Top News: British Attempts to Return Tourists From Egypt Thrown Into Chaos

After a decision to resume flights out of Sharm al-Sheikh, British attempts to return thousands of stranded tourists were thrown into chaos on Friday as easyJet contradicted senior UK and Egyptian officials over claims that Cairo was blocking unscheduled “rescue flights.” Two easyJet flights left Sharm on Friday morning, but other passengers at the airport were sent back to their hotels, with the airline saying Egyptian authorities had prevented a further eight planes from arriving. Egypt’s Civil Aviation Ministry denied these reports saying that flights were instead limited by the airport’s capacity and security measures. Only eight out of twenty-nine planned flights to Britain will leave Sharm al-Sheikh on Friday to repatriate stranded tourists, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister said, blaming luggage restrictions for the reduction. In Cairo, Dutch airline KLM also told passengers departing Cairo they can only take hand luggage. Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed to suspend all Russian flights to Egypt on Friday after a recommendation by his chief of intelligence for a halt until the cause of last week’s crash of a passenger jet in the Sinai Peninsula is determined. Scandinavian airline SAS canceled its flight on Saturday to Sharm al-Sheikh and Thomas Cook travel agency and Thomson Airways, owned by German TUI group, cancelled all flights to Sharm al-Sheikh until November 12. Egypt’s military, meanwhile, has sent special forces to Sharm al-Sheikh airport. Turkish Airlines (THYAO.IS) has also dispatched a security team to Sharm al-Sheikh airport in Egypt to assess security procedures, a spokesperson for the company said. The airline cancelled a flight from Istanbul to Sharm al-Sheikh and the return flight on Thursday evening. For a full list of countries who have canceled flights in and out of Sharm, click here. [AFP/Ahram Online, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, The Guardian, 11/6/2015]


NCHR president wants to meet Sisi over police violations
Members of the National Council for Human Rights have agreed that NCHR President Mohamed Faeq will request a meeting with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi after he returns from London to brief him on violations committed by police against Egyptian citizens. Council members unanimously agreed these violations, including the unlawful mass arrests of civilians, must come to an end. The head of the NCHR’s complaints office, Nasser Amin, said the council had serious concerns over the unprecedented human rights violations by police, particularly regarding the detention of citizens, and preventing them from communicating with their families. The council received 169 complaints, the highest rate compared to other types of complaints, on the exploitation of power and use of violence, Amin said. The council has also sent the Interior Ministry a list of fifty-one citizens who were forcibly disappeared and demanded their whereabouts be disclosed. The ministry ignored the council’s request, Amin added. [AMAY, 11/6/2015]


Egypt court refers case of Adel Habara to Grand Mufti once again
An Egyptian criminal court referred the case of militant Adel Habara to the Grand Mufti on Thursday, a procedural step taken in Egypt ahead of issuing a death sentence. The court will make its decision on Habara on December 6, after the Mufti issues his opinion. The top religious authority’s opinion is not binding but it is customary for the court to adopt it. Habara was put on trial in 2012 for “premeditated murder” of a policeman in Sharqiya, a province north of Cairo. He has been referred to the Mufti and sentenced to death several times before, including once in absentia for complicity in two bombings in Sinai in 2004 and 2006, which killed forty-two people. In September, a court upheld the death sentence against Habara on charges of starting a terrorist group, contacting Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) fighters in Iraq and Syria and engaging in violent acts targeting the police and army. He was also sentenced to death in December 2014 for killing twenty-five soldiers in Rafah city in Sinai in August 2013. [Aswat Masriya, 11/5/2015]


Egypt to import wider range of foodstuffs to lower prices
Egypt said it would import a wider array of essential items as part of its push to keep food prices down despite a dollar shortage that has crippled imports. On Thursday, the government formed a working group to take “all necessary measures to supply goods to the market and control their prices,” a cabinet statement said. On Wednesday, Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) said it issued an international tender to buy poultry for the first time. The tender marks the start of an expanded mandate for GASC to import more essential food items, a source at Egypt’s Ministry of Supply said. Ministry sources said GASC is coordinating with the Central Bank to ensure it has the dollars needed to import poultry in next week’s tender.[Reuters, 11/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Lekela Power signs MoU for $350 million wind power station in Egypt | DNE
  • Government to borrow 7.5B EGP in T-bills Sunday | Cairo Post


Egypt’s bad weather death toll rises as floods continue
Bad weather in Egypt has continued to claim lives and destroy property, as the Health and Population Ministry announced on Thursday that at least seventeen people have died and twenty-eight injured in Gharbiya and Beheira governorates. Fifteen of the deaths and twenty-seven injuries occurred in Beheira’s Ofouna Village between Wednesday and Friday morning, while one person died and one other was injured in Gharbiya where several buildings collapsed and many houses were flooded with rainwater. Flooding also caused two more buildings to collapse in Alexandria on Friday, killing two and injuring others. Many of the deaths, including seven of those in Beheira and three in Giza were the result of electrocution, likely from downed power lines. The Prime Minister received a report from the Egyptian Meteorological Authority saying bad weather will likely continue until the end of next week. Additionally, flooding forced the closure of multiple Coptic monasteries in Beheira. To solve the continuing crisis, a government source told Al-Masry Al-Youm news agency that it needs between EGP 300-400 billion to create an adequate sewage and rainwater network, and that 48 million Egyptians live in villages with no sewage or sanitation services. Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, meanwhile, has ordered the allocation of EGP 75 million to develop the sewage network in Alexandria. [AMAY, Ahram Online, 11/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Marathon to promote tourism organized in Sharm al-Sheikh | AMAY


Interior ministry says three ‘militants’ killed in car bomb
Three individuals were killed after an explosive device detonated inside a car on Friday in the town of Abu Kebir in Egypt’s Sharqiya province. According to the official statement released by the Ministry of Interior, two of the individuals died inside the car, and the third was on a nearby motorcycle and appeared to be talking to the men in the car. It is unclear whether the explosive device detonated prematurely or not. After identifying the men, authorities declared that they were militants belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood. Following the explosion, police and members of the bomb squad combed the area looking for additional explosives. [Cairo Post, 11/6/2015]


Sisi meets Cameron amid back and forth UK-Egypt remarks
The aftermath of the Russian plane crash in Sinai dominated President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s maiden official visit to the UK Thursday, with Sisi stressing in a joint press conference that security procedures at Sharm al-Sheikh airport are sufficient. “We are completely ready to cooperate with all our friends to make sure that our airport provides the safety and security needed for the people who come to us,” he said at a joint news conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron.  Sisi said that Sharm al-Sheikh airport, where British investigators are probing security measures, had passed a previous inspection requested by Britain. “Ten months ago we were asked by our British friends to send teams to Sharm airport to make sure that all the security procedures are (good) enough,” he said. “They were happy with that,” he added. Cameron said in the press conference with Sisi that although it is not certain that the Russian plane was brought down by a terror attack, he had to take intelligence advice for the security of his people. The Russian Foreign Ministry complained about Britain’s failure to hand over information about Saturday’s deadly plane crash in Egypt, after its statements about a possible terror attack. Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama said on Thursday there was a “possibility” that the crash of a Russian passenger plane in Egypt was caused by a bomb on board the airliner. [DNE, AFP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, SIS, The Guardian, Cairo Post, 11/6/2015]

Egypt, UK sign gas, power deals
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met Wednesday with representatives of investment funds, companies operating in the energy sector, and infrastructure experts in the UK, according to Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef. Egypt has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with London-based Actis LLP to establish a wind powered electricity plant in Suez Gulf at a cost of $350 million, Youssef said. Sisi also met with British Petroleum Co, CEO Bob Dudley who said that the company aims to pump $3 billion to develop the newly discovered gas Atoll Field in Northern Damietta over the coming three years. The gas field is now expected to produce first gas in 2018 and is expected to produce 1.5 trillion cubic meters. Sisi also met with the President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Sir Suma Chakrabarti on Thursday. Chakrabarti said the bank plans to fund up to 800 million euro worth of projects in Egypt during the 2015-2016 fiscal year. During his visit, Sisi also met with members of the House of Commons and House of Lords and a number of prominent political and intellectual figures on Thursday. On Friday, he met with British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. Finally, Cameron said a delayed British government review into the Muslim Brotherhood organization will be published later this year. [DNE, SIS, 11/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Hegazy meets commander of joint special operations command | SIS, Cairo Post
  • Sisi names Badawi permanent envoy to UNESCO | SIS