MENASource|News, Analysis, Perspectives

January 29, 2016
In a report Friday Reuters, citing sources familiar with the matter, said an EgyptAir mechanic whose cousin joined the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) in Syria is suspected of planting a bomb that brought down a Russian passenger plane in Egypt late October. A senior security official at the airline denied that any of its employees had been arrested or were under suspicion, and an Interior Ministry official said there had been no arrests. Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee also said it has not identified any suspects. The sources, who declined to be identified because of the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation, however, said the mechanic had been detained, along with two airport policemen and a baggage handler suspected of helping him put the bomb on board. Another source said of the other suspects: "Two policemen are suspected of playing a role by turning a blind eye to the operation at a security checkpoint. But there is a possibility that they were just not doing their jobs properly." None of the four have been prosecuted so far, the sources told Reuters. Meanwhile, the Vice President of the Russian Union of Travel Industry, Yuri Barzykin, said that the travel ban imposed on Egypt would be lifted in the first two weeks of February. The news comes as Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Commerce Alexander Potapov is in Cairo for meetings with Egypt’s Defense Minister, Sedki Sobhi. [Reuters, 1/29/2016]

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Government wages see lowest increase in three years due to civil service law

Egypt's Ministry of Finance stated that the first quarter of the current fiscal year recorded the lowest rate of increase in wages and compensation of employees compared to the same period of the last three fiscal years. The first quarter of fiscal year 2015/2016 witnessed the adoption of the civil service law, which was later dropped by the elected parliament after its first session on January 10. The declining rate of wage increases compared to past fiscal years is due to the "recent reforms implemented by the Ministry of Finance to control the increase in wage bill," the statement said. Expenditure on wages and compensation of employees represents 3 percent of GDP, according to the report. With the start of the current fiscal year, the Egyptian government targeted the reduction of the annual increase in wages, limiting it to 5.2 percent, which represents the lowest increase since the 2011 uprising. [Aswat Masriya, 1/29/2016]


Justice Minister says for every police 'martyr,' 10,000 'terrorists' should be killed
Egypt's Minister of Justice Ahmed al-Zind said in a TV interview on Wednesday that he believed that for every fallen "martyr" from the Egyptian police and Armed Forces, 10,000 Muslim Brotherhood members and their supporters should be killed. "I believe that if 40,000 terrorists were killed it would not be enough for the martyrs. I swear to God that the fire burning in my heart will not die except when for every martyr, 10,000 Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters are killed," Zind said while offering his condolences for personnel killed. The minister also vowed that all death sentences issued against members of the Brotherhood, including former president Mohamed Morsi, would be carried out after all appeals are exhausted. “I would leave my position immediately [if the sentences are not carried out]. Egypt is not afraid...Morsi will meet his fair fate,” Zind said. [Ahram Online, 1/29/2016]

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Egypt losing $250 million monthly after Russian plane crash
An Egyptian government official says Egypt has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since last year’s suspected bombing of a Russian plane, which crippled the country’s vital tourism industry. South Sinai Governor Khaled Fouda was quoted by the state-run Al-Ahram daily on Friday as saying that hotel occupancy in the resort cities of Sharm al-Sheikh and Hurghada stands at less than 20 percent and that the cities lose nearly 2 billion Egyptian pounds (more than $250 million) each month. [AP, 1/29/2016]

Egypt central bank keeps main interest rates unchanged
The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) kept benchmark interest rates unchanged on Thursday. The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) kept the overnight deposit rate at 9.25 percent and the overnight lending rate at 10.25 percent. The central bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points last month, the first hike since July 2014, citing inflationary pressures. Egypt has been under pressure to devalue the pound but CBE Governor Tarek Amer has led a drive to support the currency despite dwindling foreign reserves. [Reuters, DNE, 1/28/2016]

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Police officers accused of assaulting doctors at Matareya Hospital
Two police officers allegedly assaulted two doctors at Cairo’s Matareya Hospital on Thursday, prompting the Doctors Syndicate to file a complaint with the Prosecutor General and hospital staff to go on strike until legal action is taken against the assailants. The Syndicate has also lent its official support to the strike. On Thursday afternoon, a patient in civilian clothes allegedly arrived at Matareya Hospital with an injury to his face, but asked the resident doctor, Ahmed Mahmoud, to note down other injuries that weren’t there, according to a Doctor's Syndicate statement. When Mahmoud refused, the patient said he was a police officer and threatened to fabricate criminal charges against the doctor if he didn’t comply with his demands. The officer reportedly enlisted his colleague to beat Mahmoud and another doctor at the hospital, then took both men to the Matareya Police Station. The doctors were released and returned to the hospital shortly thereafter, the syndicate said. Assistant Interior Minister for Media Abu Bakr Abdel Kerim, however, said an altercation took place between the doctors and the officer after they “reportedly delayed his examination and some said his injury was minor and did not require cosmetic surgery.” He added, "We are sorry if the officers misbehaved." [Mada Masr, 1/29/2016]


Two Egyptian police officers killed by IED in al-Arish
Two police officers were killed when an IED exploded inside an armored vehicle in North Sinai's al-Arish, the Interior Ministry said in a statement on Friday. Five conscripts also suffered minor injuries in the explosion near Ahmed Orabi School, and were transferred to hospital. The two officers who were killed held the ranks of first lieutenant and captain. The ministry said investigations are underway to apprehend the perpetrators. Aswat Masriya reported that the Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai State, claimed responsibility for the attack. [Ahram Online, 1/29/2016]

Dozens of Egyptian, foreign 'fugitives and violators' arrested in Giza
Egyptian police forces have arrested dozens of Egyptians and foreign nationals as part of a security campaign in Giza on "fugitives and violators," state-run Al-Ahram reported. Twenty four "fugitive" Egyptians who have been sentenced in absentia were arrested Thursday during raids on apartments in the neighborhoods of Agouza and Dokki in Giza, provincial security official Khaled Shalaby said. Nineteen foreigners of different nationalities have also been arrested due to expired residence permits, according to Shalaby. Officials say fugitives often rent apartments to hide out from authorities. He added that Thursday's operation was aimed to clamp down on violators and fugitives. [Ahram Online, 1/28/2016]

Four Sharqiya residents injured in a pro-Morsi demonstration
According to a state news agency MENA report, four people were injured in the Nile Delta’s Sharqiya governorate after pro-Mohamed Morsi protesters allegedly fired birdshot at them during a demonstration on Friday. A 52-year-old man, his 32-year-old son, a 28-year-old and 43-year-old man were injured when protesters passing through al-Mahkama Street in Abo Hammad city fired birdshot and fireworks at residents. The demonstrators chanted anti-police and anti-army slogans and displayed Raba’a signs. [Ahram Online, 1/29/2016]

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