Top News: Egypt’s Sisi to Visit UK Thursday to Discuss Security, Trade

For the first time since his election, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will travel to the UK on Thursday to meet British Prime Minister David Cameron, where they will discuss regional and international issues. British Ambassador to Egypt John Casson announced in a statement Monday three topics will be on the agenda of the bilateral talks: fighting terrorism and extremism in Egypt and the region, aiding Egypt to become a “stable and prosperous” democracy, and economic, trade, and educational ties. He said the pair would discuss security issues in the Middle East such as the latest developments in Syria, Libya and Yemen. Casson also said that as an Arab and Muslim country, Egypt plays a big role in fighting Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) fighters in Iraq and Syria and fighting “extremism.” He added Egypt has an important political and strategic role to play in the region in supporting stability and confronting the “growing threat of terrorist groups” and in setting political solutions to crises. “Egypt is a crucial country in a crucial region and is witnessing crucial timing,” the statement read. Sisi will also discuss with Cameron opportunities to strengthen economic and political ties between the two countries as well as the possibility of bolstering trade industries. Casson said Cameron will express his support for Sisi and the reforms that he is carrying out to revive the Egyptian economy, as well as his desire to see more political progress, which is considered the “basis” for long-term stability in Egypt. Casson said the UK also welcomes the election of a new parliament in Egypt. Casson added that the UK is Egypt’s largest investor, with $25 billion worth of investments in the country since 2010, and that exports between the two countries last year reached £1 billion in value. Meanwhile, Sisi conducted interviews with the BBC, BBC Arabic, and the Daily Telegraph ahead of his visit. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, SIS, 11/3/2015]


Campaigning in second phase of Egypt parliamentary elections kicks off
Campaigning in the second phase of Egypt’s parliamentary elections began Tuesday, officially kick-starting the competition across 102 constituencies in thirteen Egyptian governorates. According to State Information Service, 222 seats will be up for grabs in the second phase the elections. The final list of candidates joining the race is due to be announced later today. For many candidates, however, the start of the campaigning period only means stepping up the advertising, since many had already been campaigning before the official start date, in violation of rules set by the High Elections Committee (HEC). Candidates in the first phase also campaigned outside of official campaigning dates, but faced no consequences from the HEC. Meanwhile, Major General Sameh Seif al-Yazal, rapporteur for the For the Love of Egypt electoral list, expects the next Speaker of the House of Representatives will be among the members of parliament appointed by the president of the republic. “None of the candidates are fit for the position,” Yazal said in an interview with Al-Arabiya Monday evening. [Aswat Masriya, 11/3/2015]


Egyptian photographer Esraa al-Taweel detention renewed for 45 days
A Giza court extended the detention of Esraa al-Taweel, a student and amateur photographer forty-five more days Monday, bringing the 23-year-old to tears in the courtroom. She begged the court to let her go home and receive critically needed medical treatment, her lawyer told Mada Masr. Taweel has been held at Qanater Women’s Prison for 155 days now on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization, disseminating false information, and disturbing the peace. Photos of Taweel in her white prison robes weeping in the Tora Prison Academy’s courtroom as she holds herself up on crutches went viral on social media networks under the hashtags #EsraaAlTaweel and #FreedomForEsraaAlTaweel. Popular media host Amr Adib slammed Taweel’s detention on his TV show on Monday. “There are people who have committed crimes like murder, those deserve no mercy. But for a [23-year-old] girl who has a bullet wound, why detain her?” Adib said. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 11/3/2015]


EU allocates €68 million to Egypt gas development project
The European Union (EU) announced in a statement Monday that it has allocated €68 million to the Egypt Gas Connection Project. The planned project will “address key priorities in Egypt’s energy sector and boost its economic development,” the EU Delegation to Egypt said. “This project will be implemented in collaboration with the French Development Agency (AFD) that will contribute with a €70 million loan and the World Bank (WB) that offered a US$500 million loan,” the statement added.  The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has also launched a $250 million financing program to spur private sector investment in renewable energy in Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Jordan, it said in a statement Tuesday. The EBRD said it is earmarking the money in debt and equity funding for private companies in the southern and eastern Mediterranean region to build renewable energy generation capacity. Meanwhile, Egypt aims to start natural gas production from its massive offshore Zohr field in 2017, a year ahead of schedule, Oil Minister Tarek al-Molla said. “We’re looking to expedite the agreement with the partner and speed up production,” Molla said in an interview. Molla also said that the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation has agreed to import six shipments of fuel oil from Rosneft, Russia’s largest oil producer, by the end of 2015. [SIS, 11/3/2015]

Also of Interest

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  • Only 2 percent of total individual payments paid electronically in Egypt | DNE
  • Car sales continue to decline by 18 percent in September | DNE
  • Egypt’s business growth slips into decline in October according to PMI | Egypt Independent
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, weaker at parallel market | Reuters


Egypt’s Journalists union defends media’s right to criticism following Sisi’s complaints
Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate defended on Monday the right of media workers to express views critical of authorities in the wake of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s accusation that media criticism of his performance was uncalled for and unprofessional. “Constructive criticism is the way to build a state with justice and freedom regardless of how strong it is or its nature or the person who is being criticized,” a statement issued by the syndicate read. The syndicate added that the only way to reform media performance in Egypt was through specific journalistic and media legislation. According to the Journalists Syndicate statement, drafts of legislation to reform media and journalism in Egypt have been finalized. However, the statement added, more than three months have passed, and they have not been approved or ratified. [Ahram Online, 11/2/2015]

Rights groups launch week-long campaign against forced disappearances
A group of seven rights organizations and movements have announced the launch of a campaign against forced disappearances, a practice that has become increasingly prevalent in Egypt over the past year. Starting on November 3, the organizations will host a week of activities in solidarity with victims of forced disappearances and their families, “who only dream of finding their children alive in prisons only to make sure they weren’t killed,” their statement read. The campaign will present the Prosecutor General with reports on the missing citizens, and will conclude with a press conference by lawyers who will share ways of tracking detention locations where the missing are being held. The organizations involved in the campaign include the Freedom for the Brave, Stop Forced Disappearances, Al-Nadeem Center for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence, and the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, among others. [DNE, Mada Masr, 11/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • ESDP hosts ‘Women’s Messages to the People’ | DNE
  • Egypt’s Ministry of Awqaf to publish Friday sermons in English | Cairo Post


F-16 shipment symbol of strong US-Egypt relations says US Ambassador
US Ambassador to Egypt Stephen Beecroft described the recent delivery of four F-16 jets as a symbol of the cooperation between Egypt and the United States in a video statement posted Monday by the US Embassy on its Facebook page. “It is through this cooperation that we have a real chance to succeeding in ensuring our security, our prosperity, our rights, and our liberties,” the Ambassador said. The embassy, meanwhile, has instructed its staff not to travel anywhere in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula as a “precautionary measure,” pending the outcome of the investigation into the crash of a Russian passenger jet. In its statement, emailed late Monday, the embassy said it will issue another message when the security measure is lifted. Also on Monday, Egypt’s Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Mahmoud Hegazy met Rear Admiral Kevin M. Donegan, Commander of US Naval Forces Central Command and the US 5th Fleet in Cairo, Egyptian Armed Forces Spokesperson Mohamed Samir announced. The two military commanders discussed topics related to Egypt-US military relations, training, and the exchange of mutual expertise, according to Samir.[Cairo Post, 11/2/2015]

Unusual sounds on Metrojet cockpit recordings, says Russian news agency
Cockpit recordings from the Metrojet flight that crashed in the Sinai desert appears to confirm that the cause was sudden and unexpected, with no distress call from pilots and unusual sounds heard at the moment the plane went off the radar, according to Russian media reports. Russian news service Interfax said it had seen a transcript of the cockpit recordings from the black boxes being examined by Egyptian officials. Pilots spoke to air traffic controllers four minutes before the aircraft disappeared from the radar in a routine exchange and no unusual conversation followed. But an unnamed source quoted by Interfax said “sounds uncharacteristic of routine flight were recorded preceding the moment that the aircraft disappeared from radar screens.” The recording indicated a situation had developed “suddenly and unexpectedly,” the source added. It was not possible to verify the report, and Interfax gave no further information. Investigators are yet to officially release data or findings. Earlier claims by the Sinai State, Egypt’s Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliate, saying it was responsible for the crash, which were refuted by Egyptian and Russian officials, have again been dismissed by Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the US State Department. US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper also said Monday he knew of no “direct evidence” that terrorism was to blame for the crash. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry criticized on Monday German carrier Lufthansa and Air France-KLM’s decisions to avoid flying over the Sinai Peninsula while they wait for clarity on what caused the plane to crash. Shoukry said in an interview to Algerian TV that the decision by the two European airline companies, as well as others, is “irresponsible” and leads to assumptions that there were “other” reasons, besides technical faults, behind the plane crash. [The Guardian, 11/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt concerned about Renaissance Dam, seeks ‘meaningful dialogue’ | Ahram Online
  • First ten bodies of Egypt’s Sinai plane crash identified say Russian officials | AP
  • Turkey’s elections response to ‘bloody putschists’ in Egypt, Syria say Brotherhood entities | DNE
  • Kremlin says inappropriate to link Russia’s military strategy in Syria with Egypt jet crash | Reuters
  • Cousin slams embassy inaction over Egyptian’s murder in Kuwait | AMAY
  • Egypt’s Nile water quota indisputable says minister | AMAY
  • Russian plane disaster affects Russian tourism to Egypt newspaper reports | AMAY