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News - Egypt News

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 08:42:00
The Gulf agreement which resulted from the Riyadh summit last Sunday [Nov. 16], in addition to the Egyptian openness regarding Saudi King Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz’s invitation to settle the conflict between Cairo and Doha, raised questions concerning the future of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is well-known that Qatar has been the first and strongest supporter of the Brotherhood, whether through financial and political support — which it provided Mohamed Morsi — or through the stance which followed the collapse of the Islamist regime after the June 30 Revolution. Back then, Doha rejected the ouster of Morsi and considered the events of July 3, 2013, as a military coup. Doha then opened its doors to receive the wanted Brotherhood leaders and provided them a media podium. In addition, Qatar withdrew the economic support it had provided Egypt before the Brotherhood’s regime collapsed. All of this resulted in a major deterioration in Egyptian-Qatari relations, which was not limited to mere media campaigns, but also led to the withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador from Qatar. The importance of Qatari support for the Brotherhood is not about its magnitude, as Qatar is considered the only Arab country to support the prohibited group. Consequently, in the event that the group loses this support due to the rapprochement between Cairo and Doha, the Brotherhood’s isolation and suppression would deepen. However, there is another possibility that does not quite contradict the first. The tensions in the Egyptian-Qatari relations practically led to the absence of any party that would be able to play the role of a mediator between Egypt and the Brotherhood, especially since the relations with Turkey — the second regional sponsor of the Brotherhood — became more tense. Meanwhile, the rest of the Gulf and Arab countries were sharing the Egyptian fear of this group and its local subgroups. The improved Egyptian-Qatari relations would result in the need to tighten the grip on the Brotherhood in Qatar. In return, it could also provide an opportunity to find a regional mediator between the group and Egypt, which makes it possible to reach a future agreement. The arrest of Brotherhood leader Mohammed Ali Beshr yesterday [Nov. 20], is also linked to both these possibilities. Perhaps the purpose of this was to send a message claiming that the Qatari-Egyptian reconciliation would provide an opportunity for Egypt to tighten the grip on the Brotherhood, and the arrest may be a preamble for a political settlement. A political science professor at Cairo University, Hassan Nafia, tols As-Safir, “The rapprochement is not yet over; the next Gulf summit is a month away, during which Qatar has to prove its good intentions.” “Would this rapprochement end all kinds of relations with the Brotherhood and declare it a terrorist group such as the United Arab Emirates did? We don’t exactly know what Qatar is willing to offer, and the Egyptian side would also have to take measures of its own,” he said. “If the relations between Egypt and Qatar reach a great level of understanding, Doha’s role could change from opponent into mediator,” Nafia said. “However, this would take time as well as a certain vision from the Egyptian political leadership in order to make concessions and reach an agreement.” It is noteworthy that the morning after the Egyptian presidency issued a statement welcoming the Saudi call on Egypt to support the Riyadh agreement, Beshr was arrested. He was one of the most prominent Brotherhood leaders still on the loose, and he had always been a candidate to play the mediator in any negotiations between the group and the government. This raises doubts about the possibility of reaching an understanding. However, Nafia said, “Beshr’s arrest is indeed unfortunate, but I think it was only precautionary to the [Islamist] protests which occurred on Nov. 28. I do not believe it had anything to do with the developments in the Egyptian-Qatari relations.” If there were a possibility to have any future Qatari-mediated agreements, it was certain that the Brotherhood would fall under major pressure due to the Egyptian-Qatari rapprochement, and it would lose at least a portion of the support it has. A politics professor at Cairo University, Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyed, told As-Safir, “I do not see the Egyptian-Qatari rapprochement leading to a change in the position regarding the Brotherhood in the near future.” “I believe the change within the Brotherhood itself would take time. The recent developments might encourage certain parties from the group to reach an understanding, while other parties may refuse to do so, which means that there is a possibility of having divisions within the group, on the medium term,” Sayyed said. “It also depends on Qatar’s behavior during the following period, since there are many decision-making parties in Qatar; what can be agreed upon by a party, can be rejected by another. However, it is certain that things are going to change between Qatar and the Brotherhood; Doha will at least refrain from publicly supporting the group. This means that during the first period, the group will suffer negative repercussions, which might last. In fact, it is hard for Qatar to take back the commitments it had made to the Gulf countries, since the Brotherhood’s influence is not only limited to Egypt but also reaches the Gulf.” According to Sayyed, Qatar would not play the mediator role anytime soon, since “Beshr’s arrest might indicate that the time for [establishing] an understanding and settlement has not come yet.” The Egyptian-Qatari rapprochement will definitely result in a loss for the Brotherhood, on both the short and long term. The settlement will be subject to new balances and will surely not be in favor of the Brotherhood. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 07:27:26
Hospitals across Egypt have declared a state of emergency following two deaths earlier this week from the H5N1 virus, or bird flu. An Egyptian woman died on Tuesday from the virus, the second bird flu death in two days and the third this year. The 30-year-old woman, from Minya governorate in Upper Egypt, contracted the virus after she came into contact with infected birds, Egypt's health ministry said in a statement. The first fatality this week was a 19-year-old woman who died of the disease on Monday in Upper Egypt's Assiut. Meanwhile, Alexandria's health ministry declared a state of emergency in all of its hospitals after the two deaths, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported. Ayman Abdel-Moneim, an official in Alexandria's health ministry, told Al-Ahram that the governorate started taking intensive precautionary measures in various hospitals. Abdel-Moneim also stressed that there is a huge quantity in all the governorate's hospitals of the drug Tamiflu – which treats flu symptoms. A total of seven cases of bird flu have been recorded this year, three of which have died. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 07:17:59
Egyptian authorities on Thursday ordered 15 days' detention for a Muslim Brotherhood leader who served as a cabinet minister under deposed president Mohamed Morsi, a judicial source said. Mohamed Ali Bishr, who was arrested earlier in the day, is accused of "spying for foreign states," conspiring to commit violence and belonging to the Brotherhood - branded a terrorist organisation by Egypt's authorities. Bishr served as minister of local development under Morsi, and after his ouster was a leader in an Islamist grouping, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, which has campaigned for the toppled leader's reinstatement. "We reject the rabid attack against the components of the coalition and its members…and against the revolutionary student movement," the NASL said in a Thursday statement. "Bishr's arrest is undoubtedly a new and big loss to the Egyptian political arena." More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 07:16:34
At least 12 people were arrested in anti-government protests in several Egyptian cities on Friday. Police arrested 10 protesters in Alexandria, where the banned Muslim Brotherhood staged five marches against the government and also demanded the release of their detained colleagues, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported. In Nile Delta city of Damietta two Brotherhood members were arrested at similar demonstrations. Meanwhile, police in Cairo fired teargas at demonstrators in Ain Shams district, a regular site of demonstrations despite a security crackdown that has seen thousands arrested. Police also dispersed protests elsewhere in Cairo and Giza, including in the districts of Boulaq Al-Dakrour, Al-Waraq and Saft Al-Laban. Egyptian authorities banned the Muslim Brotherhood last year and declared it a terrorist organisation. The government also introduced a law in November 2013 banning protests that had not received permission from the police to go ahead. Hundreds have been jailed under its provisions, including a number of well-known secular activists. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 07:11:52
al-Azhar, Egypt's leading Islamic authority, said Friday that calls to carry the Quran in anticipated Salafist protests are "seditious", state news agency MENA reported. The Salafist Front is calling for nationwide demonstrations on 28 November, to demand the imposition of "Islamic identity", condemn government economic and political policies, and call for "an end to military rule." The front has called on protesters to hold up the Quran, Islam’s holy book, during the demonstrations. "[These protests] deceive Muslims in the name of religion; they are a call for chaos and for [disrespecting] the Quran," Al-Azhar said in its statement. The Salafist Call, another major Salafist group in Egypt, denounced on Tuesday the front's protest calls. "It has become clear that the purpose of the protests is to exhaust the state," it said in a statement. Since the ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July last year, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy – an umbrella for Morsi loyalists led by the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood – has been the main group staging major anti-government protests. The Salafist Front and its political wing, the Nour Party, backed the ouster of Morsi and the interim authorities that replaced him. The interior ministry has vowed to deal "firmly" with the anticipated protests and said it would use live ammunition against those who "threaten security." A law, passed in November last year, bans unauthorised protests and puts restrictions on public assembly. Hundreds have been jailed under the law's provisions. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 07:09:47
For many Egyptian migrant workers, chaotic Libya is a release from the relentless economic hardship and idleness of home, despite an apparent breakdown of law and order in the North African country. "There is no money or work in Egypt. I was comfortable [in Libya]; I used to live much better," says Mostafa, a marble worker, who returned home to Egypt last June for what was meant to be a short holiday. The 31-year-old is among thousands of Egyptian migrant workers who until recently held down jobs in the oil-producing country and still seek a return to protect their livelihoods. Despite growing anarchy since the 2011 toppling of dictator Muammar Gaddafi, which saw him ambushed by Islamist-leaning militiamen and robbed at his home and workshop, Mostafa bitterly admits he remains undeterred. "Here [in Egypt] you die slowly every day, but there at least you might die once and be relieved," he laments, giving only his first name. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-22 07:04:20
Three people were killed in a road crash in Egypt's south on Friday, the latest in near deadly traffic accidents plaguing the country. The crash, involving three vehicles, occurred in the governorate of Minya because of high-speed driving, state news agency MENA said. Egypt is notorious for its poor road safety record where roadways are poorly maintained and traffic regulations are loosely enforced. Earlier this month, 18 people were killed when a bus packed with high school students collided with three other vehicles in Lower Egypt, prompting the government to introduce amendments to a traffic law that set harsher punishments for traffic violations. Days earlier, at least ten female university students were killed in a collision in Sohag, Upper Egypt. More»
Ahmed El Demerdash - 2014-11-20 15:08:36
Egyptian city of Hurghada has witnessed the gathering of representatives from 350 international tour operators. The representatives were attending annual celebration organised by Franco Rosso SA, which chose Hurghada to host the event for this year.In a recent statement, Egyptian tourism minister Hisham Zaazou said he hopes his efforts would return annual tourism revenues -- a pillar of the economy -- to pre-uprising, peak levels of 2009 and 2010 of $12.5 billion, despite what he calls alarmist media coverage of Egypt. "At the end of the winter season which is April 2015, not the end of 2015, we should record good numbers of the come-back and the full revival of the tourism industry," he said. Once peaking at $12.5 billion (£7.7 billion) a year, tourism revenues were less than half that in 2013 at $5.9 billion as upheaval in the run up to the army's ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi put off foreign visitors. More than 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt in 2010, dropping to 9.8 million in 2011. They picked up the following year to 11.5 million but shrank back to 9.5 million last year. Tourist revenue in the first half of 2014 was $3 billion, down 25 percent from the same period a year earlier, the government said in August. Government figures had shown tourism contributed 11.3 percent of GDP and 14.4 percent of foreign currency revenues. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-20 09:04:24
Egyptian police forces arrested 48 protesters who took to the streets on Wednesday to commemorate the third anniversary of Mohamed Mahmoud clashes, and transferred them to the Abdeen and Qasr al-Nil police stations in Downtown Cairo, a security source told Aswat Masriya. Human rights lawyer Mahienour El Massry, and three others, were also arrested in Alexandria and sent to Raml police station, according to the “Free Mahienour” Facebook page. The page did not provide further details. However, shortly after her arrest, Mahienour and three others, including her lawyer Mohamed Ramadan, were released, with no charges being levied against them. Security forces cordoned Talaat Harb Square with armoured vehicles, eye-witnesses said. Police fired warning shots and dispersed protests around the square, a security source, who preferred to remain anonymous, told Aswat Masriya. Protesters arrested belong to youth political movements including the April 6 Youth Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists, the source added. Massry was released on September 21 following her lawyer’s appeal against a six-month sentence she was given for violating the protest law. She was arrested in May. The Mohamed Mahmoud clashes erupted on November 19, 2011, stretching for five days. The clashes between security forces and protesters opposing the then-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) were the deadliest since the January 2011 uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak. The clashes left almost 50 killed. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2014-11-20 09:02:39
Egypt's interior ministry said on Wednesday it had arrested an Egyptian militant who had returned from fighting in Syria with a group linked to the al Qaeda affiliate Nusra Front in order to train Egyptians in bombmaking. A statement posted to the ministry's Facebook page said Hany Shaheen Ali Shaheen confessed to receiving orders from the Islamist Furqan Brigade to train Islamists in Egypt's Gharbia province. The return of fighters with experience in Syria and Iraq could bring more violence to Egypt and complicate efforts to stabilise a country that has seen two presidents toppled since 2011 and witnessed a surge in militant attacks in the past year. Egypt's state television broadcast a video purporting to show Shaheen's confession. "I traveled to Syria about a year ago," said a bearded man. "I was trained to use Kalashnikovs and explosives with the Furqan Brigade...in Homs," a central Syrian city. Reuters was not immediately able to confirm Shaheen's connection to Nusra, which has fought against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces as well as rival militants from Islamic State and has recently come under attack by U.S. air strikes. The ministry also said it had uncovered five "terrorist cells" composed of 38 Islamists in Gharbia who it said were complicit in blocking roads and violence that had wounded 7 policemen and 14 civilians. Militant attacks across Egypt have surged since July 2013 when the army ousted President Mohamed Morsi following mass protests and then cracked down hard on his Muslim Brotherhood, labeling it a terrorist organisation and arresting thousands of members. The government does not differentiate between radical Islamist groups like Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis based mostly in the Sinai Peninsula and the Brotherhood, which maintains it is peaceful and has denied involvement in recent anti-state violence. Ansar, which has killed hundreds of police and soldiers in the past 16 months, pledged loyalty to Islamic State last week. Egypt is well aware of the risks posed by its citizens going abroad for jihadist causes and then returning. Egyptians who fought Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan in the 1980s eventually took up holy war at home, training their weapons on Egyptian security forces and carrying out bombings. More»