Top News: Beblawi’s Cabinet Convenes, Approves Draft Laws

In its first meeting Sunday, the interim cabinet approved three draft laws, the most prominent of which cancels the jail sentence for insulting the president, while keeping the fine, according to an official statement posted on its Facebook page. The cabinet also approved amendments to Law 96 proposed by the Journalists’ Syndicate that would allow the president to issue a decree forming a Supreme Press Council, giving it all authorities pertaining to journalism and journalists. 


Beblawi’s cabinet convenes, approves draft laws
In its first meeting Sunday, the interim cabinet approved three draft laws, the most prominent of which cancels the jail sentence for insulting the president, while keeping the fine, according to an official statement posted on its Facebook page. The cabinet also approved amendments to Law 96 proposed by the Journalists’ Syndicate that would allow the president to issue a decree forming a Supreme Press Council, giving it all authorities pertaining to journalism and journalists. The council would operate in the transitional period until a new constitution is drafted and ratified. The final law approved by the cabinet entails restructuring the National Human Rights Council in light of the resignation of its head, Hossam al-Gheriany, and some of its members’ “special circumstances.” The decision went down well with the council’s employees who called in a Sunday statement for a body free of political or partisan affiliations. The draft laws were referred to the State Council, which will adjust their legal wording before referring them to the president. Meanwhile, interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi told state television on Saturday that he is hoping for national dialogue between all political powers and parties in Egypt to end ongoing disputes following the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi. During its first meeting on Sunday, the interim cabinet discussed political reconciliation efforts. Two more names were announced in the cabinet, with former Transportation Minister Ibrahim al-Domeiry appointed as transportation minister, and Adel Abdel Hamid, a judge, as justice minister. [Mada Masr, SIS, Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, 7/22/2013]

Nour Party criticizes Brotherhood protests, reveals talks before Morsi ouster
The Nour Party said they had warned the Muslim Brotherhood about a possible uprising, and had deemed deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s one hundred-day project a “drastic failure” in a statement released on Friday night. The party criticized the Brotherhood’s calls Morsi’s reinstatement, saying it would be “impossible” for him to rule amid the fierce opposition he faces. The party asserted that it should not withdraw in order to keep its views and interests, which are part of the Islamist current, present in the political arena. It also revealed part of its discussions with Morsi and the Brotherhood prior to July 3. “When Tamarod was launched and gained support, we warned that the chances that the military steps in are increasing,” the statement said, “However, the Brotherhood insisted that this was impossible… We called for changing the cabinet, not appointing any more Brotherhood members in the government, and reconciling with the [opposing] institutions,” it added. It said that Morsi and his government, led by ex-PM Hisham Qandil, failed to satisfy people’s demands, which led to the current situation. [Ahram Online, DNE, 7/20/2013]

Also of Interest:
Transitional government creating “foundation for future regimes” | DNE
Morsi’s foreign policy failures – Morsi, one year on | Ahram Online
Popular Current denies meeting Brotherhood leaders | Egypt Independent
Gehad al-Haddad: “This is a police state back in full brute force” | DNE
Egypt PM Beblawi discusses governors reshuffle | Aswat Masriya
Amr Moussa steps down as Egypt Conference Party head | Ahram Online, DNE
Defense Minister al-Sisi dispels rumors of presidential run | Ahram Online, DNE
Sisi: Protesters at Raba’a are our “brothers,” deserve patience | Egypt Independent
Morsi has to return; to launch ‘reform initiative’: Brotherhood | Ahram Online
Foreign Minister: Egypt committed to democracy | Aswat Masriya, DNE, Egypt Independent
Egypt’s dissolved Shura Council to convene at Raba’a al-Adaweya | Ahram Online
NSF agrees to nominate Hamdeen Sabbahi for president, says official | Egypt Independent


Eight Muslim Brotherhood leaders transferred to a high-security prison
Eight Muslim Brotherhood leaders being held in preventive detention were transferred Saturday morning from a lower security prison to a maximum-security prison, a high-level security source from the Ministry of Interior announced, according to Aswat Masriya. They were transferred to Aqrab Prison on Friday as a precautionary measure amid maintenance work in the facility where they were kept, the source added. The Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) released an official statement saying that the transfer of eight Muslim Brotherhood leaders to a high-security prison is illegal under preventive detention. Prosecutors have issued further arrest warrants against Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist leaders over recent violence in Cairo’s Ramses Square, state-run media reported. Officials issued arrest warrants Saturday for Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, Essam al-Erian, Mohamed al-Beltagy, Safwat Hegazy and al-Jama’a al-Islamiya leader Assem Abdel Maged. Prosecutors are also investigating a claim filed against Muslim Brotherhood leaders accusing them of planning the assassination of Major General Ahmed Wasfy, the commander of the Second Field Army, while he visited Sinai last week. Erian, Beltagy and Hamas figures have been implicated in the allegations. Cairo Court of Appeal has begun considering a request submitted by Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat to temporarily freeze assets of a number of high-profile Islamist leaders. A press briefing by the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) reported on Friday that Navi Pillay requested a list with the names of the people against whom arrest warrants had been issued and detailing the number of those detained in connection to the events on and after July 3. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, 7/20/2013]

Egypt’s President issues decree to start work on constitution
Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour issued a presidential decree on Saturday forming a legal committee to amend the frozen 2012 constitution. According to the decree, Judge Ali Awad Saleh, the presidency’s constitutional advisor, will be the committee’s rapporteur. In addition, the decree says that a “general technical secretariat” will be formed to support the committee in its mission. The ten member committee includes six senior judges (secretary general of the Supreme Judiciary Council Mohamed Eid Mahgoub, head of the Cairo Appeals Court Hassan al-Sayed Bassiouny, representatives from the Supreme Constitutional Court Mohamed Abdel Aziz Shenawy and Mohamed Khairy Taha, and Essam al-Din Abdel Aziz and Magdy al-Agaty of the Administrative Court) and four high profile constitutional law professors (Fathi Fikry, professor emeritus at the Cairo University Faculty of Law, the Dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Zagazig Hamdi Ali Omar, professor emeritus at the Faculty of Law at Mansoura University Salah al-Din Fawzy and Professor at the Faculty of Law at Ain Shams University Ali Abdul Aal.) They met on Sunday to begin amending the constitution, which they have thirty days to complete. In their first meeting, the committee decided to give citizens and political groups one week, starting Monday, to offer their suggestions for the constitution. Chancellor Ali Awad, secretary of a subcommittee tasked with amending Egypt’s Constitution, has said the legal body will start work on Tuesday. Awad said there is no preset agenda for planned constitutional amendments, and that nobody will dictate to the committee, adding that the number of amendments will be determined during the committee’s tenure, and that in the event of disputes between committee members, the majority will arbitrate. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, DNE, Reuters, 7/21/2013]

Ahram’s editor-in-chief summoned over publishing false news
Egypt’s prosecution ordered on Monday the summoning of editor-in-chief of the Ahram state newspaper Abdel Nasser Salama to question him over publishing false news. The daily newspaper published in its Monday edition a report stating that the prosecutor general has ordered the arrest of deposed President Mohamed Morsi for fifteen days pending investigations. Military spokesperson Ahmed Mohamed Ali denied reports that deposed Morsi is currently in prison. He cautioned the media to fact check before publishing articles, and to liaise with the military spokesperson to verify information. [Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 7/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Morsi’s family threatens legal action over army ‘abduction’ | Reuters, AP, Mada Masr
Activist Douma to file lawsuit against attack by pro-Morsi protesters | Aswat Masriya


Egypt gets $2 billion Saudi payment to fix crumbling finances
Saudi Arabia has transferred $2 billion to the Central Bank of Egypt in the form of a five year interest-free deposit. This comes as a part of the $5 billion aid package that Saudi pledged to Egypt after the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. Egypt’s finances, in havoc from political strife since the 2011 popular uprising, worsened in the first five months of 2013, with the budget deficit widening to almost half of all state spending. Bilateral relations have thawed with the Gulf countries, which had not been on the best of terms with Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood over the past year, during which time Qatar had offered billions in aid to support Egypt’s ailing finances. [Egypt Independent, DNE, 7/21/2013]

Egypt law on extra borrowing shows deficit woes
Egypt’s mounting financial distress pushed former President Mohamed Morsi to approve a 24.2 percent increase in borrowing to finance the budget deficit days before he was deposed. The law, issued on June 29, one day before the end of the 2012/13 fiscal year, increased total borrowing by LE32.65 billion ($4.66 billion) for that year through the sale of securities and other local and foreign borrowing. Preliminary finance ministry figures published in June show the deficit widened to an average $3.2 billion a month, or almost half of all state spending, in the first five months of calendar 2013. [Reuters, 7/21/2013]

Also of Interest:
UAE delegation visits Egypt in days to discuss aid terms | DNE
Planning Minister: Egypt not about to be bankrupt | SIS
Sinai attacks harm Red Sea tourism | DNE
Egypt’s banking sector is optimistic about change | DNE
Stock market rises on spirit of optimism | Egypt Independent
New supply minister resumes wheat imports | DNE
Halting Egypt’s wheat imports was Morsi’s biggest mistake: minister | Reuters
PM discusses economic challenges | DNE
Attracting investment is top priority: finance minister | DNE
$29mln investments in free zones in 6 months | SIS
Telecom Egypt aims to redefine the telecom sector | DNE
Turkish investors support Egypt despite political dispute | DNE


Pro-Morsi protests continue throughout the country

Mass protests in support of deposed President Mohamed Morsi have taken place across Cairo and other parts of the country since the early afternoon hours of Friday. The main stage at Raba’a al-Adaweya Mosque, where Morsi’s supporters have been holding a sit-in for several weeks, announced late on Sunday that a march had left the demonstration heading to the headquarters of Egypt’s military intelligence. Islamist coalition the National Alliance for Legitimacy Support announced on Saturday that it will organize marches to embassies throughout Cairo to press for Morsi’s reinstatement, in addition to two marches to protest the killing of at least three female pro-Morsi protesters during Friday clashes in Mansoura. Two Sunday marches staged by Morsi supporters headed to two foreign embassies in Cairo, urging countries to make a stand against what they see as a military coup against Egypt’s elected president. The marches headed to the German and Indian embassies in the capital’s upscale Zamalek neighborhood. Protesters gathered in front of two gates of the Media Production City (MPC) to object to the shutting down of religious channels and to what they called a “biased media.” They marched from al-Nahda Square in Giza to the MPC, which is located in October 6 City. Hundreds of Morsi supporters also staged protests outside the High Court in Cairo’s downtown on Monday against what they described as the “fabrication and politicization” of lawsuits. Pro-Morsi protesters threatened to escalate their campaign in protest against the president’s ouster; some have threatened to besiege the cabinet, days after a new administration was announced by interim President Adly Mansour and Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi. Hundreds of pro-Morsi supporters also staged a march in the coastal city of Alexandria on Sunday afternoon. Egyptians also demonstrated in the heart of New York City in the late afternoon Friday, to pressure the US government to clarify whether it considered the military’s removal of Morsi from power a coup. [DNE, Ahram Online, 7/22/2013]

Mass condemnation of Mansoura attacks which left three women dead
Several parties and factions have expressed their condemnation of attacks in Mansoura on Friday in which at least three women were killed, organizing marches and releasing statements over the weekend. The three victims were marching in Mansoura on Friday in support of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, when the rally was reportedly attacked by “thugs.” Hundreds of women, members of the Women Against the Coup movement, gathered outside Ain Shams University in Abbaseya Sunday afternoon to protest the women’s deaths. The armed forces stopped two women’s marches protesting the killing of at least three female protesters during Friday’s clashes from reaching their destinations in Cairo. The group also issued a statement in which they held the leading officials of the Egyptian army and Colonel General Abdul Fatah al-Sisi “responsible for their deaths.” Feminist organization Fouada Watch issued a statement on Sunday deploring the violence, and asked government officials to” take responsibility, protect the citizens,” and put an end to violent attacks. The Popular Current issued a statement consoling the victims of violence and “terror” all over Egypt, and asked security officials to quickly investigate and punish those responsible for the “death of three innocent women.” The Nour Party said the attacks were a “mark of shame on a government that claims to be protecting the rights and freedoms of all its citizens,” and ordered the arrest of all involved in the attacks and asked security officials to protect all peaceful protesters. The Wasat Party also issued a statement expressing its sorrow over what they described as a “massacre” of the three women. Vice President Mohamed ElBaradei and Popular Current leader Hamdeen Sabbahi denounced the events on Twitter. Yasser al-Borhamy, vice chairman of the Salafist Call held the ministry of interior and the new cabinet responsible for the murders at the hands of “thugs.” Tamarod issued a statement deploring the death of the Mansoura protesters, stating that both the Muslim Brotherhood and the interior ministry share responsibility for their deaths. The Strong Egypt Party issued a statement denouncing what it described as the “unleashing of thugs on peaceful protesters,” stating that it is a crime that the “failed security apparatus should be punished for.” A coalition of nineteen Egyptian rights groups issued a statement on Saturday denouncing the killings and calling for immediate investigations. Prosecutor Hisham Barakat has ordered an investigation into the clashes, and instructed the interior ministry to launch investigations and arrest those responsible for violence. [DNE, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 7/20/2013]

Opinion poll: 71 percent of Egyptians do not sympathize with pro-Morsi protesters
An opinion poll conducted by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research (Baseera) on the extent to which Egyptians sympathize with protests staged in support of ousted President Mohamed Morsi showed that 71 percent do not sympathize with the protesters, while 20 percent sympathize with them. 9 percent said they did not have a specific position with regards to the protests. The head of the center, Maged Othman, said that the opinions of 2,214 citizens age eighteen and above were collected by telephone. Twenty-one percent of residents of rural areas sympathised with the protesters while 67 percent did not. In urban areas, 17 percent sympathised with the protesters while 77 percent did not. [Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 7/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Google “no ability” to count protesters in Egypt | Egypt Independent
Engineers Syndicate demands Morsi release | Egypt Independent
Tahrir demonstrators celebrate victories of June 30, 1973 war | Ahram Online
Ministry of Antiquities employees demand minister’s resignation | DNE
Tamarod launches new political awareness campaign | DNE


Official: Twenty-one killed in Sinai attacks since Morsi’s ouster

North Sinai’s health ministry coordinator said on Monday that twenty-one people have been killed while 122 were wounded in armed attacks in the Sinai Peninsula since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. The killed include seven civilians and others from the army and police while the wounded include eighty-one from army and police forces. Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim condemned the ongoing violence in the Sinai Peninsula, claiming security forces have lost eleven troops since Morsi’s ouster. Meanwhile, six Egyptians were killed and eleven others wounded in several attacks by militants in the Sinai Peninsula near Egypt’s borders with Israel and the Palestinian Gaza strip, medical sources said on Monday. Two civilians, two army officers, and two policemen were killed in at least ten attacks in the province’s main northern cities of Rafah and al-Arish overnight against police stations and security and army checkpoints, according to the sources. Two civilians were killed and one wounded on Friday when militants fired rockets at an army checkpoint al-Arish in Egypt’s restive Sinai Peninsula, medical and security sources said. On Sunday, two army soldiers and a policeman were killed in al-Arish, in three separate militant attacks by unknown assailants. Unknown gunmen also opened fire at a police station in al-Arish, eyewitnesses told Ahram Arabic news website. There are unconfirmed reports of a soldier being killed in the attack. Security forces manning the al-Kharouba checkpoint in Sheikh Zuweid have arrested an armed militant who attacked the checkpoint early Sunday morning using automatic weapons. [Aswat Masriya, Reuters, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, 7/22/2013]

Morsi supporters, opponents clash over the weekend
At least three women and a thirteen year-old boy were killed and eight others were injured, including one in critical condition, in the clashes that erupted in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura, Health Ministry official Said Zaghloul told Reuters. Egyptian soldiers fired tear gas on Friday at protesters backing ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi who were marching near the presidential palace compound in Cairo. Security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators in Aswan early on Saturday to disperse clashes between supporters and opponents of Egypt’s toppled Islamist leader. Similar clashes broke out in Qena, when police had to intervene with tear gas. Ten people were injured from birdshot in violent clashes early Monday between supporters of Morsi and residents of Ahmed Orabi Street, in Shubra al-Kheima, Qalubiya governorate. Ninety people were wounded during clashes that erupted between supporters of Morsi and residents of the area of Arbaeen Square in Suez on Sunday night. [Reuters, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 7/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Seventeen army conscripts die in Beheira bus crash | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, AP, Mada Masr
No divisions in the army: April 8 Officers | DNE
Shorouk journalist beaten, robbed at Cairo protest | Ahram Online, DNE
Al-Masry al-Youm journalist attacked by pro-Morsi march in Cairo | Ahram Online
Security seize weapons near Egypt’s western border | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
Bomb explodes outside police station in Egypt’s Ismailia | Ahram Online, DNE


Hamas reeling from Egyptian crackdown on Gaza tunnels

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are reeling from another devastating blockade but this time they are blaming Egypt, the neighboring Arab power they once hoped would end their isolation, rather than their old foe Israel. In a few weeks of digging, dynamiting and drenching, Cairo’s troops have destroyed many of the smuggling tunnels that ran under the Egypt-Gaza border and which had provided the cramped coastal enclave with commercial goods as well as weaponry. “There is a difficult humanitarian situation in Gaza because of the Egyptian measures on the borders,” said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. “Most of the tunnels were demolished and the few that remain open are paralyzed.” Meanwhile, Egypt reopened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip on Saturday, an official source said. The Rafah crossing will be open daily for four hours so as to allow “stranded patients, humanitarian cases, as well as foreigners” to cross the enclave, the source added. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas stressed on Saturday his respect for the will of the Egyptian people, as well as Palestinian support for the army roadmap. [Reuters, Ahram Online, DNE, 7/21/2013]

Egypt to provide Syrians with visas free of charge
The Egyptian cabinet has decided to grant Syrians with visas to Egypt free of charge. The move was made to display Egypt’s support for displaced Syrians. A week before, Egypt imposed restrictions on the acquirement of visa to Syrians after local media accusations that Islamist Syrians were participating in clashes between supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and the army, where many people were killed. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) called on the Egyptian government to take swift measures to ease the concerns of Syrian refugees and their fear of deportation. Egypt’s foreign minister, Nabil Fahmy said Saturday that Egypt will “reexamine” diplomatic ties with Syria that were severed last month under Morsi. “It doesn’t mean they will resume or not resume,” he added. Fahmy went on to assert that Egypt has no intention of a waging a holy war against Syria, but still supports the Syrian peoples’ desire for freedom. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Reuters, SIS, 7/22/2013]

Also of Interest:
Prime Minister el-Beblawi says United States will not sever ties with Egypt | Ahram Online
Egypt ‘deeply concerned’ over Ethiopia’s stance on Nile dispute | Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters
Netanyahu sees Morsi fall as sign of political Islam’s weakness | Reuters
Foreign Ministry: No request from UN human rights delegation | Egypt Independent
Turkey’s Erdogan says no intervention in Egypt’s affairs | Aswat Masriya
Fahmy assures German FM of commitment to road map | DNE
UAE: Egypt-based computer hackers foiled | AP
Jordan King arrives in Egypt in first visit since Morsi overthrow, FM affirms his country’s respect for Egypt’s will | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
Egypt security forces raid office of Iranian TV channel, head released on bail | Reuters, DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Presidential envoy to visit eight African countries after AU suspension | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
Turkey suspends navigational lines with Egypt due to “financial constraints” | DNE

Image: Hazem El-Beblawi (photo: Flickr user GDNet)