Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) empowered army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to run for president, according to reports from state-run MENA. The sources speaking to MENA also said that Sisi will announce his decision in the next few hours over whether or not he will enter the upcoming presidential elections as a civilian candidate.


Egypt’s SCAF authorizes newly promoted Field Marshal Sisi’s presidential bid
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) empowered army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to run for president, according to reports from state-run MENA. The sources speaking to MENA also said that Sisi will announce his decision in the next few hours over whether or not he will enter the upcoming presidential elections as a civilian candidate. The military council convened earlier to discuss the nomination of Sisi. The announcement comes in the wake of interim president Adly Mansour issuing a decree promoting Sisi to field marshal on Monday morning. Security officials said on Monday that the promotion was a sign he is about to declare his candidacy for the presidency, while an official close to the military told Mada Masr that this is a routine upgrade in rank and the timing is not tied to anything. The resignation of three ministers will be decided on next week, according to a high level government official. The cabinet reshuffle will also be announced after Sisi makes a decision whether to run in the presidential election, as he must first step down as minister. Sources close to Mohamed Selim al-Awa, former presidential hopeful, said he has decided to run for presidency. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, Reuters, Egypt Independent, 1/27/2014]

Egypt’s Deputy Prime Minister Ziad Bahaa El-din resigns
Egypt’s interim-deputy prime minister and international cooperation minister Ziad Bahaa-Eldin has announced his resignation. In a statement written on Thursday and published on his official Facebook page on Monday, Bahaa-Eldin explained that after the ratification of the new constitution he believed that his role in the transitional road map was complete and that he could return to “political, partisan and legal work.” “The ratification of the constitution by an overwhelming majority establishes new legitimacy and by achieving progress in the cabinet’s programs for economic developments and social justice announced in September 2013, the main phase in the road map has been finalized,” he said. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 1/27/2014]

Interim president announces presidential elections to come first
Presidential elections will take place before a House of Representatives is elected, said Interim President Adly Mansour on Sunday. The president announced the amendment to the transitional roadmap in an address. Mansour said his decision was based on the results of dialogues held with different national forces who preferred to hold the presidential elections first. This change could pave the way for the swift election of army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The decision to revise the order of elections is likely to deepen tensions in Egypt, which is struggling to cope with waves of political violence. Following Mansour’s announcement, the Supreme Presidential Election Committee (SPEC) undertook procedures on Monday to prepare for the presidential elections. Judicial sources from the High Elections Commission (HEC) indicated the impossibility of holding presidential elections in February or March saying it’s likely to take place by mid- or late April. Mansour issued a decree on Thursday stipulating that the High Elections Commission should commence procedures towards presidential elections within thirty to ninety days of constitutional ratification. Garnering mixed reactions, the move was rejected by the Nour Party and April 6 Movement, while the Tagammu Party and Wafd Party welcomed it. [DNE, Egypt Independent, Reuters, 1/26/2014]

Also of Interest:
Cabinet’s security committee convenes after Friday bombings, Ibrahim present | DNE
Borhamy: Sisi is religious, competent, able to run the country | Egypt Independent
Egyptian liberal finds enemies on all sides | Reuters
Ministry of endowment to unify Friday prayer speeches in all Egyptian mosques | DNE
Egypt president orders review of detainees’ status | Ahram Online
Egypt’s Socialist Popular Alliance demands dismissal of interior minister | Ahram Online
April 6 Movement: The regime seeks to suppress the revolution | Egypt Independent


Detained American journalist released; Egyptian filmmaker still in custody
An American translator detained in Cairo since last Wednesday was released from police custody on Sunday afternoon, while his roommate filmmaker Hossam Meneai was ordered detained for an additional fifteen days pending investigation. Police arrested the pair last Wednesday held them in a secret location without charges. The two were not allowed to meet with a lawyer nor was Hodge allowed a visit by US embassy staff. Meneai, 36, is a freelance documentary filmmaker and Hodge, 26, is a freelance journalist and translator, who recently worked for Transparency International and also worked with Daily News Egypt. In a press statement, Egypt Independent reported that the reasons behind the arrest remain unclear as neither of the two have any political affiliations, nor have they participated in any recent protests. Hodges says he is worried for his roommate’s safety, having heard police roughly interrogate Meneai and try to link him with terrorist groups in Sinai. [DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, 1/27/2014]

Also of interest:
Four imprisoned for filmed performance against police, army brutality | Egypt Independent
Court adjourns trial of raped, murdered girl to February 16 | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr


Egypt’s finance minister implements Morsi’s customs tariff regulations
Minister of Finance Ahmed Galal issued Sunday a decree (No.23) defining the rules of applying Mohamed Morsi’s April decree to regulate custom tariffs on 100 goods. Among other products, new tariffs will be applied on capital goods, hotels’ imports, Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) imports, and Arab Petroleum Pipelines Company SUMID imports. Through the ministerial decision, imports tax will be reduced by 110 percent on products that are 30 to 40 percent locally manufactured, by 115 percent for 60 percent locally manufactured products, and 120 percent for more than 60 percent locally manufactured products. Morsi’s decree primarily targeted increasing tariffs luxury items like sunglasses, watches, yachts and shrimps. [Cairo Post, 1/26/2014]

Also of interest:
EU to grant Egypt €500 million in aid | Egypt Independent
Egypt’s economy to miss growth forecasts: Poll | Reuters
Egypt’s “new normal” aids financial market rebound | Reuters
16,000 new job opportunities offered to Egyptian youth | DNE


Death toll from January 25 anniversary clashes reaches sixty-four, over 1,000 arrested
On Saturday, the third anniversary of the popular revolt that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak, deadly fighting erupted between police and supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi and some non-Islamist protesters in several parts of the country. The death toll from clashes has reached sixty-four, Egypt’s forensic authorities’ spokesperson Hisham Abdel Hamid told Ahram Online. Post-mortem examinations showed at least fifty-eight of the deaths were caused by gunshot wounds and one by birdshot, Abdel Hamid added. At least 247 were wounded in nationwide clashes. In east Cairo’s Mattariya district alone, twenty-six were killed when police violently dispersed a demonstration by Morsi supporters. An April 6 youth movement member was shot dead when police dispersed a downtown Cairo protest opposed to both the military and the Muslim Brotherhood. Security forces used teargas and birdshot to disperse a protest at the Journalists’ Syndicate in downtown Cairo, while armored vehicles reportedly drove through the demonstration. The march included members of the Way of the Revolution Front, a coalition opposed to both the Muslim Brotherhood and the military, which joined the demonstration at the press syndicate after being driven out of a previous protest at Mostafa Mahmoud Mosque in Mohandiseen by police firing birdshot and teargas. A total of 1,079 were arrested according to a statement released by the ministry of interior. Meanwhile, tens of thousands converged on Egypt’s iconic Tahrir Square on Saturday, in celebration of the anniversary. Many of those in the square held banners and posters urging army chief Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi to run for the presidency. In the wake of the violence, the pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy released a statement calling for the continued escalation of “the current revolutionary wave,” through protests for 18 days in commemoration of the 2011 uprising. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, Mada Masr, AP, Reuters, 1/27/2014]

Also of interest:
Student injured in Cairo University clashes last week dies | Ahram Online
Imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalist Abdallah al-Shamy begins hunger strike in Tora Prison | DNE
Egypt’s Freedom Party demands state revise strategy in ‘war on terrorism’ | Ahram Online
Egypt faces political crisis not security crisis, says al-Jama’a al-Islamiya | Ahram Online
Faculty, students support professor accused of espionage | DNE
Conditions deteriorate for Egypt’s journalists | DNE
Imprisoned Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste releases letter from Tora prison | DNE
German journalists attacked in Egypt | DNE
CCTV footage captured security directorate attack | DNE
MBC Masr to host Bassem Youssef’s show | Egypt Independent
New security plan for universities | Mada Masr
Egyptian TV to broadcast Morsi’s prison trial live | Egypt Independent
Security apparatus failed to protect citizens from terrorism: NGOs | DNE


Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis claims responsibility for downing military helicopter
Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a Sinai militant group, released a statement Sunday morning claiming responsibility for shooting down a military helicopter in North Sinai on Saturday, among other attacks. Five military personnel were killed in the crash. The al-Qaeda inspired group also said it was behind attacks on military support forces in the area surrounding Jura International Airport using heavy weapons, a bombardment of Al Zohour camp with mortars, and the shooting of soldier in the al-Kharouba ambush on Saturday, and the wave of Cairo bombings on Friday. On Sunday, up to four soldiers died and thirteen were injured when militants attacked their bus in the Sinai Peninsula, an army spokesperson announced. The ambush took place 50 metres from a security checkpoint, Al-Ahram said. Meanwhile, a car bomb detonated on Saturday outside a Central Security Forces (CSF) camp in the city of Suez. Sixteen people were injured in the attack, the ministry of health said in a statement.  [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, DNE, Mada Masr, AFP, Egypt Independent, 1/26/2014]

Also of interest:
Student movement claims responsibility for burning police station | Egypt Independent
Blast in Sheikh Zuweid, no casualties | Egypt Independent
Small bomb explodes near a Cairo police center, no casualties | Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent


Five kidnapped Egypt diplomats freed in Libya; Libyan militia leader released
In a coordinated swap, Egypt released a Libyan militia commander detained over suspected links to the Muslim Brotherhood while five abducted Egyptians, including two diplomats, were released in Libya, officials in the two countries said Monday. Gunman had snatched four Egyptian diplomatic staff from their homes in Tripoli on Saturday, including the cultural attaché, and kidnapped another on Friday, forcing Cairo to evacuate its embassy and its Benghazi consulate. Libya’s government said earlier the diplomats had been snatched in reaction to the arrest of Shaban Hadia aka Abu Obeida al-Zawy, commander of the Operations Room of Libya’s Revolutionaries, a powerful militia in Libya. The kidnappers gave Egypt 24 hours to release him. While Egypt has denied reports that a “prisoner swap” took place, a Libyan security official told AFP on the condition of anonymity that the release of the Egyptians was part of a deal between Tripoli and Cairo.[Reuters, AP, Mada Masr, 1/27/2014]

Also of interest:
United States, international community condemns Egypt bombings Friday, urges end to violence | Reuters, DNE, Aswat Masriya, State Department Press Briefing
UNESCO to help Egypt museum to recover from blast | AP