Top News: Army Ready To Save Nation From ‘Dark Tunnel,’ Defense Minister


Egypt’s army issued a sharp warning to rival political factions on Sunday that it would not stand by if opposition rallies next weekend descend into conflict and it urged politicians to forge consensus. In a statement, the head of the armed forces, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would not allow an "attack on the will of the people" and said politicians should use the week remaining before mass rallies against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on June 30 to seek a settlement to their disputes.


Governor of Egypt’s Luxor resigns

Luxor Governor Adel al-Khayat, a member of the ultra-conservative al-Jama’a al-Islamiya, has resigned. The group’s Building and Development Party has accused the media of forcing al-Khayat from office. "We will not accept that one drop of blood be spilt because of a position that I did not personally aspire to at any time," al-Khayat said in a news conference, saying the decision had been made after consultations with his party. He blamed an “unfair” media campaign against him following his appointment and said that he had worked for 35 years in the government as an engineer. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, DNE, AP, 6/23/2013]

ElBaradei calls for Morsi’s resignation; 34 Political parties announce plans for June 30
Chairman of al-Dostour Party and coordinator of the National Salvation Front (NSF), Mohamed ElBaradei, publically called for President Mohamed Morsi to resign ahead of mass protests by the opposition scheduled for next week. Morsi, in a statement expressed that if the Egyptian people choose another president in the next elections–scheduled for 2016–he will "stay up to ensure power is handed over according to the constitution and the law… to achieve democracy" in an interview with state-owned newspaper al-Akhbar on Saturday. Meanwhile, the Coordinating Committee for June 30 protests announced in a press conference that 34 political parties, including al-Dostour and Wafd parties, have participated in the committee and shared ideas that will be reflected in the upcoming protests on June 30. Cleric Refai Taha, and other leaders of al-Jama’a al-Islamiya and its parliamentary wing in Luxor told Reuters they renounced violence because Islamist rule had now been achieved, through elections–but they would take up arms again to defend Morsi and were committed eventually to establishing full Islamic law. [DNE, Ahram Online, Reuters, 6/22/2013]

Morsi praises Islamist protests; NSF accuses Morsi of ignoring hate speech
President Mohamed Morsi praised on Saturday the protesters who participated in Friday’s ‘No violence’ protest in Nasr City. He hailed this demonstration as a sign that the peaceful revolution was back on track. However, several leaders at the rally called for “crushing” the opposition. "They threaten us with protests on June 30, and today we promise [the opposition] they will be crushed on that day," said Tarek al-Zomor, a leader of the ultra-conservative al-Jama’a al-Islamiya. Al-Zomor went on to assert–to loud cheers–that Egyptians either "back the president’s legitimacy or they are thugs." The opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) criticized Morsi for failing to condemn speeches filled with "hate and violence" made at the Friday rally. The Muslim Brotherhood–from which Morsi hails–and the presidency “continue to deny the reality on the street and their complete failure to manage the country’s affairs,” the NSF said in a statement released late on Saturday. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, DNE, 6/23/2013]

Shura Council agrees on SCC election law proposals, increases parliamentary seats
The Shura Council approved the Supreme Constitutional Court’s (SCC) recommendations for Egypt’s new bill for the House of Representative elections. In a plenary session Sunday, the Islamist-led upper house of Egypt’s parliament, the Shura Council, currently endowed with legislative powers, approved that the House of Representatives be increased by 42 seats, from 546 to 588. According to Hatem Bagato, the newly-appointed minister for parliamentary affairs, the increase was necessary to align to the orders of the SCC that stated there must be fair representation of citizens in the upcoming parliament. The affected electoral districts include the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, the three Upper Egypt governorates of Minya, Sohag and Aswan, the two Nile Delta governorates of Sharqiya and Damietta, and the Suez Canal governorate of Ismailiya. Bagato submitted Saturday a draft law on electoral constituencies and governorates’ distribution of seats in the House of Representatives, written by the cabinet and to be considered by the Shura Council’s legislative committee. The new draft law would increase the total number of parliamentary seats awarded to governorates from 546 to 600. Sources from the committee told al-Masry al-Youm that the cabinet refused to decrease the number of seats allocated to governorates for fear this plan would be objected to. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, Egypt Independent, 6/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s Nour Party to stay neutral despite office burning | Ahram Online
We didn’t participate in pro-Morsi protests: Nour Party spokesman | Ahram Online
Aboul-Fotouh ‘honored’ by Brotherhood’s chants against him | Ahram Online
‘Down with military rule’ chant harmed revolution: Egypt’s Hamdeen Sabbahi | Ahram Online
Conscience Front calls for neutrality | DNE
PM : Tamarod should redirect its energy to Parliamentary elections | DNE
Egypt’s Brotherhood calls for ‘unconditional’ dialogue with opposition | Ahram Online
Egypt president convenes National Security Council | Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Presidency (Facebook)
Morsi orders swift protection of State facilities | SIS


Egypt court asks Interpol to arrest Islamists behind prison break

An Ismaliya misdemeanor court has asked the International Criminal Police Organization to arrest the Islamists, including President Mohamed Morsi who raided Wadi al-Natroun Prison during the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak. In the hearing, Judge Khaled Mahgoub said, “The prisoners’ escape took place with the assistance of foreign parties, including Hamas, al-Qassam Brigades, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, resulting in the escape of 11,161 prisoners and the killing of 11.” An investigation into Morsi’s escape from prison during the January 25 Revolution will not affect his legal and constitutional status, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hatem Bagato has said. Essam al-Erian, Sobhi Saleh and Saad al-Katatni were among senior Brotherhood leaders to escape alongside Morsi. After the hearing, clashes broke out with several Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Members as well as activists, with both parties denying instigating the violence. The FJP and Hamas, widely considered the former’s affiliate in Palestine, have repudiated allegations by the Ismailiya Misdemeanor Court. A Ministry of Interior official announced that this ruling absolves policemen from previous accusations of assisting in the jail-break. Additionally, Wasat Party leader criticises prison escape court case saying that the court has "exhausted itself in details that are irrelevant to the case." [Aswat Masriya, SIS, DNE, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 6/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt court to hear prosecutor-general’s appeal in July | Ahram Online
Court acquits 16 Black Bloc members in Nile Corniche clashes | Aswat Masriya
Investigation of Brotherhood’s al-Beltagy for ‘insulting judiciary’ adjourned | Ahram Online
Presidential Election Committee to consider Shafiq’s appeal | DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Egypt prosecution appeals release of Mubarak sons | Aswat Masriya
Prosecutor releases former Prime Minister in illegal gifts case | Egypt Independent


Egypt to borrow US$500 million from Saudi Arabia

Egypt will sign a deal with Saudi Arabia to obtain a loan of US$500 million to finance its budget deficit, Egyptian Planning Ministry Amr Darrag said on Monday, according to Reuters. The ministry cited Amr Darrag as saying that Egypt is negotiating with Saudi Arabia to get the loan. The state budget deficit is expected to reach LE200 million in the fiscal year 2012-2013, which will end in the next few days. “The loan deal will be signed within a few days. There will be an interest rate of three percent on the loan, which shall be paid off over 8 years with a two-year grace period,” said the minister. All investment disputes faced by Arab businessmen, particularly Saudis, will end “by Sunday evening in their entirety,” said Investment Minister Yehia Hamed said on Sunday. “The public prosecutor recently presented a number of legal documents to Saudi investors operating on Egypt’s stock exchange explaining that problems being faced were purely administrative,” said Hamed. The prosecutor had issued specific instructions to address complaints put forth by Fayez Zagzoug. [Reuters, DNE, 6/24/2013]

Egypt to exhaust strategic fuel reserves; PM says smart cards for fuel to come into effect
Egypt’s strategic reserves of three vital fuel products will run out by end of this month, Turkish news agency Anadulo reported on Thursday, citing Petroleum Minister Sherif Haddara. According to Haddara, Egypt has enough diesel fuel to last eight days, butane enough for ten days and petrol enough for 14 days. The second phase of the fuel subsidy smart card system will start next month in an effort to combat smuggling and rationalize subsidies, said Prime Minister Hesham Qandil on Saturday. Speaking at the press conference in the headquarters of Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) in Maadi, the prime minister said that about 18,000 cards had been distributed during the first phase. Officials present at the press conference stressed that the aim of the new system is to tackle smuggling of subsidized fuel, which they blame for fuel shortages. [Ahram Online, DNE, 6/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Experts predict higher inflation rates amid unchanged interest rates | DNE


Army ready to save nation from ‘Dark Tunnel,’ defense minister
Egypt’s army issued a sharp warning to rival political factions on Sunday that it would not stand by if opposition rallies next weekend descend into conflict and it urged politicians to forge consensus. In a statement, the head of the armed forces, Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would not allow an "attack on the will of the people" and said politicians should use the week remaining before mass rallies against Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on June 30 to seek a settlement to their disputes. Al-Sisi called on Egyptian political powers to look to reconciliation and understanding in order to protect Egypt. "The armed forces are calling on everyone to find a way of understanding, consensus and true reconciliation in order to protect Egypt and its people; we have time (a week) to achieve a lot," said the minister in a speech that was published on the official Facebook page of the Egyptian army spokesperson. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and the opposition National Salvation Front (NSF) both welcomed al-Sisi’s comments on the army’s position regarding mass protests planned for June 30. [AP, Reuters, Egypt Independent, DNE, Ahram Online, SIS, 6/23/2013]

Clashes continue in Egypt’s Mahalla, Kafr al-Sheikh and Fayoum
Increasing tensions between supporters and opponents of President Mohamed Morsi have led to clashes in a number of Egyptian cities. Clashes erupted outside the Salafi al-Nour Party’s headquarters in Mahalla Saturday night, causing conflicting reports about the death of a 12-year-old boy. Mahmoud Haroun, a member of the Revolutionary Socialists who took part in the protest, claimed the protesters were attacked first, shot by assailants standing on the roof of al-Nour Party’s headquarters. A number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Kafr al-Sheikh were besieged inside a mosque by unknown attackers in the city of Fouah on Saturday. The city’s secretary of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as other Brotherhood leaders and some residents were trapped inside the Abdallah al-Omari mosque by “thugs” according to a statement by the FJP. They also said on Saturday that a Jama’a al-Islamiya member died from gunshot wounds in Egypt’s central Fayoum governorate, pointing the finger at opposition forces. Five people, including a police sergeant, were injured in clashes between campaigners of the Tamarod (Rebel) movement and members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Fayoum on Monday. Meanwhile, a man was shot dead in overnight clashes north of Cairo between supporters and opponents of Egypt’s Islamist government, security sources said, raising tensions ahead of big opposition rallies planned next Sunday. A second man, also an Islamist supporter, died of gunshot wounds sustained in clashes south of the capital some days before and rival parties traded blame for the violence. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Reuters, 6/23/2013]

Four Egyptian Shias killed by mob in Cairo
Four Egyptian Shiites were killed on Sunday in an attack by not less than 3000 Sunni Muslims fearing the spread of Shiite Islam in Egypt, according to reports by state media, witnesses and security sources. Residents of the town of Zawiyat Abu Muslim in Giza province on the outskirts of Cairo surrounded the home of a prominent Shiite after learning he was hosting a religious gathering, witnesses and security sources told Reuters. According to security officials, the Sunday attack came after Salafi preachers in the village gave a small local Shiite community an ultimatum to leave the town by sundown. They said Salafis also joined the crowd. President Mohammed Morsi’s office on Monday condemned the killing of four Shiite Muslims following a statement from Prime Minister Hisham Qandil. But Shiite minority leaders and the liberal opposition accused the government itself, dominated by the Sunni Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, of whipping up sectarian anger over the war in Syria as a means of appeasing its own hard-line Salafist allies. According to the state news agency, Giza’s Criminal Investigation Department is currently investigating the case and the suspects. [DNE, Reuters, AP, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Facebook 6/24/2013]

MOI: We will ensure the safety of peaceful protesters on June 30

Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim ordered riot police to refrain from the use of force against June 30 protesters during a meeting with the Central Security Department on Saturday. The Ministry of Interior released a press statement on its plan to protect peaceful demonstrators, ensure safety on the street, and secure public and private property during the June 30 protests. The general club for police personnel and civilian workers in the police also held a press conference Sunday afternoon its full support for Ibrahim, vowing not to withdraw from their position as they did on January 28, 2011. Egypt’s airports will also be on high alert ahead of June 30 security officials said on Saturday. "An emergency plan will be put in place from June 28 – 1 July," the head of Cairo airport security, General Magdy al-Yousri, told reporters. [DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AFP, 6/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s MOI not responsible for ‘cancelling’ opposition conference: Security source | Ahram Online


Egypt’s al-Azhar issues sharp rebuke to Brotherhood’s ‘insults’ of leader, allows peaceful opposition

Egypt’s highest Islamic authority al-Azhar denounced statements made by Islamist preacher and Muslim Brotherhood supporter Safwat al-Hegazy “insulting’ al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb during the mass demonstration staged in Cairo on Friday by seventeen Islamist parties in support of President Morsi. Speaking on the podium during Friday’s demonstration, al-Hegazy said al-Tayyeb released a fatwa during the uprising prohibiting rebellion against Mubarak. He also accused al-Tayyeb of being a member of the now-dissolved National Democratic Party’s (NDP) policy committee. In its statement, al-Azhar also clarified that al-Tayyeb did not call for protesting against President Mohamed Morsi. “Al-Tayyeb stated that armed protest is prohibited in Islam,” the statement read. “And he also stated that the legitimacy of peaceful opposition in Islam is out of the question, adding that all laws and constitutions already preserve that right.” [Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, 6/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
FGM is not a religious duty says Dar al-Ifta representative | DNE
Ministry of Defense sit-in unites opposition groups | DNE
Further competition between Tamarod and Tagarod | DNE
June 30 Coordinating Committee plans for week-long protests | Ahram Online


Amr: Egypt is on the side of the Syrian people

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr stressed the importance of supporting the Syrian opposition in a Friends of Syria Core Group meeting in Doha on Saturday. Amr discussed support methods in order to pave a way for a political solution in Syria, and he asserted that Egypt is standing by the Syrian people so that the expectations of the Syrians become a reality on the ground, because this can prevent the region from slipping into instability, according to a statement by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. The foreign ministers of Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, and the United States also took part in the meeting. They announced their rejection of intervention that can lead to more massacres, adding that they intend to do everything to protect Syrians from the tragic situation they are living, according to the statement. [DNE, 6/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Ethiopian delegation in Cairo for dam talks | DNE, Aswat Masriya
US soldiers in Sinai a ‘precautionary measure’ | DNE, Ahram Online
Egypt steps up Gaza tunnel crackdown, dismaying Palestinians | Reuters

Photo: Armed Forces

Image: al-Sisi.jpg