Top News: Sisi Discusses Newly Formed Islamic Military Coalition With Saudi Crown Prince

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received Saudi Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohamed bin Salman in Cairo on Tuesday for the second meeting of the Egyptian-Saudi Coordination Council. The meeting was headed by Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Prince Salman, with parties agreeing on a number of projects, including energy conservation projects, state media reported. During the visit, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman on Tuesday pledged a total of $8 billion in investment and aid to Egypt over the next five years. Saudi ships will also “support” traffic in the Suez Canal. An anonymous Saudi government official said that Saudi Arabia may also support Egypt by buying local treasury bonds and treasury bills instead of depositing dollars with the Central Bank of Egypt. Egypt’s cabinet had said that the government planned to offer Saudi Arabia “major” projects in return for its support. The visit to Cairo also came hours after King Salman announced the formation of a Saudi-led Islamic military coalition. During a meeting with the crown prince, Sisi said that Arab efforts should be targeted towards reaching political settlements for some of the crises that face some of the Arab states, which would ensure their stability and unity. Both sides, according to a statement released by presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef, shared the same vision on the importance of “stopping bloodshed and working on ending these crises in the nearest possible time.” Prior to the visit, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said of the Islamic coalition, “Egypt supports all efforts to defeat terrorism, especially if such efforts are Islamic or Arab.” He added, “We endorse it and will be a part of it.” Al-Azhar also welcomed the decision to form a coalition. A follow-up meeting between Saudi and Egyptian officials is scheduled to take place on January 5. [Ahram Online, AP, AFP, Bloomberg, Reuters, 12/16/2015]


Cabinet discusses unified media and press law
The cabinet is scheduled to begin discussing a draft law for the press and the media in its meeting Wednesday as part of the government’s preparations to present its program to the upcoming parliament. The Egyptian Press Syndicate previously encouraged the step, stating in a Tuesday press release that “a unified law for all media is urgently required and the organization of the media will begin with the implementation of constitutional articles.” The statement referred specifically to Article 71 of the constitution, banning the imprisonment of journalists in crimes related to publishing. [DNE, 12/16/2015]

Egyptian Democratic Party, Free Egyptians Party, independent MPs to form bloc
The Chairman of the Egyptian Social Democratic Party (ESDP), Mohamed Aboul Ghar, announced that talks are ongoing between his party, the Free Egyptians Party and other independent MPs to form a parliamentary bloc that will focus on freedoms and rights. The coalition is expected to be announced by next week, Aboul Ghar said. Meanwhile, Egyptian business tycoon and founder of the Free Egyptians Party, Naguib Sawiris said plans for a majority alliance of more than 400 members are ridden with “bad intentions.” The proposed Coalition to Support the Egyptian State, called for by the pro-government For the Love of Egypt list, is “useless and will not allow for opposition within the parliament.” he said. Former deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa said that forming a pro-state coalition will return Egypt to the one-party rule of former President Hosni Mubarak. According to ESDP’s Aboul Ghar, the Egyptian Democratic Party has not been invited to join the coalition because its coordinators know that the party would decline the invitation. [AMAY, 12/16/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Five challenges facing Egypt’s forthcoming parliament | Ahram Online


Second Mohamed Mahmoud trial postponed to January 5
The trial of 11 defendants arrested during a rally commemorating the anniversary of the 2011 Mohamed Mahmoud clashes resumed on Tuesday, only to be postponed to January 5. According to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), the trial was postponed due to a failure to provide case documents to the defense lawyers. The Qasr al-Nil Misdemeanor Court’s decision follows the sentencing of four other defendants in a related case on Sunday. The two groups of defendants were arrested separately for taking part in the anniversary protests. Of the 11 still facing trial, nine were arrested for rallying on the October 6 Bridge in November this year, one man later handed himself over to police, and another female protester was arrested later, according to AFTE lawyer Ahmed Osman. [DNE, 12/15/2015]

Twelve sentenced to three years for hampering voters in 2014 presidential elections
A Sharqiya court sentenced twelve people who allegedly belong to the Muslim Brotherhood on Tuesday to three years in prison for preventing voters from casting their votes in the 2014 presidential elections. A court specialized in ‘terror crimes’ issued the sentence, ruling that the defendants were in possession of leaflets urging voters to boycott the elections. The court also said the defendants resorted to violence when confronted by the police. The sentence may be appealed. [AMAY, Cairo Post, 12/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Nephew of Mohamed Morsi acquitted by terrorism court of inciting violence | Cairo Post
  • Detention of officer accused of beating Ismailia vet to death renewed 15 days | AMAY, Cairo Post


AfDB approves $1.5 billion loan to Egypt
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a $1.5 billion loan to Egypt that will be paid over three years, International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said Tuesday. The first $500 million of the loan will arrive within days and will go toward the government’s economic development program, Nasr said. “We have a competitive economic reform program that started more than a year back and based on that we are taking the first tranche,” she said. “The bank’s approval today is a strong message affirming that the Egyptian economy is moving at a steady pace towards achieving comprehensive development and confirms that the bank is confident in the government’s reform process,” AfDB Representative Leila Mokaddem said. [Reuters, DNE, MENA, 12/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • USAID allocates $57 million for higher education partnership program says FEI head | MENA
  • Dispute with Egypt threatens Israeli gas plan | WSJ
  • Egypt’s Suez Canal revenue drops to $408.4 million in November | Reuters
  • Siemens aims to boost Egypt’s economy through power plants | DNE
  • Egyptian pound steady at forex auction, weaker on black market | Reuters
  • Egypt Central Bank expected to leave rates unchanged | Reuters
  • KSA- Egypt trade volume amounts to $3.7 billion from January through August | Aswat Masriya
  • Prime Minister forms SCZONE board of directors | SIS
  • Environment Minister says Mechanisms for green industries probed | SIS


Justice Minister warns of ‘social media abuse’ ahead of January 25 anniversary
Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zend said Monday, “Whoever is awaiting the January 25 celebrations as a pretext to cause harm to the nation, awaits a mirage.” In a speech, Zend alluded to the “danger posited by social media,” claiming that the platform was being abused by “criminal elements that aim to cause further polarization in society and incite the youth.” He also called on Egyptians to adhere to the president’s vision and make economic progress their top priority. Leading up the the anniversary of the January 25 revolution, the Egyptian government has taken various measures to quell calls for dissent and protest by various groups. [DNE, 12/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Uproar after Ahmed Moussa airs personal photos of MP Khaled Youssef | Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, AMAY, DNE
  • Activists call for winter clothes, medical care for Aqrab prison inmates | Ahram Online
  • Chairman of al-Azhar University resigns | DNE, Cairo Post
  • Dispute renewed inside Brotherhood leadership | DNE


Egyptian soldier dies in North Sinai suicide bombing
An Egyptian army soldier was killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt in North Sinai’s Arish, state news agency MENA reported. Security sources told MENA that the individual detonated the explosives after he was confronted by security forces as they conducted a raid on a suspected hideout for militants west of the city of Arish. [Ahram Online, Cairo Post, 12/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Seeking tighter security, Egypt’s airports shift to electronic passenger database | AMAY
  • American or British company to assess Egyptian airport security says official | AMAY, Aswat Masriya


Egypt says it has not ruled out any possibilities regarding cause of Russian plane crash
The Egyptian investigative committee looking into the October 31 crash of a Russian plane in Sinai said on Tuesday it has not ruled out any possibilities regarding the cause of the crash. The statement came one day after the committee released a preliminary report saying there was no clear evidence to indicate that terrorism played a role in the plane’s downing. “The preliminary report does not by any means rule out any possible scenarios surrounding the cause of the crash,” the Tuesday statement said. “In case the committee discovers any evidence during the investigation or receives any documented information about unlawful interference, the technical investigation would come to an end and the entire case would be handed over to the public prosecutor,” the statement said. The statement comes after Moscow rejected on Monday the preliminary findings of the report. [Ahram Online, 12/15/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt to receive three Rafale jets from France | DNE
  • Egypt recognized for its renewable energy efforts in Paris | DNE
  • Irrigation, foreign ministers to update Sisi on GERD meeting outcome | Cairo Post