person:abdel fattah al-sisi

  • Egypt. Judicial officials: Constitutional amendments final battleground in struggle for judicial independence | MadaMasr

    In a meeting with Middle Eastern and North African general prosecutors in Cairo on Wednesday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi once again stressed the importance of judicial independence, asserting that “no one can interfere with the work of the judiciary.”

    Yet critics say a set of constitutional amendments making its way through Egypt’s Parliament does precisely that.

    Last week, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to advance the amendments, the primary focus of which have been changes that would allow Sisi to extend his term in office until 2034. But the proposed amendments also include a number of other controversial changes, not least of which are revisions to articles that could further undermine judicial independence and erode the separation of powers by giving the president tighter control over the judiciary.

  • Saudi Arabia Declares War on America’s Muslim Congresswomen – Foreign Policy

    The rise of politicians like El-Sayed, Omar, and Tlaib also undermines a core argument advanced by dictators in the Middle East: that their people are not ready for democracy. “People would not have access to power in their countries but they would if they leave; this destroys the argument by Sisi or bin Salman,” El-Sayed said, referring to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. “What’s ironic is there is no way I would aspire to be in leadership in Egypt, the place of my fathers.”

    American allies in the region also fear that the Democratic Party’s new Arab leaders will advocate for political change in their countries. Having spent millions of dollars for public relations campaigns in Western capitals, the Persian Gulf countries feel threatened by any policymakers with an independent interest in and knowledge of the region. They have thus framed these officials’ principled objections to regional violations of human rights and democratic norms as matters of personal bias. One commentator, who is known to echo government talking points and is frequently retweeted by government officials, recently spread the rumor that Omar is a descendent of a “Houthi Yemeni” to undermine her attacks on the Saudi-led war on Yemen.

    The most common attack online by the Saudi-led bloc on the Muslim-American Democrats has been to label them as members of the Muslim Brotherhood, or more generally as ikhwanji, an extremist catch-all term. These attacks started long before this year’s elections. In 2014, the UAE even announced a terror list that included the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its alleged links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

    The attacks attempting to tie Omar and Tlaib to the Muslim Brotherhood started in earnest after CAIR publicly welcomed their election to Congress. One UAE-based academic, Najat al-Saeed, criticized Arabic media for celebrating the two Muslim women’s victories at the midterms, and pointed to CAIR’s support for them as evidence of their ties to the Brotherhood.

  • A relire

    Wikileaks: Egyptian media and journalists go to Saudi for financing | MadaMasr

    Since the Wikileaks website began posting leaked documents from the Saudi Arabian government, the issue of the Kingdom financing Egyptian media channels, journalists and researchers has garnered major attention. 

    While the first group of documents released on the website on June 19 contained details regarding funding requests by pro-regime journalist Mostafa Bakry and religious preacher Amr Khalid, unpublished documents received by Mada Masr, upon an agreement with Wikileaks, has shed light on new names and details.

    Requests for funding from the Saudi government varied, and in some cases was in exchange for writing articles, the fees for which were collected from the embassy.

    One of the documents, titled “Bill of the representative of Dar al-Helal Institution,” is a memo raised by the head of the media affairs department at the Saudi Foreign Ministry to the deputy minister of culture and media in the Kingdom, requesting the disbursement of a check of US$68,000 to the state-owned Egyptian Dar al-Helal in February 2012 “for publishing a series of weekly articles throughout the pilgrimage season 1432 H on the achievements of Saudi Arabia in renovating and expanding the two holy mosques and other recent projects.”

    During the period referred to in the cables, writer Abdel Qader Shohaieb was head of the board of Al-Helal institution, while Hamdi Rizk, a staunch supporter of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, was editor-in-chief of Al-Mosawar, one of its publications. Al-Helal is considered one of the oldest media publishing houses in Egypt and the region.

    Other publications were not as successful in collecting funds in exchange for publishing articles favoring the Kingdom, especially when the request for funding came after publishing without prior coordination.

  • Egypt internet : Sisi ratifies law tightening control over websites

    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has signed a new law that tightens controls over the internet. The legislation on “cybercrime” means websites can be blocked in Egypt if deemed to constitute a threat to national security or the economy. Anyone found guilty of running, or just visiting, such sites could face prison or a fine. Authorities say the new measures are needed to tackle instability and terrorism. But human rights groups accuse the government of trying to crush all (...)

    #censure #surveillance #web

  • Egypt’s new media laws: Rearranging legislative building blocks to maximize control | MadaMasr

    Amid backlash from various stakeholders, Parliament passed three highly contested laws regulating Egypt’s media landscape by a two-thirds majority on Monday.

    The laws, which took a convoluted and chaotic path through the legislature, set forth an array of regulations governing state and private media in Egypt that, when signed into law by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will effectively disband and reformulate three key media regulatory bodies which have operated in a murky legal environment since they were first created in 2016. The most powerful of these bodies, a the Supreme Media Regulatory Council, has been granted far-reaching powers that, combined with draconian rules governing media practices contained within the law, will allow authorities to further censor the press and restrict journalists’ work.

    The new laws — parts of which have been criticized as unconstitutional — come in the context of a wider crackdown on the press in recent years with Egyptian authorities harassing and imprisoning journalists, blocking access to hundreds of websites, silencing oppositional voices and taking direct ownership of private media outlets.

    The evolution of the controversial laws over the past two and a half years sheds some light on how authorities have worked to grant themselves greater jurisdiction to assert control over the media and to clamp down on overall freedom of expression in Egypt.

  • Egypt: A season of morality and police uniforms | MadaMasr

    Days ahead of this year’s Ramadan TV season, fans of Egyptian television sensed an impending crisis, one that played out with the sudden removal of several anticipated series from the 2018 schedule. Some of the issues cited, such as shooting delays, were familiar. What was different, however, was the extent of direct state interference in both the schedule and the content of the shows that were broadcast, contributing to what many have called the weakest Ramadan season in many years.

    Though particularly insidious this year, this kind of state control did not emerge out of the blue, there have been indications of it over the past two years. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other state bodies have issued a series of statements expressing their displeasure with the content of Egypt’s artistic works, criticizing TV series in particular. It seems these statements were initial steps toward cementing state control over Egypt’s media and culture industry, followed by the monopoly of state institutions and their business affiliates over the satellite TV channels considered to be the powerhouses of drama production. Most of these channels are now owned by state-acquired or affiliated production companies, namely Falcon, Egyptian Media Group and Eagle Capital, placing the production and broadcasting of TV series largely at their mercy.

    The state took one step further with the creation of the Supreme Media Regulatory Council (SMRC) and its associated Drama Committee in 2016. The council swiftly started to exercise its stated mission of practicing post-screening censorship, instructing TV channels to cut certain scenes or lines of dialogue, despite them having already been approved by the Censorship Board, as happened with the popular series Sabea Gar (The Seventh Neighbor), which ran on CBC channel from October 2017 to March 2018.

    It is not only through acquisitions and expanding the role of censorship authorities that the state has tried to influence Egypt’s TV landscape, it has also attempted to control the economy of drama production itself. For instance, producer Tamer Morsy of Synergy Productions had a stake in most of this past season’s TV series, while simultaneously holding the position of CEO of Egyptian Media Group, the current owner of ONtv network, and a shareholder of several other channels. In addition, the company entered into an agreement with a number of other channels not to sign any TV series with budgets exceeding LE70 million.

  • Egypt, Ethiopia approach negotiations over filling Renaissance Dam reservoir | MadaMasr

    As the construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) nears completion, both Egyptian and Ethiopian sources say that the most significant outcome of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s three-day visit to Cairo in early June was reaching a direct understanding with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on beginning to draft a legal agreement regarding filling the dam’s reservoir.

    The water reservoir is projected to be filled with approximately 75 billion cubic meters over the course of three phases, and is designated to generate a massive electricity supply for Ethiopia. The construction of the dam commenced six years ago, and the Nile Basin country is expected to mark the launch of the first filling phase later this year with mass popular celebrations.

    Egypt is concerned that filling the reservoir too rapidly would affect its water share, which it already claims is insufficient. But since construction began, Ethiopia has reiterated that the project — whose projected cost is approximately US$4.2 billion — is vital to the development of the country and to meeting the needs of its population, which is nearly as large as Egypt’s.

    Although Ahmed was friendly during the three day visit, which ran from June 10 to June 12, and repeatedly expressed that Ethiopia completely “understands” the significance of the matter of the Nile water to the Egyptian people and, consequently, the implications of “any big setbacks” in that regard for “[Sisi]’s situation,” he was also clear that his country is determined to begin the first filling phase this coming fall, sources speaking on condition of anonymity tell Mada Masr.

  • Egypte, Palestine, Gaza
    At the terminal: Stories from the Rafah Border Crossing

    | MadaMasr

    It has been one month since the Rafah Border Crossing was opened, marking the longest window in which Gazans have been permitted to leave and reenter the besieged Gaza Strip since 2013.

    What was initially purported to be a four-day opening was extended on May 17, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that travel across the Egypt-Gaza border would be permitted throughout the month of Ramadan.

    From Gaza to the outside world
    Mada Masr spoke to several travelers waiting at the on the Palestinian side of the crossing.

    Zuheir al-Qashash, 44, was there with his family, which includes four children. “I sold my apartment, man,” he says. “I registered my entire family for crossing, and we are going to live with my mother in Egypt. To live in Gaza is to die slowly. I will not have my children [continue to] suffer through what we have been experiencing for the past 10 years.”

    Qashash tells Mada Masr that he paid nearly US$7,000 for registration and “coordination in order to cross through Rafah.”

    “It’s a big gamble,” he says. “But the biggest gamble of all is to patiently wait in Gaza, in hopes that the conditions will improve.”

    To travel across the Rafah crossing, Palestinians must board special busses and pay large sums of money to register through travel agencies in Gaza. These agencies then submit applications to officers on the Egyptian side, according to several people who attempted the trip. Once officials in Palestine receive a select list of names approved by the Egyptians, they notify those selected to prepare to cross. The list, however, is always handwritten and never bears the official mark of Egypt’s Interior Ministry or any other government agency.

    Palestinians have left the Gaza Strip in increasing numbers since the 2014 war with Israel. It is not unusual for entire families to leave at the same time, according to copies of the lists of travelers obtained by Mada Masr. Some of these families have since relocated to Europe.

    The sight of entire families waiting at the Palestinian terminal for their passage to be approved has become increasingly common, following Sisi’s Ramadan announcement.

  • Under Sisi, firms owned by Egypt’s military have flourished

    In the four years since former armed forces chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi became Egypt’s president, companies owned by the military have gone from strength to strength. Local businessmen and foreign investors are concerned.

    By Reuters staff Filed May 16, 2018, 11 a.m. GMT

    CAIRO – In a four-decade military career, Osama Abdel Meguid served in the first Gulf War and was an assistant military attaché in the United States.

    These days he issues orders from an office that overlooks the Nile, as chairman of the Maadi Co. for Engineering Industries, owned by the Ministry of Military Production.

    Maadi was founded in 1954 to manufacture grenade launchers, pistols and machine guns. In recent years the firm, which employs 1,400 people, has begun turning out greenhouses, medical devices, power equipment and gyms. It has plans for four new factories.

    “There are so many projects we are working on,” said Abdel Meguid, a 61-year-old engineer, listing orders including a 495 million Egyptian pound ($28 million) project for the Ministry of Electricity and an Algerian agricultural waste recycling contract worth $400,000.

    Maadi is one of dozens of military-owned companies that have flourished since Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former armed forces chief, became president in 2014, a year after leading the military in ousting Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

    The military owns 51 percent of a firm that is developing a new $45 billion capital city 75 km east of Cairo. Another military-owned company is building Egypt’s biggest cement plant. Other business interests range from fish farms to holiday resorts.

    In interviews conducted over the course of a year, the chairmen of nine military-owned firms described how their businesses are expanding and discussed their plans for future growth. Figures from the Ministry of Military Production - one of three main bodies that oversee military firms - show that revenues at its firms are rising sharply. The ministry’s figures and the chairmen’s accounts give rare insight into the way the military is growing in economic influence.

  • Syria cooperation highlights progress in Egypt-Russia relations as hurdles remain | MadaMasr

    Phone calls between high-ranking Egyptian and Russian officials have brought the two countries into accord on the Syrian crisis, according to an Egyptian government source, in what is one of several breakthroughs on pending Cairo-Moscow diplomatic discussions.

    The government source, who is involved in Egyptian-Russian diplomatic relations, says communications between the two countries were at their peak prior to the mid-April joint airstrikes carried out by the United States, United Kingdom and France against government facilities in Syria. Talks centered on possible approaches to the conflict, to be taken in the event that the then-potential tripartite strikes were carried out, that would ensure that Islamist groups do not reap any political gains.

    Egyptian-Russian cooperation was and remains mainly an exchange of information aimed at curbing Saudi Arabian and Turkish-backed militias that were deployed to Syria to “overthrow” President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, according to the source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity.

    The alliance falls in line, the source adds, with Cairo’s position on the situation in Syria: Assad remaining in power is the best available option, despite Cairo’s reservations on certain aspects of the way he’s managed the conflict. Tellingly, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s speech the Arab League summit in Dhahran in mid-April was free of any condemnation of the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons in Eastern Ghouta — the stated reason for the tripartite airstrikes — as much as any endorsement of the strike.

  • How Egyptians’ attitude toward voting has changed over 7 years | MadaMasr

    Mohamed*, a 53-year-old taxi driver, roams the streets of Dokki on the second day of Egypt’s presidential election, cringing every time a pick-up truck drives by blasting songs produced especially to support current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as he runs for a second term in office. The excitement with which Egyptians took to polling stations after the 2011 revolution seems a distant memory to Mohamed as he weighs his options: to participate in an election he considers a farce in order to express his disapproval, or to abstain from voting and lose his chance at voicing his opinion.

    Mohamed insisted on voting even before the revolution, in former President Hosni Mubarak’s rigged elections, in hopes that change would come. However, he now struggles to find the motivation to head to the polling stations.

    “I feel that it won’t make a difference whether I vote or not,” he says.

    As the polls opened on March 26, the atmosphere in Egypt was a far cry from the festive scene apparent during the constitutional referendum of March 2011, the first vote after the 18-day revolt in January of that year that toppled Mubarak. At the time, the excitement was not about the constitutional amendments as much as it was about voters celebrating their right to finally participate in a poll they believed would make a difference.

  • Sugar, rice and everything nice: Mobilizing voter turnout in Egypt’s presidential election | MadaMasr

    While President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and members of his campaign have spoken sparsely on his sole competitor in the current presidential election, much has been said about the importance of securing a high turnout.

    Preparing to embark on his second presidential term after the election results, widely presumed to be predetermined, Sisi has called on citizens to head to the polls in order to send a message to the world. State bureaucrats, businessmen and private institutions are working together to ensure that this message is successfully delivered by providing the electorate with an array of incentives in exchange for their vote.

    Ink for wages
    Officials across a number of state institutions have put measures in place to ensure employees’ participation in the 2018 presidential election. Several companies divided their workforce into three groups, with each going to vote on one of the three election days, in order to guarantee that employees’ trips to the polls do not hamper productivity.

    Management at the state-owned Petrotrade company had the employees whose turn it was to go to the polls sign in their attendance to work in the morning, then head to cast their votes, Salma*, an employee at the company, told Mada Masr. The employees were told that their time away from the workplace would only be counted as a paid workday if they proved their vote by showing their ink stained fingers. Phosphorous ink is used in polling stations across the country to ensure that no one votes twice.

    Throughout the past few weeks, the company encouraged its employees to attend events organized by the Sisi campaign. Members of staff were offered an out-of-office work assignment wage for two days if they attended the events, Salma said. However, employee attendance at the last conference held before voting began was obligatory, she added.

    Meanwhile, Samy*, who works in the Zagazig Public Hospital, told Mada Masr that the local health directorate notified management at several public hospitals to divide doctors into two groups to go vote, with each group heading to the polls on either the first or second day of voting.

    A representative from a local education directorate in Gharbiya was filmed threatening to cut teachers’ wages during the three-day election period if they could not prove that they voted, given that schools had assigned these days as paid leave.

    In a video circulated on Facebook on Monday, the representative tells teachers that they must print the phosphorous ink from their fingertips directly onto cards distributed to them by the education directorate. These cards should then be sent to the directorate so authorities there can track the teachers who cast their votes.

  • Who are ‘the forces of evil’ controlling Egypt’s media? | MadaMasr

    There are “forces of evil” that control Egypt’s media outlets, according to a Wednesday statement issued by Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadek. To protect “national security” and prevent “spreading fear throughout society,” Sadek instructed public prosecutors and regulators to monitor media outlets and arrest anyone who disseminates or broadcasts false news.

    However, it is unclear whom Sadek was referring to in his statement. And in the absence of clarity, media regulators and lawyers are left to speculate whether the term “forces of evil” is confined to the spat with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) over the critical report titled “The Shadow Over Egypt” on human rights violations in Egypt during President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first term in office, or if it signals the beginning of a broader wave of future legal prosecution targeting journalists in the coming period in Egypt.

  • Egypt : State Information Service slams BBC report on ‘repression in Egypt’ | MadaMasr

    Egypt’s State Information Services (SIS) criticized the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for publishing a report on the state of political and social rights in Egypt in a statement released on Saturday.

    SIS’ criticism of the London-based media organization constitutes the most recent example in what has become the government authority’s routine practice of discrediting foreign media outlets’ Egypt coverage.

    On February 23, the BBC published a five-part report on on social, political, and human rights during President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s first term in office, which will come to an end this year following the upcoming presidential election slated for March.

    The report by journalist Orla Guerin, titled “The Shadow Over Egypt,” details stories of torture, forced disappearances and activist arrests, as told through the eyes of victims’ family members, lawyers and human rights activists. Guerin’s report was accompanied by a short documentary on the same subject titled Crushing Dissent in Egypt, which aired on BBC World and BBC News Channel on February 24 and 25.

  • Egypt Analysis : How Sisi has been sidelining his opponents

    | MadaMasr

    “Angry” was the way many described President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s improvised speech during the inauguration ceremony of the Zohr natural gas field on January 31.

    The president declared that the only way Egypt’s national security could be compromised was over his “dead body” and the “dead body of the military.”

    But who exactly the president is angry at is not clear. Sisi did not specify whether he was addressing opposition leaders — many of whom have called for a boycott of the upcoming presidential elections — or individuals within state institutions who have antagonized him as of late.

    The speech follows a series of high-level shuffles within the security apparatus, with Sisi unexpectedly dismissing Armed Forces’ Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy in October of last year. According to a family friend, Hegazy had been under house arrest until December 16, when he appeared at a small event held to honor him — which the president attended — and where the dismissed official was permitted limited movement under strict surveillance.

    In January of this year, Sisi also dismissed Khaled Fawzy, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS). Fawzy’s movement has also been restricted, according to a source close to his family. He was removed from his post after calls were allegedly leaked in which a man who appears to be affiliated with Military Intelligence speaks to media talk show hosts and celebrities and instructs them to appear understanding of US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The man is also heard condemning Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for political stances that Cairo is not pleased with, especially with the rapprochement between Kuwait and Qatar and the fear of a rapprochement between Saudi Arabia and the Yemeni Muslim Brotherhood. The leaks have yet to be independently verified.

    According to a Foreign Ministry source and to a European diplomat who has recently visited both Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the leaked calls have made officials from both countries unhappy, and compelled the Egyptian Foreign Ministry to release a statement of apology to Kuwait and take unannounced measures to placate Saudi Arabia.

  • Egypte, dernier épisode de la pantalonnade de l’élection présidentielle de mars en Egypte. Le pouvoir ayant éliminé tous les candidats sérieux n’arrive même pas à trouver un candidat « présentable ». La dernière tentative, celle d’avoir un candidat du parti Wafd (un parti qui soutient officiellement Sissi) s’est heurté à l’opposition des militants de ce parti.

    Wafd Party rejects party leader’s nomination for presidency | MadaMasr

    Egypt’s Wafd Party announced on Saturday its official refusal of party head Al-Sayed al-Badawy’s nomination in the upcoming presidential election, which could see Badawy become the only contender to current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

    Badawy had begun processing the necessary paperwork for his medical examination, which is a requisite part of the candidacy process, a party member told Mada Masr on Friday.

    As party leaders met on Saturday, a number of Wafd Party youth staged a demonstration at the group’s headquarters in Cairo, carrying banners saying “President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi is the Wafd’s candidate” and “the Wafd Party leads public opinion and is not led.”

    The party’s deputy, Hussein Mansour, collected signatures from members in the party’s higher committee in a petition rejecting Badawy’s nomination, saying the state has various options at hand to deal with the lack of candidates in the race, including the postponement of elections altogether, adding that most members refuse the involvement the Wafd Party in these matters.

    Without official party endorsement, Badawy cannot be fielded as the party’s candidate in the presidential elections. However, “Badawy is a prominent political personality, and it is possible that he decides to run independently if he likes,” Wafd Party member and MP Suleiman Wahdan told Mada Masr.

    Before the party’s committee issued its decision, Wafd Party assistant head of parliamentary matters, Yasser Koura, told Mada Masr that the party has no issue with collecting the 20 endorsements from MPs required for nomination. “Some of our parliamentarians have endorsed Sisi, but these endorsement forms can be withdrawn if the endorsing MP goes to the National Elections Authority and asks for a new endorsement form for another candidate,” he explained.

    Prior to Badawy’s sudden decision to run in the upcoming presidential elections, the Wafd Party’s official stance had been to support President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s bid for a second term. Most of the Wafd Party’s members of Parliament have already endorsed Sisi.

    Koura, who was touted to be Badawy’s presidential campaign chief, added that “withdrawing Sisi’s endorsements and replacing them with Badawy’s is not wrong because the Wafd Party did not have a nominee before.”

    A parliamentary source, who requested to remain anonymous, previously told Mada Masr that Badawy was pushed for nomination so Sisi does not run for a second term through a referendum. “The president’s image abroad must be considered above all else, so that elections in the form of a referendum are not used against the Egyptian government,” he said.

  • Egypt Sami Anan’s whereabouts unknown: Son | MadaMasr

    The whereabouts of former Chief of Staff Sami Anan, who was arrested and brought before the military prosecution after announcing his presidential bid, remain unknown, his son Samir Anan told Mada Masr on Wednesday.

    After attending a six-hour interrogation with Anan on Tuesday, his lawyer from the Dina Hussein Law Firm was told that he would be released and sent home. However, Anan’s family has been unable to reach him since, according to Samir.

    The former chief of staff was arrested from his car and brought before the military prosecution early on Tuesday, right before the Armed Forces’ statement on Anan’s “violations and crimes” was broadcast, Mostafa al-Shal, the head of his personal office, previously told Mada Masr.

    Samir’s comments follow Tuesday evening media reports that the National Elections Authority (NEA) removed Anan’s name from the national electoral register due to his contested military status, citing an NEA statement, rendering the former chief of staff ineligible to participate in the 2018 electoral process as a candidate or as a voter. The NEA spokesperson confirmed in statements to the media that Anan’s name had been removed from the register, adding that copes of the statement in question were not available to the press.

    In its televised statement broadcast on Tuesday afternoon, the Armed Forces accused the presidential candidate of announcing his bid for office without first acquiring a permit from the military, aiming to incite a rift between the Armed Forces and the public, as well as forging his end of service documents. A few hours after the statement was aired, Anan’s official campaign Facebook page announced that the campaign was suspended until further notice. 

    The Cairo Court of Urgent Matters ruled on Tuesday in favor of lawsuit filed by lawyer Samir Sabry requesting the release of documents proving that Anan is enlisted as a military reserve officer, according to the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper.

    Anan formally announced his intent to run for presidency via an online video on Friday night, released on the heels of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s announcement that he intends to seek a second term in office. In the video, Anan demanded that civilian and military state institutions refrain from showing an “unconstitutional bias toward a president who might leave his chair in a few months.”

    Ousted President Mohamed Morsi forcibly retired Anan from his position as chief of staff of the Armed Forces in August 2012, using the same decree which saw Sisi replace former Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi.

    Presidential candidates have until 2 pm on January 29 to submit the necessary paperwork to be officially recognized as candidates by the NEA. To be eligible to run in the 2018 presidential election, Egypt’s Constitution and presidential elections law stipulate that candidates must collect endorsements from at least 20 members of Parliament, or from 25,000 eligible voters from 15 different governorates, with a minimum of 1,000 endorsements from each governorate.

    Tags: 2018 presidential electionsArmed Forces statements

  • Egyptian authorities clamp down on ’Sisi’s balls’

    En #Egypte, on a les boules!

    When children dubbed this retro toy “Sisi’s balls” — a reference to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s testicles — the Egyptian government launched an inspection campaign Nov. 8, followed by arrests of toy store owners throughout Egypt to stop them from selling the “offending” toy.

    As a result, 1,403 toys were confiscated and 41 toy store owners were arrested and referred to the public prosecutor’s office for investigation, according to a statement issued by the Security Directorate.

    The Interior Ministry also issued a statement explaining that the arrests were based on the ministry’s policy of maintaining security, order and public morals.

    Clackers is a cheap plastic toy that has been sold for 5 Egyptian pounds ($0.30) since the beginning of the summer. The toy is popular among schoolchildren, especially in the villages, and yielded good profits for toy stores — until it roused the ire of the government. Owners of toy stores that sell Clackers now face arrest and have incurred financial losses due to the confiscation of the toys in stock.

    After the first confiscations and arrests, both the toy and the name “Sisi’s balls” became a joke on social media, and many criticized the government decision to confiscate the toy and arrest store owners.

  • Egypt Battle over the Nile | MadaMasr

    A short ferryboat ride from the area of Warraq takes you to the southern end of the island, which consists of batches of agricultural land and scattered houses, which bear a striking resemblance to a village in the Nile Delta or Egypt’s south. Deeper in, the island turns into a typical Cairo informal neighborhood with tightly stacked buildings and narrow streets that are maneuvered by motorcycles and tuktuks.

    Much like Cairo’s informal areas, Warraq island and other Nile islands were first populated by migrants from other governorates who settled there and started to manage services on their own, until the state acknowledged them and started introducing official services.

    But the lives of residents of Warraq island, one of dozens of inhabited islands that dot the Nile’s span across Egypt, were disturbed earlier in June, when President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi identified their imperfect haven as his next target in the ongoing large-scale national campaign to retrieve illegally occupied state land.

    On Sunday, the state attempted to hit its target. Clashes erupted between police and residents of Warraq island on Sunday, as the state attempted to demolish buildings on the island. Police forces fired tear gas to disperse a crowd that had gathered to contest the demolition, and, in the ensuing melee, one resident was killed and 19 injured, according to the Health Ministry, while the Ministry of Interior says that 31 of its officers were wounded.

    The clashes have temporarily stayed the demolition attempts.

    In the conference on land reclamation held in June that first presaged a change for Warraq, the government announced that it had retrieved 118 million square meters of state land in a few weeks, an area constituting 69 percent of total land seized. Amid the announcement of success, Sisi signaled that the state would turn its attention to Nile islands, alluding to Warraq island specifically.

  • Egypt-Saudi Arabia Handshake between king and president points to waning tensions | MadaMasr

    Some signals suggest a possible de-escalation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, whose usually tight relations have recently witnessed turbulence.

    The Jordan Arab Summit, held on March 29, saw the leaders of both countries, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and King Salman bin Abdulaziz, meet and shake hands, while their respective ministers of foreign affairs agreed to set up a “committee for political follow-up.”

    Meanwhile, earlier in February, King Salman visited the Egyptian wing at the Jenaderiyah cultural festival, in what was interpreted as a gesture of restoring relations.

    One of the latest points of contention between the two countries concerns the Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir, which Egypt ceded sovereignty over in April 2016, following an agreement between the two governments. However, the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court ruled on January 16 against the agreement, declaring the islands Egyptian. The court argued that the Egyptian government failed to submit documents in support of Saudi sovereignty.

    But the legal contest didn’t stop here. On April 2, a court of urgent matters annulled the supreme court’s ruling. Parliament took a decisive step forward on April 10, one day after Coptic Christian churches in Alexandria and Tanta were bombed in attacks claimed by the Province of Sinai. In its first session after the bombings, Parliament referred the case to its legislative and constitutional affairs committee, where it will undergo a preliminary vote before a final vote takes place in the general assembly. It is a development aligned with what officials have said in closed quarters for some time. 

    “Saudi Arabia has reassurances from Cairo that it will receive the two islands in any case. But it also blames Cairo for managing this issue poorly,” says an Egyptian official working at the General Secretariat of the Arab League, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity.

  • Egypt-Fatah tensions come to a head at Cairo airport

    A Palestinian politician in Gaza and a close associate of Dahlan told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Egypt was very offended by Rajoub’s recent meetings with Fatah leaders in the West Bank. He even attacked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. This angered many Egyptian officials who were offended. The deportation was a prelude to completely eliminate his chances of becoming head of the PA, as Egyptians can now veto Rajoub’s plan to become Abbas’ successor.”

    Egypt does not hide its desire to play a key role in choosing Abbas’ successor. This was made clear in August 2016, when Egypt made the first move toward achieving reconciliation between Dahlan and Abbas, but the latter continues to reject and exclude Dahlan from any opportunity to succeed him, thus angering Egypt.

    Rajoub’s deportation from Egypt reverberated in Israel. Writing in Haaretz on March 6, author Jack Khoury said Rajoub’s deportation was due to Sisi’s anger toward Abbas for rejecting Sisi’s initiative, announced in May 2016, to hold a regional conference in Cairo with the participation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alongside Arab leaders.

    Read more:

  • Egypt to open Rafah crossing with Gaza for 3 days
    Dec. 16, 2016 10:21 A.M. (Updated : Dec. 16, 2016 10:21 A.M.)

    GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Egyptian authorities announced on Thursday that they would be opening the Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip in both directions for three days starting on Saturday.

    The Gaza borders and crossings committee said in a Thursday statement that they were informed by Egyptian authorities that the Rafah crossing would be open from from Saturday to Monday.

    Separately, Egyptian security sources told Ma’an that the decision to open the border came upon order from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi “to lessen the siege on the Gaza Strip by opening the crossing twice a month.”

    Les autorités égyptiennes ont fermé le passage frontalier de Rafah avec la bande de Gaza bloquée mardi matin après son ouverture pendant trois jours consécutifs, avec environ 2 000 passagers quittant l’enclave côtière assiégée et environ 1 500 arrivant d’Egypte.

    • Palestinian vehicles pass from Gaza into Egypt for first time in years
      Dec. 18, 2016 10:35 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 18, 2016 10:36 A.M.)

      GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — For the first time in several years Egyptian authorities on Sunday morning allowed Palestinian vehicles to travel into Egypt from Gaza through the Rafah border crossing.

      Palestinian security sources in Gaza told Ma’an that 40 vehicles passed through the Rafah crossing into Egyptian territory on Sunday morning.

      Sources added that allowing the entry of vehicles was a “positive step” taken by Egypt, and would serve as great a benefit for the more than 1.8 million people living under blockade in the coastal enclave, who typically travel in buses back and forth through the crossing.

      Egypt opened the Rafah crossing on Sunday for the second of a three-day opening to allow the entry of “humanitarian cases” — including patients, students, and holders of visas from foreign — from gaza into Egypt.

      The Gaza borders and crossings committee said in a statement that more than 600 passengers left the Gaza Strip to Egypt on Saturday, while 82 Palestinians arrived in Gaza from Egypt.

      Meanwhile, Egyptian authorities denied entry to 68 passengers from gaza without explanation.

    • Hundreds of Gazans travel through Rafah crossing on 2nd day of opening
      Dec. 19, 2016 5:29 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 19, 2016 5:29 P.M.)

      The Egyptian official said that a number of Palestinian travelers to Egypt spent the night inside the crossing’s waiting hall due to the security curfew imposed on the Egyptian towns of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid, and that they were able to travel to Cairo Monday morning after the end of the curfew.

      Egyptian authorities also allowed 46 trucks financed by Qatar and loaded with construction materials to enter Gaza on Sunday, as part of a Qatari project to help rebuild the besieged coastal enclave, the source added.

      Meanwhile, the head of the car import union in Gaza Ismail Nakhala denounced Egyptian authorities’ decision to allow Palestinian vehicles to enter into Gaza from Egypt, telling Ma’an that the procedures were unclear and that the union would meet with Gaza’s Ministry of Transportation to clarify the issue.

      Nakhala said that cars imported through Rafah were only subjected to a 25 percent customs fee, whereas cars imported through the Erez crossing between Gaza and Israel were subjected to a 75 percent customs fee, severely affecting Palestinian car salespeople.

  • Egypt The elephant in the room (part 1): The state and sectarian violence | MadaMasr

    President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi urged the swift pursuit of justice in holding the perpetrators of sectarian violence to account, regardless of who they are, in the aftermath of a sectarian incident in Karm Village, Minya in May.

    “It is very inappropriate that this happened in Egypt yet again. Anyone who makes a mistake, whoever he is, will be held accountable. The law should take its course and be applied on anyone, including the president himself,” Sisi said.

    But what if it is the law itself that is the problem and not the solution?

    Along the same lines as the President’s remarks were comments by Coptic Pope Tawadros and Bishop Makarios, who was assigned by the Pope to follow up on the incident. They reiterated the necessity of implementing the rule of law, and only resorting to customary reconciliation committees afterwards. Similarly, statements by most representatives of official Islamic institutions and those among the legal and political elite demanded the law be applied without discrimination.

    But what if it is the law itself that is the problem and not the solution? What if the main trigger for incidents of sectarian violence in Egypt, since the beginning of the 1980s until after January 2011, is the legislative framework that governs the relationship between state and society, religion and personal affairs?

    Recent sectarian incidents indicate the state’s function has shifted from one that supports social cohesion to one that threatens it. What is needed then is a move away from calls for implementing the rule of law to the restructuring of the relationship between state and society based on foundations that are different to those of a century and a half ago.

  • How Syria is pushing Egypt and Iran closer

    Now, the Syrian crisis may be helping Iran and the Arab world leader finally get closer — and perhaps even lead to their long-sought rapprochement.

    Normalization has been impeded by three main limitations on the Egyptian side. These include the US policy of seeking to isolate Iran, which has been weakened since the nuclear deal; Israel’s policy of confrontation with Iran, which has intensified after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; and lastly, Saudi Arabia’s policy of seeking to curb Iranian influence, efforts that have been heightened in the aftermath of both the Arab Spring and the nuclear accord.

    Egypt’s stance on the Syrian crisis was far closer to that of Saudi Arabia during Morsi’s tenure, as the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood sided against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In his speech at the August 2012 summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran, Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, angered his Iranian hosts with criticism of the Syrian government. He also sided with the United Arab Emirates against Iran over three disputed islands in the Persian Gulf. A high-ranking Iranian diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity previously told Al-Monitor, “Mr. Morsi had said that he would only come to Tehran for a few hours, that he would not spend the night here and that he will not meet with the supreme leader.”

    In contrast, ever since Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seized power in July 2013, Egypt has gradually distanced itself from its previous stance on Syria. At the same time, Sisi has tried to approach Russia, a move that has been welcomed warmly by Moscow, with the Kremlin currently negotiating the potential use of military bases in Egypt.

    Read more:

  • Will Abbas reconcile with Hamas over Dahlan?

    Abbas has said he is willing to resume reconciliation talks with Hamas that Qatar has been hosting since 2012. In July 2013, Egypt suspended the reconciliation talks it had held since June 2008 due to the tense relations between Hamas and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s regime, after Cairo accused Hamas of meddling in Egyptian affairs.

    Tensions rose between Abbas and the Arab Quartet — which includes Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Saudi Arabia — against the backdrop of the reconciliation efforts with Dahlan following statements by Abbas and PA leaders like Ahmed Majdalani and Azzam al-Ahmad, who asked the Arab Quartet states not to interfere in internal Palestinian affairs on Sept. 4.

    Read more: