person:mada masr

  • Calling a coup a coup? Egypt’s African Union bid to make inroads in Sudan | MadaMasr

    While the head of the transitional military council that has ruled Sudan since ousting former President Omar al-Bashir announced a “readiness” to hand over power to a civilian government last night, negotiations to usher in the transition to civilian rule in Sudan are at a “deadlock,” sources in the opposition tell Mada Masr.

    Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who sits atop the transitional council, took to television late on Sunday night to announce the military’s willingness to hand over the “reins of government” as early as tomorrow, provided that political forces reached a consensus among themselves and put forth a government they could agree upon.

    Burhan’s speech was roundly rejected by leading member of the opposition Freedom and Change Coalition Wagdi Salih, who spoke at a rally in front of the military headquarters shortly after the lieutenant general’s address, announcing that the opposition would suspend talks with the military council.

    “We were supposed to have a meeting with the military council yesterday to inform them of the choices for the civilian sovereign council, but the council, which is a continuation of the ruling regime, revealed its dark side. The council told us they want to discuss our proposal among another 100 proposals from political parties,” Salih told protesters.

    Sunday’s televised exchange played out against the backdrop of a flurry of meetings held on Saturday, when the African Union Commission chairperson Moussa Faki met with the military and opposition in Khartoum.

  • With Bashir ousted, protesters reject Sudanese military’s fractured power grab | MadaMasr

    A transitional military government has assumed control over Sudan after President Omar al-Bashir was ousted from power by the Sudanese Armed Forces early on Thursday and placed under house arrest, according to a statement delivered on Sudanese national television by Defense Minister Awad Ibn Auf.

    In the televised address that ended Bashir’s nearly 30-year rule, Ibn Auf announced a one-month daily curfew, a three-month state of emergency and a two-year-long transitional period of military rule until “free and fair elections” could be held to elect a democratic Sudanese government. This decision sits alongside a long list of measures that the military would put into effect immediately, including the dissolution of Sudan’s Constitution, president’s office, Cabinet, Parliament and a number of other state bodies. The defense minister also called on armed resistance forces to join the government’s transition efforts and asked citizens to maintain peace.

    However, the defense minister did not announce who would sit atop the transitional military government, stating that a second communiqué would be issued to announce the members. The lack of clarity throws into stark relief what an Egyptian government source who has been in touch with officials in Khartoum says is “disagreement among top generals” over who will lead Sudan going forward.

    The suggestion of conflict among the military and political figures negotiating Bashir’s successor is echoed by a junior officer within the Sudanese military, who tells Mada Masr that there had been “multiple coup attempts” occurring in parallel in the hours before Ibn Auf’s announcement.

    This “disagreement” played out amid hours of waiting for an official announcement to come, after a Sudanese military source told Mada Masr early on Thursday morning that Bashir was being removed from power and Sudanese national television suspended broadcasting and informed viewers that the military would make an “important statement” shortly.

  • Source: Discussions to find successor to Bashir play out as Sudanese president expected to step down ‘soon’ | MadaMasr

    Omar al-Bashir will step down as president of Sudan “soon,” after more than three months of popular demonstrations that came to a head in recent days when protesters in the thousands staged a sit-in outside the national Armed Forces headquarters in Khartoum, according to a Sudanese military source.

    According to the military source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, the announcement that Bashir will step down is contingent on the military, National Congress Party, security sectors and Arab backers coming to an agreement on a successor. The source adds that this successor may be an interim president who will serve for several months until a president is elected.

    According to the source, this announcement is expected to come within the week.

    Hassan Ismail, the Sudanese minister of information, denied a report published by news outlets that Bashir was close to handing over power to the military.

    Protesters remain stationed outside the military headquarters in Khartoum — which also houses the National Intelligence and Security Service headquarters, Bashir’s official residence and the Defense Ministry — and the situation remains “very tense,” eyewitnesses tell Mada Masr. At dawn on Monday, security forces tried to disperse the sit-in by firing tear gas and live bullets into the air, but the military returned fire, pushing security forces back and allowing protesters to resume their demonstration.

    While the military source says that inner circles of the Sudanese state and international actors are narrowing in on a candidate, the opposition Freedom and Change Coalition announced Monday in a press conference the formation of a committee to engage in dialogue with the military about a transition plan, making it unclear who exactly will fill the vacuum in a post-Bashir landscape.

  • Hamas put on the spot after Palestinian Authority withdraws staff from Rafah crossing | MadaMasr

    A January 7 decision by the Palestinian Authority to immediately withdraw its staff from the Rafah border crossing has put Hamas in turmoil.

    Hamas sent internal affairs officers to take control of the crossing, which had been administered by PA officers since November last year as part of a PA-Hamas reconciliation deal brokered by Egypt.

    According to a Hamas source speaking to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, its officers have ensured that the crossing’s systems are working, and prevented theft and sabotage during and since the PA’s withdrawal.

    The decision to withdraw PA employees from Rafah came as one of a series of recent PA moves against Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since winning the legislative elections in 2006. These measures suggest that the Egypt-brokered reconciliation efforts are failing.

  • Egypt. 2 years after the loan agreement: What the IMF failed to anticipate | MadaMasr

    On November 11, 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Egyptian government finalized a US$12 billion loan agreement tied to an economic reform plan that included a series of austerity measures and the liberalization of the Egyptian pound.

    At the time, Egypt was facing a shortage in foreign currency reserves, and both the IMF and the Egyptian authorities made optimistic forecasts about the future of the Egyptian economy under the new economic program.

    Two years later, the crisis in foreign currency reserves has largely been alleviated and the IMF’s growth targets appear to be on track. Yet those achievements have been offset by soaring rates of inflation and foreign debt, along with the plummeting purchasing power of the local currency. Meanwhile, fuel subsidies, which were meant to be reduced to alleviate the government budget — a specific goal of the economic program — have instead increased as a result of the devaluation of the pound.

    A number of these unanticipated challenges now facing the Egyptian economy are highlighted in a new report by the investment bank Shuaa Capital, which was issued to its clients several days ago and of which Mada Masr has obtained a copy.

  • 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 backs out of verbal agreement on 4-7 year timeframe to fill Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir | MadaMasr

    The irrigation ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan met on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to be briefed on the latest recommendations on the timeframe to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s reservoir, a contentious issue that has long driven a wedge between the parties amid fears of the impact on downstream water supply.

    A 15-member scientific study group, comprised of five scientists and researchers from each country, presented its findings on Tuesday to Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Seleshi Bekele, along with his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts, Mohamed Abdel Aty and Khadr Mohamed Qasmallah.

    No specific conclusions emerged officially from the meeting, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced through the state-owned MENA news agency on Wednesday. The statement affirmed that all parties are committed to continuing talks, without providing further details.

    Yet an Ethiopian diplomatic source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that there was an initial verbal agreement between the parties, which Cairo has since backed away from.

    “The ministers reviewed what the team has been doing during the past three months and consulted on a way forward,” Teferra Beyene, advisor to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, tells Mada Masr.

    While the study group’s findings have not been officially disclosed, the Ethiopian source tells Mada Masr that the team recommended the 74 billion cubic meter dam reservoir be filled over four to seven years, depending on the amount of rainfall and intensity of the Nile’s water flow.

    Following the presentation of the report, the source described Ethiopia and Sudan’s ministers as immediately accepting the recommendations, and expressing a readiness to begin work on a joint declaration to bind the parties to these terms.

    While the Egyptian delegation verbally accepted the report’s findings at first, it later said it would need more time to consider, the source explains. “The Egyptian delegation changed their minds and refused to sign the agreement. Instead, they want first to consult at headquarters and come to a decision.”

    The four-to-seven-year window falls outside the timeframe Cairo has pushed for to fill the dam. An Egyptian diplomat told Mada Masr at the close of August that Cairo’s concerns have centered around the pace at which the dam’s reservoirs would be filled, and that this issue was the subject of “tough and elaborate talks.”

  • Egypt Political figures arrested over Eid holiday interrogated about political views, affiliations | MadaMasr

    Escalade de la répression en Egypte où Emmanuel Macron a annoncé qu’il se rendrait bientôt

    In interrogations held on Monday and Tuesday, five of the seven political figures arrested over the Eid holiday were questioned about their views on and relationship to prominent political groups and events in Egypt’s post-2011 political landscape.

    On Monday, Supreme State Security Prosecution conducted preliminary interrogations with former ambassador Masoum Marzouk, university professor Yehia al-Qazzaz, economist Raed Salama and activist Nermeen Hussein, all of which will continue next Monday, according to lawyer Khaled Ali.

    Activist Sameh Seoudi’s questioning took place on Tuesday, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) lawyer Ahmed Abdel Latif told Mada Masr on Wednesday. The sessions will be resumed next Saturday.

    The two remaining defendants in the case, university professor Abdel Fattah Saeed al-Banna and activist Amr Mohamed, are being interrogated today.

  • Egypt
    Security forces arrest 4 political activists on 3rd day of Eid holiday | MadaMasr

    A source had told Mada Masr that a wide arrest campaign is in the cards ahead of plans to amend the Constitution to allow for an extension to Sisi’s current term, his last according to the Constitution.

    Sources who spoke to Mada Masr last month said that the amendment scenario is being seriously touted within parliamentary circles, where there is an intention to either amend the duration of the four-year term or remove the current constitutional stipulation that imposes a maximum of one re-election for presidents, or both.

  • Hamas delegation in Cairo: More media show for ‘century deal’ than substance | MadaMasr

    While ‘a way out’ of the US economic deal was among the delegation’s aims, the refusal of key Hamas political figures to attend makes outcomes of the talks ‘meaningless.’

    A Hamas delegation left Cairo on Friday night after spending four days in the Egyptian capital, pushing for a temporary resolution to the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Gaza Strip and a way out of the United States’s “deal of the century” with the “least amount of damage” possible, according to a source close to the Palestinian movement’s Gaza-based leadership.

    Despite the seeming stakes of the Cairo agenda, a second high-ranking Hamas source minimized the significance of the talks between Egyptian General Intelligence Director Abbas Kamal and the Gaza delegation that is headed by Saleh Arouri and composed of Hamas political bureau members Moussa Abu Marzouk, Ezzat al-Risheq, Khalil al-Hayya, Hossam Badran, and Rawhi Mushtaha.

    The second source, who is close to representatives of the Hamas leadership abroad, tells Mada Masr that Cairo extended an invitation to Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh and the movement’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar. However, neither accepted the invitation, with Haniya calling the visit “worthless,” according to the source.

    For the second Hamas source, the visit’s objectives were twofold: “probing” and “staging a media show to suggest to the Americans that the key to Gaza remains singularly in Hamas’s pocket.”

  • A Strip apart? Gaza grapples with politics of expanded Egyptian administration in Trump’s ‘century deal’ | MadaMasr

    An economic delegation from the Gaza Strip arrived in Cairo on Tuesday night to discuss the United States’ proposal concerning the humanitarian and economic state of the besieged Palestinian territory, as Washington continues to push talks concerning the “deal of the century.”

    Deputy Finance Minister Youssef al-Kayali headed up the Gaza delegation, which, according to a Palestinian political source who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, was in Cairo “to listen to what the Egyptian side proposes without a preconceived position and without violating known Palestinian principles.”

    To this point, indications of Gaza’s appetite for the deal have been absent from the unfolding diplomatic discussions. The US diplomatic envoy headed by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East, was primarily focused on informing regional leaders of the defining features of Trump’s initiative to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but, notably, did not meet with Palestinian actors during last week’s regional tour, which included stops in Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

    The framework of the US’s “century deal” involves the construction of a joint port on the Mediterranean between the Egyptian and Palestinian cities of Rafah, according to US and European diplomatic sources that spoke to Mada Masr ahead of the US delegation’s visit last week. The joint port would act as a prelude to extensive economic activity, for which North Sinai would serve as a hub, and would include five principal projects that would be funded by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, with a labor force that would be two-thirds Palestinian from the Gaza Strip and one-third Egyptian.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Renaissance Dam discussions in Sudan expected to produce shared initial understanding | MadaMasr

    Diplomatic sources close to arrangements for the tripartite meetings on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) that began on Wednesday in Khartoum say the portfolio of understanding that is expected to come out of the talks includes directions such as a partial reservoir filling of the dam by Ethiopia, Egypt’s resort to national water reserves and guarantees granted to Sudan for its development projects.

    The diplomatic sources, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, say that there is “political will” on all sides for the meetings to result in positive initial understandings on the Ethiopian development project, which has strained relations between Khartoum, Addis Ababa and Cairo. 

    Attending the two-day summit are the foreign ministers, irrigation ministers and intelligence chiefs from the three countries, who will focus on the effects of completing the construction of the dam and making it operational in the second half of 2018. 

    An Egyptian source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says the talks are expected to produce three main outcomes. Firstly, Ethiopia will fill the reservoir with just enough water to allow the first two turbines to become operational in the short term (this had been a point of tension previously, as Egyptian officials were concerned that Addis Ababa had begun “early filling” of the dam). Levels of water in the reservoir would then increase incrementally, along with the rise in the number of operational electrical turbines. Secondly, Egypt would ensure it has strategic water reserves in Lake Nasser. And thirdly, Sudan would receive guarantees that its neighbors would support its agricultural projects and other developmental projects it needs to boost its economy.

  • 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.

  • Egypte : Mada Masr, voix dissonante d’une campagne à l’unisson

    Quelque 60 millions d’Égyptiens sont appelés à voter à partir d’aujourd’hui. L’élection doit sans surprise reconduire le chef de l’État Abdel Fattah al-Sissi pour un second mandat. La campagne a été marquée par des attaques virulentes contre les journalistes étrangers, alors que la presse égyptienne, de plus en plus encadrée, soutenait le candidat Sissi à l’unisson. À une exception près, le site d’information indépendant Mada Masr, bloqué en Égypte, qui a continué à faire entendre sa voix tout au long de la (...)

  • Egypt
    Study: Blocked access to websites, ad redirects and cryptocurrency mining in Egypt traced to Sandvine’s PacketLogic devices | MadaMasr

    The technology used to block access to Mada Masr and hundreds of websites, blogs, proxy and virtual private networks (VPNs) on Egypt’s service providers is also being used to redirect traffic to revenue-generating content, such as advertising pages and cryptocurrency mining scripts, according to a report published by The University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab.

    The Egyptian advertisement and cryptocurrency redirect scheme, which Citizen Lab researchers have dubbed “AdHose,” is an attempt to “covertly raise money,” the Friday report, titled Bad Traffic, asserted.

    Beyond identifying the specifics of the revenue-generation scheme, the researchers also developed a digital fingerprint for the deep packet inspection (DPI) observed in Egypt and Turkey and matched it to a second-hand PacketLogic device produced by Sandvine/Procera Networks, one of several facts that they argue points to the US company’s implication in malicious activity.

  • Egypt and Sudan: Diplomatic pacification, unresolved affairs | MadaMasr

    Quietly and without an official announcement is how Osama Shaltout, Egypt’s ambassador to Sudan, returned to his post in Khartoum on Tuesday. On the same day, Abdel Mahmoud Abdel Halim, Sudan’s ambassador to Egypt, returned to Cairo two months after he was recalled due to tension between the neighboring countries.

    Shaltout spent the better part of two months in Cairo, as the Egyptian government worked to resolve the tension. Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid told Mada Masr on Wednesday morning that the reason for the ambassador’s stay in Cairo had been to “take part in official meetings.” Abu Zeid also stressed that Cairo did not recall Shaltout, either in response to Khartoum’s January decision or at any point since.

    Although the return of both ambassadors to their respective posts is an indication of the end of the public escalation of tensions, several Egyptian and Western diplomats as well as observers believe that the matters which originally triggered the crisis earlier this year have yet to be settled, even if the restoration of diplomatic relations is a step in the right direction.

    “The kind of escalation we saw in the January [between Sudan and Egypt] was kind of a negotiation being carried out in public, with a ratcheting up of rhetoric that didn’t necessarily match what was happening on the ground,” International Crisis Group’s Horn of Africa Analyst Magnus Taylor tells Mada Masr. “Of course, there are some real structural problems in the relationship on the Renaissance Dam, on the Muslim Brotherhood, the border conflict over Halayeb. But I’ve never really seen any of those issues as escalating into a border war or proxy war.”

  • Egypt Companions to the Israeli gas deal: Noble and Delek in talks to acquire East Mediterranean Gas pipeline | MadaMasr

    Sources close to the gas deal signed between Dolphinus Holdings, which is partly owned by Egyptian businessman Alaa Arafa, and Delek and Noble Energy, the lead partners managing Israel’s largest gas fields, say the latter companies are in talks with East Mediterranean Gas company (EMG) shareholders over acquisition of the company.

    The deal would give Delek and Noble a controlling share of EMG, the company that owns the natural gas pipeline running from Egypt to Israel, and would facilitate the use of the pipeline to transport the gas allocated for export in the deal signed last week.

    The source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that a decision has been made to begin technical alterations to the pipeline to reverse its flow and allow operators to import gas into Egypt instead of having the country export gas to Israel, which was the previous arrangement according to a deal signed in 2008. 

    The pipeline was the target of successive militant attacks after 2011. In 2012, the Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) terminated its contract with Israel. The state-owned company attributed the decision to a breach of contract by EMG for delayed gas payments.

  • Egypt : Army blocks all access to Sinai, schools close indefinitely and residents brace for military operation | MadaMasr

    On the eve of the first day of the Armed Forces’ new major counter-terrorism operation in Sinai, authorities have restricted access to and movement within North Sinai, while residents of the peninsula’s main cities steel themselves for the new military campaign.

    According to residents, authorities prohibited entry to and exit from Sinai starting Thursday night by preventing traffic coming through the Suez Canal and the Ahmed Hamdi tunnel. On Friday morning, authorities also blocked the main road linking North Sinai’s cities to one another, and cut off passage to and from the cities of Arish, Sheikh Zuwayed and Rafah.

    Despite a sense of anxiety following the Armed Forces’ statement on Friday — in which the military announced the launch of a major operation aiming to “end terrorism” in the peninsula — the day progressed quietly in Rafah, Arish and Sheikh Zuwayed, save for sounds of explosions coming from desert areas south of each city and military aircraft flying over them during the early hours of Friday.

    The military spokesperson had stated on Friday that the operation started with the bombing of militant ammunition storehouses in north and central Sinai.

    Residents said that the shelling targeted locations close to Egypt’s border with Palestine. A local on the Palestinian side of the border city of Rafah told Mada Masr that the explosions could be heard clearly in the city and residents saw smoke close to the borders from 7 am to 8 am.

  • Armed Forces orders emergency medical measures in Sinai as military presence intensifies | MadaMasr

    The Armed Forces requested the urgent deployment of medical reinforcements to the Sinai Peninsula and Ismailia as hospitals implement emergency measures, following an increase in military presence in the area sources told Mada Masr on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    A high-ranking military official asked that the Health Ministry prioritize surgeons and anesthetists and send them to the region within two days during a recent meeting, according to a source from the ministry.

    A large number of doctors were recently assigned to compulsory postings across Sinai, the source said, adding that the ministry told them: “Something is going to happen in the area in the next few days.” The doctors come from several governorates, including Cairo, Giza and Gharbiya, and were told their postings will last between one and three months.

    The posting of additional medical personnel and requests for further reinforcements come on the heels of emergency measures and the cancellation of staff leave, which were recently announced in Ismailia and Sinai hospitals, another medical source based in North Sinai told Mada Masr. 

    The announcement was concurrent with an “unusual increase” in the number of military vehicles in North Sinai, the same source added.

    The North Sinai Security Directorate has similarly recalled all staff members from vacation, according to a security source who works in the directorate. The directorate employee told Mada Masr late on Wednesday night that this was to ensure that it is operating at its full capacity within the space of several hours.

    In January, sources told Mada Masr that additional Armed Forces equipment and reinforcements had arrived in Hassana, the closest central Sinai city to Arish, in preparation for an “unprecedented” military operation.

  • Egypt After 2 years of investigations: Regeni and clues about his killers | MadaMasr

    Editorial Note: On January 25, 2018, the second anniversary of the disappearance of Italian researcher Giulio Regeni, the Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and La Repubblica published a letter addressed to their editors in chief that was written by Giuseppe Pignatone, Rome’s chief prosecutor. In the letter, Pignatone summarizes the results of the Italian-Egyptian joint investigation into Regeni’s death. While Mada Masr published a story on the letter on January 26 titled “Italian General Prosecutor: Egyptian secret services complicit in Regeni case,” we have decided to translate Pignatone’s letter into English, preserving Corriere della Sera’s editorial framing, to give the full context of the prosecutor’s address.

    Dear editor in chief,

    Two years after Giulio Regeni was abducted in Cairo, here is a brief reflection on some aspects of the inquiry.

    The Cooperation

    The fact that the tragic events took place in Egypt naturally entailed that the Egyptian authorities had, first and foremost, the right, but also the duty, to carry out the investigations. As for us, Italian judicial magistrates and police, we can only cooperate and support the investigations of the Egyptian team by making suggestions and requests. We cannot possibly imagine gathering evidence that would allow us to identify those responsible for the crime from outside Egypt.

    This cooperation with our Egyptian colleagues is the first of its kind in the history of judicial cooperation. For the first time, I believe, a public prosecutor of another country came to Italy, in the absence of treaties, to share the results of his own investigations. We also traveled to Cairo for the same reasons: there have been seven meetings in total. For this, I must publicly thank Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek.

    In the absence of international agreements or conventions, as in this case, such complex and demanding judicial cooperation can be made possible only if the governments of both countries simultaneously initiate real cooperation. Undoubtedly, the pressure of public opinion – also at an international scale –played a major role in this.

    The Inquiry

    As magistrates, our activities have to comply with specific standards and methods, as well as with our established legal culture. It was not always easy to penetrate the mentality of the Arab world and measure ourselves against a judicial system with completely different investigative procedures and practices.

    To give an example of this: in order not to break the thread of cooperation, we had to acknowledge the legal impossibility of being present during witness hearings held before our Egyptian colleagues in Cairo.

    Sometimes, hurdles were overcome. At least in part. Another example: we had immediately asked that data from the mobile network in certain areas of Cairo, concerning the crucial dates of January 25 and February 3, 2016 (the disappearance of Giulio and the date the body was discovered), be delivered to us, but Egyptian law wouldn’t allow it. The problem was partly solved because we had access to the reports of Egyptian experts. However, accessing the crude data and analyzing it directly obviously would have made a huge difference.

    Despite all these obstacles, we continued with our work, and I think I can say we reached some tangible results. First, we wanted to avoid the investigations heading down the wrong track. Focusing on non-existent espionage activity by Giulio or the involvement of a group of common criminals, for example. Secondly, we wanted to establish some red lines within the framework for further investigations into the murder. First and foremost, the motive can be easily traced to his research activities during his months in Cairo. Light was shed on the role played by some of the people who Giulio met in the course of his research and who betrayed him. It has also become clear that Giulio attracted the attention of Egypt’s state apparatus for several months, attention which increased in intensity leading up to January 25.

    These are crucial elements in pursuing the investigation, and above all, in finding common ground with our Egyptian colleagues. Two years ago, no one would have expected that we could obtain such results.

    We do not intend to stop here, even though we remain extremely aware of the significant complexity of the investigation. Here is another example, to illustrate the hurdles we have already overcome and those we still have to face. During our last meeting in Cairo, in December, we wanted to share the meticulous reconstruction of all the evidence collected until now with our Egyptian colleagues. This information was compiled by the Raggruppamento Operativo Speciale and the Servizio Centrale Operativo, who did, one must say, an outstanding job these past two years. For this, they deserve our gratitude. In an ordinary investigation, the public prosecutor’s office would have been able to draw some conclusion, although incomplete, on the basis of the information filed. In this case, the cooperation between both offices imposes a slow and laborious process: sharing the information, waiting until our colleagues examine it, and then together assessing the next steps to take. This is a complex process based on a reciprocal sense of collaboration, and while it cannot be as quick as we all wish, it is the only possible one. The slightest rush on our part would boomerang and nullify all the evidence that has been painfully reconstructed until now.


    Since the murderer’s motive is linked exclusively to Giulio’s research, one has to highlight how important it is to comprehend what led him to travel to Cairo and to identify all those he had contact with, both academics and Egyptian labor union members.

    This is why the obvious inconsistencies between the statements by university staff and what we uncovered from Giulio’s correspondence (recovered in Italy through his personal computer) required further investigations in the United Kingdom. These investigations were made possible thanks to the effective cooperation of the British authorities. The results of this cooperation – including the search and seizure of material – seem fruitful after an initial examination. They are currently being studied by our investigators.

    The family

    We met Giulio’s parents numerous times over the past 24 months. We were impressed by their dignity in the face of tragedy, and by their incessant efforts to pursue truth and justice. We can assure them, on our part, that we will continue deploying sustained efforts, doing everything necessary and useful to bring those responsible for the abduction, torture and the murder of Giulio to justice.

    Rome’s chief prosecutor

  • 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