<![CDATA[rss-Politics]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Politics]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[‘Egypt Can by Education’ comes up with 13 recommendations ]]>
1) Seek the help of expert participants in the event to evaluate educational establishments, curricula and teaching methods, and put a strategy to develop the education system to match international criteria.

2) Put more emphasis on technical education in schools and universities, and allow its graduates to obtain higher degrees after acquiring years of experience.

3) Promote English language learning.

4) Study market needs in Egypt and the region to produce qualified graduates and eliminate unemployment.

5) Benefit from the Red Sea governorate’s experience in securing free school meals as it linked families and schools, and decreased dropouts.

6) Promote discipline and values through art.

7) Give incentives to investors to establish technical education centers, and take part in the dual technical education system developed by the Ministry of Education for students to work while studying which improves their qualifications.

8) Promote extracurricular activities.

9) Develop learning mechanisms that meet the needs of the disabled students.

10) Seek the cooperation by expert expats to teach the families and friends of disabled students how to deal with them.

11) Encourage foreign universities and educational establishments to operate branches in Egypt and offer degrees in lower fees to boost competitiveness among educational entities in Egypt.

12) Encourage entrepreneurship and teach youth how to turn their innovative ideas into successful businesses.

13) Use digital alternatives for professional development and teacher training programs. That is part of the National Strategy for Education Development

“Ask the Experts”

The panelists were Secretary General of the Advisory Council of Egypt’s Scientists and Experts Mervat el-Dib, Hesham al-Askary, Mansour al-Matbouli, Hany al-Kateb, and Mohamed Mahmoud Ibrahim.

Askary is professor and director of Computational and Data Science Graduate Programs at California’s Chapman University. He has expertise in Global Climate Change; Earth Systems; Remote Sensing; Aerosols; Natural Disasters; Marine Habitats. Askary co-developed Egypt’s first Dynamical Solar Atlas that serves to maximize benefit solar energy.

Matbouli is professor at Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public a Health, Clinical Division of Fish Medicine at University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna.

Kateb is a forest biometrician who is member of the Presidential Advisory Council of Egypt’s Scientists and Experts, senior scientist at Germany’s Technische Universität München (TUM) and an international senior consultant. He has experience in resource management, forestry, agri-business, and implementation of interdisciplinary projects.

Ibrahim is the director of the Horyou-5 satellite studies project in Japan, and a senior computer systems architect at the Architecture Design Center in Japan's Hitachi Ltd. Ibrahim supervised the creation of the first Egyptian satellite computer that was designed and assembled at Benha Electronics Company, affiliated to the Military Production Ministry.

Education Sessions
The second session was on the role of teachers training and arts in creating extraordinary schools. It had as panelists Head of Education Sector at Misr Al Kair Foundation Hanan al-Rihani, Sarah Fahmy, Hussein Zanaty, Dina Ghobashy, and Amal Farah.

Fahmy serves as vice-president of communications at the United Government of Graduate Students (UGGS) and representative of the Department of Theatre and Dance UGGS.

Zanaty is the executive director of Egypt Japan Friendship Association (EJFA) and a postdoctoral researcher at Kitami Institute of Technology. Ghobashy is a principal consultant at EdTech Ventures. Farah is an editor at Catalyst Education based in Australia.

The third session was on linking scientific research and education with market needs. The fourth session was on success stories in medical education. The fifth session was on technical education for industrial and services development.

The sixth session was on developing the skills of Egyptian students, and the integration of disabled students. The seventh session was on digital learning. The last session was on entrepreneurship and the role of education to promote innovation.

“Egypt Can” is a series of conferences held annually with the aim of giving Egyptian expats the opportunity to present their visions for different fields of development, and their proposals to improve various sectors.

The conference is organized by the Ministry of State for Emigration and Expatriates Affairs. The Ministry of Education and Technical Education, and the Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research contributed to this edition.

The education theme was selected in light of an announcement by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to label 2019 an education year.

Minister Makram announced that the next edition will be titled “Egypt Can by Effort” calling for expats who proved themselves abroad to present their stories. The event next year will be held in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdalla said in the opening on Monday that he looks forward to a new education system that gives value to understanding to replace the current one which depends on memorization. The governor revealed that he succeeded to offer hot meals to students in schools for free.

The Egyptian Food Bank secured the food, and a number of women learnt cooking by chefs working in the governorate’s hotels and resorts. The meals for each school are prepared by mothers of some of the students in the same school.
12/18/2018 7:40:46 PM
<![CDATA[Digitalization accomplishments displayed in Africa-Europe Forum ]]>
African Countries Experience

President of Ghana Nana Akufo-Addo stated that 20 percent of Africans have internet access. He explained that his country focused on the digital revolution as it developed digital IDs for citizens and developed systems that would enable financial transactions for the purpose of increasing production

Akufo-Addo highlighted that concerted efforts are needed to face cyber crimes which requires cooperation on the international scale. He added that different countries should formulate similar policies that encourage the development of a digital infrastructure, and the empowerment of youth to use technology.

“Digital economy is accelerating which opens the door” for the international economy to participate in economic development, President of Ethiopia Sahle-Work Zewde said. However, she highlighted that African countries must contemplate how fast they are keeping pace with that digital development.

Zewde stressed that African countries must have a vision to develop the private sector when comes to digitalization. She said that Ethiopia has established centers for citizens to pay all bills of services provided by governmental institutions.

The Ethiopian government has distributed computers, and introduced the internet service in the countryside. Ethiopia has 60 million mobile phone users, and wants the number to increase in rural areas. Zewde stated that many economic sectors in Ethiopia, including the ICT sector, must be “liberated.”

Sisi details African digital needs, Egyptian achievements

CAIRO - 18 December 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a speech at the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna on Tuesday highlighting that the continent has achieved positive sustainable development rates over the past decade despite harsh conditions.

World Bank

CEO of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva said that her organization is committed to invest at least $25 billion in addition to an equal amount by the private sector.

“All services in Africa should be digitized,” Georgieva stressed saying, “transitions achieved in Africa are magnificent.”

“Digitalization can be the key to success in Africa,” Georgieva said addressing African women who benefited from the use of mobile phone financial services more than men in the continent, according to a study. Mobile banking has helped in eradicating poverty, the World Bank CEO stated.

The Private Sector

CEO of Siemens Joe Kaeser announced future investments in Africa in the value of €500 million describing the move as “a small start for a big duty.” Kaeser praised Egypt for the development it has so far accomplished in the energy and electricity sectors.

CEO of Vodafone Nick Read stated that his company offers services for 560 million individuals in Africa, and that it connects 100 countries from around the world. Read added that Vodafone offers financial services to low income clients saying that it contributed in the improvement of the economic status of many low-income kenyan households.

Read said that digital infrastructure is necessary for investment, and that there is shortage in digital qualifications. He added that governments should focus on legislations to match international enterprises’ needs, and promote digital skills. Read stated that Vodafone has cooperated with many governments in digital capacity-building of individuals.
12/18/2018 5:40:48 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi aims to link Europe, Africa by fiber optic network]]>
“Yet, we haven’t reached our targeted rates because of the difficult conditions in some African states, and the ascendance of terror groups, and foreign intervention,” the president added.

“We need to eliminate fear of the future felt by our youth. Digital transition and information technology are crucial to create the ecosystem necessary to attract investment and to boost creativity,” the president affirmed.

The president said that he aspires to build a fiber optic network that connects Europe and Africa.

President Sisi stated that 60 percent of the African population whose size is 1.2 billion are below the age of 15, and that 12 million Africans enter the labor market annually.

The president said that Egypt has developed a plan to raise awareness on digital transition. He added that the state is digitizing civil services, and municipal management. That is in addition to creating a digital platform to exchange governmental data (G2G) as part of a bigger project to achieve e-governance.

The president said that Egypt has launched an initiative to manufacture electronics, and digitize cultural content. The country also established the National Academy for Information and Communication Technology for People with Special Needs.

“Egypt has always been proud to belong to Africa,” the president said highlighting that Egypt houses African Technology Innovation Lab (UNTIL) launched by the United Nations in July. It is located in the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) in Smart Village.

The president said that the project would improve the abilities of African technology researchers, and equip them to face international challenges, and meet the sustainable development goals of the UN 2030 Agenda and Africa 2063 Agenda.

The president also shed light on African Initiative for Gaming and Digital Applications launched by Egypt to train 10,000 African youths over three years, and support the establishment of 100 companies in that field in Egypt and Africa.

“Last month, we hosted the 11th edition of Cairo ICT 2018 Exhibition where public and private establishments met,” President Sisi said.

“Digitalization is a main goal on Africa 2063 Agenda since it is pivotal to develop an infrastructure that would connect the continent’s countries together,” the president added highlighting that the role of the telecom sector is essential to accomplish that goal.

The president said that Africa needs an electronic network for education, and distance learning.
“We need to create a generation that would lead digital transition, and be able to deal with cybersecurity and Artificial Intelligence,” President Sisi stressed.

The president added that it is important to facilitate insurance through regional and international entities, and that cooperation is needed in in the sectors of ICT (Information and Communication Technology), renewable energy, and transport to facilitate the movement of goods and services within the continent.

The president urged concerted efforts to face challenges embodied in climate change, global warming, and decreasing emissions saying that digital solutions may come up with creative solutions for those challenges.

President Sisi concluded saying the bases for cooperation must be mutual respect, and equality.
12/18/2018 3:17:51 PM
<![CDATA[High-Level Forum Africa-Europe kicks off in Vienna ]]>
Rwanda President and Chairperson of the African Union for the year 2018 Paul Kagame said that one of Africa’s strategic goals in present is the creation of employment opportunities for youth.

Kagame highlighted the necessity to manage obstacles that face development and investment describing the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) as a step forward.

In March, AfCFTA was signed by 48 out of 55 members of the AU, and was ratified by 10. It will be put into effect after the ratification of 22 member states. The agreement should boost intra-African trade by eliminating customs barriers.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said that African challenges “are considered ours.” He added that a balanced partnership is needed and that Europe should share the responsibility with Africa.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker addresses the European Parliament during a debate on The State of the European Union in Strasbourg, France, September 14, 2016. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

Junker stated that he suggested - in the last summit in Abidjan in 2017 - the creation of more joint coalitions to give rise to more joint investments. He added that the EU would pump in additional €40 billion by 2020. The sum provided as funding is expected to be multiplied by private investors.

Junker also shed light on the fact that Africa has the fastest growing population that may hit two billion by 2050.

African and European businesses are also participating in the conference.

12/18/2018 1:58:34 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi Arabia hits back after Senate's allegations on Khashoggi]]>
US Senate earlier blamed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for Khashoggi's murder that took place in early October, which Saudi Arabia considers as "baseless allegations."

The Saudi remarks were included in a statement published by the foreign minister on his official Twitter account. Local Saudi newspapers say the statement is citing an official source in the ministry.

Saudi Arabia has already stressed that "what happened to the citizen Jamal Khashoggi is a crime that does not reflect the policy of the kingdom or the approach of its institutions," adding that the kingdom affirms its rejection of any attempt "to get the issue out of the course of justice in the kingdom."

Saudi Arabia deplores the recent stance of the United States Senate, which was "built on baseless claims and accusations," including "blatant interference" in its internal affairs, the statement said, adding such allegations undermine the role of the kingdom at the regional and international levels.

Saudi Arabia stressed its keenness to continue and develop relations with the US, the statement said, adding that the kingdom wonders about such a stance adopted by "members of a prominent institution" in an allied and friendly country,with which the kingdom shares strategic political, economic and security ties that were established over decades to serve the interests of both countries and peoples.

The kingdom also affirms its "total rejection of any interference in its internal affairs or [attack on] the Saudi leadership, represented by the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques and His Highness the Crown Prince," the statement reiterated.

The kingdom also referred that such stance will "not undermine its leading role in the regional surrounding, the Arab and Islamic worlds, or on the international level,"stressing that Saudi Arabia has "a special place in the hearts of all Muslims," which has made it a pillar of stability in the Middle East and the world, and the cornerstone of efforts to preserve peace and security on the regional and international levels, according to the statement.

The kingdom also plays a leading role in stabilizing the international economy by maintaining the balance of energy markets to serve producers and consumers alike, the statement added.

The statement also asserted the importance of Saudi Arabia's role in fighting terrorism and terror organizations, including the Islamic State (IS), al-Qaeda, and also through establishing the Islamic Military Counter Terrorism Coalition and participating in the US-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.

At the same time, the kingdom continues efforts to reach a political solution to the Yemeni crisis based on Security Council Resolution 2216, the Gulf Initiative and the outcome of the comprehensive national dialogue, including the efforts of the UN envoy.

Saudi Arabia knows, according to the statement, that the "US Senate sends wrong messages to anyone who wants to break the Saudi-US relations," adding that "the kingdom hopes it would not be included in the internal political debate in the United States, in order to "prevent repercussions in the relations between the two countries, which [can] have negative effects on the important strategic relationship between them."]]>
12/18/2018 1:40:28 PM
<![CDATA[UK opposition launches parliamentary confidence manoeuvre against PM May]]>
May said a vote on the deal -- which was postponed on December 11 to avoid defeat -- would be held in the week beginning 14 January.

"This house has no confidence in the prime minister due to her failure to allow the House of Commons to have a meaningful vote," Labour leader Corbyn told lawmakers ahead of tabling the motion in parliament.

Corbyn said the move was "the only way I can think of ensuring a vote takes place this week".

The government must agree to the non-binding vote and even if successful it would not automatically trigger May's downfall.

House of Commons authorities said the government will decide whether the motion is debated and voted on, but noted it is "parliamentary convention that any such request be granted".

May last week survived a party confidence vote initiated by her own Conservative colleagues opposed to her Brexit strategy, but emerged badly wounded after a third of her parliamentary party voted to oust her.

A vote of no-confidence from a majority in the House of Commons could leave her authority further weakened -- and potentially prompt another vote in her entire government and a general election.

- 'Run down the clock' -

Britain is set to leave the European Union on March 29 next year, but the prime minister is struggling to persuade parliament to accept the divorce deal she struck last month with the bloc after 18 months of tortuous talks.

If parliament fails to approve the text, Britain could crash out of the EU with no deal -- a prospect that experts warn could lead to serious trade disruption and trigger a financial crisis.

May insisted Monday that she was continuing to seek "assurances" from the EU over elements of her plan.

However European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said "no further meetings with the United Kingdom are foreseen".

The delay has angered members of her own party and Labour opposition politicians, who accused her of trying to "run down the clock" ahead of Britain's withdrawal to increase pressure on them to back the deal.

"The prime minister has cynically run down the clock, trying to manoeuvre parliament into a choice between two unacceptable outcomes" -- her deal or no deal, Corbyn said.

"It's... unacceptable that we should be waiting almost a month before we have a meaningful vote on the crucial issue facing the future of this country."

- 'Another referendum' -

May is again facing more calls for a second referendum to resolve the impasse, with dozens of MPs from all sides now supporting another poll and reports that May's officials are considering the possibility.

But the prime minister has argued vehemently that this would betray the 2016 result and undermine public confidence in politics.

"Let us not break faith with the British people by trying to stage another referendum," she told parliament on Monday.

"Another vote... would do irreparable damage to the integrity of our politics," May said, adding that a second vote "would likely leave us no further forward".

The issue provoked an extraordinary public clash on Sunday between May and former prime minister Tony Blair, a leading supporter of continued EU membership and of holding another poll.

May accused Blair of insulting voters and trying to undermine her government by meeting officials in Brussels.

Blair, who was premier between 1997 and 2007, in turn accused the Conservative leader of being "irresponsible".

But campaigners for a referendum said May's comments on Monday showed that the idea was being taken seriously.

"A new public vote would be different from the referendum in 2016 because we now know more about what Brexit means," said Margaret Beckett, an MP from the main opposition Labour Party and "People's Vote" supporter.

"Any effort to force Brexit over the line without checking that it has the continued consent of the British people will only reinforce divisions," she said.

Another proposal being put forward if May's deal does not pass parliament is for MPs to hold indicative votes on different options to work out what steps to take next.

But May downplayed that prospect, telling lawmakers: "I have no plans for indicative votes".

"What is necessary is for the House to reflect on what members want in terms of their responsibility to come to a decision on this matter."]]>
12/18/2018 1:40:00 PM
<![CDATA[AL condemns Turkish violation of Iraqi sovereignty]]>
The AL voiced its rejection of the Turkish strikes, regardless the motives behind them, affirming, that the attacks contradict with the rules of international law and the principles of good-neighborliness, AL spokesman Mahmoud Afifi said on Tuesday.

The Arab summit has previously issued several resolutions denouncing the violation of the Iraqi sovereignty in such way, Afifi added.

Turkey's constant disregard to the Arab stance reflects that Ankara does not care about keeping on good terms with the Arab countries on the basis of respect for states' sovereignty and rejection of the interference in other states' internal affairs, Afifi added.]]>
12/18/2018 1:25:31 PM
<![CDATA[AL discusses Israeli escalations against Palestinians]]>
The meeting was called for upon a request from Palestine in view of the serious escalations in the occupied West Bank.

The meeting is set to probe also Brazilian President's anticipated recognition of Jerusalem as a capital of Israel in addition to a similar stance adopted by Australia.

In statements before the meeting, Acting Palestinian Ambassador to the Arab League Mohannad al Alouk said Palestine is seeking to coordinate stances with Arab countries to take a decision to hinder the serious turn in the Brazilian stance regarding the Palestinian issue as well as renewing the call for providing international protection to Palestinian civilians.

He made it clear that the Arab League Council would also address the crimes committed by Israeli settlers against Palestinian people and their property in the West Bank.]]>
12/18/2018 12:43:37 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian-Austrian Committee to be launched in 2019 ]]>
Professor of Political Science at the American University in Cairo (AUC) Tarek Fahmy told Al Watan newspaper that the committee will be in charge of discussing and developing mechanisms to execute the 10 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) signed by both countries on Monday.

Fahmy said that the committee will be permanent, and will comprise ministries and state institutions concerned with the sectors pertinent to the MoUs in both countries.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz witnessed on Monday the signing of 10 memoranda of understanding (MoUs) in Vienna by ministers of both countries.

Those are in the sectors of finance, information and communication technology (ICT), scientific research, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and railway. Also, both parties reached an agreement for the Austrian side to establish a railway machinery factory in an Egyptian free zone.

The purpose of the four-day state visit to Austria by President Sisi is the participation in the Africa-Europe Forum summit, co-hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

President Sisi will deliver a speech on Egypt's vision to push forward development efforts in Africa since the country will chair the African Union (AU) in 2019.

Regarding bilateral relations between Egypt and Austria, the president's visit will include meetings with a number of politicians, senior officials and investors on furthering cooperation in trade, educational and scientific research, transport and investment domains.

A host of African and European leaders are to take part in the event aiming at enhancing African-European partnership.

12/18/2018 11:14:23 AM
<![CDATA[Preparations for Tanzanian dam constructed by Egypt almost finished ]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi is personally following up on the project as he does with Egyptian ones. The dam can open the door for Egyptian companies to execute further projects whether in Tanzania or other African states.

Currently, preparations taking place for the project consist of opening bank accounts and finalizing paperwork. Also, the consulting office is finishing and reviewing the design. In few days, a field engineering team will be formed, and Tanzanian contractors will be hired to operate security services, uproot trees in the construction area, and assume part of the construction works. That will create job opportunities for Tanzanian citizens and fulfil their development ambitions.

Madbouly, who is also the Minister of Housing, Facilities, and Urban Areas, held a meeting on Tuesday with Salah and a number of officials at the company. The dam will be built by a coalition of The Arab Contractors Egyptian Company and El Sewedy Electric at a cost of $3.6 billion.

Madbouly stressed the importance of conveying to Tanzanian citizens the coalition’s ability to meet deadlines and execute the project in a very high quality urging the necessity to hire highly qualified task forces.

The dam will be built on the Basin of Rufiji River as an important national project to generate power. Stiegler's Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station is expected to produce 5,920 GWh of power annually to fill the electricity and energy shortage in the country.
12/18/2018 10:52:17 AM
<![CDATA[Japan to buy more U.S.-made stealth jets, radar to counter China, Russia]]>
The plans are the clearest indication yet of Japan's ambition to become a regional power as a military build-up by China and a resurgent Russia puts pressure on its U.S. ally.

"The United States remains the world's most powerful nation, but national rivalries are surfacing and we recognise the importance of the strategic competition with both China and Russia as they challenge the regional order," said a 10-year defence programme outline approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government on Tuesday.

The United States, followed by China, North Korea and Russia, are the countries that most influenced Japan's latest military thinking, the paper said.

China, the world's second biggest economy, is deploying more ships and aircraft to patrol waters near Japan, while North Korea has yet to fulfil a pledge to dismantle its nuclear and missile programmes.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Japan was "singing the same old tune" and making "thoughtless remarks" about China's normal defence activities.

"What Japan is doing here is neither conducive to improving and developing China-Japan relations, nor to the broader picture of regional peace and stability," Hua told a news briefing.

"China expresses strong dissatisfaction and opposition at this and has already lodged stern representations with Japan," she added.

Russia, which continues to probe Japan's air defences, said on Monday it built new barracks for its troops on islands seized from Japan at the end of World War Two.


Japan plans to buy 45 Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 stealth fighters, worth about $4 billion, in addition to the 42 jets already on order, according to a separate five-year procurement plan approved on Tuesday.

The new planes will include 18 short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) B variants of the F-35 that planners want to deploy on Japanese islands along the edge of the East China Sea.

The islands are part of a chain stretching past Taiwan and down to the Philippines that has marked the limit of Chinese military dominance east of the disputed South China Sea.

"Japan's decision to acquire more F-35s is a testament to the aircraft's transformational capability and its increasing role in promoting regional stability and enhancing the US-Japan security alliance," Lockheed Martin said in a statement.

The navy's two large helicopter carriers, the Izumo and Kaga, will be modified for F-35B operations, the paper said.

The 248-metre (814 ft) long Izumo-class ships are as big as any of Japan's aircraft carriers in World War Two. They will need reinforced decks to withstand the heat blast from F-35 engines and could be fitted with ramps to aid short take-offs, two defence ministry officials told Reuters.


The new F-35 order may also help Japan avert a trade war with the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who has threatened to impose tariffs on Japanese car imports, thanked Abe for buying the F-35s when the two met at a summit in Argentina this month.

Other U.S.-made equipment on Japan's shopping list includes two land-based Aegis Ashore air defence radars to defend against North Korean missiles, four Boeing Co KC-46 Pegasus refuelling planes to extend the range of Japanese aircraft, and nine Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye early-warning planes.

Japan plans to spend 25.5 trillion yen ($224.7 billion) on military equipment over the next five years, 6.4 percent higher than the previous five-year plan. Cost-cutting will free up another 2 trillion yen for purchases, the procurement paper said.

Japan only spends about 1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on defence, but the size of its economy means it already has one of the world's largest militaries.

"The budget is increasing and there has been an acceleration to deploy capability as soon as possible," Robert Morrissey, head of Raytheon Co's unit in Japan, said this month.

Wary of North Korean promises to abandon ballistic missile development, Japan's military is buying longer-range Raytheon SM-3 interceptor missiles able to strike enemy warheads in space.

The defence papers assessed non-traditional military threats as well. A new joint-forces cyber unit will bolster Japan's defences against cyber attacks.

More electronic warfare capabilities are planned, and the air force will get its first space unit to help keep tabs on potential adversaries high above the Earth's atmosphere. ($1 = 113.4800 yen)]]>
12/18/2018 10:42:22 AM
<![CDATA[Japan to get first post-WWII aircraft carriers]]>
The new five-year defence plan calls for the upgrade of two existing helicopter carriers so that they can launch fighters, and is the latest in a series of steps under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to boost Japan's military.

Abe's government argues the efforts are necessary given growing defence challenges in the region, including tensions with North Korea, and particularly "strong concerns" about the expansion of China's military footprint.

But the move is controversial, with critics arguing it shifts Tokyo further away from its commitment to strictly defensive capabilities under Japan's post-World War II pacifist constitution.

"We will secure both the quantity and quality of defence capability that is necessary... to meet the rapidly changing security environment," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular press briefing on Tuesday.

"We believe this is within... what is allowed under the constitution."

The five-year plan approved Tuesday assumes record defence spending of 27.47 trillion yen ($244 billion) through March 2024.

It calls for the defence ministry to upgrade two flat-top Izumo-class destroyers to enable them to launch fighters with short take-off and vertical landing abilities, like the F-35B stealth fighter.

In a separate plan also endorsed by the cabinet Tuesday, Japan said it would buy 42 F-35s over the next decade, with the F-35B variant widely considered the likeliest candidate.

It also plans over the same period to buy 105 F-35As, a variant of the advanced jet which performs conventional takeoffs and landings and cannot be used on the retrofitted destroyers.

Local media have said the purchases could total more than one trillion yen ($8.8 billion).

- Worries about China -

The new plans come after pledges from Japan to buy more US military equipment, under pressure from President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly complained about Washington's huge trade deficit with Tokyo and also urged Abe to expand the country's defensive capacity.

Abe has aggressively expanded Japan's alliance with the United States.

He has campaigned for years to amend Japan's pacifist constitution, arguing that it ties the hands of the country's Self-Defense Forces (SDF) even in protecting the country's allies from attack.

Government officials were at pains to make clear the policy did not represent a shift away from the country's long-standing focus on defence.

"The Izumo-class destroyers will continue to serve as multi-function, multi-purpose destroyers. This mode of operation falls within the realm of an exclusively defence-oriented policy," Defence Minister Takeshi Iwaya told a regular briefing.

The remodelled ships and new fighter jets will "increase operational flexibility" for Japan's military as China boosts its naval footprint in southern waters that are home to several remote Japanese islands, a defence official said.

"We have a very, very small SDF footprint" in the area between Okinawa and Taiwan, he added.

But he said it was a "misunderstanding" to believe that the upgrades would create "full-fledged aircraft carriers" capable of staging offensive action in distant regions.

And the new fighters would be stationed at existing ground facilities, not on the ships, he said.

"We are not creating carrier air wings or carrier air squadrons" like the US navy, he added.

"That's not going to happen."]]>
12/18/2018 9:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi, Austrian Chancellor discuss illegal migration, terrorism ]]>
The president stated that 11,000 refugees arrived in Egypt in 2018 and were inhibited from departing to Europe with the aim of protecting them against the risk of loss in the Mediterranean.

Egyptian policies inhibit the establishment of any refugees camps on its soil, and supports their integration into the society.

The president also revealed that he held talks with the Austrian chancellor on the future of terrorists who fled conflict areas after the defeat of the groups they were affiliated with. They discussed whether they should allow them to return to their homelands or to let them move to other vulnerable states.

Kurz expressed appreciation for the economic reforms undertaken by Egypt thanking the president for Egypt’s efforts to combat illegal migration to Europe.

The purpose of the four-day state visit to Austria by President Sisi is the participation in the Africa-Europe Forum summit, co-hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

President Sisi will deliver a speech on Egypt's vision to push forward development efforts in Africa since the country will chair the African Union (AU) in 2019.

Regarding bilateral relations between Egypt and Austria, the president's visit will include meetings with a number of politicians, senior officials and investors on furthering cooperation in trade, educational and scientific research, transport and investment domains.

A host of African and European leaders are to take part in the event aiming at enhancing African-European partnership.

12/17/2018 4:41:26 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Austria sign railway machinery manufacturing agreement ]]>
Those are in the sectors of finance, information and communication technology (ICT), scientific research, technology and innovation, infrastructure, and railway. Also, both parties reached an agreement for the Austrian side to establish a railway machinery factory in an Egyptian free zone.

The purpose of the four-day state visit to Austria by President Sisi is the participation in the Africa-Europe Forum summit, co-hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

President Sisi will deliver a speech on Egypt's vision to push forward development efforts in Africa since the country will chair the African Union (AU) in 2019.

Regarding bilateral relations between Egypt and Austria, the president's visit will include meetings with a number of politicians, senior officials and investors on furthering cooperation in trade, educational and scientific research, transport and investment domains.

A host of African and European leaders are to take part in the event aiming at enhancing African-European partnership.

12/17/2018 4:31:10 PM
<![CDATA[Unsafe areas across Egypt to be developed by end of 2019]]>
“We are implementing a specific strategy and a national plan [to develop Egypt’s slums],” Ezzat referred during an interview with “This Morning” program on Extra News channel.

Previously, Khaled Siddiq, executive director of the Development Fund for Slums, said that Egypt will be declared a slum-free country by the end of 2019, referring that around LE 14 billion have been allocated until now for developing 80 percent of the slums.

Siddiq added that the total number of Egypt’s slums is 351 areas; 80 percent of which has been finished in the past four years and the remaining 20 percent will be developed by the end of 2019.

He further remarked that Port Said, Wadi El-Gedid, Fayoum, Menoufia and Suez will become slum-free cities by the end of 2018, pointing out that 215,000 housing units are targeted to be developed in these areas.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has sought to tackle housing problems in Egypt, and a plan was set to develop many unsafe areas in Cairo, which has the majority of Egypt’s slums, and to re-house residents of Egypt’s most dangerous slums. The government divided the slums into two categories. The first is the dangerous slums; the government pledged to eliminate dangerous slums by the end of 2018.

In this regard, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly witnessed on July 9 the signing ceremony of two cooperation protocols between Cairo governorate and the New Urban Communities Authority.

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

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

Gazzar explained 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.

In May 2016, President Sisi promised to move all those living in slums to new flats over three years as part of an ambitious project expected to cost about LE 14 billion ($790 million).

In the same context, the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund, launched by Sisi in 2014, has been working on a three-phase strategy to eliminate Egypt’s shantytowns and re-house slum residents, including those living in Doueyka, Establ Antar and Ezbet Khair Allah.

The project includes 15,000 housing units to re-house 60,000 slum residents. The first two phases of Tahya Misr are comprised of 12,000 flats. The third phase opened in 2017 and is comprised of 20,000 flats.]]>
12/17/2018 3:37:21 PM
<![CDATA[Wafd's Shadow Cabinet to back government: Abu Shoka]]>
Bahaa el-Din Abu Shoka, the party's president, affirmed that Wafd's Shadow Cabinet will support the state and the current government headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly.

The party has formed several shadow cabinets during the rule of former President Hosni Mubarak and the two terms of incumbent President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
A shadow cabinet is an alternative cabinet usually formed of opposition figures, tasked with inspecting policies of the state's government and introducing an alternative program when required.

Watch Salah Hafez, head of Wafd's former Shadow Cabinet during the first term of President Sisi, speaking about the idea of establishing an alternative cabinet

Abu Shoka said that names will be discussed with the Supreme Committee of the party to form a Shadow Cabinet, which was announced on Sunday, adding that the party is willing to choose the most efficient leadership for the alternative cabinet.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Abu Shoka said that the Cabinet will be completely formed within a few days after settling on its members. He pointed out that the Cabinet will be formed of various committees like those in the House of Representatives to work on discussing issues that concern citizens, and help the party's Parliament members in preparing the necessary legislation to be submitted to the House.

Abu Shoka affirmed that Wafd Party currently aims at supporting citizens through the introduction of initiatives that will be help deal with the issues that concern the citizens. He added that the Wafd supports the state to complete the construction map initiated by President Sisi and other institutions in the country.

Election crisis

Problems continued to emerge in the New Wafd Party even after the new leader of the party took post in March 2018. Just before the party’s former Chairperson Al-Sayed al-Badawi's term ended, Egyptian media could spot numerous disputes inside the party.

Only a few days after a high-level election took place inside Egypt's 40-year old New Wafd, candidates who lost ballots announced filing grievances to the chairman of the party over the election result.

On November 11, 55 members won the party's "supreme authority elections".

The losing leaders decided to postpone their press conference that was scheduled for November 19 to enable the party leader to receive the grievance from the court after he refused to receive it from the party secretariat.

The complaining leaders of the party own many documents proving the invalidity of the election result due to a number of violations that took place during the election process, said Yasser Qora, a member of the party's supreme authority and one of the candidates complaining about the election result.

The party decided to use all available means to convey grievance to the party leader, Qora said, adding that this is a sign of respect and appreciation of the history of the Wafd Party.

Responding to attempts to "obstruct the party's path," Abu Shoka said that attempts to distort the image of the party's supreme authority election is unacceptable, pointing out that the elections ran under the full supervision of the National Council for Human Rights.

In a press statement, Abu Shoka said that there is "a very few" people who ran in the election but did not succeed; they are trying to show there are splits within the party which he said is not the real situation.
12/17/2018 2:59:57 PM
<![CDATA[‘Egypt Can by Education’ kicks off on Monday]]>
“Egypt Can” is a series of conferences held annually with the aim of giving Egyptian expats the opportunity to present their visions for different fields of development, and their proposals to improve various sectors.

Minister of State for Emigration and Expatriates Affairs Nabila Makram at the 4th edition of “Egypt Can” conference - Press photo

The conference is organized by the Ministry of State for Emigration and Expatriates Affairs. The Ministry of Education and Technical Education, and the Ministry of High Education and Scientific Research contributed to this edition.

The education theme was selected in light of an announcement by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to label 2019 an education year. The conference will have six workshops having 28 expat speakers.

The opening will have as speakers Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, Minister of Emigration Nabila Makram, Minister of Education Tarek Shawky, and Minister of Higher Education Khaled Abdel Ghafar.

'Egypt Can 4': Resumption of developmental series in various fields

CAIRO - 20 November 2018: The fourth edition of the "Egypt Can" meetings will be held in December in the Red Sea Governorate, with the participation of 25 experts in the fields of general, technical and university education.

Red Sea Governor Ahmed Abdalla said that he looks forward to a new education system that gives value to understanding to replace the current one which depends on memorization. The governor revealed that he succeeded to offer hot meals to students in schools for free.

The Egyptian Food Bank secured the food, and a number of women learnt cooking by chefs working in the governorate’s hotels and resorts. The meals for each school are prepared by mothers of some of the students in the same school.

A video report was aired at the conference to present the research projects and innovations put forward by expats in previous editions, and that were put into effect in different fields.

Minister Makram announced that the next edition will be titled “Egypt Can by Effort” calling for expats who proved themselves abroad to present their stories. The event next year will be held in collaboration with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

Minister of State for Emigration and Expatriates Affairs Nabila Makram at the 4th edition of “Egypt Can” conference - Press photo

12/17/2018 1:17:17 PM
<![CDATA[MPs praise Sisi’s visit to Austria, says good opportunity for boosting relations]]>
Moustafa el Gendi, head of the Parliamentary Grouping of North African states, stressed that Sisi's expected participation in the Africa-Europe forum in Vienna would achieve gains for the black continent.

In a Monday statement, Gendi underlined the importance of Sisi's current visit to Austria, saying it is a good opportunity for boosting cooperation between the two countries in the various domains, especially the economic one.

Sisi's participation in the forum comes at an important timing as Egypt is going to take over the presidency of the African Union in 2019, he said.

The high-level Africa-Europe Forum is co-hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

A host of African and European leaders are taking part in the event aiming at enhancing African-European partnership.

Participants in the forum will hold a high-level dialogue under the title of "Taking Cooperation to the Digital Age".

Parliamentarian Ryad abdel Sattar, Also told Egypt Today that Sisi’s visit to Austria confirms Egypt vital role in the region. He added that the visit will have positive results on many levels, praising Sisi’s latest official visits.

Sisi arrived at Hofburg presidential palace in Vienna on Monday morning, where he will hold talks with Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen.

During Sisi’s four-day visit to the Austrian capital, he is expected to head to the Federal Chancellery of Austria to be received by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, where both diplomats are set to witness the signing of cooperation memorandums between the two countries.

The Egyptian President is also scheduled to hold a press conference with the Kurz, followed by a meeting with the Spegyaker of Austria's National Council Wolfgang Sobotka, to discuss strengthening relations between the peoples of the two countries.
Dozens of Egyptians living in Austria gathered on Sunday in front of the Sisi’s residence in Vienna.

The purpose of the visit is the participation in the Africa-Europe Forum summit, co-hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz.

President Sisi will deliver a speech on Egypt's vision to push forward development efforts in Africa since the country will chair the African Union (AU) in 2019.

Regarding bilateral relations between Egypt and Austria, the president's visit will include meetings with a number of politicians, senior officials and investors on furthering cooperation in trade, educational and scientific research, transport and investment domains.

A host of African and European leaders are to take part in the event aiming at enhancing African-European partnership.

Looking into Egyptian-Austrian relations

CAIRO - 17 December 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's first visit to Austria from December 16 to 20 highlights the distinct Egyptian-Austrian relations, which have been strengthened in the past years on different levels including politics and economics. President Sisi headed on Dec.

Additional reporting by MENA
12/17/2018 1:12:15 PM
<![CDATA[Know about coasts subject to harm by climate change in Egypt]]>CAIRO – 17 December 2018: Egyptian General Authority for Coast Protection is set to implement several protection projects on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea to protect them from the adverse effects of climate change.

Protection projects should be implemented to some beaches in five different governorates that are believed to be threatened by climate change. The projects aim to enhance the beaches' adaptation to the effects of climate change on the northern coasts and the Nile Delta.

The projects are set to be implemented in a 27 kilometer area between Burullus power station and Kafr al-Sheikh Industrial Zone; in addition to a 12 kilometer area in Dakahlia governorate, northeast of Cairo.

Similar projects will also be implemented in a 12 kilometer area in the west of New Damietta, in a 12 kilometer area in Port Said, and in a 6 kilometer area in Beheira governorate.

The Egyptian government headed by Mostafa Madbouli along with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed a climate change adaptation project in October, aiming to protect the Egyptian Northern coastal line.

At a press conference following the signing ceremony, Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Mohamed Abdel Aati said the project will be funded by the green climate fund with a sum of $31.5 million to carry out protection works at the North Delta governorates. He said this grant is the biggest of its kind to be received by Egypt in the field of adaptation to climate change.

He added that the project aims at limiting the impact of coastal floods in five governorates including Port Said, Damietta, Dakahlia, Kafr al-Sheikh and Beheira as a result of the rise in sea levels.

Additional reporting by state's MENA news agency

12/17/2018 12:56:03 PM
<![CDATA[319 defendants enlisted on terror list]]>
The court rejected the defendants' appeal and upheld the ruling enlisting 319 defendants on the terror list. Furthermore, the Court of Appeal set December 27 to review the defendants' appeal.

Previously, a total of 164 people, including high-profile Islamists Tarik al-Zomor, Assem Abdel Maged and Mohamed Shawki al-Islambolli, were added to Egypt’s terrorist list by Cairo Criminal Court, according to the Official Gazette.

They were mainly charged with attempting to revive the Islamic Group, a dangerous terrorist organization that was most active from the 1970s until the 1990s.

Also, they are also charged with arming young men in Upper Egypt, once the stronghold of the Islamic Group, inciting violence against the state, and establishing relations with foreign elements.

On September 23, Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld a court ruling putting prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader and businessman Hassan Malek and 55 other MB members on the list of terrorist entities.

On August 30, Cairo Criminal Court put the MB members on the terrorist list over accusations of damaging the Egyptian economy by smuggling foreign currencies and financially supporting terrorist groups.

In 2015, the attorney general referred Malek and other defendants to the Emergency Court after he was arrested by security forces. Several members of Malek’s family were also added to the terror list endorsed by Cairo Criminal Court in December 2017.

Names added to the terror list are revised every five years.
12/17/2018 11:24:13 AM
<![CDATA[Looking into Egyptian-Austrian relations ]]>
President Sisi headed on Dec. 16 to Vienna for a four-day visit to participate in the High-level Forum Africa-Europe, during which he will meet with several Austrian officials and investors and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Sisi's participation in the forum comes upon the invitation of Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz who holds the presidency of the council of the European Union and President of the Republic of Rwanda and current Chairperson of the African Union Paul Kagame.

This is Sisi's first visit to Austria and the first presidential visit between Egypt and Austria in more than 11 years, according to Ambassador of Egypt to Austria Omar Amer's statement to the media delegation accompanying the president.

Meanwhile, Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Radi referred that Egypt was invited to the forum due to the significant role the country plays in Africa, especially that it holds the presidency of the upcoming African Union.

Before Sisi came into power, Egyptian-EU relations were hindered as the European side did not fully understand the Egyptian situation after the June 30 uprising that toppled former Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi.

After a series of tours and meetings with European leaders and decision makers, relations between Egypt and Europe began to stabilize.

The Egyptian Cabinet said in a statement on Oct. 30, 2017 that the government signed agreements with the European Union for around €500 million to fund development projects over the next three years.

Egypt and Austria witness fruitful cooperation on different levels, namely in economy.

Political relations

On the political level, the two countries usually shed light during their mutual talks on the regional issues, including recent developments in Gaza Strip and ways to resume the negotiations to reach a comprehensive solution to the crisis, in addition to the situations in Libya, Iraq and Syria and how to boost cooperation to combat terrorism.

In September 2018, President of the European Council Donald Tusk and Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz paid Egypt a visit.

During their meeting, Sisi underlined efforts exerted by Egypt to combat illegal immigration by securing sea and land ports, in light of the instability in neighboring countries.

Sisi underscored that Egypt's efforts have contributed to addressing the illegal immigration of refugees across the Mediterranean, as there has not been a single case recorded from Egypt since 2016.

The meeting also tackled a number of other issues, such as the Libyan and Syrian crises, as both sides have similar views concerning these crises, urging the need to reach political settlements for them in order to eliminate the illegal immigration phenomenon.

The two sides agreed on the need to intensify the Arab-European coordination to face regional challenges and threats, underlining that the EU and Arab countries summit serves as an opportunity to consult, exchange views and boost cooperation between both sides on regional issues.

In addition, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Kurz in July during Shoukry's European tour.

Their meeting touched on some files, such as illegal immigration and fighting terrorism.

Economic relations.

In a phone call with Austrian Chancellor Kurz on December 11, President Sisi expressed Egypt's keenness to boost relations with Austria, especially through maximizing economic cooperation and increasing the volume of trade exchange between the two countries.

In this regard, President Sisi urged Austrian businessmen and major companies to invest in Egypt, given the recent positive developments that took place due to the economic reforms.

For his part, the Austrian chancellor said that Austria is willing to elevate bilateral ties with Egypt, praising the great progress Cairo has witnessed in the areas of economic and social development, alongside the mega national projects and the efforts exerted to enhance the investment climate.

Additionally, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker, leading a high-level delegation, visited Austria from September 17 to 21 to participate in the activities of the 62nd General conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

During his speech in the conference, Shaker highlighted the growing international cooperation in several fields such as nuclear power, the safe transfer of nuclear wastes, and the ways to enhance IAEA activities related to nuclear science, technologies and applications.

Historically, Egyptian Austrian Businessmen Council was established in November 2006. The council held four sessions alternatively between Egypt and Austria, the last of which was from March 16 to 19, 2009, in Cairo, according to the State Information Service (SIS).

Furthermore, trade between Egypt and Austria has been regulated by the Egyptian-European Association Agreement according to which Egypt and the European Union have been gradually establishing a “Free Trade Zone “ during a transitional period not exceeding 12 years from the date of entry into force, on 1/6/2004.
12/17/2018 11:21:28 AM
<![CDATA[MECC's SG visits Egypt to review Churches Council's relief efforts]]>
Meeting Egyptian journalists in the Coptic Orthodox Church's culture center on Saturday, Bachealany said that Christianity in the Middle East has accompanied Muslims and that both Muslims and Christians are inseparable from each other.

Bachealany said the culture of accepting the other is the most important thing that children and youth should learn growing up. She added that the Middle East needs both Muslims and Christians and urged media to raise awareness on the importance of accepting others in order to make the Middle East a good example for the world.

Meeting Egyptian journalists in the Coptic Orthodox Church's culture center on Saturday, Bachealany said that Muslims and Christians are inseparable from each other – Egypttoday/Ashraf Fawzy

The Lebanese leader said that the MECC works with the local churches, and does not discriminate between Muslims, Christians or others, adding that the council also works on supporting the Christian-Islamic dialogue.

Concerning the relief of afflicted communities of the Middle East, Bachealany said that the MECC is trying to support humanitarian action and serve the environment. She added that $3 million are being spent on relief and development services.

There are many countries living in great challenges, Bachealany pointed out, saying that her current visit to Egypt comes due to the importance of the Egyptian state and its churches.

The MECC tackled many issues and crises in the region, including the Palestinian issue and serving the Palestinian refugees, the Lebanese crisis and conflicts in Iraq and Syria, Bachealany said, adding that the council worked on relieving the affected citizens through providing humanitarian aid including food, medicine and others.

Egyptian Bishop Anba Ermia during the meeting – Egypttoday/Ashraf Fawzy

Egyptian Bishop Anba Ermia, president of the Coptic Orthodox Cultural Centre, who also attended the meeting, said that the Middle East Council of Churches was the first to call for and establish the Christian-Muslim dialogue, adding that the center has an insight and a future vision for such dialogue.

The MECC, through Dr. Bachealany, is making a great effort to contribute to development in Syria and Iraq in terms of education, treatment and health, Anba Ermia said, adding that he hopes this effort "will bring good to these countries."

Father Gabriel Hashim, director of the Theological and Ecumenical Department of the MECC, said that Muslims and Christians have been living together in the Middle East for more than 15 centuries.

Unlike the West, where Islam has recently arrived, here in the East Muslims and Christians share a common life and a common destiny, Hashim said, adding that Islam is part of Christianity and that there is no Christianity that is separate from Islam and vice versa.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil ]]>
12/17/2018 11:17:05 AM
<![CDATA[Ukraine president will not extend martial law, barring Russia attack]]>
Poroshenko imposed martial law in some areas of the country for a month after Russia captured three Ukrainian vessels in the Kerch Strait on Nov. 25.
12/17/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Israel ex-general under US sanctions denies arming S. Sudan war]]>
The U.S. Treasury on Friday slapped sanctions on Israel Ziv and three firms he controls, accusing him of using an agricultural consultancy as cover for weapons sales worth $150 million to the Juba government while also arming the opposition.

"He (Ziv) has also reportedly planned to organise attacks by mercenaries on South Sudanese oil fields and infrastructure, in an effort to create a problem that only his company and affiliates could solve," a Treasury statement said.

Interviewed by Israel's Army Radio, Ziv said he had never trafficked in weaponry and called the charges against him "ludicrous, baseless, completely divorced from reality".

"We have an amazing agriculture project there ... that many communities depend on. Tens of thousands of people are employed through this project and it feeds the South Sudan market. So anyone who claims this project is a cover should come see it."

The Trump administration has championed international arms embargos against South Sudan to pressure President Salva Kiir into ending the country's civil war and humanitarian crisis.

Two South Sudanese nationals, Obac William Olawo and Gregory Vasili, were named alongside Ziv in Friday's U.S. Treasury sanctions notice. Neither was immediately available for comment.

"This is not the first time the (U.S.) administration has used sanctions to enforce its foreign policy," Ziv said.

"I am approachable ... I want to believe in the decency of the administration. And they are welcome to come, to check, to investigate. We will open up everything for them."

Sudan erupted in conflict in 2013 after Kiir sacked Riek Machar as vice president. Ethnically charged fighting soon spread, shutting down oil fields and forcing millions to flee.

At least 383,000 South Sudanese have died as a result of the war, through combat, starvation, disease or other factors, according to a recent study by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine researchers.

Under pressure from governments in East Africa and from United Nations and Western donors, Machar's group, other rebel factions and the government in September signed the peace accord under which he will again become vice president.
12/17/2018 4:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi to meet Austrian investors, sign MoU in Vienna ]]>
Sisi's participation in the forum comes upon the invitation of Federal Chancellor of the Republic of Austria Sebastian Kurz, who holds the presidency of the council of the European Union and President of the Republic of Rwanda and Chairperson of the African Union Paul Kagame.

This is Sisi's first visit to Austria, and the first presidential visit between Egypt and Austria in more than 11 years, according to Ambassador of Egypt to Austria Omar Amer's statement to the media delegation accompanying the president.

Meanwhile, Presidency Spokesperson Bassam Radi referred that Egypt was invited to the forum due to the significant role the country plays in Africa, especially that it holds the presidency of the upcoming African Union.

Radi added that Sisi will deliver a speech during the forum on Egypt's vision to intensify the efforts to develop Africa.

Furthermore, Sisi will participate during the visit in a summit meeting with Federal Chancellor of Austria Kurz and will take part in talks with several Austrian officials, politicians, and investors on bilateral relations in investments, commerce, technology, innovation, education, scientific research, transportation and railway.

In this regard, Ambassador of Egypt to Austria Amer said that Sisi will meet on Wednesday representatives and businessmen of 13 companies to increase Austrian investments in Egypt.

On the sidelines of the forum, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and a cooperation agreement in different fields, including high education, innovation and technology, will be signed between Egypt and Austria.

As for the High-level Forum Africa-Europe held under the theme "Taking Cooperation to the Digital Age", the two-day forum will be attended by African and European heads of state, CEOs of major global companies as well as innovative entrepreneurs.

The forum provides the opportunity to interact with high-level government representatives, potential investors and cooperation partners, promoting the partnership between Africa and Europe.

The forum will be accompanied by Business to Business (B2B) as well as Business to Government (B2G) meetings, where entrepreneurs and innovators will be able to exchange their concepts and solutions for the digital age.

The forum aims to promote innovation and digitalization as important factors for future development and deepen the partnership in technology exchange and trade between Africa and Europe. Additionally, it will highlight importance of technology and trade for economic growth, creating jobs, building resilient societies and fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).]]>
12/16/2018 5:07:42 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian, Kenyan diplomats celebrate Jamhuri day]]>
The Jamhuri day also marks the day Kenya became a republic in 1964. December 12 of each year is observed as a national holiday across the East African country.

“It was a very special and colorful day for Kenya, as we celebrate the heroes who contributed to Kenya’s peace, and I bring greetings from our president to all attendees,” said the Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Trade Hon. Peter G. Munya who was in Cairo attending a continental meeting that discussed the establishment of a global free trade zone among the African countries.

photo (3)
Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Trade Hon. Peter G. Munya during the celebration of Jamhuri day in Cairo - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today

“Kenya is participating in the pan African movement, which encourages that African people must walk together, must trade together, and must support each other in solidarity,” he added.

photo (4)
Kenyan Cabinet Secretary of Ministry of Trade Hon. Peter G. Munya giving a speech during the celebration of the Jamhuri day in Cairo - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today

For his part, Kenyan Ambassador to Cairo Joff Otieno emphasized Kenya’s efforts to boost intra-African trade and political unity, adding that Nairobi is one of the 44 states that signed the African continental free trade agreement in March.

He further said that Kenya is engaged in promoting regional integration and security, as it maintains commitment to finding solutions to conflicts in the region.

photo (5)
Kenyan Ambassador to Cairo Joff Otieno giving a speech during the celebration of the Jamhuri day in Cairo - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today

In comments on Egypt’s leadership to the African Union in 2019, Otieno told Egypt Today that “Egypt is already a leader within the region and championing integration in Africa; it is in the forefront of Africa’s connectivity.”

Besides Egypt being the second largest importer of Kenyan tea, Otieno also highlighted the ties between both countries being members of COMESA. Additionally, Egypt’s-led project of the 4,000 kilometers navigational shipping line will connect both countries along with eight other states in 2024; the waterway stretches between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean Sea.

photo (1)
Egyptian and Kenyan diplomats celebrated the day Nairobi gained its independence from the British rule, highlighting historic relations between both countries - Photo by Nourhan Magdi/Egypt Today

Last week, Egypt hosted two important events tied to the continent; the Africa 2018 Forum in Sharm El-Sheikh and Africa Intra-trade conference in Cairo. The events gathered African companies and investors from all over the continent where Egypt manifested the role it plays to overcome challenges facing the continent. On the sidelines of the forum, Egypt hosted a military maneuver with African countries.

Mohamed Hegazy, advisor to the minister of local development for international cooperation, assured that fighting terrorism and economic development are pillars to Africa’s well-being. He further reiterated President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s description of Africa as a young continent, with the largest youth population worldwide, “which means that the success of youth is a great success to Africa.”

Tanzania picked two Egyptian firms; El Sewedy Electric Company and Arab Contractors to build a $2.9 billion hydroelectric dam in a renowned nature reserve.

“This reflects that inner-house cooperation between African countries is the key to development and that time has come to depend on each other’s resources to maintain our future,” commented Hegazy. He also underscored the importance of launching a global free trade zone, saying it is “one of Africa’s main goals in the coming decades.”]]>
12/16/2018 4:24:43 PM
<![CDATA[In Pics, video: Sisi's message to military students]]>
Sisi was accompanied by Mohamed Zaki, who has served as the country's defense minister since June 2018.

Sisi said he was keen to visit the academy at the beginning of the new military student's time inside the academy to affirm that the Military Academy and other military institutions are preparing those men who would sacrifice "their souls and blood" for the country.

Sisi said that there is a science that has tools to destroy states, adding that the people responsible for the Egyptian state have to know very well about the different forms of disputes and wars.

"We said before that the military colleges should study very well with programs and practical examples [the science of] how to demolish states," Sisi stated, adding that "we, as the [entity] responsible for national security and for protecting our nation, need to learn this well."

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visits the Cairo-based Egyptian Military Academy on Sunday morning – Press photo

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visits the Cairo-based Egyptian Military Academy on Sunday morning – Press photo

Sisi said that the military students need to understand this sort of science in order to be prepared to confront probable attempts to demolish the Egyptian state.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visits the Cairo-based Egyptian Military Academy on Sunday morning – Press photo

During his speech, Sisi also welcomed and congratulated the new students of the Military Academy, urging them to endure and to have a strong will, saying that their new "different life" requires much commitment and discipline.

"This time I insist that all the skills we are targeting in all levels are achieved before this period [students time in the academy] is over," Sisi stated, stressing that this period is a test for every student to see whether he is ready to bear "this cruel life" or not.]]>
12/16/2018 4:15:50 PM
<![CDATA[Exclusive: UNIDO director general hails Egypt’s economic reforms]]>
Li Yong, the UNIDO director general, has turned into a big fan of the Egyptian leadership that he described as a “wise” one; he hailed the economic reforms that Egypt has been undergoing and described his meeting with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi as a “fruitful talk”.

“After meeting with President Sisi, I realized that Egypt is at safe hands as the leadership is wise and fully-aware of economic and industrial challenges,” Yong told Egypt Today in exclusive remarks on Dec. 13.

“I believe that everyone has to keep learning from every step that he takes and I learnt a lot from the discussion I had with Sisi,” said Yong while he was drinking his special Chinese tea.

Sisi and Yong met on Dec. 12 and tackled ways to boost cooperation with UNIDO.
The president noted the significance of the organization's developmental projects and programs in executing the state's strategy that aims at realizing sustainable industrial development in Egypt.

Furthermore, Sisi lauded the UNIDO for including Egypt in its programme for country partnership and affirmed keenness to increase the programs and projects the organization is implementing in Egypt across various development fields. This comes in light of modernizing infrastructure in Egypt to attract investment, localize industry and provide the necessary energy sources and within the modern legislative framework and mega national projects mainly the Suez Canal Area Development Project.

For his part, Yong expressed his appreciation to be in Cairo to discuss prospects for cooperation between Egypt and the UNIDO and to support Egypt's efforts to realize the sustainable development goals by encouraging comprehensive manufacturing.

In response to a question about the UNIDO’s activity, the director general reviewed the organization's activity to implement "The Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa" initiative, which seeks to directly and effectively assist industrial development in the continent and place Africa on the right track towards achieving comprehensive and sustainable development.

“The UNIDO looks forward to Egypt's support for the initiative's activities, in light of its chairmanship of the African Union in 2019, which shall provide high-level political support and assistance in helping projects that will be implemented under the initiative's umbrella succeed,” Yong added.

“Encouraging the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) topped my talks with the Egyptian statesmen,” Yong noted.

In a related context, Yong manifested that encouraging and developing SMEs will create more job opportunities for youth and women and will attract more investments which spontaneously will contribute to building new factories and opening new industries.
He stressed that UNIDO will assist Egypt to enhance its economic and industrial position like what it did with China in the 1960s.

Yong noted that UNIDO helps youth get prepared for occupying jobs. “More than 5000 youth completed their training courses given by UNIDO professionals and they are ready now to run and lead small and medium projects.”

Over 2017 -2018, the UNIDO portfolio in Egypt comprised 11 main projects with a total budget of over $30 million implemented with the generous support of nine primary donors. UNIDO team in Egypt comprises about 60 professionals based in Cairo, Alexandria and Egypt’s Delta, Luxor, Sohag and Minya.
12/16/2018 1:51:21 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi leaves for Austria to take part in High-Level Africa-Europe Forum]]>
The spokesman noted that extending invitation to President Sisi to attend the forum comes in appreciation of Egypt's position in Africa and the region especially ahead of Egypt's presidency to the African Union in 2019.

President Sisi is to deliver an address at the forum to tackle Egypt's visit to push forward development efforts in Africa, the spokesman added.

As regards bilateral relations between Egypt and Austria, the spokesman said the president's visit will include meetings with a number of politicians, senior officials and investors on furthering cooperation in the trade, educational and scientific research, transport and investment domains.

A host of African and European leaders are to take part in the event aiming at enhancing African-European partnership.]]>
12/16/2018 12:54:01 PM
<![CDATA[Austrian media highlight Sisi's visit to Vienna]]>
The Austrian news agency highlighted Sisi's acceptance of the invitation of Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen to visit the country for talks on boosting bilateral cooperation.

Sisi will also take part in the High-Level Africa-Europe Forum and hold talks with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and National Council Wolfgang Sobotka.

He will meet with a group of businessmen and investors on boosting economic cooperation.

"Die Presse" Newspaper reported that Austria is wrapping up its presidency of the EU by hosting the forum that will see the participation of a number of African and European leaders.

The forum, the paper said, will help enhance partnership between the two continents.

Sisi left Cairo earlier on Sunday for Austria to take part in the high-level Africa-Europe Forum, co-hosted by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Kurz.]]>
12/16/2018 12:40:26 PM
<![CDATA[Abul Gheit: Australia decision to recognize West Jerusalem "alarming"]]>
In statements on the fringe of his participation in a conference on "Digital Economy in the Arab region", Abul Gheit said the recognition of West Israeli as capital of Israel along with a negligence of recognizing East Jerusalem as a capital of Palestinian is a clear bias towards the Israelis against the Palestinians and their rights.

He termed as "very alarming" the Australian situation and urged the government of Australia to rectify its position and recognize East Jerusalem as a capital of the Palestinian state to strike a balance in its situation.]]>
12/16/2018 12:03:22 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt voices concern over Israeli escalation in Palestinian lands]]>
In a statement, the Foreign Ministry warned of possible repercussions of this Israeli escalation.

It called for halting such acts, which could lead only to more deterioration, that, in turn, undermines efforts exerted to revive the stalled peace process.

The statement renewed Egypt's support for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian leadership.

It also reiterated Cairo's firm stance toward the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian people's rights including setting up an independent state with Al Quds as its capital.

The foreign ministry asserted that Egypt continues its intensive contacts to bring this escalation to a halt.]]>
12/16/2018 11:01:38 AM
<![CDATA[French 'yellow vests' protest in their thousands for fifth Saturday]]>
In Paris, police were out in force to contain outbursts of violence. But the demonstrations were noticeably smaller than in previous weeks, possibly a response to the Strasbourg attack or to the cold, rainy weather.

Police fired water cannon and teargas in the afternoon to disperse groups of protesters in sporadic, brief clashes with riot police on the Champs-Elysees and adjacent streets.

Topless feminist activists braved the cold to face off with security forces, a few metres away from the Elysee Palace, the president's residence.

And French media showed footage of clashes between police and protesters in Nantes, western France, and further south in Bordeaux and Toulouse.

The 'yellow vest' movement started in mid-November with protests at junctions and roundabouts against fuel tax increases, but quickly became a wider mobilisation against Macron's economic policies.

Successive weekends of protests in Paris have lead to vandalism and violent clashes with security forces. Despite the protests, several major stores, such as the Galeries Lafayette, opened to lure in Christmas shoppers.

Loic Bollay, 44, marching on the Champs-Elysees in a yellow vest, said the protests were more subdued but the movement would go on until the demonstrators' grievances were addressed.

"Since the Strasbourg attack, it is calmer, but I think next Saturday and the following Saturdays...it will come back."

The Interior Minister said around 69,000 police were active on Saturday with a reinforced presence in Toulouse, Bordeaux and Saint-Etienne.

Official figures said 66,000 protesters had been counted in France by 1700 GMT, compared to 126,000 at the same time a week before.

In Paris, some 4,000 protesters marched in splintered groups in several neighbourhoods, and at least 168 were arrested, a Paris police official said.

On Friday, President Macron called for a return to calm in France after nearly a month of protests by the so-called 'yellow vest' movement against his government's policies. The demonstrations have hit growth and caused widespread disruption.

"France needs calm, order and a return to normal," Macron said, after a meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

In a televised address on Monday, Macron announced wage rises for the poorest workers and tax cuts for pensioners in further concessions meant to end the movement, but many said they would maintain pressure.

The government, as well as several unions and opposition politicians had called on protesters to stay off the streets, after four people were killed in a gun attack at a Christmas market in the historic city of Strasbourg. ]]>
12/16/2018 12:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[GERD-lagging construction sees new delay due to work defects]]>
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 the new developments, extended to 11 years.

Talking to the Associated Press, GERD manager Kifle Hora, who was recently assigned to manage the major project succeeding late Simegnew Bekele, said there were concerns about the quality of the electro-mechanical works in the project, which were handled by the country’s military-run Metal and Engineering Corporation (MetEC).

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiye Ahmed strongly criticized the corporation’s performance, blaming it for the project’s lagging, which is costing the government. In November, MetEC’s former head Brigadier General Kinfe Dagnew and a number of high level officials were arrested over charges of embezzlement and mismanagement.

Along with MetEC, the Italian company, Salini Impreglio, was also hired for the construction work of the multi-billion dollar GERD; Salini finalized 82 percent of its assigned work.

According to Ethiopia’s The Reporter newspaper, the dam has consumed 98 billion birr ($3.5 billion) against its initial total budget of 80 billion birr. Manager Kifle has left open the expected budget to be consumed until work is done, putting the figure of annual cost of the delay at USD 800 million.

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. The Reporter quoted the 42-year-old Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as saying that the negotiation process reached a state of terms whether the dam should be filled within the range of four to seven years period. However, no similar announcement has been disclosed from the Egyptian side. President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi rather urged last month the technical committees to reach an agreement soon since they have not yet.

"We want to turn Ethiopia's good intentions into [actual] agreements," Sisi stated, adding that Egypt wants to ensure the dam “will not be used for political purposes.”

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.”

“It is not possible that Ethiopia would reach the extent to cut off the water flow to Egypt as many people are afraid from,” Nasr added.

The GERD is a problem but can be handled without tensions because Ethiopia’s leadership and people are smart and are fully aware, ruling out “mistaken concerns” of Ethiopia cutting water flowing to Egypt.

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. ]]>
12/15/2018 5:24:01 PM
<![CDATA[Palestine urges int'l community's action against Israeli aggression]]>
In a statement released Saturday, the Palestinian ministry called on the international community to swiftly take action to stop such an aggression “before it is too late.”

The crime committed by the Israeli forces is a sort of collective punishment imposed on the Palestinian people and is a reflection of Israel’s political decisions, especially the escalating ones recently taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, which included the demolition of several Palestinian houses, it said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry also held the Israeli government, led by Netanyahu, fully responsible for today’s aggression and its consequences.]]>
12/15/2018 1:17:19 PM
<![CDATA[Palestinian cabinet blames Israel for West Bank's deteriorating conditions]]>
The cabinet held Israel also accountable for attacking Amari refugee camp in Ramallah and demolishing the house of Abu Hmeid besides opening fire on Palestinian citizens.

In a press release, the Palestinian government spokesman Yousuf al Mahmoud urged providing international protection for the unarmed Palestinians whose lives and property are endangered by Israel.]]>
12/15/2018 1:15:10 PM
<![CDATA[Britain: We will not stay silent on conditions in territories]]>
During an interview with Palestine TV, Samuel stressed that the PA is the legitimate authority for stability and security in the region, noting that Britain represented by its cabinet and ministers urges the Israelis to stop their violations.

Concerning the extremist calls launched by settlers to assassinate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Samuel asserted that Abbas is the legitimate leader of Palestine who should be protected.]]>
12/15/2018 1:12:30 PM
<![CDATA[BBC criticized for ‘inaccurate’, ‘unprofessional’ report about Japan]]>
December 11’s ‘BBC Trending’ episode, featured Japan’s new decree to recruit foreign workers saying that Tokyo opened its doors for at least 340, 000 foreign worker in the fields of manufacturing, agriculture and construction. The video claimed that ‘Japanese people were aging and that they are unable to work anymore.’

‘About 20 percent of the Japanese are over 65, and most of them are not able to work anymore.’ The video host stated. She added that the new Japanese law includes issuing 5 year-visas to foreign workers with no crafts and indefinite duration visas for those who have main professions and high academic degree.

Another condition from the Japanese authorities to grant foreigner workers a visa according to the video is Japanese language proficiency. The video also featured number of tweets for social media users who attacked Japan and its policy towards immigrants. One of the users said that Japan initiative is ‘not out of humanity; but because they need workers for their own interest’.

Another user claimed that Japan has severe working conditions pushes people to commit suicide.

“A population of 127 million and only 2 million among them considered to be foreigners. Japan is a progressive and liberal country, however, there are a lot of comments anyone can take on it.” The host said.

Khaldon Azhary, Editor in Chief of PanOrient News told BBC Trending Program in the video that there is severe shortage in the number of workers in several sectors inside Japan, these sectors numbers are up to fourteen sectors. “Before the new law amendments, workers who did not have a craft or profession could not come to Japan, but now they need them. For example: waiters and taxi drivers will now have the opportunity to come and settle down in Japan.” Azhary said.

He added that if the authorities insisted to keep the language proficiency as a condition, not more than one thousand workers will be able to travel, because it is not a common or easy language.

This is inaccurate

“This video is full of mistakes and inaccurate numbers, especially claiming that 20 percent of Japan population is over 65 years old.” Japan in Arabic tweeted replying to BBC video.

Japan in Arabic also described the host’s way presenting the new law as ‘unprofessional’ and affirmed that the tweets chosen by the show was not true and full of false information.

“Welcome to #myths_about_japan hashtag” Japan in Arabic added in its tweet.

Japan in Arabic verified account which is linked to Nippon.com website joined twitter in August 2012, and since then it has been publishing information and stories addressing the Arab readers to introduce them to the Japanese culture.

Moreover, it lunched #myths_about_japan hashtag to replay to all false news posted on social media.

Not the first time

This is However, not the first time to BBC to be criticized over inaccurate information. Last February BBC produced false report called “The Shadow over Egypt” on alleged enforced disappearance cases in Egypt which was extremely denied by the authorities and proved to be wrong.

The report discussed the Case of Egyptian citizen called Zubeida Ibrahim.
In a talk show aired on ON E privet channel and hosted by Amr Adeeb , BBC was criticized for its unprofessional reporting and allegations, as Zubeida Ibrahim herself was interviewed denying all of the report information.

Egypt State Information Service (SIS) issued, then, a statement saying that Ibrahim’s interview with ON E entirely disproves the authenticity of the BBC report on her enforced disappearance and torture. BBC report claimed that Ibrahim disappeared on 8 April 2017, according to statements given by her mother.

Adeeb interviewed Ibrahim who revealed that she has been married for a year with a son called "Hamza" and she lives at Faisal neighborhood.

The young female said that her mother's false statements to BBC were given because the mother did not know her daughter’s whereabouts, Ibrahim asked her mother to forgive her and to accept to meet her as soon as possible.

BBC later was criticized. Head of the Journalists Syndicate Abdel Mohsen Salama said that BBC lost its credibility as media source.

BBC lost credibility as media source: Journalists Syndicate

CAIRO - 10 March 2018: Head of the Journalists Syndicate Abdel Mohsen Salama said on Friday that BBC lost its credibility as media source after its false report on alleged enforced disappearance cases in Egypt. Salama stressed the need to continue the Egyptian boycott to BBC as long as it ignored to apologize for its "disastrous mistake".

12/14/2018 10:28:50 PM
<![CDATA[Analysis: How the UK’s Conservative Party increases its membership]]>
From Winston Churchill to Theresa May, party leaders have always tried to increase the size of their party’s memberships.

Whether it is through speeches, applying certain laws, or even knocking on individuals’ doors, the truth remains: the key to having more members is in pleasing people. This is because democracy in Britain does not mean that the people rule, however, it means that the people elect the party that represents them, according to researcher Chivers.

More members mean more donations and therefore more money can be spent on campaigns to win elections, and propaganda to lure more citizens into becoming members. But one can still question who the members are. Typically, many people join the Conservative party for various reasons. Some may have wanted to join in order to be heard, yet others may have been approached by current members of the party, in order to talk them into joining the Conservatives, as Whiteley points out in a 1994 paper. What is certain though is that most of the members are inactive and are only there to give money to the party rather than campaign on its behalf or attend meetings.

Since the widening of the franchise in the 1860s until 1997, the Conservative party has been known to be the most successful political party in the west, Seldon clarifies in much of his research. Their success and continuous importance on the political ground are a result of two important points. Firstly, their electoral success in regards to general elections, which has greatly shaped the Conservatives as a party that always plays a major part in politics, which makes people reluctant to voting for anyone else, as they believe that no other party will ever win. Secondly, ‘Britain’s society and economy have been substantially shaped in the conservative image,’ as, mentioned by Ball and Holliday (2002). This again contributed to the memberships increasing, as the most important things people care about are the economy and society. Our understanding of the economy has made this country better, and Britons do not want to go back to the low economy of before the way, and there fore they again will be reluctant to any change, in fact they become members as they want to continue with this way of managing the economy. Both these reasons have contributed a lot as, humans in natural, would rather stick with the tried and tested than go for something new and mysterious.

Furthermore, in 1867, the National Union of Conservatives and Constitutional Associations was established in order to stimulate more citizens to join the party. Additionally, the Conservatives issued the Corrupt Act of 1883 and proposed the Maxwell-Fyfe committee, which disqualified any large donations by wealthy parliamentary candidates and MPs to any constituency associations. This attracted citizens’ attention and conveyed the Conservatives as honest people, who are concerned about the public. This lead to the increase of the members as people wanted to be part of such a ‘great Party’. Not only did this increase the Party’s membership, but it also caused many to withdraw from other Party’s as the question of why other parties did not establish this Act, spread through people’s minds.

During the time of Sir Winston Churchill, the conservatives did more than their fair share in fighting to increase their memberships. Starting with the Second World War, Churchill encouraged the Conservatives to fight for their country, so to appear brave. By the start of 1941, 184 Conservatives agents along with 135 Conservative MPs and most of the Conservative members of which were of legal age were in the armed forces. This, Ramsden points out in his research, along with the death of 14 MPs and the 17 that were decorated, caused many to believe that the Tories are ‘glorious and trustworthy’. At the time, the Tories were viewed as nationalists and that is the spirit that people were in need of.

Churchill, noticing this, went on to do a series of speeches and knocked on people’s doors to thank them for helping their country, making people happy that someone appreciates what they are doing for their country. This made people think that he was in touch with his community, again leading to the increase of his party’s memberships.

After the war, Churchill lost many of his followers and members as most citizens wanted to forget about the war, Addison points out in 2011. In an attempt to persuade them to become Tories again, he transformed the party into a new younger party. First, he created the Young Conservative Organization, which was astonishingly a great success, as it appealed to those young ones who were looking for social activity – like Margaret Thatcher; this also appealed to the parents that wanted their kids to be more social. Then he created a new Conservative Political Centre and this made the British believe that the Tories have become more modern, increasing their supporters, Johnson argues in 2003. This happened by firstly drawing in the younger people that wanted to participate, then making them talk their parents, friends and other family members into joining the party. Many of these joined just because they were asked to join by people who were close to them, and others were simply unaware of the Conservative policies and only read about them after they were approached.

Moreover, what made people come pouring into the party was the image of a new more educated Conservative organization that had been painted by the Swinton Conservative College, that led to plenty of conservatives returning by 1955. This idea of a more educated Party, for people who had been in war for a long time, gave people hope that the country will become better and will move forward. But most importantly, Churchill made it seem to non-members that being a Conservative is what shaped him into the Greatest English Man alive, making hundreds become members.

Baroness Margret Thatcher, of course, managed it in a whole different manner. The ‘Iron Lady’ had a very strong personality that attracted people to listen to her. Her excellent way of publicizing her policies, along side her speech skills, acted as a stimulus for all of Britain to join the Conservatives. Starting with when she was running for the first time, she publicized pegging the mortgage rate to nine and a half per cent, even though it was not her idea. This was not only helpful to the party in terms of increasing their membership and getting more votes, but it also benefited her in the sense that it increased her supporters within the party. She also, took advantage of the British people’s ‘strong anti-union sentiment’ and offered free economy and tax cuts, as Daniels argues in a 2013 paper, which increased her supporters.

Unfortunately, under David Cameron, Carswell found in 2013, the membership nearly halved. Cameron tried increasing the number of members by renewing the party. Very similar to Blair’s ideas of attracting members, he tried showing people the ‘new’ face of the Conservatives; he referred to it as ‘the detoxification method’, says Heffernan and others in a 2011 article. Unfortunately for him, Blair’s method may have worked at the time but has now caused backlashing and great party loses. One of the many points that he thought would increase his popularity and show the party as changing was his support for gay marriage; this backfired on him and was a ‘slap in the face for the vast majority of the Tory members’, according to Goldman’s 2013 publication, as it went against the Party’s policy. This caused members lose trust for the Conservatives, some even felt betrayed as they felt that the Conservatives were u-turning.

Some believe that this decline in memberships is due to current members not being heard. Party leaders, who said that the party is willing to listen to all the members, later challenged this. In an attempt to save his party, Cameron, sends a weekly email to members asking them about their ideas and complaints. To back this up, and make people feel wanted even more he publically suggested that, ‘Parties should throw their doors open to people from outside the party.’ Despite their regular emails to members, the Conservative Party happens to have the least developed communication system between all the major parties in the West, according to a comparative study, they have only recently started to utilize Facebook. They may deliver hand written letters to citizens in order to lure them into the party but they do not communicate over the net like they should be doing. This has conveyed to the British people that the Conservatives are only interested in a certain class of people. This has affected the Conservative membership greatly, as it made people back away due to the fear of people neglected or unaccepted.

In conclusion, even though the Conservative membership may have halved since the beginning of Cameron’s term but it is not because people are less interested in politics. However, it is because people do not think that they are being heard. Modern day British citizens are more likely to join ‘single issue campaigns than political parties that represent antiquated class interests,’ as expressed by Goodman in 2013 as they are more likely to be accepted in them. They do not think that a huge party with so many interests will be able to change things as quickly as a single issue campaign will, because political parties have a lot of issues to deal with at the same time.
12/14/2018 5:29:20 PM
<![CDATA[Conceptual shift in climate change projects are vital: Environment Min.]]>
The meeting tackled adaptation and mitigation programs and projects in developing countries.

During the meeting, the minister pointed out the vitality of carrying out a conceptual change in order to prepare programs to be more suitable for climate change issues. Fouad used Egypt’s recent approaches towards relying more on new and renewable energy as evidence of positive change and the importance of shifting gear to ensure the best for the environment.

Earlier, in November 2018, Parliament’s Energy and Environment Committee has started discussing the spread of electric cars in Egypt to replace gas-fueled vehicles.

Parliamentarian Abdel Hamid Demerdash proposed the topic and noted about the spread of electric cars globally.

Demerdash stressed that Egypt should benefit from experience of other countries in using electric cars.

“By 2040, all cars across the world are supposed to be electric,” said Husseini al-Far, a member of the Electricity Distribution Sector.

He noted that Egypt has been working on a concrete plan, in coordination with different ministries, to adopt the same global trend and use electric cars instead of gas-fueled cars.

“However, we still need more legislations on customs, tax and solar energy stations,” Far added.

In March, Trade Minister Tarek Kabil issued a decision allowing the import of used electric cars, on condition that they are no more than three years old.

Kabil said in a statement that the rules for importing cars in general do not allow the import of used cars, but an exception is permitted for electric cars to encourage the use of these environmentally friendly vehicles.

In addition to the electric vehicles’ contribution to reducing carbon emissions, they are also cost-efficient and are thereby exempted from custom duties, Kabil added.

The minister confirmed the ministry’s keenness to encourage the manufacture of electric cars in Egypt, especially after the launch of a network for the transport and maintenance of electric cars in Egypt.

Kabil said that many countries around the globe are heading towards using these kind of cars, with some countries, such as the United Kingdom, announcing that it will only allow electric cars on roads by 2040.

Unlike conventional vehicles that use a gasoline or diesel-powered engine, electric cars and trucks use an electric motor powered by electricity from batteries or a fuel cell, and therefore they are cleaner than the most efficient conventional vehicles.

Egypt has been working on boosting its car industry, with several companies expressing their interest to invest in the local automotive sector.

Kabil said in previous statements that the current investment in the auto industry is at about $3 billion; $1.6 billion in the automotive industry and $1.4 billion in the feeding industries.

Egypt’s car industry has about 170 companies, including 19 companies that manufacture and assemble passenger cars, buses, micro and minibuses, and transport vehicles, while more than 150 companies are engaged in manufacturing a number of car components.

Additional reporting by Nawal Sayed
12/14/2018 4:31:57 PM
<![CDATA[China launches program in Egypt for burns treatment]]>
With the program, named UN Every Woman Every Child China Partnership Network Life Regeneration Action Program in Egypt, "MEBO targets at treating around 200 cases and training 2,000 medical staff in eight public hospitals," Kevin P. Xu, chairman of MEBO International, told Xinhua in an interview.

"We are planning to spend 350,000 U.S. dollars and establish eight centers for researches on technology for curing patients of burns in Egypt till the end of 2020," Xu said.

MEBO International was founded in 1987, inventing the burn regenerative medical technology, has been a pioneer in human body regenerative restoration science.

The company, which has headquarters in China as well as the United States, Thailand, India and Malaysia, focuses on the treatment of burns, wounds, ulcers and skin regeneration. Some of its products include medical and health care products, nutritional supplements, cosmetics and skincare products and medical devices.

The MEBO initiative first started with hospitals that have more experience in treating the patients with the MEBO medicine, said Magdy al-Saaty, chairman of the gulf medical company Julphar that manufactures MEBO medicine in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

"Each country will benefit and gain more experience from the initiative based on the nature of the targeted society," al-Saaty said.
"The initiative will run in stages. The first will start with four public hospitals that have the largest burn units in Cairo, and then will continue in other provinces of Daqahlia, Assuit, and Alexandria," he said.

MEBO will distribute medicine and aid for women and children who are receiving treatment for burns in the targetted hospitals, he added.

The UN initiative Every Woman Every Child was formally launched by former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2010 with an aim to reduce child mortality and improvement of maternal heath through global collaboration.
12/14/2018 3:06:42 PM
<![CDATA[On Parliamentary table: Proposal to implement electronic payment of litigation charges]]>
In a statement to Egypt Today, Foad said that the proposal aims to provide electronic payment services for the fees of litigation so that the payment methods vary between payment using credit/debit cards, mail or payment points, with the aim of mitigating congestion in the ministry-related affair and to facilitate procedures for citizens.

Foad went on to explain that the proposal comes within the framework of the administrative reform plan and Egypt’s efforts to reach sustainable development, which represents a vision of the comprehensive development line being witnessed in the country, and seeking to achieve more financial coverage in accordance with the laws and global trends in adopting policies that reduce money handling and encourage the use of financial instruments, like e-banking.

The MP demanded that proposal be referred to the Complaints and Proposals Committee for consideration in preparation for transmission to the ministries and appropriate authorities.

12/14/2018 3:02:50 PM
<![CDATA[Elders, youths line up for ‘100 Million Seha’ campaign in governorates]]>
In a walk through the governorates, Egypt Today spoke to a number of citizens in key governorates, who all spoke of the positivity of the campaign and its great contribution to human development.

In Ismailia, Hassan Gharib said that the initiative is unique and occurs in the first time in Egypt. Gharib added that over the past years there have been many deaths due to these diseases, but now the detection and treatment to eliminate these diseases free of charge. Unnecessary deaths can now be mitigated.

An elderly women, known as Haga Samiha, went on to say, “Although I am not feeling well and I am ill, I was keen and determined to come to the unit to get a check-up done,” implying how beneficial the campaign really is for the Egyptian everyday people.

Gamal Sadek Mohammed added that he waited for the campaign to come to Ismailia so that he can come as soon as it launches.

In the Red Sea governorate, Laila Osman, a housewife said that she was surprised to learn that the Virus C test is free of charge; she had thought that the process was free but that she would have to pay for the Virus C test.

By doing the tests, Osman found that she has Virus C and she was sent to the appropriate place to take the medication free of charge.

Ahmed Yassin, a manager of one of the touristic hotels, said that the initiative shows that Sisi is making the Egyptian citizen his first priority, stressing that many have done the medical test to meet the president's orders and ensure the country develops.

New record has been achieved in the number of Egyptians who were examined as part of the Ministry of Health initiative ‘100 Million Seha’ to end Hepatitis C in Egypt under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al Sisi; Minister of Health Hala Zayed said.

She added in a statement on December 7, that the total number of examined Egyptians has reached 14.2 Million until now. “About 500, 000 Egyptian are being examined daily since the beginning of phase two of the initiative, which kicked off in December.” Zayed explained.

Photo courtesy of ‘100 Million Seha’ official facebook page

Minster of Health also, has welcomed several international officials and representatives during the past period, whom showed great interest in the governmental campaign. “We are looking for conveying the Egyptian experience to stop Hepatitis C to all other countries around the world, including Africa.” World Bank’s Health and Nutrition Manager in the Middle East North Africa Region, Ernest Massiah, said during his visit to Cairo following up with the governmental Campaign.

He affirmed that the initiative has proven positive effect on Egyptian’s health.

In November, Zayed said that the second phase of the state’s campaign to end Hepatitis C in Egypt by 2020 will be implemented starting December 1.

The second phase was announced to include 11 governorates, including Cairo, North Sinai, Red Sea, Ismailia, Suez, Kafr el-Sheikh, Menoufia, Beni Suef, Sohag, Luxor, and Aswan. The second phase is set to end late in February 2019.

In October, Zayed said that a campaign to test people for Hepatitis C would run from October 1 to the end of April 2019, stressing that patients would receive treatment for one to one and a half year to announce Egypt free from the blood-borne disease by 2020 or 2021.

Concerning the first phase of the campaign, Khaled Megahed, the Health Ministry spokesman said about 10 million citizens were examined for Hepatitis C within 90 days.

Zayed revealed that 422,000 people of the total number of people examined tested positive for Hepatitis C.

She earlier said that the tests revealed that 4.5 percent of the examined citizens as part of the campaign’s first phase tested positive for Hepatitis C.

The first phase of the campaign was carried out in nine governorates including Alexandria, Damietta, Qalyubia, Port Said, Marsa Matrouh, South Sinai, Beheira, Fayoum and Assiut.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that at least one in 10 Egyptians aged between 15 and 59 are infected, adding that the virus kills an estimated 40,000 Egyptians a year due to lack of awareness.

Hence, the government has been making strides to combat hepatitis C by launching the national anti-HCV program across Egypt to eliminate the hepatitis C virus (HCV) under the directive of President Sisi. The efforts of the campaign were recognized by the WHO in 2016 during a visit by WHO Director-General Margret Chan.

Since the launch of the program, 1.4 million citizens infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) have been treated, and the government is still looking to fully cure 1.5 million more during 2018.
12/14/2018 2:40:56 PM
<![CDATA[Factories that refuse to withdraw expired drugs to be shut down: Consumer Protection]]>

Muti went on to explain that there is coordination in place between the agency responsible for Consumer Protection and the Syndicate of Pharmacists on the obligation of companies to withdraw drugs expired from the market through the force of the law, where it punishes and establishes controls for the counter-drugs of unknown origin and expired.
12/14/2018 1:15:39 PM
<![CDATA[Fiber optic technology to be introduced in 2,530 schools]]>
The minister explained that the state’s plan 2018 – 2022, which is part of the 2030 Vision, speaks of the importance of internet access and human development.

The minister went on to explain that in partnership with 65 companies operating in 2,530 schools in Saloum, Shalatin, Sinai, and others, tablet have been bought and given to schools to encourage students to attend.

“We have installed screens in 11,000 classrooms in villages. No one knows this piece of information. Screens are connected with servers. That system will be introduced in all public schools,” the minister explained.

Egypt has taken many strides in the world of fiber optics during 2018.

In March, Egypt inaugurates two factories set to produce fiber optic cables to meet local demand and export abroad.

The adoption of the Digital Transformation Strategy by the Egyptian government has led to quick developments in the technological sector, a move that President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has encourages.

In line with this strategy, 16 cities in Egypt are set to be connected via fiber optic cables, which provide the highest speed of data transmission.

The move towards the production and export of fiber optic cables comes as part of the government’s smart cities move and President Sisi’s “Egypt Produces Technology” initiative.

The Egyptian government, represented by the Ministry of Communications, inaugurated today the first phase of the factories that will produce the fiber optic cables. In cooperation with the Chinese, the factories are set to meet local demand and export abroad.

Although it is the second Egyptian product to be manufactured in the local market since the announcement of the presidential initiative – the first being Sico, the first Egyptian smart phone – the Egyptian market has many success stories. Most prominently, the Beni Suef factory for Samsung Electronics Egypt; the factory manufactures screens and exports them to many countries in the region.

These smart cities will be built with advanced technological infrastructure based on fiber optical cables, which offer high speeds in the transmission of digital data and information from 100 to 200 Mbps, depending on the strength of the technological structure.

The investment in Badr City, High Technoville Optic, will span over a period of three years and is worth some $30 million. In cooperation between Egypt’s Heitkenoffel and China's Hang Tung, it is expected to have a local manufacturing rate of 80 percent during this period.

The factory aims to manufacture the ‘Core’ or mold, a thin glass of ultra-clear glass to transport light, which is one of the most important components of optical cables. Only a limited number of factories in the world produce this material, meaning that Egypt is set to penetrate a very important market that enjoys very high demand.

The factory will also manufacture Mcro-trenching cables, a new technology that can be implemented without digging up the roads via a technique called blowing fiber. These cables, which save 30 percent in time and money, require only 10 centimetres below the surface of the ground.

Over the past four years, Telecom Egypt have been working on replacing copper wires in all Egyptian governorates with fiber optic wires. As of June 2017, the company had replaced 40 percent of the plan. It aims to extend fiber optic cables in new cities, including the New Administrative Capital.

According to international research, fiber cables have many great benefits that make them more practical, effective and efficient compared with copper wires.

The comparison between fiber cables and copper wires comes down to one key point: speed. The speed of the photons in fiber optic cables is much faster to that of the electrions in the copper wires. Fiber optic cables are only 31 percent slower than the speed of light!

Second, fiber cables can carry signals much farther than copper wires, which are typically limited to a distance of 328 feet. According to Tripp.Lite, a leading technological research website, “some 10 Gbps singlemode fiber cables can carry signals almost 25 miles.” It all comes down, however, to the type of cable, the wavelength and the network.

Third, fiber cables are impermeable to electromagnetic interference. Copper wires can sometimes produce electromagnetic currents, if they are not properly installed or are not kept up properly. This often leads to interference between different wires, leading to bigger issues and mayhem. Once this interference occurs, it is very difficult and time-consuming to sort out the wires again. Fiber optic cables do not face this issue due to the fact that, unlike copper cables, they do not conduct electricity.

Fourth, according to Beyond Tech, Copper wires can catch on fire, fiber optic cables cannot. This benefit can be attributed to the fact that they do not produce electromagnetic interference, and are therefore not a fire hazard. This is especially beneficial in Egypt’s case due to the weather conditions in Egypt, which typically agitate wires and the fact that these wires may be in remote areas that would be difficult to reach quickly.

Fifth, fiber optic technology would cost Egypt less as they do not break as easily as copper cables. Despite being made of glass, fiber optic cables are less prone to damage that copper wires. This means that Egyptian authorities have to worry less about their up-keeping and replacement; ultimately, they will cost the country less and offer faster, cleaner service.
12/14/2018 12:34:01 PM
<![CDATA[Islam urges Muslims to congratulate others on religious holidays]]>
In a motion graphic video published on Dar al-Ifta’s official Facebook page Thursday, it was stated that Islam believes in the Peaceful coexistence between all people regardless of their religious beliefs. The video also called for exchanging gifts and treating individuals from different religious backgrounds well.

The video also called on all Muslims to stick to Islam’s moderate teachings and not to follow extremists who “explain religion teachings as they desire and according to their own interests.”

“Follow Allah’s teachings and his prophet Mohammed. Never believe extremists. All prophets’ birthday is a holiday that deserves to be celebrated as a result to what they did for humanity,” the video said.

Some extremists used to claim that congratulating non-Muslims and people from different religions on their holidays is not compatible with Islam, or even makes for impious Muslims, which was extremely denied by Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta.

12/14/2018 12:08:46 PM
<![CDATA[China warns Tibetans not to be taken in ahead of Dalai Lama anniversary]]>
Beijing sent troops into Tibet in 1950 in what it officially terms a peaceful liberation and has ruled there with an iron fist even since. The Dalai Lama, the highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, fled into exile to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China routinely denounces him as a dangerous separatist, although the Dalai Lama says he merely wants genuine autonomy for his remote and mountainous homeland.

The official Tibet Daily said in a lengthy commentary released online late on Thursday the Dalai Lama had never given up promoting Tibetan independence, dismissing his intentions to seek a "middle way" of genuine autonomy.

"Whether it's the 'middle way' or a 'high degree of autonomy', the aim is to try and negate the leadership of the party, negate the socialist system, and negate the ethnic autonomous region system," the paper wrote.

It said the Dalai Lama has tried to use hostile forces in the Western media to spread his "rumours and slander" against China to promote Tibetan independence, ignoring the freedoms and respect accorded to the people of Tibet.

"In the face of the lies of the 14th Dalai Lama, the various peoples of Tibet should be even more aware that socialist new Tibet replacing the theistic and feudal system of old Tibet was a historical necessity, and a victory for the truth and the people," the paper wrote.

There was no immediate reaction to the paper's commentary from the India-based exiled Tibetan government.

Rights groups say the situation for ethnic Tibetans inside what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region remains extremely difficult.

The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said in June conditions were "fast deteriorating" in Tibet.

This week, the U.S. Senate passed the Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act, which now goes to the White House for President Donald Trump to sign into law.

That act seeks to promote access to Tibet for U.S. diplomats and other officials, journalists, and other citizens by denying entry into the United States for Chinese officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.

All foreigners need special permission to enter Tibet, which is generally granted for tourists but very infrequently for foreign diplomats and journalists. ]]>
12/14/2018 6:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[German min.: Egypt is key pillar of stability in Africa]]>
Jäger and Abdel Ati met to follow up on agreements signed during the recent visit by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to Germany. They discussed convening a ministerial meeting of the joint committee to further boost cooperation and coordination at international forums.

The German minister hailed Sisi's vision of the country's domestic situation and the latest developments in the Egyptian-German relations, as quoted by Abdel Ati.

Egypt's diplomat quoted Jäger as saying that Berlin is interested in boosting cooperation with Cairo, for being a main partner to Germany in the African continent.

The Egyptian ambassador added that he probed with the German minister means of cementing bilateral cooperation in Africa, especially in light of Cairo's presidency of the African Union in 2019.

Also, Abdel Ati pointed out that the agreements signed during Sisi's visit will be activated as per a timetable covering 2018 and 2019.

Additional reporting by MENA
12/13/2018 12:30:04 PM
<![CDATA[ Parl’t holds 1st meeting to reconsider medical research draft law]]>
This came during the first meeting of a special parliamentary committee that was formed to re-study the draft law, which was referred to the Parliament after Sisi objected to some articles.

Sherif said the president’s objections indicate that the punitive provisions of the draft law have been too harsh, which could cause a state of terror and fear among researchers, explaining that the project prohibited sending human samples for research abroad.

President Sisi objected to some articles of the draft law regulating medical and clinical research, calling the Parliament to reconsider them, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal announced on October 2 during the fourth round’s plenary session.

Sisi referred in his letter to the Parliament that the draft law is important and dangerous, as it is related to the protection of the constitution, the sanctity of the human body, and the freedom of scientific research.

In this regard, he referred to Article 60 of the Egyptian Constitution reading “the sanctity of the human body is inviolable,and assaulting or defaming it is a crime that shall be punished by law. Human body shall not be subjected to any medical and scientific experiment.”

The Egyptian president returned the draft law to the Parliament to be reconsidered, opposing the draft law’s Articles 4, 5, 9, 11, 19, 20 and 22, which refer that all researchers and scientists should seek the prior approval of the Higher Council of Medical Research ahead of conducting any medical or clinical experiments and tests.

“The researches include masters, doctorate, free and funded researches in the Faculty of Medicine. That means it is impossible to follow up these huge numbers of researches, carried out every month, only by committees in every research entity.”

Sisi also opposed the small number of representatives of Egyptian faculties and institutes in the Supreme Council, which reaches only 4 out of 15 members as 97 percent of researches are carried out inside faculties and institutes.

Sisi further rejected the draft law’s punitive articles as “they do not take into account the nature of scientific research and consider that the irregularities are the same in all types of research.”

Moreover, the draft law stipulates that sending human samples abroad shall be punished by a prison sentence.

In this regard, President Sisi said that sending the samples abroad will allow examining them with modern equipment, which may not be locally available; hence, the draft law will require issuing reports on specialists’ work free of charge, costing the state a lot of money and affecting the quality and expansion of scientific research in Egypt.

Sherif subsequently said that the General Committee will listen to the concerned entities, including the Ministry of Higher Education and the Supreme Council of Universities, in addition to senior experts and scientists as well as the heads of the education and scientific research and health affairs committees.

Mohamed al-Amari, head of the Parliament’s Health Affairs Committee, remarked that the General Committee will form a specialized committee to redraft the articles of the draft law.
12/13/2018 12:19:55 PM
<![CDATA[Agreement to establish entity for Red Sea, Gulf of Aden countries reached]]>
The agreement aims to boost stability and increase investment opportunities in the above mentioned countries.

This came during the Consultative Ministerial Meeting of the African and Arab States bordering the Red Sea in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, in which Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shourky participated.

In a press conference, Ahmed Hafez, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, referred that the meeting aimed to discuss ways of promoting cooperation between the African and Arab countries bordering the Red Sea.

Hafez pointed out that Egypt hosted the first Consultative Ministerial Meeting of the African and Arab States bordering the Red Sea on December 11 and 12, 2017, and will host the next meeting to resume discussions.

He added that Shoukry stressed the importance of promoting cooperation and economic integration among the countries bordering the Red Sea on the political, economic and cultural levels.

In December 2017, Egypt launched an initiative to establish a framework of cooperation between the Arab and African countries bordering the Red Sea to face different challenges they may encounter.

Foreign Minister Shoukry stressed that the Red Sea countries have not reached the required level of coordination to face challenges.

He pointed out that the countries have recently exerted efforts to combat piracy in the Horn of Africa, warning “we should consider the foreign agendas as well as the political and security turmoil in the region, including the Yemeni crisis, which affect the economic conditions of the Red Sea countries.”

He noted that Egypt is among the top countries combating terrorism with its participation in the Arab alliance. The Egyptian Navy contributes to ensuring maritime security and preventing arms trafficking in accordance with the international resolutions.

12/13/2018 12:01:53 PM
<![CDATA[Yemen peace talks in Sweden go down to the wire]]>
Taiz, the southwestern city controlled by the government and surrounded by the rebels, is no longer under discussion at the talks, scheduled to close on Thursday. The city has been the scene of some of the most intense fighting in a war that has pushed 14 million people to the brink of famine.

Intense talks, however, were continuing on Sanaa airport, shut down for years in the war between the Saudi-backed government and northern rebels linked to Iran.

Negotiators are also seeking a de-escalation of violence in rebel-held Hodeida, a port city vital to the supply of humanitarian aid, and a cooperation deal on the country's crumbling economy.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was due at the talks in Rimbo, Sweden, for Thursday's closing round of consultations.

His arrival comes hours after his office said it had evidence the rebel Huthis were using Iran-made missiles -- a charge the Saudi-led alliance levels against the rebels as grounds for restrictions on the Hodeida port and Sanaa airport.

Another round of talks has been tentatively scheduled for January, according to UN and Yemeni officials.

- 11th hour -

The Sweden talks, which opened Thursday, mark the first meeting in two years between Yemen's Huthi rebels and the government of President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, backed since 2015 by a behemoth military coalition led by Saudi Arabia.

Both government and rebel representatives have traded accusations of unwillingness to negotiate, particularly on rebel-held Hodeida, the main route for 90 percent of food imports and nearly 80 percent of aid deliveries.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths, had submitted a proposal on a political framework for the future of Yemen, an agreement on the reopening of Sanaa airport, a paper on addressing the economic situation and a draft agreement on Hodeida, spokeswoman Hanan Badawi told reporters.

"The two parties have officially received the drafts and we are waiting on a response," Badawi said.

Members of both delegations contacted by AFP said agreements could be signed by morning.

Abdelmagid al-Hanash, a member of the Huthi delegation, told AFP an agreement on Sanaa airport was close. The government has proposed flights to and from the capital be searched in Sayoun or Aden, two cities under the control of the state.

"For now, the search will be in Aden but will not cause harm or trouble. No one will be asked to disembark," Hanash said.

Yemeni ministers Othman Mujalli and Marwan Dammaj told reporters Wednesday their camp would hold firm to UN Security Council Resolution 2216 -- which calls for the Huthis to withdraw from all areas seized in a 2014 takeover, including Hodeida.

Hanash said talks were ongoing.

The rebels have thus far refused a full withdrawal.

- Saudi soldiers on missing list -

The two camps signed a mass prisoner exchange deal at the Sweden talks, which two Yemeni government officials confirmed include Saudi soldiers fighting alongside state troops. The Huthis had said Tuesday that the list included Saudi soldiers.

A spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition and a UN official did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The prisoner swap includes the names of more than 15,000 detainees and disappeared persons taken on frontlines since 2015.

The deal will be overseen by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which warns the exchange could take weeks.

The Yemen conflict has killed nearly 10,000 people since the Saudi-led coalition joined the war in 2015, according to the World Health Organization, triggering what the UN calls the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Both parties stand accused of failing to protect civilians. The Saudi-led alliance has been blacklisted by the UN for the killing and maiming of children.]]>
12/13/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Maduro accuses U.S. official of plotting Venezuela invasion, gives no evidence]]>
Maduro made his accusation just days after Russian bombers landed in Venezuela to carry out joint military exercises, sparking a war of words between Moscow and Washington.

The White House said Russia has told the United States that the bombers will leave Venezuela on Friday.

"Mr. John Bolton has been assigned, once again, as the chief of a plot to fill Venezuela with violence and to seek a foreign military intervention," Maduro told a news conference, adding that Bolton was coordinating the training of mercenaries in military bases in Colombia and the United States.

There was no immediate comment on Maduro's remarks from Bolton's office.

U.S. President Donald Trump said last year that "the military option" was on the table with regards to Venezuela, fueling Maduro's contention that Washington seeks to overthrow his leftist government, which U.S. officials deny.

The Trump administration has levied several rounds of sanctions against Venezuela since last year.

Bolton is a longtime opponent of leftist governments in Latin America and he announced the most recent sanctions against Venezuela last month as part of a pledge to crack down on Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which he dubbed the "troika of tyranny."]]>
12/13/2018 12:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[UK PM says will quit by 2022 as she fights to remain leader]]>
May offered the concession to members of her Conservative party ahead of a confidence vote triggered by hardliners who hate the divorce deal she agreed with the EU last month.

"It is not her intention to lead the party in the 2022 general election," Solicitor General Robert Buckland told the BBC after the meeting.

"Quite rightly she is focusing on the here and now and the need for Brexit to be delivered."

MPs and ministers have rallied round May since the confidence vote was announced on Wednesday morning, sending the pound rising amid expectations she would win.

In a defiant statement earlier outside her Downing Street office, the prime minister said she was "ready to finish the job" by taking Britain out of the European Union next March.

She warned that ousting her now, sparking a weeks-long leadership contest, would "create uncertainty when we can least afford it".

May also warned that finding a successor -- who would automatically become prime minister -- "would mean either delaying or stopping Brexit".

Victory would make the prime minister immune from a further Conservative challenge for a year under parliamentary rules, but would not resolve her central problem -- how to get divided MPs to agree to her Brexit deal.

She was forced to postpone this week's vote in the House of Commons on the text after admitting she faced a huge defeat, as her own MPs joined with opposition parties to reject it.

Conservative MPs were voting from 6:00pm to 8:00pm in a parliamentary committee room, with results of the confidence vote due at 9:00pm (2100 GMT).

- 'Flush out extremists' -

Brexit supporters had for months threatened to submit the 48 letters from MPs needed to trigger a confidence vote in May, seeking a leader who would make a cleaner break with the EU.

The last batch came in after May delayed Tuesday's vote on the Brexit deal, a move that sparked outrage among MPs of all the political parties.

But ministers, including those tipped to succeed May, were quick to condemn the rebels.

"The last thing our country needs right now is a Conservative party leadership election," Home Secretary Sajid Javid said in a tweet.

Finance minister Philip Hammond said May's victory would unite the party and "flush out the extremists".

- Seeking concessions -

May was informed of the challenge after returning late Tuesday from a tour of European capitals in an attempt to salvage her Brexit deal.

She had promised MPs she would seek "assurances" about their concerns over a so-called "backstop" plan to keep open the border with Ireland.

Many Conservative MPs and May's Northern Irish allies in the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) fear a plan for a temporary customs arrangement with the EU will become permanent, with no way out.

But while EU leaders expressed sympathy for May's difficulties, they firmly rejected any attempt to reopen a Brexit deal that was only secured last month after 17 months of talks.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who met May in Berlin on Tuesday, said she still "has hope for an orderly exit" but "no intention to change the exit agreement".

May cancelled a trip to Dublin on Wednesday for talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar amid the leadership challenge.

She is still expected to attend an EU summit in Brussels on Thursday and Friday.

- Down to the wire -

May has said the parliamentary vote on her Brexit deal depends on her talks with the EU, but said it will be held by January 21.

Both sides have already stepped up preparations for the possibility that Britain leaves the EU with no deal at all.

Some lawmakers fear the vote might be delayed to pressure MPs into backing May's deal. A furious opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused May of being "contemptuous of parliament".

If she survives Wednesday's vote, May could still face a further confidence motion in the House of Commons at a later date.

For now, the DUP says it will back her as long as she renegotiates the backstop -- even if EU leaders have warned this will not happen.

Her margin of victory Wednesday could also be pivotal in her ability to rally her party behind her in the weeks ahead.]]>
12/13/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Madbouly affirms Egypt’s support to development in Tanzania]]>
Madbouly, Egypt’s prime minister and minister of housing, considered the agreement signed on Wednesday, Dec. 12 to establish Stiegler’s Gorge dam as a proof of Egypt's commitment to supporting development efforts in Tanzania.

The dam will be constructed by the two Cairo-based Egyptian companies, Arab Contractors and El Sewedy Electric, with a total cost of around $3.6 billion.

“We hope this project will be a gateway to explore new horizons for cooperation between the two countries," Madbouly stated.

Madbouly said that many Egyptian companies in the last few years started working in Tanzania side by side with the people of the country in projects that support development and industrial efforts.

He added that many Egyptian delegations visited Tanzania during the past few months, considering it an evidence of the current progress in the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Madbouly also pointed out that many important joint projects between Egypt and Tanzania are underway in various fields. However, he said he believes there still are enormous possibilities to enhance cooperation between the two countries.

For his part, the speaker of Tanzania’s National Assembly considered the signing ceremony as a very unique day, adding that such project represents a great progress for Tanzania in the fields of industry and electricity.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli said that Tanzania has resorted to Egypt when it wanted to construct the dam, thanking Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. He added that Sisi told him that Egyptians are ready for the project, and that it will be accomplished.

The project is set to be accomplished in three years. However, Magufuli called on the Arab Contractors engineering company to work on finishing the project ahead of schedule, saying that he would be thankful in case the company managed to meet his demand.

Magufuli congratulated the Tanzanian people on signing the agreement, saying that the project will generate electricity for the country for sixty continuous years.

Stiegler's Gorge Hydroelectric Power Station is a planned 2,100-MW dam. It is expected to produce 5,920 GWh of power annually to fill the electricity and energy shortage inside the country.

Egypt’s Prime Minister attended with the Tanzanian president the signing ceremony to build Stiegler’s Gorge dam in Tanzania – Egypt Today/Soliman al-Eteify
Egypt’s Prime Minister attended with the Tanzanian president the signing ceremony to build Stiegler’s Gorge dam in Tanzania – Egypt Today/Soliman al-Eteify
Egypt’s Prime Minister attended with the Tanzanian president the signing ceremony to build Stiegler’s Gorge dam in Tanzania – Egypt Today/Soliman al-Eteify

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil
12/12/2018 4:28:12 PM
<![CDATA[Britain's PM Theresa May vows to fight leadership challenge]]>

May said on Wednesday she will contest the confidence vote in her leadership “with everything I’ve got”, adding that changing course now could derail the Brexit process.

Any incoming leader would have to extend the March 29 deadline for Britain’s exit from the European Union, she said.

“A new leader wouldn’t be in place by January 21 legal deadline, so a leadership election risks handing control of the Brexit negotiations to opposition MPs in Parliament,” May said.

“A new leader wouldn’t have time to re-negotiate a withdrawal agreement and get the legislation through Parliament by March 29, so one of their first acts would have to be extending or rescinding Article 50, delaying or even stopping Brexit when people want us to get on with it,” she said.

"Weeks spent tearing ourselves apart will only create more divisions," May said in a statement delivered outside her Downing Street office, adding: "I stand ready to finish the job."

May: 'I will contest that vote with everything I've got'
Deal or no deal?

With less than four months left until the United Kingdom is due to exit on March 29, the world’s fifth largest economy was tipping towards crisis, opening up the prospect of a disorderly no-deal divorce or a reversal of Brexit through a referendum.

Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s so-called 1922 committee, said the threshold of 15 percent of the parliamentary Conservative Party seeking a confidence vote had been exceeded. A ballot will be held between 6pm and 8pm on Wednesday and an announcement made as soon as possible afterwards, he said.

Brexit is Britain’s most significant political and economic decision since World War II, though pro-Europeans fear it will divide the West as it grapples with the presidency of Donald Trump and growing assertiveness from Russia and China.

The ultimate outcome will shape Britain’s $2.8 trillion economy, have far reaching consequences for the unity of the United Kingdom and determine whether London can keep its place as one of the top two global financial centres.

May could be toppled if 158 of her 315 lawmakers vote against her.]]>
12/12/2018 2:34:40 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt exerted a lot of efforts to maintain Christians' rights: Official]]>
This came during Abu Se'da's participation in the Paris conference on combating extremism and protecting Christians of the Middle East.

Abu Se'da added that it should be noted that the Muslim Brotherhood based their ideas on the marginalization of minorities in general and the persecution of Christians in particular, but the Egyptian government gave the Egyptian Copts their full rights.

He pointed out that Egypt witnessed a wave of violent terror attacks by Islamic groups which promoted extremist ideology and targeted Christians' properties and churches, most notably the attack on Abbasia Cathedral in 2013.

"In fact, the terrorism wave targeted Christians and Muslims, as we saw in the attack on Sinai'sAl-Rawda Mosque in 2017, which killed 300 Muslim citizens," Se'da said.

At the end of the conference, the participants agreed to confront extremism and hatred across the world to protect human rights; they also affirmed the importance of ending conflicts in Libya and Syria.

The participants also called for strengthening the role of religious institutions in confronting terrorism and extremism and renewing the religious discourse. They demanded to reform education and to strengthen the role of art and media in raising awareness against extremism.

In the same context, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi called for the renewal of the religious discourse. Furthermore, the Parliament issued the Law on the Construction and Restoration of the Egyptian Churches in 2017 which is considered the first law to regulate building churches for Christians in more than a century and a half.

"As a member of the National Council for Human Rights and the president of the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, I call on the Egyptian government, other Arab governments and the Arab civil society to support the initiative launched by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights which calls for preserving human rights and fighting extremism and terrorism in the Middle East," Se'da concluded.

12/12/2018 2:22:09 PM
<![CDATA[Promoting human rights is one of Egypt’s top priorities: MP ]]>
Abul-Ela, the head of the parliamentary committee of the Free Egyptians Party, referred that the international human rights charters are not applied in the places suffering from terrorist attacks.

Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 – the day the United Nations General Assembly adoptedthe Universal Declaration of Human Rightsin 1948.
Meanwhile, MP Mohammed al-Ghoul said that Egypt is keen on improving the conditions of prisoners and adopting legislation that meets human rights standards.

He added that the international committee should pay great attention to the war on terrorism in the Arab world and work on ensuring that every person has the right to a safe life through combating terrorism and designating some terrorist groups in the terror list.

As part of Egypt’s interest to promote fundamental human rights and freedoms, Egypt’s government announced in August 2018 that it approved a draft resolution to form a permanent higher committee on human rights.

As various western reports and human rights activists generally accuse Egypt of human rights abuses, this committee will focus on handling and responding to any accusations against Egypt with respect to its human rights record.

This human rights committee will also be concerned with following up on Egypt’s implementation of international human rights obligations and agreements that are done on a global level. It will also be in charge of preparing reports, proposing policies and suggestions on how to handle issues of human rights.

The decision comes in accordance with the president's instructions to take action at both the institutional and executive levels to promote human rights,constitutional rights and basic freedoms on the national level.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the highest number of votes to chair the higher committee for human rights.

According to an article published by the Human Rights Watch, the Egyptian authorities are using counterterrorism laws to prosecute journalists and activists.

However, the war against terrorism and the establishment of the permanent higher committee for human rights are two separate things for Egypt.

In his meeting with President of the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) Mohammed Fayek in October 2017, Sisiaffirmed that Egypt will continue its efforts to maintain human rights and basic freedoms in parallel with confronting terrorism and protecting its national security from current dangers threatening the region.
12/12/2018 10:21:54 AM
<![CDATA[Former Trump adviser Flynn asks for probation in Mueller probe]]>
U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office said last week Flynn had provided substantial cooperation with its investigation, as well as with other probes.

Flynn held the White House job for only 24 days. He pleaded guilty in December 2017 to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russia and will be sentenced in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Dec. 18.

Flynn participated in 19 meetings with the special counsel's office and other government bureaus and produced thousands of documents to the U.S. Justice Department, his lawyers said in a court filing.

"As the Government has made clear, his cooperation was not grudging or delayed. Rather, it preceded his guilty plea or any threatened indictment and began very shortly after he was first contacted for assistance by the Special Counsel's Office," his lawyers said in the filing.

Flynn is the only Trump administration official to plead guilty to a crime connected to Mueller's sprawling probe into Russian attempts to influence the 2016 U.S. election.

Both Trump and Moscow have denied wrongdoing. Trump has repeatedly described the probe, which threatens to cloud his presidency, as a "witch hunt."

Flynn's lawyers have asked the court to "sentence him to a term of probation not to exceed one year, with minimal conditions of supervision, along with 200 hours of community service."

The lawyers said the retired Army general was not warned before a meeting with FBI agents in January 2017 that it was a crime to lie to them.

They contrasted Flynn's case with that of Trump campaign aide George Papadopoulos and Alex van der Zwaan, a lawyer who worked with Trump campaign associates, who have pleaded guilty to lying to federal authorities and were both informed of the seriousness of the crime.

The filing also included dozens of letters from people attesting to Flynn's personal character, along with honors he had garnered and Army evaluation reports.]]>
12/12/2018 8:29:35 AM
<![CDATA[France’s disarray is Theresa May’s Brexit golden ticket]]>
Amid growing concerns over the inability of May to create a deal that would ensure the United Kingdom can reap similar benefits to that which it enjoyed while being part of the European Union, while also not paying any of the related fees, the protests in France have pushed many to speak of a wave of protests that could soon hit Europe, at the forefront of which will be the disenfranchised youth and economically marginalized groups.

Less than a week ago, May’s deal had proven so weak, and she was so sure of losing the House of Commons vote that she got up in the middle of Parliament and said, “if we went ahead and held the vote tomorrow the deal would be rejected by a significant margin”. She was referring here to the fact that more than 100 of her Conservative Party colleagues had voiced their concerns, suggesting that the deal does not actually meet the promises made during the Brexit campaign, and, as a result, they will not vote yes.

The lack of approve that May faces from her party and the internal conflicts and tricks have not gone unnoticed to the public or to the Labour Party, pushing one of the two biggest political parties in the United Kingdom, headed by James Corbyn, to announce that if May does not deliver the desired results from her emergency negotiations, they will schedule a vote on no confidence, throwing the British Premier out of No. 10.

“She will have decisively and unquestionably lost the confidence of parliament,” the Labour Party announced.

Even hard Brexiters and Conservative Party felt cheated of what they were promised.

The situation is so tangled that, according to The Guardian, Cabinet sources voiced a multitude of concerns over the deal and the change of the voting time, with one saying, “There doesn’t seem to be any sort of plan.”

In hot water, with no clear plan and unsure what to do, the protests in France may have very well bettered the situation for May.

The ‘yellow vest’ movement started late November 2018, with hundreds—now thousands—of French men and women protesting the jump in oil prices and the increase of living costs, the movement soon grew broader to encompass French President Emmanuel Macron’s economic decisions.

The movement called out the economy’s developmental trajectory, speaking of the lack of opportunities and the disenfranchisement of the youth, as well as the marginalization of the working class.

“Until now, we were desperate on our own. Now we are desperate together,” one of the ‘yellow vest’ movement members told The Guardian.

Another protester told the Express that the movement was much bigger than gas taxes and prices going up, it was about much more.

“We want this movement to spread. It began in France, it is in Belgium, and we want it to continue to Germany and the Netherlands, across Europe, even to England,” the protester said.

Whilst all this may be heart-breaking and downright scary for Macron, one man’s loss is another man—in this case, woman’s—gain. For in his sorrow, she has floated, strengthening her chances of keeping her Premiership.

The break down that was seen on French streets re-enforced a message once pushed by the British Administration: A step back from Brexit could lead to social fragmentation. A the time U.K. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Times that lawmakers must “not just think about what our own views on Brexit are, but we have to think what is the solution that is going to bring the country together.” He also warned that the House of Commons has to be “very careful” not to “get out of step with where the public are on Brexit” or risk “real social instability.”

While this strategy did not work at the time, many British people are now talking about the possibility of riots if the deal does not go through, with many thinking that if it could happen in France, then it very well could happen in the United Kingdom.

Add to this that the French trade has taken a hit since the start of the protests, with French Minister of the Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire warning of the negative consequences the protests have on the French economy.

“It's a time when normally business is going well, it's the eve of Christmas celebrations, and now, it's a catastrophe. It's a catastrophe for business, it's a catastrophe for our economy.”

“The bills for the damages must be covered by the state, by solidarity, by the insurers,” the French Minister continued.

With the French Economy taking a hit, and protesters taking abut economic issues more widely, May is now able to convince the public and her fellow colleagues in the House that she is saving the country from a sure disaster.

France being one of the two strongest countries—along with Germany—leading the EU after the UK leaves also helps May draw a stronger argument for leaving the EU, even with a deal that does not meet the people’s demands.
12/12/2018 12:55:05 AM
<![CDATA[Aden 'Yemen eye' wipes the effects of Houthi aggression]]>
Aden was known for its resistance since the British occupation in 1839, until it became a target for Houthi guns since March 2015. Its streets are worm in its eight directorates, although the war has left its mark on every inch, leaving great destruction everywhere. But you can also sense the city's attempts to revive again since its liberation in July 2015 and its declaration as the interim capital of the legitimate government.

The port of Aden adds another important aspect to the city. It is the second largest natural port in the world and its location at Bab al-Mandab makes it a unique link between the east and the west and the Suez Canal. It is the most important natural port on the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. It controls the Red Sea route, and the surrounding of the port combines industrial, fishery, commercial and tourist activities.

Aden also has its touristic importance, with its warm beaches and beautiful resorts, as well as its importance as an industrial city, with its factories and production units, including Aden refinery, which was destroyed by the Houthis.

Securing Aden airport

From the first moment of our arrival at Aden airport, Yemenis showered us with love. Egypt was the word that opened all doors and hearts and facilitated our mission inside Yemen. We found a delegation from the Presidential Palace at our reception welcoming the first Egyptian newspaper to the heart of events in Yemen since the outbreak of the crisis.

We noticed the organized work and the maximum security procedures at the airport in cooperation with the UAE security forces. The airport was a center of clashes with the Houthis; its halls and observation decks were destroyed when the Houthis controlled it 2015. At that time they converted the airport to military barracks, and the airport was liberated in July of the same year. The legitimate government, in cooperation with coalition forces, rehabilitated it after its liberation.

The inspection procedures continue in the area surrounding the airport, Kohor Maksar. In this area there are few shops; most of them are selling wood and furniture. There are some buildings that still bear traces of the war on their walls. On the road there are security guards but they do not wear uniform, which might make it difficult for passers-by to verify which entity the inspection teams belong to.

Resistance is carved on the walls

“One hand together to defeat terrorism”, “Terrorism will not defeat Aden”, "We will stand firm against terrorism”: These are sentences that have drawn our attention as they spread in banners all the way to the city. There are also pictures and banners of the names of martyrs of Houthi shells, or pictures of those who were kidnapped by Houthi militias. The walls also turned to paintings with statements condemning Houthi terrorism, and documenting the insistence of Yemenis to win the war. The statements in the areas of Krater and Kohor Maksar are not different from those on the walls of the University of Aden -destroyed by rocket shelling- with some additions that fit the university, its atmosphere and the enthusiasm of its youth. In the university we found statements as: “No retreat and no escape until the implementation of the resolution”, “We will revenge.. The Houthis are not one of us”, “You are worth thousand martyrs Yemen eye”, “All of us are one hand for you Yemen”, and “We will liberate you, no matter how late”.

Displaced in Aden: Houthis kidnap children

We noticed that Am Hassan was sitting in the street. I went to him and knew that he is a displaced citizen from Hodaidah. He told me: "The coalition forces are all standing with us and we say thank you, if it were not for you, our country would be gone."
He talked about his suffering in Hodaidah, which is controlled by Houthis: "I fled to Aden two weeks ago after my family and I spent a period suffering since it was controlled by Houthis. I sent my children to Fateh region of Aden two years ago," he said. "We never witnessed a war like this. They attack violently and take away children and young men from the streets for recruitment and use them as human shields in the war. They kill anyone who tries to escape from the front. This is why I sent my children to Aden”, he added.

He continued: “We live in hunger, deprivation, and sickness. There is no milk for toddlers. Houthis are spread out in the streets there, hiding as qat vendors in order to watch people. Weapons are spread in the streets; it is easy for anyone to sell or buy them. Snipers are stationed on the roofs of buildings in the area of 7 July. They also steal relief supplies, and people suffer from famine, especially in the countryside, in particular the village of Ein Zabib, where there is no food or work. Even when there are some goods in the shops they are sold in double the prices. For example the price of one kilo of rice reached 500 rials instead of 300 and the price of one liter of oil is 800 rials. In the end I would like to tell the Houthis: what you’re doing is not good for Islam or for Muslims”.

The traces of war on Yemenis’ faces

The scenes of Houthi destruction are not unseen in many areas of Aden: Krater, Al-Mualla, Al-Tawahi, Khor Maksar, Al-Mansoura, Dar Saad and Al Bureijah. In each of these areas we find destruction in houses whose owners were forced to emigrate internally or externally. The stories of the people of Aden documented the crimes of Houthis.

In Kohor Maksar area we noticed the destroyed buildings. There is no family that does not have a martyr or a wounded person who was hurt by the war that suddenly hit Yemen. The most severe invasion of Khor Maksar killed more than 122 people and wounded 724 Yemenis from March to July 2015, according to the statistics of the Yemeni ministry of human rights.

A resident of the area, Mohammed Al-Yacatini, who was sitting in front of one of the destroyed buildings in the shade of a tree told me: “The war started from here, the Houthi missiles hit us; bombing the houses. Many people were martyred and the houses were used as military barracks, forcing the residents to migrate to rural areas and areas inside Aden, where the situation may be calmer like Al-Mansoura, leaving their homes whose walls were penetrated by sniper bullets, and some have been destroyed by Houthi missiles.

"During the war life almost stopped, without work or education. We could not go out to earn our daily living. We were trapped and the Houthis did not allow us to move," he said. "There are buildings that were burned to the ground. Khor Maksar, Al-Tawahi, Al-Areesh, and Krater were the most war-affected areas". He continued saying, “on June 24, in the night we heard two explosions in the university housing and in Al-Ezabiya neighborhood. The explosions left more than 40 people killed and wounded”.

He concluded hopefully: "Aden has begun to take its first steps to improve, especially in electricity, repairing of some roads and better security conditions, but it still needs further development, especially in economic aspects."

Khor Maksar: The worst invasion

With a sporadic breath coming out of a pain-ridden chest because of his family members killed by the missiles, Mahdi Mohammad, said: “The beginning of the war in Aden was the missile that was launched on March 24th, 2015 to Maashiq palace after the president ran away from Sana'a. Another missile was fired on March 25, and then Houthi invasion of various regions of Aden started. The bereavement was when the indiscriminate shelling of the population started on March 25, 2015 in Al Saada neighborhood in Khor Maksar. The first shell killed 17 young people who were sitting in the street and then the shelling of the buildings continued.

Mahadi continued: "Terror was dominating everyone and the children were terrified. Restaurants and shops selling daily needs were closed. Now the shops are back, though limited, but better than the days of war." Stressing his optimism because of the legitimate government, he said: “Aden became safer”.

Mall of Arabia

In Khor Maksar, we found a huge burned building, followed by several buildings. When we asked the residents of the area, we learned that it was a huge mall with a sign saying “Mall of Arabia”. It was hit by a Houthi missile. Yafea Al Ahmadi, a resident of the area, told us the details of this incident: “This shopping mall was the biggest mall after the compound of Aden. It was hit in 2015, a year after its establishment. It was a destination for many, generating millions of rials, and was attached to a hotel. The attack also destroyed a number of cars along with two restaurants around the mall”.

Ahmed Al Rowaie, from Dar Saad and a member of the popular resistance in Aden, continued the story saying that his area witnessed the most horrific massacres carried out by the Houthis: the massacre of Dar Saad. He remembers the details of the massacre saying: "We were beaten and bombed from 14 to 16 July, 2015. It was the third day of Eid El fitr. They were chanting: “Death to America ..Death to Israel”. Around 100 people were killed and wounded, including many women and children, according to the estimates of the Yemeni Ministry of Human Right”. “We were trying to save the children, but Houthis were hitting anybody trying to rescue the injured”, he added.

Al Rowaie added: "Two months before the massacre we heard of Al-Tawahi massacre, which took place in May. The people who were hit by the mortar tried to flee from Al-Tawahi after Houthis entered it, but they spotted them escaping by boats from the port of Al-Tawahi and killed dozens of families including women, children and old people."

Bombing in the month of Ramadan

From “Dar Saad” to “Al Mansoura” we have monitored many violations and crimes committed against Yemenis. "We were bombed during the month of Ramadan in 2015. First they fired 4 shells. A day later they fired two shells, and they fell on blocks 4, 5 and 6", said Al-Zandi Mohammed, a resident of Al-Mansoura district. “Hours later, two shells fell on two houses, including a house owned by a person named Mohammed Ahmed Qassem. Many people died”, he added. Thirty persons died and 40 wounded, according to the statistics of the Yemeni Alliance to monitor human rights violations.

The sight of children and women was very sad, especially a child and his mother who were martyred holding each other. It was a difficult scene that made us hate Houthis more and more. It made us eager to fight them, and many of us volunteered in the popular resistance”.

From the Brega region of Aden, Amran Mohammed, a Brega citizen, said, “In the period leading up to the liberation of Aden on July 17, 2015, the Houthis intensified their strikes with Katyusha rockets on the districts of Brega in Salah El-Deen, Kubgain, Al-Ghadir, Al-Brega, Code El-Nemer, Madeent el Shaab, and Beaar Ahmed.

Al Adha Mortar

The massacres against Yemenis during the holidays were not limited to Aden only. Yemeni human rights activist Hammoud Al-Deeb, president of the Yemeni Center for Human Rights and Development, asserts that the same technique was used is a horrendous war crime on the first day of Eid Al-Adha in September 24, 2015, two months after the Aden incident. Houthis dropped a Katyusha rocket on the livestock market in Tahrir Street in the center of the city of Taiz in conjunction with intense artillery shelling targeting several residential neighborhoods near the market, resulting in the deaths of 9 people and the injury of 35, all of them civilians, including 5 children, according to statistics of the Center.

Ammar: The rocket killed my friends on the night of Eid

The children of Yemen are the fuel of the war and its real heroes. In every region, the small, slender bodies bear the marks of violations against humanity. Ammar Jassem, who is not yet seven, tells his story. He went to play with his friends on the night of Eid Al-Fitr, and asked his father to prepare the Eid gift. His father replied, "Ok Ammar, you will find it when you come back". Ammar adds innocently, "I went out to play alongside the house and there were lots of friends with me and also neighbors, including Ahmed, Ghassan, and Hussein, while Muhammad said I’ll come in a while. We made a circle and took two turns looking to the sky, and then Muhammad came with a ball in his hands saying it’s his father’s Eid gift. I told him my gift will be here shortly. My father promised me”.

He was silent for a short while, as though his innocence was wrestling with the memories, and then he continued: “After a while a missile fell on us killing 8 of my friends. Something heavy fell of us and I didn’t see anything. I wake up later in the hospital and asked about my friends and I was told they died. I know that the Houthis killed them”.

His father continued saying: "On the last day of Ramadan, on the eve of Eid al-Fitr before sunset, Ammar asked me to go out with his friends to play in a nearby yard as usual to celebrate the feast. I promised to get him new clothes to celebrate the feast. Suddenly there was chaos and people running telling me your son and the kids were hit by a rocket. I didn’t believe them and I ran to the place to find bodies of 8 children, and my son with three wounded children between life and death. One of whom lost an eye. I ran to the hospital with my injured son, where they told me his right leg must be amputated. The problem was when he woke up and me and his mother didn’t know what to tell him about his leg. He asked and we told him Houthis hit you but I will have another similar leg implanted for you and you will be able to play, don’t worry”.

The father continues his sad story: “Ammar cried so much and was so sad. He started psychological treatment, but then we didn’t have enough money to buy the artificial leg. We went to King Salman Center for artificial limbs and they provided us with the leg and helped me return life to my son. But he is still psychologically devastated. He wakes up from his sleep yelling: the rocket dad”.

I asked Ammar about his wish, and he answered with determination older than his age, “to revenge from the Houthis because I will never play again”.

Continuous violations

Human rights violations since 2015 and during the Houthi siege of Aden were more than the destruction of buildings and displacement of citizens; they included several crimes. According to statistics of the Ministry of Human Rights in Yemen violations included killing, injury, arrest, enforced disappearance, torture and targeting of the population with mortars, Katyusha and mines. In Aden 2713 people were killed, including 100 children, and 190 women, while 17864 were injured. The total number of establishments hit was 17930. As for the enforced disappearance and the arrest they amounted to 17,899 cases. Even the humanitarian work was subjected to violations. Among them, the Higher Relief Committee monitors the prevention of entry of 65 relief vessels and 615 trucks, and the retention of 13,815 relief baskets, looting and selling them on the black market.

Dr. Mohammed Askar, Minister of Human Rights in Yemen, said that the humanitarian situation in Yemen in general was not good before the war; 60% of Yemenis were below the poverty line. After the war, the humanitarian situation deteriorated dramatically. The deterioration reached its peak in 2015, as 69% of the violations took place that year. The Houthis sought to turn schools and hospitals into operations’ centers and military barracks to become military targets for coalition aviation, so Houthis can accuse them of targeting and attacking residential areas.

"We certainly condemn any strikes against citizens, whether by Houthis or what sometimes mistakenly done by the coalition. Sometimes the coalition admits the mistakes; they have an assessment team for the news or information about the mistaken strikes. Accordingly the rules for determining the targets are reviewed. The evacuation and humanitarian operations cell of the alliance confirmed that there are 14,138 targets banned from targeting, most notably the camps, schools, locations of displaced persons, hospitals, and archaeological sites”, Askar added.

He refers to the formation of several committees by the Yemeni side competent in this regard; the Committee for compensation of those affected by these strikes, and the National Commission to investigate allegations of human rights violations. They investigated 17 thousand complaints, 3,000 of them were validated, and President Abed Rabbo ordered the prosecution and then the judiciary to investigate them. Askar adds, “We also have a team of senior experts of the Human Rights Council, which was established by Decree No. 36/31 of 2017. Its mission is to verify the human rights situation in the country and investigate the violations. Also recently a headquarters of the Ministry of Human Rights was established in Aden to receive complaints from citizens and spread awareness of international human rights law, which are all mechanisms to stand against any violations of any party against civilians”.

Abdul Aziz al-Maflehi, the former governor of Aden and advisor to the Yemeni president, confirms that since the armed invasion by Houthis every sector in the governorate has been attacked. The militias committed war crimes and focused on destroying the infrastructure. They targeted the educational sector; some schools, colleges and the University of Aden were destroyed and some educational facilities were used as military centers or shelters for the displaced persons. On the other hand, Houthis used Katyusha rockets on June 19 and 27, 2015 to hit Aden refineries, which were famous for heavy oil production. They also hit the Museum of Aden and looted its monuments. The number of destroyed schools amounts to 153 schools, and the number of students who stopped their education during the war amounted to 17582 in primary education and 27290 in secondary education.

According to the statistics by the Yemeni Coalition for Monitoring Human Rights Violations, the war in Aden left 500,000 displaced and 194 forcibly disappeared.

Shelling University of Aden

One of the places that reflect the destruction caused by the war in Yemen is the University of Aden. It is the biggest university in Yemen, the first university in South Yemen, and was established before the unification, according to the head of the university, Dr. Al-Khudair Sour. The first of its colleges was "Higher Education", which was established in 1970. In 1975, the law on the establishment of the university was officially issued. It has 20 colleges, including 7 colleges within Aden, and the rest in the governorates of Lahj and Abyan. Sour pointed out that the university was the headquarters of the Yemeni People's Democratic Republic before the unification of Yemen.

Al-Khudair explained that the University was hit by Houthi bombardment in June 2015. The headquarters included seven educational centers for doctoral and master's students, in addition to the administrative buildings. He added that work was done to restore this educational edifice despite the lack of resources, thanks to the strength of the determination of the people of Aden, who made great sacrifices. He pointed out that this year will witness the reconstruction of buildings destroyed by the war.

Eyewitnesses on the incident

From inside the university, Hussain al-Mahmoudi spoke to us: "The Houthis bombed the engineering building and I lost my colleague Ammar and another colleague. We were preparing to graduate. The truth is that we have lived through horrific moments. Study stopped at the university and we fled from Khor Maksar because the attacks were severe. But thanks God life returned to what it was before the war”.

Abd al-Fattah Farid, a resident of the university area and an eyewitness to the events, described the bombing of the university as "horrific." He explained that the Houthis used it as a military barrack, a storage place for weapons and a platform for firing rockets into other areas. Clashes between the resistance and the Houthis took place inside the university. The students turned into popular resistance heroes. School stopped, and then they fired Katyusha rockets as they tried to control the place.

Al-Tawahi tragedy

"The sea swallowed 20 families from Al-Tawahi in moments .. there are some bodies still in the sea”. This phrase was repeated from the people of Aden, whom we met, and this pushed us to go to Al-Tawahi Directorate to take a closer look to the scene of the bloody incident. One of the residents guided us to the port of "Dkatt Al Baylat” or Al-Tawahi port which witnessed the worst crime committed by Houthis in Aden. Inside the port we met with Adel Harbi, one of the workers in the Department of Tourist Guidance and a witness to the incident. He told us that the port was established in 1850 when Aden was named a free zone, and the British abandoned the old port of Sirah and thought of establishing another port with better facilities.

He spoke about the accident that happened in the port, saying, “After the Houthis killed the commander of the fourth military zone, Aly Nasser Hadi, they moved from al-Ma'ala to Al-Tawahi. The legitimate forces gathered in the camps here. Since Houthis entered the people began to gather every day in groups. The boats took them to Brega and Mansoura to escape Houthis’ cannons. On Wednesday, 6 May, at exactly 10 am, they hit the port from Dakkat al-Bakari area opposite to it with four mortar shells. The first one hit the port, in which the residents gathered. The people were injured and others who were on the boat drowned. Three other shells were thrown into the sea. This was during the time when the families rode the boats with their children. They did not carry weapons or anything to protect them. They only carried their children after Houthis surrounded the area. During their presence in the sea on small boats taking them to Brega they were hit by shells and turned into pieces. More than 27 families were killed”.

Harbi continued: “We were trying to rescue them and take them to the military hospital of Basheib. Their clothes were soaked in blood. After that, we worked for more than five days to remove the bodies from the bottom of the water. The search in the sea continued for more than five days, and 15 bodies were found including women, children and old people”.

“Houthis are very malicious and the easiest thing for them is mortar shelling. Aden was full of beautiful hotels, but they ruined it all. For example, the area of Nashwan was visited by many people. It was rich in landscapes, but they destroyed it”, he added. “We are steadfast and confident in the legitimate government and the coalition. God willing, we will continue chasing Houthis for the last moment in our lives, and we will drive them out of Sana'a. All of Yemen will be back to us", he confirmed.

Selim Al-Mohammedi, a resident of the area and one of the eyewitnesses of the incident, said: “We knew people who were killed, they were preparing to leave for a while, as they could not earn their living. The day of the accident I was at home with my family and we heard the sounds and the cries of people "Help.. Houthis hit us". We ran out of our homes and we found some people on the ground in the port, and others drown in the sea. We tried to help and rescue people taking them to the hospitals, including children who died on our shoulders in the road. We were all affected by this accident and can’t forget it”.

Resisting with a smile

Despite all the manifestations of destruction caused by Houthis in Aden, you also notice the attempts to return to normal life. We went to Al-Mansoura market, and we spotted shops selling shoes, toiletries, clothing, hardware and electrical equipments. Nearby there are some restaurants, and international chains such as Baskin Robbins. Customers from several places, go to such shops, although high prices reduce the purchasing power of the population.

We also moved to Krater popular market or the "Old City" market. It is the most famous and important market in Aden because of its location in the center of the city which is called "Old Aden". Although it still bears traces of the destruction caused by the war, yet many customers head to it. There we met Mohamed Zein, a guard of an old building, who told us: “Krater is the old Aden area, where there is the Maashiq palace, the headquarters of the government. It was hit during the war”.

In the area also there is the largest popular market here. A large number of tourists and residents used to visit. It was first named Al-Kilo market. When the Houthis entered, the first thing they did was attacking using tanks and guns, and the snipers were above the mountains surrounding the area. They attacked several malls in the market, including Al-Rehab the Queen, and the headquarters of the Yemeni National Bank. In one day 19 people were killed. They burned the buildings, hit the qat market, the vegetable market and Arwa Street. Now the trade is not as before, but we hope the situation is getting better and I say to the Houthis: you destroyed everything beautiful in the country .. may God destroy you in the way that you destroyed our country”.

In the area of “Sira” we found another form of resistance to the war; the children at the gates of “Sira amusement park” carrying colored balloons. We approached them to know their story and how they defeated fear with a smile. Moussa Al-Rubaie, Abdullah Zuhair and Ahmed al-Labani talked about their suffering while fleeing from Sana'a as Houthis controlled Aden. Abdullah, 13 years, said “Houthis fired bullets at our house. The youth of the resistance stood in their faces, but without weapons, and I am not afraid of them, but I hate them because they destroyed our country”. Moussa, 6 years, did not comment except in one sentence: “I hope to wipe out the Houthis and return back our country”.

As for Ahmad, who is not yet 9, he says that he comes from time to time to the park, which is considered an outlet for playing with his friends. He does not care about what the Houthis do, but what he knows is that he left his city in Sana'a and came without his toys. He added innocently: "I left a teddy bear that I had since I was born, and when I asked my mother to take it with me while we were fleeing, she asked me to leave and hurry up or we will die”.

Post-liberation challenges

"Since the liberation of Aden, the government has faced several challenges in the provision of basic services, especially after the destruction of infrastructure and facilities, particularly electricity networks due to war. Providing cash to pay employees’ salaries is also a challenge," said Mohamed Nasr Shazly, deputy governor of Aden. “Establishing security and maintaining stability is another challenge, as Houthi elements and extremists are trying to stir unrest and destabilize Aden through terrorist bombings to undermine stability and obstruct the work of state apparatuses”, he adds.

He pointed out that the security department of Aden recently announced the arrest of a photography team affiliated to ISIS. The team possessed high-tech photography equipments, including cameras and lenses. A den used by this ISIS cell was also found where weapons and explosives were stored. Also ISIS black logo was found on the cameras used by the team to record suicide bombers' wills.

Before that, last February, ISIS adopted a double suicide attack on the headquarters of the government's counterterrorism forces in Aden, killing 12 people, including a woman and her three children.

This article is part of a series of articles on Yemen by Eman Hannah. Hannah has taken a 30-day trip to monitor Houthi crimes, the suffering of the people and the role of the coalition forces in restoring the Arab country from the hands of Iran's allies, documents revealing Houthi plan to spread the Shiite ideology, the mandate of the Faqih, and change the curriculum.

12/12/2018 12:50:04 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Jordan to participate in joint military exercises ]]>
The drills include different strategies and exercises, such as reconnaissance missions, surveying, rescue missions and boarding suspicious ships. All exercises were practiced through the coordination of the two sides.

"Aqaba 4" drills are part of a series of joint exercises carried out by the Armed Forces with other friendly countries to exchange military expertise.

The Egyptian Armed Forces arrived on Tuesday, Dec. 11 in Jordan to participate with its Jordanian counterpart in the joint military exercises “Aqaba 4”-Press Photo

The exercises also include land forces, Egypt’s southern fleet, commandos, paratroopers, the air force, and special navy units, according to a military statement.

Preparatory stages of the drills include theoretical and practical lectures on the military techniques, abilities of the participating troops to make the appropriate decisions on time, in addition to several training missions carried out jointly by the two sides.

The two armies are exchanging expertise to maintain readiness to plan, coordinate and conduct joint missions to face unusual threats and challenges.

In November 2017, the military exercises between the Egyptian and Jordanian armies launched “Aqaba 3”.]]>
12/11/2018 3:27:19 PM
<![CDATA[Fabrication of news to be punished by a fine of LE 250,000 ]]>
During a meeting with the Parliament’s African Affairs Committee, Salim referred that those who spread fabricated news in Germany are fined up to €50 million according to the law adopted by the Parliament in 2017.

Egypt has proposed various practical measures and anti-cybercrime laws aiming to curb premeditated fake information and face the wide spread fake news that threatens national security and the interests of the state.

A new hotline was launched for citizens to gather complaints about “fake” news published in traditional media outlets or digital media platforms, which aims to impose a threat to national security, Egypt’s Public prosecution announced in March.

“A set of mobile telephone numbers are assigned to receive complaints on the instant messaging on WhatsApp application and by SMS; the sent messages should contain all information available on the reported fake news,” according to a statement released by the office of the public prosecutor.

Furthermore, Egyptian Parliament’s Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee came out on March 14 with new amendments to the government’s anti-cybercrime law.

The amendments include setting a six-month imprisonment and a fine not less than LE 100,000 ($5,670) and not more than LE 500,000 for anyone found to be deliberately tinkering with an internet connection.

In mid-February, the Cabinet referred a draft anti-cybercrime law to Parliament for discussion, which included posing surveillance on social media and limiting the spread of fake news, particularly news inciting violence.

The long-awaited draft law was sent to Parliament to be discussed, as the law has an indispensable role in dealing with the rumors that are not easily monitored on social media.

First introduced before Parliament in May 2016, the 33-article draft law was proposed to criminalize illegal electronic practices, such as electronic fraud and encouraging terrorist practices; however, activists and rights defenders perceive the penalties stipulated by the law as very harsh and as a restriction of the freedom of expression, according to various news outlets.

The punishments in the draft law range from a month in prison to death penalty should, in the latter case, the cybercrime result in the death of someone or be considered a threat to national security. The law also stipulates other penalties, such as blocking sites and canceling their licenses according to court judgments.

Additionally, the Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media will be regulating social media accounts and blogs, which have been officially categorized as “media outlets” in Egypt; it will have the authority to block websites and file criminal complaints against any account that is "inciting people to violate laws" and spreading "defamation against individuals and religions."
12/11/2018 3:19:33 PM
<![CDATA[France 'yellow vest' protests: Timeline of unrest]]>
So far four people have died and hundreds have been injured during the protests.

- Viral video -

On October 18 an accordionist in the Brittany region, Jacline Mouraud, posts a video taken in her living room assailing "Monsieur Macron" and asking him what he's doing with taxpayers' money.

The post quickly goes viral, propelling Mouraud to the fore of the nascent "yellow vest" movement, named for the high-visibility safety vests drivers are required to keep in their cars.

She lists the grievances of drivers in the face of fuel price hikes, and demands of Macron: "When is this hounding of drivers, which you've pursued since your arrival, going to end?"

A petition to bring down the price of fuel is quickly is posted online, and garners tens of thousands of signatures.

- Mass protests -

Saturday, November 17, marks the first day of road blockades across France, with nearly 290,000 demonstrators wearing the high-visibility yellow vests.

Organised via social media, the grassroots protests have few visible leaders, and reject all ties to political parties or unions.

The next day Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the government will not back down on fuel tax increases set for January, intended to help pay for France's clean-energy initiatives.

Violence breaks out in the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, led mainly by armed youths.

- Second Saturday -

After a week which sees "yellow vests" snarl traffic and block motorway tolls up and down the country, a large-scale demonstration takes place in Paris on Saturday, November 24. Thousands of demonstrators clash with police on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

More than 106,000 demonstrators are recorded across France, including 8,000 in Paris. A week later the number of protesters will be revised upward to 166,000.

- Aborted meeting -

On November 27 Macron offers minor concessions, saying he will propose a mechanism to adjust the fuel tax increases in case of rising oil costs, and calls for a three-month national consultation.

Unimpressed, the "yellow vests" call for a new protest on Saturday, December 1, on the Champs-Elysees.

On November 29 Philippe vainly attempts to organise talks with the "yellow vests". He meets one protester. The next day two others accept his invitation for talks, but one walks out after Philippe refuses to have the meeting broadcast on TV.

- Chaos in Paris -

The third day of large-scale demonstrations takes place on Saturday, December 1, with widespread violence erupting in Paris around the Arc de Triomphe and several upscale neighbourhoods in the west of the city.

The government says some 136,000 people protested across the country.

In the southern city of Marseille an elderly woman dies after having been hit with a tear gas grenade while closing the shutters on her window.

- Crisis meetings -

On his return from a G20 summit in Argentina, Macron immediately calls a crisis meeting at the Elysee Palace on December 2.

Philippe meets with political party leaders on December 3.

But "yellow vests" representatives announce they will not attend a meeting with Philippe planned the following day -- later cancelled -- with some saying they have received death threats by other yellow vests contesting their claim to speak for the movement.

Blockages of roads, shopping centres and fuel depots continue.

Seizing on the momentum from the protests, students start demonstrating over education reforms, disrupting dozens of high schools every day.

- Six-month suspension -

On December 4 the government retreats.

The prime minister says planned tax increases on petrol and diesel on January 1 will be suspended for six months, and hikes in regulated electricity and gas prices will be frozen over the winter.

The "yellow vests" reject the moves as insufficient and press ahead with plans for a fourth day of large scale demonstrations on Saturday, December 8.

The government, fearing a new explosion of violence by extremists from both the far left and far right, announces a massive security deployment, with 8,000 police and a dozen armoured vehicles mobilised in Paris.

- 2019 tax hikes scrapped -

On December 5 Macron announces that all planned fuel tax hikes for 2019 are to be scrapped, not just suspended.

But he rules out re-imposing a "fortune tax" on high-earners, a core demand of many of the protesters who have accused Macron, a former investment banker, of being "president of the rich".

Farmers say they plan to hold demonstrations the following week, to support their own demands.

- High-risk demonstration -

On Saturday, December 8, more than 2,000 people are detained nationwide as protesters again burn cars and clash with police in Paris as well as other cities.

Armoured vehicles are deployed for the first time in the capital, which is on virtual lockdown in many areas, with museums and monuments including the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower closed.

Some 320 people are hurt nationwide, and police say some 4,500 people have been detained since the start of the protests on November 17.

- Macron speaks -

On Monday, December 10, following talks with representatives from unions and management, parliamentary and regional leaders, Macron addresses the nation on television.

More than 21 million watch as a sombre-looking president accepts his "share of responsibility" for the crisis and outlines a series of financial measures, including a rise in the minimum wage and tax-free overtime pay.

On Tuesday morning, "yellow vest" protests are still reported up in several parts of the country, while opposition leaders take to the airwaves to criticise the measures as too little, too late.]]>
12/11/2018 1:46:12 PM
<![CDATA[In World AIDS Day: Egypt is among the lowest in infection ]]>
UNAIDS Country Manager Ahmed Khamis said “there are signs of a concentrated epidemic among key populations” despite the low prevalence rate.

Khamis added that some of those who do not realize their infection die. The slogan this year is “know, check up, we are with you.”

“Media support is needed to combat the virus,” Khamis said praising the role of the government to fight the disease and provide treatment for patients.

Representative of Preventive Medicine Sector at the Ministry of Health and Population Mohamed Abdel Fatah stated that “Egypt is among the countries with the least HIV prevalence in the world at less than 0.02 percent.”

Abdel Fatah added that, within the prevention of mother-to-child transmission program implemented in all governorates, the ministry recorded a success rate of 100 percent in reaching non-infected children.

The ministry launched the National HIV/AIDS Program in 1986 being one of the first among the Arab countries, Abdel Fatah stated. The infection rate is less than for each 10,000 citizens, he added.

National HIV/AIDS Program Manager Walid Kamal revealed that 24 centers located in 18 Egyptian governorates offer “HIV counseling services and anonymous confidential voluntary testing.”

Kamal added that “periodical follow-up services are available at 14 care centers across the country.”

Kamal revealed that 80 percent of HIV infections in Egypt occur among males, and that it is prevalent among those who are in their twenties and early thirties.

Kamal highlighted that more women must be encouraged to check-up, especially those who have partners having the disease.

United Nations Resident Coordinator in Egypt Randa Abou al-Hassan stated that 25 percent (9.4 million) of HIV infected patients worldwide “are not aware of their status.”

“Despite the availability of a wider array of HIV tools and strategies, the world is still profoundly off-track to end AIDS by 2030,” Abou al-Hassan said citing inequality and social stigma as the main reasons.

Abou al-Hassan stresses that HIV-infected women must receive equal social treatment which requires the efforts of all entities in charge.

The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS provides technical assistance and coordinate endeavors to end the disease.

The UNODC provides support for prisoners and drug addicts to receive treatment and prevent the infection.]]>
12/11/2018 12:50:56 PM
<![CDATA[Parliamentary committee approves draft law on medical tourism]]>
During a Monday meeting, the committee’s deputy Amr Sedki said the draft law will ensure coordination between the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Health in the emerging field of medical tourism.

He said Egypt has around 1,300 medical sites, but they do not have resorts; hence, the ministries should cooperate to develop these sites.

The ministers of foreign affairs and aviation have worked on establishing a mechanism to issue medical tourism visas to foreign patients for the first time in Egypt, an official source said in March.

Ayman Abdel Aziz, secretary general of the newly formed technical committee for medical tourism, said 20 hospitals will receive patients from abroad. A guide to the sites offering medical tourism services will be issued, added Abdel Aziz, who works under the supervision of the cabinet.​

The medical tourism program will offer heart, orthopedic, eye and other surgeries in the first phase for 15 Arab and African countries, Abdel Aziz explained.

In February 2017, Egypt launched the "Tour and Cure" medical tourism initiative. The initiative offers treatment to HCV infected patients from all over the world, with an effective and advanced treatment program at a lower cost.

Argentinian football player Lionel Messi promoted the "Tour and Cure" campaign in a visit in February. Egypt is a pioneer in wide scale, cheap treatment of HCV.

Highly effective dental implants are also famous in Egypt and are considerably cheaper given the low price of the pound against the dollar.

Natural Therapy in Egypt

Numerous mineral springs in Egypt constitute a therapeutic tourism attraction. A spring in Wadi Assal (Honey Valley) in Ras Sudr is known among the locals to treat arthritis, and cleanse the skin.

Hammam Moussa, located about three kilometers north of el-Toor City, includes five springs that pour into a pool covered by a large dome. The pool is continually filled with natural, renewable sulfuric water that measures 38° Celsius, and is believed to help cure rheumatism, arthritis, bone and skin diseases, as well as heal wounds.

Hammam Pharaon (Pharaoh’s Bath), located on the international road to Sharm El-Sheikh, is a natural pool of water springing from caves inside a mountain and pouring into the Gulf of Suez. Water in the bath contains a high concentration of sulfur.

12/11/2018 10:53:31 AM
<![CDATA[50 Indonesian businessmen to attend Cairo's inter-African trade fair: Amb.]]>
Three state-owned companies and 16 private sector companies, including 10 companies working in food products, will participate in the fair, Fauzy said in a press conference on Sunday.

Egypt is one of the most important partners of Indonesia in Africa, Fauzy said, noting that both countries have a long history of bilateral cooperation.

Fauzy also revealed that the volume of trade between the two countries reached $1.5 billion in 2017. He explained that the most significant Indonesian exports to Egypt include coffee, rubber and paper products, while Indonesia imports phosphate, dates and citrus from Egypt.

The Indonesian ambassador added that 60 percent of coffee in Egypt comes from Indonesia.

The companies participating in the fair will present various types of products in different realms such as food, tourism and even defense, where an Indonesian company participated in Egypt's international Defense Expo (EDEX 2018) which was held in Cairo a few days ago.

Fauzy pointed out that the Indonesian Embassy facilitated last October the participation of 75 Egyptian businessmen in the annual exhibition of Indonesian exports, adding that six companies won prestigious awards that were handed to them by the Indonesian president.

He said that the Egyptian companies held deals during the exhibition worth $78.4 million, with an increase of 41 percent from 2017.

Fauzy said that Egypt is one of the most important markets for Indonesia in Africa, especially as it is the third largest country in terms of population after Nigeria and Ethiopia, adding that Egypt is the largest importer among African countries.

Egypt can be the gateway of Indonesian products to Europe, Asia and even America due to its strategic location that links continents through the Suez Canal.

Fauzy told Egypt Today that the number of Indonesian tourists in Egypt may increase up to 10 percent; the current number of tourists amounts to 50,000, adding that this is a low number as there are 80 million Indonesian tourists around the world.
12/11/2018 10:50:29 AM
<![CDATA[Full Statement - European Commission praises Egypt’s cooperative gov.]]>
The report praised the steps taken by the Egyptian government to realize the goals set under the Partnership Priorities 2017-2020, adopted during the EU-Egypt Association Council in July 2017. The report included positive quotes for EU officials, High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini and Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn.

Here is the full report issued by the European Commission:

Report on EU-Egypt relations: Investing in socio-economic development and inclusive growth

Brussels, 10 December 2018

The EU and Egypt undertook closer cooperation in many areas, notably on socio-economic development, scientific research, energy, migration, countering terrorism and regional issues.

The report on the partnership between the EU and Egypt for the period from June 2017 to May 2018 was issued today and highlights key developments in EU-Egypt cooperation with a particular focus on achieving the objectives set under the Partnership Priorities 2017-2020, adopted during the EU-Egypt Association Council in July 2017.

High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini said: "Egypt, its stability and development are key to the European Union, its Member States, and the entire region. That is why we signed our partnership priorities last year and reinforced our already strong engagement with and for the Egyptian people. We are determined to continue our work, together, to address all the challenges we have to face, for the sake of our citizens."

Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn added: "In the last year we stepped up our action to support Egypt reforming its economy, working for a sustainable and inclusive growth. For the EU it is imperative that the young generation, women and the most vulnerable members of the society are included in this process. The EU will continue to support Egypt tackling socio-economic challenges and will keep working together for the stability and prosperity of the region."

During the reporting period, the EU's commitment vis-à-vis Egypt was reaffirmed through regular political dialogues, bilateral visits by the EU and Egyptian sides and continued implementation of the EU's financial assistance.

Egypt also continued to engage as a regional player on key regional and international issues, notably in the perspective of its African Union presidency next year, such as the Middle East Peace Process, Syria, Libya, Africa, the situation in Gulf and the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation.

Overall, the conclusions of the report show that the implementation of priority areas is well on track, with notable challenges remaining in particular in the field of the rule of law, human rights, fundamental freedoms and space for civil society. The next EU-Egypt Association Council that will be held in Brussels on 20 December will be the occasion to further discuss the EU-Egypt partnership for the months ahead.

More details

The overall EU financial assistance commitments to Egypt amount to over €1,3 billion in grants. This amount mainly targets social development and jobs creation, infrastructure, renewable energy, water, and sanitation/waste management, environment, but it also supports the improvement of governance, human rights, justice, and public administration reform in Egypt.

Through the multiannual programme Facility for Inclusive Growth and Job Creation, the EU supports the business enabling environment and promote economic reforms in favor of enterprises, including easier access to finance for small and medium-sized enterprises.

The EU is also promoting labor-intensive community services and public works as an effective and well-targeted social safety net. Via the EU programme Emergency Employment Investment Project (EEIP) completed in January 2018, more than 50,000 young people, many of them women, have acquired new skills and been given access to jobs. Nearly 10,000 of them have received specific support to get permanent jobs or start their own business.

A number of high-level visits and meetings contributed to enhance the partnership between the EU and Egypt in 2017-2018 and to discuss regional and international issues of concern.

Those include meetings between Egyptian President Abdelfattah Al-Sisi and the President of the European Council Donald Tusk in September 2017; High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini's meetings with the Egyptian Foreign Minister Shoukry in the margins of various international forums; the visit of Commissioner for the European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, in October 2017, to reaffirm EU's support to Egypt's migration management inside and outside its borders with the signature of a €60 million programme under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa; the visit of Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy, Miguel Arias Cañete, in April 2018 during which he signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on energy cooperation; and the launch by Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, in December 2017* of the EU-Egypt Migration Dialogue, aimed at improving bilateral cooperation and discussions on the overall topic of migration.

A further step in EU-Egypt cooperation includes the signing of an agreement on scientific and technological cooperation for Egypt's participation in the Partnership for Research and Innovation in the Mediterranean Area (PRIMA) in October 2017.
12/11/2018 6:23:37 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi's 7 decisions at the end of Africa 2018 Forum ]]>
Egyptian President Sisi said that achieving security, stability, development and modernization are the most important ways of confronting the political, economic and social challenges in our continent.

"Egypt will always be supportive of efforts to strengthen African cooperation in particular and international cooperation in general," President Sisi stated.

"I Believe in the necessity of exerting the utmost effort to better the future of Africa and complete Egypt's effective role in working for the continent's renaissance," Sisi said, adding that he decided to:

1- Establish an investment risk guarantee fund in Africa to encourage Egyptian investors to channel their investments to Africa, participating in the development of the continent and taking advantage of the enormous opportunities available in Africa.

2- Negotiate with international institutions and development partners to support infrastructure as the basis of real development, including expediting the completion of the Cairo-Cape Town route, to expand trade between the continent's countries.

3- Facilitate the work of African companies in Egypt to stimulate joint investments and benefit from the continuous development in the Egyptian economy.

4- Enhance technical cooperation with the African states in the areas of investment in human capital, digital transformation, management of international finance, governance, and monitoring and evaluation systems.

5- Establish a fund to invest in information infrastructure, with the aim of supporting the technological development and digital transformation in the continent to build modern economies based on the latest technological systems.

6- Cooperate with African countries in the fields of governance and anti-corruption through the exchange of expertise, training and rehabilitation of concerned bodies in the continent to spread the culture of governance and eliminate corruption.

7- Launch the second phase of the National Strategy for Combating Corruption (2019-2022) in celebration of the International Anti-Corruption Day, activate the National Anti-Corruption Academy, and provide 250 training grants to African cadres working in the anti-corruption field.

Several officials from Egypt and other African countries attended the last session of the forum. The forum included 10 African presidents and 2000 businessmen from all over the continent.

12/10/2018 3:37:28 PM
<![CDATA[4th 'Egypt Can' conference focuses on improving Education in Egypt]]>
Held under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the fourth edition of the conference is held in cooperation with Ministry of Immigration, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education alongside 11 concerned entities.

The conference aims to benefit from the knowledge of Egyptian scientists working abroad through sharing their vision on ways to develop the educational system in Egypt.
During the conference, six workshops will be held to tackle ways to promote the educational system and engage Egyptian students in this system.

In this regard, Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram announded said on Sunday that around 30 Egyptian experts and scientists working abroad in the field of education will take part in the fourth edition of the conference.

Makram added that the conference aims to support the government’s efforts to develop the Egyptian education to meet the basic needs of the labor market and benefit from Egyptian scientists living abroad.

She referred that this year’s edition comes in line with President Sisi’s announcement that 2019 is the “Year of Education”.

The immigration minister said the previous editions of the conference were very successful as they linked Egyptian scientists abroad with their homeland and got them more involved in their country's development.

In July, Sisi declared 2019 the year of education during the second day of the youth conference held at Cairo University.

He pointed out that human development is a key pillar of the government’s vision; hence, his administration’s human development strategy will not only focus on education, but will also include health, culture and sports.

In September, the Ministry of Education announced its plan to develop the educational system in Egypt to the committee in charge at the Parliament.

The new system includes changing the Thanaweya Amma system which in turn requires the Supreme Council of Universities to change the admission requirements for each college.

Thanaweya Amma is the third and final year of high school which qualifies students for college. Students’ grades have been determined upon their final exams' results only, making their total score the only determinant for their admission in different colleges without any admission tests or personal interviews.

The ministry plans to make students take multiple exams, while preserving the booklet format implemented in the academic year 2016-2017, which had almost eradicated cheating common in the former format.

The former format required memorization rather than comprehension of the curriculum, which had created a huge informal sector of private lessons taught by school teachers who often purposefully neglected their role in class to push students to take such lessons.

The booklet format contains only MCQs and short answer questions to be answered in one exam sheet, unlike the former format comprising an answer sheet and a question sheet.

Teachers of Thanaweya Amma will receive different trainings; also, the contracts and administrative affairs of teachers will be restructured to improve their living and professional conditions. ]]>
12/10/2018 2:02:40 PM
<![CDATA[Africa loses $95 billion a year due to gender inequality: Thomas]]>
She also called for achieving practical solutions and providing funding for women through policy makers to achieve social justice, asserting that gender inequality makes Africa lose about $95 billion a year.

This came during a women empowerment session on the sidelines of the Africa 2018 Forum held in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh on December 8,9, under the auspices of Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi

Maggie Kigozi, investment expert and one of Uganda's eminent business women, said that women need to represent about 50 percent of the African states' parliaments.

Women in the current Egyptian Parliament represent about 30 percent of Parliament members, according to Nabila Makram, the Egyptian minister of immigration.

Kigozi, who formerly served as the executive director of the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA), said that gender equality needs long years to be implemented in some African countries.

Egypt's Minister of Health Hala Zayed said that for five years, the ministry has adopted many programs and policies to improve women's health, pointing out 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 the ministry has provided a health insurance program for women, as Egyptian women nowadays are breadwinners for about 35 percent of the Egyptian families.

For her part, 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, including designating them for promotion.

The change in the society's culture of gender equality is the biggest challenge facing women in Egypt and the African continent in general, Misiri said, calling for allocating good funding to overcome obstacles to women's empowerment.

She stressed that Egypt selects leaders to take senior positions, based on the competence, whether they are men or women, adding that the change in the culture of society towards women was part of the political and economic progress that Egypt has enjoyed over the last four years.

The percentage of women's representation in the Egyptian Parliament has increased by about 15 percent, Misiri said, adding that there are eight women ministers in the current Egyptian government. She also expected more benefits to be granted for Egyptian women at all levels in the coming years.
12/10/2018 11:31:49 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt seeks to activate free trade agreement with Africa: FM]]>
In his speech at the 2018 African Union, Shoukry remarked that African countries should exert efforts to support investments in Africa and set reform programs paving the way for such investments.

Shoukry added that Egypt will host a meeting with African commercial ministries to tackle the problems that impede activating the agreement.

He pointed out that investments should achieve the sustainable development goals and the African Union's Agenda 2063, which aims for a peaceful, integrated and prosperous continent by 2063.

He further explained that it is necessary to ensure stability in Africa and combat terrorist organizations hindering the continent's development to attract more investments.

On March 21, Egypt joined 43 other African countries in signing the African Continental Free trade Area (CFTA) agreement in Kigali.

The agreement aims to ease the trade exchange between the countries that signed it according to a scheduled timeline and not through an immediate activation of the agreement. In addition, it will remove barriers and tariffs among the African countries, bringing together 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion.

This will lead to the establishment of the African Customs Union and the application of a unified tariff to the African countries' imports from outside the continent.

CFTA is considered the biggest deal ever signed since the World Trade Organization (WTO) was established as it was signed by 43 countries.

It has been set to include all 55 member states of the African Union, but Nigeria and Uganda pulled out from the Kigali summit at the last minute. Nigeria said it needs more time to review the terms.

With a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $2 trillion, the agreement opens the door of surging the amount of imports and exports.

Egypt can double its exports to African countries through this agreement as Egypt’s exports to African countries are currently worth about $4 billion.

Domestic trade in Africa reached 20 percent , with expectations to be accelerated by activating the agreement.

Additional report by Hanan Mohamed
12/10/2018 11:09:51 AM
<![CDATA[Training youth to design electronic games to broaden experience: MP]]>
Asiouty, member of the parliamentary Local Development Committee, added that President Sisi is keen to revive Egypt's role in Africa through hosting forums that bring together African leaders and officials, deepening the country's relation with African countries.

He further remarked that these forums will also increase mutual investments between Egypt and African countries.

MP Mohammed Abdallah Zain el-Din, deputy of the Parliament's Transportation Committee, referred that 2018 African Forum, held for the third time in a row, is very important as many businessmen and leaders tackle the dire commercial and economic issues during the forum, aiming to encourage investments in Africa and achieve sustainable development.

Zain el-Din added that the future of investments in Africa is promising, and the upcoming few years will witness competitiveness between the great powers seeking to invest in Africa because of its wealth, and labor force.

“The African continent is the future of the global economy,” said Egyptian President Sisi Saturday during his speech at the Young African entrepreneurs’ session on the sidelines of the Africa 2018 Forum, held in Sharm El-Sheikh Resort city.

Sisi said that Egypt is keen to carry out several procedures to support young entrepreneurs, including:

First, all the state’s institutions have been directed to unify their efforts to establish the first regional center for entrepreneurship in Egypt to support startup companies in Egypt and the region and launch training programs to prepare the youth before entering the world of entrepreneurship.

Second, a call has been made to establish the Arabic/ African Fund to support entrepreneurship in both the African and the Arab world.

Third, an initiative has been launched to train 10,000 Egyptian and African young people to design electronic games and applications over the next three years.

Fourth, New laws have been passed to support young projects such as the law to decorate land transportation services using information technology, and the establishment of one- individual companies.

Fifth, establishment of “Fekretak Sherketak”, a nationwide initiative that aims to support and accelerate the growth of entrepreneurs to develop innovate businesses in today’s competitive economy. The first state-sponsored initiative provided more than 450 sessions of assistance to young business owners.

Sixth, around 50 start-ups have been established and funded, under Fekretak Sherketak’s flagship program -- Falak Startups.

Seventh, a competition is launched in cooperation with the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation between 100 African Startups on December 8-9.

12/10/2018 11:07:06 AM
<![CDATA[Trump's top choice for chief of staff not taking job]]>
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Republican Representative Mark Meadows, chairman of the right-wing House Freedom Caucus, are among the possible contenders to replace current White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, one source told Reuters.

Ayers, 36, chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence and known as a skilled Republican political tactician, had been in discussions for months about taking the job, but was unable to agree to terms with Trump, another source said.

Ayers tweeted that he would instead be leaving the White House soon, apparently to return to his home state of Georgia. One of the sources said Ayers would return to "America First Policies," a combative group that he helped found before joining Pence in the White House.

Several hours after the news broke, Trump essentially confirmed that Ayers would not get the job but offered few other details.

"I am in the process of interviewing some really great people for the position of White House Chief of Staff. Fake News has been saying with certainty it was Nick Ayers, a spectacular person who will always be with our #MAGA agenda," Trump said in a message on Twitter, referring to his slogan "Make America Great Again." "I will be making a decision soon!"

Ayers wrote earlier on Twitter: "I will be departing at the end of the year but will work with the #MAGA team to advance the cause."

One source said Trump had sought a two-year commitment from Ayers but that he was unable to agree to that. Ayers, the father of young triplets, was willing to serve only until the spring of 2019 for family reasons, an administration official said earlier.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A source familiar with Mnuchin’s thinking said Mnuchin sees his role at Treasury as best suited to help the president and feels very committed to remaining in his current position.

A spokesman for Meadows had no comment on the matter.


With Ayers out of the running, it is unclear who will take over the top administrative post in the West Wing at a time Trump has been weakened by Democrats winning control of the House of Representatives in congressional elections last month.

Trump will decide on his new chief of staff by the end of the year, the sources said. The president said on Saturday that Kelly would leave the post by year's end.

Trump brought Kelly in last year to restore order to his White House but has clashed repeatedly with the retired Marine Corps general in recent months. The two men were no longer on speaking terms, according to one source with direct knowledge of the situation.

The constant staff upheaval at all levels has left Trump's White House grappling to try to advance his policies. Many of the resignations have come under pressure.

Trump now faces House probes into his businesses and most contentious policies and Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump's election campaign team and Russian officials in 2016. Trump, who has denied collusion, calls the probe a "witch hunt."

Ayers has advised a series of Republican governors and as Pence's chief of staff, has run one of the most effective political teams in Washington.

But critics questioned whether the young operative had the kind of experience needed to deal with the internal strife that has often engulfed the Trump White House.
12/10/2018 9:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Australian regulator says probe of tech giants spurs 5 investigations]]>SYDNEY – 10 December 2018: Australia's competition regulator says it has five investigations afoot as a result of its examination of the market power and public influence of tech giants such as Facebook Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google.

"We have five investigations underway, arising from this report," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims told reporters in Sydney.

"Some of them are allegations that could sit under competition law which would go to issues of market power," he added, without specifying which firms they concerned. "Five investigations is quite a lot."

The ACCC's report recommended a new regulatory body be set up to monitor Facebook and Google and their dominance of the online advertising and news markets.
12/10/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi establishes new fund to encourage investments in Africa]]>
Sisi also added during his speech at the end of Africa 2018 forum in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh that his government established a national strategy to fight corruption in 2019, the new program will provide 250 scholarships for African cadres active in fighting corruption.

Several officials from Egypt and other African countries attended the last session of the forum. The forum included 10 African presidents and 2000 businessmen from all over the continent.
12/9/2018 11:53:00 PM
<![CDATA[Muscular Dystrophy: A crippling disease with a painful end]]>
Muscular dystrophy affects some one million Egyptians, according to several news sources and disease-affiliated groups. Muscular dystrophy, according to Rasha El-Sherif MD, the leading Consultant of Neurogenetics and a Muscular Dystrophy Specialist, targets muscles. They are a group of inherited diseases that affect the muscles progressively, explained El-Sherif, further elaborating, “There are more than 50 types, according to the affected protein or enzyme that is deficient in the body. Most probably it is due to a mutation in one of the genes that is responsible for the proteins that strengthen the muscles. This mutation appears in early age or later in life according to the importance of the deficient protein and its function in the muscle.”

The disease, which is usually caused by inter-family marriage, can start at a very early age, during property or in adulthood, explained Hideo Sugita and Shin’ichi Takeda in their journal paper ‘Progress in muscular dystrophy research with special emphasis on gene therapy.’ They affirmed El-Sheirf’s explanation of muscular dystrophy explaining that muscular dystrophy is a “progressive muscle-wasting disease caused by mutations in the DMD gen.”

The DMD gene is the second largest gene to date. It encodes dystrophin, a muscle protein. Individuals who have a mutated DMD gene sugger from progressive loss of muscle function and general weakness of the muscles; in other words, they suffer from muscular dystrophy. As a result of the disease being linked to genes, it is not curable. However, extensive research from all around the world has proven that treatment of the disease allows patients to live a full live with a good quality of life.

According to R. A. Smith, J. R. Sibert, S. J. Wallace and P. S. Harper in their paper titles ‘Early diagnosis and secondary prevention of Duchenne muscular dystrophy,’ as well as many other publications, early diagnosis is vital to stop the deterioration of the case. Early diagnosis often translates to treatment starting early on, which mitigates many complex issues and secondary complications that may arise.

Diagnosis is quick, explained El-Sherif. “Through a blood test DNA, doctors can see whether there are mutations in the responsible gene. For example, in case of Spinal Muscular Atrophy [SMA], one of the most popular muscular dystrophy strands, the SMN1 gene test that is responsible for making survival motor neuron (SMN) protein or the Dystrophin gene in DMD appears elevated,” she elaborated.

For early diagnosis, El-Sheirf recommends that as soon as a case is suspected, a LE 100 ($5.65) test should be done to measure the amount of the Creatine phosphokinase (CPK) enzyme in the body should be done. CPK is mainly in the heart and skeletal muscle and elevated levels of it indicates that one suffers from muscular dystrophy. Normal CPK levels range from 50 to 200 in an individual that does not suffer from muscular dystrophy, however, for those who suffer from it, its levels rise in the blood. According to El-Sherif, “The level of CPK is also a marker for specialists, as it also indicates which group of muscular dystrophy the individual suffers from.”

Quality of life: early diagnosis, treatment, braces, psychology and nutrition

“The earlier we diagnose, the earlier we start therapy and set standards of care, the better for the patient. It can prevent or at the very least delay its progression,” expressed El-Sherif.

Muscular dystrophy means that the muscles are breaking down, if physiotherapy starts at an early age, then muscles are cared for better and deterioration is slower. Early diagnosis also means that there will be a follow-up on the heart and respiratory muscles, meaning that the patient will live a life with higher quality. Their respiratory systems, which are usually affected, resulting in their frequent trips to the hospital, will be protected and taken care of. In children specially, early diagnosis could mean that the patient will walk until 15 years, instead of being wheelchair-bound at eight or nine years of age. Higher quality of life is strongly tied to early diagnosis, physiotherapy and treatments.

If a patient is undiagnosed or left untreated, they start to develop stiffness in the joints. “They may have good muscle power but they could be wheelchair-bound simply because of problems with their joints. The joints themselves become contracted. This is a bad quality of life, their muscles would still be healthy and yet, they cannot walk because of lack of diagnosis or treatment,” explains El-Sherif.

“Treatment is important but wearing braces and guards to mitigate the relatively quick deterioration of muscles is also important,” explained Hemmat Boghdady. The chemist-turned-businesswomen and Managing Director of MBC for import and export has recently started importing back, neck, leg, knee and other braces and guards for muscular dystrophy patients after coming into contact with patients suffering from the crippling disease. Boghdady found that Egypt is suffering a gap in guards and braces and took it upon herself to try and fill this gap.

She explains, “Guards and braces are not found in abundance in Egypt. And when they are, they are very low in quality. Distributors do not want to take these things because they are too specialized and so they will not fly off the shelves, this has meant that people often do not find these products.” Most distributors, she explains, think of profit. They do not see themselves as a part of the patient’s pain relief process, although they are a vital part. When asked why they are so vital, Boghdady warned, “Taking the treatment without wearing the device that is designed to protect the muscles, joints and bones significantly limits its effect. … Still, it is important to ask your doctor for advice regarding these devices.”

To ensure a higher quality of life, Boghdady recommends three guards/braces, all of which are available for children from the age of two and adults of all ages. First, the ankle-foot guard. As explained by El-Sherif and Boghdady, muscular dystrophy sufferers cannot rest their legs in the right position. This guard, according to Margaret Wahl’s paper ‘Surgery Sometimes, Bracing Often, Caution Always,’ enables resting of the foot and the ankle in the right position and slows down the deterioration of muscles.

Second, back corsets are needed to correct dorsal spine, provide stabilization and corrective effect of postural deficiencies and mild kyphosis. Kyphosis often occurs to patients in the second phase of the disease but can be slowed down by back braces, according to James E. Archer, Adrian C. Gardner, Helen P. Roper, Ashish A. Chikermane and Andrew J. Tatman, all of whom are muscular dystrophy researchers.

Third, knee brace. As explained previously by El-Sherif, children suffering from the disease can become wheel-chair bound for reasons other than the deterioration of their muscles, if living standards are not implemented. This view seconded by much of the publications on the topic. The knee brace is designed to support the knee and help correct knee axis where knee compartments are usually reduced, translating to increased child mobility.

Another issue that is as important as early diagnosis to ensure quality of life is psychological care, explains El-Sherif. If a child suffering from the diseas sees their parents sad all the time, crying or giving up hope, they will give up hope as well. This is also the case for adults who suffer from muscular dystrophy. According to a publication titled ‘Psychological Approach in Managing Muscular Dystrophy Patients in Malaysia’ penned by Elna Herawati Che Ismail and Nooraini Othman, it is also important for carers to seek psychological help if they or the patient starts feeling depressed, a normal side effect of the disease especially during early and late stages. By keeping their and the patient’s stability and happiness in check, Ismail and Othman explain that the patient will be able to fight the disease more.

Another important factor to watch out for to ensure the mitigation of deterioration is nutrition. Nutrition is very important for muscle dystrophy patients, as is usually the case for patients of any disease or syndrome.

All muscular dystrophy patients have to live a healthy life due to the disease’s targeting of muscles. The muscles break quicker than normal in patients. Thus, there is a need for a balanced diet, even more than normal. Fruits, vegetables, proteins and vitamins, especially vitamin D, are vital to mitigate quick progression of the disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

Patients who suffer from certain strands of the disease need to be more careful about what they eat. According to Muscular Dystrophy Canada website and much of the research out there, for example, Simona Salera, Francesca Menni, Maurizio Moggio, Sophie Guez, Monica Sciacco and Susanna Esposito’s paper titled ‘Nutritional Challenges in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy,’ patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy need to be more careful about their intake because they take steroids. It is the only effective treatment for Duchenne, explains El-Sherif.

Those who take steroids need to stay away from added salt, preservatives, processed foods and refined sugar to reduce the risk of complications and diabetes. If a patient is not careful while on steroids, they would have to stop taking steroids, which would lead to the fast deterioration of the case. This means that following a healthy regimen is vital.

For children, El-Sherif recommends that sweets and crisps should not be consumed. She stresses the importance of healthy food and urges grandmothers to treat their grandchildren to toys instead of sweets.

Spotting the disease, as explained by El-Sherief

For parents, my advice would be to go see a muscular dystrophy specialist if your child cannot support their neck or back by three months and six months, respectively. If your toddler cannot climb the stairs like other kids, run or jump, please, please, please seek medical help.

For those over 19 years of age, if you find yourself no longer being able to do sports that you used to, walk as much or climb the stairs like you used to, go to a specialist in muscle dystrophy. In those over 19, you start to gradually lose the ability to do as much sports as you used to or move around as much as you normally would. For adults, it could also present itself via pains in muscles, arms and legs. Sometimes it starts from the arms and the patient cannot raise their arms or carry heavy objects.

Living with the disease: Heartbreaking testimonies from true heroes

Sherifa Motawea suffers from the crushing disease, so does her son. Motawea is the President of the Muscular Dystrophy Patients’ Association, member in several muscular-dystrophy-related organizations and a housewife, has been suffering from the disease for decades now. In her family, there are 13 cases of muscle dystrophy.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Motawea expressed her grievances concerning the way that people treat sufferers of the disease. “The way people look at us is difficult. They look at us like we have no right to live, like we are a burden. They do not think that we are capable of doing anything for ourselves. I know that I need help when it comes to moving but I also know that there are certain things that I can do myself, they do not treat me like I can do those things,” Motawea explained.

Motawea lives a difficult life. For her, movement is difficult, she fears having to sit on a wheelchair. “If I sit on a wheelchair, it will be the end. The streets are not ready for us in most of Egypt. I will not be able to go anywhere,” the hero shares emotionally.

When asked whether she ever worked, Motawea revealed that between the lack of appropriate jobs for them and the expenses of living with the disease, she has spent most of her and her husband’s money. “We need more jobs suitable for us. The Ministry allocates work for us already but many of us were not able to finish their education, so they cannot fill these positions.” Adults with muscular dystrophy can only do certain jobs that do not require a lot of movement and they need someone to take care of them too. They require a carer at a certain stage, which is expensive.

On the topic of taking care of her child, the mother explains, “Taking care of my child is very difficult. I would have been difficult taking care of my child but it is extremely difficult taking care of a child with muscular dystrophy. I am in pain all the time, and so is he.”

Motawea pleads, “Do not look at us in sympathy, we are different but not any less. If you really want to help me, or help us, push for our rights, demand that hospitals be built and centers for us be established. Really help us, do not feel sorry for us.” What we need, according to her, are informative campaigns letting people know what the disease is, how to deal with sufferers of muscular dystrophy and its causes and real treatments. “Most importantly, I want a campaign to inform people of the causes. We need to stop inter-family marriages. This is what got me here, this is why I am unwell.”

Asmaa Ahmed, a sufferer of the disease, is not able to move without help at the young age of 22. Single and in constant need of help, Ahmed blames her parents for not treating her at a young age. “When the doctors said there is no cure, they stopped the treatments. Today, I am immobile. I cannot eat, drink or go to the loo on my own.” The high price of treatments combined with the belief that she is among the living dead led her parents to stop sending her to physiotherapy and so on.

Embarrassed that she cannot help her diabetic mother and is in need of care by her, Ahmed suffers from low energy due to a negative psychological state and has re-occurring harmful thoughts. “I am from Fayoum. We go to Cairo to see the doctor. Sometimes, my mother gets a diabetes comma during our journey. We have had to stay in transportation facilities while she regains her consciousness. I cannot help her,” Ahmed said, almost breaking down.

Asked if she works, Ahmed revealed that she did launch a project at some point but without success. In an attempt to conquer the disease and get her life on track, as well as make money for the treatments, the fighter launched a Facebook page marketing different products. Ahmed says, “I was trying to sell natural products and accessories. Women-oriented products, basically, but everyone that contacted me wanted to know where the shop was. They wanted to see the products first. I did not have the space for a shop or the physical ability to manage one. … I failed.” A heartbreaking testimony from a true hero.

At the age of 47, Yasser Zaky Abdel Aziz is the third oldest individual in Egypt living with muscular dystrophy. Aziz has been suffering from muscular dystrophy since his childhood, and so is his younger brother. Unmarried, both men live with their father. “We have no joy in life. It is expensive to live with the disease. We do not have jobs and so, we cannot do anything. We have no way to enjoy life,” expressed Aziz to Egypt Today.

Life is difficult of Aziz whose dad is disgraced from due to his illness, according to the sufferer. “He does not want people to see me so I do not bring him shame. He does not allow me to go out,” revealed Aziz. Living on benefits and being unemployed because of his condition and the fact that he had to leave school during primary school because of the disease, Aziz finds himself highly dependent on his friends. “I cannot go to the bathroom on my own. I have to call one of my friends. Sometimes they are there. Sometimes they are not. I got diabetes due to lack of care and not going to the bathroom as much as I should. Diabetes and muscular dystrophy, a painful life.”

Asked what sufferers need, Aziz said, “I do not want anything for myself. All I want is for the government to do a gene test before a couple gets married. We need to raise awareness of the disease. We need to know if they will produce a healthy child. Do not anyone else get this disease in Egypt. We cannot have more sufferers. … I do not wish this upon anyone.” A selfless gesture from a suffering soul, his words ring loud and clear.

Another heart-aching testimony was given to us by Mohamed al-Aggar’s mother. Aggar, 11, suffers from muscular dystrophy and feels like he is alone in his fight for life, explains his mother, who did not wish for her name to be revealed. “My son is depressed from his disease. He has seen his older brother die two years ago because of it. All that is occupying his mind is that he will die, like his brother did. He is a smart kid and has potential. He will tell you information that you did not know even though he is very young and no longer attending school, but he will die like his brother did,” spoke Aggar’s mother, a sad tone occupying her voice.

A brave mother with a dead son and another one that will eventually die, every time she learns that a family member is pregnant she fears for the child’s health. “When daughter got pregnant, I was petrified. What if her child has muscle dystrophy? What if she has to suffer seeing her child die like I did?” Aggar’s mother honestly told to Egypt Today. “I live in constant fear that my son will die. I wish he did not have to die but I know that he will. I am scared for others. Dear God, don’t let there be others who suffer from this disease.”

Having spent all her money on her children’s treatment without much to show for it, Aggar’s mother is desperate to find a solution but is aware of the harsh reality: there is no cure.

Others interviewed told Egypt Today about their imprisonment in the chair and their life being wasted. Ahmed Kamel, a sufferer, said, “I am imprisoned forever in this chair. No future. No potential for success. Nothing. All I have is this chair.” Others revealed the need for electronic chairs provided by the government due to their high prices, while some wanted the Ministry of Health to work on a cure for the disease. “We are the founders and pioneers of medicine,” spoke Mona Elamrousi, a sufferer of the disease, continuing, “Egyptians are very smart. We are capable of finding a cure if we work on the matter. The Ministry does test the treatments that are approved in the U.S. and other countries but I plead that they start searching for a cure themselves.” In an optimistic state, Elamrousi said, “Egyptians are capable of finding a cure.”

Those who suffer from muscular dystrophy lead a very difficult life, and their families do too. For children that suffer from muscular dystrophy, the parents need to send them to special schools and there is a need for constant close care, a fact revealed during many interviews. One of the parents often has to give up their career to take care of the child, or children, sometimes. However, the Ministry of Health is now working to test and approve FDA-approved (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) treatments. The Ministry does very rigid tests and research on each treatment before its approval, meaning that once it is approved it is 100 percent guaranteed, a process that ensured Egyptian patients do not consume ineffective medicines.

Moreover, Parliament has invited doctors, including El-Sherif, to speak in front of the Health Committee about muscular dystrophy with the aim of including sufferers of the disease to the list of people who are considered as disabled, meaning that they will be able to seek benefits that will facilitate their lives. To help sufferers further, the new and comprehensive Universal Healthcare System is set to ensure better quality of living for all Egyptians.
12/9/2018 4:09:24 PM
<![CDATA[Ending the Year of People with Special Needs: A look at Egypt, disability ]]>
Individuals living with different forms of disabilities are often marginalized and ostracized.

Eyes open, staring at the ceiling, a long day awaited him. Insecurities, helplessness and pain filled the heart and the mind of the invisible citizen; everyday was a challenge for him. Nothing came easily.

The struggle has never been the problem; being invisible was, but this is no longer the case in Egypt. The National Council for Disability Affairs was especially created to make sure that those living with disabilities are heard.

The invisible man is one of hundreds of thousands of citizens living in Egypt with disabilities, although the conditions they face are not as harsh as they once were—after all the past few years have seen some tremendous steps forwards, their life is far from perfect.

“The State shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and educational rights of persons with disabilities strive to provide them with job opportunities, allocate a percentage of job opportunities to them, and adapt public facilities and their surrounding environment to their special needs. The State shall also ensure their exercise of all political rights and integration with other citizens in compliance with the principles of equality, justice and equal opportunities,” Article 81 of Egypt’s 2014 constitution reads.

Some 15 percent of the entire global population lives with a type of disability; four percent of those experience grave difficulties in mobility, functioning and going about their day-to-day activities. Sadly, the percentage of people who have some form of disability has increased due to aging populations and the spread of endemics or specific diseases in some countries, according to the WHO.

Most of those who have disabilities around the world are women, according to the World Health Organization (WHO); while, 80 percent of those living with disabilities are in developing countries, according to the UN Development Program (UNDP). Moreover, 20 percent of the brave individuals living with disabilities are among the world’s poorest, as per The World Bank; this percentage seems to be on the rise, according to statistics.

During his keynote speech at The World Bank’s conference on disability, Dr Amartya Sen made a highly important point: The poverty line for the poor who are living with disabilities should take into account the extra costs and expenses that they have as a result of their condition. Supporting this is a study that was carried out in the United Kingdom that concluded that the poverty rate for disable individuals is 23.1 percent and 17.9 percent for non-disabled individuals, suggesting that people are pushed into poverty as a result of the extra expenses they incur as a direct consequence of their condition. As the study shows, once these expenses are taken into account, the poverty rate for people with disabilities jumps up to 47.4 percent; a worrying, and rather, unfair situation seems to be at hand.

Sen explains that there is a two-way link between poverty and disability, one that is akin to a vicious cycle, with poverty feeding disability and disability feeding poverty. It seems that those who are stuck in the poverty trap, are also more likely to fall victim to disabilities. This is due to the poor nutrition, and barriers to education and employment, as well as poor healthcare, that the less fortunate are more likely to face.

Still, individuals living with disability are more likely to be victim to violence or rape, increasing the likelihood for them to become even more ostracized and marginalized. According to a study conducted in the United Kingdom in 2004, having a disability also means that one is less likely to be able to get legal protection or preventative cautionary measures. This is not simply the case in Britain, it is also the case in most countries.

What is the situation like in Egypt?

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 Abdel Fatah al-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.

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 fulfil 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 Abdel Fatah al-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.
12/9/2018 3:57:31 PM
<![CDATA[Toktoks to be licensed to control its crimes: MP ]]>
During his phone interview on Al-Hadas El-Youm, Ismail remarked that putting a license plate on Toktokswill enable the police to track any crime that could be caused by them and arrest theviolators.

He added that they will run along fixed routes and no more toktokswill be imported from abroad.

Toktoks 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 toktoksare so far unlicensed, and can consequently be used in committing crimes.

A toktok is a common form of urban transportation. It is a development of the still available two-wheeled pulled rickshaw by which a runner draws a cart with a seat for one or two people. It is believed the pulled rickshaw was invented by Japan in the 19th century. Rickshaws then appeared in India, China and other big cities in Asia.
Bad record

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 toktoks so as to take the first step towards ending the phenomenon. The ministry had decided in 2014 to ban toktoks for a year as it had been used in crimes and terrorist attacks, according to the government.

In November 2017, a toktok 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 toktok, 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 toktok collided with a passenger train in Dishna, Qena, while trying to pass a railway crossing.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo warned its citizens who were visiting Sri Lanka in June 2017 to avoid travelling alone in toktoks after a spate of sexual harassment complaints.

"The U.S. Embassy in Colombo has been made aware of an increase in incidents involving toktok drivers in the Colombo area inappropriately touching female passengers," the embassy said in a statement.
12/9/2018 1:14:30 PM
<![CDATA[What next if UK MPs reject Brexit deal?]]>
Defeat in the House of Commons is almost certain to lead to either a no-confidence vote from the opposition or a leadership challenge from within her own Conservative Party.

Here are some of the most probable scenarios:

- Renegotiate deal -

The prime minister could face demands to head to Brussels and attempt to extract concessions before putting the deal to a second vote by parliament.

EU leaders have rejected the prospect of renegotiating the withdrawal agreement itself but European sources speaking privately say tweaks in the accompanying declaration on post-Brexit ties might be possible.

May is headed to Brussels anyway for a summit with 27 fellow EU leaders on Thursday and Friday.

"Theresa May is going to come to the European summit on December 13 and 14 and ask for a re-negotiation and the 27 are going to say no, the texts are agreed," an informed European source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"They are then going to fall back on a protocol or a clarification on a point seen as important to then go back to parliament."

- Norway option -

With MPs having more of a say in the process, it is possible they could push for a "plan B", which would see Britain adopt a softer Brexit, such as staying in the EU's satellite trading bloc the European Economic Area -- the so-called Norway option.

Although being in the single market would require maintaining freedom of movement of EU citizens into Britain -- a contentious issue for May and many pro-Brexit voters -- this approach is considered more likely to command a majority in parliament and potentially pass a second vote.

Another potential obstacle, however, is that Britain would have to continue paying large amounts of money into the EU budget which would prove hugely unpopular.

EU figures are said to be in any case "wargaming" how the bloc could extend Article 50 to allow for a tweaked deal or other scenarios such as a second referendum.

- No-deal Brexit -

Britain has legislated to leave the European Union on March 29, 2019, after triggering Article 50 -- the treaty mechanism used to exit the bloc -- two years prior.

May has warned that if MPs vote down her plan the country risks crashing out on this date with no agreement.

That would sever ties overnight with its closest trading partner, amid fears of grounded flights, medicine shortages and gridlocked ports and motorways.

The Bank of England has warned of a financial crisis, slashing house prices and crashing the pound.

Dozens of arch-Brexiteers, led by a hardline backbencher, Jacob Rees-Mogg, believe no deal would be preferable to the current plan that keeps the country tied closer to the bloc.

But that view lacks majority support in parliament.

- Second referendum -

Calls for a new referendum now attract significant cross-party support from dozens of MPs.

May has repeatedly ruled out another vote but could face pressure to call one if Britain slips into political paralysis.

Supporters of a second referendum received a boost from a European Court of Justice legal opinion last week stating that Britain does have the unilateral right to revoke its Brexit decision.

The ECJ's final ruling is expected Monday.

- General election -

The prime minister could try to break the parliamentary deadlock by calling a general election -- but would need the backing of two-thirds of all MPs.

A simple majority of all lawmakers could also topple her government with a vote of no confidence.

That could lead to the formation of a new government -- possibly a coalition of parties -- if MPs agreed on that within two weeks.

Otherwise, a general election would be called.

The Democratic Unionist Party, a fervently pro-Brexit party in the UK's Northern Ireland which props up her government, has said it would vote against the deal, but not aim to topple May.]]>
12/9/2018 11:27:55 AM
<![CDATA[Leaders highlight free trade, development in Africa 2018]]>
Egypt President

“We are here to resume what we have started to achieve development and prosperity,” President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said.

“At the moment, we look forward to achieve more regional integration and facilitate intra-trade, especially after the African Union launched the African free trade zone in March,” President Sisi stated.

“We need to have cross-border joint investments, especially in the sectors of infrastructure, renewable energy, telecommunication and information technology. We aspire to achieve those goals through joint work below the umbrella of the African Union,” President Sisi stated.

"While chairing the AU, we will build up on what has been achieved. We will work on activating projects that would achieve integrated and sustainable development so that our continent reaches the position it deserves on the global economic map,” President Sisi stressed.

“Egypt achieved a milestone in economic, social, and structural reforms in many sectors as well as creating an favorable environment for foreign and local investments. Those reforms contributed to the improvement of Egypt’s credit rating and economic indicators. That is taking place in parallel to economic reform programs implemented by other African countries,” President Sisi said.

“Reforms must match the citizens needs and the era’s demands including the development of airports, roads, seaports, urban areas, electricity networks, energy, water (facilities and networks), and wastewater (networks). That is in addition to technology and new industries and services related to digital economy. (The reforms) must also be compatible with international efforts deployed to combat climate change, decrease emissions, and preserve our planet,” President Sisi said.

“As that requires huge investments, we invite investors from all around the world to seize the promising opportunities in Africa,” President Sisi added.

The president concluded by affirming the necessity of youth and women empowerment stressing the need to eliminate violence against women in the continent.

Niger President

President of Niger Mahamadou Issoufou said that the free trade in Africa will be the largest in the world. “We have to establish peace and security but unfortunately that is not the status co. We need to boost manufacturing as we lie in the bottom when it comes to that sector worldwide. We are currently just a warehouse for natural resources,” Issoufou said.

“We will not be able to invest in and benefit in youth, if they leave resorting to illegal immigration. By lowering tariffs, we are facilitating the movement of goods and people. I salute Afreximbank for providing funds that support trade in the continent. We need economic integration in the continent. We need to combat corruption, and secure financial resources to achieve a manufacturing evolution,” Issoufou said.

“NEPAD should contribute in developing transportation within the continent. We need to integrate youth and women who have problems. We need to back entrepreneurs. We need to pay attention to the digital revolution,” Issoufou said.

“We need to achieve unity among the continent as soon as possible. We liberated the continent from colonization, and ended apartheid in South Africa. If we have achieved African nationalism before, we need to achieve economic African nationalism this century. I call for all African leaders to support the initiative (free African trade agreement) that will be launched in 2019,” Issoufou said.

Sierra Leone President

President of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio said he is inspired by entrepreneurs when they talk about their investments. Obstacles facing women should be removed so they would contribute in growth and development, Bio added. “We need to identify tariff obstacles and better integrate with the international economy,” Bio said.

Madagascar President

President of Madagascar highlighted that intra-African trade makes up just 15 percent of the continent’s trade. “It is no longer acceptable to see our youth exposing their lives to danger trying to leave,” Madagascar president said.

African Officials

Minister of Investment and Cooperation Sahar Nasr said that “Africa needs foreign investments worth $150 billion. That means the gap is $90 billion.”

CEO of COMESA Regional Investment Agency (RIA) Heba Salama said that "the lion share of investments in the continent are owned by foreigners." "Why we don't work together and open communication channels?," Salama questioned.

"The variety in our continent is amazing. We have 3,000 ethnicities, and 2,000 languages," Salama said.

12/9/2018 11:13:05 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi's recommendations to entrepreneurs in Africa ]]>
Al Sisi said that Egypt is keen to carry out several procedures to support young entrepreneurs, asserting that Egypt adopts encouraging methods towards the youth.

Here is Sisi’s speech during the session:

“It makes me glad to join you at this important event seen as one of the communication and channels and strengthening relations between the states of our African continent, It represents our determination to our vision for the young people in Egypt and in other African countries, and our trust in their minds and abilities.

We fully assure that you are our most precious wealth – besides, we believe that your innovative ideas are the primary incentive to realize economic growth and comprehensive sustainable development. You are the energy capable of making a brighter future for our young continent.

The challenges witnessed by the global economy obligate us to continue cooperation between governments and the private sector to encourage and develop entrepreneurship in Africa, and unify efforts seeking to enable young people in our continent, providing them with the possibilities that unleash their abilities in creation.

Accordingly, we send the whole world a clear message that Africa is the future of the global economy and the entrepreneurship, it acquires all the needed elements that make it capable of realizing an economic boom where entrepreneurship projects will strongly contribute.

As part of our vision to support and enable the youth especially in the field of entrepreneurship, Egypt has decided to take the following procedures.

First, All the State’s institutions have been directed to unify their efforts to establish the first regional center for entrepreneurship in Egypt in order to present all the support for startup companies in Egypt and the region – besides, launching training programs to qualify the youth before entering the world of entrepreneurship.

Second, a call has been made to establish the Arabic/ African Fund to support entrepreneurship in both the African and the Arabic world.

Third, an initiative has been launched to train 10 thousand Egyptian and African young people to design electronic games and applications over the next three years.

Fourth, New laws have been passed to support young projects, such as the law to decorate land transport service using Information technology, and allowing the establishment of one- individual company.

Fifth, establishment of “Fekretak Sherketak”, a nationwide initiative that aims to support and accelerate the growth of entrepreneurs to develop innovate businesses in today’s competitive economy. The first state-sponsored initiative provided more than 450 sessions of assistance to young business owners.

Sixth, around 50 start-ups have been established and funded, under Fekretak Sherketak’s flagship program -- Falak Startups.

Seventh, a competition is launched in cooperation with World Bank’s International Finance Corporation between 100 African Startups, which takes place from 8-9 December and is organized in cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.

The competition will choose 20 of the 100 promising startups from across the continent and connect them with business leaders, international investors, and financial institutions.

My sons and daughters of the continent, we believe in you and your dreams. You are our hope and future. I ask you for hard work, thinking out of the box, and confidence in yourself to turn your ideas into reality.”
12/9/2018 2:06:30 AM
<![CDATA[Amendments to agricultural land maintenance law drafted ]]>
The goal of the amendments is rendering the development of field irrigation systems the responsibility of the Ministry of Agriculture and Land Reclamation. Land owners would be obliged to give access to the ministry’s workers to assume the processes.

Later on, the ministry will prepare a report of all works done along with the costs so as landowners would pay back either at once or in installments over 10 months maximum. Failure to pay will incur a penalty which is a jail sentence of maximum six months, and a fine ranging from LE3,000 and LE20,000.

It would be the owners responsibility to clean drainage systems and maintain the field development projects executed on their lands.

The ministries of agriculture and irrigation have been working together to introduce underground sprinkler systems in five million feddans in the Nile Delta and Nile Valley. That would save 7 to 10 million cubic meters of water that can be used for land reclamation.

The target for this year is 260,000 feddans. Until June, the system has been introduced in 215,000 feddans in the governorates of Beheira, Kafr al-Sheikh, Sohag, Minya, Qena, Luxor, Beni Suef, Asyut, Sharqeya, and Daqahleya.

The goal of the project is substituting surface irrigation which is still the most common method worldwide. The funds constitute €35 million from the French Development Agency, $100 million from the World Bank, $60 million from the European Federation of the Associations of Dietitians (EFAD), and $35 million from OPEC. ]]>
12/8/2018 3:13:23 PM
<![CDATA[Em-‘Powering’ Africa]]>
Unlocking energy potentials in Africa comes at the top of Egypt’s priorities as chair of the African Caucus in 2019, especially with many countries continuing to suffer energy shortage crises and hikes in power prices. Business for Africa and the World 2018 Forum, held in Sharm El-Sheikh December 8-9, is set to discuss prospects of attracting investments in clean energy projects with a view toward energy’s crucial role in boosting economy, creating job opportunities and developing the health and education sectors.

The African Union’s agenda 2063 aims for a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, under which it has developed various programs aiming at meeting Africa’s energy-related challenges and contributed to the overall development of affordable and reliable modern energy services for all Africans.

Africa’s budget deficit in infrastructure finance stands at a whopping $100 billion; yet Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, the new Commissioner for Infrastructure & Energy at the African Union, maintains that the “gap means there is a huge opportunity for investment especially that it is proven that investing in African infrastructure has a very high rate of return.”

south africa power outages
South Africa power outages - Reuters

Speaking to Business Today Egypt, the AU commissioner adds that as chair of the Union Egypt can champion the implementation of these programs and support resource mobilization efforts and lobbying for commitment by member states. “When it comes to Energy, Egypt has a great story to tell and showcase—that of ensuring there is 100% access to energy, turning deficit into surplus, moving into smart grids and smart energy systems as well as diversification of energy sources, especially renewables and in gas domestication,” Abu Zeid explains.

The total average annual investment needed from 2018 to 2030 is estimated by the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group at $32-40 billion, depending on the continent’s commitment to avoiding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. “There is no question that these amounts are too large for public investment alone; private investment in Africa’s energy sector is therefore a must. . . . We have to realize that Africa as a whole is coming from a very low base when it comes to energy infrastructure,” Malinne Blomberg, AfDB’s country manager explains.

Looking at Egypt as a successful example, Blomberg applauds the country’s efforts in attracting both local and international investments to the renewable energy sector and explaining that Egypt can provide a lot of experience on achieving universal access and attracting private investment. She also explains that Egypt can play a major role as an energy hub supporting the Sub-Saharan area to overcome its acute energy poverty, as well as provide a lot of experience sharing how it managed to achieve universal access and attract private investment.

Powering Africa’s Grid

Egypt’s governmental policy reforms coupled with new gas discoveries have consolidated the country’s status as an energy hub, eyeing Europe as a high potential market for its surplus production. The foundation stone of the Euro-Africa interconnector will soon be laid down linking national grids of Egypt, Greece and Cyprus for electricity provision through a 1,707-kilometer cable.

But it’s not Europe but Africa that Egypt should be targeting experts argue, given the large demand for energy from the African market. “[Europe’s] demand rate is expected to slow down due to energy efficiency policies and domestic production of renewable energy,” Tessa Terpstra, the Netherland’s MENA Regional Envoy for Water and Energy had previously told Business Today Egypt.

Africa uses only 5% of its renewable energy potentials; however, it can feasibly generate 22% of its energy needs from clean resources by 2030, according to a recent International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) report. By relying on clean energy, Africa could eliminate power shortage in addition to opening up development opportunities in rural villages.

solar pv
The solar panel of an Azuri solar home system installed\non a customer's roof - Reuters

With an energy crisis facing at least 32 out of 48 African nations, according to the World Bank, renewable energy consultant and former chief underwriting officer at the African Trade Insurance Agency Jef Vincent, explains that most governments are focusing on providing power at the lowest cost, especially that gas and coal at first glance seem cheaper. Vincent cites several challenges—varying from one country to another—hindering the full use of the continent’s energy potentials, including obsolete transmission lines and the resistance to change at the level of the off-taker.

Egypt can hold the solution to Africa’s energy crisis. Committed to environment environmentally friendly industrial development, Egypt seeks to increase renewables’ share in the energy mix from less than 3 percent to 20 percent by 2020. The Feed-in-Tariff Act is one of the legislative reforms that Egypt took to re-attract investments to the sector, especially private ones, after a significant drop.

"The government has worked extensively the past couple of years on opening up the electricity market for the private sector and encouraging investments. A milestone worth mentioning is the change in Circular Letter for the year 2018 pertaining to the net metering scheme," according to KarmSolar’s relations officer. KarmSolar is a solar technology and integration company that delivers innovative solar solutions to the agricultural, industrial, tourism and business sectors. Since its founding in 2011, KarmSolar has been Egypt’s largest private off-grid solar energy integrator, with exceptional experience in developing its award winning high-capacity solar pumping stations, MW-scale off-grid solar energy stations and grid-connected utility-scale installations, according to the company website.

With a sunlight coverage rate of 9-11 hours per day, Egypt is considered one of the top solar markets in Africa, and is planning the largest solar installation in the world in Benban city in the southern governorate of Aswan. The new plant will provide between 1.6-2GW of water power.

Energy cooperation between Egypt and African states is already under way with several electricity projects installing solar panels in the Nile Basin, in addition to full-swing capacity building programs running since 2015. The latter has welcomed and trained 134 Africans in Cairo on solar and wind energy technologies and energy efficiency.

Sisi, Bashir, Desalegn
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (L), Omar el-Bashir (M) and ex Ethiopian Prime Minister

Considered one of the future gateways to Africa is the 300 megawatts interconnection project that is under construction between Egypt and Sudan. Mohamed Mostafa el-Khayat, Executive Chairman of the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA), explains the project will yield a number of key benefits. “First, by exporting surplus power production that we have [in Egypt], the interconnector can be a source of income.

And secondly, this interconnection has a political and strategic aspect since energy is one of the soft powers that countries use as part of their mutual economic interests.”

With Egypt seeking transformation into a digital economy as part of its 2030 strategy, Vincent expects several potential developments in the energy sector when digitalization is adopted. “Intelligent metering will allow the owners of [home] solar systems to feed the grid with their excess production, and be rewarded by a proportional reduction of the bill for the power that they buy from the grid. This will help to reduce the power deficit and it will encourage more small-scale investments in PV,” he says, adding that reducing peak demand of energy, managing supply efficiently and settlement of power bills are also among the outcomes of digitalization.

Challenges of Green Finance

As energy remains vital for industrial development in any country, governments should seek provision of certain investment drivers in the renewable energy sector, maintains Vincent. Speaking about Africa, he lists a number of factors that affect investments including “the quality of legal and regulatory environment; the wording of the PPA; the feed-in-tariff setting, land rights, government’s capacity to manage demand and availability of risk mitigation instruments.”

South Africa power outages

From here, there are a number of barriers to mobilize private investment in the energy sector in Africa, foremost among them the lack of access to affordable financing for small and medium enterprises (SMEs), according to AfDB’s Blomberg. She also mentions volatilities related to currency convertibility and exchange rate stability in many countries in Africa as other challenges to investing in clean energy.

“As of now, 100% of the new power generation and decentralized energy investments supported by the Bank in 2018 focus on renewable energy. The trend is likely to continue in 2019 based on the current pipeline of projects,” Blomberg reveals.
12/8/2018 2:53:43 PM
<![CDATA[Where will France's 'yellow vest' protests lead?]]>
- Who are the protesters? -

The "gilets jaunes" (yellow vest) movement sprang up in late October against increases in fuel taxes announced as part of President Emmanuel Macron's efforts to pay for clean energy initiatives.

While the protests began over fuel taxes, they have snowballed into a wider movement against Macron, largely among people in small-town and rural France.

Many accuse the former investment banker of being an arrogant "president of the rich" who is out of touch with the struggles of ordinary people in the provinces.

Donning the luminous safety vests French drivers are required to carry in their cars, the protesters have blocked motorways and petrol depots since their first Saturday of demonstrations on November 17.

Many have continued to man blockades since then, playing havoc with traffic and causing fuel shortages ahead of the busy holiday season.

Organisers have called protests every Saturday since, which degenerated last weekend into running battles with police in Paris, where more than 200 vehicles were burned and 412 people arrested.

- What do they want? -

Different protesters have different aims, and there is no widely recognised group of leaders for the grassroots movement which took root on social media.

Some remain focused on lowering fuel taxes and other financial burdens, saying low-income families in particular are paying the price for Macron's push to reform and revive the French economy.

Others have made it personal and say Macron must resign, still fuming over his decision to cut taxes for the highest earners shortly after sweeping to the presidency last year.

An immediate increase in the minimum wage and pension benefits has also been a rallying cry.

Underpinning the movement is a widespread complaint that overlooked provincial workers on modest incomes barely scrape by after paying some of the highest tax bills in Europe.

An apolitical movement with members who vote for parties of various stripes, the "yellow vests" have won support from everyone from far-right leader Marine Le Pen to far-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon.

- Why do they pose a challenge? -

The government has admitted it failed to appreciate the depth of the anger, and has announced it will cancel a fuel tax hike set for January, of seven euro cents for diesel and three cents for unleaded.

Coming increases for electricity and gas prices were also frozen, as were new vehicle inspection norms which would have hit users of older diesel cars.

The moves were dismissed by protesters -- and Macron's political opponents -- as too little, too late.

Since then Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has floated the idea of a bonus payment for low-paid workers.

But efforts to negotiate have gone nowhere, not least because the movement's purported leaders have largely declined invitations to talks -- some because they were threatened by other "yellow vests."

Adding to the government's headache, the movement has retained solid public support despite scenes of chaos in the capital last weekend.

Opinion polls show 70 to 80 percent of respondents backing the protesters, even as Macron's approval ratings plunged to record low of 23 percent in an Ifop-Fiducial survey this past week.

And protesters have remained adamant they won't back down now.

"This movement has revealed how millions of French people live," said Jacline Mouraud, whose YouTube tirade in October over rising fuel prices propelled her to the fore of the revolt.

"It's no longer a source of shame to admit that you can't make ends meet at the end of every month," she said in interview with French daily Le Figaro on Friday.]]>
12/8/2018 11:54:48 AM
<![CDATA[Live: Hundreds detained in Paris as France braces for new anti-Macron riots]]>
12/8/2018 11:46:28 AM
<![CDATA[A Renew-energetic Beginning ]]>
In an exclusive interview with Business Today Egypt, she weighs in on what needs to be done to unlock untapped potentials, as well as Egypt’s new leadership of the AU.

How does the AU plan to meet Africa’s energy-related challenges?

The African Union Commission (AUC) has developed various programs that contribute to the overall development of affordable, sustainable and reliable modern energy services for all Africans. These programmes stem from the African strategy “Agenda 2063.” The AUC also has Action Plans with its partners such as the Action Plan developed following the AU-EU Heads of State Summit held in November 2017 and the one following Africa-China Summit in August 2018. In addition, the AU blue print for infrastructure and energy development, the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), launched by the AU Heads of State in 2012.

hossam atef (14)
AU Commissioner Dr. Amani Abou Zeid during an interview with Egypt Today - Photo by Hossam Atef/Egypt Today

As AUC Chair, how will Egypt play a role in this plan?

When it comes to energy, Egypt has a great story to tell and showcase—that of ensuring there is 100% access to energy, turning deficit into surplus, moving into smart grids and smart energy systems as well as diversification of energy sources, especially renewables and gas domestication. As AU Chair, Egypt can champion the implementation of plans, provide technical expertise and assistance to programs as well as supporting resources mobilization efforts and lobbying for commitments by member States and partners. We look forward to Egyptian expertise and assistance to other African countries.

With a budget deficit estimated between $130-170 billion in Africa’s infrastructure finance, what is AU's agenda to attract investments to the continent?

As we highlight the financial gap in infrastructure finance in Africa, we must also emphasize that this also means that there’s a huge opportunity for investment, especially that it is proven that investing in African infrastructure has a very high rate of return. At the AUC, we are working with our member states and our partners to attract African and international finance, also from private sector, through a process of tracking priority projects to make them bankable and more attractive to private investors. We also established a facility to conduct the pre-feasibility studies to help fast-track some of these projects. Another instrument is the infrastructure investment fund “Africa50” to catalyze public sector capital and mobilize private finance. All our member countries are also carrying out various reforms with the purpose of improving the business and investment climate, as well.

How do you assess Egypt’s energy status, especially its renewable energy potentials?

Egypt has enormous renewable resources and is a leader in the development of sustainable energy sources. It has also an excellent energy strategy, making use of the diversity of sources and ensuring a sustainable energy mix. In addition, Egypt has solid expertise and well-developed training facilities and and advanced energy private sector. Egyptian companies have long and shining history of implementing energy projects across the Continent. We look forward to seeing more Egyptian companies in the field.

How can Egypt and Africa ensure a win-win situation in energy cooperation?

Egypt’s Renewable Energy Institution can be the center of excellence recognized by AU, given that many member ttates have benefited from capacity building programs. This rich mix of skills and experiences places Egypt in a unique position to lead the energy cooperation in Africa with a win-win for all member States and collaborating partners.

hossam atef (6)
AU Commissioner Dr. Amani Abou Zeid during an interview with Egypt Today's Nourhan Magdi - Photo by Hossam Atef/Egypt Today

Ideally, where should Egypt tap its excess energy production?

Egypt is geographically located and technologically positioned to be an energy hub for the African continent, Middle East and Europe. Given this strategic convergence of factors, Egypt can serve as a clearing house and exchange point for export of energy from Africa to Europe and Middle East and then onward from Middle East to Asia. Equally energy imports from these regions into African energy market can take place through Egypt. As a hub, Egypt can make use of the different time zones, and hence peak times, to optimize the use of the energy capacity in different locations to support a vibrant energy trade.

What kind of projects do you think can enhance Egypt-Afro cooperation in energy?

There are ongoing efforts that serve this purpose demonstrated in the Programme for Infrastructure Development for Africa (PIDA), which seeks to achieve physical connectivity of the continent and facilitate power trade, as well as AUC’s plans to harmonize regulatory frameworks to enable AU states to trade through regional power pools.

hossam atef (16) (1)
AU Commissioner Dr. Amani Abou Zeid during an interview with Egypt Today - Photo by Hossam Atef/Egypt Today

Do you think entrepreneurs can be incorporated efficiently in consolidating Egypt-African relations?

Yes. Now even more. The establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)—the largest free trade area in the world—provides huge opportunities for Egyptian entrepreneurs to foster collaborations and business relations within the African region, as Egypt has a lot of experiences and best practices to share with other African Countries.

Can hydropower be element of cooperation rather than dispute over water boundaries?

Hydropower potential of 12% of the world’s technically feasible potential is found in Africa and could generate over 1,800TW of electricity annually. Therefore, proper management of water resources is key. In the case of hydropower development, it is important for countries not to take unilateral decisions without considering upstream and downstream countries.

In order to avoid conflicts in such cases, it is critical for comprehensive and exhaustive studies supported by all the riparian countries to be carried out before undertaking the projects. One solution would be to implement projects that are collectively agreed upon through the Regional Economic Communities (RECs), Power Pools and the African Union through its programs, such as PIDA.

hossam atef (19) (1)
AU Commissioner Dr. Amani Abou Zeid during an interview with Egypt Today - Photo by Hossam Atef/Egypt Today

What is the progress made on the Yamoussoukro Decision?

The Yamoussoukro Decision on liberalization of air transport markets is the basis for the development of the aviation sector itself in the continent. Although adopted in 2000, a delay in revising Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs) by some signatory states caused an adjacent delay in actual implementation.

It is unacceptable that today 80% of air transport on the Continent is non-african and that it is easier and cheaper to fly from an African capital to Europe or the Gulf and back than between African cities. Therefore joining the SAATM is Africa's best strategy (and solidarity) to ensure the economic sustainability and survival of African airlines. Otherwise, Africa, risks maintaining few, inefficient and uncompetitive (expensive) airlines with limited direct air connections between its capitals and economic cities.

We decided to speed up the process by launching the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) as flagship project of the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063 in January 2018. Our aim is to help regional economic integration by facilitating the movement of people and of goods and lowering costs. This is essential for the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and e-commerce.

How can the SAATM boost the continent’s economy?

Air transport, as in all transport, ensures the physical integration of the Continent and facilitates the movement of people and goods. By increasing connectivity and making it more affordable, we directly address our ambition for an integrated, united and prosperous Africa.

Tourism, trade job creation, increased revenues and income all greatly benefit from a liberalized air space in Africa: a study in 2014 on 12 African countries demonstrated that the air services liberalization would result in an increase of average passenger volume from 6.1 to 11 million, 155,000 new employment and an accumulated $1.3 billion contribution to the annual GDPs of the countries.

Increase in flight connectivity and low fares will boost intra-Africa trade whereby more Africans will be able to travel and transport merchandise by air between many cities. The single market will facilitate logistics and services in the African continental free trade area (CFTA).

The tourism sector, which greatly depends on cost-effective air services will experience a significant boost in tourism traffic across the continent due to direct air access to many African destination, ease of travel and lower air fares.
12/7/2018 1:14:36 PM
<![CDATA[Trump to nominate Heather Nauert as next ambassador to U.N.]]>
Nauert joined the State Department last year with no government experience after a career as an anchor and correspondent at Fox News.

She would replace Nikki Haley, who was twice elected governor of South Carolina. ]]>
12/7/2018 12:52:29 PM
<![CDATA[UN General Assembly blocks US anti-Hamas resolution]]>
The resolution, requiring a two-thirds majority, was voted down with 87 states voting for it, 57 against, and 33 abstentions.

A Kuwait-proposed motion was approved just before the vote on the resolution, requiring the US-backed measure to get a two-thirds majority in order to pass.]]>
12/7/2018 12:50:35 PM
<![CDATA[Union for Mediterranean lauds Egypt’s participation in socio-economic projects]]>
In an interview with Egypt Today, Kamel lauded Egypt’s participation in environmental projects, creating business and employment environment, and linking employers to job seekers.

The renowned Egyptian diplomat said that Egypt is among the four most significant states of the UfM’s 43 member states, as it participates in a number of 35 projects including Metro Jobs.

Kamel asserted that three prestigious European universities have been betting on the European University that is set to be established in Egypt’s New Administrative Capital, considering it as a certificate that this city and this project and the idea are promising and worthy.

The European University in Egypt is being built on an area of about 340,000 square meters in the New Administrative Capital which is under construction, and is located about 40 km east of Cairo.

The Union for the Mediterranean was founded in 2008 to reinforce the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. It brings together 43 member states from Europe and the Mediterranean basin.

The UfM aims at backing the socio-economic development of the member states. It focuses on business sectors that include Higher Education and Research, Transport, Urban Development and Water, Business Development and Employment, Environment and Blue Economy, Civil and Social Affairs, and Energy and Climate Action.]]>
12/7/2018 12:00:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt Participates in campaign against gender-based violence ]]>
This comes within the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign from Nov. 25-Dec. 10.

“This meeting comes as part of implementing the national strategy to curb violence against women that was launched in 2015; the strategy is one of the national axes to improve women's conditions by 2030,” Sanna Sayed, Supervisor of the General Directorate of Human Rights Affairs, said.

Sayed stated: “Our meeting today displayed some of the wrong customs and traditions that we inherit generation after generation and how we can put an end to them.”
The meeting also tackled the legislative efforts to eliminate violence against women and shed light on different forms of violence and aggression women undergo in all governorates.

Furthermore, Professor Hassan Sanad, dean of the Faculty of Law in Minia University, discussed the constitutional articles related to women and how to avoid violence.

The meeting ended up with a set of proposals which included holding successive meetings and discussions to unify all exerted efforts and exchange successful experiences, continuing the protocol made with Egyptian universities and setting an effective plan annually to review activities.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

According to the UN, the international campaign originated from the first Women's Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women's Global Leadership in 1991.
12/7/2018 9:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt slams UN special rapporteur's ‘unprofessional’ statement on housing policy]]>
In a Thursday statement, the ministry said Egypt invited the U.N. official to visit the country from Sept. 24-Oct. 3 to get acquainted with the challenges the government is facing to provide appropriate housing to citizens.

“However, since the beginning of her visit, the U.N. official started to fabricate stories and make up lies during her talks and meetings with the state officials,” the statement read.

The statement added that the doubts turned to be true when the Farha contacted Qatari-owned channel, which is known for its blatant support of terrorist organizations. This also showed clearly, according to the statement, that the U.N. expert has “other motives” and that she is taking human rights and fundamental freedoms as a “cover,” especially as she deliberately ignored talking about any positive side in the country's housing policies.

She also failed to provide any evidence supporting her claims and turned a blind eye to the government's unprecedented accomplishments in providing appropriate housing units to citizens, the statement continued.

In her statement, Farha did not talk about the government's plan to set up 600,000 social housing units, of which 300,000 were already set up at a record time to meet the needs of limited-income people, the statement said.

Also, Farha did not mention any of the developments or measures taken by the government to develop this sector, including the development of 46 unsafe slums inside and outside Cairo, the statement added.

The ministry also demanded the U.N. Human Rights Council to take firm measures towards any official who tries to Exploit his/her position, as Farha’s statement “lacked credibility” in a blatant fashion.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also condemned the Farha’s threat that “special rapporteurs will not pay further visits to Egypt unless it takes serious steps in the housing domain’,” saying the Egyptian government will not neglect this matter and will take measures to guarantee that this special rapporteur is blamed for her “unprofessional and irresponsible behavior.”

‘Special rapporteurs should be independent human rights experts, honest and professional,” The statement read.

Last October, the ministry issued a statement saying Shoukry welcomed Farha in Egypt, and considered her visit to Cairo as step towards establishing further cooperation between the Egyptian government and the United Nations Human Rights Council, with which Cairo is extremely keen to develop relations.

On Dec. 2, the Ministry of Housing announced it succeeded in developing around 80 percent of Egypt’s unsafe informal areas, declaring that Egypt will be a slum-free country by the end of 2019.

Egypt to be declared slum-free country by end of 2019

CAIRO - 2 December 2018: After decades of hardships experienced by Egypt's slum-dwellers, Ministry of Housing has succeeded in developing around 80 percent of Egypt's unsafe informal areas, declaring that Egypt will be a slum-free country by the end of 2019.

Khaled Siddiq, executive director of the Development Fund for Slums, said Egypt will be declared a slum-free country by the end of 2019, adding that around LE 14 billion have been allocated thus far for developing 80 percent of the slums.

In May 2016, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi promised to move all those living in slums to new apartments over the span of three years as part of an ambitious project expected to cost about LE 14 billion ($790 million).

In the same context, the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund, launched by Sisi in 2014, has been working on a three-phase strategy to eliminate Egypt’s shantytowns and re-house slum residents, including those living in Doweiqa, Establ Antar and Ezbet Khair Allah.

The project includes 15,000 housing units to re-house 60,000 slum residents. The first two phases of Tahya Misr are comprised of 12,000 flats. The third phase opened in 2017 and is comprised of 20,000 flats.

Tal Al Aqareb area in Sayeda Zeinab

The residents of Tal Al Aqareb were evacuated in 2016, after several unsafe buildings had been demolished and were transferred temporarily to a new housing area until the development of Tal Al Aqareb is completed.

Khalil Shaath, head of Cairo governorate's informal-area-upgrading unit, said that in coordination with the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Development, 815 housing units, which would house 3,500 people, have been built at Tal Al Aqareb, along with 324 shops.

He added that 85 percent of the project was implemented.

Egypt spent LE 20 billion to develop unsafe areas: official

CAIRO - 17 September 2018: 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.

Al Mahrousa 1 and 2 projects

Shaath also said the government has completed the construction of 90 percent of al-Mahrousa 1 and 2 projects, which include 4,900 housing units. Al-Mahrousa 1 is comprised of 3,175 units, while al-Mahrousa 2 boasts 1,594 units.

Al Asmarat 3 project

At the beginning of 2017, the third district of the housing project in al-Asmarat, Moqattam, was built, comprising 7,440 housing units. The project is constructed by the Tahya Misr Fund, in collaboration with the Armed Forces Engineering Authority.

Together to develop slums in Al Salam 2 project

The project includes 3,312 housing units, which are built in collaboration between the Slum Development Fund and Together to develop slums.

Maspero Triangle project
Major General Mohammed Ayman Abdel Tawab, deputy governor of Cairo, said the government has been demolishing houses and shops in the Maspero Triangle in attempts to redevelop and modernize the three streets of the Bulaq Abul Ela district.

Egypt completes demolition of 75% of Maspero triangle slums

CAIRO - 14 August 2018: The Maspero Triangle Development project is progressing so well, and about 75% of the area has been already demolished, Khalil Shaath, head of the development of slums department in Cairo governorate, said on Monday.

MENA contributed in reporting
12/6/2018 6:20:54 PM
<![CDATA[Morsi’s justice min. detained for 15 days pending investigation]]>
Soliman served during the term of the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated ousted President Mohamed Morsi. Two security sources revealed that Soliman was arrested on Tuesday from his home in Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate and was transferred to Cairo on the following day morning, Reuters reported.

The prosecution accused Soliman of joining a terrorist group disrupting the constitution and laws, preventing the state's institutions and public authorities from carrying out their duties, attacking the personal freedom of citizens, and damaging national unity and social peace.

Soliman appeared many times in media channels opposing the Egyptian government and broadcasting from outside the Egyptian territory, where he used to insult the current Egyptian judicial system, Egyptian officials and the president.

He was interviewed via telephone in 2017 by the Doha-based Al-Jazeera Mubasher known for attacking the Egyptian regime.

Egypt and three Arab nations have cut diplomatic ties with Doha in June 2017 over charges of funding and harboring terrorists, and called on the peninsula to shut down Al-Jazeera network as part of several demands enlisted in order to end the boycott.

Lawyer Samir Sabry, known for filing legal complaints against anti-state individuals and parties, has filed numerous complaints to Egypt’s general prosecutor against the Muslim Brotherhood regime-affiliated justice minister.

In one of his complaints published in April 2018, Sabry said that Soliman incited against the Egyptian state and threatened the country’s president. He then called on other countries to intervene in the Egyptian affairs, specifically in the judicial affairs, the complaint read.

Soliman also addressed human rights organizations abroad and in the state that are hostile to Egypt, calling on them to stop intervening in Egypt’s affairs and sovereignty, according to Sabry’s complaint in April. Two other complaints were also published in July 2018.

Following the ouster of former Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, the Egyptian state designated the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, and subsequently placed Muslim Brotherhood prominent figures on terror lists and confiscated their assets. ]]>
12/6/2018 2:41:42 PM
<![CDATA[Shoukry discusses bilateral relations with Jordanian counterpart ]]>
The two sides discussed ways of supporting development in the region, especially in Palestine, and means to achieve the interests of the Egyptian and Jordanian peoples.
In July 2017, former Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail signed with his Jordanian counterpart Hany el-Mulki seven agreements of cooperation during the Egyptian-Jordanian Higher Committee to strengthen mutual relations in all fields.

Also, in October 2018, Minister of Agriculture Ezz el-Din Abu Steit discussed with his Jordanian counterpart Ibrahim al-Shehahdeh means of facilitating trade exchange procedures with regard to agricultural products. The two sides discussed the possibility that joint cooperation would include exchanging expertise and research in the agricultural sector.

Moreover, in November 2017, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi praised the relations between Egypt and Jordan during the World Youth Forum. The president also praised the Jordanian prince's efforts to crystallize a contemporary Arab thought that serves the issues of progress, tolerance, development and intellectual openness.
12/6/2018 12:02:11 PM
<![CDATA[Washington sets aside divisions for Bush state funeral]]>
Donald and Melania Trump shared a front row pew at Washington National Cathedral with past presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and their wives as an honor guard brought Bush's flag-draped casket into the packed prayer hall.

George W. Bush delivered a rousing and deeply personal eulogy -- at times punctuated by laughter -- as he sang the praises of his father and predecessor as commander-in-chief, who died Friday at age 94.

"He was born with just two settings -- full throttle, then sleep," Bush said. "To us, his was the brightest of a thousand points of light," he added in reference to his father's signature call to volunteerism.

"When the history books are written, they will say that George H.W. Bush was a great president of the United States."

Bush's eulogy followed an uplifting performance by Irish tenor Ronan Tynan -- a friend of Bush who sang to the president in his dying hours.

Wednesday's state funeral caps a day-long homage that saw Bush lie in state for two days in the US Capitol rotunda.

Since Bush's death, Trump has traded his usual provocative posture for one of respect and solemnity, tweeting before heading to the cathedral about "a day of celebration for a great man."

But while the service allowed Washington to hit pause on the toxic rhetoric that has engulfed the country's politics, Trump and his Democratic predecessors appeared locked in an uneasy truce as it got underway.

Trump arrived and promptly shook hands with Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama. But his greetings stopped there, as he failed to acknowledge Hillary Clinton, his defeated Democratic rival in 2016.

Clinton sat stone faced, looking straight ahead, and the pair did not make eye contact.

Other dignitaries in the cathedral included Britain's Prince Charles, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former Polish president Lech Walesa, former vice presidents Dan Quayle, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Joe Biden, and former secretaries of state James Baker, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice.

Wednesday was a day of precision, patriotic ritual, and ceremony. George W. Bush and wife Laura stood stoically outside the US Capitol as an honor guard carried his father's flag-draped casket to the hearse.

In a show of respect, Pennsylvania Avenue was lined with well-wishers as the cortege proceeded toward the Neo-Gothic cathedral in the first presidential funeral since Gerald Ford died in late 2006.

Earlier, tens of thousands of Americans had quietly filed in to the Capitol to pay their respects to a man who steered the nation through turbulent times including the end of the Cold War -- and in a style dramatically different to the combative current president.

Trump's ascendancy to the head of the Republican Party saw him exchange vitriolic attacks with the Bushes, notably slamming the presidential son's 2003 invasion of Iraq as "one of the worst decisions in the history of our country."

But he has taken pains to demonstrate unity since Bush's death, and made a low-key visit to the Capitol late Monday with First Lady Melania Trump to salute Bush's casket.

- 'Civility and good will' -

Trump declared Wednesday a national day of mourning. Many federal offices are closed along with Wall Street stock markets.

Congress also suspended votes -- even in the midst of a looming potential shutdown that requires congressional action before midnight Friday.

Bush was a decorated World War II aviator who nearly lost his life when he was shot down on a bombing mission.

He served as a congressman, envoy to China and ambassador to the United Nations, director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and vice president to Ronald Reagan before winning the White House.

At a time of extraordinary and deep political fissures, Bush was looked to this week as a gracious servant of country who aimed to bridge the political divide.

Bush "was America's last great soldier statesman," presidential historian Jon Meacham told the guests.

"His life code, as he said, was tell the truth, don't blame people, be strong, do your best, try hard, forgive, stay the course."

After the Washington service, Bush's casket will be flown back to Houston. The former head of state will lie in repose at St Martin's Episcopal Church, where the Bushes worshipped for decades, until Thursday's funeral.

He will be interred at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Center in College Station, Texas, next to his wife, who died in April, and their daughter Robin who died of leukemia at age three.]]>
12/6/2018 5:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[French government urges unity in face of mass protests]]>
French President Emmanuel Macron appealed to rival political leaders as well as trade unions to help tamp down the anti-government anger that on Saturday led to some of the worst rioting in central Paris in decades, according to government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux.

"The moment that we are living through is not about political opposition, it's about the republic," Griveaux said after a cabinet meeting.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe echoed the call, telling parliament: "What is at stake is the security of French people and our institutions. I'm calling for responsibility."

The protests began on November 17 in opposition to rising fuel taxes, but they have ballooned into a broad challenge to Macron's pro-business agenda and complaints that he is out of touch with the struggles of ordinary people.

Four people have been killed and hundreds injured in accidents linked to the nationwide road blockades and protests, which are playing havoc with traffic in the busy run-up to Christmas.

On Saturday, rioters ran amok in Paris, torching some 200 cars, smashing shop windows and vandalising the Arc de Triomphe, an iconic national monument.

Far-right leader Marine Le Pen and hard-left firebrand Jean-Luc Melenchon have been vocal in backing the demonstrators' demands.

- Tax cuts for the rich -

Macron, whose approval ratings have plummeted to just 23 percent, is yet to comment publicly since returning to France from a G20 summit in Argentina on Sunday morning.

But his office confirmed he had told a cabinet meeting Wednesday that he stood by his decision to cut a "fortune tax" previously levied on high-earners which has infuriated many protesters.

Macron had made cutting wealth taxes a key campaign pledge ahead of his election in May 2017, arguing that such levies discouraged investment and drove entrepreneurs to leave France.

But that policy, along with various comments deemed insensitive to ordinary workers, has prompted many of the ex-banker's critics to label him a "president of the rich".

The "yellow vests" are largely made up of modest earners from rural and small-town France, and many want the tax cut for the richest repealed.

Philippe on Wednesday called for a debate on the tax cut, adding: "If we do not find good solutions, we will not apply it."

But Macron personally stood his ground, telling his cabinet: "We will not undo everything that has been done over the past 18 months."

On Tuesday, Philippe had announced the first major retreat of Macron's presidency when he suspended for six months a rise in fuel taxes scheduled for January 1.

He also froze increases in regulated electricity and gas prices and new vehicle norms which would have hit users of old, polluting diesel cars -- a battery of announcements targeted at low-income families.

But experts say the government may have reacted too late to the street protests, a regular feature of French political life which have repeatedly forced Macron's predecessors into U-turns.

"When you leave things to fester too long, it costs more," Jean-Francois Amadieu, a sociologist at Paris 1 university, told AFP.

An Elabe poll released Wednesday found 78 percent believe Philippe's concessions fail to meet the protesters demands, and most think they will fail to boost purchasing power.

Some 72 percent continue to support the movement -- figures which have remained stable despite the violence last weekend and the government's climbdown.

- Farmer protests -

Many "yellow vest" protesters, named after the high-visibility road safety jackets they wear, have called for new protests this Saturday.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner has urged "responsible" protesters not to descend on Paris but has nonetheless called in police reinforcements, bracing for more violence.

Adding to the image of a country in revolt, the main French farmers' union said Wednesday that its members would hold demonstrations every day next week.

Two truck driver unions have also called an indefinite sympathy strike from Sunday night, and students are blocking dozens of schools nationwide to denounce tougher university entrance requirements.

Fuel shortages due to blockades remain a problem in areas of Brittany, Normandy and southeast regions of France.]]>
12/6/2018 1:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mexico suggests work visas for Central Americans, wants U.S. to do same]]>
Lopez Obrador, who took office on Saturday, said he would discuss immigration with U.S. President Donald Trump in coming days, including increasing investment in southern Mexico and Central America.

"We are proposing investment in productive projects and in job creation, and not only that, also work visas for Mexico and for the United States," he told a news conference, saying he would give more details "soon."

Mexico and the United States have been in talks about how to manage the large groups moving through Mexico in caravans, with Lopez Obrador pushing for investment to address the poverty and crime that drive thousands of people every year from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

Lopez Obrador, soon after being elected in July, sent a letter to Trump suggesting they work together to address the root causes of immigration.

"It is very important to us that we reach an investment agreement between companies and governments, to create jobs in Central America and our country," he said.

Lopez Obrador plans major infrastructure projects in the impoverished south of Mexico including his home state of Tabasco. He says those plans, including a refinery and two railways will provide jobs to Mexicans and Central Americans.

He did not reply when asked if his government was considering a U.S. proposal to return Central American asylum seekers to Mexican territory while U.S. courts processed their cases, saying only that their rights would be respected.

The arrival of several thousand Central Americans in Mexico's border city of Tijuana about a month ago prompted Trump to mobilize the U.S. Army to beef up border security, while restricting the number of asylum applications accepted per day.

While overall illegal immigration across the U.S.-Mexico border is much lower than it was 20 years ago, there are more Central Americans, families and asylum seekers than in the past.

Some migrants clambered over a tall fence to cross into the United States from Tijuana on Tuesday, hoping to speed their asylum applications by turning themselves over to U.S. Border Patrol officials.]]>
12/6/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Italy's Interior min. affirms keenness to keep good ties with Egypt]]>
"We have been waiting for three years. I want to maintain good relations with Egypt and I will do everything to have good economic, cultural, commercial and social relations with a friendly country," Salvini stated, according to Radio Colonna on Tuesday.

Rome’s Deputy Public Prosecutor Sergio Colaiocco announced continuing cooperation with Egypt in the ongoing investigation into the killing of 28-year old Giulio Regeni, a doctoral researcher who was tortured and killed in Cairo. His body was discovered in February 2016.

Italy’s Chamber of Deputies decided on Dec. 29 to halt all diplomatic relations with Egypt’s Parliament until there is a breakthrough and trial in the case of Regeni.

According to the Italian news agency of ANSA, the speaker of Italian Parliament Roberto Fico said on Friday that there will be complete suspension of diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament due to the slow and inconclusive investigations of the murdered Italian student.

“With great regret I announce that Montecitorio will suspend all kinds of diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament until there is a real turning point in the investigation concerning the murder of Giulio Regeni,” Fico said.

Immediately following the Italian unilateral decision, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal expressed dissatisfaction with the Italian Parliament’s move, saying that a unilateral decision won’t help with the results of the investigations and won’t affect the Egyptian-Italian strong relations.

Italian tourism to Egypt

An official source in the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism said in May that Egypt is witnessing a 100 percent rise in bookings by Italian holidaymakers during the summer season, compared to the same period last year, according to Italian tour operators.

He said that the months of January and February of this year saw a 75 percent increase year-on-year in the number of Italian tourists visiting Egypt.

The Italian daily newspaper La Stampa, said in a report earlier in the same month that Italian tourism to Egypt doubled during the first months of 2018, with Italian tourists increasing by a whopping 94 percent.

The newspaper said that the number of Italian tourists who visited Egypt in January 2018 stood at 15,707, compared to 12,471 in January 2017, increasing by 25.9 percent. In February, the number increased by 76.2 percent year-on-year, standing at 19,241.

12/5/2018 4:55:45 PM
<![CDATA[France could change position on wealth tax, Macron ally suggests]]>
Speaking on RTL radio, government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux, a close ally of Macron’s, said all policies involving taxation needed to be reevaluated from time to time and, if deemed not to be working, should be changed.

“If a measure that we have taken, which is costing the public money, turns out not to be working, if it’s not going well, we’re not stupid - we would change it,” he said.

He defended Macron’s decision on coming into office last year to amend the wealth tax - known in France as ‘ISF’ - by narrowing it to a tax on real estate assets, rather than covering all worldwide assets, from jewelry to yachts to investments, over the value of 1.3 million euros.

Those changes earned Macron the label “president of the rich” because they were seen by his critics as accommodating the wealthy.

Asked whether the government would be willing to go back on that decision, Griveaux suggested it was possible.

“We did not cancel the ISF, we transformed it, I want to remind you that we maintained the tax on real estate... The tax that was removed was to encourage investments in the real economy. It was not a gift to the rich,” he said, before adding:

“We are evaluating it, we are controlling it. This money was to be invested in our SMEs for them to develop, innovate and hire. If that is not the case, if the evaluation is not good, then we can reopen it for discussion.”

Over the past three weeks, Macron has come under immense pressure in the face of nationwide protests against a fuel-tax increase that was set to begin in January.

The so-called “yellow vest” movement, named for the high-visibility jackets motorists in France must have in their cars, led to violent clashes with police in Paris at the weekend, and on Tuesday prompted the government to change course.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said the carbon-tax increase would be suspended for six months and the time used to examine other steps to ease the burden on blue-collar workers and the squeezed middle-class.

It marked the first major U-turn by Macron in his 18-months in office and comes at a time when he is far down in the polls, with his popularity at barely more than 20 percent.

U.S. President Donald Trump appeared to mock Macron over the policy shift, which will make it harder for France to meet its CO2 emissions reduction target, a core element of the Paris climate agreement of 2015.

France ponders state of emergency after riots
“I am glad that my friend @EmmanuelMacron and the protestors in Paris have agreed with the conclusion I reached two years ago,” Trump tweeted late on Tuesday.

“The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters.”

If the government were to look at reimposing some of the dropped elements of the ISF tax it would mark a fundamental change of direction for Macron, who came to power promising to be “neither of the left nor the right” politically.]]>
12/5/2018 12:27:41 PM
<![CDATA[Bari Port president praises New Suez Canal ]]>
Patroni said that his country must execute the development project of the port, and link it to the industrial zone by railway within the same period as Egypt, referring to the New Suez Canal and Sczone.

The plan for Bari port aims at facilitating transportation from and to the port located southeastern Italy, which can totally transform the area’s economy, and attract large ships. Patroni said that should be coupled with saving time by 30-40 percent - like the case of New Suez Canal - while abiding by European regulations. The plan also includes turning Bari port into a free zone.
12/5/2018 11:54:35 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. gives Russia 60 days to comply with nuclear treaty]]>
NATO allies led by Germany pressed U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a meeting in Brussels to give diplomacy a final push before Washington pulls out of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, fearing a new arms race in Europe.

"Russia has a last chance to show in a verifiable way that they comply with the treaty ... but we also have to start to prepare for the fact that this treaty may break down," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.

NATO foreign ministers agreed to formally declare Russia in "material breach" of the INF treaty in a statement in support of the United States, after Pompeo briefed them at the alliance headquarters in Brussels on Russian violations and on U.S. President Donald Trump's stated aim to withdraw from it.

Russia denies undertaking any such development of land-based, intermediate-range Cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads and hitting European cities at short notice.

Germany, the Netherlands and Belgian are concerned about the deployment of U.S. missiles in Europe - as happened in the 1980s, touching off large anti-American demonstrations - while being caught up in nuclear competition between Moscow and Washington.

A U.S. exit from the INF treaty would put another strain on NATO allies already shaken by Trump's demands for higher defence spending and what diplomats say is a lack of clarity about where U.S. strategy is heading on the issue.

While Stoltenberg said there would now be an intense diplomatic push to try to convince Russia to give up what Pompeo said were "multiple battalions of the SSC-8 missiles", Washington is set to start to pull out in February, prompting a six-month withdrawal period under the accord, diplomats said.

"Its range makes it a direct menace to Europe," Pompeo said of the missiles, which also are called Novator 9M729. He added that Russia's actions "greatly undermine America's national security and that of our allies".

Difficult to detect and fired from mobile launchers, the Russian missiles are especially dangerous because they reduce the warning time that NATO air defences might have to shoot them down, military experts say.

Pompeo said the U.S. government had raised the issue at least 30 times since 2013 with Moscow but had faced what he said were denials and counter-actions.

He also said that the United States had evidence that the test launches were from a single site in Russia, the Soviet-era base Kupustin Yar, near Volgograd, southeast of Moscow.

"In the light of these facts, the United States declares Russia in material breach of the treaty and will suspend our obligations ... effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance," Pompeo said.


Washington has said it would be forced to restore the military balance in Europe after the 60-day period but Pompeo declined to elaborate, saying only that tests and deployments of new missiles were on hold until then.

He also said that because China, Iran and North Korea were not signatories to the INF, the United States was putting itself at a disadvantage by not developing medium-range missiles, citing three failed diplomatic attempts to enlarge the treaty.

However, experts believe the United States would be better off modernising its long-range missile deterrent and ensuring that it could penetrate sophisticated Russian air defences, rather than developing a new class of medium-range rockets.

The INF treaty, negotiated by then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and ratified by the U.S. Senate, eliminated the medium-range missile arsenals of the world's two biggest nuclear powers and reduced their ability to launch a nuclear strike at short notice.

U.S. Cruise and Pershing missiles deployed in Britain and West Germany were removed as a result of the treaty, while the Soviet Union pulled back its SS-20s out of European range.

The treaty requires the United States and Russia "not to possess, produce, or flight-test" a ground-launched cruise missile with a range capability of 500 km to 5,500 km (310-3,420 miles), "or to possess or produce launchers of such missiles." ]]>
12/5/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[British PM suffers setbacks as Brexit debate starts in parliament]]>
May wants to secure parliament's approval for her deal to keep close ties with the EU after leaving in March, but opposition is fierce, with Brexit supporters and opponents alike wanting to thwart or derail her plan.

On the first day of debate, before the main vote on Dec. 11, her government was found in contempt of parliament and then a group of her own Conservative Party lawmakers won a challenge to hand more power to the House of Commons if her deal is voted down.

That could reduce the likelihood of Britain leaving the EU without any deal, prompting sterling to recover some of its losses after the vote on contempt drove it down to levels not seen since June last year.

The debates and final vote on Dec. 11 will determine how, and possibly even if, Britain leaves the EU as planned on March 29, in the country's biggest shift in foreign and trade policy in more than 40 years.

May's plans are vulnerable to more change at the end of the debate, and advice from a senior EU legal aide that Britain had the right to withdraw its Brexit notice opened yet another front in her battle to win the approval of parliament.

May told parliament: "We need to deliver a Brexit that respects the decision of the British people.

"This argument has gone on long enough. It is corrosive to our politics and life depends on compromise."

If lawmakers do not back her deal, May says, they could open the door either to Britain falling out of the EU without measures to soften the transition or to the possibility that Brexit does not happen.

The opposition Labour Party said May needed to get a better deal or step aside and let them govern.

"We still don't know what our long term relationship with Europe would look like and that's why so many MPs (Members of Parliament) across parliament are not willing to vote for this blindfold Brexit and take a leap in the dark about Britain's future," Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told parliament.

Anxious to prevent a "no-deal" Brexit, a group of mainly pro-EU lawmakers from May's Conservative Party won a vote to make sure parliament gets more power to dictate any next steps the government takes if her exit plan fails.

For them, there may be another way out. The formal advice from a European Court of Justice advocate general - not binding but usually heeded by the court - suggested to some lawmakers that revoking the "Article 50" divorce notice was an option.

"It's a false choice to say it's the PM's deal or chaos," said Conservative lawmaker Sam Gyimah, who quit as a minister on Friday over May's deal. "We should look at all the options and not be boxed in by our own red lines."

But May's spokesman told reporters: "It does nothing in any event to change the clear position of the government that Article 50 is not going to be revoked."


If, against the odds, May wins the Dec. 11 vote, Britain will leave the EU on March 29 on the terms she negotiated with Brussels.

If she loses, May could call for a second vote on the deal. But defeat would increase the chances of a "no-deal" exit, which could mean chaos for Britain's economy and businesses, and put May under fierce pressure to resign.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney denied accusations of scaremongering after the bank said last week that, under a worst-case Brexit, Britain could suffer greater damage to its economy than during the financial crisis of 2008.

Defeat for May could also make it more likely that Britain would hold a second referendum on exiting the EU - which would almost certainly require it at least to defer its departure - three years after voting narrowly to leave.

The vote against the government over contempt proceedings, won by 311 votes to 293, was a smaller margin than some had predicted.

But the government lost the later vote on handing parliament more power by a bigger margin, 321 votes to 299, a move some Brexit campaigners said held little weight as it would not bind the government to take any proposed action.

May, 62, has toured Britain, spent hours being grilled in parliament and invited lawmakers to her Downing Street residence to try to win over her many critics.

But the deal has united critics at both ends of the spectrum: eurosceptics say it will make Britain a vassal state while EU supporters take a similar line, saying it will have to obey the rules of membership while foregoing the benefits.

Leading Brexit advocate Boris Johnson said the deal was a national humiliation and made a mockery of the public's vote to leave the EU.

May's nominal allies in the Northern Irish DUP have also said they will vote against her deal.

But on Tuesday DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds said, despite voting against the government on the contempt issue, his party's agreement to support May's minority government remained in place. "We haven't broken that," he told Sky News.]]>
12/5/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Closed information circles lead to Pluralistic Ignorance: Study]]>
This phenomenon is one of the social phenomena that come due to complicated and changing media and political dimensions, which are usually found in countries that ate undergoing democratic transition—a phase that can last decades, sometimes—or sharp political polarization. In these cases information is usually disseminated based on previously coloured opinions and views, resulting in the public having limited ideas that are often false.

The study, which was written by Dina Esmat Wally, who recently earned her Master’s degree from Cairo University, is not solely limited to the level of individuals, it also looks at groups and to groups that believe that their views make up the majority.

File - Dina Esmat Wally

“This informative environment is fertile ground for the circulation and spread of rumours and fake news,” writes Wally. “This is a situation that produces so-called pseudo-consciousness or Pluralistic Ignorance.”

“The spread of this phenomenon,” Wally continues to explain, “has increased the dependence on social networks in the dissemination and circulation of news; people often believe that everyone is subjected to the same information and that they all hold similar views or agree on the same things because they are in a closed circle, a closed circle of information biased in nature, because it was built on personal foundations and not objective in nature.”

This study, which is built on field research with the phenomenon of fabricated news, and looks into how the public responds to information they receive on various media platforms, is the first of its kind in Egypt and the Arab world.

The committee consisted of Dr. Ayman Mansour Nada, Professor at the Department of Radio and Television College as a Supervisor and President of the Panel; meanwhile, Dr. Adel Fahmi Bayoumi, Professor at the Department of Radio and Television College, and Dr. Amira Samir, Assistant Professor at the University of Tanta, also served on the discussion panel.

This study is of particular importance due to the fact that it applied for the first time this concept in Egypt, while also analysing media content, like television, radio and other media content, over an eight-month period, starting January 2018 and ending August 2018.

Commenting on her journey, Wally says, “"Field research was a major challenge; it is the part where [I] collected information on the most prominent social, political and economic issues that people in Egypt have been dealing with, and how they have been exposed to information related to them and how they have come across false information.”

It is worth mentioning that the field research dealt with the measurement of the role of television channels, radio, newspapers and social media outlets in forming a system of awareness about fake news and the phenomenon of collective ignorance or false consciousness, explains Wally.

For more than ten years, Wally worked as a news anchor and programmer for MBC, ON TV, CBC, Dream and ART before moving two years ago to work on the DMC channel.

The researcher had graduated from the Media Faculty, Cairo University in 2006 with a Merit. She gave many lectures and workshops in a multitude of Egyptian Universities on the standards and professional practices related to covering news and events.

Earlier, Cairo University announced that the researcher was awarded a Master's degree, achieving distinction with honors, for her field study titled, “Exposure to satellite channels and its relation to the phenomenon of Pluralistic Ignorance among the public ... A case study on the issues of democratic transformation in Egypt.”

File - Dina Esmat Wally
12/4/2018 7:46:26 PM
<![CDATA[Online mag faces charges after mocking Egyptian passport ]]>
Headed by Makram Mohamed Ahmed, the SCMR, which almost possesses the powers of the Egyptian Ministry of Information that was abolished in 2014, called on the General Authority for Investments to halt the activities of the Media leading agency Mo4 Network, after its subordinate “El Fasla” online magazine issued an “unjustified” insult to the Egyptian passport.

Egypt Today surfed Fasla’s Facebook page to find the phrase that drew the state’s criticism, but the story was seemingly withdrawn. According to media reports, the magazine commented on news concerning the Passport Index’s recent declaration that the UAE passport is the world’s most powerful, considering the Egyptian passport as comparatively useless.

The Egyptian passport can only be used to “make a tour in the countryside,” Fasla said, according to media reports. It also mocked the Egyptians’ pride of their “7,000 year-old civilization.”

The SCMR moved after it received a number of complaints from citizens, where it found that Mo4 Network, which fuels Cairo Zoom and Fasla, has unlicensed websites, according to reports.

Lawyer Samir Sabry, known for filing legal complaints against anti-state parties, filed a lawsuit to General Prosecutor Nabil Sadek against Fasla Magazine’s website.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Sabry said that he accuses the website of insulting the Egyptian state, and inciting harming the national economy through mocking the passport and the Egyptian civilization.

The Fasla website is part of the Cairo Scene, an entertaining online magazine established by Mo4 Network that was co-founded by Amy Mowafi. According to Mo4’s official Facebook page, the agency handles over 140 clients who include many of the “world’s most powerful brands.”


On Monday, the SCMR issued a decree to ban LTC satellite channel until its owners are able to legalize the channel’s situation.

The SCMR has previously set a time limit of 30 days for the channel to legalize its situation which ended on November 20.

The SCMR decree was issued in accordance with law No. 180 on press and media regulation. The law states that broadcasting after the end of the time limit is considered a violation against SCMR policies and regulations.

Head of the SCMR complaints department, Jamal Shawki, said in press statements that the channel continued its broadcast despite the repeated warnings issued by the Supreme Council for Media regulations through November. ]]>
12/4/2018 3:20:20 PM
<![CDATA[Severing ties with Egyptian Parliament is 'nonsense': L’Indro]]>
The newspaper remarked that Fico does not realize the consequences of his decision as Egypt plays an important role in the whole world not only in the Middle East. It explained that Italy’s oil interest is protected by Egypt; hence, Italy should deepen its relation with Egypt.

Egypt cooperates with Italy to reach the truth about Giulio Regeni's murder and pays great attention to solve the case, the newspaper added.

On November 29, Fico decided to suspend Italy's Chamber of Deputies’ relations with the Egyptian Parliament due to the lack of progress in the probe into the death of Italian student Regeni.

Previously, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi stressed during his meeting with Fico on September 18 that Egypt is keen to solve Italian student Regeni’s murder case and Egyptian authorities are committed to full transparency with the Italian side in this regard.

Giulio Regeni’s Murder

On January 24, 2018, Egypt’s General Prosecution said that the letter attributed to the head of Egypt's intelligence service on the arrest of the Italian student prior to his death in Egypt is forged.

An unknown person had sent the letter to the Italian Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. The General Prosecution received a letter from the Italian prosecution dated January 22, 2018 containing a fabricated letter dated January 30, 2016 and attributed to the head of Egypt’s intelligence service, the prosecution said in a statement.

The letter claims that Egypt’s security bodies arrested Regeni before his death in Cairo.

The Italian prosecution demanded that Egypt’s investigation authorities take the necessary measures in order to check the authenticity of the letter in compliance with judicial cooperation between the two countries on Regeni’s murder, according to the statement.

Investigations conducted by Egypt’s prosecution revealed that the letter is completely untrue and forged, read the statement.

The prosecution added that it informed the Italian side about the outcome of investigations within the framework of fruitful bilateral cooperation.

Meanwhile, the prosecution said it followed up with deep regret the reports circulated by several Italian media outlets and social media pages on the matter, noting that such reports harm judicial cooperation between Cairo and Rome.

On that score, the prosecution urged the media to check the authenticity of such news and their effect on public opinion.

Italy’s prosecutor-general has paid several visits to Cairo in order to investigate Regeni’s death alongside the Egyptian authorities.

Additional reporting by Nawal Sayed ]]>
12/4/2018 1:56:58 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt able to market arms in Africa, Arab states: MP]]>
In an interview on Monday, Sherif who had served as a military intelligence officer in the Egyptian army for over 25 years, pointed to Egypt's ability to market arms in the African continent and the Arab countries.

Sherif referred that marketing arms in Africa is currently carried out through intermediaries, while Egypt can market arms directly and legitimately. He explained that Egypt adopts advanced technologies, and is able to develop modern weapons, which has been clear in the recent war on terrorism.

The Parliament member said that weapons industry is one of the most prominent commercial activities in the world, adding that the countries producing weapons achieve huge profits.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi sponsored "EDEX-2018", the first International Defense and Security Industry Exhibition in North and Central Africa. The exhibition kicked off Dec. 3 with the participation of 41 countries and 376 companies and is scheduled to last for three days.

The inauguration was attended by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly; Mohamed Zaki, the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces; and the minister of defense and military production as well as many other officials.

A total of 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea attended the exhibition.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 US companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.

Additional reporting by MENA
12/4/2018 8:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[EDEX reveals Egypt’s value in the region, U.S charge d’Affaires]]>
Many of the US exhibitors were represented by senior officials who came from the companies’ headquarters to participate in the event. American companies offer the most technologically advanced defense solutions in the world.

The official U.S. delegation attending EDEX includes U.S. Embassy Cairo Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Goldberger, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Defense Exports and Cooperation Ann Cataldo, Defense Security Cooperation Agency Principal Director Michele Hizon, Director of the Department of Commerce’s Advocacy Center Stephen Renna, and Senior U.S. Defense Official in Egypt Major General Ralph Groover.

“We are proud to have strong American participation in this event and will continue to work with the Egyptian government and U.S. companies to see that Egypt has the tools it needs to ensure its security”, said Chargé d’Affaires Thomas Goldberger in press statements.

Goldberger added that EDEX reveals Egypt’s value in Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean sea, along with Egypt’s strong partnership with the US.

Goldberger told Egypt Today that more than forty American company participate in the event to showcase the most recent military weapons, represented by senior officials.

Goldberger asserted the strong ties between Cairo and Washington adding that the US government is seeking to broaden its cooperation with the Egyptian army.

12/4/2018 7:41:11 AM
<![CDATA[French Armed Forces Min. congratulates Egypt on successful org. of EDEX-2018]]>
The minister also expressed congratulations to Egypt on the successful organization of such event.

The meeting discussed ways to enhance military cooperation between the two countries, as well as the latest developments in regional and international issues of common concern, especially ways to combat terrorism and reduce the danger of terrorist elements and their transfer from hotbeds of tension to other areas, Rady said.

During the meeting, President Sisi stressed the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and France, praising the existing cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially in the military field.

Sisi also expressed the hope to develop bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the common interests of both countries and contributes to the development and prosperity of their peoples, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said.

The "EDEX-2018" opened Monday with the participation of 41 countries and 376 companies and is scheduled to last for three days.

The inauguration was attended by Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and many other officials.

Furthermore, 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea attended the exhibition.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 U.S. companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.
12/3/2018 6:24:27 PM
<![CDATA[Defense Min. meets with Greek Defense Min, two top officials, discusses regional developments]]>
In similar vein, In a meeting that came on the margins of EDEX-2018 between President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Cypriot Defense Minister Savvas Angelides, Angelides praised Egypt for organizing the military exhibition, and expressed his admiration of the special participation of the world's leading companies in this field, which confirms Egypt's pivotal role in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady added.

Angelides also lauded the special relations between the two countries, affirming the aspiration of his country to continue to open new ways for cooperation between Egypt and Cyprus to serve the interests of the two friendly peoples.

Sisi also met with French Minister of Armed Forced Florence Parly on the sidelines of EDEX-2018.

During the meeting Parly confirmed her keenness to attend the "EDEX-2018," saying that her country is proud of the participation of the French companies in the exhibition. The minister also expressed congratulations to Egypt on the successful organization of such event.

The meeting discussed ways to enhance military cooperation between the two countries, as well as the latest developments in regional and international issues of common concern, especially ways to combat terrorism and reduce the danger of terrorist elements and their transfer from hotbeds of tension to other areas, Rady said.

During the meeting, President Sisi stressed the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and France, praising the existing cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially in the military field.

Sisi also expressed the hope to develop bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the common interests of both countries and contributes to the development and prosperity of their peoples, Precidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said.

The "EDEX-2018" opened Monday with the participation of 41 countries and 376 companies and is scheduled to last for three days.

The inauguration was attended by Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and many other officials.

Furthermore, 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea attended the exhibition.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 U.S. companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.
12/3/2018 6:19:28 PM
<![CDATA[EDEX-2018 confirms Egypt's pivotal role in ME: Cypriot Defense Minister]]>
Angelides also lauded the special relations between the two countries, affirming the aspiration of his country to continue to open new ways for cooperation between Egypt and Cyprus to serve the interests of the two friendly peoples.

Sisi also met with French Minister of Armed Forced Florence Parly on the sidelines of EDEX-2018.

During the meeting Parly confirmed her keenness to attend the "EDEX-2018," saying that her country is proud of the participation of the French companies in the exhibition. The minister also expressed congratulations to Egypt on the successful organization of such event.

The meeting discussed ways to enhance military cooperation between the two countries, as well as the latest developments in regional and international issues of common concern, especially ways to combat terrorism and reduce the danger of terrorist elements and their transfer from hotbeds of tension to other areas, Rady said.

During the meeting, President Sisi stressed the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and France, praising the existing cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially in the military field.

Sisi also expressed the hope to develop bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the common interests of both countries and contributes to the development and prosperity of their peoples, Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said.

The "EDEX-2018" opened Monday with the participation of 41 countries and 376 companies and is scheduled to last for three days.

The inauguration was attended by Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and many other officials.

Furthermore, 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea attended the exhibition.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 U.S. companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.
12/3/2018 6:15:44 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi meets French, Cypriot defense ministers to discusses cooperation]]>
Meeting the French Minister of Armed Forces Florence Parly, President Sisi stressed the depth of the strategic relations between Egypt and France, praising the existing cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially in the military field.

Sisi also expressed the hope to develop bilateral cooperation in a way that serves the common interests of both countries and contributes to the development and prosperity of their peoples, Precidential Spokesman Bassam Rady said.

Parly confirmed her keenness to attend the "EDEX-2018," saying that her country is proud of the participation of the French companies in the exhibition. She also expressed congratulations to Egypt on the successful organization of such event.

The meeting discussed ways to enhance military cooperation between the two countries, as well as the latest developments in regional and international issues of common concern, especially ways to combat terrorism and reduce the danger of terrorist elements and their transfer from hotbeds of tension to other areas, Rady said.

Moreover, Savvas Angelides, the Cypriot Defense Minister praised Egypt for organizing the military exhibition, and expressed his admiration of the special participation of the world's leading companies in this field, which confirms Egypt's pivotal role in the Middle East and the Mediterranean, Rady added.

Angelides also lauded the special relations between the two countries, affirming the aspiration of his country to continue to open new ways for cooperation between Egypt and Cyprus to serve the interests of the two friendly peoples.

On the sidelines of the exhibition, Egypt's Defense Minister Mohamed Zaki met with the two officials besides Panos Kammenos, the Greek defense minister. The ministers discussed the regional and international developments, and means to enhance military cooperation with France, Greece and Cyprus.

The "EDEX-2018" opened Monday with the participation of 41 countries and 376 companies and is scheduled to last for three days.

The inauguration was attended by Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and many other officials.

Furthermore, 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea attended the exhibition.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 U.S. companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.
12/3/2018 6:09:13 PM
<![CDATA[Exclusive Interview: Education minister details new system ]]>
How was the new education system set? And, what is its philosophy?

We are executing an extraordinary and big plan. The ministry's team is deploying huge efforts to apply it, and simplify how it works to people. The former system remained at place for 22 years under many former ministers. So the mission of eradicating and replacing it was an enormous responsibility. The Curricula Developing Center has set a general framework that would produce a very different student after 16 years of pre-university education.

Have the teachers been trained to apply the new education system?

We are trying to prepare the teachers as much as possible but it will take long time until they understand their new role, especially kindergarten ones. Parents have been raising problems like over-crowded classrooms, and lack of maintenance. But those are pertinent to limited financial resources and other issues. Those problems didn't require all those experts who were hired to develop education.

The main challenge was providing real education to students, and changing the education culture. Parents and students care the most about getting high grades as they perceive that as a sign of high academic achievement. Meanwhile, top students in international schools pass by 60 percent.

We are trying to remind people that our goal is education and not grades that push them to pay a fortune for private tutoring in all subjects. Students should enjoy the education process that we are trying to create through the new system. We changed the examination system to give value for understanding rather than memorization. Open book exams have been introduced as well.

The real problem is that students have not realized that yet. They have not realized that they do not need to memorize and achieve certain grades. We are trying to promote, among students and parents, the culture of capacity building.

What are the executive tools? Is there a timeline?

Many doubted that the new curricula would be introduced. On September 22, 2.5 million students started to study those curricula. The response of parents is positive as they saw they are different. As for the high school senior year, we changed the tests' format, and have produced the first practice module 10 days ago.

The objection against the new format was incited by teachers involved in private tutoring so they promoted among students that the tests would be difficult and they themselves have failed to answer the practice modules.

Examination and Online Grading

How would students answer the exam using the tablet?

Senior students at high schools will answer four tests throughout the academic year using the tablet. Answers will be sent to different teachers without revealing the students' identities. Grading will be done online. That is being applied this academic year for Grade 10 having 600,000 students who study 10 subjects. So we have 24 million tests that will take place online this year. And next year, the system will be introduced in other grades increasing the number to 50 or 75 million tests. The tablet is just the means and not the basis of the process for people to question occasionally where is the tablet?

The minister's consultant for examination and evaluation Dina al-Boarei said: I want to point out that online tests would indicate how long it takes students to answer. Also, results would be released immediately or shortly after they finish depending on the type of questions, whether they are MCQs or short essay.

Dina 2
Consultant of Education Minister for examination and evaluation Dina al-Boarei - Egypt Today

Test Bank

Will online testing allow offering different modules to different schools nationwide?

Boraei: there is a test bank for each subject so every school can pick a different module. All modules are equivalent in terms of levels they are designed to assess. Questions are generated by the software, and thus, they are not predictable.

Has that testing method been introduced or not yet?

It has been introduced in Grade 10. Tablets will be distributed among students in the Suez Canal governorates this week.

Has that system been applied in other countries?

That mechanism is taken from Pearson which has provided the software pertinent to test formulation, and grading in the Arabic language. The tablet idea is ours. Pearson provides tests in a print version to American and Argentinian schools. Then, it gets the exam booklets back, and grades them via a specific software after scanning. We cannot do that in Egypt because exams would be leaked, and it is hard to send exam papers from all over the country to Pearson’s lab. That’s why we are introducing the tablet. Pearson’s testing mechanism is adopted by many countries worldwide, including Oman.

Students can substitute non school books they used to study from by the Egyptian Knowledge Banks that is rich in content, and divided into sections by discipline, sub-branches, and level, such as scientific research, high education, and pre-university education. As for the curriculum of the senior year in high school, it will be available in PDF and multimedia format in addition to exercises.

Students can also search by publisher. For instance, we concluded a contract with Britannica to write 650 chapters for Grade 10 in Arabic including guidelines for teachers. It is the first time ever that Britannica writes chapters in Arabic.

We are bringing about a revolution that has started from Grade 1. There are 2.5 million students, and parents who are having a new life. We need cooperation from media by shedding light on what is being achieved.

The new education project is not tied to a specific minister and it will be completed. Every part of the project is the output of immense efforts. It’s not important when the tablet will be introduced. What matters is the content that will be on it. We have also trained 131,000 teachers nationwide.

The Introduction of the Internet in Schools

Deputy Minister for Information Technology Ahmed Daher: 2,500 schools have been linked to the Egyptian Knowledge Bank via internal servers. Hence, students are able to have access to the bank while in school for free. Outside school, the student can have access via regular Wi-Fi, or by installing an internet SIM card offered by service providers in low prices upon an agreement with the ministry. Those cards only allow access to the Knowledge Bank, and the student can choose the internet package suitable for their financial capacities.

Deputy Education Minister for Information Technology Ahmed Daher - Egypt Today

Boraei: We decided to link the tablet to the schools to encourage students to attend as some are empty.

The Minister: That has been achieved in partnership with 65 companies operating in 2,530 schools in Saloum, Shalatin, Sinai, and others. We have installed screens in 11,000 classrooms in villages. No one knows this piece of information. Screens are connected with servers. That system will be introduced in all public schools.

The telecommunication ministry introduced fiber optic internet in 2,530 schools, and internal servers in 700 others. Starting January, fiber optic internet and WI-Fi will be introduced in other schools. I propose the introduction of Knowledge Bank via internal networks in youth and cultural centers.

What is the role of World Bank in that project?

All what I have just mentioned has nothing to do with the World Bank that is just concerned with human capacity building but does not pay for walls, equipment or maintenance.

Training Teachers to Deal with the New System

Are teachers trained to deal with the tablet? And, are we ready in terms of expenditure, maintenance, and renovation?

Deputy Minister for Teachers Affairs Mohamed Omar: The schools development plan is part of the state’s plan 2018 - 2022 which is part of 2030 Vision. Those plans and visions are in part intertwined with legislative reforms as well. While setting the development program, we estimated the costs for this year, and the next ones.

Omar 2
Deputy Education Minister for Teachers Affairs Mohamed Omar - Egypt Today

The final exams of the high school senior year cost last year LE1.3 billion, this year LE1.7 billion, and next year will be LE2 billion. That is because of transporting exam papers by planes, and storage. After seven years, the new system would cost around LE200 million resulting mostly from servers’ operation.

Currently, papers remain stored for 15 years after exams are finished. That requires vast spaces incurring high costs. Even if the cost of the infrastructure we now build is high, the outcome is guaranteed. It should be perceived as a way to reduce the budget rather than a temporary assessment of the size of expenditure.

Will tablet use be exclusive to students?

Teachers and supervisors will be provided with tablets having different content than that of students. Also we will introduce in January networks that will enable us to survey classrooms and book warehouses, communicate with managers in different governorates, and send messages to students and teachers that will appear on their tablets. All that has been achieved in a year and half but people have not felt it yet.

Have the teachers been trained to deal with the new curricula?

We provided KG2 instructors with a teaching plan, trained them how to teach life skills, and multimedia material. The books have been prepared by experts in the United States, and the United Kingdom in collaboration with the curricula center on a very high level. This is the first time the ministry writes its own books. In the past, outsiders wrote it after winning tenders. The new curricula also include interactive material.

book 3

Omar: In the past, there was only one teaching guidebook for instructors at each school. Now, we print one for each teacher.

What is the ministry doing to stop private schools from teaching their own high-level courses?

Omar: We do not have enough human resources to assume full supervision over all schools. But, technology will enable us to reach the furthest classroom, and know what happens there.

How to protect the new system from some attempts to jeopardize it?

There are private books that copy the curricula from the ministry’s books and add more exercises. Parents don’t understand that is against the rationale behind the new curricula depending on understanding. We found many of those stored in warehouses on roads between cities. We cooperated with some private publishers so they would stop producing such books and the outcome is the current ministry’s books.


book 2

What is the development expected for technical education to meet market demands?

The minister’s consultant for technical education Habiba Ezz: We have the dual education system called “applied technology.” Ninety percent of technical education students want to pursue a bachelor in engineering. In the new system, their three years of high school would qualify them to pursue a high degree. There is another good aspect that is they would be able to work while studying and get paid whether in or outside school.

Consultant of Education Minister for technical education Habiba Ezz - Egypt Today

That has been introduced in seven schools in partnership with large firms and we still receive offers from others who want to cooperate. We signed a contract with Siemens to train the students of 16 schools and give them certificates accredited from Germany after the completion of the course. ]]>
12/3/2018 5:10:43 PM
<![CDATA[France's Macron hunts for way out of 'yellow vest' crisis]]>
The “yellow vest” revolt caught Macron unawares when it erupted on Nov. 17 and poses a formidable challenge to the 40-year-old as he tries to counter a plunge in popularity over his economic reforms, which are seen as favoring the wealthy.

Riot police were overrun on Saturday as protesters wrought havoc in Paris’s fanciest neighborhoods, torching dozens of cars, looting boutiques and smashing up luxury private homes and cafes in the worst disturbances the capital has seen since 1968.

The unrest is hitting the economy: hotel reservations are down, retailers are suffering, unsettling investors, and Total said some of its filling stations were running dry.

Tourism and transport stocks fell in an otherwise buoyant market.

Emerging from Prime Minister Edouard Philippe’s office, opposition leader Laurent Wauquiez of the centre-right Les Republicains said the government failed to understand the depth of public anger.

“The only outcome from this meeting was word of a debate in parliament,” Wauquiez told reporters. “What we need are gestures that appease, and these must be born out of the one decision every Frenchman is waiting for: scrapping (fuel) tax hikes.”


The “yellow vest” movement, whose supporters cut across age, job profile and geographical region, began online as an impromptu rebellion against higher fuel prices but has morphed into a broader outpouring of anger over the squeeze that living costs are putting on middle-class household budgets.

The movement’s members come principally from the hard-pressed middle class and blue-collar workers living outside the big cities, but it also has more radical fringe elements. It has no clear leadership, making talks all the more complicated for the government.

Their core demand is a freeze on further planned fuel tax increases — the next is due in January — and measures to bolster spending power. But they have also called for Macron to go, and many talk up the idea of revolution.

The government is struggling for a way to engage.

“Making a small gesture and then sweeping the problem under the carpet, just as has always been done for the last 30 years, does nothing to solve the deeper, structural problems,” government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux told France Inter radio.

Public support for the “yellow vests” remains high, with seven in 10 people backing their protest, a Harris Interactive opinion poll conducted after Saturday’s unrest suggested.


Macron says the fuel tax increases are part of his effort to combat climate change, wanting to persuade French drivers to exchange diesel-fuelled cars for less polluting models. He said on Saturday he would not deviate from his policy goals.

As governments from around the world began a two-week conference in Poland to try to pin down measures to avert the most damaging consequences of global warming, the protests highlighted how costly some of those actions are likely to be.

Christophe Chalencon, one of around eight semi-official spokespeople for the “yellow vests”, told BFM TV he would not enter talks only to “negotiate over peanuts”.

France ponders state of emergency after riots
The hitherto uncompromising response of Macron, a former investment banker, has only reinforced a view among the hard-pressed middle-class and blue-collar workers that he is part of an urban elite contemptuous of their world.

The anti-establishment anger spurring the yellow vests on could spell trouble for Macron in next year’s European elections. These are traditionally fertile ground for the far-right, led by Marine Le Pen, which already leads surveys of voting intentions.

Saturday’s unrest was the worst in central Paris since a student uprising five decades ago. At times, riot police appeared overwhelmed. The Arc de Triomphe, a unifying national monument that houses the tomb of the unknown soldier, was defaced, and a bust of national symbol Marianne was smashed.]]>
12/3/2018 2:45:02 PM
<![CDATA[French minister of Armed Forces visits Egypt ]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and Mohamed Zaki, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, as well as the minister of defense and military production will meet with Parly to discuss means to boost the bilateral cooperation between Egypt and France and the recent developments in the region, particularly in Libya.

After visiting Egypt, Parly will head to Kuwait, where she will discuss with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Jaber Al-Sabah and Defense Minister Sheikh Naser Sabah Al-Ahmad the situation in the Middle East and the important role Kuwait plays in the region, according to the statement.

The statement concluded that Parly will meet French military personnel at the Global Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) to evaluate the latest French operations carried out in Syria to restore the lands controlled by IS.

To reflect the deep and strong relations between Egypt and France, several joint naval exercises have been conducted between the two countries.

The latest exercise was carried out on Sunday by the Egyptian and French navies at the Red Sea base, with the French vessel, Courbet, taking part.

A group of Egyptian and French vessels participated in an extensive training aiming to boost cooperation between both armed forces, master the latest systems and techniques of naval warfare and maximize the mutual benefits for the armies of both countries.

The training included the implementation of many activities such as the use of modern tactics to counter threats against maritime security, fight terrorism and protect vital targets against non-traditional security threats.

The joint naval exercise also comprised advanced training on formations for sailing during day and night, while demonstrating the ability of participating naval units to take positions with a high degree of accuracy and speed.
12/3/2018 1:39:56 PM
<![CDATA[MP Abu Hamed calls for toughening penalty for begging]]>
In an interview with dmc, Abu Hamed, deputy chairman of the Parliament's Social Solidarity Committee, said that the penalty for begging in public places reaches a maximum of two months, while using a child in begging raises the penalty to three to six months.

He said that the citizens and the police walk everyday alongside beggars, and no action is taken against them, and the penalty is incommensurate with the crime. He pointed out that there are people who kidnap children for begging, adding that countries combating begging take children from beggars and place them in care homes.

The state does not have clear statistics on the numbers of beggars, but it recently began to list the missing, Abu Hamed said, adding that there are statistics from the National Center for Social and Criminologist Research indicating that there are 20 to 25,000 beggars.

Many beggars in Egypt are believed to be making a profession out of it. It is also common to see beggars using children or to see children beggars in public places which makes them look more pathetic. On the other hand, many people are still generous to beggars inside the metro and other public places as some people believe some beggars are in real need for money though.

Making a livelihood out of begging

CAIRO – 27 June 2018: “Yes, I am a begger. I beg for money. I am a begger; you are blocking my livelihood by parking here,” shouted a street begger at a parked car. It was nighttime in Ramsis, a square jumping with action, movement and liveliness, and the begger was sat on a pavement near the station, calling out on passers-by to give him a hand-out in exchange for a prayer.

12/3/2018 1:35:21 PM
<![CDATA[Toktoks' licenses to be limited]]>
The MP added thattoktok is the poor's means of transportation; we can limit spreading it through providing economical support to youth, enabling them to establish private projects and avoid working on toktoks.

In this regard, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said: “Our country welcomes the use of toktok as a means of transportation in some areas; however,modern studies warn against the excessive use of toktok as it distracts the underage away from taking serious jobs that achieve development and build the country.”

Toktokhas become real threat as it attracts children to work as drivers and spend money they gain unwisely on drugs and alcohol; additionally, it threatens the existenceof some crafts that workers abandoned to work as toktok drivers.

Minister of Local Development,Mahmoud Shaarawi, gave licenses to 222,000 toktoks in different governorates,assuring that the ministry is still getting more requests for licenses but issuing such licenses has been halted as per the instructions of the prime minster.

"We import spare parts of toktoks to manufacture them in Egypt," Shaarawi told Egypt Today, explaining that toktok licenses are given according to the rules of the Traffic Administration.

Furthermore, the minister of local development affirmed that the license costsL.E 360 and itsrenewalcosts L.E 140 annually.

12/3/2018 11:02:58 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi inaugurates International Defense, Security Industry Exhibition "EDEX-2018"]]>
President Sisi inspected the exhibtion and the Egyptian pavilion. He listened to a detailed explanation about the other pavilions as well.

The inauguration was attended by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, and Mohamed Zaki, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the Minister of Defense and Military Production as well as many other officials.

Furthermore, 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea attended the exhibition.

Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 U.S. companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.

During EDEX-2018, a press center will be established to serve national and international media and provide information to international channels and agencies.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.

During EDEX-2018, a press center will be established to serve national and international media and provide information to international channels and agencies.
12/3/2018 10:45:26 AM
<![CDATA[Egyptian, Italian prosecutors' meeting on Regeni was transparent: Source]]>
The two sides discussed the updates of the investigation into the killing of Giulio Regeni in Cairo in 2016.

In a statement to MENA on Sunday, the source pointed out the that Italian prosecutor's office reiterated its previous request issued in December 2017 that demanded the approval of the Egyptian prosecution to include some Egyptian policemen on the list of suspects.

This is what the Egyptian Attorney General's Office rejected during the previous meetings with the Italian side, considering that such record is not defined in the Egyptian law, the judicial source told MENA.

The source explained that the two sides also reviewed during the meeting questions concerning Regeni's visit to Egypt using a tourist visa and not the visa required for conducting research on Egyptian independent syndicates.

The Italian side promised to conduct an in-depth investigation into this matter, to be presented during the upcoming meetings between the Egyptian and Italian sides, the source added.

Egyptian, Italian parliaments halt relations

Italy’s Chamber of Deputies decided on Dec. 29 to halt all diplomatic relations with Egypt’s Parliament until there is a breakthrough and trial in the case of Regeni.

According to the Italian news agency of ANSA, the speaker of Italian Parliament Roberto Fico said on Friday that there will be complete suspension of diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament due to the slow and inconclusive investigations of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni.

“With great regret I announce that Montecitorio will suspend all kinds of diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament until there is a real turning point in the investigation concerning the murder of Giulio Regeni,” Fico said.

Immediately following the Italian unilateral decision, Parliamentspeaker Ali Abdel-Aal expressed dissatisfaction with the Italian Parliament’s move, saying that a unilateral decision won’t help to with the results of the investigations and won’t affect the Egyptian-Italian strong relations.

Abdel-Aal then asked three parliamentary committees to hold an urgent meeting to review Egyptian-Italian political relations.

He said: “It is deplorable that this move on the part of the Italian Parliament comes at a time when Egypt is leading a fierce war against terrorist organizations. We were also surprised that the Italian measures took place after the judicial authorities in both Egypt and Italy were intensifying their cooperation in a bid to unravel the mystery of Regeni’s death."

Abdel-Aal stressed that contacts between both countries’ parliaments should continue despite frictions. “We need to get out of this crisis with our long-term relations intact,” said Abdel-Aal.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Mustafa, deputy chairman of the Ethics Committee, accused Rome of using the investigation into Regeni's case “as a tool of political exhortation”.

Also, MP Tarek Radwan, deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said an objective review of Egyptian-Italian relations is now required.

“We should work on containing current tensions rather than taking retaliatory measures,” said Radwan. “The Italian Parliament’s decision places Egyptian-Italian relations on edge, something that can only serve terrorist organizations targeting the security of the Mediterranean countries."

However, Kamal Amer, head of Parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee, said: “We are very keen that Egyptian-Italian relations remain strong. Italy was, after all, the first European country to support Egypt’s Revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood."

He added that the Italian decision won’t affect the Egyptian-Italian strong relations.

Egypt's commitment to transparent investigations

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi stressed in September that Egypt is keen to solve Italian student Regeni’s murder case, and Egyptian authorities are committed to full transparency with the Italian side in this regard.

This was during the meeting held between Sisi and Fico as a part of a two-day official visit the latter carried out.

Sisi issued directives to remove any obstacles faced by the ongoing investigations to resolve the case, find the perpetrators and provide them before the court, pointing out the cooperation between the Egyptian Public Prosecution and its Italian counterpart, Presidential spokesman Bassam Rady said.

Fico noted his country’s appreciation for the president’s directives and Egypt’s strong determination to resolve the case and seize the perpetrators in cooperation with Italy, which will have a positive effect on Italian public opinion and will contribute to promoting bilateral cooperation between the two countries.

Parts of the reporting were taken from MENA
12/2/2018 5:00:57 PM
<![CDATA[Madbouli follows up program to train African leaders ]]>
Madbouli has clarified in the previous convention that president Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has commissioned the National Academy for Training and Rehabilitation of Youth with setting executive mechanisms for training the African youth in the economic, political and social levels.

This comes as part of the presidential program launched to train the African youth for leadership. Madbouli referred that the national academy's program is one of the mechanisms to restore Egypt’s soft power in Africa.

A number of events are scheduled to be organized in conjunction with Egypt’s presidency of the African Union in the next year.

In this context, the officials of the ministries of foreign Affairs and planning as well as officials of the national academy were charged to develop a full picture of the training programs.

The second annual edition of the WYF tackled two main axes: peace and development. The forum brought together more than 3,000 youths represented by 60 delegations from across the world to explore key issues facing their generation and determine their role in implementing the global development goals and in facing terrorism.

The first axis discussed reconstructing post-conflict countries and societies, the role of world leaders in achieving peace, the duty of the international community to provide humanitarian assistance and counter-terrorism, and the Euro-Mediterranean partnership.

The axis of development included topics related to energy and water security, empowerment of people with disabilities, the role of voluntary work in building societies, the agenda of 2063 African Sustainable Development, digital citizenship, the role of art and cinema in shaping communities, ways to build future leaders, and means of shrinking the gender gap in the work force.

An Arab-African Summit Simulation Model was held on the sidelines of the forum, as was recommended during the African Union Simulation Model held in May 2018 as part of the activation of the 2017 World Youth Forum's recommendations.

The first edition of the World Youth Forum was launched from Nov. 4-10, 2017 in Sharm El-Sheikh. It was attended by 3,200 participants from 113 countries. The forum was a platform for 222 speakers from 64 countries with expertise in various fields, gathered in 46 sessions.

In the 2017 edition, the participating leaders and experts discussed various international and regional issues, including the crises of migration and refugees, democracy and human rights, African stability and development, and globalization and cultural identity, as well as technology and social media and their impact on the population.

In July 2017, the president announced organizing the WYF in Sharm El-Sheikh during the fourth National Youth Conference in Alexandria.
12/2/2018 3:11:24 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to be declared slum-free country by end of 2019]]>
Khaled Siddiq, executive director of the Development Fund for Slums, said that Egypt will be declared a slum-free country by the end of 2019, referring that around LE 14 billion have been allocated until now for developing 80 percent of the slums.

Siddiq added that the total number of Egypt’s slums is 351 areas; 80 percent of which has been finished in the past four years and the remaining 20 percent will be developed by the end of 2019.

He further remarked that Port Said, Wadi El-Gedid, Fayoum, Menoufia and Suez will become slum-free cities by the end of 2018, pointing out that 215,000 housing units are targeted to be developed in these areas.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has sought to tackle housing problems in Egypt, and a plan was set to develop many unsafe areas in Cairo, which has the majority of Egypt’s slums, and to re-house residents of Egypt’s most dangerous slums. The government divided the slums into two categories. The first is the dangerous slums; the government pledged to eliminate dangerous slums by the end of 2018.

In this regard, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly witnessed on July 9 the signing ceremony of two cooperation protocols between Cairo governorate and the new Urban Communities Authority.

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

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

Gazzar explained 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.

In May 2016, President Sisi promised to move all those living in slums to new flats over three years as part of an ambitious project expected to cost about LE 14 billion ($790 million).

In the same context, the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund, launched by Sisi in 2014, has been working on a three-phase strategy to eliminate Egypt’s shantytowns and re-house slum residents, including those living in Doueyka, Establ Antar and Ezbet Khair Allah. The project includes 15,000 housing units to re-house 60,000 slum residents. The first two phases of Tahya Misr are comprised of 12,000 flats. The third phase opened in 2017 and is comprised of 20,000 flats. ]]>
12/2/2018 3:00:26 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament members urge government to prepare for floods]]>
Parliament's Undersecretary Soliman Wahdan affirmed that the government should be ready for winter, pointing out that the Ministry of Irrigation has a plan to collect flood waters in certain places so as not to affect the citizens.

Special standards should be set to complete paving roads and streets in a declined way to help in the collection of rain directly to sewage ditches or on the sides of the road, Wahdan said.

He also called for full coordination between the operating rooms in different provinces and the Egyptian Meteorological Authority to take the necessary measures concerning rainfall and prepare systematically to prevent probable negative impact on citizens.

MP Mohamed Abo Hamed warned against the repetition of the Fifth Settlement's 2017 disaster, affirming the necessity of taking arrangements in the cities where floods are expected.

There is a number of corridors or storm drains that may be blocked or not working, Abo Hamed said, adding that they should be checked and fixed. He pointing out that the government has supposedly checked the places where floods usually occur.

In April, videos and photos showing water levels in the streets of the Fifth Settlement and El-Shorouk city rising over one meter went viral; the vehicles were submerged in the flooded districts.

Even though the Egyptian Meteorological Authority warned of unstable weather before the disaster, officials failed to take sensible precautionary measures or provide assistance after torrential rain hit several parts of Cairo and Giza.

Rainfall throughout the capital caused some buildings, houses and bridges to collapse; some governorates such as Suez, Ain Sokhna and Ismailia were also affected. The residents of New Cairo seemingly got the lion’s share of the damage.

For his part, MP Hassan al-Sayed, called on the prime minister and the minister of irrigation to remove the buildings illegally constructed on storm drains in various provinces.

He added that procedures should be taken to protect certain areas from floods, including border governorates such as the Red Sea, and North and South Sinai, pointing out that the government must coordinate with the governors in this regard before the start of winter.

The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has worked on finishing the preparations for winter rains and downpours by carrying out a plan to check the pumping stations, clear canals, water banks and storm drains.

Mohamed Abdel Aati, an official in the ministry, said in October that the preparation plan included maintenance of all pumping stations nationwide to be ready for sudden rains.
The ministry installed more than 25 emergency units in West Delta near the critical areas to avoid the recurrence of the 2015 floods.

Khaled Madin, head of the ministry's Irrigation Department, said that flood protection projects have been executed, in addition to the projects that have already been accomplished, including 119 dams, about 16 man-made lakes, about 500 underground rainwater tanks, and five channels.

For her part, Nadia Abdel Hamid, a ministry's official, said that a series of flood control projects have been accomplished. The projects included the establishment of numerous man-made lakes, and dams.

In September, Agriculture Minister Ezzedin Abu Stait urged all bodies concerned to take the necessary measures to face possible floods with the beginning of the winter season.
12/2/2018 2:56:05 PM
<![CDATA[President Sisi to inaugurate 'EDEX-2018' on Dec.3]]>
Organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Defense and Military Production, "EDEX-2018" will attract more than 10,000 visitors interested in the field of armaments and defense industries.

The exhibition hosts 373 international companies from 41 countries, including 42 U.S. companies, 37 French companies, 28 Chinese companies and 13 Russian companies.

Furthermore, 10 defense ministries from the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Sudan, France, Greece, Cyprus, South Sudan, Cameroon, Somalia and South Korea will attend the exhibition.

Additionally, seven main arms departments from the United States, China, Russia, France, Germany, Italy and UAE will participate in the exhibition and several military authorities will give educational lectures on the sidelines of the exhibition.

As for the Egyptian pavilion in the exhibition, Egyptian military products, including arms and equipment jointly manufactured by the Armed Forces, the National Organization for Military Production (NOMP), and the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) will be included in the exhibition.

During EDEX-2018, a press center will be established to serve national and international media and provide information to international channels and agencies.

EDEX-2018 is an important event that will be held every two years to showcase Egyptian military products.

Previously, Minister of Defense and Military Production Mohamed al-Assar said during a press conference organized by the Armed Forces in cooperation with the Military Production Ministry on December 12, 2017 that the political leadership is keen to make the Egyptian exhibition of defense and military industries a major international event.

He pointed out that this exhibition will represent a qualitative leap for the neighboring countries. It will also show the latest developments in the field of global armament technology and industries related to military manufacturing.

The Egyptian military establishment will provide all possible facilities for the exhibition's success, reflecting the regional status of the Egyptian army, Assar added.
12/2/2018 1:08:50 PM
<![CDATA[The Green River to be dug up in New Administrative Capital ]]>
The first phase is 10 kilometers long, and worth $500 million. The company will sell the lands on the prospective river banks to the ministry so it would invest them, and raise funds necessary to finance the project.

The Green River will stretch from Cairo Ring Road to the Regional Ring Road passing through the Central Business Park. On its banks, there will be a botanical garden, and a park having the Islamic architecture.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that all the 20 neighborhoods in the new capital will be linked to the Green River which is meant to mimic the Nile River situated in the middle of Cairo. The area of the new city is 170,000 feddans, while its capacity is 6.5 million.

Forty-five percent of constructions in the first phase of the new capital are completed and 70 percent of lands allocated for that phase are sold. That makes up around 17,000 feddans.
12/2/2018 11:25:24 AM
<![CDATA[Violent clashes engulf Paris in new anti-Macron protests]]>
Officers responded with tear gas after being targeted by protesters hurling rocks and other projectiles on the third weekend of demonstrations which have morphed into a broader rebuke of President Emmanuel Macron.

Smoke engulfed several shopping districts as the violence spread from the Arc de Triomphe, where crowds had gathered earlier hoping to march down the Champs-Elysees.

While several dozens were allowed into the avenue after an ID check and search, many others -- some wearing gas masks or ski goggles -- remained behind and fought police manning barricades and water cannon.

Protesters then led police on cat-and-mouse chases through other parts of the capital, setting cars and construction equipment alight and smashing windows.

An assault rifle was stolen from a police vehicle, a source told AFP, though it was unclear if it was armed.

One person was in critical condition after protesters pulled down one of the huge iron gates of the Tuileries garden facing the famed Louvre museum, crushing several people.

"Those responsible for this violence don't want change or improvement, they want chaos," President Emmanuel Macron said from Buenos Aires where he was attending a G20 summit.

"No cause justifies that authorities are attacked, that businesses are plundered, that passers-by or journalists are threatened or that the Arc du Triomphe is defiled," he said.

Authorities said at least 260 people had been arrested and nearly 100 injured, including 14 of the 5,000 police officers mobilised for the protests.

- 'Idiots who come to fight' -

An estimated 75,000 demonstrators, most of them peaceful, were counted across the country in the afternoon, the interior ministry said.

The number was well below the first day of protests on November 17, which attracted around 282,000 people, and also down from the 106,000 who turned out last Saturday.

Acrid plumes of smoke and tear gas, however, were testament to the escalation in violence in Paris, to the consternation of many of the "yellow vests", so-called for the high-visibility jackets they wear.

Along the opulent Avenue Foch near the Arc de Triomphe, home to embassies and luxury residences, protesters ripped out benches to form a blockade, one person waving a skull and bones pirate flag.

Interior Minister Christophe Castaner, speaking on French television, attributed the violence to "specialists in sowing conflict, specialists in destruction" but said the situation was largely under control.

"We're a peaceful movement, but we're disorganised -- it's a mess because we don't have a leader," said Dan Lodi, a 68-year-old pensioner on the Champs-Elysees.

"You always have some idiots who come to fight, but they don't represent us at all," he said.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe's office said he would cancel his trip to Poland on Sunday for the COP24 climate summit to meet with Macron after the violence.

- 'Macron has to listen' -

Stores and restaurants along the Champs-Elysees as well as surrounding streets had boarded up windows, anticipating a repeat of the clashes last Saturday which Macron compared to "war scenes".

Chantal, a 61-year-old pensioner, said she was avoiding the "hooligans" but was determined to send Macron a message on the rising costs of living.

"He has to come down off his pedestal," she said under rain in the Champs-Elysees. "Every month I have to dip into my savings."

Others voiced indignation at graffiti sprayed on the Arc de Triomphe, a monument to French war dead, including phrases like "Macron resign" and "the yellow vests triumph".

The "yellow vest" movement erupted on social media in October and has since become a wider protest against Macron, who is accused of failing to recognise the rising cost of living that has left many struggling.

The countrywide protests have included many pensioners and have been most active in small urban and rural areas where demonstrators blocked roads, closed motorway toll booths, and even walled up the entrance to tax offices.

Two people have died and dozens have been injured in the rallies, which opinion polls suggest still attract the support of two out of three French people.

Attempts by the government to negotiate with the grassroots movement have failed, in large part because representatives have insisted on public talks broadcast on TV.

Macron has sought to douse the anger by promising three months of nationwide talks on how best to transform France into a low-carbon economy without penalising the poor.

He also vowed to slow the rate of increase in fuel taxes if international oil prices rise too rapidly but only after a tax hike due in January.]]>
12/2/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament calls on gov’t to restore dilapidated roads ]]>
For his part, the head of the proposals and complaints committee in the House of Representatives, Hamam al-Adly told Egypt today that the government must fix dilapidated roads that need to be developed and rehabilitated in implementation of the directives of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

"For many years, there have been several dilapidated roads throughout Egypt that were not developed, hence this situation hinders the development process, and does not contribute to a good investment climate. Infrastructure is the foundation of sound investment". Adly added.

A secretary of the local administration committee in the House of Representatives Mohammed al-Dami also called on the government to benefit from the experience of developed countries in reducing road accidents and implementing safety standards.

Dami added that cars accidents in Egypt have increased in recent years due to the lack of safety standards, driving under the influence of drugs, and exceeding speed limits as well as the presence of inefficient roads.

He also stressed the need to tighten road controls to reduce accidents that result in loss in lives, in addition to heightening related-punishments.

Other member of parliament also called on the authorities to tighten road controls day and night as well as always conduct a medical evaluation of drivers and prevent the use of any drug from driving cars because it poses a danger to the lives of citizens.

Thousands of Egyptians die on the road every year due to traffic accidents. Egypt recorded 11,098 traffic accidents in 2017, marking a 24.6 percent decrease, compared to 14,710 accidents in 2016, according to a statement by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Those accidents resulted in the death of 3,747 people, the injury of 13,998, and the damage of 17,201 vehicles, according to the 2017 report released by CAPMAS.
Development of the national road network helped decrease road accidents in 2017, according to the state’s official agency.

Seventy-two percent of traffic accidents in Egypt occur due to human error, according to statistics released by CAPMAS on car and train accidents in 2016.

The country is among the 10 states enrolled in a UN program that aims to half the rate of road deaths by 2020. Since 2014, Egypt launched a number of projects and campaigns to monitor road safety, including building new roads, maintaining dilapidated bridges and carrying out random drug tests on drivers.]]>
12/1/2018 1:58:00 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar funds newly formed Ansar al-Bukhary: opposition]]>
The video posted on the Twitter account says that the group is led by Ayman Gawad al-Tamimy and has originated in Uzbekistan. The group was launched in Aleppo, and the number of its members is currently 500.

Qatari Leaks reported that the group announced its presence after the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet for supporting terrorism last year, and that is supported financially and logistically by Sheikh Eid Al Thani Charity Association.

Also, one of the main fund providers is Abd Al Rahman al-Nuaymi who was named by the U.S. Department of The Treasury in 2013 as Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13224 for providing financial support to al-Qa'ida, Asbat al-Ansar, al-Qa'ida in Iraq, and al-Shabaab.

Nuaymi transferred $600,000 in 2013 to al-Qa'ida via its representative in Syria Abu-Khalid al-Suri and intended to transfer nearly $50,000 more, oversaw the transfer of over $2 million per month to al-Qa'ida in Iraq, and in mid-2012, provided approximately $250,000 to two U.S.-designated al-Shabaab figures, Mukhtar Robow and Sheikh Hassan Aweys Ali.

In addition, Nuaymi provided "financial support to a charity headed by Yemen-based Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad 'Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani, who channeled funding to al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)."

Tamimy went to Doha to receive instructions from Nuaymi and a fund worth $700,000. The group members also received training in the Al Waqra camp in Qatar, and headed to Syria, Libya, and Egypt, according to Qatari Leaks.

Tamimy also met with Abou al-Qasem al-Oteidy, one of the group's leaders, in London as he got orders to launch terror attacks in Egypt and Libya. Both had set plans to execute such attacks in November 2018 with a fund of $80 million from Doha.

Expert in Islamist Groups Affairs and International Terrorism Monir Adib told Lebanese newspaper Al Nahar in September that Ansar al-Bukhary has presence in Eretria, Nigeria, and Somalia, and that is composed of militants who were part of IS and al-Qaeda affirming it acquires funds from Qatar.

Researcher in Islamist Movements Affairs Omar Farouk told Al Nahar that IS leader Abou Bakr al-Boghdady was moved in 2017 to Turkish borders and later to Libya to lead the recently formed group.

12/1/2018 1:39:36 PM
<![CDATA[Trump, China's Xi poised for high-stakes summit over trade war]]>
With the United States and China locked in growing disputes over commerce and security that have raised questions about the future of their relationship, Trump and Xi are due to sit down for dinner at the end of a two-day gathering of world leaders in Buenos Aires.

The first day of the G20 summit offered glimmers of hope for progress between Washington and Beijing despite Trump’s earlier threat of new tariffs, which would increase tensions already weighing on global financial markets.

But on the eve of what is seen as the most important meeting of U.S. and Chinese leaders in years, both sides said differences remained, and the outcome of the talks were uncertain.

This year’s summit has proved to be a major test for the Group of 20 industrialized nations, whose leaders first met in 2008 to help rescue the global economy from the worst financial crisis in seven decades.

With a rise in nationalist sentiment in many countries, the G20, which accounts for two-thirds of the global population, faces doubts over its ability to deal with trade tensions and other geopolitical differences among.

G20 nations were still struggling to agree on the wording for the summit’s communique on major issues including trade, migration and climate change, which in past years have been worked out well in advance.

Looming large at the summit is the trade fight between the United States and China, which have imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars on each other’s imports after Trump began an effort to correct what he views as China’s unfair commercial practices.

With the trade war weighing on the global economy, world financial markets are hanging on every development and will be watching closely to see if any compromise can be struck between Trump and Xi. The meeting will also be a test of the personal chemistry between the two leaders, which Trump has hailed as a warm friendship.

Another big unknown, however, may be Trump’s personal unpredictability and his penchant for injecting drama into his appearances on the world stage.


Trump was typically coy on Friday even as he noted some positive signs.

“We’re working very hard. If we could make a deal that would be good. I think they want to. I think we’d like to. We’ll see,” he said, speaking during a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for the G20 leaders summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina November 30, 2018. REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez
A Chinese foreign ministry official in Buenos Aires said there were signs of increasing consensus ahead of the discussions but that differences persisted.

Beijing hopes to persuade Trump to abandon plans to hike tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25 percent in January, from 10 percent at present. Trump has threatened to go ahead with that and possibly add tariffs on $267 billion of imports if there is no progress in the talks.

Trump has long railed against China’s trade surplus with the United States and Washington accuses Beijing of not playing fairly on trade. China calls the United States protectionist and has resisted what it views as attempts to intimidate it.

The two countries are also at odds militarily over China’s extensive claims in the South China Sea and U.S. warship movements through the highly sensitive Taiwan Strait.

Xi and leaders from the BRICS group of leading emerging economies - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - called in a statement on Friday for open international trade and a strengthening of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Trump cited Russia’s seizure of Ukrainian ships last week as the reason he canceled a planned bilateral meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The presence of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the summit also raised an awkward dilemma for leaders, and Saudi Arabia’s de facto leader cut a lonely figure standing at the edge of the G20 family photo on Friday.

Prince Mohammed arrived under swirling controversy over the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2. Saudi Arabia has said the prince had no prior knowledge of the murder.

Human Rights Watch asked Argentine prosecutors to investigate him for human rights abuses.]]>
12/1/2018 1:37:02 PM
<![CDATA[Trump rejects Paris accord, but his diplomats are still negotiating]]>
The fact that Donald Trump announced in June 2017 that the US would withdraw from the Paris climate accord signed in 2015 by his predecessor, Barack Obama, has not ended US participation in continuing climate talks.

The US pullout won't take effect until 2020.

In the meantime, the Americans are not leaving their seats empty and remain heavily involved at the technical, rather than political, level.

"Among developed countries, the US is hardly isolated on those issues," said Alden Meyer, director of strategy and policy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, noting that the US has maintained a united front with Europe and other rich nations when it comes to technical subjects that are indispensable to the effective rollout of the Paris deal.

The Conference of Parties number 24 (COP24), is the follow-on to COP 21 in Paris.

This time, 197 signatories are meeting to agree on the rules of applying their commitments under the 2015 pact, making a "rulebook" to follow.

"Paris has to be brought to life in an operational sense," said Todd Stern, who was President Obama's chief climate negotiator. One page on transparency might need 15 or 20 pages of technical definitions, he said.

For example, countries must agree on a common method of counting emissions so that progress can be compared equally.

Should they use international guidelines from 2006, and allow flexibility to some countries? If so, which ones? Who will review nations' progress? On the ground, or from the secretariat in Bonn?

And when? And what should be done if a country does not stand by its pledge?

On these subjects, the Americans have some very precise goals.

They are refusing to allow any developed country to be subject to stricter rules than a developing country -- the same position that has been held by the prior administrations of George W. Bush, Barack Obama and the present one of Donald Trump.

- After Trump -

Why are other countries cooperating with the United States?

Because they are laying the groundwork for a possible future US tie-in to the Paris accord.

Everyone knows that Washington's pullout formally takes place November 4, 2020, the day after the next US presidential election.

It's still even possible that Trump could decide to stay in the accord.

"Most countries I talked to have tried to separate the Trump administration from the US long term," said Meyer.

"They want to maintain the ability for the US to either stay in Paris if President Trump can be convinced to change his mind or to re-enter Paris after President Trump leaves office," he said.

"There is some sympathy for some of the US positions in the negotiations because other countries don't want to make it more difficult for a future president to come back in."

According to Ovais Sarmad, deputy executive secretary at the UNFCCC, which oversees the talks, 183 other countries ratified the Paris accord.

"We hope that that position (of the US) will change over time," said Sarmad.

The US delegation will not be led by a high-ranking official, but rather a career diplomat, Judith Garber, who is not widely known in the larger public.

Garber is principal deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs.

"The team that represents the United States is made up of career diplomats, you have negotiated these issues for many years, and have earned considerable credibility and trust among their colleagues from other countries," said Elliot Diringer, executive vice president of the think-tank C2ES in Washington.

Proof of Washington's weight: the US blocked talks in Bangkok in September on the question of green financing that developed countries are meant to free up to help poorer nations make a transition to greener energy, observers said.

Alongside the technical negotiators, a more political delegation arrives the second week, with a representative from the White House, Wells Griffith, according to Meyer.

As soon as he arrives, the energy advisor to Donald Trump will preside over an event to promote fossil fuel and carbon.

A provocation for some, to be sure, but not one that is off-putting enough to derail the negotiations which are taking place in private.

"The Americans are continuing to negotiate in a constructive manner," said a source close to the talks.

"Of course, we have to put up with the fact that they are coming in support of coal, but in the meantime, we can work quietly."]]>
12/1/2018 11:15:40 AM
<![CDATA[Unilateral Italian decision to sever ties with Egyptian Parliament won’t support Regeni investigation: Ali Abdel Aal]]>
According to the Italian news agency of ANSA, the speaker of the Italian Parliament Roberto Fico said on Friday that there will be complete suspension of diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament due to the slow and inconclusive investigations of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni.

“With great regret I announce that @Montecitorio will suspend all kind of diplomatic relations with the Egyptian Parliament, until there is a real turning point in the investigation concerning the murder of Giulio Regeni,” Fico said.

Immediately following the Italian unilateral decision, Parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Aal expressed dissatisfaction with the Italian parliament’s move, saying that a unilateral decision won’t help to reach the results of investigations quickly and won’t affect the Egyptian-Italian strong relations.

Abdel-Aal then asked three parliamentary committees to hold an urgent meeting to review Egyptian-Italian political relations.

He said; “It is deplorable that this move on the part of the Italian parliament comes at a time when Egypt is leading a fierce war against terrorist organisations. We were also surprised that the Italian authorities took place after the judicial authorities in both Egypt and Italy were intensifying their cooperation in a bid to unravel the mystery of Regeni’s death.”

Abdel-Aal stressed that contacts between both countries’ parliaments should continue despite frictions. “We need to get out of this crisis with our long-term relations intact,” said Abdel-Aal.

Meanwhile, Ahmed Mustafa, deputy chairman of the Ethics Committee, accused Rome of using the investigation of Regeni case “as a tool of political exhortation”.

And Free Egyptians Party MP Tarek Radwan, deputy chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, said an objective review of Egyptian-Italian relations is now required.

“We should work on containing current tensions rather than taking retaliatory measures,” said Radwan. “The Italian parliament’s decision places Egyptian-Italian relations on edge, something that can only serve terrorist organisations targeting the security of the Mediterranean countries.”

However, Kamal Amer, head of parliament’s Defence and National Security Committee, said: “We are very keen that Egyptian-Italian relations remain strong. Italy was, after all, the first European country to support Egypt’s Revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood”.

He added that the Italian decision won’t affect the Egyptian-Italian strong relations.]]>
11/30/2018 8:44:23 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt's PM announces suspending licensing toktoks]]>
The decision comes, according to Madbouli, to limit the bad phenomena that resulted from the uncontrolled spread of the toktoks. Madbouli added that he directed decisive dealing with abusers including the confiscation of violating toktoks.

This came during Madbouli's meeting with the governors in the Local Development Ministry's headquarters.

During the meeting, Madbouli said that the state has shown some flexibility concerning toktoks in some areas that need such means of transportation. However, many recent studies have warned that many young people have been encouraged to work in this field rather than other serious jobs that can help develop and build the country.

Madbouli also pointed out to the danger that toktoks impose by attracting many children to work in this field, and subsequently gain money which they spend unwisely due to their young age.

The developed three-wheel auto rickshaw, known in Egypt as toktok, has drawn controversy in the country since it appeared across its cities in 2005. However, some people think satisfying alternatives have not yet been given.

Toktoks 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, and can consequently be used in committing crimes.

A toktok is a common form of urban transportation. It is a development of the still available two-wheeled pulled rickshaw by which a runner draws a cart with a seat for one or two people. It is believed the pulled rickshaw was invented by Japan in the 19th century. Rickshaws then appeared in India, China and other big cities in Asia.

Bad record

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 toktoks so as to take the first step towards ending the phenomenon. The ministry had decided in 2014 to ban toktoks for a year as it had been used in crimes and terrorist attacks, according to the government.

In November 2017, a toktok 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 toktok, 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 toktok collided with a passenger train in Dishna, Qena, while trying to pass a railway crossing.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo warned its citizens who were visiting Sri Lanka in June 2017 to avoid travelling alone in toktoks after a spate of sexual harassment complaints.

"The U.S. Embassy in Colombo has been made aware of an increase in incidents involving toktok drivers in the Colombo area inappropriately touching female passengers," the embassy said in a statement.
11/30/2018 10:42:37 AM
<![CDATA[Hisham Barakat’s assassination trial timeline]]>
Barakat was killed in a car bomb attack targeting his convoy in Cairo on June 29, 2015. He was the highest-ranking state official to be killed by militants in a spate of attacks since the 2013 ouster of President Mohammed Morsi.

The Prosecution Court has taken more than ten months to complete investigations of the case before referring it to the Court of Cassation.

The Public Prosecution had charged the defendants with joining the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group, making bombs and sneaking into Egypt to carry out terrorist attacks after receiving training at the hands of Hamas movement.

In May 2016, the Cairo Court of Cassation set June 17 to start the examination of challenges submitted by 67 defendants in the case. The defendants are challenging their death and ten-year jail sentences. During more than ten sessions, the court heard the testimony of 100 witnesses.

On April 1, 2017, the court heard the prosecutor's pleadings. During the hearing, the prosecutor urged the death penalty to be imposed on the accused.

On April 19, 2017, the Court of Cassation rejected appeals by 46 convicts in the same case, upholding their enlistment as terrorists for three years. The same court turned down challenges by 46 defendants against their placement on terrorist lists.

In July 2017, Cairo's Criminal Court sentenced 28 defendants to death for their conviction in the assassination of Barakat.

The court also sentenced 15 defendants to life imprisonment and eight others to 15 years in jail, while 15 defendants were sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Cairo Criminal Court sentenced 15 to death, eight to 15 years in prison, and 15 to 10 years in prison on August 22, 2017.

11/30/2018 10:30:09 AM
<![CDATA[From Malbec to scarfs, G20 leaders showered with Argentine gifts]]>
Heads of the Group of 20 industrialized nations touched down in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital, for what looked to be a tough two-day summit that opens on Friday, with big differences on major issues including trade, migration and climate change.

But first they were treated to a taste of Argentina.

Women received silver bracelets with a commemorative design while men received alpaca scarfs woven in Catamarca, a mountainous province in western Argentina.

A spokesman for President Mauricio Macri's office said first lady Juliana Awada had personally selected the gifts. Awada posted a video on Instagram of women hand-weaving the scarfs in Catamarca, using a technique hundreds of years old.

Leaders will also receive chocolates stuffed with caramelized condensed milk - a local speciality known as "dulce de leche" - as well as specially made tea, candles and wine from the western region of Mendoza, which is renowned for its Malbec red wines.

At a gala dinner on Friday in Buenos Aires' world-renowned theater Teatro Colon, G20 leaders will dine on a traditional Argentine menu of steak, lamb and “choripan,” a sausage served between bread, the event's head catering chef told Reuters on Wednesday.]]>
11/30/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Yemen's peace talks to start in Sweden next week]]>
The United Nations is trying to reconvene talks between the Saudi-backed government led by Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi and the Iranian-aligned Houthi group to agree a framework for peace and a transitional governing body.

A previous round in Geneva collapsed in September when the Houthis failed to show up.

"The Sweden consultations led by the UN envoy will take place next week ... the political solution is the way to move forward," Michael Aron, the Riyadh-based British ambassador to Yemen, tweeted to the Houthis' spokesman Mohammed Abdusalam.

A member of Hadi's delegation told Reuters on Wednesday that the talks were due to be held on Dec. 4, but that the date could change "depending on logistics".

Martin Griffiths, the UN envoy to Yemen, visited the Houthi-held capital Sanaa this week where he met the group's leaders. The UN humanitarian chief, Mark Lowcock, arrived in Sanaa on Thursday.

A spokeswoman from Griffiths' office declined to give an exact date for the talks.

"Preparations are ongoing as planned and we hope the consultations will convene in early December," she said.

The United Nations hopes to get an agreement on Hudeidah port, the entry point for the bulk of Yemen's commercial imports as well as the much-needed aid supplies, that will lead to a broader ceasefire.

The Houthis have agreed to hand over the management of the port to the Untied Nations, but both parties in the war still have to agree on who will hold the control over the city, especially around key facilities.


The coalition, which renewed its offensive to capture the port this month, has said taking control of Hudeidah would cut off the Houthis' main supply line and force them to adopt a softer stance on the negotiating table.

But the international community fears an all-out attack on the port could disrupt its operations and lead to a famine in the impoverished country, where an estimated 8.4 million people are facing starvation.

The United Nations has no up-to-date estimate of the death toll in Yemen. It said in August 2016 that according to medical centers at least 10,000 people had been killed.

The United Nations' Lowcock called on authorities in Sanaa to improve the environment in which the aid agencies operate.

"Keep the ports open, keep the roads open, provide access to all the key facilities, provide our visas, release our cargos at the port," Lowcock told reporters in Sanaa.

"It’s essential that everybody cooperates strongly with my colleague Martin Griffiths, and goes to the talks that he hopes to convene in Sweden very soon," he added.

The last UN attempt to convene the warring parties collapsed after the Houthis asked for guarantees from the UN that their plane would not be inspected. They also wanted to evacuate some of their wounded to Oman for treatment.

Saudi Arabia confirmed its willingness to evacuate 50 wounded Houthi fighters as a confidence-building measure, British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told Reuters this month.

Kuwait has offered to provide planes for the parties to ensure the participation of both sides in Stockholm.

The Houthis said last week they were halting drone and missile attacks on coalition forces, responding to a demand from the United Nations. However, the group's Al Masirah TV said on Thursday the group fired a ballistic missile on the Saudi-bordering region of Najran.

The Saudi-led coalition halted its offensive on the port city of Hudeidah, although skirmishes continued on the outskirts.
11/29/2018 3:51:55 PM
<![CDATA[Investigations uncover Banna's grandson's sexual relations with minors]]>
Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan el-Banna, the founder of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood.

The investigation revealed that Ramadan tried to seduce a 14-year-old girl but did not succeed. He also had consensual sex with three female students aged between 15 and 18. These incidents took place from 1980 to 1990, when Ramadan taught French and philosophy in two schools (the secondary school of Susir and the middle school of Kudri).

It is noteworthy that the Islamic scholar confessed on Nov. 18 to having a consensual sexual relationship with one of the women who sued him for rape, according to French news source Europe 1.

Ramadan’s lawyer Emmanuel Marsigny stated that the scholar will talk in front of the judiciary about the relationship that he had with one of the women suing him.
Up until now, four women in France and Switzerland have filed lawsuits against Ramadan accusing him of sexual assault.

Ramadan denied having any relations with the first two women who accused him of rape. But when confronted with the third woman, he admitted having a consensual sexual relation with her.

Marie, Ramadan’s third plaintiff, also provided investigators with a dress allegedly having Ramadan’s semen on it. The tests are still underway to specify if there is correlation between DNA samples. The French police detained Ramadan in January, a legal source said.

Ramadan is a Swiss national who grew up in Geneva. He was temporarily stopped from entering France over suspected links to Algerian terrorists. In 2003, he refused to condemn the stoning penalty, insisting instead on a “moratorium on the death penalty,” according to the Telegraph; that incurred a clash with former French Minister of Interior who later became president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2004, he was barred entry to the United States by local authorities for “providing material support to a terrorist organization,” which denied him a post as professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

In 2010, Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, revoked the ban. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair also chose him “to work on a task force to help tackle extremism in the UK following the 7/7 attacks in London in 2005,” The Telegraph reported.

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood was founded in 1928 and has been involved in a series of terror attacks and assassinations. The most prominent of which are the shooting of late Prime Minister Mahmoud el-Nokrashi Pasha in 1948 for dissolving the Brotherhood, and late President Anwar el-Saddat in 1981 in objection to the peace treaty signed with Israel in 1979.

The Brotherhood also assumed responsibility for an assassination attempt on President Gamal Abdel Nasser while delivering a speech in Alexandria's Manshiyah square in 1954.]]>
11/29/2018 12:41:37 PM
<![CDATA[PUBG controversial in Egypt after gamer's murder of teacher]]>
Seif el-Din, 16, killed his 59-year old teacher in her home after she turned around to bring him a glass of water he asked for. He went to her home every week for private tuition in chemistry.

Member of Parliament Ahmed Badawy, head of the Communications and IT Committee, claimed the game is part of the fourth-generation warfare against the Arab region.

He added that PUBG leaves an adverse impact on children and teenagers because it incites violence, urging the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to remove the application from Google Play.

MP Ahmed Refat, said PUBG is reminiscent of the game Blue Whale, which is believed to have led to a number of deaths among young people in Egypt.

Egyptian media outlets even claimed that the Islamic State (IS) group uses the game to recruit members and talks to the players, as both the game and the group share the same “values and tactics.”

A video surfaced of the game, where IS’s extremely violent song “Clashing of Swords” is heard in the plane that carries 100 players at the beginning of a PUBG session. The players are expected to kill each other until only one survives.

The Interior Ministry posted a video of Seif el-Din standing silently, reporting the crime and urging families to follow their children’s activities online because some content “incites terrorism, crimes and suicide.”

The student left his school bag, school supplies, a large knife in a plastic bag, shoes, a jacket and a note with sentences inciting violence.

He also told the police he has been watching anime films for years, and one of them shows crimes that only occur on “special occasions.” His flash memory contained many episodes of anime, according to the police.

Al-Azhar International Center for Electronic Fatwa released a Wednesday statement, providing a list of advice to avoid playing such games or their implications. The advice includes playing sports, encouraging children, reminding them of the importance of time, and other tips.
11/29/2018 9:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mississippi Republican overcomes gaffes to win final 2018 Senate race]]>
Incumbent Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith was leading Democratic challenger Mike Espy, a former congressman, by 55.2 percent to 44.8 percent with four fifths of precincts reporting, according to Fox News and NBC.

The runoff in the Republican stronghold between Hyde-Smith, who is white, and Espy, who is black, came under national scrutiny when unsettling remarks by the senator, who said she would attend a "public hanging" for a supporter, were widely interpreted as alluding to Mississippi's history of lynchings and other racist violence.

Hyde-Smith's victory preserves the 53-47 majority that Republicans will hold in the Senate when the new Congress convenes in January, and allowed Trump to dodge a political bullet in the Deep South, which under normal circumstances is reliable Republican territory.

"Congratulations to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith on your big WIN in the Great State of Mississippi," Trump tweeted. "We are all very proud of you!"

Trump held a pair of 11th-hour campaign rallies in Mississippi to prop up Hyde-Smith's campaign, which had run into trouble due to her remarks that Espy and others criticized as racist and un-democratic.

"Mr President, thank you so much for all of your help," Hyde-Smith said during a victory speech, stressing that the race was about preserving the "conservative values" of the state.

"Mississippians know me and they know my heart, and thank you for stepping up," she added.]]>
11/29/2018 5:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Putin defends 'lawful' seizure of Ukrainian ships]]>
In his first extensive remarks since the confrontation at sea on Sunday, Putin said it had been orchestrated by Kiev as a "provocation".

He said the Ukrainian ships had entered Russian territorial waters and refused to respond to requests to stop from Russian patrol boats.

"What were they (Russian forces) supposed to do?" Putin said when asked about the incident at an international investment forum in Moscow.

"They were fulfilling their military duty. They were fulfilling their lawful functions in protecting Russia's borders. They would do the same in your country."

Moscow and Kiev have traded angry accusations since Russian navy vessels fired on, boarded and captured the three Ukrainian ships off the coast of Crimea.

After warning of the threat of "full-scale war", Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Wednesday signed an act imposing martial law for 30 days in regions bordering Russia, the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

Western governments have rallied behind Kiev, accusing Russia of illegally blocking access to the Sea of Azov, used by both countries, and of using force without justification.

Trump on Tuesday threatened to cancel planned talks with Putin at this week's G20 summit in Buenos Aires over the incident.

The White House said Trump and Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan discussed the Ukraine-Russia incident by telephone and "the two leaders expressed deep concern about the incident in the Kerch Strait and the continued detainment of Ukraine's vessels and crew members".

- 'Bring our boys home' -

The Kremlin said it still expected the Putin-Trump meeting to take place and played down the threat of cancellation, with foreign policy advisor Yuri Ushakov saying: "The meeting is equally needed by both sides."

The Ukrainian vessels -- a tug and two gunboats -- were trying to pass through the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov, but were refused access and chased into international waters by 10 Russian vessels.

Kiev has demanded the return of its ships and the release of 24 sailors taken prisoner during the confrontation.

The sailors have been put before a court in Simferopol, the main city in Russian-annexed Crimea, and ordered to be held in pre-trial detention for two months.

Detention orders were made against 15 of them on Tuesday, including three still in hospital, and nine more on Wednesday.

"We condemn this demonstration of barbarism and are multiplying our efforts to bring our boys home," Ukrainian Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said on Twitter after the court rulings.

Ukraine's foreign ministry sent Moscow a diplomatic note in protest at the "illegal" detentions.

Sunday's incident was the first direct confrontation between Ukraine and Russia in the long-running conflict pitting Kiev against Moscow and Russian-backed separatists in the country's east.

It has raised fears of a wider escalation -- in a conflict that has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014 -- and prompted international calls for restraint.

- New S-400s deployed to Crimea -

Russian military officials said Wednesday that Moscow would soon deploy more of its advanced S-400 air defence systems in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

One more of the systems would be joining three others already deployed in Crimea, they said.

The Ukrainian parliament on Monday voted in favour of Poroshenko's request for martial law, which gives authorities the power to mobilise citizens with military experience, regulate the media and restrict public rallies in affected areas.

It was unclear how it would be applied in the border areas and Poroshenko has suggested it is meant essentially as a preventative measure.

The European Union, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and others have expressed support for Kiev, in statements pro-Kremlin newspaper Izvestia denounced as "predictably anti-Russian".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shifted the blame to the West, accusing the United States and Europe of encouraging Ukraine.

"I think it reflects Washington's tendency to indulge any and all action taken by the Kiev regime, even inciting them to provocative actions," Lavrov told reporters in Geneva.

Moscow has suggested that Kiev provoked the incident to boost support for Poroshenko, who is facing a tough re-election battle in a presidential vote set for next March.]]>
11/29/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Pompeo, Mattis urge Senate to maintain Saudi military support]]>
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis appeared before the Senate ahead of a planned vote on reducing military assistance to Riyadh, which has been blamed for high civilian death rates in Yemen strikes and is facing global ire over the death of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

"The suffering in Yemen grieves me, but if the United States of America was not involved in Yemen, it would be a hell of a lot worse," Pompeo said, according to prepared remarks from the closed-door hearing.

"What would happen if the US withdrew from the Yemen effort? The war wouldn't end."

The Yemen conflict has triggered the world's worst humanitarian crisis, with the country now on the brink of famine.

The UN estimates as many as 10,000 people have died, most of them civilians, since the coalition launched military operations in 2015.

US military backing to the Saudi-led coalition is based on non-combat support, such as the sharing of intelligence and training pilots in the "best practices" of conducting air strikes with minimal civilian casualties.

The Pentagon had also been conducting air-to-air refueling for coalition aircraft, but this month said it was stopping doing so.

Still, a series of high-profile coalition strikes has killed scores of civilians, many of them children, and now some US politicians are balking at America's role in the war.

- Peace talks -

Trump's emphatic support of Riyadh has rankled lawmakers including from his own Republican partly, particularly following Khashoggi's murder.

Saudi Arabia has acknowledged that the Washington Post columnist, a US resident, was killed inside the kingdom's Istanbul consulate in October but has blamed his death on a "rogue operation."

Trump last week called Saudi Arabia a "steadfast partner" and said it was unclear whether Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was aware of the plan to kill Khashoggi.

Trump has also cast doubt on the CIA's reported conclusion that the crown prince, also known as MBS, was behind the killing.

After Wednesday's hearing, Pompeo told reporters he'd seen no "direct" evidence linking MBS to Khashoggi's murder.

Peace talks aimed at ending the war in Yemen have been set for early December in Sweden, between Huthi rebels and the UN-recognized government, Mattis said last week, and officials are worried a move to cut support ahead of the summit is poorly timed.

Senators could vote as early as Wednesday on a bipartisan proposal that would force the US to end its backing of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Other lawmakers want to impose sanctions beyond those that Washington slapped on 17 Saudis allegedly involved in the killing.

The events have left administration officials publicly grappling with global realpolitik, saying Saudi Arabia's role in countering Iran is too important for the US to turn its back.

"We are seldom free to work with unblemished partners," Mattis said in prepared remarks.

"Long-standing relationships guide but do not blind us. Saudi Arabia, due to geography and the Iranian threat, is fundamental to maintaining regional and Israeli security, and to our interest in Mideast stability."

- 'Necessary strategic partner' -

The Pentagon chief added the US must try to hold those responsible for Khashoggi's murder to account while also recognizing Saudi Arabia as a "necessary strategic partner."

"We cannot be deflected from using all our influence to end this war for the good of innocent people in trouble, and ultimately the safety of our own people, and this includes our military engagement," he said.

Mattis pointed to the US military's training of partner pilots as key in reducing deaths.

"While tragedies occur in war, we assess restraint and improved tactical judgment by Arab coalition pilots has reduced the risk of civilian casualties," he said.

Pompeo meanwhile warned lawmakers that a US drawdown would lead to a stronger Iran, while reinvigorating both the Islamic State group and Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

"Try defending that outcome back home," he said.

On Twitter, Pompeo announced the US would be spending an additional $131 million in food assistance and again took a swipe at Iran.

"Iran's regime has no interest in easing Yemeni suffering; the mullahs don't even care for ordinary Iranians. Saudi Arabia has invested billions to relieve suffering in #Yemen. Iran has invested zero," he tweeted.

Also on Twitter, Democratic Senator Ed Markey said Pompeo is wrong to say Saudi Arabia is worth keeping as a partner, given its human rights record.

"Leadership isn't about an amoral pursuit of material benefit & profit. It's about applying our values to friends & foes alike, even when - especially when - it's hard," he wrote.

Saudi Arabia and its allies intervened in the conflict between embattled Yemeni President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, whose government is recognized by the United Nations, and the Huthis in 2015.]]>
11/29/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Study reveals bias in Western media coverage of Egyptian politics ]]>
An Egyptian PhD student studied in his dissertation the framing of political affairs in Egypt by western media after the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi, who is affiliated with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, following mass protests.

The dissertation is titled “Frames of Political Events in Egypt in Western Electronic Publications After 30 June 2013: Comparative Analysis.” The researcher was doing his studies at the School of Mass Communication in Al-Azhar University.

The time frame was one year from June 2014 until June 2015. The samples included articles from The Washington Post, The Independent, and Le Monde. The findings revealed that those publications were covering political events in Egypt but within frames that match their agenda-setting.

The publications framed the events as if there were an internal conflict, disregarding the democratic processes such as the presidential election, and the strategic development projects launched at that time.

Le Monde used the conflict frame the most, while The Independent used it the least. The use of that frame gave the impression that Egypt was a hostile area where a conflict between two main parties was taking place.

A bias was detected in all publications, especially Le Monde, as only one side was displayed in their stories’ background, making them neither fair nor balanced.
11/28/2018 4:17:31 PM
<![CDATA[Parliamentarian advocates Baha'is rights]]>
The problems Baha'is face are embodied in the inability to issue national identity cards bearing their religion, and licenses to build worship places. Also, the state does not allocate lands for Baha'is to build cemeteries, and they are subject to the personal status law articulated for Muslims, while Christians follow the Church.

The constitutional articles cited by the parliamentarian in the motion are respectively concerned with equality among citizens regardless of their gender, religion, race, or class; freedom of belief and rituals practice; and general freedoms.

Fouad also cited the statements of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in World Youth Forum 2018 as he said that citizens have the right to have faith or not, stressing that all religious sects have the right to build their worship place.

Furthermore, the parliamentarian referred to the international agreements on human rights endorsed by Egypt.

According to the Bahai.org website, “Bahá’í beliefs address such essential themes as the oneness of God and religion, the oneness of humanity and freedom from prejudice, the inherent nobility of the human being, the progressive revelation of religious truth, the development of spiritual qualities, the integration of worship and service, the fundamental equality of the sexes, the harmony between religion and science, the centrality of justice to all human endeavors, the importance of education, and the dynamics of the relationships that are to bind individuals, communities, and institutions as humanity advances towards its collective maturity.”

11/28/2018 3:18:36 PM
<![CDATA[Doha cuts salaries of hundreds of workers in 2022 WC projects]]>
The peninsula has cut the workers' salaries despite increasing their working hours, a decision that violates the international labor law and human rights covenants, the source added.

Doha has also placed dozens of workers in its local prisons, according to the source, after they stopped working in protest against the recent procedures taken against them. Moreover, many employees who work on establishing stadiums for the World Cup have only received the wages of one month out of four, and were threatened by the authorities to get arrested in case they claim their delayed rights, according to the source.

The Qatari authorities have also cancelled health insurance for a number of foreign workers, and informed them that treatment should be at their personal expense, the source asserted. On the other hand, some Qatari people supervising these projects have received huge monthly salaries amounting to $50,000 for each of them, the source revealed.

Qatar also canceled the leaves for a number of foreign workers in the infrastructure projects of the stadiums, saying that the cost of the leaves would be borne by the workers, the source said, adding that the authorities rejected to give the workers their passports, and banned them from travelling back home until the work is finished.

Acts of torture have been also carried out against workers of different nationalities, including Indian and Bangladeshi workers, the source claimed.

There are workers who have no homes or rest houses, the source referred, adding that these workers were deported to camps and tents in desert areas, which have no facilities, with the purpose of saving Qatari money.

Concerning women's rights, the source said that many violations have been carried out against women, where they have been hit and insulted in the World Cup projects. He affirmed that many international reports revealed the involvement of Qatar in violations against foreign workers on its soil.

Qatar's foreign workers

According to Qatar's Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics, there are about 2.6 million people inhabiting the Qatari territory. Foreign workers represent about 88 percent of the population, according to some reports.

The Indian community is the largest in Qatar with about 691,000 Indians inhabiting the peninsula, according to an unofficial 2017 report published by Priya Dsouza Communications specialized in the Qatari affairs.Egyptians represent 10.8 percent of the total population, with around 200,000 Egyptians inhabiting the Qatari territory making it the sixth largest community in the small peninsula, according to the report.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil ]]>
11/28/2018 1:43:38 PM
<![CDATA[Trump warns U.S. may cut off GM subsidies after job cuts]]>
"The U.S. saved General Motors, and this is the THANKS we get! We are now looking at cutting all @GM subsidies, including ... for electric cars," Trump said on Twitter.

GM electric vehicles are eligible for a $7,500 tax credit under federal law, but it is not clear how the administration could restrict those credits or if he had other subsidies in mind. GM shares fell on Trump's tweets and were recently down 2.4 percent.

GM declined to immediately comment.

Trump criticized GM for not closing facilities in Mexico or China on Twitter.

White House spokesman Sarah Sanders told reporters on Tuesday that the president is looking into options.

"The president wants to see American companies build cars here in America not build them overseas and he is hopeful that GM will continue to do that here," she said.

The company announced Monday it will halt production at one Canadian plant and four U.S. factories, including the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly plant that builds the plug-in hybrid electric Chevrolet Volt. GM is ending production of six vehicles, including the Volt, as it cuts more than 6,500 factory jobs.

GM confirmed on Tuesday that 2,250 salaried workers had applied for buyouts. The company said Monday it plans to cut about 8,000 of its 54,000 salaried workers in North America. The company plans to layoff thousands of salaried workers in January.

Trump told GM on Monday it "better" find a new product for Lordstown Assembly plant in Ohio that will halt production in March. GM has said sagging demand for small cars largely prompted the cuts.]]>
11/28/2018 1:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[China envoy warns of dire consequences if U.S. hardliners hold sway]]>
Speaking to Reuters before heading to join Chinese President Xi Jinping's delegation at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, Cui Tiankai said China and the United States had a shared responsibility to cooperate in the interests of the global economy.

Asked whether he though hardliners in the White House were seeking to separate the closely linked U.S. and Chinese economies, Cui said he did not think it was possible or helpful to do so, adding "I don't know if people really realize the possible consequences - the impact, the negative impact - if there is such a decoupling."

“The lessons of history are still there. In the last century, we had two world wars, And in between them, the Great Depression. I don’t think anybody should really try to have a repetition of history. These things should never happen again, so people have to act in a responsible way."

Asked whether he thought the current tensions, which have seen the two sides impose hundreds of billions of dollars of tit-for-tat tariffs on each other, could degenerate into all-out conflict, Cui called the outcome "unimaginable" and that the two countries should do everything to prevent it.

Cui said China did not want to have a trade war and sought a negotiated solution to the current impasse stemming from President Donald Trump's demands for far-reaching Chinese concessions to correct a massive trade imbalance.

"But the key to this solution is a balanced approach to concerns of both sides," Cui said. "We cannot accept that one side would put forward a number of demands and the other side just has to satisfy all these things."

He said the two leaders had "a very good working relationship and personal friendship" formed in three previous face-to-face meetings, including two formal summits, and this had been shown by a long phone conversation in early November.

White House insiders say there remain substantial differences within the Trump administration over how far to push China.

This division groups on one side anti-China hardliner and trade adviser Peter Navarro, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and those who favor a complete reevaluation of the relationship.

On the other side are pragmatists led by White House chief economist Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, concerned about the harm deepening friction could do to the U.S. economy and markets.

Kudlow said on Tuesday that Trump is open to a trade deal with China but is prepared to hike tariffs on Chinese imports if there is no breakthrough on longstanding trade irritants during a planned dinner on Saturday in Buenos Aires with Xi. ]]>
11/28/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Huge Saudi investments to be announced after MBS’s visit to Egypt: SEBC]]>
The Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman left Cairo Tuesday, after a two-day visit. He was received by the Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, where the two officials held bilateral talks to discuss ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two states.

In an interview with al-Riyadh newspaper published on Tuesday, Mahfouz said, we are optimistic that this visit would result in the announcement of huge Saudi investments, especially by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, which has studied many investment opportunities in Egypt.

Many businessmen are also very keen to invest in the projects of Egypt’s New Administrative Capital, the New el-Alamein City, and the October Oasis project at Giza’s 6th of October City as well as the privatization projects announced by the Egyptian government, Mahfouz said.

The Saudi businessmen see Egypt as the second main market, after Saudi Arabia, and consider Egypt as a center for exportation to the the African and Asian continents, Mahfouz said. He also asserted that Egypt’s Disney Land was among the largest projects executed by Saudi businessmen in Egypt in partnership with US investors, at a total cost of $3.3 billion.

Mahfouz also praised the relations between the two countries which he described as strong and aiming at the same target. He said that the visit of the Crown Prince to Egypt will help achieve the vision of the two governments to increase the volume of trade exchange between them and also to strengthen their economy.

He added that the visit will also contribute to accelerating the implementation of all previous economic agreements signed between the two countries with an investment value of over $16 billion, including the establishment of a Saudi-Egyptian fund which aims at sending Saudi investments to development projects in the Egyptian governorates.

Mahfouz said that the Saudi government is supporting the digital transformation of the electronic trade between the two countries, adding that the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia is studying carrying out giant projects in Egypt in partnership with the Egyptian government and the private sector of the two countries.

The Saudi official revealed that new agreements are expected to be signed between the governments of both countries which aim at encouraging Saudi investments in Egypt and enhancing joint cooperation between Egypt’s General Authority for Investment and Free Zones, and the Saudi Arabian General Investment Authority.

Mahfouz pointed out that Saudi project of Neom is the future project for both countries, as part of it is located inside Egyptian territory. He added that the Saudi government has signed several joint investment agreements with the aim of developing Egyptian lands in southern Sinai to be part of the Neom project.

He also said that Saudi Arabia plans to establish tourist attraction projects in the Red Sea, adding that the Sinai development program includes 12 financing agreements for projects by the Saudi Fund for Development, including the establishment of King Salman bin Abdul Aziz University in South Sinai’s Al-Tor, and the construction of 9 housing compounds distributed over different areas in Sinai.

The Saudi crown prince arrived in Cairo Nov. 26 for a two-day visit, as his second visit to the country since he assumed the crown prince post in June, 2017. In March 2018, he paid a three-day visit to Cairo and concluded a flurry of bilateral agreements involving billions of dollars in investment projects.
11/27/2018 7:00:29 PM
<![CDATA[Saudi media delegation visits top Egyptian newspapers ]]>
Major Saudi editors-in-chief paid the visit to observe the workflow in Egyptian newspapers, as Egypt is a pioneer in journalism in the Middle East. The first Arabic newspaper in the region, al-Waqai al-Misriya, was based in Egypt in 1828.

The Saudi media delegation at Akhbar al-Youm newspaper - Saudi embassy

Editor-in-Chief of Youm7 Khaled Salah called on Egyptian and Saudi media outlets to launch a joint media project in the mega city of Neom in accordance with modern mechanisms to train and qualify young cadres from both countries.

He also called for setting a “unified Arab vision” in terms of media and journalism.
The Neom media project, Salah explained, should include state-of-the-art media capabilities with nontraditional content and entertainment. Such a project would contribute to development by enhancing the knowledge and experience of recipients, he said.

He added that the project would create a balance between local media venues and their counterparts in developed countries and counter their narratives that sometime target the interests of countries and peoples in the region.

Saudi journalists shake hands with Youm7 officials on Nov. 26, 2018 - Al-Saudi Mahmoud

The Saudi delegation included Chairman of the Saudi New Agency Abdullah bin Fahd Al-Hussein, General-Director of the Center for Government Communication Abdullah bin Ahmed Al-Maghlouth, Editor-in-Chief of Okaq newspaper Jamil bin Obaid al-Dhiyebi, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Hayat newspaper Saud al-Rayes and many others.

The delegation emphasized the importance of media cooperation between the two countries, also calling for a unified Arab vision and utilizing journalism in the development of regional countries.

Another judiciary delegation visited the Ministry of Justice to meet with prestigious judges, as Egypt is one of the first countries worldwide to establish judicial institutions.
In March, the Crown Prince also visited Cairo Opera House, Al-Azhar and St. Mark Cathedral.

11/27/2018 6:59:45 PM
<![CDATA[5 rights Saudi women acquired in a year]]>
Recently, the kingdom has witnessed a great advancement in women rights which started by giving women the right to drive and allowing them to work as drivers on different applications inside the kingdom.

Additionally, Saudi females have been granted the right to attend matches in stadiums since January and are now able to join the army and General Intelligence.

Furthermore, in September, the Custodian of the two Holy Mosques gave an order to draft a law against sexual harassment.

Thanks to Bin Salman, Saudi females have become decisions makers, as they started participating in the academic, social and political life and took part in the municipality elections as voters and elects in August 2018.

Needless to say, Saudi women play an influential role in developing the kingdom, being members in the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia, participants in different international and regional delegations of the kingdom and diplomats who represent Saudi Arabia abroad.

“There is no difference between men and women in Islam; they are the same.Almost half the habitants of Saudi Arabia are women.Women pay the same sum of money that men pay; thus they should get the same rights,” the crown prince said in one of his interviews.

He also assured “I support Saudi Arabia; Saudi females are almost half of the inhabitants so I support them.”

Bin Salman also said that women are not obliged to travel with a custodian as long as she is safe.

11/27/2018 6:34:07 PM
<![CDATA[Missions of Egyptian-Saudi joint entities ]]>
The Egyptian-Saudi Business Council

The council aims at identifyingbusiness opportunities, boosting trade and expertise exchange as well as joint investments, putting forward recommendations to improve the business environment and remove obstacles, and settling commercial disputes amicably.

According to Arab News, trade exchange between both countries is worth $6.2 billion. Saudi Arabia has 1,000 Egyptian investments worth $1.1 billion. Joint investments in Saudi Arabia and Egypt are 300 and 2,900 in the value of $1.4 billion and $27 billion, respectively. The Saudi share of joint investments in Egypt is $5.7 billion.

The council will convene in parallel to the crown prince’s visit to Cairo.

The Supreme Saudi-Egyptian Coordination Council

The council ensures coordination between both countries on the leadership level.

The Saudi-Egyptian Joint Committee

The mission of the committee is to facilitatecooperation, and pavethe way for agreements and memoranda of understanding among the governmental sectors in both countries.

11/27/2018 3:08:02 PM
<![CDATA[Egyptian-Saudi summit to be held in Cairo within hours]]>
MBS's visit to Cairo is the second since he assumed the post of crown prince in June 2017.In March 2018, he paid a three-day visit to Cairo and concluded a flurry of bilateral agreements involving billions of dollars in investment projects.

The Kingdom is deemed the largest Arab investor in the Egyptian market and the second largest foreign investor in general with 11 percent of total foreign investment in Egypt, according to latest statics.

Egyptian Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar said that MBS's visit will expand the economic relations between the two countries.

"There is no doubt that the visit will contribute to the realization of the two governments' vision to increase the volume of trade," Nasser said in a statement on Monday.

"The warm reception of the Saudi crown prince in Cairo reflects the Egyptian leadership's support to the kingdom against the ongoing media war that Riyadh has been facing recently," said Egyptian parliamentarian.

Soliman Wahdan, House of Representative's undersecretary, manifested that Egypt appreciates the Saudi support in difficult times, especially since the Jan. 2011 revolution.
"MBS's visit to Cairo is an important step to boost the strategic relations between the two countries," Wahdan said in a press statement Tuesday.

The Saudi crown prince arrived in Cairo Nov. 26 for a two-day visit. He is expected to hold bilateral talks with Egyptian President Sisi and discuss recent developments in the region.

11/27/2018 12:46:44 PM
<![CDATA[MBS' reception in Cairo reflects Egypt's support to Riyadh: MP]]>
Soliman Wahdan, House of Representative's undersecretary, manifested that Egypt appreciates the Saudi support in difficult times, especially since the Jan. 2011 revolution.

"MBS's visit to Cairo is an important step to boost the strategic relations between the two countries," Wahdan said in a press statement Tuesday. He further stressed that the Riyadh-Cairo relationship is "unique".

Egypt and Saudi lead the Islamic world against Iranian and western plots which seek to divide the region, according to Wahdan's statement.

"Cairo-Riyadh's strong ties bring stability to the Arab region," he added.
The Saudi crown prince arrived in Cairo on Nov. 26 for a two-day visit. He is expected to hold bilateral talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and discuss recent developments in the region.

11/27/2018 12:08:16 PM
<![CDATA[Historical photos of King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud's visit to Egypt ]]>




In the framework of celebrating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman's visit to Egypt, Egypt Today presents King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud's photos during his visit to Egypt in 1946.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received on Monday,Nov. 26 Bin Salman upon his arrival at Cairo International Airport. The Saudi crown prince is paying a two-day visit to Egypt as part of his Arab tour.

He is planned to hold talks with President Sisi on ways to boost bilateral relations as well as on political issues of common concern in light of the strategic partnership binding the two countries.

Egypt's Sisi receives Saudi Crown Prince - Press photo

In the same context, Head of the Media Syndicate Hamdy al Konaysi on Tuesday Nov. 27 underlined the depth of relations between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Konaysi added in a statement that the Egyptian State and people are supporting Saudi Arabia in the face of conspiracies that are plotted by the powers of evil seeking to undermine the Saudi security and stability.

He urged the Egyptian media people to be aware of the plot against the Arab nation and to defend the Arab causes.

Additionally, Saudi writer Meshaal Aba Al Wadaa Al Harbi said that Egyptian-Saudi relations in the era of Egyptian President Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi get stronger day by day.

In his editorial that was published in the Kuwaiti "Al-Seyassah" newspaper Nov.13, Harbi said that ties between Cairo and Riyadh are time-honored and eternal.

It is etched in the memory of all Egyptians that Saudi Arabia backed Egypt in its war against Israeli in 1973 after it cut off oil supply to countries supporting Israel, topped by the United States, he added.

Additional Report with MENA ]]>
11/27/2018 12:02:24 PM
<![CDATA[What next for France's 'yellow vest' protest movement?]]>
The movement sprang up spontaneously last month against hikes in car fuel taxes, with supporters donning the luminous safety vests that are mandatory in all French vehicles.

Backed by people in small towns and the countryside where most get around by car, it has snowballed into a wider movement against President Emmanuel Macron's alleged bias towards the rich and big cities.

After nationwide road blockades that have left two people dead in accidents, last weekend's violent demo in Paris symbolised a perceived gulf between urban elites and "left-behind" provincial France.

Supporters' goals are amorphous. Many complain they barely scrape by and get scant public services in exchange for some of the highest tax bills in Europe.

Some want to reverse Macron's tax cuts for the rich while others want more measures to help the poorest.

Many have called on the business-friendly president, a former investment banker, to resign.

Broad church

France has a long history of protest movements which have flared and waned, opposing everything from fuel taxes to gay marriage.

Analysts say what makes the yellow vests unusual is the way their movement has coalesced without leaders, organised via social media.

They also hail from diverse social and political backgrounds, though the government has blamed far-right supporters for the violence on the Champs-Elysees.

As a broad church, it stands in contrast to another spontaneous movement that spread across France in 2016, "Nuit Debout" or "Up All Night", which was leftist.

"There are people who voted for the (far-right) National Rally, but also lots of people who don't vote and people who voted for Macron," said Danielle Tartakowsky, a professor of contemporary history at Paris 8 university.

Can protests last?

For now, the yellow vests enjoy wide public support: a poll last week showed around 70 percent of respondents found the protests justified.

A first day of action on November 17 saw some 300,000 people turn out nationwide to man roadblocks, with sporadic protests continuing through the week.

But last Saturday only about 100,000 took part, prompting suggestions that the protests are on the wane.

"The movement could well disappear by attrition," said Jerome Saint-Marie, head of research agency Pollingvox.

"If next Saturday there are only 50,000 people, it's over," he predicted.

But what began as what Saint-Marie called a "spontaneous and horizontal" movement has now indicated it is seeking to become more organised.

The yellow vests announced Monday that they are nominating an eight-person delegation to negotiate with the government.

"There is clearly a will to organise themselves. What remains to be seen is how Emmanuel Macron will respond," said Tartakowsky.

Political costs

Macron came to power vowing to restore trust in politics, but the protests have brought widespread anger over his pro-business policies and perceived elitism to the streets.

With approval ratings languishing at around 30 percent, many protesters regard him as arrogant and out of touch with people living modest lives in provincial France.

His government attempted to head off the protests this month by announcing a series of measures to help poorer families pay the bills, but to no avail.

Macron is set to address the nation Tuesday, insisting he will push on with making France's economy greener but promising to make the transition less painful for the poor.

But no major policy announcements are expected -- and no reversal of the controversial fuel tax hikes, with more set to come in January.

Analysts say Macron faces a tricky balancing act in listening to people's anger while bringing an end to road blockades that are hitting businesses in the run-up to Christmas.

"I don't see how Emmanuel Macron can give in without major political costs," Sainte-Marie said.

Whatever becomes of the yellow vest movement, he said: "What this movement has given birth to -- this dissatisfaction and anger with government policies and with Emmanuel Macron -- will not go away quickly."]]>
11/27/2018 10:59:43 AM
<![CDATA[Planned Saudi-Egypt causeway project is under consideration: Saudi Transport Min]]>
This came during his participation on a panel discussion held on the sideline of the 22nd round of Cairo International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technology (ICT 2018) kicked off on Sunday at Egypt International Exhibitions Center.

Al-Amoudi added that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are currently discussing the project.

He also stated that the kingdom is more concerned with achieving the road safety procedures and that a system was applied to monitor road violations.

A system has been implemented to monitor and track the movement of trucks throughout the Kingdom, Al-Amoudi also said.

11/27/2018 1:03:40 AM
<![CDATA[Qatari opposition reveals ‘suspicious’ reconstruction plans in Iraq ]]>
Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani discussed with Iraqi Speaker of the House of Representatives Mohamed al-Halbousy Qatar’s funding for the country’s reconstruction projects that can be assumed by Iran.

The website uncovered that Al Thani suggested putting the Islamic-State-freed areas under the control of Iran-backed militias, and that Halbousi welcomed “Qatar’s suspicious participation in Iraq’s reconstruction.”

The website unveiled that a secret visit by Halbousi to Doha took place without indicating the timing saying that he agreed to a proposal for Iraq to join a coalition comprising Qatar, Iran, Turkey, and Syria. The website described the offer as an attempt to dissociate Iraq from the Arab World.

11/26/2018 6:04:00 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt renews rejection as Tunisia moves toward changing inheritance laws]]>
Egypt's Mufti ShawkiAllam stressed that granting women equal inheritance rights as men violates Islamic Sharia (law), adding that Islamic scholars throughout the ages have agreed that granting both genders equal inheritance rights contradicts with the Islamic instructions.

In Islam, Ijtihad (independent reasoning) is not employed where Qur'an and Hadith are considered unambiguous with regard to the matter in question, Allam said.

Azhar, Essibsi

The initiative was launched by Tunisian President BejiCaedEssibsi in August 2017, in his speech during the National Women's day.

During his speech, he called on amending a publication released by the Ministry of Justice in 1973 that bans Tunisian Muslim women from marrying non-Muslims, and also called on establishing equality between men and women in terms of inheritance.

In the same month, Egypt’s religious authority, Al-Azhar, subsequently announced rejecting the religious decisions declared by Essibsi.

Abbas Shouman, the deputy chief of Al-Azhar Islamic institution, commented on the suggestionin a Facebook post saying that it is unjust and against the provisions of the law of Islam, explaining that the “inheritance is divided in verses of peremptory significance and could not be changed,” and not granting lesser rights to women than men.

The cleric also added that inheritance is one of those few topics that were explained in details in the Holy Quran and it was commonly approved by the scholars of Islam in past and present.

In August 2018,Essibsi said he will submit a bill to parliament through which women and men can be granted equal inheritance rights.On Friday, the Tunisian cabinet approved the law, making Tunisiathe first Arab country to take such step.

Egyptian law follows an interpretation of the Islamic law, in which a man inherits double the share of a female in some cases, while in some cases, women can take equal share as men or can take more than whatmen take in other cases.


Despite Egyptian Islamic institutions' remarks, inheritance equality between men and women, which Tunisia calls for, has stirred some sort of controversy in Egypt.

The presenter of “90 Minutes” program, Mohamed el-Baz, said that women’s status nowadays differs from that in the prophet’s period as women today contribute more to societies and are breadwinners.

Baz added that equality between men and women in inheritance does not contradict with God’s decree as it is no longer suitable for the conditions of today's community.

“Nobody can change the Qur’an’s verses regarding inheritance. We will preserve the holy text, but it will not come into effect as it is no longer appropriate for the community nowadays,” he remarked.

In the same context, a member of Egyptian Parliament's Social Solidarity Committee, Mohamed Abu Hamed, said that inheritance equality in Egypt is a very complicated issue as the religious discourse should be renewed for inheritance equality to be applied.

On the other hand, MP Shoukry al-Gendy of the Religious Committee of Endowments and Religious Affairs, said that the Qur’an’s texts on the inheritance for men and women are very clear, and all Muslims should obey God and his prophet, referring that such calls are void.
11/26/2018 3:12:17 PM
<![CDATA[Sheikh Zayed backed Egypt throughout history: Shokry]]>
The minister delivered a speech in the Sheikh Zayed Centenary Celebration held on Monday by Al Ahram Regional Institute For Journalism and the Emirati embassy. Shokry praised the United Arab Emirates for its achievements on the regional and international scales.

The minister displayed the key points in history where Sheikh Zayed backed Egypt since the Tripartite Aggression in 1956 through the Six Day War defeat in 1967 until Egypt achieved victory in 1973. Prior to October 6 War, United Arab Emirates led a campaign to cut oil supplies to the United States of America and other countries backing Israel.

Post-war, Sheikh Zayed contributed to the reconstruction and development of the country. Shokry affirmed that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates still work closely to achieve prosperity for their peoples and preserve the region’s stability against terrorism.

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan became ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1966 while Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum was ruling Dubai since 1958. In 1971, both princes founded the United Arab Emirates.

Sheikh Zayed was the president till his death in 2004, and Sheikh Rashid was the vice-president until he died in 1990. In 1979, Sheikh Rashid also became the prime minister of the country. Sheikh Zayed was born in May, 1918.

11/26/2018 2:31:11 PM
<![CDATA[EXCLUSIVE: Tharwatel-Kherbawy speaks about future of MB in Egypt]]>
In anexclusive interview with Egypt Today, Kherbawy answers many questions about the Muslim Brotherhood, that is believed to be behind some terror attacks in the country, although the group is no longera partofthe current political scene.

Many Muslim Brotherhood members abroad have adopted atheism and other sinful thoughts, according to some reports; what do you think about that?

The Muslim Brotherhood is currently witnessing an unfamiliar state of moral turbulence.

Once the group members knew the truth, and discovered that their leaders were behind what happened in Rabaa square, many standards of what these young Muslim Brotherhood members had believed in collapsed, making it is easier for them to be driven to atheism.

It was revealed that the Muslim Brotherhood leaders did not mind to accept many things the young members thought the group rejected. It was normal after all these changes for the group's young members to adopt atheism, or violence and terrorism, and to join the Islamic State (IS) and al-Qaeda.

Some of the Egyptian employees in the Muslim Brotherhood media channels abroad say they want to return to their homeland; how will you comment on that?

It became clear to the Muslim Brotherhood's youth that their leaders were using such channels only for their interests. The Qatari funding to these channels only reach certain persons and leaders, while the Muslim Brotherhood youth abroad found that they are unable to live; they have been caught in a trap that they do not know how to get out of.

Those who were handed sentences in absentia by the Egyptian judiciary will not seek to return to Egypt and do not want to leave Turkey, as Qatar sends them monthly salaries.

On the other hand, members in Turkey who have not been charged with any crimes want to return to Egypt. Some of them realized that the Muslim Brotherhood's ruling of the state was a big mistake.In case they want to return,they need to rehabilitated;also psychiatrists, scientists and thinkers have to make sure that each of them has become a real citizen who has feelings of belonging to Egypt.

In fact, most of them want to return because life has become hard for them.If they come back,they will play a very bad role in Egypt.

What about the current disputes inside the Muslim Brotherhood entity?

There are numerous splits and problems and very big disputes inside the Muslim Brotherhood,the strongest since the dispute that took place after Hassan al-Banna's murder concerning his successor. The current dispute is the biggest across the history of the group.Such disputes led to the formation of many Brotherhood groups, not only one group.

I think that over 80 groups left the Muslim Brotherhood group. Some of the group members decided to completely isolate themselves from working with the group, some joined the IS, while others formed terrorist groups that use violence against state institutions.

Do you think that continuing the Arab boycott to Qatar can force the latter to stop funding the Muslim Brotherhood?

No, not at all, because Qatar's role in funding the Muslim Brotherhood is not related to the boycott.The money Qatar pays goes through certain channels so it can reach the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey,and the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters in London or America.

This is done through some companies. Financing sometimes does not come directly from the Qatari central bank; it can come instead from Qatari transnational companies located in Qatar or other countries including Germany, England or America. These are big companies which play a big role in this financing.

What about the efforts of the international community to combat terrorism; can it stop Qatar from financing terrorism?

No. Qatar is just following the instructions of Britain and America. Qatar is controlled by the British intelligence, and the US political administration. The international community will not besiege terrorism and will not play a role in confronting it because it benefits from its existence. America will not take any action against Qatar, as the U.S.directs Qatar to its own policy.

How do you see the future of the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey in light of the crisis Erdogan's regime is facing?

The Muslim Brotherhood always damages the place where they exist. We saw what happened in Egypt, and we still suffer from its consequences until now, and in Qatar, where they also exist, the Arab boycott has been imposed,while in Turkey, an economic crisis has occurred.

In my opinion, Erdogan's regime will not last more than two years. Erdogan and his party will subsequently end, and thus the Brotherhood will be strangers, especially as there are signs that the Turkish authorities hate the existence of the Brotherhood in their country.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi recently called on Al-Azhar to correct wrong interpretations of the Islamic texts; how do you think such misinterpretations can be corrected?

The young people of Al-Azhar were raised on ideas that oppose enlightened ideas, and therefore, they cannot give what they do not have; they do not have the ability to innovate.

It is known that the religious reform movements in the world throughout history, even in the time of the prophets, did not come from within the religious circle prevailing in societies at the time; it always came from outside this circle, and of course carried a different vision.

Sisi also said that the image of Muslims in the West has become distorted to a great extent; what do you think about that?

We are indeed distorting the image of Islam in the whole world, as we turned Islam from the religion of mercy, affection and guidance to a religion that calls for war, fighting and sword, while this second form is not the true Islam. There must be a great enlightenment movement from great thinkers to correct this false image of Islam before the whole world. We already have the National Council to Combat Terrorism and Extremism, but it did not do anything.

Does the Salafi ideology have something to do with distorting the image of Islam?
Yes, it is one of the biggest reasons behind such phenomenon. The Salafi movement believes in ideas that rational people can never believe in. There are people speaking in a way that can be thought as Islamic, although even animals refuse to believe in what they are saying.Watching a follower of such movement coming out to say that girls can be fit for marriage while they are still in their mothers' wombs, and that their fathers can make a marriage contract for them, these are things that are inconsistent with the human instinct.

The Salafist Al-Nour (light) Party, I call it the "darkness party." It should have been closed a long time ago.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil
11/26/2018 2:16:37 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt chairs Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization]]>
The Mining Sector in Egypt

Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek al-Mulla said that mining laws and regulations in Egypt do not match international standards. As a result, foreign investors have refrained from entering the sector so it has been deprived of international expertise for decades. Another challenge cited by the minister is informal mining.

The ministry targets that the mining sector contributes to the GDP by two percent after completing certain reforms in collaboration with different state institutions. In 2018, an international firm was hired to set a strategy that would rehabilitate the sector finishing the first phase. That consists of comparative studies and action plans encompassing draft law amendments and capacity building.

The Cabinet has issued a primary approval of mining amendments put forward by the ministry. “The Arab World is home to the third of world’s minerals,” Mulla stated.


Saudi Minister of Energy, Industry, and Mineral Resources, and former chair of the organization Khaled al-Faleh said that Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are geologically related which offers precious opportunities for mutual cooperation in the mining sector.

The minister stated that the Arab World has a variety of mineral resources, and that its countries must take advantage of that since the mining sector feeds basic, and transformative industries being an essential component of all goods used in daily life.

Faleh urged the Arab countries to double their efforts to develop the mining sector by creating an environment favorable for investment, and strengthening the economic integration among them. “We passed a milestone in the support for Arab coordination and exchange of expertise in the mining sector,” Faleh said.

As energy is part of the mining sector, Secretary General of the Arab League Ahmed Abou El Gheit stressed that the need for energy has been increasing worldwide to meet development needs. The secretary general highlighted the importance of adopting efficient strategies in the sector representing an economic pillar and a drive for development in many Arab countries.

11/26/2018 12:32:11 PM
<![CDATA[Palestinian factions praise Egyptian efforts to achieve partnership ]]>
The commission called for the continuation of the Egyptian side'sendeavors to end the intra-Palestinian rift and fulfill the Palestinian reconciliation.

The Palestinian commission urged Cairo to host a meeting for all the concerned parties so as to directly implement the necessary mechanisms to achieve unity and partnership.

During a meeting on Nov. 25, the commission discussed challenges faced bythe Palestinian issue, most notably the so-called Deal of the Century and the importance of restoringnational unity and resisting the Israeli settlement.

Palestinians have no optionsbut uniting together against one enemy and restoring national unity.

On Sept. 26, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his residence in New York on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session.

Sisi stressed the importance of resuming the negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis to reach a just and comprehensive resolution based on a two-state solution in accordance with the international treaties, presidential spokesman Ambassador BassamRadi stated.

On the other hand, Netanyahu praised Egypt’s role and efforts in fighting terrorism in the Middle East.

Netanyahu wrote on his Twitter account that his talks with Sisifocused on “regional developments”. He did not add any details.

Cairo is continuing its strenuous efforts with Palestinian officials to reach a number of understandings regarding the reconciliation process between Fatah and Hamas, a reliable source affirmed in August.

The efforts, according to the source, are aiming to stand on a united national Palestinian vision that provides a suitable and decent life for Palestinians.

Moreover, the source stressed the importance of coordinating with the international community to provide the necessary support for the establishment of development projects that will provide a safe environment for Palestinians and guarantee continuous development in Palestine.

In Oct. 2017, the rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah signed a preliminary reconciliation deal in Cairo in the presence of Egyptian intelligence officials.

The source also pointed out that as an outcome to the understandings reached between Hamas and Fatah, Cairo will be witnessing a series of meetings between Egyptian, Fatah andHamas officials in order to reach a national consensus regarding all the debatable issues for the sake of Palestinians.]]>
11/26/2018 11:32:24 AM
<![CDATA[Northern Irish DUP says will vote against May's 'pitiful' Brexit deal]]>
The pledge to vote down the deal was made by party leader Arlene Foster at the end of her Democratic Unionist Party's annual conference at which members gave standing ovation to key May rival Boris Johnson's proposal to begin preparations for a "no deal" Brexit.

"We will vote against it if its brought to parliament," Foster told Ireland's RTE television in an interview from the conference, in her most direct comments on the issue to date.

May's divorce treaty and accompanying political declaration are due to be endorsed in Brussels on Sunday by May and the other 27 EU leaders.

But Foster's comments further complicate May's already daunting challenge to get enough votes to pass the deal in parliament.

Dozens of members of her own party have indicated they will not support the deal and the opposition Labour party plans to vote it down.

While the DUP's 10 members of parliament are subject to a 'confidence and supply' deal signed last year last year to back her minority government, Foster said they would not vote with the government and would consider scrapping the deal if the agreement somehow passes.

The withdrawal treaty's 'backstop' provision could align Northern Ireland more closely with the EU than the rest of the United Kingdom if no other way can be found to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

Foster's pro-British party fears the provision, if implemented, could one day threaten the province's place in the UK altogether.

The backstop "will put Northern Ireland under swathes of EU laws with no say for anyone in Belfast or London (and create) a trade border down the Irish Sea," deputy DUP leader Nigel Dodds told the conference.

"The published Withdrawal Agreement portrays a pitiful and pathetic place for the United Kingdom," he added, saying it would be "locked into an EU straitjacket, divided and diminished."

The comments were echoed by Johnson, who received a rapturous applause from the delegates, saying Britain would be left as a "satellite state" by the deal.

May has said the EU will not renegotiate and that Britain could face a hugely disruptive "no deal" Brexit if it does not take the deal on offer.

Foster said to regain the DUP's support May would have to remove the Irish protocol from the legally binding withdrawal agreement, something the EU has repeatedly made clear it will not countenance.

The Irish border issue should be in the the non-binding political declaration instead, she said.

If parliament votes down May's deal that will trigger renewed negotiations rather than an election or another referendum, she said.

Earlier Foster told the Times newspaper that a government led by the Labour Party's Jeremy Corbyn - a longtime sympathiser with the DUP's arch rival Sinn Fein - might be preferable to the deal.]]>
11/25/2018 10:15:00 PM
<![CDATA[Republican senators split with Trump over murdered Saudi journalist]]>
Trump vowed last week to remain a "steadfast partner" of Saudi Arabia and said it was not clear whether Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman knew about the plan to kill Khashoggi last month at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.

The president cast doubt on the CIA assessment that Crown Prince Mohammed ordered Khashoggi's killing, telling reporters that the agency had not formed a definitive conclusion.

"I disagree with the president's assessment. It's inconsistent with the intelligence I've seen," which implicates the crown prince, Republican Senator Mike Lee said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

He cited the Khashoggi killing as another reason why he has pushed against helping Saudi Arabia's war effort in Yemen.

The United States on Nov. 15 imposed economic sanctions on 17 Saudi officials for their role in the killing of Khashoggi and senators from both major U.S. parties introduced legislation that would suspend weapon sales to Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi and for its role in Yemen's civil war.

Democratic U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, who is in line to become chairman of the House Intelligence Committee when Democrats regain control of the chamber in January, has promised investigations on the Khashoggi case as well as whether Trump's personal financial interests are dictating his Saudi policy.

"Look, the president is not being honest with the country about the murder of Jamal Khashoggi," Schiff said on CNN's "State of the Union" program. "What's driving this?"

Khashoggi, a Washington Post columnist and critic of the crown prince, was killed Oct. 2. Riyadh initially denied knowledge of Khashoggi's disappearance, then offered contradictory explanations.

"I do think we need to look into this further," Republican Senator Joni Ernst said on CNN.

Ernst acknowledged Saudi Arabia's importance as a strategic partner.

"However, we also are a very strong nation when it comes to human rights, when it comes to the rule of law," Ernst said.

"And if there are indicators that the prince was involved in this murder then we need to absolutely consider further action."

Senator Ben Sasse, a frequent Trump critic, criticized Trump's stance on Khashoggi's killing as weak.

"Making the realist case is a different thing than being so weak that we failed to tell the truth, Sasse said on "Fox News Sunday." Crown Prince Mohammed "contributed to murdering somebody abroad and it is not strength to sort of mumble past that. Strength is telling the truth even when it's hard."

Other Republican senators, including Lindsey Graham, Rand Paul and Bob Corker, have been unsparing in their assessments of Saudi Arabia's involvement in Khashoggi's killing.

"I never thought I’d see the day a White House would moonlight as a public relations firm for the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia," Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Twitter after Trump's comments on Tuesday.
11/25/2018 9:16:39 PM
<![CDATA[All you need to know about Cairo ICT's sub-conferences]]>
Under the slogan "Driving Transformation", Cairo ICT 2018, will be held from November 25 to 28 under the auspices of President Sisi for the fifth year in a row.

The president's support of the ICT sector in Egypt comes as part of the state's plans that aim at improving citizens' lives by using the latest technology systems to advance the efficiency of government services, including education, health, transport and other sectors.

The "digital transformation" is on the agenda of the exhibition, especially in light of the government's keenness to mechanize services and facilitate citizens' access to these services.

The organizer of the Cairo ICT 2018 revealed that three conferences on digital transformation, transportation technology and education will be hosted for the first time on the sidelines of the ICT 2018.

p  (4)
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurates the 22nd round of the Cairo International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technology (ICT 2018) on November 25, 2018 - Press photo/Egypt Today

Digital transformation

Entitled "dot-gov MEA", the summit of governments for digital transformation will be held with the participation of several African countries. It is set to include extensive discussion sessions on the future of governments in the Middle East and Africa following the implementation of digital transformation and the development of the public sector in Egypt within the framework of Egypt's national 2030 Plan.

African countries participating in the conference include Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Côte d'Ivoire, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, Senegal and Kenya.

Practical advice will also be given to implement the concept of "smart government" to encourage citizens to communicate with the government electronically and also encourage governments to create interactive platforms to provide services. The platforms will also enable the government to speak with industry experts to get more opportunities for investments into digital transformation.

p  (9) President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurates the 22nd round of the Cairo International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technology (ICT 2018) on November 25, 2018 - Press photo/Egypt Today

Transportation technology

The Smart Transportation Fair and Forum for the Middle East and Africa, named "Trans MEA 2018", will address several topics related to the digital development of the infrastructure of transportation means and roads, based on Artificial Intelligence.

The conference will also include talks on ways to automate public and private transport systems, support electronic payments, and maintain passenger safety depending on technology.

The Cairo ICT's official website said that the Trans MEA 2018 will tackle transport transformation in several fields including:

- How user-centered mobility services put travelers in control; public transport will become personal.

- How intelligent transport networks sense demand, measure performance, and monitor physical assets.

- The revolution in pricing and payment in the coming years (Digitization of tickets) and adopting e-tickets.

- Automation and safety using cognitive technology to save millions of lives on the roads and railways.

- The role of the public sector in stimulating advances and protecting citizens, and the role of private sector in new business models.

- Adopting the digital-rail infrastructure ecosystem.

- Envisioning digital multimodal networks.

- Shaping the digital rail supply chain and adopting the digital-rail infrastructure ecosystem: smart cities, smart travel, smart life.

- Envisioning a digital multimodal network: coordinated, integrated, streamlined and safe.

- Achieving network optimization and shaping the digital rail supply chain.

p  (22) President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurates the 22nd round of the Cairo International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technology (ICT 2018) on November 25, 2018 - Press photo/Egypt Today

Education fair

The Learning Technology Fair and Forum for the Middle East and Africa "LEARN-TECH MEA" will address the development of the education system based on advanced technological solutions such as Artificial Intelligence and cloud computing.

According to the ICT's official website, the LEARN-TECH MEA aims to make education "more relevant in the dynamic 21st century," saying that it will gather governments, academics, educational corporates and institutions.

The ICT sector has recently regained its place on the global map. Data, reports and international ratings have indicated Egypt's strong return as an attractive destination for investment and a leader in outsourcing, IT and cross-border services.

A recent report by Gartner said Egypt, Russia Alba, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, Russia and South Africa are the best venues that offer outsourcing services.

The report touched upon advantages of Egypt in providing cross-border services, given its high-skilled workers and competitive prices, not to mention its strategic geographical location.

Egypt has a strong communications infrastructure, the report said, adding that it has 17 maritime cables connecting it with the rest of the world.

p  (29) President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi inaugurates the 22nd round of the Cairo International Exhibition and Conference on Telecommunication and Information Technology (ICT 2018) on November 25, 2018 - Press photo/Egypt Today
11/25/2018 5:38:35 PM
<![CDATA[British parliament obtains documents prove Facebook data misuse]]>
The documents are claimed to include confidential emails between senior executives, and correspondence with Zuckerberg.

According to The Guardian, Damian Collins, the chair of the culture, media and sport select committee, invoked a rare parliamentary mechanism to compel the founder of a US software company, Six4Three, to hand over the documents during a business trip to London.

FILE PHOTO: A Facebook panel is seen during the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, in Cannes, France, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

In another exceptional move, parliament sent a serjeant at arms to his hotel with a final warning and a two-hour deadline to comply with its order. When the software firm founder failed to do so, it’s understood he was escorted to parliament. He was told he risked fines and even imprisonment if he didn’t hand over the documents.

“We’ve failed to get answers from Facebook and we believe the documents contain information of very high public interest,” said Collins.

The British parliament has been in a bitter battle with the social media giant, which raised concerns about limits of British authority over international companies that now play a key role in the democratic process.

Facebook, which has lost more than $100 billion in value since March when the Observer exposed how Cambridge Analytica had harvested data from 87 million users in US only, faces another potential PR crisis. It is believed the documents will lay out how user data decisions were made in the years before the Cambridge Analytica breach, including what Zuckerberg and senior executives knew.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is surrounded by members of the media as he arrives to testify before a Senate Judiciary and Commerce Committees joint hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., April

MPs have repeatedly tried to summon Zuckerberg to explain the company’s actions, and he has repeatedly refused. Collins said this reluctance to testify, plus misleading testimony from an executive at a hearing in February, had forced MPs to explore other options for gathering information about Facebook operations.
“We have very serious questions for Facebook. It misled us about Russian involvement on the platform. And it has not answered our questions about who knew what, when with regards to the Cambridge Analytica scandal,” he said.

The documents seized were obtained during a legal discovery process by Six4Three. It took action against the social media giant after investing $250,000 in an app. Six4Three alleges the cache shows Facebook was not only aware of the implications of its privacy policy, but actively exploited them, intentionally creating and effectively flagging up the loophole that Cambridge Analytica used to collect data. That raised the interest of Collins and his committee.

A Facebook spokesperson said that Six4Three’s “claims have no merit, and we will continue to defend ourselves vigorously”.
11/25/2018 5:08:30 PM
<![CDATA[Environment Min. inaugurates development of Ras Muhammad National Park]]>
The International Union for Conservation of Nature is scheduled to announce the protected areas that are listed in the Green List of Protected and Conserved Areas.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisipreviously confirmed that the Egyptian Constitution set strong bases for preserving natural resources.

In the inauguration ceremony of the 14th Biological Diversity Conference,Sisi added that Egypt outlined a development track thataimsat achieving sustainable development and social justice.

He asserted that Egypt is paying great attention to biological diversity to achieve sustainable development and that Egypt has been workingon preserving its natural resources for the coming generations.

“Egypt is aware of the value of biological diversity as a basic factor for achieving sustainable development and preserving the natural resources for the coming generations”, he said.

“Since the dawn of history, man has realized the importance of biological resources and their role in achieving prosperity,” Sisi stated.

Egyptwill work with all parties to guarantee the success of the conference through achieving its goals, preserving the biological diversity on earth.

During her speech at the conference,Minister of Environment Fouad stated that Sisiis the first Egyptian president to attend such conference on the Egyptian land

Fouadadded that Egypt officially received the chairmanship of the conference for the two coming yearsthanks to the president's support for ecological issues to guarantee a clean environmentfor the Egyptian people.

Fouadpointed outthat Africa enjoys the richest biological diversity.

The Egyptian political leadership will work in the two coming years onoutlining a road map for sustainable development in an effort to stop the deterioration of biological diversity, she added.

She explained that theministry managed to stop pollution of lakes in Egypt, such as ManzalaLake, and to protectthe River Nile against pollution.

The conference is scheduled to last for four days; it was preceded by several African ministerial meetings that discussed its work plans.

Egypt is the first Arab and African country to host that conference. "The event is the biggest international conference in the field of preserving ecological and biological diversity," read the Egyptian presidency statement.

The conference aims toenhancecooperation and partnership toboostawareness about the importance of biological diversity, statedthe presidency spokesman.

The Conference on Biological Diversity, chaired by Egypt, is one of the largest United Nations conferences.

During the conference, Egypt is set to launch an initiative to promote the use of ecosystems, to better handle the shortage in biodiversity, climate change and land degradation.

In the same context, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification Monique Barbut said in her speech that ecological crises are linked to food security.

She warned of the bad impact of climate change on a massive area of the world, pointing out that losing agricultural lands causes the loss of 3 percent of the gross domestic product in Africa.

Furthermore, Environment Minister Fouad underlined the efforts exerted by Egypt to draw up roadmaps that go in harmony with the United Nations agreements.
11/25/2018 12:52:05 PM
<![CDATA[ Islamic cultural centers to be inaugurated to face extremism]]>
He added that the ministry closed all parallel entities spreading the ideology of political Islam,pointingout that the ministry replaced these entities with Islamic cultural centers.

Taya pointed out that senior professors of Al-Azhar, who are known for their knowledge in Islamic sciences, are teaching in these centers, andthat students must be universitygraduates with the desire and willingness to doIslamic studies.

The Ministry of Endowments launched an initiative to combat extremism and terrorism in Europe where hardliners are increasing.

The ministry will inaugurate soon an international academy for training clerics in foreign languages. These clerics will widen the ministry’s influence across the world.
Egypt is about to renew the religious discourse after all mosques have been placed under the Awqaf’s authority, according to Mohammad MukhtarJumaa, the minister of awqaf (endowments).

The religious discourse can often be brought up in public spheres of life with religious figures commenting on politics and the day-to-day happenings. Whilst this is common in every religion, in recent years, Egypt has been faced with a wave of terrorism and radical, extremist thought.

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has repeatedly called for renewing the religious discourse as part of the war against terrorism. In order to curb extremist ideology that was often preached by extremist figures, mosques needed to be put under the Ministry of Awqaf’s jurisdiction.

Jumaa said that the first stage of renewing religious discourse was the ‘purification stage’ before taking control over the minbar. This meant purifying the minbar of extremists who spread violent ideas among citizens.

“There used to be very important mosques outside the control of the ministry, such as AsadIbn al-Forat Mosque, Aziz bellah Mosque and Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque in Alexandria,” said Jumaa.

Although putting them all under the control of the ministry is difficult, today all mosques in Egypt are under the control of the Ministry of Awqaf, the minister added.

In his interview with Mohamed el-Baz on the TV show "90 minutes", Jumaa added that a number of laws were issued regarding the renewal of religious discourse for the sake of restoring the ministry’s minbars from the tight grips of extremists. “All mosques have been recovered from the hands of extremists,” Jumaa said.

“We have established an international training academy and we have allocated LE 40 million to spread the message abroad and to restore the role of Egypt in protecting Islam,” referred Jumaa.

According to the report, "The International Religious Freedom in Egypt" released by the US Department of State in 2016, President Sisi called on scholars to renew religious discourse to combat extremist ideology. Sisi has repeatedly stressed that defeating terrorism is on top of his priorities and renewing religious discourse is one way to do that.

On July 17, 2017, metro fatwa kiosks were set up in Cairo’s metro stations by Al Azhar to offer religious advice to commuters on a daily basis. This was an attempt to combat extremist ideology by simplifying religious messages for the public, as per a previous article from Egypt Today.

Novelist and Socio-political research, Ammar Ali Hassan, wrote an article titled “A New Religious Discourse” in Al Ahram Weekly, saying that “Islam has been hijacked.”
Many do argue the same believing that terrorism and extremism led to new thoughts being spread via mosques that are not directly under the control of the ministry.

However, according to Dostor, MP Mohammed Abu Hamid, a member of the House of Representatives, said that Al-Azhar, with its current thinking, is incapable of leading the way towards renewing the religious discourse.

Many have spoken about renewing religious discourse, such as artist Mohamed Abla, who called for discussing the matter at the Arab Ministers Culture Conference.

“Before the Arab Ministers Culture Conference convenes in Cairo, we must tell them that the most important issue to be addressed is the renewal of religious discourse,” said Abla.

He clarified that renewing religious discourse is not completely the responsibility of Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry. Abla believes that this is also the responsibility of intellects.

Abla pointed out that it is important to discuss the radical changes that are happening in Arab countries because these changes have a lot to do with culture and values which impact a person’s thought.

11/25/2018 11:44:27 AM
<![CDATA[‘Yellow vest’ protesters clash with police on Champs-Elysées in Paris]]>
Demonstrators wearing the yellow, high-visibility vests that symbolise their movement threw projectiles at police preventing them from moving along the famed shopping avenue, which was decked out in twinkling Christmas lights.

They also built barricades in some spots, and tore down traffic lights and street signs, creating riotous scenes reminiscent of France's 1968 civil unrest, or street insurrections in the mid-19th century immortalised in paintings and movies.

Police arrested 130 people, 69 of those in Paris, and 24 people were injured, five of them police officers including one who suffered burns to his groin, the city police department and Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said.

Elsewhere, protesters took over highway toll booths to let traffic pass for free, or held go-slow vehicle processions, underlining one of their core complaints of escalating taxes on car fuel, especially diesel.

Macron, targeted by protesters' calls that he resign, took to Twitter to thank police.

"Shame" on those who assaulted or intimidated citizens, journalists and politicians, Macron said. "There is no place for violence in the (French) Republic."

Calm returned to the streets of the capital after midnight on Saturday, with the Champs-Elysees reopening to traffic.

The clean-up operation also got under way as garbage trucks were deployed and workers removed barricades along the famous avenue.

Smaller than a week ago

The violence was on a smaller scale than a week ago when the "yellow vest" movement staged its first nationwide protest.

"We're not here to beat up cops. We came because we want the government to hear us," said one protest spokeswoman, Laetitia Dewalle, 37, adding that the largely spontaneous movement denounced "violence by pseudo-protesters" on the fringes.

"We have just demonstrated peacefully, and we were teargassed," said Christophe, 49, who travelled from the Isere region in eastern France with his wife to protest in the capital.

The interior ministry counted 106,000 protesters across France on Saturday, with 8,000 in Paris, of whom around 5,000 were on the Champs-Elysees.

That was far less than the national tally of 282,000 in the November 17 protests.

Castaner said after the tumult died down that damage on the Champs-Elysees was "small".

The French government cast blame for the unruly protests on far-right politician Marine Le Pen, claiming she egged them on.

But Le Pen rejected that accusation saying she had "never called for any violence whatsoever" and in turn accused the government of "organising the tension" and seeking to make her a scapegoat.

Meanwhile, opposition parties on both the right and left accused the government of trying to reduce the protests to just the sporadic scenes of violence, and turning a deaf ear to the demonstrators' grievances.

Jean-Luc Melenchon, leader of the radical left France Unbowed party who attended a separate march Saturday protesting violence against women, tweeted that the action on the streets was "a mass protest of the people" which signalled "the end for Castaner".

Rural frustrations

A week ago, two people died and over 750 people, including 136 police officers, were injured in sometimes violent demonstrations that have shone a light on frustrations in many rural areas and small towns of France.

The "yellow vests" hail overwhelmingly from non-urban areas of France. They feel overlooked and penalised by policies they see as being pushed through by elitist politicians in Paris.

Former investment banker Macron was elected on a pledge to put more money in workers' pockets. But the effects of his pro-business reforms on unemployment and purchasing power have been limited so far.

Many of the often low-income "yellow vest" protesters are particularly incensed at his decision to hike anti-pollution taxes on diesel, while scrapping a wealth tax on the rich.

"I'm not just fighting against the price of fuel. It's about tax, what we pay," protester Catherine Marguier told AFP near the village of La Gravelle in northwest France.

Meanwhile, in a separate protest in the southern city of Marseille, police fired teargas at bottle-throwing demonstrators upset by the "gentrification" renovation work on the town's biggest square. Around 1,200 demonstrators took part and two were arrested.

'Gap between rich and poor'

Revolts against taxes have been a feature of French public life for centuries. Citizens still pay some of the highest in Europe as a percentage of GDP, and fuel-price protests are a common modern occurrence.

Previous rounds pitting the government against drivers took place in 1995, 2000, 2004, and 2008, often when tax increases coincided with high oil prices -- as they have this year.

A poll by the Odoxa research group for Le Figaro newspaper this week found that 77 percent of respondents described it as "justified".]]>
11/25/2018 11:35:41 AM
<![CDATA[Europe heads off Gibraltar spat to save Brexit summit]]>
Spain's Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez withdrew a threat to boycott Sunday's Brexit talks just hours before Britain's Theresa May arrived in Brussels.

May met European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and EU Council President Donald Tusk, even though diplomats say the agreement is ready.

In his letter formally inviting the leaders of all 28 EU member states to Sunday's summit, Tusk said the deal reduces "the risks and losses resulting from the United Kingdom's withdrawal".

Later, he tweeted words from Freddie Mercury, frontman of band Queen, who died 27 years ago: "Friends will be friends, right till the end."

Ahead of May's arrival, however, diplomats had scrambled for an unexpectedly intense final round of discussions.

Spain insisted on keeping a veto over future changes to EU ties with the British territory of Gibraltar, which neighbours Spain and which it has long claimed.

Then Britain issued a statement saying it would continue bilateral talks with Spain after Brexit on March 29, 2019 -- and Sanchez relented.

"I have just announced to the King that Spain has reached an agreement on Gibraltar," he told a news conference, adding: "Spain has lifted the veto and will vote in favour of Brexit."

He claimed Britain had given ground, saying both countries "are going to have to talk about co-sovereignty".

However, May told reporters after her meeting with Juncker: "The UK's position on the sovereignty of Gibraltar has not changed and will not change.

"I am proud that Gibraltar is British and I will always stand by Gibraltar."

- EU unity -

According to Tusk's letter, the withdrawal agreement protects citizens' rights and the Northern Ireland peace process, while ensuring Britain will keep paying EU dues during a transition period.

Alongside this, EU leaders will also approve a short political declaration Tusk said would act as a roadmap for negotiations after Brexit to "build the best possible relationship with the UK".

He emphasised that "at this critical time, the EU27 has passed the test of unity and solidarity".

In legal terms, Spain's disapproval would not have halted the divorce settlement.

But it would have been an embarrassing split for EU leaders who have proved remarkably united in the painful 17-month negotiation.

On Friday, Sanchez insisted that Madrid holds a veto over the fate of Gibraltar, a rocky outcrop home to a port and around 30,000 people, in post-Brexit negotiations.

"If there's no agreement ... there very probably won't be a European Council," he declared, referring to the summit.

On Saturday, London said it would not use the withdrawal agreement as cover to cut short its dialogue with Spain.

"For the withdrawal negotiations, given there are some circumstances which are specific to Gibraltar, we held talks with Spain which directly involved the government of Gibraltar," May's spokesman said.

"These were constructive and we look forward to taking the same approach to the future relationship."

Any future relationship negotiated between London and Brussels will have to be approved by all remaining member states -- giving Spain a de facto veto further down the line.

- Titanic mistake -

A European source said the published minutes of Sunday's summit meeting would include language stressing the importance of Britain maintaining a level playing field for business during the 21-month post-Brexit transition.

The summit will also give the European Council the lead over the Commission in negotiating future ties -- in part to reassure Madrid that its voice will be heard before any final settlement.

May will still have to sell the deal to the British parliament, an even greater political challenge.

Many of her own Conservative MPs oppose the deal, as does Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which props up her government.

At the DUP's annual conference in Belfast on Saturday, May's former foreign minister Boris Johnson said the Brexit deal was a "historic mistake".

"The Titanic springs to mind and now is the time to point out the iceberg ahead," he said.]]>
11/25/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[UN grants sanctions exemption for Korea railway survey]]>
The two Koreas last month agreed to start the survey no later than late October and to hold the groundbreaking ceremony sometime between late November and early December, as the countries pursue a reconciliation drive.

But the possibility of the project running up against UN sanctions imposed on North Korea over its nuclear programmes has caused delays.

"It is significant that this project has received support from the United States and international community", said Kim Eui-Gyeom, spokesman for the presidential Blue House in Seoul.

Railway experts from both sides will criss-cross the country on survey trains together, Kim said in a statement, adding that the process will "bring inter-Korean cooperation to a new level".

Yonhap news agency said the South was expected to bring fuel for train locomotives, and other unspecified materials for the survey in the North.

Delivering fuel to North Korea could potentially have been in breach of a UN cap limiting imports to 500,000 barrels a year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday any inter-Korean rapprochement had to move forward "in tandem" with efforts to denuclearise the peninsula, and could not come sooner.

US president Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a historic summit in Singapore earlier this year, signing a vaguely worded deal on denuclearisation.

But since then, talks on denuclearisation have stalled, with meetings either deemed unproductive, pushed back or cancelled altogether.

The US and South Korea have launched a working group to make sure that they don't "talk past each other", Pompeo said, as Seoul and Pyongyang appear to be moving ahead with their rapprochement more quickly than Washington and the North are making headway on nuclear disarmament.

A second leaders' summit is expected to take place in early 2019, according to Washington.

In the meantime, North and South Korea have made several concrete decisions on reconciliation and exchanges.

But the implementation of cross-border projects such as the reconnection of railways have been hamstrung by the lack of progress in denuclearisation talks.]]>
11/24/2018 2:22:43 PM
<![CDATA[US climate change report warns of severe damage to health, economy]]>
The congressionally mandated report, written with the help of more than a dozen U.S. government agencies and departments, outlined the projected impact of global warming on every corner of American society in a dire warning that is at odds with the Trump administration’s pro-fossil-fuels agenda.

“With continued growth in emissions at historic rates, annual losses in some economic sectors are projected to reach hundreds of billions of dollars by the end of the century - more than the current gross domestic product (GDP) of many U.S. states,” the report, the Fourth National Climate Assessment Volume II, said.

Global warming would disproportionately hurt the poor, broadly undermine human health, damage infrastructure, limit the availability of water, alter coastlines, and boost costs in industries from farming, to fisheries and energy production, the report said.

But it added that projections of further damage could change if greenhouse gas emissions are sharply curbed, even though many of the impacts of climate change - including more frequent and more powerful storms, droughts and flooding - are already under way. “Future risks from climate change depend primarily on decisions made today,” it said.

The report supplements a study issued last year that concluded humans are the main driver of global warming and warned of catastrophic effects to the planet.

The studies clash with policy under President Donald Trump, who has been rolling back Obama-era environmental and climate protections to maximize production of domestic fossil fuels, including crude oil, already the highest in the world, above Saudi Arabia and Russia.

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said the new report was “largely based on the most extreme scenario, which contradicts long-established trends by assuming that...there would be limited technology and innovation, and a rapidly expanding population.”

The government’s next update of the National Climate Assessment, she said, “gives us the opportunity to provide for a more transparent and data-driven process that includes fuller information on the range of potential scenarios and outcomes.”

Trump last year announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the 2015 Paris Deal agreed by nearly 200 nations to combat climate change, arguing the accord would hurt the U.S. economy and provide little tangible environmental benefit. Trump and several members of his cabinet have also repeatedly cast doubt on the science of climate change, arguing that the causes and impacts are not yet settled.

Environmental groups said the report reinforced their calls for the United States to take action on climate change.

“While President Trump continues to ignore the threat of climate change, his own administration is sounding the alarm,” said Abigail Dillen, president of environmental group Earthjustice. “This report underscores what we are already seeing firsthand: climate change is real, it’s happening here, and it’s happening now.”

Previous research, including from U.S. government scientists, has also concluded that climate change could have severe economic consequences, including damage to infrastructure, water supplies and agriculture.

Severe weather and other impacts also increase the risk of disease transmission, decrease air quality, and can increase mental health problems, among other effects.

Thirteen government departments and agencies, from the Agriculture Department to NASA, were part of the committee that compiled the new report.]]>
11/24/2018 2:21:14 PM
<![CDATA[Taiwan elections seen as test for ruling pro-independence party]]>
The results will be closely watched in China, which claims self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan as its own and which has ramped up pressure on President Tsai Ing-wen and her administration since taking office in 2016.

In the run-up to the election, Tsai and her government have repeatedly said China is attempting to sway election results with its “political bullying” and “fake news”, accusations Beijing denies.

“It’s nice weather today, I hope everyone votes,” Tsai told Taiwan media as she cast her vote in the capital Taipei.

More than 11,000 seats are up for grabs in municipalities, counties, townships and villages, with the southern city of Kaohsiung a key battleground for the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which has held the city for two decades.

Polling stations reported long lines of people waiting to vote. Clear, warm weather in Taipei, after a rainy few days in the run-up to the vote, could bolster turn out.

Candidates have fanned out across the island to press the flesh and canvass votes, and have held noisy, colourful rallies that have become the hallmarks of Taiwan’s vibrant democracy, in marked contrast to China where the Communist Party tolerates no dissent to its rule.

Tensions across the Taiwan Strait have heightened with China conducting military drills around the island and snatching away Taiwan’s dwindling number of diplomatic allies.

Tsai’s domestic reform initiatives, from the island’s pension scheme to labour law, have also come under intense voter scrutiny recently.

Confidence in the government has waned in recent months after reform moves upset both the opposition and some supporters, who said Tsai had backed away from promises to reduce the deficit and cut pollution.

Underscoring Tsai’s challenge will be a series of public votes on Saturday on whether to make same-sex marriage legal, an issue which has deeply divided Taiwan.

“This is a small step for myself, but a big step for mankind,” Chi Chia-wei, a veteran gay rights activist who had petitioned Taiwan’s constitutional court to take up the issue, told Reuters after he voted.

Tsai has made little progress despite campaigning on a promise of marriage equality in the run-up to elections in 2016.

In Asia’s first such ruling, Taiwan’s constitutional court declared in May last year that same-sex couples had the right to legally marry, and set a two-year deadline for legalisation.

Voters will also be asked whether the island should join the 2020 Tokyo Olympics as Taiwan, rather than “Chinese Taipei” - the name agreed under a compromise signed in 1981.

A vote to compete under a Taiwan banner would further rile Beijing, which has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

Results for the mayoral and local elections are expected to be released mid-evening, while the referendum votes may not come out until the early hours of Sunday morning, according to election officials.]]>
11/24/2018 2:19:43 PM
<![CDATA[UN Yemen envoy pushes rebel chief on talks ahead of Hodeida visit]]>
Martin Griffiths, who arrived in the rebel-held capital Sanaa on Wednesday, is pushing for negotiations early next month in Sweden to help end years of conflict that have left Yemen facing famine.

The diplomat's visit to Hodeida on Friday is aimed at encouraging Iran-aligned Huthi rebels and government forces backed by a Saudi-led coalition to keep a lid on hostilities ahead of the talks in Stockholm, a UN source said.

The conflict in Yemen, which escalated when the Saudi-led alliance intervened in 2015, has killed thousands and left up to 14 million Yemenis at risk of starvation according to UN agencies.

Both sides have in the past week expressed support for the envoy's mission to hold discussions, and violence in the Red Sea city of Hodeida has diminished despite intermittent clashes.

The port city has a crucial role as the entry point for nearly all of the country's imports and humanitarian aid.

Griffiths and Yemeni rebel chief Abdulmalik al-Huthi during their meeting addressed "what can facilitate new discussions in December", rebel spokesman Mohammed Abdelsalam said on Twitter.

Abdelsalam said that included "procedures needed to transport injured and sick for treatment abroad and bring them back", a key sticking point during a previous failed attempt at talks in September.

Mohammed Ali al-Huthi, head of the rebels' Higher Revolutionary Committee and an influential political figure, said the rebels were ready for peace.

"We support peace. We are ready for peace if that is what they (the Saudi-led coalition) want," he said after also meeting Griffiths.

Humanitarian organisations are desperate to see the current peace push translate into a more permanent halt to the bloodshed.

The heads of the UN's humanitarian and children's agencies said the "recent de-escalation in fighting in Hodeida is providing a desperately needed respite to hundreds of thousands of civilians".

"We urge all parties to maintain it," a statement by Mark Lowcock and Henrietta Fore said.

- 'Fully on board' -

United States Defence Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed on Wednesday peace discussions between the Huthis and the internationally-recognised government look set for "very, very early" in December.

He said Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- which is also a key member of the military coalition supporting the loyalists -- were "fully on board".

Kuwait's Deputy Foreign Minister Khalid al-Jarallah said that the talks may happen on December 3.

He added that his country -- which is currently a non-permanent UN Security Council member -- will offer "logistical support" at Sweden's request, without elaborating.

Mattis last month made a surprise call for a ceasefire in Yemen and urged warring parties to enter negotiations within the next 30 days.

The US has been providing bombs and other weapons, as well as intelligence support, to the Saudi-led coalition backing President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi, but recently ended its refuelling support for Saudi warplanes.

The murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia's Istanbul consulate has increased scrutiny of Western support for the coalition, and ramped up pressure on Riyadh.

On Monday, Britain presented to the UN Security Council a draft resolution urging an immediate truce in Hodeida.

The draft, circulated to the 14 other council members, and seen by AFP, sets a two-week deadline for the warring sides to remove all barriers to humanitarian aid.

- UN peace efforts -

The current peace push by Griffiths is the biggest effort in two years to end the war.

In September, a previous round of UN-led peace talks faltered when the Huthis refused to travel to Geneva, accusing the world body of failing to guarantee their delegation's return to Sanaa or secure the evacuation of wounded rebels to Oman.

Previous talks broke down in 2016, when 108 days of negotiations in Kuwait failed to yield a deal and left rebel delegates stranded in Oman for three months.

A UN panel of experts has accused both the Huthis and the Saudi-led coalition of acts that could amount to war crimes.

According to the World Health Organization, nearly 10,000 people have been killed in the conflict, though some rights groups estimate the toll could be five times higher.]]>
11/23/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA['She provoked him': Colombia struggles to convict murderers of women]]>
Only 17 convictions have been handed down since Colombia introduced a law in 2015 that defines and punishes the killing of a woman because of her gender - known as femicide - as a specific crime, a study released on Thursday found.

Most killings were carried out by former boyfriends or husbands, and sentences ranged from 10 to 49 years in prison, according to the study by U.N. Women and Colombia's National University.

"The biggest challenge we have is to increase conviction rates," Mario Enrique Gomez, a state prosecutor, said at a conference on combating gender violence in the capital, Bogota.

"It is imperative to believe the voices of women and girl victims."

United Nations figures show that globally in 2012, nearly half of murdered women were killed by a partner or ex-partner. This compared to one in 20 for men.

Studies show Latin America is home to 14 of the 25 countries with the world's highest rates of femicide, and many women accept violence as a normal part of life, campaigners say.

Earlier this year Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, called for lawmakers to protect women and spoke out against the "machismo" culture in Latin America.

The report also found attitudes among state prosecutors and society-at-large are stifling efforts to get more and tougher convictions for femicide.

Almost a quarter of 88 judges and prosecutors interviewed said Colombia's femicide law had done little to change perceptions that often condone the crime, such as "she provoked him", "he loved her too much" or male jealousy.

In addition, women who report being victims of domestic violence are motivated by revenge, nearly half of 21 prosecutors who deal with the crime told researchers.

Gomez said Colombia needs to combat rising rates of domestic violence to prevent femicide. One in 10 women who are murdered had previously filed reports of domestic violence, he said.

"The most important thing is to end the culture of impunity," Ana Guezmes Garcia, head of U.N. Women in Colombia, told the conference, describing violence against women as a "worldwide pandemic".]]>
11/23/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trade volume between Egypt, Bulgaria amount to $1 billion: Amb.]]>
Dalie said that Bulgaria is looking forward to cooperating with Egypt in many vital fields, especially in the fields of investment and energy, as well as combating illegal immigration and terrorism.

The relations between the two countries began nearly a century ago. The two countries exchanged diplomatic representatives at the consular level in 1925;then at the commission level four years later, and exchanged ambassadors in 1957.

Diplomatic relations between Egypt and Bulgaria were cut for the first time when Bulgaria decided to go to the Second World War with Germany. The relations were then restored in 1947.

Relations had been interrupted again upon Egyptian late President Anwar al-Sadat's orders in 1978 due to tensions, before they were restored in 1984.

Dalie said in an earlier interview with Diplomatic Spectrum published in September 2018 that Bulgaria's trade with Egypt is even bigger than the trade of Bulgaria with some European countries.

He said that the two countries witnessed a 41 percent increase in the trade balance compared to 2016, adding that Bulgaria's exports to Egypt increased by 26 percent, while Bulgaria's imports from the North African state increased by 54 percent.

Dalie explained that there are Egyptian companies operating in Bulgaria in various realms, adding that numerous Bulgarian companies are also keen on investing in Egypt.

Concerning tourism, Dalie asserted that Egypt is among the most favorite places for Bulgarian tourists. He said that the number of tourist exchange between the two countries increased, adding that flights from Bulgaria's capital of Sofia to the Red Sea city of Hurghada significantly increase every year.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met Thursday with the Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in Sofia. During the meeting,Shoukry stressed the aspiration of the Egyptian side to strengthen Egyptian-Bulgarian relations at all levels.

The two officials also discussed the importance of deepening the economic cooperation amid the high trade exchange between the two states, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez said.

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received on October 23, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov only one month after they met in New York on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA).
11/22/2018 6:48:16 PM
<![CDATA[Muslim Brotherhood members adopt ISIS ideology in prison ]]>
“After five years of dealing with Muslim Brotherhood in prison since the ousting of Mohamed Morsi, I can divide MB members into four sections,” he said revealing that the first section possesses the same ideas and convictions, the second section tends to be more extreme and more violent, the third one started to accept the fact that the group should handle its situation with the government and the fourth wants to get out of prison after repentance.

He said that prisons repress extremists but do not deal with extremism, adding that " extremists may come out after a while, and prisons should turn into hospitals that deal with extremism.”

On September 23, Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld a court ruling putting prominent Muslim Brotherhood leader and businessman Hassan Malek and 55 other MB members on the list of terrorist entities.

On August 30, Cairo Criminal Court put the MB members on the terrorist list over accusations of damaging the Egyptian economy by smuggling foreign currencies and financially supporting terrorist groups.

In 2015, the attorney general referred Malek and other defendants to the Emergency Court after he was arrested by security forces. Several members of Malek’s family were also added to the terror list endorsed by Cairo Criminal Court in December 2017.

The defendant was born into a Muslim Brotherhood family, but he does not view himself as a leader in the Islamist group, according to Malek's statements during his interrogation by the prosecution. However, in 2006, he was sentenced to seven years in prison for being a leader of the group, which organized a militant-style demonstration at Al-Azhar University at the time.

He was pardoned, along with famous Brotherhood leader and businessman Khairat al-Shater, in March 2011 by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

The businessman’s work was versatile, but mainly revolved around manufacturing/selling conservative attire for women and computers. He is also a business partner of Shater, who intended to run for president in 2012 but was legally excluded due to his 2006 conviction.

Egypt designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group in 2014.

11/22/2018 6:01:21 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt slams AI's statement on children torture in Egypt ]]>
The government's SIS denied AI's allegations stating that the Egyptian authorities have secretly abducted 12 children at least, and have tortured six of them. The SIS commented on two of the cases, which AI mentioned details about in its Tuesday statement.

The SIS said that "the stories AI relayed in the statement were not based on well-grounded sources," adding that "the lawyers of the two defendants did not officially submit a claim that they were tortured, and did not request to be examined by the forensic medicine authority as dictated by the law in such cases."

The SIS also denied AI's forced disappearance allegations mentioned in the statement, saying that "no reliable evidence was provided to validate such claims."

The SIS named one of the two children it said it would address, saying that he is under 15 years old, and therefore he was placed by the prosecution under observation in a legal juvenile observation center, and not in an ordinary prison.

The SIS denied any violations committed by the Egyptian authorities concerning the detention period of the juvenile defendant, saying that the case is "still under investigation by the State Security Prosecution (Not the Military prosecution) and that the juvenile and other defendants have not been referred to court yet."

It also referred to article 119 of the Child's law of 1996, concluding that a child"may not be placed under preventive custody for more than a week; however, the court responsible for preventive custody may extend the juvenile’s detention in a legal observation center with the same guarantees stipulated by the criminal procedures law for preventive custody before the prosecution refers the case to the competent court."

The SIS also revealed that the defendants face charges of "tracking military and police Armored Personnel Carriers for terrorist groups in Northern Sinai," adding that a defendant's elder brother is also indicted in the same case.

Regarding the second child named by the AI, the SIS explained that the prosecution accused the defendant of "joining a terrorist organization that plotted and executed violent attacks," which he committed after turning 15.

The SIS referred to articles 111, and 122 of the child's law, concluding that the law has made an exception that "allowed the Criminal Court and the State Security Court to prosecute a defendant if he is above 15 years of age at the time of the perpetration of the crime, and if he fully colluded in the crime with an adult."

It also explained that law does not apply all penalties to juveniles and has exempted them from life imprisonment and capital punishment; "the law also set the maximum punishment for a child to imprisonment."

SIS urged Amnesty International "in its capacity as a large and prominent organization to be more accurate while relaying allegations of human rights violations in Egypt," and not to take part in what the SIS called "systematic politicized smear campaigns" which aim to "damage the image of the Egyptian state" locally and globally.

7 NGOs funded to issue false reports on Egypt: HR Comm.

CAIRO – 9 March 2018: Chairman of the parliamentary committee for human rights Alaa Abed claimed Friday that seven NGOs and some human rights organizations receive funding from foreign intelligence agencies to publish false reports about the general situation of Egypt and to tarnish the country before international public opinion.

11/22/2018 2:51:02 PM
<![CDATA[Hepatitis C campaign’s phase 2 includes Cairo, to start in December]]>
The second phase will include 11 governorates, including Cairo, North Sinai, Red Sea, Ismailia, Suez, Kafr el-Sheikh, Menoufia, Beni Suef, Sohag, Luxor, and Aswan. The second phase is set to end late in February 2019.

In October, Zayed said that a campaign to test people for Hepatitis C would run from October 1 to the end of April 2019, stressing that patients would receive treatment for one to one and a half year to announce Egypt free from the blood-borne disease by 2020 or 2021. The initiative was launched by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

Concerning the first phase of the campaign, Khaled Megahed, the Health Ministry spokesman said about 10 million citizens were examined for Hepatitis C within 90 days. Zayed revealed that 422,000 people of the total number of people examined tested positive for Hepatitis C.

She earlier said that the tests revealed that 4.5 percent of the examined citizens as part of the campaign’s first phase tested positive for Hepatitis C.

The first phase of the campaign was carried out in nine governorates including Alexandria, Damietta, Qalyubia, Port Said, Marsa Matrouh, South Sinai, Beheira, Fayoum and Assiut.

In 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that at least one in 10 Egyptians aged between 15 and 59 are infected, adding that the virus kills an estimated 40,000 Egyptians a year due to lack of awareness.

Hence, the government has been making strides to combat hepatitis C by launching the national anti-HCV program across Egypt to eliminate the hepatitis C virus (HCV) under the directive of President Sisi. The efforts of the campaign were recognized by the WHO in 2016 during a visit by WHO Director-General Margret Chan.

Since the launch of the program, 1.4 million citizens infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) have been treated, and the government is still looking to fully cure 1.5 million more during 2018.
11/22/2018 1:46:50 PM
<![CDATA[Madbouli reveals outcome of meetings with Algerian, Ethiopian PMs]]>
Madbouli said that his meeting with Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia touched on a number of regional and international issues of common concern. The meeting also stressed Algeria's full support for Egypt during its presidency of the African Union.

The two officials also discussed the importance of working to advance and strengthen the relations between the two brotherly countries in all fields, especially the economic field, as the volume of Egyptian investments in Algeria amounted to $3.6 billion, according to Madbouli.

Concerning his meeting with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Madbouli said they discussed means of supporting and developing bilateral relations between the two countries to reach a level of partnership in all fields. The two officials also agreed on the importance of working to meet the hopes and aspirations of the Egyptian and Ethiopian peoples, and to preserve the two countries’ water-related interests.

The meeting also discussed enabling Egyptian experts to contribute to the Ethiopian plans in the fields of urban planning, and development of roads. The two officials also agreed on the importance of working to activate the tripartite investment fund, and organizing a meeting soon in Cairo between the governors of the central banks in the two states.

High-level delegations from Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia met on July 3-4 in Cairo's Central Bank headquarters to discuss establishing a joint fund for investment and developmental projects related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam.

The talks addressed all topics concerning establishing the fund, its goals, body, administration and budget.

The joint developmental fund will establish projects related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Sudanese Foreign Minister Osama Faisal.

Activating the fund will positively impact the relation between Egypt and Ethiopia, and will enhance mutual cooperation between the three states, said Khaled Abu Zeid, director of the water resources program in the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE).

Abu Zeid added that the fund will also have a positive impact on the path of negotiations around the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam, which is under construction.
11/22/2018 11:41:34 AM
<![CDATA[US, South Korea scale back military exercise]]>
"Foal Eagle is being reorganized a bit to keep it at a level that will not be harmful to diplomacy," Mattis said, adding that it would be "reduced in scope."

US and South Korean forces have been training together for years, and routinely rehearse everything from beach landings to an invasion from the North and even "decapitation" strikes targeting the North Korean regime.

But personal insults and threats of war between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un were replaced last year by a rapid diplomatic rapprochement.

In April, citing a "fresh climate of detente and peace" on the peninsula, Kim declared the nuclear quest complete and said his country would focus on "socialist economic construction."

The thaw culminated in a historic summit in Singapore in June, where the leaders signed a vaguely-worded document on denuclearization of the peninsula.

Washington and Seoul have since suspended most of their major joint exercises -- characterized by Trump as expensive and "very provocative" -- including Ulchi Freedom Guardian in August and Vigilant Ace, slated for next month.

But little other progress has been made, with the US pushing to maintain sanctions against the North until its "final, fully verified denuclearization" and Pyongyang condemning US demands as "gangster-like."

- 'Double game' -

Earlier in November Pyongyang threatened to "seriously" consider returning to a state policy aimed at building nuclear weapons if Washington did not end its tough economic sanctions.

And last month, the North's state media carried a near 1,700-word commentary accusing the US of playing a "double game", implicitly criticizing Trump for his comments aimed at barring Seoul from lifting sanctions against Pyongyang.

Despite a flurry of diplomacy on and around the peninsula differences are emerging between Seoul and Washington, which stations 28,500 troops in the South to protect it from its nuclear-armed neighbor.

The South's doveish president Moon Jae-in has long favored engagement with the North, which is subject to multiple UN Security Council sanctions over its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.

He has dangled large investment and joint cross-border projects as incentives for steps towards denuclearization, while the US has been adamant pressure should be maintained on Pyongyang until it fully dismantles its weapons programs.

Pompeo on Wednesday defended the US strategy on the peninsula, noting that North Korea had halted missile tests and has not conducted a nuclear test in over a year.

"And I do hope there'll be a summit between the two leaders early in 2019," he said in an interview with KCMO radio.

Trump has also said he hopes to have a second meeting with Kim early next year, but talks between Pompeo and a top North Korean official, partly to prepare for the meeting, were cancelled.

The US said the North axed the talks because they weren't ready, and Trump insisted he was in "no rush."]]>
11/22/2018 4:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump rows with US Supreme Court chief of courts bias claim]]>
He singled out the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, whose jurisdiction includes left-leaning California, tweeting that its rulings "are making our country unsafe! Very dangerous and unwise!"

Earlier, Chief Justice John Roberts, who rarely makes political statements, rebuked criticism of the courts by Trump, insisting that the judiciary is "independent."

Responding to complaints by Trump that judges appointed by Democratic presidents act against the current White House, Roberts told the Associated Press: "We do not have Obama judges or Trump judges, Bush judges or Clinton judges."

"What we have is an extraordinary group of dedicated judges doing their level best to do equal right to those appearing before them," Roberts said.

"That independent judiciary is something we should all be thankful for," the chief justice added in a brief statement.

Trump, who is on holiday in Florida, fired back on Twitter.

"Sorry Chief Justice John Roberts, but you do indeed have 'Obama judges,' and they have a much different point of view than the people who are charged with the safety of our country," he wrote.

He said that "a vast number" of cases concerning his controversial priorities, like a harsh crackdown on illegal immigration, had been overturned. "Please study the numbers, they are shocking," Trump wrote.

- 'Disgrace' -

The row came one day after Trump criticized a federal judge who temporarily blocked the administration from its decision to deny the right to political asylum applications for people who enter the country illegally.

US District Judge Jon Tigar in San Francisco issued a temporary restraining order against the Trump move, which comes as a large group of Central American migrants, frequently described by Trump as dangerous, is heading on foot for the US southern border.

On Tuesday, Trump lashed out at the judge's ruling, calling it a "disgrace."

"This was an Obama judge, and I'll tell you what, this is not going to happen anymore," Trump said. "People should not be allowed to immediately run to this very friendly circuit and file their case."

"We will win that case in the Supreme Court of the United States," Trump said.

- First time -

Trump has repeatedly attacked the judiciary when cases have gone against him in the past but this was the first time that Roberts, a conservative jurist who was appointed to the nation's highest court by Republican president George W. Bush, has responded publicly.

During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Trump attacked the Mexican-American heritage of a judge who ruled against him in a case involving Trump University.

The US federal government consists of three branches -- the executive headed by the president, the legislative comprising the House of Representatives and Senate and the judicial made up of the courts. The judiciary, especially the Supreme Court, is meant to be above the political fray.

Critics of the Trump immigration crackdown say that by restricting asylum seekers to border crossing points the government is effectively shutting the door on people who may truly be fleeing for their lives.

Trump's administration has argued that he has the executive power to curb immigration in the name of national security -- a power he invoked after taking office last year with a controversial ban on travelers from several mostly Muslim countries.

The final version of the order was upheld by the Supreme Court on June 26 after a protracted legal battle.]]>
11/22/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[What you need to know about penalties of media violations]]>
“Media irregularities include rumors, disrespect for others, insult or slander, violating private data, and violence or hatred incitement,” Shawki said.

Irregularities also include violations of the rights of women, children and people with special needs approved by the Parliament.

Shawki added that the fines imposed by the regulations range from LE 50,000 to LE500,000 according to the violation and that the fine is doubled in case of repetition.

He said that the sanctions range from drawing the attention of the violator to temporary prevention of broadcasting or temporary blocking of the violating sites or pages in case of media crimes.

It is expected that the Information Council will discuss the final regulations within a few days before submitting the regulations to the Council of State for approval.

Last July, Egypt’s Parliament passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held publishing fake news.

Article 19 of the bill states that any newspaper, media outlet or website is prohibited from publishing or broadcasting false news and encouraging or inciting, violence, hatred, discrimination between citizens, calling for racism or intolerance and violation of the law. It also prohibits slander or insult to religions. The article also applies to personal blogs or social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said that the Information Committee has committed itself to taking the opinions of the three media bodies, namely the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority.

It also took the opinions of the Journalists Syndicate, Media Personnel Syndicate, the Media Industry Chamber, and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, he added.

11/21/2018 5:30:00 PM
<![CDATA[4.5 percent of examined Egyptians tested positive for Hepatitis C: Min.]]>
This came during the minister’s visit to Fayoum governorate, which is one of the ninegovernorates included in the first stage. The campaign dubbed “100 million Health” comes as part of Egypt’s aspiration to end Hepatitis C in Egypt by 2020.

Zayed said that citizens are aware of the situation. She stressed that Hepatitis C, diabetes and obesity accounted for 70 percentof the causes of death in Egypt.

Zayed said that great efforts will be exerted to fight obesity, as it causes a lot of deadly diseases. A large campaign will be prepared to be broadcast on television, Zayed stressed, adding that the ministry will cooperation with the minister of higher educationto be able to implement the campaign inside universities.

About 10 million citizens were examined for Hepatitis C within 90 days, Khaled Megahed, the Health Ministry spokesman said, adding in an interview with Al-Nahar on Monday that preliminary results showed that 400,000 people tested positive for the blood-borne virus.

He said that patients are directed to get free treatment. He revealed that 6,000 citizens receive the treatment weekly, adding that the ministry is looking forward to sending treatment to 20 -25,000 patients per week.

In October, Health Minister Zayed said that the campaign would run from October 1 to the end of April 2019, stressing that patients would receive treatment for one to one and a half year, to announce Egypt free from the blood-borne disease by 2020 or 2021.

Citizens above 18 years of age of both sexes will be targeted during the first phase, she pointed out, explaining that they will test for hepatitis C, diabetes and hypertension. Height and weight of citizens will also be measured for obesity as part of the campaign which will provide free treatment, Zayed reiterated.
11/21/2018 1:59:20 PM
<![CDATA[U.N. praises Chad and Uganda for integrating refugee pupils]]>
About 4 million child refugees were out of school in 2017, the U.N.'s cultural agency, UNESCO, said, which meant they not only lost their right to education but that host nations also missed a chance to integrate people from different communities.

"Experience suggests that the inclusion processes have been very positive," said Manos Antoninis, director of UNESCO's annual Global Education Monitoring Report.

"The longer (refugees) stay separate, the more they feel alienated," he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Wars, persecution and other violence drove a record 68.5 million people from their homes in 2017, the majority uprooted inside their own countries while 25 million were refugees, according to the U.N. refugee agency.

World leaders agreed in New York in 2016 to ensure that all refugee and migrant children receive education within a few months of arrival in a host country.

But asylum-seeking children in Australia have limited access to education, Rohingya in Bangladesh can only attend separate, non-formal schools, and many refugees in Africa are confined to camps, making it harder to get jobs afterwards, UNESCO said.

"The hope is that in the future governments all over the world will be more reluctant to exclude refugees and put them in separate schools," said Antoninis.

Only six in 10 refugee children were enrolled in primary school and one in four in secondary school last year, UNESCO said.

Uganda, which hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa at 1.4 million, brought humanitarian and development agencies together this year to create mixed schools for refugees and host communities, it said.

Chad, which hosts some 450,000 refugees, has developed a temporary education plan for refugees while it adapts the national system to include them, a first in Africa, UNESCO said.

The government has sent Chadian teachers to refugee camps to ease the transition, and this year converted 108 refugee schools into regular public schools that will also benefit locals, said Antoninis.

It has also trained teachers from among the refugee population to be able to teach in Chadian schools, he said.

But education remains a low priority in many places where people have fled conflict, experts said.

"During emergencies, education is not given the attention it deserves as a life-saving intervention," said Euloge Ishimwe, a spokesman for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Africa.

"Many people do not know that education in emergencies ... brings about a sense of normalcy and hope that in itself can empower communities to protect themselves from harm."]]>
11/21/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[UK invests in Egypt’s future generation with new education agreements]]>
The Al-Azhar MOU will enable positive religious voices and leadership in Egypt and the world. Building on Al-Azhar’s historic role at the heart of Islamic learning and the British Council’s longstanding work in English Language training at Al-Azhar and across Egypt, the Religious Studies Scholarship renews and deepens the UK and Egypt’s partnership for the 21st century.

The Minister also announced the funding of Her Majesty’s Government for a UK-Al-Azhar scholarship for the academic year 2019/2020. The scholarship allows Al-Azhar students to pursue their dreams of completing PhDs in the UK’s leading universities.

The British Minister also participated in an engaging interfaith dialogue with Muslim and Christian leaders, aiming to bridge cultural gaps and open the doors to multicultural religious discussions.

Minister of State and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon said: “I am pleased that the UK and Al-Azhar are taking their partnership forward. With this MOU, the UK renews its commitment to this country’s future leaders and invest in tomorrow’s generations, who will play an active role in building their country.”

British Ambassador to Egypt Sir Geoffrey Adams said: “The UK is proud to support Al-Azhar’s historical role in educating young religious leaders who aim to spread the humanitarian values of peace and tolerance, and to combat the evil of terrorism.”

Elizabeth White, director of the British Council in Egypt, said: “We are proud of our partnership with Al-Azhar which has been running for more than ten years – indeed we were even teaching at the institution in the 1940s. By engaging with this prestigious Islamic institution we can help its students engage in global conversations about Islam and religion through the use of the English language.”
Minister of State and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Undersecretary of Al-Azhar Saleh Abbas Saleh - Press photo
Minister of State and the Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Freedom of Religion or Belief Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Undersecretary of Al-Azhar Saleh Abbas Saleh - Press photo

11/20/2018 4:11:30 PM
<![CDATA[Tahrir’s Egyptian Museum receives guests for free on Tuesday]]>
During the ceremony organized by the ministry on Monday at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir square, Anani said that the Egyptian Museum is the first reference to all archaeological museums in the world, as it contains over 160,000 unique and varied artifacts, noting that the museum will not be affected by the transfer of the Tutankhamun collection to Giza’s Grand Egyptian Museum, which is currently under construction.

Thepresence of as many as 31 ministers and over 34 ambassadors and cultural advisers confirms the Egyptian state's interest in history and civilization and its strong support for heritage, Anani said.

Anani said that the Antiquities Ministry began to implement a plan of development of the Egyptian Museum, which includes exhibiting antiquitiesthat will replace the collection of Tutankhamun, as about 4,500 objects were already transferred to Giza’s new museum.

The development process is funded by a grant from the European Union for a period of seven years, Anani said, adding that the plan is implemented by the Ministry of Antiquities and an association of the directors of five European museums, including the Turin’s Egyptian Museum in Italy,London’s British Museum, the Louvre Museum in Paris, and the Egyptian Museum of Berlin.

Sabah Abdel Razek, director general of the Egyptian Museum of Liberation, said Monday that the celebration of the 116th anniversary of the opening of the Egyptian Museum coincides with the presentation of rare relics of the royal tomb, Yuya and Tuya.

In an interview with al-Youm on dmc, Abdel Razek said that the archaeological collection has replaced the Tutankhamun collection, which was moved this year to the Grand Museum.

She explained that the artifacts of theYuya and Tuya tomb werecompletely discovered in 1905, about three years after the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir was officially inaugurated.

The Egyptian Museum

The Egyptian Museum is home to the largest collection of ancient Egyptian antiquities in the world. It displays 120,000 artifacts. The museum was first build in 1835 near Al-Azbakeyah Garden and in 1855 it was moved to the Cairo Salaheddin Citadel.

In 1855, the Egyptian government gave Archduke Maximilian of Austria many of the artifacts that are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna.

In 1858, following the establishment of Egypt’s Antiquities Service under the direction of French archaeologist August Mariette, a new museum was established at Boulaq's Nile bank.

But regretfully in 1878, the building suffered significant damage from the Nile River flooding. In 1892, the collections were moved to a former royal palace in Giza where they remained safe until 1902 when the museum in Tahrir Square was built.

Additional reporting by Egypt Today Staff
11/20/2018 1:39:49 PM
<![CDATA[New dispute inside Egypt's liberal nationalist Wafd party]]>CAIRO – 20 October 2018: Problems continued to emerge in the New Wafd Party even after the new leader of the party took post on March this year. Since the last days for the term of the party’s former Chairperson Al-Sayed al-Badawi, Egyptian media could spot numerous disputes inside the party.

Only few days after a high-level election took place inside Egypt's 40-year old New Wafd, candidates who lost ballots announced filing grievances to the chairman of the party over the election results.

On November 11, 55 members won the party's "supreme authority elections".

The losing leaders decided to postpone their press conference scheduled for Monday, Nov. 19 to enable the party leader to receive the grievance from the court after he refused to receive it from the party secretariat.

The complaining leaders of the party own many documents proving the invalidity of the election result due to a number of violations that took place during the election process, said Yasser Qora, a member of the party's supreme authority and one of the candidates complaining about the election result.

The party decided to use all available means to convey grievance to the party leader, Qora said, adding that this is a sign ofrespect and appreciation of the history of the Wafd Party.

"Attempts aiming to obstruct the party's path"

Wafd's leader Bahaa al-Din Abo Shoka, on the other hand, said that attempts to distort the image of the party's supreme authority election is unacceptable, pointing out that the elections ran under the full supervision of the National Council for Human Rights.

In a press statement, he affirmed the transparency of the sorting process and the announcement of the final result which he said were carriedout before all candidates or their representatives,assertingthatEgyptian and Arab media also followed up on the process.

AboShoka said that there is "a very few"people who ran in the election but did not succeed; theyare trying to show there are splits within the party which he said is not the real situation.

He added that their attempts aim at obstructing the path of the party, and distorting the democratic image ofthe election.He added that the early election for the party's supreme authority came at the request of 37 members froma total of 42 during a meeting of the supreme authority on October 10.

The head of the Wafd Party said that recent attempts to issue illegitimate statements from inside the party's headquarters were "illegal" and "incompatible" with the law and regulations.

Wafd is believed to be Egypt’s oldest national liberal party and always played a significant role in the Egyptian political scene. It is sometimes called “the New Wafd Party” because it is the extension of the original one which was dismantled after the 1952 Revolution. The New Wafd was established in 1978.

Wafd’s history dates back to the beginning of party life under the monarchy, making it the oldest among existing Egyptian political parties.

11/20/2018 12:01:29 PM
<![CDATA[Putin says Russia will retaliate if U.S. quits nuclear missile treaty: agencies]]>
Putin discussed possible Russian retaliation with top Russian Defence Ministry officials and added that the Kremlin was ready to discuss the INF treaty with Washington.

The Cold War-era treaty, which rid Europe of land-based nuclear missiles, has come into question against a backdrop of renewed tensions between the West and Russia, most notably over Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and role in eastern Ukraine.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has accused Russia of non-compliance with the 31-year-old missile accord and warned it will pull out of the deal as a result. The Kremlin denies violating the pact.

NATO and Russian envoy addressed the dispute during rare talks on Oct. 31, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urging Moscow to make quick changes to comply in full with the treaty. He said Russia’s development of the land-based, intermediate-range SSC-8 cruise missile posed “a serious risk to strategic stability”.

European leaders worry any collapse of the INF treaty could lead to a new, destabilizing arms race.]]>
11/20/2018 11:08:01 AM
<![CDATA['Egypt Can 4': Resumption of developmental series in various fields]]>
This edition focuses on education as part of Egypt's 2030 strategy to achieve sustainable development by benefiting from the experiences of the Egyptian migrants, which coincides with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's announcement of 2019 as the education year.

Ambassador Nabila Makram, Egyptian minister of immigration, said that the fourth edition of the "Egypt Can" series of conferences will be devoted to education, pointing out that the conference aims to benefit from experts abroad.

In an interview with al-Hayah al-Youm, Makram said on Sunday evening that 25 professors and education experts will attend the conference.

She explained that the "Egypt Can" series of conferences also aims to link Egyptians abroad to the Egyptian state.

"Egypt Can 3"

The third edition of the National Conference was held in February in Upper Egypt's Luxor Governorate, with the participation of 23 experts from Egyptian expats who have achieved great successes in the fields of agriculture and water resource management.

Egyptian scientists abroad were invited to simplify and reach solutions for the water shortage crisis the country faces, said Makram.

The conference came out with several recommendations, most notably:

1- Using low cost irrigation techniques to improve field irrigation in the old agricultural areas.

2- Assigning the state media and educational institutions to inform citizens of the strategy of sustainable development and to disseminate water awareness.

3 - Localizing technology and industries necessary to implement the state's investment plans in the water sector.

4- Developing mobile phone applications to support farmers in increasing the efficiency of water resources management and increasing agricultural productivity.

5. Expanding the development of the use of non-conventional water resources such as dew water, seawater desalination, collecting rainwater, and treating wastewater.

"Egypt Can 2" Taa Marbouta

Former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail opened on July 2, 2017, “Egypt Can (Taa Marbouta)” conference that shed light on the role played by Egyptian women abroad.

The two-day event was organized by the Ministry of Immigration in cooperation with the National Council for Women (NCW). It came in conjunction with Sisi’s announcement of 2017 as the year of Egyptian women.

The second version came with the participation of 31 Egyptian women who have achieved great accomplishments abroad.

The most notable recommendations of the second edition were:

1 - The establishment of an association for Egyptian engineers to attract girls to work in the fields of engineering, science and mathematics.

2 - Preparing databases for experts and specialists in various fields to benefit from their expertise in achieving sustainable development.

3 - Inviting the second and third generations of Egyptians abroad to a special session to acquaint them with the efforts exerted in Egypt to develop their motherland.

4- Launching an initiative to enhance the role of media and culture in building and developing the country and establishing the values of loyalty, belonging and self-reliance.

In October, 2016, the NCW and the United Nations launched an earlier version of the “Taa Marbouta” campaign in a celebration held at the Cairo Opera House, with the aim of promoting Egyptian women’s social, political and economic rights.

Multiple Egyptian women, including Olympic champions, government officials, and activists against sexual harassment, participated in the campaign.
11/20/2018 10:55:52 AM
<![CDATA[A cleric must have a comprehensive approach: President Sisi ]]>
Criticism of Sunna Doubters

Grand Imam of al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb refuted the discourse doubting Sunna, and its tellers. He said that the idea had first appeared in India in the 19th century by individuals who were affiliated with the British Colonization, and others who ended up by either claiming to be prophets or calling for discarding Sunna altogether.

The Grand Imam asserted that many clerics concluded that Sunna constitutes 75 percent of the religion. As Sunna determines how to perform prayers, when one of those who call for deserting Sunna was asked how Muslims should pray, he replied that the ruler should develop a method for prayers. The Grand Imam stated that example expressing his dismay.

“That idea was introduced in Egypt by a doctor in Torra prison as he published two articles on the topic in Al Manar magazine harnessing support by some writers. What is common among those (individuals) is doubting tellers of Sunna, and disregarding their massive efforts,” the Grand Imam said.

The Grand Imam stressed that “Isnad theory,” which is the method in which Hadith was passed down through generations and referenced, is “exclusive to Islam” citing the praise of some “orientalists.”

“The prophet is the only one (among God messengers) whose life details were documented,” the Grand Imam affirmed. Tayeb cited a “valid” Hadith in which the prophet warned that some “rich people” would initiate in the future such calls. “That’s a miracle and a proof of his prophecy,” Tayeb concluded.

Religious Discourse Modernization

The prophet emphasized that all humans deserve a decent life regardless of their race, religion and gender, and that Quran stated that all “peoples” should understand each other, the president said. The prophet stated that “there should be no obligation in religion,” President Sisi added saying that some by contrast have adopted extremism breaching the teachings of Quran and Sunna.

“It’s important to rectify wrong (religious) concepts. Let’s restore our values embodied in tolerance, and devotion to work in order to confront those promoting extremism and terrorism,” President Sisi stressed highlighting that “development is a strategic goal of the state.”

“We need to review our cultural legacy in an illuminated way and extract what fits our life. Let’s save minds from their bewilderment, and souls from their oblivion. Let’s give up hatred, violence, and grudge,” President Sisi emphasized.

“Let’s restore the position of our homeland as a center of science and culture to all humanity, and let’s revive decency and virtue in our country,” President Sisi said.

“The current dilemma worldwide is not about following Sunna or not. It is about the wrong understanding of our religion. Are those calling for the abandonment of Sunna more wrongful than those who misinterpreted our religion? How is Muslims’ reputation globally?,” President Sisi commented in Egyptian Arabic after finishing his formal speech. The president also criticized those who label modernization calls “conspiracy.”

“Religion is about manners. I encounter bizarre things while ruling the country,” President Sisi stated questioning the absence of “honesty, respect, mercy, and work ethics.”

“The sources of knowledge influence the way of thinking. Those having religious, economic, or legal backgrounds have different ways of thinking. A cleric must have a comprehensive approach. However, clerics think in one direction,” President Sisi said.

“We train youth in the National Academy (for Youth Training and Rehabilitation) to think about all aspects of matters. You need to think about those (points),” President Sisi concluded.

The president awarded a number of clerics for their outstanding achievements in the preaching field including the muftis of Uganda, and Kazakhstan.


Minister of Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa highlighted that the prophet said that thanking people for their help and cooperation is a way of expressing gratitude to God, and that he urged Muslims to share their “blessings” with others.

The minister thanked the president for his call to modernize the religious discourse saying that such task is a dynamic process requiring the contributions of intellects and clerics.

The official highlighted that clerics distinguished the difference between religious teachings by the prophet directed to his companions, and general religious teachings whose interpretation is determined by the time, and place of a given state.

The minister revealed that the establishment of an academy to train male and female preachers is underway. The cost of the project is LE100 million ($5.6 million) and will be built over an area of 11,000 square meters in 6th of October City. It will have translation, and computer labs as well as dorms.

The official said that LE350 million ($20 million) of endowments revenues went to charity in 2018. That is double the precedent year. He explained that LE100 million were contributed to the “Decent House” initiative by the Ministry of Solidarity targeting poor families.

The same amount was donated to education, while LE25 million were used to purchase “Aman” insurance for “breadwinning women” who are in full charge of the financial responsibilities of their families. The rest was used to build residential units in rural areas including 4,920 units in Aswan governorate.

The minister handed the president copies of the most recent books published within the framework of religious discourse modernization. Those are titled “Understanding the Meaning of the Prophet’s Sunna” and “The Critical Thinking between Legacy and the Present.”
11/19/2018 3:49:08 PM
<![CDATA[MP agrees to draft law regulating commercials]]>
Din pointed out that outdoor advertisement in Egypt has become a complete mess due to the fact that individuals put advertisements up on the street without the approval of the relevant parties.

Din asked to establish a higher committee, under the auspices of the prime minister, to regulate commercials’ affairs. He assured that the lack of censorship distracts the attention of passersby, especially on the high ways, which increases the rate of accidents.

The deputy to the Transportation Committee added that the local administration approved commercials based on monetary benefits rather than other important factors. Commercials included the display of huge banners, inappropriate images, improper jokes and a way to exchange apologies among lovers, all of which are improper, he added.

Thus, setting strict definite rules and instructions are a must, Din clarified. In addition to setting standards to renew the Ads’ license and imposing harsh punishments on the companies and agencies that violate these rules and provisions.

11/19/2018 10:50:24 AM
<![CDATA[UK prepares report revealing danger of Brotherhood’s activities]]>
Kholy pointed out that that France and Germany are also reviewing the Brotherhood's status, adding that the world is recognising Egypt’s role more and more and its active efforts in protecting the region from the MB’s danger.

Kholy assured Egypt’s support to political diversity, stressing that the Brotherhood was akin to a thorn in Egypt’s development before it was plucked.

Since June 2013, the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood group targeted the Egyptian Christian community with a number of orchestrated assaults with the ultimate goal of creating an internal religious conflict between Egyptians.

The group’s leaders incited their followers, or sent their operatives, to persecute people in their homes, shops, schools, and even within the sacred confines of churches throughout the country.

According to statistics, since the beginning of the Muslim Brotherhood's full-scale campaign of terror against civilians, some 42 churches and Christian properties were attacked across Egypt, leaving tens of Egyptian Christians killed or injured and destroying dozens of churches and other valuable buildings.
11/19/2018 10:46:55 AM
<![CDATA[Toktok: Egypt's 14-year controversy ]]>
Toktoks 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.

Hamdy Arafa, a professor of local administration and consultant for the development of slums, said that the "republic" of toktoks in the North African country consists of 2.9 million toktoks, adding that only 111,000 toktoks are licensed.

This came during an interview with Wael al-Ebrashi on ON E TV on Saturday.
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.

MP Mamdouh al-Husseini, a member of the Parliament's Local Administration Committee, said that some of the toktoks' 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 tokTok'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.

During the same interview, Major General Emad Mahrous, Parliament's Transportation and Communications Committee's member, said that toktoks have become indispensable for people in some places.

Defending toktok drivers' rights, Mahrous said that toktoks have become legitimate in some of other countries, adding that the state until now allows the import of the three wheel vehicle.

A toktok is a common form of urban transportation. It is a development of the still available two-wheeled pulled rickshaw by which a runner draws a cart with a seat for one or two people. It is believed the pulled rickshaw was invented by Japan in the 19th century. Rickshaws then appeared in India, China and other big cities in Asia.

Bad record

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 toktoks so as to take the first step towards ending the phenomenon. The ministry had decided in 2014 to ban toktoks for a year as it had been used in crimes and terrorist attacks, according to the government.

In November, 2017, a toktok 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 toktok, 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 toktok collided with a passenger train in Dishna, Qena, while trying to pass a railway crossing.

The U.S. Embassy in Colombo warned its citizens who were visiting Sri Lanka in June 2017 to avoid travelling alone in toktoks after a spate of sexual harassment complaints.

"The U.S. Embassy Colombo has been made aware of an increase in incidents involving toktok drivers in the Colombo area inappropriately touching female passengers," the embassy said in a statement.

Additional reporting by Egypt Today Staff
11/19/2018 10:33:51 AM
<![CDATA[Netanyahu urges coalition partners not to bring down government]]>
Netanyahu, head of the right-wing Likud party, has been making last-ditch efforts to avoid the collapse of the government, weakened by the resignation of his defence minister. Political pundits predict a snap vote could come as soon as March, instead of November as scheduled.

"I spoke with all the coalition heads. I told them this is the time to show responsibility - don't bring down the government, especially not at this security-sensitive time," he said in televised remarks.

Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation, announced on Wednesday over what he described as the government's lenient policy towards an upsurge of cross-border violence with Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip, left the government with a majority of only one seat in parliament.

That put the fate of Netanyahu's coalition at the mercy of its partners, who have seen the four-term prime minister's popularity take a rare hit in an opinion poll that showed Israelis were unhappy with him over Gaza.

Earlier Netanyahu met with his finance minister, Moshe Kahlon of the centre-right Kulanu party, who has urged setting an early election date.

Hitting back at criticism of his decision to accept a ceasefire with Gaza's rulers Hamas, Netanyahu dropped heavy hints about a future Israeli military offensive.

"We have an entire year until the election. We are in the midst of a campaign and you don't pull out in the middle of a campaign or play politics. State security is beyond politics," he said. "I will not say this evening when we will act and how. I have a clear plan. I know what to do and when to do it. And we will do it."


Kahlon said on Saturday that governing with a one-seat majority was unsustainable.

His call was echoed by members of the nationalist Jewish Home whose head, Naftali Bennett, asked to succeed Lieberman as defence chief but was turned down by Netanyahu who kept the job for himself.

Minutes before Netanyahu's speech, Jewish Home announced that Bennett and another minister from his party would make an announcement in parliament on Monday, raising speculation they would resign and strip the prime minister of his majority.

A poll published on Wednesday by Hadashot TV news showed Likud falling to 29 from 30 parliamentary seats after months of polls that have shown it gaining power.

Only 17 percent of respondents were happy with Netanyahu's policy toward Gaza, where he agreed to a ceasefire - dubbed by Lieberman as "surrender" - after militants from its ruling Hamas group launched almost 500 rockets into Israel on Monday and Tuesday and Israel carried out dozens of air raids.

Netanyahu's re-election chances could also be affected by a series of corruption cases against him in which Israel's attorney-general is weighing his indictment.

An election would complicate promised moves by the United States towards reviving Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts that collapsed in 2014. The Trump administration has said it would unveil a peace plan soon.]]>
11/19/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Ethiopia to discuss outstanding dam differences: PM]]>CAIRO – 18 November 2018: Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said Egypt would hold talks with Ethiopa over the next two weeks to resolve the outstanding differences regarding the Grand Renaissance Dam.

Madbouly met with his Ethiopian counterpart, Abiy Ahmed, on Sunday as they agreed to initiate bilateral talks to settle the pending points.

(L to R) - Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly shaking hands with Ethiopian counterpart Abiy Ahmed on the sidelines of the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) on Nov. 18, 2018 – Egypt Today/Solieman Al-Otaifi

Madbouli said in statements during the 11th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union (AU) that Egypt supports the process to reform the organizational structure of the AU.

He also affirmed that Egypt plays a major role in the restructuring of the AU Development Agency.

FILE PHOTO: A cloud of dust rises from a dynamite blast, as part of construction work at Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, March 31, 2015. REUTER/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

“A joint fund should also be established by Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan after governors of their central banks probe the issue,” Madbouli added.

The two countries and Sudan have held a series of meetings over the $4 billion hydroelectric Grand Renaissance Dam, but have yet to reach a deal on managing flows and other issues.

FILE PHOTO: Construction workers erect rebars at a section of Ethiopia's Grand Renaissance Dam, March 31, 2015. REUTER/Tiksa Negeri/File Photo

The dam was scheduled to be finished by 2020, but Ahmed said in August that it would be delayed for several more years.

Egypt has voiced concerns that the scheme may restrict the waters coming down down from Ethiopia's highlands, through the deserts of Sudan, to its fields and reservoirs. Ethiopia, on the other hand, says it will have no such impact.

Ahmed also said he is personally keen on maintaining Nile rights of Egypt and all African countries along the river.

11/18/2018 6:36:56 PM
<![CDATA[Shoukry: Sisi attaches great importance of building strong infrastructure in Africa]]>
According to a statement on the fringe of his participation in the official delegation to the 11th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union, Shoukry explained that development efforts in Africa could benefit the African fellows as well as Egypt, asserting that integration and interaction among African states are included on the African Agenda of 2036.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, head of the Egyptian delegation to the summit, is attending the summit on behalf of President Sisi.

Shoukry said Madbouli's participation in the summit and his address reflected that Egypt vision comes in line with that of the Africa states regards various issues floated at the summit.

He said the Egyptian policy towards the south African states and trade and cooperation among them could benefit all parties involved despite the differences in their growth rates.

He also underlined the importance of continuing the reform program of the African Union and enhancing the capabilities of the African Commission through reviewing its mechanisms and outlining a new framework for implementing its actions.

Concerning the issue of the African Free Trade Zone and choosing the venue of its premises, Shoukry said Egypt will be among countries that will present its proposal to host the Free Zone mechanism, adding that the hosting country should have a powerful administrative body and the ability to lure in experts in this domain.

On the decision of establishing a permanent higher committee for human rights, Shoukry said the committee will address the latest developments in the human rights field as well as mechanisms devised in dealing with them locally and internationally.

He added that the concerned committee will highlight the main progress achieved in Egypt on ground as well as efforts to empower women, youth and relevant political, economic and social rights.

The committee will be tasked with dealing with all objectivity with the human rights conditions in Egypt as well as societal development and upgrading of civil society organizations working in the field, he added.

The new committee will be also tasked with enhancing cooperation with the National Council for Human Rights and other concerned state bodies to clarify facts about the human rights situation in the country away from any allegation or false reports. It will also draw up a unified vision to be promoted in international and regional forums.

Egypt's Cabinet headed by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly decided Tuesday to establish a permanent higher committee on human rights.

The new body will also compile Egypt's report that is submitted to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), and follow up on the implementation of the recommendations that Egypt accepts.

It will be also assigned to follow up on the implementation of Egypt's existing international obligations in respect of human rights.]]>
11/18/2018 12:18:04 PM
<![CDATA[Legal state of Monufia governor after being sentenced to 10 years ]]>
The two other defendants in the case were found not guilty and the money seized from them was returned.

Egypt Today monitors the legal state of the governor in light of the developments of the case:

The verdict against the governor is a first-degree ruling. The court will disclose the reasons for its verdict in the next few weeks.

The Court of Cassation shall set a hearing session to hear the appeal of the defendant if the appeal is accepted, but in case the appeal is rejected, the judgment shall be rendered final.

The three defendants were charged with taking bribes worth LE 27 million, LE 450,000 of which were in exchange for implementing a set of projects under the government’s supervision.

Abdel Baset and two businessmen were arrested in January 2018 after the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) managed to record phone calls proving the governor agreed to take LE 2 million as a bribe in return for land licenses.

According to security sources, the governor was under the ACA’s surveillance until he was detected to be involved in a number of corruption cases. The ACA then referred the governor to public prosecution for investigation.

President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi always asserted on applying strict measures within the government institutions to crack down any violation. He hailed the role played by the ACA in different occasions.

Egypt ranked 117th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s 2017 Corruption Perception Index, scoring 32 points, down two points compared to 2016. A score of zero is highly corrupt while 100 is very clean.

Transparency International, the leading civil society organization fighting corruption worldwide, released its annual Corruption Perceptions Index in February.
11/18/2018 11:54:18 AM
<![CDATA[Endowments Ministry launches global initiative to combat terrorism]]>
The Endowments Ministry will inaugurate soon an international academy for training clerics in foreign languages. These clerics will widen the ministry’s influence across the world.

Mokhtar Gomaa, endowments minister, paid several visits to European countries where he gave speeches about coexistence and tolerance.

The ministry invited 70 foreign countries to attend in a few weeks a global conference under the slogan “Building a National Character and Influence in Developing Countries”.
The 29th Conference for the Endowments Ministry will take place on Jan. 19-20, 2019.

European Islamic institutions from France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, the Americas, Brazil, Greece and Russia will participate.

In a related context, Court of Cassation previously upheld death penalties against 20 defendants and life sentences against 80 defendants over charges of breaking into Kerdasa Prison and killing 14 policemen including the police sheriff.

The court session was headed by Counselor Mamdouh Youssef, Mohamed Hassanein, Mohamed Hassan, Essa Abbas, Yehia Mansour, Ayman al-Sawy, Magdy Shabana, Mahmoud Akef, Refaat Sanad and Al-Sayed Helal.

11/18/2018 11:39:35 AM
<![CDATA[Canada set to get most refugee claims in nearly three decades]]>
Despite cooler weather, the number of refugee claimants jumped past 6,000 in October, the highest monthly tally this year, the data released on Thursday showed.

That takes total claims in the first 10 months of 2018 to 46,245, putting the country on track to surpass last year's record even as the quasi-judicial body that adjudicates claims struggles to work through a 64,000-person backlog.

The Immigration and Refugee Board started tracking refugee claimant data in 1989.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government faces a widely held belief that Canada has been overwhelmed by immigrants pressing asylum claims, even though it receives far fewer than many other countries. The government has struggled to balance Canada's reputation as a haven for those fleeing persecution with warnings that filing refugee claims is no "free ticket" to remain in the country.

The governing Liberals have come under fire for their handling of the more than 37,000 people who have walked across the Canada-U.S. border seeking asylum since January 2017 -- many of whom told Reuters they did not feel safe in President Donald Trump's United States.

About 1,400 crossed the frontier in October, down from 1,600 the month before. But most refugee claimants enter the country by other means, and their numbers are growing.

"There are 65 million refugees in the world, and there are many desperate people trying to find safety and refuge in western countries," said Toronto-based lawyer Lorne Waldman. "I think we're going to see 50,000-plus (refugee claims annually) for the foreseeable future."

A spokesman for Immigration and Refugees Minister Ahmed Hussen noted that this year's budget included an additional C$74 million ($56 million) for the Immigration and Refugee Board "to speed up the processing of asylum claims." The hiring of 248 new staff "is under way," spokesman Mathieu Genest wrote in an email.

About 56 percent of refugee claims finalized in the first three quarters of 2018 were accepted, according to the Immigration and Refugee Board, with lower acceptance rates for border-crossers.

Border-crossers from Nigeria and Haiti, who made up the largest groups of border-crossers, had relatively low acceptance rates compared with other nationalities, at 29.3 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively.

Canada's government is trying to hasten the deportations of border-crossers whose refugee claims are not successful, classifying them with criminals as a top deportation priority.

The government should also prioritize integration of successful applicants, said Canadian Council for Refugees head Janet Dench, and ensure that tens of thousands of people are not left waiting years for permanent resident status.

"The longer you keep people in this limbo state, the longer before they can contribute fully to Canadian society."]]>
11/17/2018 11:23:48 AM
<![CDATA[Foreign ministry follows up probe into murder of Egyptian in Saudi Arabia]]>
Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs Yasser Hashim said on the ministry has assigned the Egyptian consulate the kingdom to follow up the probe.

The national, identified as Ahmed Taha Hassan Mahmoud, was stabbed to death in Jizan city.

The consulate, in turn, has tasked its legal adviser to go to Jizan to get acquainted with the prosecution's investigations into the case.

The mission has also contacted the legal medicine department and the health directorate in the Saudi city to finish measures required to return the deceased's body to Egypt.]]>
11/17/2018 11:18:01 AM
<![CDATA[UK PM May must weigh parliamentary procedure carefully before big EU vote ]]>
May's draft Brexit agreement with the European Union has triggered an uprising against her within her own party and the resignation of two senior ministers. The prime minister has vowed to see through her plan.

But even if she survives the internal rebellion, May's strategy must be approved by a parliament where she has no clear majority and a dwindling number of allies.

The so-called "meaningful vote" is the most serious threat to May's leadership and her plan to end more than 40 years of European integration by executing the British public's 2016 referendum decision to quit the EU.

Ministers need parliament to approve a motion setting out the Brexit strategy or else the deal may not be ratified. The exact format of the vote is seen as something which could have a major impact on its outcome.

On Thursday, the panel of parliamentary experts which advises the government on such matters recommended that the vote should be held using normal protocols - something the government has said is fraught with legal risk.

The Procedure Committee said that before the motion is put to a final vote, parliament should have a chance to change the wording via votes on amendments, for example to make ratification conditional on a second referendum.

If adopted, the committee recommendations mean the earliest any vote would happen, assuming a deal is signed off at an EU summit planned for Nov. 25 and a minimum five-day debate, is Monday, Dec. 10.

The committee's recommendations are not binding, but carry weight in government decision-making and will be hard for ministers to ignore. The final format is proposed by the government ahead of a debate and must be approved by parliament.

The government had asked the committee also to consider a reverse structure for the vote, which would have meant its own wording was voted upon first, and any amendments potentially considered later.

That was proposed because ministers fear that if any amendment wins the support of parliament, the legal requirements to ratify the withdrawal agreement may not be met - effectively, if any amendment passes, the government may have already lost its case even before the final vote.

The committee said the government motion should be published five days when parliament is sitting before it is debated. The debate itself should then last a further five days or more, it added.
11/16/2018 6:21:22 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. to oppose U.N. Golan resolution, wins Israeli praise]]>
The Golan Heights form a buffer between Israel and Syria of about 1,200 square km (460 square miles). Israel captured most of it from Syria in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed the territory in 1981, a move not recognized internationally.

The United States has abstained in previous years on the annual “Occupied Syrian Golan” resolution, which declares Israel’s decision to impose its jurisdiction in the area “null and void”, but Washington’s U.N. envoy Nikki Haley said it would vote against the resolution in Friday’s vote.

“The United States will no longer abstain when the United Nations engages in its useless annual vote on the Golan Heights,” she said in a statement on Thursday.

“The resolution is plainly biased against Israel. Further, the atrocities the Syrian regime continues to commit prove its lack of fitness to govern anyone.”

Her comments came after the U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in September that he expected Israel to keep the Golan Heights in perpetuity, in an apparent nod towards its claim of sovereignty over the territory.

Since early in Donald Trump’s presidency, Israel has lobbied for formal U.S. endorsement of its control of the Golan. Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, breaking with other world powers, though his national security adviser John Bolton told Reuters in August a similar Golan move was not under discussion.

In the past two years, Trump has twice ordered U.S.-led air strikes against targets in Syria in response to what Washington called the use of chemical weapons against civilians by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.

Israeli officials praised the U.S. move.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called it “extremely important”, saying on Twitter that “no sane person can believe that it (the Golan) should be given to Assad & Iran”.

Tehran has supported Assad during the civil war and Israel has been warning against Iranian military entrenchment in Syria.

Israel has closely monitored the fighting in Syria, where just across the Golan frontier battles have raged in clear view.
11/16/2018 2:03:00 PM
<![CDATA[Tally of missing in California's deadliest blaze surpasses 600]]>
At least 63 people have been confirmed dead in the Camp Fire, which erupted a week ago in the drought-parched Sierra foothills 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco and now ranks as one of the most lethal single U.S. wildfires since the turn of the last century.

Authorities attributed the high death toll in part to the staggering speed with which the wind-driven flames, fueled by desiccated scrub and trees, raced with little warning through Paradise, a town of 27,000.

Nearly 12,000 homes and buildings, including most of the town, were incinerated last Thursday night hours after the blaze erupted, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) has said.

What was left was a ghostly, smoky expanse of empty lots covered in ash and strewn with twisted wreckage and debris.

Thousands of additional structures were still threatened by the blaze, and as many as 50,000 people were under evacuation orders at the height of the blaze. An army of firefighters, many from distant states, labored to contain and suppress the flames.

The revised official roster of 630 individuals whose whereabouts and fate remained unknown is more than double the 297 listed earlier in the day by the Butte County Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Kory Honea said nearly 300 people initially reported as unaccounted for had been found alive. He said the list of missing bit.ly/2BaiYxy would keep fluctuating with names being added and others removed, either because they turn up safe or are identified among the dead.

The higher confirmed death toll, and rising number of those unaccounted for, were revealed at an evening news briefing by Honea, who said the remains of seven more Camp Fire victims had been located since Wednesday’s tally of 56.

The sheriff has asked relatives of the missing to submit DNA samples to hasten identification of the dead. But he acknowledged some of those unaccounted for may never be conclusively found.

The Butte County disaster coincided with a flurry of smaller blazes in Southern California, including the Woolsey Fire, which has been linked with three fatalities and destroyed at least 500 structures in the mountains and foothills near the Malibu coast west of Los Angeles.

The latest blazes have capped a pair of calamitous wildfire seasons in California that scientists largely attribute to prolonged drought they say is symptomatic of climate change.

The cause of the fires are under investigation. But two electric utilities have said they sustained equipment problems close to the origins of the blazes around the time they were reported.

The White House said on Thursday that President Donald Trump, who has been criticized as having politicized the fires by casting blame on forest mismanagement, plans to visit the fire zones on Saturday to meet displaced residents.

Cal Fire said that 40 percent of the Camp Fire’s perimeter had been contained, up from 35 percent, even as the blaze footprint grew 2,000 acres to 141,000 acres (57,000 hectares). Containment of the Woolsey fire grew to 57 percent.

But smoke and soot spread far and wide. Public schools in Sacramento and districts 90 miles (145 km) to the south, and as far away as San Francisco and Oakland, said Friday’s classes would be canceled as the Camp Fire worsened air quality.

Those who survived the flames but lost homes were moving in temporarily with friends or relatives or bunking down in American Red Cross shelters.

At a shelter set in a church in nearby Oroville, a bulletin board was plastered with dozens of photos of missing people, along with messages and phone numbers. Church officials posted lists of names they received in phone calls from people searching for friends and family. Evacuees are asked to check the boards to see if their names appear.

Many others found haven at an encampment that sprang up in the parking lot outside a still-open Walmart store in Paradise, where dozens of evacuees pitched tents or slept in their cars. Part of the lot was roped off as a distribution center for clothes, food and coffee. Portable toilets were also brought in.

Evacuees milling in the parking lot faced morning temperatures that dropped to just above freezing and many wore breathing masks for protection from lingering smoke.

Nicole and Eric Montague, along with their 16-year-old daughter, showed up for free food but have been living with extended family in the neighboring city of Chico, in a one-bedroom apartment filled with 15 people and nine dogs.

They recounted being stunned at how swiftly the fire roared through Paradise the first night.

“We didn’t have any time to react,” Eric said. “The news didn’t even know the fire was coming. It just happened so quick.”

Nicole said she fled once her home’s mailbox caught fire and neighbors’ propane tanks began exploding. Facing walls of flames and traffic gridlock, her evacuation with her daughter was so harrowing that she called her husband to say farewell.

“I called him and said, ‘Honey, I’m not going to make it. I love you,’” Nicole said.

11/16/2018 1:05:35 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt reaffirms trust in Saudi investigation into Khashoggi case: FM]]>The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that it has been paying close attention to Saudi Arabia’s investigation into the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor announced Thursday that the kingdom is seeking the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of dissident Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi at the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul.

“Egypt appreciates the procedures that Saudi Arabia takes in this regard and hopes all the parties concerned with the case to adhere to the current course of investigation, away from politicalization and overbidding,” the ministry’s statement said.

Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policy, was killed in the country's Istanbul consulate on Oct. 2, after a struggle, by a lethal injection dose and his body was dismembered and taken out of the building, deputy public prosecutor and spokesman Shaalan al-Shaalan told reporters.

Egypt further reaffirmed its full trust in the Saudi investigations and the progress it made so far with utter integrity and credibility.

11/15/2018 9:06:10 PM