Egypt Media Roundup – Mar 27, 2014

03/27/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the general who ousted Egypt’s first freely elected leader, declared his candidacy on Wednesday for a presidential election he is expected to easily win. [Reuters, NYT, BBC, Global Post, LA Times, BloombergRead More..

Marginalized Groups

Government acceptance that the corporatisation of waste disposal in Egypt‘s capital has been a resounding failure has paved the way for the formal integration of the zabaleen – who, for more than half a century, went door to door gathering the vast majority of household waste in Cairo – into the city’s official refuse collection system. [GuardianRead More..

Rights & Freedoms

Around 200 student supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood from Ain Shams University blocked Khalifa al-Maamoun street on Thursday, privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.   Several car owners and drivers clashed with the students, causing chaos. The protesters blocked the street headed towards the ministry of defense, creating traffic in Abbasseya, Roxy and Lotfy al-Sayed street. They used flares and fireworks, which caused a state of panic among pedestrians and residents of the busy street. [Mada MasrRead More..

Economy

In its 2012 annual report, Arabtec enlists its need to diversify its investments and expand in new markets, particularly when it comes to meeting the demands of neighboring countries. Arabtec lists shortages of affordable housing in countries that are witnessing rapid population growth and urbanization as a determining factor in its investment strategy. The report mentions the need for 3.6 million housing units in the MENA region, including a demand for 1.5 million housing units in the Egyptian market alone. Naturally, investing in affordable housing in Egypt is a priority for the mega construction company. [Mada MasrRead More.. 

Foreign Relations

Egypt’s army is taking charge of billions of dollars of development aid from the United Arab Emirates, an army official said, raising further doubts over the narrow separation of powers with the military backed administration in place since July. [ReutersRead More..

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Legal & Political Institutions

Steven Cook: “the very fact that the interim government has moved…to suppress dissent suggests that Egyptian leaders are vulnerable to political challenges”

Foreign Policy: Sisi 2014

Al Monitor: Sisi runs for president in Nasser’s shadow

Carnegie: Five Questions for Sisi, Egypt’s Man of Mystery

In this article: “The very fact that the interim government has moved aggressively to suppress dissent suggests that Egyptian leaders are vulnerable to political challenges. This coercion has not been limited to the Muslim Brotherhood — which, despite denials to the contrary, has employed language implicitly and explicitly encouraging violent resistance — but is also being used against journalists, academics, and activists who have dared challenge the manufactured consent of the Defense Ministry and its allies. In other words, the Egyptian government is doing pretty much what it has always done: It is using intimidation and punishment to clear the field of those who refuse to toe the line.

But what, exactly, are the most serious political challenges to Egypt’s new rulers? The obvious sources are the Muslim Brothers and the faltering economy, which if not addressed could engender the same sort of demands for bread and jobs that weakened Mubarak. For the Brotherhood, the best political strategy is to marshal its resources from Doha, Istanbul, London, and Washington, while continuing its street protests to delegitimize the government. The prevailing theory that the field marshal’s popularity will give him the political cushion he needs to make tough decisions about Egypt’s future has it wrong: Rather, President Sisi is likely to immediately confront a ready-made opposition, reducing his margin for error.”

Egypt’s presidential elections shrouded in skepticism over legitimacy

Al Jazeera: Egypt’s election lacks candidates

In this article: “With presidential elections fast approaching, Egyptian Field Marshal Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has officially declared his candidacy. But the field of potential candidates is thinning out as senior political figures and even candidates question the vote’s fairness.

Interim President Adly Mansour has recently been holding meetings at the Ittihadiya presidential palace with attendees whom he referred to as “top political figures”, in order to defuse criticism surrounding the country’s new election law.

The long-awaited law, issued earlier in March, defines the rules governing the elections – but has prompted criticism from politicians and campaigners alike, for placing the Higher Presidential Elections Commission beyond judicial appeal.”

Louisa Loveluck: Egypt needs a ‘reinvigorated center’ to steer the country to an inclusive political process

NYT: 529 Reasons to Doubt Egyptian Justice

In this article: “In portraying ordinary citizens as enemies of the state, the government risks alienating the public. When each side means very different things by responsibility and accountability, this civil conflict cannot be won with violent acts — by the isolated judiciary, an increasingly angry Islamist movement, or the police. Unless a reinvigorated center emerges to steer Egypt toward a more inclusive political process, extremists both within the state and on the fringes will continue to lash out with gestures ever more violent, ever more empty.”

Presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi welcomes Sisi’s bid for presidency

Ahram: Election rival ‘welcomes’ El-Sisi candidacy

Egypt Independent: Sabbahi welcomes Sisi’s presidential bid

In this article: “Presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahi welcomed former Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s presidential bid. “I welcome Mr. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s candidacy and we seek democratic, fair and transparent elections that guarantee the neutrality of state and people’s right to choose their president freely,” Sabbahi wrote on Twitter.

Prime Minister Mehleb pledged in a statement Wednesday the government would be neutral toward all presidential candidates, and provide a neutral atmosphere and transparent presidential elections.”

Sedki Sobhi sworn in as Egypt’s new Defense Minister

ABC: Egypt Appoints a New Defense Minister

Ahram: Colonel General Sobhi replaces Field Marshal El-Sisi as Egypt’s defence minister

Egypt Independent: Sidqy Sobhy to be sworn in as defense minister Thursday

Aswat Masriya: BREAKING | Egypt appoints new army Chief of Staff

In this article: Egypt’s interim president has sworn in a new defense minister after the country’s army chief resigned so he could run in presidential elections. The appointment of Gen. Sedki Sobhi on Thursday came one day after Egyptian strongman Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi announced his much-anticipated presidential bid.

Egypt’s PR machine is exposed as a campaign of ‘distortion and misinformation’

Al-Ahram: Egypt’s PR deficit

In this article: Following the 30 June Revolution, precisely after the army intervention, Egypt was exposed to a large campaign of distortion and misinformation. A number of misconceptions and misinterpretations prevailed all over the world, particularly in the US and Europe. Overthrowing the Brotherhood regime and its president through a popular revolution was seen as a violation of legality. The army’s intervention, which was in response to people’s aspirations, was taken as a military coup. Bloody Brotherhood demonstrations were viewed as peaceful demonstrations. Security institutions trying to establish order and implement the rule of law, protecting innocent civilians, the public and private buildings, was regarded as oppression. As Egypt is approaching critical developments — namely, presidential and parliamentary elections — a more efficient world media campaign is needed.

Security Sector

Dissent in Egypt Persists Despite Government’s Mass Trials, Death Sentences

RT Network: Death sentences for Muslim Brotherhood members is an eye-opener for Egypt

Carnegie: Dissent in Egypt Persists Despite Government’s Mass Trials, Death Sentences

In this article: Recent events in Egypt provide incontrovertible evidence that revolutions are pregnant with the potential for both progress and regress – and oftentimes end up harnessing both. Students who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Mursi run from tear gas released by riot police during clashes outside Cairo University March 26, 2014. Students who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Mursi shout slogans in a protest against the military and interior ministry in front of Cairo University March 26, 2014. Riot police officer fires rubber bullets and tear gas at students who are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted President Mohamed Mursi, during clashes in front of Cairo University March 26, 2014

Looting becoming a major problem for Egypt’s cultural preservation

Huffington Post: At Risk: Egypt’s Heritage — and Our Own

In this article: There is a crisis unfolding in Egypt: some of the world’s most precious archaeological sites and artifacts are being senselessly looted. Like most Americans, I wish Egyptians the best as they navigate what is proving to be a rocky transition to democracy. Throughout the transitional process in Egypt, ongoing turmoil has been tragic for the preservation of the country’s priceless cultural heritage. Robbing Egypt’s past also harms its economic future by damaging the prospects of its critical tourism sector. The Egyptian Minister of Antiquities, Mohamed Ibrahim, recently visited Washington D.C. to plead with the United States government and other organizations to support his country in the battle against cultural racketeering.

Rights & Freedoms

Egypt’s third mass trial for 919 Islamists charged with murder, rioting

The Guardian: Egypt prosecutor orders third mass trial for 919 islamists

CBS: Egypt orders another mass trial of suspected Islamists

In this article: Egypt‘s chief prosecutor on Wednesday ordered two new mass trials for 919 suspected Islamists on charges that include murder, despite international criticism of an earlier trial that issued death sentences against hundreds of defendants. […] The verdict brought an outcry from rights groups and criticism from the UN, EU and US over the cursory trial, which lasted only two sessions and in which lawyers said they were denied the right to make their case or question witnesses. Egyptian authorities are holding a series of mass trials in a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and other supporters of Morsi since the military removed him in July. Around 16,000 people have been arrested over the past months, including most of the Brotherhood’s leadership.

Economy

Egypt resumes talks with Russia to negotiate free trade zone

Al-Awsat: Egypt mulls free trade zone with Russia’s customs union

In this article: Egypt has resumed talks about the creation of a free trade zone (FTZ) with the customs union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, Egyptian and Russian officials said on Wednesday. Russia is increasing efforts to strengthen relations with large importers of its products as the United States and European Union threaten steeper sanctions over Moscow’s intervention in the crisis in Ukraine. In the biggest East–West confrontation since the Cold War, the US and EU have imposed visa bans and asset freezes on some of President Vladimir Putin’s closest political and business allies after Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea.

Foreign Relations

Egypt-Gaza border

Albawaba: More than just a checkpoint: The politics of the Egypt-Gaza border crossing

Times of Israel: Hamas: Gaza-Egypt crossing to reopen

In this article: The Palestinians are unwelcome in Egypt. Their living conditions have further deteriorated following accusations by the new Egyptian regime that Gaza residents, mainly affiliated with Hamas, are launching “terrorist attacks” inside the country. This situation is reflected by the humiliating treatment Palestinians are being subjected to on both sides of the Rafah crossing. Standing at the junction between the world’s two largest continents Asia and Africa, many Palestinians were denied access at an Egyptian army checkpoint. Soon after, Egyptian intelligence services closed the Rafah crossing, blocking them from returning to besieged Gaza.