An armed attack on a police checkpoint in Beni Suef left five policemen dead and two injured and hospitalized, early morning Thursday. Militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack.


Interim president Mansour says the police state is over
Interim President Adly Mansour declared “the end of the police state in Egypt” during his speech Thursday at the Police Academy commemorating Police Day which falls on January 25. Mansour said the January 25 revolution has rendered a number of realities unmistakable to both the police and the Egyptian people: the essential role played by the police in society to maintain safety and security, as well as the restraint police must exercise in order to limit its role away from previously exercised abuses. Egypt has turned a new page in the relationship between its police and people. He said the country’s uprisings have put an end to the police state and to abuses, part of a campaign to rebrand the security forces amid a heavy handed crackdown on Islamists and other critics of the government. He praised their role in securing the News Year’s Eve celebrations and the referendum on the new constitution. Mansour granted awards on Wednesday to 256 fallen policemen for their roles in protecting the country “after they sacrificed their lives to achieve stability and preserve the security of the country and its citizens.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 1/23/2014]

Also of Interest:
Anti-Coup Alliance calls on security forces not to point arms at Egyptians | DNE
Video of police brutality ‘baseless’: MOI | DNE
Government gears up for January 25  | DNE
Alexandria police prepare heavy weapons for the January 25 anniversary | Shorouk (Arabic)
Egyptian Salafist hesitates to back Sisi presidency bid | Reuters


Essam Sultan’s detention renewed
The Cairo Criminal Court accepted an appeal filed by the public prosecutor against the decision to release the deputy head of the pro-Morsi Wasat Party, Essam Sultan, pending the charges of inciting torture during the pro-Morsy Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in. Sultan faces charges of inciting the killing of three citizens in addition to inciting violence, torture and setting fire to a government-owned company building. The defense asked that Sultan be released based on lack of evidence for his remanding and argued that the charges against Sultan are baseless. The judge, however, decided to renew Sultan’s detention for another forty-five days. [Egypt Independent, AMAY (Arabic), 1/23/2014]

AUC professor accused of espionage, other criminal charges
Legal documents released on Wednesday reveal that Egyptian prosecutors have filed a host of criminal charges – including espionage – against Emad Shahin, professor of political science and public policy at the American University in Cairo. The 56-year-old Shahin, an Egyptian national, vehemently denied the charges brought against him, refuting them in a written response. Shahin was revealed to be included on a list of thirty-six defendants, primarily high-ranking members and supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, including ousted President Mohamed Morsi and the Islamist group’s Guidance Bureau. Although he is not a Brotherhood member, prosecutors have filed charges against Shahin that include espionage, leading an outlawed organization, providing an illegal organization with information and financial support, calling for the suspension of the Egyptian Constitution, obstructing state institutions and authorities from performing their functions, harming national unity and social harmony, as well as conspiring to depose the government by force. [Mada Masr, 1/22/2014]

Also of interest:
Nine remanded in custody for fifteen days for burning police car in Maadi | Shorouk (Arabic)
Required procedures to observe referendum beyond capabilities of most NGOs: ECOE | DNE
Brotherhood members arrested for corresponding with MB leaders | Egypt Independent


Egypt’s Ministerial Economic Group agrees to amend law on competition protection
The Ministerial Economic Group in Egypt has agreed to introduce essential amendments to the law on competition protection and monopoly prevention. The amendments should help upgrade market performance and achieve justice, according to Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour. The Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) will be more independent and will have more powers to better enforce law in a way that would create a healthy economic environment based on fair competition and free market regulations. The amendments will be discussed in a Cabinet meeting to refer them to the president for ratification as soon as possible, Abdel-Nour added. [MENA, 1/23/2014]

Egypt will return $3 billion to Qatar this year
Egypt will return $3 billion that were invested in bonds to Qatar when the debt matures by the end of the year, according to a source at the Central Bank of Egypt. “We will return $500 million to Qatar in October and $2.5 billion in November (for) the bonds,” the source said. In September, Egypt returned $2 billion that Qatar had deposited with its central bank after talks to convert the funds into three-year bonds broke down. The central bank also returned a $500 million deposit to Qatar in November and another $500 million in December after the Gulf country refused to renew the deposits upon its maturity. [Reuters, 1/23/2014]

Also of interest:
Egypt to implement new rules for companies on Stock Exchange | DNE
Egypt stocks soar on Davos-based investor optimism | Ahram,  NAP
Egypt’s foreign reserves hit $17.8 billion in November | Cairo Post
Egypt’s foreign debts rise $3.8 billion in third quarter: CBE | Cairo Post
IFC, AlexBank support trade and economic development in Egypt | CPI
Wage increases for 1.5 million Egyptian teachers | Ahram Online
Egypt’s June 30 fund gathers EGP 827 million | Ahram Online


Groups announce plans for January 25 anniversary
The third anniversary of the January 25 revolution will witness mass gatherings in support of the current government, as well as a number of protests, with some demanding the return of former president Mohamed Morsi, and others calling for the original demands of the January uprisings in 2011. Mahmoud Omar, Secretary General of Strong Egypt students’ movement said the movement would participate in the January 25 protests under the slogans bread, freedom, and social justice. The April 6 Youth Movement proposed an initiative addressing the current political, social and economic problems in Egypt. April 6 said its initiative would focus on five goals: a social charter, a media charter, the distinction of the relationship between government and civic organizations, an economically-targeted government and an all inclusive judiciary law. The general coordinator said April 6 would take to the streets on the anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, free of political affiliation. “We are not targeting [to commemorate] the day, but rather the spirit of the 25 January Revolution,” said Ali. “Every party participating that day must be peaceful.” The movement requested, as a step to going beyond present polarization, that those participating in the 25 January anniversary refrain from holding any banners while holding only the Egyptian flag. It also called on people to refrain from violence. Other groups that have announced their participation are the Revolution Path Front, Revolutionary Socialists, Anti-Coup Alliance and the Egyptian Trade Union Federation. The Revolutionary Youth Coalition said it would not participate in the protests. [Mada Masr, DNE, 1/23/2014]

One student dead amid clashes at Alexandria University
A student from Al-Azhar University, Amr Khalaf, was shot dead Thursday afternoon during clashes between security forces and students in Alexandria, Al-Ahram reported. Fierce clashes broke out between police and student supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi outside Alexandria University. Riot police fired teargas at stone-hurling students who reportedly set fire to furniture on the university grounds. According to private daily Shorouk, Students were also firing off fireworks when security forces arrived to disperse the protest. Fifteen Brotherhood students were arrested for possession of Molotov cocktails.  At least five more people were injured, according to the state-run news agency MENA. University student union vice president Baher Adel told Mada Masr a march was touring the university as snipers, allegedly belonging to police forces, were stationed in a building in front of the university. Khalaf was inside the grounds of the campus when he was shot. A spokesperson for the Alexandria Security Directorate told state-run EGYNews that security forces entered the university, upon notification from the university president, after Khalaf was shot.  [DNEAhram OnlineMada MasrEGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 1/23/2014]

Also of interest:
Technical problems cause partial stoppage in Upper Egypt-Cairo trains | Ahram Online
Two deaths in Assiut suspected from bird flu | Egypt Independent
Muslim Brotherhood prisoners in Zagazig begin hunger strike | Shorouk (Arabic)
Islamist youth group Ahrar demonstrate against military in downtown Cairo | Ahram Online
Protests in Talaat Harb dispersed by CSF, opposition activists arrested | Mada Masr
Egypt’s Ultras protest in Cairo ahead of January 25 | Aswat Masriya
Twenty-six labor protests during the first half of January | DNE
Protests against Health Ministry escalate | Mada Masr
Hospital nurses at Kharaga Hospital in New Valley strike due to lack of security | Shorouk (Arabic)


Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claims responsibility for death of five policemen in Beni Suef
An armed attack on a police checkpoint in Beni Suef left five policemen dead and two injured and hospitalized, early morning Thursday. The attack was carried out by “masked men on two motorcycles” firing heavily, a statement posted by the ministry of interior read. A security source said police forces were searching the districts and neighboring agricultural lands and small villages where the assailants may have fled. The interior ministry has suspended a police officer for abandoning the 14-member checkpoint, pending investigation, Al-Ahram reported. According to Al-Masry a-Youm, in a statement posted on their Facebook page, Militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claimed responsibility for the attack. Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy’s cabinet condemned the attack and described it as “terrorism.” A forensic report revealed that the victims were shot using 7.62mm caliber firearms. [DNE, SIS, Ahram (Arabic), Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Reuters, 1/23/2013]

Also of interest:
Army arrests seven “terrorists”, demolishes twenty-five hideouts and four tunnels | Aswat Masriya


Beblawy supports Sisi and discusses Egypt’s changes at Davos
Egypt’s Prime Minister Hazem El-Bebalwy said Thursday the spirit of the Arab Spring was still alive in his country and that the army chief likely to run for the presidency was no dictator, but more a De Gaulle figure. He announced his support for Sisi’s candidacy for president on the sidelines at the Davos World Economic Forum saying, “Sisi is hugely popular and would be a candidate that can be relied upon, but the final decision is with the people.” He also discussed the political and economic development Egypt has undergone and said that Egypt’s transition is great. Other countries that have undergone such transitions have experienced similar circumstances, he added. [DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), Gateway (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 1/23/2014]

Amnesty International and Freedom House condemn Egypt repression
Amnesty International released a report Thursday saying that Egypt has seen state violence on an “unprecedented scale” since the army overthrew Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last July. Egypt’s authorities “quash dissent and trample on human rights,” Amnesty said, pointing to mass arrests, pressure on the freedom of expression and the introduction of a law that limits the right to protest .About 1,400 people have been killed in political violence since army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted Morsi, mostly due to “excessive force used by security forces”, the international human rights group said. The rights organization said that Egypt’s future looks bleak unless the state changes course and adheres to human rights and the rule of law. It condemned interim authorities’ physical and legal attacks against opposition forces as well as the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. The statement cited the recent protest law signed by interim president Adly Mansour, and the government’s designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization as creating an environment for further repression. In a recent report, Freedom House also condemned the recent developments “as a major step backward. Conditions in Egypt are dangerously close to conditions under Hosni Mubarak before the Arab Spring.” [Reuters, DNE, 1/23/2014]

Also of interest:
Catherine Ashton is evil: Pro-Morsi coalition leader | Ahram Online
Fahmy offers Cairo as venue for Syria opposition talks | DNE