Top News: Sinai State Claims Arish Car Bomb Explosion

A car bomb targeting a policeman’s club in the Egyptian city of al-Arish killed several people and wounded ten on Wednesday, security sources said. In a statement shared on social media, the Sinai State, Egypt’s Islamic State (ISIS or ISIL) affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack, which it described as a suicide bombing. In a statement, the Interior Ministry said the bomber tried to ram his four-wheel drive vehicle into the complex in the city of al-Arish, but was stopped by a concrete security barrier and detonated his explosives there. The Interior Ministry statement said that three policemen were killed, while Reuters reported that the death toll had reached six. According to the ministry, six of the wounded were civilians and four were police. The attacker was also killed. [Reuters,APAFP,DNEAhram OnlineAMAYMada MasrAswat Masriya, 11/4/2015]


Egypt’s newly elected MPs vow to amend constitution
Candidates who won seats in the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections began on Tuesday to obtain their parliamentary membership cards and some have already revealed their intent to make some crucial amendments to the 2014 Constitution. Some of the new MPs said their first priority in parliament is to extend the president’s term in office to more than four years. MP Shadi Abul-Ela, a former police officer who was  elected an independent in Minya, told reporters that a president’s one term  in office must be increased to five rather than four  years. He stressed that his request does not aim to serve incumbent president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “An elected president usually devotes the first year of his first term in office to exploring the country’s problems, while he takes the fourth year to preparing himself to run for another term in presidential elections,” he explained. “This means that only two years are left for him to find solutions to the country’s problems and this is by no means enough or fair,” said Abul-Ela.  Saeed Hassanein, an independent MP representing the constituency of Kerdasa in Giza, also insisted “a term of four years in office is by no means enough for any president to deliver in political and economic terms.” Mokhtar Dessouki, another independent MP from Assiut said, “The constitution has to be amended not only to increase the president’s years in office, but also to grant the president greater powers.” Dessouki, a former member of former president Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, said, “The new constitution stripped the president of many powers that he should exercise so that he is able to deliver.” [Ahram Online, 11/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Cabinet approves Egypt’s plan to tackle climate change | MENA/AMAY
  • Nour Party starts door-knocking campaign for second phase of elections | DNE


Prosecution unauthorized to list Brotherhood leaders as terrorists says Egypt Cassation Court
Egypt’s Cassation Court has cancelled a March decision by late prosecutor general Hisham Barakat to put Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and seventeen others on a “terrorism list.” The court announced its decision in September but the details were only published by privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper on Monday. The newly published report shows that the Cassation Court did not take into consideration the prosecution’s decision because it was not the entity with the authority to issue the list, hence, its decision “had no impact.” The Cassation Court explained that the criminal court, and not the prosecution, is the entity responsible for listing individuals or organizations on the terrorism list. In reaction to the cassation court’s cancellation, the prosecutor general’s office issued a statement saying, “No objection can be made to court decisions.” [Ahram Online, 11/3/2015]

Appeal to be issued for Esraa al-Taweel’s release
Detained photojournalist Esraa al-Taweel’s lawyer Haleem Heneish said they will issue an appeal calling for her release on Saturday. “During the court session to review renewing her detention, the judge asked her what she wants and she told him about her medical condition and that she wants to go home to complete her physiotherapy course,” said Henish. He also said that during the session, the defense lawyers requested her release based on Article 34 of the Criminal Code, which prohibits detaining someone who is physically disabled. Meanwhile, Assistant to the Interior Minister General Abu Bakr Abdel Rahim alleged that Taweel has been receiving medical treatment, contradicting statements from both Taweel’s family and the Doctors Syndicate. According to Abdel Rahim, after a medical checkup, the freelance photographer was referred to a chiropractic consultant and had x-ray scans on her spine. [DNE, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 11/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Former ‘corrupt’ agriculture minister faces first trial on December 12 | DNE
  • Novelist and editor accused of publishing sexual content to go to court on November 14 | Mada Masr
  • High court upholds niqab ban during exams | Cairo Post
  • Court to hear travel ban challenge of Mubarak in-laws December 22 | Cairo Post


Egypt’s Banque Misr, NBE provide $800 million to cover imports
Egypt’s top state banks recently provided clients with over $800 million to release goods held up at ports due to a dollar crisis that is hindering imports, Banque Misr’s Chairman Mohamed Eletreby said Tuesday. “Over Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, Banque Misr and NBE have covered all the letters of credit and collection documents at the two banks, with a value over $800 million,” he said, adding that the two banks would continue to meet ongoing demand. Egypt has been facing a foreign currency crisis and, with more demand for hard currency than supply, many goods have been piling up at ports as importers wait for banks to supply them with the dollars they need to open letters of credit. Eletreby also said that Banque Misr plans to obtain a loan of up to $300 million in December to strengthen its dollar resources. A recent report shows that the Central Bank of Egypt’s foreign currency debt surpassed the value of its assets in September for the first time since 1992 by $560 million. [Reuters, 11/3/2015]

World Bank agrees to raise Egypt’s portfolio to $6 billion says minister
The World Bank has agreed to raise its Egypt portfolio from $5.5 billion to $6 billion, according to Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr. The total amount will be distributed over a three-year period from 2015 to 2017. Part of that funding would go to a $3 billion loan for budget support currently in negotiation. The rest of the funding would be used as “investment loans based on national projects” focused on housing, industry, and sanitation. Nasr said the bank is willing to support Egypt’s budget because the government has developed a reform program and begun addressing development issues. “Since the 25 January Revolution in 2011, Egypt has not been able to receive budget support from the World Bank. Now the bank is highly considering securing the amount,” she said. Nasr said the loan is expected to have an interest rate of 1.68 percent, a five year grace period, and will be paid over thirty-five years. [DNE, 11/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Moody’s says Egypt’s financial, economic conditions have improved, but challenges remain | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya
  • Sisi ratifies $2.2 billion oil, gas exploration contracts | Ahram Online, SIS
  • Sisi explores cooperation with Singapore on running ports | SIS
  • State takes stopgap measures to combat rising food prices | Mada Masr
  • Egypt’s non-oil sector business conditions drop to ‘eight-month low,’ survey says | Aswat Masriya


Heavy rain leaves three dead in Beheira, disrupts ports in Alexandria, hits parts of Egypt
Egypt’s inclement weather left three dead in a Nile Delta village on Wednesday, with homes flooded and traffic disrupted in a number of cities for a second time in less than a fortnight. The victims, a 17-year-old boy named Amin Diab, 30-year-old woman Halima Kandil, and 25-year-old man Ibrahim Mokhtar, were killed during a storm in Beheira governorate’s Wadi al-Natroun village, west of Delta. Diab died after being electrocuted by a light pole, the same way several people had been killed during floods in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria last month. Kandil was killed after falling into an open sewage drain in front of her house, while Mokhtar died after the ceiling of his home collapsed due to the heavy rains. High winds and heavy rains in Wadi al-Natroun also led to the injury of nineteen people. Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail headed on Wednesday to Wadi al-Natroun to check on rescue and aid efforts in the city. [Ahram Online, AMAY, 11/4/2015]

Rights groups says 1,411 forced disappearances in the first ten months of 2015 groups
At a press conference organized by the Press Syndicate and several human rights groups on Monday, NGOs said that 1,411 cases of forced disappearances were recorded in the first ten months of 2015. 1,250 cases were recorded in the first eight months. The locations of only 332 cases were revealed out of the 1,411 cases. Journalists at the syndicate also highlighted that their detained and arrested colleagues are suffering from serious health conditions and their families are unable to send them their medication. They signed a petition to present to the syndicate, requesting coordination with the Interior Minister to provide the detained with medical care. They also expressed their anger that none of the syndicate members had visited any of their colleagues. The El Nadeem Centre for Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence highlighted the story of Maha Mekkawy, who has been on hunger strike since October 24 and is seeking information from the Interior Ministry about her husband Ashraf Shehata, who disappeared a year and ten months ago. Dozens of people went on hunger strike Tuesday for one day in solidarity with Mekkawy, a leading member of al-Dostour party. [DNE, 11/3/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Ain Shams student suspended for shooting video on campus | DNE
  • Environmental activists aim to eliminate use of coal | DNE
  • Activists protest Egypt’s UN vote for Israel | DNE
  • Press Syndicate supports chamber’s decision to ban Mortada Mansour | Ahram Online, DNE
  • Alexandria floods’ victim denies receiving EGP50,000 | DNE


Interior Ministry starts applying new prison regulations says official
The Interior Ministry is beginning to apply amendments introduced to prison regulations, including allowing prisoners to conduct recorded phone calls, said Assistant Interior Minister for the Prisons Sector Major General Hassan al-Sohagy on Tuesday. He pointed out that Muslim Brotherhood prisoners would be included in this measure. However, despite viewing some of the amendments as positive, Egyptian human rights lawyers said on Monday that there are concerns that the new amendments to prison laws, which give administrators wider leeway for the use of force, could open the door to more violations in Egypt’s prisons. The lawyers’ main concern, among other amendments they question, is one that allows prison personnel to use force against prisoners who resist orders based on laws or prison regulations, beyond the previously authorized use of force for self-defense and to prevent attempts at escape. They also raised issues with an amendment that increases the maximum time a prisoner can spend in solitary confinement from fifteen to thirty days.  [AMAY/AP, 10/4/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian flooding drowns Gaza’s tunnel business | Reuters
  • Egypt ranked in high risk category for corruption in defense, security sectors | DNE


Sisi begins first official visit to London
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi left Cairo on Wednesday on a three-day official visit to the UK. Sisi is scheduled to hold meetings with British Prime Minister David Cameron and British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon. Labor leader, Jeremy Corbyn, condemned Cameron’s decision to welcome the Egyptian president to Downing Street and called for the UK to suspend arms exports to the country. A broad coalition of Egyptian and British groups also called for demonstrations on Wednesday night and Thursday morning during Sisi’s visit. Amnesty International urged Cameron to raise “key human rights concerns” with Sisi. Prior to his visit, Sisi told the Daily Telegraph that Britain and other NATO members involved in toppling Muammar Qaddafi must do more to help prevent the spread of Islamist extremism in Libya. In a separate interview with the BBC, Sisi defended his domestic human rights record, using the example of countries like Libya. “Don’t forget that we are plagued by terrorism along the 1,000 km border with Libya, and Sinai and around Egypt,” he said. “We need stability so the rest of Egyptian society can survive.” He also said sentences issued in Egypt over charges of violence, murder, and terrorism will most likely not be enforced “either because they were convicted in absentia or due to the appeals process.” Finally, a report in the works by British authorities over the nature of the Muslim Brotherhood and the legality of its activities will be announced during the best time for British interests, the UK ambassador to Cairo has said. [SIS, Reuters, 11/4/2015]

Sisi meets EU Foreign Policy Chief

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi discussed regional crises and developments in Libya with EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini in Cairo on Tuesday. According to Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef, Mogherini said that her visit aims to enhance the Egyptian-European relationship through constructive dialogue between Egypt and the EU institutions. Mogherini said that her two-day visit to Cairo provides a chance to exchange visions over issues of common interest on the regional level, noting that Egypt’s vital regional role and its tireless efforts to resolve regional issues is contributing to achieving security and stability in the region. The EU foreign policy chief congratulated Egypt for securing a UN Security Council seat in 2016-2017, and expressed her anticipation of continued coordination on different issues in the council. Additionally, during the visit Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Mogherini confirmed that Egypt and the EU are enhancing their relations, and are working toward more collaboration on shared interests, discussing solutions to the problems in both Libya and Syria. The visit concluded on Tuesday, with both sides highlighting the strides made toward addressing both regional issues and Egypt’s developmental priorities. [Ahram Online, DNE,  SIS, 11/4/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Search concluded, total of 196 bodies recovered from Russian plane wreckage Egypt’s cabinet says | Ahram Online
  • The Latest: 33 victims of plane crash in Egypt identified | AP
  • ISIS insists it downed Russian plane over Sinai | CNN/AFP, Reuters
  • Irish team joins Russian plane crash investigation | Ahram Online
  • Midair heat flash detected before disaster in Russian plane crash| CNN
  • No proof that plane broke up in mid-air: Egyptian authorities | Reuters
  • Egypt’s Sisi, Palestinian President Abbas to meet on Sunday | Ahram Online
  • Experts begin examining black boxes of crashed Russian jet | AFP
  • Egypt to propose solutions to the Renaissance Dam problem | AMAY
  • Israel hints at air force cooperation with Jordan, Egypt | Reuters
  • FM Spokesman says Egypt eyes forming Libya’s unity government | SIS
  • Egypt’s chief of staff meets leader of US naval forces central command | Cairo Post