Sisi, Putin Discuss Bilateral Relations, War on Terror

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin for the fourth time during his third visit to Russia as head of the Egyptian state, for talks that focused on economic and nuclear developments, and international conflicts. In a joint press conference prior to their meeting, Putin praised an increase of 86 percent in bilateral trade to $5.5 billion in 2014, compared to the previous year. Russia intends to establish a new free industrial zone in Egypt’s Suez Canal area to increase mutual economic cooperation between the two countries. Egypt’s Presidential Spokesperson Alaa Youssef also said that negotiations with Russia to set up a power-generating nuclear plant on the Mediterranean coast are ongoing as Cairo mulls offers from other states to establish the mega-project. During Sisi’s visit, Russian state-owned oil company Rosneft signed a deal to supply Egypt with liquefied natural gas (LNG). Meanwhile, Putin and Sisi called for a coalition to combat terrorism. Sisi said “the Egyptian people” hope for broader ties with Russia in all areas, particularly in fighting terrorism in the Middle East. Putin told reporters after the talks that regional powers should join their efforts to combat ISIS. Sisi also held meetings with Sergey Kiriyenko, chairman of the Rosatom, a Russian nuclear power station company and Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on Wednesday. He also met with Russian Defense Minister Sergy Shoygu on Thursday afternoon before returning to Cairo. [DNEAPAswat MasriyaSISMada MasrMENA, 8/27/2015]


Egypt election committee to announce date for parliamentary poll Sunday
Egypt’s main election committee said it will announce when the long-awaited parliamentary polls will begin on Sunday. The High Elections Commission (HEC) also said Thursday it “will announce the measures of the 2015 parliamentary elections in a press conference on Sunday.” The committee will announce “when the vote will begin, the timetable for the poll, and conditions and time of candidacy,” a statement from HEC Spokesman, Omar Marwan, said. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2015]

Government workers in fresh protests over Civil Service Law
Government employees continued on Wednesday their protests against a controversial law adopted in March which regulates their appointment, assessment, and bonuses. Employees at the Foreign Trade Ministry and Industry’s Industrial Development Authority (IDA) staged a protest inside the agency objecting to the imposition of the Civil Service Law. A senior official at the Finance Ministry said employees protests have succeeded in preventing the law from applying to industrial agencies which have their own by-laws. Workers, however, accused IDA’s director of failing to implement changes proposed by the government in June that would have spared them falling under jurisdiction of the Civil Service Law. Meanwhile, an independent coalition of trade unions is preparing a list of its grievances with the Civil Service Law. Tadamon (Solidarity), an alliance of more than thirty trade unions opposed to the law, said Wednesday it has written a legal response detailing the law’s disadvantages. Workers say the law infringes on their financial benefits and provides for wrongful assessment rules. [Egypt Independent, 8/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Ministry of endowments endorses ‘no to religious parties’ campaign | Ahram Online
  • Cabinet gives go ahead for 1st high-speed train | Cairo Post


Court advisory board recommends banning Zamalek chief from TV, suspending Ahmed Moussa show
The advisory board of state commissioners at the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) in Cairo recommended on Wednesday banning Zamalek Sports Club chief Mortada Mansour from appearing on satellite channels over libel charges. The board also recommended suspending the Sada el-Balad TV show, hosted by Ahmed Moussa, which interviewed Mansour. Tarek al-Awady, a lawyer representing Ultras White Knights, the fan group of Zamalek Sports Club, said Mansour, who had been at loggerheads with UWK, insulted and made baseless accusations against him during a phone-in with Moussa. The board’s recommendations are judicially non-binding for the SAC which has the final say. [Egypt Independent, 8/27/2015]

Health Minister stands trial over inordinate Sovaldi pricing
Health Minister Adel al-Adawy is standing trial on October 24 over a lawsuit accusing him of setting exorbitant prices for a much-needed, US-produced hepatitis C drug. An independent group of pharmacists “Pharmacists Rebellion” said the Dokki Misdemeanor Court will consider the petition accusing the minister of breaking the law in prices set for Sovaldi and its alternatives. Hany Sameh, the group’s general coordinator, said the minister “bypassed the law and patients’ interests” setting a price of EGP15,000 for one package of Sovaldi. Sameh argued that the fair price of the packet is only EGP1,000. According to Sameh, generic brands which, he said, have the same biological efficiency of Sovaldi but carry a different commercial name, are sold for EGP2,400 to EGP2,600, while the fair price is a maximum of EGP600. [Egypt Independent, 8/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Appeal rejected on release of Anas al-Sultan | DNE
  • Controversial TV host Ahmed Moussa awaits court order on program | DNE
  • Sentence of engineer charged in collapse of Alexandria bloc commuted | Cairo Post


Egypt bans rice exports as of September 1
Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry will ban the export of all types of rice starting September 1, a ministry official said on Thursday. The ministry is yet to decide on the duration of the ban, said Sayed Abu Qomsan, a Deputy for the Minister. The ban reverses an earlier decision issued last October which allowed the export of Egyptian medium-grain rice with a 2000 Egyptian-pound ($279.72) tariff per tonne, payable to the government. Export licenses granted after the 2014 decision remain valid, despite the recent ban. [Reuters, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2015]

Egypt extends high-moisture wheat exemption for one year
Egypt will accept higher moisture levels in government tenders to buy wheat for one year after an initial exemption expires at the end of August, Supply Minister Khaled Hanafi said. Egypt’s state grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), began accepting wheat with more moisture a year ago, having previously set a 13 percent limit. France, one of Egypt’s most important wheat supplier, had struggled to meet the moisture limits imposed by GASC. “The request for the exemption to be extended was made by the French side,” said Francois Gatel, director of export lobby France Export Cereales. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday said his country will increase the quantity of wheat it supplies to Egypt. [Reuters, 8/27/2015]

Also of Interest

  • US dollar registers EGP 8 at exchange companies | DNE
  • Egypt to host ‘The Future of Energy in Egypt’ forum | DNE
  • Egyptian pound steady at official auction, weaker at exchange bureaus | Reuters, DNE
  • Egypt’s non-petroleum exports recede by 18.7 percent in seven months | MENA
  • Head of EgyptAir loses post | Mada Masr


Anti-terrorism law encourages extrajudicial killings say NGOs
The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS) and the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) released a report (in Arabic) on Wednesday describing the recently issued anti-terrorism law as “a new blow to the constitution.” The law, which was ratified by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on August 15, was criticized for “destroying the state of law, consolidating the undeclared state of emergency with the excuse of protecting society and national unity, and preventing the promotion of violence.” The report said, “CIHRS and EIPR assert that the current security, legislative, and judiciary policies aggravates the acts of political revenge and terrorism instead of stopping them,” the report said. The organizations also said that the law encourages those enforcing it to use lethal force and guarantees their impunity, since it exempts them from criminal responsibility when using force to “perform their duties.” [DNE, Mada Masr, 8/26/2015]

Press advocacy group denounces recent wave of newspaper censorship
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is condemning recent reports that Egyptian newspapers were prevented from being printed or circulated because they had content critical of the country’s president. CPJ Middle East and North Africa Program Coordinator Sherif Mansour said in a statement that Egypt “is resorting to crude censorship.” The new CPJ statement, issued Tuesday, says the recent reports concern the al-Mesryoon, al-Sabah and Sawt al-Ummah newspapers, which were “prevented from going to print or into circulation because of content critical of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, according to news reports.” [DNE, AP, 8/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Street vendors removed from pedestrian bridge in Qalubiya | Cairo Post


Attack on Luxor tourist site referred to military court
Egypt’s prosecution referred a case involving a bomb attack targeting a tourist site in Egypt’s Upper Egyptian city of Luxor to military court on Thursday, it said in a statement. A suicide bomber attacked a tourist bus near Luxor’s Karnak temple in June. The incident left the bomber and a gunman involved in the attack dead.  The prosecution said that the attack was masterminded by the Sinai-based Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis militant group. The group changed its name to Sinai State last November after pledging allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) fighters in Syria and Iraq. The militant group recruited new members to take part in the attack on Luxor’s Karnak temple, according to the prosecution’s statement. Two foreign “extremists” took a taxi in Luxor on June 10, which drove them to a coffee shop in the vicinity of the temple, the prosecution said in its statement. They carried with them two black bags with “handmade bombs, explosive devices, rifles and ammunition” inside. In the coffee shop, they met with an Egyptian “extremist”, which “aroused the taxi driver’s suspicion,” the statement read. He reported them to the police. The three “extremists” then headed to the temple at the arrival of a group of visiting tourists. When stopped by security forces, one foreign “extremists” blew himself up while the other one reportedly fired at the tourists. Security forces responded to the shooting, the prosecution said, shooting dead the foreign assailant and injuring the third Egyptian “extremist.” [Aswat Masriya, 8/27/2015]


Egypt imposes travel restrictions for nine more countries, including Israel
Egyptian authorities on Wednesday announced travel restrictions for travellers to Israel and eight other countries, largely copying similar constraints it had imposed on travel to other countries in 2014. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that the new nine countries were Yemen, Jordan, Malaysia, South Korea, Guinea Conakry, Israel, Indonesia, Thailand, and South Africa. Travellers to those countries between the ages of 18 and 45 will require a prior National Security Agency clearance. The ministry said the restrictions were designed to ensure “reciprocity” and to prevent the escape of individuals sought by security. [Anadolou Agency, 8/27/2015]

Arab League postpones meeting to establish joint military force
The Arab League has postponed a meeting of member state defense ministers who were scheduled to ratify a protocol for a new joint military force to intervene in troubled areas in the region, the organization said in a statement Wednesday. The meeting was postponed upon the request of Saudi Arabia’s permanent representative, the statement said. Arab League countries will decide later on a new date for the meeting, which had been scheduled for Thursday, the statement added. Members had formally announced the agreement in March, and drafted a protocol for it in May. Members reportedly disagree over whether the force should be headquartered in Cairo, the home of the Arab League, with Qatar and Algeria reportedly objecting to the location. [AP, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 8/26/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Sisi’s Singapore visit is historic: Singapore’s Ambassador in Cairo | DNE
  • Sisi meets Jordanian King in Moscow | Cairo Post, SIS
  • Pope Tawadros II to discuss Renaissance Dam in Ethiopia | Egypt Independent
  • Sources: France in talks with Egypt over helicopter carriers | Reuters
  • Defense Minister meets Somali counterpart | SIS