Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi says protests by his supporters and the violent crackdown against them are “useless” in a recording of a private conversation with one of his lawyers that was leaked by security authorities eager to show the Islamist leader in a less defiant posture. Morsi also asked his lawyer, Mohammed Salim el-Awa, for money to be deposited in his prison account for living expenses since he is not allowed visits by friends and family, according to the recording, excerpts of which were released by the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper.


Poll: 27 percent satisfied with government
In a new poll released by the Egyptian Center for Public Opinion Research, Baseera, on Tuesday, diverging opinions were given about the cabinet performance. The poll revealed that 27 percent of Egyptians rated the cabinet performance as “good”, while 20 percent rated it as “bad”, with the majority of 38 percent rating it as “average” and some 16 percent saying they don’t know. The poll was conducted on a sample of 2,000 people by phone between 28 and 30 January. The poll shows higher levels of satisfaction with government performance in rural areas, where it reached 29 percent, compared to 24 percent in urban areas. According to Baseera, which publicized the results in a press release, the numbers reflect an improvement from results published back in November, when only 20 percent of Egyptians were satisfied with government performance, with 19 percent rating it as bad and 27 percent deeming it average. [Mada Masr, DNE, Ahram Gateway (Arabic), 2/11/2014]

Secular Egyptian detainees complain of police torture; Ministry of interior denies allegations
Secular activists arrested last month on the third anniversary of the revolt against Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak say they have been tortured, some with electric shocks, relatives and lawyers who have seen them said. “He told me he was hanging by his arms from the ceiling and beaten very badly. He was taken to a room and blindfolded so he could hear the screams of men who were being tortured,” said Hoda Mahmoud, referring to her detained husband Khaled al-Sayed. “Some were sexually abused. He was stripped naked and they threw cold water at him. He was strapped to a chair and beaten for hours,” Mahmoud said. The Interior Ministry denied any abuses. Ahmed Helmy, the Interior Ministry’s media coordinator, denied any abuses, saying the judiciary and prosecutor-general regularly inspected all prisons. “Any prisoner who has a complaint has the right to file a petition to the ministry and the ministry is obliged to look into it and investigate.” [Reuters, EGYNews (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic), Tahrir (Arabic), 2/11/2014]

In leaked recording, Morsi says protests “useless”
Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi says protests by his supporters and the violent crackdown against them are “useless” in a recording of a private conversation with one of his lawyers that was leaked by security authorities eager to show the Islamist leader in a less defiant posture. Morsi also asked his lawyer, Mohammed Salim el-Awa, for money to be deposited in his prison account for living expenses since he is not allowed visits by friends and family, according to the recording, excerpts of which were released by the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper. Another member of Morsi’s defense team, Mohammed al-Damati, denounced the recording, calling it a violation of privacy and the Islamist leader’s constitutional rights, and threatened to file a lawsuit. [AP, 2/10/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egypt’s interim president continues to court youths | Ahram Online
Fifty-four Popular Current members approve of Sabbahy’s presidential bid, three disapprove | Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
Political factions reject allowing appeals in presidential elections | Ahram Online


Mubarak trial adjourned to March 8
A Cairo criminal court adjourned on Monday the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak and others to March 8. Mubarak, his sons and interior minister Habib al-Adly, and six of his aides, are accused of complicity in the killing of peaceful protesters during the January 25 uprising of 2011. The court heard a testimony and reviewed evidence, with presidential guard Ahmed Ayman giving his testimony. In the next session, the court will hear the testimony of the head of Giza police, Kamal al-Daly. During the hearing, the defense inspected reports on the use of weapons and tear gas. The court adjourned, requesting more information from the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 2/10/2014]

Over 1,000 Brotherhood members referred to criminal court
The prosecution referred 1,207 Muslim Brotherhood members to the Minya Criminal Court on Monday. The defendants are charged with storming and burning the Matay police station, killing a police officer, stealing weapons and releasing inmates, reported the state-owned news site EgyNews. The trial is set to start on March 3. Also on Monday, the Ismailia Criminal Court adjourned the trial of seven people accused of killing a police officer to February 12. Meanwhile, the Cairo Criminal Court renewed the detention of 104 Brotherhood members for another forty-five days on charges of killing six during clashes between supporters and opponents of ousted president Mohamed Morsi in Boulaq Abu al-Ala. Another forty-two Brotherhood members were referred to criminal court on Tuesday detained during the January 25 anniversary clashes in Cairo. [Mada Masr, Shorouk (Arabic), Tahrir (Arabic), 2/11/2014]

Egypt denies upholding death sentence for fourteen militants
The Egyptian presidency on Monday denied a report that it had upheld the death penalties of fourteen people convicted of attacking police in North Sinai in 2011. The state news agency MENA had earlier reported that the presidency had upheld the sentences handed down to the men, all from the Tawheed wal Jihad (“Monotheism and Holy War”) group. They were sentenced in 2012 to hang for killing three police officers, an army officer and a civilian in attacks on a police station and a bank in the town of el-Arish in 2011. Deposed president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood did not sign the execution orders during his one year in office, which ended when the army deposed him after mass protests against his rule. [Reuters, 2/11/2014]

Also of Interest:
Trial of Safaga Police Department attackers postponed to May 12 | Egypt Independent
Trial of Badie and fourteen Brotherhood leaders in Bahr al-Azam case postponed to March 8 | Tahrir (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic), EGYNews (Arabic)
Lawsuit on application of maximum and minimum wages postponed to early April | EGYNews (Arabic)
Detention renewed of thirty-six accused of burning Malaak Mikhail Church and police stations in Giza | AMAY (Arabic)


Foreign investment in Egypt at about $2 billion in first half of year  
Egypt received at least $2 billion in foreign direct investment from July to December last year, investment minister Osama Saleh told Reuters on the sidelines of an investment event on Tuesday. “Foreign direct investment was between $2 billion and $2.1 billion in the first half,” Saleh said, referring to the fiscal year that began on July 1. In a press conference held on the sidelines of Cityscape Egypt Business Breakfast on Tuesday, the minister noted that the Egyptian government is targeting $4 billion in investments for FY14. Despite the ongoing security and political instability, Egypt’s net foreign investments attained around US$ 9.2 billion over the last three years, he added.  Moreover, the minister also stated that private investments in Egypt reached EGP 36 billion in the first quarter of the current fiscal year. [Reuters, Amwal al-Ghad, Aswat Masriya, 2/11/2014]

Also of Interest:
77 percent of young Egyptian employees prefer entrepreneurship: survey | DNE
Supply Minister: Wheat reserve until mid-June 2014 | Egypt Independent
National Bank of Egypt gets $50 million from EBRD | Amwal Al-Ghad
Strike at Egypt’s largest public textile factory | Ahram Online


One killed, two injured as bridge collapses in Cairo
Sheikh Mansour bridge collapsed in al-Marg, Cairo, at 4 a.m. Tuesday, killing a police corporal and injuring two other people. One hundred meters of the bridge collapsed, falling on the underground metro’s railway and blocking the Ezbet al-Nakhl and New al-Marg stations. A fire broke out in shacks under the al-Sheikh Mansour bridge in Cairo’s al-Marg district and a number of gas cylinders exploded as a result, causing a section of the bridge to collapse. The shacks underneath the bridge are informally populated by a community of residents. Brigadier General Khaled al-Hayatmy of al-Marg Police Station said he had not received notices with other victims, pointing out that civil defense forces and ambulance remained at the scene of the incident as heavy equipment lifted the rubble. Eyewitnesses reported that a number of victims were still buried under the rubble. Egypt’s head of the underground service has said that the metro will not be going to the last three stations on the Marg Line, pointing to fears that the bridge might collapse further due to the damages caused by the fire. The governor of Cairo commented that urgent housing is needed for those affected by the bridge collapse. [DNE, Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 2/11/2014]

Towering gates at Cairo’s Tahrir Square draw criticism
Towering metal gates erected near Cairo’s Tahrir Square by the army-backed authorities have drawn criticism as a new form of police repression in an area where Egyptians launched a historic uprising for democracy in 2011. Its top bristling with spikes, and painted in the national colors, the three-meter-(10-foot)-high structure was put up in what the Interior Ministry has depicted as an effort to restore a semblance of normality to central Cairo. It replaces one of the many temporary concrete walls that sprang up in the district over the past three years. “These gates were put up temporarily. In the case of any security incidents, they will shut the street,” said Hany Abdel Latif, spokesman for the Interior Ministry. Critics say the fortified structure perpetuates what they hoped were only temporary blockades and reinforces the sense of a nation in crisis seven months after the army ousted elected President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. But because of its look of permanence, the imposing metal gate across Qasr al-Eini is especially offensive to democracy advocates in the Arab world’s largest country. Ruweida Omar, a rights activist, said: “We had hope that one day the concrete barriers would be removed. The iron barricade has taken away that hope. When I saw the gate, I really thought that we were living under siege.” [Reuters, 2/10/2014]

Also of Interest:
NCHR looks into torture reports of revolutionary anniversary detainees | DNE
Father of jailed Al-Jazeera reporter Greste renews appeal to Egypt | Ahram Online
Low participation at Egypt’s doctor strike, health ministry repeats | Ahram Online
Doctors Syndicate: Participation in nationwide strike 50 percent | Egypt Independent
Spinning and weaving workers resume strike demanding minimum wage be applied | Egypt Independent
Policemen in New Valley stage strike, demand armament and incentives | Egypt Independent
Ghetany to French press: Egypt needs a strong leader like General Charles de Gaulle | Shorouk (Arabic)
Egypt’s Grand Mufti decries identification of political leaders with prophets | Ahram Online
Six political groups to hold conference demanding release of political detainees |  Ahram Online
Brotherhood marches in Helwan commemorating Mubarak’s ouster | AMAY (Arabic)


Gas pipeline attacked in Egypt’s Sinai for the fourth time
Unknown assailants, suspected al-Qaeda-inspired militants, blew up a natural gas pipeline in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Tuesday, in the fourth such attack this year. The explosion took place south of the coastal city of al-Arish on a pipeline supplying an industrial zone in central Sinai, state news agency MENA reported. There were no immediate reports of casualties and security forces were scanning the area to identify the cause of the blast, security sources said. Eyewitnesses reported seeing smoke a few meters high as a result of the blast. Security sources said engineers had been instructed to shut down the pipes’ stopcocks. The pipeline, which runs to an industrial area south of the town of al-Arish, has been bombed twenty times since the January 25 Revolution. [Ahram Online, DNE, 2/11/2014]

Gunmen kill police officer in Egypt’s Ismailia; One “extremist” killed, seven arrested in Ismailia and Port Said
A police officer was killed in a drive-by shooting in the Egyptian Suez Canal city of Ismailia on Tuesday. Unidentified gunmen killed the traffic policeman, stealing his weapon, an eyewitness said. Officer Ahmed Saber was working when he was approached by two masked assailants, on a motorcycle, who fired shots at him and stole his weapon before escaping. Police are investigating whether the assailants stole the officer’s gun and shot him with it or used their own weapon. Security began a search for the assailants throughout the city, combing all streets leading to the scene of the crime, to arrest the criminals. Meanwhile, Egypt’s army spokesman Ahmed Ali said that one extremist was killed and seven were arrested on Tuesday in a co-joint security operation launched by the army and police in Ismailia and Port Said. The authorities also confiscated explosives in the arrest, the spokesman added. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 2/11/2014]

Also of Interest:
Interior Ministry to secure threatened public figures | Egypt Independent


Egypt says negotiations with Ethiopia over Renaissance Dam failed
The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said on Monday evening that the negotiations in Addis Ababa over the Renaissance Dam crisis between Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan had failed as the “Ethiopian government did not respond to the Egyptian proposals and insisted on its position.” The Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation said in a statement after the end of the negotiations session between Egypt’s delegation to with Ethiopian representatives that all the proposals made by Egypt to resolve the outstanding problems met were with unjustified resistance by the Ethiopian side, up to the point of obstinacy, which proved that the Ethiopian side was not giving sufficient attention and seriousness to solving the crisis. Mohamed Abdel-Muttalib, Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources, said in a press statement that the Ethiopian side rejected compromises to bring the views closer and achieve mutual advantage to the Nile Basin countries. The Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is lacking in legitimacy since no country voiced its approval of the constructions Ethiopia is building along the Blue Nile, an Irrigation and Water Resources Minister official has said. A spokesperson for the cabinet said that Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy and Abdel-Muttalib have not yet discussed the result of the negations with Ethiopia and the visit will be discussed later in detail. [Egypt Independent, 2/11/2014]

USAID says to increase aid to Egypt, if Congress accepts
Mary C. Ott, mission director for Egypt for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), expressed readiness to increase economic aid allocated to Egypt up to $300 million from $250 million after approval of the US Congress, Egypt Independent reported. On the sidelines of the third Euro-Mediterranean Conference for funding, Ott said the agency offers complete technical and financial support for private sector in Egypt and the Middle East. She added that several programs on development in Egypt and the Middle East were set to eradicate high poverty rates due to lack of competition between banks and the budget deficit that faces the government. She also mentioned establishing funds for companies in Egypt and Tunisia to increase the capital and create jobs as well as stimulating small- and medium-sized companies. The main problem in Egypt is financing the projects, which are self-financed by owners of the companies she said. [Egypt Independent, 2/11/2014]

European Union seeks wider free trade agreement with Egypt
The European Union wants to restart talks with Egypt over a wider free trade deal that could help double the value of commercial exchanges in the next few years, the EU ambassador to Cairo said on Monday. His comments signal the European Union’s wish to safeguard economic ties with Egypt, despite Western misgivings about its political evolution since the army overthrew elected Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July following mass protests against him. “Our offer for a far-reaching Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) remains on the table,” EU envoy James Moran told an investment conference in the Egyptian capital. “We doubled trade in the six-year period 2004 to 2010. We believe we can do it again and double it again over the next few years if we get these talks under way.” [Reuters, 2/11/2014]

Also of Interest:
Saudi newspaper: Iranian charge d’affairs in Cairo warned against celebrating Iranian revolution | Egypt Independent
Beblawy and Jordanian counterpart Ensour sign eight agreements between Egypt and Jordan | EGYNews (Arabic), Ahram Gateway (Arabic), AMAY (Arabic)
Sisi meets with Prime Minister of Jordan to discuss joint cooperation | AMAY (Arabic)