Top News: Qatar Gives ‘Full Support’ to Egypt; US Delivers Apaches;  Egypt Appoints New Intelligence Chief

Qatar has pledged its “full support” to Egypt, an official statement said, ending more than a year of regional isolation over its support for Cairo’s ousted Islamist president.


Egyptian politician Ahmed Shafiq elected head of new political party
Former presidential candidate and Mubarak’s last Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq  won uncontested elections on Saturday to become head of the Egyptian National Movement Party, despite not being in Egypt since June 2012.  Shafiq joined the meeting via conference call, announcing that he would be handling his responsibilities from the United Arab Emirates. He earlier said he was pressured to run for elections despite being abroad. He said he would take advantage of many prominent figures that could run the party along with him. “My travel will not prevent me from running the party. I will return to Cairo soon after ending legal measures,” he said. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 12/20/2014]

Also of Interest

  • Sami Anan party calls for election delay | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian Social Democratic Party rejects restrictions on freedoms under ‘terrorism’ pretext | Egypt Independent


After first session, ‘bathhouse trial’ postponed to January 4
The first session of the trial of twenty-six men arrested for homosexuality on Sunday, held in the Galaa Courthouse in Azbakeya, Cairo, ended in postponement, amid chaotic courtroom scenes. The court adjourned the case to January 4, with the defendants remaining in detention. As defendants were dragged into the courtroom handcuffed to each other, some of them tried to hide their faces, while a relative yelled, “There is nothing wrong with these men.” An Egyptian court official says the judge barred photographers from taking courtroom pictures after the families of the defendants protested. In a statement, Egyptian rights organization the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), condemned the arrests, saying they were accompanied by harsh violations to the Egyptian constitution. They also called upon authorities to ensure a fair trial. Although homosexuality is not technically illegal in Egypt, those suspected of homosexual acts are often charged under a law that prohibits “debauchery” and indecent public acts. According to EIPR, over 150 individuals have been arrested in Egypt under the pretext of practicing “debauchery” since June 30. [DNE, Ahram Online, AP, 12/22/2014]

Egyptian court lifts ban on granting citizenship to Palestinians
A Cairo court has overturned a decision by Egypt’s interior ministry to suspend the granting of Egyptian citizenship to Palestinians born to Egyptian mothers, a judicial source said. The administrative court on Sunday said the country’s constitution enshrines the right to Egyptian nationality to sons of Egyptian mothers, binding the ministry – which is in charge of citizenship affairs – to do so in the case of Palestinians, the source added. Until recently, Egypt, like most Arab countries, had refused to grant Palestinians Egyptian nationality pursuant to an Arab League resolution dating back to 1959 which aimed to “preserve the Palestinian identity.” [Ahram Online, 12/21/2014]

Egyptian judge accused of bias declines to step down from Brotherhood trial
A Cairo judge presiding over the trial of a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders declined to recuse himself on Sunday amid accusations that he is politically biased. Nagy Shehata has given several press interviews recently in which he has spoken against the Muslim Brotherhood, a group which was designated a terrorist organization and banned in 2013. During a Cairo criminal court session on Sunday, defense lawyers called on Nagy Shehata to step down. Defendants in the case include the Brotherhood’s supreme guide, Mohamed Badie, the deputy supreme guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mahmoud Ghozlan, former Kafr al-Sheikh governor Saad al-Hossainy, and Egyptian-American Mohamed Soltan, who is on hunger strike. [Ahram Online, 12/21/2014]

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Oil price drop to save Egypt 30 billion Egyptian pounds in energy subsidies
According to the Egyptian minister of petroleum, the global drop in oil prices will save Egypt a third of its fuel subsidy bill in the current fiscal year. As a result, fuel subsidies will drop to about 70 billion Egyptian pounds ($9.7 billion) in the fiscal year ending June 2015, down from 100 billion Egyptian pounds originally planned. The fall in oil is good news for the Egyptian government which in July slashed fuel subsidies and hopes to reduce the budget deficit to 11 percent of GDP. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/22/2014]

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Independent rights group EIPR to register under controversial NGO law
The Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) announced on Sunday its intention to register under the law governing non-governmental organizations in Egypt, despite remaining critical of the law. “The Board has come to its decision despite numerous reservations on the existing law which, in its execution, cements full government control of civil associations’ activities and funding, permits government to appoint members of NGO boards and even to dissolve NGOs without a court order,” EIPR, currently registered as a firm, said. The decision was made by board members and staff in order to continue work and confront what they term a “flawed law,” urging the government to put an end to the “current climate of suspicion” against human rights groups in Egypt. EIPR added in a statement that it will continue working on revoking the NGO law and replacing it with “a democratic law to govern civil action.” [Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, Egypt Independent, 12/21/2014]

Also of Interest

  • Photojournalist Shawkan describes ‘endless nightmare’ from behind bars | DNE
  • Poll: 44 percent of Egyptians have negative views of Brotherhood political role, 43 percent disagree | Egypt Independent
  • On-campus violations against students continue: AFTE | DNE
  • Bassem Youssef fined 100 million Egyptian pounds in compensation to CBC | Ahram Online
  • Egypt to allow limited number of fans at league matches | Egypt Independent, DNE
  • Labor activist continues hunger strike over protesting workers’ crackdown | Egypt Independent
  • Workers on hunger strike in three locations across Egypt | Mada Masr
  • Red Sea Authority ends search for missing fishermen from sunken boat | Aswat Masriya


Egypt police hail arrest of 10,000 ‘terrorists, rioters, Facebook admins’ in 2014
Egypt’s security situation is improving after over 10,000 people were detained since January, assistant to the Minister of Interior, Abdel Fattah Othman, was quoted as saying in state-owned news agency MENA. The arrests were made for “rioting” and belonging to “terrorist organizations,” Othman said.  He added that police forces arrested 6,400 “rioters,” 2,600 accused of “attacking police stations,” 460 on terrorism charges, and 119 for administering Facebook pages that “incite against the military and police.” Meanwhile, the interior ministry denied reports that approximately 600 minors between the ages of 14 and 17 were detained in an underground prison affiliated with a Central Security Forces camp in the Qalyubia governorate. [Ahram Online, DNE, Egypt Independent, 12/21/2014]

President appoints new acting head of intelligence agency
Egypt’s intelligence chief Mohamed Farid al-Tohamy has been removed and his deputy, Khaled Fawzy, appointed as acting head in his place, the Egyptian presidency said. No official reason was given for Tohamy’s departure. The state-run news portal Al-Ahram said Tohamy, who is in his 60s, was retired for health reasons. Tohamy was granted the Order of the Republic for “his efforts throughout his career,” as per the presidential decree. Khaled Fawzy was previously the head of the National Security Authority, part of the General Intelligence Service, and was also the advisor to the director of the GIS. [Ahram Online, DNE, AFP, AP, Aswat Masriya, 12/21/2014]

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US delivers Apache helicopters to Egypt, disappointed entry denied to US scholar
Egypt was handed ten Apache helicopters from the United States, official military spokesperson Mohamed Samir confirmed to state media Saturday. The shipment follows an August deal as part of US military aid to Egypt. The announcement was made to put an end to doubts regarding the delayed delivery. Previous reports cited the “deliberate postponement” of the delivery from the US side to put pressure on Egypt. The Pentagon, however, said in September that the United States would deliver the helicopters to support Cairo’s counterterrorism efforts. Meanwhile, the US State Department has said it is “disappointed” about an incident last week which saw an American scholar who had arrived at Cairo airport prevented from entering Egypt. Dr. Michele Dunne, an academic and former US diplomat, was denied entry to Egypt last week at Cairo International Airport. Spokesperson Psaki said in a press conference that Dunne’s case was raised with the Egyptian government, but that it is their understanding that she’s not banned from entering Egypt. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, Reuters, The Guardian, 12/20/2014]

Qatar gives ‘full support’ to Sisi’s Egypt
Qatar has pledged its “full support” to Egypt, an official statement said, ending more than a year of regional isolation over its support for Cairo’s ousted Islamist president. “The security of Egypt is important for the security of Qatar… the two countries are linked by deep and fraternal ties,” said a statement from the office of the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. The statement came a day after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met in Cairo with a Qatari envoy. A Saudi royal envoy attended that Saturday meeting. Sisi’s office said Egypt looks forward to a “new era that leaves behind the disagreements of the past.” A statement released by the Saudi palace on Saturday evening said that both countries “had accepted the Saudi initiative, understanding that it is in the interest of the two countries and their peoples,” and had agreed to “cease doing things which create rifts between the two country.” [AFP, AP, Ahram Online, DNE, 12/21/2014]

New Tunisian president talks up relations with Egypt, need for joint counterterrorism
Béji Caïd Essebsi, the winner of the Tunisian run-off presidential election on Sunday has called for the need to adopt a regional strategy to address the Libya situation. Essebsi said that the strategy, which would include Egypt, Libya and Algeria, amongst other countries, would reduce tensions and combat terrorism. Essebsi added that “relations between Egypt and Tunisia will always be characterized by cooperation and strength,” in a Sunday night phone interview with Egyptian satellite network ONtv. Preliminary unofficial results indicated that Essebsi won 55.5 percent of the vote in the presidential election runoff against Moncef Marzouki, leader of the center-left secular party Congress for the Republic. [DNE, 12/22/2014]

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