Top News: US to Deliver Eight F-16 Aircraft to Egypt

The United States will deliver eight F-16 Block 52 aircraft to Egypt within the next two days, the US embassy in Cairo said in a statement on Thursday, part of a military package that had been unfrozen earlier this year. The F-16 Block 52 aircrafts will be immediately integrated into Egypt’s air force, the embassy said. The statement added that Washington would deliver four more F-16s to Egypt this autumn. The jets are a “valuable capability that is needed during these times of regional instability,” US Embassy Senior Defense Official in Cairo Major General Charles Hooper said in the statement “Extremists threaten regional security and these weapon systems provide a new tool to help Egypt fight terrorism,” Hooper said. Meanwhile, reportedly in response to a recent article published by a Washington DC-based analyst, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Badr Abdel Atty said, “Criticism in US media outlets will not be taken into consideration as long as they are not official statements.” According to Ahram Online, Atty’s statement came after an article, Where is Egypt Heading by Elliott Abrams, criticized human rights violations in Egypt. “All we care about is that Obama and Kerry have stated the importance to strengthen ties between Egypt and US and need to act accordingly,” said Abdel Atty. He added that the importance of the Egyptian-US strategic dialogue is in discussing bilateral and global relations between the two countries. [ReutersAswat MasriyaCairo Post, 7/30/2015]


Ministries accuse government of poor services in provinces
A joint report released by the Ministry of Local Development and the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation holds “the Egyptian government” fully responsible for poor local services in governorates. The Human Development Report for 2015 accused the government of neglecting the improvement of vital services, including drinking water, sewage, education and healthcare. The report, which surveyed citizen’s opinions on the “quality of life” in their respective governorates, said 60 percent of respondents blamed the deteriorating services on local municipalities, compared to 40 percent who laid responsibility on the central government. While 56 percent believe governorates are totally uncommitted to improving their quality of life, 14.6 percent said they could sense their commitment, the report said. [Egypt Independent, 7/30/2015]  

Window for applying to cover parliamentary elections to open on Saturday
Media outlets and civil society organizations wishing to apply for coverage of the coming parliamentary elections may do so starting next Saturday, the High Elections Commission (HEC) announced on Thursday. The application period will be open until August 20, the HEC said in a statement. Accepted media outlets and civil society organizations will be registered from August 21 to 25 and will receive their permits from August 26 to 30, the committee said. Permits issued before the elections were postponed in March would remain effective. The committee is yet to set a date for the parliamentary elections. It has nevertheless referred to the elections in its statement as the “2015 parliamentary elections,” indicating that they will be held before the end of this year. [Aswat Masriya, 7/30/2015]  

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Al-Jazeera journalists verdict postponed to August 2
An Egyptian court postponed on Thursday its verdict in the retrial of three Al-Jazeera journalists, dashing their hopes for a quick end to a legal ordeal that has sparked a global outcry. The ruling is now expected on August 2. The scheduled session did not take place due to the head of the court falling sick, judicial sources told Ahram Online. Canadian national Mohamed Fahmy, Egyptian national Baher Mohamed, and Australian national Peter Greste are being retried for defaming Egypt and spreading false news, after the Cassation Court dropped their seven to ten years in prison sentences in January. The Qatari network’s spokesman expressed Al Jazeera’s “extreme anger” due to the postponement of the verdict, in a statement posted on the network’s twitter account. “We, along with others, expected a swift end to the ordeal for our colleagues,” the spokesperson said. [AFP, AP, Aswat Masriya, DNE, The Guardian, Cairo Post, 7/30/2015]

Hisham Mubarak Law Center threatened with judicial investigation
Leading human rights organization the Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) was notified of a potential investigation by a judicial committee, lawyer Mostafa al-Hassan said Thursday. The committee is allegedly headed by an investigations judge, tasked with investigating human rights organizations in relation to a foreign funding case dating back to 2011. Hassan said he received a phone call from a committee representative, informing him they had visited HMLC’s office to find it closed. “This is not true. The office is open throughout the working week. The representative told me that the committee wants to investigate the center as part of the foreign funding case,” he explained. Hassan asked the committee representative to bring a formal letter from a judge, authorizing the investigation, but he refused to do so. “I was told that I could only see the letter, without having a copy of it, although it is my right to have the official letter to legally contest it,” Hassan asserted. [Mada Masr, 7/30/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Retrial of 128 Brotherhood members in Minya delayed to September 2 | Egypt Independent
  • Trial against Fatima Naoot continues | DNE
  • Egyptian prosecutors summon factory owner over twenty-five killed in fire | Ahram Online

World Bank approves $550 million sanitation project for Egypt’s poor
The World Bank has approved a $550 million program for Egypt that aims to improve sanitation services for more than 800,000 poor rural Egyptians in the Nile Delta. The Sustainable Rural Sanitation Services Program for Results will improve local service delivery by connecting rural poor to sanitation systems in the Delta governorates of Daqahliya, Sharqiya, and Beheira in Lower Egypt. “One of our strategic areas for supporting Egypt is improving service delivery especially for the poor,” said Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti. A statement by the Bank announcing the program also highlighted accountability and transparency measures that will be put in place to monitor the performance of the program. [World Bank, 7/28/2015]

Egypt says finishes work on New Suez Canal
Egypt has finished building its New Suez Canal, Head of the Canal Authority Mohab Mamish announced in a press conference Wednesday. The army led work eleven months ago on the $8-billion canal, flanking the existing, 145-year-old waterway and part of a larger undertaking to expand trade along the fastest shipping route between Europe and Asia. The waterway is now ready to receive ships of all kinds, Mamish said. Mamish described the completion of the new canal as history-making and epic, adding that three container ships safely crossed the new stretch of the canal during a Saturday trial. “The successful passing of three ships through the Canal during Saturday’s trial was equivalent to the passing of the nation from darkness to light.” Mamish also said that during the August 6 inauguration ceremony, the Suez Canal Authority will announce the inauguration of a new fish farming project. “By 2023, revenues from the Suez Canal will reach $13.4 billion.” [Reuters, Mada Masr, Cairo Post, 7/30/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Saudi flat, Egypt rises as New Suez Canal complete | Reuters
  • CSOs urge World Bank to adopt people-centered approach | Egypt Independent
  • US official: New Suez Canal to reduce oil prices | SIS
  • Oil minister: No objections to Iranian oil | Mada Masr
  • Petroleum Ministry vows to tackle gas shortages by next winter | Mada Masr
  • Egypt money supply up 16.4 percent in June | Reuters
  • Egypt ministry receives 100 governorate projects | DNE

Dozens of lawyers protest colleague assault in Minya
Dozens of lawyers protested at Mallawy General Hospital in Minya Wednesday evening after a police officer assaulted a lawyer, resulting in a cut below the eyebrow, according to the claim filed by the victim, Yassin Salah. The prosecution summoned officer Bishoy Adel for interrogation. Major General Hassan Saif, Minya’s security director, received a complaint from Salah accusing Adel, a police captain, of beating him after he attempted to give a defendant some drinking water in the dock at court. Adel asked Salah not to give the defendant the bottle as it is not allowed, which lead to an altercation that ended up with Salah being beaten. Minya Lawyers’ Syndicate head, Tarek Fouda, said he met with the protesting lawyers to calm them down after security officials promised to investigate the incident. The Mallawy Chief of Detectives, Mohamed Essmat, said efforts are being made to end the crisis between the lawyer and the police officer amicably. [Egypt Independent, 7/30/2015]  

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Israel threatens ISIS Sinai affiliate
Israel threatened, on Wednesday, the Islamic State’s arm in the Sinai Peninsula, saying it would respond strictly against any attacks by the militant group against its citizens. “If the Sinai State tries to target our citizens, then we shall preempt that and strike back unhesitatingly,” the spokesperson of the Israeli Defense Force, Avichay Adraee, said on his Facebook page, quoting remarks by an Israeli general during a command handover ceremony. [Egypt Independent, 7/30/2015]

Also of Interest   

  • NGO alliance detects remarkable drop in violence | Egypt Independent
  • Security source says businessman Ehab Talaat banned from travel | Egypt Independent
  • News outlets speculate over shootout outside Niger Embassy | Mada Masr

Saudi Defense Minister in Egypt for talks
Challenges in the Arab region can only be overcome with Egypt and Saudi Arabia cooperating hand-in-hand, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said Thursday. Sisi told graduating students of the Egyptian Military Academy at a ceremony also attended by Saudi Defense Minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, who is visiting Cairo, that Egypt and Saudi Arabia are the “wings of Arab national security.” He described Bin Salman’s presence at the ceremony as a “strong message” to Egypt and Saudi Arabia’s respective peoples, and to Gulf countries, that both governments enjoy close cooperation. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 7/30/2015]

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