Top News: Four dead in North Sinai Militant Attacks on Hotel Hosting Judges

Four people—a judge, a prosecutor, and two security personnel—were killed Tuesday, and fourteen were injured in North Sinai’s al-Arish during attacks on a hotel where judges supervising the ongoing parliamentary polls were residing. The Armed Forces confirmed in a statement that a judge and two police conscripts were killed, while the Justice Ministry said prosecutor Amr Mostafa was also among those killed. The injured included twelve policemen and two civilians. Sinai State, Egypt’s Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliate, claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to the military, a militant tried to drive a car bomb into the hotel before security forces opened fire on him, causing the car to explode, the military said. A suicide bomber got inside the kitchen and blew himself up while a gunman got into a room before firing randomly and killing a judge, they said. The military statement added that another three militants were killed. Earlier reports stated that three policemen were killed in the attack. On Monday, a woman and a child were also killed in al-Arish, after a bomb, seemingly planted to target police and army forces, exploded as a donkey cart carrying the victims was passing by. [Ahram Online, Reuters, DNE, DW, AMAY, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Video, The Guardian, 11/24/2015]


Preliminary results: For the Love of Egypt wins all sixty party-based seats, run-offs for individuals
As preliminary results in the second stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections emerge, it appears that the For the Love of Egypt electoral list secured fifteen seats in the East Delta constituency with no competition. It will also likely win forty-five seats belonging to Cairo, Middle and South Delta constituency. For candidates running on an individual basis, most constituencies are witnessing run-offs between candidates. Run-offs are due to take place on December 1 and 2. The Wafd Party secured five seats in the second stage of the parliamentary elections, one seat contested on an individual basis and four seats for Wafd candidates in ‘For the Love of Egypt’ list. Forty-three Wafd candidates will be facing run-offs on individual seats. The Free Egyptians Party did not secure any seats in the first round, but over forty-candidates are participating in the runoffs. The Nour Party, which continues to blame state tactics for its dismal performance in parliamentary elections, will compete for eight seats. Egyptian director Khaled Youssef won a individual seat in Qalyubia governorate’s Kafr Shukr constituency, and head of the Zamalek Football Club, Mortada Mansour, claimed he secured 71,000 votes for his seat. The official results of the elections will not be released until later in the week by the High Elections Committee. Turnout remained below average on the second day of polls in the second phase of elections, while the Cabinet announced it was higher than the first phase. Over 38,000 Egyptian expatriates, or 5.5 percent of eligible voters, cast their votes in the second round of the elections, High Elections Commission (HEC) Spokesperson Omar Marwan announced Monday. The HEC also said it received a total of 212 complaints during the second day of voting, while the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) issued a statement Sunday saying it recorded eighty-nine violations during the first day. [Ahram Online, 11/24/2015]


Mohamed Mahmoud detainees to remain in jail
An Egyptian court accepted on Monday the prosecution’s motion to remand in custody nine people arrested for “illegal assembly” and “protesting without a permit,” while commemorating the fourth anniversary of deadly protests on Downtown Cairo’s iconic Mohamed Mahmoud street. On Saturday, prosecutors ordered their detention pending investigation. A day later, the judge decided to release them on EGP 10,000 bail each. The prosecution quickly appealed the decision and the court then ordered them to remain in detention. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, 11/24/2015]


Egypt to control prices of ten commodities as inflation rises
Egypt will control the prices of ten essential commodities as the country works to keep inflation in check amid a shortage of foreign currency. The list includes livestock and frozen meat, poultry, fish, oils, sugar, rice, beans, corn, soybean, and wheat. A statement from the office of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail did not specify what measures would be taken to keep prices under control. The decision follows a speech earlier this month by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi promising greater state intervention in curbing price rises. The Ministry of Supply recently said Egypt’s grain buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), would begin importing a broader array of essential goods to push down prices. GASC launched its first international tender for poultry earlier this month, but pressure from the local poultry industry has made it backtrack on plans to continue tendering, according to traders. [Reuters, DNE, 11/24/2015]

Egyptian businesses urge end to capital controls to ease forex pressures
Businesses say that Egypt’s hard currency shortage is choking trade and industry, spooking foreign investors, and hurting growth. They are urging the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to end restrictions on dollar deposits and move closer to a market exchange rate. In February, outgoing CBE Governor Hisham Ramez imposed restrictions on the amount of dollars companies could deposit in banks to crush a burgeoning black market. Businesspeople say that policy has backfired, making it difficult for companies to open letters of credit to finance imports and worrying potential foreign investors concerned they will be unable to repatriate profits. Incoming CBE Governor Tarek Amer has yet to spell out his plans, but bankers credit him with supplying $1.8 billion in recent weeks to clear a backlog of imports at the country’s ports and with an increase in yields on certificates of deposit in the Egyptian pound. [Reuters, 11/23/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt stocks slide as foreign sell-off hits CIB, Koryolink concerns persist over OTMT | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt signs sixty-two production sharing contracts says EGPC Chairman | DNE
  • CPTDC to invest $10 million in Egypt’s oil sector | DNE
  • World Bank to give $ 1 billion out of $6 billion to Egypt before year-end | DNE
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, lower at parallel market | Reuters
  • EGPC says Italy’s Edison will complete seismic survey of area around Zohr field next month | Reuters
  • IFC invests $1.2 billion in eighteen projects in Egypt | MENA
  • Bad news for Suez Canal as global shipping index bottoms out | Mada Masr
  • Agreement signed by Egypt, Alwaleed Philanthropies to build 1,000 low-cost flats | Cairo Post


Al-Azhar teaching assistant suspended over ‘inciting protests’
A teaching assistant at Al-Azhar University was suspended and referred to investigation for “inciting protests,” according to a Tuesday statement by the university. The instructor, who works in the Faculty of Medicine, “committed acts that incite protests and jeopardize the stability of the study,” the head of Al-Azhar University Abdel Hayy Azab said. He also “insulted the Armed Forces, figures of the state and Al-Azhar,” Azab added. Depending on the outcome of the investigation, the teacher will either return to his job or be expelled. [Cairo Post, 11/24/2015]


Russian Defense Minister heads delegation to Cairo to discuss military cooperation with Egypt
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu arrived in Cairo Monday night for a two-day visit to discuss military cooperation with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Shoigu is heading a delegation of twenty-six officials who were welcomed by Egyptian Minister of Defense and Military Production Sedki Sobhi. The delegation will discuss developments in the region concerning Yemen and Libya, in addition to Syria where Russia is now conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL). Also on Monday, Egypt’s Civil Aviation Minister Hossam Kamal met with the chairman of Russia’s investigative committee Alexander Bastrykin as well as the head of the international committee tasked with the investigation of the crash of a Russian airliner in central Sinai on October 31, which killed all 224 people on board. According to a Civil Aviation Ministry statement, the two sides discussed how to best proceed with the investigation while exchanging technical information relating to the crash. The statement also said Bastrykin praised the efforts Egypt has made since the crash occurred, such as stepping up security procedures at all airports. [Ahram Online, DNE, AMAY, SIS, 11/24/2015]

Egyptian officials reject UN comments over killing of Sudanese migrants
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry snubbed concerns expressed by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon over the killing of at least five Sudanese migrants attempting to cross into Israel from North Sinai on Monday. The Ministry of Defense announced the deaths, as well as the injury of at least seventeen others, saying security forces “succeeded in foiling an attempt to infiltrate the international border in the north-east” of the country. On Monday, Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for Ban, said he “remains deeply troubled” by reports of the killing and urged Egyptian authorities to launch a full investigation. In response, Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid released a statement rejecting the comments, lamenting what he referred to as the “persistence in issuing premature statements and criticisms without relying on accurate information or considering official statements issued by the Egyptian government.” The statement also said that UN officials should not criticize specific countries for taking measures to secure their borders in the midst of an escalation of terrorist attacks. [Mada Masr, 11/24/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Shoukry, Kerry discuss Middle East peace, situation in Syria, Libya | SIS
  • Egypt’s FM in contact with French authorities over compensation for Egyptian victim of Paris attacks | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Tripartite meeting on GERD postponed | DNE
  • Released fishermen to be transported to Salloum border | DNE
  • Airlines cancel more Sharm al-Sheikh flights | BBC, The Guardian
  • UN panel to review airport security after Egypt plane crash | Cairo Post
  • Two Egyptian expats released after probed over Paris attacks | Cairo Post