January 29, 2013
Suez Curfew Reuters.jpg

The three Suez Canal cities of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said witnessed mass demonstrations in defiance of the regional curfew that was announced Sunday night by President Mohamed Morsi after several days of violent clashes.

GOVERNMENT & OPPOSITION

Morsi starts national dialogue at presidential palace
President Mohamed Morsi began a national dialogue with various political forces early on Monday evening. Morsi issued the invitation to the dialogue during a televised speech on Sunday that addressed the unrest sweeping the nation. Several political figures and party leaders attended, including Ayman Nour, head of the Ghad al-Thawra party; Abdel Moneim Abouel Fotouh, head of the Strong Egypt Party, Saad al-Katatny, head of the Freedom and Justice Party; and Youness Makhyoun, head of the Salafi Nour Party. Other participants included Mohamed Selim al-Awa, Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, Hatem Azzam and Nasr Abdel Salam. The press release resulting from the meeting stressed the importance of restoring security, differentiating between peaceful protests and riots, and reiterated the call for all political forces to participate in talks. The statement also mentioned the formation of a committee to study changes to the constitution as well as amending the Election Law. [Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), Watan (Arabic), 1/28/2013]

Defense minister: Current unrest may lead to state collapse

Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has warned that the current political crisis might lead to state collapse if political parties don't work together to solve it. Speaking to students at the Military Academy on Tuesday, he said, "The continuation of the conflict [between] political powers over managing state affairs may lead to the collapse of the state, and threatens the future of the coming generations." Sisi added that the political, economic, social and security challenges Egypt faces at the moment genuinely threaten its security and coherence, saying that the country's stability would be greatly affected if the unrest continues. [Egypt Independent, DNE, Reuters, SIS, 1/29/2013]

Muslim Brotherhood asked for law giving arrest powers to military, says source
The Muslim Brotherhood is behind the Shura Council-approved law granting the Armed Forces judiciary powers to arrest and try civilians, a Brotherhood source said Monday. The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said leaders from the Brotherhood's supreme guidance bureau called on Brotherhood-affiliated ministers to propose the draft law to the Cabinet. The law guarantees the deployment of the Armed Forces until after the parliamentary elections. [Egypt Independent, 1/29/2013]

Also of Interest:
51 dead in violence since Friday, according to official sources | Egypt Independent
State human rights body to investigate recent violence | Egypt Independent
Tahrir Square partially reopened to traffic Tuesday | Egypt Independent
Brotherhood, Cabinet chastise NSF for declining dialogue | Egypt Independent
Hardliner Islamist party calls for sterner measures against 'rioters' | Ahram Online
Hazemoon spokesman Gamal Saber announces formation of ‘White Bloc’ to combat the Black Bloc | Watan (Arabic)

COURTS & CONSTITUTION

Constitutional amendments committee formed at Morsi dialogue talks

Egypt's national dialogue talks, called for by President Mohamed Morsi, have resulted in an agreement to form several committees, one of which will study possible amendments to the newly passed constitution – a key opposition demand. The largest opposition grouping, the National Salvation Front (NSF), boycotted the talks on Monday, which were mostly attended by groups close to the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails. [Ahram Online, 1/29/2013]

Also of Interest:
Attorney General considers the "Black Bloc" a terrorist group, orders arrest of its members | Watan (Arabic)
Activist released after investigation on charges of insulting the judiciary | Shorouk (Arabic)
Hearing for former agriculture minister's appeal postponed | Egypt Independent
Egypt court slaps alleged makers of anti-Islam film with death sentences | Ahram Online  

ECONOMY

Stock market loses LE4.6 billion on Tuesday
The Egyptian Exchange dropped sharply on Tuesday as a result of Egypt's continuing civil unrest. EGX30 dropped by 2.05 per cent, reaching 5492 points, while EGX70 decreased by 1.85 percent, reaching 448 points, and the EGX100 dropped by 1.70 percent, hitting 768 points. The stock market is expected to continue declining Tuesday as civil unrest continues in Port Said, Suez and Ismailia and after the opposition National Salvation Front rejected an offer by President Mohamed Morsi to take part in a national dialogue. [Egypt Independent, 1/29/2013]

Suez Canal traffic unaffected by Egypt unrest: Maritime officials
Maritime traffic through Egypt's Suez Canal has not been disrupted by recent violence in the canal cities of Port Said and Suez. Fears had been raised over the possible halt of canal traffic after a Greek ferry boat came under fire on Saturday near Port Said. The Egyptian transportation ministry and the president of the Port Said Port Authority had earlier denied reports that a Greek ship had been attacked by a group of armed assailants after the port was stormed by anti-government protesters. The Greek embassy in Cairo, however, appeared to verify the attack in a Sunday press statement. [Ahram Online, 1/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Operations in Port Said freezone suspended | DNE
Egypt Air prepares emergency plan | DNE

SECURITY & SINAI

Police officers in four governorates threaten strike

Police officers in Alexandria, Minya, Assiut and Fayoum have threatened to strike if the security directorates or Interior Ministry do not take steps to safeguard police stations and headquarters from protesters attempting to storm the buildings. They issued a call to assemble in front of directorate headquarters at 3 pm on Monday. The police condemn "describing these people [who attempt to storm police headquarters] as revolutionaries and martyrs," said a statement published on the Facebook page "Police Officers Revolution." The statement went on to call such individuals "offenders" and "thugs" who are inciting chaos. They demanded that the police be fully armed "to confront acts of thuggery." [Egypt Independent, 1/28/2013]

Dozens of guests leave Semiramis, neighboring hotels after attack
Dozens of guests at the Semiramis Intercontinental in Cairo have checked out after the lobby was ransacked by mobs early Tuesday morning during clashes between security forces and protesters near Tahrir Square. An executive at the hotel told reporters that more than 45 clients insisted on leaving despite the hotel's offer to relocate them to higher floors, away from the clashes. He said guests at other neighboring hotels also followed suit. The hotel executive also demanded compensation from the Ministry of Tourism for losses sustained by hotels over the past few days. Authorities have arrested 28 people accused of carrying out an attack on Semiramis Intercontinental Hotel early morning Tuesday. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 1/29/2013]

Also of Interest:
Armed men attempt to storm Port Said prison | Egypt Independent
27 arrested in Garden City, accused of rioting | Egypt Independent
Seventeen arrested in Alexandria on Sunday | DNE

SOCIETY & MEDIA

Suez Canal residents defy President Morsi's curfew
The three Suez Canal cities of Suez, Ismailia and Port Said witnessed mass demonstrations in defiance of the regional curfew that was announced Sunday night by President Mohamed Morsi after several days of violent clashes. On Monday evening, thousands demonstrating in each city chanted anti-Morsi and anti-Muslim Brotherhood slogans, ignoring the 9pm to 6am curfew mandated by Morsi, who also imposed a state of emergency on the embattled cities. In Ismailia, residents organised football games in front of the governorate headquarters in a show of defiance.   [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/28/2013]

Marches across Egypt in solidarity with Suez Canal cities
Protests in solidarity with cities on the Suez Canal will take place across Egypt in the coming days. President Mohamed Morsi has declared a 30-day state of emergency and imposed a curfew from 9pm to 6am on the protest-filled cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez. “No to the isolation of the canal, no to the state of emergency,” will be the slogan of the protests, said Egyptian Popular Current spokesperson Hossam Mo’nes. The marches will take place across the country on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Constitution Party, Karama Party, Revolutionary Socialists, and others have announced their participation. [Ahram Online, DNE, 1/29/2013]

Also of Interest:
Kafr El Sheikh sees more deaths, injuries as Egypt-wide clashes continue | Ahram Online
Uneasy calm descends on Tahrir Square | Ahram Online
Thousands of demonstrators block Alexandria roads, railways | Ahram Online
Shura-bound protesters torch police vehicles in clashes in downtown Cairo | Ahram Online

REGIONAL & INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS

US still backing Morsi as army remains quiescent
A round of talks between Cairo and Washington – some sources suggest it included direct talks between an apprehensive US President Barack Obama and a reassuring President Morsi – concluded that despite the outrage of protesters since the January 25 Revolution anniversary, Morsi’s presidency is weakened but not broken. “He is still largely in control. Ultimately we think the anger [in Egypt] will calm down – but he will have to give something,” said a Cairo-based Western diplomat. According to one informed source in Washington, an expected US State Department statement mildly placing more blame for the current violence on Morsi than on the rest of the political leadership was suspended in favour of a White House statement calling on all leaders to end the violence and pursue dialogue. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, 1/29/2013]

Iranian nuclear talks won't be held in Cairo due to instability
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the 5+1 Group would not hold its upcoming negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program in Cairo, although Egypt had agreed to host the talks. The 5+1 Group includes five permanent members of the UN Security Council — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia — plus Germany. Fathi al-Maraghy, professor of Iranian studies at Ain Shams University, said the group declined to meet in Cairo due to the unstable security situation. [Egypt Independent, 1/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Office of the Executive: Visit to European countries to proceed on time, starting tomorrow | Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), SIS
Amnesty condemns Egypt police use of lethal force | Ahram Online

Photo: Reuters

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