Top News: Citing Security, Davos Organizers Postpone Egypt Conference

Organizers of the World Economic Forum, which holds an annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, have postponed a similar conference planned to take place in Egypt this spring over security concerns. The WEF Middle East and North Africa conference generally alternates between Jordan and Egypt from year to year. Spokesman Adrian Monck says the 2016 edition planned for May in Sharm al-Sheikh, Egypt, was postponed but not cancelled following the November bombing of a Russian passenger plane that had taken off from that Red Sea resort. He confirmed the decision, which emerged publicly in a report last week in the United Arab Emirates newspaper The National, was taken last year. [AP, 2/11/2016]


Egypt’s Sisi to address parliament on Saturday
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will address the country’s newly elected House of Representatives on Saturday for the first time since taking office in June 2014. Sources told Ahram Online that Sisi’s speech will address domestic and regional issues, including the country’s current economic situation.  Parliamentary Secretary General Ahmed Saaddin told reporters Wednesday that   the presidential Republican Guard was implementing final security measures in the parliament building in downtown Cairo for Sisi’s visit. “This is a routine measure,” Saaddin said, adding that “all parliamentary staff will be on duty on this day.”  Saaddin said that a number of foreign guests, primarily ambassadors of foreign countries and the speakers of a number of Arab parliaments, will be invited to attend the speech. [Ahram Online, 2/11/2016]


Nine policemen referred to prosecution in assault of Matariya doctors’ investigation
Nine policemen were referred to the prosecutor Wednesday to be interrogated in relation to the assault of two doctors at Matariya hospital, state media reported. Doctors at the hospital, Moamen Abdel Azim and Ahmed Mahmoud al-Sayed, alleged on January 28 that they were physically and verbally assaulted by a group of policemen who repeatedly attacked them on hospital premises. [DNE, 2/10/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Detention of April 6 movement members extended pending investigations | AMAY


Economists say to brace for a devaluation of the Egyptian pound
Egypt will allow a sharp devaluation of its currency in the first half of this year, according to a number of bankers and economists. The Egyptian pound is trading at 8.7 to the US dollar on the black market, compared to an official rate of 7.73. “We expect the central bank will let the pound depreciate to 8 (against the dollar) by end of March, if not sooner,” one senior Cairo banker told Ahram Online. Head of Equities at Cairo-based Beltone Financial Hany Geneina said the CBE will make a “swift move towards an exchange rate regime.” The CBE’s decision to raise caps on monthly cash deposits for importers of essential goods can be seen as a “partial devaluation,” he said. “We expect devaluation to take place in the first half of this year, in a one-off move to an exchange rate of 8.5 pounds against the dollar,” economist at London-based Capital Economics Jason Tuvey said. “To solve the foreign currency shortage Egypt needs two things: a different monetary policy and working to generate foreign exchange,” said former Finance Minister and World Bank economist Ahmed Galal. “Whatever the monetary policy regime, the exchange rate or the pound has to be more flexible,” he added. [Ahram Online, 2/10/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to issue one-year $1 billion treasury bill | Reuters
  • Egypt’s CIB to raise up to $1 billion to fund growth | Reuters
  • Egypt’s CIB posts 26 percent jump in 2015 net profit| Reuters
  • Egypt’s Housing Ministry signs contracts worth $25 billion | Amwal Al Ghad
  • Head of Egypt’s Federation of Industries denies GM halt in production | AMAY (Arabic)
  • LG denies shutting Egypt operations but admits to currency crunch, GM silent | Mada Masr
  • Egypt’s stock market drops in early trade | Aswat Masriya


At least 20 Alexandrian young people forcibly disappeared in the last week
At least 20 Alexandrians were taken from their homes by security forces on Thursday and Friday last week and detained and tortured, according to their families and lawyers. The young men were transported to the security directorate on Tuesday after being initially detained by State Security, Arab African Center for Human Rights director Abdallah al-Naggar, who is following the cases, told Mada Masr. He added that, because state officials have not yet acknowledged their detention or referred them to the prosecutor, they are being treated as victims of forced disappearance. Alexandria-based lawyer Mohamed Ramadan suggested the young men may have been targeted in relation to a previous incident, in which they were arrested while playing football and later released. Prior to their arrest, a police officer was embroiled in a fight with a real estate contractor who ended up burning the officer’s car. The young men were picked up with the intention of framing them for the incident, Ramadan said. Information has been leaked that three of the young men are in critical condition, but this hasn’t been confirmed, Ramadan added, as little information has been given by the authorities on the incident. [Mada Masr, 2/10/2016]

Rights organization files complaint against detention of torture t-shirt detainee
In the wake of continued violations by police and courts of renewing the detention of prominent political detainees on charges not punishable by law, human rights organizations, syndicates, and individuals have issued several complaints demanding justice. The Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) filed a complaint Tuesday to the High Judiciary, protesting the renewed detention of “anti-torture t-shirt detainee” Mahmoud Hussein. The lawsuit follows the court’s decision Sunday to renew his detention for another 45 days, although he has spent more than 730 days in remand. Thirteen human rights organizations also expressed their solidarity with Hussein. According to Daily News Egypt, another minor has also been detained for two years without being referred to trial. Sohaib Emad was arrested at the age of 15 from his home in Mansoura for taking part in protests. He will have been held in preventative detention at Dekernes Prison for two years on Thursday. The Doctors Syndicate, meanwhile, demanded that Prosecutor General Nabil Sadek and the Ministry of Interior investigate their complaint against the solitary confinement of Taher Mokhtar, the head of the Freedoms Committee at the Doctors Syndicate, and his assault by a police officer. Additionally, an open letter signed by over 800 US citizens called on the US embassy to do everything in its power to ensure the release of founders of Belady Foundation, Aya Hegazy and her husband Mohamed Hassanein. [DNE, 2/10/2016]

Around 70 wounded as train derails south of Cairo
At least 69 people were injured when a train derailed and two of its cars overturned as it was travelling north toward Cairo on Thursday, an Egyptian Health Ministry official said. Gamal al-Gohari was quoted by Egypt’s state-run news agency as saying that the accident took place early Thursday morning near Beni Suef, south of Cairo. MENA quoted an unidentified security official as saying that the train hit a cement wall while trying to avoid a second one heading in the opposite direction, causing two of its compartments to overturn. The agency also said that the train conductor was arrested. According to Al-Masry Al-Youm two level crossing watchmen are also in custody. Railway movement between Cairo and Upper Egypt has since resumed, and at least 58 wounded passengers have left the hospital. Egypt’s Transport Minister Saad al-Geyoushi said Thursday during a visit to the scene of the crash that Egyptian railway services are in need of EGP100 billion in repairs and upgrades to meet global standards. [Ahram Online, AMAY, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 2/11/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Cairo taxi drivers press demands to shut down Uber, Careem | Ahram Online
  • Rights groups condemn Cairo University’s revoking of lecturer study permit | Ahram Online
  • ‘Divorce is not the end of the road,’ says new Egyptian initiative | Aswat Masriya
  • Environment Ministry announces initiative to rescue illegally kept wild animals | Mada Masr


Military destroys tunnel used for smuggling in Rafah
Egyptian military forces destroyed another tunnel connecting northern Sinai and the Gaza Strip, a military spokesman said on Thursday, after an Israeli minister said Egyptian-Israeli security coordination is “better than ever.” Military Spokesman, Mohamed Samir, said in a statement that the tunnel was in the Dahliya area of Rafah, and that it was 35 meters long and 120 cm wide. He claimed the tunnel was used to smuggle weapons into the strip. Earlier, on Tuesday, the al-Qassam Brigades said in an official statement that Marwan Marouf, from the Khan Younis area of the southern Gaza strip, was killed in a deadly tunnel collapse. The statement did not specify the reasons for the collapse. Israel’s Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said at an event in Beersheba that the Egyptian military flooded tunnels in the southern Gaza strip “to a certain extent at our request,” the Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday. The Israeli official also said that security coordination between Israel and Egypt was “better than ever.” Steinitz later retracted his statements, saying they caused an “unintended impression,” the Jerusalem Post reported in a separate story published later on Saturday. [AMAY, Aswat Masriya, 2/11/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Interior Ministry seizes 29 cases of monuments in crackdown | AMAY


Top US officials hold talks in Luxor on boosting Egypt’s economy
Senior Advisor to the US Secretary of State David Thorne and US Ambassador to Egypt Robert Stephen Beecroft began on Thursday a tour on Luxor’s west bank. The two officials was accompanied by Egypt’s International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr and Luxor Governor Mohamed Badr. They will visit archaeological sites and view restoration projects being carried out by US archaeological missions and research institutes in the sites of al-Khouka, Habo and Zeraa Abul Naga. According to State Information Service, Thorne discussed investment opportunities for US firms in the Suez economic zone with Suez Canal Economic Zone Authority Chairman Ahmed Darwish on Wednesday. During his three day trip to Washington D.C., Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, meanwhile, discussed with US National Security Adviser Susan Rice boosting bilateral ties, regional conditions, and fighting terrorism. Shoukry’s meeting with Rice focused on regional crises in Syria and Libya, and efforts to combat the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL), Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement. [AMAY, 2/11/2016]

Italy urged Egypt for help hours after student disappeared
Italian officials contacted Egyptian authorities hours after a student later found tortured to death disappeared in central Cairo last month, according to an official summary of Italian efforts to locate him. The summary, obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday, says Ambassador Maurizio Massari contacted Italian intelligence, who reached out to their Egyptian counterparts shortly after Giulio Regeni disappeared on January 25. Egyptian security forces had been extremely active on that day, raiding apartments, checking IDs, and searching baggage in order to prevent protests or violence on the fifth anniversary of a popular uprising. On January 26, Massari sent a diplomatic note to his Egyptian counterpart, and a day later requested to meet the Interior Minister but the request was denied, the summary said. Italy waited for six days before going public with the case, which has prompted accusations that it prioritized business interests with Egypt — and hopes for a trade delegation headed to Cairo as Regeni disappeared — over the search for the student. Meanwhile, Mada Masr reports that a senior police officer in charge of the preliminary investigation into Regeni’s murder has a prior conviction for torturing a man to death and forging a police report, according to rights activists. [AP, 2/11/2016]

Sisi approves mutual exemption visa between Egypt, Colombia
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi approved on Thursday a mutual visa exemption agreement between Egypt and Colombia for citizens of both countries. Egyptian and Colombian citizens will now be able to visit each other’s’ countries without first obtaining a visa. In April 2015, Egypt and Colombia signed an agreement which stipulated that citizens from both countries who held either diplomatic or personnel passports have access to the other state without visa requirements. In 2012, Egypt decided to lift visa requirements for tourists from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, China, India, Azerbaijan, and Jordan in an attempt to boost the tourism sector. [Ahram Online, 2/11/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Kazakhstan to resume flights to Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh | Ahram Online
  • South Sudan calls for Egypt military support to build strong national army | DNE
  • Further negotiations on Renaissance Dam in Addis Ababa within month: sources | AMAY
  • Israel nears approval of new Cairo ambassador: newspaper | Egypt Independent