Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked a border guard post Saturday in Egypt’s western desert in an assault that killed 21 troops deployed in the province along the border with neighboring Libya.


Election commission says law on electoral districting to be issued soon

The spokesperson for Egypt’s High Elections Commission, Medhat Idris, has announced that a law on the distribution of electoral districts would be released soon. He clarified that the issuance of the presidential decision on the formation of parliamentary elections commission is within procedures of the electoral process. He also stressed the commission has not violated article 230 of the constitution, which states parliamentary elections should take place within no more than 90 days of adoption of constitution. Meanwhile, a document drafted by political analyst and former Member of Parliament Amr al-Shoubaky has been put forward and discussed by several Egyptian political parties as a start for a possible political coalition. Wafd Party member Hossam al-Khouly told Ahram Online that a coalition has already been formed between his party and the Egyptian Social Democratic Party in addition to several others, including the Construction and Development Party, the Consciousness Party and the Conservative Party. [Egypt Independent, 7/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Wasat Party leader Essam Sultan fined for slandering Ahmed Shafiq | Ahram Online
  • FJP condemns overturning ban on Mubarak party members in upcoming elections | DNE
  • Sabbahi: Egypt needs to favor Palestinians | Egypt Independent
  • Sources: Mahlab instructed state bodies to reduce expenditures | Egypt Independent


Court reduces Mahienour al-Masry’s jail sentence to six months

The Alexandria Court of Appeals reduced on Sunday a court verdict sending lawyer and activist Mahienour al-Masry to prison for violating Egypt’s controversial Protest Law.The court accepted Masry’s appeal, reducing her prison sentence from two years to six months while upholding her EGP 50,000 fine. Masry has already spent two months in prison. Her original sentence had been issued by the Alexandria criminal court on charges of “illegal protesting” during the Khaled Said murder retrial in December 2013 along with eight other activists. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, 7/20/2014]

Minya court sentences 17 year old on protest charges, acquits 91 arrested after Raba’a dispersal

The Minya Criminal Court sentenced Wagdy Abdel Halim, 17, a secondary school student, to three years in prison over inciting others to boycott the 2014 constitution referendum and protesting without a permit. He was previously sentenced to five years in prison and a fine in absentia. He was retried after being arrested on June 24, and handed a three-year sentence instead. The same court acquitted on Saturday, 91 people arrested last August following the forcible dispersal of the pro-Mohamed Morsi Raba’a al-Adaweya sit-in. Two sit-ins set up in support of the ousted president, the Raba’a encampment in Cairo and the al-Nahda encampment in Giza, were violently dispersed by security forces on August 14, leaving hundreds of civilians killed. [DNE, 7/20/2014]

Court adjourns hearing in dissolving Freedom and Justice Party to July 22

The Supreme Administrative Court decided in its first session to adjourn hearing the case regarding dissolving the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood group — the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) — to July 22. The Party Affairs Committee requested that the court dissolve the FJP and confiscate its financial assets, after presenting evidence from Homeland Security investigations proving that the party violated the law in organizing its affairs. According to the same law, the court is obliged to issue a verdict in one month. [Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 7/19/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Six alleged Brotherhood members arrested for protest-related charges | Ahram Online
  • Son of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mahmoud Ghozlan arrested | Ahram Online
  • Two arrested for sexually assaulting Polish tourist | Egypt Independent
  • Egyptian correspondent accused of inciting strife released pending retrial | Egypt Independent


Reforming Egypt’s black market – high hurdles, big rewards

The economist behind a plan to unlock at least $380 billion worth of assets from Egypt’s black market says President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi must first restore another asset that has depreciated over the years: the trust of a wary public. He has given Sisi a plan outlining specific changes to the bureaucracy and legal code needed to integrate an estimated 60 percent of the population into the system by registering and documenting ordinary Egyptians’ assets. [Reuters, 7/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt’s bourse to extend trading hours from August 7 | Reuters
  • Vodafone Egypt to invest $1.3 bn over three years | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s stocks slide after CBE interest rate hike | Ahram Online
  • Ganoub El-Wadi proposes international tender for oil and gas exploration | DNE
  • Government will not offer new licenses to steel factories: IDA | DNE
  • Cotton company asks EGAS to approve debt repayment schedule | DNE
  • Petroleum ministry proposes petrochemical projects worth $540m to UAE | DNE
  • Egypt Suez Canal revenue up 9.7 percent yr-yr in June | Reuters
  • Egyptian treasury bill yields jump after rates raised | Reuters


Egyptian Gaza convoy returns to Cairo after officials block Sinai entry

An aid convoy headed from Egypt to Gaza was stopped at the Balouza security checkpoint in North Sinai and forced to turn back Saturday afternoon, several kilometers from the Rafah border crossing. The eleven vehicle convoy was to deliver food and medicine to the besieged Palestinian city of Gaza. Journalist Tamer Abu Arab said that the convoy waited for two hours at the checkpoint before the organizers were asked to return to Cairo as the military would not be able to secure the convoy or supplies in the embattled Palestinian strip. “The organizers negotiated calmly and offered to sign official papers acknowledging responsibility for their personal safety, but the military officer said the convoy had ten minutes to leave or it would be forcibly dispersed,” Arab said. The aid convoy was organized by the Popular Committee to Support the Palestinians’ Uprising alongside other political movements including al-Dostour Party, Strong Egypt Party, and Popular Current. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 7/19/2014]

Rights groups call for inquiry into previous incidents of sexual violence

The verdict in the Tahrir mob sexual assault case issued last week is “an initial step” towards holding perpetrators of such crimes accountable and ending ongoing impunity, a number of human rights groups said in a statement, calling for the punishment of perpetrators of previous crimes. The verdict reflects the state’s acknowledgment of such crimes, the statement maintained. The statement by rights groups — including Nazra for Feminist Studies, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the Nadim Center for the Management and Rehabilitation of victims of violence, among 18 others — also said that there are over 500 documented cases from June 2012 until January 2014, whose culprits should be brought to justice and undergo a fair trial. They raised concerns that the issue of sexual violence would be shelved following the recent verdicts, without proper investigation into other cases. [Mada Masr, DNE, 7/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • EIPR says budget reflects government bias towards the rich | Mada Masr
  • Host stops appearing on TV following Morocco comments | Mada Masr


Gunmen kill 22 Egyptian military border guards near Libya

Gunmen armed with rocket-propelled grenades attacked a border guard post Saturday in Egypt’s western desert in an assault that killed 21 troops deployed in the province along the border with neighboring Libya. The Associated Press reported on Sunday that the death toll from the attack had risen to 22 troops, including three officers. Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi called it a “terrorist attack” on soldiers defending the country’s borders that will “not go unanswered.” Security officials said the assailants were smugglers. But an army spokesman said on his Facebook page that “terrorists” – the term authorities use to describe Islamist militants – were behind the attack. Sisi, along with top state officials including Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and Defense Minister Sedky Sobhy, attended the military funeral for the border guards on Sunday and announced three days of national mourning for the killed troops. A statement from the prime minister’s office in response to the attack said, “Egypt is capable, with the unity of its people and army, of eradicating terrorism…and of punishing those who committed this heinous crime.” Meanwhile, the British government condemned the attack on the Egyptian soldiers. “I strongly condemn the appalling terrorist attack on a border guard checkpoint near Farafra on Saturday,” said Minister for North Africa at the Foreign Office Tobias Ellwood. “The Egyptian authorities have our support as they investigate this incident and seek to prevent further attacks,” he added. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, AP, Reuters, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, The Guardian, 7/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • ‘Likely stray’ rocket from Gaza wounds Egyptian soldier: Officials | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Man shot dead after attempt to infiltrate Suez military installation | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian police officer shot dead in North Sinai | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Family of New Valley victim say body they received not their son’s | Egypt Independent
  • Security forces abort attempt to blow up Giza railway | Aswat Masriya


Kerry travels to Cairo on Monday for Gaza talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Cairo early Monday for crisis talks on Gaza, following President Barack Obama’s call for an “immediate ceasefire” between Israelis and Palestinians. Kerry will seek “an immediate cessation of hostilities based on a return to the November 2012 ceasefire agreement,” the White House said, stressing the need to protect civilian life both “in Gaza and in Israel.” While Egypt’s ceasefire proposal continues to be the basis of talks aiming to end the violence in Gaza, Egyptian officials were absent from high-level discussions on the issue held in Doha, Qatar on Sunday, said an anonymous foreign ministry source. Osama Hamdan, who is responsible for external affairs in Hamas, also said in a statement on Saturday that the Egyptian initiative was not in the interest of the Palestinian people and that there “was no serious initiative for us to accept or reject,” adding that there has also been contact with Turkey over the issue. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, however, said Saturday that the Egyptian ceasefire initiative on Gaza is still the only initiative on the table, and that Egypt did not review any other ceasefire initiative, whether from Turkey or Qatar. He added that Egypt has no plans to revise its ceasefire proposal. In a telephone call with President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdel-Aziz affirmed his country’s support for the Gaza truce proposal made by Egypt. Meanwhile, Egypt opened the Rafah border crossing on Saturday to receive wounded Palestinians, as the first casualty among wounded Palestinians being treated in Egypt died in an Egyptian hospital on Sunday. [Ahram Online, AP, Reuters, Aswat Masriya, 7/21/2014]

Egypt summons Turkish envoy over Erdogan slurs

Egypt on Sunday summoned the Turkish charge d’affaires in protest at disparaging remarks Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan made about Egypt and its president. Erdogan on Friday slammed Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi as a “tyrant” whose administration is “illegitimate,” and rebuked Cairo’s endeavours to negotiate a ceasefire in Gaza between Israel and Islamist Hamas movement, which has snubbed the truce deal. The foreign ministry said late on Saturday the summons was “to express rejection and resentment over comments the Turkish prime minister made about Egypt.” Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a meeting with newspaper editors on Thursday that Turkey, Hamas and Qatar are trying to sabotage Egypt’s role in the region. [Ahram Online, DNE, Reuters, 7/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Three drowned migrants found on Egypt coast | Ahram Online
  • 56 Egyptians dead or missing after boat capsizes | DNE
  • Two Egyptians killed in rocket attack in Libya | Ahram Online
  • Foreign ministry urges Egyptians in Libya to take measures of ‘extreme caution’ | DNE
  • Minister: Friendly atmosphere during Renaissance Dam talks | Egypt Independent
  • France secures 1 billion euro navy deal in Egypt | Egypt Independent, Reuters
  • Ireland removes travel ban on Sharm al-Sheikh | Egypt Independent
  • FM receives head of EU election follow-up mission | SIS
  • Why Islamic State’s caliphate is trouble for Egypt | Al Monitor