Weekly Roundup – Mar 14, 2014

03/14/2014 . By TIMEP

TOP STORIES

Legal & Political Institutions

Egypt’s powerful military chief launched a $40 billion housing initiative Sunday to build a million homes in cooperation with a major Emirati construction firm, the first campaign-style move by Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is widely expected to run for president. The statement said the million homes are dedicated to “Egypt’s youth” and are a first step to solve the country’s housing problem. [Washington Post, Ahram]

Former chief of staff Sami Anan declared in a press conference Thursday that he would not run in the upcoming presidential elections. The former military leader said that he had made the decision with full knowledge of the dangers and “conspiracies” surrounding the Egyptian state and the military institution. [Mada Masr, Ahram]

“Interim president Adly Mansour said Egypt will have an “elected” leader in two and a half months, in an interview published Friday by the state-owned Al-Ahram daily.” [Yahoo News]

Gender & Sexuality

A doctor in Egypt will face trial for performing a female circumcision operation that killed a teenage girl, a judicial official said on Tuesday. The 14-year-old girl’s father who took her to the doctor for the procedure will also face trial, the official said. [Daily News Egypt, Ahram, Nation]

Security Sector

Egyptian students started on Saturday going back to their classes after a longer-than-usual mid-year vacation, overshadowed by the country’s political and security turmoil.

Police patrols were seen roaming streets near schools in the Egyptian capital as the military-backed government has vowed to deal firmly with any attempt to disrupt the educational process. Egypt’s Minister of Higher Education Wael El-Degwy stated on Monday that police will not enter campuses unless requested to by university presidents, assuring that only administrative security guards will be stationed inside. [Gulf News, Ahram]

Egypt’s army blamed the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood for an attack on an army bus which killed one officer and wounded three others in the capital on Thursday, violence underscoring growing security threats to the military-backed government. The Muslim Brotherhood strongly condemned the attack in an emailed statement, saying the targeting of army soldiers and civilians is a “heinous crime that requires a thorough and transparent investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.” They accused the military-backed government of trying to implicate the Brotherhood in the attack for political reasons. [Reuters, Washington Post, Al Jazeera, Mada Masr, J Post]

Egyptian former chief of staff, Sami Anan has said he survived an assassination attempt by unknown assailants, a claim brushed off by the Ministry of Interior as “mere elections publicity”. [Al Jazeera, Ahram English, Ahram-ar]

Egypt’s Military stated that “it has destroyed 1,270 smuggling tunnels under its border with the Gaza Stript.” The move comes following “sour” relations between Cairo and Hamas. In addition to the destroyed tunnels, the military has also increased the number of troops in the Sinai Peninsula to “counter militancy that has grown since July.”  [The National]

Marginalized Groups

On February 22, textile workers in Mahalla announced they would suspend their latest industrial action, giving the government two months to fulfill their central demands — the removal of Abdel-Aleem and the application of a LE1,200 public sector minimum wage originally promised for the end of January. However the effect of this strike, the most significant since former President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in July, is being felt beyond the Nile Delta. [Mada Masr]

Security personnel at the state-controlled Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF) forcefully dispersed a sit-in protest of more than 20 workers from the federation’s headquarters Wednesday. [Mada Masr]

Rights & Freedoms

Videotaped testimonies of prisoners currently held in Egyptian jails are painting a picture of arbitrary arrest, torture, forced confessions and cramped prison cells. The videos – recorded on mobile phones, smuggled out of prison and obtained by journalists – were the first to show current detainees giving an account of prison conditions from within their cells. [Al Jazeera, Telegraph]

A Cairo criminal court has extended the detention of a journalist working for Al Jazeera Arabic, while postponing the trial of three others from its English-language sister channel.

This week, the court extended Abdullah al-Shami’s detention for a further 45 days. Al-Shami has already been held for more than six months and has been on a hunger strike since January 23. [Al Jazeera]

A Fourth detainee died at Dar al-Salam police station. The“prosecution Chief Hazem Lame’y ordered the the body of the victim to be transferred to Zeinhom morgue to investigate the reasons behind his death and delegated a doctor of forensic medicine to investigate the detention cell as well as another doctor to check if there was an epidemic inside the cell. He also ordered samples be taken from other detainees. [Egypt Independent]

Economy

The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) released a report  which alleges that “Egypt lost $10 billion in gas revenues from 2005-2011.” EIPR’s report attributes the loss to corrupt gas contracts signed under the Mubarak era, highlighting the “failures in Egyptian oil and gas contracts regarding sovereignty, resource conservation and the environment,” and makes reform suggests to prevent further corruption, “energy failures and mismanagement of natural resources.”

Foreign Relations

Mahmoud Salem writes on Egypt-Saudi, Egypt-Russia relations: “Egypt, in terms of foreign policy, faces a unique conundrum: Its interim government needs Saudi and Gulf money to survive on a monthly basis, while its military is publically cozying up to Putin and announcing a $2 billion arms deal, which it said will be financed by Saudi money.” [Al Monitor]

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday he hoped to decide soon on whether to restore the full $1.5 billion in American aid to Egypt. “We want this interim transitional government to succeed. We are committed to try to help make that happen,” Kerry told lawmakers at a hearing into the State Department’s 2015 budget request. [Ahram, Washington Times, Gulf News]

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy “stressed that post-revolution Egypt is determined to regain its major role in the African continent regardless of the African Union’s decision to suspend Egypt’s Activities at the time being.” [SIS]