Top News: Egypt Army Chief Calls on Egyptians to Protest Against ‘Terrorism’

Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called on Egyptians to take to the streets on Friday to authorize the army to “confront violence and terrorism.” The remarks came during a Wednesday televised speech at the graduation ceremony of two classes of the Naval Academy and Air Defense, calling on the people to reject violence and support reconciliation efforts and transitional justice. 


Egypt army chief calls on Egyptians to protest against ‘terrorism’
Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called on Egyptians to take to the streets on Friday to authorize the army to “confront violence and terrorism.” The remarks came during a Wednesday televised speech at the graduation ceremony of two classes of the Naval Academy and Air Defense, calling on the people to reject violence and support reconciliation efforts and transitional justice. Sisi added that there will be no retreat on the roadmap, which was put forth by the army following its ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3, for political transition. He added that he did not deceive Morsi, saying that he had been shown every statement prior to it airing. 

Several political forces and parties have called for a press conference, to be held on the July 25 to call for protests in support of Sisi’s request. The Tamarod movement called on Egyptians to support the armed forces in its “war against terrorism,” following Sisi’s speech. A number of other political forces have announced their support for Sisi’s call for Friday’s protests. Dr. Sayed al-Badawy, president of the Wafd Party announced his support as well as the Popular Current, Federation of Worker Unions and the Union of Sufi’s in Egypt. July 26, is being dubbed “Friday: No to Terrorism.” Commenting on Sisi’s speech, Dr. Bassam Zarqa, vice president the Nour Party, said that confronting protests with protests is not a solution to the increase in violence. Mohamed al-Beltagy of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced that the speech reveals who the actual leader of the country is and that it serves the purpose of increasing violence in order to break up the Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in. Essam al-Arian, on discussing the FJP rejection of the speech said on his Facebook that it will not prevent ‘millions from marching’ and that the people continue their support of ‘constitutional legitimacy and democracy.’ Yasser Ali, an ex-presidential spokesman during Morsi’s presidency said that Sisi’s call to demonstrate on Friday will drown the people in a ‘sea of blood.’ A Western diplomat in Cairo, who declined to be named, said Sisi’s appeal represented a risky gambit for the Arab world’s biggest nation. “We have seen an increase in violence when the two sides come together,” he said. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, SIS, DNE, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), Reuters, 7/24/2013]

Mansour begins national reconciliation dialogue, no Islamists present
On Wednesday, interim President Adly Mansour initiated the first national reconciliation dialogue session in the presence of Vice President for International Relations Mohamed ElBaradei, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi, and Minister of Transitional Justice Amin Mahdy. Political party leaders participating in the dialogue are Anwar Esmat Sadat, Reform and Development Party head, Mohamed Aboul-Ghar, Social Democratic Party head, Ahmed Said, Free Egyptians Party head, Mohamed Samy, Karama Party head, and Abdul Ghaffar Shokr, the Socialist Popular Alliance head, and Hamdeen Sabbahi, Popular Current head. Presidential advisers Moustafa Hegazy, Sekina Fouad and Ahmed al-Muslimani were also in attendance, as well as the assistant interior minister for human rights. Other figures in attendance included Hamdy Qandil, Alaa al-Aswany, Emad Gad, Samir Morcos and Khaled Youssef, as well as National Salvation Front members Ahmed Bahaa Shaaban and Abdel Gelil Mustafa, as well as Khaled Said’s mother and Husseiny Abu-Deif’s sister. A complete list of attendees is available here. Absent from the dialogue were Al-Azhar’s Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb and Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II. The Muslim Brotherhood said that the group will not attend the national reconciliation sessions, with spokesman Ahmed Aref adding on Tuesday that all members of the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy denounced the calls for national reconciliation. Prior to the dialogue, ElBaradei said that efforts to establish national reconciliation will not exclude any political faction. He said that reconciliation will include all parties that respect the law and do not endanger national security or intimidate citizens. The Salafi Nour Party announced it is willing to participate in the dialogue, but with conditions, among them the implementation of a media code of honor, the reopening of Islamist channels closed on July 3, and conditions for security forces to protect peaceful protests. The Strong Egypt Party chose not to attend the dialogue because of the presidency’s failure to respond to the party’s inquiries. Meanwhile, Tamarod also invited politicians from across the political spectrum to a national reconciliation dialogue on Wednesday. [Shorouk (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), DNE, 7/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
National Salvation Front: Brotherhood practices are criminal | Aswat Masriya
Head of Al-Azhar meets Nour Party figures | Ahram Online
Egyptian Social Democratic Party: From opposition to cabinet leaders | Ahram Online
Foreign minister discusses transition plans | DNE
Dostour party welcomes interim cabinet’s decision to suspend prison sentencing for “insulting the president” | DNE
Former Shura Council member visits Washington | DNE


Morsi interrogated in prison break case; Ahram editor released on EGP 5,000 bail
Judge Hassan Samir has warned against publishing any news on ongoing investigations into charges against ousted President Mohamed Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders, accused of escaping the Wadi al-Natroun prison in 2011. They face charges of contacting foreign elements, in particular members of Hamas, to break into the prison and free them. Samir, the judge in charge of the case, said that a gag order was necessary in order to preserve the integrity of the investigations. He sent a letter on Monday to the Ministry of Information and the Ministry of Justice, asking them to ban the publication of any news but the ministries have yet to respond to this request. Egypt Independent reported that Morsi’s interrogation began Monday, with Samir questioning Morsi at the place at which he is being held. The judge said that no decision to imprison Morsi has yet been issued. Morsi, however, is being detained pending investigations by the National Security Agency and military intelligence.  Samir refused to disclose the contents of Morsi’s first interrogation session due to confidentiality and legal reasons relating to the investigation process. He will, however, announce the details of the case within three days. The judge unequivocally denied having imprisoned Morsi for fifteen days pending the investigation, as was published by state-run newspaper Al-Ahram on Monday. Meanwhile, Judge Mohamed Ghorab ordered the release of Abdel Nasser Salama, Al-Ahram editor, on 5,000EGP (approx. $700) pending investigations. Salama is facing charges over the publishing of news of Morsi’s detention. Prosecutors have also begun to investigate Morsi and former minister of interior Ahmed Gamal al-Din on charges of the killing of Gaber Abdel Salah, better known as Jika.  [Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 7/24/2013]

600 Brotherhood arrested since June 30, defense lawyer claims
Mokhtar al-Ashry, a member of the legal committee for the defense of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, claimed more than 600 Brotherhood members have been detained by authorities since June 30. Among those arrested are deputy Supreme Guide Khairat al-Shater, former Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef, Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) chief Saad al-Katatni, the group’s lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud as well as FJP’s Giza secretary, Helmy al-Gazzar. Ashry claimed police arrested three Muslim Brotherhood members while they were undergoing treatment in hospital following violent clashes near Tahrir Square on Monday. Egypt’s Prosecutor-general Hisham Barakat also ordered on Tuesday the detention of twenty-two supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi for allegedly instigating attacks on anti-Morsi protesters in Tahrir Square on Monday. [Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, 7/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Lawyer demands that Brotherhood headquarters be seized | Egypt Independent
Hisham Qandil’s appeal postponed to July 31 | Ahram (Arabic)
Presidential Palace clashes case postponed to September 18 | Ahram (Arabic)


Abdel Nour: No energy problems in the industrial sector due to Arab countries’ support
The minister of trade and industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour said on Tuesday that the current export support program will be extended for a period of three months, with new standards focusing on the added value, opening of new markets, technology transfer and job creation to be applied in early October. He added that the ministry is committed to achieving social justice and to restoring the confidence of local and foreign investors in the Egyptian investment climate, stressing the importance of granting the opportunity for young people to contribute to development in the coming period. The minister said he does not expect the industrial sector to face any problems in energy resources over the next year due to strong support from a number of Arab countries. [Mada Masr, DNE, 7/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egyptians challenge Saudi pilgrimage figures | DNE
Supply minister to reconsider bread distribution system | Egypt Independent
Government plans to woo Gulf tourists | DNE
Minister of housing to set deadline for development projects | DNE
Egypt-Turkish freight not frozen: official | DNE
General Federation of Investors discusses investment obstacles with new ministers | DNE
Luxor still waiting for tourism aid | DNE
University Worker’s Fund demands wage increase | DNE
Cabinet assigns four ministries to solve problems facing investments in Toshka | SIS
Five million EGP to be used to complete border areas around Giza | Shorouk (Arabic)


Reporters Without Borders condemns abuse of journalists
Reporters Without Borders condemned “continuing abusive treatment and acts of violence against journalists” in Egypt in a statement released on Monday. The organization listed several reporters targeted since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on July 3. Al Jazeera Mubasher photographer Mohamed Badr, the statement continued, was arrested along with over 400 others whilst reporting on clashes in Ramses Square on July 15. Badr was reportedly charged with “possessing a firearm, endangering national security and insulting the police.” Reporters Without Borders condemned the “arbitrary nature” of Badr’s detention and called for his “immediate and unconditional release”, as well as the withdrawal of charges filed against him, echoing a statement released by the Egyptian Organization for Human Rights (EOHR), which also called for Badr’s release. Sky News and ONTV crews in Ramses Square were also reportedly targeted with stones and beaten with sticks, the statement continued. The statement also denounced attacks on Shorouk and Al-Masry Al-Youm journalists, as well as a raid on an Iranian news channel in Cairo. [DNE, RWB, 7/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Anti-Morsi protesters in Suez demand action on clashes | Ahram Online
Thirty NGOs call for a new constitution | DNE


189 killed in post-June 30 violence
Political violence following the June 30 protests against toppled President Mohamed Morsi have left at least 180 dead and thousands injured, including army and police personnel, according to statistics cited by the Turkish Anadolu news agency. The largest number of deaths has occurred in Cairo and Giza, at ninety-seven, the agency said, quoting health ministry reports, security and medical sources. Both cities were followed by Sinai Peninsula, where thirty-two people have died, and Alexandria. Egypt’s second city has witnessed eighteen deaths since June 30, the report said. Forty-two others were killed in different provinces across the country, including Assiut, Beni Suef, Fayoum, Ismailia, Suez, Port Said, Sharqiya, Kafr al-Sheikh, Daqahliya, and Qalubiya. [Egypt Independent, 7/23/2013]

One dead, twenty-eight injured in Mansoura police station explosion
One person was killed and twenty-eight were injured following a bomb explosion outside Mansoura’s police station in the governorate of Daqahliya early on Wednesday, announced a health official. Unknown assailants threw the bomb from a passing car outside the police station, security sources said. Medical sources confirmed the deceased was a police conscript. The Ministry of Interior announced that twelve policemen were injured as a result of the incident, which it described as a “terrorist act.” Shortly after the blast, police fired tens of teargas at an abandoned building near the police station, suspecting that the assailants, who remain at large, were hiding inside. According to the prosecutor general spokesperson Ahmed al-Rakeeb, investigations into the attack are currently focusing on determining the type of device used in the incident and how it was detonated. The Muslim Brotherhood-led National Coalition to Support Legitimacy condemned the attack. “The coalition reasserts its commitment to peace and condemns all sorts of violence. We demand an official investigation into this criminal act,” the coalition said in a statement on Wednesday. Al-Jama’a al-Islamiya said it has no connection to the bombing and denounced all forms of violence that target public and private institutions and individuals, emphasizing that its protests are peaceful. In a statement issued on Wednesday, Al-Jama’a al-Islamiya called for an immediate and transparent investigation into the incident. The Popular Current also condemned the incident and said in a statement on Wednesday that the fact that more people are being victimized near Cairo and Mansoura shows that there exists organized terrorism that has nothing to do with a peaceful expression of opinion. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, EGYNews (Arabic), Egypt Independent, 7/24/2013]

Pro-Morsi protests lead to clashes in governorates, death toll rises
Protests by supporters of former President Mohamed Morsi in the governorates of Qalubiya, Mansoura and Damietta on Monday escalated to clashes, leaving at least two dead. Pro-Morsi protesters were reportedly harassed by residents of the areas where protests were held, incidents which soon led to clashes, with two pro-Morsi protesters shot in Qalubiya. Tarek al-Morsi, Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) spokesman, denied that the harassers were local residents. The Brotherhood has also said two of its members were killed after a pro-Morsi march was attacked in Cairo in the early hours of Wednesday. Twenty-two people were injured in confrontations that erupted near Cairo’s Nasr City police station during the early hours of Tuesday, said the field hospital of the Raba’a al-Adaweya protest. A policeman has accused Raba’a protesters of abducting him, while the Popular Current accused Muslim Brotherhood protesters in Raba’a of assaulting one of its leaders and two other young men on Tuesday.. Fierce clashes erupted on Wednesday between Morsi supporters and opponents in Menoufiya. The protesters were armed with sticks, bird shot, stones, and molotov cocktails. Meanwhile, the interior ministry has called on political groups in Egypt to defend the peaceful expression of opinion after nationwide violence left nine dead early Tuesday. The ministry said some Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Morsi marches on Monday, particularly in Tahrir Square, Giza Square, Qalubiya, and Fayoum, had not been peaceful, in a statement posted on its official Facebook page Tuesday. In Luxor, security has been stepped up after the Brotherhood threatened to escalate protests. The ministry of health announced that violence across Egypt on Monday and Tuesday has left fourteen dead and ninety injured. [DNE, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), 7/24/2013]

Sinai attack leaves police sergeant and army recruit injured, Syrian jihadi arrested
A police sergeant and an army conscript were injured in North Sinai’s Arish in the early hours of Wednesday when unknown gunmen attacked the city’s police station and radio building. The assailants randomly opened fire at the police station as well as fired a rocket-propelled grenade at it, injuring Sergeant Ibrahim al-Shazli. According to Shorouk, one soldier was killed. On Tuesday, a suspected jihadi with an Egyptian army uniform in his possession was arrested by security forces in South Sinai, according to the Interior Ministry. The statement added that the police found in the car an informal membership card with his name, picture and the logo of the Syrian Arab Republic. His profession on the card was listed as a “Mujahid” specialized in media. Police also found an undisclosed sum of money, an Egyptian army uniform and another military uniform, a torch with “police” printed on it and a black flag, with the words “There is no God but Allah” printed on it. Major General Ossama Asskar, the Commander of the third army has called on the Muslim Brotherhood to save the Egyptian blood and not to foment sedition among Suez Citizens. [Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent 7/24/2013]

Also of Interest:
Conflicting reports about Brotherhood sit-in violence | Mada Masr
Secret service police secure release of kidnapped policeman in Raba’a | AMAY (Arabic)


United Nations chief expresses worry about bloodshed in Egypt

The United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his deep worry about the escalation of violence and bloodshed in Egypt, the Middle East News Agency reported on Tuesday. Senior UN officials are currently in talks with Egyptian officials to put an end to the bloodshed and emphasize the need for a swift transition of power to a civil rule, the chief’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, said. United Nations Women also asserted its total rejection of all kinds of violence against women in Egypt and other Arab states. In its statement, the UN Women pointed out that Egypt’s women have been engaging in the civil society’s activities for defending the rights of all Egyptians, adding that women participation in public life is a condition for having a comprehensive democracy achieved in Egypt. [Aswat Masriya, SIS, 7/23/2013]

Ashton calls for five steps to restore democracy in Egypt
The European Union (EU) fully recognizes the serious social and economic challenges that Egypt is facing, EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton said on Monday at a press conference in Brussels. The EU called on all parties to refrain from violence and reiterated condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in recent incidents. Ashton said on Tuesday that the biggest challenge facing Egypt is the need to maintain a truce between political factions; Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported in five steps, the EU representative summarized what is required for Egypt to attain democracy. The first is the need for an inclusive political process to ensure the people’s active participation in the country’s future. The second step, explained Ashton, requires a balanced constitution that safeguards the people’s rights and establishes civilian rule. The third step dictates the end of violence which has swept the nation over the past three weeks and led to the death of at least twelve on Monday. This would necessitate the end of all political feuds and the development of a national dialogue, stressed Ashton. The fourth point requires the end of arbitrary arrests, which have no place in a democratic society. The fifth, according to Ashton, states that free and fair elections must be held within the next few months. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, SIS, 7/24/2013]

Senate plan would keep aid to Egypt, with conditions 
The US Senate panel in charge of foreign aid proposed on Tuesday that funds sent to Egypt be kept at current levels, but that military aid be divided into four parts and conditions set on it, including that the Cairo government hold a democratic election. The Senate State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee approved the $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt and $250 million in economic assistance that President Barack Obama requested for fiscal 2014, which starts October 1, matching this year’s level despite upheaval in the most populous Arab nation. Washington has been grappling with how to handle the $1.55 billion it sends to Egypt each year since the military ousted elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi early this month. U.S. law bars aid to countries where there has been a military coup, but many US officials want to preserve ties to Egypt’s army and do not want to risk contributing to further upheaval in an important regional ally. [Reuters, 7/23/2013]

Also of Interest:
Rafah border crossing reopened after July 23 holiday | Egypt Independent
Official: African Union’s suspension of Egypt based on false information | Egypt Independent
Turkish President Gul congratulates Mansour on occasion of July 23 | Ahram (Arabic)
Hamas denies presence in Sinai amid attacks | DNE
Foreign ministry concerned about West Bank settlements | DNE
Qatar concerned over continued bloodshed in Egypt | Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic)
UN says Egypt crackdown closes 80 percent of Gaza tunnels | Reuters

Image: Minister of Defense Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (photo: YouTube screencap from ONtv)