Top New: Qatari Intelligence Chief in Cairo for Reconciliation Talks

Egyptian and Qatari intelligence officials have met in Cairo to discuss reconciliation as part of Saudi-brokered efforts to end an 18-month standoff over Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, security and diplomatic sources said.


Judicial sources: Electoral commission to call parliamentary elections December 31
The High Electoral Commission (HEC) will call for parliamentary elections on December 31, according to judicial commission sources. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified the law demarcating constituencies, and it was published in an official gazette on Monday evening. The sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm, on the condition of anonymity, that the commission so far plans to hold the election in three stages. The commission held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss the application of the law and the conditions to be applied to different categories of candidates. The HEC also issued regulations for media coverage of the elections. [Egypt Independent, 12/24/2014]

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Mahlab’s visit to al-Azhar Grand Imam reaffirms state’s support of institution | DNE
Minister of transitional justice considering amending traffic laws | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Australian foreign minister hopeful Egypt will release Al-Jazeera journalist
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Wednesday the case of jailed Australian journalist Peter Greste is “under consideration” by high levels of the Egyptian government and she is hopeful of his release by the end of the year. “I urged (the Egyptian foreign minister) to consider releasing Peter Greste for Christmas, we wanted him out and home as soon as possible,” Bishop told the Seven Network. “We’ve got our fingers crossed, we don’t know whether we have secured this yet.” The three journalists issued a message that included a plea for help and Christmas greetings, as the one year anniversary of their arrest approaches. Mohamed Fahmy delivered his statements from Tora prison in Cairo to the Canadian state broadcasting agency CBC, pleading for Canadian government intervention to release him and his colleagues. [Reuters, DNE, 12/23/2014]

Also of Interest
Giza court postpones trial of twenty-three suspects accused of storming Kerdasa police station | EGYNews (Arabic)
Court postpones trial of Badie, 190 others, on charges of storming Arab police station | EGYNews (Arabic)
Thirteen Brotherhood members referred to court on charges of violence | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Egypt signs twenty-five agreements with Chinese government and companies  
During President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s visit to China, Egypt will sign an additional eighteen agreements with Chinese government as well as private companies, mainly in energy and transport, bringing the total to twenty-five. Egypt and China have made plans to cooperate in the energy sector, particularly when it comes to the construction of coal-powered power plants.  During his speech before the Egyptian Chinese Business Council in China early Tuesday, Sisi also invited Chinese investors and companies to actively participate in the March 2015 Economic Summit in Egypt. Egypt’s State Information Service published on Wednesday the details of the strategic partnership between the two countries, including political, economic, military, cultural, technology, and international issues. [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/24/2014]

Also of Interest
Number of tourists in Egypt rises by 80 percent in October | Ahram Online
Fitch upgrades two Egyptian banks rating to ‘B’ | Ahram Online
Electricity Ministry: Power cuts due to lack of fuel | Egypt Independent
Presidential decree allows companies and individuals to pay taxes electronically | Egypt Independent


April 6 Movement: Member jailed for ‘liking’ Facebook post
An April 6 Movement member was arrested at his home on Tuesday morning for what the movement says was for ‘liking’ a Facebook post. Authorities arrested Karam Zakariya, the group says, seizing his laptop and charging him with posting instigative comments on Facebook, and extended his detention for four days. The group denounced what they called a violation of the freedom granted in the Egyptian Constitution. “Karam was merely arrested for liking a Facebook page and expressing his opinion,” the group’s post read, though they did not clarify the content of the page or the post that caused his arrest. [Egypt Independent, 12/24/2014]

Also of Interest
Swiss film festival dismisses controversial TV reporter Mona Iraqi | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
Catholics to celebrate Christmas Thursday evening amid tight security | Egypt Independent
Al Azhar suspends twenty-one students in Zagazig for rioting | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Unknown assailants kill police conscript in Alexandria drive-by shooting
A policeman died on Tuesday in an attack by six unknown assailants in Egypt’s Alexandria, attacks on police personnel have been on the rise since the ouster of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsi. Amin Awad, an official at Alexandria’s Sidi-Gaber police station, said that policeman, Deif Abd Rabo was shot by unidentified assailants in his forehead while standing outside of the police station. [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/23/2014]

Egypt jihadists release video of ‘executions’
An Egyptian jihadist group released video footage on Tuesday that it said showed the execution of two army informants in the insurgent flashpoint of the Sinai Peninsula. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has previously released videos of beheadings. The new video posted on YouTube shows the “confessions” of four men who admitted to being informants. It then shows a militant shooting two handcuffed men, one of whom is also blindfolded, in the head. However, it is not clear if the two men killed were among those had confessed. Jihadists are also shown manning checkpoints and searching for soldiers and policemen, and the footage features a militant vowing to launch more attacks on Egyptian security forces. [AFP, 12/23/2014]

Also of Interest
Army kills five “terrorists” in North Sinai – spokesman | Aswat Masriya


Qatari intelligence chief in Cairo for reconciliation talks
Egyptian and Qatari intelligence officials have met in Cairo to discuss reconciliation as part of Saudi-brokered efforts to end an 18-month standoff over Doha’s support of the Muslim Brotherhood, security and diplomatic sources said. The sources said Qatar’s intelligence chief – Ahmed Nasser Bin Jassim al-Thani – was present at the talks where a possible meeting between the Egyptian and Qatari heads of state early next year in Riyadh or Cairo was discussed. According to Al-Ahram, Sisi said the meeting is just “a starting point” and that Egypt is waiting for more positive steps from Qatar to prove its goodwill days after Qatari network Al-Jazeera suspended a controversial Egypt-focused satellite channel. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Reuters, 12/24/2014]

Top Turkish official signals possible easing of tension with Egypt
A Turkish official signaled a possible thawing of recently-strained relations between Turkey and Egypt on Monday, saying that they would soon stabilize. Turkish Deputy Premier Bulent Arinc said his country needed “good friendly relations based on mutual understanding, particularly with Egypt and the Gulf states.” Arinc, however, said that Egypt “might be the one who should take initiative,” stressing that his country hasn’t changed its stance on what’s happened in Egypt. [Ahram Online, DNE, 12/23/2014]

Also of Interest
Disputed report in Turkish media takes aim at both Egypt and Erdogan foe | DNE
Egypt allows 500 tonnes of reconstruction material into Gaza Strip | Aswat Masriya
Egypt demands investigation into killing of doctor and wife in Libya – foreign ministry | Aswat Masriya
Salloum crossing re-opened at Libya’s request says Matrouh security | Aswat Masriya