Top News: Sudan Files UNSC Complaint Against Egypt Over Disputed Territories

Sudan officially filed a complaint against Egypt at the UN Security Council over the disputed territories of Halayib and Shalateen, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir said in press statements on Sunday. Egypt has considered the area of Halayib and Shalateen part of Egyptian territory since Sudan’s independence from Egypt during the Gamal Abdel Nasser era, while Sudan considers it part of Sudanese territory. The dispute dates back to 1995, when the Egyptian army posted military troops in the area of Halayib and Shalateen. Egyptian parliamentarian Mamdouh Omara, representing the region where the two cities are located, rebuffed the remarks made by Bashir and attributed them to signs of “political bankruptcy” and “an attempt to appease the Sudanese nation.” Meanwhile, Bashir also said the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam has become a reality, and the project requires the mutual trust, cooperation, and involvement of Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia. On Sunday, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with representatives of an Ethiopian diplomatic delegation and discussed a wide range of issues including the Renaissance Dam project. The meeting occurred after a postponement by Ethiopia on Saturday of the tripartite meeting that was scheduled to be held between the foreign and irrigation ministers of the three countries. [DNE, AMAY, 12/6/2015]


Parliamentary elections turnout 28.3 percent; US expresses concern over opposition participation
Ayman Abbas, the head of the High Election Committee (HEC) said the average turnout rate of voters in the first and second phase of elections was approximately 28.3 percent, a total 15,206,010 voters out of 53,786,762 eligible voters. Abbas said the highest turnout in both stages was South Sinai with a turnout of 41.6 percent, while the lowest was Suez governorate with a turnout of 18.1 percent.Abbas also said that the turnout in the second, final runoffs in the parliamentary elections was 22.3 percent. He added that of the 568 elected seats, a total of 555 candidates were elected over the two phases, with voting being repeated for 13 disputed seats in four constituencies to a reportedly low turnout. The US State Department said although parliamentary elections were administered “in accordance with Egyptian laws” it is concerned about low turnout and limited opposition participation, according to a statement released on Friday. Several coalitions among the winning MPs have already begun to form, with Sameh Seif al-Yazal, the rapporteur for the dominant For the Love of Egypt list saying that ‘The Coalition to Support the Egyptian State’ will be finalized within days. According to Al-Ahram, members of the coalition constitute more than two thirds of parliament, bringing together 400 representatives. For the first time in parliamentary history, MPs representing the governorate of Alexandria are also planning to form an ‘Alexandria MP Bloc.’ Meanwhile, upon the request of State Minister for Parliamentary Affairs Magdi al-Agati, Judge Ahmed Saad was selected Saturday by the State Council (administrative courts) to be the new Secretary General of Egypt’s House of Representatives. In related news, the head of the Salafi Nour Party said Sunday that excluding the party from Egypt’s political scene will force young Islamists to turn to violence. “The Nour Party is facing serious conflict from state institutions despite its strategic bias toward the state and its stability,” Younis Makhyoun told satellite TV channel Dream late Sunday evening. [Ahram Online, 12/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Future of a Homeland Party: The unexpected success story of Egypt’s elections | Ahram Online
  • WFP signs Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of Manpower to fight child labour | DNE
  • Sisi’s popularity down 5 percent according to poll | Egypt Independent
  • Sisi addresses Arab Thought conference | SIS


Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Abdullah retrial verdict scheduled for January
The Cairo Criminal Court set January 6 to issue a verdict pertaining to Al Jazeera journalist Ahmed Abdullah, in a retrial of the ‘Marriott Cell’ case. Abdullah is facing several charges, including belonging to an outlawed group, violating the privacy of citizens, and harming national unity. Defense lawyer Shaaban al-Sayed said he called for the charges to be dropped, saying they were not fully investigated and there is no proof of Abdullah’s involvement. Other defendants in the case, namely journalists Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were among those pardoned by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in September. [DNE, 12/6/2015]

Five policemen detained on Luxor torture charges; Alexandria prosecution investigates torture claims
Egypt’s prosecution ordered Saturday the detention of five low-ranking policemen for four days on accusations of involvement in torturing to death a detainee in Upper Egypt’s Luxor. Two days earlier, four officers were also detained for four days pending investigation into the same accusations. According to state media, their detention has been renewed for 15 days. Alexandria prosecution also opened an investigation Monday into the Sunday death of a 22-year-old man inside a police station after human rights lawyers filed a report against officers at the station, accusing them of torturing the man to death. The lawyers claim that the officers tortured Amr Mahran Farouk, a driver, in an effort to coerce a confession regarding the theft of a tuk tuk. A security source at Alexandria Security Directorate told Ahram Arabic website that the death was not due to any assaults, but was caused by an overdose from drugs taken by the man before he was arrested. Meanwhile, Minister of Interior Magdy Abdel Ghaffar met with the heads of various ministerial departments on Saturday to assert the ministry’s respect for human rights in the wake of the string of alleged abuses by police officers. The ministry also posted a video Saturday in which claims made by a female detainee a week earlier regarding her ill treatment in Shubra police station were denied by her lawyer and her aunt. [Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, 12/7/2015]

Lawyers group says 425 civilians prosecuted in military courts in November
Egypt’s military prosecuted 425 civilians in November, an independent group of lawyers said in a recent report, highlighting incidents which it deemed violations of human rights and press freedoms. The Lawyers for Democracy Initiative, which is affiliated with the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, said that November witnessed 55 cases which represented a breach against freedom of opinion and expression, adding that the situation in November was similar to the preceding month, with violations against media freedoms, and security assaults on detainees growing more intense. According to the report, Egyptian courts also issued death sentences to 11 people in four separate cases in November. [Egypt Independent, 12/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt court reduces sentences again 120 Morsi supporters from ten to two years in jail | Cairo Post, Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Sinai militant Habara receives third death sentence | Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya
  • Court rejects lawsuit to ban Mekameleen channel | DNE
  • In Pictures: Helwan Brigades trial postponed | DNE
  • Court of Cassation to rule on Badie’s Brotherhood headquarters retrial on January 4 | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
  • Prosecution advises Cassation Court to annual rulings against Badie, MB leader | Cairo Post
  • Court binds insurance authority to approve medication for ill child | AMAY


Egypt lifts 2015-16 GDP growth forecast
Egypt revised its gross domestic product (GDP) target for the current fiscal year to 5.5 percent from 5 percent on Saturday. Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi said that Egypt’s economy grew 4.2 percent in the 2014/2015 fiscal year, up from 2.2 percent the previous year. “The economy has responded favorably to reform processes put in place by the government and economic stimulus measures that have injected huge additional investments into labor-intensive infrastructure projects,” the Planning Ministry said. On Saturday, Egypt said it aims to increase exports of agricultural products to Russia by 15 percent in the coming year. Meanwhile, Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr said that Egypt will sign a final agreement with the World Bank for a $1 billion loan on December 19 and expects to receive the funds before the end of the year. [Reuters, 12/5/2015]

Egypt ordered to pay Israel $1.76 billion after halting gas supplies
Israel’s state owned electric utility Israel Electric Corporation (IEC) said Sunday that Egyptian natural gas companies have been ordered by international arbitrators at the International Chamber of Commerce to pay $1.76 billion in compensation for halting gas supplies. Egypt stopped selling natural gas to Israel in 2012 after months of attacks on a pipeline by militants in the Sinai Peninsula. IEC sued Egyptian providers Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS) and the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC), as well as the firm operating the pipeline, Eastern Mediterranean Gas (EMG), for $4 billion in damages. “Israel Electric will act toward the implementation of the arbitration ruling through dialogue with the gas companies,” IEC said. EGPC and EGAS said in a statement that the arbitrator had also ordered them to pay $288 million to EMG. Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said Egypt would appeal the decision. Israeli firms Delek Group, Ratio Oil, and Isramco Negev said Monday that they would push ahead with talks to export natural gas to Egypt despite the ruling. However, the Egyptian government ordered its oil and gas arms to freeze talks on importing Israeli natural gas. The government ordered EGPC and EGAS to halt approvals to companies to import Israeli gas until it clarifies the ruling and the fate of the appeal. [Reuters, AP, 12/6/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian business activity falls to two-year low in November | Reuters
  • Egypt looks to increase agricultural exports to Russia by 15 percent | Reuters
  • Egypt says it will add up to 3 GW of power, helping to reduce rationing | Reuters
  • Egypt’s Banque Misr closes $250 million three-year loan | Reuters
  • CBE’s Amer seeks banks’ support to overcome dollar shortages | DNE
  • Egypt launches $2.3 million energy efficiency project with IFC | Ahram Online
  • Egyptian Prime Minister to stress investment in meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping Friday | Ahram Online
  • Egypt proposes fifteen investment projects worth $10 billion at China-Africa Cooperation Summit | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Prime Minister says major investment needed for country’s ailing infrastructure | Ahram Online
  • Sisi calls for creation of common Arab market | DNE
  • Egypt’s market loses EGP 2.8 billion on Monday, EGX30 declines 0.9 percent | Egypt Independent


Police arrest three perpetrators of Cairo nightclub attack
Egypt’s Interior Ministry has detained three perpetrators of the attack targeting a restaurant and bar late Friday. A statement by the interior ministry highlights that the incident followed an altercation and developed into an arson attack. Late Friday, the Interior Ministry announced that two perpetrators were detained in Egypt’s Suez governorate, to which they fled following the attack. The third suspect was detained on Saturday. The prosecution has ordered them detained for four days pending investigation. Agouza prosecution also ordered on Sunday the arrest of a housewife for four days pending investigations, who was charged with hiding two of the suspects in her house. Meanwhile, the death toll of the attack increased to 17 after security forces discovered the remains of another victim at the nightclub. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 12/7/2015]

Washington Post criticizes recent arrest of journalists
The Washington Post criticized the Egyptian government in an editorial published on its website Thursday over the arrest of journalists and the Sinai military operation. The paper suggested that the ongoing military operation in North Sinai is strengthening rather than weakening terrorist groups and leading to a steady decline in security due to the indiscriminate attacks on civilians, which aggravates the Sinai people’s feelings of injustice and encourages them to join these groups. The Post highlighted the arrest of Egyptian journalist, rights activist and researcher Ismail Alexandrani for promoting this point of view. According to the editorial, the US State Department responded to a request for a statement on Alexandrani’s arrest, saying, “We are closely following his case. We continue to have frank discussions with the government of Egypt about our human rights concerns.” Meanwhile, detained photojournalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid Shawkan’s first trial session will be held on December 12 in a case publicly known as ‘Rabaa sit-in dispersal’ with over 700 other defendants. Shawkan has exceeded 850 days in detention without trial, despite the legal remand term being set at a maximum of two years. [Egypt Independent, 12/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egyptian social media users launch campaign in protest of medicine shortage | Ahram Online
  • Activist challenges journalist on disappearance victims’ alleged links to ISIS | Egypt Independent
  • Social media campaign highlights medication shortages in Egypt | Mada Masr


Police conscript killed, four injured by explosive device in North Sinai
A police conscript was killed and four others injured on Sunday when a roadside bomb detonated on a highway in North Sinai’s provincial capital of al-Arish, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. The explosive device, which was planted on a coastal highway in al-Arish, detonated as a security patrol passed by, killing a conscript and wounding four others, the ministry said. The victims were transferred to al-Arish Military Hospital as security forces scanned the area in search for the perpetrators. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya, 12/7/2015]

Egypt destroys 20 newly found tunnels along border with Gaza
The Egyptian military says it destroyed 20 recently discovered underground tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip. The army says the tunnels were found and destroyed in November. The announcement came on its official Facebook page on Monday. The army also said that nationwide search patrols made in November led to the confiscation of 478 weapons of various types and 530 assorted ammunitions including a large amount of explosive material. The military provided a map of areas where the weapons were seized, including Matrouh near the Libyan borders, Siwa Oasis located south of Matrouh, Ismailia at the west bank of the Suez Canal, the Red Sea’s Zaafrana, and other areas. The spokesperson also announced the arrest of 610 illegal migrants of various nationalities during the same month. [Ahram Online, AP, 12/7/2015]

Also of Interest

  • World squash championship in Egypt called off for security reasons | AFP, AP
  • Flight from Berlin to Egypt lands in Hungary on bomb threat | AP, Reuters
  • No explosives found on German plane grounded in Budapest | Reuters


Egypt to head counterterrorism committee in UN Security Council
Egypt was chosen to lead the UN Security Council counter-terrorism committee, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said on Saturday, as well as two of the council’s subsidiary bodies. Diplomatic sources said this confirms the successful efforts by the Foreign Ministry, which led to Egypt’s non-permanent membership with the United Nations for 2016-17. The sources also said the committee, formed after the 9/11 attacks in America, is the UN’s most important anti-terrorism committee, adding that Egypt was chosen for its expertise in fighting terrorism. They added that all permanent and nonpermanent members voted for Egypt. The committee will be headed by Egypt’s Permanent Delegate to the United Nations Amr Abul Atta. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement that the choice of Egypt to lead the committee reflects the international community’s confidence in Egypt. The objectives of the committee are to develop international counter-terrorism policies and implement respective Security Council resolutions. [AMAY, Aswat Masriya, Mada Masr, 12/5/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Russia’s Lavrov discusses Syria with Egypt’s Foreign Minister | Reuters
  • Egypt’s Sisi renews call for creating joint Arab military force | Ahram Online
  • Egypt interested in purchasing Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder fighter jet | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
  • Egypt condemns assassination of Yemen’s Aden governor | Ahram Online
  • Egypt’s Sisi to visit Athens Tuesday for summit with Greece, Cyprus leaders | Ahram Online, DNE, SIS, AMAY
  • Egypt allows 162 Palestinians to pass Rafah Crossing, after months of closure | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt closes Rafah border crossing, thousands still waiting to cross | Aswat Masriya