Top News: HRW Condemns Egypt’s Sinai Campaign; Cabinet Says Egypt Complied With International Law

The Egyptian government’s destruction of thousands of buildings in the Rafah border area to “counter the threat of smuggling tunnels was likely disproportionate,” Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in an 84-page report released Tuesday. The government evicted 3,200 families over the past two years, and razed hundreds of acres of farmland and thousands of homes in its bid to destroy illegal smuggling tunnels connecting the Gaza Strip with Egypt’s northern Sinai Peninsula, the rights group said. The report claims an additional 540 buildings were demolished in the sixteen months between Mohamed Morsi’s ouster and the official authorization of the campaign. HRW argued that, based on interviews with North Sinai citizens, Egyptian authorities “provided residents with little or no warning of the evictions and no effective way to challenge their eviction, home demolition, or compensation.” The rights group also said the United States had trained the Egyptian military to use “sophisticated tunnel-detecting technology” to find and destroy tunnels and avoid wiping out entire neighborhoods. The new cabinet meanwhile issued a statement, also on Tuesday, saying Egypt has complied with international human rights law and has consulted with local residents while combating terrorism in Sinai. The statement, which sums up the efforts of the Egyptian government in Sinai over the past two years, said that residents subject to compulsory evacuation were surveyed to find out their preferred method of compensation, with the majority choosing compensation in the form of cash. A minority preferred replacement land and housing. The cabinet also outlined a plan, which among other things, addresses the need for urgent humanitarian aid and precise economic compensation to local residents affected by security operations, the need to protect residents during military operations, and outlines strict rules for military engagement. [Aswat Masriya, AP, Mada Masr, 9/22/2015]


HEC rejects 9 percent of candidates primarily over positive drug tests
High Elections Committee (HEC) Spokesperson Omar Marwan announced that of the 5,955 individuals who applied to run in Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections, 535 have had their applications rejected. Marwan explained that there were a number of reasons for the high number of rejections. Marwan said many failed to provide necessary documents including proof of military service, proof of clean criminal records, statements about personal wealth, and proof they had not received money and donations for campaigning. The HEC spokesman, however, said the majority of the rejections were due to candidates failing obligatory medical tests by testing positive for illegal drug use. [Ahram Online, 9/21/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Next parliament will be worst in Egypt’s history says Secretary General of Egyptian Social Democratic Party | DNE


Court sentences Mubarak-era housing minister to three years in jail
Former housing minister Mohamed Ibrahim Suleiman was sentenced on Monday to three years in prison for squandering public funds during his time in office. He was convicted of selling public lands at below-market prices to the SODIC real estate group. The court also ordered the former minister, and fugitive businessman Magdy Rasekh, to return 970 million Egyptian pounds to the state treasury. Rasekh was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia. Other officials received various smaller sentences, ranging from a fine to one year in prison. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, 9/21/2015]

Ten female protesters referred to criminal court; Esraa Taweel detention renewed
The Damietta prosecution referred Monday ten female protesters to a criminal court. They are charged with illegal protesting and possession of weapons. Seven of them are students in different Egyptian universities. The incident goes back to last May, when riot police clashed with a group of protesters in Damietta, leading to the death of one police conscript and the arrest of thirteen female protesters.. Meanwhile, student and amateur photographer Esraa al-Taweel had her detention renewed for the eighth time on Monday. Taweel has been jailed for over three months on charges of belonging to a terrorist organization—namely the Muslim Brotherhood—and disseminating false information to foreign entities. Taweel’s lawyer, Halem Henish, told The Cairo Postthat lawyers were prevented from attending her trial, permitted only to attend her interrogation by the prosecution. He added that seven journalists and photographers were briefly detained while taking pictures of Taweel. [DNE, 9/21/2015]


African Development Bank allocates $450 million for Egypt in 2015
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has allocated has so far $450 million to Egypt in 2015, which plans to develop a strategy for cooperation from 2015 to 2019, Egypt’s new Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr announced on Tuesday. Nasr met with a delegation from the AfDB on Monday to discuss the strategy. The ministry stated that since 1974, the AfDB has provided an estimated $1.9 billion to Egypt for more than thirty-five projects in sectors including agriculture, transportation, and irrigation. During the meeting, Nasr and the AfDB agreed to complete financing for the development of the Sharm al-Sheikh International Airport, the deal for which was first signed in May. Also on Monday, Nasr confirmed that the ministry is working with various partners to receive needed financing for national development projects. She will participate in annual meetings with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in October. [Cairo Post, DNE, 9/22/215]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptians urged to dig into pockets to finance national recovery | Bloomberg
  • Egypt’s Industrial Development Authority launches program for investment | DNE
  • Egypt’s new industry minister outlines plan | DNE
  • Sisi reviews ways to attract investment | SIS
  • Egypt launches plan to meet market’s fuel needs | Cairo Post, AMAY
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, weaker at exchange bureaus | Reuters
  • Egypt stocks rise on foreign inflows | Reuters
  • Tourism Minister says Egypt is ‘stable,’ traffic up 5 percent since January | Aswat Masriya


Civil Service Law opponents to escalate protests after Eid Al-Adha
Tadamon, a coalition of labor syndicates and associations that rejects the application of the disputed Civil Service Law, said Monday it would escalate protest against the law after Eid Al-Adha. The escalation includes plans to march to the presidential palace. Tadamon, which includes more than twenty labor and employees associations, announced a gradual working plan, without revealing specific dates, to mobilize against the law. The plan also includes collecting suggestions for a new draft law to be presented to President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and to the upcoming parliament upon its assembly. [DNE, 9/22/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Eleven ‘homosexuals’ arrested in pre-Eid morality raids | DNE
  • Egypt welcomes Eid Al-Adha with strong precautions | DNE
  • Salafis condemn columnist who said Muslims acquire faith coincidently | AMAY
  • Beauty over brains: Egyptian media fixates on female ministers | Mada Masr
  • Study: Air pollution kills 35,000 a year in Egypt, with dust the biggest culprit | Mada Masr


Egypt says military killed ten militants in Western Desert, nine in North Sinai
Egypt’s Military Spokesman Brigadier General Mohamed Samir announced in a statement that troops have killed ten militants and arrested one suspect near the Bahariyya Oasis in the country’s western desert—an area where Egyptian forces earlier this month mistakenly attacked a group of tourists, killing twelve. The operation took place on September 21 and involved both air and ground forces. The military acted after receiving information that the “terrorists were preparing to infiltrate” several provinces during the upcoming Muslim holiday of Eid Al-Adha for “attacks on vital institutions and foreign interests.” The spokesman also announced that nine militants were killed and seventeen arrested during the fifteenth consecutive day of the Martyr’s Right operation in North Sinai. [AP, AMAY, Aswat Masriya, SIS, Cairo Post, Ahram Online, 9/22/2015]
Also of Interest

  • Three Egyptian conscripts dead, thirty-seven injured in Suez road accident | Ahram Online
  • Police arrest over twenty alleged Brotherhood members on terrorism charges | DNE


Hamas reiterates rejection of ‘water channels’ along Gaza border
Palestinian movement Hamas affirmed Sunday its rejection of “Egypt’s project” to build salt-water channels along the border with Gaza. The group says it poses a threat to a large number of houses on the Palestinian side of the border and endangers underground natural waters. Hamas stated that it was in contact with Egyptian officials regarding the matter, to request an end to the measure. Hamas also condemned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s stance on the matter, as he admitted to advising the Egyptian authorities to implement the channels, according to Sunday’s press release. Khaled Okasha, former brigadier general of the Egyptian military, however, said, “This is a normal security procedure designed to destroy the tunnels.” He added, “The tunnels are illegal and illegitimate, and that is an internationally agreed upon concept.” [DNE, 9/21/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Mexican tourists’ bodies flown out of Egypt says airport sources | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt urges international parties to deal positively with Syrian refugees’ crisis | SIS
  • Assistant Foreign Minister receives African ambassadors | SIS
  • Egypt in talks with DR Congo, Zambia for more coop | SIS