<![CDATA[rss-Politics]]> All Rights Reserved for The Cairo post <![CDATA[Politics]]>]]> 100 29 <![CDATA[Russian MPs approve pension reform in first reading despite protests]]>
In a rare move, usually pliant Kremlin-friendly nominal opposition parties -- the Communists, the Liberal Democratic Party and A Just Russia -- rejected the legislation to raise the pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women.

A total of 328 lawmakers in the lower house or State Duma voted in favour of the bill in its first reading, with 104 against, according to results released by the State Duma.

Just one lawmaker of the ruling United Russia party voted against the bill.

The planned pension age hike -- a first in nearly 90 years -- has led to a rare outburst of public anger.

A legacy of the USSR, Russia's retirement age -- set at 55 for women and 60 for men since Stalin -- is currently among the lowest in the world.

Given Russians' low life expectancy, many will not live long enough under the new system to receive a state pension but the government says the burden is simply too much for its stretched finances.

Analysts say that growing popular discontent over the reform amid plunging living standards may present the most serious challenge to Putin during his nearly 20 years in power.

- 'Enemies of the people' -

In early July several thousand people rallied in dozens of Russian cities in protests organised by Kremlin-friendly political parties and Putin's top critic Alexei Navalny.

On the eve of the vote around 1,000 people protested in Moscow and on Thursday around 200 people gathered outside the Duma itself.

"We are living quite badly, people's patience is running out," said 54-year-old accountant Natalya, declining to give her last name.

"We are sick of bearing this," she added at Thursday's protest ahead of the vote.

Valery Rashkin, one of the many Communist MPs who came out to support the protesters, called the measure "a vile, inhumane law."

Navalny called lawmakers "enemies of the people" for backing the legislation.

"The Duma passed a bill according to which tens of millions of Russian citizens will be stripped of several hundred thousand rubles," he tweeted.

The government says the pension age increase is unavoidable as the current system represents a growing weight for the cash-strapped federal budget.

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Maxim Topilin defended the bill, saying the country's current pension system was rooted in the 1930s when life expectancy was "completely different."

"Times are changing. The economy is changing," Topilin said. "We cannot be stuck in the 1930s."

- MPs challenge Putin -

On Wednesday, the liberal daily Vedomosti reported MPs were "advised" not to criticise Putin -- who has sought to distance himself from the bill -- during the debate.

But some MPs from the Communist Party, which occasionally challenges the government on social issues but generally supports the Kremlin, demanded Putin take a public stance on the proposed legislation.

"This is one of the most important laws in the last 14 years, it cannot be debated without such an important person in our political life," Communist lawmaker Oleg Smolin said.

He quoted Putin, who famously said in 2005 that there would be no pension age hike in Russia "while I am president."

A poll released by the independent Levada Center this month showed that the level of the Russian public's trust in Putin had fallen below 50 percent for the first time in five years, to 48 percent last month from 60 percent in January.

According to the VTsIOM state pollster, the Kremlin leader's approval ratings slumped by a record 14 percentage points in the space of nearly two weeks -- to 64 percent on June 24 from 78 percent on June 14.

According to the Levada pollster, 89 percent of Russians oppose the reform and more than 2.8 million people have signed a petition against it.

Russian life expectancy is low for a developed country, at about 65 years for men and 76 years for women.

Unlike in Western democracies, pensions in Russia are meagre and many have to work past their state pension age to survive or rely on financial help from their children.]]>
7/20/2018 3:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[UK police identify Novichok suspects as Russians: report]]>
"Investigators believe they have identified the suspected perpetrators of the Novichok attack through CCTV and have cross-checked this with records of people who entered the country around that time," a source with knowledge of the probe told the British agency.

"They (investigators) are sure they (suspects) are Russian," the source added.

Government departments and the Metropolitan Police, whose counter-terrorism unit is investigating the poisoning, refused to comment on the report when contacted by AFP.

But Security Minister Ben Wallace wrote on Twitter: "I think this story belongs in the 'ill-informed and wild speculation folder'."

Russia's embassy in London seized on the minister's message and urged Britain "to conduct the investigation in a transparent way so as to avoid rumours and leaks".

"In March British political leadership rushed to put forward unsubstantiated accusations against Russia, instead of waiting for results of the investigation," it added in a statement.

Ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia collapsed in the southwestern English city of Salisbury after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok.

Both have since recovered.

Britain blamed Russia for the poisoning of Skripal, a former military intelligence colonel who was jailed for betraying Russian agents to Britain's MI6 foreign intelligence service.

He left Russia for Britain in a 2010 spy swap.

Russia has strongly denied involvement in the Skripal attack, sparking a row that has led to tit-for-tat diplomatic expulsions between Britain and its allies and Moscow.

- 'Coded Russian message' -

In another report Thursday, CNN said the two suspects were identified using facial recognition technology and had fled the country following the March 4 attack, likely on a commercial flight.

Britain previously confirmed that border officials searched an incoming Aeroflot plane at London's Heathrow Airport on March 31 in what it called "routine" checks for criminal activity.

Russia at the time called the search an act of "blatant provocation" and suggested it was linked to the diplomatic spat over Salisbury.

Citing a source with knowledge of the investigation, CNN said the suspects' departure was "revealed in a coded Russian message to Moscow sent after the attack, which was intercepted by a British base in Cyprus".

Two Britons fell ill last month in a town near Salisbury after being exposed to Novichok, one of whom died.

Experts are seeking to establish whether the toxin was from the same batch used against the Skripals.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, and her 45-year-old partner Charlie Rowley collapsed at his house in Amesbury within hours of each other on June 30.

Sturgess died on July 8, prompting police to open a murder investigation, while Rowley has regained consciousness and is in stable condition.

The Press Association said investigators believe Sturgess was exposed to at least 10 times the amount of nerve agent as the Skripals came into contact with.

Police have said it was detected in a "small bottle" at Rowley's house.

Rowley's brother Matthew told the BBC that the 45-year-old had told him the Novichok was contained in a perfume bottle.

- Fingertip search -

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons earlier this week said its inspectors had collected samples in the Amesbury case and were analysing them.

An inquest into the death of Sturgess opened on Thursday in Salisbury and was adjourned until a pre-inquest review on January 16, pending further investigation.

In English law, inquests are held to examine violent, unnatural or unexplained deaths. They set out to determine the place, time and type of death, but do not apportion blame.

On Wednesday, police started a search of the Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury. Certain areas were to be searched by fingertip, in a search due to last several days.

The New York Times reported Sunday that British investigators believe the Skripals were targeted by current or former agents of the GRU Russian military intelligence agency.

The GRU, where Skripal worked, is also accused of interfering with the 2016 US presidential election. Twelve of its officers were charged Friday with hacking Hillary Clinton's campaign.]]>
7/20/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi, Bashir vow closer bilateral ties in various fields]]>
Sisi began a two-day visit to Sudan earlier on Thursday, during which he sat with Al-Bashir to discuss bilateral ties. It is Sisi’s first visit to Khartoum since being re-elected to a second presidential term earlier this year.

“Today's visit came in the framework of a clear joint policy between the two sister countries which became an integral part of our regional and international orientations to support the common strategic interests of the two nations in all fields, whether political, economic, security, water or cultural,” said Sisi.

The Egyptian president added: "I would like to extend my appreciation to you ]Al-Bashir[ for your obvious efforts to support brotherly relations between Egypt and Sudan. This is what has been shown through forming bilateral committees to overcome many of the difficulties we faced together... And also through the initiation of joint national projects, especially the joint electric grid.”

"I would also like to express appreciation for your sincere efforts to settle regional disputes and to achieve peace and stability in the region, which we hope will be completed successfully, because they reflect sincere desire and a clear vision to promote stability,” Sisi said, adding “I also assure you that Egypt will continue its full support for these efforts and to continue contributing to achieving the desired peace and prosperity goals in the region.”

Regarding the recent reconciliation between Ethiopia and Eretria, Sisi said "we are very happy with the positive developments between the two countries and Egypt will continue its full support to achieve peace, stability and constructive cooperation between the two sister countries.”

President Sisi backed an ongoing regional bid to resolve the conflict in South Sudan as he praised Khartoum for hosting peace talks between the country's warring groups.

Sisi said the peace talks in the Sudanese capital were aimed at achieving peace and stability in neighboring South Sudan, where tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions displaced since a brutal civil war erupted in December 2013.

"To South Sudan, I want to say that we will work together with our brothers in the region for achieving peace so that South Sudanese people enjoy stability and prosperity," said Sisi in remarks broadcast on state TV after holding talks with Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

"These efforts ... have a clear vision when it comes to security, stability and development of regional countries," added Sisi.

The war in South Sudan began at the end of 2013 after South Sudanese President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy, now rebel leader, Riek Machar of plotting a coup.

Khartoum, as part of regional efforts to end the conflict in South Sudan, has already hosted peace talks between the arch-foes.

For his part, Sudanese President Al-Bashir said that “both countries have agreed to promote relations in economic, trade, security and military fields, to wipe out all obstacles to the movement of individuals and cargo and to launch two-way power grid and railways.”

He added that concerned ministers of both countries have been instructed to put all relevant directives in place according to timetables.
]]>
7/20/2018 1:40:59 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. intelligence chief: I don't know what happened at Trump-Putin meeting]]>
The lawmakers are seeking answers on what agreements Trump may have reached with Putin in their two-hour meeting on Monday in which they were accompanied only by their interpreters.

The White House has faced an uproar over several issues from the summit including Trump's failure to confront Putin over Russian meddling in the 2016 election and Putin's proposal that Russian authorities be allowed to question U.S. citizens.

"Well, you're right, I don't know what happened at that meeting," Coats said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

"I think as time goes by and the president has already mentioned some things that happened in that meeting, I think we will learn more. But that is the president's prerogative," Coats added.

Trump has called the summit "a great success," but he has been vague about what he discussed with Putin.

Terrorism, Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, the Middle East and North Korea were among the issues they talked about, Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.

Putin agreed the summit was a success and said on Thursday it "led to some useful agreements," without providing details.]]>
7/20/2018 12:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Talks underway for Trump-Putin meet in Washington: WHouse]]>
"President Trump asked @AmbJohnBolton to invite President Putin to Washington in the fall and those discussions are already underway," Press Secretary Sarah Sanders tweeted, three days after the Finland summit between the US and Russian leaders.

Earlier Thursday, Trump tweeted that he was looking forward to a second meeting with Putin "so that we can start implementing some of the many things discussed" in Helsinki.

He listed these as "stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more."

The US president faced strong criticism from across the political spectrum over his handling of Monday's first summit -- particularly his seeming acceptance of Putin's denial that Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

On the defensive, he declared Thursday that the "Summit with Russia was a great success, except with the real enemy of the people, the Fake News Media."

News of the planned invitation to Putin came shortly after the White House announced the president had rejected a proposal by Putin for Russian officials to interrogate a former US ambassador and other American citizens.

Putin had offered in exchange to permit US justice officials to travel to Russia to question 12 intelligence officers indicted over hacking Democratic Party computers -- an offer Trump initially described as "incredible."

The indictments against the Russian hackers, issued last week by special counsel Robert Mueller, allege that they publicly released tens of thousands of stolen Democratic emails and documents using "fictitious online personas."

Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Trump's campaign and Russia.]]>
7/20/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[George Ishak: Mekameleen deceived me, twisted my statement]]>
In a telephone interview in June with Mekameleen, a Pro-Muslim Brotherhood “terrorist” organization TV channel, Ishak said the police forces killed a number of secretly abducted people in Arish city, without presenting any detailed evidence of the incident.

Ishak said that the channel has twisted his statement, adding that Arish’s case that he had described as enforced disappearance was later revealed to be of a terrorist who was eliminated by security forces.


Lawyer Tarek Mahmoud filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Ishak, accusing the latter of disseminating false information, inciting against state institutions, threatening national security and conspiring with foreign organizations against the country.

MP Alaa Abed, head of the Parliament's Human Rights Committee, said Tuesday he would sue Ishak, over the latter’s statements to the Turkey-based Mekameleen channel.

During his interview with the opposition channel, Ishak held the “[human] rights organizations” and “the state” responsible for the confusion between terrorism combat and illegal murder, calling on the Egyptian government to respond to the accusations.

Abed said he will resort to justice to punish Ishak for his statements to Mekameleen; Abed described the entire staff of the channel as “spies of the time” who receive “foreign funds” to target the Egyptian state.

“Tomorrow morning my office will file a direct lawsuit against George Ishak over stirring sedition and inciting against state national institutions,” Abed stated. “This man [probably] has lost his mind, and this man [probably] does not know anything about patriotism,” he added, stressing that the presence of Ishak in the NCHR tarnishes the council.

Abed said that Mohamed Fayek, head of the NCHR, condemned Ishak’s statements, and urged the acceleration of efforts to reshuffle the council’s staff. In May, Abed said that the NCHR is expected to be reshuffled within a month.

In an interview with DMC on Wednesday, Abed said that the new council will help defend the Egyptian state and will respond to the foreign reports issued against the country from incredible sources.

Ishak has been known for opposing the current government and leadership. In a January press conference, Ishak described the March 2018 presidential election as unconstitutional, claiming that the High Elections Committee did not consider the violations that the candidates have reported.

Discussing a book for late author Khalil Kalfat, Christian Ishak said that he had worked with the Muslim Brotherhood since 2004, claiming that the presidential term of Morsi and the MB group was completely positive. However, in an interview with Al-Rai in 2014, Ishak considered the reconciliation with the MB as “high treason.”

The MB has been designated by the Egyptian state as a terrorist group after Morsi was ousted in 2013.

Insulting police: “high treason”

During his visit to the city of Alamein on March 1, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that he considers any insult against the security forces as “high treason.”

"If someone insults the army or police they're defaming all Egyptians and that's not freedom of speech," he said.



Later in March, Parliament member Solaf Darwish submitted a five-article-draft law to criminalize acts of defamation against the Armed Forces and police.

Article 1 stipulates that those who publicly insult or publish things to defame or abuse the Armed Forces or police, or incite another person to commit an act or say something against the police and Armed Forces shall be punished with at least three years in prison and a LE 10,000 fine.

The penalty could be doubled by suspending the newspaper that continues to publish fake news to insult the Armed Forces and police.

Anyone who distributes and displays photos that lead to the defamation of both the Armed Forces and police by any means shall be punished with at least five years in jail and a LE 5,000 fine.

Law enforcement officers shall seize writings, photos and any other means to defame the Armed Forces and police, and then refer the crime to the Public Prosecution. If the Public Prosecution acknowledges the crimes, it shall file them to the Court of First Instance that shall issue its decree after the hearings. The decree cannot be appealed.

On March 6, six people were arrested for their involvement in a play that insulted security forces.

The playwright, director and officials at the sports club where the play was staged were arrested for investigation by military prosecutors.

Human rights “development”

In March, Egypt refuted statements from the European Union and some European countries on human rights in Egypt, saying that those statements are allegations that lack objectivity.

"They fail to consider the positive development in the human rights file, despite the fierce terrorist attack against Egypt," said Egypt's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva Alaa Yousef.

youssef
Ambassador Alaa Youssef – Press photo

Yousef further said alleged arbitrary detention is nothing but false charges and that the detention or travel ban of any person is based on the Public Prosecution's decision according to legal guarantees established by the Egyptian legislation.

The Egyptian government is also cooperating with the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance, the ambassador asserted.]]>
7/19/2018 2:02:19 PM
<![CDATA[Mins. Of Health, Endowments team up on addressing overpopulation]]>
As part of the state’s ongoing bids to curb overpopulation, ministries of health and endowments fused tanks under a unified agreement that aims at raising awareness on the overriding threat.

In a press conference held on Wednesday, Hala Zayed, minister of health and population, said that the ministry is continuously working to address the issue of overpopulation by generating awareness campaigns and introducing methods for family planning.

She further stressed the important role that the Endowments Ministry plays in taking down the levels of overpopulation in the Egyptian society, confirming the need to join forces to address the dangerous phenomenon medically, socially and religiously.

“The ministry will dispatch special medical convoys in Egypt’s different governorates to raise awareness about overpopulation. The convoy will include preachers and imams that will directly interact with people that still think that birth control practices are religiously forbidden,” she added.

For his part, Minister of Awqaf (Endowments), Moukhtar Gumaa, said that the medical convoys will be taking place over the next couple of weeks.

He stressed that birth control has become necessary and not optional, confirming that family planning strategies were practiced during the lifetime of prophet Muhammed, who instructed his companions to opt for the pull out methods for the benefit of the family and the whole community.

In preparation of the awareness convoys, a number of imams and preachers are scheduled to attend the specialized training program prepared in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and Population to tackle some issues related to the population and family issues, from July 17 to 19.

"We must have a solution to the problem of the growing population rates, given that it is considered to be Egypt’s second biggest problem after terrorism," said Goma’a.

He pointed out that population increases by 2.5 million annually, which entails the establishment of 2,500 new schools and 50 hospitals each year alongside other infrastructure projects.

Egypt's births reach 2.55M in 2017, rate decline recorded: CAPMAS

CAIRO - 7 June 2018: Egypt's number of births reached 2.55 million in 2017, with 1.288 million in urban areas, and 1.264 million in rural areas, according to a recent report by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).




President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has repeatedly spoken on the problem of population growth, describing it as a challenge that is as critical as terrorism, a challenge that deters any development.
Earlier in May, The Ministry of Social Solidarity officially launched a family planning campaign under the slogan “Two is enough”, aiming to control the dangerously growing population.

The campaign aims to reduce the birth rate to 2.4, targeting rural areas where many view large families as a source of economic strength and resist birth control, believing that it is un-Islamic.


]]>
7/19/2018 11:05:23 AM
<![CDATA[Pompeo says N.Korea deal 'may take some time,' sanctions to remain]]>
Speaking at a cabinet meeting chaired by U.S. President Donald Trump, Pompeo, who held inconclusive talks in North Korea earlier this month, said progress had been made on some issues.

"There's a lot of work to do. It may take some time to get where we need to go. But all of this will be taking place against the backdrop of continued enforcement of existing sanctions," he said.

Pompeo said North Korea had reaffirmed its commitment to give up its nuclear weapons and that progress had been made on arranging the return of remains of U.S. soldiers killed in the 1950-53 Korean War.

"I think in the next couple weeks we'll have the first remains returned. That's the commitment," Pompeo said, adding that the issue was very important for the families involved.

Pompeo said that while more work was needed, it was "a very hopeful place that we find ourselves with, making a strategic change for North Korea, giving them the opportunity for a brighter future for their people."

Pompeo traveled to North Korea this month hoping to agree a roadmap for denuclearization, but any progress has appeared limited, and Pyongyang issued an angry statement as soon as he left, accusing his delegation of making "gangster-like" demands.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un made a broad commitment to denuclearize at an unprecedented summit with Trump in June, but offered no details as to how and when this might take place, leaving considerable doubts about Pyongyang's intentions.

The U.S. administration has given no indication as to when dialogue on denuclearization might resume and has appeared to back away from trying to set a timeline for the process.

On Tuesday, Trump said there was "no time limit" and reiterated in a tweet on Wednesday that there was "no rush," noting that sanctions remained in place and there would be big benefits for North Korea at the end of the process.

Trump also said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin in their Helsinki meeting this week to help negotiate with North Korea, but did not say how.

While the United States has stressed the need to maintain sanctions on North Korea, Russia's envoy to Pyongyang was quoted by the RIA news agency as saying it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions with the U.N. Security Council, given positive changes.

Trump announced after the June summit that Kim had agreed to return the remains of "thousands and thousands" of Americans killed in the Korean War, but no remains have been handed over since then, raising further questions about North Korean intentions.

A senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday Washington hoped North Korea would return about 50 sets of remains within two weeks but details were still uncertain, in spite of two days of talks between U.S. and North Korean officials on Sunday and Monday. ]]>
7/19/2018 8:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[White House struggles to contain fallout from Trump-Putin summit]]>
Trump, facing a political uproar over his failure to confront Putin during their Helsinki summit on Monday over Russia's 2016 U.S. election meddling, adopted his usual defiant posture, calling his critics deranged.

Asked by reporters before a morning Cabinet meeting at the White House whether Russia was still targeting the United States, Trump shook his head and said, "No."

But at a later news briefing, White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the president was saying "no" to answering questions not to the question itself. Sanders said Trump believes the threat from Russia to undermine November's U.S. midterm elections still exists and that Moscow would still target American elections.

"The president has made clear to Vladimir Putin that he should stay out of U.S. elections," Sanders said. "The president and his administration are working very hard to make sure that Russia is unable to meddle in our elections as they have done in the past."

U.S. intelligence officials have said Russia's efforts to undermine elections are continuing and now target the Nov. 6 congressional elections.

It was the second time since the summit that Trump and the White House have blamed a misstatement or misunderstanding for the furor over Russia.

On Tuesday, Trump said he misspoke at a Helsinki news conference with Putin and that he accepted intelligence agency conclusions about Russian meddling, although he hedged by deviating from his prepared notes to say "it could be other people also. There's a lot of people out there."

Trump stunned the world on Monday by shying away from criticizing the Russian leader for Moscow's actions to undermine the 2016 presidential election, sparking bipartisan fury at home and prompting calls by some U.S. lawmakers for tougher sanctions and other actions to punish Russia.

Critics have accused him of siding with Russia over his own country by failing to criticize Moscow for what U.S. intelligence agencies last year described as Moscow's interference in the 2016 election in an attempt to sow discord, aid Trump's candidacy and disparage Trump's Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton.

Putin has denied allegations of election interference.

"We're doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia," Trump said before the Cabinet meeting, adding that Putin "understands it and he's not happy about it."

Trump's comments at the White House followed a series of early morning Twitter posts on Wednesday in which the Republican president said his summit with Putin would eventually produce "big results" and accused his critics of "Trump Derangement Syndrome."

"Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this. It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!" the president wrote.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional committee in February that he already had seen evidence Russia was targeting U.S. elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate is at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments.

In rebutting Trump's dismissive comments about U.S. intelligence on Monday, Coats said, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."

Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer said Trump's tweets on Wednesday showed he was not committed to accepting the findings of intelligence agencies, and his Tuesday comments were merely damage control.

"The only reason there was a walk-back is that the president was forced by pressure from many of my Republican friends here, from his allies in the media, and his own White House staff," Schumer said on the Senate floor. "But it's clear from today’s tweets he does not mean it."]]>
7/19/2018 7:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Under fire, Trump says no president as 'tough' on Russia]]>
When asked if Moscow, accused by US intelligence agencies of meddling in the 2016 presidential election, was still interfering, Trump said "no."

That assertion appeared to be at odds with the assessment of US intelligence chief Dan Coats, who said Monday that Russia was involved in "ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."

The comment by the Republican leader -- who is facing bipartisan criticism that he failed to hold the Russian leader to account at their Helsinki summit on Monday -- seemed sure to fuel the flames of controversy.

"We're doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia," Trump said at a cabinet meeting at the White House.

"And there's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia," he added.

"And I think President Putin knows that better than anybody," Trump said. "Certainly a lot better than the media.

"He understands it, and he's not happy about it," Trump said. "And he shouldn't be happy about it because there's never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been."

Earlier Wednesday, Trump insisted the summit had been a success, despite the uproar over his apparent acceptance of the Russian leader's denial of election meddling.

Trump cited the "many positive things" he expects to come from the summit, where the two leaders met privately for about two hours with no one else present but their translators.

"While the NATO meeting in Brussels was an acknowledged triumph, with billions of dollars more being put up by member countries at a faster pace, the meeting with Russia may prove to be, in the long run, an even greater success," Trump tweeted ahead of the cabinet meeting.

"So many people at the higher ends of intelligence loved my press conference performance in Helsinki," Trump added.

"Some people HATE the fact that I got along well with President Putin of Russia. They would rather go to war than see this," he said. "It's called Trump Derangement Syndrome!"

- 'Double negative' -

At their meeting in Finland, Trump seemed to accept at face value Putin's denial that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election in a bid to undermine Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Faced with outrage at home, Trump sought to walk back his remarks Tuesday, saying he accepted the intelligence community's assessment that Russia had meddled in the election.

He also offered a rambling explanation of his assertion that he could not see "any reason" why Russia would interfere, claiming he misspoke.

"In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't'," Trump said.

"The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double negative," he added.

- NATO commitments in question? -

Even as he dialed down the rhetoric, he raised fresh questions about the US commitment to NATO's central principle of mutual defense by offering a gibe about Montenegro, suggesting he would be displeased about having to defend the "tiny" new member if need be.

When Fox host Tucker Carlson asked Trump in an interview why his son should have to go to Montenegro to defend it from attack, Trump shared the sentiment.

"I understand what you're saying. I've asked the same question," Trump said.

"Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people... They're very aggressive people. They may get aggressive, and congratulations, you're in World War III."

Moscow has been accused of meddling in Montenegro's elections, and a failed 2016 coup was allegedly planned by pro-Russian militants.

- 'Damaging' remarks -

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign has increasingly put pressure on the White House.

The president -- who regards the probe as an attack on his legitimacy -- has dubbed it a "witch hunt," and again said Tuesday there was "no collusion at all."

But the investigation is progressing, as evidenced by the indictment of 12 Russian military intelligence agents on Friday -- timing that was embarrassing ahead of the summit.

Trump found precious little support from either side of the political aisle for his decision not to confront the Russian leader.

Republican lawmakers have called for information on exactly what was discussed or negotiated in Helsinki.

Some Democrats including Senator Richard Blumenthal have urged Senate leaders to subpoena Trump's translator and the notes from the summit, so that Congress can learn what was discussed.]]>
7/19/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Canada PM shuffles Cabinet, seeks to reduce reliance on U.S.]]>
Polls show the ruling Liberals are facing an increasing threat from the official opposition Conservatives, and Trudeau made 11 changes to freshen up his front bench.

In a move designed to shore up domestic support, trade minister Francois-Philippe Champagne was shifted to the infrastructure portfolio, where he will oversee plans to spend billions of dollars on major projects.

This should allow Champagne - one of the government's dynamic performers - to spend more time in his home province of Quebec, where Liberals say they must gain seats to stand a chance of keeping their Parliamentary majority in October 2019.

A Nanos Research poll released on Tuesday put the Liberals at 37 percent and the Conservatives at 35 percent, indicating that if an election were held now, Trudeau would end up with a weakened minority government.

This would crimp his agenda, which focuses on issues such as increased governmental spending, environmental initiatives and boosting gender equality.

Champagne's move will have little immediate impact on trade policy, which is dominated by the possibility of U.S. auto tariffs and the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is in charge of ties with the United States, including NAFTA.

The strains with Washington show the risks of relying so much on the United States, which takes 75 percent of all Canadian goods exports.

"We need to ensure that we are not as dependent on the United States. Promoting small businesses to export more, ensuring that we are diversifying our trade is a huge responsibility for this government," Trudeau told reporters.

Champagne's former department has therefore been renamed as the ministry of international trade diversification. It will be led by Jim Carr, previously minister of natural resources.

In the last year Canada has signed free trade deals with the European Union and 10 Asia-Pacific nations.

Freeland and Finance Minister Bill Morneau are staying in their positions, as reported by Reuters on Tuesday.

Senior Conservative legislator Lisa Raitt said the shuffle was "a desperate attempt" to hit the reset button.

Trudeau, who Raitt says has botched the job of handling migrants streaming across the U.S. border, created a minister in charge of border security and irregular migration.]]>
7/18/2018 11:40:00 PM
<![CDATA[Trump says Russia is no longer targeting U.S.]]>
Trump on Tuesday tried to walk back comments that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin over American intelligence chiefs on Russian interference in the 2016 election, saying that he had misspoken a day earlier after a summit meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

Asked by reporters on Wednesday if Russia was still targeting the United States, Trump shook his head and said, "No."

U.S. intelligence officials have said Russian election interference efforts are continuing and now target the upcoming congressional elections in November.

Trump has been scrambling to undo the damage from his comments on Monday in which he gave credence to Putin's denials over the conclusions of American intelligence services.

"We're doing very well, probably as well as anybody has ever done with Russia. And there's been no president ever as tough as I have been on Russia," Trump told reporters before a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told a congressional committee in February that he already had seen evidence Russia was targeting U.S. elections in November, when Republican control of the House of Representatives and Senate are at stake, plus a host of positions in state governments.

In rebutting Trump's dismissive comments about U.S. intelligence on Monday, Coats said in a statement, "We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy."]]>
7/18/2018 10:30:00 PM
<![CDATA["It was magical": Thai boys relive their discovery in cave ordeal]]>
The Wild Boars team were making their first public appearance after the long ordeal, waving, smiling and offering Thai traditional "wai" greetings on a national TV broadcast.

One of the boys, 14-year-old Adul Sam-on recalled the moment when two British divers found the trapped group on July 2, squatting in a flooded chamber several kilometres within the cave complex.

"It was magical," he said. "I had to think a lot before I could answer their questions," added Adul, who speaks English. "Everybody was happy, it was the most hopeful moment in 10 days."

On Wednesday doctors, relatives and friends - some in yellow traditional clothes - greeted the boys, aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach. The team were kitted out in T-shirts emblazoned with a red graphic of a wild boar, and kicked footballs gently on the TV set.

"Bringing the Wild Boars Home", read a banner in Thai welcoming them on the set, designed to resemble a soccer pitch, complete with goalposts and nets.

A crowd of media and onlookers were penned behind barricades as the boys arrived in vans from the hospital where they had stayed since their rescue from the complex in Thailand's northern province of Chiang Rai.

"I told everyone fight on, don't despair," said one boy, describing how the group had battled to stay alive.

Their discovery triggered the rescue effort that brought them all to safety over three days, organised by Thai navy SEALs and a global team of cave-diving experts.

The order in which the boys eventually left the cave did not depend on the state of their health, said their coach Ekkapol Chantawong, whose efforts have been credited by some parents with keeping the boys alive.

"The ones whose homes are the furthest went first, so they could tell everyone that the boys were fine," he added.

"WE ONLY DRANK WATER"

The group had planned to explore the Tham Luang caves for about an hour after soccer practice on June 23. But a rainy season downpour flooded the tunnels, trapping them.

"We took turns digging at the cave walls," Ekkapol said. "We didn't want to wait around until authorities found us."

One of the boys added: "We used stones to dig in the cave. We dug 3 to 4 metres." That represents a depth of 10-13 feet.

Their efforts were to no avail, Ekkapol said, adding: "Almost everyone can swim. Some aren't strong swimmers, however."

The group, who had eaten before going into the caves, took no food on an excursion that was supposed to last only an hour, and had to subsist on water dripping from stalactites, he said.

"We only drank water," said one of the boys, nicknamed Tee. "On the first day we were OK, but after two days we started feeling tired."

The team's youngest member, who goes by the name Titan, added: "I had no strength. I tried not to think about food so I didn't get more hungry."

Thoughts of their parents also preoccupied the boys, with one admitting, "I was afraid. That I wouldn't go home and I would get scolded by my mother."

The boys, who returned home on Wednesday night, all apologised for being naughty, admitting to having told their parents only that they were going to soccer practice, but not about the plans to go into the cave.

The boys, who sported crisp haircuts, had gained 3 kg (6.6 lb) each on average since the rescue, and ran through confidence-building exercises before Wednesday's event, said hospital director Chaiwetch Thanapaisal.

'REGULAR LIVES'

The operation to extract the team involved a core team of 18, including 13 foreign divers. The boys, fitted with thick wetsuits and full-face scuba masks, were guided through dark, flooded passageways towards the mouth of the cave.

The first part of the journey involved some diving. For the last part, the boys were put in green plastic toboggans and carried through.

The rescue effort drew global media attention and hundreds of journalists.

Officials have asked that the boys' privacy be respected once they are home. "We want the boys to have regular lives and go back to school and ... to have time with families and activities they like," said psychologist Patchaneewan Inta.

The moment was bittersweet, as two of the boys held up a framed pencil sketch of Samarn Kunan, 38, a former Thai navy diver who died while he worked underwater, laying oxygen tanks along a potential exit route.

"Everyone was very sad," said Ekkapol, adding that the boys would spend time as novice Buddhist monks to honour the diver's memory.

Hugs and tears greeted many of the boys when they made their way home. In Mae Sai district, where the cave is located, relatives hugged Peerapat Sompiangjai, 16, before blessing him with water as he entered his home.

The scene was repeated across other homes.

Earlier on the televised show many of the boys said that they would not set foot inside the cave again.]]>
7/18/2018 8:20:00 PM
<![CDATA['Brexit continues to mean Brexit': May presses on with her plan]]>
After narrowly escaping defeat in parliament earlier this week over her proposal for leaving the EU, May signalled she would not drop her proposal for Britain's future relationship with bloc - the biggest shift in its foreign and trade policy for almost half a century.

But by sticking to her plan for a "business-friendly" departure from the EU, May has thrown down the gauntlet to Brexit supporters and pro-EU lawmakers in her party who are at war with each other, and - for some - with the prime minister herself.

In a rowdy session of parliament, May was challenged by one pro-Brexit lawmaker in her party to explain when she had decided to change her catchphrase from "Brexit means Brexit", to "Brexit means Remain".

"Brexit continues to mean Brexit," May said to cheers from her Conservative supporters.

May also said talks had already started with Brussels based on the proposal set down in a white paper policy document last week after her divided government had thrashed out a deal at her Chequers country residence.

"The Chequers agreement, the white paper are the basis for our negotiation with the European Union and we have already started those negotiations," she told parliament.

While May's party is in disarray over the plan, EU member Ireland also said it was focusing on the white paper, unwilling to be diverted over the changes to her Brexit plans forced through in parliament this week.

"If we get distracted by individual amendments to individual pieces of legislation ... then I think we get dragged into an unnecessary debate that wastes a lot of time and energy," Foreign Minister Simon Coveney told state broadcaster RTE.

ROUGH WEEK

May's vulnerability in parliament, where she lost her majority in an ill-judged election last year, was laid bare on Monday and Tuesday when she faced rebellions from both the pro-Brexit and pro-EU wings of her party.

She won the votes on a customs and a trade bill, but suffered an unexpected defeat on a separate amendment, which means her government must now seek continued participation in the European medicines regulatory framework.

But the government's approach to securing victory in parliament has not only deepened divisions in her party, but also raised the issue of trust.

One Conservative lawmaker told Reuters the party whips whose job it is to enforce discipline in parliament, had threatened to call a confidence vote in May if she lost - a move that could bring down the government.

A member of the opposition Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, who is on maternity leave, accused the government of reneging on a deal that should have ensured her absence would not impact the vote. The Conservative Party has apologised.

After bowing to pro-Brexit lawmakers in her party on Monday, the prime minister may have opened the door to their growing calls for her to ditch the Chequers plan.

"What should have become clear to (May) is that the Chequers proposals are completely untenable with our (party) membership in the country and the electorate," Andrew Bridgen, a Conservative pro-Brexit lawmaker, told Reuters.

"My advice is to drop it now before if causes further damage to our party's reputation and polling numbers.".]]>
7/18/2018 3:27:31 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament approves reduction of ministers’ pensions]]>
The new draft law stipulates that pensions received upon retirement will be reduced from 80 percent to 25 percent as part of the state’s economic endeavour to revitalize the state’s economy.

The problem is that there are various officials that are given minister-like ranks in different sectors after they retire and that exhausts great amounts of money from the state's budget, Speaker of Parliament, Ali Abdel Aal, stated in press remarks in comment on the new draft law.

He pointed out that all these efforts aim at addressing the difficult economic circumstances facing the country.

Under the government of Sherif Ismail, the state initiated a set of reforms that include the pound’s flotation in November 2016, VAT introduction and subsidy cuts, backed by a $12 billion three-year loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

A new wave of price hikes in tune with the increase of fuel prices took effect in July, as part of reform program.

On March 29, the committee set the overnight rate and the overnight lending rate at 16.75 percent and 17.75 percent, respectively. In February, the committee lowered the interest rates by 1 percent for the first time since the flotation of the Egyptian currency in November 2016, after inflation rates slowed down.

The Egyptian government expected inflation to decline by the end of 2017/2018 from 17 percent to 13 percent, according to former Minister of Finance Amr el-Garhy.
]]>
7/18/2018 2:20:49 PM
<![CDATA[UK PM May to visit Northern Ireland to offer Brexit reassurances]]>
"I look forward to hearing views from businesses on the border in Northern Ireland on our departure from the European Union," May said in a statement. ]]>
7/18/2018 1:13:31 PM
<![CDATA[Qatari high-level leaked texts reveal possible reason behind boycott]]>
The texts and voice mails, which Qatar confesses are genuine yet misleadingly edited, were between the Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdel Rahman Al-Thani and Qatar's Ambassador to Iraq, Zayed al-Khayareen.

“The Syrian, Hezbollah Lebanon, and Kataeb Hezbollah Iraq, all want money and this is their chance,” Khayareen told Sheikh Mohamed, referring to the militias kidnapping the royal members for ransom.

The “28” members were kidnapped while travelling for hunting falcons in Iraq, despite being warned.

According to the material obtained, parties involved in the issue also include General Qasem Soleimani, leader of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force; and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, (formerly known as al-Nusra Front). All of these parties are designated by the U.S. as terrorist groups.

"Soleimani met with the kidnappers yesterday and pressured them to take the $1billion," the ambassador texted Sheikh Mohamed.

The BBC said it obtained the material from a government that is considered an opponent to Qatar. On June 5, 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain decided to cut diplomatic ties with the peninsula, after years of unstable relations, over accusations of Qatar’s support to terrorism.

“I told him you will get your money after we take our people,” Khayareen told Sheikh Mohamed, referring to the negotiations taking place at the time between the ambassador and Abu Mohammed, a Kataib Hezbollah negotiator, to free Qatar’s men.

The opponent that leaked the material claims that Qatar has paid more than $1 billion to “terrorists” in addition to $150 million as side payments or kickbacks.

Qatar denies sending money to terrorists. However, it confesses that large sums of money were already sent in April, 2017, two months before the Arab boycott, but to the Iraqi government for the “economic development” and “the security cooperation,” as Qatar wanted the Iraqi government to feel fully responsible for the safety of the hostages.

In 2016, Soleimani called on Qatar to help implement the four towns' agreement in Syria. The agreement allowed the evacuation of two Sunni rebel-held towns besieged by the government and two Shia government-held towns besieged by the rebels.

In late March, 2017, the agreement was reached. Few days after the evacuation process started, Sheikh Mohamed sent a message to Khayareen, saying: "3,000 [Shia] are being held in exchange location... when we see our people, I will let the buses move." On April, 21, all the Qatari hostages were released.

In a press conference in April, 2017, Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, said that the Iraqi authorities were shocked by a big number of large bags travelling to Iraq, adding that the bags were seized after the Qatari side rejected to hand the bags over for inspection.

Abadi said that he later knew the bags contained “hundreds of millions of dollars,” and that the money is seized “until now”. He condemned the way the money entered the country, saying: “Imagine that hundreds of millions are given to armed groups ... Is it acceptable?”


The texts and voicemails showed other demands issued to Qatar, including releasing Iranian soldiers imprisoned in Syria by rebels and leaving the Arab coalition led by Saudi Arabia battling Shia Houthis in Yemen. Following the boycott, Qatar was suspended from the coalition.

Qatar is now facing its worst crisis with its neighbors. The peninsula is accused of funding terrorism, and intervening in the Arab countries’ domestic affairs. Qatar denied paying the biggest ransom in history to “terrorists,” to free its people and denied the quartet’s accusations.
]]>
7/18/2018 12:51:36 PM
<![CDATA[Fighting unemployment, UN creates thousands of jobs for Gazans]]>
The Deprived Families Economic Empowerment Program (DEEP) launched by the UN seeks to improve living conditions of socially marginalized Palestinian families.

Amid high unemployment rate in Gaza which exceeds 60 percent, as reported by some statistics, Mladenov’s office stated that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) will create more than 2,500 short-term jobs in Gaza in 12 months for 2979 people with women being granted 40 percent of the jobs.

The UN program has recently created a plan to provide 1,500 men and women, including people with special needs, with short to medium term jobs. The program will train people to help develop public services, employ sea rescuers and enable 420 fishermen to restore their jobs.

The program will be funded with a total of $3.5 million by the Islamic Development Bank, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, and the UNDP.

In a statement, Mladenov affirmed that the UNDP efforts to create jobs are much needed during the current stage.

Earlier in July, Mladenov affirmed that the Egyptian government has always been, and still is, a vital and key player in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

He added that the Rafah Border Crossing, which Egypt opens regularly to ease the people’s suffering in Gaza, is considered to be a “lifeline” for Palestinians.

He said that the United Nations is doing its best to back Egypt’s efforts to reach complete reconciliation among Palestinian factions, stressing that Egypt has exerted a lot of efforts already to reach stability and decrease violence.


Israel and Gaza militant groups agreed on ceasefire on Saturday, a Palestinian official said, after Israel launched dozens of air strikes against the Palestinian enclave ruled by Hamas and gunmen fired more than 100 rockets across the border.

But several hours after the announcement, the Israeli military said Palestinians fired two mortar bombs towards Israel and that it responded by striking the weapon used in the attack in the southern Gaza Strip. There were no immediate reports of any casualties.

Palestinian health officials said earlier that two teenagers had been killed by an Israeli air strike. A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not respond to a request for comment.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters: "Efforts by many parties have continued since the beginning of the escalation and the Israeli bombardment on Gaza. They were crowned by the success of the Egyptian effort to restore calmness and end the escalation."

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said in a separate statement that a truce had been reached.

A senior Israeli defense official said: "Only the facts on the ground will dictate our response."

Parts of the reporting were taken from Reuters ]]>
7/18/2018 12:47:31 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament enacts law regulating establishment of foreign universities ]]>
The law aims to benefit from the educational and scientific research experiences of international universities to achieve significant progress in the higher education system and to strengthen the ties between Egypt’s higher education and that of developed countries.

Under the law, the international branch of a university shall be committed to Egyptian provisions and shall notify the specialized ministry with the university's curricula; criteria to accept students in a university branch will be the same as those of the main university.

Branch campuses will be required to enroll a percentage of Egyptian students and employ a percentage of Egyptian staff in administrative and teaching positions.
All certificates awarded by the branch shall be recognized in the country of the main university; additionally, there will be an annual allocation of grants to students, allowing Egyptians to study or train at the main foreign university.

Each branch campus is required to submit a five-year plan with the expected number of students and costs; the branch will fall under the supervision of the council set up by the Ministry of Higher Education to monitor quality.

The law stipulates that the foreign university may entrust entities in Egypt through a signed contract to establish its branch in Egypt and afford its operation. The minister of higher education shall establish a committee of representatives of ministries and concerned agencies to consider and study the request to construct the branch.

The decision to allow a new campus will be issued by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research after the university branch meets all infrastructural and human resource requirements.

According to the draft law, the president shall issue a decision on establishing the branch upon the request of the minister of higher education and the approval of the Cabinet.

The branch should include faculties, institutes, research units, study programs, innovation centers and science cities.

The branch campus will pay an annual fee for the services provided by state agencies, which will not exceed 1 percent of the tuition expenses of the students.

The state agencies will provide administrative, security and educational support and will ensure that the foreign university is able to exercise academic and institutional freedom and independence. They will also facilitate the process of equalizing the degrees awarded by the branch campus with those granted by Egyptian universities.

On November 2, the minister of higher education announced during the International Education Conference held in the U.K., entitled “Cross Boundary Education in Egypt and the Chances of Investment in Higher Education”, that the New Administrative Capital will include six international universities from the United States, Britain, Hungary, Canada, Sweden and France.

He added that the government seeks to introduce a “new law for international branch campuses intending to operate in the education destination” and called for UK universities to “invest in the Egyptian market of education”.

He referred that the law will facilitate the licensing process for overseas universities in Egypt and the mobility of the staff, remarking that the law will be “aligned” with the Magna Charta Universitatum, a document containing principles of academic freedom and institutional autonomy that has been signed by hundreds of university leaders from across the world.

“We respect academic freedom and university autonomy,” the minister said during his speech, stressing on the good relations between Egypt and the U.K., particularly in the scientific and cultural fields, and the partnerships promoted between Egyptian and English institutions. ]]>
7/18/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Colombia president-elect Duque picks peace pact critic as defense chief]]>
The 70-year-old entrepreneur Guillermo Botero, a lawyer by profession, has no experience in security matters.

"We're going to have a new defense minister, a defense minister with great management experience," said Duque, who is due to take over on August 7 from Juan Manuel Santos, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating the deal with FARC.

Duque has vowed to be tough on crime but has caused tensions with the former FARC guerrillas, who were transformed into a political party after the December 2016 pact that included the disarmament of 7,000 Marxist fighters.

Upon his election last month, Duque vowed to make "corrections" to the peace deal, criticizing it for being too lenient towards former rebels.

The FARC responded by imploring Duque to show "good sense" but on Monday former rebel leader Ivan Marquez said he wouldn't be taking his seat in Colombia's Senate -- as agreed in the pact -- citing "modifications" to the deal as one of his reasons.

Botero, president of the National Traders' Federation, has been especially critical of the pact's prevision for sanctions against ex-guerrillas and fighters accused of crimes committed during the half-century conflict.

The agreement stipulates that former fighters who confess to their involvement in atrocities can avoid prison.

Botero will be tasked with organizing the fight against the remnants of dissident left-wing rebels still fighting the government, as well as various drug trafficking cartels.

He must also tackle the issue of the murder of human rights activists -- at the staggering level of one every three days, since the start of the year.]]>
7/18/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump's overtures to Putin stir opposition at home]]>
Here is a look at some of the fallout from the controversial summit.

- What now for US-Russia relations? -

Going into Monday's meeting in Helsinki, Trump said he wanted to improve relations with Russia, which he characterized as the worst they've ever been.

He had the opportunity to press Putin on any number of issues, including Russia's annexation of Crimea, the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines jet over Ukraine and alleged meddling in the US election in 2016 to help Trump beat Hillary Clinton.

After meeting privately for two hours, the two leaders agreed to revive bilateral corporation and touted an improved relationship -- but they provided few specifics.

For some observers, that in itself was a source of relief.

They had feared Trump would agree to some sort of grand bargain on Crimea or a back-of-the-envelope deal on Syria.

Trump had vowed to seek closer ties with Russia during his election campaign, but his Helsinki appearance did little to quell suspicions of collusion between some on his election team and the Kremlin.

Those alleged ties, which Trump has repeatedly denied, are the subject of a sprawling investigation that has overshadowed Trump's time in the White House.

Standing alongside Putin, Trump seemed to give more weight to the Russian president's denials than conclusions from his own intelligence services that Russia did in fact interfere in the election -- and Putin admitted he wanted Trump to win.

The performance in Helsinki served only to deepen suspicions, Erwan Lagadec, a professor at George Washington University, told AFP, and as a result, Trump's attempt to warm US-Russia ties might ultimately backfire.

On Tuesday, Trump tried to quell the uproar at home by saying he had misspoken and does indeed accept US intelligence assessments that Russia meddled.

- Friends or foes? -

The summit capped a European trip that saw Trump lambast NATO partners, denigrate British Prime Minister Theresa May's approach to Brexit and furiously lash Germany, all amid a trade war with longtime allies.

His apparent eagerness to forge a bond with Putin, a supposed foe, stood in sharp contrast.

Trump's Europe trip "revealed that the president is now unbound, acting in accordance with his visceral beliefs about America's role in the world," said Thomas Wright, director of the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution.

An effort by senior advisors, dubbed the "axis of adults," to contain Trump has failed and "Trump is unbound," he added.

Lagadec said Trump is determined to keep his promises, whatever their limits.

"He wants to be the anti-Obama," and erase all decisions taken by his predecessor, even if that involves upending decades of diplomatic tradition, Lagadec said.

- Republican resistance? -

Trump's approach to Putin is testing support even among some Republicans, with several speaking out to remind the president that Russia is a long-time US adversary.

"The dam is finally breaking," Republican Senator Bob Corker said on Twitter.

"As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens Putin," added Corker, who is retiring later this year.

Aaron David Miller, a former US diplomat now at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said Trump's news conference in Helsinki was the "foreign policy equivalent" of widely decried comments he made last year -- seeming to equate white supremacist protesters and people who turned out to counter-demonstrate -- following deadly racial violence in Charlottesville.

"Two days of infamy where an American president used moral equivalency; failed to condemn a US adversary and hate groups; and betrayed US values/interests," Miller said.

Lagadec even suggested the episode could change "the internal balance of American politics, forcing Congress to regain control over some of America's foreign policy.

But with the fate of many Republican politicians' tied to Trump's popularity with his base, any attempt to check the president in the Republican-controlled Congress would likely flounder.]]>
7/18/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Iran files suit in international court against U.S. over sanctions]]>
A State Department official said the application was without merit and the United States would fight it in the court.

"While we cannot comment on the specifics, Iran's application is baseless and we intend to vigorously defend the United States before the ICJ," a State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear pact with Iran reached by his predecessor Barack Obama and other world powers, and ordered tough U.S. sanctions on Tehran. Under the 2015 deal, which Trump sees as flawed, Iran reined in its disputed nuclear programme under U.N. monitoring and won a removal of international sanctions in return.

The ICJ, which is based in The Hague and is also known as the World Court, is the United Nations tribunal for resolving international disputes. Iran's filing asks the ICJ to order the United States to provisionally lift its sanctions ahead of more detailed arguments.

"Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of U.S. contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Monday, referring to Tehran's lawsuit at the ICJ.

Iran said in its filing that Trump's move "has violated and continued to violate multiple provisions" of the Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights, signed long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the U.S.-allied shah and triggered decades of hostile relations with Washington.

In a lawsuit filed by Iran in 2016 based on the same 1955 treaty, Washington argued that the ICJ had no jurisdiction. The court has scheduled hearings in that case in October.

The next step in Iran's new lawsuit will be a hearing in which the United States is likely to contest whether it merits a provisional ruling. The court has not yet set a date, but hearings on requests for provisional rulings usually are heard within several weeks, with a decision coming within months.

Although the ICJ is the highest United Nations court and its decisions are binding, it has no power to enforce them, and countries - including the United States - have occasionally ignored them.

The spectre of new U.S. sanctions, particularly those meant to block oil exports that are the lifeline of Iran's economy, has caused a rapid fall in the Iranian currency and triggered street protests over fears economic hardships will soon worsen.

The Trump administration has indicated it wants a new deal with Iran that would cover the Islamic Republic's regional military activities and ballistic missile programme.

Iran has said both are non-negotiable, and the other signatories to the 2015 nuclear deal including major European allies Britain, France and Germany, as well as Russia and China, remain committed to it.]]>
7/18/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump tries to calm political storm over Putin summit, says he misspoke]]>
Trump stunned the world on Monday by shying away from criticizing the Russian leader for Moscow's actions to undermine the election and cast doubt on U.S. intelligence agencies, prompting calls by some U.S. lawmakers for tougher sanctions and other actions to punish Russia.

"I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump told reporters at the White House, more than 24 hours after his appearance with Putin. "The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.'"

Trump, who was given numerous opportunities to publicly rebuke Putin during the news conference in Helsinki, instead praised the Russian leader for his "strong and powerful" denial of the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian state meddled in the election.

Standing alongside Putin in Helsinki, Trump told reporters he was not convinced it was Moscow. "I don't see any reason why it would be," Trump said.

Although he faced pressure from critics, allied countries and even his own staff to take a tough line, Trump said not a single disparaging word in public about Moscow on any of the issues that have brought relations between the two nuclear powers to the lowest ebb since the Cold War.

Republicans and Democrats accused him of siding with an adversary rather than his own country.

Mainly reading from a prepared statement, Trump said on Tuesday he had complete faith in U.S. intelligence agencies and accepted their conclusions.

But he appeared to veer from his script to also hedge on who was responsible for the election interference.

"It could be other people also - there's a lot of people out there," he said.

Democrats dismissed Trump's statement as political damage control.

"This has to be recognized for what it is, which is simply an effort to clean up the mess he made yesterday, which is beyond the capacity of any short statement to repair," said Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee.

The political firestorm over his performance in Helsinki has engulfed the administration and spread to his fellow Republicans, eclipsing most of the frequent controversies that have erupted during Trump's turbulent 18 months in office.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that Russia was not a friend of the United States and warned against a repeat of election meddling in November's congressional elections.

"There are a lot of us who fully understand what happened in 2016 and it really better not happen again in 2018," McConnell said.

TOUGHER SANCTIONS

Some lawmakers said they would seek remedies against Russia in Congress.

Several senators from both parties backed tougher sanctions on Russia. McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, who called Russia's government "menacing," said their chambers could consider additional sanctions on Russia.

Congress overwhelmingly passed a sanctions law last year targeting Moscow for election meddling. In April, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on Russian officials and oligarchs in one of Washington's most aggressive moves to punish Moscow.

Even before the allegations of Russian meddling, tensions were high over Moscow's concerns about NATO expansion, Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine in 2014 and its military backing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian civil war.

Some U.S. lawmakers have suggested passing resolutions voicing support for intelligence agencies, or spending more to enhance election security and prevent cyber attacks.

Republican Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said congressional leaders were searching for the most effective response.

"We’re trying to figure out what would be an appropriate way to push back," Corker told reporters. "You know the president can do more damage in 15 minutes at a press conference than we can undo in six months of passing resolutions."

Corker said "the first step" will be hearing from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who will testify on Wednesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Senate Democrats said they want the American interpreter at the Helsinki meeting to testify to Congress on what was said during the private Trump-Putin session.

U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 election campaign and sought to tilt the vote in Trump's favor, which Moscow has denied. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating that allegation and any possible collusion by Trump's campaign.

Trump has denied collusion and casts Mueller's probe as a witchhunt that aims to detract from his election victory.

Not all Republicans were angry with Trump's conduct in Helsinki. "The president did a good thing by meeting with Putin," Senator Rand Paul told CBS "This Morning" program, comments that won him public thanks from Trump on Twitter.

Russia's political and media establishment heralded the summit as a victory for Putin in breaking down Western resolve to treat Russia as a pariah.

"The West's attempts to isolate Russia failed," read the headline in state-run newspaper Rossiisskaya Gazeta.

The summit capped a tumultuous trip during which Trump accused NATO allies of failing to spend enough on their militaries and embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying she had refused to take his advice about how to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU. He referred to the European Union as a "foe" in trade and repeatedly criticized the bloc.]]>
7/18/2018 12:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament to vote on revoking membership of some MPs]]>
This came during the plenary session held on Tuesday when the members of the Parliament voted on the draft law to amend some provisions of Law no. 54 for 1964 on the regulation of Administrative Control Authority, law No. 79 of 1975 on the regulation of issuing social insurance, and law No. 100 of 1987 on identifying the financial transactions of head of the House of Representatives, prime minister, governors and the government’s members.

House of Representatives Speaker Abdel-Aal announced on Sunday that a session to discuss an awaited-report in response to the government's policy statement will be adjourned to Tuesday.

Addressing a general session of the legislature, Abdel-Aal told the lawmakers that the adjournment was approved by the prime minister.

The report will be read out by the Parliament's first undersecretary on Tuesday instead of July 15, he noted.

A parliamentary committee has been formed to review the policy statement and the new government’s program, delivered by Mostafa Madbouly before the Parliament on July 3. The committee should prepare a comprehensive report on the statement and submit it to the Parliament to discuss it during the plenary session.

According to Article 146 of Egypt’s 2016 Constitution, a newly appointed prime minister should deliver a policy statement before the Parliament and this statement should gain a vote of confidence within 30 days.

"If the statement failed to gain a vote of confidence within the required 30 days, Parliament would be considered dissolved and a new Parliament would be elected within sixty days," Article 146 states. ]]>
7/17/2018 3:24:09 PM
<![CDATA[Yemeni min. calls on UN to look carefully into Houthis past ]]>
In a long analytical article titled "Drawing on Past Lessons for Lasting Peace in Yemen", published by Washington Institute website on July 13, Eryani said that the Houthis only call for negotiations and compromises when they become “at a disadvantage”. He explained that these so-called negotiations allow the group’s fighters to catch their breath, reposition themselves, and launch a new round of offensives.

“Thus, we ought to learn from the past and avoid repeating the same terrible mistakes that have hindered the Yemeni people’s dream for a civil, democratic, and pluralistic country,” Eryani stated in an article.

He called on the United Nations and European Union officials not to be deceived by the Houthi’s claims and calls for negotiations.

“While new talks appear to be in the pipeline, in light of the Houthi militia's political ideology, which is based on their absolute faith in the sanctity of their leader and his divine right to rule, it is unlikely that they are truly willing to cooperate. The Houthi militia's ideology endorses the transformation of Yemen into a nation in which imams, rather than law and order, are sacred, and shuns the democratic path that the Republic of Yemen has followed since its founding on May 22, 1990,” Eryani said in his article.

a
Martin Griffiths photo: U.N. envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths arrives in Sanaa, Yemen, July 2, 2018. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

He stressed on the UN Envoy Martin Griffiths to seriously consider all of the previous phases and rounds of fruitless talks with the Houthi militia. He added that discussing peace with Houthis could not be a fair or comprehensive process.

“The UN Envoy must recognize that he is dealing with the armed group that killed the UN's former allies, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, and Aref Al-Zouka, and the UN's head delegate to the Kuwait negotiations,” Eryani stated, stressing that similar warnings must be given to head of the EU delegation to Yemen, Antonia Calvo Puerta.

“Just a few days ago, Puerta hosted a workshop on comprehensive peacemaking efforts and political transition in Yemen, which several Houthi representatives attended.

Unfortunately, despite Ambassador Puerta’s efforts, it does not appear that her positive and good-natured approach aligns with the Houthi militia’s political history. The militia has already criticized her in the media simply because she appeared unhappy with the assault on political leader Faeqa al-Sayed. Sayed was attacked during a mass gathering in front of the house of the murdered former President Saleh. This episode once again shows that it is hard to predict how the Houthi militia will react; one cannot trust their intentions, nor expect them to uphold their commitments,” Eryani explained in his article.

Eryani criticized the United States in his article for not labeling the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization, affirming that they are a “militia”, with no potential to become a political party or partner to any authority.

“The United States and the international community have refrained from labeling the Houthi militia as a terrorist organization in the same way they labeled the Islamic State.
The reason for this appears to be the assumption that the group operates similarly to a political party, and thus could be a potential political partner under the right circumstances."

"In reality, the Houthi militia is a doctrinal and ideologically driven combatant group that operates as an Iranian proxy, helping Tehran to expand its influence in the region.” Eryani said.

In his article, Eryani called on all officials to look carefully into the Houthi’s past and to avoid repeating the same mistakes that increase the Yemeni people's suffering.

Protecting Hudaydah civilians priority to gov't: Yemeni Min.

CAIRO - 6 July 2018: Yemen's Minister of Information Muammar al-Eryani affirmed in statements that Yemeni civilians in al-Hudaydah city are suffering mainly because of the violations of Houthi militias who use civilians as human protecting shields during clashes.


]]>
7/17/2018 1:38:09 PM
<![CDATA[Australian ‘mufti’ widely interviewed exposed as imposter ]]>
“Rashid is not a mufti of Australia; neither is he a member in our council nor an imam at any mosque or Islamic center in Australia. He does not practice any Islamic or social activity and no one from the Muslim community knows him or heard of him except from Egyptian satellite channels,” said ANIC’s letter, which was written in Arabic.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar also denied in 2016 that Rashid, who is usually seen in Al-Azhar traditional attire on T.V., belonged to the prestigious institution, emphasizing that he was not the Mufti of Australia either.

However, Egyptian and other media continued to interview Rashid either alone or in debates with other imams. His interviews are rather controversial, and the debates are usually heated and make outrageous headlines later on Youtube and other social media.

“We strongly demand the correction of this terrible mistake and that it is not repeated for its negative impact on Islam in general and the imams of Australia in particular,” ANIC’s letter added.

letter
A scan of the Australian National Imams Council’s letter to the Egyptian Supreme Media Council


The imams of Australia also noted they have informed the Australian government of the issue, calling on the Egyptian Media Council to contact the Egyptian Embassy in Australia for further reassurance. The current Mufti of Australia is Sheikh Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, according to the letter.

Rashid has claimed that Muslims should go on pilgrimage to Sinai, rather than the Kaaba in Mecca, are permitted to drink alcohol and eat pork, should not fast in Ramadan and that Muslim women should not cover their hair and are allowed to marry non-Muslims.

Safa Islamic satellite channel broadcast an audio that purports Rashid’s voice saying he “found Christ.” While some believe Rashid is not a Muslim, and his opinions attack Islam, it is his poor formal Arabic and lack of proper memorization of Quranic verses and hadiths that make viewers doubt he ever studied at Al-Azhar or has adequate religious education.

Rashid has been interviewed as an Al-Azhar imam and a mufti of Australia at Egyptian channels such as LTC, Al-Kahera Wal Nas and Al-Hadath Alyoum, as well as Arabic-language France 24, which introduced him as an imam of “Sydney Mosque” in Australia in January 2016.

He last appeared in February 2018 on Al-Hayah TV Network and ON Live as the Mufti of Australia and New Zealand. He also appeared on the Aramaic Broadcasting Network, an Arabic-language Christian channel that broadcasts from the U.S., in March 2018 with the same title.
]]>
7/17/2018 1:18:04 PM
<![CDATA[Bohra’s sultan donates LE 10 million to Tahya Misr Fund]]>
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met on Monday leader of Dawoodi Bohra community Sultan Muffadal Saifuddin in Cairo, according to Rady.

sisi 1
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met on Monday leader of Dawoodi Bohra community Sultan Muffadal Saifuddin in Cairo-Press Photo

During the meeting with Saifuddin, the president stressed the historic strong relations between Egypt and the Bohra community, which is based on a permanent openness to all religions and a deep belief in the importance of holding dialogue among different peoples.

In this regard, President Sisi expressed his thanks to the head of the famous Shiite sect for his efforts to restore ancient mosques and launch various charitable activities in Egypt.

In the same context, Saifuddin praised Egypt’s success in achieving security and stability in the last period and in spreading the freedom of practicing rituals.

He also referred to Bohra’s interest in investing in Egypt, hoping that Egypt would achieve a great success through its major national economic projects, praising Egypt's recent achievements in different fields.

This is Bohra’s sultan third visit to Egypt as saifuddin previously visited Egypt in 2014 and 2016.

The Bohra community has already restored the famous Fatimid ancient Al-Hakim Mosque, Juyushi Mosque, Aqmar Mosque and Al-Lolola Mosque in Cairo.
The Bohra community is a group of Indian wealthy merchants whose ancestors lived in Egypt during the Fatimid State.]]>
7/17/2018 12:12:07 PM
<![CDATA[House gives final approval to controversial nationality, media laws]]>
Foreigners with deposits

The House of Representatives approved a draft law introduced by the Cabinet amending the nationality law, giving adult foreigners the right to apply for the Egyptian citizenship if they have stayed in Egypt for five years and have LE 7 million ($391,400) in deposit.

In case the nationality is granted to the foreigner following the authorities’ approval, the value of the deposit goes to the Egyptian state treasury, according to the law.

Only 11 parliamentarians rejected the law, according to media reports. A number of parliamentarians voiced concerns on Sunday that the new amendments can be exploited, calling on the Parliament to prioritize national security.

According to the law, the foreigners residing in Egypt would be divided into foreigners with special accommodation, foreigners with normal accommodation, foreigners with temporary accommodation and “foreigners with banking deposit.”

Following the approval of the Cabinet, the Interior Ministry is authorized with determining those who can be granted accommodation licenses, the license duration, in addition to the deposit value and the currency used. The ministry also determines, according to the law, the banks the money can be deposited in.

On Sunday, MP and journalist Mostafa Bakri said that although he believes that the authorities will check the foreigners' files before they are granted the nationality, he rejects the idea of obtaining the nationality for “a 5-year bank deposit.”

Bakri expressed concerns about the law, claiming that 7,000 terrorists were granted the nationality during former Muslim Brotherhood affiliated President Mohamed Morsi.

MP Haitham al-Hariri also expressed his rejection to the law, saying that foreign investors call for the facilitation of visa and accommodation procedures and not the nationality.

In a sharp tone, political analyst Mohamed al-Ezaby warned that the law will allow the hostile countries to order their agents to obtain the nationality to be able to control the Egyptian economy.

Threatening the Parliament, Ezaby said that if the Parliament passes the law, a signature campaign will be launched and submitted to the Supreme Constitutional Court with the aim of declaring the current Parliament illegitimate.

The dispute around the issue started about two years ago. Moreover, in 2017, renowned Lawyer Samir Sabri commented on granting the nationality for a deposit, saying that it is wholly unconstitutional.



On the other hand, former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail defended the Cabinet’s draft law, saying that many countries grant their citizenships for foreigners with banking deposits, affirming that the deposit would not be enough for a foreigner to obtain the Egyptian nationality in case security conditions were not fulfilled.

Media, journalism regulation law

Following considering the comments of the State Council and the Press Syndicate on the controversial media and journalism regulation law which is believed by a number of the syndicate members to be “standing against freedom of media,” the Parliament gave a final approval to the law.

Some administrative regulations were among the criticized points in the new law before it was amended on Sunday, including: reducing the representation of journalists in the board of directors to the minimum and appointing half of the board members from outside the media institution, as well as allowing the NPA to directly manage the newspapers' boards of directors and public associations.

“The new law doesn’t allow the newspapers' boards to make any important decisions without getting the authority's permission,” the statement read.

According to the statement, the new law also stipulates that journalists have the right to reach for all the information they need.

Moreover, the media draft law included several terms and words which could be described as elastic and incomprehensible, according to the statement, such as “spreading hatred, incitement, threat of democracy", and many others. Several other notes were listed in the statement, commenting on some of the privileges granted to journalists by the draft law, including criminalizing any attack on journalists while on duty.

Article 100 of the new law states that: “Any person who transgresses a journalist during or because of his work shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 10,000 and not more than LE 20,000 or one of these penalties.”



In a plenary session on Sunday, the Egyptian Parliament approved amending a number of controversial articles in the new law regulating media, concerning the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, National Press Authority and National Media Authority.

The Supreme Council for Media Regulation

A journalist or a media person has the right to attend public conferences, sessions and meetings, conduct interviews with citizens and use the camera in places where photography is allowed, after obtaining legal permissions in the required cases. The phrase “in the required cases” was added.

A journalist or a media person cannot be fired from his job before he/she is investigated. In addition, the syndicate has to be informed with the reasons behind the firing decision. Only 30 days after the syndicate is informed, the member can be fired; during the 30 days the syndicate will try to solve the problem and the individual’s salary must not be stopped during these 30 days. “Thirty” days replaced “sixty” days.

Without violating the penal code, a journalist or a media person is not allowed to accept any financial donations, aid, or benefits for his work from any person or any local or international site, directly or indirectly. The sentence: "If the individual was proven guilty of the violation, the value of the financial donations, aid, and benefits go to the pension fund of the member’s syndicate," was erased from the law.

A journalist or a media person is not allowed to seek getting ads or earning money or benefits through publishing or broadcasting ads. He/she is also not allowed to sign on an ad or to appear in an ad or participate in it with his voice. The phrase: "If he is proven guilty, the value of the money and benefits go to his journalistic institution or to the media channel he/she belongs to," was erased.

Any newspaper must have at least 70 percent of its actual staff from members of the Press Syndicate. Formerly, only 50 percent of the newspapers’ staff had to be members of the syndicate.

The word “custody” in the law was removed in the recent amendments. Meeting the demand of the Press Syndicate, the amended law stipulates that no “freedom restricting” penalties can be imposed on a journalist in publication and publicity crimes except those related to inciting violence or discrimination between citizens or slandering other individuals.

In all situations, it is impermissible to broadcast or rebroadcast from outside the media sites approved by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation. However, it is allowed for a media company or office to broadcast from outside the studio if it has a studio inside the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC). The media entity will also need a prior permission from the council including the date and place of broadcast.

The Supreme Council will study the request of the media channel to be established or operated within 90 days from request submission. A media channel shall obtain a 5-year license to be operated; the channel shall be able to renew its license following the approval of the Supreme Council.

The Supreme Council is tasked with creating a list of penalties that can be imposed on the journalistic institutions and media corporations if they violate the media law.

National Press Authority

The boards of the national journalistic institutions would decide on the retirement age of journalists and directors and would extend it if necessary. According to Osama Heikal, head of the Parliament’s Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee, the retirement age can be extended, year by year, to 65 years for distinguished journalists only.

The NPA is not allowed, according to the law, to act in a way that may affect its independence. It is also impermissible for the authority to accept gifts or grants. However, the NPA will be able to accept donations and grants on legal bases following the approval of two thirds of the authority’s members. In this case, the NPA has to consult with the security authority before accepting the grants.

According to the law, 1 percent of the journalistic institutions revenues will be used to fund the national journalistic institutions whose need for fund is recognized by the NPA.

The National Media Authority, according to the law, has the right to rebroadcast sport championships taking place inside Egypt. The law will solely give the NMA the authority to allow others to rebroadcast these events for a percentage of the broadcast right cost. However, the broadcast right cannot be obtained except by the state-owned national corporations.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil
]]>
7/17/2018 12:09:27 PM
<![CDATA[President Sisi to participate in China-Africa Forum]]>
In a phone call with ON Live, Rady referred that Egyptian Chinese relations are very important as Beijing is a strategic partner to Cairo; hence, many committees and mechanisms were established to promote the cooperation between the two countries.

As for the leader of Dawoodi Bohra community Sultan Muffadal Saifuddin’s visit to Egypt, Rady remarked that he has offered a LE 10 million donation to Tahya Misr Fund (Long Live Egypt fund).

He added that Bohra has done many charitable activities in Egypt to renovate the ancient mosques.



This came after the meeting held between Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on July 8, during which Wang Yi referred that China looks forward to President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s participation in the upcoming Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

Minister of Foreign Affairs Shoukry praised the historic bilateral relations between Egypt and China, which has been promoted to include “the comprehensive strategic partnership,” referring to several meetings held between Chinese and Egyptian leaders to improve cooperation and coordination between the two states.

As for the economic cooperation between the two countries, Shoukry highlighted that Egypt praises the role played by Chinese investments in major Egyptian national projects such as the New Administrative Capital, the two coal-fired plants in the Red Sea port of Hamrawein, Ataqa water storage and pumping project, the electric train project, the project to develop Abu Qir and Alexandria line, the New Valley Phosphate Complex for the production of phosphoric acid, the expansion of the first phase of the Special Economic Zone project in the northwest of the Suez Gulf, as well as the development project of the Ain Sokhna Port.

In this regard, Shoukry expressed Egypt’s eagerness to facilitate the entrance of Egyptian exports to the Chinese market and encourage Chinese tourism to Egypt, which has witnessed a remarkable increase in the past two years. The trade volume between the two countries is estimated at about $10.985 billion in 2016.

He stressed Egypt’s keenness to support China's Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and to promote for the values of peaceful coexistence and sustainable development as well as cultural, political and economical links between different countries.

He encouraged his Chinese counterpart to increase Chinese investments in Suez Canal for its vital importance as a main trade route in the international trade movement and an important factor in the BRI initiative.

Since President Sisi came to power, the relationship between Egypt and China has developed.

Five Egyptian-Chinese summits have been held in the last three years which means that about one-third of all summit meetings between the two countries in history were held by Sisi’s presidency in only three years.

Strategic partnership Summit

The first summit between President Sisi and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping was held from December 22 - 25, 2014. Sisi’s visit was the first to China after he assumed his post as president.

Sisi welcomed the Chinese president's initiative to boost Egyptian-Chinese relations to the level of comprehensive strategic partnership. The two sides also signed agreements on economic and technical cooperation.

The president asserted that Egypt backs the Chinese initiative for reviving the historical Silk Road which passes through 56 countries and plans to strengthen cooperation in infrastructure, nuclear power, new energy and aerospace. Sisi also held a meeting with presidents of 28 Chinese universities and also met with representatives of major Chinese tourism companies.

During his visit to China, Sisi visited Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, to tour factories specializing in technology and manufacturing.
Additional Report by Jehad El-Sayed
]]>
7/17/2018 12:06:11 PM
<![CDATA[Putin says he told Trump Russia prepared to extend START treaty ]]>
"I reassured President Trump that Russia stands ready to extend this treaty, to prolong it, but we have to agree on the specifics at first, because we have some questions to our American partners. We think that they are not fully compliant with the treaty, but this is for experts to decide," Putin told Fox News in an interview following a summit between the two leaders on Monday in Helsinki.
]]>
7/17/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Britain plans to bring forward parliament's mid-year break - official]]>
The official said the government has tabled a motion for parliament's early closure to lawmakers, who are debating changes to Prime Minister Theresa May's plans for leaving the European Union put forward by Brexit supporters.
]]>
7/17/2018 3:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Syrian opposition factions agree Egypt-sponsored ceasefire]]>
The agreement stipulates participating in efforts to fight terrorism and work on reaching a political settlement to the Syrian crisis, besides the return of refugees and the displaced to their homes and the release of detainees.

The armed factions in the northern countryside of Homs, topped by Jaish al Tawhid, signed an agreement in Cairo under Egyptian sponsorship, Russian guarantee and brokerage of Jarba.

The agreement stipulates joining efforts of combating terrorism in Syria and establishing peace-keeping forces in the region.

The commanders of the factions participating in the meetings in Cairo thanked President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi for Egypt's efforts exerted to find a solution to the Syrian crisis and alleviate the suffering of the Syrian people.

Why Egypt?

In a previous press conference held in Cairo last August, Jarba affirmed that choosing Egypt as a sponsor in the ceasefires didn’t come out of nowhere, and he mentioned three reasons for the choice. “First, Egypt has not been involved in any conflict with Syrian parties, which are main factors in the ceasefire agreements, and it has not backed any armed Syrian faction. Second, Egypt has good relations with Russia (co-sponsor of the ceasefire). Third, Egypt’s role is confined to only mediation,” he said.

“Egypt’s brokerage is essential,” Jarba added, praising the Egyptian role in reaching the ceasefire in the eastern Ghouta region in Damascus, which was announced on July 23.

“We previously had reservations over the Arabs’ complete absence from the Syrian negotiations that have been hosted by Astana. So Egypt’s role in the negotiations for the Ghouta and Homs ceasefires was essential, as it was the only Arab country to play a role,” Jarba said in the conference.

He has consistently thanked President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the Egyptian government for their mediation efforts, which include hosting the negotiations and the signing of the agreement.

Jarba denied asking Egypt to deploy any troops to eastern Ghouta and Homs in order to guarantee the ceasefires. “If it was either necessary or required, we would’ve asked the Egyptian government to do so (deploy troops); but it’s not,” Jarba said, adding that Egypt has the final decision in this regard.

Syria's Al-Ghad opposition movement was founded in March 2016 by Syrian National Council member Ahmed Jarba. Recently, the movement signed a ceasefire agreement in eastern Ghouta with the Syrian regime.

Syrian reconciliation

Egypt and Russia have brokered two ceasefire agreements between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and armed opposition fighters in certain areas in northern Syria.

On July 23, the first ceasefire was announced in the Ghouta region in Damascus. The agreement signed with Egyptian mediation, according to the statement, came after three day-negations in the presence of representatives of the Syrian opposition, Syrian regime and the Russian Defense Ministry.

The agreement stated conditions include, “a complete cease-fire binding to all parties, the entry ban of all military troops into eastern Ghouta, building Russian observation sites inside Ghouta to monitor the parties’ commitment to the agreement.”

The second de-escalation deal was announced in an area in the northern Homs countryside on August 3.

Earlier this month, thousands of displaced Syrians were heading home after rebels and the government reached a ceasefire deal in the south following more than two weeks of deadly bombardment.

Under the agreement announced after talks between rebels and regime ally Moscow, opposition fighters will hand over territory in the southern province of Daraa near the Jordanian border.

Daraa is seen as the cradle of the uprising that sparked Syria's seven-year war, and the government retaking full control of it would be a symbolic victory for President Bashar al-Assad.

A Russia-backed regime offensive in Daraa has displaced more than 320,000 people since June 19, the United Nations says, including tens of thousands who fled south to the sealed border with Jordan.

Calm reigned over the region on Saturday as the two sides finalised the ceasefire deal, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group.

The Syrian political situation has been deteriorating since the protests that emerged with the Arab Spring revolutions in 2011, when the opposition created the “Free Syrian Army” to face Assad’s forces. The situation worsened when the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group began interfering in the country in 2014.

More than 350,000 people have been killed and millions displaced since Syria's war started in 2011 with a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

Additional reporting by Aya Samir
]]>
7/17/2018 2:57:42 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament approves law granting select military officials immunity]]>
The law protects military officials named by a presidential decree from being interrogated or sued for “any action committed” during their service or because of their service since the former constitution was suspended in 2013, until the Parliament elected in 2015 started his mission.

Only 8 parliamentarians rejected the law introduced by the Cabinet.

The 7-article law stipulates that the selected former officials would be called up again to serve the armed forces for their entire lives. In case the former official was found holding a non-military job, he will be called up after his job is done.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for taking the required procedures to give the select officials diplomatic immunity.

The select officials who had not served as ministers or taken up a higher post before they were called up would be treated as ministers and would subsequently have all ministerial benefits and rights, according to the law.

Moreover, the Egyptian President would determine the other grants given to these officials. In case they already receive grants based on another law, they can still receive the grants given to them based on the newly-approved law.

The law will come into effect the following day after it is published in Egypt’s Official Gazette.


On July, 3, 2013, Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi, the defense minister at the time announced suspending the 2012 constitution issued during the Muslim Brotherhood’s rule, and the ousting of the MB affiliated former President Mohamed Morsi to meet the June 30 revolution top demand.

Following the political turmoil caused by Morsi supporters especially before the dispersal of their mass sit-ins in Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda squares, Sisi, the incumbent president announced in March, 2014, resigning from his post as the defense minister and running for president.

In January 2016, the current Parliament started its first session about two months after it was elected, and Ali Abdel Aal was chosen by the members as the Parliament speaker.

Earlier in July, Abdel Aal justified the law, saying that the military officials stand by people during revolutions adding that people had to seek honoring the military personnel. He said that people can reap the rewards of the revolution thanks to the support of the military officials.
]]>
7/16/2018 8:50:26 PM
<![CDATA[Trump blames 'U.S. foolishness and stupidity' for poor Russia ties ahead of Putin summit]]>
The Russian foreign ministry "liked" Trump's comments on Twitter, in which Trump denounced the investigation into Russian meddling in American elections as well as previous U.S. policy.

"Our relationship with Russia has NEVER been worse thanks to many years of U.S. foolishness and stupidity and now, the Rigged Witch Hunt!" wrote Trump.

The Kremlin said it did not expect much from the meeting but hoped it would be a "first step" to resolving a crisis in ties.

"Presidents Trump and Putin respect each other and they get along well," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said. "There is no clear agenda. It will be determined by the heads of state themselves as they go along."

Critics and Trump's own advisers have urged Trump to use the summit to press Putin hard about "malign" activities, from annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula to interfering in Western elections, to poisoning a spy in England, which Moscow denies.

During a breakfast meeting with Finland's president before the meeting with Putin in the Finnish capital, Trump appeared upbeat. Asked what he would say to Putin, Trump said: "We'll do just fine, thank you."

Trump and his wife Melania returned to their hotel after the breakfast and were expected to remain there for a few hours.

Putin landed in Helsinki about 40 minutes behind schedule, and was expected to head directly to the summit. The two leaders will hold a one-on-one with only interpretors, followed by a working lunch accompanied by advisers.

While Trump has been abroad since last week, the special prosecutor investigating allegations that Russia interfered to help him win the 2016 presidential election indicted 12 Russians on Friday for stealing Democratic Party documents.

"WHICH TEAM DO YOU PLAY FOR?"

Trump's foes at home have been scathing about his apparent refusal to criticise Putin. His 2016 opponent Hillary Clinton tweeted: "Great World Cup. Question for President Trump as he meets Putin: Do you know which team you play for?"

Russia denies interfering in the U.S. presidential election. The state RIA news agency quoted a Russian source as saying Moscow was "ready to discuss, ready to undertake mutual obligations of non-intervention into internal matters".

Trump has said he will raise the election meddling but does not expect to get anywhere. He has repeatedly noted that Putin denies it, while also saying that it is alleged to have taken place before he became president.

For Putin, that the summit is even happening despite Russia's semi-pariah status among some Americans and U.S. allies is a geopolitical win.

The countries are expected to discuss the prospect of extending a nuclear disarmament treaty, and the war in Syria, where Russian-backed forces of President Bashar al-Assad have advanced in the south of the country in recent weeks despite a ceasefire brokered by Moscow and Washington under Trump.

The summit caps a trip abroad during which Trump sternly criticised NATO allies for failing to spend enough on their militaries and embarrassed British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying she refused to take his advice about how to negotiate Britain's exit from the EU. He referred to the European Union itself as a "foe" in trade, and repeatedly criticised it.

In some of the strongest words yet reflecting the unease of Washington's traditional allies, Germany's foreign minister said on Monday Europe could not rely on Trump.

"We can no longer completely rely on the White House," Heiko Maas told the Funke newspaper group. "To maintain our partnership with the USA we must readjust it. The first clear consequence can only be that we need to align ourselves even more closely in Europe."

Trump has predicted he will be accused of being too soft on Putin no matter how the summit goes. "If I was given the great city of Moscow as retribution for all of the sins and evils committed by Russia...I would return to criticism that it wasn’t good enough – that I should have gotten Saint Petersburg in addition!" he tweeted on Sunday.]]>
7/16/2018 12:30:15 PM
<![CDATA[Amendments to new law emphasize media persons’ rights, limits]]>
The Supreme Council for Media Regulation
A journalist or a media person has the right to attend public conferences, sessions and meetings, conduct interviews with citizens and use the camera in places where photography is allowed, after obtaining legal permissions in the required cases. The phrase “in the required cases” was added.

A journalist or a media person cannot be fired from his job before he/she is investigated. In addition, the syndicate has to be informed with the reasons behind the firing decision. Only 30 days after the syndicate is informed, the member can be fired; during the 30 days the syndicate will try to solve the problem and the individual’s salary must not be stopped during these 30 days. “Thirty” days replaced “sixty” days.

Without violating the penal code, a journalist or a media person is not allowed to accept any financial donations, aid, or benefits for his work from any person or any local or international site, directly or indirectly. The sentence: "If the individual was proven guilty of the violation, the value of the financial donations, aid, and benefits go to the pension fund of the member’s syndicate," was erased from the law.

A journalist or a media person is not allowed to seek getting ads or earning money or benefits through publishing or broadcasting ads. He/She is also not allowed to sign on an ad or to appear in an ad or participate in it with his voice. The phrase: "If he is proven guilty, the value of the money and benefits go to his journalistic institution or to the media channel he/she belongs to," was erased.

Any newspaper must have at least 70 percent of its actual staff from members of the Press Syndicate. Formerly, only 50 percent of the newspapers’ staff had to be members of the syndicate.

The word “custody” in the law was removed in the recent amendments. Meeting the demand of the Press Syndicate, the amended law stipulates that no “freedom restricting” penalties can be imposed on a journalist in publication and publicity crimes except those related to inciting violence or discrimination between citizens or slandering other individuals.

In all situations, it is impermissible to broadcast or rebroadcast from outside the media sites approved by the Supreme Council for Media Regulation. However, it is allowed for a media company or office to broadcast from outside the studio if it has a studio inside the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC). The media entity would also need a prior permission from the council including the date and place of broadcast.

The Supreme Council will study the request of the media channel to be established or operated within 90 days from request submission. A media channel shall obtain a 5-year license to be operated; the channel shall be able to renew its license following the approval of the Supreme Council.

The Supreme Council is tasked with creating a list of penalties that can be imposed on the journalistic institutions and media corporations if they violate the media law.

National Press Authority
The boards of the national journalistic institutions would decide on the retirement age of journalists and directors and would extend it if necessary. According to Osama Heikal, head of the Parliament’s Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee, the retirement age can be extended to 65 years for distinguished journalists only, year by year.

The NPA is not allowed, according to the law, to act in a way that may affect its independence. It is also impermissible for the authority to accept gifts or grants. However, the NPA will be able to accept donations and grants on legal bases following the approval of two thirds of the authority’s members. In this case, the NPA has to consult with the security authority before accepting the grants.

According to the law, 1 percent of the journalistic institutions revenues will be used to fund the national journalistic institutions whose need for fund is recognized by NPA.

The National Media Authority, according to the law, has the right to rebroadcast sport championships taking place inside Egypt. The law will solely give the NMA the authority to allow others to rebroadcast these events for a percentage of the broadcast right cost. However, the broadcast right cannot be obtained except by the state-owned national corporations.

Earlier dispute
The Press Syndicate’s board earlier held a closed meeting to discuss their concerns over the new media law, which faced a huge wave of criticism by journalists especially on social media, raising several questions on whether the new law will preserve media rights or impose more restrictions on Egyptian media.

The new law which consists of seven sections specifies the administrative construction of newspapers' high board and owners and defines exactly what it means to be a journalist. According to the new law, a journalist is “anyone listed as a member of the Journalists Syndicate”. The new law also lists the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority rights to interfere, manage and direct all of the Egyptian media outlets.

Several concerns were raised by a number of the Journalists Syndicate members regarding the new law. A debate was launched on the ground and on social media between supporters and opponents of the new law.

In the opposing statement, Journalists Syndicate members listed several points referring to the new law as “standing against the freedom of media and journalists.”
However, other officials described the new law as "balanced". Heikal said in statements to media outlets that the new law sets a number of the needed principles to regulate media work inside the country, adding that the law is balanced and protects journalists and their rights.

Some administrative regulations were among the criticized points in the new law, including: reducing the representation of journalists in the board of directors to the minimum and appointing half of the board members from outside the media institution, as well as allowing the NPA to directly manage the newspapers board of directors and public associations.

“The new law doesn’t allow the newspapers' board to make any important decisions without getting the authority's permission,” the statement read.

According to the statement, the new law also stipulates that the journalists have the right to reach for all the information they need.

Moreover, the media draft law included several terms and words which could be described as elastic and incomprehensible, according to the statement, such as “spreading hatred, incitement, threat of democracy", and many others. Several other notes were listed in the statement, commenting on some of the privileges granted to journalists by the draft law, including criminalizing any attack on journalists while on duty.

Article 100 of the new law states that: “Any person who transgresses a journalist during or because of his work shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 10,000 and not more than LE 20,000 or one of these penalties.”
]]>
7/16/2018 11:57:36 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament censured for approving law naturalizing ‘foreigners with deposits’]]>
According to the law, a foreigner who has resided in Egypt for 5 years with a deposit of not less than LE 7 million will have the right to obtain the Egyptian nationality following legal and security procedures.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal said that many foreigners have lived in Egypt for as many as 30 or 40 years. However, they and their grand children have not obtained the Egyptian nationality yet. He added that naturalization is carried out in many countries.

The Egyptian authority says that the law aims to encourage Arabic and foreign investments in the national economic projects, adding that it would help provide investors with more confidence and stability.

MP Kamal Amer, chairman of the Parliament’s National Defense and Security Committee, said that the law does not affect the national security; the law supports the economic section. He added that the law aims to introduce a new system for the foreigners residing in Egypt amid increasing requests to obtain the Egyptian nationality.

On the other hand, a number of parliamentarians and politicians rejected the law, calling on the Parliament to prioritize national security.

Independent MP and journalist Mostafa Bakri said that although he believed that the authorities will check the foreigners' files before they are granted the nationality. However, he rejected the idea of obtaining the nationality for “a 5-year bank deposit.”

Bakri expressed concerns about the law, claiming that 7,000 terrorists were granted the nationality during former Muslim Brotherhood affiliated President Mohamed Morsi.

MP Haitham al-Hariri also expressed his rejection to the law, saying that foreign investors call for the facilitation of visa and accommodation procedures and not the nationality.

In a sharp tone, Mohamed al-Ezaby, political analyst warned that the law would allow the hostile countries to order their agents to obtain the nationality to be able to control the Egyptian economy.

Threatening the Parliament, Ezaby said that if the Parliament passes the law, a signature campaign will be launched and submitted to the Supreme Constitutional Court with the aim of declaring the current Parliament illegitimate.

]]>
7/16/2018 11:30:46 AM
<![CDATA[All Kurdish YPG have left Syria's Manbij - local militia]]>
Turkey objects to the presence of the YPG in Syria near its border. It views the YPG as a terrorist group and an extension of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade insurgency on Turkish soil. Washington sees the YPG as a key ally in the fight against Islamic State.

"The Manbij Military Council announces that the last batch of (YPG) military advisers completed its withdrawal on July 15, 2018, after completing their mission of military training and preparation of our forces...," the militia controlling the town said in a statement.

The Manbij Military Council is a militia allied to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in northern Syria. It has repeatedly said there were no YPG fighters in Manbij, only some YPG military advisers.

The announcement came after Turkey and the United States reached a deal last month over Manbij after months of disagreement. Under that deal, the YPG would withdraw from Manbij and Turkish and U.S. forces would jointly maintain security and stability around the town.
]]>
7/16/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[The German embassy in KSA denies Qatari media reports]]>

The Qatari newspaper, “Al Sharq”, published false press statements for the German Minister of defense Ursula von der Leyen on margins of NATO summit in Brussels, in which Von der Leyen called the Arab quartet’s boycott of Qatar a “conspiracy”. The Qatari media reports alleged on behalf of the German minister of defense that the emirate will acquire bigger role in the NATO.





The German embassy in Riyadh denied through Twitter the Qatari media reports, adding that Von der Leyen did not give such statements to any news outlets.
]]>
7/16/2018 12:30:16 AM
<![CDATA[Soccer-Anti-Kremlin protesters invade pitch during World Cup final]]>
The pitch invaders, who were dressed in police-style outfits, were later detained by police, one of them told Reuters by telephone from a police station near Moscow's Luzhniki stadium, venue for the match.

In a post on its Facebook page, the group said its action was intended to draw attention to what it said were human rights abuses in Russia.

Three of Pussy Riot's original members were jailed in 2012 for staging a protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin in a church and the group have since become a symbol of anti-Kremlin direct action.

In the second half of Sunday's match, the three people wearing white shirts with police-style epaulettes, black trousers and police hats ran out onto the pitch from the area behind the French goal. A fourth person tried to run onto the pitch but was tackled on the sidelines.

The three ran about 50 metres, dispersing in different directions, before stewards wearing high-visibility jackets tackled them to the ground and dragged them off the pitch.

One photograph on social media showed one of the pitch invaders, a woman with blonde hair tucked under a police cap, performing a high-five with France player Kylian Mbappe before being caught.

The match, watched from the stands by Putin and the French and Croatian presidents, was halted, but resumed about 25 seconds later. A witness at the stadium said he had seen police escorting the pitch invaders out of the stadium grounds.

The pitch invasion was the first significant security lapse in the five-week tournament that has won hosts Russia widespread praise for their good organisation and efficiency.

Pussy Riot member Olga Kurachyova told Reuters she was one of the pitch invaders and was being held at Luzhniki police station. She said she could not speak further because police were trying to take her mobile phone away from her.

Moscow police said in a statement that three young women and a young man had been detained after running onto the pitch.

LIST OF DEMANDS

In its Facebook post, Pussy Riot complained of rights abuses in Russia. They alluded to Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian filmmaker jailed for 20 years in 2015 for setting fire to two offices in Crimea, including one belonging to Russia's ruling party, after Moscow annexed the region from Ukraine.

Pussy Riot said their demands included freeing political prisoners in Russia, freedom of speech on the internet, freedom to protest, and allowing political competition.

The group shared a video on social media recorded before the incident featuring three female activists, at least two of whom were among those detained. They wore police uniforms and one of them wore a pink balaclava.

"The World Cup has shown wonderfully what the police can be like in Russia, but what will happen afterwards?" one of the activists asked in the video, an apparent allusion to lenient policing noted by Russians during the tournament.

A separate video posted on social media appeared to show the moments after the pitch invaders had been detained.

Two of them, a man and a woman, could be seen standing in a room, dressed in dishevelled police uniforms, while a voice off camera demanded handcuffs be brought.

"Do you know that Russia will pay for this to FIFA through sanctions?" the off-camera voice said, in an angry tone. "You wanted to shit on Russia, didn’t you?"

"We are for Russia," the male detainee replied.

"Sometimes I regret that it's not 1937," the person off- camera in the video said. That year was the height of political repressions carried out by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Photographs of the pitch invasion suggested the pitch invaders did not include the three Pussy Riot members who were jailed in 2012 for performing in the church.

Russian news website MediaZona, co-founded by one of the original three Pussy Riot members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, reported that one of the pitch invaders was Pyotr Verzilov, Tolokonnikova's husband.
]]>
7/15/2018 11:16:20 PM
<![CDATA[Plan set to implement new health insurance law]]>
The Health Committee carefully follows up the mechanisms set by the Ministry of Health to apply the comprehensive Health Insurance Law, and it will hold a meeting with Minister of Health Hala Zayed to look into the details of the plan after the Parliament officially grants the confidence to the government, according to Ayman Abul-Ela, deputy of the Health Committee in the House of Representatives.

In this regard, the Health Committee stressed that the new law will achieve a great progress in health services provided to Egyptians; hence, the committee will head in the upcoming period to Port Said,the first governorate where the plan will be implemented, to inspect the infrastructure of the hospitals and health units.

Abul-Ela added that LE 1.8 billion from the public budget were allocated to put the plan into effect in Port Said by the end of the current year.

He further remarked that implementing the plan requires developing the first aid, focusing on the maternity and childhood services, establishing the three bodies mentioned in the new law to manage the health system, including the General Authority for Health Insurance, which will finance the system, General Authority for Healthcare, and the General Authority for Accreditation and Supervision, which will determine hospitals and medical units eligible to join the system, in addition to activating the system to electronically provide all the services of the health insurance system.

In the same context, Deputy Chairman of Health Committee Mustafa Abu Zaid said that Port Said was chosen as it is less populated and has a qualified infrastructure, referring that Gharbia governorate poses a great challenge to implementing the law as its health institutions need full rehabilitation.

President Sisi's plan for his second term mainly focuses on building Egyptian citizens physically, culturally and intellectually, which puts the Egyptians’ good health among the top priorities.

The first phase of the new Health Insurance Law was launched July 6, according to presidency spokesperson BassamRady.

In an official statement issued July 6, Rady said the first phase of the new law includes preliminary procedures for the full implementation of the law, including:

“The elimination of patient waiting lists for surgery and critical medical interventions within six months, providing the needed stocks of infant formula and vaccines, and finishing the comprehensive survey and treatment of Hepatitis C virus for Egyptian citizens.”

Last December, Egypt’s Parliament approved the new Health Insurance Law, raising a stormy debate between the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, which opposes the draft law, and parliamentarians. The law was criticized for imposing more burdens on the individual's income as the law raises monthly insurance fees.

After discussions that took over a month, former Minister of Health and Population Ahmed EmadEddin announced on Dec. 19 the Parliament’s approval of all articles of the new Health Insurance Law.

Egypt's health system has been criticized for years for not meeting standards. The new health insurance law proposed in October 2017 is considered a new government bid to overcome the shortcomings of the old system that was deemed inadequate and insufficiently safeguarding patients' rights.

Lawmakers defended the new law as it would boost the quality of health services in public hospitals. The old law covered health services for governmental and seasonal workers, while the newly approved amendments guarantee the same medical services to all citizens.

Despite the expected positive impact of the new law, more burdens on citizens’ income are feared as the law raises monthly insurance fees. Given the difficult economic conditions, the law amendments "would place a large burden on low-income families," Dr. Mohamed Hassan Khalil, coordinator of an independent health organization, told Egypt Today.

Why good? Why bad? New health insurance law discussed

CAIRO - 21 December 2017: The Egyptian Parliament finally approved the new national health insurance law, raising a stormy debate between the Egyptian Medical Syndicate opposing the draft law and parliamentarians. After fruitful discussion that took over a month, Minister of Health and Population Ahmed EmadEddin announced on December 19 the approval of the Council of Representatives on all articles of the new comprehensive universal health insurance law.




]]>
7/15/2018 3:33:08 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. President Trump has "low expectations" for Helsinki summit]]>
The summit, which comes at one of the most crucial junctures for the West since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, has perturbed some European allies who fear Putin might seek a grand deal that undermines the U.S.-led transatlantic alliance.

Trump, who has been preparing for the summit by playing golf at his Trump Turnberry course on the western coast of Scotland, told CBS in an interview that "nothing bad" would come out of the summit with Putin.

"I go in with low expectations," Trump told CBS in Turnberry. "I'm not going with high expectations."

A U.S. federal grand jury charged 12 Russian intelligence officers on Friday with hacking Democratic computer networks in 2016, in the most detailed U.S. accusation yet that Moscow meddled in the election to help Republican Trump.

Trump has repeatedly said the investigation into suspected Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election - which he casts as a "rigged witch hunt" - makes it hard for him to do substantive deals with Moscow.

But the charges shine an even brighter spotlight on Trump's treatment of Putin, who has repeatedly denied that Russia sought to skew the election that Trump, a Republican, unexpectedly won.

When asked by CBS if he would ask Putin to extradite the Russians to the United States, Trump said he hadn't thought of that idea but that he might. Russia's constitution forbids the extradition of its own citizens.

"I hadn't thought of that," Trump said. "But certainly, I'll be asking about it. But again, this was during the Obama administration. They were doing whatever it was during the Obama administration."

When Trump meets Putin, he sits down with a disciplined, detail-oriented and experienced Russian leader who has played on the world stage for more than 18 years, in contrast to the U.S. president's 18 months in office.

Trump, a 72-year-old former New York real estate developer who praises his own deal-making skills, and Putin, a 65-year-old former KGB spy who cultivates a macho image as a man of action, are due to have some time alone at the summit.

"I think it's a good thing to meet," Trump said. "Nothing bad is going to come out of it, and maybe some good will come out."

Trump has said he wants to raise nuclear arms control, Ukraine and Syria with Putin, who has served as Russia's preeminent leader since Boris Yeltsin resigned on the last day of 1999.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned Trump against making any unilateral deals with Russia that come with a cost for the United States' Western allies.

Trump was seen playing golf on Sunday at his course by two Reuters reporters. On Saturday, he also played golf.

Putin on Saturday held several meetings in the Kremlin before attending the opera at the Bolshoi Theatre. He is due to attend the soccer World Cup final between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow on Sunday.]]>
7/15/2018 2:30:57 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament speaker refers to specialized committees presidential decrees, bills]]>
Abdel Aal referred to the constitutional and legislative committee three presidential decrees, including a decree approving a 60-million-Kuwaiti-dinar loan agreement between Egypt and the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development on financing a project for developing electric transmission networks.

The constitutional and legislative committee will also review a presidential decree approving a 53.200-million-dollar loan agreement between Egypt and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) for implementing the second stage of renovating pumping stations of sanitation and irrigation.

The committee will also examine a presidential decree on letters exchanged between Egypt and the Spanish Cooperation Agency for International Development (AECID) on a 150,000-euro grant for implementing the third stage of the National Center for Judicial Studies.

Abdel Aal referred a bill tendered by the government on establishing Egypt fund to a joint committee - comprising representatives from the planning and budget committee and the economic affairs committee.

Abdel Aal referred a bill presented by the government on amending some provisions of the Police Authority law to a joint committee, comprising members of the defense and national security committee and the constitutional and legislative committee.

Abdel Aal also referred a draft law presented by the government on establishing technological universities to a joint committee, including members from the educational and scientific research committee and the communications and IT committee.

The parliament speaker referred a bill presented by over a tithe of lawmakers on amending some provisions of the labor law to a joint committee, comprising members of the manpower committee and the constitutional and legislative committee.

Also, over one tenth of lawmakers presented bills on amending the natural gas law and establishing a national council for elderly people. The bills were referred to the House's specialized committees to be reviewed.]]>
7/15/2018 1:57:57 PM
<![CDATA[May says Trump told her to 'sue the EU']]>
May said Trump's self-declared "brutal" option in the Brexit negotiations was to sue Brussels, shedding light on his mysterious suggestion that has hung over their talks and his four-day visit to Britain.

"He told me I should sue the EU. Sue the EU," May told BBC television.

The unknown Trump option had been hanging in the air for days.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper on Thursday ahead of his talks with May, Trump said he had told May how to deal with Brussels but she "didn't listen".

"I would have done it much differently. I actually told Theresa May how to do it but she didn't agree, she didn't listen to me. She wanted to go a different route," he said.

"She probably went the opposite way."

In a press conference after their talks Friday, Trump said it had been a suggestion rather than advice.

"I think maybe she found it too brutal," he said, standing alongside May, without revealing the details.

"I could fully understand why she thought it was tough. And maybe someday she'll do that. If they don't make the right deal she may do what I suggested but it's not an easy thing."

- 'Would have been great' -

And when pressed in a newspaper interview afterwards, Trump still declined to reveal what his suggestion was.

"I recommended her something, I gave her an option, I'd rather not tell you what that option is, but I think she might," he told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.

"I think it would've been great, but it's not too late for her to do that, necessarily."

May finally revealed what Trump had told her.

"He told me I should sue the EU. Sue the EU. Not go into negotiations, sue them. Actually, no, we're going into negotiations with them," she said.

"What the president also said at that press conference was don't walk away. Don't walk away from negotiations because then you're stuck," she added.

"So I want us to be able to sit down to negotiate the best deal for Britain."

The UK is due to leave the EU in March 2019.

May's proposals for Britain's future relationship with Brussels, published Thursday, foresee an overall "association agreement" with the EU encompassing different deals on different areas.

Britain and the EU would maintain a "common rulebook" for goods to ensure smooth trade including in agricultural, food and fisheries products.]]>
7/15/2018 1:47:36 PM
<![CDATA[Turkey's Erdogan says Syrian govt forces targetting Idlib could destroy accord ]]>
The two presidents spoke by telephone after the Syrian government raised the national flag on Thursday over areas of Deraa in the southwest that was in rebel hands for years. The source said Erdogan voiced concern about the treatment of civilians there.

"President Erdogan stressed that the targeting of civilians in Deraa was worrying and said that if the Damascus regime targeted Idlib in the same way the essence of the Astana accord could be completely destroyed," the source said.

With help from Russia and Iran, President Bashar al-Assad has now recovered most of Syria but anti-Assad rebels still control Idlib in the northwest, while a Kurdish-led militia controls the northeast and a large chunk of the east.

Turkey has set up a series of observation posts in Idlib as part of a deal which it reached last year with Russia and Iran in the Kazakh capital Astana to reduce fighting between insurgents and the Syrian government in de-escalation zones.

Erdogan said the avoidance of "negative developments" in Idlib was important in terms of encouraging rebel groups to attend a meeting in Astana planned for July 30-31, according to the source.

Separately, the Kremlin confirmed in a statement Putin's phone conversation with Erdogan on Saturday and said they had discussed joint efforts to solve the Syrian crisis.]]>
7/15/2018 3:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. President Trump says intends to run for president in 2020 ]]>
When asked by Piers Morgan in an interview given on Friday in Britain whether he was going to run, Trump said: "Well I fully intend to. It seems like everybody wants me to," the newspaper said.

Trump said he did not see any Democrat who could beat him.

"I don’t see anybody. I know them all and I don’t see anybody."

In the interview with Morgan, Trump took the unusual step of disclosing details about his conversation with British Queen Elizabeth.

When asked if he had discussed Brexit with the monarch, Trump said: "I did. She said it's a very - and she's right - it's a very complex problem, I think nobody had any idea how complex that was going to be... Everyone thought it was going to be 'Oh it's simple, we join or don't join, or let's see what happens.'"

Speaking of the 92-year-old Elizabeth, Trump was quoted as saying: "She is an incredible woman, she is so sharp, she is so beautiful, when I say beautiful - inside and out. That is a beautiful woman."

When asked about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump said: "I get along with him great, yeah. He’s very smart, great personality, he’s funny and tough, good negotiator."

Pressed on whether Kim was 'a ruthless dictator', Trump said: "Sure he is, he's ruthless, but so are others."]]>
7/15/2018 2:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Garbage collectors’ demand legalizing pig-raising ]]>
Isaac Michael, director of the Society for the Development of Community and a pig breeder, told Egypt Today on Saturday that the pig keepers are currently preparing to rebreed pigs in order to reduce garbage.

In 2009, the government in Egypt ordered hundreds of thousands of pigs killed, fearing swine flu because some parliamentarians of the Muslim Brotherhood within former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime resorted to ridding the nation “from an animal held as offensive to Islam” and an estimated 300,000 pigs were confiscated and killed, Michael said.

Egypt Today had earlier made a visit to Meit Okba pig farms in Giza, where most of the area consists of garbage dumps, where pigs are fed. In addition, some garbage collectors work filtering the garbage and they live off the pigs.

“Thousands of garbage collectors live off filtering garbage and keeping pigs in the Mu’tamediyya district, Giza, while many others work in different areas in Giza and Cairo,” Ahmed Abdul Samie, one of the pig keepers, told Egypt Today.

Abdul Samie added that the number of pig-keepers has decreased since 2009, when the state executed a massive number of pigs in the wake of swine flu in 2009 in Egypt.

In 2009, Egypt began a mass slaughter of thousands of pigs in an effort to prevent swine flu spreading, BBC reported.

"It is decided to slaughter all swine herds present in Egypt, starting from today," said Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali, according to MENA news agency.

Giza Deputy Governor for Districts Affairs Alaa Al-Harras said that the governorate has no problem as a result of keeping pigs, adding, “We leave them free,” and the governorate has not submitted a proposal for moving their farms.

In the same context, the chief of the Health Department in Giza governorate said that the H1N1 swine flu has not existed for a few years, adding that there were no recent cases of the virus, which is linked to pigs.


“Pork helps reduce demand on beef, as fighting pig-keeping is one of the main reasons for beef prices hiking,” Shehata al-Mukaddas, chief of the garbagemen and a pig-keeper, told Egypt Today.

Pork is widely eaten by Christians, foreigners and tourists in Egypt, which is a Muslim-majority country.

For Muslims, Pork is ruled as “haram” (forbidden) and it is not permissible for Muslims to eat it, whether it is the meat, fat or any other part, as instructed by the Quran.
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7/15/2018 12:53:59 AM
<![CDATA[Congress hearing on MB undermines its terror influence: MP ]]>
Major-General Osama Radi, member of Egypt’s House of Representatives, told Egypt Today on Friday that the U.S. Congress hearing on the MB’s global threats seemed good after describing the MB as a “global threat” to the U.S. national security, following the adoption of terrorism by the group’s affiliates.

Radi called on Congressmen to approve the designation of the MB as a terrorism group, adding that “the terrorist organization of the Brotherhood has extended to many countries and it has sought to dominate some European countries so that the MB would be able to form a global lobby.”

“The MB has become a terrorist phenomenon as the group’s members are assigned to carry out terrorist acts across the world including Vehicle-ramming and mass-murder attacks in Europe and terrorist acts in Egypt and Arab world,” Rady noted.

He praised the Congress hearing held on Thursday, deeming it a chance to uncover facts about the global organization of the MB, the matter which shall undermine its influence and effectiveness.

He wished that the Congress had a true intention to designate the MB as a terrorist group following the footsteps of Egypt which is the first to take such a step globally in 2013.
President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), Zuhdi Jasser, stated on his testimony that “No group embodies the threat of radical Islamism more than the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and no group runs deeper into the consciousness of global Islamism, especially in our Arab Sunni communities than the Muslim Brotherhood and its global network of affiliates and progeny across the world. Unfortunately, much of the conversation about the Muslim Brotherhood has been obstructed, muffled, marginalized, deferred, or minimized by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers or their allies.”

He gave evidence of the terrorism of Muslim Brotherhood saying that Morsi allegedly agreed to grant a presidential pardon to over 20 terrorists including childhood friends who were running Ansar Bayt-al-Maqdis, an ISIS branch in the Sinai.

Daniel Benjamin, the director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College since 2013, contradicted on his testimony the other three researchers saying that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t impose a global threat and that most of the groups that are said to be Muslim Brotherhood affiliates or franchises support democracy and abjure violence.

Recently, the State Department designated two Brotherhood-affiliates, namely HASM and Liwa al-Thawra, and Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyeh, as “Specifically Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT)” under an executive order.
]]>
7/15/2018 12:45:19 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s mediation realizes a ceasefire between Gaza and Israel]]>
Egypt offered mediation in an attempt to prevent any military escalation from the Israeli authorities against the Palestinians in city of Gaza.

The leader in the Islamic Jihad movement in Palestine (PIJ), Dawood Shehab, said that PIJ agreed to announce the ceasefire after intensive calls with the Egyptian authorities.

Shehab added that the truce was set to start at 8:00 pm on Saturday, asserting that the Palestinian factions preserve the right to fight back any Israeli aggression in case it took place during the ceasefire period.

In the same context, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) accepted the Egyptian mediation to declare a ceasefire between the Palestinian factions and the Israeli authorities.

Israel's military renewed air strikes targeting Hamas in the Gaza Strip on Saturday afternoon, following border clashes in which two Palestinians including a teenager were killed and hundreds injured.

The army said it was "currently striking terror targets in the Gaza Strip", without giving further details, following an assault on the territory earlier in the day.

According to Palestinian security sources and witnesses, fighter jets struck Hamas targets without causing any injuries.

The Israeli bombardment came as rockets and mortars were lobbed into southern Israel from the blockaded Palestinian enclave.
]]>
7/14/2018 9:31:59 PM
<![CDATA[Timeline: Ethiopian and Eritrean relations]]>
The countries’ armies have been facing off across their border since a two-year war broke out in 1998 over territory and other disputes, claiming the lives of an estimated 80,000 people.

Full-scale fighting ended in 2000 with the signing of a peace deal but tensions burned on after Ethiopia refused to accept a boundary commission’s ruling over a border town.

Then Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed took office in April this year, announcing a series of sweeping reforms and, soon after, plans to mend ties with Eritrea.

Isaias’ visit comes less than a week after Abiy visited Eritrea’s capital Asmara to sign a pact that declared an end to their “state of war”.

The following is a timeline of the Horn of Africa countries’ relations:

* 100 AD to 10th century - Modern-day Eritrea was part of the Axum Empire, which in its heyday dominated the Red Sea coast and vast stretches of the Horn of Africa. It was one of the earliest Christian kingdoms after its rulers converted during the 4th century.

* 1890 - Italy formally creates a colony from a thin and craggy swathe of land along the Red Sea and names it “Eritrea” - an Italianized version of a Greek word that means “red land”. Rome uses it as a launchpad to invade Ethiopia six years later but its troops are routed by Emperor Menelik’s forces in the town of Adwa, the first defeat by a black African army of a European empire.

* 1935 - Eritrea remains an Italian colony for another four decades. But to avenge the debacle of Adwa, Italy’s Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini launches a full-scale invasion of Ethiopia. With the support of British troops, Ethiopian soldiers enter the capital Addis Ababa in 1941, marking the end of the occupation.

* 1952 - Eritrea is officially federated with Ethiopia two years after the United Nations approved a resolution backing a bid by Emperor Haile Selassie, despite some calls for a referendum.

* 1962 - Haile Selassie dissolves the arrangement and annexes Eritrea. A year earlier, a small group of Eritreans launched the war for independence that stretched for three decades.


* 1991 - The rebel Eritrean People’s Liberation Front led by Isaias Afwerki captures Asmara, having fought Ethiopia’s military leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam, alongside rebels from the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) led by Meles Zenawi. The EPRDF invades the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and topples Mengistu.

* 1993 - Eritrea formally secedes from Ethiopia after a referendum and Isaias Afwerki is appointed president. The Red Sea state initially enjoys warm ties with Ethiopia, which is led by Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. In the new nation of Eritrea, the Tigrayan ethnic group comprises the majority, while in racially diverse Ethiopia, Tigrayans account for a small proportion of the population. Tigrayans proceed to dominate politics and the security forces for decades, because Meles and his Tigrayan rebels led the force that took power in 1991.

* 1998 - After two years of tensions over trade and other issues, clashes break out along the border over ownership of the disputed town of Badme, before evolving into a full-scale war. More than 70,000 Ethiopian citizens of Eritrean origin are expelled from Ethiopia.

* 2000 - A peace agreement is signed, brokered by the Organisation of African Unity - the precursor of the African Union - with both sides agreeing to accept an arbitration ruling. An estimated 80,000 people are thought to have died during the two-year war.

* 2002 - A Hague-based boundary commission hands Badme to Eritrea, but Ethiopia calls for dialogue and says it wants to hold discussions with Asmara before implementing the ruling, which Eritrea rejects. A standoff prevails.

* 2012 - Ethiopian prime minister Meles Zenawi, Eritrea’s former ally-turned-foe, dies.

* February 2018 - After three years of street unrest and violent protests, Meles’ successor, Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, resigns in what he describes as a bid to smooth reforms.

* April 2018 - Former army officer Abiy Ahmed is appointed as Ethiopian premier and vows to seek peace with Eritrea. In June, the 41-year-old announces that Ethiopia would honor the provisions of the 2000 peace deal and the boundary commission ruling delivered two years later. He visits Asmara a month later and signs a pact on the resumption of ties. The two nations declare an end to their “state of war”.

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Maggie Fick and Andrew Heavens]]>
7/14/2018 11:35:00 AM
<![CDATA[Hamas leader praises outcomes of recent Cairo meetings ]]>
In press remarks on Friday in the walk of the series of meetings in Cairo, upon an invitation by Egyptian leadership earlier in July, Marzou’ said that the recent meetings were the most influential and “rich in content.”

The Cairo meetings saw in-depth and constructive discussions on a number of important issues, especially the developments in the political scene in the Gaza Strip as well as the possible means to bring an end to the suffering of the Palestinian people amid the ongoing siege on the Gaza Strip, the Hamas movement states in a press statement.

The talks tackled the mechanisms of dialogue that could be pursued to reach a national reconciliation so as to be able to confront the various challenges surrounding the Palestinian cause, the statement added.

Palestinian resistance movement Hamas received an official invitation from Egyptian intelligence officials to send a delegation to Cairo to discuss Palestinian reconciliation and the current situation in the Gaza Strip.

According to media outlets, head of the movement's political bureau Ismail Haniyeh received a phone call from Egyptian officials who invited him to visit Cairo to discuss the military flare-up in Gaza and the possible means to reach a national reconciliation and end the prevailing division between the political factions.

On Monday, Egypt's permanent delegate to the UN Alaa Youssef said that Egypt is resolute in supporting the rights of the Palestinian people and strongly condemns attempts to undermine their legitimate demands.

Youssef further asserted that Egypt has been maximizing its efforts to find a just and sustainable solution to the Palestinian issue, away from unilateral moves, based on the establishment of a Palestinian independent state within the pre-1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"Egypt has observed with great concern the situation in the Palestinian territories, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, and the Israeli attacks against unarmed Palestinian civilians," Youssef said, calling on all the concerned parties to cooperate with the independent fact-finding committee to investigate such violations and hold those responsible accountable.

Several reconciliation agreements were signed in Cairo. In October 2017, a historic reconciliation agreement was signed between Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas in order to achieve more stability within the Palestinian land and authorities.

On Sept. 17, Hamas announced the dissolution of the administrative committee in the Gaza Strip, inviting the Government of National Reconciliation to assume its duties and hold general elections. The movement affirmed it would comply with the Social Reconciliation Accord signed in 2011.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that there is no country as vital to the Palestinian cause as Egypt due to its historical and political position in the region. “Egypt has an opinion, a position and an interest in the Palestinian cause,” said Abbas.


Palestinian factions kick off reconciliation talks Tuesday in Cairo

CAIRO - 21 November 2017: Palestinian factions kicked off a two-day dialogue session on Tuesday in Cairo. This is the first step in the intra-Palestinian reconciliation that has been successfully conducted under Egyptian auspices. The participating delegation will take part in talks to discuss five key issues, most importantly the reconciliation developments between Fatah and Hamas.




]]>
7/14/2018 11:34:47 AM
<![CDATA[Trump hails ties with UK despite Brexit criticism]]>
Trump's first official trip to Britain was overshadowed by his warning that May's plans for close ties with the European Union would "kill" a future US trade deal, echoing concerns among eurosceptics in her Conservative party.

Meanwhile, in Washington, DC, a US grand jury on Friday indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for interfering in the November 2016 presidential election, following charges from Special Counsel Robert Mueller.

The indictments came just three days before Trump is scheduled to meet with Russia's Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.

Back in Britain, after talks at May's country retreat of Chequers, Trump suggested he might have been hasty in his comments over her negotiating strategy for leaving the EU.

"Whatever you do is okay with us, just make sure we can trade together, that's all that matters," he told May at a press conference in the grounds of the 16th-century manor house, miles away from the colourful crowds denouncing his own domestic policies.

"The United States looks forward to finalising a great bilateral trade deal," he said, and repeatedly praised May's leadership, saying she was a "terrific woman".

- Trump endorses May rival -

Just hours earlier, The Sun tabloid published a bombshell interview with the president in which he suggested the prime minister's Brexit proposal was not what voters wanted.

He said he had advised her to take another path, adding that Boris Johnson, who quit as foreign minister this week in protest at the plan, would make "a great prime minister".

Trump denied that he had criticised May, suggesting there was an element of "fake news" in the report -- even though The Sun released audio recordings of his remarks.

His interview drew outrage among British politicians, who accused him of being "determined to insult" May after 18 months of testy relations between the pair.

It also fired up demonstrations in London, where organisers estimated upwards of 250,000 people took to the streets.

Chanting "No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA!", they flew a huge balloon of the president depicted as a crying baby outside the Houses of Parliament.

Even Londoners who did not join the protest, only stopping to take in the mass of people, placards and sloganeering, seemed supportive of the demonstrations.

"He brings it on himself -- it's like having a juvenile in charge of a superpower," said construction worker Dan Kelly, 47.

- 'Kill' trade plans -

Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum in June 2016, but after years of fighting within the government, only on Thursday published a detailed plan for future relations.

The offer to follow EU rules in trade in goods sparked outrage among eurosceptics who want a clean break, with Trump appearing to back them.

His negative comments about a UK-US trade deal -- viewed as one of the main benefits of leaving the EU by Brexit supporters -- saw the pound fall, although it later recovered its losses.

They also fuelled talk of rebellion in May's Conservative party following the resignations of Johnson and Brexit secretary David Davis over the plan.

But Trump said Friday that after speaking with May's officials and trade experts a UK-US trade deal "will be possible".

May confirmed they had agreed to seek an "ambitious" free trade agreement, adding: "I'm clear our plan delivers on what the British people voted for.

Even without opposition from Trump, the prime minister still faces a major challenge to get agreement at home and the plan agreed with the EU.

Talks are due to resume in Brussels next week.

- 'Tough on Russia' -

The two leaders also emphasised their continued cooperation on defence and security, after earlier watching a display of special forces from both countries at the military academy at Sandhurst.

Trump thanked May for her support at a testy NATO summit this week in Brussels, where he subjected America's other allies to a roasting over their defence spending.

The president followed his Chequers meeting by having tea with Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle alongside First Lady Melania Trump.

After 48 minutes inside the castle grounds, the couple left to spend the weekend at one of Trump's Scottish golf courses ahead of his meeting with Putin on Monday.

May said they had agreed to engage with Russia with "strength and unity", and Trump said he has been "tougher on Russia than anybody".

The president's mother was born on the Scottish Isle of Lewis, and May gave him an illustrated ancestral chart of his Scottish heritage as a gift.

She gave Melania, who met military veterans and schoolchildren in London on Friday with May's husband Philip, a bespoke perfume.]]>
7/14/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[US indicts Russian intel officers ahead of Trump-Putin meet]]>
The charges were drawn up by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, the former FBI director who is looking into Russian interference in the November 2016 vote and whether any members of Trump's campaign colluded with Moscow.

The 29-page indictment accuses members of the Russian military intelligence agency known as the GRU of carrying out "large-scale cyber operations" to steal and release Democratic Party documents and emails.

"There's no allegation that the conspiracy changed the vote count or affected any election result," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in announcing the charges at a press conference in Washington.

"There's no allegation in this indictment that any American citizen committed a crime," Rosenstein added, although the "conspirators corresponded with several Americans during the course of the conspiracy through the internet."

However, "there's no allegation in this indictment that the Americans knew they were corresponding with Russian intelligence officers," he said.

Rosenstein said he briefed Trump about the indictment before Friday's announcement and that the timing was determined by "the facts, the evidence, and the law."

The deputy attorney general's press conference came as Trump was meeting Queen Elizabeth II and just three days before his meeting with Putin in Helsinki.

- Calls to cancel Putin meeting -

Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic Senate minority leader, immediately called on Trump to cancel the Putin talks.

"These indictments are further proof of what everyone but the president seems to understand: President Putin is an adversary who interfered in our elections to help President Trump win," Schumer said in a statement.

"President Trump should cancel his meeting with Vladimir Putin until Russia takes demonstrable and transparent steps to prove that they won't interfere in future elections," he said.

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden also urged Trump to cancel the summit saying "in light of what's been revealed about Russia's attack on our democracy, the president shaking Putin's hand would be a moment of historic cowardice."

Republican Senator Ben Sasse stopped short of calling on Trump to cancel the meeting but said "All patriotic Americans should understand that Putin is not America's friend, and he is not the president's buddy."

Speaking earlier Friday, before the indictments were announced, Trump said he would ask Putin about the allegations of Russian election meddling.

"I will absolutely, firmly ask the question, and hopefully we'll have a good relationship with Russia," he told a joint press conference with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

But he simultaneously denounced the Mueller investigation as a "rigged witch hunt," and said he has been "tougher on Russia than anybody."

"We have been extremely tough on Russia," Trump said.

The US president recalled that 60 intelligence officers were expelled from the Russian embassy in Washington in response to a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.

Russia has denied any involvement in the attack and rejected accusations that it interfered in the US presidential election in a bid to bring about the defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton.

- No 'knowing involvement' by Trump campaign -

In a statement, the White House highlighted Rosenstein's remarks that no Americans had been charged in the indictment.

"Today's charges include no allegations of knowing involvement by anyone on the campaign and no allegations that the alleged hacking affected the election result," it said. "This is consistent with what we have been saying all along."

The indictment alleges that beginning in March 2016 the GRU agents began targeting over 300 employees and volunteers of the Clinton presidential campaign, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

"The conspirators covertly monitored the computers of dozens of DCCC and DNC employees, implanted hundreds of files containing malicious computer code, and stole emails and other documents," it said.

Around June 2016, they began releasing tens of thousands of the stolen emails and documents using "fictitious online personas, including 'DCLeaks' and 'Guccifer 2.0,'" the indictment said.

Some of the documents and emails were released through a website identified in the indictment only as "Organization 1" which is believed to be Julian Assange's WikiLeaks.

Other documents and emails were made public through a website and Twitter account known as DCLeaks which the GRU falsely attributed to a group of "American hacktivists."

Mueller, the special counsel, previously indicted 13 Russians and three companies for allegedly interfering in the presidential vote.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort has been indicted for money laundering and other crimes while former national security adviser Mike Flynn has been charged with lying to the FBI.]]>
7/14/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[3 court rulings issued against MB’s Badie over terror-related charges in July]]>
Badie, 74, was the eighth leader of the banned Muslim Brotherhood (MB) organization. He became leader of the organization in 2010 after the death of his predecessor, Madi Akef. He was arrested on Aug. 19, 2013 as part of a nation-wide crackdown on Brotherhood leaders in the wake of increasing violence and protests after two Brotherhood sit-ins were forcefully dispersed on Aug. 14, 2013.

On July 28, the South Cairo Criminal Court will give its ruling against Badie and 738 co-defendants in a trial dubbed in the media as “The Rabaa Sit-in Dispersal Case”. The defendants face charges of “staging an armed gathering in Rabaa Square, illegally possessing and handling weapons, blocking driveways, and deliberately vandalizing public property, along with other counts relating to murdering policemen and citizens.”

On July 29, a Cairo Criminal Court will issue its ruling in the “Al-Bahr al-Azam Case”, in which Badie and eight other Brotherhood members are being retried. In September 2014, the defendants were sentenced to life imprisonment over charges of “inciting clashes” in al-Bahr al-Azam district, Giza, causing the death of five people. However, the Court of Cassation overturned the verdicts on Nov. 8, 2015.

On the same day, a Minya Criminal Court in Upper Egypt will make its final ruling in the third trial dubbed as “El Idwa Incidents,” in which Badie and 682 co-defendants were charged with inciting violence. They are also charged with storming a number of state-owned institutions, such as the agriculture unit, veterinary center and the real estate office in the city.

Following the Rabaa sit-in dispersal on Aug. 14, 2013, the city of El Idwa in Minya governorate witnessed acts of violence and vandalism, during which a police station was attacked and a police officer was killed. In April 2014, the Minya Criminal Court sentenced all defendants to death. However, a retrial was ordered after overturning the ruling by the Court of Cassation.

Badie is serving term after Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld sentence of life imprisonment (25 years) over charges of inciting violence in the “Rabaa Operation Room Case” on April 14. He also was found guilty in the trial of “Cutting Off Qalyoub Road”, in which 36 others were also convicted in October 2016.

The 74-year-old convict is also still being tried in eight other known cases, mainly over charges of “inciting violence.” However, he stated in a hearing over charges of inciting violence in Minya that he is facing 48 trials, Masrawy reported on Feb. 28.

]]>
7/13/2018 5:59:55 PM
<![CDATA[Grand Imam of Al-Azhar meets UK Queen on Making Peace forum]]>
IMG-20180713-WA0000
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and the Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, Dr. Ahmed el-Tayyeb meets Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, at Windsor Castle in London on Thursday/ Press Photo / CC PAImages

The Grand Imam and the Queen of Britain held talks during which he expressed his pleasure at visiting Britain and meeting her majesty as well as visiting the magnificent historic Windsor Palace, Al Azhar’s press release mentioned.

The Grand Imam stated that Al Azhar Al-Sharif takes pride in having profound relationships with the Archbishop of Canterbury, the case which sets an example of cooperation and communication among the leaders and followers of different faiths and cultures.




The grand Imam also demonstrated that Al-Azhar Al-Sharif opens channels of dialogue and communication with all, while seeking to inculcate the values of coexistence and dialogue, and the acceptance of the Other. It further encourages the followers of different faiths and cultures to positively integrate within their communities.

“Al-Azhar opens new channels of dialogue with all parties to instill the values of peace and coexistence. The relationship between Al-Azhar and Canterbury gives an example of cooperation between the leaders and followers of religions,” the Grand Imam said according to the press release.




On her part, Queen Elizabeth II welcomed the Grand Imam in his second visit to London. She indicated that the world strongly relies on religious leaders to enhance world peace and stability.

The Queen of Britain alluded to the growing cooperation ties between Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Archbishop of Canterbury. She expressed her happiness for his reverence acceptance of the invitation extended by Dr Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to stay in Lambeth Palace, the premises of the Archbishop.
“The world strongly relies on religious leaders to enhance world peace. I am pleased that your Reverence has accepted the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to stay at Lambeth Palace,” thr Azhar press release quoted from Queen Elizabeth II.

The meeting was attended by Dr Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury. Al-Azhar Grand Imam arrived this afternoon to Britain in a visit scheduled to last a few days. During the Grand Imam’s visit, he will participate in the event “Forum of Making Peace Youth” organized by Al-Azhar Al-Sharif in conjunction with the Muslim Council of Elders, and the British Archbishop of Canterbury.




The Grand Imam said during a meeting with Leonard Carey, the former archbishop of Canterbury preparing for the forum, that we should enhance the dialogue between religions and cultures by involving youth and making use of their capabilities to promote the values of peace and coexistence in societies, the Egyptian Gazette Reported.

]]>
7/13/2018 3:21:58 PM
<![CDATA[How Muslim Brotherhood lost people’s trust in 2 years]]>
Protesters considered Morsi a puppet controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood group that he has joined since 1979, complaining that the MB group is the actual ruler. The MB was not hated by all youth following the January revolution in 2011, as Egyptian youth did not know how the MB really works. The group was almost silenced by ousted President Hosni Mubarak during his thirty-year term.

However, following the first year of the “MB presidential term”, June 30 protestors decided that the group headed by Morsi deserved a red card. Subsequently, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, then defense minister, announced ousting Morsi, meeting the revolution’s top demand.

leave
Protesters raise their shoes while chanting anti-Mursi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans in Tahrir square as they listen to President Mohamed Mursi's public address, in Cairo June 26, 2013. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)


Along Morsi’s presidential term, many people arguably suffered from the obvious lack of inner security and crucial decisions, and always complained about neglecting the demands of the opposition, alleging that Morsi prioritized his supporters and the group he belongs to.

MB changeable stance

“Although I was imprisoned when it was announced that we would not run for president, but I agreed with [the decision],” Khairat al-Shater, deputy supreme guide of the MB group at the time, told al-Shrouk in an interview in 2011.

Shater claimed in the interview that the military institution said that it was delighted by the MB's decision not to run for presidency or seek the majority of seats in the Parliament.

However, in January 2012, it was announced that the MB's political wing, Freedom and Justice Party, won 235 total seats in the Egyptian Parliament, which represented about 47 percent of the total parliamentarian seats. The FJP was formed following the January revolution.



Moreover, on March 31, 2012, Mohamed Badie, the MB supreme guide, announced that Shater requested to resign from the group to run for president, after he was nominated by the MB. Shater said that he had never thought of taking up an executive post in the state; however, he had to abide by the group’s commands.

Less than a month later, the Egyptian election authority rejected the request of Shater to run for president, due to national legal procedures; the MB leaders were not surprised. Few days before the exclusion of Shater, the group reportedly prepared Morsi as an alternative. Apparently, the group did not dare to risk the chance.

Morsi won the presidential election with reportedly more than 13 million votes, representing about 51.7 percent of the electorate in the second round of the 2012 presidential election, to become the first elected president since the ousting of Mubarak.

Morsi’s 100-day promise

Presidential candidates are used to giving exaggerated promises. More promises can give a candidate, in many cases, better chances.

Following the January revolution, Egyptians were desperate for change, development, freedom and security. Morsi thought he would satisfy people by promising them to solve problems concerning fuel, traffic, security and bread in 100 days. However, many people complained that Morsi failed to fulfill his promise.

The first 100 days of Morsi’s term were not successful, former parliamentarian Bassel Adel told CNN.

Adel claimed that Morsi wasted 40 percent of his time travelling abroad although the 100-day program and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Nahda presidential program which Morsi adopted focused on the internal affairs. In addition, Morsi was late forming the Cabinet which had not shown their efficiency up till now, he said.

Hamdi Bekheit, a military expert, claimed that the Nahda project needs 15 years in order to be achieved. He told CNN that the president and the ruling party exploited the ignorance and unawareness of many people, making promises they cannot fulfill. He added that the Nahda project needed a higher budget than the country could bear at the time.

Bekheit said that the security situation in Sinai had been worsened during the rule of Morsi and the MB, claiming that Morsi released prisoners [arrested during the January revolution] to distract people from questioning him about his promise.

On the other hand, Morsi claimed in the October War anniversary in 2012 that he has fulfilled 70 percent of the goals during his first 100 days.

2012 constitution referendum dispute

In a step that seems democratic, Morsi announced that the Egyptian Constituent Assembly would vote on a new constitution in late 2012. The constitution was seen to be biased to the MB, as Islamist members reportedly represented 76 percent of the Assembly. In addition, legal experts thought it was full of defects.

A more balanced assembly was then formed, including police and army personnel, and representatives of Egypt's churches. On November 16, a few days before the vote, Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical churches in Egypt announced their withdrawal from the assembly, as it did not support religious pluralism, according to a unified statement from the churches.

Civil movements’ leaders, including Amr Moussa, former secretary-general of the Arab League; Gaber Nassar, former head of Cairo University, Anwar Esmat al-Sadat, former President Sadat’s nephew, in addition to human activists, church representatives and more than 20 members of the assembly, withdrew from the assembly.

However, Morsi insisted on not postponing the voting process and the Muslim Brotherhood amassed more than 10.6 million votes in favor of the constitution, while more than 6 million votes opposed it.

Security in trouble

In the second anniversary of the January revolution in 2013, people demonstrated around Al-Ittihadeya Presidential palace, in a sign of dissatisfaction with Morsi’s accomplishments during the first six months of his term.

Amid mass protests, people were shocked by masked men in black joining them, and trying to turn the peaceful demonstrations into violent ones. The masked men dubbed “The Black Block” reportedly tried to remove the barbed wire atop one of the palace’s walls and threw Molotov cocktail at the wall.



Members of the “Black Block” have then appeared in many occasions blocking main roads and metro lines for a considerable time without immediate response from the authorities. The group has also issued a number of statements citing violence and damage.

Many people considered it too funny to hear that one of the Republican Guard’s vehicle tasked with securing Morsi was stolen in front of his house in Zagazig city.

Media bias to opposition

Hundreds of thousands of people during Morsi’s term had patiently waited every Friday for “Al-Bernameg” satirical program introduced by Bassem Youssef, a media critic who was loved by Egyptians. Youssef had dedicated almost all the content to mock decisions, actions and statements of Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters.



Although Yusuf said in a seminar hosted by the American University in Cairo that he wants Morsi to complete his term despite his objection to his policy, he then promoted for the June 30 revolution on Al-Bernameg and interviewed celebrities who were in favor of protesting against Morsi to force him to leave.

To many people there was nothing wrong with Al-Bernameg’s “merciless” bias due to the program’s satirical nature. However many others, including the brotherhood members, thought that private newspapers, which should not mainly be biased, were very biased to the opposition against the MB group and Morsi.

latma
FILE - Headline of a publication of Al-Masry Al-Youm daily newspaper during Morsi’s presidential term reads: New judicial “slap” to Morsi


Morsi was considered the first president to come in power by a real democratic process. He was the first president to be censured and mocked by almost all private newspapers in various journalistic forms, including opinion articles and even news, without the fear of being punished by authorities.

Although many news articles seemed biased, yet many of them in fact were real. However, they were seen to be exaggerated. Perhaps the “unbridled” freedom granted to the newspapers encouraged many reporters to write everything REAL against the president as such news would be consistent with the public opinion. This probability might be valid as the ultimate goal of private newspapers is to make profit.
]]>
7/13/2018 12:36:47 PM
<![CDATA[Trump releases 'very nice' letter from Kim Jong Un]]>
The four-paragraph letter -- an upbeat missive in which Kim voices hope in a "new future" and speaks of his "invariable trust" in Trump -- is dated July 6, the day Secretary of State Mike Pompeo landed in North Korea for what turned out to be acrimonious talks with Kim's regime.

"A very nice note from Chairman Kim of North Korea," Trump tweeted alongside a copy of the letter. "Great progress being made!"

Addressing Trump, Kim describes their June 12 summit in Singapore, and the resulting joint statement, as the "start of a meaningful journey."

"I firmly believe that the strong will, sincere efforts and unique approach of myself and Your Excellency Mr. President aimed at opening up a new future between the DPRK and the U.S. will sure surely come to fruition," Kim writes, according to the translation tweeted by the president.

"I deeply appreciate the energetic and extraordinary efforts made by Your Excellency Mr. President for the improvement of relations between the two countries and the faithful implementation of the joint statement," he adds.

Kim also voices hope "the invariable trust and confidence in Your Excellency Mr. President will be further strengthened in the future process of taking practical actions."

Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang for two days last week in a bid to flesh out denuclearization commitments made during last month's historic summit.

Speaking afterwards in Tokyo, Pompeo insisted the talks were making progress and were being conducted in "good faith."

But in stark contrast, Pyongyang's take was overwhelmingly negative, with the North warning that the future of the peace process was being jeopardized by "unilateral and gangster-like" US demands for its nuclear disarmament.

North Korea has long trumpeted a denuclearization goal, but one that it sees as a lengthy process of undefined multilateral disarmament on the entire Korean peninsula, rather than a unilateral dismantlement of its nuclear arsenal.

- Illegal oil -

Pompeo has insisted that a raft of tough economic sanctions imposed on North Korea would remain in place until "final, fully verified denuclearization" occurs.

And even as Trump released Kim's note, the US was asking the UN Security Council to punish North Korea after finding that Pyongyang had violated restrictions on refined oil imports.

According to documents seen by AFP, the US sent a report to the UN sanctions committee that estimated at least 759,793 barrels of oil products had been delivered to North Korea between January 1 and May 30, well above the annual quota set at 500,000 barrels under a sanctions resolution adopted in December.

The illegal supplies were provided through ship-to-ship transfers at sea using North Korean tankers, according to the report.

The United States requested the UN sanctions committee to declare that North Korea had violated the UN-approved quota and "order an immediate halt to all transfers of refined petroleum products" to North Korea.

The committee was expected to take five days to consider the request, which China and Russia are expected to block.

- No show in remains transfer -

Separately, North Korean officials did not show up at planned talks with the US Thursday to discuss returning the remains of American soldiers killed during the 1950-53 Korean War, according to a Yonhap report.

Returning the remains of the troops was part of the deal signed by Kim and Trump in Singapore.

Pompeo had said a Pentagon team would meet with the North's officials on or around Thursday at the inter-Korea border to discuss the repatriation.

A US official waited at the border truce village of Panmunjom but no North Korean official showed up, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said, citing a Seoul diplomatic source.

The Pentagon has shipped dozens of cases to Panmunjom in anticipation of receiving the remains of several US troops.]]>
7/13/2018 4:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[British PM rolls out red carpet for Trump on first night of visit]]>
Welcoming the American president and First Lady Melania Trump to a black-tie dinner with business leaders at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Churchill, May said the two countries' "most special of relationships has a long and proud history".

"Mr President, Sir Winston Churchill once said that 'to have the United States at our side was, to me, the greatest joy,'" she said.

"Now, for the benefit of all our people, let us work together to build a more prosperous future," May added after calling for a free trade agreement with the US after Britain leaves the European Union next March.

Trump arrived at the reception to much pomp and ceremony, with the bands of the Scots, Irish and Welsh Guards playing in his honour.

However, the convention-shredding president had ignored diplomatic niceties ahead of touching down for the four-day visit -- his first to Britain since taking power -- by rebuking his beleaguered host as she struggles over Brexit.

At a press conference in Brussels following a NATO summit there just before flying to London, Trump cast doubt on whether May will deliver on British voters' intentions when they backed leaving the EU in a 2016 referendum.

"The people voted to break it up (Britain's ties with the EU)," Trump said.

"So I would imagine that's what they will do, but maybe they will take a little bit of a different route. I don't know (if) that is what they voted for," he added.

- 'They like me' -

The president is set to largely avoid mass protests planned for his controversial trip, which includes talks with May, tea with Queen Elizabeth II and a private weekend in Scotland.

He landed at Stansted Airport Thursday afternoon and was whisked by helicopter to Winfield House, the American diplomatic residence in London.

At a welcoming garden party, the Beatles track "We can work it out" played in the background.

Trump had earlier shrugged off the organised demonstrations, which on Friday will include a giant baby-shaped balloon bearing Trump's features and have required police to be mobilised from across the country.

"They like me a lot in the UK," he added in Brussels.

But some 77 percent of Britons have an unfavourable view of Trump, according to a poll by YouGov with 1,648 respondents.

Hundreds of placard-waving protesters gathered outside both Winfield House and Blenhein Palace late Thursday, but extensive cordons kept them far from Trump.

"He's fundamentally damaging the culture, the discourse, the rules, the laws," said Calah Singleton, a 28-year-old writer who turned out in London.

Meanwhile Amnesty International unveiled a 15-metre banner on Vauxhall bridge opposite the US Embassy branding him a "Human Rights Nightmare".

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who signed off on the so-called "Trump Baby" blimp, defended the decision Thursday, arguing the protests were not anti-American.

"But having a special relationship means that we expect the highest standards from each other, and it also means speaking out when we think the values we hold dear are under threat," he said.

- 'Opportunity' -

Despite a series of diplomatic spats between Britain and Trump, May is hoping for a quick trade deal with the US after it leaves the EU.

"It's an opportunity to reach a free trade agreement that creates jobs and growth here in the UK and right across the United States," May told the guests at Blenheim Palace.

She added it was "also an opportunity to tear down the bureaucratic barriers that frustrate business leaders on both sides of the Atlantic".

But Brexit champion Nigel Farage, a critic of May's Brexit plans -- formally unveiled in a policy paper Thursday -- predicted there would be "confrontation" on the visit.

"The Americans can't believe, quite frankly, what a mess we're making of Brexit," he told the BBC.

May weathered the resignations of her Brexit and foreign ministers earlier this week over the proposals.

Trump arrived in Britain after a fraught NATO summit in Brussels where he piled pressure on allies to double their defence spending.

He is due to leave on Sunday for talks in Helsinki the following day with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose government May has accused of unleashing a lethal nerve agent in the city of Salisbury.

Russia has strongly denied the charge.

Trump is due to stay overnight at Winfield House, where demonstrators plan to play recordings of migrant children held in US detention centres.

On Friday, he will hold talks with May expected to focus on Brexit and Russia, at the prime minister's Chequers country residence followed by a press conference.

Trump next heads to Windsor Castle for tea with the queen, as protesters stage a mass demonstration in London.

He then travels north to Scotland where he will spend the weekend privately, joined by son Eric Trump. Trump's late mother hailed from Scotland, and he owns two luxury golf courses there.]]>
7/13/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[US asks UN to cut off oil products to North Korea]]>
A confidential US report sent to a UN sanctions committee estimated that at least 759,793 barrels of oil products had been delivered to North Korea between January 1 and May 30, well above the annual quota set in a UN resolution at 500,000 barrels.

The illegal supplies were provided through ship-to-ship transfers at sea using North Korean tankers that have delivered their cargo at least 89 times, according to the report.

The United States requested that the UN committee declare that North Korea had violated the UN-approved quota and "order an immediate halt to all transfers of refined petroleum products" to North Korea.

The committee has until next Thursday to consider the request, which could be blocked by China and Russia. The two countries have resisted toughening sanctions on North Korea.

The US request came just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo traveled to Pyongyang to press for concrete steps by Kim Jong Un's regime to scrap its nuclear and ballistic programs.

While Pompeo said those talks were making progress, North Korea angrily accused Washington of making "gangster-like" demands for quick denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

In Washington, President Donald Trump released a letter from Kim Jong Un, in which the North Korean leader voices confidence in efforts to end their standoff but called on his US counterpart to take "practical actions" to build trust.

The letter was dated July 6 - the day that Pompeo landed in Pyongyang.

- Oil transfers must stop -

The United States has insisted that tough economic sanctions will remain in place until Pyongyang scraps its military programs and that the dismantling is independently confirmed.

Under the latest sanctions resolution adopted in December, crude oil supplies to North Korea were capped at four million barrels per year and a ceiling of 500,000 barrels of refined oil products per year was set.

But UN experts monitoring the sanctions have reported that North Korea was circumventing sanctions with the illegal imports of oil products that are vital for the country's ballistic missile and nuclear programs.

The US intelligence report sent to the UN sanctions committee estimated that ship-to-ship transfers may have provided North Korea with as much as 1,367,628 barrels of refined products.

In its report, the United States pointed the finger at China and Russia for continuing to sell refined petroleum products to North Korea.

"These sales and any other transfer must immediately stop since the United States believes the DPRK has breached the ... refined petroleum products quota for 2018," it said.

The United States has released photographs of eight instances in which North Korean tankers were caught at sea receiving fuel cargo.

According to the US information, a Russian-flagged tanker identified as Patriot transferred fuel to a tanker on April 10 which then arrived at North Korea's Nampo port five days later.

The sanctions committee chaired by the Netherlands set a deadline of 12:00 pm (1600 GMT) Thursday July 19 for countries to raise objections. If no objections are raised, the US request will be approved.]]>
7/13/2018 12:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump brings reality-show style to NATO, and leaves satisfied]]>
President Donald Trump brought his chaotic style of governing to the NATO summit in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday, irritating and befuddling allies with charges and jibes before declaring success for convincing his counterparts to pay more for their mutual defence.

It was a classic performance for the one-time reality television star, whose "America first" mantra has translated into a sometimes-bullying style on the world stage, particularly with countries traditionally considered to be U.S. friends.

Even before the NATO summit was underway, he kicked off the summit with a broadside against Germany over plans for a natural gas pipeline with Russia and he stepped up his criticism of the alliance as a whole for not taking more of the financial burden off the United States.

He reinforced that tension through critical tweets, even as he held polite talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of the summit and made nice with other world leaders at a reception on Wednesday night.

"He was in a good mood, he said Europe was a continent he appreciated," Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said of Trump at the evening event, at which leaders enjoyed an acrobatic display and saxophone music in a Brussels park.

But the next morning, the bad guy persona was back, prompting the first formal NATO crisis meeting since 2008 in which Trump aired his grievances in a leaders-only, unscripted session over the funding issue again, diplomats said.

One diplomat said something appeared to have irritated Trump, a suggestion from another leader or possibly a report in the news media that he had not gotten his way.

When he took the floor in the amphitheatre-like North Atlantic Council room for a session with non-NATO members Georgia and Ukraine, Trump began a 10-minute tirade, which several diplomats said became a rage.

He made very clear attacks against Germany and warned that if NATO countries did not meet a goal of raising their defence spending to two percent of their national GDP by January 2019, the United States would go it alone.

That outburst prompted NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to ask Ukraine and Georgia to leave the room and, in a closed session, to try to get the carefully-choreographed summit back on track.

"NEW NORMAL"

Trump continued his now familiar verbal attacks, saying too many U.S. presidents had failed to get Europeans to spend more on defence and that he wanted immediate results.

But French President Emmanuel Macron, with whom Trump is friendly, fought back and said the allies had to stick to the previously-agreed-upon 2024 target for their defence spending increases. He could not change France's budget for next year, which he had just presented to parliament.

Merkel said it was "completely impossible" to meet the commitments by January in the crisis session that Trump himself later publicly described as "tough for a while".

"It wasn't easy for Merkel and the Germans to be treated as a villain," said a NATO diplomat, adding that the overall mood within the organisation was that this was "the new normal."

By the end of that meeting, despite the pushback, Trump felt victorious.

During a hastily-convened news conference at NATO headquarters, the president declared that all was well and he believed in NATO. He said he was proud that his intervention had prodded other nations to step up their spending.

And with his free-wheeling opinions on Britain's exit from the European Union at that news conference, Trump even forced British Prime Minister Theresa May into a public defence of her policies and to come out to speak to reporters, diplomats said.

"We've had a very amazing two-day period in Brussels," Trump told reporters. "Everyone has agreed to substantially up their commitment. They're going to up it at levels that they've never thought of before."

In fact, allies had agreed to stick to the goals that had already been set before Trump became president and which NATO officials say have much more to do with fear of Russia than of the U.S. president.

But Trump was satisfied, at least for the time being.

"And now we're very happy and have a very, very powerful, very, very strong NATO, much stronger than it was two days ago," he said. ]]>
7/12/2018 7:38:06 PM
<![CDATA[IMF wants to see Lebanon form new government, start reforms - official]]>
"We are looking forward to seeing a new government," said Jihad Azour, the IMF's Director of the Middle East and Central Asia.

"We consider that confidence and stability are to be achieved by accelerating the reforms, by pursuing fiscal adjustment and by reforming the key structures that are currently impeding the Lebanese economy from growing and increasing the burden on public finance," he said in an interview.

Lebanon has been suffering weak growth since 2011, hit by regional turmoil. The IMF has estimated growth rates of 1-1.5 percent in 2017 and 2018, saying traditional drivers of the economy - construction and real estate - remain subdued.

The IMF has also called for "an immediate and substantial" fiscal adjustment to improve the sustainability of public debt, which stood at more than 150 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) at the end of 2017.

Leaders from across the divided political establishment have said they recognise the urgency of the situation and the need to start reforms, but a new unity government has yet to be agreed following parliamentary elections in early May.

In April international donors meeting in Paris pledged more than $11 billion of investment for Lebanon, but they want to see reform first. At that meeting Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri promised to reduce the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP by 5 percent over five years. ]]>
7/12/2018 5:40:34 PM
<![CDATA[Shoukry reviews efforts to solve Syrian crisis in Brussels’ mini-summit]]>
The meeting was held in the presence of the foreign ministers of the UK, the U.S., France, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Jordan. Egypt was invited for the first time to the mini-summit, as an act of appreciation for Egypt's efforts to support political settlement in Syria and unify Syrian opposition factions, according to Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid.



Egypt’s significant efforts to solve the Syrian crisis have included continuously contacting parties involved in the crisis, as well as contacting the UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura to support his efforts and prepare for the first session of the committee assigned with writing the constitution.

Abu Zeid described such step as vital to resume the negotiations halted for more than six months.

The meeting also addressed the progress achieved concerning combating the Islamic State terrorist organization’s branch in Syria, and the anti-terrorist efforts that caused the group to withdraw to isolated parts in Eastern Syria and its south-west.

Shoukry asserted the need to intensively continue combating the terrorist group to keep its elements from seeking safe resorts and to prevent any regional parties from providing them with secured ways to move to other areas, including areas in North Africa.

Egypt’s participation in the mini-summit comes within the framework of the state’s full commitment to work for the Syrian people's best interest, said Abu Zeid.

The spokesman also affirmed Egypt’s keenness to participate in all events that aim to stop the bloodshed in Syria which caused the death of hundreds of thousands of Syrian people.

Meetings with de Mistura

In a June meeting with the UN Special Envoy for Syria in Cairo, Shoukry affirmed that the Egyptian state seeks a political solution that would preserve the unity of the Syrian state and its territorial integrity, and stop the bloodshed, saying that the political solution has to be compatible with the aspirations of the Syrian people.

De Mistura praised Egypt’s efforts to solve the Syrian crisis on the political and humanitarian levels, expressing the UN's intention to boost coordination with Egypt concerning the situation in Syria, Abu Zeid said.

During an earlier meeting with de Mistura last February, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Shoukry reiterated Egypt's rejection of any military solution in Syria.
]]>
7/12/2018 3:17:50 PM
<![CDATA[Trump keeps up spending demands at NATO but turns on charm]]>
Leaders' low expectations showed the extent of European frustration with Trump's "America first" policies as they headed into a second day of talks with the 29 members of the Western military alliance, set to focus mainly on ending the long war in Afghanistan.

Trump took to Twitter to say publicly what he told NATO leaders privately on Wednesday, calling on all allies to meet a commitment agreed in 2014 to spend 2 percent of economic output on defence to counter threats ranging from Russia's military modernisation to militant attacks on European cities.

"All NATO Nations must meet their 2% commitment, and that must ultimately go to 4%!" Trump tweeted an hour before the second day of the summit got underway.

Despite the first day's haranguing of allies for failing to meet spending targets and accusing Germany of being a prisoner to Russian energy, Trump was mild-mannered at a private dinner on Wednesday and avoided any outbursts that many NATO diplomats had feared.

"He was in a good mood, he said Europe was a continent he appreciated," Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel told reporters.

"We didn't know what to expect, it was a positive outcome," he said of the dinner in a Brussels park, where leaders were treated to an acrobatic display and saxophone music.

French President Emmanuel Macron said the summit atmosphere was "much calmer than everyone had said" and he saw a will to maintain the unity of the alliance, while Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic said Trump was "constructive".

From abandoning the Iran nuclear deal to putting higher tariffs on European Union steel imports and threatening more on cars, Trump has undermined European priorities in the Middle East, on free trade and on combating climate change.

While Germany, Europe's biggest economy, has been in Trump's sights, Britain was keen to make the most of its status as one of the few NATO nations that meet the spending target and sided with Washington's position that allies should spend more.

"We think President Trump is basically right, that the foundation of a successful alliance is fair contributions by all parties," said Britain's new foreign minister Jeremy Hunt.

HELSINKI RISK

At the NATO summit, normally a ceremonial affair to cement an alliance that dates back almost seven decades, officials had hoped to limit discussions to strictly military business, especially as deterring Russia is a rare unifying factor after Moscow's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.

Ukraine's Petro Poroshenko met NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and spoke at the decision-making North Atlantic Council session with leaders, although his hopes of joining the alliance are, for the time being, thwarted by Russia's incursion into eastern Ukraine and its support for rebels there.

Under NATO rules, countries with armed conflicts on their territory cannot join the Western alliance.

The U.S. president will travel to Britain later on Thursday and then to Helsinki to see Russia's Vladimir Putin on Monday, a meeting that NATO diplomats say will be the true test of Trump's commitment to the Western alliance.

Any deal with Putin to call off U.S. exercises in the Baltics or withdraw U.S. troops from the region would be a severe blow to the West's policy towards Moscow, although diplomats, officials and analysts stressed such outcomes were only a worst-case scenario not based on any official position.

Still, three senior U.S. officials told Reuters that no one in the Pentagon, including Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis, knows what Trump might say in Helsinki.

"The president came out of Singapore saying he'd ended the nuclear threat from North Korea," said one U.S. official, referring to Trump's meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

"Who's to say he won't come out of Helsinki saying he and Putin agreed that Russia no longer poses a threat to the rest of Europe?"]]>
7/12/2018 11:52:29 AM
<![CDATA[UK welcomes Trump-Putin meeting, says it must address Russian "malign activity"]]>
Trump is due to meet Putin on Monday, a meeting which has raised eyebrows among Western allies because it comes days after the U.S. leader attended a NATO summit aimed at bolstering Europe's defences against what it calls Russian aggression.

May's spokesman, speaking to reporters ahead of a dinner for NATO leaders on Wednesday, said the prime minister was planning to highlight Kremlin-linked cyber attacks and the use of a Soviet-era nerve agent on British soil.

"I welcome President Trump's forthcoming meeting with President Putin: open channels of communication between the U.S. and Russia are key to managing the risks of confrontation," she planned to say, according to the spokesman.

Her endorsement of the Trump-Putin meeting attempts to cut off awkward questions about Trump's commitment to NATO, an organisation he has openly and repeatedly criticised, which has dogged the ongoing NATO summit and threatened to undermine Trump's visit to London later this week.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump called for NATO leaders to increase their defence spending to 4 percent of their country's economic output -- double the group's goal of 2 percent, which only a handful of members currently meet anyway.

Britain's official stance on Russia has been 'engage, but beware', but direct diplomatic relations have effectively frozen since London blamed Moscow for the use of a nerve agent in an attempted murder of a Russian former spy living in England.

Russia has denied any involvement in the incident, and rejects Western claims that it has orchestrated high profile cyber attacks.

At the NATO dinner, May will look to leverage the presence of fellow Western leaders by urging that engagement with Russia must come from a position of strength, underpinned by a strong transatlantic alliance.

"As we engage Russia we must do so from a position of unity and strength -- holding out hope for a better future, but also clear and unwavering on where Russia needs to change its behaviour for this to become a reality," she planned to say.

"And, as long as Russia persists in its efforts to undermine our interests and values, we must continue to deter and counter them."]]>
7/12/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Israel to Russia: Assad's safe from us, but Iran must quit Syria]]>
Netanyahu conveyed the message in talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the official said, just hours after Israel shot down what it described as a Syrian drone that had penetrated its airspace, underscoring the frontier's volatility.

Israel has been on high alert as Assad's forces advance on rebels in the vicinity of the Golan Heights, much of which Israel captured from Syria in 1967 and annexed in a move not recognised internationally. Israel worries Assad could let his Iranian and Hezbollah reinforcements entrench near Israeli lines or that Syrian forces may defy a 1974 Golan demilitarisation.

"They (Russia) have an active interest in seeing a stable Assad regime and we in getting the Iranians out. These can clash or it can align," said the Israeli official on condition of anonymity.

"We won't take action against the Assad regime," the official quoted Netanyahu as telling Putin in Moscow.

David Keyes, a Netanyahu spokesman, denied that the prime minister made that statement to Putin.

Asked to summarise Israeli policy on Syria, Keyes said: "We don't get involved in the civil war. We will act against anyone who acts against us."

The Israeli official who requested anonymity said Russia was working to distance Iranian forces from the Golan and had proposed that they be kept 80 km (50 miles) away but that this fell short of Israel's demand for their full exit along with that of Tehran-sponsored militias.

Russian officials had no immediate comment on the meeting.

Since turning the tide of Syria's civil war by intervening militarily in 2015 on Assad's behalf, Russia has turned a blind eye to scores of Israeli air strikes against Iranian and Hezbollah deployments or arms transfers, while making clear it wanted Assad kept immune.

Israel said a Syrian drone, apparently unarmed and designed for surveillance, entered its airspace and was downed with a Patriot missile near the Sea of Galilee on Wednesday. The interception set off sirens on the Golan and nearby Jordanian border.

"We are still looking into why it crossed - whether it was on a military mission and crossed on purpose, or it strayed," said Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman. He said a stray drone was "not common".

Israeli cabinet ministers threatened this week to fire on Syrian forces that enter the Golan buffer zone set up as part of a 1974 U.N.-monitored armistice. The United Nations last month renewed the mandate of its Golan observer force UNDOF and on Wednesday called on all parties to abide by the armistice.

"There should be no military forces in the area of separation other than those of UNDOF,” a U.N. spokesman said.

Israel has signalled openness to eventual ties with Assad, a tacit acknowledgement that he is re-consolidating power as he routs Syria's rebels.

Under Assad family rule, Syria held direct negotiations with Israel in the United States in 2000 and indirect talks mediated by Turkey in 2008. Netanyahu's government has made clear it would not now cede the Golan and has been lobbying for U.S. recognition of Israel's claim of sovereignty there.

On June 24, Israel’s military said it launched a Patriot missile at an incoming drone from Syria, which turned away unscathed. A Syrian commander said the drone was engaged in local operations. On July 6, Israel struck a Syrian post that it said had shelled the Golan buffer zone. ]]>
7/12/2018 1:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump stuns NATO with demand to double defence spending]]>
Trump's surprise demand came after he clashed with Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling Germany a "captive" of Russia because of its gas links and singling out Berlin for failing to pay its way.

The summit in Brussels is shaping up as the alliance's most difficult in years, against a backdrop of deepening transatlantic tensions in fields ranging from trade to energy and defence.

NATO allies agreed at their Wales summit in 2014 to try to spend two percent of GDP on defence within 10 years, but the White House said Trump suggested that was not enough.

"During the president’s remarks today at the NATO summit he suggested that countries not only meet their commitment of two percent of their GDP on defence spending, but that they increase it to four percent," White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said.

"The president raised this same issue when he was at NATO last year. President Trump wants to see our allies share more of the burden and at a very minimum meet their already stated obligations."

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev confirmed that Trump had made the demand and asked what it meant for the future of the alliance that has been the bedrock of European security for 70 years.

"NATO is not a stock exchange where you can buy security. NATO is an alliance of sovereign countries united by strategic targets and common values," he told reporters.

- 'Captive of Russia' -

All 29 NATO leaders including Trump backed a joint statement committing themselves to greater "burden sharing" and to the the alliance's founding commitment that an attack on one member is an attack on them all -- with no mention of the four percent.

Trump arrived on the back of a barrage of criticism of Europe on issues ranging from trade to energy and above all his claims that the continent freeloads on the back of America for its defence.

He then set the tone for the day with a blistering attack on key ally Germany at a breakfast meeting with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.

"Germany is a captive of Russia because it is getting so much of its energy from Russia," Trump said, taking particular aim at the proposed Nord Stream II gas pipeline, which he has previously criticised.

"Everybody's talking about it all over the world, they're saying we're paying you billions of dollars to protect you but you're paying billions of dollars to Russia."

Merkel, who grew up in communist East Germany, shot back that she knew what it meant to be under Kremlin domination and Germany had the right to make its own policy choices.

"I myself have also experienced a part of Germany being controlled by the Soviet Union," she said.

"I am very glad that we are united today in freedom as the Federal Republic of Germany and that we can therefore also make our own independent policies and make our own independent decisions."

The pair later met for a one-on-one meeting and while Trump insisted they had a "very very good relationship", their frosty body language suggested otherwise.

Merkel said she welcomed the chance to have an "exchange of views" with Trump.

- 'Very direct language' -

Trump has long complained that European NATO members do not pay enough for their own defence, singling out Germany for particular criticism.

Germany, Europe's biggest economy, spends just 1.24 percent, compared with 3.5 percent for the US.

Stoltenberg acknowledged that Trump had expressed himself in "very direct language" but insisted that away from the fiery rhetoric the allies all agree on fundamental issues: the need to boost NATO's resilience, fight terror and share the cost of defence more equally.

NATO officials and diplomats will try to promote an image of unity at the summit in the face of growing unease about the threat from Russia, but with the row between Merkel and Trump and the new spending demand mean it may prove difficult to paper over the cracks.

The mercurial tycoon said before leaving Washington that his meeting in Helsinki with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday "may be the easiest" part of his European tour, which also includes a trip to Britain, where the government is in crisis over Brexit.

Trump ramped up his rhetoric ahead of the talks, explicitly linking NATO with the transatlantic trade row by saying the EU shut out US business while expecting America to defend it.

EU President Donald Tusk stepped up to the fight with his own salvo against Trump on Tuesday, telling him to "appreciate your allies" and reminding him Washington that Europe had come to its aid following the 9/11 attacks.

European diplomats fear a repeat of last month's divisive G7 in Canada, when Trump clashed with his Western allies before meeting North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un at a summit and praising him as "very talented".]]>
7/12/2018 1:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[China vows to hit back over U.S. proposal for fresh tariffs]]>
China's commerce ministry said on Wednesday it was "shocked" and would complain to the World Trade Organisation, but did not immediately say how Beijing would retaliate in the dispute between the world's two biggest economies. In a statement, it called the U.S. actions "completely unacceptable".

The Chinese foreign ministry said Washington's threats were "typical bullying" and described the dispute as a "fight between unilateralism and multilateralism".

U.S. officials on Tuesday issued a list of thousands of Chinese goods to be hit with the new tariffs. The top items by value were furniture at $29 billion of imports in 2017, network routers worth $23 billion last year and computer components to the value of $20 billion.

The list is subject to a two-month public comment period.

Some U.S. business groups and lawmakers from President Donald Trump's own Republican Party who support free trade were critical of the escalating tariffs. The Republican-controlled Senate voted 88-11 in favour of a non-binding resolution calling for Congress to have a role in implementing such tariffs.

Republican U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch said the U.S. announcement "appears reckless and is not a targeted approach." Republican U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan accused China of unfair trade practices but added, "I don't think tariffs are the right way to go."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has supported Trump's domestic tax cuts and efforts to reduce regulation of businesses, but does not back Trump's aggressive tariff policies.

"Tariffs are taxes, plain and simple. Imposing taxes on another $200 billion worth of products will raise the costs of every day goods for American families," a Chamber spokeswoman said.

Among the potential ways Beijing could hit back are "qualitative measures," a threat that U.S. businesses in China fear could mean anything from stepped-up inspections to delays in investment approvals and even consumer boycotts.

HOLDING UP LICENSES

The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed Chinese officials, said Beijing was considering holding up licenses for U.S. companies, delaying approvals of mergers involving U.S. firms and stepping up border inspections of American goods.

China could also limit visits to the United States by Chinese tourists, a business that state media said is worth $115 billion, or shed some of its U.S. Treasury holdings, Iris Pang, Greater China economist at ING in Hong Kong, wrote in a note.

Investors fear an escalating Sino-American trade war could hit global growth and damage sentiment.

The $200 billion far exceeds the total value of goods China imports from the United States, which means Beijing may need to think of creative ways to respond to such U.S. measures.

It also highlights how dependent U.S. businesses and consumers are on Chinese goods. In Trump's first round of tariffs, China accounted for 20 percent of total U.S. imports, meaning that substitutes were readily available. In this round, China accounted for more than half of the imports.

There was a price to be paid by American companies as government policies legislated winners and losers.

Home furnishing retailers are expected to be hit particularly hard because China supplies 65 percent of U.S. furniture imports, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs.

The prospect of a 10 percent tariff on Chinese furniture imports sent shares of online home store WayFair Inc down 2.9 percent, while shares of Restoration Hardware tumbled 4.3 percent.

Auto parts retailers, which would also be affected by the latest tariff threats the U.S. lobbed at China, fell more steeply than the broader market. Shares of Advance Auto Parts Inc were down 1.1 percent, Autozone Inc fell 1.6 percent and O'Reilly Automotive Inc dropped 1.6 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down 0.88 percent, the S&P 500 was down 0.71 percent and the Nasdaq was off 0.55 percent.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.1 percent, while the main indexes in Hong Kong and Shanghai recovered somewhat after falling more than 2 percent.

Trump has been following through on pledges he made during his 2016 presidential campaign to get tough on China, which he accuses of unfair trade practices including theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfer that have led to a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit with China.

The U.S. president has said he may ultimately impose tariffs on more than $500 billion worth of Chinese goods, roughly the total amount of U.S. imports from China last year.

U.S. financial analysts said Trump appeared to believe there was a political benefit to waging a trade war, although that could change quickly amid economic fallout.

"It is now much more likely that the dispute will continue for a prolonged period of time and that we will see ratcheting up of protectionist measures," said Elena Duggar, an associate managing director at Moody's, the credit rating agency.]]>
7/12/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Congress hearing on Muslim Brotherhood exposes Qatar, Turkey]]>CAIRO – 12 July 2018: Lawmakers at the House of Congress’ Subcommittee on National Security gathered for a hearing on Wednesday “to examine the threat of Muslim Brotherhood to the United States and its interests and how to effectively counter it.”


The subcommittee described the brotherhood as a “radical Islamist organization that has generated a network of affiliates in over 70 countries.”




According to Free Beacon, “The hearing is expected to set the stage for Congress to follow through on efforts that begun in 2015 to convince the Obama administration to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a terror group following its violent, and eventually failed, takeover in Egypt.”


On Nov. 3, 2015 Congress lawmakers filed a legislation to formally designate the Muslim Brotherhood a “sanctioned terrorist organization”, outlining the brotherhood’s long history of terror and bloodshed.



The following is the bill, obtained by the Washington Free Beacon:






"We have to stop pretending that the Brotherhood are not responsible for the terrorism they advocate and finance," Sen. Ted Cruz told the Free Beacon in an interview.


“Since the Obama administration refuses to utter the words ‘radical Islamic terrorism,’ and Congress owes it to the American people to tell them the truth about this threat."


At the time, five countries, namely Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Russia, had already designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.


According to Rep. Ron DeSantis, the National Security Subcommittee's chair, U.S. policy has failed to address the Brotherhood's radical behavior and support for terror groups.


"The Muslim Brotherhood is a malevolent force, and American policy needs to reflect this truth," DeSantis told the Free Beacon. "Designating the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization is overdue."


Countries such as Turkey and Qatar have been working and growing relations with the Muslim Brotherhood, sparking concern among lawmakers such as DeSantis.


Rep Ron DeSantis
Rep. Ron DeSantis

Lawmakers at the hearing also kept a close eye on exposing the roles that both Qatar and Turkey play in bolstering the group's radical ideology.


A senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of its Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World, Hillel Fradkin, stated on his testimony that “The Brotherhood certainly means to be global and it means to be a threat."


More specifically the Muslim Brotherhood is devoted to a political and religious project that in principle, in its essential character and goals, is hostile to other forms of politics, including our own. And it means for this project to be global in extent.”


Dr Hillel Fradkin
Dr. Hillel Fradkin, Ph.D. - Hudson Institute

He dded that the Brotherhood is for the present a broken organization in Egypt, but it has sustained defeats before, partially by finding bases elsewhere and this meant Saudi Arabia in the 1960’s and today it means Turkey and Qatar.


Previous efforts to designate the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization have failed during the Obama administration due to its explicit policy of making diplomatic overtures to the group.


M. Zuhdi Jasser, president of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy, said in his testimony, “With Qatar for example, it has become the Arab national safe haven for former Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood luminaries and activists. They have provided them not only safe haven but a global perch from which to spread their ideology and hegemony,”


“Their media arm, Al Jazeera, is reportedly staffed by upwards of 90 percent MB sympathizers. Their position on the MB has placed them squarely in the crosshairs of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt,” he added. “It is not surprising that along with Qatar’s relationship with the Brotherhood it is also very sympathetic politically ideologically and economically with Iran and its Khomeinists. This schism within the Sunni region led to an embargo last year on Qatar that remains until Saudi demands are met with abandonment of the Muslim brotherhood being primary.”


M_Zuhdi_Jasser
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. - American Islamic Forum for Democracy

Moreover, he said the Emir of Qatar has been historically close to Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi who has been there since 1961. Qatar has been all in with the belief that the brotherhood represented the wave politically of the future in the Middle East.


“They similarly have supported Hamas and the Iranian global sponsorship of terror turning a blind eye to their support of Hezbollah and the Assad regime. They share rich natural gas fields with the Iranian regime. The Brotherhood’s desire to create a global Sunni caliphate and Islamic state positioned the Qatari royal family to be part of that leadership.”


As for Turkey, he added in his statement that “Turkey, along with Qatar, proceeded to aid and support the radical Islamist element of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and marginalize the more liberal secular elements of the revolution.”


It also helped them counter their Kurdish enemies. Qatar did the same. Nothing epitomizes the relationship between Erdogan’s AKP and the global Muslim Brotherhood then the recent hosting by the Republic of Turkey of the 90th anniversary gala of the Muslim brotherhood.”


“Speeches and rhetoric from the event and releases around the event in Turkey noted the Brotherhood’s call to continue on the path of a comprehensive restoration of Islamic states.”


“The other global platform for the Muslim brotherhood is growing with the country of Turkey which also has an Islamist party in control--the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) of Recip Erdogan. Turkey is a separate case study requiring a hearing on its own; however, its decades-old support of Hamas, it’s aid to help Iran subvert the sanctions against them, and its own evangelical Dawa into the West including now the largest mosque in the United States built in Maryland by the Turkish Republic’s diyanet religious authority are all consistent with and in parallel to the project of the Muslim Brotherhood.” Jasser’s testimony added.


Recently, the State Department designated two Brotherhood-affiliates, namely HASM and Liwa al-Thawra, and Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyeh, as “Specifically Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT)” under an executive order.

]]>7/12/2018 12:18:44 AM<![CDATA[Congress supports Brotherhood ban]]>
A senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of its Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World, Hillel Fradkin, stated on his testimony that “The Brotherhood certainly means to be global and it means to be a threat. More specifically the Muslim Brotherhood is devoted to a political and religious project that in principle, in its essential character and goals, is hostile to other forms of politics, including our own. And it means for this project to be global in extent.”

He added that the Brotherhood is for the present a broken organization in Egypt, but it has sustained defeats before, partially by finding bases elsewhere and this meant Saudi Arabia in the 1960’s and today it means Turkey and Qatar, noting out that Aymen al Zawahiri, the present head of Al Qaeda expressed nostalgic appreciation for the fact that Al Qaeda had been born out of the Brotherhood project and welcomed its members to join his own.

“The Muslim Brotherhood is often correctly described as a gateway to extremism and jihadism. Its ideology is xenophobic, bigoted, and totalitarian. And although its various branches all seek to promote this ideology, they differ in terms of their preferred tactics. Specifically, some of its branches are violent and some are not”, witnessed the Senior Vice President of Research for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies Jonathan Schanzer.

Schanzer added that Muslim Brotherhood operates in as many as 92 countries and its ideology is widely viewed to be the gateway to jihadist violence. Moreover, the leaders and adherents to al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have drawn inspiration from al-Banna, Qutb, and other Muslim Brotherhood thinkers.

President and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD), Zuhdi Jasser, stated on his testimony that “No group embodies the threat of radical Islamism more than the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), and no group runs deeper into the consciousness of global Islamism, especially in our Arab Sunni communities than the Muslim Brotherhood and its global network of affiliates and progeny across the world. Unfortunately, much of the conversation about the Muslim Brotherhood has been obstructed, muffled, marginalized, deferred, or minimized by Muslim Brotherhood sympathizers or their allies.”

He noted that Muslim Brotherhood recently called for jihad on the U.S. and Israel, adopting a view almost identical to Al-Qaeda’s.

He gave evidences of the terrorism of Muslim Brotherhood saying that Morsi allegedly agreed to grant a presidential pardon to over 20 terrorists including one of the lotteries childhood friends who was running Ansar Bayt-al-Maqdis, an ISIS branch in the Sinai and that 14 Morsi’s brother mediated the initial contacts between Al-Zawahiri and Morsi himself.

He added that “On January 27, 2015, the Muslim Brotherhood published on their official Ikhwanonline.com website an announcement that the organization was entering a "new phase" and calling its followers to prepare for a "long, uncompromising jihad" against the Egyptian government.”

On May 27, 2015, they called for a retribution punishment against government officials, judges, police, soldiers, religious officials, and media personalities backing the government, he added.

Daniel Benjamin, the Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding at Dartmouth College since 2013, contradicted on his testimony the other three researchers saying that the Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t impose a global threat and that most of the groups that are said to be Muslim Brotherhood affiliates or franchises support democracy and abjure violence.

“The Egyptian Brotherhood has foresworn violence since the 1970s, and there is no compelling evidence that it has reversed course on that issue. It is noteworthy that two Egyptian MB splinter groups, Liwa al Thawra and HASM, were designated early this year under Executive Order 13224 as terrorist organizations, and both do indeed have a record of violence. It is, however, fallacious to say that this is a sign of the Brotherhood’s return to violence. These groups appear to have split off because their members wanted to commit violence while the Brotherhood as a whole did not”, he added.

The State Department has designated two Brotherhood-affiliates HASM and Liwa al-Thawra — and Hamas’ political leader Ismail Haniyeh, as Specifically Designated Global Terrorists (SDGT) under an executive order.

The Muslim Brotherhood was designated as a terrorist group in 2013 after committing several terrorist attacks to destabilize Egypt and incite interior chaos. ]]>
7/12/2018 12:12:59 AM
<![CDATA[LISTICLE: Tahya Masr-fudned development projects in Aswan]]>
Tahya Masr (The Long Live Egypt) Fund was initially established by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi in 2014 to elicit donations in support of Egypt's development projects and economy.

Egypt Today provides an omnibus list of the Tahya Masr-funded development projects and plans that are cutting through a wide range of sectors.

1- Upgrading hospitals in Edfu city with 15 new medical incubators.

2- Providing local villages with four fire trucks worth LE 8 million.

3- Developing the desert villages with a total cost of LE 16.5 million.

4- Establishing a well-fitted firefighting unit worth of LE 10 million in the under-construction city of Al-Sadaka El-Gedida.

5-Expanding and renovating water networks in some villages of the central town of Nasr El-Nubia to address the water shortage crisis at a cost of LE 3 million.

6-The construction of six residential buildings in Jabal Al-Zalat area in Kom Ombo, with a total of 144 housing units at a cost of LE 20 million.

7 - The establishment of a new dialysis center and another unit for Virus C treatment at Aswan Fever hospital at a cost LE 35 million.

8- The establishment of a three-phase sewage treatment plant with a capacity of 5000 cubic meters in Al-Twaisa area at a cost of LE 10 million, as well as building new 432 housing units that belong to the governmental youth housing projects.

9- Developing the Nasr El-Nouba youth center at a cost of LE 6 million and building 264 units in Khor Baloula area at a cost of LE 1.5 million

10- The construction of a water station in the village of Eneiba with a capacity of 5000 cubic meters at a cost of 20 million.

11- The implementation of the networks of regression and expulsion lines and lift stations for 10 villages in Nasr Nuba at a cost of LE 100 million.

In January 2017, President Sisi ordered the establishment of an authority tasked with the development of Upper Egypt, with investments of up to LE 5 billion (about $279 million), state-owned Al-Ahram reported. The authority is tasked with creating jobs and protecting Nubian monuments.

During the second monthly youth conference in Aswan, Sisi announced establishing 200 small factories in Upper Egypt governorates. He also called for finishing development projects in Aswan by the end of June 2018.
]]>
7/11/2018 10:22:39 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament’s delegation visits Nicosia ahead of expected summit]]>
Radwan, along with a parliamentary delegation, arrived in Nicosia in an official visit to Cyprus; the visit is seen as a prelude to the expected tripartite meeting between Egyptian, Greek and Cypriot heads of Parliament in September.

The three nations organized several tripartite summits during the last four years to intensify cooperation in economy, security, tourism and energy, the latter is considered as the most important due to the common maritime borders between the three nations in the Mediterranean Sea.

On November 20, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visited Cyprus and discussed the construction of a pipeline to deliver gas to Egypt from Cyprus’s Aphrodite field.

On April 2, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades congratulated President Sisi in a telephone call on his re-election for a second term, wishing Egyptians everlasting progress and prosperity.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met his Cypriot counterpart Christodoulides in Cairo on April 10, both ministers discussed the Turkish threat to Egyptian-Cypriot rights in the Mediterranean.]]>
7/11/2018 1:58:30 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament gives recommendations on gov. program’s ‘Building Egyptian Citizen” axis]]>
The subcommittee, which is one of the committees that have been formed to review the policy statement and the new government’s program, stressed that balancing population growth and Egypt’s available resources should be achieved as stipulated in Article 41 of the Egyptian Constitution.

The report referred that the state should benefit from the increasing population through focusing on human development, exploiting youth capabilities, compensating Egyptian families for the damage of unemployment, and ensuring that every human has the right to live and get access to education and health services.

The subcommittee called for establishing the three authorities mentioned in the Health Insurance Law, including the Comprehensive Health Insurance Authority, Health Care Authority and Quality and Accreditation Authority as well as two committees for drug and diseases treatment pricing.

It also pointed out to rising the pension age for doctors of rare medical specialties to 65 years and distributing them on the remote and most needed areas.

The report further recommended supporting elderly rights and benefitting from their experience in different fields as well as establishing a fund for rare diseases such as muscle atrophy and arteriosclerosis; it also recommended raising youth awareness toward drug addiction and preparing them to meet the needs of the labor market.

Among the report's top priorities is setting a mechanism to decrease literacy rates from 29 percent to 15 percent and linking the ministries of education and youth and sports by activating sport activities in schools.

The new government’s program, delivered by Mostafa Madbouly before the Parliament on July 3 consists of five axes; the first focuses on protecting Egyptian national security, the Egyptian foreign policy in securing the national security of the Armed Forces and developing security confrontations of terrorism and trafficking as well as securing archaeological and touristic places.

The second axis is “Building Egyptian Citizen” through consolidating cultural identity, activating the role of cultural institutions and media awareness, spreading the culture of science and creativity, protecting the community from extremist ideas, and applying the first phase of the Health Insurance Law, under which 33 hospitals and 153 health care units should be established and the state should bear the treatment cost of those who cannot afford it.

The axis focuses on improving the quality of research and technology system, constructing seven international and national universities as well as eight new technology universities, and developing a school nutrition program.

This comes in line with President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s plan to put building Egyptian citizens physically, culturally and intellectually among the top priorities in his second term through launching several national projects to upgrade education and health systems and to alleviate the tough living conditions.

In the same context, the third axis focuses on economic development targeting an economic growth rate of 8 percent through improving the public financial management, while the fourth axis is represented in the government program by promoting employment levels through upgrading the small and medium enterprises, in addition to developing human skills and integrating the informal sector in the formal work system.

The fifth axis aims to improve the standard of living of the Egyptian citizen by controlling population growth, expanding social safety nets and addressing societal gaps.

Earlier in June, President Sisi ordered Madbouly to form a new government to succeed that of Sherif Ismail, who resigned on June 5. The new Cabinet has sworn-in on June 14, with 12 new ministers, including the interior and defense ministers.]]>
7/11/2018 12:17:03 PM
<![CDATA[EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: UN Special Coordinator Mladenov speaks about Palestinian-Israeli conflict ]]>CAIRO – 11 July 2018: Only hours before the arrival of Hamas official delegation, which is expected to re-open the reconciliation issue with the Egyptian government after being halted for several months; The United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov speaks to Egypt Today in an exclusive interview about Palestinian rival factions reconciliation, Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the two-state solution and the “deal of century”.


Mladenov affirmed in his statements, that Cairo government has always been, and still is, a vital and key player amid the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, adding that Rafah border crossing, which Egypt opens regularly to ease the people’s suffering in Gaza, is considered to be a “lifeline” for Palestinians.


He added that The United Nations is doing its best to back Egypt’s efforts to reach complete reconciliation among Palestinian factions. He affirmed that Egypt has done a lot already to reach stability and decrease violence.



During his interview, Mladenov said that Palestine’s continuing inter-factional conflicts are devastating the cause. “Sitting to the negotiations table and reaching a convenient compromise would be the only solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Rivals, Hamas and Fatah must reach a reconciliation to end their continuing conflicts and unify under one legitimate government,” Mladenov stated.


Recognizing East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital is one of the main principles for achieving peace, according to Mladenov. He assured that there is no Palestinian state without Gaza, and “it [Gaza] should be unified along with the West Bank under one government.”



“The international community role now is to prevent any new wars to break out in the Gaza Strip; however, peace cannot be reached or achieved without the United States.” Mladenov noted. He called Hamas to renounce violence and accept the two-state solution. He affirmed that Fatah as well needs to consider accepting coordinating with the rest of the Palestinian factions.


Mladenov described the two-state solution as the only solution for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


Reconciliation-Pal2
Egyptian officials, Hamas and Fatah delegations after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Oct. 12, 2017 – AFP photo

He noted the “deal of the century” saying that If Washington wanted to reach what’s called the century’ deal, it should negotiate with the whole international community first.


Mladenov stressed during the interview that accelerating pace of settlement activity in the West Bank will increase violence between both sides.


Reconciliation-Pal5
Egyptian officials, Hamas and Fatah delegations after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Oct. 12, 2017 – AFP photo

According to the United Nations website, Mladenov was appointed as the Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process by former Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on February 2015.


Mladenov used to serve as Iraq’s Special Representative and Head of the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). He also served as Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria from 2010 to 2013 and Minister of Defence of Bulgaria from 2009 to 2010. Previously, he was a Member of the European Parliament from 2007 to 2009 and a Member of the Parliament of Bulgaria from 2001 to 2005. Mladenov held several positions in the intergovernmental and non-governmental sectors, including at the World Bank and the European Institute, according o the UN official website.


Mladenov earned a Master of Arts in war studies at King’s College London, in the United Kingdom, and both a master’s and a bachelor’s degree in international relations at the University of National and World Economy of Sofia, in Bulgaria.


Reconciliation-Pal3
Egyptian officials, Hamas and Fatah delegations after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Oct. 12, 2017 – AFP photo

Previous reconciliation was signed in Cairo in October 2017 between Palestinian rival factions Fatah and Hamas in order to achieve more stability within the Palestinian land and authorities.


On September 17, the Hamas movement announced the dissolution of the administrative committee in the Gaza Strip, inviting the Government of National Reconciliation to assume its duties and hold general elections. The movement affirmed it would comply with the Social Reconciliation Accord signed in 2011.


Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that there is no country as vital to the Palestinian cause as Egypt due to its historical and political position in the region. “Egypt has an opinion, a position and an interest in the Palestinian cause,” said Abbas.


Reconciliation-Pal4
Egyptian officials, Hamas and Fatah delegations after signing a reconciliation deal in Cairo on Oct. 12, 2017 – AFP photo

Tensions however; rose following a failed assassination attempt of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah on March 13. In an official statement that followed shortly, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned targeting Hamdallah’s convoy.



And here is Egypt Today’s full interview with Nickolay Mladenov:


We would like to know the reason behind your visit to Cairo?


I am here to meet with our Egyptian counterparts to discuss the situation in Gaza, which is very worrying, because the tension there is rising, and the United Nations needs to do everything that it can to support the efforts that Egypt has [done] to do reconciliation between Palestinian political parties.


We have had very good meetings—it is not my first time here, I come here very often—and I think soon we will see the revival of efforts to bring Fatah and Hamas back to the table and to bring the legitimate Palestinian authority back in control of Gaza.



You know that the relationship between the Palestinian authority and the United States has been deteriorating since Trump declared Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; what is the vision that is required to solve the United States to get the Palestinian side back on the table?

The United Nations has been very clear that the only way to resolve the conflict is if we have the Palestinians and the Israelis return back to the table of negotiations, and the negotiations are based on what are the legitimate parameters for resolving the conflict, which means that we have to have two states as the outcomes of the negotiations: A Palestinian state and an Israeli state, living side by side on the basis of the relevant resolutions of the United Nations with East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state. This is the only basis to move forward. I hope that with time, everyone, including our American friends, will understand that any proposal to bring the parties back to the table must be based on these parameters. In the meanwhile, what we hope to see is a re-engagement, by the United States, particularly, in supporting the Palestinian people at a time when the Palestinian people face many difficulties across the board. Very visibly in Gaza with the current situation there where

we have political security and economic difficulties; in the west bank, where the economic situation is also complicated; and the Palestinian refugees who live in the camps face even more hardships with the threats of the reduction of financing. I hope that we receive more focused international efforts to bring both sides back to the table, with a stronger arrangement here by Egypt.

What are the concessions that Donald Trump’s Administration needs to get back the Palestinians on the table?

The issues that have, many things have happened since the decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem, and all of these decisions have had consequences on the relationship between the Americans and the Palestinians; a particular emphases is the financial support, which has been stopped by the Americans, substantially reduced; also, the suspension of other persistence programs for the Palestinian people, which I hope can be revived. So, there is a way to bring the sides back together but that must be on the basis on what is the legitimate parameters of how to resolve the conflict, and what is the consensus of the rest of the international community. So, I hope that soon, we will see that return.

There are so many parties that are involved in this peace process, and Mr. John Kerry has made a lot of efforts during his time as the United States Secretary of State; do you think that someone like Jared Kushner can prolong the process?

I think that everyone has a role to play. Everyone has a role to play, not just in America, but also in Europe and the rest of the Arab world, to help the two sides come back to the negotiating table, particularly now when we need to see the conditions on the ground changing to make negotiations meaningful.

Let me explain what I mean by conditions on the ground: We have a situation where in the West Bank, Israel continues to expand its settlement and this is something that the international community has been very critical of.

But the expansions have accelerated.

Exactly! The expansions have continued but it is not just settlements, it is the denial of opportunities for Palestinians to develop in area C, which is under Israel’s control, and most worryingly, in the last few days what we have been seeing in places like Khan El-Ahmar, we have demolitions of Palestinian-owned structures. So, these three processes are changing the reality of the situation on the West Bank; they need to change.

We also need to focus on the question of violence.

Violence from which side?

Violence from all sides. As much as the expansion of settlements takes away the land; violence and attacks take away the trust of the people. The third aspect, which I think, particularly today, is very important, is the situation in Gaza, which I keep going back to because for the past 10 years the legitimate Palestinian government has not been in control of Gaza, and it is very important, if negotiations are to be meaningful, that the control of the legitimate authority, and President Abbas and the government of the international consensus, is restored to Gaza. If we are able to focus on restoring that control on the issue of land in the West Bank with the building of settlements and expansion and the issue or rebuilding trust on both sides, then the negotiations will be meaningful.

But do you think that a peace process is possible without Hamas on the negotiation table?

I do not think that there is a real negotiation possible without Gaza because you cannot have a Palestinian state without Gaza and you cannot have a Palestinian state only in Gaza. So Gaza and the West Bank need to be reunited under one government again. That means that Fatah, Hamas and the Palestinian fractions need to be able to find a way to resolve their differences and return back to the legitimate framework of the Palestinian National Leadership. All parties and all factions need to play a role in that, but that is going to be a difficult process, but one that Egypt, since October of last year, started leading, it is a very important step in this reconciliation. For a few months this effort was stalled, but I hope now that, literally in the next few days and weeks, this effort will be revived because it is critical to the future of the Palestinian cause.

How do you see the Egyptian role?

I think Egypt has played a very positive role, particularly over the past few months because of two particular issues.

One is the Rafah crossing, which is critical for providing movement of Palestinians in Gaza, and this has provided a lifeline to the people of Gaza because they face very complicated conditions because of the closure on the Israeli side; they have very few movement and very few goods allowed. This is the first important effort by Egypt.

The second important effort is the reconciliation process because that is what Egypt has recognized very clearly that after ten years of division between Gaza and the West Bank, you have to have a step-by-step approach to returning unity again. The goal must remain that Gaza and the West Bank are united under one government, one legal system, that only the government controls weapons, no weapons beyond the control of the authorities. But it has to be a step-by-step approach.

What is your project in Gaza to ease the situation?

This is the immediate reason I am here in Cairo today; I am here to discuss with Egypt our initiatives related to Gaza because we are worried that the economic situation in Gaza is deteriorating very rapidly. People have no money, no jobs, drinking water is scarce, the hospital system is under a lot of pressure, electricity is down for people to about three hours per day, people are living in very very bad conditions. We have to look at the economic aspect of the situation, but we also have to acknowledge that there is a political aspect, which is unity, and we need to help the recovery of people but we also need to assist in the recovery of the political crisis. One way of doing that is to focus on immediate projects that will help electricity, water, jobs creation in Gaza and through those projects support reconciliation and support the efforts by Egypt.

I think we have a good plan that has been consulted with everyone, with the Palestinian authority, with Israel, with Egypt, with the region. And it would give us, collectively, the ability to prevent another way in Gaza. To me, the most important task today, the most immediate task today, is to prevent another war because there are Palestinians in Gaza, who have lived through three conflicts in the last ten years, and they should not be allowed to have another devastating conflict.

Will you cooperate with Hamas in this project?

Our partner is the legitimate Palestinian government. We talked to all factions and all players in the region and internationally who can contribute to this, but our legitimate partner is the government.

Some American newspapers talk about a negative attitude from some Arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, what are your comments on this?

I think there is a lot of media speculation out there. What I have found is that everybody has been extremely helpful and cooperative until now because the region as a whole is tired of conflict. There are too many wars, too many casualties, and nobody wants to see another explosion in Gaza.

The most important countries are the ones that are immediately next door, your own country, the Israeli’s because they have a special responsibility as the occupying power, the Palestinians, Jordan, certainly, but until now I have found everyone to be very very cooperative.

Donald Trump has a deal that is called ‘The deal of the century’ for Palestine, what is your thoughts about it?

Everybody is waiting for that deal. My view is that if the Americans put forward a proposal recognizes the goal of having two states, that addressed the questions of settlements, security, Jerusalem, refugees, that goes back to the basic parameters of what the international community has agreed on, they have an opportunity. But these are the parameters without which you cannot resolve the conflict.

So, if you want to make the deal of the century, you need to get back to the original parameters in the international consensus.

Do you see another solution? Does anyone see another solution?

Both the Palestinians and for the Israelis, both want to live in their own states, no one wants to be the minority in the state of the other. The only way to do this, is to separate and to find the necessary arrangements on economy, security, economy, trade, borders, on all the finest issues that need to be addressed. But I do not think that there is any other solution other than two-state solution that legitimately addresses the national aspirations, if you want, and the historic rights of both nations.



Last week Foreign Policy and American experts overtime have spoken about Israeli-Palestinian consideration, how do you find such solution?

It is not for me to accept it or not or for foreign writers to comment on it. It is for the people themselves.

I believe, I mean, I live in Jerusalem, and I interact with Palestinians on a daily basis, I have not been convinced that there is another option except two states.

In 2016, the United Nations, together with our American, Russia and European partners, published a report, which outlines all the risks on the ground for this two-state solution. There are many many risks and many dangers but the political concept remains.

What are the risks?

The land, under the new expansion, the demolitions, and the violence that undermines trust in Gaza. There are a lot of specific conditions on the ground that needs to change and they are not only negative things [that need to change], there are also some positive things that need to happen.

The economy needs to be stimulated and strengthened because the economy cannot replace the political goal of statehood but it is important for people to see a prospective for their future away from violence and towards stability, prosperity and controlling their own fate. So, there are a lot f things that need to happen on the ground and a lot of negative trends that need to be stopped and this is what we focus on now on a daily basis.

How has the internal Palestinian division affected the development of the Palestinian cause?

I think the internal Palestinian division is devastating t the Palestinian cause because the very fact that for the past decade the Palestinians in Gaza and the Palestinians in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem have lived a very different life has separated whole generations.

If you look at people who are 20 years old in Gaza, most likely they have never visited the West Bank because in their life they have been living under Israeli closures and have been separated from their national authorities and have lived under different legal systems in very difficult conditions, and the longer that this division continues, they more poisonous it is for the Palestinian national cause, and this is why we welcome so much Egypt’s efforts to solve this cause and to find a way out of it, and to reach agreements on reconciliation.

This will be welcomed by everyone on the international community and this has been stated many times and of course, Hamas needs to acknowledge that part of this problem is this division is not just giving up control of Gaza but also accepting the conditions that have been put forward by the PLO and by the international community; renouncing violence accepting agreements between Palestinians and the Israelis, accepting a two-state solution as a way to move forward. And Fatah in itself also needs to accept that there needs to be a partnership between all Palestinian fractions to agree on an agreement.

You sat a few weeks ago with Ismail Haniyeh to discuss the release of Israeli soldiers in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. Can you give us details about this?

There are at least two Israeli civilians who are in Gaza and there are bodies of soldiers that are being held, and the two needs to be resolved because it is a humanitarian issue. How it is resolved and the talks that take place is not something that I want to discuss at this point, however, it is an issue that needs to be resolved because it is a humanitarian case. Of course, for me, the most immediate concern, as I said in the beginning, is to prevent another war because if there is another war and another conflict, thousands of people will be killed and thousands of families will be saddened under this situation; we have to make sure that this does not happen again, and this is for the benefit for both Palestinians and Israelis.



What is your impression about President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s efforts in Gaza?

I think Egypt has done a lot to assist the situation and the crisis both through opening of the Rafah crossing on the humanitarian side but also through the political side through efforts of reconciliation. These efforts have been, I think, very much appreciated by the members of the international community. We will continue to work very closely with Egypt to make sure that these efforts succeed because if these efforts succeed, this is good, not just for the Egyptian people in terms of security, but also it is good for the Palestinians, it is good for the Israelis, it is good for the entire region.



Trump has regularly attacked organizations; do you think he will want to work closely with the quartet?

Well, the United States is a member of the quartet: Russia, the European Union, the United States and the UN, and we continue to work with them on a daily basis, discussing with them the situation in Gaza and the political issues as they emerge.


Of course, now, it is a little more complicated after the issues with Jerusalem but this dialogue continues; it has not stopped.



Do you think Trump’s decision regarding Jerusalem will have a negative effect of the peace process?

I think that the peace process is at its lowest point right now in many years; I would not say every, but in many years. And there are some very serious risks that we cannot revive it effectively. I hope that we can by changing the reality on the ground because if you bring together Palestinian and Israeli leaders without the appropriate conditions as settlements expand, violence continues and the divisions in Gaza continue, then we will be creating a false sense of hope for people, and I think everybody in this part of the world understands very well that if you create a sense of hope and then you take that away, usually what happens is that violence erupts after that. So, we need to be very, very, very careful.

If you look at the situation now, and the unilateral actions, negative steps of the ground, all of this has damaged the peace process and it will be very difficult to revive it.

Trump has declined assisting refugees, what are your comments on his decision to reduce humanitarian funds to ease the suffering of Palestinians?

The United States was the biggest donor for many years, decades, over $300 million every year, now they have reduced it to $60 million. This has left a huge financing problem, which they have tried to address in many ways, including through a conference in New York just a few days ago.

There are some very serious risks to the hospitals, to the services, to the projects that they do. I think that everyone who looks at the UNRWA today understands that UNRWA is part of this entire region, because de-stabilizing UNRWA not only destabilizes Gaza and the West Bank, it also destabilizes Lebanon, it has an effect on Jordon, and through there, it impacts the whole region. So, the dangers that UNRWA faces today are really significant and I cannot underline that enough. We are doing everything that we can to find adequate financing for them because to many Palestinians UNRWA is not just the agency that provides school, hospitals, food, it is the symbol of the right of return for the refugees; so it has also political implications of this sense. Today, for us, this is one of the biggest worries.

How do you explain what Donald Trump does all the time towards the United Nations?

This is clearly the direction of his Administration and the policies that his Administration has taken. But form my experience, dealing with this issue here—the Palestinian conflict, if you look elsewhere in the Middle East, we continue to see constant engagement with the Americans, again, at different levels because of some of the position that they have taken but we continue to engage at many levels.

This may also mean that if the Americans reduce their finance, others need to step up and give more financing. For example, we have seen Saudi Arabia, the United Arab of Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait increase their contributions to UNRWA. They each gave about $50 million for this year; in total, about $150-200 million was raised from the Gulf to help cover the expenses. The European Union also needs to come up with more funding. Not just the European Union, also countries within the European Union need to come up with more money.We have to adjust to the situation today.

Would you say that under the Trump Administration, the U.S.’s role in the process would no longer be needed?

I really do not think that you can have a peace process and engagement without the Americans. You cannot have it only with the Americans, but you cannot have it without the Americans. To me, what remains the best format, is the United States, the European Union, the Russians and the UN, with a stronger role for the Arab countries, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and others in the region—stronger engagement; this is the format that will help to bring both sides to negotiations. I do not think that this can be done by one country; any one individually.



How many generations will it take to reach a deal?

It has taken many generations until now for this conflict to get to this stage; so, it will not be an easy process. We need the people to change their way of thinking: How they think, how they approach the challenges of the day, we need to see more focus on supporting moderate political forces because the threat from radical political forces and radical ideologies is everywhere today. We need to see people focus more on practical stuff because to only sit back and say, because there is no peace process we cannot do anything perpetuates the situation. Many things that can be done, even in the absence of a political perspective, for the situation to be resolved. This is why I keep going back to the issue of conditions on the ground because the way I see it, they do not have security, they do not know how to plan their lives, they see their land disappear.

So, you rule out that Donald Trump will not reach a deal?

No, I do not know that. I do not rule that out. On the contrary, I think that America re-engaging actively and constructively can make it possible.


It does not need to take many generations because we all know the parameter of what needs to be done and we all know what needs to happen on the ground, it is a matter of somebody doing it.



Do you think we are close to reaching a successful two-state solution deal?

No, I said exactly the opposite; there is no peace process.

Is the Israeli government refusing the peace process?

No, I think everybody wants peace in the Middle East, except everybody has a different idea of how to get there. I do not think that you will find anybody there, anybody at all—on the right or on the left—that does not want to find a solution. They may have different ideas and different ideologies on how to get to it but there is a general agreement that we have to have peace like the one between Israel and Egypt that has lasted for so many years.

What the worry is, is that Palestinians—the weaker side of this equation, if they feel that the political perspective for their state is not there; if people say things like, ‘well, no, there will be no state solution,’ when they see the land disappearing, when they see divisions continuing, then they lose trust in the process. And because they are the weaker side, when they lose trust, they become much more vulnerably, and this is what worries me.

But I think both, on the Israeli and Palestinian sides of the region; everybody wants to find a way to peace. You just have to find the leadership and to have the vision of how to return back to the questions that matter.

Are we still many years away from a two-state solution?

If things continue the same way that they are now, then yes.]]>
7/11/2018 7:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Mexico president-elect strikes upbeat tone on Trump ahead of talks]]>
Mexican President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is due to meet on Friday with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and others for talks in Mexico City.

The meeting will be the first major face-to-face discussions between Lopez Obrador and his team and U.S. officials since the leftist won a landslide victory on July 1.

The 64-year-old Lopez Obrador, who will replace outgoing President Enrique Pena Nieto as Mexico's leader on Dec. 1, said the fact Trump was sending several top officials to Mexico offered grounds for optimism about the upcoming relationship.

Lopez Obrador wants to persuade Trump to help foster economic development in Mexico and Central America to complement the affected countries' own steps to create better living conditions for their people in order to reduce migration.

"We want to make that the key focus of the relationship with the U.S. government and are grateful that it's understood this way, and there are signs with the Treasury Secretary's visit that we can reach a deal for development, and job creation and welfare," Lopez Obrador told reporters in Mexico City. "This is what matters most to us, and what we will press for most."

Ties between the neighboring countries have been strained under Trump and Pena Nieto due to the American's insistence that Mexico pay for his planned border wall, as well as his push to rework the NAFTA trade deal to the United States' advantage.

Lopez Obrador and Trump, both regarded as political mavericks, spoke by telephone after the Mexican's victory.

The subject of the wall did not come up in their call, nor was it on the agenda for Friday's talks, said Marcelo Ebrard, Lopez Obrador's pick to be Mexican foreign minister.

Lopez Obrador offered thanks for the "respectful attitude of President Donald Trump" and what he described as the interest shown in reaching a mutual understanding. He also reiterated that he wanted the North American Free Trade Agreement to be maintained.

Various nominees to serve in Lopez Obrador's cabinet will sit down alongside ministers from the current Mexican administration during Friday's talks, which will also include U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Ebrard said. ]]>
7/11/2018 4:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey's new finance chief, Erdogan's son-in-law, vows to bring inflation down]]>
Berat Albayrak, the husband of Erdogan's elder daughter Esra, was on Monday named by the president as treasury and finance minister as part of a cabinet reshuffle for his new term.

Albayrak's surprise switch from the energy ministry spooked financial markets, who were also unhappy to see there was no room for outgoing deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, the government's pointman on the economy.

"In the coming period we will work intensively to bring inflation down to single digits," Albayrak said at a handover ceremony with Simsek, whose post no longer exists in the new government.

Inflation in Turkey surged to over 15 percent in June for the first time in almost one-and-a-half decades, raising new fears that the economy is overheating.

Albayrak promised a "more successful performance" in the coming period based on "independent institutions".

Erdogan has repeatedly called on the central bank, nominally independent, to cut interest rates, raising concerns over its credibility.

Albayrak, 40, vowed that Turkey would set "an example for the world" in financial and budgetary discipline and also vowed "a vigorous and energetic monetary policy", without giving further details.

"Turkey will write a new story," he promised.

The lira had on Monday lost over 3.5 percent in value against the dollar after Albayrak's appointment, with markets also rattled by changes to the president's relationship with the central bank under the new system that dispenses with the office of prime minister.

Presidential decrees said the central bank governor would no longer have the power to appoint his deputies while Erdogan would now directly name the governor with no need to act in tandem with the government.

The lira on Tuesday gained back 0.5 percent against the dollar to trade at 4.7 to the greenback.

"The pace at which he (Erdogan) is moving to tighten his grip is alarming and, in response, Turkish financial assets have come under pressure," said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, in a note to clients.

Simsek, a former Merill Lynch economist who had spent much of the last year trying to reassure markets after sometimes provocative comments by Erdogan, appeared to show no bitterness over his departure.

"People are temporary, the main thing is service to our dear nation," he wrote on Twitter. "Goodbye to you all."]]>
7/11/2018 4:40:00 AM
<![CDATA[Britain to almost double troops in Afghanistan after U.S. request]]>
Prime Minister Theresa May announced the government will send an extra 440 troops, which would bring Britain's total to about 1,100, to help Afghan troops fighting Taliban and Islamic State insurgents.

The extra troops will be taking part in a NATO-led training mission, called Resolute Support, to train and assist Afghan forces. They will be based in Kabul and will not be in a combat role. British troops ended combat operations in 2014.

The announcement comes the day before a NATO summit in Belgium that could turn contentious over U.S. President Donald Trump's insistence that allies pay more for their defence.

Trump, who announced the United States would send thousands more troops to Afghanistan last year, has asked Britain and other NATO countries to send more reinforcements to the country.

"In committing additional troops to the Train Advise Assist operation in Afghanistan we have underlined once again that when NATO calls the UK is among the first to answer," May said.

"NATO is as vital today as it ever has been and our commitment to it remains steadfast. The Alliance can rely on the UK to lead by example."

The increase in British troops comes ahead of parliamentary elections in Afghanistan in October, which are seen as a crucial test for democracy in a country at war for four decades.

The extra British troops will initially come from the Welsh Guards, with around half arriving in August and the rest in February next year.

Hundreds of civilians have been killed and wounded in attacks in Kabul this year. At least 57 people were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a voter registration booth in April and about 100 people were killed in January by a bomb in an ambulance.

Thousands more U.S. troops have been sent to Afghanistan to help train the army, and commanders have been given greater authority to carry out air strikes against the militants in a major reversal of the previous policy of phased withdrawal of American forces.

But almost 17 years since the United States tried to topple Afghanistan's Taliban, who had harboured al Qaeda militants behind attacks on New York and Washington, the West remains entangled in an effort to stabilise the country. ]]>
7/11/2018 4:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[May clings to power amid Brexit resignation turmoil]]>
The prime minister chaired the first meeting of the cabinet since foreign secretary Boris Johnson and Brexit minister David Davis quit in protest over her Brexit plans agreed last week.

"Productive cabinet meeting this morning -- looking ahead to a busy week," May said on Twitter, as the resignations of Johnson and Davis sent shockwaves through Westminster and fuelled speculation that the turmoil could eventually topple her.

Within hours, two top officials from the Conservative party -- Ben Bradley and Maria Caulfield -- also quit, warning that close links with Europe after Brexit could trigger a public backlash.

May has faced anger from Brexit hardliners in her party who say her plan makes too many concessions to the EU.

Johnson, who wrote in his resignation letter that the Brexit "dream is dying" and that Britain was headed for the "status of colony" under May's leadership, is seen as a potential challenger.

However, she has support from moderates and there has been no formal challenge to her leadership so far.

At a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in London later Tuesday, May vowed to deliver a "smooth and orderly Brexit that protects jobs, livelihoods and also meets our commitment for no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland."

Merkel welcomed the fact that Britain had formulated a position to take into stalled negotiations with the EU.

"We want to bring the negotiating process forward," she said. "It's a good thing that we have proposals on the table."

- 'A friend of mine' -

Rumours have swirled over possible further cabinet resignations but experts said May appeared to have weathered the crisis for now.

"I don't see them pulling the plug on her," Polly Mackenzie, director of cross-party think-tank Demos, told AFP.

"Everybody who wants to be the prime minister wants Theresa May to guide that process through until March so that (they) could take over and say 'what's passed is passed'. So I think she'll stay."

May's Conservative opponents could trigger a leadership contest if at least 48 MPs support it, but to actually formally force her from office, 159 MPs would have to vote against her -- a figure hardliners may not be able to reach.

May has said she will fight off any attempt to unseat her.

US President Donald Trump, asked about the unfolding drama ahead of his visit to Britain later this week, said it appeared "in somewhat turmoil".

"Boris Johnson is a friend of mine," he added. "He's been very, very nice to me, very supportive. Maybe I'll speak to him when I get over there."

The Kremlin said it hoped for an improvement in ties following the departure of Johnson, who had angered Moscow with his vociferous accusations over the poisoning with a nerve agent of a Russian spy on English soil in March.

"Unfortunately his contribution to the development of bilateral ties with Russia was rather modest, to put it mildly," President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

The gaffe-prone Johnson was quickly replaced Monday by 51-year-old former health minister Jeremy Hunt, who unlike Johnson supported staying in the European Union in the 2016 referendum.

Dominic Raab, a Brexit supporter and former housing minister, was appointed to replace Davis.

Hunt said it was a moment to show that Britain remained a "strong, confident voice in the world".

He said he would "stand four square behind the prime minister so that we can get through an agreement with the European Union based on what was agreed by the cabinet last week".

- Striking a deal -

The plan agreed at May's country retreat at Chequers near London last Friday would involve Britain pursuing a "UK-EU free trade area" for goods that would involve regulatory alignment with the EU.

Both sides hope to strike a deal on Brexit withdrawal terms and agree a plan for future trade ties in time for an EU summit in October, ahead of Britain's departure from the bloc on March 29, 2019.

Europe's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said Tuesday talks will resume next Monday as scheduled with the new Brexit minister, while refusing to comment on the political infighting consuming London.

"I had with David Davis a frank and cordial relationship, and now I will work next Monday with this negotiator appointed by Mrs May," he told AFP.

Pressure had been growing for months on the prime minister to reach a compromise on Brexit within her publicly divided cabinet in order to progress talks with the EU.]]>
7/11/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[NATO to launch new program with Egypt: Brussels sources]]>
Sources in Brussels, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, did not reveal the details of the program, but they told Egypt Today on Tuesday that Paolo Alli, NATO Parliamentary Assembly President and Vice Chairman of the Mediterranean and Middle East Special Group opened a center last February in the Italian city of Napoli to exchange information with southern partners and recognize security needs, according to sources in Brussels.

The center serves as a reception for partners from MENA to reach a better understanding of the dynamics in the region and security challenges that face them.
“We enjoy great relations with Egypt and its foreign minister. This has helped Egypt purge the Western Desert, which is an area that requires a special treatment,” a NATO official said, commenting on a current, announced demining program between Cairo and NATO.

The first phase of the program to clear mines and explosive remnants of World War II from the Western Desert has been concluded. The phase used radar systems that can penetrate the earth and discover explosives at great depths.

The second phase will be launched soon, and it includes equipment that will allow safe use of the discovered mines. NATO has supported he project with $4 million to hire a company that designs equipment so pervasive. Field training for the Egyptians, who dealt directly with the mines on the ground, was also made available.

“We have given Egypt very advanced equipment. The mines are at different depths, so we needed specialized devices and hired a pioneering company in the field to build the equipment,” the official added.

Egypt has about 20 percent of the total number of landmines planted around the world with some 110 million landmines, in the eastern and western deserts. While explosives in the Eastern Desert were planted by Israel, the rest in the west were planted by the Axis forces, led by defeated German General Erwin Rommel.

Hence, thousands of people have lost their lives or limbs to the mines, and thousands of acres are deprived from development because of the danger beneath the sand.
]]>
7/11/2018 12:42:22 AM
<![CDATA[Suicide bomber kills 12 at anti-Taliban party rally in Pakistan]]>
The attack on a meeting of the Awami National Party (ANP) in Peshawar also injured nearly 50 others, city police chief Jamil Qazi said. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, the first major pre-election violence.

The ANP was the main target of Taliban attacks in the 2013 election. Then, senior ANP leader Bashir Bilour was killed in a suicide bombing. Tuesday's attack killed his son Haroon Bilour, a candidate for the provincial assembly.]]>
7/10/2018 10:21:10 PM
<![CDATA[Libyan tribes reject Qatari mediation, welcome Egyptian efforts: Tebu elders’ spox]]>
In an interview with Egypt Today, Othman revealed that Libya’s Tebu and Tuareg tribes, the two main ethnic groups in the south west, have rejected Qatar’s mediation to solve the two tribes’ problems, adding that the tribes have solved them without Doha’s intervention.

On the other hand, Othman called on Egypt to stand by the Libyan people, affirming that the south-west region needs support especially from the Egyptian state and people. He added that the sisterly country is welcomed to play a role in the southern region.

Since the murder of former Libyan President Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011, inter-communal violence has prevailed in the southern Libyan city of Sebha.

Othman said that marginalizing the Tebu tribe and expanding the influence of the Arabic tribe of Awlad Suleiman in the south west has caused a state of instability for years in the region, referring to the war that took place between the two tribes earlier this year in Sebha city, which reportedly caused the death of hundreds of people from the two tribes.

Sebha’s Tayuri district, where the fighting intensified, is home to both Tebu and Tuareg tribes. Tebu and Tuareg had fought each other until a peace deal mediated by Qatar was inked in 2015, two years before four Arab countries including Egypt boycotted the peninsula over charges of “funding terrorism”.


Clashes between the Tebu and Awlad Suleiman tribes have taken place in 2012 and 2014 as well. Mediated by Italy and Presidency Council member Abdel Salam Kajman, a peace deal between the two tribes was inked in Rome in 2017.

Tebu (aka Toubou) is an ethnic group that speaks the Tebu languages. They inhabit parts of the African continent, including southern Libya and northwestern Sudan. The Tebus in Libya represent about 25 percent of the country’s 6.2 million people, according to some reports.

A number of Tebus have clashed with the terrorists who later travelled from Libya to Egypt and killed a number of policemen in Al-Wahat deadly terrorist attack that took place last year. In an interview with Emad al-Din Adib, an Egyptian TV presenter, Abdullah al-Mismary, one of the Wahat terrorists who was arrested by the Egyptian authorities said that the Tebus thought we were smugglers.

The Tebu was ordered by the Libyan National Army commander Khalifa Haftar to guard the borders, according to media reports. Mismary said that his group managed to kill a tebu man and get some of the tribe’s weapons.


Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil ]]>
7/10/2018 5:49:13 PM
<![CDATA[MPs push for national strategy against corruption ]]>
On Monday, the ACA arrested Head of Egypt’s Customs Authority, Gamal Abdel Azeem, over receiving a bribe of LE 1 million by a textile importer in order to help him smuggle an imported shipment.

For his part, Medhat al-Sharif, undersecretary of the Economic Affairs Committee of the Parliament, said that the national strategy to combat corruption has been adopted by Parliament since 2014 during the tenure of former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab but then was overlooked by his successor Sherif Ismail.

Calling for the implementation of the said strategy, Sherif reckoned that the strategy must be buoyed up by a league of legislatives to facilitate the ACA and other relevant bodies' mission in purging the country of corruption.

During the Parliament’s first session, Sheirf added that there was an extant bill, which was submitted earlier to the Parliament’s speaker and was mainly concerned with providing legal protection to people that come forward to report corruption cases, adding that the bill was put on hold pending the pertinent security authorities’ approval.


He pointed out that there is another anti-corruption draft law that imposes severe penalties on corruption criminals.

Also, MP Mostafa Bakry said that the efforts of the Administrative Control Authority asset to the country’s seriousness in clamping down on corruption.

Bakry added: "unfortunately, the recent arrest of the customs official over charges of corruption shows that the anti-corruption strategy is not comprehensive and is not effectively enforced."

“Coordination amongst all senior leaders in the state is needed to ensure that only qualified people are in charge of governance at all levels,” Bakry stressed.

Aligning with Bakry, Mohamed Badrawi, member of the parliamentarian committee of the Economic Affairs, called for the need to wisely select the good leaders in charge of the country’s key and influential institutions, particularly the economic ones.
Badrawy said that corruption is ramified and deeply rooted in the Egyptian society and, therefore, we need a strategy that consists of more effective anti-corruption legislations and procedures.

Praising the ACA’s efforts in the face of rampant corruption, he further explained that corruption has exhausted the state’s resources, calling for eliminating bureaucracy that encourages and enriches the prevalence of corruption.

On Sunday, customs officials at Cairo International Airport foiled an attempt to smuggle a large amount of medicine and silver artifacts by eight persons, including airport staff and pharmaceutical company owners, to evade taxes worth about LE 15 million.

An inspection officer revealed that the defendants stated in the customs clearance documents that the medicine and silver artifacts were for personal use.

Recently, customs officials at Cairo International Airport foiled numerous smuggling attempts carried out in cooperation with airport staff.

Bribery and corruption have been rife in Egypt for long decades and were among the main causes for the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime President Hosni Mubarak.

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has always stressed 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 108th out of 176 countries on Transparency International’s 2016 Corruption Perception Index, scoring 34 points, down two points compared to 2015. A score of zero is highly corrupt while 100 is very clean.
]]>
7/10/2018 5:01:29 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar insists to destabilize Arab states: Egypt's FM]]>
In an interview with Chinese Arabic-speaking satellite channel CGTN, Shoukry stressed the four Arab countries, which had cut ties with the oil-rich state of Qatar, insist on their stance towards Doha as long as it persists to adopt the same approach.

"If Qatar stops funding terrorism, attempting to destabilize its neighbors and interfering into other countries' domestic affairs, the Arab Quartet will reconsider the boycott," Shoukry noted.

He added that the Qatari refusal to the Arab Quartet's demands would lead to continuing the boycott to contain the Qatari policies' harms.

Qatar has prepared a "malicious plot" to destabilize the security and order in Cairo through terrorist elements existing in Libya, according to Libyan Parliamentarian Abu Bakr Moustafa Bouaira.

QatariLeaks website revealed that Turkey and Qatar contributed in an anti-Egypt plot. Bouaira stressed that Ankara and Doha played key roles in empowering terrorist groups in Libya to rule the country and spread chaos after the liberation of Derna and the oil crescent, according to the QatariLeaks website.

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain announced they are severing relations with Qatar over "its continuous support for terrorism," closing their airspace and seaports to Qatari transportation in June 2017. The Arab Quartet issued 13 demands to Doha – then shortened to six principles – including closing Al-Jazeera television channel, which the quartet says promotes extremism and publishes false news.

In May 2017, the Egyptian authorities decided to ban 21 news websites, including HuffPost Arabi and Qatari-based Al-Jazeera, for "supporting terrorism and publishing fake news."

In May 2018, Qatar said it was banning products originating from the quartet countries. “To protect the safety of consumers in the State of Qatar and to combat improper trafficking of goods, the government issued a directive to find new suppliers of the variety of goods impacted,” the Qatari government said in a statement.
]]>
7/10/2018 4:37:05 PM
<![CDATA[Sisi mourns victims of Japan's deadly floods]]>
Unprecedented rains have reportedly killed 109 people and left about 2 million people subject to evacuation. It also stranded 1,850 in the western Japanese city of Kurashiki, including about 130 at a hospital, with rescuers using helicopters and boats after rivers surged over their banks according to media reports on Sunday.

Kurashiki, with a population of just under 500,000, has been hit by torrential rains that pounded some parts of western Japan, causing the highest death toll since 2014.

Scores of patients, some still in their pajamas, and nurses were rescued from the isolated Mabi Memorial Hospital in boats rowed by members of Japan's Self Defence Forces.

In 2011, two typhoons struck the country causing the death of about 100 people, while about 70 people were killed by landslides that occurred following rains in Hiroshima in 2014.

According to presidential spokesman Bassam Radi, Abe has expressed, during the phone call, his appreciation to the Egyptian-Japanese deep relations, affirming his country’s keenness to continue developing these ties and enhancing cooperation between the two states in various realms.

Radi also noted that the two leaders discussed a number of regional issues of mutual concern, and they agreed to intensify coordination and negotiation efforts in the next period.

Egyptian-Japanese special relations

The Egyptian-Japanese relations have been significantly strong for years, especially after President Sisi came in power in 2013. In January 2015, President Sisi received Shinzo Abe in Cairo where the latter offered around ¥43 billion ($388 million) in loans to Egypt for airport and power grid projects.

In another meeting in 2016 with Sisi in Tokyo, Abe said that Japanese companies will take part in Egyptian projects worth about ¥2 trillion ($17.7 billion), according to Reuters.

shinzo
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (R) attends with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (L) agreements signings at Abe's official residence in Tokyo, Japan - Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency


Moreover, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, signed loan agreements with Japan International Company Agency (JICA) to fund energy and transport sectors. The loan agreements are worth $450 million, according to media reports.

Egypt and Japan signed Sunday a grant agreement to support the establishment of an electronic system for calculating value added tax (VAT) worth LE 15.480 million at the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation.

An official press release revealed that this agreement contributes to the effective implementation of the fiscal policy; it also promotes and supports Egypt's economic reform programs and development plans.

Nasr said that the joint committee held its first meeting Sunday at the ministry's headquarters where the committee will study the joint issues between the ministries of investment and international cooperation and finance, such as the rules of granting special and additional incentives to investors.

grant
During the signing ceremony- Press photo


Japanese Ambassador to Cairo Takahiro Kagawa stressed the keenness of his country to support Egypt, pointing out that this grant is a symbol of cooperation between the two countries and will contribute to increasing Egypt’s budget revenues and will support the economic development in Egypt.

He further praised the results of Egypt's economic reform program and measures to improve the investment climate, noting that the climate has become suitable for Japanese companies to pump more investments in Egypt.

Easing travel warning on Egypt

Egyptian Ambassador in Tokyo Ayman Kamel welcomed Japan's decision to ease its travel warning on Egypt and allow its citizens to visit Egyptian touristic destinations.

Kamel said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan notified the Egyptian Embassy in Tokyo that it modified its "Travel Advice and Warning" terms related to Egypt, downgrading its warning from "Recommendation to consider whether or not to travel" category, to "Travel cautiously" category.

Kamel hailed the step as it reflects Japan's confidence in the security measures applied at the Egyptian touristic destinations, and the capability of the Egyptian security bodies to secure Japanese visitors.
Japan funds GEM


In a meeting with former Prime Minister Sherif Ismail in Cairo in February, President of JICA, Shinichi Kitaoka, praised the economic reform decisions recently made by the Egyptian government, saying that they will put Egypt on the right track of economic growth.

He also praised the work progress at the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is partially funded by the Japanese government.

In an interview with ONLIVE in January 2018, Japan’s ambassador in Cairo said that the Japanese government supported the Grand Egyptian Museum, which is currently under construction, with $800 million.


Wire agencies contributed to this report ]]>
7/10/2018 1:05:06 PM
<![CDATA[Trump's Supreme Court pick tests vulnerable Senate Democrats]]>
Trump, a Republican, named Kavanaugh, a federal appeals court judge from Washington, to the highest court on Monday, setting the stage for a political fight that could consume the weeks before the congressional elections in November.

Conservative advocacy groups are ready to pressure five moderate Senate Democrats to support Kavanaugh, all of whom are up for reelection in states that overwhelmingly backed Trump in his presidential run. They argue that not doing so will damage the senators politically.

The Senate must confirm Trump's nominee by a majority vote. The president's party holds 51 of 100 Senate seats, so liberal groups will apply pressure on those same Democrats to hold firm against Kavanaugh because the loss of only a Republican vote or two could sink the nomination.

"They are stuck between a rock and a hard place," said Ford O'Connell, a Republican strategist.

Three of those largely rural state Democrats, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voted to confirm Trump's previous Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, last year. All three have touted their ability to work with Trump on various issues.

The other two Democrats in so-called red states that lean Republican, Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Jon Tester of Montana, are also at risk of losing their seats.

"Obstructing confirmation will only backfire on vulnerable red-state Democrats and show voters that all their talk of bipartisanship is nothing but hot air," Katie Martin, communications director for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which backs Republican Senate candidates, told Reuters.

To that end, the Judicial Crisis Network, which pushes for conservative judicial nominees, will launch a $1.4 million ad campaign targeting Donnelly, Heitkamp, and Manchin, according to a representative for the group.

POLITICAL DYNAMIC

Americans for Prosperity, a conservative policy advocacy group backed by the influential Koch network, has planned a seven-figure ad campaign to support Kavanaugh, as it did last year on behalf of Gorsuch, as well as mounting a grassroots campaign in Indiana, North Dakota, and West Virginia.

Trump himself has been keenly aware of the political dynamic involved. The White House invited on Monday several vulnerable Democratic senators to the event naming Kavanaugh in order to place maximum pressure on their vote. Each declined.

As a counterweight, a new liberal interest group, Demand Justice, plans to spend as much as $5 million to push the moderate Democrats to hold fast against the nominee, as well as attempt to persuade moderate Republican senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to oppose Kavanaugh.

Democrats have another reason to worry about the impact of the Supreme Court nomination, said Stuart Rothenberg, a non-partisan political analyst in Washington. The red-state senators' support for Kavanaugh could dampen the Democratic Party's anti-Trump enthusiasm and, as a result, reduce voter turnout in the congressional elections.

Still, Chris Kofinis, a Democratic strategist and former top aide to Manchin, warned that Democratic leaders such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer should not force at-risk Democrats to oppose Kavanaugh if it isn't in their best interests. "They have to speak for themselves," he said.

While Collins, Murkowski and Donnelly were non-committal on Monday night, Manchin spoke up after Trump's pick was announced.

He said on Twitter he would decide whether to support Kavanaugh based on whether the nominee would vote to invalidate sections of the Affordable Care Act, which guarantees insurance coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions.]]>
7/10/2018 12:55:30 PM
<![CDATA[Russia's ACRA rating agency says more sanctions are key risk]]>
Western sanctions are expected to weigh on Russia's oil-dependent economy in the longer run, having dented incomes of Russian households, the Kremlin-backed ACRA said.

The West first imposed economic and financial sanctions against Moscow in 2014 for its annexation of Crimea and its role in the Ukrainian conflict.

Russia has responded with counter-sanctions, banning imports of a wide range of food from countries that had targeted Moscow. Later, sanctions against Russia were expanded, putting extra pressure on Russia's economy and the rouble.

"The risk of widening of anti-Russian sanctions remains one of the key risks that the Russian economy could face this year," ACRA said.

New sanctions listed by ACRA might target more companies, Russian state debt or even disconnect Russia from the international SWIFT payment system.

For now, Russia's international reserves, which stood at nearly $456 billion as of late June, "fully cover external debt, which is vulnerable to wider sanctions," ACRA said.

"Sanctions should not be named the key factor that limits economic growth in Russia in the mid-term ... The impact of sanctions on growth rate could turn to be more pronounced in the long term for both companies and the economy in general," ACRA said.

Western sanctions have hit Russian companies that account for 95 percent of the country's oil and gas industry revenues. Restrictions imposed on Russian oil and gas companies in 2014 will affect their oil output in 2020s, ACRA said.

Sanctions have also hit Russia's major state-owned banks, which account for 54 percent of banking assets. But the sanctions' impact on the financial health of companies and banks has been less pronounced than that of the country's economic policies, ACRA said.

Moscow's response to the sanctions, which limited imports, has inflated prices for a number of goods.

"Counter-sanctions have resulted in price growth and a decline in households' incomes by 2-3 percentage points in 2014-2018," ACRA said.Kingdom, it is right you should step down."
]]>
7/10/2018 6:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Erdogan sworn in with new powers, names son-in-law as finance minister]]>
The lira, which has lost nearly a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, dropped nearly 3 percent to 4.74 to the dollar minutes after the cabinet announcement.

Erdogan named his son-in-law Berat Albayrak as treasury and finance minister. There was no place in the cabinet for former deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, who was seen as the main market-friendly minister in the previous government.

The lira has been battered by concern about Erdogan's drive for lower interest rates and by comments in May that he planned to take greater control of the economy after the June elections.

Assuming the new executive presidency he has long fought to establish, Erdogan earlier took the oath of office in parliament before addressing international leaders gathered at the presidential palace in Ankara.

"We, as Turkey and as the Turkish people, are making a new start here today," he told the dignitaries and thousands of guests. "We are leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos."

Erdogan, 64, says a powerful executive presidency is vital to drive economic growth, ensure security after a failed 2016 military coup and safeguard Turkey from conflict across its southern border in Syria and Iraq.

"We are embarking on this road by using this opportunity as best we can for a strong parliament, strong government and strong Turkey," he said.

The introduction of the new presidential system marks the biggest overhaul of governance since the Turkish republic was established on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago.

The post of prime minister has been scrapped and the president will now be able to select his own cabinet, regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval.

Erdogan's supporters see the changes as just reward for a leader who has put Islamic values at the core of public life, championed the pious working classes and overseen years of strong economic growth.

Opponents say the move marks a lurch to authoritarianism, accusing Erdogan of eroding the secular institutions set up by modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and driving it further from Western values of democracy and free speech.

"INSTITUTIONALISED AUTOCRACY"

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said Erdogan's new powers would effectively make him a "super-executive president".

"Most powers will be concentrated in his hands, there will no longer be a prime minister, and almost none of the checks and balances of liberal democracies will be present. In other words, Turkey will be an institutionalised autocracy."

Albayrak was one of 16 ministers named in the new streamlined cabinet after the ceremony at the presidential palace, which state news agency Anadolu said was attended by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

No major Western leader featured on a list of 50 presidents, prime ministers and other high-ranking guests.

Turkey is a member of the Western military alliance, NATO, but it has been at odds with the United States over military strategy in Syria and with the European Union over Ankara's large-scale purges of state institutions, armed forces, police and media following the failed coup.

The lira, which is down just under 20 percent so far this year, had gained earlier in the day. It then briefly dropped more than 1 percent after a decree removed a clause stipulating a five-year term for the central bank governor.

Scrapping the term would remove a shield that helps ensure the bank's independence from politicians, former central banker Ugur Gurses said. A senior adviser to Erdogan later said that governors would still be appointed for a five-year term.

Inflation surged last month above 15 percent, its highest level in more than a decade, even though the central bank has raised interest rates by 5 percentage points since April.
]]>
7/10/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Erdogan sworn in with new powers, promises a "strong Turkey"]]>
Assuming the new executive presidency he has long fought to establish, Erdogan took the oath of office in parliament before addressing international leaders gathered at the presidential palace in Ankara.

"We, as Turkey and as the Turkish people, are making a new start here today," he told the dignitaries and thousands of guests. "We are leaving behind the system that has in the past cost our country a heavy price in political and economic chaos."

Erdogan, 64, says the new, powerful executive presidency is vital to drive economic growth, ensure security after a failed 2016 military coup and safeguard Turkey from conflict across its southern border in Syria and Iraq.

"We are embarking on this road by using this opportunity as best we can for a strong parliament, strong government and strong Turkey," he said.

The introduction of the new presidential system marks the biggest overhaul of governance since the republic was established on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago.

The post of prime minister has been scrapped and the president will now be able to select his own cabinet, regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval.

Erdogan's supporters see the changes as just reward for a leader who has put Islamic values at the core of public life, championed the pious working classes and overseen years of strong economic growth.

Opponents say the move marks a lurch to authoritarianism, accusing Erdogan of eroding the secular institutions set up by modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and driving it further from Western values of democracy and free speech.

"INSTITUTIONALISED AUTOCRACY"

Marc Pierini, a former EU ambassador to Turkey and visiting scholar at Carnegie Europe, said Erdogan's new powers would effectively make him a "super-executive president".

"Most powers will be concentrated in his hands, there will no longer be a prime minister, and almost none of the checks and balances of liberal democracies will be present. In other words, Turkey will be an institutionalised autocracy."

Erdogan will name a streamlined cabinet of 16 ministers on Monday evening after the ceremony at the presidential palace, which state news agency Anadolu said was attended by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who is wanted for war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

No major Western leader featured on a list of 50 presidents, prime ministers and other high-ranking guests.

Turkey is a member of the Western military alliance, NATO, but it has been at odds with the United States over military strategy in Syria and with the European Union over Ankara's large-scale purges of state institutions, armed forces, police and media following the failed coup.

CABINET APPOINTEES

Investors were waiting to see whether cabinet appointees would include individuals seen as market-friendly, and particularly whether Mehmet Simsek, who served as deputy prime minister, would continue to oversee the economy, said Inan Demir, a senior economist at Nomura International.

The lira, which is down 16 percent so far this year, was little changed from its opening at 4.5680 at 1700 GMT. It had gained earlier in the day but then briefly dropped more than 1 percent after a decree removed a clause stipulating a five-year term for the central bank governor.

Scrapping the term would remove a shield that helps ensure the bank's independence from politicians, former central banker Ugur Gurses said. A senior adviser to Erdogan later said that governors would still be appointed for a five-year term.

The lira has been battered by concern about Erdogan's drive for lower interest rates and by comments in May that he planned to take greater control of the economy after June's elections.

"We will strengthen our defence industry and border security. We will make very big investments in every area ... in order to become one of the 10 largest economies," Erdogan said.

Inflation surged last month above 15 percent, its highest level in more than a decade, even though the central bank has raised interest rates by 5 percentage points since April.
]]>
7/9/2018 7:59:08 PM
<![CDATA[2 cooperation protocols signed between Cairo, 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 El-Mawardi area, Al-Sayeda Zeinab, which stretches over an area of 3.35 feddans, referring that the protocol comes within the framework of the development project of Tal Al-Aqareb area in Al-Sayeda Zeinab.

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

He further explained that the cooperation agreement between Cairo governorate and the new Urban Communities Authority aims to transfer the ownership of a 5.5-feddan area in Maspero Triangle to the authority to build housing units with the necessary services for occupants who want to stay in the area after its development.

He added that the authority should conduct, according to the agreement, an economical study for the comprehensive development of an area, in cooperation with the Development Fund for Slums, to cover the costs of compensations, constructions and administrative expenses.

In the same context, Khaled Siddiq, executive director of the Development Fund for Slums, remarked that the new Urban Communities Authority takes the responsibility of planning and preparing executive drawings to build housing units on certain areas.

The social housing sector in Egypt has witnessed a boom of unprecedented development, especially in slum areas, some of which have been torn down and rebuilt as part of the government’s plan to develop informal settlements in Egypt.

Amongthe slums that have been under development are the Tal Al Aqareb area in SayedaZeinab, the Ahlina slums in Al Salam 1, Al Mahrousa 1, Al Salam slums, Manshiyet Nasser, El Asmarat District in Mokattam, and Maspero Triangle.

The Ministry of Housing estimates that 40 percent of the population of Cairo lives in informal settlements, while the Informal Settlements Development Fund (ISDF), now part of the new Ministry for Urban Development, estimates that 75 percent of urban areas throughout Egypt isunplanned and 1 percent isunsafe.

Hence, 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;thegovernment pledged to eliminate dangerous slums by the end of2018.

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.

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 Aqarebis 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.

Al Mahrousa 1 and 2 projects

In the same context, Shaath remarked that 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, comprising7,440 housing units. The project is constructed by TahyaMisr 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.
]]>
7/9/2018 1:43:40 PM
<![CDATA[Spain PM meets Catalan leader in bid to defuse political tensions]]>
Catalonia unilaterally declared independence last October, prompting the then-conservative government of Mariano Rajoy to impose direct rule from Madrid. Torra's newly-elected administration in the wealthy region continues to push for a split from Spain.

Sanchez, a Socialist, has taken a less hardline tone on Catalonia than his predecessor Rajoy, whom he replaced in June, but he has also made clear he is resolutely opposed to any independence referendum or attempt at secession.

He has made a gesture of goodwill by moving jailed Catalan separatist leaders closer to home but other concessions are unlikely to be announced on Monday after the meeting at the prime minister's residence in Madrid.

Political party sources say both Sanchez and Torra will take it as a sign of success if they come away from Monday's talks with another meeting planned - a sign that any process of reconciliation will be long and complicated.

The two men smiled and shook hands on the steps of the prime minister's residence, La Moncloa, before entering.

The Catalan leader gave Sanchez presents of a book of historic maps of Catalonia and a bottle of ratafia, a traditional after-dinner liquor made from green walnuts and mixed herbs and spices. ]]>
7/9/2018 1:33:37 PM
<![CDATA[Unrest languishes in Yemen as Houthi defeat looms]]>
The Houthi rebels resorted to violence against the civilians of the port city in an obvious breach to Geneva conventions. According to eyewitnesses, Houthi militias targeted homes and used other civilian facilities in the city as military barracks against the people’s will.

Emirati Foreign Minister Anwar Gargash said in press statements in June that the Houthis are using civilians including children as human shields, and placing landmines around the city’s port in a desperate attempt to hinder the advancement of the Yemeni army.

The Saudi – led Arab coalition urged the UN to denounce the Houthi attempts to create humanitarian crises inside the vital city of Al Hodeidah in order to put the blame on the Yemeni legitimate forces.

The militias were keen to launch random attacks on neighborhoods with high population to curb the coalition’s military operations to liberate the city, according to several media reports.

Arab coalition spokesperson Turki bin Saleh revealed in previous press statements that the Houthis have rejected several initiatives to turn in Al Hodeidah peacefully, adding that the legitimate Yemeni forces exerted considerable military pressure on the Houthis to allow humanitarian aid into the city.

The Houthis launched several ballistic rockets against Saudi Arabia to drag the coalition out of Al Hodeidah, which is considered as the militias’ main port to receive military aid from Iran.
The United Arab Emirates announced on July 1 a hiatus of the offensive it is backing against Houthis in Yemen's port city of Al Hodeida, giving the UN peace efforts a chance.

"We welcome the continuing efforts by UN Special Envoy, Martin Griffiths, to achieve an unconditional Houthi withdrawal from Al Hodeida city and port," UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Gargash said on Twitter.

The Houthi rebels led an armed insurgency in 2015 against the legitimate President of Yemen Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi which led to the military intervention of the Saudi-led Arab coalition.
]]>
7/9/2018 12:55:02 PM
<![CDATA[Regime still backs terrorism, Qatari Sulaiti says]]>
In an interview with Egypt Today, Sulaiti said that Qatar is still harboring Muslim Brotherhood figures and terrorists coming from Turkey and Syria.

The Muslim Brotherhood has been designated by the Egyptian state as a terrorist organization following a political turmoil in 2013 that led to the ousting of the MB affiliated President Mohamed Morsi.

Qatar still harbors Egyptian Yusuf al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), which is also designated as a terrorist group by the Egyptian authorities.

On June 5, 2017, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain decided to cut diplomatic ties with Qatar, after years of unstable relations. Qatar was accused by the quartet of funding and promoting terrorism and intervening in the domestic affairs of the quartet.


Qatar resorts to Iran, Turkey

The isolation of Qatar [by the Arab quartet] has led its Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to resort to Tehran which works on exploiting the Qatari resources, Sulaiti said.

She added that Tamim’s resort to Iran and Turkey is not less dangerous than his support to terrorism, as these two countries issue plans to destroy the region.

U.S. National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster underlined at a conference in Washington, D.C., in December 2017, that Turkey and Qatar are playing a key role in advancing the radical Islamist ideology in the Muslim community.

McMaster explained that these two countries are carrying out their hostile policies to fund and support terrorism and extremism through charities, madrassas and other social organizations, according to U.S. newspaper, The Algemeiner.

Concerning Iran, Sulaiti said that Iran is in too deep in the Qatari economy in order to dominate it. She also said that there are Iranian elements inside the peninsula protecting Tamim.

According to political experts, Qatar allowed Iranian military troops to deploy across the country. Units of Iran’s most powerful security force, Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), were reportedly sent to protect Sheikh Tamim inside his palace. News circulated in October that U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to designate the IRGC as a terrorist organization.

Relations with Israel

Around Qatari regime’s relations with Israel, which is the enemy of Iran, Sulaiti said that the relations between the two countries are very good, asserting that some figures of the regime visit Israel secretly and have houses there.

She added that Israel also secures Tamim’s regime and exploits the peninsula for Israel’s benefit. Sulaiti also claimed that Qatar has established secret projects with Israeli businessmen.

Retired Egyptian General Mahmoud Mansour, reportedly one of the founders of the Qatari intelligence bureau, previously said: "the relation between Qatar and Israel has to be exposed."

In an interview with Tamer Amin on Al-Hayat channel, Mansour said that what was said about Qatar’s regime having Zionist or Israeli or Jewish roots was confirmed over the last 20 years.

Mansour also charged Qatar of funding Israeli combatants with about $2 million. "Today, we are facing a new branch of Israel in the Arab World," Mansour added.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya in November, former Al-Qaeda organization member, Ayman Dein, described the Qatari policy as full of contradictions; supporting Islamist groups while establishing relations with Israel, and supporting Sunni groups while establishing relations with Iran.

Al-Jazeera used by the Qatari regime

Sulaiti said that Al-Jazeera (JSC), the state-funded broadcaster in Doha, ignores the Israeli violation of Palestinian people’s rights. Moreover, it does not discuss the Iranian regime’s oppression to the protests that took place in Iran in order to preserve relations with Iran.

She also accused the JSC of showing Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as the rescuer of the region and as a democratic symbol, which totally contradicts the reality that Turkish citizens live under his rule.

Sulaiti also underscored the presence of Turkish soldiers in Qatar, saying that these soldiers exist among the Qatari soldiers as Tamim fears a probable coup against him.

a
Turkish troops arrive at their military base in Doha on June 23, 2017. REUTERS

Al-Jazeera is accused by the Arab quartet of disseminating false news and promoting terrorism. It is one of many websites Egypt has banned for the same reasons.

Costly, mysterious military deals

The Qatari regime thinks money buys everything, Sulaiti said, underscoring the numerous weapons deals signed by Qatar with European countries during the boycott.

She added that these countries know about Qatar’s support of terrorism, and that is why the regime tries to satisfy them, stressing that these countries will not take it easy and will exert pressure on the Qatari regime to stop backing terrorism.

Qatar has signed several multi-billion dollar deals for purchasing fighter jets and other military equipment since the Qatari crisis started.

Qatar signed a €6 billion (about $7 billion) deal to purchase 24 Typhoon fighters from Britain. According to the British Defense Secretary Gavin Williamson, the order of Typhoons is the biggest in a decade.

Williamson and his Qatari counterpart Khalid bin Mohammed al-Attiyah also signed an agreement for establishing a Joint Operational Squadron between both countries’ air forces, according to a statement by Qatar’s armed forces.

During his visit to Doha on December 7, French President Emmanuel Macron said he agreed on some $14.13 billion deals with Qatar. The deals included the purchase of 12 French-made Rafale fighter jets.

Qatar also agreed to purchase 490 VBCI armored vehicles from French Nexter.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani said in August that Qatar sealed a deal worth about $5.9 billion with Italy to purchase seven navy vessels.

Only few days after the Arab quartet boycotted Qatar, Qatar signed a $12billion deal in June to purchase 36 (F-15) jets from the U.S.

A pentagon agency said in November that the U.S. approved a possible $1.1 billion to service Qatar’s F-15QA fighter aircraft program.

Sulaiti underscored it is probable that the Qatari regime buys these weapons for the benefit of other countries that back it in order to maintain relations with these states.

Oppressing opposition

Concerning dealing with the opposition, Sulaiti said that the Qatari regime freezes their assets, adding that the regime has already did that with her. She said that some opposition figures have fled the country and will not return until the Qatari people rebel against the Qatari regime, adding that all opposition figures are targeted by the regime.

Over the past 12 months, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, has stripped the nationality of some Qatari tribal leaders and frozen the assets of others over their opposition to the Qatari regime. They included Sheikh Talib bin Mohamed Bin Lahoum bin Sherim, leader of Al-Murra tribe; and Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al-Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family.



Regime change expected

Sulaiti finally said that the Qatari regime may be forced to leave if the Qatari people unite against it and if the international community supports the ousting of Tamim’s regime.

In an interview with CNN last November, Adel al-Jubeir, the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia, which is believed to be the boycott’s leader, said that the policy Saudi Arabia is adopting, in the case of Qatar, is not regime change but behavior change.

Referring to the Qatari regime, Jubeir said, “they still have a way to go, but they cannot fix their problems unless they acknowledge that they have a problem.”

Commenting on hopes for compromise, Jubeir said, “when it comes to terrorism, extremism and harboring fugitives there can be no compromise.”

“I believe the steps the four countries have taken are now forcing Qatar to begin acting,” Jubeir stated.

Additional reporting by Amr Mohamed Kandil
]]>
7/9/2018 11:42:15 AM
<![CDATA[Erdogan assumes new presidential powers, tightening control over Turkey]]>
Launching the executive presidency which he fought hard to secure, Erdogan will also name a streamlined cabinet he says will push for growth to make Turkey one of the world's biggest economies.

Erdogan narrowly won a referendum last year to replace his country's parliamentary democracy with a system featuring an all-powerful presidency, and followed that with a hard-fought election victory last month to the newly strengthened post.

He says the changes, the biggest overhaul of governance since the modern Turkish republic was founded from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire almost a century ago, are needed to drive Turkey's economic growth and guarantee its security.

His supporters see them as just reward for a leader who has put Islamist values at the core of public life, championed the pious working classes and built airports, hospitals and schools.

"Turkey is entering a new era with the presidential oath ceremony on Monday," Erdogan told his ruling AK Party at the weekend. "With the power granted to us by the new presidential system, we will get quicker and stronger results."

Opponents say the new powers mark a lurch to authoritarianism, accusing Erdogan of eroding the secular institutions set up by modern Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, and driving it further from Western values on democracy and free speech.

On the eve of Monday's inauguration authorities dismissed more than 18,000 state employees - most of them from the police and army - in what the government said would be the final decree under emergency rule imposed following a failed 2016 coup.

More than 150,000 state employees have lost their jobs in the crackdown following the coup attempt, and Turkey's interior minister said in April some 77,000 have been formally charged and kept in jail during their trials.

NEW CABINET

Since taking office in 2003, first as prime minister and later as president, Erdogan has dominated Turkey, tightening his grip over the country of 81 million people as he tamed rival power centres including the military, which toppled some previous governments.

Under his leadership Ankara started accession talks with the European Union, which stalled amid EU criticism of human rights in Turkey. Ties with the United States and other NATO partners also frayed, but Turkey remains crucial for any hope of stability in Syria and Iraq and curbing refugee flows to Europe.

A powerful campaigner, he is Turkey's most successful and divisive leader in recent history. Erdogan has prevailed in a dozen local, parliamentary and presidential elections.

He will take the oath of office in parliament at 4 pm (1300 GMT), before attending a ceremony two hours later at the huge presidential palace he has constructed in the capital.

He has said he will announce the cabinet on Monday night, promising to make appointments from outside parliament and to slim down his ministerial team to 16 from more than 20.

On Saturday he also said he would tackle high interest rates, inflation and a wide current account deficit. "We will take our country much further by solving (these) structural problems of our economy," he said.

Inflation surged last month above 15 percent, its highest level in more than a decade, despite interest rate hikes of 500 basis points by the central bank since April. The lira has also fallen by a fifth in value against the dollar this year.

Erdogan has described high interest rates as "the mother and father of all evil", and said in May he would expect to wield greater economic control after the election.

Under the changes, the post of prime minister will be scrapped, and Erdogan will select his own cabinet and regulate ministries and remove civil servants, all without parliamentary approval.

After his election victory two weeks ago, Erdogan said he would spare no effort to spur economic growth.

"There is no stopping for us until we bring Turkey -- which we saved from plotters, coupists and political and economic hitmen, street gangs and terrorist organisations -- to among the top 10 economies in the world," he said.
]]>
7/9/2018 4:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[After Pyongyang put-down, Pompeo stands by 'difficult' denuclearization talks]]>
Pompeo said in Tokyo there was still a lot of work to do, but he was confident North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would stick to a commitment to abandon nuclear weapons he made during a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in Singapore last month.

"When we spoke to them about denuclearization, they did not push back," Pompeo told a news conference after two days of talks in Pyongyang that ended on Saturday. "The road ahead will be difficult and challenging and we know that critics will try to minimize the work that we've achieved."

Some U.S. senators expressed concern about North Korea's harsh words and urged the Trump administration to keep up the pressure on Pyongyang. Republican Senator Joni Ernst, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said joint military exercises with South Korea suspended to show goodwill toward North Korea should be resumed "soon" if talks sputter.

Pompeo said that while he saw progress in Pyongyang, the United States was not relaxing the current sanctions regime or changing its "ironclad" commitment to defend allies South Korea and Japan.

Pompeo spoke after North Korea said the talks "brought us in a dangerous situation where we may be shaken in our unshakable will for denuclearization, rather than consolidating trust."

The statement was carried by the official KCNA news agency on Saturday soon after Pompeo left Pyongyang, raising questions about the future of talks in which he is trying to persuade Pyongyang to give up a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States.

"That was a fairly serious insult directed against Pompeo,” said Christopher Hill, who formerly served as U.S. ambassador to South Korea and lead negotiator with North Korea.

Kim made a broad commitment in Singapore to "work toward denuclearization" but did not give details on how or when he would dismantle North Korea's nuclear program. Trump offered security guarantees to Pyongyang and pledged to suspend the large-scale military drills with South Korea.

Leaked U.S. intelligence findings have concluded that North Korea does not intend to give up its nuclear program completely.

North Korea's latest comments were a reminder of the difficulties that previous U.S. administrations had negotiating with the reclusive state.

“I think it was a pretty bad start to the process, but it doesn't mean it's over yet," said Hill, noting that North Korea talks were tough by nature.

“Most of the time you don't come back with anything. Most of the time you come back empty-handed," Hill added.

MILITARY DANGER REMAINS

Pompeo said he did not meet Kim on his latest visit to Pyongyang, as he had twice before, and he had not anticipated doing so. The White House said before the trip that he would meet Kim.

In a speech on Sunday in Vietnam, Pompeo urged North Korea to follow the example of Vietnam, saying he believed Pyongyang could replicate Hanoi's path to normal relations with Washington and to prosperity.

"The United States has been clear on what we seek from North Korea," Pompeo said in Hanoi. "The choice now lies with North Korea and its people.

"If they are able to do this, they will be remembered, and Chairman Kim will be remembered, as a hero of the Korean people."

Some analysts and lawmakers have expressed alarm that the talks appear to have run into difficulties, although others see a possible North Korean negotiating ploy.

"I see China's hands all over this," said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, saying he thought the Chinese were "pulling back" North Korea because of the U.S.-China trade dispute.

Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, said on Twitter there was a danger of military action because Trump might now say he had tried diplomacy but was betrayed by Kim.

"But a rushed summit and demands that NK denuclearize in short order or else is not a serious test of diplomacy," Haass tweeted.

'FIRST STEPS'

South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha said her country did not believe Washington had softened its demands, as some U.S. officials and analysts have suggested.

"Secretary Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang this time has taken the first steps," she said. "We expect this to be followed up by further constructive and productive negotiations."

After he met Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Taro Kono, Pompeo said he was in Tokyo to discuss the U.S. alliance with Japan and maintaining "maximum pressure" on North Korea, an expression Trump's administration had backed away from after the Singapore summit.

Pompeo said he had pushed North Korea on a promise to destroy a missile engine test site.

He also said talks had yielded an agreement to form a "working-level" group to oversee day-to-day interactions between the United States and North Korea.

Officials from the two sides would meet next week in Panmunjom, on the border between the two Koreas, to discuss the return of the remains of roughly 7,000 U.S. soldiers missing since the 1950-1953 Korean War.

KCNA said Pyongyang had offered to discuss declaring a formal end to the war to mark next month's anniversary of the armistice. It said the U.S. side had shown little interest, giving "certain conditions and excuses."
]]>
7/9/2018 1:00:55 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt’s partisan newspapers on brink of collapse]]>
Nabil Zaki, CEO of the four-decade old newspaper Al-Ahali published by the National Progressive Unionist Party said that the future of the partisan newspapers in Egypt is uncertain if the state did not intervene to support them.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Zaki revealed that Al-Ahali newspaper administration has met with Abdel Mohsen Salama, head of Egypt’s Press Syndicate and Al-Ahram CEO, on Tuesday to ask for support from the state-owned newspaper.

Al-Ahram has rejected Al-Ahali’s proposal to reduce the recent hike in the print cost from 45 to 15 percent, according to Zaki. However, the Secretary General of the publishing party, Mohamed Farag, said that Salama has agreed to bring down the hike to 30 percent.

Following a meeting for the party on Saturday to discuss the probability of stopping publishing their newspaper, Farag affirmed that it is not possible to shut the newspaper as it is the party’s sole media tool.

This is reportedly the third hike in the print cost since the currency float in Egypt that took place in November, 2016.

Al-Ahram has numerous print presses, where various newspapers have banked on to get their versions printed. Salama said, in an interview with Yasmine Said on MBC Masr, that Al-Ahram prints four newspapers including private and partisan ones, which he said have heavy debts.


Salama revealed during the interview that Al-Ahram also suffers from heavy debts, accumulated during the seven years that follow the January 25 revolution in 2011.

He also revealed that cost of the printng papers has recently increased from $540 to $979, calling on the state to subsidize such costs including papers and ink, which are all imported.

Zaki recently revealed that his newspaper owe Al-Ahram about LE 2 million ($111,926).

President of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation, Makram Mohamed Ahmed has promised Zaki to intervene to solve Al-Ahali crisis by subsidizing the priniting papers at least for the partisan newspapers, according to Zaki. However, efforts have failed.

Apparently confirming Salama’s remarks, Yasser Qoura, assistant head of Al-Wafd party affirmed that the printed press industry is not limited to partisan newspapers. National and private newspapers also suffer the same crisis, due to the increase in the cost of printing papers globally.

Qoura said that shutting the party’s 34-year old daily newspaper is not up for discussion, despite the decreasing circulation rates recently due to the competition with social media and online newspapers.

Ahmed Abdel Hady, Editor-in-chief of the online Egypt Youth newspaper, said that the Press Syndicate does not have goodstrategic plans to manage the crisis of the partisan press.

The Press Syndicate and the Supreme Council for Media Regulation have failed to fulfill their duty concerning the partisan press, Abdel Hady said, explaining that the directors of the two entities are not fully aware of the electronic journalism development.

Abdel Hady, whose Egypt Youth party was licensed in 2005, said that a number of partisan newspapers already closed their doors since 2011, as a result of the breakdown and the economic meltdwon which have occurred since then. He also affirmed that the rest of the still-operating partisan newspapers suffer financial crises that could lead to their closure.

Abdel Hady reportedly called for clearing the debts of the partisan newspapers or restructuring them and reducing the print cost as in case of the national newspapers, as he claims.

Egypt Youth newspaper had claimed that “it has crossed all the red lines in opposing the Egyptian regime and its figures at the time.” However, the party announed supporting the incumbent Egyptian president at the time in the Presidential election held last March between current President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi and Head of Al-Ghad party Moussa Mostafa Moussa.


Sayed Al-Toukhy , Al-Karama newspaper Editor-in-chief, which is published by the left-wing Dignity party founded in 1996, told Egypt Today that the journalism industry in general has suffered from low circulation and lack of ads.

Toukhy warned that shutting the partisan newspapers will mainly harm journalists and people working in the profession. In addition, it will affect the right of citizens to get diverse knowledge.

“The Press Syndicate has to clearly and directly interfere to save partisan papers from collapse,” Toukhy said, according to media reports.

He urged the state to be fair by funding private newspapers through providing them with papers and subsidized print cost, saying that the state funds the significant national newspapers with “hundreds of millions and billions [of pounds].”

However, Toukhy affirmed that there is no intension to shut down the newspaper which has suffered for years, adding that the party’s newspaper will resist until the last breath.

Decreasing circulation rates

The circulation rates of the Egyptian printed newspapers have decreased from over a billion in 2010 to 534.6 millions in 2016, according to Egypt’s official Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

Although the circulation rates of the printed newspapers have increased from 2005 to 2010 by 14.5 percent, according to CAPMAS, they have continuously decreased since 2011.

The circulation rates also decreased from 2015 to 2016 by 4.6 percent, accordinf to the official agency.


Additional reporting by Amr Kandil, Mohamed Al-Sayed, Ramy Saieed
]]>
7/8/2018 10:09:46 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament to give its final say on Cabinet’s program on July 15]]>
A parliamentary committee has been formed to review the policy statement and the new government’s program, delivered by Mostafa Madbouly before the Parliament on July 3. The committee should prepare a comprehensive report on the statement and submit it to the Parliament to discuss it during the plenary session.

According to Article 146 of Egypt’s 2016 Constitution, a newly appointed prime minister should deliver a policy statement before the Parliament and this statement should gain a vote of confidence within 30 days.

"If the statement failed to gain a vote of confidence within the required 30 days, Parliament would be considered dissolved and a new Parliament would be elected within sixty days," Article 146 states.

During its third round, the Parliament held 120 plenary sessions and 2000 subcommittee’s sessions and voted on 400 laws, according to the Parliament’s spokesperson.

In this regard, Chairman of the Legislative Committee Bahaa Abu Shata said that the third round was supposed to be concluded on June 30, according to the Parliament's internal regulations, but it was extended to July 15 to make its final decision on the government’s statement.

In the same context, Chairman of the Committee of Information, Culture and Antiquities in the House of Representatives, Osama Heikal, referred that the plenary session on Sunday, July 15, will declare the Parliament’s decision on the government’s statement and program.

The current session will postpone the discussions on some draft laws to its fourth round, including the local administrative law, criminal procedures law, building violations law, the new labor law, and the new traffic law.

Local Administrative draft law

The government plans to reactivate the municipal councils that were dissolved during the 2011 revolution for being loaded with corruption and supporters of former President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

Political parties are preparing for the local government election, slated to take place at the end of 2018 or the early beginnings of 2019, as announced by Speaker of the Parliament Ali Abdel Aal. The local elections will take place after the local administrative draft law is passed by the Parliament.

The Ministry of Local Development has reportedly allocated specific portions from its 2018/2019 budget to local councils, implying the government’s intention to permit municipal councils to work once again, MP Yousry al-Asiouty, member of the parliamentary committee for local development, said in press remarks on May 4.

Labor draft law

The new labor law is important because it achieves a significant guarantee for nearly 26 million laborers working in the private sector and non-governmental organizations (NGOs); it provides them with security and preserves their rights. The bill guarantees resignation will not be accredited unless the Manpower Ministry approves and there will be no dismissal without a court verdict.

The law encourages young people to work in the private sector and maximizes their role in promoting the national economy. It also provides a safe environment for laborers through a clear contract between them and the employer.

The bill will include the creation of new labor courts to speed-up litigation processes. It provides the opportunity for better training and education, ensuring the rights of working women and people with special needs.

Additionally, women working in the private sector will be granted the right to a four-month maternity leave like those working in the public sector, in accordance with the Civil Service Law. This leave shall be granted twice during a woman's period of service.

The bill guarantees that the daily working hours of pregnant women shall be reduced by at least one hour starting from the sixth month of pregnancy. Moreover, no additional working hours shall be allowed for women during their pregnancy period and the six months following childbirth.

New Personal status draft law

The draft law is among the priorities of the next Parliament’s session as it tackles different aspects of social issues, such as divorce cases, and regularizes the situation between family members in the case of divorce in a way that works for the best interest of children.

The draft law has been criticized; hence, the Parliament’s Legislative Committee will hold hearings with counselors, lawyers and employees in family courts, in addition to hearings with families affected by the current Personal Status Law, in collaboration with the concerned civil organizations, to amend the current law.

Criminal Procedures law

The government has forwarded in July, 2017, a draft law of 320 articles, aiming to amend Egypt’s Criminal Procedure Law, which is known as the country’s second constitution, to the Parliament for discussion, which will mark the first full amendment of the law since the 1950s.

The law originally consisted of 560 articles, and has been summarized to 320 articles. The draft includes 44 newly added articles and 150 replaced articles.

Over the past few years, the law has witnessed a total of 20 partial amendments, but has never been fully amended, stated the Cabinet in July, according to state-run Al Ahram newspaper. In November 2014, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi approved amending the law in absence of the Parliament, which had resumed its session in 2016. Moreover, a number of articles were previously amended in 2003.

The draft law aims to reach regulations that are appropriate for criminal procedures, as there are “defects and obstacles in the current proceedings in Egyptian courts” due to the presence of “sterile laws”, the privately-owned Shorouk newspaper reported.
The draft law will ensure limiting the obstacles hindering the process of fast litigation.

Water Resources and Irrigation draft law

The 138-article draft law aims to label encroachment as a felony, punishable by prison, not as a misdemeanor; it also aims at preserving water resources, according to Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation's statement on the draft law in June. Encroachments include illegal construction on the Nile banks, unlicensed fish farming, illegal disposal of industrial waste and other forms of pollution.

The draft law deals with public properties, private businesses and facilities run by the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.

The bill comes as part of the government's keenness to achieve the utmost use of water resources to meet the needs of citizens and face any future challenges.]]>
7/8/2018 2:37:31 PM
<![CDATA[North Korea rejects US call for unilateral disarmament]]>
When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo flew out of Pyongyang after negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand Kim Yong Chol man he tried to appear positive, insisting progress had been made.

But as he arrived in Tokyo to brief his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, his North Korean hosts issued an angry statement rejecting his efforts and appealing to US President Donald Trump to revive the peace process.

Speaking privately, US officials suggested the North Korean statement was a negotiating tactic. But after two days of theatrical amity in Pyongyang it appeared to mark a return to the North's traditional hardline position.

The North's foreign ministry took exception to Pompeo's effort to secure concrete commitments to back Kim's promise, made at a summit last month with US President Donald Trump, to work towards the "denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula".

- Naive and gullible -

And it did so in stark terms, according to a statement relayed by the KCNA state news agency.

"The US is fatally mistaken if it went to the extent of regarding that the DPRK would be compelled to accept, out of its patience, demands reflecting its gangster-like mindset," the statement said, referring to North Korea by its official initials.

Pyongyang noted that it had alrady destroyed a nuclear test site -- a concession that Trump has already publicy hailed as a victory for peace -- and lamented that Pompeo had proved unwilling to match this with US concessions.

It dismissed Trump's unilateral order to suspend joint US and South Korean war games as a cosmetic and "highly reversible" concession and criticised US negotiators who "never mentioned" the subject of bringing the 1953 Korean War to a a formal end with a peace treaty.

"We thought that the US side would come with a constructive proposal which accords with the spirit of the DPRK-US summit meeting and talks," it added. "But this expectation and hope of ours were so naive as to be gullible."

The North Korean statement came in stark comparison to the hopeful words Pompeo had given reporters before boarding his plane to Tokyo, and appear to represent a set-back to the process initiated between Kim and Trump last month.

Pompeo had characterised the meeting as a success, but critically he failed to present any new details as to how North Korea would honour its summit commitment to "denuclearise" in exchange for US security guarantees.

"These are complicated issues, but we made progress on almost all of the central issues, some places a great deal of progress, other places there's still more work to be done," Pompeo said.

Pompeo was speaking after emerging from more than eight hours of talks over two days with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's right-hand man Kim Yong Chol in a Pyongyang diplomatic compound.

Last month, Kim agreed to "work towards complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula" in return for security guarantees and an end to a dangerous stand-off with US forces.

Trump hailed this as a successful resolution of the crisis. But the short joint statement was not a detailed roadmap to disarmament and it fell to Pompeo to follow up and put meat on the bones of the sparse commitment.

- 'No-one walked away' -

"We talked about what the North Koreans are continuing to do and how it's the case that we can get our arms around achieving what Chairman Kim and President Trump both agreed to," Pompeo said.

"No-one walked away from that, they're still equally committed," he said, just hours before the North issues their own, less optimistic, view of the negotiations.

In practical terms, Pompeo mentioned only that officials from both sides would meet on July 12 as a working group to discuss the repatriation of the remains of some US soldiers killed during the 1950-1953 Korean War.

And he said some progress had been made towards agreeing "the modalities" of North Korea's destruction of a missile facility.

Professor Yang Moo-Jin at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said Pyongyang wants to separate "US bureaucrats from President Trump, expressing trust in him".

"This is not to break the talks. The North is trying to get an upper hand in further negotiations," he explained.

"North Korea expected Pompeo to bring a concrete proposal for security guarantee but it was disappointed as the US side reiterated the old demand that the North should denuclearise first before the US gives it anything in return."

Pompeo, who was on his third visit to Pyongyang, began the outreach when he was still Trump's CIA director and remained the pointman on negotiations after the process became public and he became secretary of state.]]>
7/8/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Iran summons Dutch ambassador, condemns deportation of its diplomats]]>
A European government official and a Western intelligence source said on Friday that the expulsions of two Iranian embassy staff occurred up to two months ago.

The Iranian foreign ministry Bahram Qasemi did not say when the ministry's meeting with the Dutch ambassador took place.

He said the deportation of Iranian diplomats was "unfriendly and nonconstructive" and said Iran has the right to take reciprocal measures.

"Instead of expelling Iranian diplomats, the Dutch government should explain why it has harboured members of a terrorist organisation," Qasemi said, mentioning the People's Mujahideen Organization of Iran. That group is linked to the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran - a bloc of opposition groups in exile that seek an end clerical rule in Iran.

The group, also known by its Persian name Mujahideen-e-Khalq, was once listed as a terrorist organisation by the United States and the European Union but is not any more. ]]>
7/8/2018 1:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Media Council defends Makram after summoned by state attorney]]>CAIRO – 7 July 2018: Attorney General Nabil Sadiq summoned Saturday Makram Mohammed Ahmed, head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR), to investigate imposing a media gag on reports related to the 57375 Children Cancer Hospital.


The Attorney General’s office asserted that SCMR has no jurisdiction to implement such media gag on the hospital that has been under investigation since last month as the government received complaints about the hospital’s spending.


For its part, the SCMR issued a statement to respond to the summoning of its head; it manifested that Makram’s decision to ban media reporting over the 57357 Hospital “lies under the privileges stipulated to him by law no. 92/2016.”


Moreover, the statement noted that Makram is ready to be questioned before the State Security Prosecution at anytime.


SCMR is an independent entity located in Cairo and in charge of regulating audio, visual, digital and print media publications, according to the second article of 92/2016 Law.


The statement stressed the full independence of the Media Council and that it rejects all interferences.


“The Media Council aims to guarantee freedom of expression and media within the framework of free competition,” the statement added.


“The publication-ban decision by Makram relied on the ongoing investigations run by the fact-checking committee that had been formed upon an order by the Minister of Social Solidarity,” the statement read.


The statement noted that Makram’s decision neither tended to overpass a judicial power nor interfering into its affairs, adding, “The committee investigated the 57357 Hospital case is and administrative committee, not a judicial one.”


The Media Council stressed the “no-publishing decision” did not overlap with the Attorney-General’s authority as the “prosecutor solely enjoys the right to issue a ban of publication.”

]]>
7/7/2018 9:29:41 PM
<![CDATA[Opinion: On foreign exhibitions & Egyptian artifacts in Monaco ]]>
This is my testimony for those who are mazed by propaganda launched by tourism marketing companies that cannot profoundly perceive our country’s glamour.

This is my testimony on ways of changing Egypt’s image worldwide; we are much bigger than the incidents that took place during the past seven years.

We are brighter than the darkness of extremism and the blood of terrorism.

We are richer than economic challenges, and we are stronger on a humanitarian, civil and cultural level, and will not be broken by a turbulent territory or a financial storm.

The road is paved in front of Egypt, but sometimes we do not see clearly. Hearts around the world are filled with the passion that is the beauty of this country; however, there are some people who do not observe, understand or comprehend the magnitude of this beauty.

The forum for Egyptian antiques, which was held in Monaco, showcasing less than 150 masterpieces from the Egyptian Museum, took the French and Italian media by storm, even before it kicked off.

Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany gave a speech about the Egyptian antiquities displayed in the exhibition, where Prince of Monaco Albert II, government officials and representatives from French and Italian newspapers were among the attendees.

Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany held a press conference on Friday with Grimaldi Forum’s Director and the Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat, before the opening of exhibition in Monaco.

This unique event is hosted by the Grimaldi Forum in Monaco, between July 7 and September 9, under the auspices of Prince of Monaco Albert II and the Egyptian government.

The Egyptian government has garnered great financial and marketing profits from the exhibition. According to Anani, the exhibition will include a special pavilion aiming to court French visitors and other tourists to visit Egyptian destinations.

* Egypt has taken an amazing marketing opportunity here on the coasts of southern Europe; it presented the best of its image.

* Egypt has marketed itself to French and Italian tourists without spending a single pound from the public budget; on the contrary, it has made great profits for the state treasury.

* Egypt boosts its relations with other countries by these foreign exhibitions.

* Egypt renews its image by these foreign exhibitions.

* Egypt promotes its beaches and museums by these foreign exhibitions.

* It is strange that some Egyptians are calling on the government to spend more millions on initiatives marketing tourism that do not attract tourists to the country, while at the same time opposing holding exhibitions for Egyptian antiquities on foreign ground.

* “The Gold of the Pharaohs” exhibition in Monaco confirms that our weapon to restore the power of Egyptian tourism is in our hands: it's in this history, this wealth and in this charming picture that shuns the actions of blood-seeking terrorists and ignorant folks within the country.

Do not confine the monuments to the coffins, and let the symbols of this history be our ambassadors worldwide.



Khaled Salah is the editor-in-chief and father of Egyptian influential daily Youm7; the paper was twice selected by Forbes Middle East as having the most effective news website in the Middle East.

Khaled Salah
Khaled Salah, editor-in-chief of influential daily Youm7
]]>
7/7/2018 6:05:54 PM
<![CDATA[EgyptAir 2016 crash not ‘terrorist’ act: French investigators ]]>
“A fire broke out in the cockpit while the plane was at cruising at high altitude and the fire spread rapidly, causing the aircraft to lose control,” said France’s civil aviation accident bureau (BEA) on Friday, according to France Press Agency.


EgyptAir MS804 Story

EgyptAir’s official Twitter account announced that flight 804 traveling from Paris to Cairo had disappeared with 56 passengers and 10 crewmembers on board. Three of those on board were children, including one infant, and three of the crewmembers were security personnel.




The MS804 flight travelling from Paris to Cairo carried 40 Egyptians, 15 French people, two Iraqis, two Canadians and one passenger from each of Algeria, Belgium, Britain, Chad, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Sudan.

The Egyptian Presidency mourned the victims in an official statement, expressing its “deepest condolences to the victims from various countries who lost their lives in this tragic incident.”

In a press conference on the day of the crash, Egypt’s civil aviation minister Sherif Fathy said a terrorist attack was most likely behind the crash. The chances of an attack were “higher than the possibility of a technical [failure].”

On May 21, the Egyptian Military announced on his official Facebook account finding the remains and wreckage of the plane crash in the Mediterranean Sea. He posted photos of the plane’s remains.

21_May_2016
EgyptAir MS804 remains as published by the Military Spokesperson Tamer El-Refaie on Facebook


On May 25, 2016, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received a delegation from the French National Assembly and offered his condolences to the French victims onboard the EgyptAir MS804. Sisi stressed the importance of increasing Egyptian-French efforts to reveal the circumstances pertaining to the incident.


8
Egypt’s President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi (R) and head of the French National Assembly Philippe Folliot (L) in Cairo on May 25, 2016- Press Photo


On December 15, 2016, Egypt's Aviation Ministry announced that traces of explosives had been found on victims' remains, adding that a criminal investigation would begin.
The EgyptAir MS804 accident came only seven months an Airbus A321 operated by the Russian airline Metrojet was shot down by a bomb over the Sinai Peninsula shortly after it flew out of the Sharm el-Sheikh, killing all 224 people on board. Terrorist group ISIS claimed responsibility for the crash.

No group had claimed responsibility for the MS804 crash; however, Egyptian officials had stated that terrorism was the most likely cause.

The black box, retrieved from the crash site by a specialist diving vessel, also confirmed that smoke alarms where triggered onboard, while recovered wreckage had indications of soot, the Egyptian Aviation Ministry stated in a statement in December 2016.

The word “fire” was audible on the plane’s cockpit voice recorder shortly before it crashed, the Egyptian investigative committee said in July, according to British newspaper the Guardian.
]]>
7/7/2018 4:41:06 PM
<![CDATA[After cabinet Brexit deal, May must persuade MPs and Brussels]]>
After marathon talks at her country retreat on Friday, May secured the agreement of her divided cabinet for a new "free trade area" where Britain would accept EU rules for goods in order to provide "frictionless" trade.

There had been talk of resignations over the plan by ministers who want a clean break with the bloc, such as Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

But they failed to materialise and May now has something to offer Brussels, which has warned time is running out to secure a deal before Brexit in March.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said the bloc would assess the plans when they are fleshed out in a policy paper next week, to "see if they are workable and realistic."

Uniting her cabinet was a big win for May, after two years of very public splits.

In a letter to members of her Conservative party, she said she had allowed ministers to speak out before but "collective responsibility is now fully restored".

Several eurosceptic ministers on Saturday publicly backed the premier, including leader of the House of Commons Andrea Leadsom and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling.

Pro-European MPs who had previously rebelled against May also offered their support for the plan, with Anna Soubry saying it "delivers a business friendly Brexit".

Perhaps surprisingly, Douglas Carswell, who co-founded the official Brexit campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, gave his backing.

"Read the detail and ask if this allows us to take back control. It does. Incrementally," he tweeted.

"A deal that guarantees us access to the (EU's single market) until such time as we chose regulatory divergence?... Sounds ok to me."

- Brexit in all but name -

But Nigel Farage, the founder of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and a key player in the Brexit vote, dismissed the plan as a "sell-out".

"Brexit did not mean keeping the 90 percent of our economy that does not export to the EU trapped by their laws," he tweeted.

Taking aim at eurosceptic ministers, he said: "No resignations means that the so-called Brexiteers in cabinet don't have a principle between them."

Veteran eurosceptic MP Bill Cash also told the BBC he was "deeply disappointed".

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the leader of the eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) of Conservative MPs, refused to condemn the plan outright.

But he told the BBC: "If, when we get the detailed legislation, it turns out that it is a punishment Brexit, that it is keeping us in the European Union in all but name, I... will not vote for it."

- Cherry-picking? -

Any final deal must be agreed in the House of Commons, where May has only a slim majority dependent on the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

But before that, it must be agreed with the European Union, which has repeatedly warned it will not accept "cherry-picking" elements of its single market.

Britain's plan would maintain EU rules on goods but adopt greater flexibility on services and end free moment of people.

May met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel the day before the cabinet talks, where she reportedly showed her a draft of the proposal.

She has also held talks in recent days with EU president Donald Tusk and Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who said he was also briefed on the plans.

Ireland is important because May has promised to avoid border checks between that country and British Northern Ireland, to protect the peace process.

Deputy prime minister Simon Coveney tweeted that the plan "deserves detailed consideration", adding: "Lots of work ahead."]]>
7/7/2018 4:10:29 PM
<![CDATA[Pope Tawadros joins Vatican in praying for peace in the Middle East]]>
Pope Francis held an important ecumenical reflection and prayer with the heads and representatives of Christian churches and communities on the situation of Christians in Middle East.




1074122-اجتماع-بابا-الفاتيكان
Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II before the prayer for peace in the Middle East / Bari / July 7

Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria headed to Italy on Friday, where he joined the Vatican in Bari and prayed for peace in the Middle East.
During the Prayer meeting on Saturday, Pope Tawadros II held a prayer in Arabic in the name of victims who lost their lives during to the recent conflicts and wars in the region.


Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II after the prayer for peace in the Middle East - Bari - CC Vatican News -Youtube
Picture: Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II after the prayer for peace in the Middle East / Bari / CC Vatican News / Youtube

“Lord, we pray to you, that your peace may be in our hearts. Remember, Lord, all the martyrs who died for your holy name. We ask you to give peace and tranquility to all areas of conflict in the Middle East.”

“We believe and confide that prayer represents the greatest power to take us out of any problem, resolve conflicts and illuminate our future in peace and reconciliation,” Tawadros told the Italian news agency Sir on July 4.

“Presenting ourselves together as heads of Churches to pray with one voice for all those who are fighting is a great encouragement to those who have lost hope, and it also fills our hearts with love and concern for others as we intercede for them,” he added.

prayer
Picture: Pope Francis and Pope Tawadros II before the prayer for peace in the Middle East / Bari / CC Vatican News / Youtube

830209-البابا-تواضروس-الثانى-مع-رجال-الدين
Pope Tawadros II and Patriarchs before meeting Pope Francis

During his stay in Italy, Tawadros will visit Saint Paul Apostle in Rome as well as several Egyptian churches in Rome and Milan.

Pope Tawadros II to join common prayer in Italy Saturday

CAIRO - 6 July 2018: Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark Diocese headed to Italy on Friday on a papal visit that will last for few days. During his stay in Italy, the Pontiff is scheduled to attend a meeting with the heads of churches at the Province of Bari.




The head of the Vatican press office, Greg Burke, told journalists on Wednesday that the Pope intends to invite the heads of other churches and Christian communities in the region to the ecumenical encounter, according to Vatican News.

Nineteen heads of Churches or their representatives adhered to the call of Pope Francis in Bari on Saturday. Among the denominations are the Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Churches, the Lutheran Church and the Middle East Council of Churches.

A statement from the press office said that the Pope is urging people to prepare for this meeting through prayer, recalling “the dramatic situation in the Middle East, which afflicts so many brothers and sisters in the faith.”

Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch told The Pilot that the Middle East plays a special role in promoting a path toward unity, given the region’s significance as the birthplace of Christianity.

Pope Tawadros visits Lebanon, then the Vatican

CAIRO - 23 June 2018: Pope Tawadros of Egypt was received by The President of Lebanon Michel Aoun at the presidential resident Baabda Palace to inaugurate a patriarchal residence Friday, a few weeks before the Patriarch's Vatican visit.




Pope Tawadros visited the Vatican for the first time in May 2013, the second visit by an Egyptian Church delegation to the Vatican. Late Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda III visited the Vatican in 1973.

Pope Francis visited Egypt on April on a two-day trip where he led a Holy Mass at the Air Defense Stadium in New Cairo. He met Pope Tawadros, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, and Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, urging leaders of all religions to denounce violence and acts of terror committed in God’s name.

Pope Francis leading a holy mass at the Air Defense Stadium in New Cairo on April 29, 2017 – Press photo
Pope Francis leading a holy mass at the Air Defense Stadium in New Cairo on April 29, 2017 – Press photo

The visit in April marked the 70th anniversary since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Egypt and the Holy See.

Pope Francis described Egypt as a land of cohabitation and hospitality. He added that it is a land of great history and civilization, passing on his blessing to Egyptians and praying for Egypt’s protection from all sorts of evil and terrorism.

pope
A picture of Pope Francis as seen during mass in Cairo - Reuters - Amr Abdullah Dalash


Pope Francis greets Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb during a meeting at Cairo - Egypt April 28 - 2017 - REUTERS -Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
Pope Francis greets Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb during a meeting at Cairo - Egypt April 28 - 2017 - REUTERS -Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

Pope Francis became the first Roman Catholic Pontiff to visit Egypt since Pope John Paul II in 2000.

]]>
7/7/2018 3:33:58 PM
<![CDATA[1st phase of new health insurance law launched]]>
In an official statement issued July 6, Rady said the first phase of the new law includes preliminary procedures for the full implementation of the law, including:

“The elimination of patient waiting lists for surgery and critical medical interventions within six months, providing the needed stocks of infant formula and vaccines, and finishing the comprehensive survey and treatment of Hepatitis C virus for Egyptian citizens.”

Last December, Egypt’s Parliament approved the new national health insurance law, raising a stormy debate between the Egyptian Medical Syndicate, which opposes the draft law, and parliamentarians. The law was criticized for imposing more burden on the individual's income is feared as the law raises monthly insurance fees.

Why good? Why bad? New health insurance law discussed

CAIRO - 21 December 2017: The Egyptian Parliament finally approved the new national health insurance law, raising a stormy debate between the Egyptian Medical Syndicate opposing the draft law and parliamentarians. After fruitful discussion that took over a month, Minister of Health and Population Ahmed Emad Eddin announced on December 19 the approval of the Council of Representatives on all articles of the new comprehensive universal health insurance law.




After discussions that took over a month, former Minister of Health and Population Ahmed Emad Eddin announced on Dec. 19 the parliament’s approval of all articles of the new comprehensive universal health insurance law.

Egypt's health system has been criticized for years for not meeting standards. The new health insurance law proposed in October 2017 is considered a new government bid to overcome the shortcomings of the old system that was deemed inadequate and insufficiently safeguarding patients' rights.

Lawmakers defended the new law as it would boost the quality of health services in public hospitals. The old law covered health services for governmental and seasonal workers, while the newly approved amendments guarantee the same medical services to all citizens.

Despite the positive impact hoped from the new law, more burdens on citizens’ income are feared as the law raises monthly insurance fees. Given the difficult economic conditions, the law amendments "would place a large burden on low-income families," Dr. Mohamed Hassan Khalil, coordinator of an independent health organization, told Egypt Today.

Why good? Why bad? New health insurance law discussed

CAIRO - 21 December 2017: The Egyptian Parliament finally approved the new national health insurance law, raising a stormy debate between the Egyptian Medical Syndicate opposing the draft law and parliamentarians. After fruitful discussion that took over a month, Minister of Health and Population Ahmed Emad Eddin announced on December 19 the approval of the Council of Representatives on all articles of the new comprehensive universal health insurance law.






]]>
7/7/2018 1:34:06 PM
<![CDATA[Ministry of Endowment right to fatwa approved by Parliament]]>
Prior to the parliament’s decision, Al-Azhar was the only organization officially entitled to issue fatwas inside the country.

Following several meetings and a lot of consultations between the two parties, the Parliament’s Religious Committee approved the new fatwa law. Egypt Today capsules the key items of this controversial law to its readers as follows:

1. The new law completely prohibits issuing any fatwa for the public unless it is through: “the Supreme Council of Scholars at Al-Azhar, Dar al-Ifta (affiliated with Al-Azhar), Al Azhar's Islamic Research Academy and the General Department of Fatwa affiliated with Endowment Ministry.”


2. Al-Azhar’s preachers, scholars, teachers, instructors and clerics are only permitted to guide people in general issues, but cannot issue fatwas.


3. Issuing fatwas via media outlets is regulated and limited to only accredited entities listed by the law.


4. According to the draft, people who breach the law’s articles will be jailed for no longer than six months and fined with no more than LE 5,000 or either of the punishments. In case of repeating the same violation, the punishment shall be the imprisonment and fine with no less than LE 10,000.

According to the newly approved law, a scholar who is proven incompetent for issuing fatwas will be punished with a fine of not more than LE 20,000 and not less than LE 10,000 if he uses media to issue fatwas. The punishment also doubles if the person decides to reappear on media to issue fatwas for a second time.

This law comes within the framework of Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism, extremist ideology and odd fatwas that incite sedition, in light of the recent increase in the number of fatwas issued and the number of unlicensed people preaching about religious habits on social media.

In a statement before the conference titled “The Role of Fatwas in Stabilizing the Society,” Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb said that Egypt nowadays is facing an “unprecedented wave of distortion of Islam’s teachings by unlicensed persons.”

“Unfortunately, some have been allowed to issue flawed fatwas that distort Islamic Sharia and violate Islam's true teachings," said Tayeb.

Fatwas are Islamic religious rulings issued by a recognized religious authority or individual, based on the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s teachings for guidance on the routine of daily life subjects such as marriage and inheritance. ]]>
7/7/2018 11:46:14 AM
<![CDATA[Hearing session of 213 Ansar Bait al-Maqdis members trial continues]]>CAIRO – 7 July 2018: The Cairo Criminal Court is holding a Saturday sequential hearing session in the trial of 213 members of Ansar Bait al-Maqdis over accusations of committing 54 terrorist crimes.



The defendants are accused of murdering police officers, soldiers and civilians; an assassination attempt of former interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim; bombing several security facilities; and executing a number of terrorist operations.



The jihadist extremist militant group, Ansar Bait al-Maqdis (Supporters of Jerusalem), emerged from the chaos in Sinai that started with the uprising in January 2011; in mid-2013, it initiated attacks on security forces, declaring the Egyptian army and police apostates that can be killed.



The group is believed to have been the main group behind the militant activity in the Sinai; it pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in November 2014, then renamed itself ISIL-Sinai Province.



The defendants also face charges of joining a terrorist group aiming at disrupting the country's national security and public order, collaborating with a foreign organization to sabotage state institutions, and illegal possession of arms and ammunition.



Investigations showed that the defendants were trained in the camps of Ezzel Din Qassam, the military wing of Palestinian movement Hamas and that they plotted to target ships transiting the Suez Canal.



Investigations also showed that ousted president Mohamed Morsi was in contact with the militant group leaderships while he was in power and that they agreed that Hamas would not carry out any terrorist attacks while he was in office.



The 54 terrorist crimes the defendants are implicated in had left 42 police officers and 15 civilians dead and 349 others wounded.



Ansar Beit El Maqdis has claimed responsibility for most of the major attacks against security forces and their installations, with the deadliest assaults taking place in Sinai.



On July 5, The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced on 20 outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) loyalists to 10 to 25 years in prison over forming a terrorist cell that targeted policemen, soldiers and judges.



href="https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/1/53412/20-MB-loyalists-sentenced-up-to-25-years-over-terror">20 MB loyalists sentenced up to 25 years over terror charges

CAIRO - 5 July 2018: The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced on Thursday 20 outlawed Muslim Brotherhood (MB) loyalists to 10 to 25 years in prison over forming a terrorist cell that targeted policemen, soldiers and judges.




At some point in late 2013 and early 2014, senior MB leader Mohamed Kamal and others, including many younger generation leaders and supporters, set up ‘special operations committees’ to execute small-scale attacks.



The committees were formed as part of a ‘disorientation and attrition’ strategy that was directed against the Egyptian government.



Six of the defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prisons, while the other 14 defendants were sentenced to life in prison.


]]>
7/7/2018 9:33:45 AM
<![CDATA[Amman not briefed on ‘deal of the century’: Jordanian amb. to Egypt]]>
“The U.S. administration did not put any plan or anything on the table (for negotiation so far) and we knew about it from the media,” Ayed continued, noting that what has been circulating gives up the two-state solution.

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Jordanian ambassador to Egypt Ali al-Ayed in a round table held by Egypt Today on July 2, 2018 - Egypt Today/Karim Abdel-Aziz


“If the deal of the century does not include the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital, it would be unacceptable,” Ayed said, adding that all what heard about the deal comes from media.

Both Egypt and Jordan have reiterated their support to the two-state solution along the 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.

Jordan’s stance was confirmed by King Abdullah II last week during his visit to the White House, where he met with U.S. president Donald Trump on June 25, the ambassador added.

Ayed affirmed that Cairo and Amman have the same stances towards the deal of the century.

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Jordanian ambassador to Egypt Ali al-Ayed in a round table held by Egypt Today on July 2, 2018 - Egypt Today/Karim Abdel-Aziz


“I have attended several meetings between President Sisi and King Abdullah. I did not differentiate between the Jordanian position and the Egyptian one, as a sign for unified stands and visions,” he continued.

“Jordan has exerted herculean efforts [towards the Palestinian cause] even before the announcement made by U.S. President Trump about making Jerusalem the capital of Israel. We held a series of meetings,” he said, adding that Jordan has escalated the Palestinian cause on many levels, starting from the Arab to Islamic and finally to the international level.

Egypt and Jordan exerted considerable efforts on the Jerusalem file, resulting in significant support from the international community - except for the U.S.- for the Egypt-drafted resolution on Jerusalem at the UN Security Council, he said.

In December 2017, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley vetoed Egypt’s draft resolution. The resolution called on the U.S. administration to reverse its decision regarding the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.


‘Harmonizing human rights with security on the border’

Concerning Jordan’s dealing with the crisis of Syrian people stranded south Syria near the Jordanian border, Ayed said his country is trying to harmonize the humanitarian aspect with security.

“The international community should honestly bear its responsibility. The Syrian crisis is a responsibility shared among the international community and does not fall on Jordan alone,” he added.


“Jordan shares its food with Syrian refugees, but there are other aspects that relate to the economy, and security should be taken into consideration as well.”

Due to attacks by Syrian troops and Russian jets’ bombardment on southern Syria, hundreds thousands of Syrians fled the fighting to the borders with Jordan, asking to cross into the Jordanian territories. However, Jordan, which suffers from a financial crisis, announced that it cannot receive more refugees, and instead is trying to reach a ceasefire between Syrian rebels and President Bashar al-Assad’s ally of Russia.

“Without a political solution, we do not think that the Syrian refugees could return to their home. Jordan has borne since 2012 the responsibility of refugees. 1.4 million Syrian refugees are in Jordan, a country with limited resources,” he said, adding that this number of refugees represent an economic pressure on the country, where Syrian refugees represent 20 percent of the population.

Ayed said that his country hopes that a recent ceasefire deal in southern Syria be applied all over the Syrian territories to allow Syrians refugees and displaced people to return to their home and re-build it.

“The international community brears only 30 percent of the total cost of hosting the refugees, while the other 70 percent is taken from the state’s budget,” he continued. He added that Jordan is not a country sustained by oil and depends on foreign aid.

Over history, Jordan has received waves of refugees since the establishment of the Jordanian states, from Palestinian, Iraq , and Syria, he said, adding that due to “the reality of geopolitics in Jordan [...] amid the presence of terrorist groups from various ideologies such as Nusra front and ISIS, it is very difficult - in the light of the large influx of the refugees- to determine who is a true refugee [...] and who comes under the cover of being a refugee,” Ayed said.

As for the resettlement of some refugees from Jordan in European countries, Ayed said there is coordination between Jordan and other countries through the United Nations Commission for Refugees Affairs concerning this matter.

Egyptian-Jordanian counter-terrorism cooperation

Countering terrorism should not rely on the military option only, but also should be through dialogue, the way it is done by the Egyptian Islamic institution of Al-Azhar, through raising public awareness and creating economic development, Ayed said.

“Over the Jordanian history, since the establishment of the Jordanian Hashemite Kingdom, the country has fought terrorism; late King Abdullah I was killed in Jerusalem. It was terrorism. Also, two prime ministers were killed,” he said.

On the intelligence level, there is coordination with not only Egypt but other countries against terrorism, Ayed added. “Terrorism is not only in Egypt or Jordan. There are many countries vulnerable to terrorism.” he said.


More cooperation

Economically, Ayed said Egypt and Jordan have the same circumstances, but Cairo has taken strong measures of devaluating of the Egyptian currency and removing the subsidies on fuel.

“Jordan has taken several measures of imposing taxes and penalties against tax evaders, with the exclusion of the low-income . It also obtained a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as Egypt did. This loan means that the economy is able to recover,” he said.

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Jordanian ambassador to Egypt Ali al-Ayed in a round table held by Egypt Today on July 2, 2018 - Egypt Today/Karim Abdel-Aziz


“Our diplomatic mission in Egypt aims to develop and enhance cooperation between both countries in all fields [...] to increase the country’s exports to Africa and Europe,” he added.

Replying to a question whether Jordan thinks of importing natural gas from Egypt’s newly-discovered gas field of Zohr after gas import has suspended for eight years due to sabotage at the Jordanian-Egyptian gas pipeline, Al-Ayed said that Cairo and Amman have intensive cooperation in the energy field.

Ayed said that his country was encouraging and promoting Egyptian tourism among the Jordanian people amid the absence of European tourism bounding to Egypt, saying “the trade volume between both countries has reached $500 million, including 90 million to Jordan while the rest goes to Egypt.”]]>
7/7/2018 9:22:18 AM
<![CDATA[Interview: On the Ancient Egypt exhibition held in Monaco ]]>
The Grimaldi Forum is currently hosting an exhibition of Ancient Egyptian gold jewelry, reviewing their evolution over the centuries and their importance historically and culturally.

The exhibition, according to Biancheri, aims to “incite the audience to discover Egypt” while changing the international image associated with Monaco to one that shows its keenness on culture, heritage, and arts.

The full interview is included below.

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The Ancient Egypt exhibition held in Monaco- photo courtesy of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco facebook page




Can you tell me why you are hosting these antiques here from Egypt?

Biancheri: Ten years ago, you probably know we produced a huge exhibition here about Egyptian antiques, and it was very successful. It was about the queens of Egypt and you lent us very important pieces, and because of that success and the great interest of the audience in Egyptian antiquities, we decided to do another exhibition. We are the Grimaldi Forum, and Grimaldi is the name of the royal family (of Monaco) and we are supported by the government to be able to produce this kind of exhibition.

This exhibition will be held for two months and the ticket is for €8 - we are a non-profit forum but because of the magnitude of this exhibition and because it costs a lot of money, around €2.5 to 2.7 million, [we are charging for tickets.]


So what is the goal or the idea behind this exhibition?


[This exhibition is held] because it’s very important for Monaco to show that we can produce upscale international exhibitions and the idea to bring Egypt again is to promote Egyptian antiquities and through a very attractive exhibition, incite people to discover Egypt and encourage people to come back to Egypt. It is very important for the prince and the government of Monaco to show that Monaco has a cultural know-how in this kind of exhibition, that Monaco is not only the image that you see of casinos and so on, we want to change this image. Monaco is not only that, it’s also a very nice place for culture, opera, ballet, and large exhibitions and for sure Egypt is a good partner for that.

The Grimaldi Forum opened 18 years ago and has been organizing and producing large exhibitions and such to show that Monaco exists on the map of the big cultural institutions of the world. And I think thanks to the success of this exhibition we can now export our cultural know-how to the world


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The Ancient Egypt exhibition held in Monaco- photo courtesy of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco facebook page



Why did you choose those antiquities specifically?

Biancheri: Because our curator, who you know very well, Christiane Ziegler, a well-known Egyptologist, has carried out a lot of research and excavations in Egypt on behalf of France. We discussed a new subject [for the exhibition], we wanted something new for us, and the idea came to exhibit gold jewelry: the know-how of jewelry, its history over the centuries in Egypt and the process of jewelry’s evolution and how it still evolves. It’s not a new idea but it’s something that hasn’t been really raised in previous exhibitions.

How many visitors do you expect for the exhibition?

Biancheri: We expect at least the same number as 10 years ago, 75,000 visitors and maybe more, because this exhibition is exceptional and we really do believe it will be a huge success.

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The Ancient Egypt exhibition held in Monaco- photo courtesy of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco facebook page




What inspired the exhibition’s decor? I see you used blue all over.

Biancheri: The inspiration is lapis lazuli which has been used a lot in Egypt, and because that color goes really well as well with gold. He (the designer, William Chatelain) wanted people to have the impression of being inside the tombs, especially with the different heights of the ceiling and so on - as though they’re archaeologists on excavations.

Have you been to Egypt?

Chatelain: Yes, I went on a special journey with Christiane Ziegler, to get inspired by the archaeological atmosphere and sites, and also to visit the Cairo Museum which is the most emblematical site with ancient Egyptian artifacts.


150 ancient Egyptian masterpieces in Grimaldi's Forum July 7

Monaco - 6 July 2018: Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany held a press conference on Friday with Grimaldi Forum's director, and the Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat, before the opening of "The Gold of the Pharaohs exhibition" in Monaco.






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The Ancient Egypt exhibition held in Monaco- photo courtesy of the Grimaldi Forum Monaco facebook page



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General Manager of Grimaldi Forum Sylvie Biancheri with Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anany and the Minister of Tourism Rania Al-Mashat during a press Conference, July 6 2018 - Egypt Today/Khaled Salah



]]>
7/6/2018 7:48:19 PM
<![CDATA[Italy's closure to migrant rescue boats has high human cost- aid groups]]>
Cristophe Biteau, an Doctors without Borders (MSF) mission leader in Libya, said everyone intercepted by the Libyan coastguard - about 10,789 people this year - ended up held indefinitely in centres run by the Tripoli government.

"With fewer rescue ships and the summer surge in departures, the situation in the centres will get worse and worse," Biteau said.

Italy's new far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, who took office on June 1, has said the rescue ships are no longer welcome on his shores, arguing that his government has already taken more than its fair share of migrants.

He has also questioned migrants' reports of abuse in Libya - reports that are denied by Libyan authorities who have accused aid groups of encouraging migrants to make the dangerous crossing from North Africa to Europe through their well-publicised rescues.

Neither Salvini or Libyan authorities immediately responded to MSF's comments on Friday.

MSF said between 5,000 and 7,000 people are held in seven official centres in Tripoli that are already overcrowded and unsanitary, with scabies and tuberculosis common.

There are 17 government detention facilities across all of Libya, and migrants and other aid groups have repeatedly described beatings and inhumane conditions.

Overall, about 700,000 migrants are estimated to be in Libya, the International Organization for Migration says. No one knows how many are imprisoned in secret camps run by people smugglers, where conditions are worse than in the official ones, MSF said.

"Our perception about people coming from Libya is that the violence is widespread," Gianfranco De Maio, MSF's global supervisor for its treatment of torture victims, told Reuters.

"All of the migrants being brought back end up in detention centres and the recent increase in the number of people being intercepted is putting increasing pressure on the already overcrowded facilities," Roberto Mignone, the U.N. refugee agency's representative in Libya, said on Friday.

SCARS

Nigerian Charles Otokiti, 37, was rescued at sea after passing through Libya in 2016. Now living near Rome, he has scars on his legs and arms, the result, he says, of severe beatings with pipes by the very smugglers he paid to put him on a boat bound for Italy.

He said he was held for three months in a warehouse in Tripoli with about 700 others by guards who wore uniforms, though he was unsure who they worked for. They were fed once a day a ladle of stew in the palm of their hands.

"They beat us every day," he said. "I saw people beat to death." About Italy's policy to stop charity boats in a bid to keep migrants out, Otokiti said: "They should let them in as Pope Francis says."

Italy's port closures to charity ships has also coincided with an increase in the death rate of migrants sea, though total arrivals from Libya have declined more than 85 this year from last.

From the start of June to July 2, 565 people, or 1 in 13 of those who set out from the Libyan coast, drowned or went missing, compared with 1 in 43 during the first five months of the year, said Matteo Villa, a research fellow for migration at Italy's Institute for Studies on International Politics (ISPI), a think tank.

Still Otokiti, a practicing Catholic, says he is thankful to live in Italy, which has given him asylum.

"Italy is the best for everything. We are going to stand as one, you understand, because Italy is a Christian land," he said.]]>
7/6/2018 3:35:13 PM
<![CDATA[Vienna look forward creating parliamentary Austrian-Egyptian friendship group ]]>
The Austrian parliament has a total of 47 friendship groups, Sobotka said, praising Egypt’s economic reforms and expressed his country’s keenness to boost the bilateral economic relations, said Egyptian Spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid in a statement on Friday.

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Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry meets with President of Austrian Parliament and President of National Council of Austria Wolfgang Sobotka on Friday in Vienna- Press photo


Egypt’s Shoukry started Tuesday a European tour to Germany and Austria, where he has discussed ways of boosting relations between Egypt and its European partners to enhance coordination with the German and Austrian governments, especially in light of Austria's periodic presidency of the European Union.

Shoukry’s discussed the economic reform program and Egypt’s deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), calling the Austrian companies to invest in Egypt’s megaproject of Suez Canal Corridor and the new Administrative Capital, Abu Zeid added.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister also discussed his country’s efforts of combating the illegal migration and counter-terrorism efforts, particularly in Siani. Both parties have tackled the regional and international issues of mutual concern, Abu Zeid continued.

]]>
7/6/2018 2:05:36 PM
<![CDATA[Trump will focus on Russia's 'malign' activity at summits]]>
The U.S. president, whose 2016 election campaign is being probed for possible collusion with Russia, has said repeatedly he wants to have a good relationship with Washington's former Cold War foe, despite tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine, Syria and alleged election meddling around the world.

Trump, who is set to leave for Europe on Tuesday, will hold meetings with NATO allies in Brussels, visit Britain, and then meet Putin in Helsinki for a one-on-one meeting on July 16.

"The president believes a better relationship with Russia would be good for both America and Russia, but the ball really is in Russia's court and the president will continue to hold Russia accountable for its malign activity," Jon Huntsman, U.S. ambassador to Russia, told reporters on a conference call.

"We're entering with our eyes wide open, but peace is always worth the effort," Huntsman said.

Trump told reporters last week he would press Putin on election meddling and also discuss Syria and Ukraine during their meeting.

A Senate Intelligence Committee report released on Tuesday supported the conclusion of three U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia tried to help Donald Trump win the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Trump has denied that his campaign colluded with Russia and has repeated that Putin has denied involvement in the U.S. electoral process.

European allies are also concerned about election meddling by Russia. But the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit is likely to be dominated by Trump's insistence that member nations step up and pay more for their joint defense.

Kay Bailey Hutchison, the U.S. permanent representative to NATO, said Russia would be a key topic at the summit.

"I would say our (NATO's) major areas of deterrence would be Russia and the malign activities of Russia, the efforts of Russia to divide our democratic nations, INF (Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty violations," she said.

Trump and Putin will likely also discuss two arms control pacts - the INF Treaty and the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), Huntsman said, declining to address whether they might strike a deal on either pact, which are planks of U.S.-Russian arms control.

The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987, required both sides to eliminate their ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km (310 and 3,420 miles).

Each side accuses the other of violating the treaty, which applies to nuclear- and conventionally armed missiles. The two sides, which deny violating the pact, have made no obvious progress on resolving the dispute.

The leaders are also likely to discuss New START, under which both nations cut their deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, the lowest level in decades. The treaty, signed during the Obama administration, also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers.

The treaty, which expires in February 2021, can be extended by five years if both sides agree.

"My guess is that that will be part of the discussion as well, but I don’t want to get ahead of the possible summit conversations," Huntsman said. ]]>
7/6/2018 5:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. condemns effort to extend South Sudan president's term]]>
"The draft bill undermines ongoing peace talks with opposition groups and civil society," a State Department official, who spoke on condition anonymity, said.

Backed by the United States, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

Fighting broke out two years later over a political disagreement between Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar. Tens of thousands of people have since been killed and over three million forced to flee their homes.

Kiir and Machar met last week and agreed on a new peace deal. It included a ceasefire, which took effect on Saturday. It was violated that day when government and rebel forces attacked each other's positions.

A spokesperson for the rebel group, SPLM-IO, said on Tuesday that the government was proposing an "illegal procedure" in attempting to extend Kiir's presidential term.

The proposed bill would amend South Sudan's constitution to extend Kiir's presidency through 2021, lawmakers told Reuters on Tuesday.

The State Department official said that South Sudan should work quickly to reach a peace agreement that leads to free and fair elections.]]>
7/6/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S.-Iran tensions rise over oil route as EU tries to save nuclear deal]]>
With tensions rising over the strategic waterway, the European Union is proposing a plan for salvaging a multinational nuclear deal with Tehran after Washington withdrew, but Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told leaders in Paris and Berlin on Thursday that the package did not go far enough.

Rouhani and some senior military commanders have threatened in recent days to disrupt oil shipments from the Gulf countries if Washington tries to strangle Tehran's exports.

Praising Rouhani's "firm stance" against the United States, the head of the Revolutionary Guards said their forces were ready to block the Strait of Hormuz which links the Gulf to the open sea.

In May, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal under which sanctions on Iran were lifted in return for curbs to its nuclear programme. Washington has since told countries they must stop buying Iranian oil from Nov. 4 or face financial measures.

Mohammad Ali Jafari, who commands the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iran’s most powerful military force, responded on Thursday.

If Iran cannot sell its oil due to U.S. pressure, then no other regional country will be allowed to do so either, Jafari was quoted as saying by Tasnim news agency. "We are hopeful that this plan expressed by our president will be implemented if needed," he said. "We will make the enemy understand that either all can use the Strait of Hormuz or no one."

The strait is the most important oil transit channel in the world with about one fifth of global oil consumption passing through each day.

"The U.S. and its partners provide, and promote security and stability in the region," Central Command spokesman Navy Captain Bill Urban said in an email to Reuters.

Asked what would be the U.S. naval reaction if Iran blocks the strait, he said: "Together, we stand ready to ensure the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce wherever international law allows."

The Guards' naval arm lacks a strong conventional fleet. However, it has many speed boats and portable anti-ship missile launchers, and can lay mines.

A senior U.S. military leader said in 2012 the Guards have the ability to block the strait "for a period of time" but the United States would take action to reopen it in such an event.

FRIDAY MEETING

The EU, once Iran's biggest oil importer, has vowed to keep the 2015 nuclear deal alive without the United States by trying to keep oil and investment flowing. Foreign ministers from the five remaining signatories will discuss the European proposal with Iranian officials in Vienna on Friday.

However, Rouhani told French President Emmanuel Macron by telephone on Thursday that the package of economic measures failed to offset sufficiently the effects of the U.S. pullout and its re-imposition of nuclear-related sanctions.

"The package proposed by Europe for continuation of cooperation in the nuclear deal does not meet all our demands," Rouhani was quoted as saying by his official website. "We expect a clear action plan from Europe with a timetable so it can compensate for the U.S. exit from the deal."

He gave a similar message in a call to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the president's website reported. The proposed package "only included some general promises like previous EU statements," Rouhani said.

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei set out conditions in May for European powers if they want Tehran to stay in the accord, including steps by European banks to safeguard trade with Tehran and guarantees for Iranian oil sales.

Rouhani warned on Wednesday that Iran could reduce its co-operation with the U.N. nuclear watchdog if the deal collapses.]]>
7/6/2018 2:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[European Parliament rejects controversial EU copyright law backed by France]]>
Lawmakers are now expected to return in September to the plans, which are aimed at ensuring creators of creative content – whether music, movies or news – are paid fairly in a digital world.

The draft law was firmly resisted by major US tech giants as well as advocates of internet freedom, with some campaigners warning it could even spell the end of viral "memes" or jokes.

"Today's vote represents a victory for democracy," said Siada El Ramly, head of EDiMA, a lobby representing Google, Facebook and other US tech giants.

Members of European Parliament meeting in the eastern French city of Strasbourg voted 318 against the measure, 278 in favour, with 31 abstentions.

The vote would have given MEPs the mandate to start negotiations with member states for a finalised law which Austria, holder of the EU's six-month rotating presidency, would like finished by the end of the year.

MEPs from France, who had staunchly backed the reform, were furious after the vote.

US tech giants "who steal from artists and pay no taxes, have won a battle," said MEP Pervenche Beres.

McCartney plea

The two most disputed aspects of the reform are an effort to boost revenue for hard-up news publishers and a crackdown on non-copyrighted material on tech platforms such as Google-owned Youtube or Facebook.

Major publishers, including AFP, have pushed for the news media reform – known as article 11 – seeing it as an urgently needed solution against a backdrop of free online news that has decimated earnings for traditional media companies.

But opponents have called it a "link tax" that will stifle discourse on the Internet.

Resistance has been especially heated to Article 13: the proposal to make online platforms legally liable for copyrighted material put on the web by users.

Music legend McCartney as well as major music labels and film studios had lobbied politicians urging them to back the changes.

But critics said the reform will lead to blanket censorship by tech platforms that have become an online hub for creativity, especially Youtube. It would also restrict the usage of memes and remixes by everyday internet surfers, they said.

Wikipedia went down in at least three countries on Wednesday in a protest at the upcoming European Parliament vote.]]>
7/5/2018 3:51:41 PM
<![CDATA[Qatar, Turkey finance terrorist groups in Libya: Aguila Saleh]]>
During his current visit to Egypt, Aguila sat down with the Emirati newspaper, Al-Ain, and explained the current situation in Libya and the ongoing battle against terrorism in Derna.

Augila revealed that Qatar and Turkey are financing terrorist groups in Libya, according to the Libyan army’s documents that showed that significant stocks of weapons and ammunition coming from Qatar were found in the stores of terrorists in Derna.

The terrorists arrested by the national army during the military operations in Derna admitted that Qatar and Turkey financially supported the militiamen of Ibrahim al-Jadran, who previously led an assault on oil ports of Sidra and Ras Lanuf.

"A Turkish ship carrying explosives to Misrata was spotted and then seized in Greece," Aguila further added in reference to the Turkish intervention in Libya in favor of terrorism.



"A number of Libyan officials announced Wednesday that Misrata has become the terrorist hotspot," said Walid al-Arifi, head of the Information Office of the General Directorate of Libyan Criminal Research, floating the possibility of launching a military operation to liberate the cities of Misrata and Tripoli from terrorists.

Qatar has previously deplored the decision of putting the Libyan National oil company under the control of the country’s oil crescent, describing it as unfair to other concerned and operating factions in Libya.

In exclusive statements to Egypt Today in June, Head of the NOC in Benghazi, Faraj Saeed al-Hassi, claimed that militant organizations attacking the oil crescent are funded from Libya’s oil revenues.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman, Ahmed al-Mismari, said the move aims to prevent oil revenues from being used to back militias such as “Chadian mercenaries”, and comes as a response to the lack of recognition of chairman of NOC Tripoli, Mustafa Sanalla, for the “sacrifices” of the LNA troops guarding the ports, Reuters reported.

Eastern factions have long accused the Central Bank of Libya of misspending oil revenues and allocating insufficient funds to the east.

Mismari announced in a press conference that the LNA foiled five attacks on Libya’s oil crescent, which reportedly incorporates about 80 percent of Libya’s oil, thereby causing the death of 184 LNA soldiers while defending the region.

Libya deplores Qatar's interference in domestic affairs

TRIPOLI - 5 July 2018: The Libyan parliament's defense committee condemned Qatar's interference in the country's domestic affairs and its unwavering support to terror gangs and extremism. In its statement, the committee deplored the Qatari justification to the terror attacks against oil fields and ports.






Militant, Abu Abdullah al-Masry, killed in Libya's Derna

CAIRO - 11 June 2018: High-risk militant, Omar Refaei Sorour (aka Abu Abdullah al-Masry), and his family were reported killed in a military airstrike by the Libyan army in the city of Derna; Sorour's sister, Walaa, was tagged in a condolence post on her Facebook page on Monday.





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7/5/2018 2:48:36 PM
<![CDATA[11% of girls aged 15-19 are married: Health Min.]]>
The percentage of girls between 15 and 19 getting married has decreased by 6 percent over the past two years.

In fact, according to a 2017 national census released by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), the total number of women over the age of 18 who could legally get married has reached 27.7 million, with 23 million women married, which includes 119,000 girls who have married before reaching the age of 18.

Meanwhile, 18,000 women got married before the age of 16, representing 15 percent of girls who married before the legal age of marriage. The Ministry of Health and Population reported that 500,000 children are born every year to adolescent mothers.

Commenting on this, an official source at the Ministry told Egypt Today that although the legal age for marriage registration in Egypt is 18 years, girls below the legal age are still getting married without registering the marriage. Children born from unregistered marriages are also not registered, leaving the perpetrator free, without criminalization.

The source confirmed that the House of Representative’s (Parliament) Legislative Committee is currently considering a bill banning child marriage, under the age of 18.

The committee is looking into amending five laws to prevent child marriage altogether on health grounds; the amendments would mention possible health problems and social risk to girls and the family, in general. For example, girls older than 18 years are more likely to make it though pregnancy and more likely to survive childbirth and childbirth-related complications, according to Tarik Tawfik, rapporteur of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood at the Ministry of Health. Girls under 18 years of age are likely to suffer from general weakness, miscarriage or stillbirth. Children born to mothers under the age of 18 are also four times as likely to be born prematurely.



Member of Parliament Abla el Hawary has proposed a draft bill that introduces amendments to five laws in the constitution, topping the laws are: the right of guardianship and custody for children (family law).

Hawary told Egypt Today that this bill stipulates that a father who forces his daughter to get married before reaching the age of marriage will be deprived from the authority of guardianship over the girl or her property.

The Egyptian law stated that a father is the natural guardian of his minor legitimate children, both sons and daughters. A father cannot be deprived of the natural guardianship of his minor children unless he has been found unfit.

“Child marriage affects both boys and girls. So, the proposed bill is against it for the protection of both genders. We cannot specify one gender, as it contradicts the constitutional equality principle,” Hawary said. The current law prohibits, but does not criminalize, the registration of child marriages.

Hawary called on women's rights associations to launch awareness campaigns in poor neighborhoods around Egypt to warn fathers of the legal penalty they will face if they participate in child marriages.

Hawary asserted that all women parliamentarians in the House of the Representatives supported this bill and signed to approve it.

The Ministry of Health and Population aims to decrease child marriage in Egypt by 15 percent in the near future.



Key figures
1. 13.9 million children – male and female – are victims of child marriage.
2. The rate of child marriage is higher in rural areas.
3. Despite Cairo having a reputation for having a highly educated population, 8.1 percent of children in Cairo are victims of child marriage.
4. The percentage is 9.1 in Giza and 7.7 in Sharqia.
5. Port Said and Suez governorates are amont the lowest in Egypt at 0.9 percent.
6. The average birth rate for marriages below 18 years old is 3.7 per mother.
7. The average birth rate for marriages above 22 years old is 2.79 per mother.
8. Child marriages result in 20 percent of births annually.
9. 33.3 percent of women between 25 and 29 years old who are married and living in rural Upper Egypt got married below the legal age.
10. The Ministry of Health and Population aims to decrease child marriage in Egypt by 15 percent in the near future.



Curbing child marriage by tightening laws

Currently, the Egyptian government is looking at a proposed new draft law that includes amendments to the child law article 12 of 1996 that states cases in which parents could be deprived from guardianship over the girl or her property in case of a child marriage.

A father who takes part in a child marriage, of either a girl or a boy, would be punished by a sentence of no less than one year and deprived of guardianship over their offspring. Any person who signs the marriage contract shall be punished by the same penalty, meaning witnesses will also be punished.

A marriage registrar who witnesses a case of child marriage shall notify the Attorney General. The marriage registrar, who documents child marriages, will be prevented from officiating marriages or will pay fines, and if it’s proved to be a repeated action, he might face a jail penalty of one year.

A marriage contract may be authenticated for a child who is under 18 years old, but the contract may not be validated without the approval of the competent family court upon the relevant request of the Public Prosecution.

The draft bill follows calls by Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on September 30, 2017, to impose measures against customary marriage of underage girls. “I was surprised that the number of married 12-year-olds was not low,” Sisi said during a ceremony marking the population census that took place in April.

Sisi wondered how these young girls can assume the responsibility of marriage and a household. “This is something that pains me and pains anyone with a real conscience who cares for their sons and daughters,” he said.



Igniting the flame

Although this has always been an issue, a recent incident bright child marriage to the forefront of public interest: recently, many cases have been revealed, attracting attention to the crisis of child marriage in one of the villages of Al-Mahallah al-Kubra, in the middle of the Nile Delta, where a marriage registrar (imam) approved 27 cases of customary marriages for girls below 18 years old.

Because of a law drafted in 2008 as part of Egypt’s Child Law to raise the age of marriage to 18 and prohibiting child marriages, this imam convinced the families of the village that couples could have customary marriages until girls reach the marriageable age, after which the bond would be made legal.

In order to ensure young girls’ rights, the husbands sign on a trust receipt that the marriage registrar (imam) keeps with him.

Yet, a husband of one of the girls in the village refused to register the marriage legally. This action led the mother of the girl to notify the authorities about the imam. Investigations were carried out after a lawsuit was filed by the girl’s family.

In some incidents, girls are divorced or widowed, and left alone to be responsible for bringing up children, even though they are only 12 years old.



A long-term plan

Among Egypt’s efforts to control the phenomenon, a five-year national strategy to prevent child marriage was launched in 2014. The process was led by the National Population Council, a governmental body that establishes national population policies and strategies in Egypt.

This strategy aims to recognize child marriage as a health and population issue to reduce the prevalence of early marriage by 50 percent within five years, and to fight the proposals to lower the minimum age of marriage.

On October 15, 2017, Egypt’s National Council for Women launched the “No to Underage Marriage” campaign in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Christian clerics. The campaign’s main objective is to curtail undocumented marriages of minors.

In December 2017, the National Council for Population launched a campaign to implement and uphold legislations that forbig child marriage.

“As many as 250,000 children are annually born as a result of child marriages,” Vivian Fouad, a representative of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, told Egypt Today December 19, 2018.

“Given the fact that child marriage cannot go through legal documentation and validation, the young wife is therefore denied her civil and legal rights, like filing for divorce and the right to inherit…Social traditions and rituals are not to be easily challenged, particularly in rural societies, but major changes always take time,” she said.

Not to mention that child marriage often leaves girls, who are seen as responsible adults the minute they get married, unable or unwilling to continue her schooling. This happens either because her husband does not allow her, as is customary, or because she now has ‘responsibilities,’ a work those under 18 should not be all too familiar with, or she is ashamed or embarrassed to go to school after being married; girls have often cited shame, embarrassment, or fear of being singled out as factor of not returning to school after marriage.


]]>
7/5/2018 12:44:45 PM
<![CDATA[Parliament Religious Committee approves new law to control odd fatwas]]>
According to statement issued by the parliamentarian Religious Committee on Wednesday the draft law was issued by more than 80 Parliament members. The new law is expected to control the odd fatwas that were issued during the past period through media outlets and that caused huge controversy amid Egyptians. This wave of fatwas also raised questions regarding the entities entailed to issue fatwas inside the country.

Azhar VS Endowment: Who's entitled to Fatwa issuance?

CAIRO - 25 June 2015: The discussions are still ongoing inside the Parliament regarding the new general fatwa regulating law, after Al-Azhar's (The highest Sunni religious authority) refusal for some of its points, especially regarding organizations entitled to issue fatwas inside the country.




According to the newly approved law, a scholar who is proved incompetent for issuing fatwas will be punished with a fine of not more than LE 20,000 and not less than LE 10,000 if he uses media to issue fatwas. The punishment also doubles if the punished person decides to reappear on media to issue fatwas for a second time.

This law comes within the framework of Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism, extremist ideology and odd fatwas that incite sedition, in light of the recent increase in the number of fatwas issued and the number of people preaching about religious habits on social media.

In a statement before the conference titled “The Role of Fatwas in Stabilizing the Society”, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, said that Egypt nowadays is facing an unprecedented wave of distortion of Islam’s teachings by unlicensed persons.

“Unfortunately, some have been allowed to issue flawed fatwas that distort Islamic Sharia and violate Islam's true teachings," said Tayeb.

Fatwas are Islamic religious rulings issued by a recognized religious authority or individual, based on the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s teachings for guidance on the routine of daily life subjects such as marriage and inheritance.

In Egypt, Dar Al-Iftaa, under the supervision of the Ministry of Justice, is the official institution devoted to providing fatwas on its website, along with the clerics of specialized offices at Al-Azhar, Egypt's top religious authority. For example, all court sentences of death must be approved by Dar Al-Iftaa.

Fighting odd fatwas: Egypt to rule out unlicensed preachers

CAIRO - 14 March 2018: A draft law on regulating fatwas (Islamic edicts), which Parliament's Religious Committee will call for consideration in the next plenary session, might put an end to a series of groundless fatwas issued by unlicensed and unqualified preachers in the media. The move aims to further reform religious discourse.



]]>
7/5/2018 11:14:25 AM
<![CDATA[Netanyahu tells Europe to get tougher on Iran after France bomb plot]]>
An Austria-based Iranian diplomat was held in Germany, one of four people arrested on suspicion of plotting to bomb a meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

"It was no coincidence that this attack was thwarted," Netanyahu said during a speech in northern Israel.

"I call on the leaders of Europe: stop financing the terrorist regime that is financing terrorism against you on your soil. Enough with the policy of appeasement and weakness regarding Iran."

Netanyahu said the fact the alleged plot was being hatched while President Hassan Rouhani was in Europe seeking to protect the economic benefits from the nuclear deal that the United States has abandoned was "an example of Iran's boundless hypocrisy and brazen gall."

Iran has said it had nothing to do with the plot, which it called a "false flag" operation staged by figures within the NCRI.]]>
7/5/2018 4:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Libya deplores Qatar’s interference in domestic affairs]]>
In its statement, the committee deplored the Qatari justification to the terror attacks against oil fields and ports.

It also accused Doha of attempting to stigmatize the Libyan armed forces as militias.

The statement warned state sponsors of terrorism from their consistent support to the terror gangs and militias that targeted the Libyan army.
]]>
7/5/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Sisi receives UAE ministerial delegation, hails strong ties]]>CAIRO – 5 July 2018: President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi received Wednesday a UAE ministerial delegation as strong historic ties between the two fraternal countries were hailed, Presidential Spokesperson Bassam Radi announced.


The UAE ministerial delegation included Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and The Future; Nasser bin Thani Al Hamli, Minister of Human Resources and Emiratisation and Ohoud bint Khalfan Al Roumi, Minister of State for Happiness and Wellbeing.


The delegation conveyed the greetings of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan; Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President; and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, for the Egyptian leader.


It also expressed the UAE's pride at the fraternal and strategic relations between the two countries and peoples.


During the meeting, President Sisi expressed the feeling of brotherhood and affection of the Egyptian people for the UAE, led by President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.


The Egyptian President hailed the strong historic ties between the two fraternal countries and emphasized the keenness of Egypt to continue developing cooperation with the UAE in all domains.


The Egyptian President pointed out that the main objective of any Arab national project is to raise awareness and build the capacity of the Arab citizens to address the growing challenges facing the Arab region.


He also pointed out the importance of unusual initiatives and ideas and the discovery of talents to achieve excellence in the race of innovation and creativity as they are the most important means of the comprehensive and sustainable development.


He stressed Egypt's keenness to continue the comprehensive economic and social reform program which includes reforming and developing the administrative apparatus of the country in order to provide the best services to the Egyptian citizens and to enhance the wellbeing of the Egyptians.


For their part, members of the UAE delegation praised the efforts exerted by Egypt to promote stability and peace in the Arab world. They also stressed the UAE’s keenness to continue developing mechanisms of cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially in the development and reformation of government work field.

]]>
7/5/2018 12:14:43 AM
<![CDATA[Iran threatens to reduce cooperation with UN nuclear watchdog]]>
"Iran’s nuclear activities have always been for peaceful purposes, but it is Iran that would decide on its level of cooperation with the IAEA," Iranian state news agency IRNA quoted Rouhani as saying after meeting International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano

"The responsibility for the change of Iran's cooperation level with the IAEA falls on those who have created this new situation,” he added.

Rouhani said if Iran does not continue to benefit from the nuclear deal after the U.S. withdrawal, it will make “new decisions”. ]]>
7/5/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Social security nets to grow: New borns added to ration cards starting July]]>
A study will be conducted on how to add children and new borns and at what age these children should be added. The cabinet meeting will be held next week, starting July 8, with the start of implementation at the beginning of the following week, starting July 15.

The approval of the Prime Minister, Moselhi tells Egypt Today, for the addition of new borns on the cards comes within the framework of the government's keenness to provide goods for citizens and support, as part of their human development and support strategy. All commodities on the card are in state-run outlets and branches of consumer complexes and outlets of subsidiaries in the provinces, says the Minister.



The Cabinet’s decision to add new borns to the ration cards came primarily as part of a plan to increase the value of subsidies allocated to citizens in the system of food supplies who need them, and the amount of beneficiaries in Egypt. Currently, the country pays LE 3.5 billion every month to cover subsidies, with this figure expected to significantly increase to support rationed goods that will be allocated to the newly-added individuals on the ration cards.

The decision is designed to alleviate the suffering of many citizens in light of the rise in the prices of goods and services, especially with the rice of the price of fuel and petroleum products, as well as utility services.

After the previous hike in petroleum product prices on June 16, Minister of Finance, Dr. Mohamed Muait, said that the decision to cut subsidies on petroleum products, which resulted in an increase of petroleum products’ prices on Saturday, is necessary to maintain financial stability after he doubling of oil prices globally that have exceeded $80 per barrel. Adapting the prices to keep up who the changes prices globally secures the country from falling back into economic troubles, explained the Minister.

The Minister of Finance further pointed out that Egypt was quick to react to the surge of prices and tackle the situation, as to ensure that the size of the budget deficit is not increased. The money saved, the minister explained, will be allocated towards health, education, public investment, job creation for youth and social housing.

The Minister further pointed out that subsidies of petroleum products in the budget of the new fiscal year fell to LE 89.1 billion pounds compared to LE 110.15 billion estimated by the budget of the current fiscal year; if the price of oil continues on this path globally, the bill is expected to reach LE 180 billion.

Muait further assured that the budget has allocated LE 334 billion in subsidies, which confirms the state’s intention to continue supporting and protecting lower segments of the population, and that cutting fuel subsidies will ensure that the money reached the right people and the appropriate beneficiaties.

Besides oil subsidies, there is 100 billion pounds to support bread and other products on ration cards.

In similar vein, Hamdi Abdul Aziz, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Petroleum, confirmed that the support of petroleum products during the past five years reached LE 500 billion, which did not benefit the rightful beneficiaries only. He pointed out that the government is working through an integrated plan to correct social justice, putting the money saved towards education, health and housing.



Products on the ration card

The Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade provides about 20 items on ration cards at prices lower than those in normal markets. The products are disbursed to cardholders within the LE 50 limit per person.

Currently, there are 70 million beneficiaries.

Of course prices vary between products but one thing remains true, prices are cheaper in subsidized markets than in normal ones. For example, the price of a one-kilo packet of lentils stands at LE 16, instead of LE 20-22; rice stands at LE 6.5, instead of LE 8-10; and, the kilo of flour is sold for LE 6, instead of LE 7-8.

A 400-gram bag of pasta is also sold at a price of LE 3.25, instead of LE 4-4.5; beans stand at LE 7, instead of LE 10-12; sunflower oil is sold for LE 20, instead of LE 23-24; the package of tomato sauce (300 grams) goes for LE 4.75 on the card, instead of LE 5 to 5.5; and, dry milk goes for LE 17, instead of LE 18-20.

Overall, all commodities see at least a 10 percent cut on the card; cuts go up to 30 percent sometimes.

Caring for citizens

Mostafa Madbouly, Prime Minister of Egypt, stressed July 3, in front of the House of Representatives that the provision of goods on ration cards, especially in improvised areas, through the provision of 6,000 ports for the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade, as well as many other ports, are vital to ensure a good living standard for citizens of the state.

“The implementation of the logistical program will start in seven places during the first stage, which will see the establishment of markets in each governorate for the purpose of providing citizens with subsidised commodities, increasing the efficiency of the support system and completing the unified database of ration cards,” Madbouly told the House July 3. “The unregistered children will be registered starting July 1, 2018, for a period of three months, to October 1, 2018.”

A look back at food security initiatives: The Ahlan Ramadan Supermarket Expo

Held from May 10-16 on an area of 15,000 square meters, the Minister of Supply and Internal Trading said during a press conference held on April 3, “We are organizing the Expo this year before Ramadan, leaving plenty of time for citizens to be able to benefit from the great deals and the discounted prices.”

During the opening ceremony of the Expo, Moselhy expressed the important role that the Holding Company for Food Industries and its subsidiaries have in supplying foods to consumers on a regular basis and the great job they do in ensuring foods are always available. These needs were also covered through the participation of the private sector and major producers in the ‘Ahlan Ramadan’ Expo in various governorates.

In comments to Egypt Today, Minister Moselhy added that the initiative to reduce prices is set to continue till the end of the month, suggesting that this comes as part of the government’s plan to offer citizens high-quality foods at reasonable prices. Moselhy further confirmed that discounts start from at least 15 percent, and reach more than 30 percent for many products, especially commodities. The exhibitors also sold some products at a lower cost, which confirms the great cooperation between the government and the private sector, he added.

The minister added that the Expo comes as part of President Sisi’s directions to provide food commodities at reasonable prices and to work continuously for the good of citizens. The minister also revealed that the government has been able to provide 1.7 million Ramadan packages—an extra 700,000 from the planned amount—and distribute them to families in need throughout Egypt. The bags, valued at LE 51.5, are sold for half their value, at LE 25, and include essential commodities.

To ensure that North Sinai residents benefit from these discounted prices, the Holding Company for Food Industries coordinated with General Abdel Fattah Harbor, Governor of North Sinai, to provide additional reductions for the people of North Sinai, that reach up to 20 percent on all food products and ensure regular deliveries of commodities for several months, Alaa El-Din Fahmy, Chairman of the Holding Company for Food Industries at the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade tells Egypt Today. Fahmy also affirmed that the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade is continuously working on supplying goods, including meats and poultry, to the families of North Sinai, revealing that convoys will start heading to all governorates soon.



The Cabinet focuses of raising living standards of Egyptians

Parliament Deputy Speaker Suleiman Wahdan commended the new government plan that Madbouly submitted to the Parliament for ratification as he said it included several aspects of developing the Egyptian citizens and constructing social security programs.

He added in an interview with Al-Hayah satellite channel that the program paid extra attention to SMEs and social development programs; moreover, he said the program also focuses on developing vocational education and teachers.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that thousands of job vacancies will be available to youth and women as part of a new strategy prepared by the government to increase the workforce volume. In a statement before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Madbouly announced his newly-formed Cabinet’s Program.

According to the Egyptian Constitution, the Parliament has subsequently discussed Madbouly’s statement. Furthermore, the Parliament assigned a special committee with issuing a report on Madbouly’s statement in 10 days. The report will be consequently reviewed by the Parliament in a plenary session.

Earlier in June, President Abdel Fatah al Sisi ordered Madbouly to form a new government to succeed that of Sherif Ismail, who resigned on June 5. The new Cabinet has sworn-in on June 14, with 12 new ministers, including the interior and defense ministers.

For his part, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan said the government statement by Madbouly dropped several spotlights on the new government plan.

Marawan stressed during his interview with Sada El-Balad satellite channel that the program relies on extreme reality, and not dreams.

He pointed out that the program was submitted in more than 150 pages, while the statement that Madbouly recited today was 29 pages that summarize what the program includes.

In Madbouly’s 20-minute speech, he manifested that 85 percent of the government economic reform program is accomplished.

”The Egyptian citizen will feel a tangible improvement,” Madbouly promised the Egyptians. “You were very patient and the results will be good.”

Security, employment top Cabinet's agenda until 2021/22: PM

CAIRO - 3 July 2018: Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that thousands of job vacancies will be available to youth and women as part of a new strategy prepared by the government to increase the workforce volume. In a statement before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Madbouly announced his newly-formed Cabinet's Program.




]]>
7/4/2018 3:51:48 PM
<![CDATA[Hungary's Orban open to bilateral migration deal with Merkel]]>
Merkel needs the backing of both her junior Social Democrats coalition partner and fellow European Union states if a disputed migration plan agreed with her Bavarian allies is to succeed.

Merkel's Christian Democrats and their long-time Bavarian Christian Social Union allies agreed on Monday to set up special transit centres at the border with Austria where migrants already registered in other EU countries will be held and then sent back to the countries where they had registered first.

In an interview with German mass daily Bild, Orban said Hungary was open for talks with Germany if Berlin managed to strike a migration deal with neighbouring Austria, whose Chancellor Sebastian Kurz is, like Orban, an immigration hardliner.

"The order can only be: negotiations between Germany and Austria, then negotiations between Austria and Hungary," Orban said according to a Bild prerelease published on Tuesday.

"And only at the end, if there really is clarity about the German position, (there can be) negotiations between Hungary and Germany," Orban added.

The Hungarian prime minister stressed the need to strengthen the protection of the European Union's external borders and to establish migration transit centres outside the EU.

Orban added that he would soon hold talks with Kurz to discuss the next steps "with our direct, friendly neighbours".

The migration dispute underlines the deep divisions lingering within Europe on how to deal with the migrants who have arrived in the last three years.

Numbers are sharply down from the peak reached at the height of the refugee crisis in 2015. However, there has been a surge in departures from Libya of migrants trying to cross by sea to Italy.

Orban says a large influx into Hungary of mostly Muslim migrants, many fleeing conflicts in the Middle East, since 2015 poses a threat to Europe's Christian civilisation.

Kurz, who governs in coalition with the far right, has pledged to prevent a repeat of Europe's 2015 migration crisis in which Austria took in more than one percent of its population in asylum seekers.]]>
7/4/2018 4:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Opposition candidates fail to make ballot for Moscow mayor]]>
Moscow's last mayoral election in 2013 saw opposition leader Alexei Navalny almost force a run-off vote despite going up against the full weight of the Kremlin machine. But no such surprises will be allowed this time round.

Former opposition deputy Dmitry Gudkov said he had failed to gather the number of signatures required from local elected officials to make the ballot.

Opposition activist Ilya Yashin, as well as journalist and gay rights activist Anton Krasovsky, also said they were unable to pass signature thresholds, news agencies reported.

"The miracle has not come to pass. Sobyanin has decided not to allow me to stand for mayor of Moscow," Gudkov wrote on his Facebook page.

"I consider these elections illegitimate and I will not recognise the results," he said, adding that he was turning his attention to local parliament elections where there are currently fewer restrictions on who can run.

"To be honest I was never under any illusions, but I am used to going to the end. The only political force which is capable of standing up to the mayor's office is us," he added.

Sobyanin, who has held the post since 2010, will face up to four candidates from parties that offer no significant opposition to the Kremlin in the September vote.

These will come from the Communist Party, the nationalist LDPR and A Just Russia groups, as well as The Union of Citizens, pending the approval of their registration documents.

The last term of Russian President Vladimir Putin was marked by a crackdown on the opposition and this looks set to continue into his fourth Kremlin mandate following his reelection in March.

Lawmakers have already moved to restrict internet freedoms. Many opposition figures organise online as they are barred from state media.

Navalny himself last month finished serving a 30-day jail term for organising protests against Putin's fourth inauguration.

The 42-year-old was barred from standing against Putin in presidential elections this year because of a previous conviction supporters say was politically motivated.]]>
7/4/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[New Gov't program based on realities, develops Egyptians: Parliamentarians]]>CAIRO – 4 July 2018: Parliament Deputy Speaker Suleiman Wahdan commended the new government plan that Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly submitted to the Parliament for ratification as he said it included several aspects of developing the Egyptian citizens and constructing social security programs.


He added in an interview with Al-Hayah satellite channel that the program paid extra attention to SMEs and social development programs; moreover, he said the program also focuses on developing vocational education and teachers.


Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that thousands of job vacancies will be available to youth and women as part of a new strategy prepared by the government to increase the workforce volume. In a statement before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Madbouly announced his newly-formed Cabinet’s Program.


According to the Egyptian Constitution, the Parliament has subsequently discussed Madbouly’s statement. Furthermore, the Parliament assigned a special committee with issuing a report on Madbouly’s statement in 10 days. The report will be consequently reviewed by the Parliament in a plenary session.


Earlier in June, President Abdel Fatah al Sisi ordered Madbouly to form a new government to succeed that of Sherif Ismail, who resigned on June 5. The new Cabinet has sworn-in on June 14, with 12 new ministers, including the interior and defense ministers.


For his part, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan said the government statement by Madbouly dropped several spotlights on the new government plan.


Marawan stressed during his interview with Sada El-Balad satellite channel that the program relies on extreme reality, and not dreams.


He pointed out that the program was submitted in more than 150 pages, while the statement that Madbouly recited today was 29 pages that summarize what the program includes.


In Madbouly’s 20-minute speech, he manifested that 85 percent of the government economic reform program is accomplished.


"The Egyptian citizen will feel a tangible improvement," Madbouly promised the Egyptians. "You were very patient and the results will be good."


Security, employment top Cabinet's agenda until 2021/22: PM

CAIRO - 3 July 2018: Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly announced that thousands of job vacancies will be available to youth and women as part of a new strategy prepared by the government to increase the workforce volume. In a statement before the House of Representatives on Tuesday, Madbouly announced his newly-formed Cabinet's Program.



]]>
7/4/2018 12:23:59 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia to discuss developmental projects related to GERD]]>
The joint developmental fund will establish projects related to the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), according to Sudanese Foreign Minister Osama Faisal. The construction of the GERD is 65 percent complete, according to Minister 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.

The three countries have held talks over Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam. Egypt has been concerned by the probable negative impact of the dam on the state’s water security, as it may decrease water supply to Egypt. Ethiopia denies the claims.

Sudan, on the other side, supports the 6,000 MW dam, as it will provide electricity and irrigation, and will regulate floods, according to Reuters.

Some Ethiopian scholars and researchers said in 2013 that the dam will enable Sudan, whose border is just 30 kilometers away from the dam, to save up to $20 million annually, Sudan Tribune reported.



The nine-way meeting concerning the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which was set to be held on June 18-19 in Cairo was postponed due to a delay in some official procedures.

Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid told Egypt Today on June 18, that the meeting's new date has not been set yet.

The meeting is set to be attended by ministers of foreign affairs and irrigation and heads of intelligence agencies in Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia.

Sources told the state-owned Akhbar Al-Youm newspaper that the three states have sent their inquiries to the consultancy office that is concerned with technical studies on the controversial dam. However, the office has not yet sent its modified introductory report on the dam.

The consultant should have responded to the inquires submitted over the introductory report within three weeks and one week before Cairo’s nine-party meeting.

In their meeting last May, Nile Basin countries’ negotiators concluded their nine-party meeting in Adis Ababa over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) with an agreement to meet again in Cairo in June following 15 hours of talks.


The postponed meeting aims to work out solutions to pending problems facing the technical committee and consequently special studies on determining the negative impact of the dam's construction on the downstream countries.

Addressing media after the Adis Ababa meeting, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that negotiations between the relevant contingents of the Nile Basin countries ended with having all participants agree to commit to the nine-party meeting’s outcomes that were outlined in a specific agreement signed by all parties.

The participants agreed on scheduling a regular tripartite meeting to be held between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan every six months on a rotational basis to enhance mutual cooperation between the three brotherly countries in a way that serves their interests and fulfills the aspirations of their peoples.

They also agreed on establishing a Tripartite Infrastructure Fund to move forward with joint infrastructure development projects, as well as having the Tripartite National Committee (TNC) of the three countries to deliver its concerns and remarks to the French consulting firm BRLi over its introductory technical report that was not mutually agreed upon.

Ethiopia started to build GERD in 2011 without consulting Egypt, and the move led to a long diplomatic spat between both states. The African Horn state is in desperate need of the dam, as it suffers from staggering daily power outages.

Technical officials in the three countries opted to hire two French consultancy companies – BRL and Artelia – in September 2016. However, the negotiations were brought to a halt in November 2017 as Ethiopia and Sudan objected to the companies’ preliminary report on the environmental impact of GERD.

In December 2017, Egypt demanded the intervention of the World Bank in the matter, a move that was rejected by Ethiopia. ]]>
7/3/2018 6:08:00 PM
<![CDATA[Security, employment top Cabinet’s agenda until 2021/22: PM ]]>
According to the Egyptian Constitution, the Parliament has subsequently discussed Madbouly’s statement. Furthermore, the Parliament assigned a special committee with issuing a report on Madbouly’s statement in 10 days. The report will be consequently reviewed by the Parliament in a plenary session.

Earlier in June, President Abdel Fatah al Sisi ordered Madbouly to form a new government to succeed that of Sherif Ismail, who resigned on June 5. The new Cabinet has sworn-in on June 14, with 12 new ministers, including the interior and defense ministers.

Cabinet’s four-year program


Madbouly said the government was targeting GDP growth of 8 percent by the 2021-2022 financial year, manifesting that Egypt’s GDP grew by 5.4 percent in the 2017-2018 fiscal year which already ended on June 30.

The Cabinet Program entitled “Egypt Moving Forward” includes five key pillars as follows:

1. National Security and Foreign Policy
2. Egyptian Human Being Building
3. Economic Development and boosting the governmental performance efficiency
4. Increase of employment and workforce levels
5. Enhancing citizens’ living standards

In his word during the Parliament’s plenary session, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal expressed his gratitude and appreciation towards former Prime Minister Ismail and his government members on their efforts for the sake of Egypt’s renaissance.

Egypt Moving Forward- thousands of jobs soon


In Madbouly’s 20-minute speech, he manifested that 85 percent of the government economic reform program is accomplished.

"The Egyptian citizen will feel a tangible improvement," Madbouly promised the Egyptians. "You were very patient and the results will be good."

Worker remittances surged to $19.37 billion in the nine months until end-March from $15.89 billion a year earlier, according to central bank figures released on June 28, according to Reuters’ reports.

“Thirteen industrial complexes will be established and more than 43,000 jobs will be available for all Egyptians,” added Madbouly.
]]>
7/3/2018 5:12:52 PM
<![CDATA[Traffic, anti-terror, hotels laws to be amended to combat terrorism ]]>
The draft law will add Article 23 to the Law No.1 of 1973 on Hotels and Tourist Facilities. The article stipulates that whoever violates Article 16 in the law, which reads that those who manage hotel facilities shall notify the Ministry of Tourism at the beginning of each month with a registered letter, accompanied by a statement on the hotel guests, shall be punished with at least two years in prison and a fine not more than LE 5,000.

Article 3 of the draft law amends the Law no. 66 of 1973 on Traffic as it adds item 8 to the law’s Article 11, referring that to have a license a device to locate and track sites shall be installed at wheel drive vehicles, heavy trucks with a load of more than seven tons, taxis, and 14-passenger buses.

Additionally, a second paragraph was added to Article 19 to ban any transfer of the vehicles’ownership except upon the request of the owner or his agent.
It also punishes whoever rents a car or a motorcycle without notifying the police station in his district.

In the same context, Article 5 of the draft law replaces Article 28 of the 2015 Anti-Terror Law to punish whoever, whether verbally, in writing, or by any other means, promotes or prepares to promote for a perpetration of any terrorist act directly or indirectly with at least 15 years in prison instead of 7 years if these acts were promoted againsthouses of worship, a state agency, public places or among the members of the Armed Forces or Police.

“Indirect promotion shall include the promotion of ideas and beliefs inciting the use of violence by any of the means set forth in the preceding paragraph of this article.”
President Abdel Fatah al Sisi signed on April 24 law No. 25 of 2018 on the establishment of the supreme council for combating terrorism and extremism.

The law, earlier passed by the Parliament, stipulates that the council will be entrusted with mobilizing institutional and community support for countering all forms of terrorism, drying up its sources of funding and curing its roots.

The law states that the council is an independent body with all technical, financial and administrative powers.

Moreover, politicians, lawmakers and experts called on the state to amend the laws that may precede fast litigation and to swiftly handle terrorism-related cases.

In this regard, the Parliament approved amendments to the Criminal Procedure Laws, to the procedures of appealing before the Court of Cassation, to the legal procedures concerning terrorist entities and terrorism-related crimes, and to Emergency and Anti-Terrorism law. ]]>
7/3/2018 2:09:53 PM
<![CDATA[Former Malaysian PM Najib arrested in graft probe]]>
Since a shock election loss to his mentor-turned-foe Mahathir Mohamad in May, Najib has been barred from leaving the country and had millions of dollars of items seized from properties linked to him as part of the probe into 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

The 92-year old Mahathir said in an interview with Reuters last month that embezzlement and bribery with government money were among the charges that Malaysia was looking to bring against Najib, 64, adding they had "an almost perfect case" against him.

Najib's arrest was in relation to a probe into SRC International, a former 1MDB unit, a task force investigating the fund said on Tuesday. One source close to Najib's family said he was expected to be charged with abuse of power at SRC.

Anti-graft agents picked up Najib from his home after serving him with a remand order, sources close to the family said. A Najib spokesman did not immediately have a comment and Najib has consistently denied wrongdoing.

Founded by Najib in 2009, 1MDB is being investigated in at least six countries for alleged money laundering and graft.

Civil lawsuits filed by the U.S. Department of Justice allege that nearly $4.5 billion from 1MDB was laundered through a complex web of transactions and shell companies.

But the initial focus of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation focused on how 42 million ringgit ($10.6 million) went from SRC International to Najib's account.

SRC was created in 2011 by Najib's government to pursue overseas investments in energy resources, and was a unit of 1MDB until it was moved to the finance ministry in 2012.

MACC has been able to track the money trail from SRC more easily because transactions were made through Malaysian entities, whereas most other transfers of 1MDB funds went through foreign banks and companies.

Malaysian police say they have seized nearly $275 million worth of jewellery, handbags, watches and cash from premises linked to Najib, while authorities have frozen more than 400 bank accounts as part of the 1MDB probe.

Najib's wife, Rosmah, has also been quizzed by anti-graft investigators in relation to 1MDB and Najib's stepson, Riza Aziz, was giving a statement to the MACC when news broke of Najib's arrest.

Riza is the co-founder of Red Granite Pictures, a company that U.S. prosecutors say financed three Hollywood films, including the 2013 Martin Scorsese movie "The Wolf of Wall Street", with funds misappropriated by 1MDB.]]>
7/3/2018 12:33:23 PM
<![CDATA[Holding AIESEC congress in Egypt to promote tourism: Red sea Governor]]>
This came on the sidelines of the AIESEC International Congress held under the auspices of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi and the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Hurghada from July 2-9.

The governor hailed the congress' role in promoting tourism to Egypt and in strengthening the economic relation between countries.

"700 youth from 1,200 countries will share images and write comments on social media about Egypt and its historical places and that's enough to have a positive impact on tourism," Abdallah said, expecting an increase in the number of tourists visiting Egypt in the upcoming months.

Abdallah asserted that youth of different nationalities will convey the true account of the situation in Egypt when they go back to their homelands.

Additionally, Abdallah referred to the global problems that threaten humanity, including terrorism, stressing that terrorism has no religion or homeland and that the conference delivers a message to the whole world to stand in solidarity against terrorism.

Furthermore, he pointed out to the challenges that threaten global climate, including global warming and scarcity of water resources.

Abdallah stressed the need to join forces to preserve the global climate and take protective measures to prevent further negative impacts on the world. Thus, he called on youth to think about means to better manage water resources.

The governor concluded by stressing the importance of the role youth play in their societies and their strong impact on the future.
]]>
7/3/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[German government crisis: What are Merkel's options?]]>
Horst Seehofer, both interior minister and leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union (CSU), deemed plans that Merkel brought back from an EU summit last week as too little to stop him introducing new national border controls.

Merkel rejects any unilateral moves, which she says would undermine the EU’s Schengen open border system.

The coalition parties, comprising Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), the CSU and Social Democrats (SPD), are holding a series of meetings on Monday to decide what action to take.

Following are the main options Merkel has:

SPONSORED

IF CDU/CSU FAIL TO AGREE, WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN?
A real possibility is a break up of the 70-year alliance between the CSU and Merkel’s CDU. A split would rob Merkel of her majority in the Bundestag lower house.

Only once before has the cooperation been at risk - in 1976 when Bavarian leader Franz Josef Strauss thought the CSU would fare better in elections if it were free of the CDU. That split lasted for just a few days.

IS A MINORITY GOVERNMENT POSSIBLE?
Yes, Merkel could remain chancellor and rule via a minority government, but it would highlight her weakness and be a first for stability-loving Germans.

Given that the CDU and SPD without the CSU would be short of only two seats in parliament, she could hope for support for individual policies from the Greens, liberal Free Democrats (FDP) and possibly even the CSU in some cases.

OTHER OPTIONS?
She could also call a vote of no confidence. This may strengthen her if she won support from non-conservatives.

Otherwise, a new election is possible. Polls indicate the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), would be among the biggest winners, an unpalatable outcome for Merkel and all other parties.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier would probably step in to try to smooth things over and find the least-bad option.

HOW SAFE IS MERKEL?
The most important factor for her survival is probably how long her own CDU lawmakers stand by her, and for now they are.

IF MERKEL GOES, WHO COULD TAKE OVER?
There are strong arguments against the two most obvious candidates taking over. Her protege Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer may be too tarnished by her association with Merkel.

Jens Spahn, an arch critic of Merkel’s migrant policy, may be unpalatable to many in the CDU, especially after making some controversial comments on poverty and being photographed with the new, outspoken U.S. ambassador, a defender of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Some experts have suggested that veteran conservative and former finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble could step in as a caretaker leader.]]>
7/3/2018 12:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament speaker affirms Egypt’s rejection to EU reception camps for refugees ]]>
“EU reception facilities for migrants in Egypt would violate the law and the Constitution of our country,” said Abdel-Aal, adding that legal refugees and migrants can live in any place they want in Egypt and should not be forced to live in camps.

Last August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Egypt reported that the number of registered refugees and asylum seekers in the country was about 209,000. Unofficial estimates, however, indicate that there are more than 300,000 refugees in the country, including those who are registered in the UNHCR. In 2016, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that Egypt hosts around 5 million refugees (registered and unregistered).

The UNHCR's annual "Global Trends" study found that a staggering 68.5 million people worldwide had been forcibly displaced by the end of 2017.

Abdel-Aal’s comments on Egypt’s stance towards the European notion do not differ from a previous remark given by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during his meeting with European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos, in December 2017. Shoukry affirmed Egypt’s refusal to the EU offer.

Egypt and Germany signed a deal on illegal migration and refugees. The deal stipulates that Germany will give Egypt €28 million in grant for technical trainings and education and providing help in the small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) sector. During German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Cairo in March, some German media outlets indicated that Merkel could have an agreement with President Sisi on the migration crisis.

In November 2016, Interior Minister of German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Thomas Strol, said that Germany sought to create camps for refugees in Egypt to resettle 500,000 refugees. Also, in March 2018, AFP reported that Merkel announced a deal with Tunis, where Germany will provide €250 million in aid for development projects in poor areas, and in return, there will be cooperation between both countries to extradite rejected asylum-seekers to Tunisia.

In a bid to renew Egypt’s moral and legal commitment towards refugees in the territory, Egypt called on the international community to share the collective responsibility of hosting refugees, said Ahmed Abu Zeid in a statement on World Refugee Day.

Moreover, a cooperation program between Egypt and the EU has been reached after holding a meeting in December 2017 in Cairo. The meeting recommended that some European countries should resettle a number of refugees from the hosting neighboring countries, Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abu Zeid in a statement on Saturday.

Portugal will resettle 400 refugees residing in Egypt in 2018/2019 in light of an agreement reached between Egypt and the European Union (EU) on migration, Abu Zeid said.

“This fruitful cooperation with Portugal comes in the framework of a comprehensive dialogue between Egypt and the European Union on migration, and [in light of] the efforts Egypt exerts with EU to resettle a number of refugees residing in Egypt,” the statement read.
]]>
7/2/2018 6:45:43 PM
<![CDATA[Mohsen Mahmoud Abdel Nabi appointed director of Sisi’s office ]]>
Abdel Nabi graduated from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1978, and occupied the position of the director of the Armed Forces' Morale Affairs Department in January 2014.

During his tenure, the Armed Forces' Morale Affairs Department has been greatly developed; he inaugurated in 2014 the advanced Military Information Center, coinciding with holding the referendum of the Constitution, to follow up the local and international media as part of the department’s tasks to preserve national security.

He inaugurated in October 2017 a new centre for international conferences and exhibitions, located in Cairo besides Al-Moushir Tantawy Mosque in Nasr City district.

In the press conference held at the Armed Forces' Morale Affairs Department, Abdel Nabi declared that the center will be inaugurated during the celebrations of the October 6 victory.

There are many facilities inside the new center; the halls are provided with the best technological equipment, and the main hall can host up to 1,670 persons. The center also has a 3D cinema theatre.

The center is directly connected with the live broadcast units from the national Egyptian television, and Egyptian media production city to air important events.



The former director of Sisi’s office is Major General Abbas Kamel. Kamel took the constitutional oath before President Sisi as the new director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (GIS) on June 28.

Sisi began a second presidential term (2018-2022) on June 2 after he took the oath in an exceptional session at the Parliament.

Tight security measures have been taken at the headquarters of the Parliament ahead of President Sisi’s arrival.

Sisi won the presidential election held in March against his rival Moussa Moustafa Moussa with more than 97 percent of the votes. He swore in for his first presidential term in 2014 before the General Assembly of the Supreme Constitutional Court due to the absence of a valid Parliament at that time.

According to the Constitution, Sisi’s first presidential term ended on June 3, 2018. Swearing before the Parliament was applied for the first time since 2005 when former President Hosni Mubarak took the oath for the last time.


]]>
7/2/2018 5:59:49 PM
<![CDATA[Former presidential candidate to form national opposition supporting Sisi]]>
“The opposition aims to stand behind President Sisi, combat terrorist acts and find positive solutions for the crises that Egypt faces,” said Moussa on Sunday in a phone interview with “90 Minutes” TV show.

He referred that the 30-political party national opposition coalition will be formed within two weeks.



Moussa is an architect, who ventured into politics at an early age as a member of the Wafd party.

Moussa, who heads the Egyptian Council for Arab Tribes, became the chairperson of Al-Ghad Party in September 2005, following fierce disputes with the party’s founder, Ayman Nour.

Moussasought to succeed President Sisiafterthe presidential election held on March 26-28; however, he praised the progress and achievements made by Sisi over the past4 years.

An hour before the deadline of submitting the candidacy application to the National Election Authority (NEA) on January 29, Moussa’s lawyer submitted his application to stand in the presidential election.

He received endorsements from 20 Members of Parliament – the majority of them representing Monufia Governorate – required to run in the election.

Moussa’s bid came a few days after President Sisi submitted his candidacy papers to the NEA to run for a second term.

Moussa denied he was running as a "phony" competitor in the presidential election, affirming he didnot take instructions from any governmental institution to join the race.
“I am not a background actor in the 2018 presidential election and no one moves me,” Moussa, chairperson of Al-Ghad Party and last-minute presidential candidate, said in an interview with Egypt Today. ]]>
7/2/2018 3:08:16 PM
<![CDATA[Madbouly: Egypt supports AU institutional, financial reforms]]>
In his speech delivered during the 31st African Union Summit, Madbouly asserted Egypt's support of the institutional and developmental reforms at the AU bodies.Through the reforms, the AU seeks to achieve the 2063 Agenda, which reflects the AU Vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa,and works to fulfill the goal of “silencing the guns” by the year 2020.

In this regard, he referred to the necessity of the development of the commission’s administrative structure, the compliance with the procedures of the AU policy-making organs to ensure that the AU policies are truly expressed, and of revitalizing the drafting committee on resolutions of the executive council and the summit.

MAD
The 31st African Union Summit-Press Photo

Regarding the financing of the African Union, he stressed the importance of amending the current contribution of funds by member states, which lacks equality, as it puts major burdens on a limited number of countries, especially with the increase of financial commitments as determined at the Johannesburg Summit in 2015.

Mabdouly also highlighted the significance of the NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency, which was established in 2010, as an outcome of the integration of NEPAD into AU structures and processes;the agency is concerned with facilitating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of continental and regional priority programs and projects.

He pointed out that this reform will contribute in achieving the regional integration and Africa’s unity, pointing out that the success achieved by NEPAD is based on the governing structure's ability to supervise the developmental projects assigned to it under the AU umbrella.

He further remarked that Egypt believes in the importance of the Peace Fund to solve the African problems, affirming that African countries' contributions cannot substitute the role of the international community or the international Security Council in preserving international peace and security.

He added that it would be unrealistic for the African countries to provide human sacrifices for international security and peace-keeping and assume at the same time the financial burdens; hence, Egypt stressed that the United Nations should finance 75 percent of the Peace Fund’s budget before calling the AU member states to finance 25 percent of the budget voluntarily.

Madbouly also referred to the report on establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“Egypt was at the forefront of the 44 countries signing the agreement to establish the African Free Trade Area during the recent special Kigali Summit, held in March 2018, as a major step toward economic integration to reach the main objective and form the African Economic Community,” said Madbouly.

The 31st African Union summit kicked off on Sunday with the participation of 22 heads of states under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation".

In the same context, Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz held a meeting, on the sidelines of the summit, held in Nouakchott, Mauritania, on July 1 and 2, with the Egyptian prime minister.

During the meeting, Madbouly handed over a letter from President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to Abdel Aziz, who stressed on the importance to promote cooperation between the two countries.]]>
7/2/2018 1:55:29 PM
<![CDATA[AIESEC 70th International Congress takes place in Egypt]]>
The congress will be attended by Minister of Tourism, Rania al-Mashat, and Abdel Rahman Ayman, 2017-18 global president of AIESEC.

In its 70th edition, the congress will gather more than 700 youth from more than 120 countries and territories worldwide to celebrate youth leadership, cultural diversity, as well as host discussions about three main themes that impact the world: sustainability development, entrepreneurship, and youth employment.

The International Congress is also an occasion where top AIESEC leaders, representing their local and national boards, review the organizational state of affairs, create strategies and decide on the plans for the future towards the organization’s ambition to be a Youth Leadership Movement by 2020. They also undergo capacity building workshops to further develop their leadership and soft skills.

AIESEC is hosting the International Congress for the second time in Egypt, raising the awareness of attendees from different countries all over the world about Egypt’s rich culture and hospitality, aiming to embrace and celebrate different cultures from around the world.

“We are proud to host this year’s International Congress in Egypt to promote Egypt as an ideal investment and networking platform for business leaders, start-ups, and job seekers to find relevant opportunities,” commented Ayman, AIESEC’s first Egyptian global president.

The International Congress' activities this year have been designed to meet the interests of delegates, business leaders, entrepreneurs, and global trailblazers from around the world, to discuss the most relevant issues affecting today’s world.

One of the major highlights of the Congress’ activities is the “Global Village”; every country and territory, where AIESEC operates, will showcase their culture through their traditional outfits, food, music and culture, as well as provide awareness about local and national community issues. Other special events during the congress include the Global Youth Speak Forum: a one-day function where youth and senior leaders collaborate to discuss the 2030 sustainable development goals, the delivery of the world's largest lesson - where delegates interact with local citizens in Hurghada about the global goals - and the AIESEC 70th Global Celebration Event to commemorate the organization’s platinum anniversary.

In the span of three years, AIESEC was able to expand across 18 cities in Egypt. As education is the primary sector that the organization focuses on in Egypt, they work with more than 350 schools, educational and vocational centres, across the country. AIESEC empowers university students to act and contribute to AIESEC projects, either through working individually or through AIESEC.

]]>
7/2/2018 11:02:06 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt reviews national efforts to end child labour by 2025]]>
Celebrating the launch of the national plan to combat child labor 2018/2025, Saffan said that his ministry has found that 12,700 institutions are not hiring children, while 74 institutions have been proven to be violators of the Egyptian child labour law, adding that other 4,248 institutions have been warned by the ministry.

A number of 18,885 children, including 12,536 male children, have been protected by the state from child labour law violators during the previously mentioned period, according to Saffan.

Numerous Egyptian parents help their children work for reasons that include poverty and incomplete education.

Saffan underscored Egypt's continuous efforts to take all possible measures to uproot child labour according to the national plan launched with the aim of eliminating child labour by 2025. He added that the plan will be annually reviewed to evaluate the annual accomplishments.
The education completion age in Egypt is 15 years old. The minimum age for hazardous work and military recruitment is 18 years old.


Eric Oechslin, acting director of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) office in Cairo, said during the celebration that the number of working children worldwide has decreased from 246 million in 2000 to 156 million today. However, 73 million children still work under risky circumstances.

“The term ‘child labor’ is often defined as work that deprives children of their childhood, their potential and their dignity, and that is harmful to physical and mental development,” according to ILO. It also refers to work that deprives children from schooling or leads them to leave school prematurely or to combine long hours of heavy work with education.

Minimum Age Convention No. 138 set the minimum age for admission to employment as the age of education completion. Child labor falls under three categories; the first category is the “unconditional worst forms of child labor, which are internationally defined as slavery, trafficking, debt bondage and other forms of forced labor, forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict, prostitution and pornography, and illicit activities.”

The second category is the work of children below the legal age determined by states’ laws that should be aligned with accepted international standards. The third category is “hazardous work”, which compromises the physical, mental, and moral well-being of the child because of its nature or because of the work environment.

There were 1.6 million children working in Egypt, according to a survey conducted by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) and the ILO in 2010.

In 2014, the World Food Program and the European Union reported that the number of employed minors in Egypt jumped to at least 2.7 million, according to Cairo Post.

Secretary General of the Egyptian Coalition of Children’s Rights Hani Helal explained that the increase is due to government neglect under political and security deterioration that followed the January 25 Revolution, as Cairo Post reported.

According to UNICEF Egypt, 5.6 percent of these children work under hazardous conditions.


Additional reporting by Noha al-Tawil
]]>
7/2/2018 10:59:37 AM
<![CDATA[John Bolton: US has plan to dismantle North Korea nuclear program]]>
John Bolton said top US diplomat Mike Pompeo will be discussing that plan with North Korea in the near future. Bolton added that it would be to the North's advantage to cooperate to see sanctions lifted quickly and aid from South Korea and Japan start to flow.

Bolton's remarks on CBS' "Face the Nation" appeared to be the first time the Trump administration had publicly suggested a timeline for North Korea to fulfill the commitment leader Kim Jong Un made at a summit with President Donald Trump last month for the "complete denuclearization" of the Korean Peninsula.
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7/2/2018 7:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Amid surging violence, some Mexicans choose asylum over voting]]>
In past weeks, families escaping threats of extortion, kidnapping and murder, many from states riven by drug cartel-linked brutality, crammed into migrant shelters in the border city of Tijuana, waiting to cross to San Diego to seek asylum.

"We are overwhelmed by violence, and the proof is all these people who arrive daily, even with their children," said Jose Maria Garcia, director of the Juventud 2000 migrant shelter in Tijuana. "They don't... trust that whoever wins is going to do something for them."

Camped early Sunday on the square abutting the entrance to the San Ysidro Port of Entry in Tijuana, Carmen Medina, a 26-year-old widow from the southern Mexican state of Zacatecas, said she had no interest in Sunday's election.

"I barely left with what I was wearing," said Medina, her face drawn with exhaustion, her three-year-old daughter perched on the sidewalk by her side. "My head is filled with getting there," said Medina, glancing toward the border a few hundred feet away. A U.S. flag fluttered just beyond.

Medina said her husband was killed last year in retaliation for failing to pay extortion money on their small grocery shop to local criminals. She said a man recently showed up at her home demanding more.

Medina said she had heard U.S. authorities were jailing asylum seekers and had even separated parents from children, but she said she had to take the risk.

Mexican voters will elect a new president and decide on more than 3,000 down-ballot seats on Sunday. Widespread disenchantment with the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) over intensifying violence, along with endemic corruption and a sluggish economy, have helped leftist frontrunner Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador maintain a strong lead in opinion polls. He has promised to curtail corruption and take a different approach to Mexico's militarized fight against drug cartels.

But shelter director Garcia said that if activity in his facility is any indication, the numbers of Mexicans migrating north in recent weeks is outpacing even flows of Central Americans who typically pass through Tijuana.

With almost 30,000 homicides registered in 2017, Mexico experienced its bloodiest year on record. Since election campaigning began last September, at least 145 politicians and candidates for office have been killed, according to data from the Mexico-based security consultancy Etellekt.

The victims belonged to a variety of political parties. Security experts say drug gangs are using violence to install friendly mayors and other elected officials, eliminate rivals and scare off would-be reformers who might stall their trade.

Attacks on politicians intensified in the final two weeks of campaigning, with seven candidates for office killed in the states of Michoacan, Guerrero, Quintana Roo, Guanajuato and Oaxaca, according to Etellekt.

"The challenge for whoever governs next was the major challenge of governments in recent years," said Rodolfo Olimpo, president of the State Board of Migration in Baja California. "We have not seen a substantial change... People simply want to run away."

They include Jose, a 37-year-old father of three who waited on a stool Friday near the walkway to the U.S. gate at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in anticipation of requesting asylum for himself and his family.

He declined to give his last name out of fear that the family was being pursued. Jose said he fled Chilapa, Guerrero, with his wife and three sons soon after their 11-year-old witnessed a man shot dead in May in front of the family's market stall.

The father said the family abandoned everything, their business, their home. He said he had heard that U.S. officials had hardened the rules at the border and that there was a chance he might be separated from his boys and his wife.

"I prefer that they separate me from them knowing that at least they have a future and won't end up dead or kidnapped in Guerrero," Jose said. "We have no alternative but to leave because those (criminals) have eyes everywhere. Even here we feel unsafe."

Former President Felipe Calderon, backed by the United States, began militarizing the fight against Mexico's drug cartels in 2006, dispatching tens of thousands of soldiers in the effort. The strategy toppled some kingpins, including Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, the longtime boss of the notorious Sinaloa Cartel.

But more than a decade later, the strategy has led to fragmentation of criminal groups who have turned on each other. They have penetrated deeply throughout the country, terrorizing police, public servants and residents to assert control.

"We cannot live here anymore," said Patricia Reyes, a farmer who recently arrived in Tijuana to seek asylum in the United States with her two children.

Reyes fled Ocampo, Michoacan where last month Fernando Angeles Juarez, a mayoral candidate was shot dead. Local media reported that three suspects had been apprehended in the killing.

"If they kill, imagine what can happen to us?" Reyes said. "It takes away all hope that with a new government, whoever it is, things will change."

Oscar Misael Hernandez, a researcher at the College of the Northern Frontier, said many Mexicans have given up hope that their government can guarantee their security, which is why some are willing to risk everything on a long-shot asylum claim in the United States.

The violence, he said, "is impacting families, no matter their social class, gender or creed."
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7/2/2018 4:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Madbouly enhances Mauritanian-Egyptian relations in Nouakchott ]]>
Madbouly arrived on Sunday to Mauritania’s Nouakchott to participate in the African Summit on the behalf of the President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

In the same context, presidential spokesman Bassam Rady told MENA that Egypt is keen on enhancing its relations with African countries as President Sisi placed the Egyptian-African ties among the top priorities of the foreign relations’ files and focused on the continent’s issues in most of his activities since assuming power in 2014.

He added that the file aims to intensify meeting with African leaders and visiting several African countries besides participating in the African summits, pointing out that such efforts resulted in promoting Egypt’s ties with African countries.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry arrived on Thursday in the Mauritanian capital, Nouakchott, where he was received by Egyptian Ambassador to Mauritania Maged Nafea.

Shoukry is scheduled to take part in the 33rd ordinary session of the African Union’s executive council later in the day ahead of the 31st AU summit that will kick off on Sunday.

The 31st African Union summit launched on Sunday with the participation of 22 heads of states under the theme “Winning the Fight against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation".

Sisi’s several visits to the African countries since coming to power are considered to be a move which helped to spur Egyptian-African trade exchanges, investments, economic partnership and cooperation in various sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, vocational training, banking, mining and human development.

In June 2014, Sisi participated in the African Union Summit in the Equatorial Guinea as his first presidential visit within the continent, which was considered then a restoration of the African-Egyptian relations after years of neglect during Mubarak’s era.

Several short visits during 2015 followed the African Union Summit participation, including visits to Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda per Yuri Museveni's invitation in December 2016.

African Affairs Committee member in the Parliament, Hatem Bashat, told Egypt Today that it is true that the African-Egyptian relations were forgotten for a while, however “since Sisi took office, he started a new strategy aiming to restore our role within the continent.”

“This tour is a reflection of the Egyptian diplomacy with our African neighbors since 2014; we have strong points in our relations and long history to relay on,” Bashat further explained.

He added that Sisi has a fixed strategy during dealing with the African countries, “for example, with Rwanda, we are keen to develop investments; with Tanzania we discuss the water security files; while Chad is considered one of the crucial countries for our national security,” Bashat told Egypt Today.]]>
7/1/2018 7:54:08 PM
<![CDATA[Possible scenarios for Egypt without June 30 Revolution]]>
Egypt would be threatened by a bloody civil war like Syria and Iraq
Egyptian social media users used the expression "Our situation is still better than the situation in Syria and Iraq” many times throughout their discussions to explain their opinion that life under hard economic conditions is still better than the fate that Egypt might have undergone if the Muslim Brotherhood continued to be in control of the country.

Muslim Brotherhood would not be banned or designated as a terrorist group
If there was no June 30 revolution, the Freedom and Justice Party of the Muslim Brotherhood would continue manipulating the political scene. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood group would carry out its terrorist attacks without being banned.

Turkey and Qatar would pretend to be allies to Egypt
The radical transformation in Turkey and Qatar's relations with Egypt after June 30 revolution and their absolute support for the Brotherhood's rule, seek to challenge the will of Egyptians who overthrew the Brotherhood-affiliated president. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan turned from a friend to an enemy to Egypt, while Qatar supported the Muslim Brotherhood, and opened its doors for the Brotherhood's members. These moves are considered evidence of the two countries' disrespect for the Egyptians' will.

Sinai’s tunnels would open to smuggle gas, petrol and food from Arish to Gaza
The tunnels, that were used to transport or smuggle weapons between El Arish and Gaza Strip during the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood, are now used in huge successive and extensive military operations aimed at countering any attempt to smuggle weapons during the rule of President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Since June 30, the Egyptian army has destroyed nearly 1,700 tunnels between El Arish and Gaza.

Adly Mansour would not be known to most Egyptians
Though Mansour served as president of the Supreme Constitutional Court of Egypt, he was not known to the vast majority of citizens until he was appointed to serve as the interim president of the state after June 30 Revolution.


Tense relationship between civilians and the policemen
Since the outbreak of the revolution of January 25, 2011, the relationship between civilians and policemen has been tense because of the clashes that took place among the two sides on and after the Friday of anger. The revolution of June 30 came to put aside the differences between them; citizens started a new era with the police particularly after the police joined a number of demonstrations against the Brotherhood on June 30.

President Sisi addressed the Egyptian people on Saturday to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution, describing it as an “immortal day in Egypt’s history.”


“On this remarkable day, millions of Egyptians, men, women, elders and youth, stood up to say their word loud and clear: there is no place for a traitor or conspirator among them, and to stress that they have nothing but loyalty to their homeland,” Sisi said in a televised speech aired early Saturday, adding that the events of June 30 changed the whole region and redirected its destiny, otherwise it would have “sank into terrorism and sectarianism”.

“On this acclaimed day, Egyptians had stopped the extremism and division wave that would have plagued the region,” Sisi stressed, expressing his respect and appreciation to the people for their patience, persistence and unity with their national institution to confront one of the biggest challenges in their history.

The president pointed out to the lean years that have faced Egypt since 2011 until this day, saying that the country faced three challenges, each of them is enough to destroy an entire nation and displace its people, and they are: absence of security and political stability, the spread of terrorism and armed violence, and a collapsed economy.

“Every Egyptian should be proud of what she/he has achieved and of confronting those three challenges in no time; it is a miracle,” Sisi said.

The president reviewed what had been achieved since June 30, 2013, starting from stabilizing the pillars of the state and rebuilding its national institutions, like its constitution, executive and legislative authorities and judiciary.

Sisi lauded the role of the Armed Forces in eliminating terrorism and chasing it wherever it goes, backed by wide popular support; no matter the international support and fund terrorist groups receive.


Egypt celebrated on Saturday the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution that toppled the banned Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Morsi after one year in power during which the country suffered fierce political conflicts and social split threatening the future of the nation.


To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution, the Egyptian Cabinet, headed by newly-appointed Premier Mostafa Madbouli, announced July 1 a national holiday to both the public and private sectors across the country.


]]>
7/1/2018 5:29:49 PM
<![CDATA[MBs have hand in Jordanian protests: Security affairs expert ]]>
Okasha remarked that the June 30 revolution, which broke out in 2013 against the currently banned Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated President Mohamed Morsi to save Egypt from terrorism, caused cracks and splits in the terrorist organization, but they try to reorganize themselves and to appear in the political scenes of Arab countries like Tunisia and Jordan.

Strategic reports referred that the recent Jordanian protests are linked to passing the “Century Deal” to pressure the Hashemite Kingdom, what do you think?

I do not agree that these events stem from the deal or from the attempt to bring Jordan into the spiral of the solutions of the Palestinian cause. The Jordanian demonstrations have been held due to the economic and political crises that Jordan has witnessed for a year, and they have been escalated due to the tensions on the Jordanian borders and its loss of main resources in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. This caused a great economic crisis reflected in higher unemployment rates, prices, imposing more taxes, and the government’s resignation. Jordanian King Abdullah II is aware of those reasons, which clearly showed in his wisdom in handling the situations.

Additionally, Jordan faces the Syrian refugee's crisis as more than 2 million refugees live in Jordan, which costs Jordan’s treasury large sums. In response, Jordan has lodged many complaints to the United Nations (UN), pointing out that the UN's aids do not meet the refugees’ living commitments.

But, the Muslim Brotherhoods’ presence cannot be ignored in the recent Jordanian political scene.

It is true. The Brotherhood poses many great risks;their presence in the streets provokes direct confrontations between people and the security forces and raises the public's ceiling of demands. The Brotherhood also seeks to put the organization back together through stirring revolutions in many countries such as Syria, Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia.

Does this mean that Jordan is expected to witness a late “Arab Spring”?

There is no doubt that some parties are pushing in that direction, but I do not think that Jordan would enter the whirlwinds of the Arab Spring or creative chaos.I bet on the Jordanian people and the wisdom and the ability of the Jordanian Kingdom to deal with severe crises.

Could the Gulf Cooperation Council's meeting,called for by Saudi Arabia, save the situation in Jordan?

Yes, while many external parties seek to ignite the situation in Jordan, other parties try to reduce the tension in Jordan’s streets for the region’s interest. At the same time, Egypt played an important role in calling for holding this meeting and in supporting and helping Jordan compensate the loss in the foreign market. I expect that this meeting will have positive results that will boost the Jordanian economy and help further control the situation.

What do you think is the Muslim Brotherhood's strategy,especially that they are in their weakest situation, after the Arab Spring?

The June 30 revolution led to the collapse of the Muslim Brotherhood groups in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria, but they try to reorganize themselves after the repeated defeats and the splits that have plagued the Brotherhood; the Brotherhood is still financially supported by Qatar and Turkey to be able to renter new stages and restore its power to establish the Islamic Caliphate.

Have these attempts been faced on the ground?

The terrorist international organization has not been isolated from the political scene, as witnessed in the ability of the Muslim Brotherhood in Tunisia to succeed in the municipal election less than a month ago. They are ready to enter a new round of fight in the future.In Libya, they still rely on the strong presence of tribal and armed militias, while they are trying to reorganize their bases by entering some alliances behind the scenes in Jordan and Egypt.

But, the situation in Egypt is different, especially after they had been involved in several terrorist acts.

Egyptian streets reject any reconciliation with the Muslim Brotherhood for their involvement in terrorist crimes against the Egyptian people, army and police and their involvement with terrorist armed militias such as Hasm. The Brotherhood has been internationally designated as a terrorist organization.

Despite the millions of dollars spent in support of the Brotherhood's external media, it has no effect on the Egyptian street even with the economic crises that come asa result of Egypt's economic reform process.

But, their media has a huge impact abroad, which poses pressure on Egypt.

They are more powerful abroad through media, the human rights organizations, civil organizations, and western decision-making centers; the recent report issued by the Human Rights Watch reveals their attempts to defame Egypt’s efforts to combat terrorism and dry up its sources through its war against terrorism.
]]>
7/1/2018 5:21:12 PM
<![CDATA[Britain's health service has started planning for Brexit no deal]]>
Simon Stevens, chief executive of the National Health Service (NHS), said Britain's health department was working with pharmaceutical companies to make sure there will be no breakdown in supply if there is no deal with the EU.

"There is now significant planning going on around all the scenarios including these medicines supply scenarios," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"There's extensive work under way now between the department of health, other parts of government, the life sciences industry, the pharma companies. Nobody is pretending this is a desirable situation but if that's what we get to then it will not have been unforeseen."

The EU warned Britain again last week that time was running out for Prime Minister Theresa May to negotiate a deal and stop the country from crashing out of the bloc.

May has promised to thrash out an agreement with her top team of ministers at a meeting this week and intends to present a policy document, or white paper, setting out the government's aims for a future partnership after that.]]>
7/1/2018 2:34:11 PM
<![CDATA[June 30 Revolution: a quake that caused cracks in Muslim Brotherhood]]>
In spite of the fact that the group suffered from a state of dissent within its members since 2014 after the group turned into the violent approach, the group released on the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution a statement that incites people to “protest” against the current government. The statement was published on their unverified Facebook account on Saturday.

When the members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood protested against the ouster of Morsi and staged the two sit-ins of Nahda and Rabaa squares in Egypt, many bloody attacks and riots broke out nationwide, pushing the interim government to label the group as a terrorist organization in December 2013. Since then, hundreds of members and supporters of the Brotherhood were imprisoned, while others fled the country.



Due to this blow against the Brotherhood, hundreds of imprisoned members have signed a document to disown from the group since 2014. Most recently, a total of 360 of the Brotherhood members in Beheira governorate - hometown of the group founder Hassan al-Banna, signed the document in May 2017, saying that the group “turned from its peaceful approach into a violent one.”

Two months later, another group of detainees in Fayoum and Beni Suef governorates (Upper Egypt) announced their dissent from the outlawed group, which was designed as a terrorist group by post- June 30 Revolution interim government in 2013.

“We are a group of prisoners in Fayoum General Prison. We decided to be nonpartisan in the Muslim Brotherhood […] Some of us did not organizationally belong to the Brotherhood […]and some of us are organizationally associated to it and then decided to dissociate from the group,” their letter of dissent read. They indicated the group has suffered a state of division within its members after calling the group leaders to reject violence.

“We concluded that the Brotherhood was an integral part of the crisis experienced by Egypt and that it is fueling the conflict […] by denying that former President Mohamed Morsi was rejected by the state institutions and key sectors of Egyptian society,” they said in their letter.

The internal dissension within the group is not the only crack it suffers from; the memberships of some of the group's members were frozen due its violent approach. In January 2017, the memberships of Chairperson of the Office of the Muslim Brotherhood Abroad Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, and Magdy Shalash, a member of the High Administrative Committee of the Brotherhood, were suspended as they “incited violence” in media comments given to Qatar-owned Al Jazeera channel.

Divisions in the management of the High Administrative Committee for the Brotherhood’s affairs reached its climax in 2016, when former head of the committee, Mohamed Kamal, resigned and disowned from it. However, followers of Kamal, who was killed by the Egyptian police in fire exchange in October 2016, dissented and formed another parallel group against the Brotherhood's acting guide Mahmoud Ezzat.

The Muslim Brotherhood also saw a series of international dissensions following the June 30 Revolution; in 2016, the Brotherhood-affiliate Nahdah party Chairperson Rached Ghannouchi dissociated the group, while the Jordanian branch also split from the international organizations.

Meanwhile, the MB branch in Morocco was practicing pressure on Egypt’s organization to start revising their rules and disown the current leaders, said Tareq al-Bishbeishi, an MB dissent member in media remarks in December 2016.

However, expert of the Islamic Movements Hesham al-Naggar ruled out that the Brotherhood of Egypt can review their current approach because they did not do so when they came to power in 2012.

The international splits of the Muslim Brotherhood could be “maneuvers” by the organization's branches to survive after the group was designated a terrorist group in Egypt due to inciting violence, Naggar told Egypt Today on Saturday.

He added that it is difficult to say that a big organization like the Muslim brotherhood could collapse fast, stressing that each country has its own political nature and atmosphere.

The first case of dissension within the group dated back to 1939, when a group of members led by Mahmoud Abu Zeid Othman announced their disagreement with Banna, forming another dissent group known as Shabab Muhammad (Muhammad’s Youth). In 2011, former Presidential candidate Abdel Mouneim Aboul Fetouh disowned from the group in rejection to its administration following the January 25 Revolution that toppled former President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year tenure. Also, former member Ibrahim el-Zaafrani resigned in objection to “maladministration” of the group.

Kamal el Helbawy, the former spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe, also dissented from the group in 2012, when it was announced that the currently imprisoned member Khairat al-Shater would run for 2012 presidential election. Other members, including Mohamed Habib, Abdel-Sattar al-Melegy, also disowned from the group. The dissention within the group is not new; however, the post-30 June Revolution mass dissension was a severe blow to the group.

]]>
7/1/2018 2:08:35 PM
<![CDATA[How Gulf States supported June 30 revolution? ]]>
Some Gulf States, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait, sensed the danger of the Brotherhood and accused some of its leaders of trying to seize power, issuing against its members varying provisions. Hence, the group longer exists in a number of Gulf States.

Egypt was not the only county to ban the Muslim Brotherhood; the United Arab Emirates took strict procedures against them, and the Saudi authorities put the Brotherhood on the list of terrorist groups in March 2014. As for the Sultanate of Oman, their Brotherhood, which was founded at the end of the 1970s, faced in the 90s accusations of establishing a secret anti-state organ and so some of its members were sentenced to death and some others were sent to prison.

In the following lines, we provide a quick refresher of the Gulf States' stances in support of the Egyptian June 30 Revolution.

Saudi Arabia:

The late Saudi monarch King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz expressed his full support for the will of the Egyptian people.

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King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz (Photo: Reuters)

King Abdullah was the first president to congratulate President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on his election as president after the ouster of ex Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi and paid a visit to Egypt right after Sisi's inauguration.

Kuwait:

In the wake of the June 30 Revolution, Kuwaiti government announced a vocal support for the will of the Egyptians and their right to protest the tyrannical regime of the Muslim Brotherhood.

It also participated in Egypt's Economic Development Conference held in Sharm El Sheikh in 2015, joined by other Arab and foreign countries.

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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C) poses for a picture with the participants of the Egypt Economic Development conference in Sharm el-Sheikh on 13 March 2015 (AFP)

Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Oman announced a total of $12.5 billion aid to Cairo and pledged support to the Egyptian State in its war against terrorism and extremism.

United Arab Emirates

The UAE support to the Egyptian revolution against the Muslim Brotherhood was not only highlighted in the political or economic domains but extended to the international scene.

A few months after the June 30 revolution, the UAE decided to place the Brotherhood in its terror list.

44153
Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan - File photo


On Saturday, President Sisi addressed the Egyptian people to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution, describing it as an “immortal day in Egypt’s history.”

“On this remarkable day, millions of Egyptians; men, women, elders and youth, stood up to say their word loud and clear: there is no place for a traitor or conspirator among them, and to stress that they have nothing but loyalty to this homeland,” Sisi said in a televised speech aired early Saturday, adding that the events of June 30 changed the whole region and redirected its destiny, otherwise it would have “sank into terrorism and sectarianism.”

“On this acclaimed day, Egyptians had stopped the extremism and division wave that would have plagued the region,” Sisi stressed, expressing his respect and appreciation to the people for their patience, persistence and unity with their national institution to confront one of the biggest challenges in their history.

To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution, the Egyptian Cabinet, headed by newly-appointed Premier Mostafa Madbouli, announced July 1 a national holiday to both the public and private sectors across the country.
]]>
7/1/2018 12:58:33 PM
<![CDATA[Sanctions will curb peace in South Sudan, Shoukry]]>
Shoukry added in press statements that international sanctions will not solve the brutal civil war inside the recent African State; instead, a peace agreement satisfying all warring factions can realize security and stability in South Sudan.

Shoukry's statements come ahead of the African Union summit expected to kick off on Sunday in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott.

Shoukry stated that Egypt provided all the logistic support to establish a permanent ceasefire between South Sudan President Salva Kiir and head of the South Sudanese opposition arch-foe Riek Machar.

Shoukry lauded the agreement that was signed in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Wednesday, under the supervision of Sudanese President Omar al Bashir and Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni.

“Egypt will seek to enhance the latest peace agreement through its membership in the AU Peace and Security Council,” said Shoukry.

The latest push for peace in South Sudan comes as part of a fresh bid launched by East African leaders with the two fighting factions facing a looming deadline to avert UN sanctions.
]]>
7/1/2018 12:40:51 PM
<![CDATA[N. Korea's Kim asked China's Xi to help lift sanctions: report]]>
Kim made the request during his third meeting with Xi in Beijing last month, and the Chinese president promised to do his "utmost" to satisfy it, the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper said.

"We are feeling great pain due to economic sanctions. Now that we have concluded the US-North Korea summit in success, I want (China) to work toward early lifting of the sanctions," Kim reportedly told Xi, according to the newspaper.

In recent months the Cold War-era allies have sought to repair ties strained by Pyongyang's nuclear tests and Beijing's support of subsequent UN sanctions.

Kim chose Beijing -- his main economic patron and diplomatic protector -- for his first official foreign trip in March and met Xi again in May in the northeastern port city of Dalian.

Kim asked Xi to help ease the sanctions that have crippled North Korea's economy, and urged China to back Pyongyang in its denuclearisation talks with Washington, the report said.

Xi in turn told Kim he "actively supports North Korea's reform and opening-up and will proactively cooperate with issues associated with the efforts", according to the Yomiuri.

He also urged North Korea to "continue (its) consultations with China" as it negotiates with the United States, the report said.

China indicated last year that the UN Security Council could consider easing the punitive measures against Pyongyang.

Kim's third official visit to China was seen as a move to reassure Beijing that Pyongyang would not neglect its interests after the historic summit with Trump in Singapore.

China and the US both hope to see the Korean peninsula free of nuclear weapons.

But Beijing is concerned Washington and Pyongyang might move closer at its expense, a possibility that China sees as threatening to its economic and security interests in the region.]]>
7/1/2018 11:25:51 AM
<![CDATA[India’s defense council approves S-400 deal despite Washington’s pressure]]>
After endorsing some “minor deviations” in the contract, defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman forwarded the 39,000 crore ($5.7bn) deal to purchase S-400 for final government approval, to the finance ministry and the Prime Minister’s office, sources told the Times of India.

“The S-400 procurement case will now go to the finance ministry for clearance and the PM-led Cabinet Committee on Security for the final nod,” a source at the Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC), told the publication. “The country’s top political leadership will have to take a call on when the actual contract can be inked.”

New Delhi is pushing ahead to purchase five S-400 units, despite strong opposition from the US. The deal, provisionally discussed during the Modi-Putin summit at Goa in October 2016, has attracted speculation over the possible imposition of US sanctions, under that country’s Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which aims to deter nations from purchasing Russian weapons.

“The acquisition of this technology will limit, I am afraid, the degree with which the United States will feel comfortable in bringing additional technology into whatever country we are talking about,” US armed services committee chairman Mac Thornberry said back in May, noting that there is also concern that “any country that acquires the system will complicate the ability of interoperability” with US forces.

The proliferation of S-400 across the globe has made Washington extremely worried about the growing anti-access and area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities of sovereign nations, and even NATO allies. Some lawmakers even argued that integration of Russian technology by US allies might compromise US “technology secrets.” In addition to India, Turkey has faced immense pressure to back down from the deal to purchase the state-of-the-art defense systems.

Russian S-400: Air-defense system worth being sanctioned

The S-400 Triumf is the most advanced Russian anti-aircraft system available for export, designed to engage aerodynamic targets at a range of up to 400km and ballistic missiles up to 60km away. The launcher can use at least four interceptor missile types, suited to different targets. One S-400 division can engage up to 36 targets simultaneously.]]>
7/1/2018 10:49:30 AM
<![CDATA[Iraq to begin manual recount of national election votes on Tuesday]]>
Only suspect ballots flagged in formal complaints or official reports on fraud will be recounted, a spokesman for the panel of judges conducting the recount said on Saturday.

"The manual recount will be conducted in the presence of representatives from the United Nations, foreign embassies and political parties; as well as local and international observers, members of the media, and the Ministries of Defence and the Interior," Judge Laith Jabr Hamza said in a statement.

In seven provinces where many complaints of fraud were made -- Kirkuk, Sulaimaniya, Erbil, Dohuk, Nineveh, Salahuddin and Anbar -- the recount will be conducted by the local electoral offices, Hamza said.

Those ballot boxes which had already been transferred to Baghdad will be recounted in the capital.

The recount has been a politically fraught issue with the leaders of winning blocs embroiled in negotiations for weeks over the formation of the next government.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, whose electoral list came third in the poll marred by a historically low turnout, and the winner, cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, entered into an alliance last week, less than two weeks after Sadr announced a similar alliance with second-placed Iran ally Hadi al-Amiri's bloc, thus bringing the top three blocs together.

The recount will exclude Baghdad where a storage site holding half of Baghdad's ballot boxes went up in flames earlier this month in an incident Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi described as a "plot to harm the nation and its democracy".

Overseas votes in Iran, Turkey, Britain, Lebanon, Jordan, the United States and Germany will also be recounted, Hamza said.

Earlier in June, the outgoing parliament passed a law mandating a nationwide manual recount of all votes, but the panel of judges now in charge of the process said it would only be conducted for those problematic ballots.]]>
7/1/2018 5:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Iran's leaders seek ways to defend economy from US sanctions]]>
Since last month, when U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear which lifted most sanctions in 2015, the rial currency has dropped up to 40 percent in value, prompting angry protests by bazaar traders usually loyal to the Islamist rulers.

Speaking after three days of protests, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the U.S. sanctions were aimed at turning Iranians against their government.

"They bring to bear economic pressure to separate the nation from the system ... but six U.S. presidents before him (Trump) tried this and had to give up," Khamenei said on his website Khamenei.ir.

With the return of U.S. sanctions likely to make it increasingly difficult to access the global financial system, President Hassan Rouhani has met with the head of parliament and the judiciary to discuss counter-measures.

"Various scenarios of threats to the Iranian economy by the U.S. government were examined and appropriate measures were taken to prepare for any probable U.S. sanctions, and to prevent their negative impact," IRNA said.

One such measure was seeking self-sufficiency in gasoline production, the report added.

The government and parliament have also set up a committee to study potential buyers of oil and ways of repatriating the income after U.S. sanctions take effect, Fereydoun Hassanvand, head of the parliament's energy committee, was quoted as saying by IRNA.

"Due to the possibility of U.S. sanctions against Iran, the committee will study the competence of buyers and how to obtain proceeds from the sale of oil, safe sale alternatives which are consistent with international law and do not lead to corruption and profiteering," Hassanvand said.

The United States has told allies to cut all imports of Iranian oil from November, a senior State Department official said on Tuesday.

Khamenei said the United States was acting together with Sunni Muslim Gulf Arab states that regard Shi'ite Muslim Iran as their main regional foe of trying to destabilise the government in Tehran.

"If America was able to act against Iran, it would not need to form coalitions with notorious and reactionary states in the region and ask their help in fomenting unrest and instability," Khamenei told graduating Revolutionary Guards officers, in remarks carried by state TV.]]>
7/1/2018 2:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Maldives opposition selects veteran Ibrahim Solih for Sept presidential poll]]>
Solih will contest the poll against President Abdulla Yameen, who is bidding for a second five-year term amid continued instability in the Indian Ocean island chain.

After months of bickering, the Democratic Party (MDP) and the smaller opposition parties agreed to field common candidates, with the presidential candidate to have a running mate from Jumhooree Party.

Nasheed, Maldives first democratically-elected leader who lives in exile in Sri Lanka, on Friday said he had decided to relinquish his presidential ticket as the national election commission ruled him illegible to run.

Solih, first elected to parliament in 1994, is known for his calm composure.

"I will choose the way of negotiation and discussion," Solih told the party congress after wining the candidature.

"We will open the MDP manifesto to allow the joint opposition to make additions, but we will not allow MDP's values to be trampled. Together, we can do this."

The Maldives, home to 400,000 people and best known as a tropical paradise for tourists, has experienced political unrest since Nasheed was forced to quit amid a mutiny by police in 2012.

Nasheed, convicted of terrorism charges in 2015 and sentenced to 13 years in prison after a controversial and widely criticised trial, was the sole candidate when the MDP held a primary election in May.

President Yameen's administration has rejected a demand by a U.N. human rights watchdog to let Nasheed stand for the presidential election.

The opposition has accused the government of locking up most of the leaders who could effectively challenge Yameen's bid for re-election, a charge the government denies.

The island chain has faced upheavals since February, when Yameen imposed a state of emergency to annul a Supreme Court ruling that quashed the convictions of nine opposition leaders, including Nasheed.

During the 45-day emergency, Yameen's administration arrested former president Maumoon Abdul Gayoom, the chief justice, another Supreme Court judge and a Supreme Court administrator on charges of trying to overthrow the government.

In 2016, Nasheed was allowed to go on medical leave to Britain, where he received political asylum. Since last year, he has been in Sri Lanka, working to unite opposition parties to defeat Yameen. ]]>
7/1/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Iraq to begin manual recount of May election votes on Tuesday]]>
Only those problematic ballots flagged in formal complaints or official reports on fraud allegations will be recounted, the statement said. The recount will start in Kirkuk province on Tuesday, and will extend to six further provinces: Sulaimaniya, Erbil, Dohuk, Nineveh, Salaheddin and Anbar, the statement said.]]>
6/30/2018 3:01:25 PM
<![CDATA[Approval ratings still high for June 30 Rev. leadership]]>
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Protesters opposing Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi set off fireworks during a protest at Tahrir Square in Cairo June - Reuters

Empowerment request

Late in July 2013, only few days before the dispersal of pro-Morsi protest in Rabaa Al-Adaweya square by security forces, Colonel General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi called on Egyptians to gather in the streets to "empower" him to fight terrorism. Subsequently, people appeared in the streets reportedly in millions.



2014 constitutional referendum

Following the ousting of Morsi, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, army chief general at the time, announced in a statement suspending the Muslim Brotherhood 2012 constitution, and he called for an early election.

A committee of 10 legal experts was formed with the aim of amending the 2012 constitution. The committee managed to accomplish its mission in August 2013.

Former acting president Adly Mansour formed a committee of 50 people and their names were announced in September. The 50 members represented different institutions including Al-Azhar and the church. In December 2013, the committee introduced the final draft of the constitution for referendum.



Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya (Islamic group) that was designated by the U.S. as a global terrorist organization and who was reportedly responsible for assassinating former President Anwar al-Sadat, announced boycotting the referendum. In a statement, the group said it would launch public campaigns to call for boycotting the “coup constitution.”

Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs announced in December 2013 banning famous Salafist sheikhs Abu Ishaq al-Huwaini, Mohamed Hassan, Mohamed Hussein Yacoub from mounting mosque pulpits and delivering sermons, after they announced boycotting the election.

Nabil Salib, head of the Supreme Election Committee, said that 20.5 million out of a 53 million electorate participated in the vote.



2014 presidential election

About 10 months after the revolution, Field Marshal Abdel Fatah al-Sisi announced running for president and resigning from his military post.

Before the 2015 presidential election was held, the Muslim Brotherhood defamed Sisi and used various forms of propaganda against him, including graffiti.

However, MB members could not agree to vote for the Egyptian Popular Current Chairman Hamdeen Sabahi, who ran solely against Sisi in the election, as Sabahi was one of the main opposition leaders during Morsi’s era.



In addition, Sabahi belonged to the National Front, which was formed in November 2012. The National Front opposed Morsi’s decrees and called for protesting against the latter in June 30.

Judge Anwar al-Asi, head of the presidential election committee, said that Sisi won 96.9 percent of votes, with a turnout of 47.45 percent.

2018 presidential election

Undoubtedly, a considerable number of Egyptians expected a low turnout in the 2018 presidential election, saying that there is no real contender to Sisi in the vote.

Some of them said that Moussa is not a strong challenger to Sisi, so they decided not to vote, although some of them said they are Sisi supporters.



Manal Abdel Aal posted on Twitter that she met many people who support Sisi but would not cast their votes because they think that he will win the race anyway. She also referred to the time when millions of Egyptians demonstrated in the streets in the January 25 Revolution, while others preferred to support them while staying at home.

The Egyptian leader garnered 97.08 percent of valid votes in the presidential election, where more than 21.8 million people voted for him, according to formal reports. The turnout stood at 24,254,152 voters, representing 41 percent of 50,078,138 registered voters.

In a televised speech after winning the election, Sisi pledged to keep his promise in serving the nation and thanked all Egyptians for trusting him to lead the country.

High approval ratings

After 28 months in office, the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, Baseera, conducted a survey to measure Sisi's approval ratings, finding that President Sisi enjoys a 68 percent approval rating, a figure that stands higher than what most presidents enjoy.

Although there were many reasons why approval ratings were high, the most prominent reasons where, the Suez Canal project, improved security, the economic reform plan, improved infrastructure and increased social housing.

Screen Shot 2018-06-30 at 15.04.42
President Sisi approves high approval rating. - baseera official website

More recently, the 2018 Presidential Election verified Sisi's high approval ratings, when Sisi garnered 97.08 percent of valid votes in the presidential elections last week, where more than 21.8 million people voted for him. His hardly-known competitor received 656,534 votes, making up 2.9 percent of the valid ballots. The turnout stood at 24,254,152 voters; 41 percent of the electorate.

Much like the 2014 election, where Sisi competed against well-known politician Hamdeen Sabahy, void votes ranked second in the poll.

In 2018, void votes made up 7.27 percent of the total votes, accounting for 1.762 million ballots. If void votes are not exclude from the result, Sisi's share of the total votes would be 90 percent.

In a press conference, the National Elections Authority announced the unsurprising figures, yet its head, judge Lachine Ibrahim, applauded the turnout of Egyptian expats abroad and the judicial supervision of the poll.

In the 2014 vote, 23.4 million people voted for Sisi, void votes accounted for one million ballots, and Sabahy amassed 740,000 votes. In 2014, President Sisi had competed against el-Ghad Party chairperson Moussa Moustafa Moussa.



]]>
6/30/2018 2:12:20 PM
<![CDATA[ANALYSIS: Egypt’s June 30 events - Coup or Revolution?]]>The Egyptian Cabinet, headed by newly-appointed Premier Mostafa Madbouli, announced July 1 a national holiday to both the public and private sectors across the country for the occasion of the June 30 celebrations.

Some still doubt the motives behind the second popular uprising that took place less than three years since January 2011. Some others have frequently accused Egypt of imposing restrictions on the freedom of expression and human rights violations.

One of the Brotherhood’s allegations is that the people’s will that was witnessed in the streets calling for the overthrow of Morsi in June 2013 was actually a military coup.

Coup vs. Revolution linguistically
Coup d'état refers to a “sudden defeat of a government through illegal force by a small group, often a military one” according to the Cambridge dictionary. Another definition is found in the Oxford dictionary as follows: “a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.” The two definitions of “coup” thusly cannot be said to represent this case.

On the contrary, the Cambridge dictionary defines ‘revolution’ as “a change in the way a country is governed, usually to a different political system and often using violence or war,” and this reflects the June 30 case.

When Egyptians chanted “bread, freedom, and social justice,” the main demands of the January 25 revolution, they thought their demands would be easily met by the Muslim Brotherhood group which “stole the revolution from the youth” as observers described then. However, the three demands were not met by the first elected administration of the MB, which is currently outlawed in Egypt and other Arab countries.

Why did army interfere to June 30 revolution?

The one-year rule of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the misbehavior of Morsi and his group showed how he lacked a basic understanding of Egyptian political dynamics, and that is why he was unable to complete his term in office.

Morsi could not accomplish any progress at all in dealing with Egypt’s internal and external challenges, from minor domestic challenges to the external threats facing the government.
In 2012, Egyptians had high expectations after the revolution in 2011. In addition, Morsi was manipulating the political scene by appointing his affiliates in all government organizations and institutions, giving them privileges, enabling terrorist groups to expand in Sinai, threatening Egyptian national security and working hard to Brotherhoodizing the Egyptian civil state.

On July 1, Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) issued a statement titled "The Final Hours" that read: "We swear by God that we are ready to sacrifice our blood for Egypt and its people against any terrorist, extremist or fool."

Former first lady Gehan Sadat was shocked when she saw her husband’s murderers honored and respected by Egypt’s then-President Morsi who brought the killers of late President Anwar Sadat to Cairo Stadium declaring ‘Jihad’ in Syria against Bashar al-Assad’s regime in October 2012.

After the success of the security forces to disperse the Brotherhood sit-ins in Nahda and Rabaa al-Adawiya in August 2013, Brotherhood leader Mohamed Beltagi threatened Egyptians to continue supporting terrorist groups in Sinai if Morsi was not reinstalled as the ‘legitimate president’ of Egypt, according to a video circulated on the internet.

Brotherhood endeavors to ruin Egypt
The Brotherhood exerted its best efforts to impede the Egyptian administration’s corrective path which began with the June 30 revolution including organizing protests against Sisi in many foreign countries during his first visits abroad such as Germany, the U.S. and France in 2014 and 2015. By time, the Brotherhood and Sisi opponents got fed up with these destructive attempts. Such protests stopped and Sisi had begun his corrective revolution against corruption.

Regional Muslim Brotherhood branches cut ties with Egypt’s mother Brotherhood
Political analysts believe that the Brotherhood’s embracing of those principles revealed their “ugly face” in several political events since the foundation of the group, and was the cause of their plight over the years, and therefore, they were banned in many countries. That is why the Brotherhood in Egypt disbanded several times, either by the judiciary or ruling authority starting from 1948 through to the crisis of 1954, until the Egyptian government considered it a "terrorist group" in December 2013.

Some Gulf Arab states also sensed the danger of the Brotherhood and accused some of its leaders of trying to seize power, and issued against its members varying provisions, hence the group is no longer visible in a number of Gulf states currently.

Egypt was not the only county to ban the Muslim Brotherhood; the United Arab Emirates took strict procedures against them, and the Saudi authorities put the Brotherhood on the list of terrorist groups in March 2014. As for the Sultanate of Oman, their Brotherhood, which was founded at the end of the 1970s, faced in the 90s accusations of establishing a secret anti-state organ, that is why some of its members were sentenced to death and some others went to prison, before the group turned into an ideological current.

In Algeria, the movement of Peace Society, founded in 1990, the most affected by the Muslim Brotherhood, has seen several splits and ideological differences hit the group in Sudan, which was founded in the 50s and which has seen several leaders, last of them is Ali Gaweesh.]]>
6/30/2018 11:51:45 AM
<![CDATA[Key events of 30 June revolution]]>
Egypt Today provides a quick refresher of the events of the June 30 revolution, as the country celebrates its fifth anniversary today.

July 26, 2013

The then-Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi delivered a long televised speech in which he threatened that polarization reached the stage that it could threaten the country.

At this time, people's anger at the regime of the Muslim Brotherhood was growing and the signature campaign of Tamarod (rebel) that was formed to demand an end to Morsy's rule was taking the country by storm.

Shortly after, several sporadic protests broke out in a number of governorates between the loyalists of the regime and those that had an issue with it.

June 27, 2013

Egyptian scholar and diplomat Mohamed El Baradie, who is also the head of Egypt's oppostion bloc called National Salvation Front (NSF), delivered a speech in response to Morsi's.

Baradie mentioned that the president was not m taking control of the situation any more and described in the speech his failure as a president of Egypt and called on people to peacefully gather in public spaces, calling early presidential elections and the formation of a committee to reformulate the constitution that the Muslim Brotherhood enforced shortly after Morsy's election in 2012.


June 28, 2013

Egyptians lined and filled Tahrir Square, demanding an end to Morsi's reign, while other citizens gathered in front of some of the headquarters of the governorates and threatened a nation-wide civil disobedience, while Pro-Morsy rallies took over Nasr City's Rabaa Square.

June 30, 2013


Millions of Egyptians protested in Tahrir Square and in front of the Presidential Palace and demanded the departure of Morsi. The number of demonstrators reached about 37 million demonstrators.

Chaos immediately ensued between the loyalists of the Muslim Brotherhood and demonstrators in front of the headquarter of the group in Mokkatam and resulted in the death of ten.

July 1, 2013

The then-Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi delivered a televised speech in which he threatened to directly intervene to the welfare of the people within a 48-hour ultimatum and pledged to lay out a road map himself. Nationwide celebrations by the military announcement took over the country with people chanting for it.




July 2, 2013


In defiance to the military’s announcement, Morsi made his final TV appearance and made visible of his intentions to adhere to his presidential mandate stipulated in the Constitution. Severe clashes occurred in the vicinity of m Cairo University and resulted in the killing of 20.

July 3, 2013

After the end of the 48-hour mandate, Sisi announced the ouster of Morsi in a televised statement and the suspension of the 2012 Constitution. The president of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Masnour, was ordered to take over the reins until the holding of an early presidential election.



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6/30/2018 11:51:07 AM
<![CDATA[In-depth look at Egypt's June 30 Revolution]]>CAIRO – 30 June 2018: As millions of protesters across Egypt took to the streets and demanded to oust the Muslim Brotherhood regime, the date June 30, 2013 was engraved into Egypt’s history as the date that Egypt freed itself from the shackles of the outlawed terrorist organization that sought to destabilize the country while pushing it to the brinks of failure.


And still, five years after the revolution, the Egyptian army that once protected the country from the dark ambitions of the Muslim Brotherhood and supported the will of millions of Egyptians, is still fulfilling its vow towards Egypt’s soil.


“Historians and analysts will study and analyze the June 30 revolution for a long time to come,” President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said during 4th anniversary of the June 30 revolution.


“June 30 is an unprecedented model of popular revolutions and will remain always an inspiration for the future generations of our sons and daughters.”


Some of the reasons behind ousting the Muslim Brotherhood regime include accusation of increased authoritarianism and the clear pushing through an Islamist agenda disregarding the country’s laws and constitution.


It was the largest demonstration since the 2011 uprising that overthrew Mohamed Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak; it concluded seven months of protests that started when the Morsi government issued a highly controversial draft constitution that gave him sweeping unlimited powers over the state's judicial system.



On the occassion of the fifth anniversary of the June 30 Revolution, Egypt Today presents to its readers the following stories in regard to the revolution with which the Egyptian people have regained their identity and corrected Egypt's path:



50% discount on Cairo's river-bus trips in June 30 celebrations

National Security victims of war against terrorism


June 30's 4th anniversary:



Q&A: Health Ministry plan for June 30 anniversary

UAE FM: June 30 revolution uncovered MB conspiracy against Egypt

June 30 revolution corrects January 25 path (Part I)

Sisi pledges to pursue counterterrorism, development efforts

Four years on June 30 revolution..What are Armed Forces Engineering Authority contributions?

Egypt's 50 most prominent state projects in the last 4 years
]]>
6/30/2018 11:33:00 AM
<![CDATA[ANALYSIS-Iran's rulers face discontent as U.S. pressure mounts]]>
Three days of protests broke out on Sunday in Tehran's Grand Bazaar, with hundreds of angry shopkeepers denouncing a sharp fall in the value of the Iranian currency.

The disturbances are a major challenge, but analysts expect the leadership will survive despite factional infighting and growing economic problems.

However, the weekend protests quickly acquired a political edge, with people shouting slogans against Iran's ultimate authority, Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and other top officials, calling them thieves who should step down.

Bazaar merchants, mostly loyal to the leadership since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, are angry at what they see as the government's muddled response to the crisis, which they said had sent prices soaring and made trading almost impossible.

The rial has lost 40 per cent of its value since last month, when President Donald Trump pulled out of Iran's 2015 nuclear accord and announced draconian sanctions on Tehran.

These include an attempt to shut down the international sale of Iranian oil, Tehran's main source of revenue, a threat that has cast a chill over the economy.

"The country is under pressure from inside and outside. But it seems there is no crisis management plan to control the situation," said an official close to Khamenei's camp.

The full impact of Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal and Washington's move to stop foreign countries from doing business with Iran, may not be clear for months.

European signatories are hoping to salvage the deal - under which most sanctions were lifted and Iran curbed its nuclear programme - but there are doubts they can keep it alive.

Already French companies Total and Peugeot, for example, have said they will pull out of Iran rather than risk being shut out of the U.S. financial system, as Washington threatens to use the dollar's reserve currency status to punish anyone who gets in the way of its ramped-up Iran policy.

Iran has blamed U.S. sanctions for the fall in the rial, saying the measures amount to a "political, psychological and economic" war on Tehran - although some officials recognise that the threat has exposed serious failings at home.

"Sanctions cannot be blamed for all the internal problems. They have yet to be implemented," said a second official, familiar with Iran's decision-making process.

To pile on the pain, Washington says all countries must end crude imports from Iran by Nov. 4, hitting the oil sales that generate 60 percent of the country's income. Iran says this level of cuts will never happen.

"DEATH TO THE DICTATOR"

Tehran's Grand bazaar is traditionally the biggest financial ally of the establishment, and it helped bankroll the 1979 Revolution.

But while cries of "Death to the Dictator" resembled chants of "Death to the Shah" four decades ago in the bazaar, analysts and insiders ruled out any chance that Iran is once more on the brink of a seismic shift in its political landscape.

"With severe economic pressure ahead of us, the protests will not die easily," said an Iranian diplomat in Europe. "But the chance of a regime change is zero because Iranians do not want another revolution and are sceptical it would be for the better."

Police and security forces maintained a heavy presence in the area after days of clashes with protesters. Though officials say the bazaar has resumed normal business, the rial crisis and its political reverberations are surely far from over.

Video on social media showed protests continuing in several towns and cities, with some participants demanding regime change.

While pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani's government has tried to stop the currency slide with a combination of threats and persuasion, many Iranians remain unconvinced.

"The rial's fall is disrupting my business. The cost of imports has skyrocketed. If it continues, I will not be able to continue my business," said Reza, a shopkeeper in the bazaar who refused to give his full name.

Despite calls for unity by Khamenei, divisions have emerged among Iran's ruling elite, with some hardliners calling for a snap presidential election, and criticising Rouhani for economic mismanagement.

Factional power struggles are endemic in Iran, where hardliners around the Supreme Leader, such as the Revolutionary Guards and the judiciary, face off against the president, and pragmatists and reformists in elected institutions such as parliament.

"Both sides will try to use the combination of external and internal pressure to advance their causes," said Sanam Vakil, an adjunct professor teaching Middle East politics at SAIS Europe.

"If the government fails to find an immediate solution to the crisis ... a snap presidential election will be inevitable in the coming months," said Tehran-based analyst Saeed Leylaz.

AN OUTSIDE CHANCE

Some analysts see an outside chance that Iran's hardline leaders might seek an accommodation with the United States, with the prospect of sanctions bringing Iran's economy to its knees.

But Trump may be in no hurry to embark on negotiations that might bolster Iranian clerical leaders.

The leadership "might lean towards a compromise with America to preserve the establishment", said one official involved in Iran's nuclear talks with foreign powers. "But of course America should show flexibility as well."

While more pragmatic elements in Iran have indicated an interest in dialogue with America and a diplomatic solution to the standoff, Khamenei has resisted direct negotiations, partly because of internal power politics.

"Despite their radical public approach, hardliners want a compromise with America, but they don't want to give Rouhani the upper hand at home by championing talks," said a source, familiar with Iranian thinking.]]>
6/29/2018 5:00:33 PM
<![CDATA[Putin, Trump to discuss Syria at July meeting -Kremlin]]>
The meeting, to be held on July 16 in Helsinki, is likely to worry some U.S. allies, particularly those who want to isolate Russia on the international stage, as well as drawing a fiery reaction from some of Trump's critics at home.

Russia's support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whom the United States and its Western allies accuse of using chemical weapons against civilians, has been one of the main flashpoints in the tense relationship between Washington and the Kremlin.

"There's no doubt about the fact that Syria will be discussed in depth," Kremlin spokesman Peskov said in a call with reporters. "A thoroughly exhaustive discussion awaits."

Other contentious issues are also likely to come up in the meeting, which will mark the third time the two presidents meet but their first official summit.

Trump could raise the issue of Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. elections in 2016, a claim made by U.S. intelligence agencies that led the United States to impose tough sanctions on Russia in April.

Previously, sanctions had been imposed during the administration of President Barack Obama in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and its involvement in the conflict in Ukraine.

"If (the issue of election meddling) will be raised by the U.S. president, then the Russian president will repeat that Russia could not and did not have anything to do with this situation, around which such insinuations are unfurled," Peskov said.

Peskov also said Putin was ready to move towards normalising ties with the United States in proportion to U.S. willingness to do the same.

Trump will meet Putin in Helsinki after attending a July 11-12 summit of NATO leaders and a visit to Britain. The date will give Putin a chance to attend the July 15 closing ceremony of the soccer World Cup hosted by Russia.

After Trump and Putin met briefly in Vietnam in November 2017, Trump was criticized in the United States for saying he believed Putin when the Russian president denied Russian meddling.

The upcoming Helsinki summit has been criticised by members of the opposing Democratic Party who described it as a gift to the Kremlin and expressed concerns over what else Trump might give away.

In Moscow, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said it was best not to get too excited about what the summit might yield.

"In general, I'd recommend everyone not to use phrases like 'breakthroughs' and such like," the RIA news agency quoted her as saying. "I suggest taking quite a pragmatic and realistic view of these meetings."]]>
6/29/2018 1:14:56 PM
<![CDATA[U.S. online sex trafficking law challenged in court]]>
The Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA) aims to make it easier to prosecute the owners and operators of websites that facilitate sex trafficking.

But the organizations behind the legal challenge, including Human Rights Watch and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, which provides help and advice to sex workers, say the law hampers their work.

"Websites that support sex workers by providing health-related information or safety tips could be charged with promoting or facilitating prostitution," said the complaint, filed in the District of Columbia federal court on Thursday.

The U.S. Department of Justice, the target of the suit, declined to comment.

The challengers say the law has led to the closure of services that help sex workers stay safe - the client-screening website VerifyHim closed down critical sections as a precaution.

"FOSTA chills sexual speech and harms sex workers," said Ricci Levy, executive director of the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, in a statement. "It makes it harder for people to take care of and protect themselves."

The challengers also include an activist advocating for sex workers' rights, and a massage therapist whose business was damaged by Craigslist's decision to shut down its "Therapeutic Services" section when FOSTA came into force.

Website owners and operators found guilty of contributing to sex trafficking face 25 years in prison plus fines under the new law, while victims can also sue for damages in civil courts.

FOSTA watered down Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA), which protects websites from liability for content posted by users and has been credited with fuelling decades of tech company growth.

It followed years of lobbying by anti-trafficking activists who expressed frustration at the use of the CDA by the online classifieds site Backpage.com to derail lawsuits accusing it of promoting trafficking in its advertisements.

U.S. authorities shut Backpage down days before FOSTA was adopted.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the digital free speech advocacy group representing the complainants, said it was the first nationwide legal challenge to the new law.]]>
6/29/2018 1:09:47 PM
<![CDATA[Most controversial driver in Egypt, who is he?]]>
The General Administration of Traffic in Egypt provides seven different licenses according to the type of vehicle; the number of vehicle licenses in Egypt reached 9.4 million at the end of 2016, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

1 – Microbuses and minibuses

In the early 1960s, Egypt imported microbuses from Volkswagen Company, and Giza governorate was then the only Egyptian governorate to have microbuses. By the end of the 1970s, microbuses became one of the main means of transportation for millions of Egyptians. Even though microbus drivers have licenses, the vast majority of Egyptians consider them unworthy of being licensed drivers.

"Microbus drivers don’t respect traffic rules or other vehicles around them; they don’t have any problem to cut the road and swerve suddenly in front of other cars without giving signals," Hanan Mohamed, a woman who has 5-year experience in driving around Cairo, told Egypt Today.

“Microbuses look like armored vehicles; if microbus drivers hit a car, the microbus won’t be affected as much as other vehicles,” Hanan said.

All drivers complain from microbus and minibus drivers, not only women.

11
Mohamed Mostafa drives his small truck - Egypt Today/Hend safwat

“The government must confiscate licenses of microbus drivers,” Mohamed Mostafa, a truck driver, who has 25 year experience in driving, told Egypt Today.
According to Mohamed, microbuses are hazardous to the surrounding vehicles, as when a passenger waves to a microbus, the driver stops suddenly, causing a lot of accidents and hampering traffic.

22
Sayed Madbouli drives his microbus – Photo courtesy of Sayed Madbouli

Microbus drivers further acknowledge that they don’t abide by traffic rules, Sayed Madbouli, a microbus driver for more than 32 years, said. Madbouli explained that there are two types of microbus drivers; the first type comprises those who drive on high ways, like Cairo- Alexandria Road, and abide by traffic rules, avoiding accidents as much as they can.

While the second type includes those who drive within governorates and slums; the drivers he described as “rude and careless.”

“They put iron bars behind and in front of their microbuses to frighten others, as they know if they hit other vehicles, their microbuses wouldn’t be affected or damaged,” Sayed explained.

On the other hand, other people consider microbus drivers the cleverest drivers in Egypt.

33
Mostafa Abd Al Mongy while driving his own car – Photo courtesy of Mostafa Abd Al Mongy

“The majority of microbus drivers are professional,” Mostafa Abdel Mongy, a student at al Azhar University said.

Mostafa considers microbus drivers the most professional drivers because they memorize the roads well and know how to escape congestion. However, Mostafa gets annoyed by reckless microbus drivers who use irrational speed, causing deadly accidents.

2-Malaky cars “Private cars”

Some people prefer driving their own cars, as this provides them with more privacy and time flexibility.

44
Imam Gala Ibrahim drives taxi – Egypt Today/Hend safwat

“Young drivers speed more than elder people,” Imam Gala Ibrahim, a 42 year old taxi driver, told Egypt Today.

"The vast majority of youth drivers cause a lot of accidents due to speeding, while drivers whose ages range between 30 and 45 years old drive more carefully," he added.

55
Mohamed Mohsen maintenances forklift - Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

"Women are awful drivers, as they can’t handle stress especially on the highways and they take a lot of time to park their cars; they should keep away from driving," Mohamed Mohsen, a 51-year old forklift driver, said.

On the other hand, Samir Sayed Mahmoud, a 52 year old dump truck driver, said that gender does not affect a person's ability to drive; drivers just need to be well trained and abide by traffic laws.

“Women and men are probably equal in terms of driving skills, but the vast majority of women abide by traffic rules which led some people to think that women don’t drive well. Unfortunately, a person who speeds and infringes traffic laws is considered a good driver by so many people,” Samir explained.

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Samir Sayed Mahmoud in Egyptian street –Egypt Today/Hend Safwat

3- Lorries and trucks

Driving trucks needs more skill and training than driving other cars; it isn’t easy to drive this kind of vehicles due to their huge sizes.

“Lorry drivers are the best drivers and they are more professional than others; they can drive any kind of vehicles, but other drivers can’t drive lorries,” Ali Yasser, a taxi driver, in his early 60s, told Egypt Today.

According to Ali, experienced lorry and truck drivers are more cautious, especially on the high way. He added that mistakes usually come from other vehicles' drivers who move into the right lane which is specialized for lorry drivers and heavy trucks only.

"The truckers take the highest category of all licenses -Professional first license- and they are the most qualified drivers, but they are also the main source of fatal accidents as some of them use drugs," Samir Sayed, a lorry driver told Egypt Today.

"Finally, to drive or not to drive, it is up to you. But when you decide to drive, you should abide by traffic rules, as you don’t have the right to put your life and people’s lives in danger," Samir stressed.
]]>
6/29/2018 3:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Battle lines drawn in Senate over Trump Supreme Court pick]]>
Justice Anthony Kennedy's announced departure at the end of July will give Trump the opportunity to appoint his second justice to the nine-seat bench -- and shift the high court decisively to the right.

But one day after the sudden announcement by Kennedy, who has held the tie-breaking vote between the bench's liberal and conservative judges, the politicization of the process was already clear.

Senators were hardening their positions over whether to go ahead with the confirmation process before November's midterm elections, or wait until Americans vote in a new slate of lawmakers to be seated in January.

Trump has told reporters that the process to replace Kennedy, 81, will "begin immediately," raising alarm among Democrats fearful that the president will nominate an ideological conservative, upsetting the court's delicate balance and locking in a hard-right majority for a generation.

No less than women's reproductive rights, health care and gay rights are at stake, Democrats said.

"Whomever the president picks, it is all too likely they're going to overturn health care protections and Roe v. Wade," top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer warned on the Senate floor, referring to the landmark 1970s Supreme Court ruling that upheld abortion rights.

Senator John Thune, a member of the Republican leadership, acknowledged as much, particularly on overturning Roe v. Wade.

"I think that was a wrongly decided case, and so that's something I would support," Thune told reporters.

- Dogfight -

Kennedy's departure sets the stage for a dogfight over his succession, a blueprint for which was established by Republican lawmakers in 2016 when they denied then-president Barack Obama the opportunity to fill the seat left vacant following the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia.

That delay, orchestrated by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was seen as lighting a fire under Trump's grassroots voters during the election, and it ultimately enabled Trump to nominate Scalia's replacement, Neil Gorsuch.

Democrats demanding a delay now are citing McConnell's own 2016 argument that the nomination of a Supreme Court justice is too consequential not to allow American voters to weigh in through the upcoming election.

"If the Senate's constitutional duty to advise and consent is just as important as the president's right to nominate, which the Constitution says it is, why should a midterm election be any less important than a presidential election?" Schumer said.

McConnell rejected that argument as "totally absurd" and said the confirmation vote will occur "this fall."

"We're right in the middle of this president's very first term," he said. "To my knowledge nobody on either side has ever suggested -- before yesterday -- that the Senate should only process Supreme Court nominations in odd numbered years."

Senate rules and procedures are in McConnell's favor, leaving Democrats with little recourse for blocking progress on Trump's nominee.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley asserted Wednesday that he looked forward to holding a confirmation hearing "in the weeks ahead."

- Narrowest of majorities -

Trump said Kennedy's successor -- who like all Supreme Court justices will be appointed for life -- would be selected from among a list of 25 possible candidates.

Tipped as a leading contender is Brett Kavanaugh, 53, who once clerked for Justice Kennedy. He was nominated as a federal appeals court judge by president George W. Bush, overriding Democrat concerns he was too partisan, having worked on an investigation of Bill Clinton.

Also on the list is Senator Mike Lee, among the chamber's most conservative members, and appellate Judge Amul Thapar, who would be the Supreme Court's first Asian-American justice.

Whoever is nominated will need to thread the needle in the 100-member Senate.

Confirmation requires a majority, after Republican leadership last year invoked the "nuclear option" and dropped the threshold to overcome blocking tactics from 60 to a simple majority.

Republicans hold 51 seats, but Senator John McCain is absent, battling brain cancer. If all Democrats oppose Trump's nominee, that leaves Republicans with no margin of error.

Two female Republican senators, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, are being closely watched as they have expressed support in the past for women's reproductive rights.

And three Democrats facing tough re-election fights this year are also in the spotlight.

Each of them voted to confirm Gorsuch in 2017, and each released statements after Kennedy's retirement saying they would carefully consider Trump's nominee to replace him.]]>
6/29/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Arab Quartet escalates sovereign airspace issue to ICJ instead of ICAO]]>
In a joint statement for the four countries, it was stated that their decision came as a result of the ICAO latest acceptance of Qatari claims and demands against them without explaining the reason or giving the Arab Quartet the chance the take the appropriate procedures as a response.

The statement also added that ICAO's acceptance of the Qatari demands is considered to be an exemption; accordingly, the four countries made a decision to refer the case to the International Court of Justice to object to the ICAO's decision.

Qatar crisis: one year of Tamim's stubbornness

CAIRO - 5 June 2018: One year ago, Qatar has been hit by its biggest diplomatic crisis after multiple Arab nations, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, cut ties with Qatar, accusing it of destabilizing the region with its support for Islamist groups.



According to the quartet's statement, the real issue with Qatar is related to Doha’s constant violation of the four countries' sovereignty; "which turns the conflict between them into a political dispute more than anything else; however, the ICAO's latest decision was seen as a biased step."

The four countries affirmed that they will continue their cooperation with the ICAO despite their latest decision to withdraw their case against Qatar from the organization.
In August 2017, the ICAO approved a working paper of the four Arab states cutting ties with Qatar, allowing Qatari planes to use air corridors in emergencies.

During an extraordinary session held by the ICAO after a Qatari complaint supported with Article number 54 of Convention on International Civil Aviation singed in 1944, which stipulates that the member countries can discuss any issue related to the agreement of aviation. The agreement was signed by 52 countries.

In the compliant, Qatar requested the ICAO to mediate and launch negotiations with the four Arab states that closed their airspaces to Qatari flights.

The joint working paper that was praised by the member countries included opening nine additional airways to relieve pressure on existing routes over international waters; these actions were taken in collaboration with the ICAO- associated with the United Nations (UN) - regional office in Cairo, to enhance air safety over international waters in the Middle East.

The head of the ICAO confirmed that the approval came based on technical reasons, not political ones.

The ICAO's approval came following the General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) announcement on Sunday, to allocate emergency air corridors in the four Arab states for the passage of Qatari flights, in cases of closure of regional airspaces.

On June 5, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have suspended diplomatic ties with Qatar, due to supporting terrorism. Flights between the four countries and Qatar were also suspended.

1 Year into boycott, foreign mediations to solve Gulf crisis

CAIRO - 5 June 2018: The diplomatic crisis between Qatar and the Arab Quartet enters its second year on June 5. Several countries, particularly Kuwait, have sought to mediate the crisis and prevent any escalation in the regional tensions.



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6/28/2018 5:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Libyan militia leader gets 22-year sentence over killed US ambassador]]>
A jury in November acquitted Ahmed Abu Khattala, 47, of murder and attempted murder in the overnight attacks that began Sept. 11, 2012, on a US diplomatic mission and nearby CIA post.

However, Abu Khattala was convicted on charges including conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists.

It was the extent of Abu Khattala’s role as ringleader that U.S. District Judge Christopher R. “Casey” Cooper considered in sentencing him, the newspaper noted.

Federal prosecutors said Abu Khattala helped mastermind a terrorist strike abroad that resulted in the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others and that he deserved the maximum punishment.
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6/28/2018 3:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[National Security victims of war against terrorism ]]>
Former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim faces a failed assassination attempt

On September 5, 2013, former Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim survived an assassination attempt in Cairo when an IED blows up his motorcade, injuring 22.
While Ibrahim was leaving his home in Cairo's Nasr City neighborhood, the blast struck near his convoy. Authorities at the begging pointed to a car bomb, but later said they suspected an explosive was thrown from a nearby building.

Security director of Alexandria survives an assassination attempt

In March 2018: The security director of Alexandria survived an assassination attempt, after a massive explosion targeted his convoy at Rushdy district in the center of Alexandria governorate.

Minutes after the attack, Security Director Moustafa al-Nemr appeared on TV inspecting the explosion site, which resulted in the death of police sergeant Ali Galal and the injury of four others, three of whom are policemen, who had been admitted to the military hospital of Moustafa Pasha for medical treatment.

Alexandria's security director survives assassination attempt

The security director of Alexandria survived an assassination attempt on Saturday, after a massive explosion targeted his convoy in Alexandria




Egyptian National Security Officer Mohamed Mabrouk assassinated

In November 2013, Egyptian National Security Officer Mohamed Mabrouk, 34 years old, was assassinated by masked gunmen who opened fire on the officer’s car and shot him dead.

Mabrouk was assassinated while he was leaving his residence and heading to work. Eyewitnesses said they saw two white cars parking earlier on both sides of the road, and then started to drive in the direction of the officer’s car which was moving slowly. Both cars cut the road, then masked gunmen went down from the second car and opened intensive fire on the officer’s car.

16 security officers die in Western Desert clashes: Interior Ministry

In October 2016, The Interior Ministry released a statement in which it announced that 16 security officers were killed during clashes with militants in Wahat in the Western Desert, which led to the killing of 15 militants.

The statement added that the Interior Ministry’s National Security Service received information about the location of dangerous militants taking shelter in the Western Desert’s kilo 135, and then a raid was launched.

The statement concluded by asserting the Interior Ministry’s solidified determination to eradicate terrorism and dry out its breeding grounds and hotbeds.


Two lieutenant colonels killed near Foreign Ministry

Ajnad Misr detonated a bomb near the Foreign Ministry in downtown Cairo, killing two lieutenant colonels and a key witness in a trial against former President Mohammed Morsi.

Earlier in June, a new Cabinet was sworn in before President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi; President Sisi replaced former Interior Minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, who has been minister of interior since March 2015, with Mohamed Tawfiq.


New Interior Minister highlights 15 significant security messages

CAIRO - 15 June 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi on Thursday swore in a new Cabinet as he replaced former interior minister Magdi Abdel Ghaffar, who has been minister of interior since March 2015, with Mohamed Tawfiq.




Egypt

How Egyptian security dealt with IEDs threat?

CAIRO - 1 January 2018: It has been a year full of tragic incidents and security triumphs. Egyptian security showed a lot of strength and efficiency in the fight against ongoing terrorism, despite the big numbers of victims and economic fluctuation resulted from terrorist acts plagued the country in the last few years.




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6/28/2018 1:30:27 AM
<![CDATA[Egypt Today's world news brief]]>
Britain's Prince William visits Palestinian refugee camp, meet Abbas

Britain’s Prince William visited on Wednesday a Palestinian refugee camp in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after voicing his hopes for Middle East peace at a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

William thanked President Abbas for his warm reception and expressed his hopes for peace for the region. "My sentiments are the same as yours in hoping that there is a lasting peace in the region,” said the Royal Prince.

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Prince William with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas - Reuters

South Sudan foes agree 'permanent' ceasefire within 72 hours

South Sudan President Salva Kiir and arch-foe Riek Machar agreed Wednesday to a "permanent" ceasefire to take effect within 72 hours, raising hopes of a deal to end their country's devastating war.

"All parties have agreed on a permanent ceasefire within 72 hours of signing the Khartoum Document," Sudan's Foreign Minister Al-Dierdiry Ahmed announced following talks in the Sudanese capital.

Kiir and Machar then signed the document in the presence of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

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© AFP | From left to right, South Sudan opposition leader Riek Machar, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir at peace talks in khartoum

Turkey opposition chief says won't congratulate 'dictator' Erdogan

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party on Tuesday refused to congratulate President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on his decisive election victory, describing the strongman as a "dictator" running a one-man regime.

"You cannot congratulate someone who ties the executive, judicial and legislative organs to themselves. You cannot congratulate someone who defends a one-man regime. What are you congratulating?" Kilicdaroglu told reporters.

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Muharrem Ince polled a respectable 30.6 percent but failed to force a second round - AFP

Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave the EU

A bill enacting Britain's decision to leave the European Union has become law after months of debate, the House of Commons speaker announced Tuesday, to cheers from eurosceptic lawmakers.

Speaker John Bercow said the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member of the bloc, had been given the formal royal assent by Queen Elizabeth II.

The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as March 29, 2019 at 11:00 pm (2300 GMT) -- midnight Brussels time.
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The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as March 29, 2019 at 11pm (2300 GMT) - FILE: AFP
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6/27/2018 5:32:00 PM
<![CDATA[EU’s FRONTEX head praises Egypt’s role in halting illegal immigration]]>
The meeting came as part of the Egyptian dialogue with the European Union, which started in 2017, around the immigration issue.

Fawzi met with a delegation from FRONTEX headed by Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri during his visit to Cairo.

Leggeri affirmed Egypt’s unchangeable stance toward dealing with the issues of immigration and refugees from a comprehensive perspective that balances security and development, according to a formal statement on Wednesday.

During the meeting, Leggeri praised Egypt’s regional role, affirming that the European Union considers Egypt as one of the main partners in the region, especially regarding hindering illegal immigration. He also hailed the efforts of the Egyptian military’s border guards to stop illegal immigration across Egyptian borders with Europe.


Leggeri expressed his keenness to strengthen cooperation with Egypt to benefit from the country's experience in dealing with illegal immigration.

The foreign minister’s assistant called on the international community, during the meeting, to cooperate with Egypt to halt illegal immigration, as this will help achieve security and stability in the whole Mediterranean region. He also called for backing the Egyptian efforts to host the growing numbers of immigrants and refugees.

In December 2017, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi received Dimitris Avramopoulos, European Union commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs, in the presence of Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram.

During the meeting, Sisi underscored the significance of dealing with the growing threat of illegal immigration through a comprehensive strategy that can address its root causes.

EU
President Abdel Fatah al- Sisi received Saturday Dimitris Avramopoulos ,European Union Commissioner for Migration, Citizenship and Home Affairs, December, 2017- Press photo

Sisi also stressed such a threat can be fought through settling regional disputes, pushing for development and raising the standard of living for people affected by crises, emphasizing the key role that the European commission plays in this regard.

Moreover, Sisi stressed that Egypt is no place for displacement camps for refugees; instead, they are treated as nationals and are able to blend in the society.


Avramopoulos said that Egypt is a strategic partner to the EU on several levels.

Egypt and the EU have a common interest in securing the stability of the region and managing migration in a better way, Avramopoulos noted, adding that a major step forward in cooperation between both parties was taken.

The dialogue tackles all the issues related to the migration, including prevention of human smuggling and trafficking, strengthening legal channels for migration and movement, preventing illegal immigration and the protection of refugees and asylum seekers.

The dialogue is consistent with the EU-Egypt partnership priorities from 2017 to 2020, which were issued in July 2017.

Egypt’s efforts in combating illegal immigration

Earlier in June, The Egyptian Ministry of Interior thwarted an illegal migration attempt of 41 young people, and arrested three people accused of facilitating their migration.

This came within the framework of the ministry's efforts to tighten security status and combat various forms of crime, especially illegal immigration.

The Criminal Investigation Department in Fayoum found that three residents of Atsa city collected a group of young people to illegally immigrate through the dangerous border routes, with the help of some people in Marsa Matruh governorate in return for LE 12,000 for each migrant.

The migrants and the facilitators were arrested in a police ambush on the Fayoum road, and they confessed the crime. The police took the legal measures and the prosecution will further investigate the case.

The Egyptian Parliament approved in October the Illegal Immigration and Smuggling Law, which entails tough penalties on whoever assists and/or facilitates an illegal immigration process. The law was drafted by the Cabinet in 2015 and was sent in June 2016 to the Parliament for discussion.


Parts of the reporting were taken from Middle East News Agency (MENA) ]]>
6/27/2018 4:24:04 PM
<![CDATA[Brexit bill becomes law, allowing UK to leave the EU]]>
Speaker John Bercow said the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which repeals the 1972 European Communities Act through which Britain became a member of the bloc, had been given the formal royal assent by Queen Elizabeth II.

The bill transfers decades of European law onto British statute books, and also enshrines Brexit day in British law as March 29, 2019 at 11:00 pm (2300 GMT) -- midnight Brussels time.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the approval was a "historic moment for our country, and a significant step towards delivering on the will of the British people", who had voted in a June 2016 referendum to exit the EU.

The bill has undergone more than 250 hours of acrimonious debate in the Houses of Parliament since it was introduced in July 2017.

Eurosceptics celebrated the passing of the bill through parliament last week as proof that, despite continuing uncertainty in the negotiations with Brussels, Brexit was happening.

"Lest anyone is in any doubt, the chances of Britain not leaving the EU are now zero," International Trade Minister Liam Fox said.

Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, a staunch Brexit supporter, said: "The legal position is now so much stronger for a clean Brexit.

"Crucially this makes the prime minister's negotiating hand much stronger."

Another eurosceptic, Conservative MP Dominic Raab, said May would go to an EU summit later this week "with the wind in her sails".

The government had a tough time getting the bill through parliament and was forced to concede some power to lawmakers over the final Brexit deal agreed with Brussels.

The Brexit ministry said in a statement the new law would ensure "a smooth and orderly exit" by giving the government temporary powers to make changes to legislation.

The ministry said additional laws "will deliver the more significant policy changes needed as a result of our exit".

Further battles are expected in the House of Commons in the coming weeks, when MPs debate two bills on trade -- with pro-Europeans seeking to force the government to keep close ties with the bloc.

May has yet to set out her plans for customs arrangements after Brexit, which have become a major stumbling block in talks with Brussels.

She will gather her top ministers after the EU summit, which starts on Thursday, to thrash out their differences with the aim of publishing a Brexit blueprint shortly after.]]>
6/27/2018 4:01:34 PM
<![CDATA[Press Syndicate sends notes on new media law to Parliament ]]>
Head of the syndicate Abdel-Mohsen Salama said in statements to Egypt Today on Wednesday that the syndicate board agreed on specific articles which need to be amended. He expressed optimism over the Parliament's responses to the syndicate's concerns; however, nothing has been confirmed to be amended yet.

Earlier in June, the syndicate’s board held a meeting with editors-in-chief of national, private and party newspapers to discuss the strategy to restore newspapers’ “stolen rights” from Google and Facebook. The board also held another closed meeting to discuss their concerns over the new media law, which faced a huge wave of criticism by journalists especially on social media, raising several questions on whether it (the new law) will preserve media rights or impose more restrictions over Egyptian media.

The new law which consists of seven sections specifies the administrative construction of newspapers' high board and owners and defines exactly what it means to be a journalist. According to the new law, a journalist is “anyone listed as a member of Journalists Syndicate”. The new law also lists the National Media Authority and the National Press Authority rights to interfere, manage and direct all of the Egyptian media outlets.

Several concerns were raised by a number of the Journalists Syndicate members regarding the new law. A debate was launched on the ground and on social media between supporters and opponents of the new law.

In the opposing statement, Journalists Syndicate members listed several points referring to the new law as “standing against the freedom of media and journalists.”
However, other officials described the new law as "balanced". Head of Parliament’s Media, Culture and Antiquities Committee, Osama Heikal, said in statements to media outlets on Sunday that the new law sets a number of the needed principles to regulate media work inside the country, adding that the law is balanced and protects journalists and their rights.

Some administrative regulations were among the criticized points in the new law, including: reducing the representation of journalists in the board of directors to the minimum and appointing half of the board members from outside the media institution, as well as allowing the National Press Authority to directly manage the newspapers board of directors and public associations.

“The new law doesn’t allow the newspapers' board to make any important decisions without getting the authority's permission,” the statement read.

According to the statement, the new law also stipulates that the journalists have the right to reach for all the information they need; however, the law didn’t impose any punishment on anyone who hinders their access to information. The statement signers also criticized the National Media Authority's capability to impose sanctions over journalists and the Journalists Syndicate.

Moreover, the media draft law included several terms and words which could be described as elastic and incomprehensible, according to the statement, such as “spreading hatred, incitement, threat of democracy", and many others. Several other notes were listed in the statement, commenting on some of the privileges granted to journalists by the draft law, including criminalizing any attack on journalists while on duty.

Article 100 of the new law states that: “Any person who transgresses a journalist during or because of his work shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 10,000 and not more than LE 20,000 or one of these penalties.”

Parliament approves draft laws to regulate National Press Authority, National Media Authority

CAIRO - 12 June 2018: The Parliament approved on Monday the two government-drafted laws aimed to regulate the National Press Authority (NPA) and the National Media Authority (NMA). The two draft laws are among the three draft laws submitted by the Cabinet to regulate Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulation(HCMR), the National Media Authority(NPA), and the National Press Authority(NMA).



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6/27/2018 3:00:43 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt to set mechanism to collect social media ad taxes ]]>
However, it is not fully clear yet how the Egyptian state is going to collect money from advertisers, as some of the companies, which use Facebook and Google to target the Egyptian users, don’t have regional offices inside the country. One of the parliamentarians suggested that implementing these ad taxes on Facebook and Google is an option, but other options and possibilities are still on the table for further discussions.

Parliament member John Talaat, deputy head of the Communications and Information Technology Committee, said in statements to Egypt Today that implementing taxes on social media is actually applicable; however, it requires efforts by all the state’s entities to establish an acceptable mechanism.


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FILE- Parliament


He affirmed that imposing these taxes will positively affect the Egyptian state by providing a huge amount of money that could be used for improving public services.

According to Talaat, the new taxes should be imposed on huge firms using Facebook and Google to post advertisements, not on individuals. “These taxes will be the first step to confront social media advertisements. Other countries developed strategies to control this kind of ads. We can do it in our country as well,” MP Talaat stated.

Tamer Abdel kader, deputy of the Parliament's Culture and Media Committee, also told Egypt Today that the Egyptian government should draft a firm law to control search engines and social media websites; otherwise, these websites will negatively impact the society. “It can turn into an online information war if we do not apply an adjusting mechanism,” Abdel Kader added.

Another Parliament member affirmed that regardless the final mechanism reached by the state; regular social media users will not be harmed in any way.

On June 23, MP Talaat affirmed the Parliament’s support to drafting a legislation that imposes taxes on advertising companies, such as Google and Facebook.

Talaat added in a statement to Egypt Today that international companies advertise their products on social media websites, noting that some countries, including Germany and Netherland, have issued laws to regulate this process and impose taxes on advertising companies.

Total advertising in the UK managed to grow by 4.6 percent to record £22.2 billion ($30.6 billion) in 2017, according to the latest report from the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) UK and PwC.

Although digital advertisements grew by 14.3 percent to record £11.55 billion in 2017, a scant amount of that spent went to national and regional news websites and magazines; journalism is getting an ever-shrinking slice of the advertising pie.

The report has shown that digital giants, Google and Facebook, have both dominated the advertising market; Google alone takes an average 90 percent of UK search advertising, making at least £5 billion on this in the UK.

According to the report, display advertising comprises £3.95 billion of total UK advertising; Facebook is considered to be the biggest player when it comes to online display advertising in the UK, making an excess of £1 billion.

This report was issued a year after Press Gazette, a British media trade magazine, launched its “Duopoly” campaign to stop Google and Facebook from monopolizing the market and destroying journalism.


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6/27/2018 12:19:21 PM
<![CDATA[Court acquits former Mubarak secretary of illegal gain charges ]]>
The case dialed back to a complaint filed earlier by lawyer Aboul Nagga Mehrazy, who accused Rashawan of misappropriating state-owned plots of land.

The court had referred the case to the Administrative Control Authority (ACA) to look into the allegations of Mehrazy and investigate the accusations leveraged against the Mubarak-era official.

The findings revealed that Rashwan profiteered LE 780, 000, and that there was no proof that he was not abusing power, according to the court ruling that also stated that the defendant was not a culprit of illegal graft anymore as he paid back the above-mentioned sum of money in return of acquittal.

Rashwan was also amongst the defendants accused of wasting the public funds by receiving gifts dedicated to the promotion of the national institution of Al-Ahram.

Rashwan was later acquitted, along with other 288 defendants, after investigations had revealed that they have received the gifts with "good intentions"; other defendants reconciled with the state after paying back the gifts' prices, including Mubarak.

Where has all of the Mubarak-era money gone?

CAIRO - 21 December 2017: Most Egyptians have been wondering since the uprising of January 2011 where all of the Mubarak-era smuggled money and illicit gains have gone. Some people thought they would be richer a few months after the revolution; however, as the days went by, that dream started to fade.




In January 2013, Mubarak paid back LE 18 million to the state as reconciliation for the gifts he and his family members received before 2011, during the period of the four former CEOs of Al-Ahram.

The case, however, is still ongoing for the rest of the defendants.

On March 2, Egypt’s Top Appeals Court issued a final verdict acquitting Mubarak of charges of collusion to kill protesters during the January 25 Revolution in 2011 that ultimately toppled him from power after three decades.





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6/27/2018 11:26:45 AM
<![CDATA[Russia, Syria clash with West on boosting chemical watchdog]]>
Both Moscow and Damascus have vehemently denied using poison gases and a rare nerve agent in recent months and years, and argued there should be no change to the mandate of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

"We all hoped that these terrible instruments of death would never be used again," British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson told a special session of the OPCW's top policy-making body in The Hague.

"But the tragic reality is that chemical weapons have been used and are being used all over again."

In the absence of any mechanism to identify who is behind any such attacks, Britain supported by its allies has put forward a proposal that the OPCW should be mandated to "attribute responsibility for chemical weapons attacks".

The talks called by London come as the OPCW is expected to unveil soon its report into an alleged sarin and chlorine gas attack in April in the Syrian town of Douma. Medics and rescuers say 40 people were killed, blaming the attack on the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

- 'Collective responsibility' -

Johnson also highlighted the "appalling" nerve agent attack in March on former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, blamed by London on Moscow, saying areas in the town were still being decontaminated.

In 2017, the North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's half-brother was assassinated with a nerve agent in an attack in Kuala Lumpur airport.

"We in the international community cannot ignore these breaches of the Chemical Weapons Convention," Johnson said.

"None of us wants our children to grow up in a world where the use of chemical weapons becomes normalised. And I think today we all have the responsibility to act."

US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan agreed, saying "state and non-state actors are challenging the international norm against chemical weapons use".

"Allowing chemical weapons use to continue with impunity threatens our rules-based order and all nations around the world."

But Moscow hit back that changing the OPCW's mandate was a "destructive idea" which would undermine the body's legal basis.

Late last year, Russia wielded its veto power at the UN Security Council to effectively kill off a joint UN-OPCW panel aimed at identifying those behind attacks in Syria. And amid the dragging civil war in Syria, Moscow has grown increasingly protective of its Middle Eastern ally.

It has maintained that the Douma attack was fake, staged by the Syrian rescue volunteers known as the White Helmets.

The draft decision was "a clear attempt here to manipulate the mandate of the OPCW," said Russia's deputy minister for industry and trade, Georgy Kalamanov.

"The only international body or international court who can decide who would be guilty when we are dealing with members of the United Nations is the Security Council," he insisted.

- Wednesday vote -

Tensions ran high from the start. It took three hours of a heated debate just to adopt the meeting's agenda.

And there was no early consensus on the British draft, meaning delegates have to wait 24 hours before voting on it behind closed doors on Wednesday.

"If accountability is avoided the potential re-emergence and acceptance of chemicals as weapons of war and terror will not be deterred," outgoing OPCW head Ahmet Uzumcu warned, saying his body was ready and able to carry out a new mission.

Speaking for the EU, Judit Koromi said: "The question of attribution can and should be addressed by the OPCW."

"There can be no impunity and those responsible for such acts must be held accountable," she added.

A two-thirds majority, minus any abstentions, is needed for Britain's draft to pass.

Despite the opposition, a Western diplomat told reporters "we are quietly confident that the vote will go through".

Before its mandate expired in December, the panel known as the JIM (Joint Investigative Mechanism) had determined that the Syrian government used chlorine or sarin gas at least four times against its own civilians. The Islamic State group used mustard gas in 2015.]]>
6/27/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. senators want Trump to reconsider lifting ban on China's ZTE]]>
"ZTE, though publicly traded, is a state-backed enterprise that is ultimately loyal not to its shareholders, but to the Chinese Communist Party and Chinese government," Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic vice chairman of the Intelligence Committee, and Marco Rubio, a Republican member of the committee, said in a letter to Trump.

Several members of Congress, including some of Trump's fellow Republicans as well as some Democrats, have been pushing to clamp down on ZTE and Huawei, another Chinese telecommunications equipment firm, citing national security concerns.

The issue is one of the few on which the Republican-led Congress has veered from White House policies since Trump became president in January 2017.

Among other things, lawmakers are concerned that equipment from the companies could be used to spy on Americans. But other lawmakers support Trump's deal with ZTE, saying it is the president's prerogative to conduct foreign policy.

ZTE ceased major U.S. operations after the United States imposed a ban in April. The Commerce Department said the company had broken a prior agreement by making false statements about disciplining executives involved in illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea, which are subject to sanctions.

The maker of smart phones and networking gear agreed to pay a $1 billion penalty and put $400 million in escrow as part of a settlement it reached on June 7 with the Commerce Department to regain access to the U.S. market, which it needs for components.

The Senate paved the way for a showdown with Trump over the issue earlier this month, when it passed by 85-10 an annual defense policy bill including an amendment that would kill the White House's ZTE deal.

Warner, who is also a member of the Senate Finance and Banking Committees, and Rubio, who is also on the Foreign Relations Committee, announced their letter shortly before the Trump administration said it opposed the ZTE provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA.]]>
6/27/2018 2:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[Will Trump's opponents end up getting him re-elected?]]>
His political choices, his provocative statements, his insults, his over-the-top campaign-style rallies have left them flummoxed. And Trump is revelling in it.

For some, Trump has demeaned the presidency, purposefully divided American society and has struck an at-times authoritarian tone, and thus cannot be countered with politics as usual.

That side of the party -- represented by outspoken Representative Maxine Waters, among others -- wants tougher talk, more action and a take-no-prisoners attitude. They want to fight fire with fire.

Others say that such a strategy plays right into Trump's hands.

The debate within the American left is not new but the visceral, palpable anger is. The controversy over the separation of migrant families at the US-Mexico border seemed to mark a turning point -- perhaps even a point of no return.

Last week, a restaurant owner in Virginia refused to serve White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders, citing her work for an "inhumane and unethical" administration.

That owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, has become something of a folk hero for hard-core Democrats.

"If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them," Waters told supporters at the weekend.

"You tell them they're not welcome anymore, anywhere."

But could that approach backfire?

Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton University, says yes.

"The opposition to Trump can become his greatest foil, helping the GOP to look beyond whatever they might not like about him," Zelizer said.

- Knee-jerk 'anti-Trumpism' -

Experts and some Democrats say the Pavlovian response to Trump, no matter what he says -- criticism, mockery, outrage -- may only serve to perpetuate the notion that the left is elitist and out of touch with middle America.

It also could fuel concern that political Washington is simply unable to accept a real estate mogul turned commander-in-chief who did not climb through the party ranks as tradition would dictate.

"No question about it. His base feeds off anger, and Trump can energize his followers by pointing to over-the-top rhetoric and actions by Democrats. Maxine Waters is exhibit A," veteran political analyst Larry Sabato told AFP.

Some even fear that if Democrats do not make a quick course correction, they will end up losing mid-term elections in November that could see them regain control of Congress -- and then the presidency once again in 2020.

Undecided voters and moderate Republicans may simply back Trump out of spite.

- 'Greatest base' in political history -

The 72-year-old Trump, who loves to whip up his supporters at campaign-style rallies, smelled blood in the water on Tuesday -- and pounced.

"The face of the Democrats is now Maxine Waters who, together with Nancy Pelosi, have established a fine leadership team," he said mockingly on Twitter.

"They should always stay together and lead the Democrats, who want Open Borders and Unlimited Crime, well into the future... and pick Crooked Hillary for Pres."

At a rally for South Carolina's incumbent republican Governor Henry McMaster on Monday night, Trump played on the "us versus them" mentality.

"We have the greatest base in the history of politics!" he thundered to wild applause and cheers.

Several Democratic heavyweights are afraid of falling into an expertly set trap, just a few months before Election Day, when they hope to send a blue wave cascading across the country.

"Trump's daily lack of civility has provoked responses that are predictable but unacceptable," Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi said after Waters's statements.

"As we go forward, we must conduct elections in a way that achieves unity from sea to shining sea."

One party heavyweight chose his strategy a long time ago.

Since ceding the White House to Trump, Barack Obama has been largely quiet about his successor's policies, even as Trump has sought to undo many of his crowning achievements, from climate to the Iran nuclear deal.

Some Democrats say Obama should speak up, arguing that Trump's brash style means the presidential tradition of not muddying the waters for those who follow no longer applies.

But 44 is holding firm, and hardly ever mentions 45 by name.]]>
6/27/2018 2:10:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump says CFIUS can protect U.S. technology from Chinese acquisitions]]>
Trump's remarks to reporters at the White House appeared to favor Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin's approach in a fierce internal debate over U.S. investment restrictions on Chinese companies -- using new tools associated with pending legislation to enhance security reviews by the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States (CFIUS).

Mnuchin and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro sent mixed signals on Monday about Chinese investment restrictions due on Friday, with Mnuchin saying that they would apply to "all countries that are trying to steal our technology" and Navarro saying that they would be focused specifically on China.

Asked about the pending restrictions at a White House meeting with Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, Trump said: "We have the greatest technology in the world. People copy it. And they steal it, but we have the great scientists, we have the great brains and we have to protect that and we’re going to protect it and that’s what we’re doing. And that can be done through CFIUS. We have a lot of things we can do it through and we’re working that out."

Prior to the meeting, Mnuchin was seen by reporters in the West Wing of the White House.

Legislation passed by the U.S. Senate would strengthen the authority of CFIUS, allowing it to review transfers of minority interests in companies dealing in critical technologies and infrastructure. It also allows for reviews of purchases and leases of property near sensitive U.S. government land and facilities.

The legislation, yet to be passed by the House of Representatives, also would create a new interagency process led by the Commerce Department to control outbound transfers of intellectual property after acquisitions, focused on emerging technologies.

The pending investment restrictions on China are part of the Trump administration's efforts to pressure Beijing into changing its technology transfer policies and subsidies aimed at building up high-tech industries to rival those dominated by the United States.

Tariffs of 25 percent on an initial $34 billion worth of Chinese imports are due to take effect on July 6, with a further $16 billion undergoing a vetting process for activation later this summer.

Should China follow through on its vow to retaliate in equal measure with tariffs on U.S. soybeans, cars and other goods, Trump has threatened to impose 10 percent tariffs on another $400 billion worth of Chinese goods.

A Reuters analysis of the tariff lists found that most of the Chinese products targeted thus far are classified as intermediate or capital goods -- avoiding a direct tax on voters -- but many consumer goods have been caught up in the net, and will be targeted in future rounds.]]>
6/27/2018 12:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[Exclusive: Handing oil ports to Benghazi’s NOC helps uproot terrorism, Al-Hassi says]]>
Prior to the decision, the oil facilities were controlled by NOC in Tripoli, which previously handled Libya’s oil exports.

Praising Haftar’s decision, head of the NOC in Benghazi Faraj Saeed Al-Hassi told Egypt Today that his corporation is the legitimate responsible body. He added that the decision will help eradicate terrorism, as militant organizations had formerly gained a share of the oil revenues.

Hassi claimed that the militant organizations attacking the oil crescent are funded from Libya’s oil revenues.

Haftar’s decision came after a meeting with the Parliamentary Speaker Aguila Saleh and interim Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thani on Saturday in Rajma, east of Benghazi, Hassi said.

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The eastern-based National Oil Corporation announced receiving an official letter from Khalifa Haftar, handing over control of oil ports in the east – press photo

The Libyan National Army (LNA) spokesman Ahmed al-Mismari said the move aims to prevent oil revenues from being used to back militias such as “Chadian mercenaries”, and is due to a lack of recognition from the chairman of NOC Tripoli, Mustafa Sanalla, for the “sacrifices” of LNA troops guarding the ports, Reuters reported.

Eastern factions have long accused the Central Bank of Libya of misspending oil revenues and allocating insufficient funds to the east.

Mismari announced in a press conference that the LNA had foiled 5 attacks on Libya’s oil crescent, which reportedly incorporates about 80 percent of Libya’s oil, thereby causing the death of 184 LNA soldiers while defending the region.

Haftar forces had earlier announced full control of the oil crescent after fierce clashes with rival militias that had controlled the region.

A spokesman for the Eastern Libyan forces announced on June 21 that the force is in full control of the Es Sider and Ras Lanuf oil ports in the country's oil crescent.

The NOC said in a statement that storage tank 12 in Ras Lanuf had been "significantly damaged" in fighting earlier in June, when armed forces linked to former oil port blockader Ibrahim Jathran stormed the two ports, leading to their closure.

"NOC calls for the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of the militia operating under Ibrahim Jathran to prevent an environmental disaster and further destruction of key infrastructure," the statement read.

Libya has been in a state of turmoil since the 2011 civil war that resulted in the overthrow of longstanding ruler Muammar Gaddafi by rebel fighters backed by NATO airstrikes.

Derna’s battle against terrorism

Earlier in May, Heftar, stated that Derna will be declared terrorism-free soon, calling on soldiers to purge the city from terrorism, while keeping in consideration the safety of civilians. Derna is controlled by a coalition of Islamist militants and rebels known as the Derna Mujahideen Shura Council (DMSC).

The LNA has succeeded to liberate the city of Derna entirely from terrorists after few weeks of fierce clashes, a high-profile military source revealed to Egypt Today Tuesday.

The source manifested the defeated terrorist groups had collapsed all over the city, adding that the military engineers cleared the city’s streets.

Parts of the reporting were taken from Reuters ]]>
6/26/2018 7:07:03 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt Today's world news brief]]>
U.S. top court backs Trump on travel ban targeting Muslim-majority nations

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday handed Donald Trump one of the biggest victories of his presidency, upholding his travel ban targeting several Muslim-majority countries and rejecting the idea that it represented unconstitutional religious discrimination.

The current ban, announced in September, prohibits entry into the United States of most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen. The Supreme Court allowed it to go largely into effect in December while the legal challenge continued.

Trump also has moved to rescind protections for young immigrants sometimes called Dreamers brought into the United States illegally as children, acted against states and cities that protect illegal immigrants, ended protected status for certain immigrants in the country for decades, intensified deportation efforts and pursued limits on legal immigration.

Trump last week retreated on his administration's practice of separating the children of immigrants from their parents when families were detained illegally entering the United States.
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U.S. President Donald Trump casts a shadow as he waves and approaches the press to make remarks as he returns from a weekend at the presidential retreat at Camp David to the White House, Washington, U.S., December17, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Theiler

France's Macron and Pope Francis hold unusually long meeting

French President Emmanuel Macron, accused at home of straining France’s secular foundations by seeking to mend ties with the Catholic Church, had an unusually long and cordial meeting with Pope Francis on Tuesday.

They spoke for nearly an hour in the official papal library in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace, about twice as long as Francis usually spends with heads of state or government.

A Vatican statement said the two discussed "protection of the environment, migration, and multilateral commitment to conflict prevention and resolution, especially in relation to disarmament".

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French President Emmanuel Macron, accused at home of straining France’s secular foundations by seeking to mend ties with the Catholic Church, had an unusually long and cordial meeting with Pope Francis on Tuesday.

Mattis becomes first US defense chief to visit China under Trump

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday became the first Pentagon chief to visit China since 2014, starting a three-day trip with a goal of improving security dialogue with Beijing despite increasingly fraught Sino-U.S. relations.

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U.S. Secretary of Defence Mattis leaves a news conference after a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels - REUTERS

Haftar declares Derna fully liberated in a speech within hours

Libyan National Army (LNA) has succeeded to liberate the city of Derna entirely from terrorists after few weeks of fierce clashes, a high-profile military source revealed to Egypt Today Tuesday.

The source manifested the defeated terrorist groups had collapsed all over the city, adding that the military engineers cleared the city’s streets.

“LNA Commander Khalifa Haftar will deliver a speech within a few hours declaring the full liberation of Derna,” a Libyan official, asked for anonymity, exclusively told Egypt Today.

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Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army / press photo

US strikes kill 6 Daesh militants in Afghanistan

On Monday, at least six Daesh militants were killed in U.S. drone strikes on Daesh hideouts in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar.

The strikes targeted the Daesh hideouts near Haska Mina district overnight in conjunction with an operation launched by the Afghan forces in Pira Khel area of Khogyani district, local authorities reported.

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US strikes Islamic State group camp in Libya, killing 17 -REUTERS
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6/26/2018 5:56:25 PM
<![CDATA[UPDATE: Dokki district’s head detained over bribery charges]]>
The Egyptian Administrative Control Authority (ACA) had ordered the arrest of Major Saeed and other three partners, according to state-owned Akhbar el-yom on Tuesday.

The district’s head faces accusations of receiving a LE 250,000 ($13,990) bribe and accepting a housing unit worth LE 2 million ($111,890) in Giza’s street of El-Batal Ahmed Abdel Aziz as a bribe in order not to take legal procedures against a construction violation in the unit.

The construction violation legally requires the unit to be demolished, according to reports. Violators illegally gain over LE 10 million ($559,137) from the unit.

Two owners of a contracting company were arrested over accusations of bribing Saeed. The ACA also ordered the arrest of a legal professional, according to reports. The General Prosecution ordered the four defendants to be taken into custody pending investigation.

state’s fight against corruption

President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has 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.

During the Egyptian Family Iftar ceremony held earlier in June, Sisi affirmed that the regulatory institutions have been endorsed, saying that the state will not tolerate violations and will firmly fight against corruption.



In late May, the New Cairo Misdemeanor Court ruled to hold four officials in the Ministry of Supply in detention for 15 days over charges of “accepting” bribes.

Egypt’s Attorney-General Nabil Sakek referred the four officials to the court and ordered to detain them four days pending investigations over receiving LE 2 million ($111,764) in bribes for accepting a tender bid from a commodities supply company.

On May 5, the ACA arrested four officials from the Ministry of Finance for accepting bribes worth around LE 500 million ($28.4 million).

The defendants took bribes from the owners of private companies to facilitate the transfer of financial rights for their companies.

The ACA also arrested a female official from the Ministry of Irrigation over taking LE 30,000 as a bribe from the owner of a ship berth to facilitate obtaining the license.

In January 2017, former Secretary-General of Egypt's State Council Wael Shalaby committed suicide while in custody after his arrest for alleged corruption.

Reasons of bribe in Egypt

The Administrative Prosecution Authority presented in its annual report in late October a study on the causes of the spread of bribery in Egypt and effective ways to eliminate it.

Counselor Faryal Qutb, head of the committee, which prepared the report, revealed five reasons behind bribery:

1. Poor moral and religious education.

2. Lack of real supervision and follow up.

3. Delays in the adjudication of disciplinary punishments for bribery crimes in a manner that does not achieve public and private deterrence.

4. Poor salaries of employees in general.

5. The large number of services accomplished by a limited number of employees.

Suggestions to eliminate the phenomenon

Counselor Saad Khalil, a member of the technical office, presented in the report five suggestions to eliminate bribery:

1. Increasing the minimum salary of employees to ensure a decent living. The state has made great strides in this direction.

2. Activating internal control systems and supervisory responsibility.

3. Employees deal with the public only when necessary.

4. Increasing penalties for such crimes to reach dismissal or deprivation of pension.

5. Choosing safe places to keep deposits, all while ensuring the efficiency of security and warning devices.


Additional reporting by Walaa Ali
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6/26/2018 1:21:33 PM
<![CDATA[Iraq determines to eliminate terrorism: Haidar Abadi]]>
"Abadi led an urgent meeting for high-profile security and military officials; they tackled the current security developments in the country, plans to secure roads and intelligence efforts to eliminate terrorist groups remaining in Iraq," said a statement issued by Abadi's office on Monday.

According to the statement, Abadi manifested that the security forces had succeeded to target and hunt down plenty of terrorists inside the Syrian territory; the matter that forced the terrorists to carry out random criminal acts against civilians.

In cooperation with local security forces, the Iraqi government intensified efforts to expel militants in areas of Diyala Governorate.

Iraqi Federal Police led an operation against ISIS in mid-June, capturing four elements and burning three hideouts, the Ministry of Interior stated earlier.

Weeks ago, ISIS intensified bombings and assassinations in Iraq in general, and in the disputed areas between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region in particular.

ISIS gave the Iraqi government a three-day ultimatum to release female prisoners; otherwise the six men, allegedly Iraqi security and militiamen, in the video the extremists released, will be executed.

The PM's spokesperson announced Iraq would not yield to ISIS demands to release female prisoners detained as part of operations to clear the country from the terrorist group.

“The Iraqi government will use the law against criminals and will not capitulate to terrorist’s demands,” Iraqi prime minister’s spokesperson, Saad al-Hadithi, told al-Mada newspaper on Monday.

Brigadier-General Yahya Rasool, a spokesperson for the Iraqi army’s Joint Operations Command (JOC), said they are working on finding the location of the hostages showed in the video.
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6/26/2018 12:09:30 PM
<![CDATA[Azhar VS Endowment: Who’s entitled to Fatwa issuance? ]]>
Al-Azhar refusal ignited the Endowments Ministry's anger; which responded saying that fatwa has been one of its specializations for long time and that they have a specific department for issuing fatwas (Islamic verdicts).

Sources from the Parliament told Egypt Today on Monday that regular meetings are still being held to reach a solution suitable for both parties.

Here are the most important articles included in the new draft law:

- The new law completely prohibits issuing any general fatwa for the public unless it is through: “the Supreme Council of Scholars in Al-Azhar, Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, Al Azhar's Islamic Research Academy and the General Department of Fatwa affiliated with Endowment Ministry.”

- The law states that any other odd, or illegal fatwa issued by people who are not affiliated with the specified entities will be countered by all possible means.

- The law also limits and controls the use of social media to issue fatwas unless through the listed entities by the law.

- According to the draft, people who breach the law’s articles will be jailed for no longer than six months and fined with no more than LE 5,000 or either of the punishments.

Fighting odd fatwas: Egypt to rule out unlicensed preachers

CAIRO - 14 March 2018: A draft law on regulating fatwas (Islamic edicts), which Parliament's Religious Committee will call for consideration in the next plenary session, might put an end to a series of groundless fatwas issued by unlicensed and unqualified preachers in the media. The move aims to further reform religious discourse.




This new anticipated law comes within the framework of Egypt’s efforts to fight terrorism, extremist ideology and odd fatwas that incite sedition, in light of the recent increase in the number of fatwas issued and the number of people preaching about religious habits on social media.

In a statement before the conference entitled “The Role of Fatwas in Stabilizing the Society” on October 17 to 19, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb, said that Egypt nowadays is facing an unprecedented wave of distortion of Islam’s teachings issued by unlicensed persons.

“Unfortunately, some have been allowed to issue flawed fatwas that distort Islamic Sharia and violate Islam's true teachings," said Tayeb.

Fatwas are Islamic religious rulings issued by a recognized religious authority or individual based on the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s teachings for guidance on the routine of daily life subjects such as marriage and inheritance.

In Egypt, Dar Al-Iftaa, under the Ministry of Justice, is the official institution devoted to providing fatwas on its website, along with the clerics of specialized offices at Al-Azhar, Egypt's top religious authority. For example, all court sentences of death must be approved by Dar Al-Iftaa.
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6/26/2018 8:50:00 AM
<![CDATA[First Arab Union to arbitrate economic disputes holds 1st GA]]>
Minister of Justice Hossam Abdel Rahim, Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr, Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Abul Gheit and Secretary-General of the Council of Arab Economic Unity Mohamed al-Rabea also attended the meeting.

Abdel Aal said that the union, that incorporates legal experts and figures, will represent a legal organization that will be able to solve disputes between Arab investors and protect their rights, according to a statement by the Investment Ministry.

The arbitration introduced by the union offers flexibility and speed in solving disputes between investors of different countries and protects the interest of the investors, subsequently preventing these disputes from leading some investors to limit their activity, Abdel Aal added, according to the statement.



The union that encompasses 14 Arab states will work on solving disputes between Arab or foreign businessmen and investors on legal bases that meet international standards, Nasr said.

During the general assembly, Ashour, head of the Egypt-based union and the Egyptian Lawyers’ Syndicate, said that an Arab court of arbitration will be established in each Arab country with new legal academies that would offer academic degrees. The union aims to provide the Arab world with a new generation of arbitrators, according to the statement.

Rabea praised the establishment of the union saying it is the first step to protect the Arab private sector and Arab investment and industry, the statement added.



The Arab Union of Arbitration for Investment and Economic Disputes was established to solve disputes between investment parties in case at least one of them is Arabic.

The union will encompass two chambers for the Arab court of arbitration for economic and investment disputes. A chamber concerned with the regional cases, and another chamber concerned with the international cases.
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6/26/2018 8:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[White House press secretary responds to controversy over restaurant ouster]]>
Sanders began her Monday press briefing by relating the story of her being asked to leave the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia, on Friday because she worked for Trump. The owner later confirmed the reasoning to media, and the incident drew praise and condemnation online for the restaurant.

"We just felt there are moments in time when people need to live their convictions," the restaurant owner, Stephanie Wilkinson, told the Washington Post on Saturday after Sanders tweeted about the episode.

"We are allowed to disagree, but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm," Sanders told reporters on Monday afternoon. "And this goes for all people regardless of politics. Some have chosen to push hate and vandalism against the restaurant that I was asked to leave from. A Hollywood actor publicly encouraged people to kidnap my children.

"Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable," she added.

Earlier on Monday, Trump lashed out at Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, who told a crowd in California on Sunday that the Red Hen's actions should be a model for resisting the president's administration. Trump responded on Twitter by calling her "an extraordinarily low IQ person."

Tensions have risen over the Republican president's "zero tolerance" immigration policy that initially led to migrant children being separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Trump also criticized the Virginia restaurant.

"The Red Hen Restaurant should focus more on cleaning its filthy canopies, doors and windows (badly needs a paint job) rather than refusing to serve a fine person like Sarah Huckabee Sanders," Trump said on Twitter. "I always had a rule, if a restaurant is dirty on the outside, it is dirty on the inside!"

Some critics said Sanders may have violated federal ethics rules by using her official government account to tweet about what happened at the restaurant.
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6/26/2018 7:20:00 AM
<![CDATA[U.S. among 10 most dangerous countries for women ]]>
The Thomson Reuters Foundation survey asked about 550 experts in women's issues which of the 193 United Nations member states they considered most dangerous on a range of issues, with India topping the list followed by Afghanistan and Syria.

The United States came 10th overall, but ranked joint third with Syria when respondents were asked where women most risked sexual violence, harassment and coercion into sex, and sixth regarding non-sexual violence such as domestic and mental abuse.

Experts, advocates and survivors said a rising awareness of assault against women pegged to the #Metoo movement, the country's outsized role on the world stage and a tolerance of violence added to the perception of danger in the United States.

"I can understand why people would perceive us as being a country that is dangerous for women because we kind of are," Abby Honold, a sexual assault survivor and activist in Minneapolis, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Honold has been promoting legislation before the U.S. Congress that would train police in improved ways to question sexual assault victims.

"We try to sell that we are a country of freedom and also of safety, but there are a lot of people in our country that are not safe, and victims of sex assault and domestic violence are certainly in that group," she said.

The #MeToo campaign against sexual harassment went viral last October, with Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein accused of sexual misconduct by more than 70 women dating back decades.

Weinstein this month pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and sexual assault.

#METOO

Hundreds of women have now publicly accused powerful men in business, government and entertainment of sexual misconduct, and thousands joined the #MeToo social media movement to share stories of sexual harassment or abuse.

"There now is a platform and national conversation, and more women and girls feel safe talking about the harassment and violence they've been subjected to," said Jennifer Becker, senior staff attorney at Legal Momentum, a U.S.-based non-profit that works on legal rights for women.

"The United States has visibility. That conversation is being viewed around the world."

Cindy Southworth, executive vice president at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said media coverage of the United States had built an image of violence against women, but questioned its accuracy.

"People watch the U.S.," she said. "They watch our elections. They watch our media coverage. They watch our celebrity violence against women cases.

"The perception is understandable, but not based on reality."

Other countries are much more dangerous for women who face conflict and practices such as female genital mutilation or child marriage, according to the United Nations.

Rates of femicide are more extreme in Latin America, and 49 countries have no laws to protect women from domestic violence, according to UN Women.

But U.S. statistics can paint a grim picture.

Almost one in five women have been raped, and more than one in three experienced rape, violence or stalking by an intimate partner, according to 2010 statistics by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation's poll involving 548 respondents was a repeat of a similar survey in 2011 that found Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Pakistan, India, and Somalia were seen as the most dangerous countries for women.
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6/26/2018 5:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[President Sisi appoints female chief of Administrative Prosecution Authority]]>
The decree was published in the official Gazette.
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6/26/2018 2:08:21 AM
<![CDATA[Erdogan's victory faces election rigging charges: UK media]]>
UK-based Sunday Express newspaper revealed that Turkish officers had resorted to open fire into the air to stop delivering four sacks stuffed with fake voting cards to a polling station in southeastern province of Urfa on Sunday.

Police tried to stop the car, but the driver put his foot on the gas, forcing officers to use force against him and his two companions and detain them. Turkish authorities announced they have launched an investigation after three French, three German and four Italian citizens have been arrested for interfering with the vote.

The British Express newspaper claimed the ten, who were detained in Turkey, were ballot box monitors but did not have the proper accreditation.

Moreover, videos posted on social platforms showed that dozens of Turkish citizens were voting in bulk, the matter which aroused several doubts about voting transparency and integrity.




Turkey becomes a presidential-system country for the first time

“With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar above the level of contemporary civilizations," Turkey’s longest-serving President Erdogan earlier said, after approving constitutional amendments in 2017 to turn Turkey into a presidential-system state.

Erdogan alleged the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation's economic problems such as the plummet of the Lira and Kurdish rebels in neighboring Syria and Iraq.

The Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) charismatic Muharrem Ince gave a feisty performance at a rally among thousands of supporters. "If Erdogan wins, your phones will continue to be listened to, fear will continue to reign," Ince said ahead of Sunday's poll.

Since 2016, Turkey has been placed under emergency rule, which restricts some freedoms, allows the government to bypass Parliament and arrest thousands of activists and dozens of journalists after an attempted coup.

A man casts his ballot at a polling station during a referendum Aegean port city of Izmir, Turkey, April 16, 2017. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

Twitter users mock Erdogan's victory

Incumbent President Erdogan has won with more than 50 percent of the presidential vote, according to initial local reports quoted by state-owned news agency Anadolu. The country’s electoral commission hasn’t published official results yet, but it confirmed the victory of Erdogan.

A few hours after voting ended officially, thousands of Twitter users launched a trending hashtag #Erdogan_forged_election, accusing Erdogan of rigging the elections held on Sunday.

"What an Erdoganian democracy! It's important that nobody talks about human rights, international organizations or observers," said Twitter user Amal Hisham.

Another tweet said "After 16 years in rule, Erdogan and his AKP forge elections, after amending the constitution to guarantee a lifetime rule."
Mocking Erdogan's victory, a Tweeter user wrote "Caliph Erdogan rigs election."
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6/25/2018 5:35:00 PM
<![CDATA[Grand Mufti criticizes researcher for citing Sayed Kotb]]>
While formally examining a PhD research, Allam criticized that some Al-Azhar scholars depend on the writings of some extremists and cite them in their researches, considering that such action distorts the image of Islam and paves the way for intellectual extremism.

Subsequently, MP Shoukry al-Gendy of the Religious Committee called on Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, Egypt’s top religious authority, and the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs to fight the extremist ideology as it contradicts with the true essence of Islam that called for equality, mercy and justice, according to media reports.

MP Mohamed Abu Hamed of the Social Solidarity Committee said that state and Islamic institutions have to warn against Kotb’s thoughts, claiming that some elements inside the Islamic institutions tend to adopt Muslim Brotherhood’s thoughts.

Omar Hamroush, Secretary of the Parliament’s Religious Affairs and Endowments Committee affirmed that his committee made sure that Al-Azhar books were devoid of extremist ideas after a committee from Al-Azhar worked on removing extremist thoughts from books in 2014.


President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has repeatedly affirmed in his speeches the importance of reforming religious discourse, while Al-Azhar has subsequently sought ways to immunize young people against radicalism and train scholars to fight extremism.

The Muslim Brotherhood organization has been designated by the Egyptian authorities as a terrorist group following the ouster of former MB affiliated President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.

Dozens of policemen and hundreds of Morsi supporters lost their lives during the dispersal of pro-Morsi protests in Al-Nahda and Rabaa Al-Adaweya squares following the ousting of Morsi. The two parties hold each other responsible for the violence.

MB author and thinker Sayed Kotb was executed by the Egyptian state in 1966 after being convicted of planning to assassinate late President Gamal Abdel Nasser who ruled Egypt for about 14 years until he died in 1970.


In a video broadcasted by the Abu-Dhabi-based News Eye Gate in June, men of the LNA appeared in military uniforms in the partially liberated Libyan city of Derna, pouring gasoline on some “takfiri books”, including books of Sayed Kotb, considering him as “the guide of terrorism in Derna”.

Describing persons or books as “takfiri” commonly means that they adopt a violent approach toward others based on Islamic beliefs that are misunderstood and subsequently misused to justify violent actions and terrorist attacks.
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6/25/2018 2:42:58 PM
<![CDATA[Nigeria imposes curfew as 70 die in escalating communal clashes]]>
Strife in the decades-old conflict has escalated sharply this year, particularly in the ethnically and religiously diverse hinterland states known as the Middle Belt, causing more deaths than the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria's northeast.

"The government has enforced a curfew from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to bring normalcy, (and) police and other security operatives have been put on alert at the moment," Plateau State's Commissioner of Information Yakubu Dati told Reuters.

Communal violence between herders and farmers, which originated partly over dwindling fertile land, has spiralled into a cycle of violence and reprisal attacks that has killed hundreds of people this year in the Middle Belt.

Insecurity has become a major electoral problem for President Muhammadu Buhari, who plans to seek re-election in February and who won power on pledges to deliver peace and stability.

"This further strengthens my constant call for an overhaul of the entire security apparatus of this country," Yakubu Dogara, the leader of Nigeria's lower house of parliament, said in a statement on Sunday.

"It just isn't working," he said, adding that the violence posed a serious threat to Nigeria's democracy.

Buhari's party rejects criticism that his administration is soft-peddling justice for the herders, who belong to the same Fulani ethnic group as the president.
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6/25/2018 4:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey's Erdogan claims election victory, opposition wary]]>
The main opposition party did not immediately concede defeat. But after initially saying Erdogan would fall well short of a first-round victory, it said it would continue its democratic struggle "whatever the result".

"Our people have given us the job of carrying out the presidential and executive posts," Erdogan said in a short national address as votes were still being counted.

"I hope nobody will try to cast a shadow on the results and harm democracy in order to hide their own failure," he added, clearly aiming to pre-empt opposition complaints of foul play.

Erdogan, 64, the most popular but also the most divisive politician in modern Turkish history, later waved to cheering, flag-waving supporters from the top of a bus in Istanbul.

Sunday's vote ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

Erdogan's victory paves the way for another five-year term. Under the new constitution, he could serve a further term from 2023, taking him to 2028.

An unexpectedly strong showing by the AK Party's alliance partner, the nationalist MHP, could translate into the stable parliamentary majority that Erdogan seeks in order to govern freely.

"This sets the stage for speeding up reforms," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek tweeted of the results.

The lira, which has lost about a fifth of its value against the dollar this year, firmed more than 1 percent in early trading in Asia on hopes of a stable working relationship between the president and parliament. It reached 4.587 lira to the dollar at 12:17 a.m. (2117 GMT) before easing slightly.

OPPOSITION DOUBTS

Erdogan's main presidential rival, Muharrem Ince of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), urged election monitors to remain at polling stations to help ensure against possible election fraud, as final results came in from large cities where his party typically performs strongly.

With 99 percent of votes counted in the presidential race, Erdogan had 52.5 percent, well ahead of Ince's 31 percent, broadcasters said.

The opposition raised doubts about the accuracy and reliability of the figures released by state-run Anadolu news agency, the sole distributor of the official vote tally.

But an opposition platform collating its own vote tally from monitors based at polling stations around the country broadly confirmed the Anadolu figures.

Opposition parties and NGOs had deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to try to prevent possible electoral fraud. They said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raised fears about the fairness of Sunday's elections.

Erdogan said there had been no serious voting violations.

In Sunday's parliamentary contest, the Islamist-rooted AK Party won 42 percent and its MHP ally 11 percent, based on 99 percent of votes counted, broadcasters said.

In the opposition camp, the CHP had 23 percent and the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) 11 percent - above the threshold it needs to reach to enter parliament. The opposition nationalist Iyi (Good) party received 10 percent.

Election turnout nationwide was very high at around 87 percent for both contests, the state broadcaster said.

Erdogan argues that his new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation's economic problems and crush Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

Investors would welcome the prospect of a stable working relationship between the president and the new parliament, although they also have concerns about Erdogan's recent comments suggesting he wants to take greater control of monetary policy.

Erdogan has declared himself an "enemy of interest rates", raising fears he will pressure the central bank to cut borrowing costs after the election despite double-digit inflation.

He brought forward the elections from November 2019, but he faced an unexpectedly feisty challenge from Ince, a former physics teacher and veteran CHP lawmaker, who galvanized Turkey's long-demoralised and divided opposition.

Turkey held Sunday's elections under a state of emergency declared after a failed military coup in July 2016 that Erdogan blamed on his former ally, U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen.

It limits some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees, although Erdogan says he will soon lift the measure.

Since the coup attempt, Erdogan has waged a sweeping crackdown on Gulen's followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.

Critics, including the European Union, which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent. He says his tough measures are needed to safeguard national security.
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6/25/2018 3:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Saudi air defences intercept missiles above capital - state media]]>
The attack is at least the sixth to target Riyadh since December.

The Houthis' al-Masira television said that rockets were aimed at Saudi defence ministry and other targets in the Saudi capital. Reuters could not verify the report independently.

"The missile force confirms that 'Burkan'(Volcano)rockets hit their targets in Riyadh with high precision," it added, without specifying.

At least six loud blasts were heard and bright flashes were seen in the sky over Riyadh, and puffs of smoke were visible above the city, a Reuters witness said.

There were no reported casualties or damage immediately, but there was shrapnel on a street in the diplomatic quarter where most embassies are located and many foreigners live, a Reuters witness said.

A high security presence was spotted in the neighbourhood, in addition to fire trucks, the witness added. Security personnel prevented people from entering the district. There was no immediate comment from the Saudi authorities or from the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen against the Houthi movement.
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6/25/2018 12:42:20 AM
<![CDATA[Parliament's Arab affairs committee calls for supporting Yemenis]]>
In a press release, the committee praised the Egyptian role in preserving Yemen's unity and called on countries in the region not interfere in Yemen's internal affairs.

The committee noted that the Yemeni forces made advancements, especially following the liberation of Al Hudaydah international airport.
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6/25/2018 12:11:02 AM
<![CDATA[Turkey's Erdogan at 53.32 pct with 90 pct of presidential votes counted -TV]]>
Muharrem Ince, the main opposition's presidential candidate, stood at 30.4 percent nationwide, television channels said. If no candidate wins more than 50 percent in Sunday's vote, a second round run-off will be held on July 8.
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6/24/2018 8:54:35 PM
<![CDATA[Portugal to resettle 400 refugees residing in Egypt]]>
“This fruitful cooperation with Portugal comes in the framework of a comprehensive dialogue between Egypt and the European Union on migration, and [in light of] the efforts Egypt exerts with EU to resettle a number of refugees residing in Egypt,” the statement read.

The cooperation program between Egypt and the EU has been reached after holding a meeting in December 2017 in Cairo. The meeting recommended that some European countries should resettle a number of refugees from the hosting neighboring countries, the statement added.

In a bid to renew Egypt’s moral and legal commitment towards refugees in the territory, Egypt has called on the international community to share the collective responsibility of hosting refugees, said Abu Zeid in a statement on World Refugee Day.



The registered number of refugees in Egypt reached 179,201 persons, mainly from Syria, according to the UNHCR data in February 2016.

In 2016, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi said that Egypt hosts around 5 million refugees (registered and unregistered).

On Friday, The Arab Council Supporting Fair Trial and Human Rights (ACSFT) praised the efforts exerted by the Egyptian government in its fruitful cooperation with the UNHCR and its national partners in Egypt, supporting refugees of multiple nationalities in Egypt.

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6/24/2018 5:38:57 PM
<![CDATA[Construction of CEN-SAD regional anti-terrorism center in Cairo completed]]>
In a joint press conference on May 25, 2017, President Sisi and President Alpha Conde of Guinea reaffirmed their firmness to set up a regional center to combat terrorism. Guinea is one of the subsequent members of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD).

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Egypt has finished constructing the Sahel-Saharan Anti-Terrorism Center in Cairo – Press photo


Sisi, during the conference, expressed his optimism that this center shall contribute positively to enhancing regional cooperation in countering terrorism.

An Egyptian delegation of the Defense Ministry participated in the 7th Meeting of Ministers in Charge of Defense of the CEN-SAD Member States that was held in Abuja, Nigeria, on June 20-22.

The meeting discussed means of fostering cooperation in combating terrorism via exchanging expertise and support in defense and security fields.

Assistant Defense Minister Mohamed el Keshki gave a speech on behalf of Defense and Military Production Minister Mohamed Zaki in which he asserted Egypt’s continuing support to the CEN-SAD member states and the Egyptian political leadership’s keenness to enhance cooperation to combat terrorism and entrench security and stability in the region.

During the meeting, the member states hailed Egypt’s efforts aiming at establishing a regional CEN-SAD center to confront terrorism. They also thanked President Sisi for the establishment of the center as well as granting 2,000 scholarships to military personnel to study and receive training in Egypt.

The meeting also approved Abuja Announcement that underlined the importance of boosting security cooperation among member states to face all threats the region encounters.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the US, France, China, Britain, Russia and Saudi Arabia as monitors, in addition to officials and experts from seven international organizations, including the UN, Arab League, EU and African Union.

The CEN-SAD was established in February 1998 by six countries, but since then the number of countries has grown to 29. One of its main goals is to achieve economic unity through the implementation of the free movement of people and goods in order to make the area of the member states a free trade area.

The CEN-SAD in Tripoli, Libya was established in 1998. Two years later, it became a regional economic community. The CEN-SAD has inked many cooperation agreements with international and regional entities, with the aim of enhancing combined efforts in political, economic, and cultural realms.

The CEN-SAD incorporates more than 20 North African countries as members, including Egypt, Tunisia, Ghana and Morocco, with the six states of Sudan, Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, Chad and Libya as founding members.

Ibrahim Sani Abani, secretary general of the (CEN-SAD), said earlier this year that Egypt is a strong country that has always offered help to other African states.

In an interview with Egypt Today, Abani said that Egypt is a pioneer country in Africa, which has witnessed progress in various realms, adding that CEN-SAD is proud of Egypt’s membership.

Abani said that Egypt has supported CEN-SAD states by providing their defense and security forces with 1,000 training grants, following a meeting among CEN-SAD defense ministers in 2016.

In the opening session of the 14th Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa (CISSA) conference held in Khartoum last September, Abani lauded President Sisi's efforts and initiatives to combat terrorism and extremist ideology.

Various counter terrorism efforts, initiatives and programs have been backed by Egypt and its president, Abani said, calling on all African states to follow Cairo's steps and unite to confront the security threats and challenges facing them.

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Egypt has finished constructing the Sahel-Saharan Anti-Terrorism Center in Cairo – Press photo

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Egypt has finished constructing the Sahel-Saharan Anti-Terrorism Center in Cairo – Press photo



Parts of the reporting was taken from the Middle East News Agency (MENA)
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6/24/2018 5:09:43 PM
<![CDATA[Erdogan facing major test as voting ends in Turkey elections]]>
The vote also ushers in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

Polling stations closed at 5 pm (1400 GMT). Turnout was good, President Erdogan said, as is customary in Turkey. There were no exit polls and the first results were expected later in the evening.

Polls show Erdogan falling short of a first-round victory in the presidential race. He would be expected to win a run-off on July 8, while his AK Party may lose its parliamentary majority.

Earlier, a crowd of Erdogan's supporters chanted his name as he emerged from a school after voting in Turkey's largest city Istanbul, shaking hands with people amid tight security.

"Turkey is staging a democratic revolution," he told reporters in the polling station. "With the presidential system, Turkey is seriously raising the bar, rising above the level of contemporary civilisations."

Erdogan, the most popular but also divisive leader in modern Turkish history, argues the new powers will better enable him to tackle the nation's economic problems - the lira has lost 20 percent against the dollar this year - and deal with Kurdish rebels in southeast Turkey and in neighbouring Iraq and Syria.

But he reckoned without Muharrem Ince, the presidential candidate of the secularist Republican People's Party (CHP), whose feisty performance at campaign rallies has galvanized Turkey's long-demoralised and divided opposition.

FRAUD FEARS

Voicing opposition concerns about possible electoral fraud, Ince told reporters outside the High Electoral Board (YSK) after polling stations had closed that citizens should protect ballot boxes. He also urged YSK members to "do your job the right way", adding he believed the results would be "very good".

Opposition parties and NGOs deployed up to half a million monitors at ballot boxes to ward against fraud. They have said election law changes and fraud allegations in the 2017 referendum raise fears about the vote's fairness.

Earlier, CHP spokesman Bulent Tezcan said the party had reported to the YSK allegations of block votes being cast and of election monitors being beaten and kept out of polling stations in the southeast's Sanliurfa province.

YSK chairman Sadi Guven told the state-owned news agency Anadolu it was taking steps in response to reports of irregularities in the town of Suruc near the Syrian border.

The government gave no immediate response to the reports, but Erdogan said there had not been any serious problems.

Turkey has been under emergency rule - which restricts some freedoms and allows the government to bypass parliament with decrees - for nearly two years since an attempted coup in 2016.

Erdogan blamed the coup on his former ally, U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, and has waged a sweeping crackdown on his followers in Turkey, detaining some 160,000 people, according to the United Nations.

The president's critics, including the European Union which Turkey still nominally aspires to join, say Erdogan has used the crackdown to stifle dissent.

Ince told a rally on Saturday he would lift the state of emergency within 48 hours of being elected president. He also vowed to reverse what opposition parties see as Turkey's swing towards authoritarian rule under Erdogan.

"This is no longer a Turkey we want. Rights are violated, democracy is in terrible shape," said health sector worker Sema, 50, after voting in Istanbul.

She and others in the city said they voted for the pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), hoping it would exceed the 10 percent threshold of votes needed to enter parliament. If it does so, it will be harder for the AKP to get a majority.]]>
6/24/2018 5:07:44 PM
<![CDATA[All EU countries should accept share of econ migrants, or see EU funds cut-Italy]]>
The document, that will be presented to 15 other EU leaders who came to Brussels to seek a way to alleviate high migration concerns in several countries, lists 10 points that Rome believes will solve the problem.

"Each state establishes entry quotas for economic migrants," the document, seen by Reuters said.

"It is a principle that must be respected, but adequate countermeasures must be provided for funding with respect to states that do not offer welcome to refugees," it said.

The document makes clear that Italy wants changes to the so-called Dublin regulation, which sets out EU rules for handling asylum seekers and migrants coming to the EU. The rules now say that the country where the asylum seeker enters the EU is responsible for handling his or her asylum request.

"Who arrives in Italy, lands in Europe," the document said, specifically noting the EU should have joint responsibility for those rescued at sea. It said the EU's Schengen passport-free travel zone was at stake.

"The rescue obligation can not become an obligation to process (asylum) requests on everyone's behalf," the document said. It also called for the creation of migrant centres in other EU countries, noting this could not be limited to Italy and Spain.]]>
6/24/2018 4:47:39 PM
<![CDATA[Report: Women of Saudi Arabia finally behind the wheel! ]]>
The decision to end the ban on women's driving is one of other several decisions in women's favor, such as allowing them to enter sports fields, attend concerts and work in many sectors that are new to women.




Saudi Arabia has witnessed two years of major changes. One year after Prince Mohamed bin Salman (MBS) took office as Crown Prince, his ambitious agenda to make Saudi better reflects his youthful vision, and his conviction that the kingdom cannot be economically developed without being socially developed.

By ending the ban, Saudi Arabia has ended much of the "privacy" that has characterized it and isolated it from the world. It is time for it to become a normal state, with women regaining a lot of their rights. All these decisions are part of the "Vision 2030", which aims at transferring Saudi Arabia from a country with oil as its only commodity into a state economically, politically and militarily capable.

Former FEPS dean congratulates women in Saudi Arabia

“Giving women the right to drive in Saudi Arabia is great after long years of depriving them from this human right,” AUC professor and former dean of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science (FEPS), Cairo University, Alia el-Mahdi told Egypt Today on Sunday.

Mahdi manifested that it was strange that female Saudis were the only women in the region who could not drive, adding, “Iran, the most conservative country in the Middle East, allows women to drive. Egypt, other Gulf countries and Arabs in north Africa allow women to drive.”

“I hope Saudi rulers reconsider the sponsorship system known as Kafala System,” added Mahdi.

She wondered if allowing women to drive in Saudi Arabia would bring any harm to anybody, “I guess not. It will make at least half of the Saudis happy as women are almost half of the population in Saudi Arabia.”
First Gulf female Singer drives car in Riyadh

Kuwaiti singer Nawal al-Kuwaitia appeared on Sunday driving her car in the Saudi capital of Riyadh in the early hours of implementing the decision of lifting the drive ban.
The famous singer expressed her admiration of the decision and congratulated Saudi women on this historic step. She said, "It is one of their simplest rights."

The Kuwaiti singer was in Riyadh performing a concert on Saturday evening at King Fahad's Cultural Theatre in Riyadh as part of the events of Eid Al-Fitr.


Saudi woman could not believe she is driving
Psychiatrist Samira al-Ghamedi drove her car on the first hours of Sunday. Her son, Abdul Malek, was next to her encouraging her and giving her some practical advice so that she could drive safely.

Ghamedi said to Pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat, which accompanied her during the drive, that she was nervous and she could not believe she was driving her car heading to a fast-food restaurant to buy food for her children in celebration of the historical day.

Cars drove everywhere surrounded with police patrol cars, but matters were quiet. Other drivers seemed to have accepted the matter and no one was complaining.

Ghamedi said that her son and brothers' support was also very effective, which is important for every woman.

Jeddah witnessed a gathering of international media as about fifty delegations gathered in front of one of Jeddah's malls.


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6/24/2018 4:01:22 PM
<![CDATA[Egypt Today's world news brief]]>
U.S. high court poised to rule on Trump travel ban, other cases

The U.S. Supreme Court, winding down its nine-month term, will issue rulings this week in its few remaining cases including a major one on the legality of President Donald Trump's ban on people from five Muslim-majority nations entering the country.

Trump has said the ban is needed to protect the United States from attacks by Islamic militants. Conservative justices indicated an unwillingness to second-guess Trump on his national security rationale.

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PILLARS OF JUSTICE: Although the U.S. Supreme Court is the most diverse it has ever been – three of the nine justices are women and two are minorities – the elite bar that comes before it is strikingly homogeneous: Of the 66 top lawyers, 63 are white. Onl

49 people injured in Saturday's blast at president's rally: Zimbabwe police

On Sunday morningm the Zimbabwe police said that about 49 people were injured in the explosion at President Emmerson Mnangagwa's a political rally on Saturday, with the number expected to change.

"We expect the number to rise as some victims might come forward during the course of the day," national police spokeswoman Charity Charamba told journalists,adding that the "comprehensive investigations" were underway at Bulawayo's White City stadium where the incidence occurred.

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Soldiers stand guard beside President Robert Mugabe's car during the opening of Zimbabwe's parliament in Harare, September 15, 2015. REUTERS/Philimon

Mauritania hosts upcoming African summit in July

The 31st summit of the African Union will take place in July in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott for the first time, reported Mauritania Radio.

The summit will adopt an African media strategy to face terrorism and extremism, according to the Radio. The radio made it clear that the summit convocation in the Mauritanian capital comes as a success of the Mauritanian diplomacy two years after hosting the Arab Summit.

The 31st Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union will convene under the theme: “Winning the Fight Against Corruption: A Sustainable Path to Africa’s Transformation.”

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz has chaired the African Union in 2014. It will be the first time for Mauritanian to host the African Summit since its independent on November 28, 1960.

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African heads of states pose for a group photo during the opening ceremony of an African Union session in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia July 3, 2017 [Tiksa Negeri/Reuters]

In pics: Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections

Turks began voting on Sunday in presidential and parliamentary elections that pose the biggest challenge to Tayyip Erdogan and his Islamist-rooted AK Party since they swept to power more than a decade and a half ago.

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Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu wave Turkish and AK Party flags during an election rally for Turkey's June 7 parliamentary elections in Istanbul, Turkey, May 17, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

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A supporter of the ruling AK Party holds a scarf with a slogan that reads, “Man of the nation – Ahmet Davutoglu”, in reference to the prime minister, during an election rally in the central Anatolian city of Konya, on Friday. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

Trump defends policies on border, North Korea in visit to Las Vegas

President Donald Trump defended his tough stance on immigrants crossing the U.S. border with Mexico on Saturday, praising his administration for a job well done and saying his approach will make the United States stronger.

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Trump defends policies on border, North Korea in visit to Las Vegas - Reuters
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6/24/2018 3:43:11 PM
<![CDATA[Five scenarios await Turkey’s twin election]]>
The run-off, if necessary, will take place on July 8 in case no candidate could obtain more than 50 percent of the valid votes in the first round, which is held in the presence of the emergency rule that followed the failed coup attempt of July 2016.

From this summer onward, the president of the republic of Turkey will form the government and there will be no prime minister.

Observers assert that the Turkish elections shall witness one of five possible scenarios. They are the first elections since the constitutional amendments of 2017, which transformed an 80-year-old parliamentarian system into a presidential one.

First : Erdogan wins the presidential election on June 24 poll and the 16-year-old Justice and Development Party (AKP) obtains a parliamentary majority as Erdogan wishes. When Erdogan called for a snap election, a year and a half before its normal date, he sought to surprise his opponents and the opposition parties so that they don't have enough time to get ready for the election’s race.

Second : The Turkish opposition parties succeed to go for a run-off round in July, so Erdogan will definitely lose some confidence.

Third : Erdogan wins, but the ruling AKP fails to secure the majority in the Parliament. This scenario will lead to more confusion and will negatively affect the Turkish economy. Therefore, a new election will be held later.

In 2015, AKP could not achieve the majority in the parliamentary election, so Erdogan hurried to call for holding a new election as he publicly announced he wouldn’t accept forming parliamentary coalitions with other political parties.

According to the constitutional amendments, approved in a referendum in April, 2017, Erdogan will be theoretically forced to call for a new presidential election if this scenario happens, because both presidential and parliamentary elections must take place simultaneously.

Fourth : The Republican People’s Party’s (CHP) charismatic Muharrem Ince wins in the run-off round and the opposition dominates the Parliament. Ince is the second powerful presidential candidate after President Erdogan.

Fifth : Turkish opposition wins the presidential election, but AKP keeps its dominance of the Parliament; especially that AKP has never witnessed such situation since it seized political power in 2002.

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6/24/2018 12:35:08 PM
<![CDATA[In pics: Turks begin voting in presidential and parliamentary elections]]>
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Supporters of Turkey's Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu wave Turkish and AK Party flags during an election rally for Turkey's June 7 parliamentary elections in Istanbul, Turkey, May 17, 2015. REUTERS/Osman Orsal

The elections will also usher in a powerful new executive presidency long sought by Erdogan and backed by a small majority of Turks in a 2017 referendum. Critics say it will further erode democracy in the NATO member state and entrench one-man rule.

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Turkey's master campaigner, Erdogan faces biggest election challenge | Reuters

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A supporter of the ruling AK Party holds a scarf with a slogan that reads, “Man of the nation – Ahmet Davutoglu”, in reference to the prime minister, during an election rally in the central Anatolian city of Konya, on Friday. Photograph: Umit Bektas/Reuters

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People wave Turkish flags during a Republic Day ceremony in Istanbul, Turkey, October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

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A woman gets ready to cast her ballot at a polling station during snap twin Turkish presidential and parliamentary elections in Ankara, on June 24, 2018. Turks began voting in dual parliamentary and presidential polls seen as the President's toughest election test, with the opposition revitalised and his popularity at risk from growing economic troubles. / AFP / ADEM ALTAN

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6/24/2018 12:08:56 PM
<![CDATA[Meet the new head of Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court]]>
Jibali, 69, was the presiding judge who ruled that the implementation of the disputed maritime border accord between Cairo and Riyadh on the two Red Sea islands (Tiran and Sanafir) is valid.

He graduated from Faculty of Law, Cairo University in 1975 and then obtained a Master's Degree in Common law in 1976 and another MA in Criminal Law in 1977 from Ain Shams University. In 1978, he obtained a PhD in common law from Ain Shams University.

In 1976, he was appointed as a prosecutor at the Egyptian General Prosecution. Two years later, he was appointed as a Judge-delegate at the State Council. Then, he was promoted to assume the position of a judge at the State Council in March 1982; seven months later, he was selected a member at the State Council Commissioner for the state’s president and the Cabinet.

In October 1982, Jibali was appointed as a judicial assistant at the Commissioner of Supreme Constitutional Court, and then got promoted in 1988 to a judge at the commissioner. In 1996, He was elected the head of the commissioner. In the period between 2001 and 2004, he assumed the post of a deputy to the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court.

He was seconded to work as an advisory judge at the Bahraini Constitutional Court in 2004 and as a judicial expert to Qatar in 1988.

The Supreme Constitutional Court decides if laws abide by the laid constitution, clarifies the legislative provisions that stir controversy, and considers any legislative disputes among different judicial bodies as well as contradictory court rulings

The Supreme Constitutional Court is the only judiciary body that is not subject to the recently-applied Law of Electing Heads of Judiciary Authorities, which allows the state's president to appoint the president of the country’s top judicial councils.

As per the Constitution, the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court shall be elected by the Court’s General Assembly.
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6/24/2018 11:50:31 AM
<![CDATA[Italy says 'arrogant' France could become main enemy on migration]]>
In answer to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron, who said migration flows towards Europe had reduced compared with a few years ago, Italy's Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio said Macron's words showed he was out of touch.

"Italy indeed faces a migration emergency and it's partly because France keeps pushing back people at the border. Macron risks making his country Italy's No.1 enemy on this emergency," Di Maio wrote on his Facebook page.

Macron said European cooperation had managed to cut migration flows by close to 80 percent and problems stemmed from "secondary" movements of migrants within Europe.

"The reality is that Europe is not experiencing a migration crisis of the same magnitude as the one it experienced in 2015," the French president said.

"A country like Italy has not at all the same migratory pressure as last year. ... The crisis we are experiencing today in Europe is a political crisis."

But Italy's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini said his country had faced 650,000 arrivals by sea over the past four years, 430,000 asylum requests and the hosting of 170,000 "alleged refugees" for an overall cost of more than 5 billion euros ($5.8 billion).

"If for the arrogant President Macron this is not a problem, we invite him to stop insulting and to show instead some concrete generosity by opening up France's many ports and letting children, men and women through at Ventimiglia," he said in a statement, referring to the northeastern Italian town at the border with France.

Macron also said France favoured financial sanctions for EU countries that refuse migrants with proven asylum status.

"You can't have countries that massively benefit from the solidarity of the European Union and that massively voice their national selfishness when it comes to migrant issues," he added, in a clear hint to Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic, which oppose the EU relocation scheme for asylum seekers.

HEATED DEBATE

The fate of the Aquarius rescue ship and its more than 600 migrants sparked a heated debate this month over EU states' responsibilities.

Italy and Malta refused to take in the ship which was stranded at sea for days before being offered safe haven in Spain. On Saturday, another migrant rescue ship, the MV Lifeline, was waiting in the Mediterranean having been refused harbour by Italy and Malta.

The French president suggested that additional conditions should be attached to the granting of the EU's structural funds to guarantee the recipients take their share of asylum migrants.

He made the comments after his first meeting with the new Spanish prime minister, Pedro Sanchez, at the Elysee palace.

Both leaders agreed that additional detention centres should be opened in Europe to review asylum seekers' applications.

This would come on top of so-called "disembarkation platforms" outside the EU where asylum requests could be assessed before claimants reach Europe.

Migrants seeking to reach Europe were picked up in their hundreds in the Mediterranean on Friday and Saturday.

Spanish authorities said they had rescued nearly 600 migrants trying to make the perilous crossing from Africa, while off the coast of Libya coastguards recovered bodies of five migrants and picked up 210 survivors, the coastguard said.

The container ship Alexander Maersk picked up 113 migrants from a boat off southern Italy on Friday, the ship owner said. The ship was south of Sicily awaiting further instructions from the authorities.]]>
6/24/2018 2:00:00 AM
<![CDATA[Trump defends policies on border, North Korea in visit to Las Vegas]]>
Trump also said his peace initiative with North Korea was already paying off despite criticism that his Singapore summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un earlier this month was long on positive imagery but short on specific accomplishments.

Trump, who was in Las Vegas to lend support to U.S. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, a Republican who is facing a stiff challenge to re-election, has been under fire for a policy that separates children from their parents when they illegally cross the U.S. border with Mexico.

Amid a fierce outcry, Trump reversed himself on Wednesday and signed an executive order to abandon the policy, but the fate of more than 2,300 children already separated from their parents before the order was enacted is unknown.

"My people are actually doing a very good job," Trump said in a speech at the Nevada Republican Party state convention at Suncoast Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Trump said that with a 3.8 percent jobless rate, the United States needs immigrants for jobs that need to be filled, but he wants them to be legal immigrants.

"We need people to come in, but they have to be people that love this country, can love our country and can really help us to make America great again," he said.

'TRADE STUFF COMING ALONG'

Trump has drawn some criticism from national security analysts for an agreement that emerged from his Singapore summit with Kim that had few details on how Pyongyang would surrender its nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

At a roundtable with local business leaders after his speech, Trump said he believes North Korea will engage in "total denuclearization."

He said the agreement is paying off in terms of the North's suspension of nuclear weapons tests and missile tests, as well as the planned surrender of the remains of American soldiers killed in the 1950-1953 Korean War and a general lowering of tensions in the region after last year's sabre-rattling.

Of Kim, he said, "We have a good chemistry together. We get along great. He's a smart, tough guy. He's a great negotiator."

Addressing the Senate race in Nevada, where Democratic U.S. Representative Jacky Rosen is challenging Heller, Trump took aim in his convention speech at a favorite Democratic target, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who was campaigning with Rosen elsewhere in the state.

Trump revived a derogatory nickname for Warren, "Pocahontas," and said he had a nickname for Rosen as well: "Wacky Jacky."

Rosen fired back quickly, saying on Twitter, "Is that the best you've got, @realdonaldtrump? Let's fight back. Chip in now," with a link to contribute to her campaign.

Trump and Heller have a rocky past. They clashed in the early months of Trump's presidency over a proposed healthcare revamp, but now get along well, with both wanting to maintain Republican control over the U.S. Senate in the November congressional elections in which Democrats are projected to make gains.

Republicans now hold a mere one-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate, where one-third of the seats are up for election in November. Heller is considered the most vulnerable Republican running for re-election in the Senate.

Trump on Saturday also defended his proposed tariffs against Chinese products and his threat to impose tariffs against European allies, and said he will raise the issue once again of whether NATO allies are spending enough on defense at a NATO summit in Brussels next month.

"The trade stuff is coming along, just starting. But it's happening," Trump said. "We're a piggy bank that everybody likes to steal from." ]]>
6/24/2018 1:30:00 AM
<![CDATA[Tens of thousands march in London for second Brexit vote]]>
The anti-Brexit campaigners marched on parliament to mark the second anniversary of the Brexit referendum, demanding a "people's vote" on whether to approve the final deal Prime Minister Theresa May strikes with the EU, if an agreement is struck at all.

"I was in deep tears when the referendum happened, it looked like the future was pretty bad," said Chiara Liduori, a 40-year-old Italian living in London.

"Brexit is awful not only because we want to keep things like it is, but because it is important to be within, in order to make changes."

Under a blue sky, marchers set off from Pall Mall before passing May's Downing Street office -- to the sound of boos -- on their way to Westminster to listen to speeches by anti-Brexit MPs including Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable and Tory rebel Anna Soubry.

"Brexit is not a done deal, not inevitable, Brexit can be reversed," said Cable.

"The vote that took place two years ago is not for ever."

Demonstrators held placards reading "I am a European citizen", "ILoveu" and "we demand a vote on final Brexit deal."

Emily Hill, 55, told AFP she was "very much in favour of letting the people" confirm they really want Brexit.

"I think lot of the voting was a protest vote, some people genuinely are not supportive of the EU, but I don't believe it is the majority opinion in this country," she added, European flag in hand.

Freelance journalist William Diaz, 52, said Brexit was "creating tensions" and a "much more polarised society.

"It is not something you can decide on a yes no vote," he added.

Almost two-thirds of Britons believe they should have a final say on the Brexit deal, according to a poll published this week, although it is still unclear what would happen the government's deal were rejected.

Britain's Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who campaigned to leave the European Union, warned May against a Brexit that was "soft, yielding and seemingly infinitely long" like toilet roll.

Writing in The Sun, Johnson urged against a "bog-roll Brexit", British slang for toilet paper, and called on his boss to "fulfil the mandate of the people and deliver a full British Brexit".

May's team is about to enter into the next round of negotiations with EU counterparts, but is still to define exactly what it wants from Britain's future relationship with the continent, particularly in the area of customs regulation.

- 'Summer of action' -

Trade minister Liam Fox, an arch eurosceptic, insisted that the prime minister was still prepared to walk away from the talks if no satisfactory deal was reached.

"The prime minister has always said no deal is better than a bad deal," Fox told the BBC in an interview aired on Saturday.

"It is essential as we enter the next phase of the negotiations that the EU understands that and believes it... I think our negotiating partners would not be wise if they thought our PM was bluffing."

Johnson, who was the most prominent face in the campaign to leave the EU, wrote that the British people "just want us to get on with it".

"They don't want a half-hearted Brexit," he wrote.

"They don't want some sort of hopeless compromise, some perpetual push me-pull you arrangement in which we stay half-in and half-out in a political no man's land.

"Two years ago the people of this country recorded a verdict about themselves -- that they had the guts to believe in Britain. They were right and will be proved right in the decades ahead," he added.

However, aviation giant Airbus warned on Friday it could pull out of Britain if it leaves the EU without a deal, while carmaker BMW also warned that uncertainty was affecting the investment climate.

The march against Brexit is part of a "summer of action" planned by campaign groups to put pressure on political leaders to hold a vote on the final deal.]]>
6/24/2018 1:20:00 AM