Top News: Egypt’s Foreign Minister in Three-Day Visit to US for International, Regional Talks

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry began a three-day trip to Washington on Sunday, where he is set to meet with his American counterpart, US Secretary of State John Kerry, Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Shoukry’s visit targets bolstering bilateral ties and will include important meetings, Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid added in a statement. In addition to his meeting with Kerry, Shoukry is set to meet with National Security Advisor Susan Rice, as well as Congress members and the heads of intelligence and military service committees. He will also hold interviews with NPR radio, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal, and plans to host seminars at several research centers. “This visit comes after the election of parliament which marked the final step in Egypt’s political roadmap … giving a new impetus and boost to Egyptian-US relations,” Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said. [Ahram OnlineDNEAswat Masriya, 2/7/2016]


Egypt’s parliament ‎votes for investigation into top auditor corruption ‎claims
Egypt’s ‎MPs voted on Sunday, with a 54 percent majority, in favor of allowing an ad ‎hoc parliamentary ‎committee to begin investigating the veracity of top auditor Hisham Geneina’s corruption ‎claims. The decision was made despite a media gag order imposed by the country’s Prosecutor General ‎Nabil Sadek. MPs said the prosecution’s investigation should not stand in the way of ‎parliament also investigating the issue. Despite objections from parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Al,‎ MPs launched scathing attacks against Sadek’s decision to impose ‎a media gag order on the investigation of corruption ‎allegations issued by Geneina. ‎MPs of ‎Egypt’s new parliament also opened fire on ‎the top auditor, accusing him of acting on behalf of the ‎ousted regime of Muslim Brotherhood, which they said is doing its ‎best to “mislead the public and discredit the rule of President Sisi.” MP Adel al-Sherif said, “Parliamentary deputies are the ones who are ‎more keen than the judicial authority to express the will of ‎the people and that the prosecutor’s order in the Geneia ‎case should not prevent legislators from exercising their ‎supervisory powers.”‎ His words received quick backlash from Abdel-Al who ordered that “they be ‎removed from the session’s minutes.” [Ahram Online, MENA, 2/7/2016]

Also of Interest

  • MPs, families demand that Egyptian government search for missing fishermen in Sudan | DNE
  • Egypt’s parliament to endorse last month’s rejection of civil service law | Ahram Online


Egypt court reduces death sentences for eight convicted in ‘Suez Cell’ case
Cairo criminal court reduced Saturday death sentences on eight convicted of terrorist charges to ten years in prison in the retrial of the “Suez terrorist cell” case. In March 2014, the court sentenced 26 people to death and one to 15 years in prison on charges that include planning attacks on ships passing through the Suez Canal, manufacturing missiles and explosives to carry out attacks, monitoring and planning to attack security targets, and illegal possession of guns, automatic rifles, explosives and ammunition. Since the March 2014 verdict, six defendants appealed and two others, tried in absentia, were arrested. The verdict can be further appealed. Most of the convicted were tried in absentia, and thus given the maximum penalty for their crime—the death sentence. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 2/6/2016]

Egypt court bans travel for Mubarak-era interior minister, freezes assets
Cairo criminal court banned on Sunday former interior minister Habib al-Adly and a dozen others from travel, as Adly faced the latest charge brought against him. Adly is accused of abuse of office by issuing rewards to police officers and ministry officials. He and a dozen other interior ministry officials were referred to trial, on charges of seizing over EGP 2.3 billion ($293 million). The court also froze the assets of Adly’s family and ordered the freezing of all other defendants’ assets. The court adjourned the case to February 28. Adly is currently out of jail as he was released from detention in March after being acquitted on charges of using his political influence to acquire illicit gains amounting to EGP 181 million. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 2/7/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Court to issue verdict on February 25 in trial of four Christians charged with contempt of religion | DNE
  • Retrial of 37 MB members starts Monday in ‘Raba’a task force’ | AMAY, Aswat Masriya
  • Court illegally extends pre-trial detention of teen who wore anti-torture t-shirt | Mada Masr
  • Egyptian military court refers eight to Grand Mufti | Aswat Masriya


Egypt to set 2016-17 budget at devalued exchange rate
Egypt is drafting its 2016-2017 budget on the basis of an exchange rate of 8.25 Egyptian pounds to the dollar compared to 7.75 pounds this fiscal, two government sources said Monday, indicating that the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is preparing to devalue the pound. The assumed exchange rate in early drafts of the next budget suggests that the CBE could be planning to abandon the current rate of 7.7301 before the end of June. The CBE has defended the pound against growing pressure to devalue, but with foreign exchange reserves scarcely enough to finance more than three months’ worth of imports, economists say it cannot hold out forever. The bank has taken a series of steps in recent months to ease the dollar shortage, including raising a cap on foreign exchange deposits at banks for essential goods and introducing measures to dampen the demand for dollars by reducing imports. [Reuters, 2/8/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to approve wheat shipments at country of origin | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s wheat policies sow market confusion | Mada Masr
  • Egypt cancels wheat tender due to insufficient offers | Ahram Online
  • Bank of Alexandria launches campaign to encourage exchange of dollar remittances | DNE
  • NBE finances 45,000 SMEs with EGP 19 billion | DNE
  • JLL: Real estate prices will increase with continuous pound devaluation | DNE
  • Egypt’s stock market inches up by 0.79 percent at end of trading | Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi directs $127.7 million for housing units | AP, Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr


Human Rights Watch calls on Sisi to condemn Justice Minister’s calls to incitement
International watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) sent a letter to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, calling on him to condemn statements made by Minister of Justice Ahmed al-Zind in a recently televised interview. On January 27, during an interview on Sada al-Balad, Zind advocated killing Muslim Brotherhood members, supporters, and affiliates, stating that he would not be satisfied until 10,000 Brotherhood members were killed for every fatality among the armed forces. In her letter to Sisi, HRW Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson wrote of the ongoing punitive measures the government has levelled against Brotherhood members and supporters as a real threat to the preservation of human rights. “We urge you to use your authority as president to counter these dangerous remarks by your minister and protect Egyptian citizens who have the right to live safely and peacefully in their own country,” she said. [DNE, 2/8/2016]

UNICEF says 87 percent of females in Egypt aged 15 to 49 underwent FGM from 2004-2015
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said in its annual report on Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) day that there has been an overall decline in the prevalence of FGM over the past three decades. Egypt witnessed a 27 percent decline in the prevalence of FGM rates from 1987 to 2015. It ranked sixth among countries that practice FGM, with an overall percentage of 85 percent among girls and women aged between 15 to 49 years old. Statistics, however, showed women in Indonesia, Egypt, and Ethiopia account for half of all FGM victims worldwide. Egypt’s Minister of Health Ahmed Emad al-Din said in an official statement Saturday that Egypt aims to completely eradicate the phenomena of FGM in Egypt by the year of 2030. [DNE, 2/7/2016]

Another hospital suspends work after new assaults on doctors occur
Doctors at Banha Hospital have been on a partial strike since Saturday over the assault of three doctors. The gynecology and obstetrics department at Banha Hospital, in the Nile Delta governorate of Qalyubia, launched an open-ended partial strike on Saturday, after an individual claiming to be a police officer brandished a weapon and threatened doctors, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm and Veto news portals reported. Although Banha Hospital is adamant in its quest to protect the rights of doctors and patients, they are not turning away any patients, Doctor Mohamed Abdel Salam told the Sada al-Balad news portal on Sunday. The Ministry of Interior denied the involvement of policemen in an attack against doctors at Banha Hospital, in an official statement Saturday night. “A fight took place between a car agency owner and the doctors at the hospital for allegedly not providing adequate medical care for his sick wife,” Ministry Spokesperson Abu Bakr Abdel Karim said. Doctors at Matariya Teaching Hospital, meanwhile, decided Friday to submit their resignation to the Minister of Health if alleged police assault on doctors is not investigated. The Matariya doctors said they will resume work at the reception and emergency departments of the hospital despite not having had their “rights” given back to them, according to a statement published on Friday on the Egyptian Medical Syndicate website. [AMAY, Mada Masr, 2/7/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Giant red carpet for Egypt leader’s motorcade sparks uproar | AP
  • Army responds to president’s ‘red carpet’ reception saga | AMAY
  • February 8 at the Air Defense Stadium Massacre: the scream of the twenty | DNE
  • Women’s council backs woman allegedly assaulted by police on metro | AMAY
  • Doctors Syndicate expects police investigations following general strike | DNE
  • Egypt military restoring churches destroyed following Morsi’s ouster | Ahram Online
  • Three arrested for ‘breaking off and selling’ pieces of Giza pyramids | Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Mada Masr
  • Antiquities official blames journalists for harming tourism through pyramids stone selling video | AMAY
  • 782 documented violations against journalists in 2015 | DNE
  • Minister of Health: 8,000 graduated doctors unqualified | AMAY
  • Police disperse Ahly Club football fans amid reports of arrests | Mada Masr


Fourteen killed in police, army raids
Egypt’s army killed ten “terrorists” and injured 13 others in fresh raids on militant hideouts in North Sinai, the Armed Forces Spokesman said on his Facebook page Friday. Ground forces carried out raids in al-Arish, Sheikh Zuweid, and Rafah, aided by an army helicopter cover. Forces also arrested six on suspicion of carrying out attacks against security forces. The army also said it found and destroyed an illegal underground tunnel, which was being used to “smuggle militants and ammunitions to and from the Gaza Strip.” In a separate incident, Egyptian police shot dead four suspected Islamist militants inside a house a few miles from central Cairo, the Interior Ministry said Sunday, the third such incident in as many weeks. In a statement published on Facebook, the ministry said the alleged militants were affiliated with militant group Ajnad Misr, Arabic for “Soldiers of Egypt.” The men were suspects in the killing of two policemen, a soldier and a civilian, and they were also suspected of blowing up a police vehicle and bombing a security checkpoint, the ministry said.  [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 2/7/2016]

Sinai State announces beheading of two Egyptians for cooperating with security
The Islamic State’s Egypt affiliate, Sinai State, announced the beheading of two people in North Sinai for alleged cooperation with security forces. Graphic pictures of the victims, 28-year-old Wael al-Shaaer and 27-year-old Salama Suleiman, were published in Dabiq, the online magazine of the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). The images show the two men lying on the floor with their hands tied, as Sinai State militants prepare to behead them. News circulated about Shaaer’s disappearance on January 31, when family members published his picture on social media, claiming he was kidnapped on arrival in Rafah. The source said he was visiting his sick father in Rafah when he was kidnapped. “Shaaer used to cooperate with security bodies, but he only used to run errands for them,” one of his old classmates claimed, adding that there have been several kidnappings targeting residents of North Sinai for cooperating with security forces. [Mada Masr, 2/7/2016]


Slain Italian student in Egypt suffered ‘inhuman’ violence
A second autopsy performed late Saturday in Rome on the body of Italian student Giulio Regeni found slain in Egypt reveals that the doctoral student suffered “inhuman, animal-like” violence, Italy’s Interior Minister said Sunday. The autopsy concluded that Regeni died after a cervical vertebra was broken, It said he also suffered other fractures. Rome prosecutors have opened a murder investigation into Regeni’s death. “We want the real perpetrators to be discovered and punished according to the law,” Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said on Monday. News reports in Italy have said Italian authorities strongly suspect Egyptian security forces interrogated, tortured, and killed him in an attempt to gain information his contact in the Egyptian labor movement. Regeni had written articles under a pseudonym for Italian newspapers on the movement. In an interview with an Italian newspaper, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry vehemently denied those allegations as “judgments, accusations, and insinuations, unjustified, and without proof.” Separately, a spokesman for the Egyptian Interior Ministry dismissed allegations that security forces could have been responsible for Regeni’s killing. Friends and political activists gathered at the Italian embassy in Cairo on Saturday laying flowers and lighting candles in memory of Regeni. [AP, Reuters, The Guardian, 2/8/2016]

Russia to deliver equipment for Egypt’s mistral helicopter carriers
Russia will supply equipment for two Mistral-class helicopter carriers after France delivers them to Egypt, Russian Ambassador to Egypt Sergei Kirpichenko said Monday. “There is a principle understanding that the equipping of these warships will mostly be done by the Russian side. The issue of helicopters has been discussed. As far as I understand, the delivery of these two ships by France to Egypt is slated for this year,” Kirpichenko told RIA Novosti in an interview. In the same interview, the Ambassador stated that Russian and Egyptian militaries are regularly coordinating their efforts in the fight against terrorism by sharing information, training staff, and developing specialized technology. “There is solid coordination between our militaries. That’s all I can say at the moment. There is serious joint understanding in these conditions and obviously in regard to exchanging information there is also tight cooperation,” Kirpichenko said. [Sputnik, Ahram Online, 2/8/2016]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s PM Sherif Ismail in Dubai for global government summit | Ahram Online, AMAY
  • EU delegation meets with Speaker of Parliament Ali Abdel-Al, President Sisi | Ahram Online, SIS
  • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia to begin fresh talks on Renaissance Dam in Khartoum | Ahram Online
  • UK Trade envoy arrives in Egypt to bolster economic ties | Ahram Online
  • Ambassador: Resumption of Russian tourism dependent on A321 plane crash investigation results | DNE