Top News: New ISIS in Sinai Video Documents Use of Advanced Weaponry

A new video released by Sinai State, the peninsula’s Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliated militant group, allegedly documents a number of sophisticated operations on Egyptian army targets and appears to show the group’s capacity to move with alarming freedom through areas of North Sinai. The well-produced 37-minute video, published Tuesday, shows the group targeting military bases, patrols, supplies convoys, as well as the capturing of weaponry. The video documents numerous instances of roadside explosives to attack military patrols through the area. In certain scenes of the new video, convoys of around twelve pickup trucks converted to carry heavy machine guns parade through what seems to be rural and semi-urban areas of North Sinai. The video shows an attack using explosives on a police station in the town of Sheikh Zuweid, as well as the launching of a missile that struck a naval vessel in the Mediterranean in July. It also shows the group using highly advanced Kornet anti-tank missile launchers. [DNE, 9/2/2015]


Foreign ministry gears up for expat vote; New electoral alliance formed
The foreign ministry announced in a statement Wednesday that a committee in charge of overseas balloting has begun work in preparation of the upcoming parliamentary polls in 139 countries. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry assigned his deputy Hamdy Sand Loza to lead the committee. Shoukry ordered that an integrated plan be outlined to increase staff at embassies in countries with big Egyptian communities. The Spokesperson for the High Elections Committee (HEC) said Thursday that at least 3,417 candidates across the country have registered for the elections. Meanwhile, Tagammu, Socialist Popular Alliance, Communist, and Socialist Parties formed a new electoral coalition called the Leftist Alliance.  It said Tuesday that it would soon announce their program for the elections. According to Magdy Sharabia, Secretary-General of the Tagammu Party, the alliance will target individual parliamentary seats, which exceed 400 seats. “Our party will have 40 members competing for those seats,” he said. Formerly announced electoral lists, such as Sahwet Misr and Fi Hob Misr, have become unstable, while Wehdet Misr has stepped in. Each of those includes independent politicians and party members, competing for seats allocated to closed-lists. [MENA, 9/3/2015]

Higher Education Ministry exempts children of officers, judges from universities zoning rules
The Supreme Council of Universities (SCU) announced Wednesday a decision that grants children of judges, police and army officers exemption from zoning university admissions restrictions. Zoning restrictions limit high school graduates to applying to state universities in their immediate geographical districts. The SCU said the decision was made due to the “national significance” of the nature of their parent’s work. Higher Education Minister Ahmed Abdel Khalek said Wednesday the decision was based on the fact that parents who work in “nationally sensitive jobs” should be able to focus on their work and not be distracted by their children’s absence. He denied that the decision was discriminatory. The Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights (EOHR) expressed its concern about the decision arguing that it is a violation of the constitution. The semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) also expressed concern over the decision, saying it violates the rights of equality, equal opportunity, and citizenship. Cairo University President Gaber Nassar has said he will refuse any exceptions. Mohamed al-Toukhi, vice president of Ain Shams University, said the authorization was condemned by many university presidents, but that he would have to respect it. “We are only talking about four or five cases,” he added. [Ahram OnlineAMAY, 9/2/2015]


Seventy-seven detainees released on medical grounds; Court refuses to remove MB members from terror list
Egypt’s acting Prosecutor General Ali Omran ordered on Wednesday the release of seventy-seven detainees who suffer critical medical conditions. The released had been jailed pending investigations into accusations they were involved in illegal protesting. The prosecution has not provided the names of the released prisoners. The order for the release came following recommendations made to the Prosecutor General’s office by aides. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Cassation Court rejected on Wednesday an appeal submitted by top Muslim Brotherhood members, including the group’s supreme guide, to be removed from the countries “terrorism list” on Wednesday. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, along with seventeen other high profile members from the organization, including Khairat al-Shater, Mohamed al-Beltagy and Essam al-Erian, were all placed on the “terrorism list” earlier in 2015 by the late Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat. A criminal court in Upper Egypt’s Sohag also sentenced on Thursday nineteen alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to three years in prison on charges of inciting violence, protesting, and promoting the ideas of the banned group. Only seven of the defendants were present when the verdict was issued. [Ahram Online, 9/3/2015]

Life imprisonment of low-ranking policemen commuted to suspended sentences
Nine low-ranking policemen were given a suspended sentence of one year in prison for raiding a prosecution office in Sohag, Upper Egypt. Their sentences were commuted from three to twenty-five years in prison. In January, the Sohag Criminal Court sentenced three policemen to life in prison in absentia, eight others were sentenced to ten years and one was handed down three years in prison. All the policemen work at the same police station. In October 2014, the prosecution ordered an investigation into the chiefs of the police station for allegedly failing to take the testimonies of injured people in a traffic accident that involved the car of a prosecutor. The prosecutors accused the policemen of raiding their office in objection to the investigation and insulting them. They also claimed the policemen confined them to the office and threatened them with firearms. [Cairo Post, 9/3/2015]

Prison verdicts issued in mass trial for church arson attack
The Sohag Criminal Court ruled Thursday to sentence 119 Muslim Brotherhood defendants accused of torching a church in Upper Egypt in 2013 to sentences ranging from ten years to life imprisonment. Only sixty-eight of the defendants were in court Thursday, while the rest were sentenced in absentia. The verdicts were: life imprisonment for thirty-one defendants, fifteen years in prison for fifty-seven, and ten years for thirty-one. Charges also included non-peaceful assembly, use of weapons, sabotage, premeditated murder, attempted murder, and stealing public facilities, weapons and ammunition from the Sohag Security Directorate. Only sixty-eight of the 119 defendants had been detained. [DNE, Cairo Post, 9/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Military court to decide on fate of twenty four civilians | Mada Masr
  • Calls to protest church’s alleged financial corruption and divorce laws refused | Mada Masr


IMF delegation to visit Egypt in two weeks
A delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to visit Cairo in mid-September to hold talks with Egyptian officials on recent economic developments, IMF mission chief for Egypt Christopher Jarvis told state-owned news agency MENA. Jarvis said that the visit will aim at holding talks with senior government officials regarding the country’s latest economic developments. “Egypt has adopted a good economic and reform program, which includes the first phase of rationalizing the energy subsidy system,” Jarvis said, stressing the need to implement the reform program in order to improve Egypt’s economy. Egypt has set five-year macroeconomic targets with real gross domestic product growth reaching at least 6 percent by the end of 2018/19. [Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 9/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt business activity expands in August at sharpest rate of 2015 | Reuters  
  • Saudi, Egypt stocks rise alongside global markets as oil steadies | Reuters
  • Egypt says Zohr gas find will not undermine talks on imports from Israel | Reuters
  • Egyptian pound steady at dollar sale, exchange bureaux | Reuters


Three NCHR members say Aqrab prison report ‘distorts reality’
Three members from Egypt’s semi-governmental National Council for Human Rights withdrew from the council’s meeting on Wednesday in objection to a report issued by the council praising treatment of inmates by jail authorities after an inspection visit by council members to the prison last Thursday. Ragia Omran, George Ishaq, and Kamal Abbas, issued a statement Wednesday voicing their criticism of the recent visit and the way it was handled both internally and externally by the organization. They said in the statement that they had repeatedly asked the council leadership to include them in the delegation which was formed to inspect the prison, but were excluded. Numerous rules were broken by the members that inspected the prison, the statement added, the most significant of which was allowing the interior ministry to film the visit. The three members said they believed that conflicting statements from the visiting delegation as well as the contradictory report to the numerous complaints from prisoners’ families undermine the credibility of the council. [Ahram OnlineDNEAMAY, 9/2/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Low salaries root cause of unrest in health care: Dina Omar | DNE
  • Magnitude 4.4 earthquake jolts Egypt’s northern coast | Ahram Online
  • Special Report: In Egypt, jailed Islamists ‘dying of neglect’ | Reuters


Three “armed” men killed in Sinai checkpoint says army spokesman
The Egyptian army reportedly killed three alleged terrorists who tried to attack a checkpoint in North Sinai’s Sheikh Zuweid early on Thursday morning. According to a statement (Warning: Graphic photo) on the army spokesperson’s official Facebook page, “three alleged terrorists on a motorbike opened fire on a moving army checkpoint as they tried to escape it. The army fired back.” Additionally, four policemen were injured in an anonymous attack on a checkpoint on the Beni Suef-Fayoum agricultural road Wednesday evening. Twelve suspects, one in possession of two tear gas bombs, were arrested from nearby villages following the incident. Those arrested were referred to the prosecution for interrogation. [Aswat Masriya, 9/3/2015]


Egypt’s Sisi meets Omar al-Bashir in Beijing
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met on Thursday with Sudanese counterpart Omar al-Bashir in Beijing on the sidelines of the anniversary celebrations of the end of World War II. The two leaders discussed the latest developments in the region as well as bilateral relations. Sisi is due to travel to Indonesia on Thursday, the third and final leg of his Asia tour, where he will hold talks with his Indonesian counterpart. He will be the first Egyptian president to visit Indonesia since 1983. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 9/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Sisi, other world leaders attend China’s military parade commemorating WWII victory | SIS, Cairo Post (Video)
  • Egypt can recover funds in Swiss banks through new illicit gains law says Zind | DNE
  • EU, WFP fund Egypt’s student welfare project | Egypt Independent