Egypt Media Roundup – Feb 19, 2014

02/19/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Islamists backing Egypt’s military government: Hizb al-Nur is Egypt’s only Islamist party that supports the military-backed government. Doing so may have secured its survival, but internal disputes may derail the party in the months ahead. [DWRead More..

Security Sector

Egyptian Prime Minister Hazem Beblawi has said Islamist militants in the Sinai peninsula are becoming a threat to foreign tourists. Officials say they are taking seriously a reported ultimatum by Islamist militant group Ansar Beit al-Maqdis for tourists to leave the country. [BBCRead More..

Marginalized Groups

An attempt by Investment Minister Osama Saleh to end a strike by textile workers in Mahalla is unlikely to succeed, according to a labour activist. Saleh said he expected strikers to return to work at the state-owned Mahalla Spinning and Weaving Company on Wednesday. [AhramRead More..

Rights & Freedoms

Alexandria Misdemeanor Court has sentenced ten pro-Morsi students to three years in jail and LE50,000 fines for attending unauthorised protests. They were tried in absentia. [AhramRead More..

Economy

Egypt’s bourse surged to a five-year high after a local newspaper reported that discussions over a new presidential election law would begin on Wednesday, while Dubai’s shares fell in profit-taking after mixed earnings reports. [Al ArabiyaRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

US Secretary of State John Kerry, “My hope is to be able to meet with General [Abdel Fattah] Al-Sisi somewhere in the next days or weeks to be able to talk about Egypt, as I have in the past.” [Daily News Egypt, AhramRead More..

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Legal & Political Institutions

Presidential Candidate Sabbahi reiterates dangers of military president in televised interview

Mada Masr: Sabbahi warns against danger of military president

Summary: Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi highlighted the danger of having a military president during a television appearance Tuesday, saying that a popular uprising against such a head of state could jeopardize the military institution.

The military would take the side of the public in a revolt against a civilian president, but a similar act against a president who hailed from its own ranks would put Egypt’s Armed Forces in a difficult position, Sabbahi said during an interview with private satellite channel Dream TV.

Eric Trager and Gilad Wenig discuss: Is Sisi ‘Coup-proof’?

Foreign Affairs: Sisi the Invincible Why Egypt’s Next President Won’t Fear a Revolution

Summary: Given the considerable economic, security, and political challenges that Sisi will face upon becoming president, the small anti-military demonstrations of today could become mass protests tomorrow. It is tempting to think that such protests could threaten Sisi’s hold on power, just as they eventually toppled former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Morsi. But mass demonstrations on their own would not have been enough to boot those two men from power. Both might have managed to stay in office if important state institutions had not had their own parochial reasons for siding with protesters.  State institutions would be far less likely to respond to mass protests by removing Sisi, for two reasons. First, the police and judiciary are unified in viewing Sisi’s prospective presidency as a bulwark against the Brotherhood and a first line of defense against any Brotherhood-led quest for post-coup vengeance. Second, Egypt’s current military and intelligence leaders would be less likely to move against a Sisi-led regime than they were the Mubarak- and Morsi-led governments.while Sisi might be more coup-proof than his predecessors, that hardly implies that Egypt will be stable under his rule. To the contrary — the fact that Egypt’s state institutions will be inclined to back Sisi rather than the protesters makes it likely that future uprisings will be brutally repressed. If future President Sisi hopes to avoid this scenario, he has only one option: charting a policy agenda that successfully addresses Egyptians’ widely held economic and political grievances.

Moritz Mihatsch: “Sisi won’t bring stability because he cannot”

Mada Masr: Why Sisi won’t bring stability

Summary: For now, Sisi is an “imagined” president. We can project on him whatever we want. Once Sisi becomes the president, some of the groups currently supporting him are going to be disappointed. Some will react with demonstrations and strikes; shooting or arresting everyone who dares to disagree is not really a solution that will stabilize the country. As a result, stability is not on the menu. Whether you think Sisi is a good man, and his dreams are visionary, or if you say that he is a strong leader and on top of all that also handsome, or if you believe the total opposite, it does not really matter. Sisi will not bring stability, simply because he can not. And neither could anyone else for that matter. No matter what the next president does, things will remain volatile and probably at times violent.

Security Sector

Ministry of Interior responds to Taba bus bombing

Egypt SIS: Egypt: Interior Ministry Spokesman – Initial Information Refers to Suicide Bomber Took Advantage of Bus Driver Opened Door, Stepped in

Summary: Spokesman for the Ministry of Interior Major General Hany Abdellatif said the driver of the tourist bus had accompanied two Korean tourists few minutes before the bombing to the bus luggage box and upon their return to their seats, a strange person mounted into the bus and then the bombing went off. Abdellatif said the bus was under security control, adding all tourist teams in Egypt are fully secured and are followed up by security patrols. The spokesman said the security bodies have achieved notable successes in dealing with terrorist elements as the Ministry of Interior has aborted many terrorist operations. He said the ministry has managed to dry up the sources of financing terrorist groups in Egypt to a great extent.

H.A. Hellyer: “Upholding high standards of law and order is an effective counterterrorism tool”

Daily News Egypt: Preventing terror is a job for all

Summary: The security response to recent attacks has been, at best, rather haphazard. There are counter-insurgency strategies, and counter-terrorism strategies – and the two ought to be considered as very different. In all cases, however, there ought to be different strands that relate to stopping attacks, preclude citizens from becoming supporters of those attacks, strengthen protection against such attacks, and mitigate the impact of such incidents when they take place. In the UK, the four strands found themselves described as “pursue, prevent, protect, and prepare”, within a cohesive counter-terrorism strategy by the government. (Disclaimer: I was involved in advising on the flaws and benefits of the particular tactics and strategies within the “prevent” strand after the 7 July bombings in 2005).

In Egypt, there have been criticisms made of all four of these strands – and with good reason. When it comes to the equivalent of “prevent” in Egypt, there has been little to address the grievances that might lead Egyptian citizens to becoming vulnerable to militant recruitment strategies. On the contrary, those grievances have increased over the months, with the security crackdown and political repression widening. The security machinery and political apparatus need to examine that extremely closely – and fast. When a state feels under pressure, it is precisely the time for it to uphold the highest standards of law and order – not to put them to one side on the altar of expediency. It is not only the moral thing to do – it also happens to be an effective tool in counter-terrorism.

Marginalized Groups

Egypt to try in court and deport African migrants crossing into Israel

J Post: Egypt plans on deporting 7 Africans trying to cross into Israel

Summary: Egypt is planning to deport seven Africans of different nationalities that were captured while trying to cross the border into Israel, security sources told a local newspaper. The African migrants appeared in court and are being transferred from Sinai to Cairo in preparation for their deportation back to their countries, according to a report on Monday in Al-Youm al-Sabaa Other infiltrators are waiting for decisions on their cases. The question is if Egypt is changing its policy or increasing vigilance of its border concerning Africans traveling to Israel amidst the heightened security presence in Sinai.

Rights & Freedoms

London petitions/protests for release of Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt

Guardian: BBC news chief signs open letter calling for Peter Greste’s release

Daily News Egypt: Protestors in London demand an end to Egypt’s crackdown 

Summary: The British National Union of Journalists (NUJ) demonstrated in front of the Egyptian embassy in London on Tuesday to protest the ongoing persecution of journalists in Egypt.

The demonstration comes a day before 20 journalists—nine of whom work for Al Jazeera—stand trial in Cairo for charges relating to terrorism and spreading false news. Two of the Al Jazeera journalists indicted, Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, are British citizens.  Neither Turton, Kane, nor many of the other defendants are currently in Egypt.

“We support all of the journalists equally,” said Frances Rafferty, of the NUJ.  “We are against the ongoing crackdown against media freedom in Egypt.”

Highly publicized case of Al Jazeera journalists detained in Egypt–to go on trial February 20th

BBC: Egypt’s commitment to press freedom on trial

Summary: Three journalists from al-Jazeera’s English news channel go on trial in Egypt on Thursday, in a case which campaigners say is part of a sweeping crackdown on freedom of speech, reports the BBC’s Orla Guerin in Cairo.

Economy

Egypt praised for advanced telecom market–new communication center in Cairo creates over 5,000 new jobs

Daily News Egypt: Egypt is an advanced market when it comes to telecom: Ericsson CEO – 

Daily News Egypt: Minister of Communication, Raya inaugurate largest communication centre in Middle East 

Summary: Raya Corporation Monday officially opened the Middle East’s largest communication center in Cairo’s Maadi district.

Minister of Communication and Information Technology Atef Helmy attended the opening ceremony, which also celebrated the partnership between Raya and Etisalat Misr. The new centre will offer Etisalat’s customers technological services, according to a Monday statement from the Ministry of Communication.

“Around 5,000 job opportunities have been created through this centre, in addition to an expected 1,000 opportunities that will be generated a year from now,” read the statement.

Egypt to grant Sinai locals right to own agricultural land

Al Bawaba: Planting the seeds of harmony? After much dispute, Egypt allots Sinai locals agricultural land

Summary: Egypt’s Sinai locals will be granted the right to own agricultural land in the peninsula according to minister of agriculture, Ayman Farid Abu-Hadid.

The ministry has offered 40000 feddan (16.800 hectares) to investors by the end of February with 20 percent (8000 feddan) allocated to locals in a closed bid.

Buyers will pay 15 percent of the land value in cash; the remaining sum will be paid over a 25-year time period. The government has set an ownership ceiling of 20 feddan (8.4 hectares) per person and 300 feddan per family.

“Owners can resell the land to Egyptians form Sinai or other areas after eight years,” Hesham Fadel, head of ownership department in the General Authority for Reconstruction Projects and Agricultural Development (GARPAD) told Ahram Online.

Egypt sees rise in sticks after Central Bank allocates over $1 for commercial housing mortgages

Reuters: MIDEAST STOCKS-Egypt rises on housing programme, ignores militants

Summary: Egypt’s bourse rose to a five-year high on Wednesday, ignoring a militant threat against foreign tourists, after the central bank said it would give local commercial banks $1.4 billion to fund mortgages. Most Gulf markets rose though Dubai was hit by profit-taking.

The Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis warned tourists to leave Egypt and threatened to attack any who stayed after Thursday. It is taking aim at an important part of Egypt’s economy and a key earner of foreign exchange.

But many Egyptian investors believe the government can prevent the violence in Sinai from seriously destabilising the rest of the country, and that billions of dollars of aid from Cairo’s Gulf allies will support its finances.

So the market focused on the central bank’s announcement that it would allocate 10 billion Egyptian pounds ($1.44 billion) for low-cost housing projects. The money will be deposited at banks for 20 years at a low interest rate, so they can then lend to citizens to buy houses at a yearly interest rate of 7-8 percent.

Foreign Relations

Sudan Tribune: Sudan FM criticises Egypt over Ethiopian dam dispute

Ahram: Sudanese FM says his country impartial in Egypt-Ethiopia crisis over Renaissance Dam

Summary: Sudanese foreign minister Ali Karti has criticised Egypt for its handling of a dispute involving the construction of a massive dam project in Ethiopia, which it has vehemently opposed over concerns it could disrupt water flows from the Nile river. However, Karti has claimed his country is not taking sides in the crisis between Egypt and Ethiopia over the construction of the Renaissance Dam. “We will continue our efforts to bridge the gap between Ethiopia and Egypt on the disagreements about the Renaissance Dam,” Karti told Sudanese newspaper The Sudan Tribune, stressing on the neutrality of Sudan in the talks.

Former Lebanese PM discusses Lebanese affairs with Defense Minister Sisi in Cairo

Ahram: Lebanese prominent politician Saad Al-Hariri meets Egypt’s leaders in Cairo

Summary: Former Lebanese prime minister Saad Al-Hariri met on Wednesday Field Marshal and deputy prime minister Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi in Cairo.

The head of the Lebanese Future Party is in Cairo to discuss recent developments in Lebanon and foreign interference in its internal affairs, in addition to matters of concern to both countries.

On his first visit to Egypt since the 25 January revolution, Hariri arrived with a delegation of Lebanese officials on Tuesday for a two-day visit, stated the leader’s media office, during which he is also scheduled to meet Egypt’s interim president Adly Mansour and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy.