Top News: US-Egypt Military Ties will Depend on Egypt’s Actions, says US General

The future of US military ties with Egypt will depend on the actions of the future government, the top US military officer said ahead of Egyptian elections next week.

Sisi gets 94.5 percent and Sabbahi 5.5 percent in expat vote
Results of the expatriate vote showed former defense minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi winning with a huge margin of 94.5 percent over 5.5 percent for his Nasserist opponent Hamdeen Sabbahi, the Presidential Electoral Commission (PEC) announced in a press conference on Wednesday. Total valid votes were 318,033, of which 296,628 went to Sisi and 17,207 to Sabbahi. Meanwhile, 4,198 of the voters casted invalid votes. [Aswat Masriya, DNE, SIS, 5/21/2014]

Sisi campaign posts brief program on new website
After critics of presidential candidate Abdel Fattah al-Sisi repeatedly highlighted the absence of a public electoral program, a new website for the campaign posted one on Wednesday afternoon. It was removed from the website after an hour, but a shorter version was later posted with sixteen points, titled “Vision for the Future.” The sixteen points cover foreign, economic, and social policies while discussing a number of infrastructure projects. In terms of economic policies, the program suggests an ascending taxation system and encourages the transfer of private companies to the public sphere. It also suggests a reconfiguration of the subsidy system, to ensure they are allocated to those who need them. [Mada Masr, 5/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Turning back the clock: Echoes of former eras in Egypt’s presidential race | Ahram Online
  • In Egypt Vote, Brotherhood’s Hope Is in Boycott | AP
  • Mahmoud Badr says Sisi will implement social justice | AMAY (Arabic)


Agnad Misr officially labelled a terrorist group
The Court for Urgent Matters has officially labelled Agnad Misr (Soldiers of Egypt) a terrorist organization. Lawyer Ahmed Soliman, who filed the lawsuit that led to the decision, said the group had claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist attacks in Egypt. They include a bombing near Cairo University, shootings of police officers and two bombings against police targets in Giza. [Ahram Online, 5/22/2014]

Egypt holds first female genital mutilation trial
A doctor will stand trial on Thursday on charges of female genital mutilation following the death of a thirteen year-old girl who underwent FGM last June, marking the first prosecution since the practice was banned in Egypt. Sohair al-Bata’a died in June 2013 at Raslan Halawa’s clinic. Her father will also stand trial for taking her to undergo the operation. The National Population Council (NPC) pushed for the investigation last November, which demanded establishing a committee of forensic experts to verify the real cause of death, stated Amin. [Aswat Masriya,5/22/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Sohag teacher receives four years and fine for ‘contempt of Islam’ | AMAY (Arabic)
  • Defendant in Marriott Cell trial denies relationship with Al-Jazeera Mubashir | AMAY (Arabic)
  • Morsi’s Ettehedeya trial adjourned to June 10 | AMAY (Arabic), Shorouk (Arabic)


Egypt’s Sisi aims to bring deficit down to 8.5 percent by 2017-18
The leading candidate for Egypt’s new presidency, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, aims to cut the Egyptian budget deficit to 8.5 percent of gross domestic product by the fiscal year ending in June 2018 from last year’s 14 percent, his campaign said on Wednesday. Sisi, who is widely expected to win presidential elections next week, also targets GDP growth of 7 percent by the same fiscal year, a big jump for an economy that grew only about 2 percent in the last fiscal year. [Reuters, 5/21/204]

Gap narrows between Egypt pound’s official and black market rates
Egypt’s central bank allowed the Egyptian pound to weaken further at a dollar sale on Wednesday after the currency slid to an all-time low in the official market last week, narrowing the gap between official and black market rates. Sustained dollar shortages have fuelled a thriving black market in Egypt. The central bank said it sold $37.6 million at a cut-off price of 7.1150 pounds, weaker than the 7.1068 pounds at its last sale on Monday. It had offered $40 million. [Reuters, 5/21/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Ministry of Tourism, e-Finance to provide diesel fuel smartcards for hotels, transportation companies | DNE
  • New petition challenges use of coal in Egyptian factories | Ahram Online
  • Agreement valuing 126 million Euros between the transportation ministry and European Bank | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


NASL calls for escalation of protests ahead of elections
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL) called on its adherents to escalate their protests against the transitional government and the upcoming presidential elections. NASL said in a statement, “Let us intensify our glorious revolutionary wave in this revolutionary week under the slogan ‘boycott the presidency of blood.’” In related news, security forces closed Nahda square near Cairo University after confronting student demonstrators protesting against upcoming elections. Security closed the square and its surrounding streets to traffic. Several students continued demonstrating at Cairo University’s college of engineering where they denounced the killing of a student demonstrator earlier this week. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 5/22/2014]

NCHR requests visit to al-Shamy after receiving petition
The National Council on Human Rights (NCHR) said that it intends to visit two detained hunger strikers on Monday after receiving a letter discussing the deterioration of the prisoners health according to a statement released today. More than one hundred political activists, lawyers, and journalists signed a petition on Wednesday to draw the attention of NCHR to the extreme measures some detainees have resorted to in order to demand their basic rights. The petition addressed the case of two detainees who have maintained a hunger strike for more than one hundred days to protest being held without legal charges. The first is Al Jazeera journalist Abdullah al-Shamy, who has been detained in Egypt nine months. The second detainee, Mohammed Sultan, son of Islamist preacher Salah Sultan, has sustained a hunger strike for 105 days and suffers deteriorating health. [Aswat Masriya (Arabic), 5/22/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Sabbahi campaign headquarters vandalized in Shibin al-Kom | Mada Masr
  • Unidentified assailants attack Sisi’s campaign headquarters in Gharbeya | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Egyptian human rights groups condemn jailing of protest organizers | Ahram Online
  • Three arrested for participation in a show of solidarity with Maheinor in Alexandria | AMAY (Arabic)


One killed, six wounded in bomb attack on Egyptian security vehicle
One Egyptian was killed and six others were injured in a bomb attack on Wednesday on a security vehicle in Egypt’s lawless Sinai Peninsula near the border with Israel, security sources said. Security officials and witnesses said the casualties included civilians and security officers. Wednesday’s attack had been carried out by two men riding a motorcycle who threw a bomb at a security vehicle in the North Sinai city of al-Arish and fled. The ministry of interior confirmed the attack and said seven people had been injured. State television said the attack had resulted in deaths and injuries but did not give details. [Reuters, Ahram Online, 5/21/2014]

Two killed in bomb explosion in Cairo
Two people were killed in a bomb explosion in the agricultural area of ​​Tebbin, Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday morning. Major General Mamdouh Abdel Qader, director of the Department of Civil Protection in Cairo, said the security services had received a notification when a roadside bomb exploded in an agricultural area of Tebbin, after which bomb disposal experts and security forces moved to the scene of the explosion and found two people dead. Abdel Qader added that the two bodies had firearms by their side. Security sources expected that both dead people were preparing the bomb for a terrorist operation before it exploded. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 5/22/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Engineering student killed by birdshot, says forensics authority | DNE
  • Azhar University office building set ablaze | Mada Masr
  • Security director in Luxor says bomb defused on airport road | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Authorities arrest three for possession of relics in al-Khosous | Shorouk (Arabic)


African Union Election Observation Mission arrives in Cairo
The African Union Election Observer Mission (AUEOM) announced its arrival in Egypt on Wednesday, less than a week before the start of Egypt’s two-day presidential election. The Arab League, Arab Parliament, and other international organizations are gearing up to monitor the two-man run-off scheduled for next Monday and Tuesday. The AU accepted an invitation from the Egyptian interim government to observe the election despite the suspension of Egypt’s activities in the union, which has been place since July 5, 2013. European diplomats in Egypt say they are hoping that the decision of the Egyptian government to facilitate a European Union (EU) observer mission to monitor the presidential elections across the nation is an indication on the side of authorities to accommodate democracy and political freedoms. They added that the greater commitment Egypt shows in this direction, the more openness the EU will show towards Egypt and the more support it can grant the expected Sisi presidency. [DNE, Egypt Independent, SIS, 5/21/2014]

US-Egypt military ties will depend on Egypt’s actions, says US general
The future of US military ties with Egypt will depend on the actions of the future government, the top US military officer said ahead of Egyptian elections next week. “I think we should maintain a relationship with the US military and Egyptian military. I think that that relationship will be affected by their actions and whether they make progress on their political transition,” said General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. He added, “I think that [the military-military] relationship should largely be defined by our common interests. We have a lot of common interests in particular in countering terror.” Dempsey also said he was confident Egypt would use the sophisticated US weapons for their intended purpose and that Washington would check that they were not used to commit rights abuses. [Reuters, 5/22/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Fahmy in communication with counterparts about ‘deteriorating situation’ in Libya | DNE
  • Foreign Ministry: We reject any attempts to divide Libya | AMAY (Arabic)
  • Official: Ethiopia ready to discuss Egypt’s proposals on Renaissance Dam crisis | Egypt Independent