Top News: Russia Confirms Bomb Downed its Plane Over Egypt; Cairo Yet to Comment

Russia said Tuesday that a passenger plane that crashed in the Sinai desert last month was brought down by “a terrorist act.” Russian President Vladimir Putin led a meeting late Monday in which Federal Security Service Chief Alexander Bortnikov said an examination of passengers’ belongings, luggage, and fragments of the crash revealed that there were traces of “foreign-made explosives,” the Kremlin said in a statement on Tuesday. Bortnikov said a homemade explosive device equivalent to 1 kilograms of TNT was responsible for the midair breakup of the plane. The Egyptian side has yet to respond to the Russian announcement, but state-run Al-Ahram said the Egyptian Cabinet will release a statement shortly. An Egyptian official at the Ministry of Aviation also reportedly said Tuesday that Egypt was not officially notified of the Kremlin’s statement. Putin vowed to hunt down those responsible, and the Russian government has offered a $50 million reward to anyone who helps it detain those responsible for placing the bomb on the plane. Hassan al-Nahla, head of the Egyptian Tourist Guide Syndicate, said Russia’s announcement will “have a very bad impact on Egyptian tourism during the current period.” Over 72,000 Russian tourists have been airlifted from Egyptian resorts in the aftermath of the crash. Meanwhile, Egypt denied on Tuesday the arrest of two employees at Sharm al-Sheikh airport, countering a report by Reuters that two were arrested in connection with the crash. [Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, The Guardian, 11/17/2015]


Unknown assailants attack parliamentary candidates in Sharqiya, Daqahliya
Two separate attacks have been carried out on parliamentary candidates running in Egypt’s current elections in the past two days. Nour Party candidate Emad al-Mahdy was stabbed in front of his campaign headquarters in Egypt’s Sharqiya governorate, the candidate’s Facebook page said.  The attacker fled immediately after stabbing the candidate. The attack left a deep cut in Mahdy’s abdominal area and he was taken to al-Obour hospital in Zagazig for treatment, the party said in a press release. The incident marks the third time that a Nour Party candidate has been attacked during the current elections. Two unidentified gunmen also opened fire Monday on candidate Ashraf Nagi al-Adrosy in Daqahliya, north of Cairo. Adrosy sustained injuries in his shoulder and is expected to leave the hospital by Tuesday. Adrosy’s supporters told Aswat Masriya that they suspected that a rival candidate was behind the attack, adding that they had threatened to shoot him two days ago. Meanwhile, the runoff election from the first phase of elections is scheduled to take place from December 5 to December 7 in four constituencies, after being canceled by court order.  The revote will take place in constituencies in Beni Suef, Alexandria, and Damanhour. [Ahram Online, DNE, Cairo Post, Aswat Masriya, 11/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Governor reshuffle to take place soon says Minister of Local Development | Cairo Post
  • Electoral alliance criticizes financial influence, state bias in elections | AMAY


Egypt prosecution orders detention of Austrian national for 4 days over Suez Canal photos
A Port Said prosecutor ordered on Monday the four-day detention of an Austrian citizen pending investigation after he was arrested for photographing military ships in the Suez Canal. The prosecution said that upon questioning, the Austrian national said that he works as a security consultant for a German company that is seeking investment projects in Egypt.  He said that the company assigned him to provide a report on the security status of several Egyptian governorates. The unnamed Austrian national, who is in his forties, was arrested for allegedly taking pictures at the Mediterranean entrance of the Suez Canal at Port Said, the stationed security services guarding the customs’ ports, as well as other areas, including the airport. [Ahram Online, 11/16/2015]

Fugitive tycoon Hussein Salem negotiating reconciliation deal
Fugitive businessman Hussein Salem, an ally of former President Hosni Mubarak, is close to reaching a deal with the Egyptian government to drop corruption charges in exchange for a multi-billion-pound financial settlement. Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend announced that negotiations are ongoing to retrieve the funds Salem allegedly smuggled abroad following his escape to Spain after the 2011 uprising against Mubarak. Mada Masr reports that President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi requested that Salem pay EGP10 billion as part of the deal, according to Zend. Salem had also told independent daily Al-Watan in a phone call Monday that he would renounce 75 percent of his wealth, an estimated US$1.4 billion, to Egypt in return for dropping the corruption charges against him. [AMAY, Mada Masr, 11/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s state security prosecution renews detention for Mada media foundation director | Ahram Online
  • Lawyer Hamdy Al-Fakhrani’s trial set for November 18 | DNE
  • Court adjourns Egyptian-American Aya Hegazy’s case after defendants transferred to court late | Mada Masr


IFC to provide loan to Credence Group to boost tourism
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, announced Monday it will hold a signing ceremony on November 19 to announce a loan to Credence Group, a leading hospitality company in Egypt, to support the country’s tourism sector and help boost economic growth. The initiative is part of the IFC’s efforts to support Egypt’s economy and attract investment, the institution said in a statement Monday. “Between fiscal years 2011 and 2015, IFC’s investments in Egypt totaled close to US$1.2 billion, including mobilization, covering eighteen projects across the financial markets, infrastructure, oil and gas, agribusiness, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors,” said the IFC statement. [Egypt Independent, 11/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt issues 732.2 million euro in T-bills at average yield of 2.283 percent | Reuters
  • Egypt’s market gains EGP1.4 billion on Monday, indexes mixed | Reuters
  • Kuwaiti Ambassador says Kuwait to boost investments in Egypt | SIS
  • Market Watch: Egypt needs an industrial revolution | Aswat Masriya
  • Alexandria oil fields to make Egypt regional energy center says minister | MENA


Egyptians can get by on only EGP 2 says Justice Minister
Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend sparked an uproar across social networking websites after stating that Egyptians can survive on only EGP2 (US$0.26) a day. “Egyptians are geniuses. If they have money, they can spend EGP2,000 a day. If not, they can get by on only EGP2,” said Zend, whose appointment in May caused an outcry among political activists for previous seemingly classist remarks. Zend made the comment Saturday on TEN channel in Sharm al-Sheikh, where he was leading a delegation of judicial officials to voice solidarity with the city’s threatened tourism sector. His remarks presumably echo those of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who spoke to reporters during a surprise visit to check on security measures at Sharm al-Sheikh’s airport five days ago. “What would happen? Would we starve? No problem, let’s starve…we would do it to build our country,” Sisi said, commenting on the possible consequences of countries suspending flights to Egypt. [AMAY, 11/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Al- Masreyoon Editor questions arrest of journalist | DNE
  • Cairo University students concerned over new mosque proximity | DNE
  • Shubra al-Kheima’s abused lawyers seek justice, demand police reform | DNE
  • Flood-stricken farmers enraged by weak compensation | AMAY
  • Black smog in Cairo due to weather conditions, not burning fields says Environment Ministry | Mada Masr
  • 9,714 reports on rice straw burning filed, 150 tons recycled | Cairo Post
  • For Egypt’s Nubians, years of patience wear thin and anger rises | Aswat Masriya
  • EGP 20 million allocated to develop Cairo slums says Cairo Governor | Cairo Post
  • 500 HIV-positive cases reported in Egypt annually says report | Cairo Post


Egypt seizes Brotherhood property, arrests sixteen members
A number of Cairo offices affiliated with the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, were seized by the Egyptian government, according to an official statement released on Tuesday by the committee tasked with appraising and freezing Brotherhood funds. The committee also announced that it seized a hospital, a school, and two foreign exchange companies linked to the group. According to Ahram Online, the committee has thus far frozen assets and taken control of over 1,000 NGOs, nearly 100 schools, and over 700 individuals allegedly affiliated with the group. Additionally, Egypt’s Ministry of the Interior announced in an official statement on Monday that it had engaged in a “preemptive security campaign,” arresting sixteen middle ranking members of what it described as the terrorist wing of Muslim Brotherhood. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 11/16/2015]

Egypt kills twenty-four militants, arrests sixty-two in Sinai
Egyptian security forces killed twenty-four Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) militants in Central Sinai, seventy kilometers from the crash site of the Russian passenger plane the group claimed it brought down, security sources told Reuters on Monday. Security forces located the militants inside a cave in a mountainous area where they were hiding, killing twenty-four and arresting an additional eight. Additionally, security forces arrested thirty-three escaped convicts and twenty-one suspects during a security campaign on Monday, according to a statement released by the Sinai governorate’s security directorate. Meanwhile, a total of EGP 360 million has been allocated to compensate former residents relocated from the Sinai border with Gaza, Medhat Kamal, the head of the Egyptian Survey Society (ESA) told Youm7 news agency on Monday. Of that amount, EGP 120 million has been dispersed to compensate the owners of houses and lands that were evacuated in order to establish the fifteen kilometer long and one kilometer wide buffer zone that the military has constructed along the border, according to Kamal. Elsewhere, during a meeting headed by Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, Egypt’s National Security Council decided to expand its counter-terrorism strategy to cooperate with military movements, and to address the role that other elements, such as the economy, social, and educational factors have in combating terrorism. At the meeting, Sisi also received the latest details on the airliner crash investigation, and a report on the possible impact that the suspension of flights to Egypt will have on the tourism industry.  [Reuters, SIS, 11/16/2015]     


US secretary of the air force talks training opportunities with Egyptian military officials
US Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James spoke with Egyptian military officials about the opportunities for future military training for Egyptian troops during her visit to Cairo earlier this week, the US embassy in Cairo said in a statement. During her visit, James met with Minister of Defense Sedky Sobhi, Chief of Staff Mahmoud Hegazy, and Naval Commander Younes al-Masry. “I had very helpful conversations with Defense Minister Sobhi and others on where we should focus our cooperation next now that we have completed the delivery to Egypt of the F-16 fighter jets.” she said, adding, “We talked about how our two air forces work together to defeat terrorism and the possibility for future military training for airmen.” [Ahram Online, 11/16/2015]

Palestinian official says Gaza border deal reached with Egypt
A senior Palestinian official on Monday said the Palestinian Authority has reached an agreement with Egypt to reopen the Gaza Strip’s main border crossing in an arrangement meant to bypass the territory’s Hamas rulers. Azzam al-Ahmad, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said the deal was reached recently in Cairo. He said it aims to open the Rafah crossing “to the maximum possible” to allow the movement of students, laborers, medical patients, and even commercial goods. He added that the deal would be implemented in stages beginning in the near future, but gave no further details. The deal could bring great relief to Gaza, which has been under an Israeli siege since 2006, and whose only border with Egypt – Rafah – is intermittently opened by the Egyptian government. It could also mark a setback for Hamas, which seized control of Gaza from Abbas in 2007. However, a top Hamas official gave the plan a cool reception, raising questions about its viability. [AP, 11/17/2015]

Also of Interest

  • France is not barring entry to its lands, says French ambassador to Egypt | Ahram Online
  • Khartoum calls on Egypt to investigate abuse of Sudanese people | DNE
  • I trust Egyptian president and people says Tony Blair | DNE