<![CDATA[rss-Politics]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Politics]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Islamist politician detained for 45 days over ‘harming national security’]]>
Aboul Fotouh, head of Islamist Strong Egypt Party, was arrested on Feb. 15 and was under investigation for four hours by general prosecutors over accusations of “inciting violence and chaos through anti-state media outlets, joining an outlawed organization, and harming the state’s reputation.”

During the investigations, Aboul Fotouh denied all accusations, saying that he does not belong to any outlawed organization and his political party was licensed by the Partisan Affairs Committee.

Few days ago, his deputy Mohamed al-Qassas was arrested over the same accusations as “the party is preparing anti-state media materials to be published on the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Mekameleen T.V outside Egypt," the statement added.

In February 2018, Aboul Fotouh and 15 others were blacklisted as per a judicial ruling over having links to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group.

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2/17/2019 1:57:28 PM
<![CDATA[Venezuela's Guaido calls for nationwide protests to allow US aid to enter]]>
"Not only will this be happening at the border where the volunteer movement will be, but in cities up and down the country where there will be demonstrations on February 23 for the aid to come in," Guaido told thousands of supporters at a public gathering.

The announcement came as tons of US food aid was piling up along the border. It has been denounced by President Nicolas Maduro, who has asked the military to reinforce the frontier, denouncing the food as a "booby trap" and a cover, he said, for a planned US military invasion.

Guaido told his rally that some 600,000 people had registered to help with the efforts to bring aid in, and he repeated his call for on the military to stand aside.

Humanitarian aid has become a key issue in the power struggle between Maduro and Guaido.

Venezuela is in the midst of a power struggle between socialist leader Maduro and Guaido, the head of the National Assembly who proclaimed himself interim president last month and now has the backing of more than 50 countries.

The once wealthy country is also suffering from a grave economic crisis that has left millions in poverty and facing shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

Some 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015 as a result, according to the United Nations.

Maduro, the hand-picked successor to socialist firebrand Hugo Chavez, meanwhile blames Venezuela's woes on US sanctions.

Speaking on Friday, Maduro said six million families had benefited from subsidized food boxes and claimed to have bought 933 tons of medicines and medical supplies from China, Cuba and Russia, his main international allies.

"We paid for it with our own money because we're beggars to no one," he said.

Guaido accuses Maduro of being a "usurper" over his controversial reelection last year in polls widely branded as fraudulent.

Maduro meanwhile says the 35-year-old National Assembly speaker is a puppet to the US, which he claims is trying to secure access to Venezuela's gold and vast oil reserves -- the largest in the world.

President Donald Trump this week repeated his warning to Maduro that "all options" are on the table, including military.

On Friday the US Treasury announced that it was imposing sanctions on five intelligence and security officials close to "former" President Maduro.

US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday called for the European Union to recognise Guaido's claim to the presidency.

Some 30 European countries have already recognized the former industrial engineer as Venezuela's leader, but holdouts include Italy and Greece.]]>
2/17/2019 12:43:36 PM
<![CDATA[EUNA: illegal migration should be confronted locally, regionally, internationally]]>
The ambassador's remarks were made at a seminar held by the Egyptian United Nations Association on Saturday night under the title of "illegal migration in Egypt and means of confronting it."

Director of the Department of Migration, Refugees and Combat of Human Trafficking at the Foreign Ministry Ambassador Nevein el Husseini and Assistant Minister for Migration and Expatriate Affairs for Institutional Development and Egyptians Abroad Dr. Saber Suliman attended the seminar along with a number of diplomats, intellectuals and officials concerned with the issue.

Ambassador Beheiri said that Egypt is an important country for settling such issue at the local level as it has been one of the center points for migrants, adding that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has directed strong attention to this file, asserting that thanks to his focus on the matter and assiduous efforts by the authorities concerned, no illegal migrant boats have been detected departing from any part of Egypt since September 2016.

He added that Egypt's success in combating illegal migration was a result of the security measures and establishment of many development projects especially in the areas which were reported to produce a high number of potential migrants.

Meanwhile, Ambassador Nevein el Husseini said the illegal migration is a vital international issue which requires high coordination and cooperation among the various ministries and civil society organizations.

She said there are around 10 million Egyptian migrants abroad, 70 percent of them are in the Gulf countries, 15 percent in Europe, 13 percent in North America and the rest in other parts of the world adding that their annual remittances have notably grown to record dlrs 27 billion in 2018.

She also highlighted Egypt's cooperation with international partners including Germany, Italy and the International Migration Organization (IMO) in addressing the main reasons for migration and launching initiatives to create job opportunities and development especially in underprivileged remote and slum areas along with controlling the borders and cracking down on human trafficking and smuggling gangs.]]>
2/17/2019 12:35:55 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi meets with Merkel, Minister President of Bavaria Söder]]>
Chancellor Merkel has welcomed Sisi’s visit to Germany, affirming her country’s keenness to boost relations with Egypt on various fields, Presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady said on Saturday.

Merkel also added that Egypt represents a cornerstone for stability and security in the Middle East and Africa.

For his part, the Egyptian leader expressed his appreciation to the meeting with Merkel, stressing keenness to boost relations and coordination between the two countries.

Moreover, Sisi affirmed Egypt’s willingness to further develop more interaction especially with Egypt’s chairmanship of the African Union and Germany’s membership at the UN Security Council.

He also stressed the importance of adding to the positive outcomes of the visit by Germany’s Minister of Economy and Energy to Cairo on head of a delegation of representatives from major Germany companies.

The statement added that the meeting witnessed talks in a number of issues of common concern and the continuous development of relations between the two countries, especially economically, pointing out that a number of hulking German firms like Mercedes have decided to continue their business in Egypt.

The meeting also touched on a number of regional and international crises, including the crisis in Libya and Syria and Egypt’s vision towards boosting African cooperation in light of Egypt’s. The Egyptian President also suggested that Germany can initiate economic trilateral projects between Egypt, Germany and the African continent.

Moreover, the Egyptian leader also met with Minister President of Bavaria Markus Söder at his residency in Germany.

According to the statement, Sisi also expressed his appreciation to the warm welcome received by the government of Bavaria during his participation at the Munich Security Policy Conference.

Söder announced he was pleased to meet with Sisi, stressing that the German and Egyptian people have close and historic relations and that ties between the two countries have witnessed significant boost during the recent years.
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2/16/2019 3:53:54 PM
<![CDATA[Europe biggest partner to Arab world: Sisi]]>CAIRO – 16 February 2019: During his participation at the opening session of the 2019 edition of the Munich Security Conference, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said cooperation between Arab and European countries is extended throughout history, given the geographical aspects, mutual relations and connections.


Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Rady said in a statement on Saturday that the Egyptian leader stressed that Europe is the biggest partner to the Arab world, pointing out to significant possibilities to boost this cooperation in various fields.


World leader gathered on Friday for the annual Munich Security Conference, which was first held in 1963, with the fallout of World War II still lingering and the Cold War at full throttle.


In the decades since, it has grown to include representatives from around the world and has served as a platform for airing grievances and testing policies.


During his speech, Sisi added that cooperation between Arab and European countries is a significant matter, as instability in the Arab region would definitely affect Europe, and vise versa, as for example, the crises that hit some Arab countries led to an increase in the rates of illegal immigration, which affected the stability of some European countries.


“No illegal migration case has crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Egyptian shores since September 2016, President Sisi announced, adding that his country held a series of bilateral talks with a number of European countries to deal with the illegal migration from Africa to Europe,” the president said in his speech.


“Egypt hosts million of registered and unregistered migrants who are integrating into the Egyptian society,” Sisi continued.


He further stressed the need for more communication and coordination between Arab and European countries to find a common ground to encounter and address common challenges and dangers. Therefore, according to the statement, the Arab-European Summit in Sharm al-Sheikh would be an important step and opportunity in that direction, and will be followed by many steps.


As for the phenomenon of terrorism, the Egyptian president affirmed that he was the first president of an Islamic country to demand correction to the religious speech, especially that many countries suffer from extreme religious speeches, the matter which the whole world must become aware of.


President Sisi also demanded the international community to deal strictly with the misuse of social media platforms and modern communication means to recruit new militias and harm the world, pointing out that extremism will keep on contributing to the phenomenon of terrorism unless strict international procedures take place to encounter it.


“In Egypt we are citizens, no difference between a Muslim and a Christian, as we are all brothers,” the president said, pointing out to the establishment of the biggest cathedral in the Middle East in the new Administrative Capital. He stressed that deepening values of coexistence and tolerance is much more important than words and speeches.


“Many people do not understand what is going on in Egypt and through that what happened in 2013 was against the will of Egyptians, despite that more than 30 million Egyptians went out to demonstrate ruling based on religion,” President Sisi added.


He further pointed out that extremist groups appear every time the national authorities of the country move out of the scene, stressing that fighting terrorism requires the international community to stand united against it.


The Egyptian President said Egypt’s strategic location made it the link between Africa and the Arab region, and between Europe and the Arab and African regions through the Mediterranean.


He also stressed that Egypt adheres to resolving crises through politics only and preserving the unity and safety of its land, as it plays a significant role in overcoming challenges and regaining security in the region, because most of these crises have a direct effect to the Egyptian national security.

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2/16/2019 2:48:00 PM
<![CDATA[PM urges fostering technology in judicial processes]]>
The Prime Minister delivered a speech highlighting that African peoples are looking forward to the outcomes of the meeting in terms of taking effective measures that would eliminate obstacles hindering satisfactory and fast judicial processes.

Madbouly called for taking maximum advantage of information and telecommunication technology in order to acquire legal documented information that would support the performance of the judiciary and facilitate legislative reform. He urged the continuous training of judges and workers in the judicial authorities of African countries.

The three-day conference is attended by delegations from 45 African countries representing their constitutional and supreme courts.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli took part in the opening of the event, along with Minister of Justice Mohamed Hossam Abdel Rahim, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan in addition to several African ambassadors and Egyptian MPs.

Held under the auspices of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the event aims to foster cooperation among African states and their judicial authorities.
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2/16/2019 2:45:08 PM
<![CDATA[Nigerian presidential election postponed, all sides appeal for calm]]>
The chairman of the electoral commission said it was no longer feasible to hold free and fair elections on Saturday due to logistical problems, but he did not elaborate.

The vote will be held on Feb. 23, he announced in the early hours of the morning.

Other electoral commission officials and Western diplomats said the problems concerned the inability to transport ballot papers and results sheets to some parts of the country, where 84 million voters have registered to vote.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in power since 2015, faces a tight election contest against the main opposition candidate, businessman and former vice president Atiku Abubakar of the People's Democratic Party (PDP).

At stake is control of Africa's top crude oil-producing nation and largest economy.

Past elections in Nigeria have been marred by violence, intimidation and ballot-rigging, and the postponement raised the possibility of an outbreak of unrest.

PDP chairman Uche Secondu said the move was "dangerous to our democracy". He called it part of an attempt by Buhari to "cling on to power even when it's obvious to him that Nigerians want him out".

But PDP candidate Atiku and Buhari both sought to avert any violent protests or confrontation.

The president said in a statement he was "deeply disappointed" and urged Nigerians to "refrain from all civil disorder and remain peaceful, patriotic and united".

Atiku told reporters at his residence in the northeastern city of Yola that he was shocked by the electoral commission's decision. He urged voters to be patient and wait until next Saturday to cast their ballots.

Presidential elections in 2011 and 2015 were also delayed over logistics and security issues. DEEPLY PAINED Voters across Nigeria also said they were unhappy. In the northeastern city of Maiduguri, people gathered for morning prayers after which they had planned to vote.

"We are disappointed and deeply pained by the postponement of the election. We spent our all night without sleeping hoping to vote today and just hearing the news that the election was been postponed," said one worshipper, Auwolu Usman.

Kabiru Sale, 27, who sells oil in the northern city of Kano, said the move took him by surprise.

"I am not happy with the suspension. I had already gone out to cast my vote only to be told on the way about the suspension. I do not really understand why they suspended the election," he said.

Nigeria is also dealing with pockets of instability and

authorities had bolstered security in much of the country.

Security forces were deployed from police headquarters in Maiduguri, the capital of northeast Borno state that has been worst hit by the Boko Haram militant group and its offshoot, Islamic State in West Africa Province.

The electoral commission also said voting to elect state governors was also to be delayed by a week to Mar. 9.]]>
2/16/2019 2:32:29 PM
<![CDATA[FM Shokry meets with UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations]]>CAIRO – 16 February 2019: Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met on Friday with Jean-Pierre Lacroix, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations on the sideline of the Munich Security Conference 2019.


According to a Friday statement, Shoukry and Lacroix discussed the situation in several African countries including Mali, Congo, South Sudan and Central Africa.


Lacroix praised Egypt’s “vital role” in Peacekeeping and supporting ‘Action for Peace’ initiative supervised by the United Nations. He added that the initiative still needs more support from the UN members in order to reach more effective results.


Lacroix also affirmed the importance of the continuing communication between Cairo and the UN especially after Egypt’s receiving the chairmanship of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for 2019.


The Foreign Ministry’s statement pointed out that Egypt will continue its regional and international efforts to enhance peace and security in the entire African continent.


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2/16/2019 1:58:57 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi calls for more co-op on counter-terrorism, combating illegal migration]]>CAIRO – 16 February 2019: Counter-terrorism, illegal migration, Palestinian-Israeli cause, Libya’s crisis, and Africa’s development are major priorities tackled by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in his speech at the 2019 Munich Security Conference (MSC 2019) on Saturday.


Being the chairperson of the African Union in 2019, Sisi gave a speech at the conference to be the first Arab president to address the three-day gathering. The conference is attended by 35 leaders of states, 50 foreign and 30 defense ministers.


“The conference convenes amid increasing manifold challenges and threats, including hotbeds of international tensions and conflicts , the spread of terrorism and extremism, and the escalating rate of organized crimes,” said President Sisi, calling on the international community to exert more efforts to cope with climate changes challenges against the whole world.


“Such challenges are seen clearly in the Middle East and the African continent alike. We witness armed conflicts, civil wars, ethnic clashes, and terrorist attacks; besides problems of poverty, unemployment, low productivity, and poor services,” Sisi said, calling for more cooperation to face such challenges, which result in economic crisis, financial market instability, and mounting debts.


“African Union’s 2019 priorities boil down to furthering regional economic integration all over the continent through increasing investments in infrastructure and through the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA), besides adopting Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union's Agenda 2063,” Sisi said.


President Sisi also shed light on the 2020 Silence the Gun initiative that aims to achieve development as basis for stability and ending conflicts on continent housed by more than billion Africans.


As for the Palestinian-Israeli cause, President Sisi said the unfair settlement for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will never lead to stability in the Middle East, calling for unifying the international efforts to put an end to this ongoing conflict and establish a Palestinian state on the border of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital in accordance with the international accords.


Regarding the Libyan crisis, President Sisi emphasized his country’s support to Libya to unify its disputed armed groups to bring peace and stability for the Libyans.


No illegal migration case has crossed the Mediterranean Sea from Egyptian shores since September 2016, President Sisi announced, adding that his country held a series of bilateral talks with a number of European countries to deal with the illegal migration from Africa to Europe.


Egypt hosts millions of registered and unregistered migrants, who are integrating into the Egyptian society, Sisi continued.


In the conclusion of his speech, President Sisi announced launching the First Aswan Forum for Security and Sustainable Development late 2019.


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2/16/2019 1:51:32 PM
<![CDATA[US-Europe tensions over Iran overshadow Warsaw Mideast summit]]>
The absence of foreign ministers from major European powers, Germany and France, highlights festering tensions with the European Union over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

EU policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who was a key player in the Iran nuclear deal, will also not attend the two-day conference due to scheduling issues, an EU official said, although US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Brussels on Friday to meet with her.

Pompeo, who will be joined by US Vice President Mike Pence in Warsaw, played down the absence of leading European ministers at the event during a brief stop in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Tuesday, before he headed to Warsaw.

“Some countries are having their foreign ministers come. Other countries are not. That’s their choice,” he told a news conference.

“We think we will make real progress. We think there’ll be dozens of nations there seriously working towards a better, more stable Middle East, and I’m hoping by the time we leave on Thursday we’ll have achieved that,” he added.

While countries such as France, Germany and Britain have opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert U.S. sanctions and keep the nuclear deal afloat, they have criticized Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

“There will be discussions about Iran’s influence in the Middle East, what we can do to help get Iran on a more helpful footing that it has been, to collectively push back on some of its malign behavior in the region,” a senior U.S. official said of the Warsaw agenda.

New U.S. sanctions, mainly targeted at cutting off revenue from Iran’s oil sector, have largely succeeded in persuading European companies to abandon business with Iran.

Iran has threatened to pull out of the deal unless the European powers enable it to receive economic benefits. The Europeans have promised to help companies do business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal.

In other policy differences, Washington’s European allies have also voiced concern over Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

Attendance questions

The conference will also hear from White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son in law, over plans by the United States for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

While Kushner is not likely to divulge too many details of the plan, it will be one of the first occasions he will publicly discuss the U.S. efforts.

Palestinian officials have said they will not attend the Warsaw conference because of Washington’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, however, attend, alongside several officials from Gulf states.

It was unclear which ministers would be attending since organisers refused to release the list of participants ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.

Hosting the event is a chance for Poland’s conservative government to bolster its ties with Washington at a time when it faces mounting isolation within the EU amid a dispute over its adherence to rule of law standards.

“It’s a clear effort to underline their desire to please Washington,” said Piotr Buras, a director of the Warsaw office of the ECFR think tank. “The goals of the conference are also defined by the U.S., not by Poland. Poland is just the implementer.”

But Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said transatlantic cooperation was necessary to resolve problems in the Middle East.

“The European Union alone does not, in my opinion, carry sufficient political weight to try to really influence the situation in the Middle East,” he told reporters in Warsaw.

“Only working together with the United States , and broadly speaking the community of democratic countries, can we have a positive influence and achieve peace and the stabilization of the situation in the Middle East,” he added.

Michal Baranowski, who heads the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund, said the outcome of the conference could either showcase divisions or more agreement over Iran.

“The proof is very much in the pudding whether this conference is something that will show great consensus or whether it will show greater division,” he said. ]]>
2/16/2019 12:08:35 PM
<![CDATA[Acting Pentagon chief says committed to defeating IS, but allies sceptical]]>
U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement in December that he was withdrawing all 2,000 U.S. troops from Syria surprised and rattled allies. U.S. officials have crisscrossed the Middle East in recent weeks to reassure them that Washington remains committed to the region.

Trump's Syria decision was opposed by top aides, including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit, leaving his deputy Shanahan in charge of the Pentagon.

"While the time for U.S. troops on the ground in northeast Syria winds down, the United States remains committed to our coalition's cause, the permanent defeat of ISIS, both in the Middle East and beyond," Shanahan said after a meeting on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

The meeting included about a dozen defense ministers from the coalition to defeat Islamic State. Kurdish-led fighters are battling to capture Islamic State's last major stronghold in Syria, but even without territory, the militant Islamist group is widely seen as a continuing threat.

Shanahan said he envisioned a "bigger and stronger" coalition to fight Islamic State globally. "We will continue to support our local partners' ability to stand up to the remnants of ISIS," he added, using an acronym for Islamic State.

However, European officials said they were given few details during the closed-door meeting in Munich and many questions remain. "We are still trying to understand how the Americans plan to withdraw. I don't think there is any clarity still," one European official, speaking on the condition of anonymity said.

Another official said Shanahan did not provide allies with a timeline of the American withdrawal from Syria and allies expressed scepticism during the meeting.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said no commitments were made during the meeting and there was little discussion about timelines.

"These meetings don't tend to have specific deliverables or decisions, it tends to be more focused on taking stock of where we are," the U.S. official said.

Trump has said he expects a formal announcement as early as this week that the coalition fighting Islamic State has reclaimed all the territory held by the group. ]]>
2/15/2019 4:55:03 PM
<![CDATA[Brexit won't deter European security cooperation-intelligence chiefs]]>
"The chiefs ... said that all three services would continue to be close allies in jointly protecting Europe from threats such as Islamism, terrorism, organised crime or cyber-attacks," the heads of Germany's BND, France's DGSE and Britain's MI6 said in a rare joint statement.

"This would also hold true... in view of Brexit," they said after meeting at the Munich Security Conference.

Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29. The British parliament last month rejected a withdrawal agreement reached by UK and EU negotiators, raising the possibility of a disruptive no-deal Brexit that could harm trade and other ties.

Britain and the EU have pledged to continue cooperation on security issues through institutions such as Europol and Eurojust after Brexit, although a proposed "operational cooperation" between police and justice systems remains vague.

However, British officials have warned that a no-deal Brexit would be a step back for security cooperation.

"Our security relationships are unconditional with our European colleagues... We need each other. This is a two-way street and that isn't going to change," Alex Younger, the head of the MI6 foreign intelligence service, told Reuters in an interview earlier on Friday.

"The relationship that exists between us and our European partners is closer than I have ever known it in my 30 years as an intelligence officer. Brexit doesn't fundamentally alter those relationships," he said.

Bernard Emie, director general of France's Direction Generale de la Securite Exterieure (DGSE), said Europe faced unprecedented threats and that the three allies had to reinforce their cooperation despite an uncertain political environment.

"The European continent is under growing threat of interference and external aggression," Emie said.

"These challenges cannot be dealt with solely at a national level. They need a strong and coordinated response ... especially from our three services." ]]>
2/15/2019 4:48:37 PM
<![CDATA[KSA key to regional stability: Pakistani FM]]>
In remarks ahead of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s visit to Pakistan, Qureshi added that Saudi Arabia enjoys great influence and respect in Pakistan.

He also said his country aims to learn from the Saudi Kingdom’s example of fostering coexistence and moderation through organizing cultural activities and festivals.

“We are very pleased with the Crown Prince’s visit that seeks to establish effective communication at all levels. I expect this visit to have a significant impact in driving the solid ties between the two countries to higher levels,” Qureshi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.

The foreign minister also said that both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have contributed to pushing the Afghan peace process forward, and that Pakistan considers this “to be a very important role.

“Pakistan also played a role in this reconciliation and helped to overcome all difficulties. We hope that security and stability will prevail for all.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is due to arrive in Islamabad on Feb. 16 on a two-day visit as part of his upcoming tour of several countries in Asia.
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2/15/2019 2:43:06 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan resume talks on GERD early March: official]]>CAIRO – 15 February 2019: After it was announced that the tripartite meeting between Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia on the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) will resume in February, it was revealed that the meeting could convene in early March.


An official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who spokes on condition anonymity as he is not authorized to brief the media, told Egypt Today on Thursday evening that the meeting among the ministers of foreign affairs and water resources of the three countries would be held in the first week of March.


He added that the three countries did not agree where the meeting will convene.


When Ethiopia started building the GERD on Blue Nile, from which Egypt’s 80 percent of Nile’s water share (55 billion cubic meters) comes in May 2011, downstream countries (Egypt and Ethiopia) voiced their concern as the dam could affect their water shares. Since then, the relation between Cairo and Addis Ababa strained. In 2014, however, three countries started a series of tripartite meetings to discuss the possible negative impacts of the GERD and they inked Declaration of Principles to not causing significant damage to Egypt and Sudan on March 15, 2015.


Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that three countries did not reach a unified decision on the techniques of filling the reservoir of the dam yet.


His remarks came few hours following a tripartite summit between the leaders of the three countries on February 10, on the sidelines of the 32nd session of the African Union Summit.


The three leaders stressed their commitment to abide by the Declaration of Principles.


In previous remarks to Egypt Today, Head of the Central Department for Technical Cooperation at the Nile Sector of the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation Mamdouh Mohamed Hassan said that the current debate between Egypt and Ethiopia on GERD is a technical one, adding that Ethiopia asked for 5-6 years to fill the dam’s reservoir, while Egypt expressed its desire that Ethiopia abide by the Nile water quantity flow in filling the reservoir to “avoid any significant damage on the downstream countries.”



Additional reporting by Samar Samir and Ahmed Gomaa

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2/15/2019 2:22:42 PM
<![CDATA[India's PM Modi warns Pakistan of strong response to Kashmir attack]]>
The car bomb attack on a security convoy on Thursday was the worst in decades of insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, India's only Muslim majority state.

"We will give a befitting reply, our neighbour will not be allowed to de-stabilise us," Modi said in a speech, after meeting security advisers to discuss options.

The attack comes months before an Indian general election.

The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility soon after a suicide bomber rammed a explosives-laden car into a bus carrying police personnel.

India has for years accused Muslim Pakistan of backing separatist militants in divided Kashmir, which the neighbours both claim in full but rule in part.

Pakistan denies that, saying it only offers political support to the Himalayan region's suppressed Muslim people.

The White House urged Pakistan in a statement "to end immediately the support and safe haven provided to all terrorist groups operating on its soil".

India said it had "incontrovertible evidence" of Pakistani involvement in the attack. The Pakistan government responded with a stiff denial, calling the attack a matter of "grave concern."

As outrage and demands for revenge flooded Indian social media, Arun Jaitley, one of the most senior figures in the Hindu nationalist-led government, told reporters India would work to ensure the "complete isolation" of Pakistan.

The first step, he said, would include removing most favoured nation (MFN) trade privileges that had been accorded to Pakistan - though annual bilateral trade between the countries is barely $2 billion.

The last major attack in Kashmir was in 2016 when Jaish militants raided an Indian army camp, killing 20 soldiers. Weeks later, Modi ordered a surgical strike on suspected militant camps across the border in Pakistan Kashmir.

When he swept to power in 2014, Modi vowed to pursue a tough line with mostly Pakistan. The two countries have gone to war three times since independence from Britain in 1947, twice over Kashmir.

The Line of Control, the de facto border dividing Indian- and Pakistani-held Kashmir, is widely regarded as one of the world's most dangerous flashpoints, especially after the two countries became nuclear armed states in 1998.

CALLS FOR REVENGE

Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale summoned Pakistan's ambassador, Sohail Mahmood, and issued a demarche demanding Pakistan take verifiable action against the Jaish.

Crowds gathered in Jammu, the Hindu-dominated part of Jammu and Kashmir state, demanding stronger action against Pakistan.

A curfew was briefly imposed in Jammu after crowds overturned and set fire to some vehicles. Protesters were also marching to the Pakistani embassy in New Delhi.

The attack comes at a difficult time for Pakistan, which is struggling to attract foreign investment and avert a payments crisis, with its swiftly diminishing foreign currency reserves at less than $8 billion, equivalent to two months of import payments.

The escalating tension risks overshadowing a visit to the region by the Saudi crown prince, who is due in Islamabad over the weekend and New Delhi next week, with both governments hoping to attract Saudi investment.

India's Home Minister Rajnath Singh flew into Srinagar, the main city in Indian Kashmir, and joined mourners carrying the coffins of the dead policemen, before they were sent to their homes across India.

Hundreds of thousands of Indian troops are deployed in Kashmir.

The separatist insurgency has waxed and waned since the late 1980s, but began to pick up in the last five years as a fresh generation of Kashmiris was drawn to militancy.

Soon after Thursday's attack, Jaish released photographs and a video of a young Kashmiri villager, Adil Ahmad Dar, who it said had carried out the suicide attack on the convoy.

In the video, Dar warned of more attacks to avenge human rights violations in Kashmir. On Friday, hundreds of people gathered at his village of Lethipora to mourn his death.

Jaish is one of the most deadly groups operating in Kashmir.

In 2001, it mounted an attack on the parliament in New Delhi that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

Indian efforts to add Jaish leader Masood Azhar to a U.N. Security Council blacklist of al Qaeda-linked terrorists have been blocked by China.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang expressed “deep shock” at the latest attack.

China resolutely opposed and strongly condemned all terrorism and hoped “relevant countries in the region” could cooperate to combat the threat, he told reporters.]]>
2/15/2019 1:47:52 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's amb. to Berlin reviews promising bilateral relations]]>
Badr Abdel Aati, Egypt's ambassador to Germany, issued a report on Egyptian-German relations and the remarkable development they have witnessed since 2015 under President Sisi.

Sisi's first visit to Berlin in 2015 was the first step to change the negative German stance towards the June 30 revolution and paved the way to German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Cairo in March 2017, and a another visit for Sisi to Berlin in June 2017, Abdel Aati said.

He described the series of visits as a move that caused a qualitative shift in the nature of the relations between the two countries, bringing them back to normal course.

The president's visit to Berlin in October 2018 reflected the level of maturity of the relations between the two countries and the common basis for mutual cooperation and interests, he added.

Egypt is seeking to attract more German investments, transfer the German technology in a number of fields, particularly the automobile industry and to upgrade education in Egypt, based on German quality, both in terms of university and technical education, the ambassador said.

Meanwhile, Germany is keen to develop relations with Egypt due to the North African country's influence in the region, considering it as the main pillar of the stability of the Middle East and the first main power in the region to deal with terrorism and illegal migration, according to Abdel Aati.

He added that Egypt is a hub for launching German industries and exports to the Middle East and Africa.

The cooperation with Germany in the automotive sector has witnessed a remarkable progress, especially after the return of Mercedes to the Egyptian market, the ambassador said, adding that there is a possibility of cooperation with Mercedes in terms of smart cities, electric cars and transportation, and self-driving systems to preserve the environment.

A technical delegation from Mercedes intends to visit Egypt in February 2019 to activate the decision of resumption of the company's activity in Egypt, the ambassador said.

Waste management

The cooperation with Germany in waste management and recycling is one of the most important areas the Egyptian Embassy in Berlin has followed up on, following the president's visit to Berlin in October 2018, he said.

A number of Egyptian ministers have closely watched the German model of recycling wastes, the ambassador said, adding that they have found that this model cannot be totally transferred to Egypt due to the different nature of waste in Germany, as well as the different climatic conditions in the two countries.

Diplomatic relations

Following June 30 revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated former President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian relations with Germany, as well as many other countries, were strained. However, diplomatic, and subsequently economic relations with Germany have been restored in a short time.

During the first term of elected President Sisi, Merkel received Sisi in Berlin in June 2015, marking the end of strained relations, while a number of protests have been launched in support of Sisi in Berlin, according to Berlin police.

During Sisi's historical visit, an €8 billion ($9.1 billion) deal was signed with German Siemens AG to build gas and wind power plants in Egypt. According to media reports, it is the largest single order in Siemen's history.

Although Merkel opposed the death punishment ruled against former President Morsi at the time, she praised Egypt's peace efforts in the Middle East, saying in a news conference that there were many good reasons for the strong ties between the two countries, including common interest in achieving peace and security.

In January 2017, Sisi discussed with Merkel cooperation in countering terrorism. The two officials also discussed a future visit by Merkel to Cairo, said a statement by the Egyptian Presidency Office.

In March of the same year, Merkel visited the Egyptian capital, where she discussed with President Sisi issues including illegal migration, terrorism and the latest developments in the region.

Following the meeting, Sisi praised, in a press conference, the development of the relations between the two states in various fields.

Merkel expressed appreciation of the long term bilateral relations, which have lasted for about 61 years, affirming that Germany is one of Egypt's major trade and investment partners.

Sisi and Merkel also watched a video conference of the opening ceremony of the German Siemens's three power plants established in Egypt.

During his speech in the inauguration of the megaprojects in July, CEO of Siemens Joe Kaiser said that the three giant electricity plants, provided by Siemens, produce electric power for 40 million citizens, in addition to the provision of power to companies and factories for many years to come.

“The plants will also provide Egypt with prosperity, flexibility and diversification, enabling the country to export energy to Europe and establish cooperative relations with Saudi Arabia,” Kaiser added.

Economic relations brief

There have been a number of 1,048 German companies operating in the Egyptian market until July 31, 2017. The volume of trade in 2017 recorded €5.8 billion ($6.6 billion) compared to €5.3 billion in 2016.

The trade exchange between Egypt and Germany during the first seven months of 2018 recorded about $2.78 billion.

The value of Egyptian imports from Germany during this period decreased by 17.8 percent compared to the previous year, to reach about $2.361 billion.

While Egypt's imports of cars, tractors, bicycles and parts increased to $414.337 million during the same period.

Concerning investments, Egyptian investments in Germany reached $46.1 million. The most important sectors in which Egypt invests in Germany are financing, pharmaceuticals, furniture, medical equipment, tourism and trade.

Also, Germany's investments in the agricultural sector in Egypt amounted to $34.5 million with 33 companies operating in the field.
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2/14/2019 3:58:13 PM
<![CDATA[BREAKING: Egypt's Parliament approves constitutional amendments in principle]]>
A total of 485 out 569 of lawmakers approved the amendments that suggested by one fifth of the parliament members early this month.

As per the initial approval,the amendments will be referred to the Legislative Committee of the Parliament to consider them within 60 days, said Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal in the session. Then, if the committee approves the amendments, the president has the right to call on the Egyptians for public referendum to confirm the amendments.

The amendments also tackle appointing the heads of judicial bodies by the president.

The proposed amendments also include restoring Shura Council – a senate- to broaden representation at the Parliamentary Councils- after it was dissolved in 2012. The appointment of deputy president is also one of the amendments. Supporting women, Youth, Christian minority, the disabled, and the Egyptian expatriates community by solid constitutional articles are included in the amendments.

One of the amendments stipulates, “The Armed Forces are the guarantor of the democracy and civil state, and the appointment way of defense minister should be reconsidered.”

“A coordination council headed by the president would organize the posts inside all the judicial entities,” another amendment provides.

Although many political experts and politicians said that the new amendments are essential for Egypt’s current development program, many critic voices expressed objection as such amendments contradict with freedom principles. ]]>
2/14/2019 3:03:33 PM
<![CDATA[In principle, Egypt’s Parliament votes on constitutional amendments]]>
In case the majority (50 percent +1) approves the proposed amendments in the Thursday session, the amendments will be referred to the Legislative Committee of the Parliament to consider them within 60 days, said Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal in the session. Then, if the committee approves the amendments, the president has the right to call on the Egyptians for public referendum to confirm the amendments.


One fifth of the parliament members submitted a proposal to conduct constitutional amendments in line with Article 226 of the constitution and Article 140 of Parliament’s internal by-laws. They asked for extending the presidential term to 6 years from 4, “as the current circumstances have proven the step essential,” according to a statement issued by the Parliament on February 3, 2019.

The amendments also tackle appointing the heads of judicial bodies by the president.

The proposed amendments also include restoring Shura Council – a senate- to broaden representation at the Parliamentary Councils- after it was dissolved in 2012. The appointment of deputy president is also one of the amendments. Supporting women, Youth, Christian minority, the disabled, and the Egyptian expatriates community by solid constitutional articles are included in the amendments.

One of the amendments stipulates, “The Armed Forces are the guarantor of the democracy and civil state, and the appointment way of defense minister should be reconsidered.”

“A coordination council headed by the president would organize the posts inside all the judicial entities,” another amendment provides.

Although many political experts and politicians said that the new amendments are essential for Egypt’s current development program, many critic voices expressed objection as such amendments contradict with freedom principles.
]]>
2/14/2019 2:17:54 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi to give a speech at MSC 2019]]>
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President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is received by Hubert Aiwanger (FW), Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Economic Affairs, Regional Development -and Energy in Munich- Press photo


Sisi will speak at the conference about Egypt’s vision on the African affairs in accordance with the AU's Agenda 2063 and in light of Egypt's presidency of the African union, said presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement on Thursday.

Tana Forum for Security in African will hold an event with the African Union on the sidelines of the MSC 2019 to tackle “Peace and Integration in the Horn of Africa”, Tana announced on Wednesday.




President Sisi is set to be the first Arab president to give a speech at the conference on Saturday.


The conference will be attended by 35 leaders of states, 50 foreign and 30 defense ministers, according to MSC 2019 official website.

The three-day conference will discuss technology, cyber issues, energy, climate change, and European defense.

It is scheduled that President Sisi will meet German officials and politicians to discuss the bilateral relations, which saw a significant improvement.

The Egyptian- German relationship is getting much better. The numerous official German visits to Egypt reflect the Egyptian political stability,” Vice- President of the Landtag Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke assured.

On February 12, 2019, both countries inked a 250-million-dollar agreement to boost the Egyptian social and economic reform program.

In case you missed it

German flow of investments to Egypt skyrockets

CAIRO - 14 February 2019: "The Egyptian- German relationship is getting much better. The numerous official German visits to Egypt reflect the Egyptian political stability," Vice- President of the Landtag Brandenburg Dietmar Woidke assured.





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2/14/2019 1:53:25 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. seeks to increase pressure on Iran at Warsaw meeting]]>
The absence of foreign ministers from major European powers, Germany and France, highlights festering tensions with the European Union over U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision last year to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

EU policy chief, Federica Mogherini, who was a key player in the Iran nuclear deal, will also not attend the two-day conference due to scheduling issues, an EU official said, although U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will travel to Brussels on Friday to meet with her.

Pompeo, who will be joined by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Warsaw, played down the absence of leading European ministers at the event during a brief stop in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Tuesday, before he headed to Warsaw.

“Some countries are having their foreign ministers come. Other countries are not. That’s their choice,” he told a news conference.

“We think we will make real progress. We think there’ll be dozens of nations there seriously working towards a better, more stable Middle East, and I’m hoping by the time we leave on Thursday we’ll have achieved that,” he added.

SPONSORED

While countries such as France, Germany and Britain have opened a new channel for non-dollar trade with Iran to avert U.S. sanctions and keep the nuclear deal afloat, they have criticized Tehran’s ballistic missile program.

“There will be discussions about Iran’s influence in the Middle East, what we can do to help get Iran on a more helpful footing that it has been, to collectively push back on some of its malign behavior in the region,” a senior U.S. official said of the Warsaw agenda.

New U.S. sanctions, mainly targeted at cutting off revenue from Iran’s oil sector, have largely succeeded in persuading European companies to abandon business with Iran.

Iran has threatened to pull out of the deal unless the European powers enable it to receive economic benefits. The Europeans have promised to help companies do business with Iran as long as it abides by the deal.

In other policy differences, Washington’s European allies have also voiced concern over Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.

ATTENDANCE QUESTIONS
The conference will also hear from White House adviser Jared Kushner, who is Trump’s son in law, over plans by the United States for peace between Palestinians and Israelis.

While Kushner is not likely to divulge too many details of the plan, it will be one of the first occasions he will publicly discuss the U.S. efforts.

Palestinian officials have said they will not attend the Warsaw conference because of Washington’s decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will, however, attend, alongside several officials from Gulf states.

It was unclear which ministers would be attending since organizers refused to release the list of participants ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.

Hosting the event is a chance for Poland’s conservative government to bolster its ties with Washington at a time when it faces mounting isolation within the EU amid a dispute over its adherence to rule of law standards.

“It’s a clear effort to underline their desire to please Washington,” said Piotr Buras, a director of the Warsaw office of the ECFR think tank. “The goals of the conference are also defined by the U.S., not by Poland. Poland is just the implementer.”

But Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz said transatlantic cooperation was necessary to resolve problems in the Middle East.
“The European Union alone does not, in my opinion, carry sufficient political weight to try to really influence the situation in the Middle East,” he told reporters in Warsaw.

“Only working together with the United States , and broadly speaking the community of democratic countries, can we have a positive influence and achieve peace and the stabilization of the situation in the Middle East,” he added.

Michal Baranowski, who heads the Warsaw office of the German Marshall Fund, said the outcome of the conference could either showcase divisions or more agreement over Iran.

“The proof is very much in the pudding whether this conference is something that will show great consensus or whether it will show greater division,” he said.]]>
2/14/2019 1:17:07 PM
<![CDATA[2014’s constitution needs to be amended: Parliamentarian ]]>
This came during the Parliament's general session that was held on Feb. 13 to discuss the proposed constitutional amendments.

“These amendments guarantee more stability for the state and its institutions. No one can deny that 2014’s constitution includes complex procedures that may turn it into a rigid text,” Tamawy said.

He pointed out the amendments will benefit the political system in Egypt, considering it as a first step towards political reform in the country.

During the session, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal affirmed that Egypt is not a religious, military or secular state.

During a discussion with a number of parliament members affiliated to Al-Nour party, who expressed their concern regarding the term "civil" state, Abdel Aal explained that there is a significant difference between civil and secular.

Abdel Aal asserted that the main articles of the constitution which state clearly that Islam is the main source of legislation and the country’s first religion will not be affected or amended at all.

“’Civil’ is the opposite of religious and military. Our country's rulers were never military or religious,” Abdel Aal said, affirming that there are no intentions to change the constitution’s main articles.
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2/14/2019 11:47:44 AM
<![CDATA[Parl't speaker turns down suggestion to discuss constitutional amendments with Sisi]]>
“These amendments emanated from the Parliament. We suggested these amendments in light of the transitional phase the country is going through,” Abdel Aal said.

He added that the president could have asked for amending the constitution; however, this was not the case. “This is the Parliament's initiative and will remain this way,” Abdel Aal said, refusing the parliamentarian suggestion.

Parliamentarian Badrawi suggested during the general session to discuss the constitution amendments with President Sisi; however, the suggestion was turned down by the Parliament speaker.

Furthermore, Parliament member Iham al-Tamawy said that several articles of 2014’s constitution need to be amended and expressed his support of the amendments. “These amendments guarantee more stability for the state and its institutions. No one can deny that 2014’s constitution includes complex procedures that may turn it into a rigid text,” Tamawy said.

He pointed out the amendments will benefit the political system in Egypt, considering it as a first step towards political reform in the country.

]]>
2/14/2019 11:42:47 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt not religious, military or secular: Parl't speaker]]>
During a discussion with a number of parliament members affiliated to Al-Nour party, who expressed their concern regarding the term "civil" state, Abdel Aal explained that there is a significant difference between civil and secular.

Abdel Aal asserted that the main articles of the constitution which state clearly that Islam is the main source of legislation and the country’s first religion will not be affected or amended at all.

“’Civil’ is the opposite of religious and military. Our country's rulers were never military or religious,” Abdel Aal said, affirming that there are no intentions to change the constitution’s main articles.

On February 5, Egypt’s Parliament approved the constitution's draft amendments. The proposal was put forward by one fifth of all parliamentarians. Two thirds of the committee's members voted in favor of further discussing the proposal.

The statement released by the House of Representatives indicated the main principles that the amendments aim to accomplish and classified them into seven sections.

Parliament's general committee approves constitution's draft amendments

CAIRO - 5 February 2019: Egyptian Parliament's General Committee approved on Tuesday the proposal put forward by one fifth of all parliamentarians. Two thirds of the committee's members voted in favor of the proposal to be further discussed.





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2/14/2019 11:38:40 AM
<![CDATA[Constitutional amendment discussed in parliament's general assembly ]]>

What to know about Egypt's constitutional amendment process

CAIRO - 6 February 2019: The process to amend the constitution involves the House of Representatives, and the people who is expected to participate in the referendum to be held few months from now. Below are the details of measures to be taken.




At the beginning, Speaker Ali Abdel Aal set the rules as follows, “Discussions will be restricted to the proposed amendments. It is prohibited to suggest new ones. Representatives of parliamentary committees at political parties will be heard first. The order of speaking will be designated according to the party’s size and number of seats. Later on, the rest of parliamentarians will be heard.”

First Deputy Speaker Al Sayed Al Sharif presented the report prepared by the General Committee on the amendment proposal put forward by 155 parliamentarians. Discussions took place over three sessions.

Leader of “Support Egypt Coalition” Abdel Hady al-Qasabi described the process as “historic moments in the Egyptian parliamentary history as parliamentarians are practicing their right to amend some articles in the constitution.”

GA1
Speaker Ali Abdel Aal listening to parliamentarians in House of Representatives General Assembly while discussing draft constitutional amendments. February 13, 2019. Egypt Today/Hazem Abdel Samad

The following are some of the parliamentarians who expressed their approval of the draft amendments: Mohamed al-Masry; Seif Nasr al-Din; Essam Mansy; Gehad Ibrahim; Mona Monir; Wahid Qarqar; Ahmed al-Baaly; Mai Mahmoud; Ehab al-Tamawy; Mahmoud Badr; Alaa Abed; Mohamed Salah Abou Hmeila; Tharwat Bekheit; Emad Gad; Suzi Nashed; Manal Maher; Abdel Razek Zant; Mohamed Akl; Badawi Abdel Latif; Fawzy Fatey; Yassin Abdel Sabour; Nour el-Din Abdel Razek; Ahmed Zidan; Saad Bedeir; Sahar Othman; Ehab al-Kholy; Hussein Khater; Reyad Abdel Satar; Ahmed al-Awady; Soad al-Masry; Salama al-Gohary; Amr Hamroush; Mostafa al-Gendy; Samy al-Mashad; and, Sahar Talaat Mostafa.

The reasons stated for approving the draft amendments were combating terrorism, achieving economic and sustainable development, and stability.

Parliamentarian Mona Monir demanded that women get a quota not just in the parliament but also in municipal councils. The amendment proposed to allocate a quota of 25 percent of seats to women was welcomed by female parliamentarians.

The next step will be referring the draft amendments to the Constitutional and Legislative Committee which must issue its report along with phrasing the articles within 60 days from receipt. If the draft amendments are approved by at least two thirds of parliamentarians, a referendum will be held for the people to vote.

Speaker Abdel Aal said that a social dialogue would be held, and that judicial entities will be asked for their opinion on the draft amendment pertinent to them.]]>
2/13/2019 7:48:50 PM
<![CDATA[At least 20 IRGC personnel killed in Iran suicide bombing]]>
The IRNA news agency reported the toll in the bombing Wednesday in Sistan and Baluchistan province.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came on the day of a U.S.-led conference in Warsaw that included discussions on what America describes as Iran's malign influence across the Middle East.

The province, which lies on a major opium trafficking route, has seen occasional clashes between Iranian forces and Baluch separatists, as well as drug traffickers.

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2/13/2019 6:32:08 PM
<![CDATA[Know about Egypt's 2nd housing min. under Sisi]]>After five years during which he served as housing minister, Madbouli is no more keeping the post.


CAIRO - 13 February 2019: Asem al-Gazzar, the housing minister's deputy,was sworn in on Wednesday, Feb. 13 before President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as the new housing minister, succeeding Mostafa Madbouli, who has served in the post for five years in three consecutive cabinets.

Madbouli who took over as prime minister in June 2018, had also kept his old post apparently due to ongoing major housing projects that have started during his first tenure, as Sisi's first housing minister.

The president has met with Madbouli and Gazzar, according to presidential spokesman BassamRadi, where Sisi directed Gazzar to make the utmost efforts to finish the ongoing projects including developing unsafe areas on time.

Sisi also urged the continuous development of infrastructure projects and the provision of periodical maintenance for these projects, including sanitation projects, Radi added.

Who's Gazzar?

The Parliament approved appointing Gazzar as deputy minister of housing on January 14,2018, before he was granted the same post again in Madbouli's government which was formed in June 2018.

Gazzar served as the head of the General Authority for Urban Planning, succeeding Madbouli, during the term of Tarek Wafik, the former housing minister. He also directed the National Urban Observatory and served as the head of the technical committee to create strategic designs for new cities.

Furthermore, Gazzar was a member of the ministerial committee to develop the Suez Canal Axis, and a board member of the General Authority for Suez Canal Economic Zone, the National Organization for Urban Harmony, General Authority for Tourism Development, the National Center for Planning State Lands Usage (NCPSLU), and the Housing and Building National Research Center

Gazzar was a teacher at the Faculty of Regional and Urban Planning at Cairo University. He participated in preparing Egypt's scheme 2052, initiated by Madbouli.

He got his PhD from Cairo University in 2006 from the Urban Design Department. He also got high-level academic degrees from a number of universities including George Washington University, and Oxford Brookes University.


In July 2018, Madbouli and Gazzar witnessed the signing ceremony of two cooperation protocols between Cairo governorate and the New Urban Communities Authority.

The protocols were signed by former Cairo Governor Atef Abdel Hamid and Deputy Chairman of the NUCA Mazen Hassan, in the presence of other officials to develop El-Mawardi area, Al-Sayeda Zeinab.

Gazzar said that the two parties agreed on developing the unsafe El-Mawardi area,which stretches over an area of 3.35 feddans, referring that the protocol comes within the framework of the development project of Tal Al-Aqareb area in Al-Sayeda Zeinab.

Gazzar referred that Cairo governorate’s vision aims to restore the city's vital role as Egypt’s capital, and focuses on evacuating some areas in Cairo to be able to develop and use these areas in cultural and urban activities.

Keeping housing portfolio

Head of the Parliament’s Housing Committee Moataz Mahmoud said in June, that Madbouli kept his post as the housing minister in order to continue the national construction projects he started.

In an interview with the Egyptian “90 Minutes” program on Al-Mihwar, Mahmoud said the state has initiated a number of national projects worth billions of pounds in the past few years which are expected to be completed during the next year.

He explained that it was not certain that a new housing minister would adopt the same policy while resuming projects and would offer the same high efficiency as Madbouli.

On June 5, 2018, Egypt’s former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail submitted the resignation of his government only two days after President Sisi was officially sworn in as the head of state for a second term until 2022.

Selecting Madbouli wasn’t a surprise as he was Sisi’s first choice to lead the government last November when former Prime Minister Ismail had jetted off to Germany for a surgery. Ismail returned to his post later in January 2018.]]>
2/13/2019 5:40:00 PM
<![CDATA[Parl't discusses draft law reorganizing study in medical schools]]>
The draft law reduces the number of years required for a student to earn a bachelor’s degree in medicine to five years instead of six.However, medical students will have to undergo two years of medical training, instead of one before they graduate, according to the draft law.

The medicine degrees will be measured by credit hours, and medical students will have to undergo an exam before they are licensed to practice medicine.

The Egyptian Medical Syndicate voiced objection to the draft law after it has been preliminarily approved by the Parliament, mainly for reorganizing medical study by setting five years for study and two for practical training instead of six for study and only one for practice.

Osama Abdel Hai, a syndicate's official, said that increasing practical training will be useless unless a modern curriculum for practice is created, which is currently not available.

The syndicate's board member said that most of the hospitals nowadays exploit doctors during their one-year training to work in nursing, which makes this year of no benefit for them.

What to know about the medical responsibility draft law

CAIRO – 22 August 2018: The Health Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives is preparing to discuss a number of draft laws ...

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2/13/2019 5:29:52 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar still deceiving int'l community, African gov'ts, supports terrorism ]]>CAIRO – 13 February 2019: The tiny Gulf emirate of Qatar has been falsely alleging more contribution in the international counter-terrorism efforts.


On Dec. 27, the Qatari Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced that it had donated 24 Storm armored personnel carriers (APC) to the Armed Forces of Mali.


The MoD said the vehicles were airlifted to Mali aboard several Boeing C-17 transport aircraft the day before and would be used for security operations in Mali and the four other G5 Sahel countries.


The G5 of Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Chad and Mauritania last year created a military task force to root out jihadist violence.


Moreover, on Jan. 17, Doha announced donating 68 armored vehicles to Somalia, a step which was preserved as Doha seeking more influence in the country.


These false efforts, however, were exposed by military experts and observers of the international scene as reports have shown that the regime in Doha had betrayed the governments of Africa through these military contributions.


The armed vehicles and military equipment were dispatched by Doha in a desperate attempt to deny the accusation against it of supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations in the African continent.


Some military experts asserted that the vehicles granted by Doha to the two countries were manufactured in Turkey.


The vehicles were proved to be faulty and inefficient to be used in the military operations against terrorism in the region, especially in the north of Syria; the vehicles could not provide the protection needed against assaults by Kurdish groups targeting Turkish troops.


The vehicles are vulnerable to land mines, explosives and IEDs. They also cannot be retrieved for re-operation.


The aforementioned created doubts on the objectives and real intentions behind Doha’s donation of such heavily used armored vehicles.


Political experts have also explained that the regime in Doha is, as usual, trying to make a compromise with all parties, especially Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, throughout purchasing worn-out Turkish military equipment, while at the same time deceiving the African governments by providing them with the heavily used vehicles, presumably capable of combating terrorism.


On the other hand, terrorists already realize the defects and weak points of these vehicles, therefore, they grew able to neutralize them during their engagement with the governmental troops chasing them in these countries.



Countdown starts for Foreign Minister Mohammed Al-Thani in office


Mohamed Bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani

Qatar’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani is currently living through bitter days after he received some tips that his days in office at numbered as the regime decided to replace him by Qatari ambassador to the UN Alya bin Ahmed Al Thani.


Observers relate this step to the dissatisfaction of the Doha regime with his performance, especially after his failure in containing and managing the Arab boycott file against Qatar, not to mention his frequently repeated controversial statements, especially his confession that his country is not based on democracy.


He also attacked the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and questioned its necessity before he later changed his speech in a contradictory manner reflecting the confusion in the emirate’s diplomacy and foreign policy.



Qatar’s economy, another face of deception


QNB

Reliable sources have been asserting the false data declared by the Qatari authorities about overcoming the economic burdens that Qatar suffered after the Arab boycott.


On last June 5 early morning, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE issued statements announcing the severing of diplomatic relations with Qatar, accusing it of supporting terrorism and growing relations with the regional foe, Iran.


The sources further revealed that the Qatari banking sector has been severely suffering from many crisis, especially after many loan holders failed to pay back the dues to banks.


The loan holders complained that the boycott and the deterioration of economy in Doha is the reason behind an acute failure to pay back the bank dues.


The regime in Qatar has enforced strict confidentiality regarding these difficulties and issues, especially after banks started to obiously suffer from a decrease in their clients who preferred no to deposit their money in banks anymore. In addition to a dminish in trade within local markets.



Wadah Khanfer: The useless card in Doha’s deck


Khanfer

Former director of the Doha-based Al Jazeera channel, Wadah Khanfer, opened the December 2018’s edition of “Al-Sharq Forum” in the capital of Malaysia with the participation of a number of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters.


But even though the forum is considered an old sign that was established by the Qatari regime in 2012, in the wake of the Arab Spring revolutions, however, the attempts carried out by Khanfer to activate the role of the forum lately occurred after he failed to infiltrate the American media throughout “Integral Media” company, which was established by the Qatari regime.


The Huffington Post stopped cooperating with the Qatari company after issuing an Arabic edition of the newspaper, in which Khanfer exploited the paper to propagate the Muslim Brotherhood speech under the name of the Huffington Post, the matter that tarnished the newspaper’s reputation.


“Al Sharq Forum” itself is considered another aborted project by the Hamads’ regime, which has become addicted of wasting the Qatari people’s money on a chain of adventures and platforms in order to beautify the image of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group, especially after the revolutions proved the reality and brutality of the terrorist organization against the Arab region.



Qatar Charity: Allocating QAR 1.6 billion for sponsoring terrorism


Qatar_Charity

Located in Doha, the Qatar Charity foundation launched an interactive electronic platform to raise donations, which mounted to 1 billion and 600 million Qatari riyals in 2018.


The foundation further planned to inaugurate five new sub-offices in some countries to reach the number of 34 branches outside Qatar. The foundation considers itself as a non-profitable organization that aims to achieve development in and outside Qatar.


However, reports exposed how the Qatari regime took advantage of the foundation to finance terrorism through undercover charitable activities. As a result, the Arab Terrorism Quartet (ATQ) enlisted the foundation within the list of terrorist entities and figures.


Lately, the government of Kosovo shut-down the Qatar Charity office in the republic after the foundation was exposed and listed as a terrorist foundation, which managed to manipulate the applied international regulations to prevent money laundering and financing terrorism throughout charitable activities.

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2/13/2019 5:21:53 PM
<![CDATA[Houthis hinder peace plan in Yemen: UK, UAE]]>CAIRO – 13 February 2019: UK’s Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt said on Wednesday “the window of opportunity to turn a ceasefire in Yemen into a plan for peace was shortening.”


A report by the Saudi state-news agency SPA revealed around 1,112 violations committed by the Houthi militias since the Hodeidah agreement came into force last Dec. 18.


These violations have resulted the death of 76 civilians and at least 492 injuries.


"We now have a shortening window of opportunity to turn the ceasefire into a durable path to peace - and stop the world’s worst humanitarian crisis," Hunt said in a statement ahead of a meeting with the U.S., UAE and Saudi foreign ministers.


Reports and news have been pointing out to continous violations by the Houthis as they continued to target residents, public areas and army positions, mainly using Iranian-made weapons and explosives.


"Real progress has been made to reach a political solution but there are also real issues of trust between the two sides which mean the agreement in Stockholm has not been fully implemented,” he added.


Reports also affirmed that Houthis are proceeding in strengthening their defensive positions by laying mines and digging trenches and that the militia continued to provoke the Yemeni National Army and the Yemeni Legal Support Coalition to hamper the Stockholm agreement.


The Stockholm Agreement, brokered through UN-led peace talks in December, was deemed a final solution to ending Yemen’s nearly four-year war.


For his part, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter that Houthi rebels are jeopardising a historic chance to achieve peace in Yemen.




“A political solution to the crisis will not be achieved by the reversal of commitments, we have a historic opportunity threatened by the Houthi to jeopardise efforts made in Stockholm,” Gargash tweeted on Wednesday.


Gargash has previously stated that an international pressure is necessary to make the rebels honour the Hodeidah ceasefire and other commitments.

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2/13/2019 1:55:32 PM
<![CDATA[Media is vital for informing people on positive role of migration: IOM Egypt Chief]]>
Although there has been an international wave against immigrants, statistically speaking, as a wide-array of research has shown, immigrants have a positive effect on the gross domestic product (GDP). Syrian businessmen and women in Egypt contributed $6 billion to GDP between 2015 and 2018, according De Boeck and the IOM’s 2018 paper. The paper also added that only 8,771 migrants registered for support during their stay in the country in 2018, meaning most immigrants reaching Egypt do not actually need financial aid form the state. Still, the IOM helps plenty of individuals return voluntarily to their home country, and run programs to ensure that immigrants and individuals from the host country get along.

When asked about the media’s responsibility in showing the public the positive role of migrants and how they contribute positively to society, De Boeck replied, “The media certainly has an important role in informing the people at various levels.”

He went on to explain that it is the role of the media to ensure that the people understand that migrants are part of the society and that migration creates society, and leads to diversity. This also has a positive impact on society.

“Migrants have a positive part of any society, they create the diversity in a society,” the IOM Chief said, adding that Egypt is a nice model because it is a cross point, and there are many different nationalities and cultures that have come to Egypt and have affected the culture.

“This is something that [the media] needs to remind the people of.” Migrants are not a burden to the society, he explained, they are a contributor to the way of thinking and the way if existence and co-existence.

“We will look at, and certainly look, to the Media to pass accurate information on who the migrants are, what they contribute to society, what they do positively and we try to repeat and see the positive effects of the migrants.”

It is also important to remember that there is quite a significant number of Egyptians abroad, about 9 million, which is equivalent to just under 10 percent of the Egyptian population. “Approximately 10 percent of the population lives outside the country, and the look for also divers societies where they are welcome and there are no social tensions. And if they integrate positively, they continuing having a link with their country of origin,” De Boeck tells Egypt Today.

“Egypt is a model in the world for that because it is among the top five companies in terms of remittances. So, they are returning back money that has an effect on the economy and the family circle because it allows them to have direct access to cash,” De Boeck explained, arguing that this is also showing that migration is positive.

Running the numbers

Although estimations place the number of migrants residing within Egypt to be around five million, the United Nation’s International Organization for Immigration (IOM) suggests that this number is well below the actual amount. “It is estimated that Egypt hosts about four million undocumented Sudanese nationals, who live in Egypt for several years, about one million Syrians (including businesspersons), one million Libyans who work in the country for decades, and many Iraqis and Lebanese migrants,” stated the IOM in a 2018 report. This is not to mention those who have been living her for more than one generation, meaning that they have expanded their families and made Egypt their home, explains De Boeck.
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2/13/2019 1:43:27 PM
<![CDATA[Opposition MP urges citizens to vote at possible constitutional referendum]]>
In an interview published by Al-Shorouk in August 2017, Hariri said that such amendment will be the Parliament's "second sin," after approving the maritime border demarcation agreement with Saudi Arabia.

In a press conference held earlier this month for the Parliament's 25-30 opposition bloc to which Hariri belongs, he said that these amendments are "a bomb that would detonate at the democratic path in Egypt."

However, it seems that the opposition MP changed his stance, publicly calling on Egyptian citizens in a Facebook post to "positively participate and vote at the referendum," adding that "we all have to respect the will of the Egyptians."

Hariri did not change his Facebook profile picture which highlights the slogan of "no to the constitutional amendments. This is too much," Hariri yet said that constitutional amendments have their own unarguable mechanisms, "and if the Parliament approved [them,] then it would be the utmost democratic practice."

Bad reputation

Lawyer Samir Sabry, known for filing legal complaints against anti-state parties, filed an urgent lawsuit before the Administrative Court to compel the Parliament speaker to drop the membership of Hariri after a phone call allegedly between Hariri and an unknown married woman containing sexual undertones has been leaked only few days ago.

Sabri apparently considered the alleged phone call as clear evidence against Hariri, saying that the accused MP is now missing the condition of "good reputation," which all Parliament members must enjoy according to law.

Sabri said that many lawsuits have been filed against the MP, the most recent of which was the one submitted to the attorney general demanding to strip Hariri of his immunity and to investigate him over sexual charges including sexual harassment on the telephone.

He added that the Parliament member loses his immunity in case he is caught red-handed.

What to know about Egypt's constitutional amendment

CAIRO - 6 February 2019: The process to amend the constitution involves the House of Representatives...

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2/13/2019 11:19:44 AM
<![CDATA[World court to rule on Iran’s billions frozen in US]]>
The US Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that Iran must give the cash to survivors and relatives of victims of attacks blamed on Tehran, including the 1983 bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut.

Iran said the US decision breached 1955 Treaty of Amity with the United States, an agreement signed before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution severed relations between the countries.

At the last hearing on Iran’s appeal in October at the Hague-based tribunal, Washington said Iran has “unclean hands” and that its alleged support for terrorism should disqualify the case from being heard.

The ICJ is the top court of the United Nations and was set up after World War II to resolve disputes between member states. Its rulings are binding and cannot be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

Wednesday’s ruling threatens to throw more fuel on the fire after a decision in October when the court ordered the US to lift sanctions on humanitarian goods for Iran.

The United States announced hours after that decision it was pulling out of the Treaty of Amity, upon which Iran had also based the sanctions case.

Tensions between Tehran and Washington are already high around the anniversary of the 40th anniversary of the Iranian revolution.

Relations have been strained since US President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of an international nuclear deal with Iran and reimpose sanctions.

Iran first lodged the case on the frozen funds in June 2016, accusing Washington of breaking the decades-old bilateral treaty dating from the time of the Shah, who was deposed in the revolution.

Tehran said the United States had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies.

In October, Richard Visek, a US State Department legal official, told the ICJ that “Iran comes to the court with unclean hands — indeed, it is a remarkable show of bad faith.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had added at the time that “we owe it to our fallen heroes, their families, and the victims of Iran’s terrorist activities to vigorously defend against the Iranian regime’s meritless claims... in The Hague.”

The US Supreme Court ruled in April 2016 that the $2 billion in frozen Iranian assets should be paid to about 1,000 survivors and relatives of those killed in attacks blamed on the Islamic Republic.

As well as the Beirut Marine barracks attack, in which 241 soldiers were killed, these also included the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia.

The timing of the US court ruling had been particularly sensitive as it was just a year after the landmark nuclear deal with world powers which led to the unblocking of other frozen funds.]]>
2/13/2019 10:35:24 AM
<![CDATA[British MI6 spy chief set to stay on to steer through Brexit]]>
Alex Younger, 55, is due to retire in November after five years in the role. But officials want him to extend his appointment to cover the 12 to 24 months after Britain has left the EU, The Times said.

If Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt confirm the extension, he will become the longest-serving MI6 chief since the 1960s. MI6 chiefs, known as “C”, traditionally serve for five years at most.

Andrew Parker, the head of MI5, has agreed to remain as director-general of the security service until 2020. He was appointed in 2013.

MI6, depicted by novelists as the employer of some of the most memorable fictional spies from John le Carré’s George Smiley to Ian Fleming’s James Bond, operates overseas and is tasked with defending Britain and its interests.]]>
2/13/2019 9:17:34 AM
<![CDATA[Azhar University to organize AAU Olympics in March]]>
President of Al Azhar University Mohamed Al Mahrasawy made the announcement in a press conference on Tuesday.

The association was founded in 1967 and is headquartered in Ghana. The AAU has 380 member and associate member institutions that represent 46 African states.

Al Azhar University will host the Conference of Rectors, Vice Chancellors and Presidents of African Universities (COREVIP) on July 8-11.

“COREVIP is a permanent organ of the Association responsible for debating and taking concerted action to reinforce inter-university co-operation. It comprises the Executive Heads of member and Associate member institutions. COREVIP is held once every two years,” according to the AAU website.

Members of the AAU Governing Board in Northern Africa are Vice-Chancellor of Ain Sham University Ezzat Abdel Wahab, and Al Azhar University President Mohamed El Mahrasawy.
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2/12/2019 5:17:02 PM
<![CDATA[President Sisi invites Lebanese counterpart to Arab-EU Summit]]>
The invitation was delivered by Egyptian ambassador to Beirut Nazih al-Nagary who discussed with President Aoun bilateral relations, and the political developments in Lebanon and the region.

President Sisi described - in his message - the summit as “historic” saying it would affirm “the importance of Arab-European relations which are rooted in mutual political, security, and socio-economic interests, and in deep historic and cultural ties. That is in addition to geographic proximity between Arab and European states.”

“The multiple ties require both parties to hold more talks and consultations, and to cooperate with the aim of overcoming joint challenges which have mushroomed for different reasons over the past decade,” President Sisi added.

“I am confident that both parties, Arab and European, are looking forward to work together as partners within a framework of mutual respect in order to solidify regional and international security and stability, and to accomplish prosperity and luxury,” President Sisi stated.

President Sisi said that the participation of the Lebanese president “will have a great impact on the success” of the first edition of the summit, according to a statement by the Lebanese presidency.

The Egyptian ambassador congratulated President Aoun for the formation of a coalition cabinet earlier this month wishing him and the government success in fulfilling the Lebanese people’s aspirations on the political and economic levels. He also affirmed Egypt’s support to Lebanon in all possible ways.

Although Lebanese general election took place in May, the parliament failed to form the cabinet for nine months because of disagreements over the shares of different parties representing different sects.
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2/12/2019 4:17:55 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s geographical location ‘hope’ to new AU leadership: Rwandan Amb.]]>
President of Rwanda Paul Kagame, who was elected as the chairman of the African Union in 2018, discussed his achievements during the opening session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union, reiterating that the goal is to work toward delivering the pillars of Agenda 2063 and to increase financial contribution by member states.

Speaking with Rwandan Ambassador to Cairo Saleh Habimana, he said that although there is no special experience that Rwanda can offer Egypt because both countries are similar in terms of politics and other things, “what we can offer is the experience of hope,” as he went on explaining how his country came out of a total destruction after the bloody genocide that erupted in 1994.

The Rwandan genocide is believed to have been a mass slaughter of many of the Tutsi population, with deaths estimated at 1 million Rwandans, by members of the Hutu majority government at that time.

“We are only 25 years [away from the genocide]; however, Rwanda was still able to put together leaders of Africa to think in the same direction, dream very big, to plan very high…we were able to raise the budget of the African Union,” Ambassador Habimana told Egypt Today in a phone call.

He further listed the signing of the African Continental Free Trade Zone in March 2018 in Kigali as one of the achievements of Rwanda’s tenure on top of the African institution.
“Now, Rwanda as small and young as it is, it was able to move [forward] and bring together the hope of Africans,” the ambassador added.

As Egypt takes the helm for one-year term, Habimana said that the African Union has its framework and machinery to design its own policies; however, the entity is moved by the president.

“When it comes to Egypt…a very strong country with a well-committed history…there is another experience of hope.”

New leadership brings new partnership

Ambassador Habimana considered Egypt’s geographical position and history of commitment towards the continent as strong factors that make Egypt's role great and important to the union during the coming year.

In the same context, the Rwandan ambassador to Cairo said “Egypt is a very influential country in the Arab World, and can reach the Gulf through the Red Sea. From the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt is a gate to Europe… from the Red [Sea], Egypt is a gate to the Arab World.”

“Today Africa has a hope to partner with Europe.”

He added, “this is the hope that Egypt will do great because the country's leader today, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, started from where Gamal Abdel Nasser ended.”

“Nasser aimed at the political freedom of Africans, and now Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is coming to contribute to the financial freedom of Africans,” he concluded his statements.

In 2018, Rwandan President Paul Kagami visited Egypt for the second time; both countries share deep-rooted historic relations that date back to 40 years. Besides being member states of some regional organizations including COMESA, NEPAD and African Union, both Cairo and Kigali are Nile Basin countries.

In 1976, Egypt established its embassy in Kigali. Rwanda has re-opened its embassy in Cairo in 2015 after closing it during the genocide.
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2/12/2019 4:08:39 PM
<![CDATA[INTERVIEW: IOM Egypt Chief commends efforts to regulate irregular migration]]>
“It is estimated that Egypt hosts about 4 million undocumented Sudanese nationals, who live in Egypt for several years, about one million Syrians (including businesspersons), one million Libyans who work in the country for decades, and many Iraqis and Lebanese migrants,” stated the IOM in a 2018 report. This is not to mention those who have been living her for more than one generation, meaning that they have expanded their families and made Egypt their home, explains IOM Egypt’s Chief of Mission, Mr. Laurent De Boeck.

Moreover, despite an international wave against immigrants, statistically speaking, as a wide-array of research has shown, immigrants have a positive effect on the gross domestic product (GDP). Syrian businessmen and women in Egypt contributed $6 billion to GDP between 2015 and 2018, according De Boeck and the IOM’s 2018 paper. The paper also added that only 8,771 migrants registered for support during their stay in the country in 2018, meaning most immigrants reaching Egypt do not actually need financial aid form the state. Still, the IOM helps plenty of individuals return voluntarily to their home country, and run programs to ensure that immigrants and individuals from the host country get along.

To understand more about Egypt’s role in cutting immigration to Europe, Egypt’s geographic importance, the effect of immigrants on the economy and IOM’s efforts to help immigrants but also the host community, Business Today Egypt sat down with Laurent De Boeck, the IOM Egypt’s Chief of Mission, Mr. Laurent De Boeck. has been working with the IOM for about 23 years now, especially in reconstruction and rehabilitation. He has worked with governments to coordinate, rebuild and develop inclusive environments for people to come back to their country. After serving in more than 10 countries, from Indonesia to Côte d’Ivoire, Burundi and Haiti, to Congo, to Libya and Yemen, where he was last stationed, De Boeck came to Egypt a mere few months ago to head the IOM here.

How important is Egypt as a host or transit community? And welcoming are Egyptians to immigrants?

In welcoming the refugees coming from those countries has been significant. For Syria, they have shown interest and have taken measures to make them feel welcome. They are given direct access to medical services and education, given that they are registered with the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugee, to and once the Syrians have received a yellow card, they can have access to all the governmental services for free. This is a very privileged situation for the Syrians.

They also offered refuge and they welcomed the people; this is an indicator of Egypt’s hospitality, which we have seen through the years, in welcoming people in need. Egyptians welcome the people generally and they do contribute to, or to participate in the resolution of the conflict in international platforms in Syria or in Yemen. Also, Egypt is a quite important geographical position. So, when you look at Egypt [and the situation as a whole]: Egypt is becoming a safe space that attracts a lot of people.

So, the role of Egypt is certainly very important in the region, and it serves as such a safe place. Egypt, as I mentioned, already has quite an important number of immigrants. The official statistics is referring to five million people living in the country. It is true that there is certainly five million people, but it very difficult to apprehend; however, we know that there are 58 different nationalities in the country. Now, if you consider some groups—some are not really registered—it might be more than five million.

For a minimum of 20 years, at least, there has been a community from Sudan, there are at about four million people. These came about 20 years ago and they are working or they have established themselves in the country. Libyans are the same; it is estimated one million. So, this is already reaching five million. Then, Syrians are estimated are one million as well. The most accurate number are those who are registered as refugees, which are about 240,000; almost half of them are Syrians. The rest are from many other nationalities. Those are the ones who are registered and have received a card with the UNHCR, but the rest are estimates.

Then, you have smuggling to or through Egypt, which goes without registering. Those who are going through irregular immigration do not really come and register.

How do you help those who are coming to Egypt, as a transit country, and are expected to be resettled by the UN to other countries prepare themselves for their new life?

We have what we call social orientation, we help them understand where they are going, we having training, we help them understand how the society they are going to functions, how they can find a job, how they can integrate, how they can have access to public services—we have a team just for that. We continue developing such programs with the UNHCR and host countries. That is specifically for refugees.

For the migrants, we support them while staying here. For example, it is cold now, so we offer them non-food items, like blankets. Then, we have medical centres and doctors, who can do medical checks and provide them for primary healthcare and if secondary healthcare is needed, we have coordinated with the government for them to go to public hospitals. We also support with housing, or with education for the children. As I said, all those supports for migrants are always done in parallel to Egyptians.

How would you describe Egypt’s efforts in stopping illegal immigration towards Europe?

Egypt is considered a country of origin, a country of transit and a country of destination. Transit because the government of Egypt in 2016 committed to tackle the issue of irregular migration from the North Coast to Europe. So, irregular migrants come here and they realise that it is difficult for them to continue because of the efforts on the North Coast and that the smugglers are changing the process because of these efforts, and then they turn to us for assistance to return. Some smugglers change the process and they turn to Libya, but this is a very reduced number. In 2018, only 250 Egyptians arrived in Europe; it is really few. So, Egyptians have decided not to go to Europe because of the difficulties and because of the efforts by the authorities to tackle the matter. The migrants in the country also do the same; they cross to Libya and then they are helped by smugglers to go to Europe.

They are also a fewer number but what we have noticed is that when there are fewer people, it is more dangerous for them. So, very few are smuggled but those who are more likely to die, meaning we have more deaths in percentages than before. We are working with our colleagues in Libya to tackle this issue.

But there is less departure to Europe thanks to the commitment of the Egypt since 2016.

How does Egypt’s legal framework support its efforts towards tackling human trafficking?

The legal framework in Egypt is actually quite positive on both counter trafficking and counter smuggling. On smuggling, it is one of the most unique in the region; it mentions the protection of the victims, which is very positive and tackles the criminal networks, and there is a lot of communication and coordination between services in Egypt, not only to prevent it but also to protect these people. We have seen in 2018, in particular, Egypt taking measures to tackle these criminal networks. They have arrested people even in the government, who had disrespected the laws, so he government has done a very beautiful example because it is not anywhere in the world that the government announces that they have arrested their own officials because they were suspected of smuggling.

To me, it reflects the commitment of the government. In the last six months of 2018, you find in newspapers the General Prosecutor arresting smugglers and traffickers, in various forms of trafficking cases and smugglers. Everyday, we receive reports and communications about smugglers and traffickers at the border and of people who are suspected of contributing to this. The commitment [by the government] is quite high and efficient, and it has to do with the presence of laws and coordination and the existence of several relevant institutions. There are 34 institutions contributing to the development of sharing information and applying the laws, and they work a lot on sharing information to tackle the networks.

This is important because if you help the victims but do not identify and crack the networks then this will keep happening, but they are tackling the networks and there is a very advanced level and very high commitment in Egypt. Europe looks very positively on the efforts taken by Egypt and they look at ways that they can support Egypt.

It is also important to know that the migration patterns have not changed drastically over the last few years. There has always been movement to Africa and the rest of the world. This was a lot through Egypt before but now it has been cut down. However, if we look at Africa, we see that about 80 percent of movement in Africa is within Africa, except for Northern Africa who look up at Europe due to proximity. We have noticed since the early 2000s that some Africans are going to South Africa, because it is an attractive country, and then to Latin America. They enter through Brazil and then from Brazil to Central America, to North America; several hundreds of thousands a year take this route.
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2/12/2019 3:07:33 PM
<![CDATA[2019 priorities marked in Sisi’s meeting with AU commission]]>
The commission members are the chairpersons of 10 directorates in charge of handling the union’s policies in different realms.

President Sisi underlined the importance of enhancing peace and security in Africa along with reconstructing areas that are affected by conflicts.

Sisi highlights main African issues, solutions

CAIRO - 10 February 2019: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received the chairmanship of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government from Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame for a one-year term. That was on Sunday in the opening session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.




For this year, the priorities are to the agreement of combating diseases in Africa, the launching of the African Medicines Agency (AMA), and the issuance of a document that allows the freedom of individuals and goods movement on the continent in parallel to the potential enactment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Three AU member states ratified the agreement on Monday so as the number rose to 52 out of 55 from 49.

The president said he looked forward to a rise in the size of intra-African trade; the accomplishment of infrastructure projects; the reinforcement of the peace and security structure; the achievement of post-conflict rehabilitation; the continuous reform of administrative work; the completion of ongoing projects; and, the fulfillment of member states’ targets in different sectors.

Sisi highlights main African issues, solutions

CAIRO - 10 February 2019: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received the chairmanship of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government from Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame for a one-year term. That was on Sunday in the opening session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.




The president hinted to a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel that was also attended by AUC chairperson whereas he prioritized discussing African affairs rather than Egyptian interests. The president stated that he had told European officials that if they wanted to resolve the problem of illegal migration, they had to first address the reasons behind the phenomenon.

The president thanked all workers at the African Union saying he looked forward to work with them to meet the goals of Agenda 2063. He also affirmed his confidence that the commission’s directorates would perfectly fulfill their duties.

President Sisi also expressed aspiration to cooperate with the strategic partners of the AU asserting that Egypt is open to the valuable suggestions of the commissioners to coordinate the joint African work.

On their part, the commissioners affirmed their commitment to support and back the president to make this year a fruitful one in the AU’s history, and the commission. They vowed to work closely with the Egyptian embassy in Addis Ababa to achieve integration.

The president made an open invitation to all African leaders to attend the Aswan Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development.

African leaders discuss peace and security in closed meeting

CAIRO - 11 February 2019: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi chaired on Monday the third closed meeting of the African Union Assembly of Head of State and Government held during the 32nd African Union Summit.




In January 2018, President Sisi was elected to chair the AU for one year-term in 2019, and received the chairmanship from his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame on Sunday in the opening session of the 32nd AU Summit having as theme refugees and displaced persons.

Additional reporting by Mohamed al-Galy]]>
2/12/2019 1:51:18 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, 5 states form 60% of African Union's budget: AU counsel]]>
Egypt, South Sudan, Nigeria, Morocco, and Algeria are the largest contributors as they form 60 percent of the AU's budget, besides Angola that was recently added to the list, the Egyptian diplomat said.

She added that member states attempt to turn the AU to become self-financed in terms of all programs, revealing that this will be achieved in stages so as not to burden the member states.

A committee at the ambassadorial level deals with budget, appointments, and staff problems and tackles the long-standing "inherited" mistakes, Negm said, adding that the AU assesses itself transparently, and that all issues are open for reform.

The AU needs reform,Negm stressed, adding that reforms are carried out in all international organizations. She explained that reforms must ensure that the organization serves its member states.

The African Union communicates with the International Criminal Court on several cases, Negm referred, pointing out that the AU has defended Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir before the ICC in defiance of his international immunity.

Concerning the illegal stripping of Mauritius's Chagos Islands’ biggest island, Diego Garcia, by Britain, which is now home for a major US air base, Negm condemned the seizure, saying that it resembles the Balfour Declaration.

She affirmed that the AU has defended the issue of the island in the ICC through arguments that she said "will be remembered by history," adding that the AU aims to "convey the voice of Africa legally and politically, [and to]defend the rights stripped from some countries of the continent."

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received on Sunday the chairmanship of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government from Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame for a one-year term.]]>
2/12/2019 1:19:54 PM
<![CDATA[Trial of twelve Catalan secessionist leaders starts in Madrid]]>
The defendants, facing charges of rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds for their role in Catalonia’s failed independence declaration, will not speak in the Supreme Court on the first day of the trial, which is reserved for procedural issues.]]>
2/12/2019 11:58:38 AM
<![CDATA[Shoukry reviews African states' issues, Egypt's plan to tackle them]]>Sameh Shoukry says Turkey's role in Libya is 'worrisome,' and affirms that Egypt's stance toward Qatar remains unchanged as Qatar has not changed its behavior.


CAIRO - 11 February 2019: Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry highlighted the historic ties between Egypt and African states, saying that a political agenda has been set for cooperation with the African countries during Egypt's presidency of the African Union (AU) in 2019.

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received on Sunday the chairmanship of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government from Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame for a one-year term.

During his interview with both Khaled Abu Bakr and Wael al-Ebrashi, on the sidelines of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Minister Shoukry commented on the "sad" moment when the African Union voted on freezing the membership of Egypt following the ousting of Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi in 2013.

He said that it happened due to a "misunderstanding" of the incidents that had occurred in the country at the time.

Egypt then managed to explain the circumstances behind the past incidents, Shoukry said, adding that African leaders have understood that the Egyptian people have acted in a way that would protect the African countries.

In June 2014, the AU's Peace and Security Council unanimously agreed to unfreeze Egypt's membership.

Limiting disputes

During the interview, Shoukry affirmed the necessity of setting mechanisms to limit the spread of disputes in Africa.

African people flee their countries to escape armed disputes in the continent and avoid the state of instability in terms of economic and security situations, besides the spread of terrorism, he said.

"Ambitions, will and joint work" are required to end the African disputes, Shoukry said, adding that Africa is already witnessing positive indications in this regard.

"For sure, the armed conflicts and competition over the past years between political parties that resorted to [using] weapons instead of resorting to mechanisms of dialogue ... is [behind] the increase in the number of the displaced," he stated.

African integration

Achieving African integration and signing African Continental Free Trade Area will contribute to increasing mutual dependence between the African states, said Shoukry.

He stressed that the 2063 Plan, with the development programs it includes, willenhance the capabilities of the African countries and improve their standard of living, and thus make a large market out of the African countries, through which theycan interact and rely on their own capacities.

Egypt always seeks to achieve mutual cooperation with African states, Shoukry said, adding that "African integration closes the door to foreign desires."

Situation in Libya

The minister described the role played by Turkey in some countries especially Libya as "worrisome,"adding that Egypt will not accept this role to extend to other countries in the African continent.

Shoukry said that that what is happening in Libya has a direct impact on Egypt. He added that "Securing the Egyptian-Libyan borders cost [Egypt] a lot of effort, resources and martyrs ... We know very well what our interests are and we have the ability to defend them ... At the same time, we do not [reject] other relations as long as they do not directly cause harm and destabilization to us."

He added that interventions from some countries that he described as "outside of the regional scope" have a "very bad impact", including backing terrorist organizations, transferring weapons and foreign fighters into the Libyan territory.

Shoukry said that it is unpredictable that candid, recognized and legitimate elections can be held in Libya unless security and stability are achieved in the country so Libyan citizens can vote, not fearing the presence of militias and extremist groups.

On the other hand, Shoukry welcomed positive contribution than can be provided by some foreign parties, as long as their efforts are consistent with African goals, including renouncing extremism, and are based on non-interference in the internal affairs of the African countries.

Strained ties with Qatar

Commenting on the Qatari crisis, the Egyptian minister said that "the situations have not changed much," adding that restoring ties with Doha requires that the latter changes its policies.

"The Egyptian stance is clear; there will be no restoration of the nature of relations except in case there is a tangible change in the Qatari policies so as not to have negative impacts on Egypt and its people," Shoukry stated.

Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain announced cutting diplomatic ties with Qatar in June 2017, charging the peninsula of funding terrorism, harboring extremist figures and intervening in the domestic affairs of other countries in the region.

Doha has denied the charges, and has renewed its terror list many times since the boycott. However, the Arab Quartet seemingly has not seen the Qatari procedures sufficient to end the ban and restore relations.]]>
2/11/2019 3:13:31 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to push African joint action to broader horizons: Madbouli ]]>
Egypt looks forward to leading the march of sustainable development in the continent with its effective expertise and balanced vision, a matter which will enhance the Egyptian pivotal role in Africa, he noted.

During his speech given on behalf of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi at the inaugural ceremony of EGYPS 2019, Madboli said that the Egyptian government works on promoting cooperation with world countries in order to achieve development in the economic and investment sectors.

The premier further pointed out to Egypt's presidency of the African Union (AU) in 2019, adding that President Sisi is now attending the meetings of the AU summit in Addis Ababa.

Addressing the audience gathering for the newest edition of the Egypt Petroleum Show, Madboli reiterated that the economic reform file is a top priority for his government.

The Egypt Petroleum Show (EGYPS) brings together the Egyptian and North African government representatives, key project owners, NOCs and IOCs, international service providers, EPC contractors, consultants and financiers to address the evolving opportunities in the Egyptian and North African energy arena.

EGYPS 2019 provides the opportunity to gain insights into the upcoming oil and gas opportunities in Egypt and North Africa, from future licensing rounds, project requirements to short and long term strategic plans and priorities.]]>
2/11/2019 2:32:48 PM
<![CDATA[African leaders discuss peace and security in closed meeting]]>
The meeting’s agenda consisted of the endorsement of draft legal documents, the candidacy of member states for the membership of the union’s agencies and committees, and the time and place of the 33rd AU summit.

On the second and last day of the two-day summit, President Sisi will hand out on Monday the Kwame Nkrumah Awards for Scientific Excellence. The president will also deliver the final statement of the summit, and then, hold a joint press conference with Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki.

The second closed meeting took place on Sunday evening to discuss the report on the status of peace and security on the continent, certain crises in Africa, and the efforts to develop the structure of African peace and security. Recently, some countries achieved a milestone in crises resolution such as the cases of the Democratic Republic of Congo which experienced political problems, and the Horn of Africa which experienced disagreements between its countries.

The developments of the 2020 Silence the Gun initiative were also displayed in the meeting. The initiative is backed by a vision to achieve development as basis for stability and ending conflicts on the continent.

President Sisi pointed out to the terrorist threats that had grown in different African areas, and presented Egypt’s experience of counterterrorism. Sisi asserted that the cohesion of the national institutions in African states, and the solidification of security cooperation between them would undoubtedly deter all terrorist entities endemic in the continent.

In January 2018, President Sisi was elected to chair the AU for one year-term in 2019, and received the chairmanship from his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame on Sunday in the opening session of the 32nd AU Summit having as theme refugees and displaced persons.
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2/11/2019 1:00:17 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's Parl't affirms support to removing Sudan from US terror list]]>CAIRO – 11 February 2019: Egypt's First Deputy Parliament Speaker al-Sayed al-Sherif emphasized the need for joint cooperation to refute all justifications keeping Sudan on the US list of countries sponsoring terrorism.

During an Arab Parliament sitting on Sudan at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Sherif also affirmed the need to highlight Sudan's right to restore its political and economic integration at Arab, regional and international levels.

Sudan has been on the US terror list since 1993, over accusations directed against the government of harboring terrorists.

"The moves to lift the name of brotherly Sudan from the list of countries sponsoring terrorism are not only for the Sudanese diplomacy anymore, but also for many regional bodies and institutions which see Sudan as a pivotal country in the fight against terrorism," Sherif stated.

He also referred to the plan adopted by the Arab Parliament to form a committee headed by Arab Parliament Speaker Mishaal bin Fahm al-Salami to work on removing Sudan from the US list.

Sherif said that due to its Arab, regional and international role in fighting terrorist groups, Sudan's stability directly contributes to achieving stability and security in Egypt.

Sudan has been one of the first countries to join the Arab Coalition to restore legitimacy in Yemen, he said, adding that it effectively worked to achieve security and peace in the African continent.

In this regard, Sherif called for activating the Arab Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism and other similar agreements to eradicate terrorism funding sources, and to track and punish terrorist crimes' perpetrators.

The Arab Parliament speaker said Saturday that terrorism and political militancy enabled some neighboring states to interfere in many Arabic states, Arab News reported.

Saudi Arabia's Salami added that some of these intervening countries could "benefit from inter-Arab conflicts."

In April 2018, Sudan's Acting Finance Minister at the time Abdul Rahman Derar called on the international community to totally lift the economic sanctions imposed on the country.

Derar said sanctions have badly affected Sudan's vital sectors, including health, education, productive sectors, and infrastructure.

"The Sudanese people are still suffering from the negative impacts of the economic sanction in food, cloth and education, besides the high cost of developing foreign finance," he added.

In October, the US Administration agreed to lift economic sanctions against Sudan, including a trade embargo. The US said that Sudan has made progress fighting terrorism and easing humanitarian distress.

One of the officials said that the Trump administration secured Sudan's commitment that it would “not pursue arms deals” with North Korea, and Washington will apply “zero tolerance” in ensuring Khartoum’s compliance, Reuters reported.

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2/11/2019 12:08:23 PM
<![CDATA[Healthcare, football in 32nd AU summit opening session ]]>
Faki congratulated armed groups in Central Africa for achieving reconciliation. He stressed that radical solutions have to be found to eliminate the refugees crisis in the continent. He added that Africa is improving in terms of financial control and accountability.

“We reinforced our partnerships with other regions... re-launched the peace fund currently worth $89 million,” President of Rwanda and Outgoing Chairperson of AU Paul Kagame said.

Poverty and Healthcare

Bill Gates said that he learnt more about the needs of Africa after Nelson Mandela asked for help in 1994 to fund South Africa’s election. “The number of children born in Africa will be equal to the number of children born worldwide in the future. That requires a vision so they would find opportunities, and fulfill their needs in terms of infrastructure, modern transportation networks, telecommunication,” Gates highlighted.

“We decided to provide contraceptives, treatment for different diseases,. We have invested $15 billion to combat poverty and different diseases, and secure vaccines. We operate in the fields of agriculture and education. All that serves investment in human capital. That is crucial.

We have operated over the past two decades in Rwanda, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. We worked on combating AIDS,” Gates stated.

Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom highlighted that universal health insurance would change the world. “I would like to thank Kagame and Fiki for the meeting and what they achieved in that realm,” Adhanon said.

“The best and smartest investment is the one in the sector of healthcare...That would change the quality of life of citizens,” Adhanon stressed saying that prevention is better than treatment.

The WHO director general concluded his speech by three demands. One is continuous efforts towards the universal health insurance. Second is that member states make healthcare a top priority. Third is working to meet goals pertinent to healthcare in the 2063 Agenda.

Football

“We all know that football is more than a game. It has social and economic impact. Entire countries and youth feel proud when they achieve victory. Football is a means to achieve economic growth and gender equality,” President of FIFA Gianni Infantino said.

“Africa is more than a continent. It has a growing influence worldwide,” FIFA president said citing African countries like Cameroon that achieved achieved victory over European countries such as Germany and Italy.

“Youth compose the majority of the African population and they admire football. $120 million are spent monthly worldwide on infrastructure necessary for football. We are launching partnership with AU in three realms. One is combating corruption. Second is education. Third is infrastructure such as football fields,” Infantino stated.
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2/10/2019 7:33:10 PM
<![CDATA[UN, Arab League secretaries tackle armed conflicts crisis]]>
Secretary General of the League of Arab States Mohamed Aboul Gheit Africa and the Arab World experienced armed conflicts that resulted in humanitarian crises on a wide scope such as the refugees crisis. “I request that both coordinate on the issues of migration and refugees,” Aboul Gheit added.

“Libya is a place were both worlds meet. We need to support the nation-state in Libya, political solutions, and elections,” Aboul Gheit stressed.

The Arab League secretary general called for African countries to support the International Quartet Committee on Libya having a UN representation; South Sudan factions to achieve what they agreed upon in Khartoum; silencing the gun initiative by 2020; and countries fighting against Boko Haram.

Aboul Gheit expressed his confidence in Sisi’s performance as chair of the AU and that he would accomplish remarkable achievements.

Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres said that the 1969 Convention on refugees protection was unique. “Diplomacy for peace at the UN have started to give rise to results. The ceasefire in Libya is still at place despite challenges. It is time to push for the political process among Libyan factions,” Guterres added.

“The process of peacekeeping is used in areas where there is no peace to be kept. Peacekeeping requires a strong UN Security Council and funding... I support the role of women to participate in peace promotion,” the United Nations secretary general said.

“The international community is falling behind when it comes to accomplishing SDGs and climate change combat... More effort is needed to inhibit money smuggling and money laundering in the continent,” Guterres stated.
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2/10/2019 7:27:24 PM
<![CDATA[Palestinian president delivers powerful speech at AU Summit ]]>
Abbas expressed appreciation for Rwandan President and Outgoing African Union Chair Paul Kagame, and wished President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi success in his chairmanship of the AU.

Abbas thanked Ethiopia for its role in the UN Security Council, and congratulated South Africa for chairing the AU in 2020 saying he was sure it would support the Palestinian Cause.

The Palestinian president praised African countries for achieving economic growth, women empowerment, and counterterrorism.

“We look forward to your support to condemn the Israeli occupation, assault over Christian and Muslim holy sites, and savage practices,” Abbas said adding that he aspired for African support for the Palestinian State to receive the membership of the UN.

The Palestinian president asserted that he needed African countries to support the two-state solution so that Palestine becomes a sovereign state having as capital Eastern Jerusalem.

“The US administration supports the violations of Israel. Its bias disqualifies it from mediating and sponsoring the peace talks after it had designated Jerusalem as the Israeli capital, moved its embassy, cut the funds to the UNRWA, and supported Israeli practices,” Abbas said stressing that, “The strength of Africa is a strength to all its friends.”
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2/10/2019 7:18:56 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi highlights main African issues, solutions]]>
That was on Sunday in the opening session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Sisi thanked Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Kagame. The president expressed his appreciation for his predecessor in the AU chairmanship as remarkable progress has been accomplished in the realm of institutional reform within the union.

The president also congratulated his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa for his election to chair the AU in 2020.

Call for Unity

President Sisi highlighted that more than half a century has passed since the founding fathers gathered in 1963 to establish the Organization of African Unity which turned into the African Union in 2002.

Sisi cited late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser saying in that convention, “That should be a charter for every African. We shall hold meetings on the official and popular levels, and start our journey on economic cooperation towards a joint African market.”

“Since then, Africa achieved a milestone in accomplishing its dreams, overcoming obstacles, and facing challenges that have emerged. We got rid of colonization, although its impact has persisted. We are still working hard to establish factors of peace, security, and stability, and to attain economic integration and continental merging,” the president said.

The president asserted the importance of unity to meet African targets citing the words of late Ghanaian leader Kwame Nkrumah, “Our division is weakness. In our unity, Africa can be one of the greatest powers in the world.” The president said that Egypt supported independence from colonization in the continent.

Conflicts Resolution and Reconstruction

“I would like to affirm the importance of the “African solutions for African problems” principle which is the only way to deal with mutual challenges. Africa is more capable of understanding the complications of its own problems and the privacy of its situation. Thus, it is the most able to find serious and practical solutions to serve the interests of its peoples, and safeguarding them from foreign intervention and falling victim of contemporary patterns of exploitation. Those contemporary patterns that do not match its reality,” the president said.

“Despite of our endeavors to contain conflicts in the continent, and our ambitious plans to eliminate armed conflicts by 2020, there is still so much to do to,” the president added highlighting that conflicts have been detrimental to development hopes.

The president stressed that development is crucial to uproot crises calling for his counterparts to revive and enact African Union Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (AU PCRD), and to set executive plans that inhibit the relapse of countries that experienced conflict, and help with institutional capacity-building for them to assume their mission of protecting their homelands.

The president said he aspired to launch the African Union Center for Reconstruction and Development as soon as possible to achieve the aforementioned goals while preserving each state’s privacy and right to draw its own road map.

Terrorism and Extremism

The president asserted that terrorism would remain a “malign tumor threatening nation states. and hijacking the dreams of its peoples.” He added that counterterrorism requires the identification of its supporters and funders, and confronting them with a collateral and revealing framework. Despite our awareness of the difficulty and complexity of such battle, it is the ideal way to eradicate terrorism and deter it.

That does not undermine the obligation of facing extremism that gives rise to terrorism, and the necessity to strengthen the institutions of the nation state.

The president launched the first edition of Aswan Forum for Peace and Sustainable Development to be a continental platform in Aswan for political leaders, intellects, opinion leaders, peace leaders, and development partnership.

Refugees and Displaced Persons

In relation to the summit’s theme, the president named widespread conflicts, terrorism, extremism, climate change, poverty, water scarcity and drought as the main elements pushing people to leave their homes. He said that there are eight million African refugees. Ninety percent of which moved to fellow African countries. He added that Africa has 18 million displaced citizens.

The president said that it is crucial to abide by the Kampala Convention signed in 2009 on persons displaced within Africa.

Development

The president said that the development approach should consist of mega continental and regional projects that would create jobs for Africans, and programs that would rehabilitate societies paving the way for the displaced to return to their homes. That is in addition to establishing economic zones that would attract investments.

The president asserted that African countries should cooperate to face climate change by expanding into the sector of renewable energy calling for developed countries to abide by agreements in that realm as those affect the climate the most and benefit from its resources the most.

The president said that he would ensure sustaining cooperation with current allies to come up with executive plans, and coordination with international organizations. The president called for international funding entities to support development in African countries “reminding them with the uniqueness of each country and the necessity to adapt their criteria accordingly.”

The president also stressed the importance of the promotion of Fintech in the continent, and the acceleration of the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The International Scheme

The president highlighted that African countries were able to achieve much by adopting joint stances on international matters, and that must continue to assert each state’s right to have its own programs to achieve development and the continent's right in just representation in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

Women and Youth

The president expressed his support for African women saying they must “get equipped with education and willpower” asserting that it was the duty of African leaders to achieve women empowerment.

The president addressed youth saying, “take part in building the future of your countries rather than departing into dangerous adventures” referring to illegal migration. He also warned them from getting manipulated by terrorism promoters.
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2/10/2019 6:00:25 PM
<![CDATA[President Sisi receives AU chairmanship ]]>
That was on Sunday in the opening session of the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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2/10/2019 1:48:05 PM
<![CDATA[African court, OHCHR sign memo for cooperation in human rights protection]]>
President of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights Sylvain Oré signed the memo with United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on the fringe of the African Summit, which opened earlier Sunday in Addis Ababa.

In a statement, Oré said the court and the UN commission share many points of view on human rights preservation and protection.

The UN commissioner said the court is a key mechanism for promoting human rights in Africa. ]]>
2/10/2019 1:46:06 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia reiterate commitment to no harm trilateral interests ]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Sudanese President Omar el-Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met in Addis Ababa ahead of the convening of the opening session of the African Union, during which Egypt will assume the chairmanship of the continental institution from Rwanda.

The trio summit was meant to provide a political umbrella to support the technical negotiations regarding the GERD filling process, to overcome all obstacles in this regard and to enhance the cooperation among the three countries, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.

According to the statement, President Sisi assured the importance of guaranteeing a balanced and cooperative vision regarding the filling of the reservoir, to achieve the interests of the three countries.

The three leaders enforced their need to agree to a unified vision that abides by the principles stipulated in the 2015 Khartoum Declaration, said Egypt’s presidential spokesperson Bassam Rady.

The summit further tackled the trilateral relations, and ways of reinforcing them through intensive coordination regarding different issues of common interest.

Ethiopia started building the GERD in May 2011, immediately following the Egyptian 25 January Revolution. Cairo expressed its concerns over affecting its 55.5 billion cubic meters of the Nile water share. Since then, negotiations among the three countries were suspended for three years. However, talks resumed in 2014 and a Declaration of the Renaissance Dam Principles Charter tackling the management of the dam with written guarantees has since been signed. According to the charter, the dam’s reservoir cannot be filled without the approval of both Egypt and Sudan.

Although the completion of the multi-billion dollar dam was set to finalize in five years since its launch in 2011, the time-frame, given possible defects with the hydro-electrical plant’s equipment, extended to 11 years.

Assistant Foreign Minister to Africa Affairs, Wael Adel Nasr told Egypt Today that although the GERD is a real problem, “it still can be handled without tensions because Ethiopia’s leadership and people are smart and are fully aware of the situation.”

The dam has social and political importance to Addis Ababa, given its expected immense generation of hydro-power that would help in the country’s power shortage, and consequently having impact on education and health sectors. Besides, the completion of such a giant project is considered a huge political leverage for the people of Ethiopia.

Additional reporting by Nourhan Magdi and Samar Samir ]]>
2/10/2019 1:30:14 PM
<![CDATA[32nd African Union Summit kicks off]]>
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President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. February 10, 2019. Press Photo

Earlier, a closed meeting of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government took place whereas Rwandan President Paul Kagame presented his achievements while chairing the AU in 2018 in terms of institutional reform.

A tripartite summit between Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Sudanese counterpart Omar al- Bashir and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed kicked off in Addis Ababa on Sunday to tackle the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD).

President Sisi will start his one-year term as chairperson of the AU in the summit’s opening session. Before the president officially receives the chairmanship from outgoing AU chairperson and Rwandan counterpart, speeches will be delivered by Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat; Chairperson of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Bill Gates; President of FIFA Gianni Infantino; Director General of the WHO Tedros Adhanom; Secretary General of the League of Arab States Mohamed Aboul Gheit; Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres; and, President of the State of Palestine and Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Mahmoud Abbas.

In the end of the session, the outgoing and incoming chairpersons of the African Union will respectively deliver their speeches.

What is on the agenda of Sisi's visit to Addis Ababa

CAIRO - 9 February 2019: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Saturday to succeed his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame on Sunday in the chairmanship of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for one year.



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2/10/2019 12:07:31 PM
<![CDATA[Press syndicate begins receiving candidacy applications for elections]]>
The process will last for five days, said the panel's chairman Gamal Abdel-Rahim, adding that application forms had been prepared to be filled out by the candidates.

The accepted candidates will be named on Thursday, he noted.

The mid-term polls, to be held on March 1, will see a new chairman and six fresh board members elected.]]>
2/10/2019 11:49:42 AM
<![CDATA[Leaders of Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan hold tripartite summit on GERD]]>
The summit is being on the sidelines of the 32nd session of the African Union Summit. The leaders will also discuss the African and regional issues of mutual concern amid Egypt’s presidency of the African Union this year.

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President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of the 32nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. February 10, 2019. Press Photo


For seven years, constant tripartite talks have been between top officials from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia to reach an agreement on the period of time required for filling the Ethiopian reservoir, as the two other states are concerned over its effect on their share of the Nile River.

In 2015, the three countries signed the Declaration of the Renaissance Dam Principles Charter that tackles the management of the dam with written guarantees, and states that the dam’s reservoir cannot be filled without the approval of Egypt and Sudan. In December 2017, Egypt demanded the intervention of the World Bank in the matter, a move that was rejected by Ethiopia.

However, a breakthrough was recently witnessed in the ongoing series of discussions among three countries.

Ethiopia has started building the dam since May 2011; since then Cairo accused Addis Ababa of constructing the dam “without consultation” in accordance with international accords, while Addis Ababa replied that it is not binding to any international accords.

The deals in question date back to 1929 and 1959 and were during the time of British colonization, where a total of 80 billion cubic meters of Nile water was allocated to Egypt (55.5 billion), and for Sudan (18.5 billion). The agreements also granted Egypt the right of veto against any projects that could be established on Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan that may cause harm to its share, leaving out Ethiopia.

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2/10/2019 10:54:10 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt's presidency of AU comes amid challenges, OLC]]>
The summit is scheduled to take place from February 10 to 11 in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa under the theme “The year of refugees, returnees, and international displaced persons - towards durable solutions to forced displacement in Africa.”

The president would give a speech right receiving the AU presidency, followed by the start of the summit sessions, added Negm.

The summit is expected to deliberate on several issues on top of them, the sustainable development on the continent in the light of “2063 development agenda”, peaceful devolution of power and preservation of peace and security on the continent, said Negm.

Negm pointed out that the African leaders would discuss the reports of the African Peace and Security Council and the implementation of the AU road map capable of ending curb civil armed conflicts on the continent by the end of 2020.

African leaders would study the means to implement several common projects and legal agreements in order to boost cooperation between the continent’s states, said Negm. The legal counsel added that the leaders would discuss launching international institutions as sub-organizations for the AU, like the African Space Agency.

The leaders would submit their reports on different topics such as terrorism, education, health and climate change to be discussed during the summit, said Negm to Egypt Today.

Negm asserted that the AU has many partners looking forward to fund its activities such as Europe, India and China, however, there is an agreement to have the AU activities funded by the member states.

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2/10/2019 12:39:46 AM
<![CDATA[What is on the agenda of Sisi’s visit to Addis Ababa ]]>


The assembly will convene in a closed meeting as Kagame will present his achievements during his term in 2018. Afterwards, the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union will kick off to conclude on Monday. The summit has as theme “The Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa.”

This is the fourth Egyptian chairmanship of the union. Before it was disbanded in 2002 and turned into the African Union, The Organization of the African Unity was once chaired by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser and headed twice by late President Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat.

Egypt, Angola, South Africa, Algeria, and Nigeria are the top contributors to the union’s budget. Egypt’s share is 12 percent.

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed will hold an official dinner for African heads of states participating in the summit on Saturday.

Meetings on the sidelines

Sources told Egypt Today that a tripartite meeting would be held on the sidelines on Sunday between the heads of state of Egypt, Ethiopia, and Sudan to be followed by a press conference.

The three leaders will discuss mutual relations, the 32 summit’s agenda, and developments in the continent in terms of counterterrorism, attempts to establish peace and security, and resolution of armed conflicts.

That is in addition to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). The three leaders will hold talks on the results of meetings held by the ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation of their states. They will also tackle the updates on the foundation of a mutual fund to finance infrastructure projects in the three countries.

Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Rady told media that President Sisi would meet President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Felix Tshisekedi, and the Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres on Saturday.

Rady said that a presidential delegation from the Democratic Republic of the Congo had visited Cairo 10 days ago, and that President Sisi expressed Egypt’s to the Nile Basin country’s stability.
The president is accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry; Minister of Health and Population Hala Zayed; Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel Ghaffar; Minister of Electricity and Energy Mohamed Shaker; and, Chief of Intelligence Abbas Kamel.

Africa in Sisi's speeches at international forums

CAIRO - 9 February 2019: In December 2017, Egypt was elected during a closed meeting on AU institutional reform to chair the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a year starting February 10. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has already headed to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to receive the chairmanship from his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame.



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2/9/2019 7:16:08 PM
<![CDATA[Africa in Sisi’s speeches at international forums ]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has already headed to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa to receive the chairmanship from his Rwandan counterpart Paul Kagame.

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President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi posing for a group photo prior to the opening of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, Austria. December 18, 2018. Press Photo


Since he was first elected to office, the Egyptian president has been reiterating the continent’s rights, and its importance to his country. In his speech at the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, President Sisi stated in December that “Egypt is proud of its affiliation to Africa.”

The beginning of Sisi’s rule

In his inauguration speech in 2014, the president said, “The advantages a nation has are not just blessings taken for granted. They require a double effort to be maintained and developed. Egypt, the cradle of civilization, was given by God many blessings. Its geography is a mobile history, and its history is a geography that lies in Egypt which is pharaonic by birth and civilization, Arab by language and culture, and African by roots and presence.”

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FILE - President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi taking the oath of office before the board of the Supreme Constitutional Court in Cairo, Egypt. June 8, 2014.


“Egypt is the continental pioneer of independence from colonization. I tell anyone who attempts to dissociate it from its African reality that you cannot separate the soul from the body. Egypt is African in terms of presence and life. I tell Egyptians whose civilization was built upon the banks of the Nile River, I will never allow the issue of the Renaissance Dam to create a crisis or a problem, or to be an impediment against developing Egyptian ties with both Africa and Ethiopia. If the dam represents for Ethiopia its rights in development, the Nile River represents for us the right to live. The Nile, which was a symbol of life for Egyptians thousands of years ago and still the source of life for Egyptians at present, we need to work together to make it a basis for development and cooperation between the countries lying in its basin… As Egyptian-African relations has developed throughout history starting from backing independence movements until supporting our African siblings through technical cooperation in terms of capacity building in different sectors, those relations must develop now to achieve development partnership in the agricultural, industrial, and trade sectors. Egypt is the world’s gate to Africa and Africa’s doorway to the world,” the president added.

African Forums

Twenty-five out of Sisi’s 86 visits abroad were to African countries. In the 27th AU Summit held in 2016, President Sisi displayed Egypt’s vision on integration and development in the continent. “Egypt will deploy the maximum possible effort and cooperate with its African siblings to accelerate the pace of regional integration until the economic coalition is formed to meet the ambitions of its peoples, and to achieve the desired unity and development,” the President said.

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Intra-Africa Trade meeting in Cairo in December 2018 attended by African leaders - Egypt Today

The president also affirmed that the development of African economies requires coordination on the regional and continental levels, and accomplishment of precise plans. He added that those plans must be based on work division among African countries and building upon the relative advantage of each state. That would reflect positively on the attractiveness of African markets to foreign investments, and reinforces economic growth. The president expressed Egypt’s aspiration that the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) would come into force in addition to building upon the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) between the three African trade blocs COMESA, EAC and SADC. TFTA was signed in Sharm El- Sheikh in June 2015 as 26 African countries took part in the event.

Egypt hosted three Business for Africa forums which were all attended by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. The latest of which highlighted that Africa had the highest number of youth worldwide having a share of 19 percent according to the United Nations figures, and that it is expected to rise to 42 percent in 2030.

“Egypt will always support the efforts aiming at the reinforcement of African cooperation in specific, and international cooperation in general. That is evident in its open and bold policies to derive the maximum benefit of those efforts to achieve the economic sustainable development, and boost the role of the private sector,” the president added.

The UNGA

The president highlighted the challenges facing the continent in his speeches before the United General Assembly (UNGA) he attended five times in New York since his election stressing that the world had to prioritize the interests of Africa.

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President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during his speech at the UNGA - Press Photo

During his participation in the 2018 UNGA, the president questioned, “Would the African (citizen) be considered exaggerating, if they complain about the deficiency of the world order as his continent suffers from a (global) economic system that bolsters poverty and inequality, and does not make room for development or evolution?”

Africa and China

In his speech at the 2018 Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) Summit, the president said, “The achievement of sustainable development, the creation of more jobs for African peoples, the development of the continental infrastructure, the reinforcement of the freedom of trade within the AfCFTA, the development and diversification of the African economic system, and the reinforcement of the industrial system are key elements of Egypt’s chairmanship of the AU in 2019. It has become evident that development and modernization are the strongest weapon in the battle against contemporary political, economic, and social threats such as terrorism, extremism, organized crime, poverty, illness, economic and trade barriers.”

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President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L) with Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Beijing on September 1, 2018 - Press photo/Presidency


The president added that Egypt would be eager to intensify cooperation and coordination with the joint chairmanship of the forum to enact

FOCAC Action Plan 2019 - 2021

. He also stressed the importance of integration between the different development initiative, particularly between the Belt and the Road initiative and the AU Agenda 2063.

African Youth

In the second edition of the World Youth Forum (WYF) held in Sharm El Sheikh, President Sisi stated 10 recommendations; some of which are pertinent to African youth.

10 recommendations by President Sisi in 2018 WYF closing

CAIRO - 6 November 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech in the closing session of the 2018 World Youth Forum (WYF) in Sharm El Sheikh whereas he announced 10 decisions in relation to recommendations by the conference's participants. 1) Aswan is named the capital of African youth for the year 2019.


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2/9/2019 4:55:15 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. Congressmen, military expert question relations with Qatar]]>CAIRO – 9 February 2019: U.S. members of the congress, military leaders and experts have shed the light on the current U.S. policy towards Qatar.


The discussion took place during a conference in Washington last Wednesday under the title “Qatar: U.S. Ally or Strategic Threat?” It also focused on Qatar’s lobbying and disinformation campaigns; its funding of Islamic extremism; its global media policy; its cyber espionage and election interference; alliance with regional foe Iran and Turkey; and the grand FIFA soccer fraud.


"Enough of Qatar's double-game," said Forum director Gregg Roman. "Its dazzling skyscrapers do not mask its malign influence. In the Middle East, it aligns with radical states and finances Palestinian rejectionism. In the West, it spreads the Islamist ideology and runs influence campaigns."


The policies adopted by the Hamad’s regime and how Doha embraced extremists harmed Qatar’s reputation among the international community, including countries that Doha assume as allies.


The U.S. currently maintains extensive ties with Qatar, centered around Al Udeid Air Base southwest of Doha, the nation’s capital.



During the conference, Rep. Jack Bergman, a retired lieutenant general, criticized Qatar for spying and hacking on U.S. soil, and for sponsoring terrorism in the Middle East.


Bergman further stated that Al Jazeera, Qatar’s propaganda outlet, “ran a months-long spy operation aimed at U.S. Jews and pro-Israel groups.”


He also noted that Qatar sponsors terrorism, including in the United States and European Union, and “continues to fund Hamas, a designated terrorist organization.”


A 2007 study by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies revealed that Qatar is undermining international security by appearing to let egregious acts of terror finance go unpunished.


Moreover, the study showed that Qatar fund al-Qaeda in Syria and the Muslim Brotherhood, and paid a ransom of up to $1 billion to an al-Qaeda affiliate and Iranian security officials.


Likewise, Rep. Warren Davidson said Qatar also serves as a source of funding for the Nusra Front, a radical Syrian group aligned with al-Qaeda.


Both Davidson and Bergman called for passage of The Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act, H.R. 2712, which is intended to prevent Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad from accessing international support networks.


Under the H.R. 2712 act, the administration would be required to impose two or more sanctions on those who assist the organizations, including denying Export-Import guarantees, credit, or insurance; defense sales or services; munitions export licenses; exports of goods or technology controlled for national security reasons; or credit of more than $10 million.


Moreover, the bill would require the administration to impose a one-year suspension of U.S. assistance, international loans, technical assistance, and munitions exports for foreign governments that provide support for acts of terrorism or material support to Hamas or the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.


Finally, it would prohibit such governments’ transactions in foreign exchanges subject to U.S. jurisdiction and transfers between financial institutions subject to U.S. jurisdiction that involve any interest of such a government.


Moreover, retired Air Force Gen. Charles F. Wald said, “My personal opinion is that Qatar has to decide: It can either work with Western-aligned countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council, or it can be aligned with Iran. It can’t do both.”


On June 5, the Arab Terrorism Quartet (ATQ) severed their ties with Qatar over its support to terrorist groups and having close relations with the regional foe, Iran.


“If they want to become isolated or aligned with Iran, I think that would be a big mistake. I think the objective for the United States is to help the Qataris understand that.” Wald expressed concern over Qatar proving a haven for both the Taliban and the Muslim Brotherhood. “You just can’t accept it.”


For his part, Rep. Roger Marshall, a second-term congressman from the home state of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, agreed with other conference participants that Qatar’s “well-documented support for extremism has fueled bloodshed” throughout the region and around the world.


According to Marshall, that support “calls into question the long-term partnership” between the United States and Qatar.


“We have a significant investment in intelligence” in Qatar, and Pompeo and fellow senior administration figures “understand the complexity of this issue,” he said.


]]>
2/9/2019 1:16:50 PM
<![CDATA[African Free Trade Zone deal may come into force in 2 months: Egypt’s FM]]>
“Only few member states [of the African Union] did not sign the agreement yet. But, we expect that it will come into force within the coming six months. It will be a solid ground for increasing the mutual trade among the African countries,” Shoukry told Extra News T.V.

The AfCFTA, if the agreement is ratified, is believed to be the largest free trade area since the formation of the World Trade Organization. Signed by only 44 of the AU state members in Rowanda on March 21, 2018, the agreement aims to create a single, continental free-tariff market for goods and services.

In case you missed it…

Eyes on Africa's Continental Free Trade Area

CAIRO - 21 January 2019: Egypt is leading the African Union next year, seeking to support a full-scale trade agreement that expected to boost intra-African trade by an estimated 52% by the year 2022. Last week, the government approved an agreement signed in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018 constituting the legal basis of the African Continental Free trade Area (AfCFTA) and its relevant protocols.





The Foreign Minister said that the African continent has great young caders, who can constitute many achievements through adopting sound governance.

The 32nd session o f the African Summit is working on achieving the African reform plan in accordance with the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union's Agenda 2063, he added.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi headed on Saturday to Addis Ababa to receive the presidency of the African Union Summit during its 32nd session on Sunday, said Egyptian Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi in a statement.

The two-day summit will convene under the slogan of “The Year of Refugees, Returnees, and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacements in Africa.”

Additional reporting by Nourhan Magdi]]>
2/9/2019 1:13:46 PM
<![CDATA[African parliament supports Egypt during AU chairmanship]]>
The PAP and the African Union (AU) will support Cairo and closely coordinate with it in the coming stage, Masele told MENA ahead of the AU Summit, slated for Sunday and Monday.

The Tanzanian MP lauded President Sisi’s efforts and his keenness to support the youth and provide them with opportunities to take part in the decision-making process. These efforts are a model to follow in African states, he added.

He also commended Sisi’s efforts to confront terrorism, noting that the Egyptian leader has great experience in dealing with this phenomenon.

President Sisi has successfully won the war against terrorism in Egypt amid security problems suffered by neighboring countries, such as Libya, in addition to a state of instability sweeping the region, Masele said.

On that score, the PAP vice president praised Cairo’s efforts to help achieve peace and stability in Libya, which he said is a key issue for Egypt and for all African countries. ]]>
2/9/2019 11:34:28 AM
<![CDATA[EMPA Chief urges founding global institute to promote religious toleration]]>
The remarks of the Egyptian renowned businessman came on the sidelines of the Global Conference of Human Fraternity launched in Abu Dhabi earlier this month.

Abou el-Enein said in an interview with T.V. host Ahmed Moussa on Monday that the concept of the religious discourse worldwide must be modified, adding that the parliaments of the world and the United Nations must issue legislations, supervised by Al-Azhar and the Vatican, to criminalize the abuse of religions.

Pope Francis' visit to Egypt in April 2017 presented a strong message to the world, delivered great meanings of tolerance and love between religions, and stressed that Egypt is a country of stability and peace, Abou el-Enein said.

He added that a comprehensive plan must be executed based on the Fraternity Conference for rapprochement and the spread of tolerance among people worldwide.


Concerning religious discourse, Abou el-Enein said that Egypt's President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has been the first to call for renewing the religious discourse, adding that the Egyptian youth is eligible and has the motivation to change religious misconceptions, which terrorists use to justify their attacks.

Abu Al-Enein added that the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, a great Islamic value and stature explains the beautiful Middle Islam and seeks to renew the religious discourse, stressing that the biggest challenge to the world is to confront the evil people who use religion in terrorist acts.

The Egyptian businessman also warned of the attempts to politicize religion for personal interests.

There is a great difference between freedom of opinion and the principles of religion, Abou el-Enein said, calling for prosecuting those who distort the Quranic verses to achieve personal interests or to find false justifications to carry out terror acts.

Fighting thought by thought is a good course, he said. Egypt has given a unique example of tolerance, as Muslims are seen participating in the construction of churches and vice versa, he added.

Concerning national economy, he said that Sisi is capable of taking the country to a better level of economic growth, in accordance with the Egyptian government's reform plans, and has set a model for the world in implementing national projects in record times.

As Egypt is preparing for receiving the presidency of the African Union for this year, Abou el-Enein said that Sisi has been granted the confidence of the African nations, and has a comprehensive vision of hard work, adding that Africa has become a coveted continent due to its natural wealth of diamonds, oil and gold.

Sisi could draw up a vision for African cooperation, discover potentials, and maximize infrastructure between the African countries, Abou el-Enein said, stressing that Egypt will develop a comprehensive plan to achieve development in the African states.

Who's Aboul el-Enein?

High-profile businessman last year was granted the 2018 Mediterranean award for economy and international diplomacy.

He is considered the second Egyptian to win the Mediterranean Foundation's prize after novelist and noble prize winner Naguib Mahfouz won it in 2003, said President of the Mediterranean Foundation Michele Capasso.

Abou el-Enein was chosen by representatives of 42 countries, as one of the World's most prominent figures economically, politically and socially, Capasso said, adding that his efforts managed to bring the people of the Mediterranean closer.

Capasso also lauded Abou el-Enein's diplomatic efforts in addition to his efforts in promoting human fundamental rights, peace and acceptance of the other.

In October, he also won the Stella al Merito sociale 2018 award from one of Italy's largest social organizations, Culture and Solidarity Foundation.

The Mediterranean Foundation's award was won by former US President Barack Obama, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad of Kuwait, former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon، Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and late King Hussein of Jordan and former Spanish King Juan Carlos.

Mohamed Aboul Enein, 67, graduated from the Helwan University's Faculty of Commerce. Constructing Egypt-based Ceramica Cleopatra company, Abou el-Enein became one of the prominent leaders of the ceramic industry in the country.

He has been a leader in mega project investments in Egypt, including a 7,500 acre wheat farm in East al-Owinat and North West Gulf of Suez, producing ceramic products to 108 countries worldwide.

Thanks to Abou el-Enein, thousands of Egyptians have been employed, after he contributed to transform a considerable part of Egypt’s deserts and coasts has been transformed to industrial institutions, tourist facilities, and agricultural areas.
]]>
2/8/2019 3:36:02 PM
<![CDATA[UK, Norway, Iceland agree on citizens' rights if no-deal Brexit]]>
"The agreement protects the rights of EEA EFTA citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in the EEA EFTA states, providing certainty that they can continue to do so in the event of a no-deal Brexit," the Icelandic government said in a statement.

"This means that citizens' residence rights have been secured regardless of the outcome of the negotiations between the EU and the UK," Iceland, an EU outsider, said.

Norway's government said earlier on Friday that it had proposed legislation to secure the rights of Norwegians living in Britain and of Britons living in Norway in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Britain and Norway agreed last year to apply the principles of a Brexit agreement in their bilateral relationship, but the new legislation will also cover a no-deal scenario.

"We hope Britain will have an orderly exit from the European Union. We must however be prepared for Britain choosing to leave the EU without a deal," Norway's Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara said in a statement.

Britain, the world's fifth-biggest economy, is due to leave the EU on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May wants more concessions from Brussels to rally her divided Conservative Party behind her exit plan, rejected by parliament last month.]]>
2/8/2019 2:41:45 PM
<![CDATA[London pushes to take Saudis off EU dirty money blacklist- sources]]>
The EU's executive commission adopted last month a draft list that adds Saudi Arabia, Panama and small Pacific and Caribbean islands to the existing list of 16 states, which currently includes Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen and North Korea.

The list needs the endorsement of a majority of the 28 EU nations but Britain and other heavyweights of the bloc, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, are raising concerns, three EU officials told Reuters.

Two of the sources said EU states' reluctance to endorse the list was mostly driven by concerns over the inclusion of Saudi Arabia and Panama on the list.

Listed countries face higher scrutiny in their financial dealings with the EU, with bloc's banks forced to carry out additional checks on payments involving entities from those jurisdictions.

Britain is the country that is pushing more openly not to include Riyadh in the list, one official said, while Spain is insisting it excludes Panama.

Oil-rich Saudi Arabia is a top importer of EU products and weapons, while Panama is a major financial centre in Latin America with many EU firms involved in the multi-billion-dollar expansion of its trans-oceanic canal.

British officials were not immediately available for a comment. A Spanish government official declined to comment.

Countries are blacklisted if they "have strategic deficiencies in their anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism regimes that pose significant threats to the financial system of the Union," the existing EU list says.

Panama's ambassador to the EU Miguel Verzbolovskis said the country had reformed its anti-money laundering rules and urged the EU not to include Panama in the new list. Saudi government officials were not immediately available for a comment.

SAUDI THREATS

Several EU states in a meeting of national envoys this week in Brussels called for more time to assess listed jurisdictions, the officials said. They resisted the EU Commission's plan to take control of the listing process.

This has so far been carried out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global body composed by wealthy nations, including half of the EU countries. The existing EU list mirrors the FATF list of 16 states, while the new one would be expanded by imposing stricter criteria on countries to avoid listing.

EU states' pressure against the new listing has intensified after a meeting of EU and Arab League foreign ministers ended with no agreement on a joint statement on Monday, in a sign of worsening relations between the two blocs.

Relations between Brussels and Riyadh, which plays a prominent role in the Arab League, have grown colder after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the kingdom's Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2.

A Saudi government team of diplomats has set up shop in Brussels to lobby against the listing, one EU official and one source in Saudi Arabia said.

The EU official said the Saudis have threatened to cancel lucrative contracts in some EU countries.

Two senior officials of the EU Commission said that Brussels was, however, not inclined to bend to pressure and would formally adopt the list, with Saudi Arabia in it, in the coming weeks.

EU states could however reject it within two months of its approval by qualified majority. ]]>
2/8/2019 1:29:44 PM
<![CDATA[Delegation of lawmakers in Germany for more cooperation ]]>
The Egyptian delegation’s visit comes four days after a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier, German ambassador in Cairo Julius Loew on February 4, 2019.

The meeting was attended by Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Minister of Finance Mohamed Mait and Minister of Economy and Trade Amr Nassar; in addition to representatives of the largest German companies and a number of German parliamentarians.

The meeting tackled the positive developments in the Egyptian energy Sector.

The fifth session of the Joint Economic Committee was held on February 4 2019 as it represents an important platform for cooperation in all fields between the two countries including industry, Trade, Investment, Energy, Transportation, Infrastructure, Tourism and Higher education.

"The president warmly welcomed the German delegation and expressed his aspiration for much more investments in all fields," Bassam Radi, the presidency spokesman said.

"The Egyptians' will is the main guarantee to sustain investment amid lots of privileges such as stability, developed infrastructure and work force. Thus, we yearn to attract much more of the German investments to Egypt," Sisi stated.

On the other hand, the German minister conveyed German Chancellor Angela Merkel's greeting to Sisi, reflecting her appreciation for the unique relations with Egypt and the recent progress achieved in all fields.

"Egypt is the third biggest partner to Germany in the Middle East; besides its distinguished regional position that contribute to developing and stabilizing the Arab region," Altiamer said.

“Stability is the main key to achieve a developed economy, where only the will of masses has the decisive role in providing the needed stability for progress," Radi said.

Sisi assured that the current economic reform program focuses on providing sufficient resources and supplies for developing healthcare and education organizations to upgrade services offered to the Egyptian citizens, putting into consideration the social differences between classes.

The Egyptian president also referred that the government appreciates the huge role the private sector plays to develop the economy. Hence, a number of laws are set to put an end for all obstacles the private sector faces.

Such laws will provide a suitable atmosphere for competitive and attractive projects, set a comprehensible investing plan for all economic sectors and unifying efforts combating corruption and terrorism.

Moreover, Sisi shed light on the large investing projects established by the government to increase the growth rate, offer more job opportunities and attract more foreign investments to Egypt.

“Egypt is keen to meet all the aspirations of its citizens. Therefore, we accomplished a lot of achievements such as developing the Suez Canal Axis and establishing a number of new cities including the New Administrative Capital,” Sisi stated.

“Egypt welcomes Mercedes-Benz Manufacturing Company; reflecting our deep seeking to eliminate all struggles and obstacles that might face foreign investors in Egypt” al-Sisi reported.

"The overall economic reforms and huge developmental projects reflect positively on the overall economy; where rate of surplus massively increased, the Egyptian products and manufactures regain its ability to compete and the rate of deficiency of the public budgeting decreased to a crawl." al-Sisi's explained.

Rate of overall national growth reached 5.3% in the year of 2017/2018 and hit 5.5% at the second half of the fiscal year 2018-2019 to be the highest rate of growth since 2009.

"The meeting witnessed an open discussion with the Egyptian President and the German delegation where a set of huge German projects chairmen expressed their appreciation of Egypt massive progress. Assuring the expansion of cooperation frame to include a set of fields such as profession training, technical training, Petrochemicals, iron steel," the Egyptian ambassador elaborated.

"Germany is tied to develop its partnership with Egypt; where at February 4, I will participate with 10 of the German universities chairmen to put the first step for the new German university in Egypt that will be located at the New Administrative Capital." Altmaier said.

"Germany has a great role in the Egyptian social and economic development being a peerless partner. The Egyptian President al –Sisi does his best to accomplish the Egyptians' aspiration, the long-aimed stability on concrete bases and development." Radi said.

]]>
2/8/2019 1:16:59 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey says Saudi lack of transparency on Khashoggi concerning, detrimental to credibility]]>
Khashoggi, a royal insider who became a critic of Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and began writing for the Washington Post, was killed inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul by a team of Saudi operatives on Oct. 2, provoking international revulsion and tarnishing the image of the prince.

After making numerous contradictory statements about Khashoggi's fate, Riyadh said he had been killed and his body dismembered when negotiations to persuade him to return to Saudi Arabia failed.

Fahrettin Altun, Erdogan's communications director, told Reuters that the series of "false denials" from Saudi officials had led to uncertainty on a host of issues around the case.

"Over the past four months, the Saudi authorities have been less than forthcoming in their dealings with their Turkish counterparts and the international community," Altun said in a written statement to Reuters.

"Saudi authorities must extradite Mr. Khashoggi's killers to Turkey, where they committed a premeditated murder, as proof of their willingness to serve the cause of justice."

Saudi Arabia has previously denied Turkey's extradition request for the 11 suspects, five of whom are facing the death penalty in Saudi Arabia.

On Thursday, a United Nations-led inquiry into the murder said evidence pointed to a brutal crime "planned and perpetrated" by Saudi officials, adding that Saudi officials had "seriously undermined" and delayed Turkey's investigation.

Despite Turkey's joint investigation with Saudi officials looking at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul, the consul's residence and several other locations, the whereabouts of Khashoggi's remains are still unknown.

Erdogan has said Khashoggi's killing was ordered by the highest level of Saudi leadership, but Riyadh has rejected accusations that the Crown Prince was involved.

Altun said Turkey's findings on the case were in line with those of the U.N.-led inquiry, adding that Ankara was committed to cooperating in a potential U.N. investigation into the case.

"The world is watching. Turkey, along with all nations that believe in democracy and freedom, seeks justice and the truth," he said. ]]>
2/8/2019 12:28:54 PM
<![CDATA[Judges’ Club denies issuing media reports on constitutional amendments]]>
As per the constitutional amendments, the presidential term would be extended for 6 years instead of 4 years and heads of the judicial bodies would be appointed by the president.

“The club did not issue any media statements concerning the proposed constitutional amendments at the House of Representatives,” said spokesperson of the Judges’ Club Reda Mahmoud al-Sayed in a statement on Thursday.

Arabic-language Al-Ahaly gate

reported

on Thursday that the Judges’ Club had issued a statement in which it voiced its reservation, saying “the amendments violate the judicial independency.”

One fifth of parliament members submitted a proposal to conduct constitutional amendments in line with Article 226 of the constitution and Article 140 of Parliament’s internal by-laws. They asked for extending the presidential term to six years from four, “as the current circumstances have proven the step essential,” according to a statement issued by the Parliament on February 3, 2019. The amendments also tackle appointing the heads of judicial bodies by the president.

In 2017, the Parliament has enacted a

law

that broadens President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s power to appoint the heads of the judicial bodies. So, the constitutional amendments will include an article concerning judicial appointment by the president to constitutionalize the law.

The proposed amendments also include restoring Shura Council – a senate- to broaden representation at the Parliamentary Councils- after it was dissolved in 2012. The appointment of deputy president is also one of the amendments. Supporting women, Youth, Christian minority, the disabled, and the Egyptian expatriates community by solid constitutional articles are included in the amendments.

One of the amendments stipulates, “The Armed Forces are the guarantor of the democracy and civil state, and the appointment way of defense minister should be reconsidered.”

“A coordination council headed by the president would organize the posts inside all the judicial entities,” another amendment provides.

On December 23, 2018, President Sisi met with the members of the Council of the Judicial Bodies, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency. “He [the president] expressed his keenness to consolidate the rule of law in accordance with the Constitution, which established the principles of separation of powers […] and respect for the independence of the judiciary and the preservation of its sanctity,” the statement read.

Although many political experts and politicians said that the new amendments are essential for Egypt’s current development program, many critic voices expressed objection as such amendments contradict with freedom principles.

]]>
2/7/2019 6:08:17 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi firmly backs reconstructing post-conflict African areas: FM]]>
In an interview with state-owned MENA on the sidelines of the executive council of the African Union (AU), Shoukri said that the president will meet with African leaders and officials during his participation in the African Summit in Addis Ababa, which is set to be held later in February.

Egypt's leadership of the African Union is greatly expected to contribute to strengthening inter-African relations, Shoukri said, adding that it will probably find solutions to current conflicts inside the continent, MENA reported.

In January 2018, Egypt has been elected as chair of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term in 2019.

djibouti.PNG
Sameh Shoukri holds a meeting with Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf - Courtesy of the MFA spokesperson

On the sidelines of the executive council, Shoukri held a meeting with Djiboutian Foreign Minister Mahmoud Ali Youssouf, during which they discussed establishing an Egyptian free logistic zone in Djibouti, which aims at reviving the economic situation of the states of the Horn of Africa, Ahmed Hafez, Egypt's Foreign Ministry spokesman said.

The Horn of Africa encompasses the four states of Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Shoukri highlighted the role played by the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD) through providing training programs for Djiboutian people in the fields of medicine, energy and diplomacy, Hafez said. He also lauded the EAPD's efforts to provide medical aid to the Egyptian dialysis center in Djibouti.



Meeting also with Alie Kabba, Sierra Leone's minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation, Shoukri praised the role played by the African country's President Julius Maada Bio, as the coordinator of the AU Committee of Ten Heads of State and Government.

Shoukri also reviewed Egypt's vision to work with all African partners during its presidency of the AU this year.

He also displayed the Egyptian presidency's priorities, including addressing economic integrity, social and economic development, peace and security, bridging between different cultures and civilizations of the African peoples and ensuring cooperation with partners.

Leon.PNG
Sameh Shoukri meets with Alie Kabba, Sierra Leone's minister of foreign affairs and international cooperation - Courtesy of the MFA spokesperson

Shoukri also met with Burundian Foreign Minister Ezechiel Nibigira. During the meeting, Shoukri affirmed the importance of the bilateral relations between Egypt and Burundi, expressing Egypt's keenness to develop these relations in various fields to meet the aspiration of the Burundian people in terms of development, security and stability.

The 34th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Foreign Ministers kicked off on Thursday, Feb. 7 at the headquarters of the AU Commission.

The two-day meetings will set the stage for the 32nd African Summit, during which President Sisi will receive the AU presidency.

AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki stressed the importance of topics to be discussed at the summit, which will convene under the theme: "Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa."
]]>
2/7/2019 5:27:30 PM
<![CDATA[France recalls Italy ambassador after worst verbal onslaught 'since the war']]>
Italy's two deputy prime ministers, Matteo Salvini of the right-wing League and Luigi Di Maio of the populist, anti-establishment 5-Star movement, have in recent months goaded French President Emmanuel Macron on a number of issues.

"France has been, for several months, the target of repeated, baseless attacks and outrageous statements," its foreign ministry said in a statement.

"Having disagreements is one thing, but manipulating the relationship for electoral aims is another," it added, calling Italy's attacks without precedent since World War Two.

Di Maio has labelled France a creator of poverty in Africa and met with leaders of the "yellow vest" anti-government movement, while Salvini accused it of doing nothing to bring peace to Libya.

The two deputy premiers, who swept to power last year, appear to believe that attacking Macron, a fervent Europhile, would motivate their domestic voter base before EU elections in May.

"All of these actions are creating a serious situation which is raising questions about the Italian government's intentions towards France," said the French ministry.

the Italian foreign ministry had no immediate comment about the French decision, which a diplomatic source said was unprecedented since 1945.]]>
2/7/2019 3:47:45 PM
<![CDATA[Australia will easily meet Paris climate accord target - study]]>
With several big wind and solar farms opening over the past year and rapidly growing installation of rooftop solar panels, Australia is adopting renewable energy faster per capita than the rest of the world, said a study published by Australian National University (ANU) researchers on Friday.

The pipeline of new wind and solar systems is averaging about 6.3 gigawatts (GW) a year, the study showed.

Based on the new renewable energy that has started in Australia since last June and is expected over the next few years, emissions will drop sharply from the power sector, offsetting possible increases from other sectors, such as transport and farms, the ANU researchers calculated.

Each extra gigawatt of renewables displaces about 2 million tonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent emissions from coal-fired power, the study said, implying Australia's pipeline of renewables would cut emissions by about 12 million to 13 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year.

Assuming other sectors' emissions grow by 2 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent a year, the net reduction would be about 10 million to 11 million tonnes a year, which would put Australia on track to meet its Paris target before 2030.

"By this time next year it'll be quite obvious to everybody that something really surprising has happened in the greenhouse accounts," said the study's lead researcher, Andrew Blakers, an engineering professor.

The additional Australian renewables equate to 250 watts per person a year, compared with about 50 watts per person for the European Union, Japan, China and the United States, the study said.

"Australia is far and away the renewable energy superstar in terms of annual per capita deployment," Blakers said.

The study, based on data from Australia's Clean Energy Regulator, was not commissioned by anyone, he said.

To meet Australia's Paris Climate accord commitment to cut carbon emissions by 26 percent to 28 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, emissions would have to fall to between 430 million and 442 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent.

As of the end of 2017, emissions had risen to 553.7 million tonnes of CO2 equivalent, according to data from Australia's National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

Extrapolating from that figure, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development said last month Australia needed to cut emissions more sharply to meet its Paris target as the country remained heavily dependent on coal-fired power.]]>
2/7/2019 3:19:10 PM
<![CDATA[India's Congress to scrap law punishing Muslim men for instant divorce if voted back to power]]>
Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in January issued an executive order making the practice - which allows Muslim men to divorce their wives by saying the word "talaq", or "divorce" in Arabic, three times - an offence punishable with up to three years in jail.

The order was issued after a bill that had sought to make the practice a non-bailable offence faced resistance from Congress and some other parties in the upper house of parliament despite being approved by the lower house late last year.

Modi has said the action is necessary to empower women, but Congress said it unfairly punished Muslim men.

"We oppose it because it is another weapon devised by Mr. Narendra Modi to imprison Muslim men or drag them to police stations," Sushmita Dev, president of the women's wing of Congress, said in a speech.

"I promise to you that a Congress government will come to power in 2019 and we will scrap this triple talaq law," she said.

Dev was speaking at a meeting of minority members of the party, where Congress President Rahul Gandhi said to loud cheers that "irrespective of your language, religion, caste, Congress party will always protect you".

India's 1.3 billion population is 80 percent Hindu and 14.2 percent Muslim.

The BJP, which hopes to win the support of Muslim women by taking on a divorce practice banned in Muslim-majority nations such as Pakistan and Indonesia, called the Congress' plan the "height of appeasement".

"Neither Muslim women nor the Indian public will forgive them for such a regressive thought," BJP spokesman Sambit Patra told reporters.

India's Supreme Court outlawed triple talaq in August last year and asked the government to introduce legislation to enforce the court ruling.

The government first issued an ordinance against the practice in September, after instances of Muslim men divorcing their wives over the messaging app WhatsApp, or for reasons such as poor cooking. ]]>
2/7/2019 3:16:27 PM
<![CDATA[Legal amendments ensure workers, farmers to be represented in Parl't]]>
In case the Parliament gave a final approval on the amendments, they will be put to a public referendum, where they will arguably have a great chance to be agreed on, as these mentioned segments represent a considerable part of Egypt's almost 60 million registered voters.

These segments were given a firm guarantee to get represented only in the 2015 Parliament through articles 243 and 244 of the 2014 constitution. However, the constitution does not state a fixed quota for any of these segments concerning Parliament.
On the other hand, the amendments guarantee at least 50 percent quota for farmers and workers in the local councils, 25 percent for women, and "suitable representation" for Christians and the disabled.

The 2012 constitution, which was signed into law by Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated former President Mohamed Morsi, gave farmers and workers a guarantee to represent at least 50 percent of the Parliament members. This percentage was cancelled by the new constitution.

Although the new amendments did not offer fixed quota for most of the segments, the amendments offer women 25 percent of the parliamentary seats by the power of law, and guarantee continuous representation of these segments, including farmers and workers in later parliaments.

The number of Egyptian farmers reportedly amount to over 50 million citizens.
]]>
2/7/2019 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[What to know about Egypt's constitutional amendment process]]>
The Amendment Process

In the section titled “The President of the Republic,” Article 226 of the constitution states:

“The President of the Republic or one fifth of the members in the House of Representatives have the right to propose the amendment of one or more articles of the constitution. The request has to include the articles proposed to be amended and the reasons behind the request.

The House of Representatives discusses the proposal within 30 days after submission, and makes a decision to either accept or reject the request totally or partially.

If rejected, it is prohibited to request the same amendments in the same parliamentary session.

If accepted, the House of Representative starts discussions after 60 days since the approval date.

If the draft amendments are approved by at least two thirds of all members, a referendum is held within 30 days starting the approval date. Amendments go into effect once the results come out in case the majority of valid votes are in favor of the draft.

In all cases, articles on the re-election of the President of the Republic, and on the principles of freedom and equality must not be amended unless the amendments are pertinent to further guarantees.”

Parliament Approval

On Tuesday, more than two thirds of the members of the General Committee at the House of Representatives voted in favor of the proposal to amend some articles in the constitution.

The proposal was submitted by the leader of the majority at the parliament and President of the Support Egypt Coalition Abdel Hady al-Qasabi to Speaker Ali Abdel Aal on Sunday.

The Process Within the House of Representatives

The General Committee convenes every month to follow-up on the work of parliamentary committees, and to discuss reports by control agencies, draft laws, and crucial matters. The committee is formed every parliamentary session on yearly basis. It is chaired by the speaker and encompasses the chairpersons of the House of Representatives committees, representatives of the parliamentary committees of political parties, five parliamentarians.

According to Article 140 of the House of Representatives Charter, the speaker submits the constitutional draft amendments to the General Committee within seven days after receiving the proposal to examine if they match Article 226 of the constitution.

As Article 141 of the charter indicates, “if the committee determines that the draft amendments breach the constitution, it submits a report to the speaker to be presented before the General Assembly. A final decision is made after listening to the committee’s representative, ten supporters to the proposal, and ten opponents.”

As article 142 states, “if the General Assembly or the General Committee concurs that the proposal meets the constitutional and legal terms, the General Committee prepares a report indicating its opinion within seven days to be presented before the General Assembly.”

On Sunday, the General Committee concluded that the proposal would be discussed in the General Assembly whose date and time have not been announced yet. However, the speaker said that the General Committee’s report was finished and would be sent to all parliamentarians one week ahead of the discussions.

The Referendum

Article 208 of the constitution within the section of “The National Elections Authority” states:

“The National Elections Authority is exclusively in charge of the administration of referenda, presidential, parliamentary, and municipal elections including the establishment and update of the voters database; suggestions to determine the electoral districts; the formulation of rules regulating campaigns and financing, the electoral spending, statements on spending; observation of the electoral process; and, facilitation of the voting measures for expats and other needed measures until the announcement of results. The law regulates all electoral processes.”

Article 209

“The National Elections Authority is managed by a council composed of 10 members who are vice-presidents of the Court of Cassation, presidents of the courts of appeal, vice-presidents of the State Council, State Lawsuits Authority, and the Administrative Prosecution Authority.

Representatives of those entities receive equal number of seats, and are selected by the Supreme Judicial Council, and other judicial entities. The President of the Republic has to issue a decree on their appointment. They can only be delegated for one six-year term. The council of National Elections Authority must be chaired by the eldest member belonging to the Court of Cassation.

Half the members must be changed after three years of composing the council.

The authority can resort to public figures and experts in the elections realm without giving them the right to vote on its decisions.

The law regulates the formation and the operation system of the authority’s permanent administrative agency, the rights and duties of its members, and their selection requirements ensuring their impartiality, independence, and integrity.”

Article 210

“The ballot is administered by personnel affiliated with the authority under the supervision of its council. The authority can delegate members from judicial authorities.

Ballots held in the first 10 years following the enactment of the constitution must be fully administered by members of judicial entities and authorities in accordance to law.

The Supreme Administrative Court is the entity in charge of receiving appeals pertinent to referenda, presidential and parliamentary elections, and their results. Appeals on municipal elections are filed at the Administrative Judiciary Court. The law designates the appeal dates. Rulings must be issued within 10 days after the appeal is registered.”

Proposed Amendments to the Constitution

The statement released by the House of Representatives indicated the main principles that the draft amendments aim to accomplish and classified them into seven sections.

Inclusive Political Representation

Support the representation of women in parliamentary chambers.

Support the representation of farmers and blue-collar labor in parliamentary chambers.

Support the representation of youths, Christians, expats, and the disabled in parliamentary chambers.

Political System Reform

The possibility to appoint one or more vice-presidents.

Amendment of the presidential term to become six instead of four, and formulation of required transitional rules.

The Judicial Authority

The articulation of a unified mechanism to appoint the chairpersons of judicial institutions, the Public Prosecutor, and the chief of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The establishment of a supreme council for judicial joint affairs.

The Mission of the Armed Forces

The redefinition and solidification of the role of the Armed Forces.

The appointment of the Defense Minister must be first approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Legal protection of key state institutions, and public facilities.

Electoral System Reform

The omission of the sentence on equivalent representation of voters as it incurred a conflict in practice, while abiding by the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the matter.

Foundation of the Senate

The introduction of articles that regulate the minimum number of members, candidacy requirements, its mission, and the ban of joint membership in both chambers of the parliament.

Press and Media Management

The omission of articles 212 and 213 on the National Media Authority, and the National Press Authority.

]]>
2/6/2019 9:09:33 PM
<![CDATA[How change happened in Ethiopia: a review of how Abiy rose to power]]>Yohannes Gedamu, Georgia Gwinnett College

Last year was an historical one for Ethiopian politics. Most Ethiopians now feel hopeful about the prospect of peace and democratic progress. This is despite the fact that the ruling Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front – which has a long history of authoritarianism – is still in power. Nonetheless, a new progressive leadership with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed at the helm, and a series of reforms he’s introduced, could mean that the ruling party of old is gone for good.



The reformed party, chaired by Abiy and his deputy Demeke Mekonnen, is enjoying wider acceptance and renewed political legitimacy.



At the same time, Ethiopians are very aware that the recent political change has been achieved on the back of relentless popular protests. This suggests that there are still many issues that remain unresolved.



And few Ethiopians expect the ruling coalition to change from within given that it had fashioned itself as the lone voice in a closed political space. Moreover, the fact that the coalition is just made up of four political parties representing only four of the nine regions imply that most groups in the political periphery remain marginalised.



In reviewing events one requires a real understanding of the driving factors, as well as the remaining challenges.



How change happened



Ethiopia’s ethnic federalism has historically pitted one ethnic group against the other. Over time, political manoeuvrings empowered the elites who were member of the four parties that formed the ruling coalition.



Together, the leaders of these groups have navigated Ethiopia’s political terrain for over 27 years. They ensured that opposition leaders were jailed, or were otherwise unable to participate in the narrow political space. The only hope of challenging the political status quo lay with the electorate.



Ultimately, a massive wave of protests across the two most populous regions of the country, Amhara and Oromia, ensured that the political days of the Tigray-dominated ruling coalition were numbered. Attention quickly shifted to the idea of a new political leadership. But which force could replace the authoritarian Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front?



In the uncertain times that followed, Ethiopians came to learn that along with the civic unrest, there was also intra-coalition infighting that had been hidden from the public eye for years. This occurred between the two political parties that represented the Amhara and Tigray groups.



This realisation gave the popular protests fresh impetus to push for change.



Ruling reformers



The first major crack within the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front coalition was a series of disagreements between the Amhara Democratic Party and the Tigray People’s Liberation Front since 2014. The top leadership from the two parties differed on the general direction the country was taking.



In addition, the Amhara wing questioned the dominance of the Tigrayans within the ruling coalition. These national party wrangles trickled down to the Amhara and Tigray administrative regions and as rivalries grew, the Amhara leaders, led by Deputy Prime Minister Mekonnen, made it clear that the Tigray front’s interference in Amhara regional state matters would not be tolerated. Such inter-coalition infighting’s were taking place since 2014.



At this time, the Oromo Democratic Party was also embarking on radical internal reforms. Members deemed to be serving the interests of the Tigrayan party dominating the coalition were ousted. The Oromia Region president, Lemma Megersa, and his then deputy Abiy, quickly established a close partnership with reform leaders within the Amhara Democratic Party, a group that was led by Mekonnen . Mekonnen has been Ethiopia’s deputy premier since 2012.



Starting early 2017, this partnership eventually aligned with popular protests in their respective regions. And after three years of mass protests, former Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his resignation.



Desalegn’s abrupt resignation was welcome news and focus quickly shifted to his replacement. Because Abiy was a member of Parliament and therefore eligible to become head of government, his party members elected him to the post of ODP party chair. From there he was voted in as Ethiopia’s third prime minister in the ruling coalition’s era, and the first Oromo ever to hold the position.



Mekonnen, who had supported Abiy’s rise to power, became his deputy. Since then the two have had a series of reform successes.



Reforms pursued by the two men have included releasing thousands of political prisoners and journalists, instituting press freedom, making peace with Eritrea, appointing a gender-balanced cabinet, and forming a commission to support national reconciliation.



Challenges



There have also been trying times. Ethnic conflicts, displacement of people on tribal grounds, and a resurgence of the old political elite who have attempted to restore the status-quo, remain issues that Ahmed and co must tackle with urgency.



Amid these challenges, the country is preparing for national elections in 2020. In my view, it would be prudent to either postpone the polls until the new government gets a firm grip on national cohesion and security or work at pace to ramp-up security measures. Its reforms agenda is still vulnerable to destabilisation.



Ahmed also needs to contend with the recently revived Oromo Liberation Front, a rebel group that is refusing to disarm. The fact that the administration has opted to take military action against this group is an unusual development in the current climate, and an indication that Ahmed’s patience for dissent could be waning. Moreover, the political violence in the restive Ethiopian Somali region also remains active. Amid the volatility, Abiy’s administration needs to devise working strategies that could calm the situation down. This is something to watch.



Regardless, Ethiopia’s historic journey towards fully fledged reform seems intact, and popular support for the steps being taken by the administration remains high.The Conversation



Yohannes Gedamu, Lecturer of Political Science, Georgia Gwinnett College



This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.


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2/6/2019 8:47:36 PM
<![CDATA[Proposed bill sets highest quota for women in Egypt's Parl't history]]>
The proposed bill stipulates that the number of total members of the Parliament must not be less than 450.

Since the establishment of the Egyptian House, the number of women parliamentarians has never reached such percentage.

One year after Egyptian women were granted the right to vote in 1956, Rawia Atiya and Amina Shoukri became the first two women parliamentarians in Egypt's history. The women's quota has then increased over years to reach about 15 percent in the current 2015 parliament.

Also, in 1962, late President Gamal Abdel Nasser appointed Hikmat Abu Zeid as minister for social affairs, to be the first minister in the country's modern history. The Social Solidarity Ministry is currently chaired by Ghada Wali, who has remained in her post for three consecutive cabinets.



The Parliament's general committee approved on Tuesday the proposal put forward by one fifth of the members. Two thirds of parliamentarians voted in favor of the proposal to be further discussed.

The amendments include supporting the representation of women, farmers and blue-collar labor, youths, Christians, expats, and the disabled in parliamentary chambers.

In general, the Egyptian law stipulates that women have to hold 25 percent of the local councils’ seats. Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said in January 2018 that local councils’ female members will hold more than 25 percent of the seats.

For the first time in Egypt, eight women have got ministerial portfolios, including ministers of investment, environment, tourism, health, planning, immigration and culture.

In December, Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram said that President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will attach special importance to women's role in Africa after assuming the African Union (AU) presidency in 2019.

Moreover, Hala Zayed, who has served as health minister since June 2018, said that for five years the ministry has adopted many programs and policies to improve women's health, asserting that women represent 50 percent of the employees in the headquarters of the Ministry of Health.

Zayed said that 30 percent of the vital ministries in Egypt are headed by women, as many women in the country have the expertise that qualify them for leadership positions, in light of the political leadership's keenness to support and empower women in all fields.

She added that Egyptian women nowadays are breadwinners for about 35 percent of the Egyptian families.

Niven al-Misiri, CEO and managing director of Ahli United Bank-Egypt, said that Egypt is working to implement the United Nations guidelines to achieve justice for women in all its institutions.

Parliament's general committee approves constitution's draft amendments

CAIRO - 5 February 2019: Egyptian Parliament's General Committee approved on Tuesday the proposal put forward by one fifth of the members. Two thirds of parliamentarians voted in favor of the proposal to be further discussed.

]]>
2/6/2019 2:42:40 PM
<![CDATA[Trump says to meet North Korea's Kim in Vietnam in late February]]>
Trump said in his annual State of the Union address to Congress much work remained to be done in the push for peace with North Korea, but cited the halt in its nuclear testing and no new missile launches in 15 months as proof of progress.

“If I had not been elected president of the United States, we would right now, in my opinion, be in a major war with North Korea,” Trump said.

Trump had raised fears of war in 2017 when he threatened to rain “fire and fury like the world has never seen” on North Korea because of the threat its nuclear weapons and missiles posed to the United States.

Trump met Kim in Singapore on June 12 in the first summit between a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader. Trump has been eager to hold a second summit in spite of a lack of concrete progress in persuading North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

He said his relationship with Kim “is a good one.”

The presidential Blue House of South Korea, which plays a facilitating role between the United States and North Korea, welcomed Trump’s announcement and expressed hope for progress on improving relations.

“The two leaders already took their first step in Singapore toward shaking off their 70-year history of hostilities. Now we hope that they will take a step forward for concrete, substantive progress,” Blue House spokesman Kim Eui-kyeom told a news briefing in Seoul.

Vietnam would be the best host of the event, Kim Eui-kyeom said, citing its checkered history with the United States in which they used to “point a gun and knife at each other.”

Communist-ruled Vietnam, which has good relations with both the United States and North Korea, had been widely touted as the most likely venue for the meeting.

It has also been used as a model of economic and political reform for impoverished and isolated North Korea to follow. That would require major changes to the North’s personality cult and “juche” ideology of self sufficiency.

Trump did not say which Vietnamese city would host the two leaders but both the capital, Hanoi, and Danang have been considered as possibilities.

A source at Danang airport said four U.S. military V-22 “Osprey” aircraft flew from Japan’s Okinawa island and landed in the coastal city on Tuesday evening. They left after a few hours, the source said.

U.S. logistics officials visited the city last week, a major base for U.S. and South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.

The U.S. Embassy in Vietnam said it did not have anything to announce regarding the summit.

“CONCRETE DELIVERABLES”

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun was due to hold talks in Pyongyang this week to map out what he called “a set of concrete deliverables” for the second meeting.

The Singapore summit yielded a vague commitment from Kim to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, where U.S. troops have been stationed since the 1950-53 Korean War.

In the U.S. view, North Korea has yet to take concrete steps to give up its nuclear weapons. It has complained that the United States has done little to reciprocate its freezing of nuclear and missile testing and dismantling of some nuclear facilities.

North Korea has repeatedly urged a lifting of punishing U.S.-led sanctions, a formal end to the war, and security guarantees.

The three-year Korean War ended with an armistice that left the two Koreas technically still at war.

Seoul officials said the summit would likely center on dismantling the North’s main Yongbyon nuclear complex and how this would be reciprocated, although the United States remains reluctant to provide any sanctions relief.

The focus of the two-day summit would be whether Washington was willing to ease some of the sanctions, said Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute.

“If the United States can be more proactively flexible on that, it may draw other denuclearization steps on top of abolishing the Yongbyon facilities, and expedite talks on setting up a liaison office and replacing the armistice with a peace treaty,” Cheong said.

While Trump has hailed “tremendous progress” in his dealings with North Korea, a confidential report by U.N. sanctions monitors seen by Reuters this week cast further doubt on the North’s intentions.

It said the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs remained intact and that North Korea was working to make sure those capabilities could not be destroyed by any military strikes.]]>
2/6/2019 11:23:27 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament's general committee approves constitution's draft amendments]]>
The statement released by the House of Representatives indicated the main principles that the draft amendments aim to accomplish and classified them into seven sections.

Inclusive Political Representation

Support the representation of women in parliamentary chambers.

Support the representation of farmers and blue-collar labor in parliamentary chambers.

Support the representation of youths, Christians, expats, and the disabled in parliamentary chambers.

Political System Reform

The possibility to appoint one or more vice-presidents.

Amendment of the presidential term to become six instead of four, and formulation of required transitional rules.

The Judicial Authority

The articulation of a unified mechanism to appoint the chairpersons of judicial institutions, the Public Prosecutor, and the chief of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

The establishment of a supreme council for judicial joint affairs.

The Mission of the Armed Forces

The redefinition and solidification of the role of the Armed Forces.

The appointment of the Defense Minister must be first approved by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Legal protection of key state institutions, and public facilities.

Electoral System Reform

The omission of the sentence on equivalent representation of voters as it incurred a conflict in practice, while abiding by the ruling of the Supreme Constitutional Court on the matter.

Foundation of the Senate

The introduction of articles that regulate the minimum number of members, candidacy requirements, its mission, and the ban of joint membership in both chambers of the parliament.

Press and Media Management

The omission of articles 212 and 213 on the National Media Authority, and the National Press Authority.
]]>
2/5/2019 5:22:45 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi invites Iraqi counterpart to attend Arab-European Summit ]]>
Iraq 2

The conference is the first of its kind and is hosted by Egypt. It will be held in Sharm El Sheikh on February 24 - 25.

The Iraqi president expressed his appreciation for the invitation, and sent his greetings to his Egyptian counterpart.

The meeting also covered development of bilateral relations, and updates on the international and Arab levels. ]]>
2/5/2019 2:43:56 PM
<![CDATA[Cybercrime rises by 190% from 2012-17 in Egypt: IDSC]]>
Participating in a seminar entitled "Freedom in the Age of Informatics," held in the Cairo International Book Fair, Ziad Abdel Tawab said that the government exerted extensive efforts to regulate cyberspace. He added that the constitution included for the first time articles that aim at providing sufficient security measures to protect people's personal data and allowing freedom of information exchange.

He also referred to the impact of social networks on citizens, including how rumors influence people's lives. He said that the center has devoted a section to respond to rumors, in order to ensure the stability of the community, adding that rumors spread on specific occasions.

In July 2018, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned against false news clarifying that more than 21,000 rumors have been propagated over a period of three months. The president also asked the citizens to be cautious of calls that inherently aim at the collapse of the Egyptian state.

At the end of 2018, Cabinet's media center issued an information report on rumors attempting to fail the state's constructive efforts throughout the year, revealing that education was the most targeted by rumors, obviously due to the radical changes it is undergoing under the new system.

According to the official infographics, the education sector was targeted by 21.5 percent of rumors in 2018, followed by the ration sector that got 17 percent of the rumors, while 15.3 percent went to the economy sector.

Education wins lion's share of rumors in 2018: Cabinet

CAIRO - 2 January 2018: Concluding 2018, Cabinet's media center issued an information report on rumors attempting to fail the state's constructive efforts throughout the year, revealing that education was the most targeted by rumors, obviously due to the radical changes it is undergoing under the new system.



Anti-cybrecrime law

In May, Parliament initialed a cybercrime bill aiming at combating the illegal use of computers and information networks.

The Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law defines commonly used concepts such as “websites, traffic data, digital directory, personal statements and national security."

On August 18, Sisi ratified the anti-cybercrime law, allowing authorities, through a judge, to order the blocking of websites that "constitute a threat" to the state or publish fake news as well as jail or fine those who run them.

The law imposes jail terms of up to five years and fines ranging between LE 10,000 and LE 20 million ($560 and $1.1m).

According to the law, people whose social media accounts have more than 5,000 followers could be placed under supervision.

The law authorizes authorities to suspend or block any personal account which "publishes or broadcasts fake news or anything (information) inciting violating the law, violence or hatred."

The danger of fake news nowadays lies in their ability to spread rapidly over the internet through social media platforms and websites of high traffic.

Personal data protection

In August, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Amr Talaat announced the Cabinet’s approval of a draft law aiming to protect personal data.
According to official reports, the law protects citizens’ “fully or partially electronically treated personal data."

In a press statement following the meeting, Talaat said that the law prohibits gathering or processing individuals’ personal data or spreading them by any means without the permission of the concerned individuals, except in cases authorized legally.

Talaat affirmed the country’s keenness to attract international and regional investments in the field of database centers and to establish legally protected data centers. ]]>
2/5/2019 11:14:14 AM
<![CDATA[Azhar Imam urges religious leaders to promote peace, fight hardliners]]>
During his participation in the Global Conference of Human Fraternity launched in Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Tayeb urged religious leaders to work hard to build bridges of dialogue with others, adding that it requires courageous confrontation of hardliners, including those who adopt extremism in understanding the teachings of religions or those who seek to completely detach religion from human life.

g1 (1)

Tayeb also lauded the in-depth discussions that took place at the conference and that focused on the humanitarian side and upright teachings of religions, under the aegis of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed.

The UAE's hosting of this important conference asserts this country's real determination to back all positive thoughts and highlights the great effort it exerts to entrench the high values of tolerance and co-existence, Tayeb stressed.

g7

During the opening session of the conference, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that the Human Fraternity Conference is taking place at the right place and time, pointing out that the UAE is one of the few places in this region that is blessed with human diversity and human fraternity in its true sense.

The Global Conference of Human Fraternity was launched by UAE's Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

More than 700 leaders, thinkers and representatives of different faiths gathered at the conference to discuss the critical importance of fraternity and peaceful coexistence.

The Global Conference of Human Fraternity focuses on a wide spectrum of themes, including "Principles of Human Fraternity", "Common Responsibility to Achieve Human Fraternity" and "Human Fraternity: Challenges and Opportunities".

g2

g3

g4 ]]>
2/5/2019 11:09:36 AM
<![CDATA[Republican senators break with Trump on Afghanistan, Syria withdrawal]]>
Senators voted 70-26 for the amendment sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The measure says Daesh and al-Qaeda militants still pose a serious threat to the United States, and it warns that "a precipitous withdrawal" of US forces from those countries could "allow terrorists to regroup, destabilize critical regions and create vacuums that could be filled by Iran or Russia."]]>
2/5/2019 11:00:15 AM
<![CDATA[FM holds bilateral meetings with five counterparts ]]>






Belgium

Belgium
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry met with his Belgium counterpart Didier Reynders on the sidelines of the European-Arab Ministerial Meeting held in Brussels, Belgium. February 4, 2019. Press Photo

In his meeting with Belgium Foreign Minister Didier Reynders, Shokry highlighted the political and economic developments in Egypt and measures taken to achieve comprehensive development.

The minister highlighted the importance of encouraging Belgium firms to invest in Egypt and take advantage of the opportunities created by economic reforms accomplished in the country, and that were praised by international financial institutions.

Reynders said that his country is eager to develop ties with Egypt in different sectors lauding the remarkable increase in the number of Belgium tourists visiting Egypt pointing out at the recent 10-day visit by King Philippe and Queen Mathilde. The royal couple and their four children visited Cairo, Luxor, and Aswan spending the New Year Eve’s Eve in Aswan.

Reynders listened to Egypt’s vision on the developments taking place in the Middle East, and on international matters of mutual interest, mainly counterterrorism. Shokry asserted the necessity to combat that phenomenon by addressing all security, economic, and intellectual aspects.

Both parties expressed their aspiration to continue consultation upon international and regional affairs of mutual interest. In June, Belgium was elected as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council for the period 2019-2020.

Greece

During the meeting with Acting Foreign Minister of Greece George Katrougalos, Shokry hailed the great growth of ties with Greece in different sectors, saying that Egypt looked forward to building on the current momentum at all levels, including the tripartite mechanism that also includes Cyprus.

Also, the top Egyptian diplomat pointed to the outcome of the recent Egypt-Greece-Cyprus summit, held in Greek island of Crete in October 2018, calling for making good use of its results in boosting ties in the areas of tourism, investment and energy.

For his part, the acting Greek foreign minister said that his country is keen on cementing cooperation with Egypt in all realms including counterterrorism and illegal migration.

Spain

In his meeting with Spanish counterpart Josep Borrell, Shokry pointed out at the first round of Egyptian-Spanish political consultations that took place in Madrid in December.

Both ministers discussed the potential of developing economic ties between Egypt and Spain, particularly in the tourism sector. Sokry said that Egypt aspired to continue the cooperation with Spain on the international level, and within the United Nations.

On the other hand, Borrel said that his country looked forward to carry on with close coordination with Egypt on the regional scale. He also expressed support to the first Arab-European Summit that will be hosted by Egypt later this month. The Spanish minister listened to the Egyptian vision on Middle East affairs.

Romania

Romania
Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry met with his Romanian counterpart Teodor Meleșcanu on the sidelines of the European-Arab Ministerial Meeting held in Brussels, Belgium. February 4, 2019. Press Photo

In his meeting with Romanian Foreign Minister Teodor Meleșcanu, Shokry hailed the growth of trade and economic ties between both countries as the volume of trade exchange had hit $1 billion in 2018, and flights to Sharm al-Sheikh and Hurghada had more than doubled.

Meleșcanu expressed his aspiration to increase cooperation with Egypt in different sectors, and his country’s support to the upcoming summit. Both ministers expressed their appreciation for the mutual cooperation within the European Union upon matters of mutual interest.

Shokry urges cooperation between Arab World, Europe

CAIRO - 4 February 2019: Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shokry affirmed on Monday the importance of capitalizing on the mutual interests between the Arab World and Europe, and developing cooperation in alignment with historic ties.


]]>
2/4/2019 5:30:35 PM
<![CDATA[UK looking at Venezuela sanctions, says Maduro must go: PM May's spokesman]]>
"Venezuelan people deserve a better future, they have suffered enough and the Maduro regime must end. It is time for free and fair elections," the spokesman told reporters.

"We are looking at what further steps we can take to ensure peace and democracy in Venezuela including through sanctions."]]>
2/4/2019 2:17:24 PM
<![CDATA[In Cooperation with UNICEF, Britain allocates £12 M to support education in Egypt]]>
The signing ceremony was held at the headquarters of the UK Embassy in Egypt and was attended by British Ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams, UNICEF Representative in Egypt Bruno Maes, and Minister of Education Tarek Shawqi.

Minister Shawqi shed light on the UK-funded project, entitled “Integrated Education Services for Vulnerable and Marginalized Children in Egypt,” which targets three geographically important governorates: North Sinai, South Sinai, and the Mediterranean city of Ismailia.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_1080
British Ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams (R) and UNICEF Representative in Egypt Bruno Maes (L) sign a three-year program to developeducation in Egypt in presence of Minister of Education Tarek Shawqi (C) at the headquarters of the UK embassy in Egypt- Egypt Today/Samar Samir


“This project comes as a timely support to the ministry’s commitment to the transformation of the Egyptian educational system: Education 2.0,” he said, adding that introducing new curricula, teaching tools, methods, school environment and assessment criteria is essential to positively change the face of education in Egypt and the learning experiences of the students.

The three-year program will be implemented by the UNICEF Egypt, said Sir Adams in his speech. “The essence of the program is the support for Egypt’s education reform. This is the heart of the thing we do in education,” he added.

“The program will provide technical assistance to schools, teachers, and supervisors. We believe we will impact 550 primary schools, 12,000 teachers, 3,000 supervisors and most importantly 80,000 students. Today’s announcement follows the successful Egyptian participation in the Education World Forum in London,” the ambassador said.

Shawqi and an accompanying delegation had participated in the Education World Forum in London on January 20-23,2019.

“We jointly announce the launch of the Integrated Education Services for Vulnerable and Marginalized Children in Egypt which comes in support of the ministry’s vision and plans to transform the education system in Egypt as the ministry mainstreams Education 2.0," said UNICEF Egypt Representative Maes.

“It [the program] also ensures, in line with Education 2.0, that vulnerable children are equipped with a 21st century skills-based education that improves their learning, that empowers them in facing difficult life situations, that will help them in their work life, and most importantly, that will provide them with the values Egypt needs to build a promising future,” he continued.

The program will focus on the accountability in education to increase the parents’ direct engagement in the education system, Maes said, praising the Egyptian education reform since it has been launched in 2017.

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_107d
British Ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams (R) and UNICEF Representative in Egypt Bruno Maes (L) sign a three-year program to developeducation in Egypt in presence of Minister of Education Tarek Shawqi (C) at the headquarters of the UK embassy in Egypt- Egypt Today/Samar Samir

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2/4/2019 1:42:55 PM
<![CDATA[On historic trip, pope meets UAE leaders, gets royal welcome]]>
Arriving at the sprawling presidential palace with its many domes of gold and glass, Francis was greeted with a flyover by UAE air force jets spewing out plumes of smoke in yellow and white - the colors of the Vatican flag.

He rode to the main courtyard in a small car escorted by a dozen flag-bearing Emirati guards on horseback. He shunned bulletproof cars or limousines since the start of his papacy.

Once inside the palace, a 370 acre (150 hectares) maze of buildings, gardens and fountains, Francis held private talks with Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and other UAE leaders.

Writing in the palace guest book, he asked that God grant the UAE “divine blessings of peace and fraternal solidarity”.

The visit takes place in the shadow of the war in Yemen, the poorest Arabian Peninsula nation, where the UAE military has a leading role in a Saudi-led coalition fighting on the side of the internationally recognized Yemeni government that was ousted by the Iran-allied Houthi group.

Francis was due to deliver his only public address of the day later at an inter-religious meeting following a visit to Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the largest in the Islamic world.

The visit received some positive media attention in neighboring Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and where churches are banned. The main English daily, Arab News, ran a picture of the pope and Abu Dhabi’s crown prince calling it “the moment that made history on the Arabian Peninsula.”

It ran an article citing Muslim and Catholic officials saying Saudi Arabia could feature in a future papal visit.

Priests and diplomats describe the UAE as one of the least restrictive environments in the Gulf for Christian worship, which is allowed in church compounds with special licenses. But like other Gulf states it outlaws unsanctioned religious gatherings and non-Muslims must not proselytize.

SHADOW OF YEMEN WAR

Vatican officials said before the trip that it was not clear whether the pope would address the subject of the nearly four-year Yemen war in public or private during the trip.

The United Nations is trying to implement a fragile ceasefire deal in Yemen’s main Hodeidah port, a lifeline for millions and the site of some of the war’s fiercest battles. It hopes the deal will pave the way for political negotiations to end the conflict.

Shortly before departing for Abu Dhabi on Sunday, Francis said he was following the humanitarian crisis in Yemen with great concern, using his regular Sunday address in Vatican City to urge all sides to implement the deal and help deliver aid.

“Let us pray strongly because they are children who are hungry, who are thirsty, they don’t have medicine and they are in danger of death,” he said.

The war pitting the Houthi movement against the Saudi-led coalition loyal to ousted President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi has killed tens of thousands of people and left almost 16 million people facing severe hunger.

On Tuesday, before returning to Rome, the pope will celebrate an outdoor mass for some 135,000 Catholics in an Abu Dhabi sports stadium, an event with no precedent in the peninsula. He has said the trip would write “a new page in the history of relations between religions”.

The UAE is home to around 1 million expatriate Catholics, many from the Philippines. Another 1 million Catholics are believed to live in other countries in the Arabian Peninsula.]]>
2/4/2019 1:38:32 PM
<![CDATA[Shokry urges cooperation between Arab World, Europe ]]>



Shokry arrived in Brussels on Sunday to participate in the European-Arab Ministerial Meeting. Egypt is scheduled to host the first Arab-European summit on February 24-25.

In his speech, minister Shokry stipulated that the Palestinian Cause is pivotal to the Arab people and that resolving the issue would achieve stability in the region. The minister affirmed Egypt’s stance on the Palestinian Cause and its support to the rights of the Palestinian people. Shokry added that Egypt would pursue its efforts to unify Palestinian factions and alleviate the suffering of the people on Palestinian territories.

The minister expressed Egypt’s appreciation for the efforts deployed by the European Union to support the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

Shokry asserted Egypt’s support for political solutions, and counter terrorism measures on all scales in Syria and Libya in order to preserve the unity and sovereignty of their territories.

The minister said that the Arab World looked forward to the European support to achieve comprehensive development projects.

Shokry highlighted the challenges faced by the region including illegal migration. The minister said that Egypt hosted five million refugees from different countries, and that the approach to the reasons behind the phenomenon must be more comprehensive to come up with effective solutions. He added that required more effective contribution from the European side away from political compromises.

The minister stressed the importance that the Arab and European parties abide by a comprehensive approach to protect human rights including the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights. That is in addition to the right to assume development and combat hate speech and racism.

Shokry added that the core of human rights preservation is combating terrorism by addressing its economic and social aspects, and facing the extremist ideologies of terrorist groups. The minister urged the adoption of mechanisms to deter terrorism financing, and taking strict measures against the states and entities that directly or indirectly back that phenomenon. The minister said that the backing of certain states to terrorist organizations had doubled the world’s damages.

FM holds bilateral meetings with five counterparts

CAIRO - 4 February 2019: On the sidelines of the European-Arab Ministerial Meeting held in Brussels on Monday, Foreign Minister Sameh Shokry held bilateral meetings with Greek, Belgium, Kuwaiti, Spanish, and Romanian counterparts to discuss development of relations and continuous coordination upon matters of mutual interest.


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2/4/2019 12:43:57 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt condemns Israel's shuttering TIPH observer mission in Hebron]]>
In a statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez stressed the need to avoid "unilateral decisions violating the provisions of the Oslo II Agreement of 1995 and complicating efforts to resume negotiations between Israel and Palestine to establish a comprehensive and just peace, on the basis of a two-state solution and in accordance with the relevant resolutions of international legitimacy."

Hafez reiterated Egypt's firm stance toward the Palestinian cause and the country's full support for the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.

"Any measures aiming at [making] changes in the existing arrangements or the situation on the ground will increase the level of tension and serve only to undermine efforts towards peace," the statement read.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he would eject a foreign force set up to help safeguard Palestinians in a flashpoint city in the occupied West Bank, accusing the observers of anti-Israel activity.

"We will not allow the continued presence of an international force that acts against us," Netanyahu said in a statement announcing that the Temporary International Presence in Hebron's (TIPH) mandate will not be renewed.

The statement did not elaborate on the alleged misconduct of TIPH, which draws staff from Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey. The TIPH website says the force works on six-month mandates but did not specify when the current one expires.

The TIPH was set up after a settler killed 29 Palestinians at a Hebron shrine holy to both Muslims and Jews in 1994.

Since Israel partially withdrew from Hebron in 1998 under interim peace deals with the self-rule Palestinian Authority, the TIPH has "observe(d) and report(ed) on breaches of the agreements (and) violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law," the force's website says.

Most world powers consider Israel's settlements in the West Bank, where Palestinians want a state, to be illegal. Israel disputes this, and the rightist Netanyahu has played up his pro-settler credentials as he seeks reelection in an April 9 ballot.

"They want to uproot us from here. They will not," he said in separate remarks on Monday at another West Bank settlement.

"There's a line of thought that says that the way to achieve peace with the Arabs is to be extirpated from our land. That is the certain path to achieving the opposite of this dream."


Additional reporting by Reuters
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2/4/2019 10:55:54 AM
<![CDATA[AU executive council meetings to kick off Thursday ahead of 32nd summit]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi will receive the AU chairmanship during the summit.

At their meetings, the top diplomats will discuss key issues related to peace and security in Africa, topped by the conditions in Libya, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a diplomatic source of the AU told MENA.

They will mull also a report on the 37th session of the committee of the permanent representatives, which was held on January 15-16, added the source.

Reports of other sub-committees will be also tendered at the meetings.]]>
2/3/2019 11:37:33 AM
<![CDATA[Increasing print newspapers prices, necessary bitter medicine to save industry]]>CAIRO – 3 February 2019: An agreement was reached last August by chairmen of national press organizations and chief editors of private newspapers that prices of print publications should increase to face the financial crises in Egyptian press institutions, especially after ad revenues collapsed and prices of printing materials increased.


The meeting, under the invitation of the National Press Authority (NPA), firmly focused on discussing the status of print newspapers after the hikes in prices of printing materials and ways to rationalize distribution expenses.


The National Press Authority earlier pointed out that the meeting comes within an aim to preserve the long history of Egyptian press and trying to look for alternative solutions that can help save this industry.


But despite that this agreement was reached five months ago, a final decision to increase prices of print publications is still being studied by the NPA; a delay that caused more serious losses to national and private newspapers.


Some press institutions decided to raise the prices of their publications starting next Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019, as follows;


Akher Saa:LE 10


Akhbar El Nogoom: LE 10


Akhbar El Sayarat: LE 15


Kitab Al-Youm: LE 25


Fares Magazine: LE 7


Al-Liwa' al-Islami: LE 5


Akhbar El Hawadeth: LE 5


Akhbar El Riada: LE 5


Akbar El Adab:LE 10 and LE 15 for the monthly issue


Some other newspapers like Al-Ahram Newspaper and Dar El Tahrir for Printing and Publishing are also seeking to increase the prices of their publications as well.


Abdel Mohsen Salama, head of Egypt’s Press Syndicate, revealed that the cost of printing papers has recently increased from $540 to around $979.


Salama added that this has caused the news print industry to face a major crisis, demanding the public opinion and the government to understand this crisis and that increasing the prices of newspapers might just be the solution to save Egyptian newspapers.


“The press industry is a significant tool of enlightenment that must be preserved,” Salama told Egypt Today in an interview. “Increasing prices of newspapers is a necessary bitter medicine that we must consider and take.”


Editors' meeting suggests raising Egyptian newspapers' prices

CAIRO - 8 August 2018: Head of Egypt's National Press Authority (NPA) Karam Gabr said that the Wednesday meeting of the boards of national newspapers and editors of private press institutions suggested raising the prices of publications.


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2/3/2019 9:15:00 AM
<![CDATA[Support Egypt Coalition to propose constitution amendment bill]]>
The bill included amendments such as reestablishing a bicameral legislature by introducing the Senate as a second legislative chamber, Women would comprise 25 percent of the parliament and appointment of more than a vice for the president.

WhatsApp Image 2019-02-02 at 20.39.11

The amendments meet 2014 constitution and boost freedoms proposed by the latter, said the head of Support Egypt Coalition Abdel Hadi Al Kasbi.

WhatsApp Image 2019-02-02 at 20.29.53

The constitutional committee of the parliament affirms the right of the members to amend any of the constitution articles. Under article 226, either the president or fifth of the parliament members have the right to amend the constitution.


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2/2/2019 9:14:20 PM
<![CDATA[Grand Imam writes editorial on ‘religious discourse renewal’]]>
Many media personnel have been tackling the idea of “Religious Discourse Renewal” which is becoming increasingly ambiguous for recipients due to the lack of scientific bases needed to identify the meaning of renewal, what discourse that must be renewed, and if what they call “religious discourse” is the only reason behind all the crises that the Arab World goes through on the security and political levels, and all the obstacles hindering its development and growth.

The most evident proof of that state of ambiguity is that some of those voices are calling for discarding the religious discourse altogether. Those do not disclose the target of their calls which have as purpose turning Al Azhar institution into a museum including its academic, spiritual, and cultural aspects after more than ten centuries, and after the East and the West recognized it as the oldest and largest university worldwide.

On the contrary, we hear other voices that merely understand religious discourse renewal as a return to what early Muslims were in the first three centuries succeeding the advent of Islam. Those also dream of the day they seize Al Azhar, and impose their perception of religion exclusively. Those compose a threat to the religion’s tolerance, and its Sharia that was established upon pluralism and variety of opinions enjoying a freedom that is unrivaled in any other religion.

Those cannot bear Al Azhar’s openness to both congruence and difference upon the religion’s fundamentals, direct texts, and comprehensive frameworks. The debate over other religious aspects is already unrestricted.

Based on this approach to diversity, Al Azhar has always been open to the study of all religious school of thoughts, whether Sunni or not, in a proper academic way without adopting a derogatory predisposition on any of those school of thoughts or their scholars. That approach was used by Al Azhar to teach the whole world rhetoric and other disciplines.

I question where in any part of the Arab or Islamic world we find a case of a female child who has not reached puberty and was wedded to an adult man. Where is that phenomenon on which debate is heating up?

Why is the apostasy penalty being evoked in debates to attack the patrimony? Did not criticizers see Egyptian atheist youths who show off their atheism on satellite TV channels, debate freely, and assert that their numbers are big?

Who of those was subject to apostasy penalty or any kind of harm? I myself spoke a lot about atheism, and atheists. Have I ever called for applying the apostasy penalty?

Those TV shows waste the time of Egyptians, and mess up with their unity, focus, and attention to what is being plotted against their country. Those shows deal with ghosts that do not exist in reality in Muslim-majority countries. It is funny how those claim they are assuming religious discourse renewal, and that divinity sent them to assume that mission. Their confidence is enviable.

As for renewal, I summarize my vision below:

Renewal is concurred by the prophet as he said it should take place at the beginning of each century. Also, renewal is needed to understand God’s teachings on the variables pertinent to each era.

There was a controversy among scholars to determine what the prophet had meant by renewal, who should assume that mission, and whether it should be done by one scholar or many. Old scholars stated that renewal means getting back to Quran and Sunna, and eliminating any concepts that negatively impacts them.

What we will discuss in the April’s big conference is whether we should confine renewal to that simple meaning or not? That is because that concept of renewal would leave the contemporary dilemmas as they are without finding solutions and determining the stance of Sharia on them.

We have to determine if we should instead look thoroughly into Quran, Sunna, and religious teachings, and review them in accordance with the bases set by scholars.
I will tell you the answer I gave ten years ago in a conference by the Ministry of Endowments. That is renewal is an integral part of Islam. Otherwise, Islam would be just rituals practiced in Mosques, cymetries, and in some occasions.

It is strange that the “renewal” terminology is still viewed with suspicion because of the accusations, sometimes valid and some other times invalid, leveled at anyone who approaches it.

The renewal we are waiting for should go in two parallel paths:

One path must focus on Quran, Sunna, and the patrimonial principles that match the era’s concepts and not demands. The religious discourse is not expected to be totalitarian but it has to be free of conflict, the seclusion of the other, and the dominance of a school of thought over the other.
The other line must find a common ground between Islamists and Liberals to mend the typical division upon patrimony and modernism.

That difference in itself is normal and an acceptable phenomenon. However, what is neither acceptable nor normal is that the situation shifts from an external battle into an internal conflict that creates a void that allows a foreign intervention that crashes everyone.

We can infer from the experience we got in the last century that those who belong to the former ideology thought they would be able to live within the narrow framework of patrimony, and shut the door in front of the waves of the Western civilization and its flowing culture. Their determination did not achieve their desired results so they retreated without equipping the society to deal with international variables in an informed way.

The same can be said about the Westernized who mocked and renounced the patrimony as a requirement to assume reforms. The result was that the masses turned their back to them after they had realized they do not represent their sufferings and dreams. Those lost the battle and did not resolve one single social issue. We can even say they made them worse.

The moderate reform movement is the most capable of assuming the renewal mission without deforming or canceling religion. That is in one condition which is avoiding conflict with different parties as that would suck its energy.

Now, we should prepare a list of the most pressing issues. I prioritize the matters that formed the principles of the creed of terrorist groups such as jihad, caliphate, takfir, loyalty, and others.

The conclusion by scholars on those matters in the conference must be compiled in a report, translated, and sent to all embassies.

Studies of those matters must be a collateral effort. It can no longer be an individual effort because of the diversification in specialities and conversion of religious affairs.
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2/2/2019 5:02:48 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar was paid millions in ‘illegal fees’ for Barclays , court to summon Qatari ex-PM]]>CAIRO – 2 February 2019: Richard Boath, an executive in Barclays’ investment banking division, told a senior lawyer at Barclays that that he would “start to tremble” when he reread documents relating to a deal that Barclays executives struck with former Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani to secure Qatari investment in the bank in exchange for a personal commission.


Boath and three other former Barclays executives, including the then chief executive, John Varley, are accused of conspiring to secretly pay Qatar £322m, in return for billions of pounds of investment in the bank, thereby allowing it to avoid a government bailout during the 2008 financial crisis.


This came during the fourth day of the fraud trial at London’s Southwark crown court last week.


Egyptian TV presenter Amr Adib during his talk show last night said sources affirmed that Hamad Bin Jassim left his residence in London after being tipped that he might be summoned by the court in this case. He pointed out that the court would also question Bin Jassim in regards to the financial scandal .


According to the Guardian, the court heard that Boath had asked Barclay’s lawyer Judith Shepherd if it was possible to “redo” the five-paragraph agreement, which included a handwritten note promising to pay Qatar £42m, because “it just doesn’t look very elegant”.


He is said to have told Shepherd that when he rereads the agreement: “I sort to start to tremble. So, you know, I’d really like to go and do something about it, so I can sleep.”


Edward Brown QC, the lead prosecutor for the UK’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) said on Monday that the accused acknowledged the higher commission being paid to the Qataris as the deal was closing.


The Qataris asked for a commission of 3.75% in return for its investment, which was more than double the standard rate of commission of 1.5%. The SFO alleges that Barclays eventually agreed to pay Qatar a fee of 3.25% but disguised the extra 1.75% through “sham” advisory services agreements (ASAs), the court heard.


Brown presented the jury with tapes and transcripts of calls between Barclays bankers around the time the first 2008 fundraising closed in July.


The SFO alleges that four former Barclays executives – John Varley, who was CEO of Barclays between 2004 and 2011; Roger Jenkins, who formerly ran Barclays Capital’s investment management business in the Middle East and North Africa; Thomas Kalaris, the former CEO of Barclays’ wealth and investment management; and Richard Boath, the former head of European financial institutions group at Barclays Capital – lied to the stock market and other investors about the fees the bank paid Qatar in relation to emergency fundraising of more than £11bn.


“Qatari entities must be just as dishonest as the Barclays bankers on trial for fraud if the prosecution is correct,” the judge told the jury hearing.


Qatar had agreed to backstop the deal, saying it would buy all the shares offered to existing investors if they were not taken up. However, the Qataris did not expect to end up with a large shareholding as they thought other investors would want to buy shares, Brown said.


Bankers panicked when it became clear that investors uptake of the other shares was limited, according to the prosecution. It meant the Qataris would receive a smaller return on their investment as the commission fee was calculated on the maximum possible payment for shares, regardless of how much was finally paid.


Richard Boath and Robert Jenkins were “dismayed” about the low share uptake, Brown said, and panicked about how the Qataris would react to the news and whether they would be able to pay in full.

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2/2/2019 3:02:04 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar hacking scandal against U.S. critic exposed]]>CAIRO – 2 February 2019: Former GOP fundraiser Elliott Broidy filed a complaint in Washington alleging that three Americans working for the terror-funding Emirate of Qatar had conspired to silence one of that country’s most prominent critics by hacking his emails and distributing their contents to the media in an effort to destroy his reputation and his ability to oppose Qatar’s continued sponsorship of Islamist groups.


According to national security consultant and senior vice president at the Security Studies Group, David Reaboi, the lawsuit alleges that lobbyists for Qatar Nick Muzin and Joey Allaham, together with Greg Howard of the prominent public relations shop Mercury Public Affairs, organized and distributed confidential information in Broidy’s emails to journalists at The New York Times, McClatchy, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.


Reaboi further criticized in his article reporters and editors who allow freelance influence operators and media manipulators to craft meta-narratives, using their bylines and media outlets.


These outlets then pounded the Republican using the stolen documents, eager to take advantage of the former Republican National Committee official’s relationship to the president.


“Broidy’s support for Trump provided a news-hook used not only to generate coverage in the mainstream press, but to villainize Broidy to the media’s partisan readers, damaging his reputation,” Reaboi added.


Broidy was the subject of harmful revelations about his business dealings, government contacts and personal affairs after his email accounts were hacked last year, an attack that has been widely attributed to Qatar.


“Unfortunately, the breach of Broidy’s privacy seems to have been a result of the tremendous sums that Qatar has spent on lobbyists, media and think tanks in service of its ongoing feud with its Gulf neighbors on the issue of Qatar’s support for virulent strands of both Sunni and Shiite Islamism,” Reaboi further stressed.


Since the disastrous ascent of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring, Gulf countries like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have taken the threat of Islamist movements to heart. Both countries have banned the Brotherhood’s operations on their soil and have halted funding to Islamist groups, according to Reaboi.


Meanwhile, in Qatar, the Brotherhood—and its many offshoots including, most prominently, Hamas—flourishes with official state support and prestige.


Also, an article published in Tablet Magazine said Nick Muzin, the political strategist and former senior staffer for Republican Senators Tim Scott and Ted Cruz whom Qatar hired to help improve the gulf kingdom’s reputation in the U.S. Jewish community, announced that his work on behalf of his most controversial client had come to an end.


The Qatar contract was worth $300,000 a month for Muzin’s consulting firm.


Muzin’s tweet concluded a tumultuous nine months representing Doha. In September of last year, Muzin largely failed in attempts to facilitate public meetings between U.S. Jewish communal figures and high-ranking Qatari officials during the opening of the United Nations General Assembly. He was more successful in quietly mediating between the Qataris and American activists concerned over Al Jazeera’s potential release of video that a British national named Anthony Kleinfeld collected while infiltrating Jewish and pro-Israel groups in Washington over the summer of 2016.


“Thankfully, they failed in this manipulative effort, but not before Broidy’s emails could allegedly be illegally harvested, cataloged, and then disseminated to the press by Howard at Mercury Public Affairs, who was also then acting a registered lobbyist for Qatar. Howard worked with several media outlets to place negative articles about Broidy using these documents.”

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2/2/2019 2:12:10 PM
<![CDATA[Venezuela opposition rally to keep up pressure on Maduro]]>
The mobilizations are meant to keep up the pressure after Washington recognized Guaido as the legitimate president and issued potentially crippling sanctions that are likely to further weaken the OPEC nation’s struggling oil industry.

Maduro’s critics also hope to encourage similar moves by European countries. Some European Union member states are expected to officially recognize Guaido next week, while others will likely take a more cautious stance of support.

“We’ll see you in the streets tomorrow, Venezuela,” said Guaido in a video message posted on Twitter. “We’re doing well, we’re doing very well.”

Maduro on Saturday will also hold a rally, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of late socialist leader Hugo Chavez’s first inauguration as president in 1999.

Washington has imposed sweeping sanctions on state-owned oil firm PDVSA in the toughest financial challenge yet to Maduro, as the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump openly seeks to push him from power.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence told a Florida rally on Friday that the time for dialogue had ended and all options were on the table.

Venezuela is suffering from hyperinflation, produce shortages and a mass migration of citizens to neighboring Latin American countries - a situation likely to be worsened in the short term by the new sanctions.

Guaido swore himself in as interim president on Jan. 23 in a direct challenge to Maduro’s rule and quickly won the backing of countries in the region, but still has no control over state institutions or any functions of day-to-day governance.

He has sent letters to Russia and China, both major creditors and allies of Maduro’s government, saying that a change of government would be in the best interests of both countries.

Maduro says Trump out to kill him; seeks Russia talks
Maduro’s adversaries say he has run roughshod over democratic institutions, including the opposition-run congress, and destroyed the once-buoyant economy through a corruption-riddled exchange control system and arbitrary nationalizations.

The former union leader calls the sanctions and effort to force him from office an extension of the century-long efforts by the United States to control Latin American nations.]]>
2/2/2019 11:03:38 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. suspends compliance on weapons treaty with Russia, may withdraw in 6 months]]>
The United States would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia, which denies violating the arms control pact, came into compliance with the treaty, which bans either side from stationing short- and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.

"Russia has refused to take any steps to return (to) real and verifiable compliance," Pompeo told reporters. "We will provide Russia and the other treaty parties with formal notice that the United States is withdrawing from the INF treaty, effective in six months."

The United States alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact. The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Russia says the missile’s range puts it outside the treaty, and has accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty that it wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles. Russia also has rejected a U.S. demand to destroy the new missile]]>
2/1/2019 4:22:58 PM
<![CDATA[Blow to Bolsonaro as Brazil top court judge reopens probe into his son]]>
In his decision revoking an earlier injunction blocking the probe, Justice Marco Aurelio Mello also ruled that the immunity from prosecution that top elected officials enjoy should not apply to the investigation. Mello said the alleged crimes were committed before he took office as a federal lawmaker.

The decision to reopen the investigation is a blow to President Jair Bolsonaro, who surged to victory on a promise to clean up years of graft-stained political dealmaking.

The Supreme Court decision, which can be overturned at a later date by the full panel of justices if Bolsonaro appeals, comes on the same day Flavio is sworn in as a senator, and as Brazil's new class of federal lawmakers begin the 2019 session.]]>
2/1/2019 3:24:31 PM
<![CDATA[Call to impose harsh penalty for parents involved in FGM-related crimes]]>
El Masry said in a press statement, “we have to strengthen censorship on healthcare centers and hospitals to put an end for this phenomenon and keep dignity and rights of young girls.”

The applicable anti-FGM law of 2016 stipulates that those who carry out the FGM shall face prison term from five to seven years, and the penalty shall be toughened to 15 years in prison in case the crime resulted in death of permanent disability.

Thanks to exerted efforts in this regard, ratios of female genital mutilation has been decreased to a crawl. “Yet, we still need to change obsolete customs and tradition,” she added.

Contribution of Civil Society organizations, social and press media as well as religious leaders become a must. In addition to making benefit of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation on February 6 to spread this initiative across country, according to the member of parliament.

The Egyptian government will launch a new anti- female genital mutilation (FGM) initiative nationwide on the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Feb. 6, stated Minister of Health Hala Abou Zeid in a press conference on Sunday.


“The council is paying great attention to the anti-FGM file [...] and a new initiative will be launched to fight this phenomenon,” she said in the conference held following a meeting for the National Population Council after a 4-year hiatus.


On July 10, 2018, Vivian Fouad, the National Population Council (NPC)'s FGM program spokeswoman, told Egypt today that awareness campaigns to combat female genital mutilation (FGM) in Egypt are paying off.


The presence of programs raised the citizens' awareness of the phenomenon through civil society organizations, she added, noting that the council cooperated with the Public Prosecution and the Ministry of Interior to enforce the law and punish violators.


FGM is considered an attack on religion; it damages the most sensitive organ in the female body. In Islam, protecting the body from any harm is a must and mutilation violates this rule; therefore, if the parents of females who undergo FGM consent to the abhorrent surgery, they should be punished.
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2/1/2019 1:25:49 PM
<![CDATA[New evidence presented in trial of bishop Epiphanius' murderers]]>
The pictures and videos sent by one of the monastery's monks showed that part of the victim's brain was out after he was hit, which cannot be caused by the metal tube believed to be used to kill Bishop Epiphanius, the defense team said.

Ehab Sedra, lawyer of former monk Faltaous al-Makary added that two people from outside the monastery murdered the bishop using two different tools, the lawyer asserted, El Watan reported.

"Is it [possible] that 75 monks inside the monastery, staying in [rooms] located in the corridor which the monastery's head passes by [on his way] to the church that [lies] inside the monastery, and none of them saw the incident?" Sedra asked.

The lawyer asked for calling a forensic doctor to give his opinion after the new evidence was revealed to the court. He added that, before the court, the opinions of the two forensic doctors regarding the possibility that the seized tool allegedly used in the murder could cause such injury to the victim were contradictory.

Sedra said that five people inside the monastery, who had disputes with the late monk, were suspects, while only two of them were indicted.

Damanhour Criminal Court adjourned the trial of expelled monk Ash’eyaa, whose birth name is Wael Saad, and Monk Faltaous al-Makary, whose birth name is Raymond Rasmi Mansour, to February 23, over charges of the deliberate murder of Bishop Epiphanius.

Bishop Epiphanius was found dead on July 29 inside the monastery. The two detained monks reportedly confessed their crime. However, during an earlier session, Ash’eyaa denied committing the crime.

Following the death of Bishiop Epiphanius, Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria issued new monasticism laws, topping which is the deactivation of the social media accounts of all monks and bishops.

The death of Bishop Epiphanius revealed the struggle between the school of late Pope Shenouda and the ecclesiastical school of late Mathew the poor.

“We should look at it [the incident of the murder] as a wake-up call for all of us... the death of Bishop Epiphanius was like an alarm call,” said the pope during a mass marking the 40th day of the bishop’s death.

Monk Faltaous tried to commit suicide via slitting his wrist and then jumping off a high building inside the monastery. On August 21, he was hospitalized due to a degraded case of gangrene in his leg. Also, Ash’eyaa tried to commit suicide a day after the murder.
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2/1/2019 11:54:39 AM
<![CDATA[Interview: Iran’s post-revolution regime to fall soon- activist Reza Parchizadeh]]>
The Indiana University of Pennsylvania researcher criticized the Islamist regime in Iran during an interview with Egypt Today. He said that the Iranians are longing for a democratic regime rather than the current hard-line one.

“The international situation is overwhelmingly against the Iranian regime. The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia want the regime gone” Parchizadeh stated, adding that “The Iranian people are sick and tired of the Islamist regime in Iran” and want to “overthrow it”.

Parchizadeh pointed out that Russian president Vladimir Putin will never allow the Iranian influence to grow more it should be or to delay his own plans anywhere, especially in Syria.

What is the reality of the current society in Iran?

The Iranian people are sick and tired of the Islamist regime in Iran. They want to overthrow it and install a democratic system in its place.

What is the reality of the internal situation in Iran after the US sanctions?

The international situation is overwhelmingly against the Iranian regime. The United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia want the regime gone; the European countries have a cautious approach to the regime; and Russia and China will use the regime as a bargaining chip with the US while not really investing in it as an ally.

Will Iran relinquish its ballistic missile program?

Not as long as the Islamists are in power in that country. But a democratic Iran will not need ballistic missiles because it will make peace with its neighbors.

Where the crisis with France is heading because of the missile program?

France, like other Europeans countries, has adopted a cautious approach to the Iranian question. On the one hand it supports the Nuclear Deal, on the other it keeps condemning the Iranian regime for its development of ballistic missiles.

What is the bill of Iranian military adventures outside its geographical boundaries?

The Iranian regime means to expand its brand of Shiism to the rest of the Middle East. The export of revolution has always been one of the tenets of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.


What is the impact on the Iranian citizen?

As a result of the regime’s bad behavior in the region and the world, Iranian citizens are tremendously suffering. For instance, they don’t get the respect that deserve from the international community, just because they are the citizens of a country whose government is the greatest state sponsor of terrorism.

How does the Iranian regime deal with popular anger?

It usually tries to channelize popular anger and direct it to other phenomena like football or the “enemies.”

Do you see a close change in relations between Iran and Russia after Russia allowed Israeli strikes against Iran in Syria? Do you expect there is a difference in strategic vision between Iran and Russia?

This is not something new. Russia has always used the Iranian regime as a facilitator and a bargaining chip with the United States. It is willing to side with the Iranian regime only as long as its own interest is not in danger. Regarding Syria, Russia prefers not to let the Iranian influence grow too much. That is because Putin has his own plans for Syria, which the Iranian regime keeps disrupting.

Can Iran strike Israel or is it just making statements?

The Iranian regime can indeed strike Israel, but the consequences would be catastrophic for the regime. That would give the green light to the United States and her allies in the Middle East to unleash total war on the regime and overthrow it.
]]>
2/1/2019 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Preventive slum measures save lives in Cairo's Razzaz rockslide]]>
Since 2008, the government has been adopting a proactive approach toward slums, including establishing the Informal Settlements Development Fund.

Cairo Governor Khaled Abdel Aal said that 13 properties embracing 82 families were evacuated in al-Razzaz area after the rockslide based on the recommendations of geologists to protect them.

The governor affirmed the state's keenness to provide safe units for citizens who live in dangerous slums through implementing large housing projects and establishing thousands of housing units in different areas, saying it saved many lives and contributed to providing better quality of life for thousands of families.

He referred to Tuesday's incident, saying it did not cause any deaths, because the state has worked on transferring thousands of citizens from these areas to Moqattam's Asmarat modern housing project.

Mohamed al-Okabi, media advisor to the Ministry of Social Solidarity, said that the afflicted 82 families will be transferred to units in Asmarat, which Nasser Social Bank (NSB) has furnished few days ago to receive residents of dangerous slums.

State efforts

Based on Presidential Decree No. 305 of 2008,the state's Informal Settlements Development Fund was established with the aim of identifying, and developing slum areas nationwide besides providing them with basic facilities including water, sanitation and electricity.

The fund is also responsible for setting public policies for developing and supervising urban strategies for unsafe areas, setting plans to remove buildings established in these areas, and encouraging civil society organizations and the business sector to contribute to the development of slums.

the Egyptian government has spent LE 20 billion to develop unsafe areas and provide decent housing for the residents of these areas, Hany Younis, spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, said in 2018.

With an estimated 40 percent of the Cairene population living in informal settlements, according to the Ministry of Housing, and about 75 percent of urban areas throughout Egypt left unplanned and 1 percent unsafe altogether, according to the Informal Settlements Development Fund (ISDF), now part of the new Ministry for Urban Development, the government has left no stone unturned in its research towards putting a plan that will develop Egypt’s housing landscape and rid the country of the housing crisis.

The government has already rolled-out its project, Development of Slums, that aims to develop 1,100 slum areas by 2022. This comes in addition to the 130 slum areas that they have already been developing since 2016.

Soon, Port Said will be the first slum-free city in Egypt as part of the Development of Slum Project; Port Said will see 80,000 housing units being built during fiscal year 2018/2019.

Additionally, the government has put LE 20 billion towards developing safe living areas, while another LE 100 billion was spent to establish about 600,000 social housing units over the past few years.

Social housing development progress report: How far have we come?

CAIRO - 4 January 2019: Social housing projects is an issue that is close to the heart of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.




Additional reporting by Lolwa Reda
]]>
1/31/2019 2:21:11 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia winds down 15-month anti-corruption campaign]]>
A royal court said in a statement on Wednesday authorities had summoned 381 people, some as witnesses, under the campaign launched in November 2017, but it provided no names.

It said 87 people confessed to charges against them and reached settlements that included the forfeiture of real estate, companies, cash and other assets.

The campaign ended as abruptly as it began, despite speculation in the business community that a new round of arrests was imminent.

The public prosecutor refused to settle the cases of 56 people due to existing criminal charges against them. Eight more who declined settlement offers stand accused of corruption, the court said.

Detainees who were not indicted were freed, but it was unclear when travel bans, bank freezes and electronic monitoring of at least some of those released earlier would end.

For the first three months of the campaign, many members of the kingdom's economic and political elite were held in Riyadh's Ritz-Carlton Hotel, with some later moved to a prison.

Some detainees were reportedly tortured, which the authorities have denied.

Critics called it a shakedown and power play by Prince Mohammed. It unsettled some foreign investors that he is courting to diversify the economy away from oil.

The October killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate tarnished the crown prince's reputation in the West and intensified criticism of Riyadh's human rights record and its role in the Yemen war.

Prince Mohammed has defended the anti-corruption campaign as "shock therapy" as he tries to overhaul the economy.

His social reforms, including the easing of restrictions such as bans on cinemas and women driving, have been accompanied by a crackdown on dissent, including the arrests of dozens of clerics, women's rights activists and intellectuals.

SIGNAL GOVERNMENT 'WANTS TO MOVE ON'

Karen Young, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, said it was hard to say if the campaign had been successful.

"The good news is that the government seems to be signalling that it wants to move on," she said. "On Saudi foreign policy and domestic politics, particularly towards citizen activists, there is still deep apprehension in the West."

Ali Shihabi, head of the Arabia Foundation in Washington which regularly supports Saudi policy, said the end of the campaign reflected a government attempt to address international criticism of a lack of due process and transparency.

"Now critics will bemoan lack of names and details on each case but we must remember that individuals themselves have no desire to be named," he said.

The figures released on Wednesday were little different from those the government announced in its last update, exactly one year earlier.

It is unclear how much of the money it says was recovered has actually reached state coffers.

Only a month ago, the finance minister told Reuters the authorities had collected some $13 billion from settlements in 2018 and expected a similar amount this year.

The initial sweep netted cousins of Prince Mohammed, such as billionaire investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, National Guard minister Prince Miteb bin Abdullah and former Riyadh governor Prince Turki bin Abdullah.

Miteb was freed within weeks after agreeing to pay more than $1 billion to settle corruption allegations against him, a Saudi official said at the time.

Two months later, Alwaleed settled after reaching what he called "a confirmed understanding between me and the government". Turki has not been heard from.

Also detained were senior officials, including ousted economy minister Adel Fakieh, who is believed to be in detention, and former chief of the royal court, Khalid al-Tuwaijri.

Top businessmen were held alongside them. Waleed al-Ibrahim and Saleh Kamel were released early on, while others including Amr Dabbagh and Mohammed Hussein al-Amoudi only got out this month. The fate of Bakr bin Laden, released temporarily last week, remains unclear.

($1 = 3.7503 riyals)]]>
1/31/2019 10:43:31 AM
<![CDATA[Unwanted in Denmark: If you can’t be deported, you’d better be isolated]]>
KHG, commonly perceived as an open prison, is the last stop for foreign nationals who have no right to stay in Denmark, but have not been deported for some legal or practical reason.In addition to being relatively ‘in the middle of nowhere,’ there is no public transportation reaching KHG; and the nearest bus station is 7 km away.Nevertheless, the word is that residents living around the center have been worried about their safety and security;and that is what inspired a controversial plan to relocate certain groups of foreign nationals in Denmark to an inhabited island, currently used for research and experiments on swine fever and other contagious diseases

Photo1
The area around KHG – Yasmine Hassan

On December 20, 2018, the Danish parliament approved a 759 million kroners ($115 million) budget, to make the seven-acre state owned island of Lindholm habitable; and to build an immigration center for up to 100 foreign residents by 2021. Situated 20 minutes away from the nearest shore by the only ferry that goes there —named “VIRUS”—, the island is currently used as a laboratory by The Veterinary Institute of the Technical University of Denmark (DTU Vet), which is expected to leave the island by the end of 2019.

According to the Danish Immigration and Integration Ministry’s website, the island will become the new address for foreigners on tolerated stay who cannot be returned to their countries of origin due to risks of ill treatment; convicted criminals who have served their prison sentence but they or their countries refuse to cooperate on their return; and rejected asylum seekers “sentenced for violations of the Criminal Code, the Act on weapons and firearms, the Act on knives or the Act on controlled substances in or around a return center”.

“When you are unwanted in Danish society, you should not be a nuisance for regular Danes,” Danish immigration minister Inger Stojberg wrote on Facebook, commenting on the island agreement. “They [those who will be relocated to the island] are unwanted in Denmark and that should be felt,” Støjberg stated.



The island plan comes as part of Denmark’s 2019 Financial Act, which also introduces several other restrictions to newly coming and current refugees and asylum seekers in the Scandinavian country. For the past few months, many foreign nationals, and mostly Arab refugees, have been living in turmoil, uncertain of where they stand in their “new home”.

The happiest country in the world has suddenly started to seem much less happy!

From KHG to Linholm island – a new address for unwanted foreigners

Speaking to Michala Clante Bendixen, head of Refugees Welcome Denmark and editor of refugees.dk, she confirmed that the island idea is directly linked to KHG camp. “Yes, of course. The whole idea of this camp was isolation, but the neighbors are nervous (for no reason according to the police), so then came the idea of the island. Next problem will be the people living close to the ferry place,” she says in an email interview.

Photo2
Entrance gate to KHG – Yasmine Hassan

At KHG, Seif El Din, a 45-year-old Kurd who is expected to be relocated to the island, invited us to see his caricature work, which covered the walls and was stacked in piles in a small room and an attached bathroom at the center. An artist and caricaturist, Seif El Din says he has over 1,500 drawings, all drawn on pieces of cardboard that he gathers from the trash. “I work for freedom not for business… It is miracle because never people make art from prison. This is hope because I have no money no power. I only have pencil,” he says.

When asked about the island plan, Seif El Din sorrowfully said, “I think you go this island; never you come back. Like death, you go and never come back … This very very dirty. no life. Also this place for chemical laboratory. I don’t know. It is very very danger for me.”

Most of Seif El Din’s drawings are indicative of a dreadful life lead by a rejected refugee, who arrived to Denmark over 18 years ago and his asylum requests were repeatedly rejected until he ended up living in deportation centers, the last of which is KHG.

According to a report by The Danish Helsinki Committee for Human Rights, KHG has 400 spaces and it hosted 116 residents by April 2017.Residents include foreign nationals on tolerated stay; those sentenced to deportation by court, such as criminals with expulsion order; and those whose asylum claims have been rejected but they refuse to leave or would not not cooperate. Residents are free to leave the center, but they have to report back at least three times a week; they also face penalties of up to 18 months imprisonment if they break the reporting rules. There is no fixed duration stay at deportation centers, although some end up staying there for several years.

Speaking to Politiko.dk, Danish politician and MP Martin Henriksen had stated, “This solution [the island plan] will at least be better [than the current one] because these people will be more isolated…it will be a part of the package that they can be kicked harder if they don't adhere to the obligations that are a part of the new deportation center.” He added, “I also assume that this will make Denmark less desirable as an asylum and migrant country. We know that the fewer people that come to Denmark, the more money we save.”

As per the new plan, the island’s prospective residents are not to be officially detained. They would be allowed to leave the island with a provided ferry service, but they are obliged to report at the center at a daily basis and the authorities have to know their whereabouts at all time to ensure “an effective return to the country of origin as soon as a forced return becomes possible,” according to the ministry’s website.

When asked why he did not consider going back to Iraq instead of living in an open prison and maybe soon on a deserted island, Seif El Din’s voice suddenly changed and he whispered, “This is very difficult. I can’t come back my country. I go my country like asylum. I hope for a miracle; give me one hand; help me; freedom.”

Concerns over KHG & the new plan

Commenting on the situation and the idea of KHG, Bendixen said it is “hopeless. They are kicking people who are already lying down, and the purpose (making them leave voluntarily) is never going to happen. The only result will be: higher expenses, more people going under ground/disappearing, more people getting mental diseases.” Similarly, she sees little purpose in the island decision.“There is evidently no argument for doing this at all, as there are no actual problems about crime near KHG. It is just a populist symbolic policy, punishing people who have already served their time. And it is going to be extremely expensive,” she states.

Most of the arguments in favor of the island idea cite security and political reasons, saying that those who will be moved are simply the “convicted criminals". Nevertheless, as all of those “criminals” have already served their time, Bendixen raises the question, “So why are not all Danish ex-criminals put on the island?” adding,“And for those on Tolerated Stay, they have the word of the Danish state that they are in danger if they return - so why put pressure on them to do that?”

Photo 3
Demonstration in Aarhus, Denmark

The Danish Institute for Human Rights also published a report on the human rights challenges that would come along with this plan. “… Requiring a foreigner to stay on an island under strict living conditions is an interference with the right to privacy, which over time can become [disproportionate] and also develop into degrading treatment, which is illegal pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights,” says the institute’s Deputy Director Louise Holck.

When asked if the plan is in accordance with international humanitarian laws, Bendixen said, “No, not at all. We have an obligation to treat everybody fairly, to respect refugees in danger, to uphold standards for prisons and detention. These people should not be in detention or prison, as they do not pose a risk to society and they have already served their time. If an expulsion is not possible to carry out, we must allow them to live some kind of normal life in the meantime.”

Further restrictions:

Ever since the controversial Financial Act was approved, international media has focused on the island agreement, but there is even more to it that touches upon the lives of prospective and current refugees in Denmark.

On December 10, I came across a demonstration in Aarhus —probably a much smaller one than the one held earlier in Copenhagen (the capital city)— where a few hundred nationals and foreigners were protesting against new refugees and asylum restrictions.

“They pressure us so that we choose to leave; if you have kids, this pressure gets to you and there is nothing you can do,” says Samer, a Syrian Kurd who was participating in the demonstration. Samer travelled to Denmark after the civil war seeking asylum. He came with his wife and they had their two children in Denmark; and he has been working and studying in the Scandinavian country for years, living on a temporary residence permit.

Samer has been struggling to get permanent residency in Denmark, the country where he lives, speaks the local language fluently, works and raises his kids; and in the meantime, he was satisfied with the extendable temporary residence permits. Nevertheless, since 2015, even this very simple dream has become quite far fetched, as all temporary permits were radically limited from 5-7 to 1-2 years with the possibility to revoke a refugee status at any point. And with the new restrictions, thispolicy is even more formalized.

In a short summary provided by refugees.dk, Bendixen explains how the new restrictions are adding more to the “paradigm shift” that has tightened the conditions for refugees in the country since 2015 “moving focus from integration to return”.

As per the new restrictions, “when the permit is about to be extended (every second year) or if the authorities consider revoking it before time, job and Danish skills will no longer count to the same degree as today. Only the security situation in the home country and family attachment will be assessed,” Bendizen explains. “Last year, only 193 persons with refugee background were granted permanent residence permit,” she adds.

photo 4
Demonstration in Aarhus, Denmark

The act also changes the wording of new refugees permits from “…with the option of permanent stay” to “aimed at temporary stay”.

Other restrictions in the new agreement revoke refugees’ right to permanent housing from the municipality, “so that refugees can stay in temporary housing forever, often under unacceptable conditions (shared kitchen and bathroom, fungus, leaking windows, bad heating),” according to refugees.dk. Integration benefits will also be lowered by 2,000 DKK ($300) per month per family.

When asked if he thinks the protests could make any difference, Samir said with a sad smile, “I don’t think so; it is all planned … It has been planned for seven years.”But a friend protesting by his side was more optimistic; “They can change the whole government… A lot of Danes told me not to be afraid because they will not execute any of these decisions,” he said. In all cases, they believe the only option they have is to wait and see what happens.

Back to KHG

Although the main reason I visited KHG was about the island plan, I found myself entering a whole new world; overwhelmed with stories of struggle that go back for decades and silent voices that are rarely heard.

After a short walk around the camp, I was introduced to Mrs. Amal.She opened the door of her room wearing her Isdal (prayer dress), and welcomed me with a hug. She told me I looked like a typical Egyptian, with a lovely face… It was not easy to understand the Iraqi dialect, but she made me feel so comfortable that we talked for almost an hour.

After she had lost her husband in the Iraqi war in 2003, Mrs. Amal fled with her two daughters to Syria because she was afraid that her late husband’s family would take away her children. They spent two tough years, she recalls, then she was advised to marry a Syrian man living in Denmark, to be able to move there under family reunification policies;and she did. But very shortly, she realized he was physically abusive; he would hit her and her kids and she had to run for her life, and theirs. However, her stay in Denmark was legally tied to her husband.

Mrs. Amal recalls that her medical records would not help; and no one testified to help her change her residency status to one independent from her husband’s. The man then ran away and she was ill advised to file for divorce. In 2004, Mrs. Amal started applying for new residence permits that were always getting rejected, until she was destined to life in deportation centers.

For years, Mrs Amal has been moved from one place to the other and her case has been uselessly reconsidered a few times. At one center, she recalls, she only had to report back two times a week and she had the chance to spend time with her family. But at KHG, this is no longer possible… “I am detained here,” she said with a sad smile.

Her two daughters were slightly luckier. The older one got a residence permit from Sweden and the younger daughter studied in Denmark where she is now working as a dentist’s assistant. However, although the latter’s children were born in Denmark and barely speak any Arabic, she is still living with her family under renewable temporary permits. “She can be kicked out at any point; where would she go?” Mrs. Amal said very sadly, stressing that she is more worried about her daughter and grand kids than about herself.

When asked why she wouldn’t go back to Iraq instead of this“prison life”, Mrs. Amal responded bitterly, “I have no one there; I don’t have a home there. My family is here.”]]>
1/30/2019 7:10:31 PM
<![CDATA[4 human rights leaders accused of inciting against Egypt]]>
Lawyer Tareq Mahmoud filed a report before the Public Prosecution against Gamal Eid, the executive director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI); Mohamed Zarea, the head of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS); Mohamed Lotfy, the executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms and Gaser Abdel Raziq, the executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR).

In his report, Mahmoud claimed that the four human rights advocates met with French officials during French President Manuel Macron's recent visit to Egypt, where “they blamed the Egyptian state for enforced disappearance cases and alleged the presence of mistreatment and torture inside prisons in order to incite against the state, change the international stance against Egypt and convey a completely different picture of the internal situation in Egypt.”

Mahmoud called in his report for immediate and prompt investigations into the incidents mentioned in his complaint; in addition to issuing an arrest warrant , referring all the aforementioned human rights advocates to trial and probing the possibility they are receiving foreign funds from suspected bodies linked to the banned –Muslim Brotherhood international organization. ]]>
1/30/2019 3:17:02 PM
<![CDATA[Gov't approves bill to execute dealers of synthetic substances of harm to body, mind]]>
During a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dr Mostafa Madbouly, the Cabinet approved the bill which modifies some articles of law no. 182 of 1960 on combating narcotic abuse and illegal drug trade.

The bill also punishes possession of such substances by a rigorous life sentence and a fine of at least EGP 100,000 and not more than EGP 500,000.

Also, the bill punishes owners of places prepared for illicit drug consumption by rigorous imprisonment and a fine of at least EGP 200,000 and not more than EGP 300,000.

Illicit drug consumers will be sentenced to at least one year in prison and fined at least EGP 1,000 and not exceeding EGP 10,000.

The bill has been approved with the aim of confronting the spread of all types of narcotics particularly synthetic substances which seriously harm the society and youths specifically.]]>
1/30/2019 2:30:30 PM
<![CDATA[Maduro ‘ready’ for talks with Venezuelan opposition]]>
RIA released his statement as opposition leader and self-declared interim president Juan Guaido spoke to FRANCE 24, stating that the Maduro administration “is a dictatorship”.

The struggle for control of Venezuela is only intensifying, with the government preparing an investigation that could lead to the arrest of opposition leader and self-declared interim president Guaido, 35, who has called for new street protests.

Venezuela was plunged into political turmoil last week after the United States recognised Guaido as acting president, while Russia has continued to back Maduro. The US has slapped sanctons on ion Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA in an attempt to force Maduro's hand.

“I am ready to sit at the negotiation table with the opposition for us to talk for the benefit of Venezuela, for the sake of peace and its future,” RIA quoted Maduro, 56, as saying.

Guaido lays down red lines

Asked about the possibility of third countries mediating in the standoff, Maduro was quoted as saying: “There are several governments, organisations globally, which are demonstrating their sincere concern about what is happening in Venezuela, they have called for a dialogue.”

However, any talks could prove difficult, as Guaido told FRANCE 24 that Maduro “is malicious and lacks all scruples”.

Guaido also laid down his red lines, stating “I, as acting president of the Republic of Venezuela, will use all means at my disposal to put an end to this and to ensure free and fair elections”]]>
1/30/2019 11:59:05 AM
<![CDATA[Daesh fighters pinned in tiny Syria enclave with families]]>
An aid agency said separately that 10,000 civilians had fled the enclave since last week and were arriving hungry and desperate at a camp.

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, which have been backed by 2,000 US troops and air support, are preparing for a final showdown with ISIS in eastern Syria after helping to drive the fighters from the towns and cities that once formed the group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.

SDF spokesman Mustafa Bali said ISIS fighters were now confined to a pocket of just 5-6 square km (around 2 square miles) by the Euphrates River. The presence of their wives and children meant the US-backed militia could not launch an all-out storm of it, and was using slower, more precise tactics instead.

“There are thousands of ISIS families there. They are civilians at the end of the day,” Bali told Reuters. “We cannot storm the area or put any child’s life in danger.”

The SDF had refused an offer from the militants via mediators to surrender the territory in return for safe passage out, Bali said.

Clashes had slowed because of the presence of the civilians, and “precise operations” were taking more time. “Calm prevails on the frontlines but there is a state of caution and waiting.”

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) charity said it was helping tend to a sudden influx of more than 10,000 people, almost all women, children and elderly, who had arrived at a camp in northeast Syria since last week.

Most were exhausted, extremely hungry, and thirsty as they fled ISIS territory, the global aid agency said. Many arrived barefoot. The UN confirmed that 12 young children had died after reaching the Al-Hol camp or on the dangerous journey there, the IRC added on Tuesday.

The SDF, spearheaded by the Kurdish YPG militia, has seized much of north and east Syria with US help. It has been battling ISIS remnants near the Iraqi border for months.

Last month, US President Donald Trump declared that ISIS had been defeated and announced the abrupt withdrawal of the US troops, over objections of top advisers including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis who quit in protest.

The SDF vowed to escalate its operations against ISIS this month after a bomb attack killed several people including two US soldiers in northern Syria. SDF officials have warned of an ISIS revival if Washington withdraws.

Kurdish leaders also fear a US pullout would give Turkey, which sees the YPG as a threat on its border, the chance to mount a new assault. Washington has since said it will make sure its allies are protected when it leaves.
]]>
1/30/2019 10:27:50 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian-Indian trade exchange hits more than $3B]]>
The Indian embassy in Cairo celebrated the 70th Republic Day, and invited Egyptian diplomats, officials, and journalists.

The ambassador said that his country looks forward to work with Egypt during its leadership of the African Union (AU) stressing that Egyptian-Indian relations are strong and historic.

Kulshreshth highlighted both visits held by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to India, and his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the sidelines of international conferences.

Both leaders have been coordinating matters of mutual interest, and that has boosted cooperation between Egypt and India, the ambassador said.

The ambassador added that reciprocal visits by senior officials of both countries, and further cooperation and communication between business men are expected to happen this year.
]]>
1/29/2019 6:20:15 PM
<![CDATA[Grand Imam, Macron discuss combating terrorism]]>
The Grand Imam said that Al Azhar and France have historic and cultural relations embodied in Azhar graduates who had studied in the European country, and later became icons of culture and intellect in Egypt. Tayeb expressed eagerness to sustain and reinforce such relations.

The Grand Imam added that the strong relations with France would make Al Azhar help it defeat terrorism and stand against those who kill innocent people in the name of religion. Tayeb stated that the institution is ready to train Imams in France to combat terrorist thoughts and to grant French students scholarships to study in Al Azhar so that the country becomes Europe’s center for the promotion of moderate religious thoughts.

11

The Grand Imam asserted that peace is the main message of Islam as conceived by Al Azhar that works on sustaining the dialogue with the West and main religious institutions worldwide such as the Holy See, the World Council of Churches, and Archbishop of Canterbury.

Al Azhar will take part in Abu Dhabi’s Humanity Fraternity Meeting that will kick off on February 3 where the Azhar Sheikh will meet with Pope Francis.
The French President expressed his delight for visiting the Grand Imam who plays a pivotal role in combating all forms of violence and terrorism, pushing for inter-faith dialogue, and reviving Islamic knowledge and disciplines.

6

Macron said he looked forward to further cooperation with Al Azhar to bolster the values of citizenship, coexistence, and stability in the French society, and combat extremist groups that recruit Muslim youths in France.

The French President expressed his desire that all French Imams receive training in Al Azhar, and to resume student exchange programs, scholarships, and academic relations. ]]>
1/29/2019 4:46:24 PM
<![CDATA[UAE files complaint against Qatar at WTO ]]>
The Emirates News Agency reported that the Qatari Ministry of Economy and Commerce banned the sale of consumer goods manufactured in the UAE, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt. Furthermore, the Ministry of Public Health in the princedom prohibited pharmacies from selling medicine and other health products manufactured by any country of the quartet.

Qatar has also discarded the names of Emirati firms from the directory of accredited infrastructure suppliers.

Qatar has not waited for the WTO to issue its rule on a case it had filed against the UAE in August 2017 to settle disputes violating the organization’s rules by taking unilateral measures.

The quartet severed diplomatic ties with Qatar on June 5, 2017 for supporting terrorism.
]]>
1/29/2019 2:58:06 PM
<![CDATA[Macron tackles education, diversity in Coptic Cathedral ]]>
The French president took photos with the Pope, bishops of the Holy Synod, and a group of priests, and signed his name in the Cathedral’s registry of VIP visitors.

9

The Pope said in his speech that Egypt has a long history and an ancient rich civilization having ancient Egyptian, Coptic, Islamic, Arab, African, and Mediterranean aspects.

“I am glad to welcome you in the headquarters of the Egyptian Coptic Church. In the name of the Holy Synod and all Coptic entities, we welcome you on the holy land of Egypt and that is blessed by the advent of the Holy Family,” the Pope said.

“The Egyptian francophonie constitutes a strong and unique cultural link between both our countries, and reflects their history, education, culture and language. In the heart of Paris lies the popular Egyptian obelisk. And here on Egyptian soil, there is the ‘Description of Egypt’ book written by French authors, and that became one of the most important references in Egyptian history. The book includes observations by French travelers who documented the rich Egyptian life and its civil, agricultural, and social aspects. All that determines the amount of cultural exchange between both countries. Also, a countless number of Egyptian writers reflected on their visits to France in their novels and literature,” the Pope added.



The Pope stated that he remembers a visit by French historian and Secretary General of French Museums Directorate Charles Personnaz to Wadi El Natrun Monastery few months ago. They discussed the necessity to develop Egyptian education and the role of school libraries, and to preserve the patrimony. They also talked about the possible help of France to register the archaeological sites that are part of the Holy Family’s trip to Egypt at the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

The French President said that he was eager to visit the Orthodox Church out of respect for the values it represents for Egypt’s history and future. Macron hailed the efforts devoted by the Egyptian government to guarantee the security and protection of Coptic Christians.

8

“I wished to meet with Pope Tawadros given the importance of the Egyptian Copts to France...I know very well how Orthodox Christians suffered because of terrorism in the last years...However, we praise the work assumed by the Egyptian government to ensure their security,” Macron said stressing that promoting diversity in Egypt and the region would compose an essential element for peace.

The French president told the Pope, “I care to hear from you about your concerns and fears. Europe is going through a big moral crisis among others. I believe that crisis can be resolved by a dialogue among religions and I care to know your opinion on the matter.”

10

“The first combat in that realm is education development. That is what we do in our country,” Macron elaborated. ]]>
1/29/2019 1:15:10 PM
<![CDATA[Palestinian prime minister tenders resignation, govt's to Abbas]]>
The government would continue to carry out its duties until a new one was formed, said am official statement issued after a weekly cabinet meeting.]]>
1/29/2019 12:43:05 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi gives firm response to concerns over human rights in Egypt]]>
“The rights to live safely, and enjoy freedom of expression are inseparable and are highly valued by Egypt,” President Sisi said adding, “terrorism, racism, and hate crimes are rising in Europe and the (Middle East) region. However, that should not obstruct us in assuming development.”

“On one hand, the rule of law does not contradict human rights. One the other hand, a civil society can help push development and stability,” Macron said calling for furthering more balance in the Egyptian NGOs law, and stating that he handed his Egyptian counterpart names of arrested individuals who are important to France.

Macron also called to lift the ban on certain websites, and stated that he would meet civil society representatives on Tuesday.

The French president said he knew about the economic efforts assumed, and that he understood the huge challenges Egypt was facing represented in a population of 100 million people and annual births of 2.5 million. He said that required industrial partnerships.

Egyptian Journalist Mohamed al-Baz asked the French president whether his country’s policies have changed because he was raising the topic of human rights in Egypt which contradicts his response to such questions during Sisi’s visit to France in 2017 as he said he would not dictate other heads of states how to rule their countries.

4
French President Emmanuel Macron in a press conference with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in a press conference at Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo, Egypt. 28 January 2019. TV Screenshot.

“French policies haven’t changed. The people decides its destiny. Since I was elected, France has never dictated any country how to choose. We are eager to see reconciliation achieved and people receiving the rights they are deprived from. We have interests including human rights. In 2017, we appreciated Egypt’s need to achieve stability. Since then, bloggers and intellects were put in prison. Things took a different path. Putting a blogger in jail is detrimental to the image of a country I love. The best minds need discussions and freedoms. The activity of the civil society is vital. I respect the president’s endeavors to achieve stability and development. But, some individual cases do not represent a threat to stability. The president may not share the same views on those cases. I respect the sovereignty of Egypt. I never underestimate Egypt’s challenges. I see huge efforts to establish respect for all creeds and religions,” Macron replied.

The reply of President Sisi to French journalists’ questions on human rights and NGOs in Egypt is below:

“We have a special nature in this region. We are not Europe. Differences are normal. There is nothing like the world can be homogeneous. Trying to do so may not turn to be right. The president talked about the size of the population and freedoms. We are part of a turbulent region. A big project failed and that was establishing a theocratic state. Let’s focus on efforts addressing human rights by the state and not just by Sisi. 250,000 families lived in inhumane conditions in very improper housing. In light of fighting terrorism alone for five years and experiencing economic hardship, we granted them furnished apartments.

We were able to treat just 10,000 patients per year. We treat that number in just one month. We provide expensive treatment to patients on waiting lists suffering from cruel diseases like cancer. Egypt will not be built by bloggers. We are undertaking political, economic, and social reforms. We are working on promoting citizenship and tolerance.

One million graduate every year. How can we create jobs for them? What should I do for 2.5 million born every year? Bloggers are distant from our reality. We lead our country with honesty, honor, and pride.

The state launched the largest program worldwide to treat Hepatitis C patients. 55 million were tested. There are 45,000 NGOs in Egypt and we launched a social dialogue to amend the law. There must be a distinction between opinions and putting the state into ruins.

What would you possibly do if a civil war occurred in Egypt? What would you do for us?
You are doing us injustice by viewing our issues based on your vision. If there is any Egyptian who rejects my presence, I am here because of an Egyptian willpower.”

Macron said that he did not wait for Sisi’s response to the names of individual cases he had put forward.

Responding to a question by an Egyptian journalist on arrests of “Gilets Jaunes” protesters, Macron said, “the protests represented different types of anger. We are eager to preserve the constitutional right to protest. Some were involved in vandalism and violence against policemen. That’s why they were arrested, and not for what they were chanting. Courts will issue verdicts."

"We should not confuse protesters with those. I am sorry that 11 citizens died. One died because of police while the rest died because of human stupidity,” Macron added.

Answering a question by a French journalist on whether French arms were used by security forces to face protests in Egypt, Macron stated, “those were sold in 2010 and 2011. Only once out of 200 incidents, an armored vehicle was used in 2013 and we demanded clarification. Current negotiations (over arms) are for defense purposes and part of the strategic partnership. We delivered 23 out of 24 Rafale fighter jets.”

President Sisi said, “Police do not face protests by arms and force. Protesting is a constitutional right. In 2011, 2012, and part of 2013, chaos was dominant. Arms were used only against terrorist elements. I affirm that no armored vehicles, whether French or not, are used in protests.”

“More than 100 citizens were killed in assaults on churches and more than 300 were killed in an assault on a mosque. The situation in our countries is different. We secure borders stretching over 1,200 kilometers Libya where big numbers of terrorist elements are being assembled,” Sisi concluded. ]]>
1/28/2019 7:29:07 PM
<![CDATA[Macron visits New Administrative Capital ]]>
Macron said that the new city creates an opportunity to boost Egyptian-French cooperate on infrastructure and culture among others. Both leaders headed to the Opera House and the Arts Complex in the new capital.

In the press conference, Macron said he knew of the cathedral and mosque that were built in the New Administrative Capital praising the Egyptian endeavors to promote tolerance.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron on Monday at Ittihadiya Castle as part of the latter’s three-day state visit as they discussed bilateral relations, Syria, Libya, the Palestinian cause, and Africa.

Both presidents witnessed Egyptian ministers and French officials sign agreements and memoranda of understanding (MOUs) in Cairo as part of three-day state visit.
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1/28/2019 5:41:52 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi, Macron discuss Syria, Libya, Palestinian Cause, Africa]]>
Bilateral Relations

President Sisi stated that he discussed with his French counterpart coordination on regional and international affairs as well as economic and cultural matters explaining that the strategic partnership would help remedy deficiencies in the Egyptian economy.

“French companies are welcome to participate in mega projects and benefit from opportunities in Egypt,” President Sisi said. He also highlighted that 2019 is the year of French-Egyptian culture in the country.

“Egyptian intellects have been influenced by the French Renaissance writers, and the French helped to decipher our civilization,” the president added.

Macron stated that the priority in bilateral ties is counter-terrorism and security. “Both countries faced Islamist terrorism...Egypt’s stability and security are crucial for our national strategy and the region...We will cooperate in that realm,” he added.

Macron announced launching a joint electric cars project, and cooperation on infrastructure, railways, roads, healthcare, culture, upbringing, and academic cadres training promising to be more committed to teaching the French language in Egypt.

Macron also highlighted the need to increase the French presence in the egyptology sector, museum exchange programs, and joint work on Islamic artifacts.

Regional Affairs

The French President stated that both countries are looking forward to Africa. As Egypt will chair the African Union (AU) in 2019 starting February, both leaders discussed possible French initiatives to push development efforts in the continent. They also reviewed Egyptian endeavors to preserve nation states in the region and resolve crises.

The French President stated that he used to discuss regional matters with his Egyptian counterpart in phone calls, and that in Monday’s meeting they exchanged views on bilateral and regional matters.

Both leaders agreed to achieve two main goals in Libya. One is to support counterterrorism, and entities involved in the process. The other is to accomplish national reconciliation. Macron stressed the importance to cooperate with Ghassan Salame, special representative of the secretary general to libya and head of UNSMIL pursuant to human rights council resolution 37/45.

Macron stated that France and Egypt have close views on Syria to reach an integrated political solution and not just defeat terrorism. He highlighted the role of the Small Group on Syria encompassing seven countries including Egypt and France as well as Germany, Jordan, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America.

The French President affirmed the necessity to make progress on drafting the constitution and rebuilding the state institutions in Syria. “The Syrian regime has not shown it wants to resolve the issue so normalization of relations cannot happen at the moment,” Macron said.

The French President described the halt in peace talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis as a bomb countdown saying that possible solutions for resuming the peace process will be crystallized by Egypt and France over the next few months. In the same context, Macron praised Egypt’s commitment to the Palestinian reconciliation.

In the end, the French President expressed appreciation for Egypt’s military role in the region and demographic composition.
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1/28/2019 5:24:56 PM
<![CDATA[Strategic partnership, loans endorsed by Egypt, France]]>
France will provide €336 million soft loan, €286 million grant and €50 million commercial loan to finance the fourth phase of the third metro line linking Cairo International Airport with Heliopolis Square. That is in addition to €5 million soft loan and €1 million grant to fund SMEs founded by women.

The French Agency for Development (FAD) will secure €6 million soft loan to support social security while a €2 million loan will be directed to the technical support program implemented by the Egyptian Finance Ministry.

MOUs cover cooperation in culture and francophonie; experience transfer to the Egyptian National Academy for Youth Training and Rehabilitation; a joint project in Egypt to produce blood products; and, expansion and development of the French University in Egypt (UFE).

Moreover, both countries agreed to go ahead with a strategic partnership that will address socio-economic development as part of Egypt’s 2030 Vision. The MOU worth €1 billion was signed with the AFD and will take effect until 2023.
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1/28/2019 5:18:06 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's leadership addresses converting cars to natural gas]]>
Madbouli affirmed the necessity of harnessing the available resources in the country, referring to converting cars to run on natural gas in view of the great savings this will bring to the state. This is also important in reducing the state's subsidy bill and achieve environmental benefits, Madbouli said, directing increasing natural gas filling stations nationwide.

Dhruv Narayan Kaushik, an Indian B-tech Automobile Engineering graduate, argues that using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) in cars is a "double-edged sword."

Kaushik said that CNG has better fuel consumption, as its gaseous nature efficiently mixes with air, and therefore better thermal efficiency can be achieved. He added that the better combustion of natural gas leads to unburned hydrocarbons in the exhaust.

However, he said that the better thermal efficiency of natural gas means higher temperature after combustion, causing the formation of Nitrogen Oxises (NOx), which pollutes environment.

Kaushik said that higher temperature can also reduce the life span of the parts in the cylinder block. Unlike Petrol and Diesel, natural gas does not have a lubrication effect inside the combustion chamber aiding in the piston movement, he added.

However, some people argue that modern engines have hardened valve seats so they don't suffer side effects of using CNG.

As Egypt has increased the price of petroleum products three times since it floated its currency in late 2016, many car owners have resorted to converting their cars to run on natural gas. The latest price of natural gas' cubic meter amounts to LE 2.75 ($0.16) vs. LE 5.5 for 80 octane and LE 6.75 for 92 octane.

A source in the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) said that the number of cars that converted to natural gas instead of gasoline rose to about 253,000 cars during the fiscal year 2017-2018.

The source confirmed that the conversion is carried out in 71 centers; some 186 filling stations for the six companies operating in this field spread in various governorates of Egypt.

The Ministry of Petroleum has started working on the conversion project since 1996 through the two companies of Gastec and Car Gas.

Minister of Petroleum Tarek el-Molla said in 2018 that Egypt has achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas production. On Jan. 26, he asserted that Egypt’s production of natural gas will reach about 8 billion cubic feet per day in 2019/2020.

Egypt stopped importing liquefied gas in September after adding 1.6 million cubic feet to its production from its latest gas discoveries, including West Delta’s Taurus and Libra fields, as well as the Atoll and Zohr gas fields.



In December 2018, Egypt’s Public Transport Authority announced operating four new locally manufactured buses fueled by natural gas as part of the country’s efforts to solve traffic problems in Cairo.

Rizk Ali, head of Egypt's General Transport Authority, said that the experimental operation of the four buses comes as part of preparations to operate about 130 buses in the capital.

He added that tickets of the natural gas-fueled bus will cost LE 4 ($0.22) each, adding that the rest of the buses will be operated following the success of the experimental phase.


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1/28/2019 4:18:46 PM
<![CDATA[Pope says Vatican abuse summit will not end crisis]]>
Francis has summoned the presidents of all of the world’s national bishops conferences to the Vatican Feb. 21-24.

The meeting offers a chance for him to respond to criticism from victims of abuse who say he has mishandled the crisis and not done enough to make bishops accountable for covering it up.

But the pope said the highly anticipated meeting would not end the problem.

“The preparatory work is going well but I permit myself to say that I have perceived that there is an inflated expectation,” he told reporters on a plane returning from Panama.

“We have to deflate the expectations ... because the problem of abuse will continue because it is a human problem, and it is everywhere,” he said.

Francis said one of the aims of the summit was for the bishops to go back home with what he called “clear protocols” on how to prevent abuse and help victims.

More than 200 prelates are expected to attend. Heads of bishops conferences will attend sessions with the pope, abuse experts and victims.

“It is a human drama that we have to be conscious of, even us, resolving the problem in the Church, but also in society, in families,” the pope said.

The Church’s response to the crisis has varied from country to country.

While clear and tough procedures to prevent abuse have been in place in countries such as the United States for more than a decade, other countries, particularly those in the developing world, are lagging.

Francis has repeatedly vowed zero tolerance for priests who abuse children, but critics have demanded more action.

He told reporters on the plane that the summit will include “a penitential rite to ask forgiveness for the whole Church”.

Earlier this month, Vatican sources told Reuters that before the summit, disgraced former U.S. cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost certain to be defrocked over allegations against him, including sexual abuse of minors. [L8N1ZG3NN]

Last July, McCarrick became the first Catholic prelate in nearly 100 years to lose the title of cardinal. The allegations against him date back to decades ago when he was still rising to the top of the U.S. Church hierarchy.

McCarrick, 88, has responded publicly to only one of the allegations, saying he has “absolutely no recollection” of an alleged case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy more than 50 years ago.]]>
1/28/2019 2:49:36 PM
<![CDATA[Macron's Egypt visit big boost to bilateral relations: French amb]]>
Romatet, in a special edition issued by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry on the occasion of Macron's visit, said the French leader wants to push forward economic partnership with Egypt whose economy began to flourish once again.

He underlined the importance that French companies would make the best use of available investment opportunities in Egypt, saying this is the right time for French companies to invest in Egypt.

He hoped the visit would create new vistas for partnership between the two countries.

The Egyptian-French economic forum, to be hosted by the French Chamber of Commerce and Industry later in the day, aims at boosting cooperation between Egyptian businessmen and their French counterparts, the French diplomat said.]]>
1/28/2019 12:57:57 PM
<![CDATA[Explainer: Who is behind the Philippine church bombings?]]>
Twenty people were killed and more than 100 wounded in Sunday’s attack on Jolo island, shocking a region that only days earlier delivered a resounding “yes” in a plebiscite on greater autonomy for the Muslim-dominated south.

WHO ARE THE MAIN SUSPECTS?

Jolo is a stronghold of the militant Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), making it a prime candidate.

More specifically, authorities believe the bomb attack was orchestrated by a faction called “Ajang-Ajang”, which is notorious for kidnapping and extortion in Sulu province. It is the first time the military has mentioned this group.

WHAT WAS THE MOTIVE?

Police believe Ajang-Ajang carried out the attack in revenge for the deaths of relatives killed during military operations against Abu Sayyaf.

According to Rommel Banlaoi, head of the Philippine Institute for Political Violence and Terrorism Research, the group’s members consider themselves “soldiers of martyrs” and appear highly capable, having pulled off such a devastating attack when security was tight for the referendum.

“This group outsmarted law enforcement authorities,” Banlaoi said. “Sulu has been receiving threats coming from this group. This will inspire other groups to do some more.”

WHAT IS KNOWN ABOUT ABU SAYYAF?

Abu Sayyaf, which means “Bearer of the Sword”, was founded in the 1990s with its roots in a separatist cause that it long since abandoned. It lacks a central command and operates in cells across the Sulu archipelago.

The group has grabbed headlines for bombings and pledges of allegiance to Islamic State and links to al Qaeda, but its main activities have been piracy and kidnapping.

It is notorious for brutality, posting videos of captives, foreign and local, begging for their lives. Those for whom ransoms are not paid are often decapitated.

The ASG is fragmented, comprised of various clans or family-based factions operating under different commanders in different areas.

But ASG’s radical streak cannot be ignored. Isnilon Hapilon, a faction commander from Basilan, was anointed as Islamic State’s “emir” in Southeast Asia. He was credited with bringing together foreign fighters and members of various groups from Mindanao island to occupy Marawi City in 2017, under an alliance known as Dawla Islamiya, which sought to carve out an Islamic State territory.

The fighters held Marawi through five months of air strikes and ground operations, but collapsed within a week of the military killing Hapilon. His death does not appear to have weakened Abu Sayyaf.

CHURCH ATTACK LINKED TO ISLAMIC STATE?

Islamic State, via its Amaq news agency, claimed responsibility for the church attack, although the details it gave were not consistent with those from authorities. The group said the attack was twin suicide bombings, rather than remotely detonated devices, and its death toll appears to be exaggerated.

Security analyst Banlaoi considers Ajang-Ajang to be pro-Islamic State, noting that it is led by the father-in-law of Malaysian operative Amin Baco, who was involved in planning the Marawi occupation.

RESPONSE TO REFERENDUM?

That has been widely assumed and should not be ruled out. The region as a whole voted overwhelmingly in support of autonomy, although the plan was narrowly rejected in Sulu, where some influential politicians had opposed it, including a Supreme Court challenge.

The separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which opposes the Abu Sayyaf, is likely to dominate the transition authority and the elected government of the new Bangsamoro administration. That could threaten some political interests and patronage arrangements in Sulu and be seen as a challenge to Abu Sayyaf’s power. However, the timing of the bombings - six days after the vote - raises some doubts.


What's behind autonomy vote in the Philippines' Muslim Mindanao?

The Muslim parts of Mindanao are among Southeast Asia’s most unstable and neglected, lacking in infrastructure, jobs and schools. It is hoped that by managing its own affairs, the region will have more power, budget and political will to address the shortfalls, employ more civil servants, and attract more private investment, especially in agriculture and mining

IS AN ABU SAYYAF DEFEAT LIKELY?

Not soon. Offensives from 2001 by the Philippine military with help of U.S. special forces under “Operation Enduring Freedom” made some progress in killing senior commanders but that led to splintering and increased kidnapping to raise funds. In recent years, ASG has started to engage more in piracy.

President Rodrigo Duterte has offered talks but has also promised to wipe them out. He has created a Jolo-based infantry division, to be comprised of 4,500 troops by 2022, to go after the ASG and last month oversaw the deployment of its first 840 personnel.

In a Jan. 9 report, the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict argued that non-military measures were key to defeating ASG. It advocated capturing and interviewing militants rather than killing them, which could be “critical to understanding ASG networks and identifying possible policy interventions”.]]>
1/28/2019 12:46:28 PM
<![CDATA[Parl't authorizes cooperation to benefit from Egypt's black sand]]>
The draft law sent by the Cabinet and approved by the Parliament allows cooperation between Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker, the Cairo-based Nuclear Materials Authority and the Egyptian Black Sand Company (EBSC).

During the term of former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, he stressed the need for a license before making use of the country's natural resources in order to preserve them, the Cabinet's media council reported.

The Cabinet said that a meeting headed by Ismail decided to quickly complete the preparation of a law determining places rich with black sand in order to strengthen the role of the EBSC.

Since the EBSC was established under the provisions of Law No. 159 of 1981 with a capital of LE 1 billion ($55.8 million), it has been working to excavate minerals and extract them from the black sand, the Cabinet said, adding that Ismail pointed to the need for coordination to remove the obstacles facing the company.

Black sand projects in Egypt include pulling out and processing black sand to obtain ilmenite, magnetite, rutile, zircon, garnet and monazite.

A research conducted by the Nuclear Materials Authority revealed that Egypt has about eleven sites on the northern coasts where black sand spreads at high concentration, starting from Nile Delta's Rosetta to North Sinai's Arish, covering the distance of 400 kilometers.

Black sand, according to Parliament's Energy and Environment Committee, is one of the prominent sources of many minerals of economic importance including radioactive uranium. It is also used in many industries including rocket and aircraft industry, ceramics, paints and nuclear radiation materials.
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1/28/2019 12:42:12 PM
<![CDATA[Venezuela's Guaido calls for new anti-Maduro protests]]>28 January 2019: Venezuela's self-proclaimed president Juan Guaido called Sunday for two new protests, in an effort to push the military to turn against leader Nicolas Maduro and back a European ultimatum demanding free elections within the week.

In a video posted on Twitter, the head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said the first of the nationwide strikes, on Wednesday from noon to 2:00 pm (1600-1800 GMT), would be one "to demand that the armed forces side with the people."

The second, on Saturday, will be a "big national and international rally to back the support of the European Union and the ultimatum" from Britain, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands that they would recognize Guaido as interim president unless Maduro calls elections by February 3.

The EU was more vague, saying it would take "further actions" if elections were not called in the coming days, including the issue of recognition of the country's "leadership."

Australia, meanwhile, said it "recognizes and supports" Guaido as interim president pending elections. And Italy has called for "a rapid return to democratic legitimacy."

The United States separately warned there would be a "significant response" if US diplomats, Guaido or the opposition-controlled National Assembly were targeted with violence and intimidation.

Maduro so far has not budged from his position, telling CNN Turk: "No one can give us an ultimatum."

Nearly 30 people have been killed and more than 350 arrested in clashes with security forces over the past week.

Appeals to the military

Encouraged by the international support for his cause, Guaido is on a mission to weaken the military's support of Maduro, which has been essential to keeping him in power since 2013.

His appeals have included promises of amnesty, and mass protests to dramatize the depth of popular opposition to Maduro, who has presided over a virtual collapse of the economy and a severe humanitarian crisis, with shortages of food and medicines.

Supporters circulated copies of amnesty measures approved by the National Assembly to friends and relatives in the military, but some soldiers burned or ripped up the document.

Venezuela's military attache in Washington, Army Colonel Jose Luis Silva, switched his support to Guaido in a video that called on his brothers in arms to follow his lead.

Maduro appeared at a military exercise in the state of Carabobo where he called for "union, discipline and cohesion" to defeat what he called an "attempted coup d'etat."
"Traitors never, loyal always," he exhorted the military audience. Televised images showed tanks lined up in a row and soldiers firing their weapons.

"Are you coup-backers or are you constitutionalists? Are you pro-imperialist or anti-imperialists?" Maduro asked.

Thus far, the military has backed the leftist regime, which was ushered into power more than 20 years ago by the late Hugo Chavez, but there have been some signs of unrest.

Playing down military intervention

Guaido, 35, heads the opposition-controlled National Assembly and declared himself acting president in Caracas on Wednesday during an anti-government rally by tens of thousands of people.

He contends that Maduro's reelection to a second six-year term was fraudulent.
His bid was swiftly endorsed by Canada, the United States and many Latin American countries.

"Any violence and intimidation against US diplomatic personnel, Venezuela's democratic leader, Juan Guaido, or the National Assembly itself would represent a grave assault on the rule of law and will be met with a significant response," US National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted, without specifying what kind of response he meant.

The warning didn't address specific groups or individuals, but Bolton noted in a linked tweet that Cuba's "support and control over Maduro's security and paramilitary forces" was well known.

Washington also accepted exiled opposition leader Carlos Vecchio as Venezuela's new charge d'affaires to the United States after he was tapped by Guaido.

Pope Francis, winding up a trip to Panama, said he was praying that "a just and peaceful solution is reached to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights."
Maduro has received backing from China, Russia, Syria and Turkey, as well as longtime allies Cuba and Bolivia.

In Washington, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, considered a key architect of the US policy on Venezuela, played down the possibility of a military intervention despite his and Trump's warnings earlier in the week that "all options are on the table."

The Venezuelan leader earlier had given US diplomats until late Saturday to leave the country.

But as the deadline expired, Maduro said he had begun negotiations to set up within 30 days an Interests Section in Caracas to maintain a minimum level of diplomatic contact, similar to the arrangement the US had with Cuba until their 2015 rapprochement.





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1/28/2019 10:13:12 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament approves signing ISA framework agreement]]>
Egypt became a founding member after Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker signed the agreement on March 10, 2018 in Cairo.

The ISA, headquartered in India’s Gurugram, is a group of 121 solar resource rich countries, and acquired the status of an international organization in 2017. It started as an initiative launched at the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Former French President Francois Hollande.

The ISA “aims to deploy over 1,000 Gigawatt of solar energy and mobilise more than USD 1,000 billion into solar power by 2030, facilitating and accelerating the large-scale deployment of solar energy in developing countries in order to meet soaring energy demand and help fight climate change,” as stated on the UNFCCC website.

Parliament members praised Minister Shaker for his efforts to boost the renewable energy sector.
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1/27/2019 6:21:48 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi, Bashir eye security, development in Red Sea countries]]>
President Sisi affirmed support to stability and security in Sudan which represents part of Egypt’s national security praising the development of relations between both countries.

The president’s statements came during a meeting with Bashir who held a one-day state visit to Egypt on Sunday.

President Sisi expressed his appreciation for efforts deployed by Sudan to achieve peace in South Sudan and central Africa. Both leaders discussed mechanisms to support the execution of the peace accord in South Sudan which would help resolve the crisis in central Africa.

The accord was signed by South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir and rebel factions in September 2018 in the Ethiopian Capital Addis Ababa. The purpose is ending the civil war that has erupted since the country’s independence in 2011 claiming the lives of at least 50,000 people and displacing two million.

“History shows that relations between Egypt and Sudan are eternal,” President Sisi said. Both presidents reviewed the outcome of the second Egyptian-Sudanese summit meeting held in Khartoum in October on boosting joint cooperation and integration. They also discussed the existing cooperation on capacity building in all sectors.

Both leaders held talks on the outcomes of the Egyptian Sudanese Permanent Commission for Nile Water that took place in Cairo in December in the framework of agreements signed by Egypt and Sudan including the 1959 Agreement.

Bashir stressed that the water rights of Egypt and Sudan must be preserved, and that the destinies of both countries are intertwined.

The Sudanese president stated that the electricity link between both countries would take place as well as a railway network which would serve the entire continent.

Bashir added that, since the election of his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, ties between both countries have remained stable and improved.

The Sudanese president stated that Egypt’s role is important to achieve security and stability in his country, and that some parties exaggerated what was happening in Sudan on social media and in mainstream media.

Bashir said that the high-profile delegation that visited his country recently is an indication of Egypt’s support to Sudan’s stability. He added that many agreements between both countries would achieve their goals.

Bashir expressed support to Egypt’s leadership of the African Union (AU) in 2019 saying it would give a great push to the achievement of African unification and the adoption of mechanisms necessary for joint African work.

Sudan, which shares northern border with Egypt, has plunged into chaos since December 19 when hundreds of Sudanese citizens protested against the deteriorating economic situation, calling for the end of Bashir’s rule.

A week later, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry paid a visit to Sudan to send a message from Sisi to Bashir, according to a statement from Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 27.

On January 15, Omar al-Bashir extended his thanks to Egypt and two other neighboring countries (Ethiopia and Chad) over their support to him and his government amid the ongoing protests.

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1/27/2019 5:49:33 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi announces opening 1k kidney dialysis units for children]]>
Sisi made the announcement in a speech delivered Saturday evening in a ceremony marking the launch of "Nour al-Hayah" initiative that aims at treating school children suffering vision problems, financed by the fund.

Nour al-Hayah initiative was launched after Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly complained that many of the school children in the country suffer serious vision problems and demanded the state to intervene to help them undergo surgeries, including cataract and glaucoma surgeries, or to provide them with glasses, President Sisi said.

The initiative targets treating 5 million primary school students in the country, providing a million eyeglasses, and carrying out 250,000 eye surgeries.



During the ceremony, President Sisi said the government's budget allocated for feeding school children is inadequate. He said that more money is needed, as the state has to make sure the initiative will be sustainable before launching it.

Moreover, Sisi said that the Tahya Misr Fund contributes to establishing 250,000 housing units, who he said will change the lives of a million citizens.

He affirmed that since the national fund was established, Egyptians and foreigners have donated, adding that the first support for the fund came from abroad. The fund started in 2014 by LE 1 billion ($55.8 million) pumped by the military forces, Sisi said, adding that the fund's Secretary General Mohamed Amin promised to put LE 200 billion in the fund.



President Sisi established the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) fund in 2014 in support of social and economic projects.

In September 2018, the fund announced providing free treatment doses to 60,000 Hepatitis C patients, who underwent Egypt's national medical check-ups to eliminate the blood-borne disease and other chronic diseases.

In June, 2018, Sisi announced he ordered the Interior Ministry to release all imprisoned debtors after the fund paid all their debts, asserting the importance of spending Eid al-Fitr with their families.

“We will always strive to uphold the human dignity and implement the necessary measures to preserve the social protection to reduce such phenomena that negatively affect social stability,” Sisi said on his official Facebook account.

An initiative dubbed “Prisons with Debtors” aims to release all debtors landing behind bars by paying off their debts (LE 30 million= $1.67 million) through Tahya Misr fund.
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1/27/2019 3:27:04 PM
<![CDATA[Water rights of Egypt, Sudan must be preserved: Bashir ]]>
Bashir added that, since the election of his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, ties between both countries have remained stable and improved.

The Sudanese president stated that Egypt’s role is important to achieve security and stability in his country, and that some parties exaggerated what was happening in Sudan on social media and in mainstream media.

Bashir said that the high-profile delegation that visited his country recently is an indication of Egypt’s support to Sudan’s stability. He added that many agreements between both countries would achieve their goals.

The Sudanese president stated that the electricity link between both countries would take place as well as a railway network which would serve the entire continent.

“History shows that relations between Egypt and Sudan are eternal,” President Sisi said. Both leaders discussed mechanisms to support the execution of the peace accord in South Sudan which would help resolve the crisis in central Africa.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met with Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir on Sunday.

Both leaders discussed the bilateral relations and the regional issues of mutual concern. After their close meeting, they held a press conference.

Sudan, which shares northern border with Egypt, has plunged into chaos since December 19 when hundreds of Sudanese citizens protested against the deteriorating economic situation, calling for the end of Bashir’s rule.

A week later, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry paid a visit to Sudan to send a message from Sisi to Bashir, according to a statement from Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on December 27.

On January 15, Omar al-Bashir extended his thanks to Egypt and two other neighboring countries (Ethiopia and Chad) over their support to him and his government amid the ongoing protests.

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1/27/2019 2:57:38 PM
<![CDATA[Madbouli: Egyptian economy reached record figures with economic reform plan]]>
“I think Egypt is a big market and attractive for Apple to exist in directly. Apple has been in Egypt but through indirect agents, suppliers. But really, we discussed yesterday the idea really to have Apple be in Egypt to be one of its industrial hubs and a destination to serve the whole region,” the prime minister told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The smartphone maker has angered Egyptian authorities over its selling practices in the country, which the government says is causing iPhone prices to skyrocket.

Egypt’s Competition Authority on December 11 gave Apple a deadline of 60 days to resolve “unfair restrictions” over marked-up phones, whose price tags put them at as much as 50 percent higher than iPhones in other Middle Eastern countries.

The Competition Authority says this is because Apple is breaking the law by preventing its Middle East distributor from selling to local Egyptian distributors, deterring “intra-brand competition” and isolating the country from the broader regional market.

While their threat doesn’t include a permanent ban on sales, they have promised legal action if nothing is fixed by the 60-day deadline. Apple has reportedly not publicly responded to the claims.

Madbouli, who was named as prime minister by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in June of last year, said that while talking to Apple representatives at the Forum he floated the idea of collaboration toward reforming Egypt’s education system.

He hoped Apple’s engagement with the country of 97 million would manifest itself “specifically with our very ambitious program in reforming education, and how we are introducing now the technology for our students and children, and I believe here Apple can play a substantial role in that respect.”

“Egypt is enjoying the privilege of having a very good-skilled, educated youth people, they are very cheap in terms of labor forces comparing with any other destination ... So this could present a very attractive market for any supplier to consider Egypt as a hub,” Madbouli said.]]>
1/27/2019 2:55:04 PM
<![CDATA[UN Envoy Pedersen arrives in Cairo within regional tour]]>CAIRO – 27 January 2019: New United Nations envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen landed in Cairo for a three-day visit as part of a regional tour to the Middle East.


Pedersen is set to discuss with officials the latest developments in Syria and efforts to reach a final political solution to the conflict.


Informed sources said that he will meet with senior officials including Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Arab League members, and members of the Cairo platform of the Syrian opposition.


The UN Envoy will fly to Lebanon on Thursday.


During his visit, Geir met with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit as they reviewed the organization’s stances regarding the Syrian crisis.


Abul Gheit's spokesperson Mahmoud Afifi said in a statement that Pedersen highlighted the importance of reaching a peaceful solution that caters for the Syrian people's aspirations.


For his part, Abul Gheit urged halting international and regional interference that negatively affects peace efforts in Syria.


The UN envoy reviewed the contacts which he held with the parties concerned with the Syrian crisis.


Earlier this week, the envoy had held talks with Saudi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos.


On Monday, he met in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, stressing the need to implement Security Council resolution 2254 to ensure the safe return of refugees to their homes.


Pedersen had kicked off his duties last week as a successor to Staffan de Mistura who stepped down last November by holding talks with Syrian officials in Damascus.



]]>
1/27/2019 1:46:59 PM
<![CDATA[French debates rally Macron's supporters but rebels hold out]]>
The 30-odd residents from the small town of Saint-Sebastien-de-Morsent were rallying to a call by President Emmanuel Macron to take part in a "great national debate", a key component of his fightback after two months of often violent "yellow vest" anti-government protests.

Deputy mayor Florence Haguet-Volckaert urged the participants -- most of them pensioners -- to speak freely on four themes Macron has put up for debate: taxation and public spending; democracy and citizenship; the functioning of government and public services; the environment.

"We're here to listen to you," she assured as councillors sat, pens poised, to note complaints that will be forwarded to Macron as part of a two-month democratic experiment.

Across France, dozens of town hall-style debates are planned as Macron attempts to defuse yellow vest anger over inequality and his perceived indifference to the struggles of rural and small-town France.

Every week since mid-November, tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets to protest high taxes, low spending power and what they see as the 41-year-old's arrogance.

Though their numbers have ebbed, some 69,000 turned out across France again on Saturday, with more clashes between police and the 4,000 demonstrators in Paris.

- 'Another France' speaks -

The worst social unrest in France since the May 1968 student uprising forced Macron to back down on some of his reforms in December, leaving him weakened.

The "great debate" launched last week marks a return to the kind of grassroots politics that Macron championed during his presidential campaign, but promptly ditched after taking office.

"This is a big evolution in French life. Usually we elect MPs and no longer get to ask questions," Didier Grimoin, a retired building engineer, enthusiastically told AFP as he scurried from the "tax" to the "citizenship" table.

Christophe Menant, a 51-year-old engineer who like Grimoin backed Macron for president, also welcomed the chance to have his say.

"For the past two months the TV has only been giving voice to the yellow vests. I feel as if finally another France is speaking up," he told AFP.

While a fuel tax hike lit the fire of the protests, Macron's perceived arrogance -- he famously told an unemployed gardener he only had to "cross the road" to find work -- has been its oxygen.

In an attempt to reconnect with voters he has given more than three days in the past week to debating, a sport in which he excels.

He took on hundreds of mayors in two sessions each lasting over six hours before turning up unannounced Thursday to a meeting in the southern town of Valence, holding forth with 250 citizens including yellow vests.

- 'Book of grievances' -

The public grievances inscribed in a hard-back notebook set out in Saint-Sebastien's town hall -- a tradition launched by King Louis XVI just before the French Revolution and now resurrected around the country -- run to several pages.

Many echo yellow vest demands, from repealing a recent lowering of the speed limit to bringing back a highly popular tax on the rich.

Such is the anger among protesters towards the political class that some have burned effigies of Macron.

But the tone of the debate in Saint-Sebastien -- a suburb of Evreux, where protesters have regularly occupied traffic roundabouts -- was courteous.

Macron has used the debates to launch a spirited defence of his policies, while admitting to "errors" and leaving the door open to some corrective measures.

Polls show his approval ratings, which had sunk to the early 20s, rising four points in the past month to 31 percent, suggesting he may finally be on the rebound.

- Fires still burning -

The yellow vests, some of whom have announced plans to run in the European elections, have so far resisted his overtures.

The debate in Saint-Sebastien, a town of around 5,000, drew only two representatives of the movement.

Casting a sceptical eye over the mostly middle-class gathering, one of the two, a 62-year-old retired printworks technician who gave his name as Lucien, remarked: "These are not the type of people you meet on the roundabouts. There, you find a lot of misery."

At a roadside camp 20 kilometres (12 miles) north, six young protesters huddled around a fire in a barrel.

"Yes, we're tired, but we're not going to give up," said Vanessa, an unemployed former shop manager.

Stephane, a 47-year-old photographer who has regularly travelled down to Paris for the protests, also vowed to keep up the fight.

The father of two admitted to recently crossing a personal rubicon when he picked up a paving stone and hurled it at a police van. It missed its target.

While regretting his act, he says violence may ultimately be necessary for the movement to achieve its goal of a new model of people power.

"You have to stir things up," he said.]]>
1/27/2019 12:25:41 PM
<![CDATA[Draft law on illegal buildings to be discussed in parliament]]>
In December 2017, the government had finished drafting the law before it was submitted to the parliament. Draft laws are always reviewed by the Legislative Committee first to ensure there will not be conflict of laws before they are passed to the specialized committee.

In November 2018, the Housing Committee approved the draft after Article 5 on the amount to be paid by violators was amended.

The article currently states, “Each governor forms a committee having two administrative officials, two elevators accredited by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), and a representative of the General Authority of Government Services to be in charge of dividing the governorate into zones according to facilities availability, and planning. The committee sets the price of square meter to be paid by violators for reconciliation. The square meter prices set by the committee must not be more than four times the average prices indicated in the ministerial decree no. 214/2017 or less than 30 percent of their value.”

As such, the price of square meter will not exceed LE800 in Cairo, Giza, Alexandria, and the investment zone in 6th of October City. The value of the square meter in towns, and villages located in other governorates is respectively LE500, and LE200.

Citizens have to file for reconciliation at the executive body in charge within six months after the issuance of the executive rules, and pay in cash a checking fee worth LE5,000 maximum. The fee categories will be defined by the executive rules which must be issued by the Housing Ministry within three months of passing the law.

The decision on a reconciliation request must be given within four months. The amount of money required for reconciliation can be paid in installments. After the committee’s approval, the governor or the chairman of the authority in charge must endorse the reconciliation decision.

The executive body in charge of reconciliations must inform entities providing facilities within 15 days of the approval endorsement. The violator whose reconciliation request was rejected can appeal within 30 days, and receive a decision by the committee within six months.

The revenues of the reconciliation payments will go to the general treasury, however, other entities will receive some portions:

30 percent will go to infrastructure projects in the sectors of drinking water and sewage.

15 percent will go to the Social Housing Fund, and development projects.

10 percent will go to executive bodies in charge of handling construction violations, and squatters.

Seven percent will be used to create parking space.

Three percent will go to reconciliation committees members in different governorates, and the employees in the executive bodies in charge of handling the process.

Reconciliation does not apply to the cases below:

Unsafe buildings.

Constructions over state-owned lands.

Constructions over lands containing artifacts.

Constructions in remote areas not designated for urban planning.

Buildings exceeding the height designated by law.

Buildings exceeding the height approved by the Civil Aviation Authority, and compromising the state defense requirements.

Violations pertinent to car park spaces.

Constructions influencing buildings with unique designs.
]]>
1/26/2019 4:27:24 PM
<![CDATA[Brexit date could be pushed back by a 'couple of extra weeks' - Leadsom]]>
Britain, the world’s fifth largest economy, is due to leave the European Union on March 29 but Prime Minister Theresa May’s negotiated exit deal was rejected by MPs, leaving open the possibility of a disorderly Brexit.

Parliament will now vote on a series of amendments on Tuesday with the United Kingdom facing its deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

“We can get the legislation through and I think we do, in spite of everything, have a very strong relationship with our EU friends and neighbours and I am absolutely certain that if we needed a couple of extra weeks or something then that would be feasible,” Andrea Leadsom told the BBC.

Responding to the idea that this would mean extending the two-year Article 50 negotiation period, Leadsom, who is the organiser of government business in the lower house of parliament, told the BBC:

“It doesn’t necessarily mean that. I think we would want to think carefully about it. But as things stand I do feel that we can get, with the support of both Houses - the House of Commons and the House of Lords - with goodwill and a determination we can still get the legislation through in good time.”

A spokeswoman at May’s No. 10 Downing Street office said the government’s position had not changed.

“We are not considering an extension to article 50 and are committed to doing whatever it takes to have the statute books ready for when we leave the EU on March 29th this year.”

The uncertainty has prompted several businesses to warn of the threat to jobs and investment if Britain were to crash out of the EU, potentially disrupting food and medicine supplies, manufacturers and transportation.]]>
1/26/2019 12:59:48 PM
<![CDATA[Senior Taliban leader to join talks with U.S. in Doha]]>
According to Taliban sources, press reports said the meeting comes within rounds of talks to find ways to end the 17-year-long war in Afghanistan.

Taliban is an Islamic fundamentalist political movement and a military organization in Afghanistan currently waging war within the country.

The peace talks are continuing despite Taliban representatives staging a brief walkout on Friday over differences with U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad.

Two senior Taliban officials in Afghanistan who are informed of the negotiations said momentum was building following Thursday's appointment of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the political leader of the terrorist group.

Abdul Ghani Baradar, released from a prison in Pakistan last year, is expected to fly to Qatar to join the session - a move they believe will be welcomed by a U.S. side keen to talk to senior Taliban figures.

"He is expected to join soon," one of the senior Taliban officials in Afghanistan said.

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul was not immediately available for comment.

As a co-founder of the movement, Baradar was a close friend of the reclusive former Taliban leader, Mullah Mohammad Omar, who gave him his nom de guerre, “Baradar” or “brother”.

His appointment marks a new push to bring Taliban out of the political and diplomatic shadows, with several other officials being appointed to oversee education, mining and health issues.

Staging near daily attacks against the Western-backed Afghan government and its security forces, the Taliban controls nearly half of Afghanistan and are widely seen as more powerful than at any time since being toppled in the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.

Speaking in Davos, Switzerland, the Afghani president, Ashraf Ghani, said last week that 45,000 members of the country’s security forces had been killed since he took office in the fall of 2014.

When he joins talks, Baradar will be faced with easing U.S. fears over the Taliban's refusal to cut ties with al-Qaeda - the issue at the core of Friday's walkout.

One of the key U.S. demands is a guarantee from Taliban that Afghanistan would not be used as future base for terrorist attacks against the U.S. and its allies.

"Taliban has assured the U.S. that they will oppose any attempt by militant groups to use Afghanistan to stage terrorist attacks on America or its allies," a senior Taliban leader told Reuters, adding that U.S. wants the Taliban to snap ties with ISIS and al Qaeda.
]]>
1/26/2019 12:08:35 PM
<![CDATA[France tells Iran new sanctions loom if missile talks fail]]>
Jean-Yves Le Drian, who this week reiterated support for a European-backed system to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran and circumvent U.S. sanctions, said France wanted to see Tehran rein in its missile activity.

“We are ready, if the talks don’t yield results, to apply sanctions firmly, and they know it,” Le Drian told reporters.

In response, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi “reiterated that any new sanctions by European countries would lead to a re-evaluation by Iran of its interactions with those countries”, the state news agency IRNA reported.

“Iran’s missile capability is not negotiable, and this has been brought to the attention of the French side during the ongoing political dialogue between Iran and France,” Qasemi added.

A U.N. Security Council resolution enshrined Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States in which Tehran curbed its uranium enrichment program in exchange for an end to international sanctions.

The resolution says Iran is “called upon” to refrain for up to eight years from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Iran denies its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

U.S., Russia intensify opposing stances on Maduro
Last May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear deal, approved before he took office, and reimposed sanctions on Tehran, saying it was flawed as it did not address ballistic missiles or Iran’s support for armed proxies in Syria, Yemen, Lebanon and Iraq.

The European signatories to the deal stuck with it, saying it is the best way to keep Iran’s nuclear work in check.

But U.S. sanctions over dollar transactions have made investors wary about doing business with Iran, something the European-backed special purpose vehicle (SPV) is meant to tackle.

Diplomats previously told Reuters that new sanctions being considered by EU countries over the missile issue could include asset freezes and travel bans on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and people involved in the ballistic missile program.]]>
1/26/2019 11:52:03 AM
<![CDATA[Call for one-year in prison against husbands over ‘unstated polygamy’]]>

Abla al-Hawary, member of the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the House of Representatives, re-called that the new amendments, which are being drafted by the Parliament, to the 1929 Personal Status Law should include an article for this punishment.

The Article No. 11 of the law provides that a husband shall acknowledge his social status and mention the names of his first wife (wives) in the re-marriage contract; also, the officer, who is authorized to carry out the marriage contact, shall notify the first wives about his remarry. However, the applicable law does not stipulate any punishment.

Religiously, the four-wife polygamy is allowed in Muslim-majority countries like Egypt, where the Islam is the second source of legislation in accordance with the constitution.

In March 2018, the parliamentarian called for a six-month prison term. Her call sparked controversy both inside the clutches of Parliament or on various social media platforms.

In case you missed it

Parliament's anti-polygamy action sparks controversy in Egypt

CAIRO - 17 March 2018: Polygamy always asserts itself as one of the most heated topics, especially in Muslim-majority and Middle Eastern countries, and yet again, the controversy is heating up.




Additional reporting by Dunya Hassanin and Iman Ali
]]>
1/25/2019 3:51:25 PM
<![CDATA[U.N. names members of international inquiry on Khashoggi murder]]>
Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, told Reuters on Thursday she would travel to Turkey next week to head an "independent international inquiry" into Khashoggi's murder at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct 2.

The U.N. rights office said in a statement that the independent panel would seek to establish "the nature and extent of States’ and individuals’ responsibilities for the killing".

The other two panel members are British barrister Helena Kennedy and Duarte Nuno Vieira, a pathology expert and professor at the department of legal and forensic medicine and ethics and medical law at Coimbra University, Portugal.

The trio will visit Turkey from Jan 28-Feb 3 and plan to report to the U.N. Human Rights Council in June, it said.

U.S. intelligence agencies believe Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered an operation to kill Khashoggi, a critic and Washington Post columnist, and say his body was dismembered and removed to a location still publicly unknown. Riyadh denies the crown prince had any involvement in the murder.

A Saudi public prosecutor's spokesman said last year that 21 Saudis had been taken into custody over the case, 11 of whom had been indicted and referred to trial. The prosecutor said this month it was seeking the death penalty for five of the 11 indicted suspects.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Thursday that it was time for an international investigation to be launched into the murder of Khashoggi.

There was no word on whether the panel would seek access to Saudi Arabia or whether the kingdom would cooperate. The Saudi diplomatic mission in Geneva did not respond to inquiries.

Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet on Thursday: "Her (Callamard's) probe should lay the groundwork for a much-needed, large-scale UN investigation capable of reviewing all intelligence."]]>
1/25/2019 2:53:33 PM
<![CDATA[Taliban appoints new political leader to join US-Taliban peace talks]]>KABUL - 25 January 2019: A co-founder of the Taliban was appointed as the leader of its political office in Qatar on Thursday to strengthen its hand in peace talks with the United States as they try to establish a mechanism to end the 17-year Afghan war.


Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was released from a prison in Pakistan in October last year has been authorized to lead the political team and take decisions, two Taliban sources in Afghanistan said.


The Taliban issued a statement to announce Baradar's appointment and a reshuffle in their team to put senior leaders into key positions as the talks with U.S. officials gain momentum.


"This step has been taken to strengthen and properly handle the ongoing negotiations process with the United States," the Taliban said in statement.


U.S. special peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad's meeting with the Taliban representatives, which was originally due to run over two days, entered its fourth day on Thursday.


It was not clear whether the talks were to continue on Friday, or how soon Baradar could join the talks.


"Baradar will soon fly to Qatar. He has been given the new position because the U.S. wanted senior Taliban leadership to participate in peace talks," a senior Taliban official said.


Baradar, who coordinated the insurgent group’s military operations in southern Afghanistan, was arrested in 2010 by a team from Pakistan’s military-controlled intelligence agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, and the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.


His release, according to security experts, was part of high-level negotiations led by Khalilzad with the Taliban.


Diplomatic efforts to end the United State's longest running conflict intensified last year after the appointment of the Afghan-born Khalilzad to lead direct talks with the Taliban.


He has held at least four meetings with the Taliban representatives. But there has been no let up in the violence.


And abiding fears about how Afghan government forces would withstand the Taliban threat without U.S. military support have been heightened by reports that U.S. President Donald Trump wants to bring home almost half of the 14,000 U.S. troops deployed in Afghanistan.


"POSITIVE PROGRESS"


But the unexpected extension of peace talks was a positive sign, according to two senior Taliban leaders in Afghanistan who have been kept informed of the progress made in Qatar.


During the first two days, the talks focused on a roadmap for the withdrawal of the foreign forces and a guarantee that Afghanistan would not be used for hostile acts against the United States and its allies, according to one of Taliban leaders.


"The mechanism for a ceasefire and ways to enter into an intra-Afghan dialogue were the two other big topics that were supposed to be discussed on Thursday," he told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.


A third source based in the Gulf, who has close ties to the Taliban representatives, said the decision to extend the meeting in the Qatari capital Doha came after "positive progress" during the first two days.


Members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council (AHPC), a body which oversees peace efforts but does not represent the government said they were hoping for positive news.


"When talks take a long time it means the discussion is in a sensitive and important stage, and the participants are getting close to a positive result," said Sayed Ehsan Taheri, the spokesman for AHPC in Kabul.


The Taliban who are fighting to oust foreign troops have repeatedly rejected the offer to hold direct talks with President Ashraf Ghani’s government, which they consider an illegitimate foreign-imposed regime.


The U.S. and regional powers insist that the peace process should be "Afghan-led and Afghan-owned".


Newly appointed Baradar will also hold the additional post of third deputy of Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, the leader of Taliban and work with Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanekzai, a veteran Taliban official who has been running the group's political office in Qatar since 2015 and has participated in the latest rounds of peace talks.


"Stanekzai was given the responsibility but he was not powerful to make all decisions," said a second Taliban official on conditions of anonymity.

]]>
1/25/2019 10:09:09 AM
<![CDATA[No turning back for Iran's hijab protesters despite crackdown]]>
Iranian women took to the streets holding their hijabs aloft in protests at the strict dress code that quickly spread on social media last year, leading to a "bitter backlash" by authorities, Amnesty International said in a statement.

"What the last year has shown is that people in Iran, especially women, are no longer afraid to go out and protest, whether in large numbers or through lone acts of protest," said Mansoureh Mills, Amnesty International's Iran researcher.

"As the authorities try to clamp down on these peaceful acts of resistance, we are likely to see more and more women and men being arrested, detained and prosecuted for demanding their rights."

Tara Sepehri Far, Iran researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the crackdown was driven by women increasingly "pushing the limits".

"Women who are choosing to protest are aware of the risks and are choosing to do so because they want to see a change. I don't think there is any turning back on these women's issues - it will only grow," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The remarks came in the same week two men were jailed for six years in Iran for supporting the campaign against the strict dress code, according to reports from two human rights groups.

One is married to prominent human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who was detained after representing some of the women protesters in court and faces multiple charges.

Her husband Reza Khandan, who had campaigned for his wife's release, and Farhad Meysami, an activist, were sentenced to six years in prison according to the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI).

"Iran wants to silence these men by jailing them for standing by women who want the hijab to be a choice, not a requirement," said Hadi Ghaemi, executive director of CHRI, in a statement.

Under Iran's Islamic law, imposed after the 1979 revolution, women are obliged to cover their hair and wear long, loose-fitting clothes. Violators are publicly admonished, fined or arrested.

Amnesty said nearly 100 female women's rights activists were arrested or remained in detention in Iran during 2018.]]>
1/25/2019 10:00:57 AM
<![CDATA[Two more die as anti-government protests rock Sudanese cities]]>
A 24-year-old man died from his wounds in Omdurman, across the Nile from the capital Khartoum. The second victim, the son of a well-known footballer, had been at a protest at a private university in Khartoum.

That two deaths, confirmed in a government statement released late on Thursday, took the official death toll from unrest since Dec. 19 to 30. Rights groups have put the total at more than 40.

Trouble raged into the night in Omdurman, with smoke billowing over a street barricaded by steel poles, burning tires and tree branches.

In Khartoum, security forces fired tear gas at protesters in various neighborhoods, witnesses said. At night, smoke wafted over Khartoum, fires burned and a main street was blocked.

There were also protests in the eastern cities of Port Sudan and al-Qadarif, where hundreds gathered in the main market area, chanting "Down, that's it! Freedom, freedom."

The opposition Sudanese Professionals' Association, a union that has led calls for demonstrations, had urged protesters to rally from early afternoon and march to Bashir's palace on the banks of the Nile.

The group said on its social media sites that protesters had gathered in cities including Madani and Sennar south of Khartoum as well as smaller towns.

Many protests were reported in Gezira state and witnesses said demonstrators had blocked the main road in al-Nuba district, also south of Khartoum.

Security forces have used tear gas, stun grenades and live ammunition to disperse demonstrations, as well as arresting hundreds of protesters and opposition figures.

Authorities have blamed the unrest on "infiltrators" and foreign agents, and said they are taking steps to resolve Sudan's economic problems.]]>
1/25/2019 9:53:58 AM
<![CDATA[Senior EU lawmaker calls on Venezuela's Maduro to go, backs National Assembly]]>
"President Maduro has lost any legitimacy to lead his country. He needs to step aside," David McAllister, a German conservative who chairs the parliament's foreign affairs committee, said in a statement.

"The national assembly as the legitimate, democratically elected institution must lead the transition towards a full restitution of democracy in Venezuela," said McAllister, who is close to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. ]]>
1/24/2019 4:39:16 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt denies Brazil informed reversing embassy move to Jerusalem]]>
Egypt has exerted much obvious efforts to pave the way to the peace process between Israelis and Palestinians. However, states following the lead of US President Donald Trump's decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem, after he formally declared Jerusalem as Israel's capital, have apparently obstructed these efforts.

Since Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro revealed in November his intention to move the embassy to Jerusalem, Egypt and the Arab League have worked on convincing the state to withdraw its decision.

Ahmed Aboul Gheit, head of the Arab League, said if the Brazilian Embassy move is approved, it will constitute a blatant and regrettable violation of international law and Security Council resolutions, which consider Jerusalem an occupied city and warn of a change in its status quo.

He also condemned that "a country that has a history of backing the United Nations, supporting the rights of oppressed peoples and rejecting hegemony and occupation would put itself in such a misguided position, which represents a blatant attack on international legitimacy."

The Arab League told Bolsonaro that moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be a setback for relations with Arab countries, according to a letter seen by Reuters earlier in December.

Brazil is considered the world's largest exporter of halal meat, as its exports of this meat amounts to over $5 billion annually, Reuters reported. Muslims consider the meat of cattle and poultry as halal (permissible) if only they are slaughtered according to the Islamic instructions.

Brazil exports meat worth $16 billion to the Middle East and Turkey per year, according to government statistics, while only 3 percent goes to Israel.

After his decision, Bolsonaro has come under intense pressure from Brazil's powerful agriculture sector, as it could hurt Brazilian exports to Arab nations, Reuters reported.

“The reaction will be given not only as an individual country but on behalf of the whole Muslim world,” a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. “We are expecting Brazil to act with reason and not confront the Muslim world.”

Cancelling Ferreira’s visit

Only two days after Bolsonaro's announcement in November, Egypt announced adjourning a visit by Brazil's top diplomat who was set to visit Egypt within three days.

Although Egypt’s Foreign Ministry postponed Aloysio Nunes Ferreira’s trip, citing problems with senior officials’ agendas, diplomatic sources said that the move was due to the president-elect’s vow to relocate the embassy, Reuters reported.

Ferreira was set to visit Egypt from November 8 to 11, 2018 to meet with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Shoukri.

Foreign Ministry sources, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said no new date has been proposed, signaling Egypt’s discontent with Bolsonaro’s proposal, Reuters reported.

On May 14, the U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem in an opening ceremony, officially recognizing the city as the capital of Israel. Romania was among a few European Union (EU) countries that participated in the ceremony.

Only two days later, Guatemala moved its embassy to Jerusalem. Paraguay also opened its embassy in a West Jerusalem building in the presence of the country’s president.

Following U.S. President Trump’s decision to move the state’s embassy to Jerusalem, the 193-member U.N. General Assembly agreed to hold a rare emergency special session in December at the request of Arab and Muslim countries.

The UNGA met to vote on a resolution calling on the U.S. to drop its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. A day before the vote, Trump threatened to cut off financial aid to countries that vote in favor of the draft resolution.

"They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us. Well, we're watching those votes. Let them vote against us. We'll save a lot. We don't care," Trump told reporters at the White House.

However, 128 countries voted for the resolution, while nine countries voted against, 35 abstained and 21 did not cast a vote.

Guatemala, Honduras, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Togo voted against the resolution, while Paraguay, Romania and Hungary abstained from voting.
]]>
1/24/2019 4:34:15 PM
<![CDATA[Lithuania seeks to cooperate with Egypt in trade, technology: Linkevičius]]>
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri received Linkevičius in Cairo on Wednesday, where they reviewed means of developing bilateral relations as well as a number of regional and international issues of common concern, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

During their meeting, Linkevičius was keen to hear the Egyptian assessment of the developments in the Middle East, especially Egyptian efforts in terms of the Palestinian cause, the situation in Syria and the developments in Libya.

The Lithuanian minister praised Egypt's role in working on finding solutions to the regional crisis, besides its counter-terrorism efforts, Hafez said.

The two ministers highlighted the importance of working to establish a joint business council in efforts to boost the level of trade exchange between Egypt and Lithuania which remains limited.

In this regard, the Egyptian foreign minister reviewed investment incentives the Egyptian market introduces, especially in the new industrial zones, indicating that Lithuanian companies can benefit from such opportunities, Hafez said.

The two ministers discussed opportunities for cooperation in information technology, in light of Lithuania's experience in this field at the international level. Shoukri expressed keenness to sign a memorandum of understanding for cooperation in the field of tourism between the two countries, as well as between the Egyptian and Lithuanian civil aviation authorities to encourage trade and tourism.

Shoukri reviewed Egypt's efforts in fighting the global issue of illegal immigration, affirming the need to deal with the roots of the problem through promoting development and providing jobs. He also called for combating terrorism through a comprehensive perspective including pursuing terrorism sources of funding and supporters.

In light of Egypt's presidency of the African Union in 2019, the two ministers reviewed common challenges faced by African and European states, according to Hafez.

Shoukri highlighted Egypt's priorities in its presidential term of the AU, including enhancing peace and security, settling disputes,promoting development in the African continent, boosting joint investments and intra-trade, and pushing forward the development agenda of Africa 2063, Hafez added.

Lithuania’s FM invites Egypt to 2020 Science Summit

CAIRO - 23 January 2019: During his first visit to Cairo, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius praised Egypt’s role in the MENA region, affirming that his country is keen to join the discussions over the Middle East issues.



In January 2018, Egypt has been elected as chair of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term in 2019.

Meeting with Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Elhadj As Sy, Shoukri urged cooperation in the issues of health and the combat of epidemics and diseases in Africa, according to Hafez.

In August 2017, Linkevičius received Shoukri in his first visit to Lithuania. Shoukri also met during the visit with Lithuanian Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis.

Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Lithuania have been established in 1992, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania reported, adding that Cairo has the only Lithuanian Embassy in the Middle East region, which has been operating since 2001.

WhatsApp Image 2019-01-23 at 5.05.22 PM
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri (L) receives Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius (R) on Wednesday in Cairo - Press photo

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri (L) receives Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius (R) on Wednesday in Cairo - Press photo

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri (L) receives Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius (R) on Wednesday in Cairo - Press photo
]]>
1/24/2019 3:52:27 PM
<![CDATA[National Police Day: Battle of Ismailia, no retreat, no surrender]]>CAIRO – 24 January 2019: By the end of the Second World War, the British Canal Zone base was considered a keystone of the entire arch of British power in the Middle East and Africa.


An Anglo-Egyptian Treaty signed in 1936 had guaranteed the British the right to keep 10,000 troops and 400 pilots in the base, which posed as one of the three cardinal pillars of Britain’s strategic policy at the time.


The existence of a foreign base on an Egyptian land was always bound to be resented, so was the fact that the canal, which the base guarded, was run by a foreign company.


The British community in Cairo remained in Cairo throughout the Second World War, but after the war ended, Britain still occupied a commanding position in the centre of the city, which stirred up most of the popular resentment.


Indian_Army
Indian soldiers being led by British commanders to deploy at the Suez Canal

1854, construction of a shipping canal in Suez:


In 1854, French former diplomat Ferdinand de Lesseps persuaded the Viceroy of Egypt, Mohamed Said, to permit the construction of a shipping canal through the 100 miles of desert spanning across Africa and Asia.


Ferdinand_de_Lesseps
Ferdinand de Lesseps

In 1858, the Universal Company of the Suez Maritime Canal was constituted.


But Britain, however, did not like the French growing influence in the region, therefore, it objected the offer of shares and organized a boycott the resulted a shortage of shareholders and investors, and as a result, Egypt acquired 44 of the shares.


Construction of the canal started 1859 and it was opened in Nov. 1869 with the statue of de Lesseps standing on the harbor.


Statue


Britain buys Egypt’s shares in Suez Canal:


As Isma'il Pasha, the Khedive of Egypt, came to power, he had set out to modernize Egypt, however, he incurred massive debts, so he offered Egypt’s share in the canal for sale.


British Leader of the House of Commons of United Kingdom Benjamin Disraeli bought Egypt's shareholding for £4 million establishing Britain's influence in the running of this new and extremely important waterway.


The Suez Canal served as a shorter sea route for Britain to the oilfields of the Arabian Gulf.


In 1922, Britain gave nominal independence to Egypt, until an agreement was reached; The Anglo-Egyptian Treaty signed in London in 1936 proclaimed Egypt to be an independent sovereign state, but allowed for British troops to continue to be stationed in the Suez Canal zone to protect Britain’s financial and strategic interest in the canal until 1956.


In 1951, Nahas Pasha leader of the recently-elected nationalist Wafd party revoked the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty of 1936.


Nahas Basha
Nahas Basha

Attacks on the British garrison soon followed and in 1952 the British government authorized an operation to disarm the Egyptian paramilitary police force in Ismailia.



Egypt’s police: No retreat, no surrender


By private notice, British Minister of Health Aneurin Bevan dispatched a report to Britain’s first Viscount Head, Antony Henry Head, who also served as the British Minister of War, on Jan. 31, 1952 that included updates regarding the clashes between British forces and Egyptian auxiliary police in Ismailia.


Antony Head
Antony Head

“On 16th October, 1951, the Egyptian police failed to control the riots which broke out in Ismailia and British troops had to restore order. After this 600 auxiliary police arrived from Cairo,” the statement said. “Terrorists had been and continued attacking our troops and convoys while the Egyptian police looked on. In some cases the auxiliary police attacked our troops.”


He also added, “The steadily mounting casualties amongst our troops and the attacks upon them caused the Commander-in-Chief, at the end of November, 1951, to recommend the disarming of the auxiliary police. On 7th December, 1951, His Majesty's Government authorized the Commander-in-Chief to take this step if the situation demanded it.


“On 23rd January, 1952, when our casualties had reached 33 killed and 69 wounded, the Commander-in-Chief told the Chiefs of Staff that, in view of the repeated evidence of attack by the auxiliary police, he considered that he must disarm those in Ismailia, and that he had ordered General George Erskine to do so.”


General George Erskine
General George Erskine

The operation started with a message to the Sub-Governor of Ismailia to the effect that, since the auxiliary police had been, according to the statement, firing on British troops, so the British government saw that it is necessary to disarm them.


The governor was therefore requested to order them to come out of their barracks without arms, and told that arms would be restored to the regular police who would then be allowed to continue their duties.


A similar message was sent to the major-general commanding the police who was at his residence.


According to the statement, “The major-general replied that both the regular and auxiliary police would resist in accordance with their orders from the Egyptian Government. In view of this statement the operations against the Caracol and the Bureau Sanitaire were put in train.”


The major operations took place against the police headquarter that was fortified by police forces, especially auxiliary police, as they refused to hand over weapons and evacuate the police station on Jan. 25, 1952.


British newspapers announced British troops smashed into Ismailia’s police fortress and forced the main body of the armed Egyptian police reserves to surrender after a battle lasting all morning.


A British Embassy spokesperson in Cairo announced that between 200 and 300 Egyptian police at the bureau sector of Ismailia surrendered to British forces.


British tanks “ripped open” the Egyptian police barracks at Ismailia with 20-pounder guns at point-blank range, “as the town shook to the thunder of shell and small arms fire.”


According to an article published by The Advocate newspaper on Jan. 26, 1952, “In a stepped-up drive against the armed auxiliary police saw street fighting as deadly as that of World War II.”


Newspaper

“Egyptian casualties were believed to be heavy,” according to the newspaper.


General Erskine said that if the governor of Ismailia did not carry out the order without delay, the British, “would disarm the police “with such force as may be necessary.”


The Wafdist newspaper “Al Misri” said the new steps were being considered by the Egyptian government, which might extend to breaking off of diplomatic relations with Britain and expulsion of all Britons in Egypt.


The newspaper also added that steps might include the closing of British consulates in Egypt, or shutting of the Egyptian embassy in London, moreover, it also said the expulsion of British subject in Egyptian territory would mean that all property belonging to Britons would be blocked and placed under sequestration.


From 06:14 to 06:40, broadcasts were made using loudspeakers calling upon the police to surrender and hand over their weapons, a demand which the courageous policemen refused to comply to despite of being heavily surrounded by heavily armed British forces on an Egyptian land, while they carried ordinary rifles and pistols.


At 07:15, British forces returned fire as rounds of 20-pounder tank gun and a few rounds of two-pounder were being fired as well as small arms. This produced a very heavy fusillade by the Egyptian police.


A fresh broadcast was then made, followed by a pause to give them time to surrender, while at 08:15, fires was opened again by British forces on the same scale. followed by a broadcast with another pause for surrender. All this had no effect on the police as they continued to struggle and fight.


Two platoons of British infantry, supported by tanks, forced their way inside the walled compound of the police station at 09:00 which was used as barracks by the auxiliary police.


Massacre_1

Despite being heavily armed, the British infantry quickly suffered fourteen casualties and were withdrawn.


Interior Minister Fuad Serag Eddin requested the policemen not to surrender and, if necessary, fight for their dignity as Egyptian patriots.


Fouad Sirag
Fuad Sirag Eddin

At least 50 Egyptian police casualties were killed and 73 wounded as officials refused to take any action and the police general in Ismailia steadfastly remained in his quarters throughout the whole proceedings.


Massacre_2

The battle of Ismailia sparked significant outrage and passions in Cairo, as on Jan. 26, security police staged demonstrations in support to their comrades in the Canal Zone, and were joined by university students and workers, chanting against the British king himself.


Following the 1952 revolution, Egyptian newspapers and media celebrated the sacrifices made by policemen and the battle was known as the “Battle of Ismailia”.


After the battle, violence and demonstrations against the British occupation continued and riot spread across Egypt.


British threats to occupy Cairo prompted King Farouk of Egypt to dismiss Nahas Pasha, but in July 1952 King Farouk was overthrown and General Mohammed Naguib seized power. Rather than insist on Britain's rights under the 1936 Treaty, Anthony Eden, the British foreign secretary tried to negotiate with the new government.


In 1954, Colonel Gamal Abdul Nasser replaced General Naguib and was determined to achieve three goals, which are to make Egypt independent by ending the British occupation, to build up a strong army to defend Egypt and the Arab region, and to improve Egypt’s economy by constructing a high dam in Aswan to irrigate the Nile valley and lands.


Gamal_AbdulNasser
Gamal Abdel Nasser

On 19 July, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles informed the Egyptian ambassador in Washington that his government had decided that it would not provide funding for the construction of the dam.


The British foreign secretary, Selwyn Lloyd, followed suit and withdrew the British offer of aid. The World Bank then refused to advance Egypt a promised $200 million.


So on July 26, 1956, the Egyptian leader nationalized the Anglo-French Suez Canal Company, declaring that he would take the revenue from the canal to finance his dam.


Former president Gamal Abdel Nasser pointed out to the battle in a speech on July 31, 1954 and addressed the police’s role in cooperating with the army to protect “internal security.”


Later, Jan. 25 became marked as Egypt's Police Day and in 2009, former president Hosni Mubarak ordered that the day become an official public holiday as he recognize the efforts of Egyptian police to maintain security and stability in Egypt and acknowledge their sacrifices.

]]>
1/24/2019 3:14:36 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt hosts Arab-European summit next month - diplomat]]>
The summit will take place in the Red Sea city of Sharm el Sheikh.

Speaking to MENA before leaving Cairo Thursday, Linkevičius said the Arab world plays an important role in the entire world and the EU is providing assistance to the Arab region.

He hoped the summit will come up with positive results.

As for the outcome of his Cairo visit, he said the visit aimed at enhancing bilateral relations.

He said he agreed with the Egyptian side to send a delegation in Autumn to Vilnius to hold the Egyptian-Lithuanian trade, economic and scientific higher committee committee.

He said his talks with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry covered backing the two countries' candidates in international organizations and enhancing bilateral cooperation in the communications, information technology and financial services especially as Lithuania is known for its high-speed internet service.

Around 40,000 Lithuanian tourists visit Egypt annually and there is a high possibility that their number would increase with the increase of the number of flights between the two countries.

He also talked about the possibility of signing a legal assistance agreement in criminal cases, an agreement in the field of e-services and a memorandum of understanding in the agricultural domain.

He also expressed hope of stepping up cooperation with Egypt in the educational domain in light of the study of 40 Egyptian students in the Lithuanian universities, which provide good European education.

He expressed interest in inviting Egypt to participate in "Arab Culture Days" to take place in Vilnius in the fall.

The event is dedicated to Arab theater, he said, noting that last year's activities were dedicated to the Arabic Language.

He said a small Lithuanian-into-Arabic dictionary was issued and a copy of it was handed over to Shoukry.

As for the situation in Syria, he said the situation is still very fragile and one of the main reasons behind the instability in the Middle East.

He hoped the Arab League-EU summit would come up with an agreement on how to handle the situation in Syria.

He underlined the importance of finding radical solutions to the Syrian crisis.

As for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, he said his country is committed to the two-state solution and that it will not transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

He said his country is trying to help push forward dialogue between the two sides given its good relations with the two sides.

He said Egypt can also play an important role in this regard in light of its relations with both the Palestinians and Israelis]]>
1/24/2019 1:28:28 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt affirms caring for Africa's humanitarian issues]]>
Shoukri expressed keenness to strengthen cooperation with the international community in this regard, during his meeting with Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies Elhadj As Sy.

The Egyptian foreign minister affirmed the importance of cooperation in the issues of health and the combat of epidemics and diseases in Africa, referring to the assistance Egypt provides through the Egyptian Agency of Partnership for Development (EAPD), according to Hafez.

He also reviewed some initiatives to cooperate with African countries to combat infectious diseases, sponsored by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, including an initiative to treat African people infected with Hepatitis C, Hafez said.

For his part, Elhadj As Sy lauded Egypt's role in respecting the international humanitarian law, expressing appreciation of the country's efforts through its institutions including the Egyptian Red Crescent. He affirmed keenness to continue and sustain cooperation with Egypt in various fields.

In January 2018, Egypt has been elected as chair of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term in 2019.

Becoming a role model for the African nations, Egypt, under Sisi's rule, has launched the "100 Million Seha (Health)" campaign to detect and treat for free locals infected with chronic diseases including Hepatitis C and Diabetes.

Political leadership directs testing Africans for HCV: official

CAIRO - 16 January 2019: Health official Wahid Dous affirmed that the political leadership directed to carry out a plan to detect and treat hepatitis C, following Egypt's successful national medical model dubbed "100 Million Seha (health)."



Shoukri also met on Monday with Phil Hogan, the commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development in Cairo to discuss ways of enhancing the Egyptian ties with the European Union, a statement by the foreign ministry said.

During the meeting, a proposal on establishing a tripartite agricultural cooperation between, Egypt, the European Union and African countries has been discussed.]]>
1/23/2019 4:36:51 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi: 2011 revolution reflects aspiration for new future]]>
Attending the celebrations of the 67th anniversary of Egypt's National Police Day, Sisi highlighted the role the Egyptian police and army played to secure the country and face terrorist threats, praising the Egyptian police's stance in Ismailia in 1952, when they refused to surrender their weapons in the time of the British occupation, which led to the murder and injury of dozens of policemen.

"This stance transparently expresses the national character of the great Egyptian people; a character that seeks peace but is capable of fighting efficiently if required and when necessary, a character that is patient, but is overwhelmingly determined to [face] crises."

The reason January 25 is Police Day in Egypt dates back to 1952 when 50 policemen were killed and 80 were wounded in Ismailia by the British colonization. The massacre was the spark of the revolution that ended the monarchy in Egypt on July 23 of the same year.

Sisi said that the challenges Egypt faced in the last years will be memorized among the severest challenges the country witnessed in its modern history, adding that probably the biggest challenge is the attempts of "the dark and evil groups" to spread terrorism, which they imagine will help them achieve their "malicious" goals.

He added that these groups underestimate the Egyptian people and the country's armed forces and police.

Addressing terrorist groups, Sisi said that the Egyptian people have demonstrated wisdom over thousands of years, and "an unattainable insight that enables them to distinguish between right and wrong." He added that people, along with the army and police, and by God's will, are able to confront schemes and continue their "major battle of development and reform."

During the celebrations, the president honored families of police and army victims, and allowed many of the victims' relatives to give speeches.

Interior Minister Mahmoud Tawfik also highlighted the ministry's counter-terrorism efforts, saying that the attacks of terrorist groups, thanks to security efforts, have become limited to individual operations that police keeps on pursuing.

"The policy of the Interior Ministry is not limited to meeting traditional rigid requirements. It is in an accelerating consensus and a renewable interaction with all the requirements and tasks imposed by the [current situation]," Tawfik stated.

He added that the policy also requires combating all forms of crimes through a comprehensive security strategy, referring to the "decline in crime rate."]]>
1/23/2019 3:10:23 PM
<![CDATA[Australia's ex-captain says FIFA must help Bahraini footballer held in Thailand]]>
Thai authorities arrested Hakeem AlAraibi, who has refugee status in Australia, on arrival at Bangkok airport in November last year, on the basis of an Interpol notice issued at Bahrain's request.

AlAraibi was convicted of vandalizing a police station in Bahrain and sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

He has denied any wrongdoing but now awaits a Thai court hearing and faces the possibility of being sent to Bahrain.

FIFA has issued a statement calling for the AlAraibi's release but Foster says it must do more.

"The FIFA president, or the general secretary ... should be here to tell the Thai government that you must respect football," Foster told Reuters in an interview in Bangkok.

"If you don't respect football players, you don't respect the game."

AlAraibi has been a vocal critic of the president of the Asia Football Confederation, Sheikh Salman Bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, who is a cousin of the Bahraini king.

Human rights groups say Bahraini authorities tortured AlAraibi because of his brother's political activities during the Arab Spring uprising in 2011.

"He knows that by speaking out against the Bahrain government and Sheikh Salman, the AFC president, that has put him in a position of retribution and this really is what it's about," Foster said.

"Now his human rights have been breached and it is not OK. It is not acceptable. We want him back in Australia where we granted him protection," he said.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne traveled to Bangkok this month and told Thai authorities that Australia was concerned about AlAraibi's detention and the possibility he would be sent back to Bahrain.]]>
1/23/2019 1:06:10 PM
<![CDATA[Government’s efforts to fight early marriage ]]>
According to the Egyptian Child Act 2008, the minimum age for marriage is 18 years for females and males. In order to counter this phenomenon, the Egyptian government imposed more severe penalties on people who back the marriage of minors, who can be imprisoned for 7 years and pay a fine.

Recently, a statistical study revealed that Beheira governorate ranks first in terms of early marriages, followed by Fayoum and Dakahlia. Because of this phenomenon, about 21,400 students dropped out of education.

In June 2018, Egypt's government proposed a new draft law that includes amendments to the child law article 12 of 1996 which states cases in which parents could be deprived of the authority of guardianship over the girl or her property.

A father who participates in marrying his daughter or son who is under 18 years of age shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not less than 1 year and deprived of his guardianship over her or him. Any person who signs the marriage contract shall be punished by the same penalty.

A marriage registrar who witnesses a case of child marriage shall notify the Attorney General. A marriage registrar who doesn't notify the Attorney General shall be subjected to imprisonment for a period no less than a year.

A marriage contract may be authenticated for a child who is under 18 years old, but the contract may not be validated without the approval of the competent family court upon the relevant request of the Public Prosecution.

The Egyptian law stated that a father is the natural guardian of his minor legitimate children, both sons, and daughters. A father cannot be deprived of the natural guardianship of his minor children unless he has been found unfit.

The marriage registrar, who documents child marriages, will be prevented from officiating marriages or will pay a fine, and if it’s proved to be a repeated action, he might face a jail penalty of 1 year.

“Child marriage affects both boys and girls. So, the proposed bill is against it for the protection of both genders. We cannot specify one gender, as it contradicts with the constitutional equality principle,” Hawary said. The current law prohibits but does not criminalize the registration of child marriages.

The draft bill follows calls by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on September 30, 2017, to impose disciplinary measures on the customary marriage of underage girls. “I was surprised that the number of married 12-year-olds was not low,” Sisi said during a ceremony marking the population census that took place in April.

Sisi wondered how these young girls can assume the responsibility of marriage and a household. “This is something that pains me and pains anyone with a real conscience who cares for their sons and daughters,” he said.

According to the 2017 national census released by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the total number of women over the age of 18 who could legally get married has reached 27.7 million, with 23 million women married, including119,000 girls who have been married before reaching the age of 18.

Meanwhile, 18,000 women got married before the age of 16, representing 15 percent of girls who got married before the legal age of marriage. The Ministry of Health reported that 500,000 children are born every year to adolescent mothers.

Among Egypt’s efforts to control the phenomenon, a 5-year national strategy to prevent child marriage was launched in 2014. The process was led by the National Population Council, a governmental body that establishes national population policies and strategies in Egypt.

This strategy aims to recognize child marriage as a health and population issue to reduce the prevalence of early marriage by 50 percent within 5 years, and to fight the proposals to lower the minimum age of marriage.

On October 15, 2017, Egypt’s National Council for Women launched the “No to Underage Marriage” campaign in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Christian clerics. The campaign’s main objective is to curtail undocumented marriages of minors.
]]>
1/23/2019 11:05:42 AM
<![CDATA[Muslim Brotherhood defect discusses doctrine rethinking ]]>
The move was led by a former young brotherhood member called Emad Ali Abdel Hafez who sat for an interview with Egypt Today to reveal how the doctrine rethinking began, and if it is similar to the state’s initiative that targeted members of the Islamic Jamaa and Al Takfir wa al-Hijra by the end of the 1990s.

At the time, many books were issued to explain the wrongness of the Jihadist ideology in addition to discussions with prisoners affiliated with those groups. The outcome was that a considerable number of them renounced the extremist ideology and got integrated into the society.

Abdel Hafez also disclosed how the group was planning to deter peaceful circulation of power, and remain in power for a limitless number of years.

How did you join the brotherhood?

I got to know them in 2002 while I was an undergrad. Their strategy prior to January 25 (uprising) differs from that they adopted later. Beforehand, the group was outlawed and its focus was harnessing followers in charity associations, educational institutions, and youth centers. The brotherhood used to organize sport, cultural, educational and charity events with the aim of propagating its own values and principles, and attract potential members. I was one of those as I knew some persons I didn’t know they were affiliated with the brotherhood. After a year of participating in their activities, I realized that I was considered a member in a preliminary stage and in an informal way. Later on, I was gradually indoctrinated and became a full-fledged member until 2017.

What were the directives you were receiving from the brotherhood’s leaders after Morsi became President in 2012?

The attempts of getting deep-rooted in the society grew stronger and turned to be public as all restraints on the group disappeared. The brotherhood leaders sent questionnaires to senior members in the governorates to nominate candidates who can be appointed in key positions in the state institutions and municipalities. That led to a congruence that individuals who are either members in the group or following its doctrine must be selected for those positions. That was the plan to “Islamize the state.”

It seems that the Muslim Brotherhood could stay for 500 years, if the June 30 uprising did not occur.

When you perceive thoroughly the group’s main ideas and philosophy, you will understand that their goal is not just to be in power. That’s just a means to impose Sharia law which would not be enforced by regular governments like the incumbent one. Brotherhood members consider themselves the most capable of implementing Sharia law and ruling the country in accordance with it. They think that Islam is not currently being enforced.

Did you detect any negative points about the brotherhood in 2012?

Yes, I did. They made irrational decisions such as dismantling the protests surrounding the Presidential Palace of Itihadeya using their own elements and not the security forces. When we were called to be present there, I questioned why Morsi behaves as the brotherhood’s leader rather than the country’s president. Even after he reached the rule, the group was refusing to retreat from the streets and squares in the presence of other protesters so they would always seem victorious.

In the aftermath of June 30 uprising, churches and police departments were set on fire. Were you receiving clear orders by the brotherhood’s leaders to commit arson?

Prior to the June 30 uprising, the group was watching out for protests and preparing to deal with them since June 2012. There were directives to protect the brotherhood’s headquarters as patrols had to be present in those locations 24/7.

Were these patrols armed?

I witnessed clashes and heard shooting sounds. Firearms were used. The brotherhood adopted a terror strategy. They sent threats indirectly to Christians through messengers to inhibit them from protesting against Morsi.

You did not mention arson of churches and police departments. Did you get orders to do that?

None of the brotherhood’s members acts on his own. The personality of each member is canceled within the group whose core discipline is about obedience, and trust in the leaders. Those acts were upon directives. The group at that time was confused. If you consider the group’s founding concepts, you will find that the use of violence to make change is acceptable.

As members in the brotherhood, did you all have a conviction that June 30 uprising was against Islam?

Definitely. We simply used to perceive the incidents at the time in the context of our desire to implement Sharia so anyone who would oppose us was considered an opponent to Sharia enforcement.

Did the brotherhood implement Sharia?

The brotherhood has no idea what Sharia it wants to implement. I will tell you about a situation I went through. I was once walking with a colleague in Tahrir Square as we were taking part in a protest titled “Legitimacy and Sharia.” Chants were calls to implement Sharia. I asked my colleague what is the Sharia that we want, and what is the brotherhood’s program to achieve that? The program of the Freedom and Justice Party tackled Sharia in a broad and superficial way. When Hassan al-Bana himself was sending messages to different governments, he used to demand implementing Sharia by just banning prostitution and alcohol.

How long did you stay in prison? And, how did you make the decision of assuming doctrine rethinking and defecting out the brotherhood?

I spent 16 months in prison as I was charged of joining an outlawed group, and attacking public institutions. Prisoners belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Jamaa, the Islamic State, and others who are not affiliated with any groups. There used to be disagreements among the brotherhood’s members so I got the conviction that the group’s goals are unrealistic. How a group that wants to rule the world cannot unite under one leadership in prison.

amr moustafa-22

How did the brotherhood’s leaders treat you in prison?

They were making huge efforts to maintain rules. I called that “distraction and drugging” in the book I am about to publish. They kept saying that we would achieve victory.

Still, you did not say how you came up with the doctrine rethinking idea?

The brotherhood’s leaders rejected talks about the existence of any divisions within the group until one of the members in prison prepared a report on the crisis. However, the leaders used to present political analysis and insisted that the brotherhood will get back to rule. Heated debates took place as some supported the idea of doctrine rethinking while others rejected it. Some adopted the doctrine of the Islamic State as a way to make change.

Are there brotherhood’s members who joined the Islamic State?

Yes. And, there are others who admire the Islamic State’s model.

How did you perceive the brotherhood’s leaders in prison?

They used to read Sharia books and the group’s own books. They are very ignorant and superficial. They are not intellects. They reject all non-Islamic books. They read books written by Ibn Taymeya and Qaradawy. There were frictions between us and them.

Were you treated differently after defection?

Immoral acts occurred such as image tarnishing, insults, and physical assaults. That is in addition to groundless allegations and wishing us bad things in their prayers.

What were you doing after announcing the doctrine rethinking?

We did activities away from the brotherhood, and then, we started to criticize the group overtly until the media knew about it after the document had been published. At this point, the brotherhood’s leaders realized the danger so violence against us ascended. We were warned, and threatened that financial aids provided by the group would stop.

What are the financial aids you are talking about?

The Muslim Brotherhood allocate part of their budget to donations. However, their budget would not cover all that expenditure. I think the rich among its members cover such donations in addition to the group’s investments. The financial file of the brotherhood has a lot of secrets that I wasn’t able to figure out, and is managed by a small number of leaders.

While we were in prison, we were being served expensive food, and allowances ranging between LE500-2,000 were paid to our families depending on the member’s position within the brotherhood, and his family’s financial status.

What is the conclusion of the doctrine rethinking?

There are two aspects to this matter. One aspect is about our evaluation of the brotherhood’s experience, and why it failed. We concluded that it was mistaken in certain situations. The other aspect is about our analysis of its fundamental ideas. They can be classified into four main categories. The first is the psychological characteristics of the group embodied in an inflated ego, obedience and denouncement of critical thinking, and the perception of its members as the sole representatives of religion.

The second is about the group’s goal which is establishing an Islamic Caliphate that rules the world. That is considered a hostile project. The third is the change mechanism to achieve that goal. The last category is the brotherhood’s structure that is a totalitarian system that intervenes in everything without knowledge. As a result, we realized that attempts to mend differences would not work.

amr moustafa-3

Have doctrine rethinking taken place in other prisons?

A number of individuals in other prisons learnt about the doctrine rethinking and contacted us through their relatives, and announced they would join the initiative.

Is the Islamic State’s doctrine different from that of the Muslim Brotherhood?

No, it is not. Violence is rooted in the Muslim Brotherhood’s doctrine which constitutes the basis of the Islamic State’s doctrine. The group’s founder Hassan al-Banna established the idea of the use of physical strength and violence to attain certain goals, if there are no other options. The Muslim Brotherhood adopts the concept of resorting to Jihad to promote their ideology. Those beliefs are similar to the beliefs of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. The concept of those groups is the same but it differs in its intensity.

When you think the brotherhood will end?

It has ended already because it lost its ability to persuade and attract individuals to join it unlike how it used to do. The brotherhood has aged. The issue is with the ideas of Hassan al-Banna.

Additional contribution by Noha El Tawil]]>
1/22/2019 3:33:20 PM
<![CDATA[South Africa's Ramaphosa calls for lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe]]>
He said Zimbabwe’s situation was a challenge for the whole of Africa and he planned to meet its President Emmerson Mnangagwa at a later stage.]]>
1/22/2019 2:42:44 PM
<![CDATA[Jordan reiterates objection to new Israeli airport's location]]>
Jordan “reserves all options to ensure defending and protecting the kingdom’s interests," Jordan’s Civil Aviation Regulatory Commissioner, Haitham Misto, said, according to Jordan's Ammon News.

Misto said that Jordan rejects opening the airport in its current location, asserting that it violates international standards concerning the obligation to respect the airspace of other states.

Jordan has affirmed objecting to the $500 million Ramon airport since Israel began constructing it in 2013. The Kingdom said that aircraft landing at the Israeli airport can invade its airspace.

The new airport will replace Eilat’s current airport and the basic airport at Ovda, Times of Israel reported, adding that Ramon airport will initially receive 2 million passengers annually.

Relations between Israel and Jordan have been strained as no significant progress can be witnessed so far in the Palestinian cause.

Jordan has been also one of the countries that strongly denounced the US decision to declare Jerusalem as Israel’s new capital and move its embassy there, a move which Amman believes jeopardizes the two-state solution for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. ]]>
1/22/2019 2:18:42 PM
<![CDATA[African leaders back Congo president-elect after contested poll]]>
Regional support is crucial for Tshisekedi after a disorganised election on Dec. 30 that runner-up candidate Martin Fayulu says was rigged and that Congo’s Catholic Church contested. Many worry that outgoing president Joseph Kabila will continue to hold sway, limiting Tshisekedi’s power.

The new president will be the first to take power through an election since Congo’s independence in 1960, when Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba was toppled in a coup after less than three months in office. Congolese and their neighbours are anxious that the process remain peaceful in a country that has drawn regional armies into its civil wars over the decades.

International allies and neighbours had struggled to come to a consensus after the poll that observers said was marred by a series of irregularities including malfunctioning voting machines and polling stations that opened late or closed early.

In a surprise statement last week, the African Union asked for the final results to be postponed because of “serious doubts” over the conduct of the election, raising fears that a protracted dispute could fan unrest in the volatile country of 80 million people.

But since the Constitutional Court early on Sunday rejected Fayulu’s complaint and backed Tshisekedi’s victory, opposition to the vote appears to have softened. Tshisekedi is expected to be sworn in on Jan. 24.

CONGRATULATIONS
South African president Cyril Ramaphosa congratulated Tshisekedi on Monday and in a statement “called on all parties and all stakeholders in the DRC to respect the decision of the Constitutional Court”.

The presidents of Kenya, Tanzania and Burundi congratulated Tshisekedi in a series of Tweets on Sunday, echoing the Southern African Development Community (SADC) - a bloc that includes South Africa and Angola - which also called for the transition of power to remain peaceful, backing off from earlier calls for a recount.

The AU has yet to comment since it noted the court’s decision. It postponed a visit by a high-level delegation to Kinshasa that had been scheduled for Monday.

Fayulu says Tshisekedi and outgoing President Joseph Kabila made a deal to cheat him out of a more than 60-percent win - an accusation they both deny.

On Monday he asked African leaders to “respect the sovereign decision of the Congolese people who elected me president”.

“Last week we had seen a risk of foreign intervention, if the heads of neighbouring states backed Mr Fayulu in a protracted dispute. Now that most of them have accepted Mr Tshisekedi’s win, the risk looks somewhat lower,” said research firm NKC African Economics in a statement on Monday.

Police in the capital Kinshasa blocked access to the headquarters of a party in Fayulu’s Lamuka coalition, where he had intended to gather supporters and protest against the confirmation of Tshisekedi’s victory.

Lamuka spokeswoman Eve Bazaiba told Reuters the building had been besieged and protesters dispersed, forcing Fayulu to abandon his plans.

Some Congolese hoped Fayulu would accept defeat in the interest of peace.

“He (Fayulu) needs to let it go. Going to the Constitutional Court and all that is just creating problems and for me it’s a waste of time,” said Kinshasa resident Patricia Mokabi.

“We are all Congolese, we are together whether it is Felix or Fayulu, they can work together.”

Belgian Foreign Affairs Minister Didier Reynders told local media he would have preferred the process to be more transparent, and the verification of results to be more open.

Western countries also initially expressed doubt about the preliminary vote count. Since Tshisekedi’s victory was confirmed, their responses have been more muted than those of countries in the region.

France said on Monday it had “taken note” of Tshisekedi’s victory and that it would be sending its ambassador to the swearing in ceremony. The European Union’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, said at a press conference that the EU would take a position after meeting with the AU on Monday.

Russia’s foreign ministry noted the historical importance of the electoral transfer of power: “We consider these elections a milestone in the political life of the DRC.”]]>
1/22/2019 12:07:08 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt talks tripartite agro-cooperation with Europe, Africa ]]>
Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry met with Phil Hogan, the commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, on Monday in Cairo to discuss ways of enhancing the Egyptian ties with the European Union, the statement added.

“The European commissioner for agriculture was keen to listen to Egypt’s vision and priorities, as it chairs the African Union in 2019 [...] both sides tackled the possibility of establishing a tripartite cooperation with African countries in the agricultural field,” the statement read.

On December 22, 2018, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurated the 100,000-feddan
greenhouses project in El-Lahun village, Beni Suef via video conference.

In August 2019, Egypt and Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) will host activities of the eighth Africa Agriculture Science Week (AASW), Agriculture Minister Ezzeldin Abu Stait told state-owned news agency MENA in September 2018.

]]>
1/22/2019 11:17:39 AM
<![CDATA[French finance min. lauds Egypt's economic reform program]]>
Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly received on Sunday French Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire and his accompanying delegation in preparation for the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Egypt.



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Egypt's PM received Bruno Le Maire in preparation for the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Egypt – Egypt Today


The meeting was attended by Egypt's ministers of electricity, finance, trade and industry, and the French ambassador to Cairo.

The French minister said that Macron's visit will witness the signing of a number of agreements and memoranda of understanding in various fields. The visit will also discuss ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in several areas, including electricity, health, air, and transport, the minister added.

Le Maire said that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi asked him to discuss cooperation with Egypt in the field of automobile industry, especially electric cars, adding that he promised the president to review the issue with the French automotive manufacturer, Peugeot, after returning to France.

Le Maire met with President Sisi on Sunday. During the meeting, the minister praised the huge national projects that have been established in Egypt recently including the New Administrative Capital, east of Cairo.

Concerning fields of cooperation, Madbouly said that Egypt is also looking forward to cooperating with France in the manufacture of plasma and other blood products due to France's huge experience in this regard.

For his part, the French minister welcomed transferring the French expertise in the field of blood derivatives, so that Egypt can establish its own specialized factory.

France is one of the largest investors in Egypt, as about 160 French companies operate in the country with total investment of around $5 billion. These companies operate in the fields of infrastructure, industry, energy, telecommunications and information technology, banking and insurance.

Moreover, the trade volume between Egypt and France amounts to $2.5 billion.

The Egyptian prime minister, who also acts as the housing minister, stressed that Macron's upcoming visit will strongly boost bilateral relations between the two sides.

Madbouli stressed the need to strengthen ties between the two countries through two axes, Egypt's Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said, adding that the first axis concerns pumping French investments in Egypt.

The minister pointed out that the French side shows great willingness to pump huge investments in the Egyptian market in the coming period in the fields of automobile industry and health care, in light of the French high technical expertise, as well as France's use of advanced technology in these fields.


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Egypt's PM received Bruno Le Maire in preparation for the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Egypt – Egypt Today


The second axis, which was highlighted during the government's discussions with the French side, is the existing agreements between Egypt and France, Nasr said, adding that there are agreements between the two countries in a number of sectors including transportation. She noted that the French side is keen to support the economic reform program implemented by the Egyptian government.

French Ambassador in Cairo Stephane Roumtier announced earlier that intensive preparations are underway with all French bodies in Egypt ahead of Marcon's looming visit.

Issues to be raised during Marcon's visit to Egypt include the economic file, regional and international issues of common interest as well as means of pumping new French investments to Egypt, according to the ambassador.


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Egypt's PM received Bruno Le Maire in preparation for the upcoming visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Egypt – Egypt Today
]]>
1/21/2019 2:09:49 PM
<![CDATA[Trial of Pharmacists Syndicate's head adjourned to January 27]]>
Head of Pharmacists' Syndicate Mohi Ebeid was handed another 15-day detention pending investigations, state's MENA reported

Ebeid was dismissed by the administrative judiciary over accusations of beating a pharmacist in a dispute over the union's board in October. He is also accused of causing a neck injury to the pharmacist.

In October, a number of anonymous people with bladed weapons attacked the headquarters of the Pharmacists Syndicate, causing injuries to many pharmacists including Islam Abdel Fadel, who almost died.

The syndicate's board affirmed that this assault is the third of its kind in the recent period. The board also blamed Ebeid for removing seven elected members of the board, which is considered illegal.

In December, State Council Administrative Court ordered the suspension of Ebeid from exercising his duties.

The decision comes as a consequence of the incident that took place inside the headquarters of the press syndicate on Monday, Dec. 17 when security personnel at the Egyptian Pharmacists Syndicate assaulted four journalists and took their phones, including Mohamed el-Garnoussi and Atef Badr from Al-Masry al-Yom, Esraa Soliman from Al-Watan and Aya De'bes from Youm7.
]]>
1/21/2019 10:41:26 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament cannot hijack Brexit, says British minister Fox]]>
“Parliament has not got the right to hijack the Brexit process because parliament said to the people of this country: ‘we make a contract with you, you will make the decision and we will honor it’,” Fox told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.

“What we are now getting are some of those who were always absolutely opposed to the result of the referendum trying to hijack Brexit and in effect steal the result from the people.”]]>
1/20/2019 2:21:10 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi's directives to standardize buildings' facades come into effect]]>
The step comes in efforts to restore and preserve cultural appearance of the country's governorates and avoid visual distortion.

Mohamed Abu Saada, head of the National Organization for Urban Harmony, said that the decision has come into effect in the Khedival Cairo area. Painting licenses will be issued and violators will be punished, Abu Saada added.

The governorates were divided into groups, Abu Saada said, adding that each group will have its own common color. The buildings of Cairo and Upper Egypt governorates will be painted with dusty colors, while the coastal governorates will be painted in blue, he continued.

a

Mahmoud Shaarawi, minister of local development, said that the president's directives to standardize the color of the facades of houses and buildings come within the framework of law no. 119 of 2008.

The law requires real estate owners to paint the facades of their buildings before they receive facilities, Shaarawi explained.



Adel al-Ghadban, governor of Port Said in north east Egypt, said that huge economic projects have been implemented in the governorate, adding that authorities work on beautifying the city's squares and streets to be ready to receive economic entities.

In an interview with Kol Youm on ON E, Ghadban said the governorate has offered landlords a time limit to paint their buildings, which ends at the end of March, adding that services will be cut off from the buildings that do not comply with the strategy.
]]>
1/20/2019 1:38:20 PM
<![CDATA[Syrian opposition sees window for political solution in Syria]]>
"I think now that we have an opportunity, because nearly in Syria we have a ceasefire now, in the northeast of Syria and the north of Syria, and the efforts of fighting terrorism has achieved good results," Nasr Hariri told Reuters in an interview in the Saudi Arabian capital Riyadh, where he is based.

Hariri, the opposition's chief negotiator in U.N. peace talks, met with the newly appointed United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Geir Pedersen on Friday.

"Now it is time to invest all of these developments: the ceasefire, fighting terrorism, the belief of the majority of the Syrian people that the only solution to the Syrian crisis is the political solution," Hariri added.

In December, Russia, Iran and Turkey - supporters of the main sides in Syria's complex civil war - failed to agree on the makeup of a U.N.-sponsored Syrian Constitutional Committee but called for it to convene early next year to kick off a viable peace process.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose forces have reclaimed most of Syria with Russian and Iranian support apart from the northern province of Idlib, has clung to power throughout the conflict and is widely seen as being loath to yield power after it ends.

Arab states, including some that once backed rebels against Assad, are seeking to reconcile with him after decisive gains by his forces in the war, aiming to expand their influence in Syria at the expense of non-Arab Turkey and Iran.

"All the countries... Turkey, to some extent Russia and the Arab countries believe ... that without a political solution, the normalization with the (Assad) regime would be impossible," Hariri said.]]>
1/20/2019 8:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Terrorist involved in beheading of Egyptian Copts killed in Libya]]>
Deqno was on the most wanted terrorists involved in several attacks and crimes including beheading the Egyptian Copts in Sirte, according to a statement issued by Fortified Structure Forces in July 2017. In February 2015, IS released a bloody and barbaric video showing execution of 21 Egyptian Copts in Sirte, which was one of the strongest strongholds for the terrorist group in Libya. In December 2016, Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) announced defeating IS in Sirte.

As a part of the on-going wide-scale military operations against terrorists in southern Libya, the LNA forces killed the three terrorists, who are affiliated to the Islamic state militant group (IS) in Libya, said LNA spokesperson Ahmed Al-Mesmari in a statement.

Deqno, who was born in Sirte City in 1981, established a militant group known as "Desert Army" in southern Libya, said Libya's attorney general Sadek al- Sour in previous remarks in 2018. The Desert Army is a terrorist group for non-Libyan terrorists, who moved from Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan and Egypt to join the IS affiliate in Libya, Sour added.

The two other killed militants include Libyan Qaeda leader known as "Abu Talha al-Libi" and Egyptian fugitive Abdalah al-Desoky.

Al-Libi was one of the most dangerous wanted terrorists in Libya. He was accused of having links with al Qaeda group and its affiliates in sub-Saharan African countries.
In 2013, Al-Libi moved from Libya to Syria, where he joined IS and carried out several terrorist attacks. A year later, he and his wife returned to Libya, according to the statement.

The LNA announced launched a wide-scale military operation on Tuesday to liberate southern Libya from terrorists and to protect the country's oil fields from extremists’ takeover.

Since the outbreak of the 2011 uprising in Libya, that thwarted late Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, Libya has suffered chaos and security vacuum.

]]>
1/19/2019 6:15:43 PM
<![CDATA[MP calls to unify Tok Toks color, step to legalize]]>
Tok Tok drivers have experienced quite rejection from the officials, with several financial penalties were imposed on driving unlicensed tricycles in Cairo.

The parliament urged to realize that driving tok toks "have become a source of income for many citizens," trying to reverse the chaotic theme attached to the tricycles' drivers, who are blamed for traffic mess in several districts in the capital.

The first move was to assign a color for tok toks similar to taxis; for example: black and white in Cairo; yellow and black in Alexandria and blue and white in Marsa Matrouh. The parliament issued amendments determining tricycle routes, allowing them to move in sub-streets and slums rather than main streets. This is believe to be a bid to ensure traffic liquidity.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the parliament's transport and communications committee Khalid Abdul Azem, said that the regulation of the toktok contributes to maintaining the livelihood of a large segment of Egyptians, while at the same time preserving the rights of the state and protecting citizens from violations committed by toktok drivers.

"Toktok has become a source of livelihood for nearly two million citizens, but it is causing a very serious security crisis as the crime has spread in the past period," Azem added.

Hamdy Arafa, a professor of local administration and consultant for the development of slums, said during an interview with Wael al-Ebrashi on ON E TV that there are a total of 2.9 million toktoks in the North African country, adding that only 111,000 toktoks are licensed.

Commenting on the growing number of toktok drivers, Arafa said that there are 730,000 diploma graduates of commerce, industry and agriculture schools annually, adding that he thinks their university curricula were not linked to the labor market, so most of them go for other jobs.

Tok Tok, has drawn controversy in the country since it appeared across the cities in 2005. However, satisfying alternatives have not yet been given.

Tok Toks have been seen as double-edged swords. People inhabiting slums, humble regions and even some classy districts think they are comparatively cheap, fast, widespread and available. Although this can all be real, others still believe they are dangerous as the majority of toktoks have been so far unlicensed.

MP Mamdouh al-Husseini, a member of the Parliament's Local Administration Committee, said that some of the Tok Toks' drivers have resorted to such unlicensed vehicles for kidnapping, theft, bullying and terrorism.

He appealed to officials to reduce the costs of licensing toktoks, affirming that the cost of a tok tok's license exceeds LE 7,000 ($394). The price of new tok-toks can range between LE 29,000 ($1,632) to LE 32,000 ($1,801), according to 2018 vehicles' prices, which means that a toktok driver has to pay about 21 percent of his vehicle's price to license it.

Secretary of the Parliament’s Transportation Committee, Khaled Abdel Azeem, criticized the government in February for not taking actual steps to stop toktoks from plaguing Egyptian communities and turning them into slums.

The government could not set up an integrated plan to face the unjustified spread of toktoks, according to Abdel Azeem, although the government has warned repeatedly of the dangers toktoks pose to society.

Abdel Azeem wondered why the government has not applied the Industry Ministry’s 2014 decision to stop importing Tok Toks so as to take the first step towards ending the phenomenon. The ministry had decided in 2014 to ban Tok Tok for a year as it had been used in crimes and terrorist attacks, according to the government.

In November, 2017, a Tok Tok caused the death of seven students when it plunged off a road into a conduit in Beheira governorate, Delta.

In September of the same year, while a police force was patrolling a town in Assiut, it suspected three people on a Tok Tok, the ministry said in a statement. The three men opened fire at the force when it stopped them, according to the ministry. The force returned fire, killing one and wounding another. The third fled.

In the same month, a girl was killed and two others were severely injured after a Tok Tok collided with a passenger train in Dishna, Qena, while trying to pass a railway crossing.

Additional Report with Amr Kandil]]>
1/19/2019 3:49:38 PM
<![CDATA[May makes no change to demands in talks with EU leaders: report]]>
May’s demands continued to focus around either a legally binding time-limit for the Irish ‘backstop’; a right for Britain to unilaterally withdraw, or a commitment to a trade deal finalisation before 2021 to prevent the backstop from coming into force, the report said, citing unnamed senior EU diplomatic sources.

The backstop is an insurance policy designed to prevent the return of border checks on the frontier between EU-member Ireland and Northern Ireland.

May repeated her demands in talks with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and Irish leader Leo Varadkar, the paper reported.

On Friday night, May was also going to meet Arlene Foster, leader of the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, which has 10 seats in parliament and supports May’s government but not her Brexit deal, a Telegraph reporter said on Twitter. The meeting would also be attended by Nigel Dodds, deputy leader of the DUP.

May’s deal for Britain to leave the EU was defeated earlier this week by 230 votes. She has appealed to MPs to come together to try to break the impasse.]]>
1/19/2019 11:02:02 AM
<![CDATA[As elections near, Spain's Podemos on verge of split]]>
Once inseparable, the two young political scientists who co-founded the party in 2014 -- Pablo Iglesias and Inigo Errejon -- have gradually grown apart over what strategy to take, and matters came to a head on Thursday.

Errejon, Podemos's high-profile candidate for Madrid in upcoming regional elections, announced that rather than run solo, he was joining a left-wing platform led by the Spanish capital's mayor Manuela Carmena.

Carmena will be candidate for the mayorship in municipal elections on May 26 and Errejon will run for the Madrid region in regional polls on the same day.

He hopes this alliance will attract more votes.

Errejon's controversial move comes after Podemos suffered a drubbing in December regional elections in Andalusia, a traditional left-wing stronghold where the far-right have made inroads and are now backing a new conservative administration.

That poor showing prompted him to unite with Carmena, who is popular in Madrid.

"This is an initiative that extends a hand to many more people," he told Spanish radio.

- 'Low point' -

Short of calling his move a betrayal, Iglesias accused Errejon and Carmena of working behind his back.

"I wish Inigo luck in building his new party with Manuela," he wrote on his Facebook page.

All eyes are now on whether he will ditch Errejon altogether and propose another Podemos candidate.

Either way, the party comes out weakened.

"We're witnessing a low point," says Paloma Roman, politics professor at Madrid's Complutense University.

In-fighting has left the party born in 2014 out of anger over austerity politics fighting for air as it crashes down from its dizzying victory in 2016 elections.

In those general polls -- its first -- it won 67 parliamentary seats along with other left-wing associates.

Tensions are also running high with some of its regional or local left-wing partners with whom it has stood for election in the past.

That worked well at first, with coalitions that included Podemos taking over major cities like Barcelona.

But cracks are starting to emerge.

- 'Lack of cohesive strategy' -

Caroline Gray, lecturer in Spanish politics at Britain's Aston University, says "the party has been suffering from its lack of a cohesive strategy".

"There have been levels of infighting between Podemos and those other affiliates over the way to go forward," says Gray.

Some regional affiliates, she adds, would rather Podemos left them to run alone and work with them once they're elected.

"But that then creates problems for Podemos because if they haven't got a strong base at local or regional level, are people going to vote for them in state-wide elections?"

All this is coming to a head before the May elections and could potentially affect the ruling Socialist party too, Roman says.

If more and more of Podemos's partners decide to go it alone in regional elections, that would add on one more left-wing candidate to those already standing for the Socialists and Podemos.

"That will scatter the votes," says Roman.

Not necessarily, counters Astrid Barrio, politics professor at the University of Valencia.

"Faced with the division of the left and Podemos failing to meet expectations, the Socialists could recover some of the votes they lost (to Podemos) in the last electoral period."

And for political analyst Pablo Simon, the left might actually come out winning in Madrid if they join forces post-election.

"Paradoxically, with more on the menu, more left-wing voters could turn out as each will have their own option and will know that if they all come together, they will govern," he says.]]>
1/19/2019 10:57:12 AM
<![CDATA[Lawmakers say they will investigate whether Trump told lawyer to lie]]>
Leading Democrats in the House of Representatives said they would seek to verify a Buzzfeed News report that Trump told Cohen to lie to lawmakers who are examining whether his campaign worked with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election.

Buzzfeed, citing two unnamed law enforcement sources, said Cohen told investigators working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Trump had directed him to lie about the Moscow project. The report said Mueller’s office learned of Trump’s instructions to Cohen through internal Trump Organization emails, witness interviews, text messages and other documents, and that Cohen told prosecutors about the directive in an interview.

Trump said on Twitter that Cohen was lying in order to get less prison time while Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said in an email statement, “Any suggestion ... that the president counseled his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie is categorically false.”

Mueller’s office declined to comment.

Cohen, who once said he was so loyal to Trump that he would “take a bullet” for him, is scheduled to begin a three-year prison sentence in March after pleading guilty to charges that included lying to Congress.

If Trump did tell Cohen to lie, that would constitute criminal activity, said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who said he would look into the matter.

“Directing a subordinate to lie to Congress is a federal crime,” Nadler said on Twitter.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff said the allegation that Trump may have directed Cohen to lie under oath “is among the most serious to date.”

“We will do what’s necessary to find out if it’s true,” he said on Twitter.

Some Senate Intelligence Committee investigators hope to ask Cohen about the BuzzFeed report when he testifies behind closed doors in February, a committee source told Reuters.

He also will face questions about it in testimony before the House Oversight Committee on Feb. 7.

NEW EXPOSURE

Legal experts say the allegation exposed Trump to a new level of risk in an investigation that has already resulted in convictions of or guilty pleas from four former campaign aides, including former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

“It’s a seismic event,” Andy Wright, an associate White House counsel under former Democratic President Barack Obama, told Reuters.

Cohen adviser Lanny Davis declined to comment on the BuzzFeed report and said Cohen also would not comment. Cohen’s lawyer, Guy Petrillo, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump denounced Cohen as a “rat” after he began cooperating with investigators while Cohen, whose duties included making payoffs to two women who had affairs with Trump, said on Thursday he regretted giving “my blind loyalty to a man who doesn’t deserve it.”

Directing or encouraging someone to lie under oath is a crime known as subornation of perjury but the report also raises questions about obstruction of justice and conspiracy.

William Barr, Trump’s nominee to be attorney general, said at his confirmation hearing on Tuesday that a president would be committing obstruction if he directed a subordinate to lie under oath. A Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment.

While the Justice Department has previously concluded that a sitting president cannot be charged while in office, such an allegation, if found true, could fuel impeachment proceedings in Congress.

“Suborning perjury has been a key part of earlier instances where the House has decided to move against a president in the extreme grounds of impeachment,” Democratic Senator Tim Kaine told reporters.

Trump repeatedly has denied collusion with Russia and slammed Mueller’s investigation as a “witch hunt.” Russia also has rejected U.S. intelligence findings that Moscow interfered in U.S. politics in the 2016 election in an effort to boost Trump.

Trump said repeatedly during the presidential campaign that he had no ties or business dealings with Russia. Representatives for the Trump Organization did not respond to a request for comment on the BuzzFeed report.

Democrats, who took over the U.S. House of Representatives this month, have generally been cautious regarding any talk of impeachment to remove Trump from office although some rank-and-file members have pushed for such a resolution.

It would face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Trump’s fellow Republicans have a majority.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office had no comment on the BuzzFeed report but other Republicans said it raised troubling questions.

“Lying to Congress is a whole different issue, obviously, if there was direction to do that. But we’ve got to hear both sides of the story on this,” Senator James Lankford told Reuters.

BuzzFeed on Thursday also reported that Cohen regularly updated Trump’s son Donald Trump Jr. and his daughter Ivanka Trump, who is now a top White House adviser, about the Moscow project.

A spokesman for Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Ivanka Trump, said she was minimally involved in the development. Representatives for Trump Jr., who has also testified previously before Congress, did not respond to a request for comment.

]]>
1/18/2019 8:19:16 PM
<![CDATA[FM: Egypt fully committed to supporting Lebanon]]>
During a meeting with Lebanese President Michel Aoun, Shoukry asserted Egypt’s confidence in Lebanon’s state institutions’ ability to form a national government that represents all segments of the Lebanese people.

The top Egyptian diplomat added that Cairo is proud of its close and distinguished relations with Beirut, which he said are an extension of bilateral historic ties between them, Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said in a statement.

Shoukry also conveyed greetings from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to Aoun, added the spokesman.

The meeting, he said, took up the latest regional developments, with the two leaders stressing the importance of pushing forward the joint Arab action in the face of the current exceptional crises sweeping the Arab region.]]>
1/18/2019 3:08:30 PM
<![CDATA[Congo rejects African Union demand to delay final election result]]>
The final tally for the Dec. 30 election, which was marred by widespread violence and fraud allegations, is to be released once the Constitutional Court has ruled on challenges to the provisional results, including from opposition leader and election runner-up Martin Fayulu. The court's decision is expected later on Friday or Saturday.

But the African Union called after a meeting in Addis Ababa on Thursday for the final results to be postponed, adding to the turmoil in a post-election process meant to bring Congo’s first democratic transfer of power in 59 years of independence.

The AU said in a statement it would dispatch a delegation to Congo to seek "a way out of the post-electoral crisis".

Congo government spokesman Lambert Mende said on Friday that while the AU delegation was welcome, the post-electoral process would not change as Kinshasa had the sovereign right to control it.

Fayulu, a former Exxon Mobil manager, requested a recount of the poll this week, saying he won by a landslide and that the official winner, opposition leader Felix Tshisekedi, struck a deal with President Joseph Kabila to be declared the victor.]]>
1/18/2019 1:23:50 PM
<![CDATA[Algeria to hold presidential election on April 18]]>
Bouteflika, 81, has been in office since 1999 and has rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2013, since when he has used a wheelchair. Algeria's ruling coalition has previously urged him to run again for the presidency.

Candidates have 45 days to inform the constitutional council of their intention to take part.

The North African country, an oil producer, avoided the major political upheaval seen in many other Arab countries in the past decade but has experienced some protests and strikes. Unemployment, especially among young people, remains high.

The economy has improved over the past year as oil and gas revenues have picked up. They account for 60 percent of the budget and 94 percent of export revenues. ]]>
1/18/2019 1:10:24 PM
<![CDATA[WUZZUF hosts recruitment, talent management event]]>
The one-day event, entitled "Talent in the Digital Era: Are we Ready for Gen Z?", includes sessions in two main tracks: Technology in Recruitment and Talent Management, providing CEOs, managing directors and HR professionals with end-to-end- insights and recommendations to prepare for the hunting, nurturing, and retention of their future workforce.

The event will feature key panels and talks from the Raya Group HR Director Hazem Abdel Hady and event partners, Erik Goldenberg - CEO of ITWORX Education and Founder and CEO of WUZZUF and FORASNA Ameer Sherif.

“At Edge, we are dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs, small businesses and corporates to set their business forward especially with the rise of the digital era, raising the bar in different industries,” said Ahmed Khalil, CEO of Edge Innovation Center.

“We believe that the topic we’re discussing is particularly important in Egypt, as experts predict that millennials will occupy more than half of the entire workforce by 2020. We’ve partnered up with WUZZUF and IT WORX Education to present content of extreme value to business decision makers and prepare for their future workforce planning,” he added.

“Our mission at ITWORX Education is to enable lifelong learning for all,” commented Erik Goldenberg, CEO of ITWORX Education. “People and organizations need to constantly learn to grow, develop, improve and succeed, and our technologies make this possible in a scalable and accessible way.”

Ameer Sherif, founder and CEO of WUZZUF and FORASNA said: “Part of WUZZUF’s role as a market leader in Egypt is to draw helpful insights that push the whole industry forward. Overseeing both sides of professionals and employers -supply and demand- with more than 20,000 employers and 1.5 million job seekers, we can already see the challenges with recruiting younger generations who are in fact the coming decade’s senior managers and executives. Our mission is to tech-enable every employer with the smart tool that helps them win the talent war over the best caliber especially in today's challenging workforce market.”

During the event, a panel on strategic workforce planning will be featured, in which the analytic forecasting and planning process that connects and directs technology to talent management activities will be discussed.

A second panel, Tech vs. Touch, will dive into the conundrum of this day and age: The relationship between technology and the human touch and the equation for finding the right balance between them to achieve the best results.

The panels will be followed by breakout sessions in two tracks: Technology in Recruitment, including topics like “Employer Branding”, “Accessing your needs before a tech purchase” and “How AI helps cutting through the candidate ocean seeking the right talent”.

The Talent Management track will include sessions on “learning by storytelling”, "Employee retention” and “Learning & development tech solutions, tools, and impact”.


]]>
1/17/2019 6:12:31 PM
<![CDATA[In Pics: Sisi affirms backing South Sudan's peace agreement]]>
In his meeting with Kiir, President Sisi lauded the peace agreement that has recently "come into effect" in South Sudan, affirming that Egypt will always support the South Sudanese people's peace-building, reconstruction, stabilization and development efforts."

"We are committed to providing all forms of political and technical support to [help] the full implementation of the activated peace agreement," Sisi stated.

"We also call upon the international community to fulfill its obligation and commitments towards South Sudan in its march towards a better future," Sisi stated.

Sisi lauded the"constructive role"played by Kiir in the region, especially efforts to mediate between the South Sudanese government and the main rebel group in the country, SPLM-IO.

Concerning bilateral relations, Sisi highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation and coordination between Egypt and South Sudan on both official and public levels to meet the inspirations of the peoples of the two countries.

The relations between Egypt and South Sudan currently witness unprecedented prosperity in various aspects of cooperation, Sisi said, affirming that Egypt was among the first countries to support the people and government of the nascent state of South Sudan.

"The Nile River will continue to be a historic symbol for the relations and ties between our two brotherly peoples," Sisi stated.

Sisi said that the discussions reflected the determination of the two countries to advance the level of bilateral relations and bring them to the level of strategic partnership, adding that it will enable Egypt and South Sudan"to make optimum use of the economic and investment opportunities existing in the two countries."

Sisi also highlighted the need to cooperate in the fields of education, agriculture and irrigation through the existing mechanisms, which contribute to achieving sustainable development.

The two presidents also exchanged views on regional issues of mutual interest, according to Sisi.

“I am so grateful and thankful for the utmost efforts Egypt and its President al-Sisi exert to Sudan before its independency,” Salva Kiir Mayardit said, adding “Egypt always gives us a hand in all dilemmas.”

In July 2011, South Sudan declared independence in line with a January referendum that was the culmination of a 2005 peace deal ending decades of civil war with the north. In the same month, Egypt formally announced recognizing the country, MENA news agency reported.

South Sudan suffered a civil war in 2013 following a political disagreement between Riek Machar, a former vice president, and Kiir. Several attempts to end the conflict failed.

In July 2018, South Sudan’s government and SPLM-IO signed a power-sharing deal in the Sudanese capital with the aim of ending years of conflict.

The agreement stipulates creating a new 35-member government comprising 20 ministers from the current government of Salva Kiir. The SPLM-IO will have nine portfolios, while the remaining portfolios will go to other opposition groups.

P (4)_1

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Additional reporting by Fatma Bakry
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1/17/2019 3:37:44 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi holds talks with South Sudanese President in Cairo]]>
The two presidents would hold a summit-level meeting to review bilateral relations in various fields, and discuss a number of issues of common concern, presidential spokesman Bassam Radi said.

The visit comes as part of the good diplomatic relations between the two countries, which Egypt has obviously been keen on growing for many years. Egypt and Sudan have been exchanging visits in the term of the incumbent Egyptian president starting with a visit by Salva Kiir to Egypt in 2014.

In July, 2011, South Sudan declared independence in line with a January referendum that was the culmination of a 2005 peace deal ending decades of civil war with the north. In the same month, Egypt formally announced recognizing the country, MENA news agency reported.

In May last year, Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry accompanied South Salva Kiir, on behalf of the Egyptian president, in the inauguration session of the meeting of the National Liberation Council of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) in Juba.

"The Egyptian participation comes in the framework of continued efforts to achieve peace and stability in South Sudan, as Egypt has voiced support for Kiir's initiative to establish a committee to facilitate the national dialogue," Ahmed Abu Zeid, Foreign Ministry spokesman said in a statement.

Abu Zeid said that the invitation reflects the deep relations between Egypt and South Sudan.

With the aim of achieving reunification of the party, the Arusha Agreement was signed by three conflicting factions of the SPLM party in January 2015 in Tanzania. Since 2013, the ruling party in South Sudan, SPLM, has witnessed many conflicts and differences amongst its main leaders and ranks.

In October, President Sisi affirmed in a telephone call with the South Sudanese President that Egypt supports establishing peace in South Sudan, within the framework of the peace agreement reached by the South Sudanese parties.

Sisi remarked that Egypt also supports the efforts aimed to realize the aspirations of the South Sudanese people for stability and development.

Presidential spokesperson Bassam Radi said that Sisi stressed Egypt’s keenness to promote the bilateral relations between the two countries and provide technical support for South Sudan.

Radi further remarked that Kiir expressed his appreciation to the president, lauding Egypt’s support for peace and stability in South Sudan, and confirming that his country will continue cooperating with Egypt in different fields.

In September, the two African leaders met at Sisi’s residency in Beijing in the framework of the Forum on China and Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Sisi reiterated that his country will continue to offer aid and technical assistance to South Sudan, as well as go ahead in mutual projects, Radi said.

Kiir also praised the historic relationship between the two states and Egypt’s support to stability in South Sudan.

On Feb. 20, Sisi received Mayik Aye Deng, minister of presidential affairs in South Sudan and special envoy of President Salva Kiir Mayardit, in Cairo.

Sisi and Deng tackled various recent developments, including the recent political developments in Juba and the exerted efforts to restore order and stability in South Sudan, Radi added.
]]>
1/17/2019 12:19:55 PM
<![CDATA[Militia groups battle in Libyan capital, breaking 4-month truce]]>
Armored vehicles could be seen in southern Tripoli where militia groups had fought for a month until September, part of the widespread factional conflict plaguing Libya since the 2011 uprising that toppled Muammar Gaddafi.

A United Nations-engineered ceasefire agreed then had managed to hold for the most part until now.

But on Wednesday a militia known as the 7th Brigade, or Kaniyat, and a collection of factions called Tripoli Protection Force fell back into fighting in the same southern district.

The 7th Brigade and some allied groups triggered the August fighting in a bid to challenge the dominance of four “super militias”, including the Tripoli Protection Force, in the streets of the capital.

The U.N. mission in Libya warned in a statement against any breach of the ceasefire deal.

“Any party initiating a confrontation will be held fully responsible,” it said.

The internationally-recognized government in Tripoli, backed by the United Nations, has been working on a new security plan since the ceasefire deal but achieved little as Libya, long a major oil producer, lacks a national police force or army. ]]>
1/17/2019 12:09:34 PM
<![CDATA[Yemen combatants start talks in Jordan on prisoner swap deal]]>
Delegates from the Iran-aligned Houthi movement and the Saudi-backed Yemeni government met in the Jordanian capital to discuss the swap, which was agreed in U.N-led talks in Sweden in December.

"The two parties exchanged the list of prisoners in Sweden and they’re now discussing steps to implement it," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.

Western nations, some of which supply arms and intelligence to a Saudi-led coalition backing the government, have pressed the two sides to agree confidence-building steps to pave the way for a wider truce and a political process to end the war, which has killed tens of thousands of people.

As part of that effort, the two sides exchanged lists of some 15,000 prisoners for a swap that delegates said would be conducted via the Houthi-held Sanaa airport in north Yemen and the government-held Sayun airport in the south.

The measures also included a plan to withdraw from the contested port city of Hodeidah, a lifeline for millions facing famine, and place it under the control of an interim entity.

Hadi Haig, the head of the Yemen government delegation, said the two sides were verifying the prisoner lists as part of a five-stage process before the swap takes place.

The swap would be overseen by the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The operation will require the Saudi-led coalition to guarantee that air space is secure for flights, the ICRC said. ]]>
1/17/2019 11:51:32 AM
<![CDATA[Italy finds skeleton of Egyptian expat in Piacenza]]>
The skeleton was moved to the morgue of Pavia in July 2018, Egyptian Manpower Ministry's Labor Representation Office in the country's consulate in Milan said in a statement, adding that since then, the Italian authorities could not reveal the cause of Adham's death.

The Italian police contacted Adham's brother, Samir, and took a DNA sample, the ministry said in a statement. Several months later the police told him they found his brother.

Egyptian Minister of Manpower and Immigration Mohamed Saafan ordered following up on the arrival of the skeleton to the homeland, as well as checking his family's entitlements. The skeleton of the deceased is set to arrive in Cairo on Thursday evening, according to official reports.

Egyptian prisoner mysteriously dies in Italy

Viterbo hospital in Italy notified the Egyptian Embassy in Rome in July 2018 about the clinical death of Hassan Sharaf, 20, in the hospital where he was moved after he attempted to commit suicide in his solitary confinement cell, according to the hospital and prison claims.

Sharaf was set to be released last September.

The Egyptian Embassy sent a delegation to Viterbo to meet with officials of the prison and hospital to disclose the circumstances of the incident, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said.

Hospital officials revealed that Sharaf was moved to the hospital on July 23 in a state of full unconsciousness after he tried to kill himself in the prison. The prison officials confirmed the hospital’s statements.

The embassy submitted a formal request to the prison administration to conduct a formal investigation into the case, Abu Zeid said, adding that the embassy also asked for Sharaf’s medical records.

According to information provided by his family, Sharaf illegally migrated to Italy when he was 15 after finishing his primary education reportedly to make a good living for himself and his family. He was then able to join school in Italy. However, he was sentenced to 3 years in prison when he was 17 years old.

Sabry Abu Heikal, the victim’s first cousin, said that Sharaf last contacted his family in the holy month of Ramadan, which ended on June 14. During the call, he said that he is persecuted by one of his inmates. ]]>
1/16/2019 3:44:36 PM
<![CDATA[Iran says it will keep military forces in Syria despite Israeli threats]]>
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israeli forces would continue to attack Iranians in Syria unless they quickly get out of there.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran will keep its military advisers, revolutionary forces and its weapons in Syria," Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the Revolutionary Guards top commander, was quoted as saying by the semi-official ISNA news agency. Jafari called Netanyahu's threats "a joke", and warned that the Israeli government "was playing with (a) lion's tail."

"You should be afraid of the day that our precision-guided missiles roar and fall on your head," he said.

Iran and Russia have both backed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a seven-year war against rebels and militants, and have sent thousands of soldiers to the country.

Israel, increasingly concerned that its enemy Iran may establish a long-term military presence in neighboring Syria, says it has carried out more than 200 attacks against Iranian targets in Syria in the last two years.

Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israeli warplanes carried out an attack on what he called an Iranian arms cache in Syria.

]]>
1/16/2019 1:25:30 PM
<![CDATA[Nigeria opposition candidate Abubakar says committed to privatizing state oil firm]]>
Atiku Abubakar had stated in his manifesto that he intends to break up the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) if he wins the Feb. 16 ballot.

"I am committed to privatising NNPC. Even if they are going to kill me I'll do it," he told business leaders in the commercial capital Lagos on Wednesday.

"With the electricity sector, it is the same thing I stand for."

Abubakar, a businessman who served as vice president between 1999 and 2007, has portrayed himself as a champion of the private sector and promised during his campaign to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari that will double Nigeria's economy to $900 billion by 2025.

Oil sales make up around two thirds of government revenue.

Nigeria's power sector was privatised in 2013 but the government retained control of some areas, and its ballooning debts to energy companies has left it mired in a financial crisis while holding back investment.

]]>
1/16/2019 1:22:46 PM
<![CDATA[UK PM May faces confidence vote as Brexit goes down to the line]]>
Lawmakers voted 432-202 against her deal, the worst defeat in modern British history, triggering political chaos that could lead to a disorderly exit from the EU or even to a reversal of the 2016 decision to leave.

With the clock ticking down to March 29, the date set in law for Brexit, the United Kingdom is now in the deepest political crisis in half a century as it grapples with how, or even whether, to exit the European project it joined in 1973.

After the first British parliamentary defeat of a treaty since 1864, opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn called a vote of no confidence in May’s government, to be held at 1900 GMT on Wednesday.

The small Northern Irish DUP party which props up May’s minority government and refused to back the deal said it would stand behind May in the no-confidence vote. Pro-Brexit Conservatives also said they would support her.

“I have no doubt that the prime minister will win that and then she can focus on trying to thrash out something with the EU and parliamentarians,” James Cleverly, a lawmaker and deputy chairman of the Conservative party, told Reuters.

“My fear is that parliament could lose its head and put the whole Brexit process at risk, which I think would be a catastrophic error,” said Cleverly who supports Brexit.

Germany, the most powerful member of the EU, called for new talks between Britain and the bloc, whose leaders warned of the dire consequences of a no-deal Brexit that business leaders fear will sow chaos through supply chains across Europe and beyond.

Labour’s finance minister-in-waiting, John McDonnell, said May could eventually get a deal through parliament if she negotiated a compromise with his party.

NEW DEAL?

That still leaves Brexit up in the air. May’s humiliating loss appeared to catastrophically undermine her two-year strategy of forging an amicable divorce with close ties to the EU after the March 29 exit.

Sterling jumped by more than a cent against the U.S. dollar on news of May’s defeat on Tuesday and was holding close to that level on Wednesday.

Ever since Britain voted by 52-48 percent to leave the EU in a referendum in June 2016, the political class has been debating how to leave the European project forged by France and Germany after the devastation of World War Two.

While the country is divided over EU membership, most agree the world’s fifth largest economy is at a crossroads and its choices over Brexit will shape the prosperity of future generations for years to come.

Other members of the EU, which combined has about six times the economic might of the United Kingdom, called for discussion but indicated there was little chance of fundamental change to the deal May had negotiated.

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said there was not much time left to find a Brexit solution and that “the time for playing games is now over.”

He told broadcaster Deutschlandfunk there needed to be new talks between Britain and the EU, adding that in the end the issue of a backstop solution for the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland needed to be discussed.

NO BREXIT?

EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said a disorderly Brexit was more likely while Donald Tusk, the chairman of EU leaders, suggested Britain should now consider reversing Brexit altogether.

Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said Britain was probably heading for a delay and a another vote on EU membership.

“I think and I fear that we are headed on a path towards delay and probably, yes, a second vote,” Farage said.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney speaks to lawmakers in parliament’s Treasury Committee on Wednesday.

At least 14 confirmed dead in Kenya attack
If parliament did vote that it had no confidence in May’s government, there is a 14-day grace period in which to pass an act of confidence in a new government.

If there is no vote of confidence in that new government, then a new election must be held within about 17 working days, according to the Institute of Government.]]>
1/16/2019 12:10:13 PM
<![CDATA[Draft law on NGOs to be finalized in March: official]]>
The federation held four conferences on the level of Egyptian governorates to hear the comments of non-governmental organizations on the draft law, Abdel Qawi said.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Abdel Qawi said that the amended law will stipulate that NGOs can be established only through notifying without additional procedures. The administrative body can then resort to the judiciary to stop the registration of an NGO within 30 days.

The amendments will also include exemptions of 50 percent of utility bills for the NGOs, Abdel Qawi said. They will also have the right, according to the law, to conduct scientific research after the approval of Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Concerning funding, Abdel Qawi revealed that a new funding mechanism will be followed to ensure transparent access to funding. He added that the fund will be accepted within 30 days instead of 60, after the NGO explains where the fund comes from, where it goes to, and how it is spent.

In case the NGO did not receive official response after answering the three questions, it means the fund is accepted, according to Abdel Qawi. However, the Ministry of Social Solidarity and concerned authorities will supervise the funds.

Abdel Qawi also revealed that penalties of violating administrative laws will be limited to paying a fine instead of imprisonment in the amended law.

Supporting NGOs

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly decided naming a number of civil society organizations to be "of public benefit," according to media reports on Wednesday, Dec. 19. The decree protects the named non-governmental organizations from confiscating all or part of their funds.

In November 2018, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi agreed to form an official committee to discuss a law issued in 2017 governing the operation of foreign NGOs in Egypt, as a prelude to possible amending.

During his participation at the second edition of the World Youth Forum, the Egyptian leader said the law might be amended after several studies and discussions took place regarding its articles.

In June 2017, President Sisi signed law no. 70/2017 on NGOs and their operation in Egypt, as an annulment to the previous law no. 84/2002, after being passed by two-thirds of the Parliament in Nov. 2016.

The government had been working for years on a new law regulating NGOs in a bid to preserve the country’s security by monitoring NGOs, their activities and the funding they receive.

Provisions obliging NGOs to inform authorities before collecting and spending donations will bog them down and stifle their work, NGO workers say.

Under the new law, donations exceeding LE 10,000 must be pre-approved, while failure to inform authorities could result in jail terms of up to five years and fines of up to LE 1 million.

The law also gives the government power over deciding who can establish an NGO and for what purpose. It obliges groups to stick to the “state’s development plan.”

The law also bans domestic and foreign groups from engaging in political activities or anything that harms national security, public order, public morals or public health.

Minister of Social Solidarity Wali announced in November that the value of foreign grants to NGOs in Egypt recorded more than LE 376 million ($21 million) in October, adding that they were approved by Egyptian authorities, in accordance with the law, and that spending will be observed.

Wali explained that 55 foreign entities provided 151 grants to 112 NGOs in Egypt working in the fields of development, charity, and micro-finance.

The grants were directed to programs targeting childcare, elimination of homeless children phenomenon and violence against children, healthcare, rural development, poverty and unemployment reduction, environment preservation, recycling and ending violence against women.

Furthermore, some funds were channeled into providing care for the disabled, education and building schools.]]>
1/16/2019 11:48:55 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt proposes plan to treat African Hepatitis C patients]]>
During a meeting with members of the Parliament's African Affairs Committee headed by Tarek Radwan, on Tuesday, Zayed said that the ministry currently works to help the Nile Basin countries cure the cases that test positive for Hepatitis C and will send medical personnel even from the private sector to these states.

This initiative will help spread Egyptian medicine and open markets for it, Zayed said, adding that it offers an opportunity to export medicine to Africa and an opportunity to treat 1 million people infected with the blood-borne disease in the Nile Basin countries.

Zayed also urged benefiting from the Egyptian medical initiatives, including the "100 Million Seha (health)" campaign, and the campaign to eliminate waiting lists. She expressed keenness to launch similar initiatives in the Nile Basin countries.

The minister confirmed that Cairo provides treatment for Hepatitis C for patients for only $50-$120 per patient, asserting that treatments in other countries can cost the patient between $28,000 and $80,000.She also stressed she is contacting the international bodies such as the World Health Organization (WHO) to cover the cost of medicine in these countries.

In January 2018, Egypt has been elected as chair of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government for a one-year term in 2019.

Becoming a role model for the African nations, Egypt, under President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's rule, has launched the "100 Million Seha" campaign to detect and treat for free locals infected with chronic diseases including Hepatitis C and Diabetes.

On January 13, Khaled Megahed, Health Ministry spokesman said that 27 million citizens have undergone examination of Hepatitis C since the beginning of the campaign, which was launched by a presidential decree in October 2018.

The second phase of the state’s campaign to end Hepatitis C in Egypt by 2020 kicked off on December 1. It addresses citizens in 11 governorates, including Cairo, North Sinai, Red Sea, Ismailia, Suez, Kafr el-Sheikh, Menoufia, Beni Suef, Sohag, Luxor, and Aswan. It is set to end late in February 2019. Zayed said earlier that 6,486 medical teams are participating in this phase.

The national campaign's check-ups include Hepatitis C test, body mass index,and random glucose and blood pressure tests.

In January 2019, an official source in the Health Ministry told Egypt Today that citizens will also get the hemoglobin A1c test to help early detection of diabetes, and provide immediate free treatment for diabetic people.

The HbA1c is carried out to diagnose diabetes and record the average level of blood sugar over the previous two or three months.

The source affirmed that diabetes treatments are available and are distributed urgently to diabetic patients, pointing out to the strong cooperation between treatment centers to prevent waiting lists. ]]>
1/16/2019 11:40:55 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt & African Liberalization Movements: Before and Now ]]>
The seminar was held at the Misr Public Library in Giza on Monday, and the chairman of the library, Abdel Raouf el-Reidy made the opening speech as he announced the kick-start of a “rich talk” about Africa. The seminar coincides with the birthday anniversary of late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, who has been hailed for his role towards Africa, and for strengthening ties with the continent.

The discussions were led by the head of the National Council for Human Rights Mohamed Fayek shared historical facts and powerful stories from the past, highlighting the importance of Egypt and the Nile River for the continent and quoting the Greek historian Herodotus’ saying “Egypt is the Gift of the Nile,” Fayek added, “And I say the Nile River is the Gift of Africa.”

“There are current African stances that showed significant empowering of Egypt’s leadership in the continent,” said Fayek, referring to the chairmanship of the African Union and the hosting of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Fayek went on to speak about the problems that faced Africa before the 23 July Revolution in 1952 in Egypt, and Cairo’s role in the African Liberalization movements like Kenya’s Mau Mau uprising in 1952. According to him, Egypt has provided military training and ammunition to African states that gained independence, besides supporting non-aligned policy, resisting Israel aggressions and opening up markets such as textiles, palm seeds and others.

2
Side of Africa and Egypt seminar at Misr Public Library - press photo


Besides economic and social cooperation, Fayek assured to Egypt Today that “for youth to understand and feel the African continent, they should be exposed to different African arts and culture.”

Member of Parliament Hamdy Bekheit criticized terms like “Sub-Saharan Africa,” which refers to all African countries that are fully or partially located south of the Sahara, as an attempt to divide North of Africa from the south. Many African experts argued the term should be rejected, as it refers to the entire African continent, except for the five predominantly Arab states of the North, including Egypt.

“Egypt’s link to the continent proves its role is very important due to its leadership in several geographical circles including: Mid-east, Mediterranean and the Red Sea regions,” he said.

Bekheit, who is a member of Parliamentarian committee for African affairs, added another circle which is the Islamic circle, given several Muslim-majority African countries.

“The chairmanship of the African Union will enable Egypt to suggest ideas that enhance unity, solidarity and the political movement of the continent,” he said, ensuring a win-win situation for both the continent and Egypt.

3
Side of Africa and Egypt seminar at Misr Public Library - press photo


The seminar has shed light on the “treasures” that needed to be explored in Africa, and that Egypt should be aware of the continents’ needs and seeks to enhance its role, saying that other countries like China, Iran, U.S. and Israel have managed over the past years to successfully approach the continent’s needs.

Regarding security challenges and civil wars facing many African states, Bekheit said that Egypt can play an effective mediation role based on its history as a strong mediator and its new position as the head of the African Union. ]]>
1/15/2019 11:54:57 PM
<![CDATA[Libya's army launches operation to liberate southwestern area from terrorists]]>
The army spokesman added that the operation aims at preserving the unity and territorial integrity of Libya as well as protecting the citizens against terrorists including Daesh and Al-Qaeda groups and even the criminal gangs deployed across the southern areas.

In a statement released by the Libyan army's general command, Mismari pointed out that the operation is launched in response to the repeated demands of the Libyan people who are calling for protecting the State and enforcing the law across the country.

The operation is aimed as well at delivering the necessary services including fuel, medical and food supplies to the citizens and opening and securing the roads linking the south to the north, Mismari said.

The army's general command urged citizens in the south west of the country to stay away from the gatherings of the terrorists and criminals until the end of the operation so that the armed forces would be able to carry out the combat duties effectively, he added. ]]>
1/15/2019 3:33:17 PM
<![CDATA[Higher education min. asserts depth of ties binding Egypt, UAE]]>
This came during his meeting with CEO of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF) Jamal bin Huwaireb and his accompanying delegation.

During their meeting, Abdel-Ghaffar said that there is a possibility of boosting cooperation between the Egyptian Knowledge Bank and "Qesaty" Initiative, affiliated to the Dubai International Program for Writing, and "Bil Arabi" Initiative.

For his part, Huwaireb lauded Egypt's pivotal role at the international level as it possesses untold wealth of distinguished scientists in many different scientific fields.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation, in cooperation with the Education Ministry, launched the short story contest "Qesaty" to promote Arabic language and arts among prep and secondary school students, as well as faculty members and administrators in the UAE.

This aims to draw attention to the building of the folk tale, the dissemination of cultural values among the members of society, the preservation of oral cultural heritage and the consolidation of the popular heritage in the hearts of the people of the state.

As for "Bil Arabi" Initiative, the Foundation adopted the initiative and launches it every year on the same day, the "Arabic Language Day" as set by the United Nations General Assembly on December 18 of each year.

The initiative is keen to celebrate Arabic language on its international day by encouraging using exclusively the Arabic language in all social media: Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram throughout the Arabic Language Day. It focuses on providing a variety of activities covering most of the digital media channels and social media, and spreading awareness of the beauty of the Arabic language and its treasures, which are linked to our heritage and authentic Arab history. ]]>
1/15/2019 1:32:05 PM
<![CDATA[Soldiers patrol Zimbabwe streets after deadly protests over economy]]>
Monday's unrest, during which several people died, followed sharp fuel price hikes decreed by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who impatient Zimbabweans accuse of failing to live up to pre-election promises to kick-start growth.

Mnangagwa, absent on an official visit in Moscow, has also promised a clean break from the oppressive regime of long-term leader Robert Mugabe, who he forced out in a de facto coup in November 2017.

The president said Zimbabwe might need Russia's help in modernizing its army and was interested in receiving Russian loans, RIA news agency reported.

In Harare and Zimbabwe's second city Bulawayo, witnesses said security forces were deploying to halt demonstrations, and many people in the capital said they could no longer access the Internet.

"We are suffering. Mnangagwa has failed this country. Enough is enough, we no longer want this," said protester Takura Gomba in Warren Park, a Harare township, as he and a group of others retreated when they saw soldiers approach in trucks.

A human rights lawyers' group said it had received reports of soldiers and police breaking into homes in townships overnight and assaulting suspected demonstrators.

Defence Forces spokesman Overson Mugwisi, police spokeswoman Charity Charamba said they could not immediately comment, as did the country's three mobile telecoms firms.

TEAR GAS

Mnangagwa - a one-time protege of Mugabe who served the post-independence leader as defence and state security minister - faces a daunting task in trying to resolve what is Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis in decade.

The decline has been marked by a severe shortage of dollars in circulation that - in an echo of the Mugabe era - has triggered a return to high inflation and shortages of fuel and drugs.

Following Monday's unrest, in which the government said several died and some 200 people were arrested, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions called for three days of stay-at-home protests.

But while shops and businesses remained shut in the capital and in Bulawayo and few residents ventured out, protesters were gathering again.

In Kuwadzana township on the outskirts of Harare, riot police deployed to block demonstrators from marching into town while an army helicopter circled overhead, firing tear gas to disperse them, witnesses told Reuters.

Many people in the capital said they could no longer access social media platforms, and suspected that authorities had blocked the Internet.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZHLR) said it had received distress calls from residents in Harare's Mabvuku and Chitungwiza who were forcibly taken from their homes on Monday and made to remove barricades from roads - a tactic used by Mugabe's security agents.

"Of concern is the involvement of soldiers in these illegal acts who are actively participating in the cruel and inhuman treatment of residents," ZLHR said in a statement.

A Bulawayo-based local journalist told Reuters that police had fired tear gas in the township of Cowdray Park on Tuesday, to stop protesters from looting some shops. Youths who blocked roads were demanding money from motorists to allow them to pass.

The government blamed the opposition and rights groups for Monday's violence.

On Tuesday, the Ministry of Information said it was looking for a man seen on videos posted on social media brandishing an assault rifle in Harare and giving orders to motorists.

"Where did he obtain the assault weapon ...He is suspected of shooting some innocent civilians," the ministry said.]]>
1/15/2019 1:28:02 PM
<![CDATA['Hug students' tragedy ends after officials seek reducing punishment]]>
Abdel Ghaffar said he will contact with the head of Dakahlia's Mansoura University and the dean of the university's Faculty of Law which Mahmoud, the freshman student, attends to reduce the punishment levied on the student on Monday.

Although the incident happened in the campus of Mansoura University, the girl was found to be belonging to an Islamic studies college of Al-Azhar University, which had worsened the matter. Al-Azhar is known to be sticking to religious instructions and eastern traditions which prohibit such behavior especially between unmarried couples in public places.

Initially, the girl was academically dismissed from her university, before Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb interfered to reduce the punishment.

On Monday, Tayeb called on the university's disciplinary council to rethink the punishment it earlier imposed on the girl, and to consider her young age. He also demanded the council to care for the future of the student and to prioritize advice and guidance over punishment.

The disciplinary council immediately modified the punishment, and decided to suspend the girl for only one semester. The council did not completely cancel the punishment of the girl, apparently, to prevent similar cases in the future.

The video of the two students hugging each other went viral on social media, and managed to draw wide controversy as such behavior is not familiar in many of the eastern countries, including Egypt. The video showed Mahmoud giving the girl a bunch of flowers and going down on one knee as if he was asking to marry her.

Mahmoud then hugged the girl inside the campus of his university, after she seemed to accept his offer.

“I did not know that the girl and I were filmed…I did not know that this incident will bring me troubles,” Mahmoud told Egypt Today.

Chairman of Al-Azhar University Mohammad al-Maharsawi said in a press statement that what the girl did undermined "the values of Al-Azhar, the community and the university."]]>
1/15/2019 1:22:37 PM
<![CDATA[China condemns Trudeau's remarks about Canadian's death sentence]]>
The two countries have been at odds since early December, when Canadian police arrested Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, on a U.S. extradition request as part of an investigation into suspected violations of U.S. trade sanctions.

Days later, China detained two Canadians on suspicion of endangering state security - former diplomat Michael Kovrig and business consultant Michael Spavor.

Monday's death sentence for Canadian Robert Schellenberg for smuggling 222 kg of methamphetamines has become the latest strain on ties.

China has not linked any of the three Canadians' cases to Meng's arrest but has warned of severe consequences if she was not immediately released.

Trudeau said it should be of "extreme concern" to Canada's friends and allies, as it was to Canada's government, that China had chosen to "arbitrarily apply" the death penalty.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, speaking at a regular news briefing, expressed "strong dissatisfaction" with the comments.

"The remarks by the relevant Canadian person lack the most basic awareness of the legal system," Hua said.

Taking Canada to task for issuing an updated travel advisory warning its citizens about the risk of arbitrary enforcement of laws in China, Hua said that Canada should instead remind its people to not engage in drug smuggling there.

"We urge the Canadian side to respect the rule of law, respect China's legal sovereignty, correct its mistakes, and stop making irresponsible remarks," Hua said.

Hours later, the ministry issued its own travel warning.

Citing the "arbitrary detention" of a Chinese national in Canada at the request of a "third-party country", it urged its citizens to "fully evaluate risks" and exercise caution when travelling there.

'NO NEW EVIDENCE'

Schellenberg had appealed against an original 15-year prison sentence issued in November, but the Dalian Intermediate People's Court in Liaoning province sided with prosecutors at the retrial that the punishment was too light.

A lawyer for Schellenberg, Zhang Dongshuo, said his client would appeal.

Zhang said there was insufficient evidence to prove Schellenberg was part of a drug syndicate, or that he was involved in the smuggling of methamphetamines.

Even if the court accepted all the charges, it should not have increased his sentence, given that facts the prosecution presented as new evidence had already been heard in court, Zhang told Reuters.

"Chinese law stipulates that during an appeal, only if new evidence is discovered and retried can there be an increase in the severity of a sentence," Zhang said.

Schellenberg was arrested in 2014.

State media has played up coverage of his case following the deterioration in relations with Canada. The court invited media to cover the retrial, and state television aired a five-minute segment on the proceedings.

Drug smuggling is routinely punished severely in China, and foreigners convicted of drug crimes have been executed before, including a Briton in 2009.

Schellenberg had faced a number of charges in Canada related to drug possession and drug trafficking, according to Canadian court records.

But international rights groups condemned Schellenberg's sentence, with some saying it was too severe and may have been politically motivated.

"China is going to face lots of questions about why this particular person, of this particular nationality, had to be retried at this particular time," Human Rights Watch's Washington-based China director Sophie Richardson told Reuters. ]]>
1/15/2019 1:00:04 PM
<![CDATA[Southern African regional bloc calls emergency Congo election meeting]]>
SADC called on Sunday for a recount but two key members of the regional bloc, South Africa and Zambia, backtracked on Monday and said they would not push for a recount.]]>
1/15/2019 12:56:28 PM
<![CDATA[Parl't approves establishing independent council for disabled Egyptians]]>
According to the draft law, the Disabilities Council is an independent body that aims to promote, develop and protect the rights of persons with disabilities and their constitutional dignity.

The council shall enjoy technical, financial and administrative independence in performing its activities, functions and competences.

Concerning administration, the council shall consist of a president, a vice-president and 17 members with disabilities in addition to public figures with experience.

The formation decree shall be issued by Egypt's president based on the decision of the majority of members of the Parliament within three months from the date of promulgation of the law.

The council's president, his deputy and other members are required to be Egyptians, who enjoy civil and political rights. They are also required to have already performed military service, or have been legally exempted.

All members shall be enjoying clear criminal records.

The council proposes the general policy of the state in the field of development, rehabilitation, integration and empowerment of persons with disabilities.

It should also coordinate with all ministries and concerned authorities in the state to implement the provisions of the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The council has to represent persons with disabilities, and it should be registered in the membership of forums, conferences and international organizations concerned with disability issues.

It is also in charge of receiving complaints about persons with disabilities and of adopting the policies, strategies, programs and projects necessary for community and health awareness to avoid disability.

The council shall hold a meeting at least every two months.

The council shall have an independent budget that includes its revenues and activities. The council's fiscal year shall begin and end in conjunction with the start and end of the state's fiscal year.

The disabilities independent body will be exempted from judicial fees for proceedings before the courts of all types and degrees.

The council shall prepare an annual report on the situation of the rights of persons with disabilities, and submit this report to the Egyptian president, the Parliament, and the Cabinet.

The president of the council, his deputy, members and employees shall be subject to Law No. 62 of 1975 in respect of illicit gains.

In December, Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi allocated LE 80 million ($4.46 million) of the Tahya Misr Fund in support of people with special needs.

The president made the announcement while attending a celebration marking the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. "People with special needs in Egypt represent 9-10 percent of the total population", Sisi said.

In July 2018, President Sisi announced establishing a technical center for services for disabled persons, to be the first of its kind in Africa. The center will enable people with hearing or speech related disability to use technology to communicate through mobile phones.

During the inauguration of the seventh International Conference on Information Technology Convergence and Services for People with Disabilities (ICT4PwDs), Sisi also announced establishing an initiative that aims to enable disabled people to get services and information introduced by online websites of governmental institutions.

Eight Articles of the 2014 constitution directly and indirectly address the rights of individuals living with all forms of special needs in Egypt. Moreover, Law No. 10 of 2018, which was issued by Egyptian President Sisi and approved by the Egyptian Parliament, also furthered the rights of individuals with special needs.

Law No. 10 cemented the government’s commitment towards people living with disabilities, stipulating that they should not be discriminated against as a result of their condition, that they should have dull human rights, like any other individual who is not living with a disability, and that they have the right to make their own decisions and express themselves in whichever way they see fit. It also mentioned that those who are living with special needs have the right to education, work and public facilities/services, like everyone else.

Most importantly, Law No. 10 of 2018 pointed out that there is a need to ensure access to all public facilities and services, including the fitting of ramps, among other things.

Moreover, Article 10 of the Rehabilitation Act No. 39 of 1975, amended by Law No. 49 of 1981, states, “Five percent of the total number of employees in each unit of the state administration body, public bodies and public sector shall be allocated for disabled recipients of rehabilitation certificates, and these units fulfill the percentage referred to using the disabled residents living within their circles and registered in the related manpower offices."

Children are especially looked after in Egypt, with Article 80 of the Egyptian Constitution of 2014, stating, “The state shall ensure the rights of children with disabilities, their rehabilitation and their integration in the society."

Egyptian President Sisi directed to dedicate 2018 to people with special needs as they represent a potential power in the Egyptian society that needs care and support.

Thus, governmental and regional organizations seek to hold various partnerships with different civil society organizations to improve the conditions of people with special needs.


Additional reporting by Lolwa Reda
]]>
1/15/2019 12:45:52 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi's visit has important indications after Pompeo's Mideast tour: Jordanian Parl't]]>CAIRO – 14 January 2019: Mahmoud al-Kharabsheh, head of Jordanian Parliament's defense and national security committee, welcomed Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's visit to Jordan, considering it as very important at this particular time.

In an interview with DMC's "al-Youm" program on Sunday, Kharabsheh said that Egypt and Jordan play a pivotal regional role to face various challenges and dangers the region witnesses. He added that Sisi's visit has important indications as it comes following the visit of Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, to some Middle East countries, including Jordan and Egypt.

Kharabshed also pointed out to the importance of this visit to discuss the situation in Syria, Yemen and Libya, as well as to exchange views between the two countries and enhance bilateral relations in various political, economic and social fields.

He said that there are cooperative relations between the two countries at various levels, especially the cooperation and exchange of expertise between the Egyptian and Jordanian armed forces in light of the sufficient experience both armies have in fighting terrorism.

President Sisi held an official visit to Jordan on Sunday during which he held talks with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

During the visit, the two sides discussed ways to enhance Egyptian-Jordanian relations in various fields and also reviewed the latest developments in regional issues, especially the Palestinian cause.

The Egyptian president and King Abdullah II of Jordan met numerous times since the former took post as president in 2014. Most of the visits were focused on discussing the Palestinian cause and other regional issues.

The first meeting was held on June 8, 2014 during the inaugural of Sisi at al-Itthadia Presidential Palace in the presence of a number states' leaders. The second meeting was in November of the same year during an official visit of the king to Egypt.

The third meeting was held in December 2014 in the Hashemite capital, Amman, to be the first visit of Sisi to Jordan as president.

During Sisi's second year as president, he continued his intensive efforts to enhance bilateral relations between Egypt and Jordan in various political and economic fields and in consultation on various regional and Arab issues, as evidenced by the increasing number of meetings between leaders of the two countries and mutual visits.

On February 26, 2015, Sisi received his Jordanian counterpart during the king's official visit to Egypt to develop relations and promote joint cooperation between the two countries.

In March, King Abdullah II arrived in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh on the sidelines of Egypt Economic Development Conference.

Sisi visited Jordan on May 23 to participate in the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa. He discussed with the Jordanian king coordination in the fight against terrorism. In August, they concluded their meetings in 2015, when King Abdullah II visited Egypt on the sidelines of the opening of the new Suez Canal.

Despite the success of the Egyptian diplomacy in consolidating relations with the Jordanian side, 2016 saw one meeting between the leaders of the two countries. The meeting was in August during the king's official visit to Egypt; it focused on consultation on international issues of common concern.

In 2017, Sisi and the Jordanian monarch held three meetings; the first during a bilateral summit held in Egypt on February 21 to discuss the Arabic stance after US President Donald Trump announced relocating the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the second was on March 29 on the sidelines of the 28th session of the Arab summit held at the Dead Sea.

The third meeting was held on May 17 during an official visit of the king to Egypt. During the meeting, the two leaders discussed the latest developments in Syria and Palestine and efforts to combat terrorism.

The first meeting in 2018 was on May 23, when Sisi received the king of Jordan to review efforts to reach a political settlement to the Palestinian cause.
]]>
1/14/2019 1:48:00 PM
<![CDATA[Shoukry heads to New York for G77 chairmanship handover]]>
Palestine formally assumed the chairmanship for the year 2019, following Egypt, which chaired the group for 2018.

During the session set to be held on Jan.15, Shoukry is expected to give an opening speech, in the presence of President Abbas, President of the United Nations General Assembly for the 73rd session María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés and Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterich.

Ahmed Hafez, Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said that Egypt’s heading of the group for the third time last year came as an extension of Egypt’s pioneering role among developing countries, and its belief in the values upon which the group is based.

“The group is the largest negotiating forum of developing countries within the United Nations, aimed at enhancing the economic and developmental interests of these countries,” added Hafez.

Egypt has led the the group for three non-consecutive periods during the years:1972, 1984 and 2018.

During its charimanship, Egypt defended interests of developing states per its needs and priorities in different economic, social and environmental fields to advance the aspirations of the states of the group and achieve a more just and representative international order, especially in light of the reform phase of the United Nations, said the spokesperson in an official statement Sunday, Jan. 13.

The spokesperson concluded his statement, saying that the foreign minister will hold bilateral meetings with a number of senior UN officials during his visit to New York.

The name “The Group of 77 and China” came as the group was initially formed by 77 founding members of the UN organization in 1964, while China participates but is not a member. The number of the participating member states has expanded to 134 members by November 2013. they convened for the first time in Algiers in October 1967. The G77/China members increased to 134 countries; but the original name remains for its historic significance. The coalition aims to promote its members’ collective economic interests.

Egypt could help achieve the interests of the Arab group in bringing about sustainable development and ensuring food, water and energy security, in addition to combating poverty, the statement read.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Shoukry, stressed earlier that Egypt’s presidency over the G-77/China will increase the importance of Cairo’s roll in adopting a unified stance of the developing states on the issues of climate change and the UN’s development and administrative reform pathways. ]]>
1/14/2019 1:12:06 PM
<![CDATA[British PM Theresa May makes last-ditch appeal to save Brexit deal]]>
May, who postponed a vote in parliament on her deal in December after admitting she was set to lose it, said lawmakers must not let down the people who backed Brexit in a June 2016 referendum.

“Doing so would be a catastrophic and unforgivable breach of trust in our democracy,” she wrote in the Sunday Express.

“So my message to Parliament this weekend is simple: it is time to forget the games and do what is right for our country.”

May has so far refused to retreat from her unpopular deal, which envisages close trading ties with the EU, but without any say on policy as Britain has now. The vexed Brexit issue represents Britain’s biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years.

May’s deal has come under fire from all sides with opponents of the EU seeking a cleaner break and many pro-Europeans pressing for a second referendum. It is expected to suffer a big defeat when parliament votes on Tuesday.

Brexit minister Stephen Barclay told BBC TV that persuading enough lawmakers to support the deal would be “challenging” but that, even if it was rejected, he suspected parliament would ultimately support something “along the lines of this deal”.

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said leaving the EU without a deal would be catastrophic and his party would do everything it could to prevent that outcome.

However, Corbyn’s priority is to force a national election and he said he would propose a vote of confidence in the government “soon” if May loses on Tuesday.

The Observer newspaper reported that military planners had been sent into several government departments to help with preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Parliament flexes muscles

After a week in which parliament forced the government to promise to come back with a ‘plan B’ within days if May’s deal is rejected, Barclay said the risk of parliament acting in a way that frustrates Brexit had increased.

In a speech on Monday, May will say she believes that lawmakers blocking Brexit is now a more likely outcome than Britain leaving the EU without a deal.

The Sunday Times reported that rebel lawmakers were planning to wrest control of the legislative agenda away from May next week with a view to suspending or delaying Brexit, citing a senior government source.

Vince Cable, the leader of the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, said parliament would act to prevent a no-deal Brexit, and could ultimately seek to prevent Brexit altogether.

“I think parliament will take control of this process, will insist that we pursue the option of no Brexit,” he told BBC TV.

Cable said this could be done by revoking Article 50, the mechanism that triggered the exit process, or by holding a second referendum.

Former Conservative prime minister John Major wrote in the Sunday Times that the government itself should revoke Article 50 and ask parliament to consult on the options before calling another referendum.

Asked about the prospect of another referendum, Labour leader Corbyn told BBC TV:

“My own view is that I would rather get a negotiated deal now, if we can, to stop the danger of a no-deal exit from the EU on the 29th of March which would be catastrophic for industry, catastrophic for trade.”

Corbyn said that, if he forced a national election and his party won, Brexit might have to be delayed while they negotiated a new deal with the EU.

“An election would take place, what, February-March time? Clearly there is only a few weeks then between that and the leave date, there would have to be a time for those negotiations.”]]>
1/14/2019 12:00:30 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi starts periodical meetings with governors]]>
Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Rady told press that the president will hold meetings with governors periodically throughout this year to follow up on the implementation of development plans, and services offered to the citizens.

Those meetings will also create an opportunity for direct communication with the central executive bodies to shed light on challenges, eliminate obstacles, and reinforce societal participation in the decision-making process.

Zamalout presented the main achievements that took place in the governorate since 2014 in the sectors of infrastructure and education. A university was built, while 253 schools were renovated to reduce the classrooms crowdedness to 30 students maximum.

A big number of residential units, water plants, wastewater projects, power stations, and wheat storage tanks were accomplished. Livestock production facilities were built, and the dates production complex was renovated.

Support was granted to small and medium enterprises, and an Investors Service Center was established.

Zamalout also put forward some proposals to develop the governorate, including the renovation of roads and railways, the investment of state-owned lands and old buildings, the modernization of health units in villages and increasing the number of doctors, the maximization of agricultural lands' productivity, particularly lands cultivated with wheat, the establishment of solar plants, and the usage of sand in certain industries.

The president directed ministries to study the proposals, and said that investment opportunities in the New Valley are becoming promising in light of the development in the national roads network better connecting all governorates together.

The president also stressed the importance to develop agriculture and livestock production in the governorate, and preserve the high-quality of dates produced. Egypt is the largest producer of dates worldwide.

The president ordered the establishment of a mechanized complex encompassing branches of all governmental agencies and authorities; clearing encroachments on state-owned lands and legalizing the status of some beneficiaries; switching to solar energy to operate underground water wells which would save water in the irrigation process; and creating incentives for physicians to work in remote governorates.
]]>
1/13/2019 6:39:18 PM
<![CDATA['Returnees From Libya' retrial to resume Feb. 15]]>
The first verdicts were delivered in 2016 as two were cleared, and the others got death and life sentences. The first session of the retrial was held on January 8 before Cairo Criminal Court as their appeal was allowed in October. The second session of the retrial took place on Saturday.

Sixteen men were arrested in Saloum Border Crossing with Libya. The arraignment includes affiliation with an outlawed group that calls for the suspension of the constitution and undermines state institutions, using terrorism to achieve those goals. The Public Prosecution referred them to the court in February 2015.

The defendants are also accused of providing funding for the outlawed group despite of their knowledge of its terrorist mechanisms, and of committing violence and terrorist attacks on foreign territories.

The evidence obtained in legal proceedings includes 1,326 bullets of different types, 17 firearm magazines, and six machine guns found in their headquarters in Al-Qanater, Greater Cairo.
]]>
1/13/2019 4:10:26 PM
<![CDATA[Expats' voting in vacant parliamentary seats runoff concluded]]>
The National Elections Commission received a letter from the House of Representatives on October 3, reporting the existence of three vacant seats, after three MPs of different constituencies passed away.

In Fayoum's Tameya, the runoff is held between Mohamed Abdel Tawab who amassed 23,886 votes, and Mahmoud Fakhr el-Din known as Bassam al-Sawaf who could gather 14,378 votes, the NEC headed by Lashin Ebrahim reported, saying that the total number of electorate of the constituency amounted to 240,780 people, while the actual number of voters in the first round of this election amounted to 78,166 people.

Meanwhile in Gharbia's Zefta, the runoff is held between Ahmed Fouda, and Ahmed Al-Gahsh who amassed 19,374 and 17,068 votes respectively, according to the commission. The electorate of the constituency amounted to 346,892 people, and only 17.36 percent of them participated in the complementary election's first round.

Regarding Arish constituency, Mohamed al-Gaghna and Amin Gouda who amassed 5,070 and 5,913 votes respectively compete in the runoff, the commission announced. The electorate of the constituency amounted to 115,380 people. However, the turnout of the first round recorded only 16.05 percent.

The current Parliament is set to end its mission in 2020, following the end of its five-year term.

Moreover, the awaited municipal councils' election is expected to be held in the last quarter of 2019, after carrying out standard procedures to approve the local administration law.
]]>
1/13/2019 2:46:01 PM
<![CDATA[Shokry, Greek deputy FM discuss Nostos 3, AU-EU summit ]]>
The talks covered preparations to hold Nostos 3 that will take place in Australia under the patronage of the Egyptian, Greek, and Cypriot heads of states.

Both officials tackled the African Union (AU) - European Union (EU) ministerial meeting that will be held in Brussels on January 21 and 22 as Egypt chairs the AU in 2019.

Nostos 1 and 2 took place in Alexandria and London respectively. The latter included a conference bringing together the physicians of Egyptian, Greek, and Cypriot origins.

The Nostos initiative comes as a part of the diaspora program signed between Egypt, Cyprus and Greece, which aims to gather Cypriots and Greeks or their descendants in Alexandria for a return trip to the place where they or their ancestors once lived.

Signing this program is considered by many to be a historic moment for the three countries, since it was the first time that cooperation on diaspora was achieved and also the first time that the three countries decided on a common strategy and joint actions.


The protocol of cooperation between the three countries for the diaspora program was signed in December 2017 at the presidential palace in Nicosia, Cyprus and hosted by Commissioner for Humanitarian Affairs and Overseas Affairs Fotis Fotiou.

The diaspora program and its subsidiary Nostos initiative will be one of the most useful tools in developing diaspora tourism in Egypt and adequately boosting the struggling tourism sector in Egypt.
]]>
1/12/2019 2:43:08 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt denies social ‘rumors’ amid economic austerity measures]]>
Under the name of “fake news and rumors,” the cabinet issued a statement on Friday, denying social media reports, “claiming” that the government will increase the electricity consumption prices, the latest subsidies on fuel “this January.”

“No new decision were taken to increase the electricity-consumption prices. The current applicable prices were not changed since the latest increase applied in June 2018,” the cabinet’s statement read.

The cabinet added that the government has taken a 8-year plan to remove the subsidies on the electricity consumption gradually to “ease burdens on citizens’ shoulders.”

In August 2018, the Ministry of Electricity issued a statement saying that the new increase of the electricity prices would be applied in June 2019.

Since 2016, Egypt has taken austerity measures and gradually removed the governmental subsidies on many factors including, electricity, fuel, and social supplies to meet the IMF conditions. It was scheduled that Egypt will receive the fifth tranches of IMF loan ($2 billion) mid January, increasing the total amount money taken from the fund to $10 billion.

Recently, users on social media posted tweets of pro-Muslim Brotherhood, the outlawed group, criticizing the government’s reform program.





“No privatization of national reserves”

In another statement issued by the Cabinet, the government denied “claims” of privatization of a number of national reserves, saying “the national reserves are a public properties protected by the constitution and shall not be sold or owned by all means.”

Some media outlets reported that the government has denied such “rumors” after users of social media posted on “privatization of national reserves”.

In August 2018 at the sidelines of the Annual meetings of the African Caucus for the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad announced that the government will offer a total of 30 national reserves for foreign investors in an usufructuary way.


‘Stolen exhibits?!’

The cabinet, after contacting with the Ministry of Environment, refuted “claims” that some exhibits of dinosaur and whales fossils “were stolen from Museums affiliated to the Ministry of Environment,” adding that “such claims are groundless.”

Former employee at the Ministry of Environment has published a post on his unverified Facebook account, saying that a legal case were filed against stealing fossils of distinected whales and dinosaurs from the Ministry of Environment museums, calling for opening an investigation into such claims.




‘No dismissal of public servants’

In a third denial statement, the government said that the newly-drafted Labor Law will not cause firing public servants from their posts.

“Any public servant will not and shall not be dismissed from his post in accordance with the new Labor Law,” the statement said, adding that the new bill aims at protecting the public servants’ social and financial rights.

Pro-Muslim Brotherhood media outlet, al-Araby, wrote an article on January 5 about the new Labor Law, which is being considered at the House of Representatives, stipulates that labor strikes would be banned and public servants could face forced dismissal.


‘No Valsartan-containing medicines in pharmacies anymore’

Moreover, Egypt’s Ministry of Health denied media reports claiming that high blood pressure medicines containing Valsartan substance that causes cancers are still being sold in pharmacies.

The Ministry added in its statement that medicines containing Valsartan is not sold anymore since recalling 14 medicines with such substances in July 2018.
]]>
1/12/2019 1:44:59 PM
<![CDATA[Disagreements over upcoming Journalists Syndicate elections]]>
According to Article 37 of law no. 76/1970 on Journalists Syndicate establishment, the main requirements to stand for elections include:

The board consists of the chairperson and 12 members. Half of those must be journalists whose registration in the syndicate has not surpassed 15 years.

Any candidates for chairperson and board membership must be members of the Arab Socialist Union for at least 10 years, and who have not been subject to disciplinary action in the past three years.

The Arab Socialist Union was a political party founded by late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1962, and was dissolved in late 1980s under former President Hosni Mubarak. Thus, that article of the law has not been put into effect when holding elections, and there are calls to annul it.

Disagreements

Journalists Syndicate Secretary General Hatem Zakaria stated that the elections may include the whole board seats as well. That has stirred debate as such measure is not supported by law.

Hatem Zakaria
FILE - Journalists Syndicate Secretary General Hatem Zakaria

A number of legal experts said that such decision will be valid, if the other six board members agree to resign. Applications submission will start on February 9.

Zakaria argues that such decision would inhibit any attempts to appeal the results of elections, and that risking of having neither a chairperson nor a board for a while. That is because some are appealing the syndicate’s law on midterm elections and calling for a general election.

The current chairman is Abdel Mohsen Salama who was elected in 2017. Salam chairs the state-owned Al Ahram Organization. ]]>
1/12/2019 12:50:24 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi teen to depart Thailand for Canada asylum: Thai immigration chief]]>
Rahaf Mohammed al-Qunun, 18, will board a Korean Air flight from Bangkok to Seoul on Friday night, immigration chief Surachate Hakpark said, before boarding a connecting flight to Canada.

“Canada has granted her asylum,” Surachate told Reuters. “She’ll leave tonight at 11.15 p.m.”

Canadian authorities said they could not confirm that Qunun had been granted asylum in Canada.

“We have nothing new to add on this right now,” a spokesman for Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said.

Qunun arrived in Bangkok on Saturday and was initially denied entry but after a tense 48-hour stand-off at Bangkok airport, some of it barricaded in a transit lounge hotel room, she was allowed to enter the country and has been processed as a refugee by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Qunun has accused her family of abuse, and has refused to meet her father and brother who arrived in Bangkok to try take her back to Saudi Arabia.

Her case has drawn global attention to Saudi Arabia’s strict social rules, including a requirement that women have the permission of a male “guardian” to travel, which rights groups say can trap women and girls as prisoners of abusive families.

Qunun’s plight has emerged at a time when Riyadh is facing unusually intense scrutiny from its Western allies over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Instanbul in October and over the humanitarian consequences of its war in Yemen.

Australia had said on Wednesday that it was considering taking in Qunun.]]>
1/11/2019 6:40:48 PM
<![CDATA[U.S.-led coalition says it has started Syria withdrawal]]>
U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement last month that he had decided to withdraw 2,000 U.S. troops stunned allies that have joined Washington in the battle against Islamic State in Syria. Senior U.S. officials were shocked too, among them Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who quit in protest.

The coalition “has begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria. Out of concern for operational security, we will not discuss specific timelines, locations or troop movements,” Colonel Sean Ryan said.

Russia, which has deployed forces into Syria in support of the Damascus government, said it had the impression that the United States wanted to stay despite the announced withdrawal of U.S. troops, RIA news agency reported.

Residents near border crossings that are typically used by U.S. forces going in and out of Syria from Iraq said they had seen no obvious or large-scale movement of U.S. ground forces on Friday.

The U.S. decision has injected new uncertainties into the eight-year long Syrian war and a flurry of contacts over how a resulting security vacuum will be filled across a swathe of northern and eastern Syria where the U.S. forces are stationed.

On the one hand, Turkey aims to pursue a campaign against Kurdish forces that have allied with the United States, and on the other the Russia and Iran-backed Syrian government sees the chance to recover a huge chunk of territory.

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton suggested on Tuesday that protecting Washington’s Kurdish allies would be a pre-condition of the U.S. withdrawal. That drew a rebuke from Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan who called his comments “a serious mistake”.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who has been touring the Middle East this week to reassure allies of Washington’s commitment to regional security, said on Thursday the withdrawal would not be scuppered despite the Turkish threats.

The Kurdish groups that control the north have turned to Moscow and Damascus in the hope of striking a political deal that will stave off Turkey and shield their autonomy in the north.

RUSSIA URGES DAMASCUS-KURDISH DIALOGUE

Maria Zakharova, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, said it was important for Syrian Kurds and the Syrian government to start talking to each other in light of the U.S. withdrawal plans.

She also said the territory previously controlled by the United States should be transferred to the Syrian government.

“In this regard, establishing dialogue between the Kurds and Damascus takes on particular significance. After all, the Kurds are an integral part of Syrian society,” Zakharova said.

Turkey views the U.S.-backed YPG Syrian Kurdish militia as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has waged a 34-year insurgency in Turkey for Kurdish political and cultural rights, mostly in southeastern areas near Syria.

A Kurdish politician told Reuters last week the Kurds had presented Moscow with a road-map for a deal with Damascus. Syria’s deputy foreign minister said on Wednesday he was optimistic about renewed dialogue with the Kurds.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian of France, which is part of the U.S.-led coalition, welcomed what he believed was a slower withdrawal by the U.S after pressure from its allies.

“President Macron spoke to him (Trump) several times and it seems that there has been a change that I think is positive,” he said in a television interview on Thursday.

In a rare acknowledgment that French troops were also in Syria, he said they would leave when there is a political solution in the country.
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1/11/2019 6:36:20 PM
<![CDATA[Palestinian hero lasts 37 year in Israeli jail]]>CAIRO – 11 January 2018: The Palestinian prisoner Karim Younis has been in jail for 37 years. He is the oldest prisoner in all the occupied jails across world.

Younis was arrestedon January, 6, 1983, and sentenced to life imprisonment for an open period; his sentence was later amended to be 40 years.

Although he was supposed to be set free, as per a signed agreement between Mahmoud Abbass the Israeli government in 2013, he is still in prison.The agreement guarantees the release of all the old captive Palestinians that are arrested before Oslo agreement.

However, the occupied government refuses to implement the Articles of the agreement. Therefore, what is known as the fourth generation, which includes 30 prisoners—14 of them are Palestinians—are still in captive.

Karim Younis is born in December 24, 1956 in Palestine specifically in the village of Aara where he received his elementary education stage. Then, he studied at Salesian School during his high school stage before he joined Faculty of Engineering at Ben-Gurion University.

In January 6, 1983, when Younis was attending one of his lectures at the university; he was suddenly arrested for no obvious reasons.

Later on, he was charged with possessing illegal weapons and smuggling them to the Palestinian army, belonging to a banned organization (Fatah), and killing an Israeli soldier.

Since that day, Younis is still in detention where he is currently considered the oldest Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jails and detention centers and the oldest prisoner worldwide.

Yet his cultural and awareness role never cut off, he continued his studies inside jail until he becomes the supervisor on the educational process to prisoners.

In jail, Younis wrote two books: “the Political Reality in Israel” 1990 where he recounts all the merits and demerits of the Israeli political parties and the other book entitled “the Ideological Struggle and Settlement” 1993.

Karim Younis is a Palestinian prisoner of Arab 48 who is widely distinguished in the Arab world in general and the Palestinian people in particular for his honored role in combating occupation and patriotic role in the Arab-Israeli struggle.



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1/11/2019 1:45:55 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament is biased to people’s will … Egypt is looking to find truth in Regini case: Par. Spox]]>
Hasb-Allah revealed that the legislative achievements of the parliament and its role in backing government facing all plots the government and Parliament undergo.

Ali Abdel Aal, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, also displayed the effective role of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to manage all obstacles and barricades regarding the regional and international issues.

The press conference included the discussion of several axes, most prominently the rejection of reconciliation with Brotherhood and carrying over the Transitional Justice project.

“We postpone carrying out the Transitional Justice Project, which meets the needs of citizens,” Abdel Aal stated, adding, “ If you make a survey asking people about their opinions in the Transitional Justice Project and find five citizens who know about it, I will place it immediately on top of my priority list.”

“There are other draft laws that are much more significant to be discussed and carried out than the Transitional Justice Project that aims at reconcile with the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood,” he assured.

Parliament has postponed because the Egyptian people reject a reconciliation with the brotherhood. “No one owns the right to speak for the Egyptians we are all serving their needs,” Abdel Aal said.

“This terrorist entity does its best to undermine Egypt and to breakdown social, economic and political reform,” Abdel Aal reported.

Concerning amending constitution, Adel Aal assured, “We receive no request to amend constitution,” adding that in case of receiving such request, they will discuss it within the set criteria.

Abdel Aal further stated, “Constitution is set by the Egyptians and it is owned by the Egyptians and no one can amend it without the consent of the Egyptian people.”

Regarding Regini’s case Abdel Aal said, “We want to find out the truth not to invent it; assuring we investigate in this case coordinating with the Italian police.”

“Regini’s Case is under the political leaders and the Egyptian Parliament spot to find out the murder circumstances. We have to set it clear; there is no hidden evidence we investigate it and we will reveal all details at the suitable time.” Abdel Aal reported.

Adding, “The Egyptian-Italian relationship is deep and coherent; assuring communication between the Italian Parliament and it Egyptian Peer is persistent. We are going to meet soon.”

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1/10/2019 6:37:29 PM
<![CDATA[Austria cooperates with Egypt in all fields: Austrian FM]]>
Kneissl assured in a statement on January 8 that Austria is keen on supporting and rescuing the Syrian and Yemeni peoples and providing war victims with the needed healthcare.

The Austrian diplomat referred that the United Nations celebrates its 40th anniversary since its foundation in 1979, stating that this ceremony is important as it reflects the significant role the international organizations play in promoting sustainable development and supporting social initiatives related to family and healthcare.

Also, Kneissl tackled the Brexit issue, stressing that Austrians will no longer be able to enter England without a visa and the British people who have settled in Austria will have to depart.

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1/10/2019 5:42:19 PM
<![CDATA[Protocol signed to set up postal services kiosks in railway stations]]>
The signing ceremony between Head of the Railway Authority Ashraf Raslan and Egypt Post's Board Chairman Essam al-Saghir was attended by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Minister of Transport Hisham Arafat and Minister of Communication Amr Talaat.

Arafat stressed that the protocol is part of the government's plan to achieve the financial inclusion, to book the train tickets by mobile phones and to provide modern postal services.

Meanwhile, Talaat referred that the National Postal Authority cooperates with National Railway Authority under the protocol to launch an IPOST service, which is a parcel delivery service provided online, through setting up kiosks in the rail stations.

Egypt’s railway launched a new application to book train tickets by mobile phones in Egypt’s Delta, Head of Egypt’s railway, Raslan, told Egypt Today on Aug. 15, 2018.

Raslan added that the application aims to facilitate Egyptians' access to tickets, pointing out that the commission is seeking to launch the same service through the internet.

Chairman and CEO of Transport Information Technology Company Khaled Attia added that this application will launch in another governorate in the coming period, specifically in early October.

Attia confirmed that the application will not cancel ticket windows in stations. In Aug. 7, 2018, Prime Minister Madbouly signed a supply and maintenance contract with Austria’s Plasser & Theurer Company to provide Egypt with a Track Recording Car EM100U to measure and analyze defects in Egypt’s railway system and upgrade it.

In July 2017, ENR signed a $575 million deal with U.S.-based General Electric to supply 100 new locomotives for both passengers and freight rail services and refurbish 81 old engines. The deal includes a 15-year technical support agreement and technical training program for more than 275 engineers and technicians to improve their capabilities and technical skills.

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1/10/2019 5:36:35 PM
<![CDATA[Pompeo, Sisi discuss Palestinian cause, regional developments]]>
During his visit, he met with Egypt's President, Foreign Minister, and Intelligence Chief, where they discussed recent regional developments including the future of the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

During his meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, Pompeo stressed the US keenness to strengthen strategic relations with Egypt, as well as to enhance coordination on Middle East issues, Presidency spokesman Bassam Radi said.


Concerning counter-terrorism efforts, Pompeo praised Egypt's decisive efforts in fighting terrorism, expressing his country's support of these efforts, Radi said. He also affirmed that Egypt is a central partner in confronting the cross-border terrorism.

Pompeo congratulated Egypt for opening on Sunday the capacious mosque of Al-Fatah al-Alim, and the Middle East's largest Cathedral of Nativity, both in the New Administrative Capital, east of Cairo, Radi said.

The US minister also praised Egypt's President's efforts in achieving sustainable and comprehensive development in the country, which are reflected in the developmental progress Egypt currently witnesses, Radi added.

For his part, President Sisi stressed Egypt's keenness to strengthen bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership between the two countries, according to Radi. He also expressed aspiration to enhance coordination with the United States on various political and security issues of mutual concern.

Sisi affirmed the determination of the Egyptian government and people to continue their efforts to combat terrorism and eliminate the security and intellectual threats it poses. He stressed the importance of continuing coordination with the United States to support Egypt's counter-terrorism efforts, Radi said.

The meeting between Pompeo and Sisi discussed a number of regional issues, especially developments in Libya, Syria and Yemen, and the efforts to reach a political settlement to these crises, Radi continued.

The two officials also reviewed the latest updates of the Palestinian issue and means to revive peace process. In this regard, Sisi affirmed Egypt's firm stance represented in seeking a just and comprehensive solution that guarantees the rights of the Palestinian people, and establishes an independent state according to the international references.

Sisi expressed Egypt's keenness to cooperate with the United States to push forward the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.

Pompeo, Shoukry affirm profound relations between two states

CAIRO - 10 January 2019: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo affirmed on Thursday profound relations between Egypt and the US amid cooperation in many fields, including transportation and energy.


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1/10/2019 4:59:48 PM
<![CDATA[We will continue to work with our allies in the Middle East to defeat Isis: Pompeo]]>
“We will continue to work with our allies in the Middle East to defeat Isis," Pompeo declared, adding, "we will support Cairo in its war against ISIS in Sinai and Arab states, especially Yemen and Libya."

“The U.S. will also be a supporting power to its allies … You cannot say the same for the Russians, Iranians, or Chinese … When our role ends in the Middle East we leave because we are not here to conquer,” Pompeo further added.




Starting off his speech, Pompeo started off his speech by saying that this is the best place that he could give his speech in.

“The decisions we take today will have a significant impact on future generations, and there is no better place for me to give my speech that right here, in the American University in the beautiful Cairo,” said Pompeo.

Pompeo went on to thank Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for his remarkable efforts and Egypt’s significant efforts in the global fights against terrorism.

“President Sisi has stood beside us in the fight against terrorism; we must salute him for his courageous stance,” said the U.S. Secretary of State during his speech.

Pompeo then went on to explain that the wrong decisions that were once taken by the United States will no longer be taken, as the U.S. now has a strong leadership that has a unique vision.

“Look at what we have accomplished under a new and real leadership,” Pompeo said, “This is a new beginning to end terrorism.”

Pompeo also explained that the U.S. sees Iran as the real enemy.

Pompeo arrived in Cairo on Wednesday evening as part of his eight-country Mideast tour that started with Jordan. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received the US official earlier at the presidential palace.

US Secretary of State Pompeo said "the US-Egypt relationship is one of our deepest and broadest partnerships in the region."

Pompeo tweeted that it is "wonderful to be in Cairo", adding that he is looking forward to a good visit.


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1/10/2019 4:51:47 PM
<![CDATA[Pompeo's Speech in AUC: On allies, enemies and terrorism]]>



Starting off his speech, Pompeo started off his speech by saying that this is the best place that he could give his speech in.

“The decisions we take today will have a significant impact on future generations, and there is no better place for me to give my speech that right here, in the American University in the beautiful Cairo,” said Pompeo.

Pompeo went on to thank Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for his remarkable efforts and Egypt’s significant efforts in the global fights against terrorism.

“President Sisi has stood beside us in the fight against terrorism; we must salute him for his courageous stance,” said the U.S. Secretary of State during his speech.

Pompeo then went on to explain that the wrong decisions that were once taken by the United States will no longer be taken, as the U.S. now has a strong leadership that has a unique vision.

“Look at what we have accomplished under a new and real leadership,” Pompeo said, “This is a new beginning to end terrorism.”

“We will continue to work with our allies in the Middle East to defeat Isis and we will support Cairo in its war against ISIS in Sinai and Arab states, especially Yemen and Libya,” Pompeo declared.

“The U.S. will also be a supporting power to its allies … You cannot say the same for the Russians, Iranians, or Chinese … When our role ends in the Middle East we leave because we are not here to conquer,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo also explained that the U.S. sees Iran as the real enemy.

Pompeo arrived in Cairo on Wednesday evening as part of his eight-country Mideast tour that started with Jordan. Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received the US official earlier at the presidential palace.

US Secretary of State Pompeo said "the US-Egypt relationship is one of our deepest and broadest partnerships in the region."

Pompeo tweeted that it is "wonderful to be in Cairo", adding that he is looking forward to a good visit.


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1/10/2019 4:47:12 PM