company provides the workers with gloves and rubbers to protect their hands and feet while working in the plantation, noting, “I use manual sharp instruments while working. However, the company offers some modern equipment that men can control and use, but I can’t so women prefer the manual equipment.”

Noteworthy, Indonesian coffee plantation workers cut coffee trees to suit their personal heights which is why they use sharp instruments.

Yati noted that her salary is sufficient to supply her life needs, mentioning, “my salary is inshallah (God willing) enough. I have a boy and a grandchild, and I don’t have an additional job.”

“Now there are no children working for the plantation, and the worker’s ages are convenient. Personally, I will retire at 55,” announced Yati, adding that she loves drinking coffee, but she cannot drink it for health issues.

According to the International Coffee Organization (ICO) that there are 1.4bn coffee cups drunk daily worldwide.

The world’s top coffee lovers are Finns according to consumption per capital. They grind their way through an impressive 12kg per person, per year.

Brazil is the world’s largest coffee exporter, shipping a truly remarkable 5.7bn pounds of ground coffee annually, according to the ICO. Brazil has been the world’s largest coffee exporter for over 150 years

The ICO noted that Brazil supplied around 80% of the world’s coffee in the 1920s, but that figure has fallen to around a third.

The second exporter is, perhaps surprisingly, Vietnam, followed by Colombia, Indonesia, and Ethiopia.


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Indonesian PTPN to open two offices in Cairo, Dubai soon Mon, 22 Oct 2018 07:00:30 +0000 PTPN’s investments worth $66bn; ‘we want direct access to Egyptian clients’ says Budiman

The post Indonesian PTPN to open two offices in Cairo, Dubai soon appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

 Indonesia- PT Perkebunan Nusantara Holding company (PTPN) will inaugurate two new offices in Cairo, Egypt and Dubai, the UAEArif Budiman, the company’s senior Vice President of Marketing department told Daily News Egypt (DNE), adding that his company aims to open direct access to its clients in the Middle East region.

“Egypt imports about 70% of its coffee needs from Indonesian traders who purchase from our company and sell to Egyptian traders. We want direct access to Egyptian clients,” explained Budiman.

PTPN’s investments are worth about $66bn, said Budiman, noting, “we don’t have branches outside Indonesia as we produce tropical products that need certain conditions to grow, so it impossible to invest in plantations in Egypt due to the different climate.”

The company exports limited amounts of crude palm oil to Egypt, said Budiman, noting, “exported palm oil to Egypt depends on tenders offered, and the country’s demand, as palm oil is not very commonly used in Egypt. However, it is used in several different ways instead of in food.”

Notably, palm oil products are used in consumer retail food and fast food manufacturers, personal care and cosmetics products, biofuel and energy products, animal feed products, pharmaceuticals, industrial utilization, food services as well as the service industry.

Palm oil applications vary widely because they can be processed and blended to produce a vast range of products with different characteristics.

PTPN is currently negotiating with Arma group to export 5,000 tonnes of Indonesian palm oil to Egypt on a monthly basis, said Budiman, adding that his company is conducting negotiations with other Egyptian companies to directly export Indonesian coffee.

Budiman clarified that the current negotiations with Egyptian private sector companies began when a business delegation from the company visited Egypt early October, noting that Egyptian markets possess great potential.

From 7 to 10 October, an Indonesian delegation from PTPN visited Egypt, sources from Indonesia’s embassy to Cairo told DNE early October, noting that the company is a fully state-owned enterprise engaged in Indonesia’s agriculture sector.

PTPN’s visit aimed to explore potential opportunities for the enhancement of Indonesian-Egyptian bilateral trade cooperation especially in commodities which PTPN trades in, said the sources, adding that Crude palm oil (CPO), palm kernel oil (PKO), palm kernel (PK), palm kernel meal (PKM), tea, coffee, cacao, as well as rubber, gloves are the main commodities which PTPN trades in.


During PTPN’s recent visit, Indonesia’s embassy in Cairo, organised a business meeting with a delegation from PTPN and Egyptian counterparts to discuss boosting joint cooperation. Meanwhile in July, Indonesian ambassador to Egypt, Helmy Fauzi, expected a 10% increase in the bilateral trade exchange between his country and Egypt by the end of 2018, noting that the annual average of bilateral trade registers approximately $1.5bn.

The company’s main markets for exporting palm oil products are India, China, European countries. On the other hand, rubber products are exported to China, the US, India, Japan, Belgium, and Taiwan, mentioned Budiman.

Additionally, Budiman declared that his company’s revenues were $3bn in 2017, mentioning that it aims to achieving 10% revenues increase by the end of 2018.

There are presently around 133,000 employees at Pt Perkebunan Nusantara Holding company, highlighted Budiman.

PTPN includes 14 affiliated companies which are established all over Indonesia, added Budiman, noting that his company mainly produces palm oil products as well as sugar.

“The first PTPN company is in Aceh and produces palm oil and rubber. The second PTPN company is in North Sumatra and produces sugar and palm oil. The third PTPN company is in North Sumatra and produces palm oil and rubber. The forth PTPN company is in North Sumatra and mainly produces palm oil and tea. The fifth PTPN company is in Riau and also produces palm oil and rubber,” said Budiman.

Budiman elaborated that the sixth company is in West Sumatra and produces palm oil, tea and rubber while the seventh company is in North Sumatra, Lambung, and produces palm oil, tea, sugar and rubber, adding that eighth company is in West Java and mainly produces palm oil, tea and rubber while the ninth company is in Central Java and produces coffee, tea, rubber and sugar.

“The 10th company is in the East Java province and produces sugar and tobacco. The 11th company is in the East Java province and only produces sugar. The 12th company is also in the East Java province and produces rubber, coffee, tea and sugar. The 13th company is in Kalimantan and produces palm oil and rubber. The 14th company is in the Sulawesi province, and mainly produces palm oil and sugar,” concluded Budiman.

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Media issues in Khashoggi case Sun, 21 Oct 2018 14:00:44 +0000 Despite Saudi Arabia’s admission of journalist’s murder, case coverage problematic

The post Media issues in Khashoggi case appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

If there have been concerns about lack of media professionalism and ethics in recent times, where international polarisation and social media platforms became leaders of the news agenda, the case of missing Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi certainly provided concrete examples of just that.

Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post who often criticised the Saudi government’s policies, disappeared after entering his country’s consulate in Istanbul, according to what his fiancée initially reported.

While it has been widely circulated that Khashoggi may have been killed, to date, the journalist’s remains missing as nobody was found. Yet, instead of presenting the case facts, the media is juggling between biased analyses and rushing to conclusions, before the conclusion of investigations and reporting unnamed officials, mostly Turkish.

Reports arose of a recording detailing Khashoggi’s gruesome death and dismemberment at the hands of a Saudi hit squad, adding that one alleged member of the squad advised others to listen to music to calm themselves while dismembering Khashoggi’s body.

Accusations were directed to the Saudi government, given its low record in human rights, and brutal oppression of dissidents. The Saudis also issued conflicting statements about the case, originally stating Khashoggi had left the consulate unharmed.

But on Saturday, Saudi Arabia admitted Khashoggi’s death inside the consulate. According to the Saudi Press Agency, the general prosecutor’s initial investigations revealed that Khashoggi physically quarrelled with members of the consulate, which resulted in his death.

The report added that 18 Saudis were arrested, and are undergoing investigations, and that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

The case naturally put Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, who presented himself as a reformist, under the microscope, as he led the country’s growing influence in the region in the past couple of years. Opponents to the crown prince and the kingdom’s policies found an opportunity in the case to raise criticism.

Fake news, statements

On 17 October, over two weeks into Khashoggi’s disappearance, Reuters tweeted that the Saudi consul in Istanbul was sacked and investigated. A Reuters story cited the Saudi Sabq news website was the source of this information.

As journalists quickly began to search for the Saudi report, Reuters pulled out the story and published: “Saudi consul in Istanbul relieved of the post, to be investigated-report is withdrawn. The report did not appear on Sabq newspaper’s website as reported. There will be no replacement story.”

While this was not the only fake news circulated over the case generally, it was one of the most relevant instances: the world’s leading news agency had fallen for a bogus online link.

Interestingly, Reuters had conducted a research in 2017 on fake news, where it stated that less than half the population, or 43%, trust the media throughout the 36 countries surveyed, and almost a third, or 29%, actively avoid the news, rising to 38% in the US.

A follow-up report examined what publishers could do about fake news and quoted experts as saying: “The simplest thing journalists can do as gatekeepers of reliable information is to trace a figure right back to its source before quoting it, every time.”

In the case of Khashoggi, even alleged official statements could turn out to be fake.

For example, a statement circulated over the weekend attributed to the Council of Senior Scholars, the kingdom’s highest religious body appointed by the king, condemned Mohamed bin Salman and called for his isolation over Khashoggi’s murder.

Several Arabic news websites reported and published a copy of the statement. Actually, the council’s official Twitter account had published a statement on 14 October by the government, voicing the kingdom’s rejection of threats of economic sanctions, describing murder accusations as baseless claims and rumours.

On a different occasion, US President Donald Trump denied on Friday media reports that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who had visited Saudi Arabia and Turkey last week, was ever “given or shown a transcript or video of the Saudi consulate event,” adding: “FAKE NEWS”.

This came as a response to an ABC News report which said that Pompeo heard an alleged recording of Khashoggi’s murder inside the consulate, citing a senior Turkish official speaking on condition of anonymity.

Biased, polarised media coverage

“The failure of media in the Khashoggi test” was the title of a piece published by the editor-in-chief of Egyptian private newspaper Al-Shourouk on 16 October.

Emad El-Din Hussein pointed out that until 15 October, news should have stuck to describing the incident as the disappearance of Khashoggi after entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. “Until now, Turkish authorities have not pointed fingers towards Saudi Arabia of kidnapping or a forceful disappearance of Khashoggi, despite increasing Turkish and American leaks in the direction of murder,” he wrote.

What Hussein emphasised is that media coverage should have clearly stated that none of the information published was 100% accurate, without having proof. To him, bias stemmed from a state of regional and international polarisation between many parties.

According to Hussein, media hostile to Saudi Arabia, mainly in Turkey and Qatar, aimed at incriminating the kingdom after the Khashoggi case came to them as “a gift from the sky.” On the other hand, pro-Saudi media also provided a one-sided version of the story, also without proof.

Finally, Hussein criticised the increasing use of unnamed sources, and concluded that the case should be taught to media students as one where all parties were extremely biased.

Most Western media relied on unnamed Turkish officials, official statements from the US administration, and Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée who allegedly accompanied him to the consulate and reported his missing status.

Meanwhile, more than two weeks into Khashoggi’s disappearance, none of his family members, until Khashoggi’s son started tweeting a few days ago. While there may be concerns that family members could not have been able to speak for fear of reprisal or that they would support Saudi claims, there were no mentions of journalists’ attempts to contact them.

Pro-Saudi media focused on accusing other media of fabrication and bias. On 11 October, Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya published a report accused Qatari and Turkish media of shamelessly politicising a human case.

The report said their media faked a story which quickly collapsed; claiming that a Saudi squad was behind the murder while in fact, those were Saudi tourists. Al-Arabiya provided no proof to its version of the story.

On the opposite side, CNN slammed Saudi Arabia over the case, heavily relied on Turkey for news and also criticised Saudi media coverage of the case. In a report on Saturday, CNN said: “With every claim from Turkey detailing more lurid details in the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia’s media bends further forward — risking a face plant in its efforts to kowtow to a different reality.”

In this analysis by Sam Kiley, all Saudi claims were rejected and Mohamed Bin Salman fiercely criticised, described as weak and portrayed as lying about the case.

On Friday, Al-Jazeera published a report criticising the “silence” of Arab leaders and their siding with Riyadh, in comparison to European countries which voiced their concern over the case. The report came before Saudi Arabia announced Khashoggi’s death.

“A handful of Arab governments including Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) did issue statements, but those were in solidarity with Saudi Arabia, which has faced an international backlash over the disappearance of Khashoggi,” Al-Jazeera reported.

In fact, the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry issued a statement on 14 October, where it said Egypt was following the case with “great concern”, calling for transparent investigations and refuting baseless claims.

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In focus: Egypt’s complicated relationship with its traditions Thu, 18 Oct 2018 23:21:50 +0000 Egypt is a country with a long and distinguished history, replete with a rich and diverse culture.

The post In focus: Egypt’s complicated relationship with its traditions appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Egypt is a country with a long and distinguished history, replete with a rich and diverse culture. Once home to some of the leading minds in human civilisation, ancient Egyptians have been credited with the advent of the written word, literature, mathematics, and geometry. Let’s not forget they were also the architects behind the world-famous pyramids.

Although their legacy as a trailblazing nation is undisputed, their various laws have been criticised by world leaders around the globe. In this article we take a look at some of the most baffling laws in Egypt, and see how they compare to those in the United Kingdom (UK).


Law 1: Gambling

 Online betting has long been legalised in the UK, and it is nighon impossible to escape the all-dominating allure of the industry in popular media, advertising, and everyday life. The online betting industry also provides an enormous financial windfall to the British government.

The Gambling Commission which answers to the government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport regulates the industry (with the exception of spread betting which is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) under the terms of the Gambling Act of 2005.

The Gambling Commission was established under the terms of the Gambling Act of 2005, assuming its full power two years later.

It took over many of the responsibilities previously held by the Gaming Board for Great Britain, and it also became responsible for the regulation of online gambling. Additionally, in 2013 it took over regulation of the National Lottery from the National Lottery Commission.

According to the Gambling Act of 2005, the Gambling Commission has the power to issue a license to gambling operators and impose fines, or revoke licenses if necessary. The act states the objectives of the Gambling Commission to be as follows:

  • Preventing gambling from becoming a source of crime or disorder, being associated with crime or disorder, or being used to support crime
  • Ensuring that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way
  • Protecting children and other vulnerable persons from being harmed or exploited by gambling

When it comes to providing online gambling services to UK residents, only companies whose operations are based in the UK can be issued licenses by the Gambling Commission.

However, the organization has a whitelist of approved gambling jurisdictions. Operators who obtain licenses from within those jurisdictions may also service UK customers.

In 2017 the gross gambling yield of the industry was £13.9 billion, a third of which was from the online sector. Gambling also provides over 100,000 jobs for people in the United Kingdom.

The industry is heavily regulated by Theresa May’s government, and online betting companies are compelled to follow stringent laws regarding money-laundering, and the prevention of problem gambling.

The relaxed laws in the UK have encouraged healthy competition in the industry as well. This has given rise to a number of gambling sub-categories where companies have focused on specific customer-bases and markets.

One such website which has decided not to compete with mainstream betting companies in the UK is Rose Slots. Offering games that tap into a range of niches, and are tailored towards the demographic of middle-aged women, with generous bonus offers, they have enjoyed enormous success.

The rise of in Rose Slots shows the equality and diversity of the gambling industry in the UK, and how competition has allowed it to create a gaming site that caters for a non-traditional gambling demographic. Even just looking at these UK slot games it has available, indicates quite how broad the gambling culture is in the country – with game themed around cult movies, and popular music acts.

Egypt has none of these services available to its citizens – gambling is strictly forbidden,by Islamic law (shari’a) on the grounds that “the agreement between participants is based on immoral inducement provided by entirely wishful hopes in the participants’ minds that they will gain by mere chance, with no consideration for the possibility of loss,”and is only available to foreign tourists, with the exception of the state-run lottery. Egypt has derived most of its laws from the Qu’ran, which strictly forbids the practice of gambling.In scriptureit is stated in the Quran that games of chance, including gambling (qimar), are a “grave sin” and “abominations of Satan’s handiwork”.

They ask you about wine and gambling. Say: ‘In them both lies grave sin, though some benefit, to mankind. But their sin is more grave than their benefit.’

— Qur’an, 2:219 (al-Baqara)

However, many Egyptian citizens utilise online betting companies from different countries, as the ban on internet gambling is not widely regulated in Egypt. In physical land-based casinos, all guests must show their passports to gain entry, and prove that they are foreign visitors.

The gambling laws in Egypt seem particularly hypercritical when you consider that the state-run national lottery is widely advertised by the government.As a result of Egyptians’ strong fascination with gambling, there are plenty of land-based casino across the country. Due to the fact that government sanctioned casinos are only open to foreigners, it comes in handy that there are lots of online gambling sites on offer in Egypt. Additionally, there are many lotteries available, while sports betting is another popular pastime. Poker has also started to gain popularity, with the same applying for online poker games, including Caribbean Stud Poker.


Law 2: Controlled Drugs

 In the UK, Tramadol is a prescription-only drug issued to patients struggling with pain trauma – such as post-surgery pain, or conditions such as chronic back pain. Tramadol, like Diazepam and Fentanyl, is a controlled drug, as there is a risk of misuse, due to the addictive nature of the drug.Tramadol has become a Schedule 3 controlled drug as of 10 June 2014, as the Advisory Council of the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) has a duty to keep drug

misuse in the UK under review, and to advise the government on measures for

preventing misuse and social problems arising from it. From a review of Tramadol, the

ACMD recommended the legislative changes following an increasing number of

reports within the NHS involving Tramadol, and the significant harm when misused

including death. The legislative changes are considered to provide the correct

controls to prevent the diversion and misuse of Tramadol.The ACMD also recommended that prescribers and other healthcare professionalswho prescribe, or come into contact with people who use Tramadol, should be given appropriate training and support concerning its misuse and adverse effects,especially with regards to its “dual-action”.

The following are the prescription requirements for a Schedule 3 controlled drug:

  • Tramadol prescriptions will only be valid for 28 days.
  • Prescriber – the prescription needs to be signed by the prescriber, with the

date it was signed, and the address of the prescriber-practice included on the

prescription (which must be within the UK).

  • Quantity – The maximum quantity to be supplied should not exceed 30 days,

in line with the Department of Health recommendations for Schedule 2, 3 and

4 controlled drugs. This is not a legal restriction, but a prescriber must be able

to justify the quantity requested on a clinical basis if more than 30 days’

supply is prescribed. When required quantities should also not exceed the

month’s supply. Please note this may result in additional prescription charges

for some patients that they should be made aware of.

The total quantity of medicine to be supplied must be stated in words and

figures on the prescription.

  • Dose – the dose must be clearly defined. For example:Not legally acceptable: Take as directed; When required; Decrease dose by50mg every four days.Legally acceptable: Take One as directed; Take Two every six hours whenrequired.
  • The formulation and strength (as tramadol is available in more than onestrength) must also be stated on the prescription.

From 10 June 2014, community pharmacists may contact the Practice for non-urgent

replacement prescriptions if they are presented with a Tramadol prescription dated

before the legislation came into force. The community pharmacist may also contact

the Practice if they have a Tramadol prescription that is awaiting collection or owing,

to ask the prescriber to review the prescription and issue a replacement.

Tramadol can no longer be prescribed as part of the NHS repeat dispensing scheme

as Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs cannot be prescribed under these

arrangements. Community pharmacists have been advised to check all NHS repeat

dispensing prescriptions that they hold for Tramadol, and to contact the prescriber to

request a review of any tramadol prescriptions and if needed, a replacement FP10


In Egypt, however, it is a banned drug, as the country recently endured an opioid misuse crisis with Tramadol being the number oneabused drug. According to the Egyptian Drug Authority, the Ministry of Health and Population issued a decree on 12 February 2012 that Tramadol, according to Article 1, is added to Section 2 of roster number 1, complementary to the Anti-Narcotics Act number 182of 1960, for the Tramadol substance, its equivalent, salts, isotopes and any ingredient used in its preparation.


However,Laura Plummer from Hull did not know this when she visited Egypt in late 2017.

She was travelling to meet her husband, and brought with her 295 Tramadol tablets (roughly 2 and a half months’ supply) for her partner, as he was suffering from back pain following a recent car crash.

Upon arrival, Plummer was inspected at customs, and subsequently sentenced to 3 years in the infamous Al Qanater prison in Cairo. The woman claimed to have been unaware of the laws in Egypt, but judges did not view that as a sufficient excuse.

Despite several efforts from the British Foreign Office, Plummer still remains in custody, and has over 2 years remaining in her sentence. If British nationals are travelling to another country with a controlled drug, they must seek permission from the Home Office, prior to travelling.

Unfortunately for Laura Plummer, she was unaware of this when she flew to Egypt.

Nevertheless, now you know, so exercise caution when travelling to Egypt with prescription drugs.


Law 3: Debauchery

In 1967 homosexuality was officially decriminalised in England and Wales, with Northern Scotland (1980) and Ireland (1982) following suit shortly after. Gay marriage was then legalised in mainland Britain in 2013, which signalled a major step towards equality in the country, however, the laws in Egypt are not quite as progressive.

Whilst the act of homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, it is heavily frowned upon and homosexuals are vulnerable to prosecution under ‘debauchery’ laws. In 2014, 16 men were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment after flying the Rainbow Flag at a festival.

These men were charged under the Anti-Prostitution Act No 10 law of 1961in Egypt, which prohibits ‘habitual debauchery,’ and the promotion of homosexual activity. The British Foreign Office advises homosexual citizens travelling to Egypt to not to show affection for one another in public, and not to tell people about their sexual preferences.


How to remain on the right side of the law in Egypt

 The Foreign Office provides extensive advice to UK citizens looking to travel to Egypt, along with a full list of laws that differ from the UK. As Egypt is a predominantly Islamic-run country, there is a huge list of laws which do not apply in the UK.


Women must always dress modestly, and all visitors should adhere to local customs, and establishedreligious practices. Egypt is a country with various grey areas, however, behaviour in tourist resorts is largely ignored by the authorities.


If venturing out of a tourist resort, you must be sure to be on your best behaviour in order to avoid breaking the law, and landing yourself with a harsh prison sentence. Gamblers must be aware that they can bet in casinos as foreign nationals, but not so online.

Travellers on prescription drugs must check the status of that drug in Egypt prior to travel, and if necessary apply for special dispensation from the Home Office. Homosexuals must also hide their sexual preferences—certainly in public—to avoid being accused of debauchery.

Criticism of the President, the government, or the country’s laws online, may lead to a custodial sentence, so be discreet on social media too.



Although these are not laws, familiarising yourself with the culture of the country you’re visiting will enable you to enjoy a have a fun-filled trip, especially one with such a rich historical heritage, and one of the world’s greatest civilisations.

Keep in mind that most Egyptian employees expect tips after performing a service, known as Baksheesh. This can be expected for something as little as pressing the button in the elevator. Many workers will even ask you to tip them before you get a chance. The typical tip for minor services is 50pt to 1 LE. Due to the general shortage of small change, you may be forced to give 5 LE to do simple things like use the bathroom. Just understand that this is part of the culture.

Do not photograph people without their permission, and in areas frequented by tourists do not be surprised if a bit of baksheesh is requested. If you’re male, don’t be surprised if another male holds your hand or forearm or engages in some form of bodily contact – there’s no taboo against men holding hands and unlike in the West, this behaviour is not associated with homosexuality. In general, Egyptians are a lot more comfortable with less personal space than are most Westerners; however, pairs of Westerners should be cautious in engaging in same-sex contact. Normal contact is quite acceptable (shaking hands, pats on the shoulder, etc.) but holding hands could be mistaken in Westerners as a sign of homosexuality, which is quite taboo in Egypt. Smoking is very common and cigarettes are very cheap in Egypt.

Gamal Abdul Nasser, the second President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, and many others are considered national heroes in Egypt; you should say absolutely nothing that could be perceived as offensive or derogatory regarding him. Tread carefully around such topics and let others guide the openness of the discussion. Many Egyptians have a different interpretation concerning ambiguous expressions such as freedom of speech and democracy. Likewise, don’t bring up politics and other delicate issues impulsively. It is advisable not to discuss Israel even if tempted; do not speak loudly about it as it may attract unwanted attention, even if you are only talking about it as a travel destination.

Never discuss religion from an atheistic or similar point of view. Even highly educated Egyptians who studied abroad won’t appreciate it and doors will close for you. Also be aware that the Islamic “call to prayer” takes place five times a day, and can be heard loudly almost anywhere you go. Just understand that most Egyptians are used to it, and enjoy it as part of the cultural experience.

Take great care if you choose to drink, especially if you’re from countries where heavy drinking is accepted. Even if you are used to it, you can’t estimate the effects of the climate, even at night. The impact drunk people have on Egyptians is quite considerable, and very negative. The best plan is just to abstain or limit yourself to one drink per meal while in Egypt, and it will be cheaper too!

Do not elicit any conversations about politics, but don’t be afraid to partake if a local you are speaking with (typically a middle-class and well educated shopkeeper) begins a rant about his hatred for the current administration (for whom they blame, rightly or wrongly, for the drop in tourism and economic loss). This will be a common theme that you’ll find many of the friendly locals go into, but certainly you don’t want to be seen as a foreigner coming in to insult their government with knowledge of only what you hear in the media.



Egyptians are generally a conservative people and many are religious and dress very conservatively. Although they accommodate foreigners being dressed a lot more skimpily, it is prudent not dress provocatively, if only to avoid having people stare at you. It is best to wear pants or jeans instead of shorts, as only tourists wear these. In modern nightclubs, restaurants, hotels and bars in Cairo, Alexandria, and other tourist destinations, you’ll find the dress code to be much less restrictive. Official or social functions and smart restaurants usually require more formal wear.

At the Giza Pyramids and other such places during the hot summer months, short sleeve tops and even sleeveless tops are acceptable for women (especially when travelling with a tour group). However, you should carry a scarf or something to cover up more, while travelling to, or from, the tourist destination.

Women should cover their arms and legs if travelling alone, and covering your hair may help to keep away unwanted attention. Though as a foreigner, you may get plenty of attention no matter what you wear, mainly including people staring at you along with some verbal harassment which you can try to ignore. Egyptian women, even those who wear the full hijab, (full hair and body dress cover) are often subjected to sexual harassment, including cat calls. You may find that completely covering up does not make a huge difference, with regards to harassment, versus wearing a top with shorter sleeves. In regards to harassment, it’s also important how you act. Going out with a group of people is also helpful, and the best thing to do is ignore men who give you unwanted attention. They want to get some reaction out of you. Also, one sign of respect is to use the Arabic greeting, “Asalamualaikum” (means “hello, peace be upon you”), and the other person should reply “Walaikumasalam” (“peace be upon you”). That lets the person know you want respect, and nothing else.

The post In focus: Egypt’s complicated relationship with its traditions appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Russian-Egyptian political rapprochement to propel economic cooperation forward Wed, 17 Oct 2018 15:49:27 +0000 Analysts positively view relations’ outlook, awaiting resumption of Russian flights

The post Russian-Egyptian political rapprochement to propel economic cooperation forward appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is currently in Moscow on a three-day visit for talks with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, and is holding talks with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and other senior officials on boosting economic cooperation.

Economic experts and diplomats says relations with Russia are very diversified with a very positive outlook, due to the current political rapprochement, noting that joint investments await expected refreshment following the Russian Industrial Zone (RIZ ) project establishment, while the resumption of Russian flights to Sharm El-Shiekh and Hurghada will also positively reflect on the Egyptian tourism sector.

Establishment of RIZ to refresh Russian investments volume in Egypt, says economic expert

Daily News Egypt exclusively received a document upon request from the General Authority For Investment and free zones (GAFI), explaining that total numbers of the Russian companies in Egypt are 451 companies, with investments worth $71.23m, offering 4,395 job opportunities. 

The document noted that Egypt’s services sector is the most attractive sector for Russian investments in Egypt with 166 companies, adding that the tourism sector is ranked number 2 with 102 companies, while the market attracts 84 Russian construction companies, 18 agricultural companies, and only four companies in the Egyptian financial sector.

The document noted that top five governorates for the Russian companies in Egypt are the Red Sea with 256 companies, Cairo with 111 companies, Giza with 44 companies, Alexandria with 13 companies and Sharqeya with 7 companies.

Youmn El-Hamakki, an economic expert, said that Egypt’s investment relations with Russia need to be enhanced, noting that Russian investments in Egypt don’t suit with the extensive size of both countries.

El-Hamakki added that establishment of the RIZ project will refresh Russian investments in the local market, mentioning that “Egypt needs more investments in its heavy industrial sector, as well as its chemicals and medical fields.”

In May, Egypt’s Trade and Industry Ministry announced the signing of an agreement worth $7bn for the establishment of the RIZ project in the East Port Said region.

During the signing ceremony, former Minister of Trade and Industry Tarek Kabil explained that this 50-year agreement will give Russian companies rights to develop a 5.25m sqm stretches of land in the Suez Canal Economic Zone into an industrial zone for Russian companies that will be built over three phases, giving them a solid, strategically-located base in Egypt, to export to the rest of the Middle East and Africa. 

Denis Manturov, Acting Minister of Trade and Industry of the Russian Federation also said during the signing that “the signing of this agreement comes as a culmination of intensive discussions between the two ministries of industry and trade in the two countries over the past two years.” 

The RIZ is planned to increase Egyptian-Russian trade exchange, increase foreign direct investments in the local market, positively impact the country’s economic growth, and create new job opportunities for Egyptians.

On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia started working on establishing an industrial zone in Egypt, adding, “Russia has also begun the construction of a nuclear power plant in the city of Dabaa.”

Additionally, former assistant of Egypt’s foreign minister, Rakha Ahmed, said that establishment of the RIZ will positively affect the bilateral trade exchange that recorded about $6.5bn in 2017, but with an imbalance favouring the Russian side.

“The RIZ project will increase Egypt’s trade so the trade exchange will be a little bit balanced,” he explained.

In August 2018, Head of Trade Representation of Russia in Egypt, Nikolai Aslanov said that Egypt’s trade exchange with Russia increased by 37% during the first half of 2018, in comparison with same period of 2017, recording $3.212bn, citing the statistics of the Russian Federal Customs Service.

Aslanov added that Russian exports reached $2,810bn, increasing by 42% from January to June, while exports from Egypt increased by 12% to reach $402m in the same period, noting that main items of Russian exports to Egypt are wheat, metals, gas, means of transportation, wood and woodworks, fats, and oils.

Statistics mentioned that wheat represented 30% of the total volume of exports with an increase of 25% during the first six months, up to $840m, in addition to metals and metal ware, which contributes 23% towards exports, hence increasing by 226% up to $655m.

Statistics also mentioned that oil and gas exports, which represent 17% of the total exports, increased over 84% up to $481m during the first six months, adding that means of transportation exports reached $196m, while wood and woodworks’ exports increased by 57% up to $169m, and fats and oils exports’ recorded $150m.

Ahmed added that Russian and Egypt agreed on manufacturing train carriages, which is also considered another important project.

On Friday, Egyptian Transport Minister Hisham Arafat said that President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Russia aims to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the transportation field.

Arafat added that an agreement between Egypt and a Russian-Hungarian consortium to produce 1,300 train vehicles at a cost of $1bn has been finalised, noting that the Russian company participating in the consortium is one of the biggest train manufacturers in the world.

The Russian-Hungarian consortium has been hired to help Egypt establish a local manufacturing line at the National Organization for Military Production, according to Arafat.

The first batch of the carriages will be manufactured in Russia, and will be a model for the other batches later. 

Dabaa project is a top priority for Egypt

Egyptian foreign minister’s former assistant, Rakha Ahmed, also said that the Dabaa project will keep Egypt and Russia connected for over 20 years in the future, affirming that the project is top priority for the country, and is set to be discussed over the current presidential visit to Russia.

In December 2017, President Al-Sisi and his Russian counterpart witnessed the signing of a document to start the implementation of contracts for the construction of four nuclear reactors in the Dabaa area.

For the first reactor, primary receiving and commercial operation is expected to be completed by 2026. The agreed programme includes design and construction, supply of nuclear fuel, advisory services, maintenance, management, and treatment of exhausted fuel.

The project consists of four nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1,200 MW, with a total of 4,800 MW. The Russian Ministry of Finance provided a financing loan to establish the project worth $25bn, representing 85% of its value. President Al-Sisi approved the loan agreement, and it was announced in the Official Gazette in mid-May 2016.

The Russian side will operate the project after finishing its construction processes, said Ahmed, noting that continuing cooperation in the Dabaa project is a positive sign on developing the bilateral relations with Russia, following their relation’s deceleration due to the Russian plane crash in Sinai at end of October 2015.

The Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy, Mohamed Shaker, and head of the Nuclear Power Plant Authority, Amjad al-Wakeel, will hold a meeting with officials of the Russian company Rosatom on the sidelines of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visit to Moscow.

Shaker told Daily News Egypt on Tuesday that the operation of the Dabaa nuclear station is proceeding normally, and the project needs time to be implemented, and denied the reported cancellation of the contract. “Such rumours are absolutely untrue. We agreed on a timetable, and identified the cost and completed the work on the project,” he stressed.

The meeting will include the follow-up of the current position of the Dabaa Nuclear Plant Project, which is being implemented, and reviewing the characteristics of the project, the specifications of the selection of companies participating in the operational work of the station, as well as setting the timetable for the implementation of the project.

Political views are compatible

Since 30 June 2013, the joint political relations with Russia are developing very well on many aspects of cooperation, particularly the military and political fields, said Ahmed, adding that views of both countries regarding regional issues in Yemen, Syria, and Libya are compatible.

Russia and Egypt believe that the regional issues should be solved with negotiations and peaceful ways and not by force, Ahmed mentioned, noting that both countries are cooperating in information exchange regarding terrorist attacks, as Russia thinks that the now banned Muslim Brotherhood is a “terrorist entity.”

Ahmed said that there have been some reports saying that Russian nationals have “left their country and joined the Islamic State,” and added that “Russia seeks information about their activity due to possible attacks by them.”

Russia believes in the Palestinians’ right to establish their own state, in the Eastern Jerusalem beside the Israel’s state, which agrees with the Egyptian opinion, said Ahmed.

In another context, 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Russia and Egypt, according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Monday, adding, “the current political dialogue between the countries is developing dynamically, and the trade turnover is worth more than $6.5bn and is growing, and the treaty and its legal framework are being improved.”

Ahmed added that President Al-Sisi is set to deliver a speech at the upper house of the Russian parliament during the visit about the updates of the joint cooperation, adding, “I think it is the first time for an Arab leader to deliver a speech the Russian parliament.”

Resuming Russian flights to Sharm El-Sheikh, Hurgada, very important

The resumption of Russian flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurgada will positively affect the relations, boost Egyptian tourism which suffered following the Russian decision of the flight-ban that was issued in October after the plane crash in Sinai in 2015.

“Russian planes fly only to Cairo airport now. I expect that the current visit by president Al-Sisi to Russia will witness announcement of resuming flights to Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurgada,” said Ahmed, adding that Egypt was receiving huge numbers of Russian tourists before 2015, which played an important role in boosting the country’s tourism, as well as its economy.

Russia’s biggest airline Aeroflot announced in March 2018 that it will resume its flights to Cairo in April 11 of the same year, recouping civilian air traffic after over two-and-half years.

Restoration of flights between Moscow and Cairo did not help Egypt’s troubled tourism sector, centred in resort towns on the Red Sea coast, where Russian tourists once flocked.

“Tourists do not need direct flights to Cairo. The transfer from Cairo to sea resorts is long and uncomfortable, and no one will be going there in that way,” Russian Tourism Industry spokesperson Irina Tyurina told international media in April.

Tyurina said that most Russians who want to visit the Red Sea areas will continue to book flights through Minsk or Istanbul, as they have since direct flights were suspended.

The post Russian-Egyptian political rapprochement to propel economic cooperation forward appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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