Egypt Media Roundup – Feb 12, 2014

02/12/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Mara Revkin writes, that because counterterrorism efforts are ingrained in Egypt’s constitution, “Egypt’s next president can evoke the specter of terrorism like never before to silence critics.” Read More..[Foreign Affairs]

Gender & Sexuality

Debasish Mitra highlights the plight of women in Egypt, noting: “Egyptians got rid of Mubarak, in a coup the military toppled the country’s first ever elected president promising the gullible teeming millions equality, fraternity, liberty and rule of law. Yet, women in Egypt continued to live in utter ignominy — as targets of not only lust but also of unspeakable violence and torture.” [Times of Oman]

Security Sector

Egypt’s state news agency says a drive-by shooting on a highway east of Cairo has left three policemen dead. MENA says the attack took place early on Wednesday as the three policemen were patrolling the Suez-Ismailia road. Unidentified gunmen opened fire from their car on the police vehicle and fled the scene. Read More..[Global News, CBC, Daily Star Lebanon]

Marginalized Groups

Atheism is widely considered a taboo topic in Egypt and non-believers say that they often feel the need to keep their discussions private.In the coastal city of Alexandria, the BBC spoke to a group of atheists about the difficulties they face living in a conservative society. Read More..[Video- BBC]

Rights & Freedoms

Cairo Criminal Court acquitted police officer Mohammed Abdel-Moneim Ibrahim, commonly known as “Mohammad Al-Sunni”, in the case of killing protesters on 28 January 2011 at Al-Zawya Al- Hamra district. The defendant’s lawyer said there was “a lack of criminal intent”, since he was in a state of legal self-defence,  defence of his workplace “and society”. Read More..[Daily News Egypt]

Economy

The Egyptian government welcomes its five year strategic cooperation plan with the Islamic Development Bank, inked in June during the Deauville Partnership investment forum as a memorandum of understanding, Minister of Planning Ashraf El-Araby said Wednesday. Read More..[Daily News Egypt]

Foreign Relations

Defense Minister Sisi and Foreign Minister Fahmy head to Russia to discuss “bilateral relations and aspects of cooperation between the two countries”–the trip comes amidst tentative plans for Egypt to sign a $2Billion arms deal with Russia. Read More..[Hurriyet, Al Bawaba, CTV, TIME, Leaderpost, Global Post]

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Legal & Political Institutions

Sisi’s popularity in Egypt is not reflected internationally–what will that do for his [potential] presidency?

Foreign Policy: The Sisi Spring

Summary: Sisi will likely feel such factors though a bit more lightly than his predecessors. He will come in with his popularity already high and does not have the same need to build a name for himself. There are no obvious challengers to threaten his presidency, even if there are some figures and institutions with bloody hands from which he might want to distance himself. And Sisi, as a political figure, has emerged very much a product of one of Egypt’s leading institutions (the military). And the new political order, which is propelling him to lead it, has the strong support of other strong state institutions.

Egypt regime’s Achilles’ Heels: 1-Muslim Brotherhood, 2-Repression of Opposition

Foreign Affairs: The Egyptian Regime’s Achilles’ Heel How the Country Could Rescue Itself From Military Dictatorship

Summary: To be sure, one should be careful about betting against a regime with an overwhelming advantage in both firepower and public support, but the current order does have two Achilles’ heels. First, as the threat of the Muslim Brotherhood reclaiming power recedes, it will become difficult for the new authorities to hold together a coalition that is built solely on its members’ shared antipathy for the Islamist group. Second, the new regime might overreach in its suppression of the opposition, inviting a backlash like the one that eroded public support for the interim government led by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) two years ago.

Egypt Military’s role as Savior of Egypt tarnished by systematic repression and abuse of activists, and human rights

Ashraw Al-Awsat: Opinion: A Sisi Presidency

NYTimes: Pharaohs, Caliphs and Field Marshals

Summary: The military’s role as savior has been developed by manipulating citizens’ fears and by capitalizing on conspiracy theories aimed at making Egyptians believe there is an existential threat to their country. On a daily basis, fictitious stories are disseminated widely in the media about various foreign agendas to undermine the Egyptian state, reinstate the Muslim Brotherhood regime, assassinate General Sisi, and dismantle the army, as in Iraq, Syria and Libya.

This strategy has entranced many Egyptians, who fail to be outraged by the continuing mass killings and other abuses committed by the authorities against both Islamists and non-Islamists under the pretext of “fighting terrorism.” On Jan. 25, the third anniversary of the revolution, police confrontations with demonstrators left some 103 people dead.

Egypt has never ceased being a police state. Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister, says it “is run by the security bodies,” which control the presidency, cabinet, media and judiciary. Interrogations and court sessions take place in prisons, security directorates or police compounds. Eyewitnesses are no longer required to identify defendants. Warrants are issued by prosecutors after arrests. Brotherhood members are arrested based on their ranks in the organization rather than their involvement in crimes. When detainees ask to see a warrant, they may be hit over the head with the butt of a gun, as in the case of a leftist blogger, Alaa Abd El Fattah, and his wife, Manal. When a prominent international judge reviewed Manal’s account of the arrest, he described it as reminiscent of the days of apartheid in South Africa.

Security Sector

Thomas Joscelyn’s testimony to the House Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence on al Qaeda’s expansion into Egypt and the implications for US homeland security.

Long War Journal: Al Qaeda’s expansion into Egypt

Summary: Al Qaeda likely has “core” leaders inside Egypt today. During and after the 2011 uprisings, senior jihadists allied with al Qaeda were freed. Others returned from abroad, including from Iran, which offered Egyptian jihadist leaders a form of safe haven for years.

The Muhammad Jamal Network (MJN), which was established in 2011, is an international threat and part of al Qaeda’s network. One of the “old school” Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) jihadists released from prison in 2011 is Muhammad Jamal, a longtime subordinate to Ayman al Zawahiri.There is strong evidence indicating that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is headquartered in Yemen, is operating in the Sinai.The Sinai Peninsula has become home to multiple al Qaeda actors, as well as al Qaeda-inspired groups.Ansar Jerusalem (Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis), the most prolific Sinai-based jihadist organization, is pursuing al Qaeda’s agenda. Al Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al Zawahiri, has repeatedly praised the group’s attacks. Ansar Jerusalem shares al Qaeda’s ideology, employs al Qaeda’s tactics, and routinely refers to and praises al Qaeda’s leaders in its statements.The Muslim Brotherhood, or at least elements of the organization, may have already turned to violence. The overthrow of Mohamed Morsi’s regime was an “I told you so” moment for al Qaeda. Finally, it is worth stressing that al Qaeda views the Sinai as a base of operations for fighting an imaginary “Zionist-Crusader” conspiracy. That is, al Qaeda sees the Sinai as a launching pad for attacks against both American and Israeli interests.

Marginalized Groups

Muslim Brotherhood releases statement rejecting EU’s recent address on Egypt

IkhwanWeb: Muslim Brotherhood Rejects EU Council Contradictory Conclusions, Statements

Summary: IkhwanWeb writes: In its latest press release, the EU expressed concern about violent incidents during the sham constitutional referendum, and on the third anniversary of the January 25 Revolution, and the use of excessive force and live ammunition against unarmed demonstrators. It also expressed concern about selective justice against political opponents, depriving them of their legal rights. The EU, then, called for full civil control of all branches of government (i.e. a civilian government), and called for the trial of civilians before their natural judge, and also expressed concern about the Egyptian economy and increasing poverty.

The EU overlooked the larger truth, about which it still buries its head in the sand, so as not to see or acknowledge it, nor abide by its results, namely, that a murderous military coup d’etat was executed by the generals in Egypt, and caused all these calamities. It is an evidently illegitimate coup by all constitutional, humanitarian, legal and democratic standards.

Egypt Human Rights org to take on case of 25 workers who did not receive salaries for more than a year

Daily News Egypt: Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights to defend unpaid workers 

Summary: The Egyptian Centre for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR) on Tuesday referred to court the case of 25 workers who did not receive their salaries for more than a year.

The ECESR said in a statement that it would legally defend the workers until the entirety of their financial rights are secured.

The workers of the International Company for Cellulose Production appealed to the ECESR after the company failed to pay their wages for 16 months.

In the statement, the ECESR said it had referred the case to the relevant labour court after an amicable settlement with the labour office failed.

The centre will also file a complaint with the prosecutor general, requesting an investigation of the company’s chairman and managing director for failing to pay the wages and assaulting the right to work, which is a crime punishable by up to two years of imprisonment.

“The prosecution usually uses the work law against workers,” said Malek Adly, lawyer for the ECESR. “It has reached an apathetic state , not helping the poor and favouring businessmen. Yet we try to use all legal methods to help them [workers], or else what are they to do? Commit suicide?”

Rights & Freedoms

US Embassy employee detained since Jan 25 worked as liaison with Muslim Brotherhood

NYTimes: Egypt Detains a U.S. Embassy Employee

LATimes: Egypt detains U.S. Embassy employee

Summary: Security forces have detained an Egyptian employee of the United States Embassy who worked as a liaison to the Muslim Brotherhood, Egyptian news reports said Wednesday, stirring fears of new pressure on Western diplomats who seek to contact the Islamist opposition.

Embassy officials said the employee, Ahmed Alaiba, has been held without charge for more than two weeks. He was detained on Jan. 25, the third anniversary of the beginning of the Arab Spring revolt, in the neighborhood of Mohandessin. Egyptian news media have reported anonymous statements from Egyptian security officials that he had participated in “rioting” during demonstrations against the military ouster last summer of President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Economy

Khaled Abdel Badie: New Chairman for state-run gas company

Reuters: UPDATE 1-Egypt names new chairman of state gas company -ministry

Daily News Egypt: New chairman for EGAS

Summary: Egypt has appointed Khaled Abdel Badie as chairman of state-run Egyptian Natural Gas Holding Company (EGAS), the oil ministry said on Wednesday, as the country grapples with a looming energy crunch.

Badie, the vice-chairman of EGAS, replaces Taher Abdelrahman. The statement, which announced a number of changes in the leadership of state energy companies, did not list a reason for the shake-up.

Abdelrahman was named head of Khalda Petroleum Company, a joint venture owned by US oil and gas producer Apache Corp and state-run Egyptian General Petroleum Corp (EGPC).

Foreign Relations

EU MEPs concerned with HRW on human trafficking in Egypt

Daily News Egypt: European Parliament MEPs call on Egypt to confront human trafficking 

Summary: Three members of the European Parliament called on Egyptian authorities to confront human trafficking in Sinai in light of a report issued by Human Rights Watch (HRW).

“The Egyptian authorities first denied the problem and then stated that there was not enough evidence,” said Annemie Neyts, a Belgian MEP in the parliament. “This HRW report gives the necessary evidence that human trafficking and torture in Sinai are a fact and that it is time to stop it,” she added, also saying that current Egyptian security presence in the volatile peninsula made it “the right time to close [torture camps] down”.

In the press release from the European Parliament, MEP Olle Schmidt from Sweden said that the resolution of “the horrible and inhuman situation of so many Eritrean refugees” would come with “a focus and will of Egypt to act.”