Top News: Congress Expected to Adopt Bill Allowing Obama to Reopen Military Aid to Egypt

The long-term spending bill that Congress is expected to adopt this week would allow the State Department to resume military aid to Egypt despite ongoing concerns with the country’s human rights record.


Parties concerned over Egypt’s draft parliamentary constituencies law
Several political parties and forces in Egypt reacted to the new draft law redrawing Egypt’s electoral constituencies issued Tuesday, emphasizing the need to verify a balanced and fair representation of seats in proportion to the number of voters in a given electoral district. Otherwise, they say, the legality of the law will be disputed. Farid Zahran, the leading member of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, believes that political forces in Egypt need time to study the law. He is also concerned by the division of administrative regions in the draft law. Ahmed Fawzi, general secretary of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, believes that the current draft law of electoral constituencies alone, and without real reform, will kill parties and political life in Egypt. Salah Hassab-Allah, deputy head of the Conference Party, told Ahram Online that despite the fear of any imbalance in the representation of seats against the number of voters in a given district, he and his party supports the law. He also expressed concerns that the law can be disputed. Bahgat al-Hossamy, spokesperson of Wafd Party, also expressed concerns over how the law might be challenged in the case of a disproportionate allocation of seats. [Ahram Online, 12/10/2014]

Egypt’s al-Jama’a al-Islamiya considers exiting pro-Morsi bloc
Egypt’s ultra conservative group al-Jama’a al-Islamiya says it is considering withdrawing from the pro-Morsi Islamist bloc, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL). Awad Hattab, ex-head of the group in the Nile Delta town of Damietta, told Ahram Massai that group leaders are holding meetings to discuss withdrawing from NASL. According to Hattab, leaders are considering withdrawal after pressure from a reform wing within the party. Recently other parties exited the pro-Morsi alliance, including the Wasat Party and the Salafist Watan Party. [Ahram Online, 12/10/2014]

Also of Interest
Report: Egypt among eleven countries most likely to see political violence in 2015 | Egypt Independent


Morsi-era information minister sentenced to ten years in absentia
A minister in the government of Mohamed Morsi has been convicted of stealing state television trucks during the Muslim Brotherhood-led Raba’a sit-in in July-August 2013 Former information minister Salah Abdel-Maqsoud, who was tried in absentia, and Amr Darwish, the former head of radio engineering at the state broadcaster, were sentenced to ten years in jail. They were also fined 3 million Egyptian pounds. [Ahram Online, AFP, 12/11/2014]

Thirty-four protesters convicted for Raba’a anniversary violence
Old Cairo Misdemeanor Court fined seventeen protesters 100,000 Egyptian pounds each on charges related to violence on this year’s anniversary of the pro-Morsi Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in in August. They were charged with illegal assembly, rioting, vandalizing public and private property, and joining an outlawed group. The court added that the conviction would not be applied to those under eighteen. A Kafr al-Sheikh misdemeanor court also sentenced seventeen alleged Brotherhood members on similar charges to three years in prison. The defendants were also fined fifty thousand Egyptian pounds each. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 12/11/2014]

Also of Interest
Alaa Abdel Fattah and others’ retrial for violating protest law postponed | Aswat Masriya
Helwan Fertilizer protesters cleared of thuggery charges | Mada Masr


Egypt consumer, core inflation ease in November
Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation and core inflation both slowed in November, a boost for government efforts to balance economic growth with price stability as the country seeks to recover from more than three years of political instability.  As a major importer of oil, Egypt is benefiting from a more than 40 percent slump in global oil prices since June and from food prices that are rising more slowly.  Urban consumer inflation dropped to 9.1 percent in November, after rising to 11.8 percent the previous month, the official statistics agency CAPMAS said on Wednesday. Core inflation, excluding volatile items like fruit and vegetables, declined for a second month, to 7.81 percent from 8.47 percent a month ago, the central bank said. [Reuters, Mada Masr, 12/10/2014]

Also of Interest
Egypt needs legal reforms for Suez Canal hub to succeed -consultant | Aswat Masriya
Egyptian banks prepare for investment summit | Ahram Online
Egypt’s trade deficit surges 82 percent in August | Ahram Online
CBE prohibits converting Arab currencies to dollars | Egypt Independent
EBRD injects $50 million in trade facility for Egypt | APA
Egypt’s Amer group wins approval to start building resort in Jordan |Aswat Masriya
Egyptian pound steady at official auction, weaker on black market | Reuters


Ministry of Endowments warns against Baha’i threat
The Ministry of Endowments organized a workshop on Wednesday and Thursday to raise awareness among imams on the “growing dangers of the spread of Baha’ism,” the ministry said. According to the ministry, this workshop comes in the context of “maintaining the Islamic constants and foundations in the face of deviant thoughts that destroy the minds of young people.” The workshop, held in Abasseya’s Nour Mosque, is also intended to maintain “national security and stability” as Baha’i thought “threatens Islam specifically and Egyptian society in general,” according to the ministry. The workshop also aims to teach young imams how to respond to Baha’i thoughts and arguments. [DNE, 12/11/2014]

Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr announces it will stop broadcasting on Arabsat
Al Jazeera’s Egypt-focused channel, Al Jazeera Mubasher Misr announced on Thursday that, as of January 1, 2015, it would no longer broadcast its programming on Arabsat. The statement gave no reason for the decision. It went on to say that viewers in the Middle East could continue to watch the channel on Es’hailSat, a Qatari satellite company. [Al Jazeera (Arabic), 12/11/2014]

Also of Interest
Takfiri terrorist groups among top causes of atheism: Dar al-Ifta report | DNE
Bishop: Coptic personal status council will continue for 6 months, sub-councils planned | Egypt Independent
Survey claims 866 atheists in Egypt, highest in Arab World | Mada Masr
Girl drowns after jumping off bridge to escape sexual harassment: Witnesses | DNE


Egypt’s army kills a dozen ‘militants’ amid ongoing Sinai raids
Egyptian troops killed twelve suspected militants in fresh assaults in the restive Sinai Peninsula, where the military continues to combat an Islamist insurgency, an army spokesperson said. Seventy others suspected of carrying out “terrorist” attacks against army and police forces were arrested in raids that took place December 3-10 in the in the border region, which adjoins Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, army spokesperson Mohamed Samir said Thursday in a statement. Security forces also uncovered twenty-five Russian-made bullets and two bombs. Five other bombs, planted along the routes used by army and police forces, were dismantled. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/11/2014]


Congress expected to pass bill allowing Obama to reopen military aid to Egypt
The long-term spending bill that Congress is expected to adopt this week would allow the State Department to resume military aid to Egypt despite ongoing concerns with the country’s human rights record. The bill specifies a number of requirements before the $1.3 billion in annual military assistance can resume but reinstates Secretary of State John Kerry’s waiver authority, allowing him to bypass them for “national security” reasons. Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Cairo was among eight diplomatic missions worldwide issuing warnings to US citizens warning of the potential of “anti-US protests and violence against US interests” following the release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s CIA torture report. [Al Monitor, 12/11/2014]

Also of Interest
Egypt’s Sisi in first visit to Jordan for talks | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, SIS
Egypt condemns Israel’s killing of top Palestinian official | Ahram Online, SIS
Egyptian FM says closed embassies secured by interior ministry | Ahram Online
Egypt to send doctors to Equatorial Guinea | DNE
Egypt warns of ‘destructive implications’ of nuclear weapons | DNE
Electric train project to be carried out in partnership with China | Egypt Independent
Promotion of human rights pivotal to Egypt’s foreign policy – FM | Aswat Masriya
Egyptian and Palestinian officials seek to restore calm in Jerusalem | Aswat Masriya
Extra security measures in place to secure ‘Garden City’ embassies | AMAY (Arabic)
Egypt denies politics behind Qatar swim championships pull-out | AFP