Top News: International Delegations Arrive in Egypt for New Suez Canal Ceremony; Sinai State Threatens to Execute Croatian Abducted in Egypt

International delegations continue to arrive in Egypt to attend the inauguration on Thursday of the new Suez Canal. Early on Thursday, commander in chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Chirkov arrived in Cairo. President of Angola José Eduardo dos Santos, Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho Mothetjoa Metsing and deputy chairman of African Union Commission Erastus Mwencha all arrived in Cairo on Thursday. Other African heads of state from Niger, Congo, Togo and Mauritania arrived in Egypt on Wednesday to participate in the ceremony, in addition to the prime ministers of Mali and Ethiopia. Also on Wednesday, a US congressional delegation headed by Darrell Eisa, arrived in Cairo. Meanwhile, Gulf guests include a Bahraini delegation headed by King of Bahrain Hamed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Qatari Minister of Transportation Jassim Saif Al Sulaiti, and the deputy speaker of the Kuwaiti national assembly. Arab delegations from Lebanon, Tunisia, Oman, Algeria, and Palestine, also arrived, as well as delegations from China and the Philippines. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi arrived at the site of celebration for the inauguration of the “New Suez Canal” in army fatigues, on Thursday afternoon. State television showed Egypt’s president saluting the public and examining the new canal after getting off the 150 year-old Mahrousa yacht, the presidential yacht. After disembarking, he changed from his military uniform into civilian clothes, and began to receive various international dignitaries at the main ceremony site. Follow live updates here. [Ahram OnlineAP, 8/6/2015]

Minister says tough laws on illegal emigration to modernize Egypt
The new draft law on migration will serve as the main bridge for Egyptian citizens to catch up with the international standards, said Manpower and Migration Minister of Nahed al-Ashry. Ashry added the draft law attempts to solve the problem of emigration from Egypt, including its legal, social, political, and economic repercussions, pointing out that the bill is the first of its kind to regulate the migration of Egyptians. The private sector will help the state in overcoming the negatives effects of illegal migration through the elimination of illegal smuggling gangs which operate undercover, according to Ashry’s statement on Wednesday. Only joint-stock companies will be able to work in the field of migration in accordance to the new bill, Ashry mentioned. Those who help illegal migrants against the law would be be fined and detained, Ashry said. The punishment would be harshened in the event of migrants’ deaths, she added. [Egypt Independent, 8/6/2015]  

Egypt’s General Prosecution summons officials following fatal Nile boat collision
The Egyptian General Prosecution has summoned several officials in connection to the recent Nile boat collision in which forty people died in July. The Administrative Prosecution Authority issued a press release Wednesday revealing the results of an investigation into the accident and accordingly summoning those who are deemed responsible by the authorities.  They include the Director of the General Authority of Operations for River Transport, the Director of the Administration for River Control, Cairo Area Licenses Director, and the head of the recently formed inspection committee.  [Ahram Online, 8/6/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Security sources: Prominent radical Islamist cleric dies in Egypt jail | Reuters 

Egypt opening Suez Canal expansion to high hopes and some doubts
Egypt opens an expansion to the Suez Canal today, the centerpiece of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s plan to revitalize the country’s economy. However, some analysts and economists say that the mega-project may fail to meet the great expectations. The estimated $8.2 billion expansion includes a 35 kilometer parallel waterway flanking the existing waterway. It also includes a deepening and widening of 37 kilometers of the existing canal. This will cut transit times for southbound ships and allow larger vessels easier passage. The Suez Canal Authority expects a windfall of additional revenue – $13.23 billion annually by 2023 compared with $5.3 billion in 2014. But some are skeptical of the official numbers and suggest that sluggish world trade makes it unlikely the project can deliver immediately on its promise. Economists say the promised rewards of the canal’s expansion depend on the same issues that are holding back the rest of Egypt’s economy. The hype about the canal project does little to ease the doubts of investors. [Reuters, NYT, Washington Post, Ahram Online, 8/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Russian companies willing to participate in Egypt’s economic projects, says Medvedev | Ahram Online
  • Survey: Business conditions deteriorate in July | Mada Masr
  • Egypt agrees to export cotton to Ukraine in exchange for wheat imports | Reuters
  • Egypt’s GASC receives offers in wheat purchase tender | Reuters
  • New Suez Canal is starting point, not end goal: Amr Moussa | DNE  

RSF asks French president to raise press freedom concerns while in Egypt
A day before his scheduled attendance at the inauguration of the New Suez Canal, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) issued a statement calling on French President François Hollande to raise the issue of increasing violations against journalists in Egypt with his counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The Paris-based international media watchdog highlighted that the Egyptian State ranked 158 out of 180 countries in terms of their press freedom index for 2015, adding, “Egypt is now the world’s fourth biggest prison for journalists, after China, Eritrea and Iran.” The statement read: “We hope you will take advantage of your visit to raise the crucial issue of media freedoms, including the situation of many imprisoned journalists, with the Egyptian president.” RSF claims that at least fifteen journalists and media workers are presently being held behind bars in Egypt. [Mada Masr, 8/6/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Museum inaugurates antiquities exhibition unearthed during Suez excavation | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s ‘Surprise Train’ heads to Alexandria to celebrate new Suez Canal opening | Ahram Online  
  • Thirty-five private hospitals in Suez Canal cities raise alert level | DNE
  • Three houses collapse in Imbaba minutes after evacuation | Cairo Post

Sinai State threatens to execute Croatian abducted in Egypt
An Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliate in Egypt has threatened to kill a Croatian citizen within forty-eight hours if “Muslim women” jailed in Egypt are not freed. Croatia’s foreign ministry reported on July 24 that a group of armed men had abducted a Croatian citizen in Egypt. In the video, titled “A Message to the Egyptian Government” and which was posted on online forums, a man is seen kneeling and wearing a short-sleeved orange jumpsuit. He identified himself as Tomislav Salopek, 30-years-old, from Croatia, who worked for French company CGG. The authenticity of the video could not be immediately verified. If confirmed it would be the first known video featuring a Western hostage held by Sinai State, which changed its name from Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis after it pledged allegiance to Islamic State. [AFP, Reuters, The Guardian, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 8/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Eighteen injured in microbus accident in Egypt’s Beheira | Ahram Online  
  • Wadi al-Natroun prison escapee arrested north of Cairo | Cairo Post  

Egypt and Sudan release respective detainees
Dozens of Egyptian fisherman who had been detained in Sudan for allegedly trespassing in Sudanese waters were released late on Wednesday, an Egyptian foreign ministry statement said. Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir issued a release order for the 101 fishermen, who had been detained since April. According to the statement, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also sent a plane to transport the fishermen from the city of Port Sudan on the Red Sea coast to Egypt early on Thursday. Sisi also issued a decree releasing forty-four Sudanese detainees in Egypt. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Cairo Post, DNE, 8/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian president Sisi sends humanitarian aid to Yemen | Ahram Online
  • Saudi-Egypt ties at their best: Ambassador Qattan | Ahram Online
  • Cairo, Riyadh pledge cooperation as each weighs nuclear deal | Al-Monitor
  • Three protocols signed with Congo for electricity, health and education | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi receives message from Indian PM on bilateral ties | SIS
  • Egypt, Jordan FMs meet over Palestinian updates | SIS  
  • Shoukry meets deputy Mexican FM | SIS