Top News: Washington Hits Back at Egypt Criticism over Missouri Unrest

A US official on Tuesday hit back at Egypt after Cairo took a swipe at US authorities’ handling of racially-motivated demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, saying Washington would call on countries to deal with their problems as openly and honestly as it does.


Wafd refuses to merge alliances
Ahmed Odeh, a member of the Wafd party’s supreme committee, announced on Tuesday after a meeting between the Egyptian Wafd alliance and the Democratic Current alliance that the Wafd party will neither open its alliance to new parties nor join a new alliance in preparation for Egypt’s upcoming parliamentary elections. Odeh stated that members of the Egyptian Wafd alliance will remain the Wafd party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Reform and Development party, the Conservative Party, and the Awareness party. The announcement came after Ahmed al-Boraie, a leading official in the liberal Dostour party, said that the Egyptian Wafd alliance and the Democratic Current alliance were considering merging. Meanwhile, Yasser al-Houdaiby, the vice president of the Wafd Party, launched an attack on Egypt’s elite, saying that they missed the opportunity to establish a democratic state in Egypt. In addition, Fouad Badrawi, former secretary-general of the Wafd party requested to return to the party. The party’s supreme committee will decide on the matter next week. [Shorouk (Arabic), 8/19/2014]

Presidential decree amends real estate tax law
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi issued on Tuesday a decree amending some provisions of the real estate tax law of 2008. The decree, published in the Official Gazette on Wednesday, stipulates the exemption of buildings owned by NGOs, labor organizations, educational institutions, hospitals, orphanages, political parties’ headquarters, syndicates and youth centers, from real estate tax. The law also exempts residential units whose net annual rental value is less than EGP 24,000, as well as units used for trade and industrial and administrative purposes, whose rental value is less than EGP 1,200 a year. [SIS, 8/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Strong Egypt Party calls for end to violence | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Tagammu party spokesman: Civil parties in Egypt should unite for the national interest | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Nour Party: We will hold Mahlab accountable when we reach parliament | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Nour Party denies Yasser Borhamy’s resignation | Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
  • Minister of investment: Legislative reforms will improve business climate | Al-Ahram (Arabic)


Jailed Al Jazeera journalists appeal sentences
The defense lawyer for two Al Jazeera journalists has appealed their seven-year jail sentences. Mostafa Nagy, lawyer for Baher Mohamed and Peter Greste, told Ahram Online that he had submitted an appeal on Wednesday to Cairo’s appeal court. “Professionally speaking I cannot talk about the reasons behind the appeal, as it is in front of the court now,” said Nagy. He explained that the appeal court has to specify a session to announce whether or not they have accepted the appeal. If the appeals succeed, the defendants will face a retrial. Ahram Online could not reach lawyers for the third defendant, Mohamed Fahmy, to verify whether or not he has also submitted an appeal. [Ahram Online, 8/20/2014]

Cairo court sentences 17 Morsi supporters to life in prison
A Cairo court sentenced in absentia on Wednesday 17 supporters of former president Mohamed Morsi to life in prison over violence and charges of rioting in the Cairo neighborhood of Manial last August. An eighteenth defendant was sent to 15 years in prison. He was the only defendant tried in session in the court case. In August 2013, Manial witnessed clashes between residents and Morsi supporters which resulted in the deaths of five people. The prosecution accused the defendants of being part of a terrorist organization, possession of live bullets and ammunition, and attempting murder. [Ahram Online, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 8/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Mubarak era minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid sentenced to 15 years in absentia | Ahram Online, Aswat Masriya, EGYNews (Arabic)
  • Suspects in Mortada Mansour assassination attempt arrested | DNE, Mada Masr
  • Morsi trial for complicity in killing protesters postponed to August 25 | Egypt Independent, Aswat Masriya
  • Jordanian and Israeli receive jail sentences for spying | Aswat Masriya
  • Cairo criminal court rejects appeal of six Brotherhood supporters | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Trial of seven Al-Azhar students postponed | Shorouk (Arabic)


Blackouts intensify in Egypt as consumption soars, production lags
The electricity deficit reached approximately 6,180MW on Monday, resulting in power outages for periods exceeding five hours daily, said an official at the ministry of electricity. The electricity crisis faced by Egypt was exacerbated by utilization of fuel oil supplies that failed to meet factory specifications, poor technical conditions within power plants, and widespread failure to conduct regular maintenance and repair operations. Some stations operate at no more than 25 percent of capacity. Top officials in Egypt promised Wednesday to end the rolling blackouts hitting the country in four months. [Ahram Online, DNE, 8/19/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt government preparing a text message service to notify citizens of subsidy shares | Cairo Post, DNE
  • Egypt awards ambitious Suez project to army-linked Gulf firm | Reuters
  • Egypt urban-rural divide stunts job creation | Zawya DJ
  • Egypt upbeat as foreign funds buy in; oil prices weak | Reuters
  • First imported gas shipment to occur in December | Egypt Independent
  • Oil minister says gas production to improve to help solve electricity crisis | Shorouk (Arabic)
  • Prime minister promises “gradual improvement” in power crisis starting next week | Aswat Masriya
  • Egypt’s Pioneers Holding posts 55 percent rise in Q2 net profit | Ahram Online
  • TDA to offer investment opportunities for projects in Ain Sokhna: Tourism minister adviser | DNE
  • Al-Tayyar awaits government response on Cairo land, offers to construct housing units: Managing Director | DNE
  • Mahlab: I wish I was an engineer in the new canal project | Egypt Independent
  • Legislative amendments soon for improving business climate | SIS


Jailed Egyptian activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Ahmed Douma go on hunger strike
Prominent Egyptian activist Alaa Abdel-Fattah has started a hunger strike while in detention amid a “decisive moment” that came after visiting his sick father in the hospital, a statement from the family said on Tuesday. The statement quoted Abdel-Fattah as saying: “I will not play the role they have drawn for me.” It did not elaborate. According to his lawyer, activist Ahmed Douma also began a hunger strike on Wednesday in solidarity with Abdel Fattah, and other jailed activists including April 6’s Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel. [Ahram Online, DNE, Mada Masr, Aswat Masriya, AP, 8/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Political groups call for corruption investigation against Mubarak | Ahram Online
  • New education strategy lacks broader vision say experts | Mada Masr
  • Arab Lawyers Union: HRW report on Raba’a dispersal was suspicious and politicized | Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
  • Mufti and minister of endowments meet to establish committee representing religious bodies | Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
  • Infographic: 10 programs taken off the air since January 2011 | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)
  • Study: 30 percent of women subjected to verbal harassment in the workplace | Aswat Masriya (Arabic)


Four beheaded corpses found in Sinai
Four beheaded corpses were found by residents of a town in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula on Wednesday, security sources said, blaming Islamist militants waging an insurgency against Cairo. Security sources in Sinai and Cairo said residents of Sheikh Zuweid found the bodies two days after the men were abducted by gunmen while traveling in a car in the town, a few kilometers from the Gaza Strip. Though the men were civilians, they may have been targeted for their perceived allegiance to the police and army, the sources said. Meanwhile, Egyptian troops killed three militant fighters on Tuesday in the Sinai, army sources told Aswat Masriya. Thirty militant suspects were also arrested on Tuesday in raids that took place in Sheikh Zuweid and Rafah. The Egyptian army also said it destroyed eighteen tunnels and arrested five militants in the Sinai on Wednesday. [Reuters, 8/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Handmade bomb goes off in Upper Egypt’s Maghagha, no injuries | Ahram Online
  • Two Brotherhood members arrested in Beni Suef | EGYNews (Arabic)
  • Military spokesman: Terrorists targeting electricity pylons arrested before fleeing to Sudan | Shorouk (Arabic)


Washington hits back at Egypt criticism over Missouri unrest
A US official on Tuesday hit back at Egypt after Cairo took a swipe at US authorities’ handling of racially-motivated demonstrations in Ferguson, Missouri, saying Washington would call on countries to deal with their problems as openly and honestly as it does. “We here in the United States will put our record for confronting our problems transparently and honestly and openly up against any other countries in the world,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a press briefing on Tuesday. “We would call on other countries to do the same. And unfortunately, we haven’t always seen that, so we’ll keep calling on them to do so,” she added. Harf also said that “people are free to say what they’d like.” Meanwhile, Dalia Ziada, director of Egyptian NGO Ibn Khaldun, said the organization sending a fact-finding commission to the United States to investigate the police’s handling of demonstrations in Ferguson. The ‘Police and People for Egypt Association’ has also called for transparency from the United States on the handling of the demonstrations. [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, DNE, Aswat Masriya, 8/20/2014]

Egypt urges ‘bilateral talks’ on new Gaza ceasefire as war resumes
In a press statement issued on Wednesday morning, Egypt’s foreign ministry expressed “deep regret” over the resumption of armed confrontations between Palestinian factions and Israel in the war-torn Gaza Strip. Cairo warned that the new clashes will “definitely lead to more casualties and injuries among innocent civilians.” “Egypt maintains its bilateral connections with both Palestinian and Israeli sides to urge them accomplish a new ceasefire deal and continue their positive involvement in the negotiations,” the statement said, stressing the importance of building on what has been achieved in the indirect talks so far. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled the Israeli delegation from Cairo following the collapse of the 24-hour ceasefire agreement just hours before its set expiration, according to an Israeli official. The Israel Defense Forces confirmed on Tuesday that it resumed “targeting terror sites across the Gaza Strip” in response to three rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hours before the expiration of the ceasefire. Azzam al-Ahmad, who was appointed head of the cross-faction delegation by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, alluded to interference in the talks, saying: “There are hidden fingers trying to put obstacles in front of the Egyptian Initiative.” While the Palestinian delegation also left Cairo on Wednesday, Ahmad said that the Palestinian delegation is not withdrawing from talks and is willing to return once informed by the Egyptian side that the atmosphere is set to resume negotiations. [Ahram Online, Reuters, Egypt Independent,Shorouk (Arabic), AP, The Guardian, 8/20/2014]

Also of Interest:

  • Egypt welcomes UNSC resolution against ISIL, Nusra Front | SIS, Ahram Gateway (Arabic)
  • Egypt role in Lebanese mufti’s election signals new strategy | Al Monitor
  • Egyptian-American cooperation in environment, renewable energy | SIS