Egypt Media Roundup – Aug 12, 2014

08/12/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

In a released statement the Egyptian government characterized Human Rights Watch (HRW) recent report on the dispersal of Rab’a Al-Adawiya as being “highly negative,” “biased,” and “lacking professionalism” in addition to,  failing to provide an “adequate” report on the events.  The statement criticizes HRW use of “unidentified witnesses” as well as “biased, and non-credible sources” in the report, contributing to what the statement describes as a “lack of understanding” of Egyptian “society and its political and ideological orientation” development in the last three years. The Egyptian Government’s response further cities that HRW does not posses the legal status to conduct such an investigation, collection of evidence, or administering of interviews given that the organization withdrew its request for a permit to function in Egypt under the NGO law. The statement concludes with the Egyptian government calling upon HRW to “adhere to accuracy and impartiality” and displaying “professionalism and neutrality” in its reporting on Egypt.  [SISRead More…

Economy

Egypt’s ministers of planning, finance, and investment met to discuss potential, alternative funding sources for the new Suez channel for which construction has already begun. The meeting expanded on a few of Egypt’s top economic priorities including, energy needs, foreign reserves, and Suez Canal funding. [AllAfrica

Rights & Freedoms

Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report entitled “All According to Plan: The Rab’a Massacre and Mass Killings of Protesters in Egypt,” that details the systematic use by the Egyptian military and police of “live ammunition on crowds of demonstrators” protesting the removal of then-President Morsi in August 2013. The report states that the killing of approximately 1,150 demonstrators by Egyptian security forces in 2013 “probably amounts to crimes against humanity.” HRW director Kenneth Roth called the methodical killings “a violent crackdown planned at the highest levels of the Egyptian government.” According to HRW, no police officer, army officer, or government official has been held accountable for these killings. Although government officials claim that the violence was a response to attacks from the demonstrators, Human Rights Watch has only discovered isolated incidents where this was the case. HRW argues that more than twelve of the most senior individuals in the Egyptian chain-of-command should be investigated for their complicity in the violence, including Interior Minister Ibrahim, Special Forces Director Medhat Menshawy, and President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. [Human Rights WatchRead More…

Gender & Sexuality

In the past week, two songs have been released addressing sexual harassment in Egypt. Rapper Zap Tharwat and singer Menna Hussein were featured in a song titled “Who is Responsible” directed by Karim Shaaban and supported by UN Women and Axeer Studio. The music video shows a woman being sexually harassed while taking public transportation as other passengers remain compliant or ignore her situation. Additionally, El-Gomhoreya TV released the video “I won’t blame the harasser” featuring musician Abo and actress and activist Sarra Abdelrahman. The duo produced the video as a response to the severe mob harassment scandal that occurred in Tahrir Square during President Sisi’s inaugural celebrations. [Ahram Online]

Security Sector

Military spokesman Mohamed Samir announced that a security offensive against terrorists in North Sinai and Daqahliya left two alleged terrorists dead after a shootout with Egyptian troops. Military forces also arrested 13 suspects in Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, Abu Sultan, and Mansoura and destroyed 12 motorbikes found without license plates suspected to be used by terrorists in the region. In Daqahliya, two other suspects were arrested, one of whom is alleged to be a member of Al-Qaeda and the other a member of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis. [Egypt IndependentRead More…

Foreign Relations

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi arrived in Russia on Tuesday, and was greeted with a formal display of potentially interesting military hardware, “including new armored vehicles and missiles,” at Sochi airport. Following a visit to the 2014 Winter Olympics site in Sochi, the two leaders sat down to discuss relations between Egypt and Russia. According to Egypt’s State Information Service, talks focused on “the latest developments in the [Middle East] region and bilateral relations,” including the security situations in the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. The two leaders are also expected to engage in a discussion about economic and trade developments, “education, culture, and science” continuing to foster mutually beneficial relations between the two countries. [Yahoo News, Wall Street Journal, Daily News EgyptRead More…

MORE STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

 January 25 activists named in lawsuit by former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly 

Mada Masr: al-Adly presses charges against Jan 25 activists for burning police stations

In this article: Habib al-Adly, former Minister of Interior under Mubarak is suing activists from the January 25 revolution for using “Molotovs to burn police stations” during protests. Activists named in the lawsuit are Gameela Ismail, Samia Jaheen, Wael Ghonim, and Ahmed Douma. Al-Adly, who himself is standing trial alongside former President Hosni Mubarak, maintains that he has “evidence” justifying the suit. Jaheen responded to the accusations, stating that she and the other accused activists “have the truth,” calling the current administration a “grubby and failing regime.” The Dostour Party also condemned the accusations of its leader Gameela Ismail, calling them “malicious” and “part of the systematic smear campaign against the revolution and all of those who participated in it.”

 HRW refused entry to Egypt, officials say it must respect “state’s sovereign rights” 

Ahram Online: Egypt justifies barring HRW entry, US says ‘disappointed’

In this article: Egyptian authorities justified denying entry to Human Rights Watch due to a lack of “legal basis.” The Ministry of Interior added in a facebook statement that the requested meeting by HRW with officials is postponed until September 2014. The statement also reiterated their desire to “cooperate” while maintaining “the state’s sovereign rights.” Officials also stated that a tourism visa was not sufficient for HRW representatives to enter the country but rather that a special entry visa is needed for the reasons of their visit. Egyptian officials also called Human Rights Watch a group that “perceives itself as an entity above the law and not subject to its provisions.”

 Rafah border crossing maintains strict restrictions 

Daily News Egypt: Foreign ministry denies Rafah border closure

In this article: Despite Egyptian reports which indicate that a total of 7,500 people and 12,000 tons of medical aid and food have been successfully transported across the Rafah border, Dr. Hany al-Basoos , Professor of Political Science at the Islamic University in Gaza, stated that in reality, the border between Gaza and Egypt remains closed. Only up to 20 people under severe medical conditions are allowed to cross into Egypt from Gaza per day and are not allowed to return to Gaza after receiving treatment. Moreover, Egypt has also turned away medical convoys attempting to enter Gaza vis a vis the Rafa border and attacked Gaza solidarity protests in Egypt on Eid al-Fitr, resulting in the death of five protesters.

 Two new electoral alliances enter the Egyptian political scene 

Ahram Online: Egypt’s secular electoral blocs halved into two after Moussa’s withdrawal

In this article: Egypt’s political parties are preparing for the upcoming parliamentary elections by forming alliances with the intention to win a majority in the House of Representatives. The Wafd party is leading one of the two “major secular electoral alliances” following the withdrawal of Amr Moussa from the Egyptian Nation alliance. The Wafd party and “other secular forces” have formed the “Egyptian Wafd” alliance. The alliance will be comprised of the Wafd party, the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, the Reform and Development party, the Conservatives Party, and the Awareness Party. The Wafd party has welcomed other parties to join under its leadership. According to a political analyst from Al-Ahram, the “electoral platform” of the Egyptian Wafd alliance will focus on the separation of religion and politics. The political platform of the alliance also intends to “implement the new constitution’s articles, especially on freedoms, human rights and social equality.” The second coalition of secular parties was reportedly formed by members of the now “defunct” National Democratic Party. This coalition is known as the “Egyptian Front” alliance. It consists of the Congress Party, the Misr Baladi party, the National Movement, the Modern Egypt party, Al-Ghad, and the Tagammu party. In addition to these parties, the General Egyptian Federation of Trade Unions also joined the Egyptian Front electoral alliance.

Rights & Freedoms

 Call for ‘revolutionary wave’ on Raba’a al Adaweya protest dispersal anniversary 

Ahram Online: Islamist alliance calls for ‘revolutionary wave’, retribution for Rabaa’s slain

Daily News Egypt: Anti-Coup Alliance calls for ‘new revolutionary wave’

In these articles:The Anti-Coup Alliance declared in a statement yesterday night that mass protests will be held on Thursday, August 14, 2014 to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the Raba’a al Adaweya and Al-Nahda sit-in protest dispersals. The dispersal of the sit-in resulted in at least 817 people killed by security officials without any following punishments. The Anti-Coup Alliance has stated that the protest will be peaceful and follow under the slogan “Retribution is our demand.” The purpose is to bring awareness, demand justice by reprimanding those responsible, and to eliminate future deadly clashes between the police and Egyptian people.

Security Sector

 Counterterrorism efforts at the Rafah border crossing continues 

Daily News Egypt: Army destroys 5 tunnels, arrests 5 Palestinians attempting to cross Rafah border

In this article: During security operations between August 7 and 10, Egyptian officials apprehended five Palestinian nationals attempting to cross from Gaza into North Sinai at the Rafah border crossing. Five tunnels linking North Sinai to the Gaza Strip were also destroyed, raising the total number of destroyed tunnels to 1,664.

 Large pipeline explodes in 10th Ramadan City 

Mada Masr: Unknown attackers bomb gas pipeline in 10th Ramadan City

In this article: Early morning on August 11, 2014, unknown assailants blew up the spare pipeline of the main natural gas station in 10th of Ramadan City. This is the first bombing of a natural gas pipeline to take place outside of Sinai. Because of the low amount of gas that was travelling through the pipeline at the time, the explosion led to no casualties. No suspects have been identified, but similar blasts have been blamed on the terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

Foreign Relations

 U.S. Congress representatives gather in Ciro to discuss U.S.-Egyptian relations 

Ahram Online: US Congress delegation arrives in Cairo

A U.S. Congress delegation arrived late Monday evening, August 11, 2014, in Cairo to discuss relations between the U.S. and Egypt over the course of a few days. Congress has “unfroze $1.5 billion in mostly military aid” since the reelection of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Representatives of the U.S. Congress met with Sisi in February 2014 prior to the presidential elections.