Top News: Sisi, Salman Hold Summit Talks in Riyadh

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held talks on Wednesday with Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud on enhancing bilateral cooperation. The talks, held on the sidelines of the Arab-South American Countries Summit, addressed conditions in Syria, the Palestinian territories, Yemen, and Libya in addition to a number of other regional and international issues of mutual concern. Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef said Sisi and King Salman attended the signing ceremony for the establishment of the Egyptian-Saudi Coordination Council, which will implement the Cairo Declaration. The Declaration, issued in June, aims to enhance military, investment, and economic cooperation between the two states. King Salman expressed his full confidence in Egyptian security measures and ordered Riyadh’s national airline to continue flights to Sharm al-Sheikh despite suspicions that a bomb caused the recent Russian plane crash. Sisi stated during a speech at the summit that military action alone is not enough combat terrorism. He highlighted the need to focus on educational, economic, and cultural elements in order to root out extremism. [SIS, Ahram Online, Al Arabiya, DNE, 11/12/2015]


New female MPs criticize amending the constitution to extend presidential term
A number of Egypt’s newly elected female members of parliament (MPs) have said that they ‎oppose amending the constitution to create a “new ‎dictator,” in response to some MPs vowing to amend article 140 of the new constitution to allow the president’s term to extend to more than four years. Out of 273 candidates who won in the first stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, thirty-four women now occupy parliamentary seats. Newly elected Sarah Othman sharply criticized the performance of the current government of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and urged new MPs to focus on “supervising the performance of this weak government rather than amending the new constitution.” The second stage of Egypt’s parliamentary elections, which covers thirteen governorates, will take place in Cairo and six Nile Delta governorates between November 21 and December 2. Voter turnout is not expected to be high. Spokesperson for the Higher Election Committee Omar Marawan told a press conference on November 5 that the second stage will include some 28.2 million registered voters, almost one million more than the first stage. [Ahram Online, 11/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Al-Nour lodges appeal against Supreme Electoral Commission decision | DNE


Egyptian businessman Salah Diab, son released on bail
Egypt’s top prosecutor ordered the release on bail Wednesday of Salah Diab and his son, following their arrest and detention earlier this week for possessing unlicensed weapons and ammunition. Diab and his son Tawfik were released on bail of EGP 50,000 bail and EGP10,000, respectively. The decision came after a Giza court renewed Diab’s detention for fifteen days on Tuesday. Senior employees from Al-Masry Al-Youm the Associated Press on Monday said that the accusations against Diab and the way in which he was detained suggested the arrest was politically motivated. Meanwhile, earlier on Wednesday, Egypt’s Criminal Court cancelled a previous decision to freeze the assets of Diab and seventeen others. The freeze now only applies only to assets related to the New Giza housing compound project. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, AP, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 11/11/2015]

Hossam Bahgat speaks on his arrest by military prosecution
Investigative journalist and human rights activist Hossam Bahgat issued a statement on Tuesday following his three-day detention by military intelligence and interrogation by military prosecution. He said he spent about three hours at the Military Intelligence building before being taken to a car through a back door under armed guard. He was held at the Military Judiciary for over five hours before appearing before a member of the North Cairo Military Prosecution. He noted that several attempts were made intimidate and him and convince him to waive his right to have a lawyer present. Eventually, he was taken to a room and kept there until Tuesday. At the end of the statement, Bahgat rejected the criminalization of journalism, the imprisonment of journalists, and military trials for civilians. It remains unclear whether the charges against Bahgat, of violating Articles 102 and 188 of the Penal Code, still stand, why he was released, and what the status of his case is. [DNE, Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online, 11/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Court rejects appeal against Mubarak-era minister’s acquittal | DNE, Egypt Independent
  • FJP member dies in custody | DNE


Egypt strengthens currency amid disruptive dollar shortage
The Central Bank of Egypt strengthened the pound on Wednesday for the first time since 2013, injecting dollars into a banking system suffering from an acute foreign exchange shortage and raising expectations of a radical shift in monetary policy. The Central Bank raised the pound’s official value by 0.20 pounds to 7.7301 to the dollar, surprising bankers who had been expecting a depreciation to ease the country’s currency crisis. The move drew conflicting reactions from the market, with some criticizing it as dangerous and others predicting that the bank was laying the ground for a major devaluation, a loosening of the peg or a full flotation. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez said on Wednesday he had appointed Gamal Negm as caretaker governor. Ramez submitted his resignation on October 21. Tarek Amer was appointed to permanently take over the bank starting on November 27. [Reuters, AP, 11/11/2015]

Negotiations over $3 billion World Bank loan to Egypt move to Washington
Negotiations between the Egyptian government and the World Bank over a $3 billion loan have moved from Cairo to Washington, DC. Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr visited Washington on Tuesday for negotiations. She said that she discussed Egypt’s economic and social reform efforts and measures taken to improve the investment climate. Nasr met with officials including World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa Hafez Ghanem, who confirmed the Bank’s readiness to cooperate with Egypt. Discussions focused on efforts to reduce poverty, create jobs, complete infrastructure projects, and reduce social inequities. According to Nasr, the loan will be used to fund Egyptian national projects. [AMAY, 11/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt government to issue EUR 700 million Euro one-year treasury bill | Reuters
  • No IMF loan to Egypt despite ongoing talks, says IMF official | Cairo Post
  • Financial leasing contribution to GDP less than 1 percent, says minister | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi affirms private sector investments not to be affected in any way | SIS
  • Egypt imports 120,000 tons of Russian, French wheat for public, private sectors | Cairo Post
  • Plane crash ‘credit negative’ for Egypt, says Moody’s | Cairo Post


Cairo University expels twenty-seven students, political activism suspected
Cairo University expelled twenty-seven students this week without prior notice. Reports have suggested that the students’ past political activism could have been a factor for their expulsion. A source at Cairo University said that the students were expelled after being accused of attempting to “disrupt the educational process.” Another source told the independent al-Tahrir that the main reason behind the dismissal was the students’ participation in past campus protests. Some of the dismissed students had previously organized welcoming events for new students and others had invited new students to join student societies, the source said. [Egypt Independent, 11/11/2015]

Reem Maged says banned from Egyptian media; ANHRI denounces anchorwoman suspension
Outspoken television presenter Reem Maged said she is banned from appearing on any Egyptian channel. “I will return once I feel I can satisfy my professional and human conscience,” Maged told the Arabic service of Deutsche Welle TV. Maged returned to work at ONTV last May after a two-year hiatus. Her show was cancelled the same month. The cancellation, which was widely attributed to government censorship, came as she continued to voice concern for women’s rights and press freedom. Meanwhile, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) denounced on Monday the suspension of Azza Elhenawy, an anchorwoman at Egypt’s state television. She was suspended due to comments she made on her show earlier this month in which she called for a law to hold officials accountable following a building collapse she said was caused by the corruption of municipality officials. In related news, Television host Ahmed Moussa criticized Sweden’s Ambassador to Cairo Charlotta Sparre’s alleged defense of Egyptian journalist Hossam Bahgat who was briefly detained and interrogated by military prosecutors. “The Swedish ambassador was very angry but she does not deserve to stay in our country in the first place,” Moussa said Wednesday on his show on Sada el-Balad channel. [Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 11/12/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Ministry investigates statement about imams visiting resort cities | Egypt Independent
  • Ministry of Electricity to cut power during heavy rainfall | DNE
  • Renowned Egyptian constitutional expert Tharwat Badawy dies at eighty-seven | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian president speaks to tourists from Sharm al-Sheikh airport | DNE
  • Online campaigns call for release of detainee to attend his father’s funeral | DNE
  • IBRD delegation inspects construction of Terminal 2 of Cairo airport | SIS
  • Bibliotheca Alexandrina to host conference on ’Green Economy’ | SIS
  • Rising temperatures scorch Egypt’s rural poor | Al Monitor


Nine civilians killed in Arish attack
Nine civilians, including a child, were killed and one other injured when unidentified assailants raided a home in al-Arish on Thursday, North Sinai Governor Abdel Fattah Harhour told Egyptian state television. The assailants also blew up a car outside the home with an explosive device. The deceased belonged to a single family that had originally fled from Rafah to al-Arish, according to a source, adding that “they were killed because of allegations that they were cooperating with security forces.” Daily News Egypt also reported that after leaving the home, the assailants shot at a passing taxi, killing another child and injuring the driver. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, 11/12/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Policeman wounded in armed attack on Giza church | Egypt Independent, AP
  • Locals caught between army and militants in Sinai | DNE
  • Plainclothes agents kidnap groom from his wedding | Egypt Independent


Foreign Ministry says Egypt has accepted US offer to assist in Russian plane investigations
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry announced the approval of US involvement in the investigation of the October 31 Russian plane crash in the Sinai, on Wednesday, in accordance with international agreements. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that Egypt “accepted the application” of US investigators “associated with manufacturers” of the plane’s engine to join the investigation team. Asked whether the Federal Bureau of Investigations could be involved, Shoukry said international investigation regulations allow Americans to tap advisers for their team. Earlier, on Tuesday, Kremlin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov said Moscow’s ban on all flights to Egypt will last for at least several months. He said that security measures need to be improved in “places where Russian planes fly.” The Kremlin also refused to comment on reports claiming that the US offered to help investigate crash. Members of a Russian search and rescue team that was brought into Egypt following the crash left the country to return to Moscow on Wednesday. Britain also blamed shortcomings in Egyptian airport security for the crash, saying that a bomb smuggled on board was the mostly likely cause. Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said security measures were being reviewed in all Egyptian airports in the past months. Sisi visited Sharm al-Sheikh for the first time since the crash on Wednesday. He insisted that Egypt is safe and reiterated the government’s position that any conclusions about the cause of the crash was premature. New x-ray baggage security scanners have been installed in the departure hall of Cairo International Airport according to Airport Head Ahmed Geneina. Head of the Sharm al-Sheikh Chamber of Tourist Facilities Hussein Fawzy said that about 80 percent of reservations have been cancelled and at least 40 percent of tourists have left Sharm al-Sheikh since the crash. On Wednesday, Egypt’s cabinet reviewed a report on the crash prepared by Tourism Minister Hisham Zaazou. Zaazou said Egypt stands to lose $280 million a month from Britain and Russia’s decision to suspend flights. [DNE, CNN, Aswat Masriya, AFP, 11/11/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Renaissance Dam won’t harm the Egyptian people, says Ethiopian Water Minister | Ahram Online
  • Nile River transport fees between Sudan, Egypt reduced | Egypt Independent
  • Palestinian delegation in Cairo negotiates permanent opening of Rafah crossing | Egypt Independent
  • Suspect detained in Jordan for murder of Egyptian national | DNE
  • Three decades in, Sinai’s peacekeepers are under pressure | Reuters
  • Egypt voices concern over racism against Muslims, migrants in Austria | SIS
  • Assistant Foreign Minister emphasizes Egypt’s commitments to its tourists | SIS