Top News: Egypt Backs Away from Plan to Dissolve Muslim Brotherhood

Egypt should not ban the Muslim Brotherhood or exclude it from politics after the army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the interim prime minister said on Tuesday, reversing his previous stated view.

Egypt backs away from plan to dissolve Muslim Brotherhood
Egypt should not ban the Muslim Brotherhood or exclude it from politics after the army’s overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, the interim prime minister said on Tuesday, reversing his previous stated view. The apparent about-turn fueled speculation that the military-installed government may now seek a political settlement to the crisis, but it also coincided with a new call for protests by Morsi’s supporters. “Dissolving the party or the group is not the solution and it is wrong to make decisions in turbulent situations,” the state news agency MENA quoted Beblawi as saying. “It is better for us to monitor parties and groups in the framework of political action without dissolving them or having them act in secret.” He did, however, add that the dispersal of the two sit-ins supporting deposed president Mohamed Morsi was “necessary and inevitable” amid failed negotiations, as they hindered the progress of the post-Morsi political roadmap drawn up upon his ouster almost two months ago. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 8/28/2013]

Brotherhood considers recognizing June 30’s demands
The Muslim Brotherhood is considering recognizing the demands of the June 30 protests while also apologizing for toppled President Mohamed Morsi’s mistakes, Egypt Independent has learned. However, Magdy Salem, leader of the National Coalition to Support Legitimacy (NCSL) and deputy head of the Islamic Party, argued that it is unreasonable to talk about an initiative while blood is being shed in the streets. The NCSL recently released a poster calling on Egyptians to undertake peaceful measures to express their dissatisfaction with the interim government. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 8/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Facebook turns down Egyptian government requests | Mada Masr
Beblawi meets human rights groups | DNE
Presidential decree announces increase in pensions | DNE, SIS
Ministry of Endowment prohibits fundraising in mosques | EGYNews (Arabic)
Presidential decree amends armed forces oath, removing reference to loyalty to the presidency | Ahram (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic)
Jama’a Islamiya’s Aboud al-Zomour and Essam Derbala spearhead initiative to resolve crisis between military and Brotherhood | AMAY (Arabic)


Egypt police make sixty new arrests, including Khairat al-Shater’s son, in crackdown
Egyptian security officials say police have detained more than sixty supporters and members of the Muslim Brotherhood over the past twenty-four hours, including relatives of top leaders. Among those arrested were Mohamed al-Beltagy’s brother-in-law,  Khairat al-Shater’s son, Saad al-Shater, 23, who are both being investigated charges of inciting violence. On Tuesday, Egyptian prosecution formally charged detained Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohey Hamed with inciting murder and arming supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi during the deadly clashes that broke out near Cairo University on June 30. Muslim Brotherhood leader and former member of parliament Mahmoud Mohamed Aly was arrested in October 6, while Brotherhood leader Al-Mohamedy Sayed Ali was arrested in Alexandria. Military and police troops attacked houses of twenty suspects involved in burning down al-Wasty police station in Fayoum and looting its contents. Troops also arrested Muslim Brotherhood figure Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim Gad al-Haqq, member of the group’s Freedom and Justice Party, for inciting violence and sabotage. Another eighteen Brotherhood members were arrested in Aswan, on charges of detaining and torturing members of the police force, and seventeen were arrested on charges of attacking police stations in Minya. Of those already arrested, Safwat al-Hegazy is facing new charges for incitement of murder relating to the July 15 clashes between Morsi’s supporters and police forces in Ramsis Square. His detention has been extended for another fifteen days. Investigations have begun with former Minister of Youth Osama Yassin, with the prosecutor presenting evidence of calls allegedly made by Yassin to the head of the security at the Brotherhood headquarters in Moqattam. Salah Sultan’s son, Mohamed Sultan, and three other Brotherhood members have been detained for fifteen days pending investigation on charges of spreading “false propaganda” and for joining a “terrorist organization.” Meanwhile, Brotherhood members Hazem Farouk, Omar Hassan al-Malik (the son of businessman Hassan Malek) and Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed Abdel Hadi were transferred to Tora Prison. Finally, the Prisons Department requested that prosecution adjourn investigations on Wednesday regarding Mohamed Badie, Supreme Guide of the Muslim brotherhood, as he is suffering from fatigue. [AP, Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), 8/28/2013]

Pro-Morsi alliance criticizes constitutional amendments
Egypt’s National Coalition to Support Legitimacy (NCSL), the Islamist alliance supporting deposed President Mohamed Morsi, led by the Muslim Brotherhood, has severely criticized recent amendments to Egypt’s 2012 constitution during the first phase of the revision process. “The amendments have opened the door for the return of a presidential regime, the system which produced pharaohs,” a statement by the NCSL, issued on Monday, read. The NCSL also said the new amendments place the military above the constitution, due to recent changes allowing the army to choose the defense minister. They added that the amendments “abolish the independence of the judiciary by making the selection of the prosecutor general the responsibility of the president.” Meanwhile, Priest Andrea Zaki, Vice-President of the Evangelical Church of Egypt, has called for keeping the second article of the Constitution which stipulates that Islamic Sharia is the main source for legislation. He also called for canceling the third article that states non-Muslims including Jews and Copts should resort to their religions, considering this as an article that establishes sectarianism. With the draft presented to interim President Adly Mansour, Ali Awad, presidential adviser for constitutional affairs and rapporteur for the constitution amendment committee, said the formation of the fifty member committee tasked with reviewing amendments will be made within the next two days. Head of the Salafi Watan Party, Yousri Hammad, criticized the constitutional amendments, adding that it will not participate in the fifty member committee, because they party is not prepared to “lend legitimacy to the constitutional amendments.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), 8/28/2013]

Also of interest:
Investigations against Mortada Mansoura on allegations of insulting judiciary postponed to September 17 | Ahram (Arabic)


Egypt to launch economic stimulus plan
Egypt’s interim cabinet will approve a plan on Wednesday to stimulate the economy over the next nine months, al-Ahram newspaper quoted Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi as saying. The government has said it plans to avoid raising taxes or cutting spending to reduce the country’s mushrooming budget deficit, and instead will use aid pledged by Gulf Arab states to spur growth. The stimulus plan involves providing additional investments of at least 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.4 billion), al-Arabi said. [Reuters, 8/28/2013]

Egyptian pound’s value rises 
The value of the Egyptian pound increased against the US dollar on August 26 and 27, following a low-turnout at political demonstrations on the preceding Friday. According to currency exchange dealers, the dollar is officially bought for EGP 6.9868 and sold for 7.0168; in the black market, the value of the Egyptian pound against the US dollar rose, with the greenback dropping from EGP7.25 to EGP7.10. [DNE, 8/27/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt stocks hit month-low as foreign military intervention looms in Syria | Ahram Online
Egypt cabinet to inject LE10 billion in public investments: Minister  | Ahram Online, Reuters, SIS
Syrian crisis casts shadow on Egyptian market | DNE
Egypt pound climbs on official, black markets as tensions ease | Reuters


UNESCO to help Egypt restore damaged churches, buildings  
The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will send a technical team of experts to help Egypt restore buildings with archaeological value and damaged mosques and churches, said Mohamed Sameh, Egypt’s ambassador to the UNESCO. Sameh said the delegation will work in cooperation with experts from the ministry of antiquities to assess the size of the damage done to a number of mosques, churches, monasteries and buildings of great archaeological value in Egypt. [Aswat Masriya, 8/28/2013]

Army rule divides Egypt’s once-united worker heroes
The workers at the Misr Spinning and Weaving Company once locked arms long enough to wring pay rises out of the Egyptian state, and inspired the pro-democracy uprising of 2011 that toppled Hosni Mubarak. Joel Beinin, a history professor at Stanford and an expert on labor and protest movements in the Middle East, said Egyptian workers had often succeeded in the past by managing to lay aside political differences. But Egypt is now is so polarized between Morsi’s Islamists and the entrenched military-backed establishment that “neither the workers nor anyone else” have been able to bridge the gap. [Reuters, 8/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Huge fire in Sphinx Square contained | Egypt Independent, Ahram Online, AMAY (Arabic)
Fire rips through Agriculture Ministry in Dokki | Egypt Independent, EGYNews (Arabic)
Cairo nighttime curfew sparks defiance and boredom | AP


106 Egyptian police killed since August 14: MOI  
The number of police killed since the start of a crackdown on supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi on August 14 has risen to 106, the Ministry of Interior stated on Tuesday. The death toll includes twenty-seven police officers, thirty low ranking officers and forty-eight conscripts. At least two supporters of Egypt’s deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi were killed in clashes with residents and security forces in the southern city of Beni Suef late on Tuesday, a security source said. [Ahram Online, Reuters, 8/28/2013]

US officer, twelve jihadis arrested in Sinai after attack: source 
Militants attacked a police station in Arish, North Sinai, eyewitnesses reported on Tuesday. Another attack on a police station was staged by armed militants in Sheikh Zuweid on Tuesday, eyewitnesses in the area reported, also leading to an exchange of gunfire between the assailants and the police. Four civilians were injured, the source said, although no military personnel were harmed in the attack. The police station, as well as outlying defenses and privately-owned vehicles, were damaged. Security forces have arrested twelve people, including one American, a former US soldier, who are suspected of involvement in the Sheikh Zuweid attack. The American national arrested on Tuesday was referred to a military prosecutor in Ismailia to be interrogated, said a security source. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram (Arabic), Mada Masr, 8/28/2013]

Also of Interest:
Egypt police making ‘extensive efforts’ to combat extremism: Interior Minister | Ahram Online


No US plans to cut off Egypt military aid yet: Hagel
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday that he opposes cutting off US military aid to Egypt but vowed Washington would keep pressing for “reconciliation” in the country. “The interim government has to get back on the path to reconciliation, stop the violence, put Egypt back on the path of economic, democratic reform,” Hagel said in an interview with the BBC aired Wednesday. However, he did suggest that cutting off military aid could be an option in the future. [Ahram Online, SIS, Shorouk (Arabic), 8/28/2013]

Egypt calls for political, not military solutions in Syria
Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy said that Egypt stands by the Syrian people, and that the crisis should be solved politically and not through violence, the state-run Egynews reported on Tuesday. “Egypt rejects military intervention in Syria, as we believe a political solution is the only way out for the crisis there. Egypt supports the Geneva Two talks,” said FM Fahmy in a press conference held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Cairo Tuesday. Meanwhile, the Tamarod campaign called on Egyptian authorities to close the Suez Canal to any military units intending to strike Syria and declared that supporting the Syrian Army a “national duty.” [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), 8/28/2013]

Foreign Ministry rejects request from Turkey to dispatch Turkish diplomats to Cairo
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it rejected a request from Turkey to dispatch further diplomats to Cairo due to Turkey’s recent policy changes towards Egypt. Additionally, the Federation of the Egyptian Chambers of Commerce decided to suspend all official trade relations with the Turkey in protest to offensive remarks by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan against Azhar Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb.The federation, which represents the business society in various economic sectors, stipulated that Erdogan must officially apologize to the people of Egypt if trade relations with Turkey are to be restored. Maritime conventions between Egypt and Turkey, however, remain standing despite the ongoing political row between the two countries, Ibrahim Said al-Demery, the Egyptian Minister of Transport. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 8/28/2013]

Also of Interest:

Nordic tour group cancels over 60,000 Egypt trips | AP
African Union delegation returns to Egypt | DNE
Strong Egypt party rejects military intervention in Syria | Ahram (Arabic)

Image: Photo: Egypt Cabinet