The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Qatari chargé d’affaires on Tuesday to demand that Qatar “stop the media campaigns” against Egypt, and to hand over a number of fugitives currently facing trial. 


Egyptian authorities order two remaining downtown walls removed
Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim on Monday ordered for a major street leading into Tahrir Square to be reopened and for the walls blocking traffic to be removed, according to Al-Ahram. Qasr al-Aini Street, a major thoroughfare running into the square from the south, has been barricaded on and off since late 2011. Walls have sprung up around downtown’s streets since the battle of Mohamed Mahmoud in November 2011 as the ministry sought to separate protesters and police forces. A ministry of interior spokesman confirmed this claim, but added that the ministry has not yet issued the final order to remove the walls. The security source said that the walls would be replaced by security checkpoints. Ibrahim also ordered the reconsideration of other barriers in the neighborhood to reduce the suffering of residents. He stressed on the importance of carrying out strict punishments against those who violate traffic laws. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 2/4/2014]

Reports: Sisi will declare electoral platform mid-February
Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is preparing to resign from his military post in order to announce his candidacy for the presidential elections within days, several local papers reported on Tuesday. The London-based, pan-Arab Al-Hayat reported that Sisi, who was recently granted the title of field marshal, is currently busy putting the military house in order ahead of his departure. The Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF) will convene within few days, with attendance of Sisi to select his successor as well as the chief of staff of the armed forces, informed sources told Al-Masry Al-Youm. Sources added that Sisi will declare his final decision to the council on running for president and leaving his position as the the commander-in-chief and minister of defense and military production. He will reveal his electoral platform by the second half of February in a speech that will be aired on state TV and other privately-owned channels. He will also speak to his reasons for running in the elections. [Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 2/4/2014]

Also of Interest:
No Military Trials for Civilians rejects amendments to terrorism draft law | DNE, Mada Masr
EOHR calls for release of Maadi metro detainees | DNE
Al-Zomor: Adly ordered the opening of prisons during the revolution | Egypt Independent
National Salvation Front continues work toward democratic transition | Egypt Independent
No more ‘pharaoh president’ says Egyptian interim president | Ahram Online
Moussa: Electing Sisi as president will not bring back military rule | Egypt Independent
Rights group requests committee for sexual violence | Egypt Independent


Morsi ‘Ittihadeya’ trial adjourned to Wednesday; NASL calls for solidarity protests
A Cairo criminal court on Tuesday resumed the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on charges of inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012. After a short hearing, the trial was adjourned to Wednesday. The court has also set the date of March 1 to review a report on video footage of the deadly clashes between Morsi’s supporters and opponents in connection with the charges. Plaintiffs in the case also requested to add prominent Brotherhood leaders to the defense, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, Chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party Saad al-Katatny, Mahmoud Ghozlan and Mohamed al-Tahtawy. Al-Ahram also reported that the defense called for former National Salvation Front general coordinator Mohamed ElBaradei, and former presidential candidates Hamdeen Sabbahy and Amr Moussa to be added to the case. The defense had made the same request in the trial’s previous hearing. Meanwhile, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy called for demonstrations on Tuesday in solidarity with Morsi as he stands trial. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 2/4/2014]

Brotherhood leaders’ trials continue amid new allegations
The trial of forty-eight supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, including prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures as well as the group’s most senior leader Mohamed Badie, has been further adjourned by a Cairo criminal court to February 15. They face charges of blocking the rural highway in Qalyubeya governorate. On Monday the court cited the difficulties in transporting the defendants to the courthouse in the northern Cairo district of Shubra as grounds for delaying the trial. The court had given the same reasons on Saturday, when it first adjourned the proceedings to Monday. Badie, while inside the defendants dock in the court, slammed the proceedings saying, “the public prosecutor accused me in twenty-eight cases and went so far to accusing me of theft, while the prosecution did not investigate the killing of my son Amar.” Badie, along with Brotherhood leaders Mohamed al-Beltagy and Essam al-Erian, Islamist Safwat al-Hegazy and 188 others have also been referred to criminal court on charges of inciting violence in Port Said in the wake of the August Raba’a dispersal, leading to at least five deaths. Assem Abdel-Maged, the leader of the islamist al-Jama’a al-Islamiya, along with thirty other Brotherhood figures, also face new charges of killing and injuring protesters in the Upper Egypt city of Assiut during the million-strong demonstrations that began on 30 June and culminated in Morsi’s overthrow three days later. [Ahram Online, EGYNews (Arabic), Egypt Independent, 2/4/2014]

Egypt court reduces sentence for pro-Morsi Al-Azhar students
The jail sentence for thirty-eight Al-Azhar University students convicted of clashing with police officers last October has been reduced from eighteen months to one year. A Nasr City misdemeanour court in November had sentenced the pro-Mohamed Morsi students to a year and a half in jail for protesting, rioting, blocking roads and assaulting police officers in clashes with security forces at the university’s campus in east Cairo. Monday’s ruling from an appeals court, however, lowered the sentence to a year. Meanwhile, Damietta Attorney General Mohamed al-Zenefly referred fifteen members from the Muslim Brotherhood, including Ashraf Ezz al-Din, dean of the medical school at Al-Azhar University in Damietta, to a criminal court on Tuesday, Al-Ahram reported. They were referred to the court for accusations of burning Damietta’s national security building. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 2/3/2014]

Also of interest:
Court approves Habib al-Adly’s three-year sentence for exploiting conscripts | Aswat Masriya,  EGYNews (Arabic)
Two policemen referred to criminal court in Ismailia | Egypt Independent
Three Brotherhood members arrested in Beheira on charges of inciting violence | Shorouk (Arabic)
Cairo court sentences sixteen Brotherhood protesters to five years in prison | DNE


Egypt’s quick-fix minimum wage hike fails to calm workers
When Egypt announced plans for a minimum wage late last year, the government hoped to lift living standards and calm street turmoil that has helped topple two presidents in three years. Although one in four Egyptians lives below a poverty line of $1.65 a day, many workers say the EGP 1,200 ($170) minimum wage introduced in January is too little too late in a nation whose rulers have long favored the elite over the poor. The minimum wage applies to 4.9 million public employees and will cost the state an extra EGP 18 billion a year, swelling a budget deficit set to hit around EGP 200 billion this year. [Reuters, 2/3/2014]

Also of interest:
Egypt forecasts gas shortage next fiscal year | DNE
Suez Canal fees to be fixed in May | Egypt Independent
Shopping for help | Mada Masr
Oil Minister: Egypt to receive $4 billion in petroleum aid from Arab countries | AMAY (Arabic)


Dutch journalist leaves Egypt after indictment on terror charges
A Dutch journalist who, along with three other foreigners, has been put on trial by Egypt’s top prosecutor over terrorism-related charges, has fled the country, her employers said Tuesday. In a case that has provoked an international outcry, Egypt last week referred to trial twenty journalists – four foreigners and sixteen Egyptians allegedly working for the Qatari Al-Jazeera media network – on charges related to joining and aiding a terrorist group and endangering national security. Freelance journalist Rena Netjes, who is a correspondent for private radio station BNR Nieuwsradio and Amsterdam-based daily Het Parool, said she discovered her presence on a list of twenty terrorism suspects when she identified a “number that corresponded with my social security number.” Netjes is now en route from Dubai to Amsterdam because “it [is] not safe for her in Egypt,” said BNR. Of the four foreigners, only Australian Peter Greste remains in custody, while the rest will be tried in absentia. Meanwhile, scores of supporters of Al-Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt demonstrated on Tuesday in Kenya, the base of one of the detained reporters. “Being a journalist is not a crime,” the crowd of around a 100 shouted outside the Egyptian embassy in Nairobi, in a peaceful protest watched over by armed police. [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, AP, DNE, 2/4/2014]

Also of interest:
Ministry of interior arrests admins of fake police Facebook pages | Shorouk (Arabic)
Al-Jazeera condemns video of its staff’s arrest | DNE
UN, WHO, health ministry report sixteen swine flu deaths, denies doctor deaths | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr
Six Brotherhood members arrested on charges of targeting mobile telephone company’s stations | EGYNews (Arabic)


Attacks on security forces in Sharqiya, Assiut and Sinai
A military conscript was injured when unidentified gunmen fired on a security checkpoint in central Sinai, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported on Monday. The assailants allegedly opened fire on the Sadr al-Hitan checkpoint, shooting 21-year-old Ahmed Abdel-Latif in the leg, security sources told MENA. The soldier was then transferred to the hospital for treatment. Another two soldiers were injured in central Sinai when a roadside bomb exploded as an army convoy was passing by. In Assiut, the Security Directorate announced set checkpoints in different parts of the city after unidentified assailants burned the private car of police officer Mohamed Tantawy. In Sharqiya, an armed forces officer was shot in the neck when unidentified men riding a motorcycle attacked him on his way home. The officer, Hassan al- Bendary was taken to Minya al-Qamh General hospital for treatment. [Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, Shorouk (Arabic), 2/4/2014]

Also of interest:
Military raid on Rafah villages: ten houses destroyed, eight cars burned | Egypt Independent
Rafah Crossing opens Tuesday after ten days of closing | Egypt Independent


Egypt summons Qatar’s chargé d’affaires over extraditions
The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs summoned the Qatari chargé d’affaires on Tuesday to demand that Qatar “stop the media campaigns” against Egypt, according to foreign ministry spokesman Badr Abdelatty. Ambassador Abdelatty also revealed that Egypt had demanded Qatar hand over a number of fugitives currently facing trial. Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and allied Islamists, fled to Doha following Morsi’s ouster in July. This is the second time that Egypt sends a letter of protest to Qatar in a month. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/4/2014]

Also of interest:
Foreign minister meets with Italian counterpart, Italian minister concerned Egypt ‘too focused on security issues’ | DNE, SIS, Shorouk (Arabic)
Nabil Fahmy in Rome invites the European Union to follow elections | EGYNews (Arabic)
Wife of Egyptian lawyer detained in Saudi urges for pardon | Ahram Online
Beblawy in Saudi Arabia to discuss economic ties, investment issues | DNE, Ahram Online, SIS
Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia reiterates support for Egypt | AMAY (Arabic)
Ethiopia should build ‘smaller dam’: Minister of Irrigation | DNE, Egypt Independent
Sisi meets with the Sudanese Minister of Defense | AMAY (Arabic)