In Focus – Daily News Egypt Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sun, 05 May 2019 10:30:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Lanterns still find their way to Egyptians’ lives despite economic conditions Sun, 05 May 2019 10:30:12 +0000 “It is a tradition. No one can start Ramadan without getting a new Fanoos” says customer

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As usual, every year, Egyptian Muslims have geared up to the holy month of Ramadan by hanging up coloured lanterns (known in Arabic as Fanoos) and traditional decorations, as well as other long-established customs despite the price hike of lanterns and difficult economic conditions.

Across the country, many streets in urban and rural areas have been decorated by different shapes, sizes, and kinds of folk lanterns. However, more streets were devoid of this tradition.

Egyptians are not the only people who celebrate Ramadan with lanterns, many other Muslim countries adopt the tradition. The lantern’s origin went back to Fatimid era in Egypt, according to historical narratives.

It was first connected with Ramadan when Caliph Al-Muizz Lidinillah Fatimid arrived in Cairo during the holy month. In order to welcome him, Egyptians turned to streets holding decorated colourful lanterns to light the roads. The lanterns remained lighting the road till the month ended. Since then, it became a symbol of Ramadan.

Meanwhile, Ramadan has become also a symbol of warm family and friend gatherings who usually prepare themselves for fasting for a month as well as evening prayers (Taraweeh), performed following the evening Isha prayer.

Inside Egypt, many workshops are devoted to making Ramadan lanterns. One of Cairo’s most known district of making lanterns is Al-Sayeda Zeinab folkloric neighbourhood.

Just in front of the historic mosque which gave the neighbourhood its name, there is a long street which has been long known as a main local market for those seeking different kinds, sizes, and shapes of lanterns as well as other decorations. Lantern merchants set up large vendor tents to sell their products there.

Over the years, the shape of traditional Fanoos has barely changed. lantern makers usually begin factoring the pieces almost a year before Ramadan. Men mostly dominated the business, but there are also women who are involved either in making lanterns or in selling them.

Made by Egyptians

Essam Mohamed, 44, is a lantern merchant who inherited the profession from his parents. “All lanterns have been made by Egyptians. We deal with different workshops, and we also deal directly with lanterns makers,” he told Daily News Egypt.

“It is a tradition. No one can start Ramadan without getting a new Fanoos. No way,” Mohamed argued with a smile.

Regarding the Chinese lanterns which were supposed to be banned from the Egyptian market in recent years, Mohamed said he still sells them, as they are imported now as children’s toys. “It is almost vanishing from the market anyway. People returned to buy their folkloric lanterns.”

In 2015, the ministry of trade and industry issued a decree No 232 to ban importing products and goods which have a folkloric artistic nature, called “National Folklore.” This includes products made of ceramics, jewellery, metal, and wood. Ramadan lanterns are considered one of those products. 

“There are wooden and metal lanterns as well as other kinds. The prices of the wooden lanterns start from EGP 10 to 120.”

However, the metal lantern’s price could reach EGP 160 and more, Mohamed revealed. He argued that workshops increase the prices of lanterns, not the merchants.

Despite their high prices, he affirmed he has his customers who keep buying from him every year from different social classes.

Moreover, Mohamed revealed that he passed on the passion of his profession into his daughters’ hearts, as he wishes they would continue his path afterwards.

It is my livelihood

Inside Mohamed’s vendor tent, a forty-year-old man settled down aside to finish creating a Fanoos. “I was only six years old when I started learning this craft. I inherited it from my father and grandfather,” Yasser Ahmed told DNE.

“By the time, I have fallen in love with it. I am proud of what I do because it is my livelihood,” Ahmed voiced.

Ahmed revealed that this is his only profession–manufacturing Ramadan lanterns. “We have been working all year. Thankfully, the income is moderate and satisfying.”

Ahmed shares the profession with his brother, father, and uncles. He plans to teach the craft to his son.

However, he refused to teach his daughter the profession. “I do not mind teaching her and even my wife, it will be their honour to do what I do,” Ahmed said, noting however, that he does not want them to face the profession’s struggles.

Next to Mohamed’s tent, Hamada Anwar, a thirty-year-old merchant, stands to sell lanterns to his customers. Most of them were women. “I do not make lanterns; I only sell them.”

Anwar, who has started this profession 18 years ago, revealed that workshops try every year to create new shapes of lanterns to attract more customers.

“The prices of metal lanterns range from EGP 100 to 300. However, sometimes it depends on the customers. We often reduce the prices to satisfy them,” Anwar said.

Anwar revealed that they keep selling until 27 Ramadan, noting that the two weeks ahead of the holy month are the high season. 

No difference between men and women

A cheerful 30-year-old merchant asked to be introduced by Om Essam, said that she worked with her mother- in-law. “Before I got married (16-years-old), I started working,” Om Essam told DNE.

“I do not know how to make lanterns, but I could perfectly distinguish the good one from the bad one based on my experience,” Om Essam bragged.

“There is no difference between men and women. We share financial responsibilities together. Most times women bear additional burdens,” she said.

Om Essam is a mother of four–three sons and a daughter. She would never let her daughter work in the same field, as she would only teach her boys the profession.

Income is not enough

Ramadan Qatch, a 21-year-old salesman, who is named after the holy month, works in other fields so that he can provide for his family.

Qatch started working in lantern trading more than 10 years ago. However, he said that the wage he usually receives from it has never been enough. “I might work for two weeks and get only EGP 500,” Qatch revealed.

He noted that some lanterns are so expensive to the extent that some customers could not buy them due to their harsh economic conditions. “I sometimes wish I could pay for them. Unfortunately, I cannot.” 

Qatch noted that large lantern prices could reach EGP 600. He said that unprivileged people often choose small lanterns of only EGP 35 or 65.

“If I had a tent or a shop, I would give underprivileged people lanterns without money to cheer them up, because these people do not even have enough money to feed their families nor to buy them lanterns,” Qatch concluded. 

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7th AMF: Calls for Media Literacy’s integration into schools, universities’ curriculum Sun, 21 Apr 2019 10:00:33 +0000 We totally support such proposals, waiting for suggestions to consider them in ministry's plans, says Education Ministry

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“The forum tackles this year the media information literacy and its close connection to the 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs). We believe that eliminating cyberbullying, fake news, obsession with online platforms are to the point,” Ahmed Esmat, founder and CEO of the Alexandria Media Forum (AMF), briefed during the opening of the forum’s seventh edition.

This edition was not held in Alexandria as usual, instead, it was held at the American University in Cairo (AUC) on 18, 19, 20 April, called ‘Media Information Literacy and Sustainable Development,’ in partnership with the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism.

More than 300 participants took part in the forum throughout the three days which hosted around 52 speakers, academics, and trainers from Egypt, Jordan, France, Yemen, and Sweden. It contained over 30 sessions and panels.

Meanwhile, the forum addressed three pillars: Media Information Literacy, Media Literacy and Data, Media Literacy and Content Media Literacy and Technology, and finally Media Literacy and Sustainable Development.

“We seek to integrate Media literacy into the curriculum of schools and universities,” Esmat told Daily News Egypt (DNE), adding, “We are preparing proposals with the Kamal Adham Center to be submitted to the education ministry to consider integrating them into the new curriculum.”

Furthermore, Esmat highlighted that the forum is always keen on providing journalists with training and workshops to enhance their skills and to shed light on the ever-changing challenges in the field of media. 

“We have been planning for the subject of this edition for two years. Actually, it is an extension to the criteria of the previous forum which tackled fake news, and was called ‘Technology, Media, and Post-Truth,’” Esmat added.

“I think we are dealing with a different generation. The one who was born technology-embedded. So we have to understand their thoughts and emotions to know how to help them in recognising the disadvantages and advantages of online platforms.”

Shawki welcomes the initiative

The Education Minister, Tarek Shawki, opened the AMF’s seventh edition with a speech on the need to set regulations in social media platforms, as they became a source of rumours, he noted. 

“Actually, our ministry occupies the second place regarding the number of rumours for the second year in a row,” Shawki revealed during the opening of the forum on Thursday. “We face an organised attack to undermine the ministry’s real efforts on the ground.”

Moreover, Shawki launched a massive attack against journalists, critical of their resort to the ministry to confirm or deny rumours.

“This is called abuse and it must stop. Journalists do not have to resort to us on every rumour, instead, they have to ask the real source of the ‘fake news’. We-because of such pressure-do not sleep at night,” Shawki complained.

At an event full of journalists, Shawki continued to lambaste the Egyptian media, claiming that the new media completely depends on social media as a source of news, which he said, is not a true way to ‘tell the truth’ as social media is full of fake news and rumours.

Journalists did not have the chance to comment on the minister’s criticism, as the window of questions has not been opened to them.

“Facebook administrators now are more important than editors-in-chief of newspapers and media websites in producing news and shifting public opinion, which I believe, reflects the situation we have reached,” Shawki said sarcastically.

Meanwhile, Shawki noted that fake news is popular among people because they prefer negative news more than positive news. “The journalist who writes positive news might be punished by readers and could be accused of being biased toward the state.”

Shawki hardly tackled the forum’s subject, but by the end of his speech, he voiced support to integrate media literacy into the ministry’s new curriculum. “We totally support this suggestion and we are waiting for the forum’s proposals to consider them in the ministry’s new plans.”

In a nice gesture, the forum honoured Shawki for his efforts in the ministry and in improving the educational system in Egypt. Similarly, other speakers and academics were honoured too.

Furthermore, Rasha Allam, assistant professor and associate chair at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the AUC, necessitated the significance of media literacy for school students.

“We will already start in the first semester (Fall 2019) to teach a course on media literacy. We, in the Kamal Adham Center, will also cooperate with the education ministry to draft a curriculum on media literacy for the first stages for school students,” Allam told DNE.

Furthermore, Allam clarified that the curriculum will teach children how to log in on a website, learn its history, check whether it is a credible source for information or not, how to deal with social media, and how to fact-check news, and to be aware of how to use social media platforms.

“The media field faces many challenges including fake news, the violation of people’s privacy, and cyberbullying,” Allam maintained.

Similarly, TV host Amr El-Leithy, one of the forum speakers, asserted that one of the most critical issues in media today is the abandonment of media ethics and standards.

Digital content issues

On Friday, the second day of the forum, a series of sessions have been held on ‘Media literacy and Content.’ The discussions tackled the challenges confronting Arab digital content.

Khaled El-Baramawy, Egyptian journalist and digital media specialist, said that the main source of revenues of media institution are advertisements and paid content. However, both sources face several difficulties in Egypt and in the Arab world, he noted.

“We have to produce a content that forces readers to subscribe, such as the entertaining and humanitarian content which is based on true stories,” El-Baramawy told DNE.

Moreover, El-Baramawy asserted the need for producing content that has a value and also to be unique. “Readers will never pay for something that has no value, benefit, or not enjoyable for them.”

Furthermore, El-Baramawy stated that understanding the nature of media and social media platforms and suitable content for each platform, has become a necessity to overcome ever-changing obstacles facing digital content in the Arab world.

“Journalism has a crisis related regarding probability. Therefore, it is important to think before publishing or producing content on a suitable platform,” El-Baramawy.

El-Baramawy pointed out that each media institution has to pay more effort in producing different kinds of content and recognise the best media and social media platform for them. He elaborated and stated that there is a need, “To carefully study your audience and platforms, as well as the nature of your content,” El-Baramawy concluded.

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‘Menstrual leave’: delayed right or preferential move? Mon, 15 Apr 2019 09:00:51 +0000 Debates over women’s rights for days off during their periods

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Throughout several days every month, many women around the world suffer from menstrual pain (the symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle) by varying degrees. Some turn to pain killers in order to manage their daily duties, hiding sickness during work, while others can barely leave their beds.

For the first time in Egypt, a marketing company decreed earlier this month to offer its female employees a day off every month: the first or second day of their menstruation. The move raised debates among both women and men equally over the positive and negative effects of such a decision if applied in the country’s labour market.

Critics claim that business owners would hire fewer women, viewing women as less capable of working. Some of them already prefer unmarried women or females without children to reduce the numbers of days off during their work hours, they added. 

However, supporters believe that the ‘menstrual leave’ is a much-delayed right, especially since several companies around the world have already been offering this kind of vacation to women.

In fact, the ‘menstrual leave’ already exists in several countries where women who severely suffer from menstrual pain are offered one or two days off, either paid or unpaid. Those countries include Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, and South Korea. In other parts of the world, ‘menstrual leave’ policies emerged in some companies including the United Kingdom. 

In Egypt, female workers already have the right to take a paid vacation of three months after giving birth only twice throughout their work history, according to the country’s Labour Law. Female labourers are also allowed to take an unpaid vacation not exceeding two years to take care of their children, only twice throughout their work history.

Menstruation is stigmatised

Menstrual symptoms usually include psychological and physical sickness. Women feel pain in the form of stomach cramps, lower back pain, breast pain, headaches, lack of concentration as well as mood swings.

As menstruation is still stigmatised, women prefer not to mention such symptoms if they need to take a day off from work. Female workers rarely talk openly about their menstrual cycles and their need to a paid vacation as they fear they might lose their jobs or because menstruation is still a taboo subject in society. 

A 2016 research revealed that menstrual pain can be “as bad as having a heart attack,” according to John Guillebaud, professor of family planning and reproductive health at University College London. However, ‘period pain’ still is not taken seriously by many doctors.

On the other hand, women experience menstrual pain differently. A 2012 study found that 20% of women experience their periods painful enough to interfere with their daily activities.

First of its kind in Egypt

The Egyptian company which took the initiative stated that every female employee is allowed to take a paid day off from their menstruation days. If there is an urgent need for work, women could work from home, the company explained. 

“This came following an initiative launched by a number of feminist organisations and out of our keenness toward our employees being in sound mind and body,” Rania Youssef, the office and human resources manager of the company told Daily News Egypt (DNE).

“We want all female employees to feel comfortable in their workplace. If they are not ok, they have the right to leave the office and get some rest for a day,” Youssef added.

Youssef disclosed that 90% of the company’s workforce are females, with ages ranging from 23 to 28. “The decree was not faced by any kind of rejection from the male employees,” Youssef noted. 

Some detractors claim that the company, which was launched two years ago, took such a move to draw attention to itself. Yet, Youssef said that they did so for the sake of the health of the company’s female employees.

One day is not enough

Mahmoud Ragab, an art director and a team leader said that one day will not be enough for women during their menstruation. “I witness these kinds of physical pain and physiological changes with my wife, as she usually becomes very sick during her periods,” Ragab told DNE. “Therefore, I believe that the vacation could range from two or three days, as one day is really not enough.”

Meanwhile, Ragab said that he would not mind allowing a female employee within his team to take days off if she is menstruating. “I will never hesitate to allow her days off. I do not believe it is an unjust measure, as women really suffer during their periods.” 

Similarly, Eman agreed with the new measure, criticising those who accused women of being incapable in the labour market. “Every woman has the right to take a ‘menstrual leave’ if she feels sick and cannot manage her work,” Eman told DNE.

Furthermore, Eman noted that even people suffering from mental illness have the right to have days off, as this shall never undermine their abilities or skills.

Meanwhile, Fatma said that she wishes everyone, males or females, would have the right to wake up in the morning and request a day off if they are not ok, “Without needing to reveal the reason behind their request,” Fatma told DNE.

It is inequitable

Yet, other women warned that such a decision, if applied in each institution or business, would have a negative effect on the female’s participation rate in the labour market.

“I am totally against such a measure. It would lead to a remarkable decrease in women’s employment opportunities in the labour market. We already suffer from such a cut-down,” Yousra told DNE.

Meanwhile, Heba opposed the concept of the ‘menstrual leave’, explaining that such a move might make business owners prefer men over women. “Such a measure will support the notion that women should not leave their homes or work and such ridiculous ideas.”

Yet, Mariam said that companies have to be aware that some women will not be able to work during the first day of their menstruation.

“Unfortunately, there are companies which include doctors and pharmacists who are not aware how severe period pain is,” Mariam told DNE.

“Once I was very sick, and I turned to the company’s clinic and asked for a day off. I was literally crying from the pain. However, the doctor refused to authorise my request, noting that he can’t allow me a day off just because I have my period! This is not fair,” Mariam recalled.

Concurrently, Hebatullah voiced that the concept should be optional, as women who cannot work during menstruation can take a day off, while others who do not suffer much should go to work as usual. “By the way, I am from these women whose first day of menstruation is like hell. I might even faint from the severity of the pain.”

On the other hand, Karim Al-Sayed, a marketing consultant, revealed that he does not mind that his female colleagues take days off more than him. “I think they need to take a day off if they are suffering from period pain. They really need it.”

However, Al-Sayed said that in a patriarchal society, women would face ridiculous comments due to their ‘menstrual leave.’

“They are already struggling with such a sexist society, and if they reveal the reasons behind their vacation they will face more undesirable comments as the period is still a taboo subject.”    

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Spring meetings: IMF urges policymakers to prepare for slower growth through smart decisions, cooperative work Thu, 11 Apr 2019 08:00:25 +0000 Washington, DC- Thousands of delegates and officials have arrived in Washington, DC, for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which is taking place from 8 to 14 April. The spring meetings of the boards of governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF bring together central bankers, ministers of …

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Washington, DC- Thousands of delegates and officials have arrived in Washington, DC, for the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, which is taking place from 8 to 14 April.

The spring meetings of the boards of governors of the World Bank Group and the IMF bring together central bankers, ministers of finance and development, private sector executives, representatives from civil society organisations, and academics to discuss issues of global concern, including the world economic outlook (WEO), poverty eradication, economic development, and aid effectiveness.

The sessions include the influence of macroprudential policies on household credit and spending, export diversification, debt vulnerabilities, and development needs in low-income countries, managing capital flow, as well as curbing corruption by improving economic governance in the Middle East and Central Asia. In addition, the sessions also tackle the issue of illicit financial flows, money, and payments in the digital age, cyber-security, as well as tackling the next wave of the sovereign debt crisis.

During the current year’s meetings, the IMF expressed its concern regarding the decline of global economies’ growth, calling on policymakers to adjust their policies by making changes to conditions which may occur and constrain their countries’ economic growth.

The IMF Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, said on 2 April in Washington that the global economy is experiencing a “delicate moment” with increasing risks to growth and an unsettled climate.

Citing trade tensions, tighter financial conditions, and geopolitical uncertainty surrounding Brexit and other events, global growth has lost momentum, she highlighted during a speech at the United States Chamber of Commerce.

“Only two years ago, 75% of the global economy experienced an upswing. So, it was a synchronised growth acceleration, and for this year we expect not 75%, but 70% of the global economy to experience a slowdown in growth, exactly the opposite of what we had,” Lagarde said.

She added: “But just to be clear we do not see a recession in the near term. In fact, we expect some pickup in growth in the second half (H2) of 2019 and into 2020. And indeed, the global economy is at a delicate moment.”

The expected rebound in global growth is precarious

The expected rebound in global growth later this year and into early 2020 is precarious because it is vulnerable to downside risks, including country related uncertainties, such as Brexit for instance, and broader uncertainties such as high debt in some sectors. In some countries, tensions around trade policy are still uncertain. And there is a sense of unease in financial markets for example. There should be a sharp unexpected tightening of financial conditions. It could create serious challenges for many governments and companies around the world in terms of refinancing and debt services, particularly those that have borrowed in non-domestic currencies, which could amplify exchange rate movements and financial market corrections. Indeed, it is a delicate moment in itself and it requires a delicate mix of policies, the WEO indicated.

Furthermore, Lagarde urged policymakers to prepare for slower growth by making smart decisions in trade and fiscal policies.

Additionally, Gita Gopinath, the IMF economic counsellor and director of the Research Department, stressed that policymakers need to work cooperatively to help ensure that policy uncertainty does not weaken investment.

“Now I don’t want to be overly dramatic because we don’t see a recession. But we believe that because it is so delicate as it is filled with in a way with self-inflicted wounds that only men and women can address. That’s why it requires this, ‘handle with care’ approach that brings together all domestic policies across-borders and international coordination,” Gopinath related.

According to the WEO, after strong growth in 2017 and early 2018, global economic activity slowed notably in H2 of last year, reflecting a confluence of factors affecting major economies. China’s growth declined following a combination of needed regulatory tightening to rein in shadow banking, and an increase in trade tensions with the US.

The euro area economy lost more momentum than expected as consumer and business confidence weakened, and car production in Germany was disrupted by the introduction of new emission standards. Investment dropped in Italy as sovereign spreads widened, and external demand, especially from emerging Asia, softened. Elsewhere, natural disasters hurt activity in Japan.

Trade tensions increasingly took a toll on business confidence and, so, financial market sentiment worsened, with financial conditions tightening for vulnerable emerging markets (EMs) in the spring of 2018, and then in advanced economies later in the year, weighing on global demand. Conditions have eased in 2019 as the US Federal Reserve (Fed) signalled a more accommodative monetary policy stance, and markets became more optimistic about a US-China trade deal, but they remain slightly more restrictive than in the fall.

As a result of these developments, the WEO projected that global growth would slow from 3.6% in 2018 to 3.3% in 2019, before returning to 3.6% in 2020. Growth for 2018 was revised down by 0.1% relative to the October 2018 WEO, reflecting weakness in the H2 of the year, and the forecasts for 2019 and 2020 are now marked down by 0.4% and 0.1%, respectively.

The current forecast envisages that global growth will level off in the H1 of 2019 and firm up after that.

“The projected pickup in the H2 of 2019 is predicated on an ongoing build-up of policy stimulus in China, recent improvements in global financial market sentiment, the waning of some temporary drags on growth in the euro area, and a gradual stabilisation of conditions in stressed EM economies, including Argentina and Turkey. Improved momentum for EM and developing economies is projected to continue into 2020, primarily reflecting developments in economies currently experiencing macroeconomic distress–a forecast subject to notable uncertainty. By contrast, activity in advanced economies is projected to continue to slow gradually as the impact of US fiscal stimulus fades, and growth tends toward the modest potential for the group,” the WEO read.

Growth across EMs projected to stabilise slightly below 5%

Growth across EMs and developing economies is projected to stabilise slightly below 5%, though with variations by region and country. The baseline outlook for emerging Asia remains favourable, with China’s growth projected to slow gradually toward sustainable levels, and convergence in frontier economies toward higher income levels. For other regions, the outlook is complicated by a combination of structural bottlenecks, slower advanced economy growth, and, in some cases, high debt and tighter financial conditions. These factors, alongside subdued commodity prices and civil strife, or conflict in some cases, contribute to subdued medium-term prospects for Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, and the Pakistan region, and parts of sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, convergence prospects are bleak for some 41 EMs and developing economies, accounting for close to 10% of the global GDP in purchasing-power-parity terms, and with total population close to 1 billion, where per capita incomes are projected to fall further behind those in advanced economies over the next five years.

Global energy prices declined by 17%

Regarding commodity prices, global energy prices declined by 17% between the reference periods for the October 2018 and the current WEO, as oil prices dropped from a four-year peak of $81 a barrel in October to $61 in February. Meanwhile supply influences dominated initially–notably a temporary waiver in US sanctions on Iranian oil exports to certain countries and record-high US crude oil production–weakening global growth added downward pressure on prices toward the end of 2018. Since the beginning of this year, oil prices have recovered somewhat thanks to production cuts by oil-exporting countries. Prices of base metals have increased by 7.6% since August, as a result of supply disruption in some metal markets, more than offsetting subdued global demand.

Following the tightening of financial conditions in late 2018, market sentiment rebounded in early 2019. Signs of slowing global growth, moderately less buoyant corporate earnings, and market concerns about the pace of the Fed policy tightening weighed on sentiment at the end of 2018.

Egypt’s inflation is expected to reach 14.5% in 2019, 12.3% in 2020

Consumer price inflation remained muted across advanced economies, given the drop in commodity prices. For most countries in this group, core inflation is well below central bank targets, despite the pickup in domestic demand in the past two years; in the US and the United Kingdom it is close to 2%. Although wage growth has been picking up across most advanced economies, notably in the US and the UK, it is still sluggish despite lower unemployment rates and diminished labour market slack.

The WEO projected that Egypt’s inflation is expected to reach 14.5% in 2019, compared to 20.9% in 2018. Additionally, the IMF forecasted that the country’s inflation will continue to drop to reach 12.3% in 2020 and 6.9% in 2024.

Global current account deficits and surpluses are estimated to have widened marginally in 2018, compared with the previous year. Higher oil prices have been the main driver of this widening: they are estimated to have boosted the current account balance of oil exporters by about 3.5% of their GDP.

Furthermore, the IMF’s projection for Egypt’s current account deficit this year is to reach 2.4% of the GDP. However, it forecasts a decrease reaching 1.7% in 2020, and 1% in 2024.

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Risk of energy price shock, unemployment top MENA risks landscape: WEF Tue, 09 Apr 2019 08:00:10 +0000 Perception of insecurity remains concern in region

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As geo-economic tensions across the globe ratcheted up during 2018, respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey conducted by the World Economic Forum (WEF), said that expecting increasing risks in 2019 related to “economic confrontations between major powers” (91% of respondents) and “erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements” (88% of respondents).

According to the WEF report released, geo-economic divisions come as the rate of global growth appears to have peaked. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecasts a gradual slowdown over the next few years. This is mainly the result of developments in advanced economies, but projections of a slowdown in China – from 6.6% growth in 2018 to 6.2% this year and 5.8% by 2022 – are a source of concern.

So, too, is the global debt burden, which is significantly higher than before the global financial crisis, at around 225% of the GDP.

In addition, a tightening of global financial conditions has placed a strain on countries that built up dollar-denominated liabilities while interest rates were low.

Furthermore, the report cites that as the global economy faces some headwinds, cross- border trade – long seen as a means of mitigating geopolitical risk by embedding powers in mutually beneficial relationships – is now frequently seen as a tool of strategic competition.

The potential costs of deepening trade tensions were highlighted in January 2019 when the IMF cited trade disputes as one reason for revising down its global growth projections for the second time in three


These developments hold risk for the MENA region, home to trade-dependent economies, where, according to the IMF, total trade-to-GDP ratio amounts to approximately 66%.

Economic and governance risks to the MENA region

The report indicates that exogenous factors, such as geo-economic division, climate change and technological threats all pose a particular risk to the MENA, but so, too, do hazards that are more regional in nature.

According to respondents in the Middle East and North Africa to the Executive Opinion Survey, the top two risks across the region for doing business are “energy price shocks” and “unemployment or underemployment”.

These risks are largely economic in nature and affected by the health of governance in the region. Similarly, the number five risk “fiscal crises”, the number seven risk “unmanageable inflation”, and the number 10 risk “failure of financial mechanism or institutions” follow the same pattern of being largely economic in nature and potentially governance-driven.

Furthermore, according to respondents’ top risk, “energy price shock”, comes at a time when some countries have taken steps towards diversification, but the region is still largely a hydrocarbon economy, heavily reliant on revenue from this sector. Oil prices increased substantially between 2017 and 2018, from around $50 to$75.

This represents a significant fillip for the fiscal position of the region’s oil producers, with the IMF estimating that each $10 increase in oil prices should feed through to an improvement on the fiscal balance of three percentage points of the GDP.

However, vulnerabilities to swings in oil prices have not disappeared and are particularly pronounced in countries where government spending is rising. This group includes Saudi Arabia, which the IMF estimated in May 2018 had seen its fiscal breakeven price for oil — that is, the price required to balance the national budget — rise to $88, 26% above the IMF’s October 2017 estimate and also higher than the country’s medium-term oil price target of $70–$80.

“It is no surprise, then, that Saudi Arabia remains one of five countries in the region that rank “energy price shock” as the top risk to doing business in our survey, along with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar,” the report indicates.

The risk of an episodic energy price shock signals a broader, systemic risk for the region. Unless the MENA economies diversify, business and society will not only be hostage to oil market fluctuation in the short term but also will be ill-prepared to thrive in the global economic landscape of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

As technology increasingly disrupts the business landscape, economies will place a premium on what is above ground – skills and innovation – rather than on what is below.

On the labour side, the changes brought on by the Fourth Industrial Revolution will create disruption to employment across industries.

According to McKinsey, by 2030, up to 375 million workers (14% of the global workforce) may need to find different occupations because of new efficiencies such as automation. Yet, already in the Middle East the labour landscape is dire.

For the past 25 years, the rate of unemployment among young people in the MENA region has been the highest in the world and in 2017, the rate was 30%. 

There are significant risks to the economies being able to absorb the labour force, particularly since 27 million young people will enter the labour market over the next five years.

Speaking in Dubai in February 2019, the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde, was critical of “spending kept off-budget” as well as well as high levels of borrowing. Lagarde said, “With better governance, we can replace the ‘disintegration’ of corruption with the ‘integration’ of all into the productive economy. We can replace fasad with islah – reforms to set things right, to reconcile people with one another.”

Insecurity remains a risk

“Terrorist attacks” were ranked as the third-leading risk in the Middle East and North Africa, according to respondents in the region to the Executive Opinion Survey. Similar to economic and governance issues, this risk is one that manifests from inside, rather than outside, the region.

Yet, it is notable that terrorism ranked so high in the opinion survey because it runs counter to the data on attacks. According to the Global Terrorism Database, the number of attacks in the MENA dropped by 38% in 2017 from the year before and the number of deaths fell by 44%. The most significant drops in

terms of incidents were in Turkey, Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

According to the respondents, despite the fact that while the absolute numbers may be declining, the relative number is high: the MENA is home to the largest share of incidents and deaths compared to the rest of the world, 31% and 44%, respectively.

Furthermore, the report cites another possibility that “terrorism” is acting as a proxy for respondents to capture an overall sense of insecurity in the region. Some analysts point to continued, longstanding frictions as a reason to dub the area from Morocco to Iran a “band of instability”.

More specifically, Syria and Yemen are ranked as countries of “very high alert” and Iraq as “high alert”, according to the Fragile State Index, and negative developments in these states can have repercussions that manifest in other states.

Similarly, instability in other countries, such as Libya, and fractures –and even outright hostilities – between some states in the Gulf and Levant add to overall regional insecurity. This, even as some factors, like the aforementioned drop in terrorist activity and the decline of the Islamic State, are trending in the right direction.

Toward risk mitigation and resiliency

For stakeholders across the globe, risk mitigation and resiliency can be heightened through a coordinated rather than go-at-it-alone approach. Preventing the harms of climate change from being realised – or, responding to effects in an effective manner when they manifest – for instance, is only possible through cross-sector and cross-border partnerships. Similarly, strengthening economic structures and governing institutions in the MENA region can best be achieved through a multi-stakeholder approach that leverages diverse resources, including skills and expertise, and aligns actors towards a common goal.

The risks of climate change and cracks in the global response

Eighty-five percent of respondents to the Global Risks Perception Survey expect “political confrontations/frictions between major powers” to increase in 2019. These rising geopolitical divisions are making it more challenging to address the biggest global risk – climate change.

Environmental risks dominate the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey for the third year in a row. This year, climate-related issues accounted for three of the top five risks by likelihood and four by impact over the next 10years.

Extreme weather was the risk of greatest concern, but survey respondents were increasingly worried about environmental policy failure. “Failure of climate-change mitigation and adaptation” ranked as number two in terms of impact this year.

The results of climate inaction are becoming increasingly clear. The year 2018 was the fourth warmest on record.

In the MENA region, Algeria had the hottest temperature –51.3oC – ever reliably recorded across the whole of Africa and Oman recorded a minimum temperature of 42.6oC. 6

Rising temperatures led the UN to warn that melting ice sheets were causing sea-level rise to accelerate. The World Bank identified 24 port cities in the Middle East and 19 in North Africa at particular risk of rising waters.

Climate change will also bring a second-order risk for the region. As countries around the world take steps to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels to stem the effects of climate change, the oil-based economies of the MENA region will feel the repercussions.

Yet, in stark contrast to the results of the Global Risks Perception Survey – respondents to which are the global stakeholder community – respondents in the Middle East and North Africa to the Executive Opinion Survey did not rank environmental issues high on the list of risks in the region. The lack of prioritising climate change points to a blind spot among stakeholders when it comes to considering the risks of the issue to the region.

Global technological threats

Technology plays a profound role in shaping the global risks landscape in the near and longer term. Concerns about data fraud and cyberattacks were prominent again in the Global Risks Perception Survey, with 82% of respondents expecting cyberattacks in the form of theft of data or money and 80% expecting it in the form of disruptions of operations or infrastructure to increase in 2019. Similarly, “data fraud or theft” and “cyberattacks” ranked as the fourth and fifth risks, respectively, in terms of likelihood over the next decade.

Indeed, there were further data breaches in 2018, new hardware weaknesses were revealed, and research pointed to the potential uses of artificial intelligence to engineer more potent cyberattacks. Last year also provided further evidence that cyberattacks pose risks to critical infrastructure, prompting countries to strengthen their screening of cross-border partnerships on national security grounds. According to Cisco, 94% of companies in the MENA said they experienced a cyberattack in the past year and almost half of attacks, 48%, resulted in damage valued at over $500,000. 

The rise in the flow of data across borders means that these types of risks are only expected to increase.

The post Risk of energy price shock, unemployment top MENA risks landscape: WEF appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Israel elections: Netanyahu’s win scathing impact on Middle East Mon, 08 Apr 2019 11:00:47 +0000 'Polls could give Netanyahu win, lead to Israel de facto annexation of West Bank,' says analyst

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Ahead of the Israeli parliamentary elections, to be held on Tuesday 9 April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chance of winning is swelling after the United States President Donald Trump granted him the Golan Heights on a silver platter. However, the final opinion polls suggested a fall of Netanyahu’s right-wing party Likud seats in the Knesset.

During his visit to Washington, Netanyahu won what he kept pushing Trump’s administration for, the American recognition of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied plateau, the grant expected to strengthen the Israeli leader in the polls, as he has been under intense political pressure in Israel.

However, not only the US did award Netanyahu a gift before the elections. Last week, Russia announced that its soldiers in Syria found the remains of the Israeli soldier, Zachary Baumel, who went missing during the war in Lebanon in 1982. The body was transferred from Syria to Israel, where hundreds, astonished and surprised, gathered in Jerusalem for his funeral.

Nevertheless, Netanyahu, overwhelmed by awards, still faces many pending challenges. The Israeli prime minister faces ‘dangerous’ charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases pending a final hearing, according to the Israeli prosecution office. Netanyahu denied them all.

Another challenge awaiting the Israeli leader is his competitor and long-time political rival, Benny Gantz. The 59-year-old former army chief who managed to gain ground in recent months, represents in a short time a serious threat to his rival, according to Israeli opinion polls.

Netanyahu’s Likud National Liberal Movement is a right-wing party established in 1973. Israel’s prime minister has been in power since 2009. He also led Israel from 1996 to 1999.

Tough competition? 

In February, Gantz formed the centrist Blue and White alliance with a promise to unite the country from the division which took place in recent years. The alliance is also led by the former minister of finance, Yair Lapid, and other top former army commanders.

Gantz, whose parents were survivors of the holocaust, pledged during his speech in the Munich Security Conference 2019 to protect the Jewish state. “The Jewish people and the Jewish state will never again put their fate in the hands of others,” Gantz said, adding, “Israelis will protect themselves by themselves and guarantee the future of their people.”

Friday’s final opinion polls showed Gantz’s Blue and White alliance advancing, with a prediction of grabbing 30 seats, more than the 26 for Netanyahu’s Likud, according to an opinion poll in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper. However, the poll also predicted that the parties of Netanyahu’s right-wing bloc could take around 63 seats in the Knesset. 

Meanwhile, another poll suggests that the right-wing bloc would win 66 seats, while centre-left parties might take 54, according to Israeli television. The right-wing block includes the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism, the centre-right Kulanu party, the right-wing Union of Right-Wing Parties, and the right-wing Zehut party.

Huge impact on the Middle East

“The Israeli elections will have a big impact on the Israel-Palestine question if Netanyahu wins again,” Nicholas A Heras, a Middle East security fellow at the Centre for a New American Security told Daily News Egypt.

“One dynamic to watch closely is whether Netanyahu – in order to stay in power as prime minister – has to cut a deal with far right-wing Israeli parties,” Heras added.

Heras clarified that far right-wing parties want Israel to move closer to the outright annexation of the West Bank, in a manner similar to what Israel has done with the Golan Heights.

“The elections could give these Israeli parties a lot more power than they have ever had because Netanyahu needs them to be able to stay as prime minister,” Heras continued. 

Meanwhile, Heras pointed out that “Trump’s decision over the Golan Heights was an attempt to give Netanyahu a big political win right before the elections.” But, he added, that “it is already having a tough impact throughout the region, especially in Jordan.”

“Jordan is a close ally of the US, but Trump’s decision regarding the Golan is putting significant pressure on Jordan as Jordanians fear that Trump’s Golan decision is a preview of a US ‘peace plan’ that would seek to make Jordan the Palestinian state,” Heras simplified. 

Heras then continued, “Trump’s Golan decision is creating a political crisis in Jordan, which is an unwelcome development for US policy toward Israel and Palestine, because Jordan is so important for the stability of Palestine and the broader Middle East.”

Heras projected that Israel’s elections “could give Netanyahu a win, empower far-right Israeli groups, lead to the de facto annexation of the West Bank by Israel, and undermine Jordan’s stability.”

“That would be a nightmare scenario for the United States, but perhaps not for the Trump team which has been so pro-Netanyahu and pro-Likud,” Heras concluded.

Deal of the Century

As Trump’s administration is expected to make an announcement of what becomes known as ‘the Deal of Century,’ following the Israeli general election, many expectations have been raised regarding the details of the pact.

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt are the officials responsible for drafting the so-called peace plan which aims to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“Of course, the results of the Israeli elections would affect the situation in the Middle East and the Palestinian cause,” Samir Ghattas, an expert in Palestinian affairs and director of the Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies told DNE.

Ghattas stated that despite Gantz advance against the Likud, the right-wing bloc is expected to take around 64 seats in the Knesset, according to final polls, compared to around 56 seats for centre-left parties. Thus, it is possible that Netanyahu would form the new cabinet once more, Ghattas noted. 

“Recent polls also suggested that Arab parties, including the Arab-Israeli party Raam-Taal headed by Ahmad Tibi, will take 6 seats,” Ghatts said. He added that if Gantz and the Arab parties accept to unite together to form the new government, they would have 62 seats, which are enough to form the government, as the Knesset requires 61 seats to form the cabinet.

However, Ghattas said such alliance seems unlikely and very difficult. “But it is not impossible,” he noted.   

Regarding Netanyahu’s chance in staying in power, Ghattas voiced that the prime minister has recently received many gifts from Trump and Putin, which enhanced his standing in the elections. Those grants are the Golan Heights and the body of the Israeli soldier who died 37 years ago. However, Netanyahu still faces charges of corruption, Ghattas said. 

Ghattas noted that one of those cases is related to Egypt, referring to the German submarine deal. Seven people-Netanyahu’s allies-have been arrested over charges of bribery, tax fraud, and money laundering in deals worth over €1.5bn.

The deal was to buy Dolphin submarines and patrol corvettes from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems of Germany. Recently, the Israeli prosecution said that it is considering opening a criminal investigation against Netanyahu over profits from shares he purchased in a steel factory in Texas.

Back to Trump’s peace plan, Ghattas argued that the deal is very clear, despite the fact that its details have not yet been announced. “The deal is that Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are under Israeli sovereignty, as well as tackling the issue of Palestinian refugees through four factors,” Ghattas revealed.

The first is the cutting of the aids to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Secondly, redefining the definition of a ‘Palestinian refugee’.

Israel wants the definition to only include the refugee who was displaced in 1948. This would not include the new generations, the sons and the grandchildren, Gattas highlighted.

“Only those refugees will get compensation or have the option to return home,” Gattas noted. 

The third factor, Ghattas continued, is through putting pressure on Arab countries which host large numbers of Palestinian refugees, to either give them the nationalities or settle them in these countries, including Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan, Ghattas noted. 

The fourth factor is allowing Gaza to be a Palestinian ministate under Hamas’s rule, Ghattas forecasted. He mentioned that there is an old project to expand Gaza through including parts of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Furthermore, Ghattas noted that the old project, presented in 2005, was to renounce some area of the peninsula to the strip, through giving up its sovereignty over those lands to Palestinians to establish their state.  However, new amendments were set to this plan, Ghattas said, adding that the expansion project will include 1,000 sq km in South Sinai without renouncing the Egyptian sovereignty and to be a free industrial zone as part of the megacity called Neom. 

In a recent interview with the Yisrael Hayom daily on Friday, Netanyahu voiced that he told Trump that he would never allow any Jewish settler to be evacuated from the West Bank. On the possible US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, Netanyahu avoided a direct answer and said: “Wait for the next term.”

Meanwhile, Netanyahu revealed his wishes regarding the ‘Deal of the Century’, saying that he hopes it includes controlling the territory west of Jordan, and not dividing Jerusalem.

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On sidelines of Al Sisi’s visit to US: Egyptian success, American resentment Mon, 08 Apr 2019 10:00:25 +0000 Egypt will not accept pressure regarding diversifying its weapons’ sources, says Major General Mahmoud Diaa

The post On sidelines of Al Sisi’s visit to US: Egyptian success, American resentment appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

After the 2013 protests, there were fluctuations in Egypt’s foreign relations, and one of the files was the American weapon deal which was halted since October 2013. It includes 12 F16 aircrafts, 20 harpoons, and 125 MPA 1 tanks. They were suspended later in 2016.

The deals then varied and included five Abram M1A1 tanks, which are produced through Egyptian-US joint cooperation. These tanks are assembled in a joint production factory after receiving their spare parts from US. There were also Apache planes which Egypt received 10 from, and F16 aircrafts, as well as a mobile surveillance system in order to monitor the situation on the Egyptian-Libyan borders.

Since Al Sisi took office, Egypt has been trying to diversify its sources of weapons from many countries, including France, Germany, Croatia, and Russia. Experts have estimated that Egypt imported about 70% of its weapons from Russia.

With Al Sisi’s visit to the US, the talk about weapons returns, as well as the impact of diversifying weapons in Egypt and breaking the cycle of dependence on the US weapons.

Commenting on that file, Major General Mahmoud Diaa, Egypt’s defence consultant, said that Egypt is adopting a policy to diversify its weapons, because relying on one source of weapons is a kind of hegemony, and Egypt is now completely against this.

Diaa provided the example of Egypt-Russian cooperation, saying that the military cooperation with Russia was halted for years, as the political leadership saw the high priority of taking the US side as a result of the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel which included an American commitment to supply Egypt with major aid, including weapons. This required joint trainings between Egypt and the US.

Right now, the strategic point of view has changed. Diversifying weapons has become one of the Egyptian deterrent weapons.

Regarding the possibility of bringing up the weapons file or seeing the US’ resentment toward the Egyptian desire to diversify its sources for weapons, Diaa said that the visit aims to deepen the relations and the pivotal role of Egypt in the regional key issues. It is natural to bring up again the weapons file; however, it is difficult to pressure Egypt in this matter.

On the other hand, Major General Adel El Omda, adviser at Nasser Higher Military Academy and member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, said that Egypt’s regional role in the files of Libya, Sudan, Palestine, and Israel is severely important.

The intelligence of the Egyptian leadership lies in the fact that it has managed to utilise the importance of its regional and international role and make sure there is a balance in its foreign affairs with the superpowers, at least with the permanent members at the Security Council. He added that the US resentment is natural, as it is evaluated from an economic aspect. Each state is concerned with exporting the largest amount of everything. “But we are also concerned with our interests and we have our completely independent decision,” he added.

El Omda ruled out the attempt of the US to impose pressure on Egypt in terms of the weapons diversification issue, especially that the US knows Egypt’s position and its importance in many files in the region.

Regarding the difference between the Egyptian and the Turkish situations, where the latter has seen direct pressure from the US and official warnings from sealing the Russian defence system ‘S 400’, El Omda stated that the situation is different. He added, “The American pressure on Turkey is natural because a major American military base is present in Turkey, unlike the case in Egypt, and also because Turkey’s relations with the surrounding countries have become more tense. Additionally, there is a general feeling in the world that Erdogan is looking for a kind of personal glory”.

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Will Middle East crises affect Egypt-US relations? Mon, 08 Apr 2019 09:30:09 +0000 Egypt will not accept relocating Palestinians in Sinai

The post Will Middle East crises affect Egypt-US relations? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Despite the appeared agreement between Egypt under President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and the United States under President Donald Trump, but the two administrations have different policies in regard to the Middle East issues.

Golan escalation

The Golan Heights is the latest point of difference between Egypt and US policies. In March, the US president recognised the Syrian Golan as Israeli land, in a move which contradicts the international law and was considered as an aggression on the Arabian rights in the strategic plateau.

Trump said: “It is the time for American recognition of Israel sovereignty over the Golan Heights,” ending decades of US policy regarding never-ending crises, such as the Golan issue. The US -as well as- the international community used to call the region as the “occupied Golan Heights”.

For its part, Egypt rejected the US move, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry stressed Egypt’s stance which recognises the Golan Heights as occupied Arab land according to the international law.

Palestinian Cause

The “deal of the century” according to the US and Israeli media is a supposed proposal for “regional peace”. The core of the plan is “showering tens of billions on economic aid on the Palestinians, as well as on Egypt, Jordan, and possibly even Lebanon,” according to New York Times.

Egypt’s announced stance regarding the Palestinian Cause is the two-state solution, and the necessity of establishing a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as a capital.

Ahmed Abd Rabou, a visiting assistant professor of political science at Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver, told Daily News Egypt that there is no accurate evidence that Egypt is involved in the “deal of the century”, only indications.

“I do believe that there is something called “deal of century” and it aims to relocate the Palestinian people outside Palestine in other countries to end the issue of the Palestinian refugees, in the US-Israeli point of view,” he said, adding that Egypt should be part of any arrangements.

Abd Rabou noted that he doubts that Egypt would accept relocating Palestinians in Sinai, and the Palestinians themselves will never accept that.


There are some differences between Egypt’s and the US stances in Libya. Egypt is one of the countries that have mutual borders with Libya, and is very interested in the Libyan issue.

Egypt, the UAE, and France support the Commander of the Libyan National Army, Khalifa Haftar, in his moves to reunify Libya under his leadership. However, the US believes that the solution in Libya should be a shared-power system in accordance with the United Nations’ plan.

In 2017, Egypt air forces stroke sites in eastern Libya in revenge for Egyptian citizens who were killed by a terrorist group in the region. Analysts believed that the Egyptian strikes came as part of its support for Haftar.

During the same year, the US rejected Haftar’s military campaign on the UN-US backed government in Tripoli.

On Thursday, Haftar forces have moved from eastern Libya, launching a new military campaign to entre Tripoli where the internationally recognised government is based. Haftar appeared in a video, calling for liberating the capital from the militias and restoring stability in the entire country.

The US and the UN Security Council warned of entering the capital. Despite its support to Haftar, Egypt issued a late statement calling for halting military actions in Libya.

Abd Rabou said that Egypt is taking the side of Haftar but the US, the UK, the UN, and a number of countries have another view for the situation, as they believe in mediation between the main rivals.

Abd Rabou added that the closest scenario in Libya is a civil war as the two main sides have equal power. He noted there are differences between the positions of the US and Egypt in Libya, but he believed that these differences will not affect the relations between the two countries for two reasons.

The two reasons are: the US had abandoned the situation in Libya since the accident of killing its ambassador in Libya, and the US has other priorities. The other reason is that Trump is not interested in Libya and he does not know a lot about the country.

Abd Rabou, however, believes that the differences between the two administrations are not affecting the relations between the US and Egypt.

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Fatwa Law: regulation or restricting freedom of expression? Sun, 31 Mar 2019 11:00:07 +0000 ‘Bill aims to regulate public fatwas, fight extremist, radical ideologies,’ says Hamroush

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A bill to regulate fatwas (religious edict), expected to soon be passed by the Egyptian Parliament, raises concerns over setting more restrictions on freedom of expression, especially since the draft law imposes a prison sentence and a fine without accurately defining the “irregular fatwa,” the one in violation of the draft. 

Omar Hamroush, secretary of the religious affairs committee in parliament, submitted the draft law which was already approved by the committee in December 2018. The bill is expected to be passed during the current parliamentary session.

The bill came in response to the calls of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi for the renewal of religious discourse, and to prevent those issuing ‘extremist’ fatwas from being broadcasted in the media.

According to the bill, it is prohibited, in any way, to issue a public fatwa, which is connected to the fate of the homeland, and to have it broadcasted in the media, unless it is issued by Al-Azhar’s Supreme Council of Scholars, Egypt’s Dar Al Ifta, the Islamic Research Complex, and the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ General Fatwa Department, or someone who is authorised to issue fatwas by one of the previously mentioned bodies.

Only the previously mentioned institutions have the right to issue public fatwas in the media. Anyone in violation of this draft law will face a prison sentence for a term not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding EGP 5,000. If repeated, they will face imprisonment and a fine not less than EGP 10,000.

However, the bill raised controversy among Al-Azhar’s senior scholars, the Ministry of Religious Endowments’ General Fatwa Department, and other institutions responsible for issuing fatwas.

Al-Azhar stated that the department is an executive body, not a scholarly one, and demanded that the state’s Ministry of Religious Endowments’ General Fatwa Department be excluded, in order to ensure the independence of fatwas from the state. 

Fatwa is a responsibility

“There are people who issue extreme fatwas with political intentions to break up a nation’s unity,” Hamroush said during a seminar called, ‘Draft law on public Fatwa: A new regulatory mechanism of Ifta in Egypt?’ organised by the Law and Society Research Unit of the American University in Cairo last Tuesday. 

“Therefore, I drafted a bill to tackle this phenomenon, and to regulate public fatwas in the media,” Hamroush added.

Furthermore, Hamroush argued that Egypt faces internal and external conflicts aiming to undermine the country, emphasising the significance of uniting against “inciters of dissent.”

Yet, Hamroush disagreed that the bill would restrict freedom of expression, as it aims to regulate public fatwas in the media in order to avoid extremist or radical ideologies from being spread amongst people. 

Regarding Al-Azhar’s reservation toward the bill, Hamroush claimed it has already been settled, revealing that a representative from Al-Azhar attended the discussions regarding the bill. The representative he mentioned was Ali Gomaa, the former Egyptian Grand Mufti.

Nothing new, except penalties

Fatma Hafez, a researcher and historian, and author of the book ‘Fatwa and Modernity’, revealed that the regulation of fatwas underwent various phases throughout Egypt’s modern history, yet, she said, Hamroush did not introduce anything new except for the penalties.

During the seminar, Hafez recounted that the bill is an extension of the efforts aiming to regulate fatwas in the 1860s and 1870s, however, the novelty here are the penalties, including fines and prison sentences.

Furthermore, Hafez said that before the 19th century, issuing fatwas was a pro bono practice issued by religious clerks, and fatwas were not affected by the state’s inclination. 

“I agree with regulating public fatwas in the media but through abiding by media ethics and standards,” Hafez told Daily News Egypt (DNE). 

“Sure, there could be a law for fatwa regulation, but the concept of the imprisonment penalty is very worrying,” Hafez noted.

Moreover, Hafez does not oppose the concept of punishment if mistakes occur, but they should not include imprisonment, she said. It might include depriving those in violation of the law from issuing fatwas for a while or implementing other kinds of administrative penalties.

Meanwhile, Hafez argued that the bill will result in choosing specific people to issue a fatwa, and it will exclude others who might be more qualified. “There are concerns that fatwas could be limited to specific people,” Hafez maintained.

Furthermore, Hafez predicted that the bill would be passed. “It might include some amendments regarding the definitions of ‘the public fatwa’, or the ‘irregular fatwas,’ which requires punishing muftis.”

It is hate speech

“The bill set standards for who have the right to issue fatwas and it does not touch freedom of expression,” Abdel Ghany Hendy, a member of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs, told DNE.

Hendy argued that issuing fatwas requires more experience than just being a religious clerk–it demands an Islamic scholar and someone who has the necessary background and the scientific knowledge to tackle people’s public affairs. 

Furthermore, Hendy asserted that the bill allows plurality of opinions, yet the fatwas must not have any political leanings; however, it must serve peoples’ needs.

Furthermore, Hendy insisted on publishing moderate religious content on the internet against the extremist ideologies of terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, which almost dominates the web content, he said. 

“Islam came to spread peace and reform people. We have to fight the provocative religious discourse currently dominating the scene. It is a form of hate speech and it has been prohibited throughout the world. We have to prevent disturbing fatwas such as those calling for Muslims to not shake the hands of Christians. It is a form of hate speech and it must be stopped,” Hendy concluded.

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On ‘Great March of Return’ 1st anniversary, Israeli fire kills Palestinians Sun, 31 Mar 2019 10:00:48 +0000 Over 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army since protests started last year

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A Palestinian man in his early 20s was killed by Israeli armed forces early on Saturday on the Gaza Strip’s border, the territory’s health ministry stated. The ministry said Mohammed Saad died after suffering from head wounds caused by shrapnel.

The incident came just hours before the Gazans’ expected mass protests which could disrupt a fragile calm between Israel and Hamas, as the Jewish state is preparing to hold elections within 10 days. 

Last Monday, more than 10 airstrikes were carried out across the coastal enclave, Israeli security officials said. Hamas-affiliated radio station Sawt al-Aqsa said an Israeli airstrike demolished the office of Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyeh.

Haniyeh had gone into hiding since Monday, fearing retaliation from Israeli forces, following the recent rocket attack in Tel Aviv. He said in a written statement that the Palestinian people “will not surrender” and its military factions “will deter the enemy if it exceeds the red lines.”

In response to the Israeli airstrikes, Hamas fired at least 10 rockets toward the southern Israeli town of Sderot late Monday. There were no immediate reports of casualties. 

Rockets do not normally reach so far into the country. The Monday’s attack comes 10 days after other rockets were fired at Tel Aviv for the first time in two years. Hamas leaders in Gaza claimed that incident was an accident. Nevertheless, Israel responded with heavy fire.

The planned demonstrations will cap off a year of regular protests calling for the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes from which they were forced to leave in the 1948 war which accompanied the creation of Israel.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by the Israeli army since the protests began. At least 62 were shot dead in a single day in last May during clashes, fuelled by the transfer of the US embassy in Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem. About three Israeli soldiers have also been killed in those clashes.

Palestinians called to celebrate the first anniversary of ‘Great March of Return’ which was kicked off on 30 March 2018 by refugees protesting against Israeli occupation which displaced them from their homes and land. The ‘Great March of Return’ commemorates the ‘Land Day’ which started in 1976 after Zionist authorities expropriated many lands.

What commemorated the protests was the decision of United States President Donald Trump who announced the transfer of the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestine has been suffering from violent and brutal attacks since it has been occupied by Israel, leading to all kinds of resistance starting from stone-throwing which is often responded to by heavily shooting from Israel. Lately, Palestinians have started launching fire kites and explosive balloons from the northern Gaza strip into southern Israel.

Noteworthy, Israel passed a law in 1980 declaring that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, but the Security Council of the United Nations (UN) interfered and declared a resolution stating that the law was null and void and that Israel is violating the international law.

Early last week, the UN said it will step up the presence of monitors in Gaza after its human rights body said Israel’s shootings of Palestinians could be deemed as crimes against humanity. 

Five UN human rights officers will be sent to Gaza to monitor “ongoing violations” against civilian protesters after hundreds were killed in demonstrations last year.  

The UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Friday condemning the “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force by Israel” and called for the perpetrators to face justice.

The body asked for cooperation with an International Criminal Court examination into Israeli violations opened in 2015. The resolution passed with 23 votes in favour, eight against, and 15 abstentions, with European states divided.

Saturday’s planned protests could increase pressure on right-wing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show that he is in control in the confrontations with Hamas ahead of the elections, where he is facing a strong challenge from former army chief Benny Gantz. Last week, the Israeli military struck dozens of Hamas targets in Gaza in response to a rocket fired by unidentified group against Israel.

The demonstrations are expected to draw thousands to various sites along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, where 2 million Palestinians reside in living conditions described by the UN last September as causing “profound suffering and aid dependency.” Israel has maintained a blockade on the enclave for more than a decade, greatly reducing the territory’s productive capacity.

Israel says the blockade is necessary to contain Hamas. It also rejects the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes, saying Israel could not cope with the mass influx.

Avichai Mandelblit, the Israeli General Prosecutor, accused Netanyahu of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, arising from three different corruption cases, which are pending a hearing.

Netanyahu’s political opponents accused him of making Israel lose its power to deter attacks, after Hamas launched two rockets toward Tel Aviv on 14 March, for the first time since the 2014 war.

Israeli forces responded by striking 100 suspected Hamas targets on 15 March in the Gaza Strip, which made the ‘Great March of Return’ committee cancel the weekly protests on 15 March for the first time since last March.

The Jerusalem Post reported that the cancellation is to avoid further steps from Israeli forces, saying that “Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organisations decided to cancel last Friday’s weekly violent protests on the Israeli-Gaza border in order to avoid an escalation with Israel.”

Similarly, The Times of Israel reported that the Palestinian committee which organises weekly protests on the Gazan border has decided “to postpone” today’s protests “out of concern for our people and in preparation for a much larger protest on March 30,” the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Centre reported.


“In Hamas they are very, very concerned about an Israeli decision to strike them, the deterrence exists 100%,” Likud’s ‘Netanyahu’s party’ member of the Knesset, Yoav Kisch said at a cultural event.

“The prime minister is dealing with the security issue as if there are no elections, and if need be we’ll conquer Gaza before the elections” he added.

Meir Cohen from the opposite political party, Blue and White, criticised Netanyahu for making the situation in Israel terrible, “When people on the street tell me Bibi is a magician, I tell them he is a magician of one thing: He made Israel’s deterrence disappear,” Cohen said.

Another, Blue and White party member, Orna Barbivai said “On the one hand we need to strike Hamas, which is a brutal terror group, and on the other hand recognise the needs of the civilian population in Gaza, which itself is beginning to understand the need to oppose Hamas,”

It all started when in the 1920s Britain mandated Palestine according to the Balfour Declaration, which supports the establishment of a national home for the Jews around the world in Palestine. Jerusalem was the capital of the mandate, where the British rulers and institutions of the mandate government lived, and in the mid-1930s, Britain changed its policy and tried to stop the migration of Jews into Palestine.

The mandate on Palestine ended on 14 May 1948, and Britain announced its withdrawal from Palestine, however, after Britain’s announcement, Israel was recognised over large parts of the British mandate on Palestine, and the Arab-Israeli conflict began.

In 1948, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia entered a war against the armed Zionist entity in Palestine, which was formed out of the Palmach, the Arjun, the Haganah, the Stern and Jewish volunteers.

The war started on May 1948, and on 10 June 1948 UN Security Council interfered, and imposed a ceasefire upon all the parties, and a truce was in place for four weeks. Despite the prohibition of arming and any new troops’ supply, Israel did not comply with this prohibition, and quickly reinforced its losses, and it was heavily supplied with arms, especially planes, with many European Jews volunteering to go to the war front. 

In July, the Israeli army continued the war, despite the UN’s attempts to extend the truce, so the battle took a different turn and Arab forces suffered defeats and losses, and Israel was able to illegally occupy great expanses of Palestinian territory.

In 1949, following the 1948 war and the abolition of the British mandate, Palestine was divided into three political units, which is Israel, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.

Since then, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been suffering from violations and the brutal Israeli occupation.

The post On ‘Great March of Return’ 1st anniversary, Israeli fire kills Palestinians appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Far-right terrorism: gaining momentum around world Sun, 24 Mar 2019 09:00:51 +0000 'It came in response to racism, globalisation, mass migration,' says analyst 

The post Far-right terrorism: gaining momentum around world appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

The ruthless killing of 50 Muslim worshipers while they were performing Friday prayers in Christchurch city, New Zealand, more than a week ago, has renewed concerns over right-wing terror, which apparently is not less murderous than Islamist terrorism.

The preparator of the bloody attack, identified later as Brenton Tarrant, published a lengthy manifesto before carrying out his attack against two mosques, killing and injuring dozens of different Arab nationals, in which he revealed his motivations and reasons.

The 74-page document titled, The Great Replacement, included praise for US President Donald Trump, describing him as a symbol of white identity. However, Trump condemned the attack on Twitter describing it as a “horrific event.”

The 28-year-old white extremist revealed that he had been preparing for the attack for two years and moved from Australia to New Zealand to carry out his plan. He unveiled that he was inspired by American white supremacist, the Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, and the far-right terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, who killed 77 people in bomb and shooting rampage in Norway in 2011.

He added that he was not seeking fame, but to cause a shock that will last for years– as well as fear–and required change. He noted that he targeted the worshippers because they are, “a large group of invaders from a culture with high fertility rates, strong traditions that seek to occupy my homeland and ethnically replace my own people.”

Asked if he hates Muslims, Tarrant said that he does not hate Muslims who live in their homelands, but he dislikes Muslims living on his soil. The only Muslims he truly hates are the ‘converts’ as they abandoned their true cultures and roots, he explained.

He added that the results of the French presidential elections in 2017 also motivated his attack, as he views the winner (President Emmanuel Macron) as a globalist and ex-investment banker without any national beliefs.

Furthermore, he expressed his disappointment over the loss of a civil nationalist (the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen). The French elections’ results are a clear sign that there will be no political solution for what he called a “demographic war” in Europe against white people, Tarrant said.

Increase in right-wing terrorist attacks

In the latest years, there is a remarkable increase in the number of right-wing terrorist attacks, according to the 2018 Global Terrorism Index. The report said that between 2013 and 2017, right-wing groups and individuals killed 66 people, killing 17 and attacking in 2017. In the UK alone, 12 far-right terror attacks took place. 

The majority of the attacks, according to the index, were carried out by “lone actors with far-right, white nationalists, or anti-Muslim believers.”

In June 2018, the UK Home Office said that the number of far-right terrorists jailed in Britain more than tripled in 2017/18, of whom 13% were far-right extremists. 

Meanwhile, the Europol 2018 report, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, stated that “the largest number of attacks in 2017 in which a terrorist affiliations could be identified were carried out by ethno-nationalist and separatist extremists (137).”

The report noted that “the attacks carried out by left-wing violent extremists have been on the rise since 2014, as they reached 24 acts in 2017, of which the majority (16) were reported by Italy.”

“The total number of jihadist terrorist attacks reached 17 in 2015, 13 in 2016, and 33 in 2017. While 135 of the 142 victims of terrorist attacks in 2016 were killed in the 13 jihadist attacks,” the report added.

Muslims and Jews are the main targets

“There’s no doubt that far-right extremism and terrorism are on the rise around the world,” Max Abrahms, the author of Rules for Rebels and a professor of political science at Northeastern University told Daily News Egypt.

“This is in response to racism, globalisation, and mass migration. Muslims and Jews are the main targets.”

“It’s unfortunate whenever there is a far-right attack, people trivialise it by emphasising that Islamist terrorism is also a big problem. They are both big problems,” Abrahms stressed.

“Terrorism is perpetrated by people for many different political reasons. Presently, we are in a religious and far-right wing wave,’ Abrahms argued.

The political science professor clarified that New Zealand’s perpetrator was very publicly-oriented. “He left a lengthy manifesto to broadcast his neo-Nazi, white supremacist, and anti-multiculturalism views, and then live-streamed the attack to draw attention to it.’

However, Abrahms suggested that he suspect that “we will continue to see more attacks like this one, where Islamophobics prey on Muslims around the world.’

Migration crisis

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), “the overall number of international migrants has increased in the last few years from the estimated 152 million in 1990 to 173 million in 2000 and to 250 million in the present.”

The number of people who migrated to foreign countries increased by 41% in the last 15 years (2000-2015), the IOM added.

The IOM stated that in 2015, 67% of “all international migrants were living in just 20 countries.”

The majority of them live in the US (46.6 million, or 19.1% of all migrants) followed by Germany with 12 million migrants. Russia received 11.6 million migrants; Saudi Arabia with 10.1 million; the UK with 8.5 million; the UAE with 8.1 million; Canada with 7.8 million; France with 7.7 million; Australia with 6.7 million and Spain with 5.8 million migrants (including those born outside of the country of their citizenship).

Far-right extremism in Australia

Following the New Zealand attack, an Australian senator Fraser Anning blamed New Zealand’s attack on Muslim migration. “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim migration and violence?” he tweeted following the attack.

However, the Australian senator was largely criticised in his country by a number of Australian politicians and the country’s prime minister himself.

Kristy Campion, an Austrian terrorism historian, revealed that the problem with far-right extremism in her country does not lie with migration policies, as it has a long history in the country.

Campion clarified, in a piece of analysis published in The Conversation, that “the issue is with the broader Australian community that ignores or accepts the presence of right-wing extremists in its midst, which tolerates the increasingly Islamophobic and anti-immigrant discourse in Australia.”

The Austrian researcher continued that “Australian right-wing extremists tend to position themselves in response to an imagined or constructed threat.”

Furthermore, Campion mentioned that “right-wing extremism began to rise in 2009 across the world, in response to a supposedly existential threat, jihadism, and the broader Muslim community in the West.’ 

“Groups with international connections, such as the Australian Defence League and Right-Wing Resistance, were formed,” she added.

“The rise of Reclaim Australia – a nationalist protest group – also saw extremist members of these groups splinter off to form new groups, such as the True Blue Crew and the United Patriots Front,” Campion wrote.

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New Zealand mosque attacks: terrorism or act of violence? Sun, 17 Mar 2019 08:00:30 +0000 ‘It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,’ says New Zealand Prime Minister

The post New Zealand mosque attacks: terrorism or act of violence? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

In one of the deadliest attacks in the history of New Zealand against civilians based on their religion, race, colure, or identity, 49 Muslims have been killed and 48 others were severely wounded when an Australian right-wing extremist opened fire on worshipers in two mosques during the Friday prayer in Christchurch city and livestreamed video of the attack.

The attacker, identified as Brenton Tarrant, was apprehended and appeared in court on Saturday over charges of murder. He has been described by New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as having “extremist views.” Three others were taken into custody in connection with the terrorist attack. All are Australians.

The terror attack drew huge reactions including anger and condemnation among world leaders who differently termed that attack. For New Zealand, Ardern condemned the mosque shooting saying it was one of New Zealand’s darkest days. “It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack,” Ardern told reporters following the attack.

According to the Small Arms Survey in 2017, residents in New Zealand own an estimated 1.2m firearms. There are no strict measures on ownership of military-style weapons as most firearms can be easily and legally sold on the internet. Meanwhile, Ardern vowed on Friday to consider banning semi-automatic firearms. “Our gun laws will change,” she confirmed.

About 1.1% of New Zealand’s population, almost 4.25 million people, are Muslim, according to the country’s most recent survey. The victims of the two attacks included refugees and migrants who fled the war and violence in their countries, seeking better living conditions and peaceful places. Egyptian, Saudi, and Jordanian nationals were among the casualties. Women and children were also killed or injured.

Terrorist or shooter?

Muslims and their supporters around the world criticised a few international media outlets or state leaders and politicians who considered the attack as an “act of violence,” rather than “terrorism”.

Some argue that far-right terrorism is not less dangerous or widespread than Islamic terrorism, such as the Islamic State. Jewish Russian journalist Leonid Bershidsky wrote in a recent column in Bloomberg that the number of violent incidents committed by the far-right is on the rise. “The Institute for Economics and Peace noted in its 2018 Global Terrorism Index report that the number of such killings increased from three in 2014 to 17 in 2017,” he added.

On Twitter, tens of thousands of users used the hashtag “#NewZealandTerroristAttack,” to pay tribute to the victims and criticise media outlets that used “act of violence” to describe the incident instead of “terrorist attack,” and the use of “shooter” rather than “terrorist”. 

“This terrorist killed 49 Muslims, but the world media calls him ‘the shooter’ not ‘the terrorist’ because he is not ‘Muslim!’ A Muslim is the only one who is punished and called a ‘terrorist,’ but others are called mentally unstable. Why?” wrote a Twitter user Kashif Khan.

Another tweet by Adam Saleh read: “This guy is not just a ‘shooter’ as what the media is saying. He’s also a Terrorist. Terrorism has no religion.” Meanwhile, Eman Ali wrote: “He [the attacker] is not mentally sick, He’s a terrorist.”

Furthermore, Abdel Allah asserted, “Don’t call him a shooter, he is a terrorist. Terrorism doesn’t belong to any religion. Keep this in mind.”

Mark Pavelich tweeted: “The first victim of the Terrorist Attack in New Zealand is shown on the video greeting the gunman with ‘Hello Brother.’ Those were his last words. Love in the face of hate.”

Mariam Mostafa tweeted, “White Supremacy and normalisation of Islamophobia are the real monsters threatening humanity right now. Please, don’t feed the beast with your silence and SPEAK UP.”

“This is terrorism”

Max Abrahms, a professor of political science at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and the author of Rules for Rebels: The Science of Victory in Militant History, tweeted shortly after the attack: “This is terrorism, Non-state actor. Civilian target and Political goal.”

“The terrorist who struck in New Zealand claimed to do it to oppose Muslims. Of course, the attack will have the exact opposite political effect. It will increase international sympathy towards Muslims and marginalise their fiercest political opponents,” Abrahms highlighted.

He noted that mass shootings in New Zealand are exceedingly rare. “The deadliest in modern history occurred in the small town of Aramoana in 1990 when gunman David Gray shot and killed 13 people following a dispute with a neighbour,” Abrahms articled.

Abrahms further tweeted that “the terrorist in New Zealand was very public-faced. He recorded the attack and left a manifesto. This will inevitably prompt questions about how much info the media should share to inform without incentivising the violent behaviour.”

Meanwhile, Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow and the author of Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World, asserted in a tweet: “It’s not quite right to say the Christchurch shooter was ‘crazy, mad, insane,’ and certainly not thoughtless. Similarly, I was opposed to calling ISIS crazy, because that seemed a way to reduce the importance of what was happening, making it harder to confront the threat.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian writer Khaled Mansour emphasised the significance to describe what happened in New Zealand as a terrorist act, as such a description would open the doors for applying specific police procedures and laws and more restrictions against specific organisations or associations.

Global reactions

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack on Friday, describing it as “terrorist”. According to the Ministry of Immigration, four Egyptians were killed in the attack. They are Mounir Soliman, Ahmed Gamal El-Din, Ashraf AL-Morsi, and Ashraf Al-Masry.

Globally, the US President Donald Trump tweeted that he spoke with the Prime Minister of New Zealand regarding “the horrific events” that have taken place on Friday. “I informed the Prime Minister…that we stand in solidarity with New Zealand, and that any assistance the US can give, we stand by ready to help. We love you New Zealand,” Trump wrote.

The German Chancellor Angela Merkel also tweeted: “This is an attack directed against Muslims. It is also an attack on New Zealand’s democracy and an open and tolerant society”.

Outrage over Facebook

The terrorist appeared to use a Twitter account holding the name of Brenton Tarrant to publish a racist 74-page manifesto called “The Great Replacement”, in which he identified himself as a 28-year-old man born in Australia.

The attacker also apparently used Facebook’s live stream service to release a shooting video, which he ironically warned he would live stream before the attack. The video, which contained graphic footage, reportedly ran for nearly 17 minutes and showed part of the attack. It is believed to be taken from an action  camera worn by the terrorist. Copies of the video continued to appear on Youtube, Twitter, and Instagram over a few hours after the attack.

In a statement on Friday, Facebook said it removed the video and the account which published the content. “We’re also removing any praise or support for the crime and the shooter or shooters as soon as we’re aware,” Facebook stated.

The social media platform revealed that New Zealand police alerted them to the video shortly after the live stream commenced. “We quickly removed both the shooter’s Facebook and Instagram accounts as well as the video,” Facebook added. 

Democratic US Senator Cory Booker, who is running for presidency, criticised Facebook’s slow response to the spread of the graphic content of the video. Booker said at his election campaign event that “tech companies have a responsibility to do the morally right thing.”

Booker added, “this is a case where you’re giving a platform for hate. That’s unacceptable, it should have never happened, and it should have been taken down a lot more swiftly.”

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Who’s who in Egypt’s Press Syndicate mid-term elections Thu, 14 Mar 2019 12:00:25 +0000 General assembly election will take place on Friday to choose leader, six members

The post Who’s who in Egypt’s Press Syndicate mid-term elections appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Eleven candidates are competing to lead Egypt’s Press Syndicate, the largest number of nominees in the history of the union, in which their electoral campaigns are focused on increasing the allowance granted to support digital journalists.

A total of 51 candidates are also competing over the six seats available of the syndicate’s board in the mid-term election, all of them focused on social and health rights, with hardly any of them focusing on freedoms.

On 1 March, the midterm election of the syndicate over the president and six seats in the syndicate’s board council was postponed to 15 March due to lack of completion of the quorum. A general assembly was held in the presence of 716 journalists but was not enough to hold the election, as at least 4,312 journalist members out of a total 8,624 members are requested to register their attendance in the general assembly.

The election could be postponed for another two weeks in case the quorum is not complete on 15 March.

Members who are running for the board of those who finished the previous terms are Hatem Zakaria, Khaled Miri, Mohamed Shabana, and Mahmoud Kamel, while former members of the council in general are Khalid Al Balashi, Hanan Fikri, and Hisham Younis.

 The majority of the candidates running for the council’s membership are from state-owned news outlets, with 11 from Al-Akhbar and Akhbar Al-Youm newspapers, seven from Al-Ahram newspaper, four from Al-Gomhouriya newspaper, and three from the Middle East News Agency (MENA).

A smaller number of candidates are running from private-owned newspapers, while three are running as independent journalists, the most known of which is Khaled Al-Balshi. Al-Balshi, a former member of the council and a human rights activist, used to head the online leftist news site Al-Badia.

Renowned journalist Diaa Rashwan, who is running for the presidency seat, vowed to improve the financial conditions of journalists and increase their monthly technology allowance, saying that Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, and the Minister of Finance, Mohamed Moeit, had already agreed to increase the allowance by 25%, starting from July to reach EGP 2,100 and promised to increase pensions, currently set at EGP 1,450, by 20%.

Rashwan is planning to increase the allowance based to the inflation index by forwarding a draft government. This is one of his previous plans when he was the head of syndicate in 2013.  Rashwan was elected as the head of the Egyptian Press Syndicate, however, he failed to secure a second term in 2015.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of state-run Al Gomhouria newspaper, Sayed Alexandrani, said that after submitting his candidacy papers, he went to the prime minister’s office to request an increase of the allowance to EGP 5,000.

Alexandrani also confirmed his ability to solve all problems of the union within six months throughout his full time, noting that he has failed in all the previous rounds, however he decided to run for the current election to serve journalists.

Moreover, Talaat Hashem, the Editor-in-Chief of the Young Egypt Party (Misr El-Fataa), running for the presidency seat, said that this was the third and final time to compete in the elections and that he will work on increasing the allowance to EGP 5,000 because the allowance is one of the means which honours journalists.

Despite the fact that the number of candidates running for the seat of the press syndicate has reached eleven, the competition seems to be dissolved between Rashwan, and board member of Akhbar Al-Youm Rafaat Rashad, due to their popularity in the press milieu and the fact that they have considerable work experience comparing to the rest of candidates running for the same seat.

Akhbar Al-Youm’s Rashad said that he was standing to “protect fellow journalists and freedom of expression” and would prioritise journalists’ cases who have been expelled from their workplaces as well as fight for increases in wages and pensions.

He wants the monthly technology allowance to be linked to inflation and promised to work to improve healthcare services available to journalists. Rashad also warned that the newspaper industry was passing through a critical phase, the repercussions of which pose a threat to the livelihood of journalists.

The eleven candidates include the Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ghad newspaper, Abdel Nabi Abdel Sattar; journalist Samia Agouz; the Deputy Editor-in-Chief of state-run Al-Gomhouria, Ahmed El-Shamy; Journalist Mohamed Maghrabi, and Essam Rashwan.

Abdel Sattar said that the profession needs a boost and that comes on the top of his electoral programme to solve the problem of 2,000 journalists affiliated to political parties, and he refused for the increase of the allowance to be described as a way to buy votes, suggesting its increase as periodic bonuses per year by 10%.

Meanwhile, Maghrabi said that “this is the third time to nominate myself for the post of president, and my message is always to stand as a correspondent for journalists as a first step to run for president.”

Al-Agouz said that her programme is based on restoring journalists’ financial and moral rights. “I am trying to make the value of the allowance EGP 2,500 and increase it periodically and it is stipulated in the law so no one can ever change it.”

Allowances, which currently stand at EGP 1,680, are amounts of money given monthly to journalists to improve their financial conditions as a majority are not receiving profitable salaries due to the profession’s financial struggles.

Some of the candidates running for board’s seat did not ignore the families of journalists who were killed as they were covering various clashes. Mostafa Abeedo, a candidate for the membership of the syndicate, asserted the necessity to care for the families of the killed journalists, and immediately execute their needs.

Many journalists were killed during the course of their work in order to convey the events taking place in Egypt since the 25 January Revolution in 2011, most notably “Ahmed Assem, Husseini Abu Daif, Mayada Ashraf, Habiba Abdel Aziz, and Ahmed Abdel Gawad.”

Also, journalist Samia Abu Al-Nasr, said it was necessary to communicate with the social affairs committee to provide a social pension for the families of the killed journalists.

The Press Syndicate membership is currently restricted to journalists working in print media and the syndicate’s law would have to be changed to allow the membership base to broaden. The last Press Syndicate elections were held in 2017 when Salama was elected as head.

Moreover, Amira Al-Adly, journalist from state-run Al-Ahram newspaper, suggested to conduct a survey amongst the members of the general assembly on the most pressing problems of the press and trade union work, and received answers from some 400 members, and said that she is willing to open a committee to follow the conditions and issues of female journalists.

She added that the most important features of her electoral programme will be divided into two axes, the first is service, and the main one is wages, by providing a minimum for journalists to afford a decent life, and working to raise the level of the medical project after the recent deterioration.

Candidate Yousef Ayoub, editor of the privately-owned newspaper Sout Al-Umma, said that in case he wins, he will double the cuts granted to reporters on the subway and railway subscriptions, and that he will demand to get discounts on Super jet tickets and mass transport companies for the benefit of journalists, and that he had received promises from officials to discuss services that could be provided to journalists.

Hisham Younis, editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram newspaper, who was a member of the Journalists Syndicate Council from 2011 to 2015, said “the press is facing a historic turning point that requires all members of the profession to join hands. The next period requires focusing on issues of legislation and arbitrary dismissals of journalists, which also requires a legislative amendment that allows institutions’ accountability which separates journalists, as well as the return of discipline.”

He also said that the issue of wages requires from the members of the general assembly and the elected president to forward the issue to the House of Representatives and the cabinet, to place a fair solution, pointing out that the union must go toward the establishment of investment entities to spend on activities, services, and emergencies.

The post Who’s who in Egypt’s Press Syndicate mid-term elections appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law Sun, 10 Mar 2019 09:00:03 +0000 National Council for Women only cares about divorced custody holders 

The post Debate on Egypt’s new personal status draft law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

MP Mohamed Fouad, member of the parliament’s local administration committee, along with others, drafted a new personal status draft law after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s call to consider amending family laws to ensure stability of Egyptian families and reduce divorce rates.

The proposed law included some articles that raised wide objection and debate among those interested in women’s issues as well as family and personal status.

The highlights of those articles included the reduction of child custody age from 15 years in the current law to 9 years, the other party can host the child for a period of one or two days with a pledge to return them to the custody holder, allowing appeals in khula – a form of divorce initiated by the wife in Islamic Sharia Law – cases, and adding movables like furniture and household appliances to the wife’s dowry.

Other controversial articles proposed limiting responsibility of educational expenses to the father in divorce cases, imposing penalties on the husband who fails to document divorce to competent authorities, and the establishment of a specialised family police.

In order to reflect both views of the new draft law, Daily News Egypt interviewed MP Mohamed Fouad and Nermeen Abu Salem, founder of the Egyptian Single Mothers Group, that won an award from Facebook as one of the most influential pages in its community.


MP Mohamed Fouad, member of the parliament’s local administration committee

There are no alternatives to proposed law, Al-Azhar’s opinion is advisory: Fouad

Why was the discussion over the draft law delayed?

I do not know. A few days ago, I sent a letter to the head of the legislative and constitutional affairs parliamentary committee to speed up the discussion process of the draft law.

According to the conclusion of the committee on 13 January 2019, concerning the discussion of the new draft law, the committee will resume discussion on it during its first meeting in February and send letters to concerned bodies whose recommendations were delayed until the session in order to seek their opinions for the last time. They were informed that if no recommendations were made during this period, the committee will proceed with the law discussion.

The agreed time within the committee has passed. The committee should have resumed the discussion sessions of the draft law, but this has not happened so far.

This is why I call for a meeting to resume the discussion of the draft personal status law in the committee, in view of the president’s interest concerning the situation of the Egyptian family and the current Personal Status Law, especially his remarks in the 6th Youth Forum at Cairo University.

What are the concerned parties?

Al-Azhar, the National Council for Women (NCW), the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, and the Supreme Council of the Judiciary.

But Al-Azhar announced it is preparing another draft law?

Al-Azhar’s role is to provide its opinion about draft laws, not to make laws. In over 1,000 years of its history, Al-Azhar has never drafted laws. The Constitution specifies that the government, the presidency, and the parliament are entitled to propose bills. I have no objection to holding discussion on the current draft law and amending it, but they must first read it before making decisions, especially since their role is advisory.

What about the NCW and other specialised councils?

National councils, such as the NCW and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood, have not responded to our letters concerning the draft law. They said they are drafting another law, which is incorrect. They know that the proposed law serves the interests of children and families. But the NCW has turned into an entity that does not care about women in general, and has changed into a council for divorced women only.

There are electronic platforms trying to distort the submitted bill without reading or hearing the discussions held over the law.

The national councils were supposed to respond to the draft articles in a written letter, but they pushed electronic platforms to reject the bill without a real reason for this, and spread rumours that the bill will facilitate the abduction of children by any of the family members, which is completely contrary to the truth, because the current penal code does not criminalise the kidnapping of children by parents, while the new draft law imposes deterrent penalties on those who refrain from returning minors to the custody holders.

We met with a large number of people with family issues. We formed a special committee to listen to them and conduct more than 25 community talks in several governorates, in the presence of family issues victims, lawyers, judges, scientists from the Islamic Research Centre, and some public figures.

What is the primary purpose of introducing this new law?

It aims to achieve justice and balance between the parties of the Egyptian family, protect the rights of children and achieve their interests, and provide an appropriate environment for the parents to establish a better Egyptian family. This was stressed by the president in several occasions, especially during the Youth Forum held in the Cairo University.

Have you read similar laws of other countries prior to the preparation of this law?

We have read many similar laws and we have not found any country with a law like ours that deprives children of one of their parents on the grounds of not holding custody. The current law turns children into monkeys, where a parent will meet them at a park for three hours. All Arab countries apply the principle of joint custody. I have been in Morocco recently and I read their Personal Status Law and I hope that can be adopted in Egypt.

Why do you insist on replacing the current system with a joint custody?

The current law has been in place for 100 years and has not been developed, despite all the societal changes. The current system limit contact between the child and his non-custodial parent as if they are punishing them for the divorce. We proposed that the non-custodial parent hosts his child for one or two days to maintain the psychological integrity and balanced relationship between the child and his parents.

But there are fears that extending the hosting period would lead to child abduction?

The law addressed this fear by stipulating that the child must be returned after the period specified by the new legislation, whether it is a day or two days. This will prevent abductions. According to the current law, non-custodial parents do not have to return their children to the custodial parent.

What is the proposed penalty for not returning the child after temporary hosting?

The proposed legislation imposes a six-month prison sentence, based on a court ruling, and in order to ensure that the custodian does not abduct the child, a travel ban is issued in case of failure to commit to the hosting rules on time.

What about reducing the age of custody?

The current law sets the age of custody at 15, while the proposal law will reduce it to nine years old.

What prompted you to present this proposal?

Because most of the concerning studies and real cases we saw in a daily basis showed that the child needs his father before the age of 15. The argument of the father’s work was defeated because women now work like men.

Why does the draft law propose changing the father’s position in custody?

Because the father’s turn in the order of custodians is 16th in the current law, while they come second in all countries after the mother. This is not realistic and would not produce healthy children or youth.

What about the proposal to establish a specialised family police?

This department will follow the Ministry of Interior and will be tasked with implementing the rulings of family courts and conducting inquiries about the father’s income and other matters concerning personal status issues. The proposed police sector will be trained to deal with such cases because they are different from other criminal offenses.

The draft law also obligates registering a divorce. Does the article face any opposition?

There has been a call for setting a period of time to document the verbal divorce to reduce divorce rates. The president has alerted us of the terrible divorce rates and those children living without parents. I do not understand the objection, especially from clerics, as we only recognise documented marriages. Why would we accept that in marriages and reject it in divorces?


Nermeen Abu Salem

Allowing appeals in Khula cases defeats women: Abu Salem

Why do you object the personal status draft law?

We do not object the amendment of the current Personal Status Law, but we have some reservations on the proposed amendments such as khula, custody conditions, educational guardianship, and others.

What are your concerns regarding the Khula?

The draft law propose allowing appeals in khula cases, which is an abuse of women’s rights and a violation of their dignity and legitimate right to continue or end the relation. If women choose to drop all their legitimate rights, this indicates they have suffered from serious harm in marriage.

The proposed law leads to unnecessary prolongation of litigation, causing further harm and abuse of women’s rights.

In Khula, the wife waives all of her rights, such as her dowry, while the husband loses nothing.

But some believe that allowing appeals in khula gives a chance for fixing the relation?

In order to give spouses an opportunity to reconsider prior separation, during the course of the khula proceedings, the reconciliation was already presented to both parties by the court at least twice during the case.

Consequently, there is no legal or humanitarian justification for this step, but it does expose women to more oppression and injustice, and deprives her from her human right.

The new draft law proposes reducing the custody age, why do you reject it?

The Sharia law admitted that the custody age is the age at which the child can give up the mother’s care psychological needs. We do not see this is possible at the age of 7 or 9 years old. Al-Azhar agrees with us. And what law deprived the mother of her children, when she is unmarried, in favour of the father and step mother at that age?

According to the World Health Organisation, the child is generally legally defined as a person under the age of 18 and he does not complete his mental and physical maturity.

The Egyptian Child Law stipulates that at the age of 18, a child remains with his mother until adulthood. I do not only ask to keep the custody age at 15, but to increase it to 18 years old.

There is a lot of confusion about the educational guardianship, what is its problem?

In March 2018, the Supreme Constitutional Court acknowledged the right of the custodian in the educational guardianship. There is no doubt that this ruling was correct. It makes sense to keep the educational guardianship in the hands of the custodian since they best know the child and his abilities, in addition to supervising them all the time.

Do you agree with the part of the wife’s dowry?

We will agree only in one case, if it was agreed in advance, and frankly that the list of movables includes furniture, household appliances, and others as part of the wife’s dowry, but otherwise there is no legal text. The Sharia obligates the husband to prepare the marital home from A to Z. If the woman partakes in that, she is only contributing to facilitate the marriage, but this does not give the man the right to claim what the woman has contributed in case of divorce or Khula.

Why do you object the non-custodial parent’s hosting of child without the consent of the custodian?

We do object the father’s right to participate in raising his children. The current law and the constitution gave the full custody to mothers. This means that it is not permissible in any way to divide the week between the mother and the father leading to the child’s instability. The Court of Cassation came to uphold the ruling on 9 March 2010.

As for the religious side, there is no disagreement on it. Islamic law did not mention hosting in the Quran or Sunna. Some, however, indicate that the child belongs to the mother.

The fatwa of the Islamic Research Complex No. 445 for 2012 stated that hosting the child should be in accordance to the custodian’s consent.

The Islamic Research Academy also confirmed in April 2017 that the hosting must be approved by the custodian and the child after reaching 10 years old.

The term ‘host’ was not mentioned in Quran, Sunnah, or any of the Islamic doctrines. It is an imported term from the European society, which is characterised by strict disciplines, rules, and acts as an immediate deterrent with penalties toward the interests of the young. The hosting system in Egyptian society without the controls of the European community will create countless problems and courts will accumulate more issues we need.

But the law proposal says that this is necessary for the child’s psychological health?

This is not true. Hosting by a judicial decision and without the consent of the custodian and the child negatively affects the psychological health of children, as it forces children to move from a place to another every week against their will. We all know the extent to which a child is attached to their home and toys. They have their own world, which may not be found in the other parent’s house. Even if the stepmother loves the child, she will never become their mother. Also, what if hosting takes place in a different governorate from the one where the child originally lives?

But there are guarantees in the proposal to return the child to his custodian?

Those calling for the application of hosting said that there is no problem of hosting as long as there are guarantees for the return of the children. We believe that the guarantee of imprisonment is not genuine. What about mothers who received rulings to return their children and were unable to force the father to do so? If we stop children from travelling abroad, what about traveling within Egypt? There are so many cases in courts with unfulfilled rulings.

The previous rulings must be implemented before offering future guarantees. What would a mother do if she sues the father and the court gives him a prison sentence but she could not reach her child?

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Africa drowning in armed conflicts Wed, 06 Mar 2019 11:00:18 +0000 Conflict over diamonds, power, ravages continent

The post Africa drowning in armed conflicts appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Some 15 million displaced individuals and six million refugees, accounting for 37% of the world’s refugees are in Africa, according to the Executive Director of the Economic Commission for Africa of the United Nations (UN), Vera Songwe.

The refugee issue, adopted by the African Union (AU) under the chairmanship of Egypt, is the other face of armed conflicts afflicting the majority of African states. The African Summit, hence, adopted the roadmap prepared by the AU Peace and Security Council , presented by President Sisi, entitled ‘silencing the guns,’ and set binding mechanisms for all parties to end wars and conflicts on the African continent by 2020.

Of the 41 armed conflicts in the world, 23 are in Africa, which may increase.

More than 50% of the world’s armed conflicts are in one continent, Africa, and analysts agree that diamonds and other precious metals as well as power struggles are the biggest causes.

In the following article, we review the most prominent conflicts and groups that have caused the fall of thousands and millions of victims, wounded others, killed others, and displaced many more.

Boko Haram in Nigeria

Founded in 2002 under the name of the Sunni group for preaching and combat as a group of reformist clerics and local leaders, they are known more broadly as a rebel group and atrocities started from 2009.

The group is mainly active in northeast Nigeria, but it has engaged in violence in Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, and has begun to draw global attention after several brutal killings, most notably the kidnapping of 230 schoolgirls in April 2014.

Boko Haram was recognised as a terrorist group by the United Nations after that incident. All affected countries, including Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, and Benin, formed an Africa force to coordinate against and face the militias in order to fight them, in addition to using French intervention. France sent a limited military force to fight the Islamists in general, in an area called Barkhane in the capital of Chad, N’Djamena. The terrorist acts of Boko Haram have left over 21,000 people killed, including 11,000 in 2015 alone.

The group continues to kill, bomb, and kidnap to date.

The civil war in Somalia

Since 1991, the opposition of various factions to the rule of President Siad Bari succeeded in ending his rule. The factions started a conflict then in the southern Somalia known as the Italian Somalia, and divided Somalia into five regions under five different factions’ rule. Areas of division differ according to new alliances and the progress of military operations between the various factions.

In 2011, AU peacekeepers excluded the Youth Movement from Mogadishu, after they seized control of it. There are about 20,000 soldiers and policemen from Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, and other African countries.

The Youth Movement sought revenge from the peacekeepers and turned toward guerrilla warfare and terrorist tactics after losing its authority and influence on the ground.

Somalia formed the first central government in August 2013 since 1991 and dramatically calmed the conduct of combat operations. The Somali civil war left more than half a million people dead, according to estimates by the US military. The Youth Movement is estimated to have 5,000-1,000 fighters, mostly from southern rural areas, and control over 20% of Somalia. To date, they still carry out attacks in different areas under weak government control.

Civil war in Libya

The violence began in Libya with the outbreak of the Libyan revolution on 17 February 2011, influenced by the wave of Arab spring revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt and former president Muammar Gaddafi’s use of violence against the rebels, ending with his death through the help of NATO forces. He left behind an arsenal of weapons deployed between different tribes and cities, which led to a violent civil strife since mid-2014. Libya witnessed a severe crisis of legitimacy between the two parliaments and two governments, each with an army and foreign support. After negotiations, the conflict turned into a parliament supported by militant groups and an army. Moreover, extremists such as ISIL and Ansar Sharia in Derna and Sirte continue to fight for land and oil and threaten neighbouring countries, such as Egypt and Tunisia. The conflict, so far, has left 14,000 people killed, including 1,500 in 2015 alone.

In 2018, over 3,000 people fell victim, including those injured and killed.

Civil war in South Sudan

The conflict began in 2013 between the army led by the President Salva Kiir and opposition militias under the leadership of former Vice President of South Sudan, Riek Machar, who was ousted by Kiir and was accused of dictatorship and corruption in addition to strengthening the grip of his tribe on the reins of government and the marginalisation of other ethnicities and tribes in the fledgling state that broke up in 2011 from the Sudan. President Kiir accused Machar of organising a coup, which spurred the conflict.

The ceasefire was announced in August 2015, in the wake of the peace agreement signed by the rebels and the government of South Sudan, mediated by Ethiopia, but the skirmishes continued, leaving 10,000 people officially killed and 50,000 more who were unaccounted for. This includes 4,000 in 2015 alone.

After the 2015 agreement, clashes again broke out between the rebel National Salvation Front and the southern Sudanese government army.

Conflict in Darfur

Rebels have been fighting the Sudanese army in southern Kordofan and Blue Nile provinces since 2011 when South Sudan declared independence.

The conflict in Darfur began in the west in 2013 when mostly non-Arab tribes took up arms against the Arab-led government in Khartoum.

Two rebel groups, the Justice and Equality Movement and the Sudan Liberation Army, led by Minni Minawi, signed an AU roadmap for a ceasefire but talks on its implementation stalled last month. A third rebel group, the Sudan Liberation Movement did not sign.

The conflict in Darfur has left over 300,000 people dead and displaced 2.6 million people since 2003, according to the UN, and the International Criminal Court is demanding that President Omar al-Bashir be tried for war crimes in Darfur.

Conflict in Central Africa

It began in 2012 between opposition forces and President François Bozizé who took the helm in 2003 with the support of the opposition to work on reforming the system in Central Africa and create a balance in the circulation of power and the right of political practice by Muslims.

However, Bozizé breached the agreements, so the opposition ousted him in 2012.

Christian militias, Ante Blaka, were formed and continued killing, raping, and looting property belonging to Muslims, and justified this by the coup d’état against the president, as well as their hatred of the Muslim minority’s control of most of the economic resources, especially the 80% of diamonds controlled by the Muslim minority.

France intervened to increase its forces, but it focused its presence on cities containing the diamonds with its bias toward Christian militias and not disarming as they did with the Silica.

In May 2017, the conflict returned and caused new waves of bloodshed and displacement. About 6 million people have been forced to flee the country since 2013. A large number of new waves of displacement occurred in areas such as Zemio, which was not influenced before, while 500,000 people sought asylum in other countries.

A year ago, negotiations between the warring parties were conducted by the state of the Sudan, with the direct support of Russia, to bring peace to Central Africa.

Conflict over northern Mali

In January 2012, the National Liberation Movement of Azouad (northern Mali, which wanted to make Azawad an independent homeland for the Tuareg tribe) gained control in April 2012 but was unable to take international or regional recognition of a separate state. The rebels began to retreat under international pressure.

The government then tried to sign an agreement with the Tuareg rebels but failed because of the government’s intransigence in making any concessions to the rebels to be considered as foes of an autonomous region or even governing federal rule.

Since the start of the conflict, about 2,000 people were killed, including 400 in 2015 alone, until an agreement was signed in Algeria between the conflicting parties, to bring peace and the integration of rebels into the national army. But even so, mutual attacks between the army and associated groups erupt against the rebel group.

LRA rebellion

It is the most brutal group in the world where, since Joseph Kony assumed its presidency in 1987, it killed more than 100,000 people and caused the displacement of at least one million people. This is only the total number of people killed in the war with the Ugandan army in 2006. The group also conducts looting and gang rape as well as servitude.

That group has also limited operations in eastern Congo, Central Africa, and South Sudan. The movement consists of 11-15-year-olds, who account for 80% of the soldiers. The movement has been undermined in 2009 by the Ugandan army.

The LRA has recruited 40,000 children, according to UNICEF, which called on the International Criminal Court to order the arrest its leaders as war criminals. The UN reported that the LRA killed over 100,000 people, kidnapped 50,000 children, and displaced 2.5 million people.

The movement continued to move between northern Uganda and southern Sudan and Central Africa, supported by guerrilla tactics to drain the Ugandan army. Kony has been marked as one of the worst international figures after American director Jason Roselle issued his famous video KONY 2012 on the seriousness of LRA crimes. US forces entered Central Africa in 2016 to besiege the LRA, in coordination with Ugandan troops, but quickly left in 2017, and announced the weakening of the armed group.

Conflict in Ethiopia

It is led by the OLF to demand the right of self-determination for the Oromo, as they represent the tribe’s most numerous populations in Ethiopia and live in southern and central Ethiopia. The conflict was born when the organisation was formed in 1973, where, with the Ethiopian government’s repression of demonstrations and protests movement, which moved to Eritrea, after the expulsion of the Ethiopian government to the organisers of the movement.

The protests rose again by the Oromo against the Ethiopian government after the forcible displacement of the population from the areas where the renaissance dam is located and around the government’s claim that it is an investment-oriented land, making the organisers of the front declare their intention to attack Addis Ababa unless the government resorted to settle its situation with the Oromo.

The conflict between the OLF and the government left 1,300 people killed including 87 in 2015.

In January, the OLF signed a reconciliation agreement with the Ethiopian government, and hereby pledged to a ceasefire since 24 January. A committee of 71 people was formed to facilitate the disarmament, demobilisation. and reintegration of armed men of the OLF.

Union of Resistance Forces in Chad

They are a group of mostly Zaghawa gunmen seeking to topple President Idriss Déby’s regime that ruled since 1990, led by Timan Ardimi, the former director of President Deby’s office, before splitting up in 2006 and leading a surprise attack on the capital N’Djamena in 2008. French troops intervened indirectly in thwarting the attempt to control the capital. The conflict continues.

More recently, the French air force intervened, but directly and based upon a formal request on 8 February to repel a military strike against the capital.

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Controversy resurfaces over polygamy among Egyptians Tue, 05 Mar 2019 10:30:13 +0000 People divided as some think Al Tayeb’s statements are diversions from texts of Sunnah, Quran, while others praised them

The post Controversy resurfaces over polygamy among Egyptians appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Throughout the years, polygamy was always depicted in Egyptian cinema and drama without serious or official reactions to the topic, until the Grand Imam of Egypt’s top Islamic institution, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, said on Friday that polygamy can do “injustice to women and children.”

Al-Tayeb, Sunni Islam’s highest authority, said that the issue of polygamy is an injustice to women and it is not the origin of Islam, but it is conditional, adding that polygamy is often practised due to “a lack of understanding of the Quran.” His statement came during a weekly televised interview and on his Twitter account. His statement was considered the first comment by a top religious cleric on polygamy, stirring huge debate among people. In Egypt, religious clerics and scholars have always discussed the ways of raising men’s awareness on refraining from doing injustice toward any of their wives, and speak on the virtues of polygamy.

Meanwhile, Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam statements were interpreted by some people as a prohibition for polygamy in general, leading the institution to release a statement on the following day in order to clarify Al-Tayeb’s argument.

Social media users were divided as some stated that Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam has diverted from the texts of the Sunnah and the holy Quran, while others praised his statements saying that it clarified the reasons for practising polygamy, as it should only be done if there is a strong reason.

Later after sparking debate, Al-Azhar clarified that Al-Tayeb was not calling for a ban on polygamy, and reiterated that monogamy was the rule, and polygamy is the exception, while those who think that marriage must be polygamous are all wrong. Moreover, Al-Azhar cited the Quran as stating that if a Muslim man is to have multiple wives, he must be equally fair to each of them, while forbidding him from having multiple wives if he will not be able to equally treat them with justice and fairness.

Noteworthy, polygamy in Islam allows Muslim men to have more than one wife, but not at the same time, while a woman cannot have more than one husband as it is a sin in Islam.

Polygamy sometimes causes divisions among partners, and is a cause for tearing the family apart, especially that some men practice it unjustly and abuse it, claiming that religion gave them this right. Moreover, some of them justify it by stating that it is a better action than betraying their wives.

On the other hand, the majority of females reject the practice of polygamy, while others sometimes accept it under certain conditions.

Throughout Egypt’s history, polygamy is practiced in families when one’s own son dies, allowing the other son to marry the deceased brother’s wife, even if he is married. The other common case is granting the men this right if their first wife is not able to give birth.

Al-Azhar is too late

Nihad Abu Al-Qomsan, the head of the Egyptian Centre for Women’s Rights, commented in press statements that the comments of Al-Tayeb are fair to women, “but they were too late. Saying that after more than 1,400 years, there is still no culture developed in society to make sure that polygamy is a severe injustice to women.”

She added that women’s lack of sense of security and stability in the “marital relationship” are affecting their sense of stability in general, and men who marry a second wife are being unjust to themselves by misunderstanding the marital relationship, which should be based on love and integration between the partners.

In addition to the above, the National Council for Women (NCW) issued that it appreciates the statements of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and praised it, as it enlightened the minds, and it demonstrated the females’ rights. The council also praised Al-Tayeb’s permanent assertion that the Islamic religion honoured women, and granted them many rights which did not exist before.

Moreover, the NCW commended Sheikh Al-Tayeb’s explanation of polygamy and his assertion that “this right is restricted, and it should only be practiced through a justified licence, and requires a strong reason behind it, as well as a condition of exercising justice between the wives.”

What do psychiatrists think?

A psychology professor at Al-Azhar University, Hanaa Abu Shahada, said that multiple marriages without a need are the reason behind the problem, as divorce has increased due to this, but served as a solution for the delayed marriage of girls.

She also said that those who advocate the issue of polygamy should instead focus on coming up with initiatives to solve the economic crises experienced by the country, which is the main cause of divorce among the partners.

The number of unmarried females in Egypt reached 13 million, among those over the age of 30, according to the official statistics of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics. Men were called on to practice polygamy in order to reduce the rates of unmarried females in Egypt.

There is a significant link between polygamy and the high rates of divorce, as several opportunities are usually offered to divorced women, who are more likely to agree to marry a man without the acknowledgement of his first wife. Moreover, in several cases, the wives sometimes resort to requesting a divorce from their husbands when they practice polygamy.

A total number of 240 cases of divorce occur daily in Egypt, making the country one of the highest in the world in terms of divorce rates, which rose to 40% over the past half-century, at a rate of approximately one divorce every six minutes. The country, according to cabinet reports, has 2.5 million divorcees.

Medhat Abdel Hady, a marital relations consultant, said that throughout his experience in the field of family problems, he emphasised that polygamy is a failed experience by all standards, as there are economic pressures suffered from all the segments of society. No matter how rich the male husband is, he will never be fair to his wives.

Abdel Hady said that for a marriage to succeed, the relationship needs three types of conditions which are the satisfaction of the mental, psychological, and emotional needs which in turn are divided into intimate and sexual needs, and these are rarely met nowadays in one relationship, so how will those conditions be met if they are multiple relationships?

What do people think?

Abdelrahman Mohamed, 30, said that he does not agree with polygamy, as he believes that marriage should only be restricted to one partner where both partners can share their lives and feelings, and it should not be shared with two females. “I do not think there is a man on earth who can really be just with two families, and polygamy usually occurs due to greed and for unjustified reasons,” he said.

Salma Nossier, 26, said that she never could accept that her husband marries another female, and that a man should not marry another wife without informing his first wife. She commented that multiple wives are not a solution for anything, but they only damage the first relationship, explaining that if a divorced woman was in the shoes of the first one, she would never accept for her husband to marry another one. 

Islam Hussien, 33, said that, “I would rather marry another woman instead of betraying my wife, and as long as I can be financially responsible for two houses, I can do so.” When asked if he can be just to both of them, he confidently stated that his loyalty will be confined for the first wife because she is his first love, and the one who was “with him through the thick and thin,” yet, he will also grant the second wife all her rights as much as he can.

Basma Nasser, 27, who is engaged said, “I do not support polygamy, but in many cases it could really be beneficial and useful,” citing that there are females who need a man to be with them after their husband dies, or if they are are late in getting married, in addition to the case when the first wife is not able to give birth, so men should get a chance to have children in that case by marrying a second wife.

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Cairo deadly train accident: Rundown railways, continued neglect Sun, 03 Mar 2019 11:00:29 +0000 "They were heading to a wedding in Alexandria, children died, parents are in intensive care," says victims’ family 

The post Cairo deadly train accident: Rundown railways, continued neglect appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Cairo’s main railway station witnessed one of the deadliest accidents in the history of the railways’ sector in Egypt when a locomotive smashed through a buffer stop, killing 25 people and injuring around 50 others including some with severe wounds.

The accident occurred last Wednesday morning after the driver stepped off the train without putting the brakes on, Egypt’s Prosecution said were the reasons behind the latest catastrophe.

The prosecution added that the driver left the train to argue with a colleague after the latter struck him with another train. The driver left his railcar without switching the engine off, after which the unattended locomotive sped off and hit the buffer stop which led to a huge fire and explosion. 

On Saturday, Cairo’s prosecution office renewed the detention of the two drivers involved in the accident along with four others for 15 days pending investigations. The train driver, who left his locomotive without turning off its engine, faces charges which include ‘intentional killing and neglect.’

In the aftermath of the accident, Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat handed in his resignation. He said in a letter to ministry officials that he could not exonerate himself from the political responsibility.

The accused driver made an appearance after hours following the accident in a televised interview as he denied his responsibility of the accident. He claimed that he did not realise that he caused a tragedy and he went home but did not escape. The TV interview came after the prosecution ordered the detention of the driver, as he was already under investigation.

Meanwhile, the investigation revealed that the driver was suspended from work for six months before the accident due to his addiction to drugs. This shed light over how the Egyptian National Railways (ENR) chooses its workers and drivers and how qualified they are to be responsible for people’s lives.

The CCTV footage circulated online before being removed showed some victims on fire, running away from the station platform. It further showed people trying to rescue those suffering with water and blankets as well as with their own clothes.

The Ramsis station, the main and largest station in the country, is one of the most overcrowded places in Egypt. It was stunning that it lacks any safety, fire fighting system or trained rescue workers at the station for similar accidents.

Millions of Egyptians, including students and workers of low and average income, depend daily on the railway, which is the focal point between the country’s governorates. According to Arafat, more than 300 million commuters use Egypt’s railways every year.

The railway network is considered safer than other means of transportation in Egypt, especially since car and bus accidents on highways and main roads occur almost every day.

Rundown railways

Egyptian successive governments repeatedly vowed to develop and reform the country’s crumbling railway sector. However, nothing has changed. According to official figures, the ENR budget of 2018/19 is EGP 20.6bn, decreasing from EGP 21.3bn in 2015/16.

The country’s railways have suffered for a long time from lacking safety standards. Based on an official statement by the ENR and the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics in 2017, about 12,326 rail accidents took place from 2006 to 2017.

The Cairo station’s accident is the deadliest since August 2017, when 42 passengers, including women and children, were killed, and over 100 others were wounded after a train coming from Cairo and another coming from Port Said collided in the Khurshid area in Alexandria.

In 2012, 52 students were killed and 13 others were wounded when a train crashed into a school bus in Asyut governorate.

Egypt’s deadliest railway accident ever was in 2002, when a fire swept through an overcrowded train along a line south of Cairo, killing more than 370 people.

They were going to a wedding

A family consisting of five members, the mother, Nahed Ismael, 39, the father, Hisham Fathy,42, two children, Marwa and Mohamed, aged 15 and 6, as well as Fathy’s sister (could not reach her first name), were among the victims of the Cairo station’s accident. 

“They have mistaken their buffer stop. They were supposed to wait at buffer stop number 4 to head to Alexandria,” Khaled Abdel Rahman, Nahed’s brother-in-law told the Daily News Egypt.

The family were heading to the coastal city to attend a wedding. The two children died. Fathy’s sister died on Friday of her injuries, while Nahed and her husband are still in intensive care at two separate hospitals.

Fathy’s sister, 21, was a student at the Nursing Institute. “We buried the two children and will bury Fathy’s sister on Friday,” Abdel Rahman said. 

“We do not know what happened. Nahed and her husband are still in intensive care. We don’t know their condition or how severe their injuries are,” Abdel Rahman said, adding that they only visited them once on the day of the accident. Since then visits have not been allowed.   

All must be held accountable

“There is neglect, complacency, and recklessness. There is no proficiency or seriousness and there is no follow-up of workers and drivers which is the most significant responsibility. All these are ENR wrongdoings,” Ibrahim Mabrouk, a professor of transport engineering at Al-Azhar University in Cairo told DNE.

Mabrouk asserted the need for continued maintenance of trains and locomotives. “All of ENR officials have to be held accountable for their responsibility concerning the accident. All are responsible,” Mabrouk added.

Furthermore, Mabrouk argued that the only option for developing the railway sector and eliminating repeated accidents is through partnering with the private sector.

“The private sector will develop the railway sector in Egypt, establish new lines, stations, and import new trains, which will lead to improved services,” Mabrouk noted.

Moreover, Mabrouk demonstrated that the private sector will solve all railways problems that could not be tackled over long years, noting that it will improve the service without raising its cost.

“In Japan, the government could not run the railways sector, so it partnered with private companies,” Mabrouk said, adding, “In Tokyo, there are 12 railway companies which give the government half on the ticket and improve railways.”

All ENR workers have to be trained on safety measures and crisis management, Mabrouk said. He asserted the need to depend on advanced technical systems which remotely control the speed of trains when the permissible speed is exceeded.

Over and above, Mabrouk cited that if the government does not want to partner with the private sector, it could form a supreme council consisting of ENR senior officials, representatives of ministries of health, justice, interior, and headed by the prime minister. This council shall be responsible for the security and safety of the railway sector, he pointed out.

The successive government kept saying that they take loans aiming to improve the service but nothing was improved or developed, Mabrouk maintained.    

In July 2015, the government raised train ticket prices with EGP 20 for first class and EGP 10 for second class. Fears of new raises this year have increased as the government is gearing up to completely end fuel subsidies in July 2019.

Arafat said earlier in 2017 that Egypt needs EGP 45bn to develop the railway infrastructure, purchase new locomotives, and a railway electrification system.

In addition, Arafat previously announced that the ENR income does not exceed EGP 2bn, while its operating expenses are over EGP 4bn or 5bn.

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Algeria joins post-Arab Spring fury Tue, 26 Feb 2019 08:30:15 +0000 Bouteflika announced his bid for fifth term

The post Algeria joins post-Arab Spring fury appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Protesters chanting “No for Bouteflika” and “No for fifth term” spread across different Algerian cities over the last week against President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term despite his deteriorating health condition.

The protesters also chanted against Saeed Bouteflika, the younger brother of the Algerian president, who acts currently as his adviser, as well as the Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and called for his dismissal.

Commenting on the controversy sparked by Bouteflika’s announcement in the country and prompted Algerians to take to the streets, Ouyahia said on Monday that “ballots” would determine the fate of Bouteflika’s fifth term.

“We can confirm that the presidential election is the suitable tool by which the people can choose who fits the position and reject whoever they do not want,’ he added.

Earlier in February, President Bouteflika announced his intention to run for a fifth term in the upcoming elections scheduled in April.

“Of course, my physical strength is no longer the same as it was in the past. This is something that I have never hidden from the people, but, my intense desire to serve the country has never faded,” said Bouteflika in a letter.

His statement did not convince many of his people, prompting them to stage public protests. Moreover, the Algerian opposition said there is no evidence that Bouteflika’s health condition can enable him to lead the country, noting that Algeria is ruled now by the president’s advisers. Meanwhile, the state authorities affirmed they control the situation, despite Bouteflika’s rare public appearances.

Bouteflika, who was recently wheelchaired, has been ruling Algeria since 1999. He always address the people via video conference, and rarely seen in public after suffering a brain stroke in 2013.

Last Thursday, Algerian authorities announced that the president, 82, will travel to Switzerland on Sunday for medical checks.

The demonstrations, led mainly by youth, marched to the presidential palace, but were dispersed by security forces using teargas, and the protesters responded by throwing stones at the forces.

These protests were the largest in Algeria since 2001. Despite intensive security measures in Algiers, but calls to protest against Bouteflika’s presidential candidacy succeeded to attract thousands of citizens after opposition political parties called for marches outside the capital. Security forces have been actively restricting the movements of the protesters, blocking their roads, and dispersing gatherings.

The demonstrators filled the capital, in addition to at least five other cities, including Oran, Tizi Ouzou, Bejaia, Annaba, and Setif.

In June 2018, a national movement was established to oppose Bouteflika’s bid for fifth term, including groups of intellectuals, opposition parties, activists, journalists, and lawyers.

The protests spread across the country and with continuous coverage on social media platforms, despite previous warning by preachers during Friday prayers of violence. A total of 41 protesters were detained last Friday, according to the state news agency APS.

Anti-Bouteflika protests were also reported in Paris, as hundreds from the Algerian diaspora gathered in solidarity with demonstrators in the home country.

Meanwhile, other Algerian people believe that Bouteflika still has the ability to rule the country. 

The National Liberation Front (FLN), which has the parliamentary majority, the National Rally for Democracy (NDA), led by the prime minister, and other parties as well as labour unions supported Bouteflika in the election.

Observers expect Bouteflika to win the presidency for the fifth time being supported by two major parties amid the division of opposition.

The Rally for Algerian Hope Party warned against “terrorism and foreign interference” following the Friday protests.

Other candidates

A large number of potential candidates announced running the Algerian presidential election in April. A total of 186 people presented their candidacy applications, almost the double of the potential candidates in the last Algerian election in 2014.

The retired military general, Ali Ghadiri, 64, was the first to announce his candidacy for the Algerian presidential election.

In the upcoming election, the Movement for the Society of Peace nominated its leader, Abdul Razzaq Mikri, to run for the president, Mikri said previously that Bouteflika’s deteriorating health condition would not allow him to perform his duties.

Reactions and media coverage

Journalists working in state media outlets denounced their editor-in-chiefs’ orders not to cover the marches.

Moreover, the Head of the Algeria’s state-owned public radio on Saturday resigned from her post for not being able to cover the Friday demonstrations.

Government television channels and radio stations also ignored rallies and protests in which thousands participated in different parts of the country, especially in Algiers, where all the media outlets are based.

The Western countries’ position from Bouteflika’s bid for a fifth term and protests was not clear, except the US State Department that issued a warning over the demonstrations. Also, no comment has been issued by the European Union or any member states on the demonstrations in Algeria.

Algeria’s economic situation

Algeria has joined the latest wave of collective dissent that started late 2018 in Tunisia and Sudan. Algeria is a major gas supplier to Europe and a US ally in the war against Islamic militants in the Sahel region of North Africa. Strikes and protests over social and economic grievances are frequent in Algeria, but have generally been localised, rather than touching on national politics.

A study conducted by the International Crisis Group in November 2018 warned that Algeria could face an economic crisis by 2019, if immediate economic reforms were not carried out.

Algeria decided at the end of 2017 to replace external borrowing with internal loans from the Central Bank of Alegria to fill the budget deficit over five years, which experts considered an open door to increase inflation.

“In the absence of reforms, an economic crisis could hit the country by 2019, fuelling the tension surrounding the upcoming presidential election,” the study said. Also, more than a quarter of Algerians are under the age of 30 and unemployed, according to official figures. Many people feel discontent with an oligarchy made up of veteran fighters from Algeria’s 1954-62 independence war with France.

There was a major street unrest in Algeria during the 2011 Arab uprisings that toppled the rulers of North African neighbours Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. But the Algerian security forces managed to contain it. Meanwhile, the economy of Algerian was severely affected due to lower oil prices.

Throughout the 2000s, Bouteflika’s government embarked on an ambitious investment drive to build the economy off the back of the country’s large oil and gas revenue and mineral resources. However, after 20 years in power and with a country still heavily reliant on natural resources, many have accused the government of corruption, nepotism, and failing to ensure the boom years improved the lives of ordinary people.

Algerians have bitter memories of a decade of civil war in the 1990s in which 200,000 people were killed. The war was triggered after the army cancelled an election that Islamists were poised to win in 1991.

The post Algeria joins post-Arab Spring fury appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Egyptian-Kuwaiti cooperation bonds remain robust Mon, 25 Feb 2019 07:00:54 +0000 There are 1,258 Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt with $3.67bn investments, says GAFI

The post Egyptian-Kuwaiti cooperation bonds remain robust appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Kuwait has always been a supportive country to Egypt starting from the 1967 aggression, and through the October War in 1973 and the 30 June revolution in 2013 when the Emir of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad, affirmed that Kuwait will provide full support to Egypt at political and economic levels.

Kuwait also supported the Egyptian economy with a $2bn deposit at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) in March 2015, during the Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Kuwait has been playing a mediation role in resolving the latest Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) crisis, involving Qatar on one side, and Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt on the other side.

On 5 June 2017, Egypt and its Arab allies cut all diplomatic relations with Qatar. They issued an ultimatum of 13 demands that Qatar must fulfill to restore ties.

Marking Kuwait’s National Day on 25 February, Daily News Egypt sheds light on major aspects of Egypt-Kuwait relations.

Economic cooperation

There are 1,258 Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt with total investments of $3.67bn in the period between 1970 until the end of January 2019, according to exclusive statistics by the General Authority for Investments and Free Zones (GAFI) that Daily News Egypt got upon request.

The services sector accounts for the largest share of Kuwaiti companies in Egypt up to 383 companies with total investments $240.99m.

The construction sector comes second with 286 Kuwaiti companies and investments of $688.44m, followed by the industrial sector with 219 firms investing $749.96m. Although Egypts financial attracts the lowest number of Kuwaiti firms, it accounts the largest value of investments of $1.3bn.

The Kuwaiti firms operating in Egypt offer a total of 46,809 job opportunities, according to GAFI, of which the industrial sector has the largest share of 13,869 job opportunities.

Kuwaiti investments in Egypt are relatively good, however, they don’t match the two countries’ size in the region, economic expert Youmn El-Hamakki told Daily News Egypt, adding that both countries should develop a new strategy for boosting bilateral economic cooperation, namely in investments and trade.

The value of trade exchange between Egypt and Kuwait reached $1.74bn in 2017, of which $363m of non-petroleum products, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Amr Nassar, said on 7 November 2018.

Kuwait is one of the most important trade partners to Egypt as it is the third largest Arab partner to the country following the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, the minister noted.

The total trade exchange between Egypt and Kuwait in the period from July to September 2018 amounted at $503.8m, including $476.7m of Egyptian imports and about $27.1m of Egyptian exports, according to the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) latest report.

The Kuwaiti Minister of Commerce and Industry, Khalid Al-Rowdan, stressed that Kuwaiti investors are willing to increase their investments in Egypt, following a meeting with Nassar in November 2018.

In March 2018, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, Sahar Nasr, and the Director General of Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Abdulwahab Al-Bader, signed five agreements with a total value of KWD 86.1m ($287m/ EGP 5bn), within the framework of developing Sinai.

There are promising opportunities for boosting the joint economic relations with Kuwait especially in the stock market and services sector. Economic tie can be better than its current level,” El-Hamakki said.

Moreover, since 30 June 2013, Kuwait’s economic support to Egypt has reached about $4bn, of which $2bn was provided as a deposit in the CBE to back Egyptian international reserves, $1bn as petroleum aid, and $1bn as a non-refundable grant.

Political aspects

“Kuwait will never let Egypt down,” Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad said during the 30th June revolution. He also said to the former interim president Adly Mansour, “Your brothers fully support you.”

The Kuwaiti emir participated in swearing-in ceremony of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, which reflected the keenness of the Gulf state on bolstering the new Egyptian regime. Then, Al-Sisi received the Kuwaiti emir at the presidential palace. The Egyptian president visited Kuwait later and was received by Sheikh Al-Sabah on 7 May 2017.

The two sides discussed strengthening the brotherly relations between the two countries at all levels and extending the horizons of bilateral cooperation to serve their common interests. They also discussed ways to support the Arab relations and other issues of mutual interest.

Ambassador Rakha Ahmed, former assistant of Egypt’s foreign affairs minister, said that since 2013, the political cooperation with Kuwait is witnessing a remarkable improvement, adding that the main characteristic for this relation is the mutual respect.

Discussing the regional crisis, Ahmed said Kuwait is playing an important role in mediation between Arab countries and Qatar.

We have to give Kuwait the full chance to solve the crisis between Arab countries and Qatar,” he further added.

Moreover, Kuwait backed Egypt during the 1967 aggression and the October War in 1973. It was one of the first Arab countries to send its armed forces to assist Egypt in the Sinai liberation war. It sent a full brigade, called “Yarmouk Brigade”, which remained in Egypt until the end of the war, according to the State Information Service (SIS).

Military activities

The Egyptian army participated in defending Kuwait against the Iraqi aggression in 1990.

The Kuwaiti-Egyptian military relations flourished recently witnessing frequent joint drills and exercises.

The Egyptian and Kuwaiti military institutes have regular student exchange programmes to exchange experiences, visions, and ideas in the military field.

Al-Sisi asserted in several occasions that maintaining the security of the Gulf States, including Kuwait, is an unquestionable priority for Egypt and that Egypt will do its best to defend and secure its brotherly Gulf countries against any kind of aggression.

Mutual visits

Leaders and senior officials of both countries exchange visits frequently to discuss the Arab issues and strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

First Deputy of Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kuwait, Sheikh Sabah Al-Khalid Al-Hamad Al-Sabah, paid three visits to Egypt, in February 2016 as well as July and August 2017. He met with Al-Sisi and tackled the latest developments of a number of regional issues, on top of which was the Gulf crisis.

The Kuwaiti Minister of Justice, Awqaf, and Islamic Affairs, Yacoub Abdul Mohsen Al-Sanea, also visited Egypt on 11 May 2016 and was received by the Egyptian president.

Al-Sisi and the Kuwaiti emir also met frequently to discuss ways of boosting bilateral relations.

Speaker of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, Marzouq Al-Ghanim, visited Egypt on 3 January 2016 when he discussed strengthening the bilateral parliamentary relations.

Chief of General Staff of the Kuwait Army, Mohammed Ahmed Al-Khader, visited Egypt on 17 April 2017. The two sides discussed military cooperation between the armed forces of the brotherly countries and the efforts exerted to eradicate terrorism and achieve security and stability in the region.

On 23 April 2017, Pope Twadros II visited Kuwait and met with the Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah, the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad, the National Assembly Speaker Marzouq Al-Ghanim, Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak, and a number of Kuwaiti officials and dignitaries.

Cultural relations

Cultural relations between Egypt and Kuwait began even before the political and economic relations. A student mission from Al-Mubarakiya school was sent to study in Egypt’s Al-Azhar in 1942.

Ambassador Rakha Ahmed noted that there are a large Egyptian community in Kuwait. “I think there are about 800,000 Egyptians living in Kuwait. However, the accidents they face recently are individual cases,” he mentioned.

Six Egyptians including two brothers were killed and five Kuwaitis were injured in January after a four-wheel car driven by a Kuwaiti family and a taxi carrying Egyptian expats crashed into each other.

Egypt’s official news agency reported in January that Kuwaiti security authorities are trying to reach witnesses to the incident, to disclose its circumstances. Kuwaiti MP Safa Al-Hashem attacked the Egyptians working in Kuwait, but she was slammed in Kuwait and Egypt.

Egypt’s Minister of Immigration and Egyptian Expats’ Affairs, Nabila Makram, responded to the attack, saying, “The dignity of Egyptian citizens and Egyptian women in specific is a red line. However, we respect Kuwaiti authorities and judiciary.”

History behind Kuwait’s National Day

The history behind Kuwait’s National Day is intertwined with its friendship with the British when it became its protectorate in 1897. The British protected the country against the Turkish invasion in the same year.

The year 1961 also witnessed the British totally gave Kuwait the independence it deserves. The independence of Kuwait from British rule was eyed upon by the Iraq government during that time. However, the invasion was resisted both by the country and the British. The combined movement by both countries made way for the declaration of independence.

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Uniform for teachers: fatuous, overt disregard to essential requirements Sun, 24 Feb 2019 10:00:49 +0000 ‘Unfortunately, teachers are poor, desperate, frustrated over their conditions,’ says researcher

The post Uniform for teachers: fatuous, overt disregard to essential requirements appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

A suggestion by a local official to apply a uniform on all teachers, males and females, brought different reactions to the surface, among tutors who criticised what they viewed as the state’s indifference to their essential and real requirements.

Last week, the Governor of the New Valley, Mohamed Al-Zamlout, launched a new initiative to obligate teachers and administrative officers of the education ministry at the governate to have a uniform on.

The initiative, which has already come into effect at some schools of the governate, drew criticism among teachers across the country who wondered about the significance of such initiative, and who will also pay for such an outfit.

Al-Zamlout argued that the costume will restore the appreciation and respect of teachers. “It is an initiative suggested by the governate,” Al-Zamlout said in press statements.

He added that the initiatives came after a meeting with some teachers in the governate. “We discussed a uniform for tutors, and they chose grey. However, the outfit will only be inside the school.”

Al-Zamlout defended the idea, arguing that it aims to allow schools to be more beautiful and organised, as well as “eliminating social inequalities between teachers.”

On social media, the initiative drew considerate attention, as users, not only including teachers, criticised and mocked it. They censured the priorities of the ministry of education and its plans to improve the conditions of teachers. However, the Minister of education, Tarek Shawki, denied that the ministry launched that initiative, yet he praised it.

Shawki denounced the criticism and sarcasm directed at the initiative on his Facebook account. He asserted the ministry’s determination to cooperate in order to address all the reform attempts, as well as to develop new ideas through holding positive dialogue.

Meanwhile, Twitter users expressed their opposition over the last few days. Some attached ironic photos and mocked the uniform. Some photos were circulated featuring teachers wearing a grey coat at their schools, users said that these photos were taken in schools of the New Valley governorate. “Is this what you call developing?’ one tweeted. While another said, “We live in a ridiculous film.”


According to a 2018 report of the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, the number of teachers reached 1.162 million during 2016/17, compared to 1.160 million in 2015/16.

Egyptian teachers have been reporting facing different challenges during their work inside public schools. They demand increasing their salaries and bonuses. They kept complaining about the overloaded classes which could exceed 100 students in one class.

Marwa Mohamed, a teacher aged 32, said that there are more significant issues that need to be tackled, rather than a suggestion for an outfit for the teachers.

“Overcrowded classrooms are a major challenge. There are more than 100 students in each class. How can we teachers handle this? Additionally, how could students bear such circumstances,” Marwa told Daily News Egypt.

Marwa also mentioned another challenge, as they do not have a permanent health visitor at the school where she works. “There is only one health visitor for every three schools. If a student gets sick or injured, we have to depend on our personal efforts. Either one of us can take them to a nearby hospital, or we eventually call their parents,” Marwa noted.

Marwa started working as a teacher in 2015. She only gets paid EGP 1,400 on a monthly basis. However, Marwa said that she is luckier than her older colleagues. “I know teachers who have been working for 20 years and they only get EGP 2,000 per month,” Marwa explained.

Back to the uniform issue, Marwa revealed that the initiative faces considerate disapproval in her school.” They disagree with such initiative, as they see other things as more important, such as their salaries or schools’ conditions.”

On the other hand, Marwa hailed the ministry’s new curriculum saying that it is better, but she still insisted that the huge numbers of pupils inside each class remains a major challenge and makes their mission, as teachers, more strenuous.

“I have kids who are daily complaining that they are not comfortable with their seating. Sometimes, I offer my chair for them. This is more important to be tackled,” Marwa emphasised.

In September of last year, the education ministry said that in order to eliminate the over crowdedness crisis in public schools, the ministry needs to establish 22,000 classes with the cost of EGP 100bn.

What is the point?

On Facebook groups, teachers launched a hashtag demanding a raise in their salaries which have not increased since 2014, they said.

On the uniform, they rotated in expressing their rejection to the concept itself, alleging that launching such initiative aims to distract them from their essential demands.

Hisham Lotfi, 42, a teacher, wondered if the uniform is to be effectively applied, who will pay for its cost?

“What is the point of a uniform for teachers? Respect? Appreciation? This is not what will give teachers dignity or prestige. What will satisfy them is to be fairly paid for their substantial efforts,” Lotfi told DNE.

Lotfi asserted that teachers need better circumstances in order to excel at doing their job. He added that teachers are not appreciated, neither finically nor morally. “Teachers are the most important sector in the society. They are the ones responsible for educating and schooling generations. They are not less than doctors or police officers,” Lotfi maintained.   

Back to fascist times

Kamal Mughit, an education expert and a researcher at the National Centre for Education Research, said that the initiative is meaningless, noting that its disadvantages are more than its benefits.

“Teachers are not doctors or police or army officers to commit to a uniform. Such initiative only represents a return of the fascist times and the past period,” Mughit informed DNE.

Mughit added that Egyptian teachers suffer from many issues which should be tackled. “Teachers need to get a fair pay and better working conditions in order to do their job more efficiently. Unfortunately, teachers are poor, desperate, and frustrated over their conditions, “Mughit maintained.

Mughit further wondered who will pay for the outfit? will teachers be committed to a specific colour or a specific style? Or they will have the freedom to bring their own clothes based on a chosen colour?

Furthermore, Mughit maintained that the ministry has to pay more attention toward improving the educational system, building new schools to tackle the challenge of overcrowded classes, in addition to developing the curriculum.

“Teachers are not satisfied, and they need to be taken care of,” Mughit concluded.

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Covering ‘sex leaks’: Professional, ethical lapses, law violations Sun, 17 Feb 2019 09:00:17 +0000 ‘Digging into private affairs this far suggests negative deliberate intention to defame, hurt suspects,’ says lawyer

The post Covering ‘sex leaks’: Professional, ethical lapses, law violations appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Over the last two weeks, a number of Egyptian newspapers and websites reportedly violated criminal, press and media laws, constitution and international agreements during their coverage of the apprehension of two young actresses and a well-known director and MP.

The two actresses were arrested after their appearance with the director in a ‘personal sex video’ taken in a house and rapidly leaked on social media and porn websites.

Prosecution renewed last week the detention of the two women for 15 days pending investigations over charges including ‘publishing pornographic content’ and ‘engaging in debauchery.’

From the first day of apprehension, some media reports included revealing the full names of the defendants, their addresses, family members, and other personal information as well as screenshots from the videos.

Some media outlets interviewed neighbours of the two women, digging further into their personal lives. Others went to interview one of the two women while she was strongly, trying while in tears, to defend her acts. The news reports came with catchy headlines and thrilling structures to ensure more views and website traffic.

On social media, the issue was trending for a while as people were divided into two viewpoints. The first criticised the two women’s acts and justified defaming them. The other expressed their sympathy with them, denouncing what they described as an “organised campaign against a political opponent,” arguing that only women pay the price of political conflicts.

Media gag

Last week, the Prosecutor-General, Nabil Sadek, issued a media gag on media outlets covering the case until investigations are concluded. Sadek also requested the blocking of websites which publish or broadcast ‘indecent’ photos, videos or recordings. 

Earlier, Lawyer Amr Abdel Salam filed a request of banning publishing in the same case. Salam said in his request that some media ‘violated public morality, and published personal photos, names, and addresses of suspects in a way which might harm their reputation.’

Laws, constitutional violations

Personal life is protected by local and international laws, as no one has the right to intervene in others’ personal affairs and matters inside closed houses.

Article No 20 of the Egyptian Press and Media Law bans the exposure of the private life of citizens, public servants, and public prosecutors at any broadcasting or publishing media, except for matters related to their work, and only when publishing is intended to serve the public interest.

Meanwhile, article No 21 stipulates that journalists and media are prohibited from publishing anything that could affect the stances of those who are being investigated or trialled. If media commits such act it might be banned.

According to article No 101 of the same law, editors-in-chief or managing editors who violate articles No 21, 22, shall be fined not less than EGP 50,000 and not more than EGP 100,000.

Regarding the Egyptian Criminal Code, article 309 stipulates that ‘a penalty of detention for a period not exceeding one year shall be inflicted on whoever encroaches upon the inviolability of a citizen’s private life by committing one of the following acts in other than the cases legally authorised or without the consent of the victim.’ The acts include: ‘eavesdropping, recording or transmitting via any instrument whatever its kind talks have taken place in a private place or on the telephone. The second act is to spot, transmit a picture of a person in a private place.’

The Egyptian Constitution also secures citizens’ private lives. Article 99 on ‘Violation of personal freedom’ stipulates “that any assault on the personal freedoms or sanctity of the life of citizens, along with other general rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the law, is a crime with no statute of limitations for both civil and criminal proceedings. The injured party may file a criminal suit directly.”

Furthermore, according to article No 12 of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”


Ehab Sallam, a veteran lawyer and expert in media legislation, described some media coverage on video leaks as “crimes and violations which go against the country’s criminal laws.”

“There are several defects which not only go against media ethics or standards, but they also violate laws through publishing names, photos, and personal affairs of people under an investigation,” Sallam told Daily News Egypt.

Sallam maintained that those violations represent crimes according to the Egyptian Criminal Law, and they require punishment. “They represent offences of insult and slander and even defamation.” 

Furthermore, Sallam said that articles 302,306,309 of the Criminal Law protect people’s private lives and impose penalties against whoever violates the laws.

“There is a huge cocktail of violations in the media’s coverage of the issue. However, it is just a reflection of our reality regarding the media standards and legal controls,” Sallam noted.

Moreover, Sallam maintained that media institutions are familiar with all the aforementioned laws, however, violations have not stopped. “It became a normalised act. There is no journalist or media institution that does not know those laws and ethics. Instead, there is a kind of ‘flaunting’ that no one will punish them if they commit such acts.”

Meanwhile, Sallam noted that ‘digging’ this far into private affairs of the defendants only suggests that there is “a negative deliberate intention,” aimed to “defame” and hurt the suspects or their families.

Additionally, Sallam maintained that no one has the right to judge other people, especially if they are subjected to investigations. “Interviewing neighbours and publishing photos of family members of the two women only included new parties in the case,” Sallam said, adding that suspects and their families have the right to file a lawsuit against whoever published their personal affairs. “What is the sister’s fault? brother or parent to be featured in a case they have nothing to do with? Nothing!” Sallam exclaimed.

On the other hand, Yasser Abdel-Aziz, a media expert, agreed that the video circulated on the internet contains personal acts. He said that rules allow publishing the case in the media if it proved that a public figure or servant was involved in the acts because in this case, private life would intersect with the public interest. This shall exclude publishing ‘pornographic’ scenes, he informed DNE.

Abdel-Aziz added that media, in such cases, should not expand in the suspects’ details, and only point out the details of the case and investigation.

Furthermore, Abdel-Aziz maintained the need to protect the privacy of ordinary people involved in such cases. “Such violation for their personal life by publishing their photos and names has no justification, as it does not affect the public interest.”

Therefore, Abdel-Aziz said that the prosecution’s media gag is a right decision and the media must commit to it.

Has nothing to do with journalism

Laila Abdel-Meguid, mass communication professor at Cairo University, said that she opposed covering such cases because they are connected to private life.

Abdel-Meguid asserted that the media has to focus on covering the investigation, and not go into personal details. “We have nothing to do with personal details. Publishing such information will only affect the investigations and will harm the lives of people involved in the case,” Abdel-Meguid told DNE.

Abdel-Meguid mentioned that similar cases took place in the past and defendants were proved not to be guilty, however, the media at that time did not stop publishing in a way that affected them. “This has nothing to do with journalism, and goes against human rights and morals,” Abdel-Meguid said.

“Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty,” Abdel-Meguid said. “This requires avoiding publishing personal details including the names until there is a final court rule.”

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Iran’s 40th revolution anniversary: Islamic Republic tired but surviving Sun, 10 Feb 2019 10:30:30 +0000 ‘Country devastated by 40 years of Islamic rule, no wonder its people demand regime’s overthrow,’ says analyst 

The post Iran’s 40th revolution anniversary: Islamic Republic tired but surviving appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Forty years ago, the Shiite opposition leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, fronted an Islamic Revolution which toppled the US-backed Iran’s Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, a major political shift which replaced Tehran’s position from a US alley to a resentful enemy.

The Islamic revolution replaced the authoritarian monarchy by a repressive theocracy which imposed strict Islamic rules on people’s daily lives, especially women, by forcing them to put headscarves. However, in recent years, many Iranian women rebelled against the laws and started wearing their headscarves more loosely.

Over several months during 1978-1979, crowds of Iranians from diverse segments, including intellectuals, liberals, and Islamists swept the streets while calling for freedom, social justice, and independence as well as an end to the US-backed Shah’s long dictatorship. Demonstrators repeated a memorial slogan which stated “Down with America.”

On the revolution’s 40th anniversary on Friday, the supreme Iranian leader, Ali Khamenei, renewed the revolution’s slogan, maintaining that “Down with America” means a huge opposition to the US President Donald Trump, as long as he continues his hostile policies against Tehran.

“Down with America means death to Trump, to the National Security Adviser, John Bolton, and to the Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. It means death to American rulers,” Khamenei said.

Although the revolution carried hopes of freedom as well as political and economic changes which could bring a better life for all people, Iranians feel mournful as the revolution did not achieve their demands, instead it disappointed them. Therefore, over the last four decades, Iran witnessed three major unrests. 

Iranians keep protesting 

Last year, hundreds or maybe thousands of protesters swept the streets of the capital Tehran and other cities against the weak economy and the harsh Islamic rules. They shouted jarring slogans against Islamic leaders and their policies. At least 25 people were killed in the unrest, and thousands were arrested.

Earlier in December 2017, a wave of protests against headscarf laws took place. Dozens were arrested and a woman who took off her headscarf in public was sentenced for two years in prison.

Meanwhile, in 2009, the streets of the Iranian capital were crowded in one of the largest demonstrations in the country over a rise in prices and corruption. Demonstrators also accused the hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of rigging the presidential elections.

In response, the Iranian authorities closed universities in Tehran, blocked the transmissions of cell phones, and text-messaging services, as well as the access to Facebook and some other websites. Additionally, the Revolutionary Guard opened fire against the demonstrators to kill dozens of individuals, and arrested several others.

Earlier in 1999, students at Tehran University protested against closing down the newspaper Salam. More than 1,000 students were arrested at that time.

Overthrow of regime

“Iran has been devastated by 40 years of the Islamic Republic’s rule. Its environment has been severely damaged and its economy is near collapse,” Alireza Nader, founder and CEO of the New Iran research group, told the Daily News Egypt (DNE). “No wonder that more and more Iranians are demanding a complete overthrow of the regime,” he added. 

Nader pointed out that “the Islamic Republic has also been horrid for the people of the Middle East, especially Syria, but also for Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.”

“Iran will only live in peace with its neighbours, the US, and the entire world if it has a democratic and a secular government,” Nader noted.

Meanwhile, Nader maintained, “the best way for the international community to achieve this is through strong support for the Iranian people’s right to self-determination.”

Tired but surviving

Other analysts believe that Iran has changed a lot over the last four decades, as its foreign policy is no longer about instigating revolutions.

“The Islamic Republic is tired but surviving. It is not near collapse like many US policymakers claim, rather it is a very different Islamic Republic than the one present 40 years ago,” Dina Esfandiary, an international security fellow at the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the John F Kennedy School, Harvard University told DNE.

Esfandiary added, “Tehran’s foreign policy is no longer about exporting the revolution, but rather a relatively pragmatic one designed to ensure its security and the safety of its borders.”

The US-Iran relations

In 1980, a year after the toppling of the Iran Shah, the US cut its ties with Tehran, seized its assets, and banned most of the trade with the Islamic state. Four years later, Washington listed Tehran as a state sponsor of terrorism, as well as imposed oil and trade sanctions against Tehran over its alleged sponsorship of terrorism in the Middle East region.

Ahead of the US invasion to Iraq, President George Bush cited Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as “axis of evil”, warning of the expansion of missiles which are being developed in the three countries.

In 2010, the UN Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme.

Trump and the Iran nuclear deal

Washington and its allies accuse Tehran of enhancing its missile capabilities and its military presence in the Middle East, as well as of fuelling the sectarian conflicts in the region.

The US keeps persuading the UN to hold Tehran accountable for its interference in the wars in Yemen and Syria. However, Iran kept insisting that its weaponry is merely for defensive purposes.

In May 2018, the US President Donald Trump unsurprisingly abandoned the Iran nuclear deal which was reached in the era of his predecessor Barack Obama, announcing that economic sanctions against Tehran will be reinstated.

The 2015 landmark agreement, titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, was reached by Iran, China, the US, the UK, France, Russia, and Germany, to mark the end of the 12-year deadlock over Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Iran’s influence in the Middle East

Iran’s power spreads to several parts in the world. Over the past four decades, Iran spread its influence in the Middle East, supporting the surviving of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. As for Iraq, Tehran’s policies were largely successful, giving it unprecedented influence there.

In Syria, Iran has deployed hundreds of troops in order to support Al-Assad’s activities in the civil war which erupted nearly seven years ago. Iran’s military presence in Syria alarmed Israel the most, leading to dozens of Israeli strikes against suspected Iranian and Hezbollah weapons’ depots.

Such strikes, rarely confirmed by Israel, seek to prevent any strategic Iranian military presence across Syria, and in order to keep their forces away from the Golan Heights Armistice border.

In Yemen, Iran’s influence is growing as it is supporting the Houthi rebels who took control of the country at the start of 2015 by ousting the Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.

In response, Saudi Arabia formed a coalition, which is backed by the US and the UK, and several other countries including the UAE, Egypt, and Sudan with the aim of eliminating the Iranian influence in the region, as well as to restore Yemen’s internationally recognised government to power.

Furthermore, Iran is believed to provide the Houthis with arms and other technical assistance. In 2018, the UN announced in a report that two launch units for anti-tank guided missiles which were found in Yemen, appeared to be built in Iran during 2016 and 2017.

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What was fate of Egyptian Islamist groups in 2018? Wed, 06 Feb 2019 09:00:49 +0000 The coalition of Islamist parties and groups which took place in 2012 which included the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nour Salafist Party, and other Islamist parties, was divided and broken after the forced ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. This led to the division of the Islamist movement into two groups, those …

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The coalition of Islamist parties and groups which took place in 2012 which included the Muslim Brotherhood, the Nour Salafist Party, and other Islamist parties, was divided and broken after the forced ouster of former Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013. This led to the division of the Islamist movement into two groups, those who are for Morsi, and those who are against.

The first team included a coalition of Islamist parties which gathered all Islamist parties under the banner of the Brotherhood, while the second included Al-Nour Party. The article will examine what happened to these two coalitions since the 2013.

The Brotherhood camp and the National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy

The first coalition which called itself The National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy, defended Morsi and called for his return and demanded that security forces be held accountable for violence committed since the ouster of the Brotherhood-affiliated president. However, from 2013 to 2015, the alliance was weakened both by legal and physical manoeuvres by the government, where it banned several of the parties in it, and cracked down on its members and its activities. Eventually, as the years passed, and as hundreds of them were arrested, their activities became very rare, and their organisational capacity became null.  Inside this coalition, four parties will be examined.

One of this coalition’s main pillars was the Brotherhood’s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) which was banned and had all its assets confiscated.

The Brotherhood itself was labelled a terrorist organisation in 2013, following a court decision that banned the group, thus making it accountable under Article 86 of the Egyptian penal code.

Furthermore, the government banned all the movement’s activities and froze all its assets, along with the assets of its members, as the government accused the movement of responsibility for the attacks which targeted security forces in the past five years, since the ouster of Morsi.

In February 2015, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi issued a decree approving a law on terrorist entities, according to which the general prosecution is tasked with creating a list with the names of terrorist entities and a list with the names of people in or associated with terrorist entities. According to the law, one or more of the districts of the Cairo Appeals Court must consider the names of the enlisted entities or individuals within seven days of the initial request.

Many members of the outlawed group have been laid off from various syndicates, charity groups, and mosques, and had their assets frozen. Currently, belonging to the group or indicating support to it is considered a crime.

Also, members include the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood Mohamed Badie, prominent leader in the Freedom and Justice Party, Mohamed Al-Beltagy, former head of the Parliament Saad El-Katatny, as well as other members in the Supreme Guide Bureau. Hundreds of the group’s members are currently imprisoned and are standing trial in dozens of cases, mostly related to violence, inciting sectarianism, and terrorism.

In October 2018, Al-Sisi said that the Brotherhood will have no potential role in the Egyptian political scene during his presidency, stressing that he believes that the Egyptian people will not accept the return of the Brotherhood.

Al-Sisi’s statements came after the Brotherhood presented in April of the same year an initiative for a proposed national reconciliation calling for a fresh presidential election describing it as “a way-out of the country’s lingering political crisis.”

“The best way-out of this dark tunnel is the return of President Morsi to power to chair a coalition government agreed upon by national powers for a specific and sufficient period of time to prepare the country for a fair election supervised by an independent judicial entity…without exclusion of any party,” the group said.

Since the ouster of the group, the government has not directly or openly proposed any reconciliation initiatives.

Several reconciliation initiatives have been proposed by prominent politicians such as Abdel Moneim Abul Fotouh, who proposed holding a referendum to gauge approvals of the roadmap, and Mohamed Selim Al-Awwa who proposed the appointment of a new prime minister who is ‘everyone approves of’ and has the president’s powers.

Another two Islamist parties, Al-Wasat and Al-Watan, withdrew from The National Alliance for Supporting Legitimacy in 2014 and 2015. Both parties denied not to take part in any future elections, and have been inactive ever since, in an attempt to build a more diverse and wide umbrella to ensure national reconciliation, and a successful transition to end all disputes in the political scene.

The last party in this list is the Building and Development Party, the political faction of Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya group. In 2018, the party and the group both suffered a decisive blow when in November 2018, Egyptian authorities added 164 leaders and members of the group to the country’s designated terror lists for five years. It included Mohammed Shawki Al-Islambouli, brother of Khalid Al-Islambouli, the assassin of the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, as well as Tariq Al-Zomor and Assem Abdel Majid. State media reported at the time that, the court said that the decision came after “the disclosure of attempts by the leaders of the group to revive its terror activities.”

Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya shifted from militancy in 1996 after making ideological revisions and reaching a conclusion to stop considering the state as an enemy. During the 1980s and 1990s, the group entered a bloody conflict with the state, leading to the death of dozens of security forces, citizens, and group members.

After the revision, the group began preaching and performing social works in Upper Egypt and impoverished areas of Cairo and Giza. After the 25 January Revolution, they invaded the political scene through a political party called the Building and Development Party.

The latest activity of the party has been calling for ending the state of violence in the Sinai Peninsula, by appealing to Al-Azhar, calling for its intervention to adopt this initiative and work on modifying it to reach its goal.

The initiative started with asserting that continued bloodshed in Sinai fuels more vendettas, which will incite more conflict and heavy casualties. It also warned against the danger the conflict poses, as it “weakens the first line of defence with the Zionist entity.”

The party similarly warned that the conflict might cause foreign intervention, the expansion of the insurgency to the Delta, a chance for “takfiri” extremist thoughts to rise, and an effect on the economic structure of the country, as well as an effect on the sovereignty of the state. The party said that the reconciliation plan is divided into four steps: containing the crisis, pointing out the problems and solutions, setting a timetable, and forming a resolution.

The first suggested step entails that the militant groups declare a ceasefire starting 25 April, in exchange for the government stopping its military raids, as well as ending distortion campaigns, which allegedly question the patriotism of Sinai locals.

The second step includes dialogue, holding a conference to study the needs and demands of the Sinai residents, ending the state of emergency, limiting strict security operations, and freeing detainees who are not involved in terrorism-related cases. Finally, it entailed the return of deported civilians, both Muslims and Christians.

The third step includes dropping charges against Sinai civilians, positioning a moral code for the press when handling the situation in Sinai, and putting a development plan for the region.

As for the fourth and last step, it entails forming a national council from among the Sinai locals, which would announce the names of Sinai locals to be pardoned by the state and to place guarantees to the conflicting sides to remain in peace.

The party ended the proposal by calling on various parties, state institutions, and personnel to discuss this initiative for the common good of the nation.

Al-Nour Party and returning to pre-2011 roles

The second coalition was the Al-Nour Party, which has been a  strong supporter of the current regime, and has been remained untouched as it continue to back the government of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, making it the only party to survive the government crackdown on Islamist parties.

Al-Nour Party is the only major Islamist party that has actively participated in the transition following former president Morsi’s ouster, and was a part of the process of redrafting the constitution passed in 2012.

Furthermore, Al-Nour Party, which won the second most seats in the 2011-12 parliamentary elections, backed former Brotherhood member Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh in the 2012 presidential elections.

In the lead-up to Morsi’s ouster, Al-Nour Party officially remained neutral, refraining from demonstrating with those siding with the Islamist president or those calling for early presidential elections.

Al-Nour Party is the political wing of the conservative preaching group Salafi Da’awa.

In several statements, Al-Nour Party listed an extensive list of issues that it saw as priorities. It demanded that the government have a plan to “achieve national reconciliation and restore cohesion to the Egyptian people by the standards of transitional justice” and to engage the youth in political participation. The party also demanded the implementation of investigations by neutral fact-finding committees for events after 3 July 2013, while formulating ways to respond to armed groups in a just manner.

Al-Nour Party also demanded the “development of police and security apparatus in order to achieve security and discipline within the framework of the law and respect for human rights.” For social issues, Al-Nour Party believes the government would need to face the “crisis of moral chaos in the Egyptian street” and illicit drug trade.

As for foreign policy, the Salafi party outlined seven points for foreign policy that included water security, dealing with Ethiopia’s Grand Renaissance Dam and taking important roles in resolving issues in Palestine and Syria. Al-Nour Party also said it welcomed relations with Iran, but “without opening ports to the Shi’a tide”, which it said posted a threat to Egypt’s national fabric and national security.

In 2014, the party has also announced on that they will vote “yes” in the constitutional referendum and asked the Egyptian people to do so as a way to “take an important step towards fulfilling stability in the country”.

Also in the same year, it announced it would back the then Military Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in the presidential elections. It called on the Egyptian people to “actively participate” in the elections. In a statement at the time, it said that “active participation of the people in choosing its institutions is one of the most important gains of the 25 January Revolution.”

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Army keeps doors of hell closed to eliminate new IS branch Mon, 04 Feb 2019 11:00:54 +0000 We monitor the attempt to create another IS on Western borders

The post Army keeps doors of hell closed to eliminate new IS branch appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

From the Kalashnikov and FN to RBG, thermal rockets and Kornet missiles that caused the death of dozens of Egyptian security men in Sinai over the years .All of this comes from one point: Al Jaghbub oasis.

The Quiet city

Al Jaghbub oasis is located in south eastern Libya and is characterised by lakes which add an aesthetic dimension to it with the water in the middle of the desert. It is also a religious and tourist hub. It was established in 1851 as a religious centre with a long history of spreading Islam. Many Libyan Mujaheden came from it, including Ahmed Al Sharif and Omar Al Mukhtar.

Since its establishment, it has been a centre for the reform movement by Sheikh Mohamed bun Ali Al Senousi.

Until 6 December 1925, Al Jaghbub was affiliated to the Egyptian state until an agreement was signed, resulting in the Italian troops leaving Egypt’s Siwa oasis in exchange for Egypt leaving the Jaghbub oasis.

The turning point

After the killing of Mummar Gaddafi, Al Jaghbub saw the movement of a large amount of heavy and medium weapons into Egyptian lands through Siwa. The quiet city then turned into a storehouse of weapons during the rule of Gaddafi, then witnessed a flow of weapons from  NATO, followed by the line of Turkish supply which was caught many times including one time by Egyptian customs in Misurata port. A similar shipment was found three weeks ago and there was an assassination attempt against the investigation officer, Tarek Zoeriqeit, in the case of the Turkish weapons, which made the Libyan army give direct warnings in a TV interview to General Ahmed Al Mosmary.

Since Muammar Gaddafi died, and according to the statements of several security sources, large amounts of Libyan weapons were smuggled through Al Jaghbub.

A security source said that the attempt to smuggle weapons is one of the most common counter terrorism measures since the start of 2011 events, as terrorist groups exploited the chaos in Egypt and Libya to smuggle weapons and humans into Egypt.

He added that over 1,000 four-wheel drive vehicles loaded with weapons have attempted to enter Egyptian lands since 2011 until now, which was confirmed by President Al- Sisi.

The source believes that these numbers of cars entering Egyptian lands with certain tactics reveals that these operations are controlled by intelligence agencies of countries such as Qatar and Turkey.

The increase in the smuggling activities from the western borders is the result of exerting strong control on smuggling in Sinai.

Weapons everywhere

In April, the Flemish peace institute issued an interesting report on illegal weapons in North Africa. The report said that the weapons trade was subject to strong control during the rule of Gaddafi. In 2011, the Libyan revolution changed the rules of the game, and the supply of weapons noticeably increased from several countries, including Croatia, Serbia, and Turkey.

A UN report published in 2014 highlighted the increase in the illegal weapons trade in Libya. In Tripoli, the fish market has become the destination for buyers of AK-47s, rocket launches, and other dangerous ammunitions and weapons.

Tubu militias (a tribe of indigenous black African nomads ranging through the eastern Sahara, residing in the

areas of Kufra and Sabha) control the southern border areas and regulate illegal arm trade with Sudan, Mali, Egypt, and Yemen.

If in Libya, obtaining weapons of any kind is quite easy, as all you need is a computer or a mobile phone with an internet connection, and soon enough you will become a member of the online specialised pages which sell weapons and you can then easily deal in purchasing or selling weapons. This is done by posting an ad on specific Facebook groups and pages, as you would do with any online shopping transaction.


Following extensive research and investigation, it was discovered that the Al Jaghbub oasis and its path to Egypt is only a bottleneck or an eastern base for a domestic triangle created in Libya to create a new Islamic State (IS) group instead of the ones dismantled in Iraq and Syria. These new states are located in the wide desert in the south of Libya, called Al Haruj desert.

The new Islamic State

After the defeat in the north and losing all strongholds, IS changed its destination in Libya to the south and made the Libyan desert a new area for its combat tactics as IS runs the Haruj area from the middle of the desert to the south east of Tripoli.

The IS and African militants have executed bloody attacks on several towns, despite the efforts of the Libyan army to surround the area and deter the terrorist threat, there remain fears of future attacks on remote oases and towns in the Libyan desert, with the aim of proving the continued presence of the IS. The operation known as ‘the oases operation,’ in the Egyptian media was one of the most prominent results of this coalition, and terrorists moved from there and entered Egypt via the oasis of Al Jaghbub.

Al Haruj appears on the map as small as a black ink spot. Along its borders from the west and east, desert paths intersect reaching to Algeria from the west and Egypt from the east, and this is where the dangers of Al Jaghbub lie.

A security source said that the gates through which hundreds of extremists pass to Al Haruj every few weeks which are still open through the borders of Tunisia. From Al Haruj, Algeria is also reachable through a path near the town of Ghadames, and another in the South west border.

As for Egypt, it can be reached through the sand paths of Abdelmalek mountain in the south of Al Jaghbub oasis and from El Owainat in the far south-east.

Staff officer, Major Genreal Adel El Omda, advisor at Nasser Higher Military Academy in Cairo said that Al Haruj and the south of Libya have turned into a danderous region.

Around Al Haruj, there are small oases that rely on groundwater, agriculture, and herding camels. The IS and African militants have carried out attacks on some towns, including Al Foqahaa’ town which is located in a remote area south of Al Jafra area and the North east of Al Haruj. They tried to conduct attacks in the area of Satra near Siwa, however, the Egyptian security officials managed to stop them and were able to arrest the individuals involved. The military spokesperson announced that four cars of the terrorists and criminal elements in Satra were arrested on 13 August 2015, and five Egyptians were also arrested during their attempts to escape, riding nine Toyota Land Cruisers.

After the Islamic movement lost the parliamentary elections in 2014, and the events that ensued, including military defeats of the extremist groups in Sirte, Benghazi, and Derna, the activity of these groups gradually moved to Al Haruj until they kept growing.

The New Islamic State Group

According to information obtained by military investigators, each commander in Al Haruj has his own group. Training and joint attacks are carried out in coordination with the other leaders of a group. After each operation, the spoils are distributed across the groups, based on the participation of each group in each attack. There is a special department for funds that resembles a central bank for those staying in Al Haruj. The resources rely on stealing from government banks, the rich, and the camel herds bought by traders from Chad and Sudan, to be sold in Libya.

The majority of militants here wear clothes and ride cars that resemble the ones worn by the military. In this way, they managed to set traps for security personnel with on the roads adjacent to Al Haruj.

Terrorist gates

The gates through which hundreds of extremists make their way are still open from the both the Tunisian and Libya borders with Chad and Sudan. From Al Haruj, it is also possible to reach Algeria through a track near the town of Ghadames, and another in the south-west border triangle.

Major General Al Omda adds “Those who are in Al Haruj obtain support in the form of funds and fighters from known regional states in order to expand their movements through the borders. These countries open paths for those escaping Iraq and Syria, all the way to Libya. They provide the militants with the needed potential to cause chaos in neighbouring countries, including Egypt”.

In Al Haruj, there is no coverage of the Libyan telecommunications network. Security sources and eye witnesses say that the militants of Al Haruj have their own networks; however, it seems that they work only in limited spaces compared to the vast areas of AlHaruj.

Al Haruj -among Libyans- is known as ‘The Black Mountains’. It is hard to enter with cars unless you are guided.

The militants established their tents there as their headquarters. They have SUVs and large amounts of weapons, ammunition, food, and fuel. They use camels, hordes, palm tree trunks, and 14.5 mm cannons in their military training.

This new state growing in the heart of the Libyan deserts threatens several countries and an entire region.

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Balcony child: Why is society too tolerant of violence against children? Sun, 03 Feb 2019 09:30:23 +0000 Culture itself justifies physical violence, views beating children as form of discipline

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A video went viral on social networks showing a mother pushing her child to climb the wall of their building to reach a higher balcony, after misplacing the key to their apartment, raised controversy among Egyptians over violence against children.

The almost five-minute video featured the desperate mother forcing her 13-year-old child to climb the wall, and at some point, she pushed and beat him to continue trying while the little child screamed in fear.

The child was almost about to fall and die but the mother eventually pulled him inside. The video was recorded by a neighbour, who said in press statements that he documented the incident after the mother refused to listen to him and stop forcing her child to reach the balcony.

The scene had the people split into two camps. The first strongly condemned the mother’s behaviour no matter her cause. The other harshly defended her due to her low economic conditions.

In a televised interview, the mother said that she did not “hurt her child,” noting that she was holding him well to prevent him from falling. “I regret what I did to my son. I would never hurt my children.” Meanwhile, the mother pointed out that she did so because she did not have the money needed to bring a carpenter to unlock the door.

Violence against children 

Many Egyptian children are subjected to physical and emotional violence at the hands of their parents and teachers, the people who are supposed to protect them, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, Egypt (UNICEF) and the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM). This violence is too often condoned by the adult perpetrators and even by the children themselves, the two bodies stated.

Deep in the Egyptian culture, physical punishment is deeply rooted as a way to instil discipline and to teach children appropriate behaviour, and often time to dominate them. It is not surprising that a scene of a parent beating their children in the street would not attract the attention of passers-by, as it has become a normal act.

According to a 2015 study by the UNICEF and the NCCM, “around two-thirds of the children based in Cairo, Alexandria, and Assiut were victims of physical violence, and 78% were victims of emotional violence.”

The children interviewed in the study, aged 13-17, reported “that they were left feeling sad, miserable, weak, irritated, offended, or embarrassed after experiencing physical violence.”

Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that child maltreatment included “all types of physical and emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect, negligence, and commercial or other exploitation.”

“International studies reveal that a quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children and 1 in 5 women, and 1 in 13 men, report having been sexually abused as children,” the WHO continued. 

Most importantly, the WHO added that every year, “there are an estimated 41,000 homicide deaths in children under 15 years of age.” “This number underestimates the true extent of the problem, as a significant proportion of deaths due to child maltreatment are incorrectly attributed to falls, burns, drowning, and other causes,” the WHO added.

Masculinity problem    

“Successive generations used to be subjected to physical violence during their childhoods in their homes and schools. This is how we all have been raised up,” Said Sadek, a sociology professor at the AUC, told Daily News Egypt.

Sadek maintained that only recently, teachers were banned from beating students, however, before that, physical punishment was allowed. 

Furthermore, Sadek clarified that most parents are beating their children to instil discipline. “This is the only way they know to raise children, or they believe that.”

On the other hand, Sadek pointed out that Egyptian society has a masculinity problem which is one of the reasons of violence against children. “Parents beat their sons to make them become real men. Overall, people accept physical violence not just against children but also against women, and these are all forms of domination.”

Sadek indicated that “physical punishment is reportedly inspired by religion, as it allowed men to hit their women or abandon them in bed.” “Sometimes you have women who justify this violence and incite fathers to physically punish their children,” Sadek noted.

“The circle of violence started from men. The father oppressed his wife. The wife oppressed children. Children oppressed younger children and it never ends,” Sadek said, adding, “the culture itself justified physical violence and views beating children as a form of discipline. They think: this how I discipline you. This how you will become a real man.”

Sadek noted that the issue is escalating because children are not legally protected, even if there are some laws that prevent violence against children. 

In order to eliminate violence against children, Sadek emphasised that there is an urgent need for media intervention to educate and change the culture of beating inside Egyptian houses and schools, as well as providing parents with instructions which assert that beating is not the right way to raise children. However, he noted, such change would talk a long time to observe social changes regarding this issue.

“Of course there are different ways to raise children rather than beating them such as depriving them of things they love or going out with friends on weekends,” Sadek noted.

Regarding the balcony mother, Sadek commented, “this woman is from a low-class family with low income, so the money is very tight. Therefore, the violence is very common amid those families.”

Parents’ property

Heba Essawy, a psychiatry professor at Ain Shams University, said the main problem is that parents are dealing with their kids as ‘property,’ and they think that they have the absolute right to do whatever they want to them.

“In my opinion, the balcony mother decided to ‘use’ and ‘abuse’ her child to solve her problem, instead of bringing a carpenter and paying a sum of money. It is a very selfish act,” Essawy told DNE.

However, Essawy disagreed that low economic conditions could justify the mother’s actions. “The concept of ‘our children are mine,’ is very rooted in Egyptian culture, as if they are property. And losing the key is not the child’s problem or responsibility.”

Essawy maintained, “parents often control the choices of their children, what they want to study, what they wear, the sport they desire to practice and so on.”

With such actions, Essawy noted that parents tend to eliminate children’s willpower, creating a weak and submissive character that follows their instructions.

Moreover, Essawy highlighted the physiological impact of such action on the balcony child, who, she said, is anticipated to suffer from agoraphobia and other psychological disorders over what he has been through.

Essawy also pointed out that the circle of domestic violence has no end, as parents who were subjected to physical violence in their childhood, are expected to follow the same approach with their children.

“Additionally, many wives do not enjoy stable or happy lives and were beaten by their husbands. Therefore, they tend to beat their children out of their stress and frustration. In fact, beating children is a very inhumane act and must be stopped,” Essawy concluded. 

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100 days after Khashoggi’s murder, how it challenges Saudi Arabia Thu, 31 Jan 2019 11:00:33 +0000 Saudi Arabia admitted murder of its prominent journalist after 18 days

The post 100 days after Khashoggi’s murder, how it challenges Saudi Arabia appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

During his latest visit to the Middle East early in January, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he will ask from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to ensure that the killers of journalist Jamal Khashoggi are held accountable for their crimes.

“We will continue to have a conversation with the crown prince and the Saudis about ensuring the accountability is full and complete with respect to the unacceptable murder of Jamal Khashoggi,” Pompeo said.

But who is Jamal Khashoggi, and how did his murder affect Saudi Arabia?

Crime at consulate

Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, was killed inside his country’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2 October. He was at the consulate to obtain documents needed for his upcoming marriage.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

His Turkish fiancée Hatice Cengiz was waiting for the journalist outside the consulate, and she called the Turkish authorities about the disappearance of him after entering his country’s consulate.   

Saudi officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, had previously denied Khashoggi had been killed and dismembered inside the diplomatic facility.

Saudi Arabia recounted different narratives regarding Khashoggi’s murder. The last one said that 15 Saudi security members killed him, but we do not know where the journalist’s body is until now.

Riyadh previously said that 18 Saudi nationals were accused of the incident are under investigation and will be punished.

Internal change

Following the Khashoggi crisis, Saudi Arabia declared major changes including more pressures on the media and more gifts to the people including rewards for employees in the governmental sector.

The changes also included the intelligence agency “in order to enhance the performance of the agency”. New departments were added to the agency such as one for the strategy, a department for legal affairs, and another department for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the agency.

The kingdom said that the team which investigated and killed Khashoggi was formed by the Deputy Intelligence Chief Ahmed Al-Asiri, who was dismissed from his position is currently under investigation over the Khashoggi case, according to Saudi officials.  

Asiri was internationally criticised by human rights organisations for his role as a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, particularly after he declared in 2015, that the Houthi-held cities Saadah and Marran were military targets, placing thousands of civilians at risk of the coalition’s raids.


Yemen’s hell

Yemen remains a big challenge for Riyadh as it has formed the Coalition for Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen in March 2015, following the Ansar Allah ‘Houthi’group backed by Iran, which seized control of the Yemeni capital Sanaa in September 2014.  

Besides Saudi Arabia, the coalition includes the United Arab Emirates; Jordan; Bahrain; Pakistan; Djibouti; Sudan; Senegal; Kuwait; Morocco; Malaysia; Egypt as well as the internationally recognised government of Yemen.

The murder of Khashoggi, who was demanding an end to the war in Yemen, pushed different European countries to reconsider its military cooperation with Riyadh. Austria, for example, demanded from the European Union to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia, stating that these arms are being used in the “terrible war in Yemen”.

Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Canada also announced halting all their arms bargains with Saudi Arabia until they reached an explanation of the Khashoggi case. Only the US which said it will not do the same thing.

US President Donald Trump said that “It’s early, we haven’t finished our review or investigation, but … I think it’s a very important first step,” Trump said, adding “I would prefer, if there is going to be some form of sanction or what we may determine to do, if anything … that we don’t use as retribution cancelling $110bn worth of work, which means 600,000 jobs.”

Trump has found the Saudi narrative credible, but Turkey has another view.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Turkey, angry ally

The relation between Turkey and Saudi Arabia witnessed one of its most critical moments since the begging of their alliance in the 1940s. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan repeated several times, compelling Saudi Arabia to hold the killers of Khashoggi accountable.

Saudi Arabia rejected Turkey’s requests of handing the murderers of Khashoggi to Turkey for trial.

Riyadh faced the Turkish official’s statements with a sober statement from the crown prince stressing the strength of relations between Turkey and Saudi Arabia, praising the Turkish president Erdogan. But Saudi media began a campaign calling for boycotting Turkey and accusing Turkey of harming the stability of their kingdom.

The former Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir accused Turkey of not cooperating with Saudi Arabia in the investigations, however, Turkey played the game of leaks with Riyadh, exposing details about the case step-by-step. This was the last public statement for Al-Jubeir before he left his post.

Analysts believe that Turkey was using the Khashoggi case to press Saudi Arabia into reconciliation with Qatar-Turkey’s ally-and end the gulf crisis.

Gulf Crisis

The International pressure on Riyadh following Khashoggi’s case led to more flexibility or less escalation in the Gulf crisis. One of the Saudi steps was an invitation from Saudi king Salman Bin Abdulaziz to the Emir of Qatar Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani to attend the summit of the 39th Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) in the Saudi capital Riyadh, in December.

Qatar’s Emir did not attend, and Qatar’s delegation was headed by its Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Sultan Al-Muraikhi. But despite that there is no clear evidence of an imminent end to the Gulf crisis. Saudi media decreased its attacks against Qatar particularly after the statements of Bin Salman in which he has praised Qatar’s economy.

Moreover, the Kuwaiti Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Khaled Al-Jarallah lately said that Kuwait sees “positive signs” for containing the Gulf escalation.

Kuwait is the most acceptable mediator from all the parties in the Gulf crisis which was enflamed on 5 June 2017, when Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt cut their diplomatic and travel ties with Qatar. The four Arab governments accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and Iran, disturbing regional security and stability, charges which Doha vehemently denies.

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Trump’s possible impeachment: how can it affect Egyptian, global economy? Wed, 30 Jan 2019 07:00:40 +0000 US President repeatedly declared he will not reopen government unless he gets funding for border barrier

The post Trump’s possible impeachment: how can it affect Egyptian, global economy? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

After a 35-day federal government shutdown, the longest in the US history, President Donald Trump has bowed to pressure and reopened the government on Saturday.

Trump reopened the government to reach a deal with the Democrats, after they have announced their willingness to reach a serious deal, however, Trump informed the Wall Street Journal that the Congress must agree on a new bill by 15 February in order to avoid another shutdown.

To save a face, Trump tweeted, “This was not a concession in any way. It was taking care of millions of people who were getting badly hurt by the shutdown with the understanding that in 21 days, if no deal is done, it is off to the races!” The US economy has already lost about $3bn due to the government shutdown.

Noteworthy, during the government shutdown, Trump served fast food for the national football team due to the shutdown, while the White House announced that Trump is personally paying for the event, and will cater to everyone’s favourite junk food. The reason behind this, is that the White House’s staff, who caters for such events, is furloughed, with about 800,000 federal employees were forced to have unpaid leaves.

Apparently, it seems like Trump may shut down the government again for years if the Congress does not reach a solution for building the border barrier, as Trump said, “As a presidential candidate, I promised I would fix this crisis, and I intend to keep that promise one way or another.” This means that he is never backing off from his target to build the wall, “It is the Democrats who are keeping everything closed,” Trump tweeted. Yet, he does not see that he is part of this ongoing crisis.

“Definitely Trump’s impeachment will affect the Egyptian market,” a senior Economist at Sigma Capital Holding, Eman Negm, told Daily News Egypt, adding that not only the Egyptian market will be affected by the impeachment and the volatile political environment of the US, but the whole global market will be affected as the US is the world’s biggest economy by far, representing 24% of the world’s economy.

Negm mentioned that this volatility will lead to stopping reallocation by asset managers and fund managers until they find out how the political situation will be stabilised.

The stock market is part of a globalised economy and what happens in one economy is bound to affect others, if we look back throughout history, we can see that every time the US market fell, it was followed by a fall of the global stock market, and not just the Egyptian market.

However, analysts have different opinions about Trump’s impeachment and its impact on Egypt. “Fears of slow economic growth due to the US-China trade war will come to an end if Trump got impeached and it will consequently have a positive impact on the growth outlook not just in Egypt, mainly because of economic growth in China,” said the Head of Research at Pharos Holding, Radwa El-Swaify.

She added that the Federal Reserve will probably then raise interest rates two times, which is the expected scenario before holding on to rates, the scenario that Trump was rejecting, which will obviously initially have a negative impact on emerging market currencies before sentiment improves with the halt in rate rises in the US.

Building a border barrier between the US and Mexico was one of Trump’s key promises when he was campaigning to become president. This idea divided the country, nevertheless made him win many supporters. After two years of his presidential term, he wants to fulfil this promise.

The planned 1,000-mile steel wall between the US and Mexico would be designed to prevent illegal migration from Mexico.

But is illegal migration the main reason behind building the wall?

The Washington Post published a transcript of a leaked phone call between Trump and his Mexican counterpart, Enrique Peña, in January 2017, telling him that Mexico must pay for a border wall between the two countries. Trump said the wall is more of a symbol than a national security project.

“I am just going to say that we are working it out,” Trump said. He added, “Believe it or not, this is the least important thing that we are talking about, but politically this might be the most important,” however, Peña continued on pushing back.

Building a wall of this size is going to cost a lot of money, originally, he suggested that Mexico should pay for the wall, but it was soon very clear that the Mexican government would not pay.

Now, Trump is appealing to his own government and to the US’ taxpayers in order to pay for the wall, he estimates that he would need $5.6bn to build a steel barrier across the border, but the appeal was not well received by the Democrats, so the government was forced to partially close.

This shutdown was the longest in the US history, and it seems that there may be another long one, as Trump repeatedly declared that he will not reopen the government unless he gets funding for his border wall, however, he reopened the government due to the pressure he has been facing as the Democrats are fiercely opposing him, and have rejected his requests. Moreover, polls also show that the US citizens do not agree with building the wall, but those who do, are working hardly to make their opinions heard.

Shutting down the government was not the optimal solution, as Trump’s impeachment is being discussed by the Democrats.

In the first week of January 2019, the swearing in of the new Congress was dominated by one word: impeachment.

Rashida Tlaib, a newly elected Democratic representative from Michigan, began her tenure in the Congress by saying what most members of her party are thinking about, which is promising to impeach Trump.

Trump responded by tweeting, “How do you impeach a president who has done nothing wrong?”

Yet, being impeached does not mean becoming expelled from the office. On the US federal level, it is a process whereby a simple majority vote in the House of Representatives can accuse a civil official, including the president, of an “impeachable” offense. That accusation would then move to the Senate, which would decide whether or not to convict this official.

There are almost certainly enough votes in the House to impeach Trump, and almost certainly not enough votes in the Republican-controlled Senate to convict him. Even if the entire Democratic caucus voted to convict Trump, 20 Republican senators would need to join them to expel him from office. That is an extraordinarily high barrier for Trump’s opponents to overcome.

Investors and businesses may have overlooked one big risk that could come out of Washington due to the possible impeachment of Trump, but the history reveals that stock markets often perform better with a divided government. Between 1901 and 2017. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) returned to 10.1% annually in periods with divided government versus 9% with one party in control.

When President Richard Nixon resigned in the 1970s, and President Bill Clinton was impeached in the 1990s, the stock market took a nosedive. Nixon’s resignation exacerbated a bear market in stocks, which lasted for several years after he resigned in August 1974, but it was largely due to the oil embargo by the members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries which targeted nations perceived to support Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israel war, and the US was one of the initial nations which was targeted, in addition to a rapidly rising inflation which, specifically the core consumer price index, increased from below 3% to more than 11%.

Nixon was the first case, but he resigned in 1974 before impeachment proceedings could begin. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in 1998 before being acquitted by the Senate in 1999. The market responded in both cases in two very different ways. During the 12 months leading up to Nixon’s resignation, the S&P 500 index fell by 23%, while in the 12 months leading up to Clinton’s impeachment, the S&P 500 gained 25%.

Yet some analysts said that definitely Nixon’s fate did not matter to the markets, it was the global economic environment moving the markets, not politics.

The post Trump’s possible impeachment: how can it affect Egyptian, global economy? appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Egypt fights homelessness as part of community development initiatives Tue, 29 Jan 2019 08:00:31 +0000 Over last 15 days, around 1,686 homeless people of different ages rescued, says social solidarity minister

The post Egypt fights homelessness as part of community development initiatives appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Continuing its progress in the community development field since last year, the Egyptian government has launched a new social initiative as part of a series of social projects introduced to improve conditions of the most vulnerable individuals.

Following the cold wave that hit the country over the past two weeks, the ministry of social solidarity created an initiative to rescue homeless people. The Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly, initiated the “We are With You” campaign on 15 January, in coordination with the ministries of interior and health, to solve the problem of homelessness in Egypt.

The initiative assigned special convoys nationwide to return lost children to their families or offer them shelters. For those who do not want to be relocated, the convoys provide them food, medicine, and blankets instead. It further provides rehabilitation to help people resume their normal lives.

There are 17 convoys working in different areas and governorates across Egypt, each includes sociologists, psychologists, doctors, and specialists to handle homeless children. They return lost children to their families if they were reachable, otherwise they send them to child care centres. The same options are offered for the homeless seniors.

The Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Waly

These convoys also include rapid intervention teams affiliated to the ministry of social solidarity and members of the Tahya Misr Fund’s Children Without Shelter initiative.

There are least 12 million homeless people in Egypt, including 3 million children, mainly in Cairo, Giza, Qaliubiya, Alexandria, Menoufiya, Sharqeya, Suez, Beni Suef, Minya, and Assiut, according to the ministry of social solidarity.

The ministry offered several contact channels though hotlines and social media so people can report any homeless person. The initiative marks a good start for this year, said Waly, noting that following the recent cold wave, intensive efforts have been exerted by the Children Without Shelter initiative and the ministry to rescue homeless persons.

Over the past 15 days, around 1,686 homeless people of different ages were rescued, however, the initiative was initially targeting only children.

The ministry said that 95 adults and 80 children were rescued on Saturday. Cairo had the lion’s share of these cases with a total of 68 homeless people, followed by Giza with 20 individuals, and Assiut with 19 individuals.

This campaign received a fund of EGP 50m from the ministry of social solidarity and extra EGP 114m from the Tahya Misr Fund. The Egyptian Food Bank also financed the initiative through providing free meals.

The CEO and Managing Director of the Egyptian Food Bank, Moez Al-Shahdi, said that this initiative to rescue homeless people is very positive.

“It is clear to everyone that there are people [in Egypt] who are struggling to find shelters or obtain life’s basic needs,” said Al-Shahdi.

The Deputy Head of the campaign, Ayman Abdel Aziz, said the campaign aims to provide the social and psychological rehabilitation of children and to reunite them with their families, if it is possible. He added that the campaign also focuses on helping the elderly through providing hot meals and blankets if they refuse to return to their families or move to the ministry’s care centres.

The government is currently building more shelters for street children and now plans to coordinate with different NGOs to build more shelters for the homeless.

Abdel Aziz noted that the initiative’s teams were carefully selected from 3,000 applicants, and received training, in collaboration with international organisations with long experience in this field, such as FACE for Children in Need, Save the Children fund, and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF).

Sayed Hamed, a coordinator in one of the rapid intervention teams, said that his team was not working randomly, but actually they were monitoring several areas to reach those in need, noting that they have a strategy for providing support and meals for homeless people.

He added that his team has started since 2016 to offer support for the homeless upon the directives of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Hamed pointed out that rapid intervention teams are spread all over the country.

Moreover, the campaign’s spokesperson, Hazem Al-Mallah, described the initiative as a “multipronged” mission that includes fixed and mobile units so that they can reach out to the homeless everywhere. It also develops shelters for the homeless, offers case management services-including a follow-up of homeless people after returning them to their families to ensure they do not return to street-and raises social awareness about the issue.

The Egyptian population living below the poverty line exceeded 30%, while the state is working on providing different social development projects. On Saturday, President Al-Sisi witnessed the launch of the ‘Nour Al-Hayah’ (Life’s Light) initiative, which aims to treat diseases that cause blindness or blurry vision. The initiative will be funded by the Tahya Misr Fund.

Earlier in January, Al-Sisi also started the Decent Life initiative to serve as an umbrella for civil society initiatives aimed at providing healthcare, social services, job opportunities, and developing infrastructure.

On Sunday, the Minister of Health, Hala Zayed, announced that a new family-planning initiative will be launched as a part of the “100 Million Health” campaign to control overpopulation.

The new initiative aims to raise awareness about the benefits of having only two children, Zayed explained, adding that it will be divided into multiple stages covering all governorates according to the size of population issue in each area, considering the studies conducted in this regard.

The post Egypt fights homelessness as part of community development initiatives appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Ready for business, meet 5 tech startup aces in Egypt 2019 Pitch Competition Wed, 23 Jan 2019 09:30:03 +0000 Jury impressed by participating startups with clear plan to grow, profit

The post Ready for business, meet 5 tech startup aces in Egypt 2019 Pitch Competition appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Creative, passionate and clever are some of the numerous qualities of the participants in Egypt’s 2019 Pitch Competition, which is the first phase of The AIM Startup. The winners will participate in the AIM Startup in Dubai next April. The 2019 edition focuses on digitisation to empower startups and small and medium-sized enterprises.

Egypt Pitch Competition was hosted by Creative Hub Egypt, an futuristic platform managed by the Industrial Modernization Centre (IMC). It offers services and spaces to designers, entrepreneurs, startups, and freelancers in order to share design knowledge, develop businesses, and spread innovation.

From 21 startups, a jury consisted from the AIM Startup team and other experts, had to select five winners. The jury includes Programme Manager of Electronics Industry at ITIDA Yasser Abdel Bary, Entrepreneurship Development Senior Advisor at USAID SEED Project, Mohamed Sultan, Adjunct Professor at the American University in Cairo, Ramez Daoud, and of Entrepreneurship Centre Director at the Arab Academy for Science, Wael El Desouki Bedda.

Yasser Abdel Bary informed Daily news Egypt that the jury members were impressed with the work of the startups, “they came well-prepared and have a clear plan to grow and profit. Yet, we had to choose five startups according to the AIM Startup’s criteria” he added.

AIM Startup was launched in 2017 as an initiative of the UAE Ministry of Economy to connect promising startups with investors and business partners from other parts of the world.

The winning startups of this year tackled many issues such as a device that allows travellers to use their SIM card for making or receiving calls and SMSs with zero roaming fees; a recycling machine for beverage cans and plastic bottles, and a smart internet of things (IoT) platform that tracks garment production lines.

DNE interviewed the five winners, and asked them about their next move, the obstacles they faced ,and what inspired to create their startups.

VoxEra, a cheaper way to keep connected

Amr Elgalby, the founder of VoxEra, was travelling on a business trip to Georgia, where he needed to keep calling and sending SMSs to his clients in Egypt. Once he came back to the country, he had to pay a huge sum of money to cover his roaming fees. Elgalby is a voice over IP engineer, so he thought of a solution to reduce the fees, and ended up with VoxEra, the device with its four flashing indicator lights and connectivity ports, and looks a little like a home router. Once a SIM card is inserted into its designated rear slot, the VoxEra works its magic: all calls placed while the user is travelling are charged at domestic rates.

Amr Elraiany, the business developer of VoxEra, rendered the presentation before the jury, as Elgalby was in China following the production process of the device. Elraiany told DNE that the biggest issue they had to deal with was manufacturing the device because it was the team’s first experience in manufacturing a hardware.

“We are not an alternative to telecom providers, we just offer a solution to low roaming fees. Let’s say that we may take a little bit of the profit they make, because when people use VoxEra, they will not pay for roaming fees.”

The startup is now working on the second pitch to deliver their pre-orders. The next move is to expand the market targeting the Gulf area, which has a large group of foreigners. As a first phase, VoxEra accepted a startup in Chile, so the team will be in Chile for some months to further develop the product.

Elraiany highlighted that the startup at this point is handling the service very well and covering the production line, yet getting increased investments into the firm will give it a bigger and faster chance to enter more markets.

Garment IO, an eye garment monitor production line

Garment IO is a smart IoT platform tailored to boost the productivity of the garment manufacturing industry. It is a plug and play software and hardware solution providing garment factory managers and owners a complete overview on production processes, worker performance, and production cost calculations, all the way down to the transaction details, real-time, and is accessible online.

Mahmoud Sabae, co-founder of Garment IO, believes that the system gets quite a lot of data that can help decision-makers, adding “by using Garment IO, mangers in garment factories get insights on how to improve productivity. We take care of quality issues, maintenance, planning, and costs.”

The Founder of Garment IO, Ahmed Nounou, previously had a garment factory, and when he met Sabae, they discussed the issues in the garment industry, and from there they got the idea for their startup.

Garment IO helps garment manufacturers and factories track, analyse, organise, manage, and optimise their production processes. It provides the hardware and software as a service for a periodic fee that the factory pays per installed device.

The startup is only targeting the garment manufacturing industry, which is sized at $420bn in 2017 (excluding raw material), employing over 70 million employees worldwide. “We are focusing on doing one thing better than others” Sabae added.

The biggest challenge Sabae and Nounou faced was the hardware, especially importing the required electronics into Egypt, besides getting some approvals from a few government agencies. Sabae said that they will soon start selling pre-orders, “we are already functioning in terms of hardware and software, and we are planning to quickly penetrate the market, and once we establish ourselves in Egypt, we will expand globally”.

EpicVR, a real life like gaming experience

EpicVR designs and implements virtual reality arcade games, from the games themselves, operating software, exterior design and production, and required hardware. It sells the complete product to arcades and family entertainment centres.

EpicVR’s team are engineers who are passionate gamers and interested in virtual reality (VR), and when it was available for developers, they decided to make their business model of it, a profitable business out of it.

EpicVR was founded in August 2015. Aiming to deliver this amazing experience to the masses, they started focusing on creating out-of-home arcade games that are sold to game centres in Egypt and the MENA region.

DNE interviewed Ahmed Atif and Ahmad Amin, co-founders of the startup, who are focusing on their first potential market in the region, Saudi Arabia, “we showcase our product in many exhibitions, but one of the biggest challenges we faced was connecting with the owners of entertainment centres, because our model is a B2B model,” Atif said.

They managed to corporate with someone who works in the arcade industry since the 1980s, as they seek to gain clients who trust their product, “we are now present in many centres, but the number of our team is not large enough, so we aim to expand our team” Amin added.

Zeroprime, a solution for unused cans and bottles

Annoyed by the amount of rubbish in Cairo’s streets, Islam El-Refaey, founder and CEO of ZeroPrime Technologies, thought of a way to recycle the rubbish, as he has a background in aerospace and mechanical engineering, and is interested in applying technological solutions especially for social causes.

El-Refaey, who established his startup 2017, worked on designing and implementing smart sustainable city infrastructures. His first solution for the scattered city rubbish was CanBank, which is a machine that gives users different rewards of their choice in exchange for their used beverage cans or plastic bottles. The machine is available in corporates, universities, clubs, and malls to encourage them to recycle.

Furthermore, El-Refaey stressed the need for better ways to deal with waste, especially with its negative impact on the environment, “we have a bigger vision for automated waste management. Besides CanBank, there will be a product which will assist to complete the whole process of waste management” El-Refaey, said, adding “our next product will focus on oil and liquid recycling, yet we faced some obstacles, the biggest was finding a suitable and profitable business model, and hopefully the process will be easies in our next products.”

ZeroPrime is now partnering with some beverage companies to expand the business, El-Refaey added “we are now in discussions with the ministry of environment, and hopefully that will result in positive benefits. We want to change the way Egyptians deal with solid waste, and I believe that this is an achievable dream.”

Widebot, the first Arabic-focused bot builder platform

WideBot is the first Arabic-focused bot builder platform that gives a tool to businesses in the MENA to build smart chatbots without coding in a few minutes, while helping them to engage with their audiences by advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to maximise conversions and increase loyalty.

Mohamed Nabil, the CEO and co-founder of WideBot, is looking to attract more clients to his platform, “we are working to improve our platform, by adding more Arabic slang terms and making it more accurate. We struggled during the developing process of our platform, because there is not a lot of data available in Arabic” Nabil said.

Next month, the tech startup will open its office in Dubai. Nabil believes they can build the most powerful AI tool that supports Arabic language, “we need some investment in our project in order to improve the team’s productivity, and hire more employees in our company” he added.

The post Ready for business, meet 5 tech startup aces in Egypt 2019 Pitch Competition appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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Fruitful outcomes recorded during society dialogues on amending NGOs Law Tue, 22 Jan 2019 09:00:17 +0000 Articles on establishment, exemptions, granting exceptional privileges, punishments topped discussions

The post Fruitful outcomes recorded during society dialogues on amending NGOs Law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

Several society dialogue sessions were held during the past few weeks to continue discussions over the amendment of the existing non-governmental organisation (NGOs) Law.

The first session started on 22 December in the presence of the Minister of Social Solidarity, Ghada Wali, and in cooperation with Misr El-Kheir Foundation, the Coalition of NGOs and total of 200 members from NGOs participated from governorates of Menoufiya, Qaliubiya, Giza, and Cairo.

It came one month after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered the government to form a committee to come up with a comprehensive vision to amend the existing law and prepare a report with the suggested amendments to present to parliament after holding community dialogues.

The second round was held in Alexandria, drawing representatives from as many as 150 NGOs affiliated with the governorates of Beheira, Gharbia, Kafr Al-Sheikh, Marsa Matrouh, Dakahlia, and Damietta. In this meeting, participants recommended that 20% of NGO boards should be composed of young members, 30% of which should be women, which comes as one of the best recommendations.

The sixth round was organised on 4 January by the National Academy for Youth Training and Rehabilitation, in cooperation with the ministry of social solidarity, with the attendance of 154 youth and a number of public figures, youth parties, and ministry officials.

Generally, during the six rounds, the attendees came with a number of recommendations to be submitted to parliament, which focused on reconsidering the disputed articles in order to come up with a set of recommendations. Topics that monopolised the talks included reviewing the agreement of the articles of the current law of the NGOs, the constitution, international conventions signed by Egypt, and how Egypt deals with foreign funding and fundraising.

They also discussed articles related to the establishment, exemptions, granting exceptional privileges, punishments and re-formulating the relationship of the state with NGOs to ensure the necessary balance between the freedom of responsible civil action and the requirements of national security.

The head of the Coalition of NGOs, Talaat Abdel Qawi, said in press statements that the committee is reviewing all the existing articles and other recommended articles.

“First, we aim to develop a comprehensive law that aligns with article 75 of the constitution, which states that the NGO shall acquire legal entity upon notification, and shall have the right to practice their activities freely without a1dministrative interference and according to article 92, which states that Egyptian laws must be in line with international conventions,” said Abdel Qawi.

He continued that: “Second, we call for a law to help the beginning of civil work to implement its role in offering benefits and opportunities for associations.”

Abdel Qawi noted that the number of NGOs in the various governorates of Egypt reached 50,000 associations present in all cities and villages, adding that the civil society is strong and serious with the citizens, and that these organisations dispense financial support to some families in the form of housing such as providing roofs of houses in some villages in Upper Egypt, water and sanitation, and there are other aids in kind of medical treatment for patients, as well as clothing, helping brides from the neediest families, as well as offering some tuition for students who suffer from difficult economic conditions, and supplying basic goods for the needy throughout the year.

He also said that the civil society participates in 30% of the total health services for the needy and implementing women empowerment workshops, of all which do not have a media appearance and offer great services to citizens.

The official explained that issues of publicity and penalties in the law were well-reviewed during the rounds, explaining that the promulgation of NGOs was linked to the submission of a notification to the concerned authorities in accordance with the constitution.

“The establishment of an NGO is suggested only through notification without any additional procedures in order to coincide with Article 75 of the constitution and meet a basic demand of the NGO community and so state authorities can investigate for up to 30 days pending the license issuing,” he said.

Abdel Qawi asserted that any NGO is entitled to receive funding from abroad under the supervision of the ministry of solidarity, adding that the rounds recommended that the high licensing fees — EGP 10,000 — required for setting up an NGO should be reconsidered, and for foreign NGOs, it is recommended that the licensing fees be reduced from EGP 300,000 to100, 000.

The sessions came while the Cairo Criminal Court in Egypt acquitted all 43 defendants accused in the ‘foreign funding’ reopened case of 2011.

The case involved 43 NGO staff of Egyptian nationals and 16 foreigners. The acquittal was cautiously praised and stirred questions over the path of civil society organisations.

Daily News Egypt presents a number of significant recommendations which resulted from the rounds and are expected to be discussed for the amendments:

Inserting a brief presentation for the law at the beginning of the draft to clarify its role to empower and support civil society and how it will be a partner and complementary member for the development system of Egyptian society with the public and private sectors.

Ensuring the availability of all transactions and financial statements on the official website of the association, in order to give control to all concerned parties and not only to the state.

Each NGO should clarify its strategy, including its orientation, objectives, vision and mission, special services, and determine the geographical scope of the performance of its services.

Conducting a series of sessions and workshops to raise awareness about the articles of the law following its approval and issuance of bylaws.

Reviewing the anti-freedom penalties in dealing with administrative violations, without prejudice to the provisions of the Egyptian penal code.

The ministry of social solidarity should make a concessionary arrangement for NGOs in terms of performance efficiency and provide the best benefits to the target audience and publish them to citizens.

Activating the role of the appeals committee in the competent administrative authority to view the complaints submitted by various NGOs in order to determine them within a maximum period of 15 days after confirmation of receipt.

Cancelling fees for the establishment of foreign NGOs operating in Egypt and facilitating procedures for the licensing of receiving funds.

Exemption of all activities of institutions and NGOs from various types of imposed taxes, as these entities are non-profit organisations engaged in development activities to bring about a general renaissance in the country.

Increasing the resources of NGOs to allow the work of projects, including, for example, the establishment of companies to serve their activities.

Notifying the NGO extension activities and opening offices in another governorate through the administrative body and not to the competent minister.

Determining the cases of dissolution of the NGO, and it must be by a judicial decision and the same is applicable when it comes to stopping said activity.

Regarding the documents accompanying the establishment, referring to the list of requirements and documents specified by Law No 84 of 2002.

In the case of foreign funding, the maximum approval is 30 days. In the event of non-response, approval shall be given to the subsequent monitoring of the funding by the ministry of solidarity. If refused, with a justified decision, the interested party may appeal the matter.

To determine the NGO work, a formal survey shall be conducted by its owners and be approved by the competent authority, and the Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics.

About the current NGO law

The existing law was drafted by the head of the parliament’s social solidarity committee, Abdel Hady Al-Kasby, and was ratified by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi in May 2017, to replace Law 84 of 2002, six months after its approval in parliament.

The law, consisting of 89 articles, was approved, while another draft was sent from the cabinet to the parliament in September, but was not discussed.

The current law gives the government the power to decide on who can establish an NGO and its purpose, obliges groups to stick to the state’s development plans, therefore severely restricting the work they accomplish in the areas which the government does not consider a priority. The law also bans domestic and foreign groups from engaging in political activities, or anything that the government considers a harm to national security, public order, or public morals.

Even though the law has been ratified a year ago, the cabinet did not issue a bylaw till our present day. Recently, the president responded to calls to amend the controversial law, and ordered the formation of a committee.

The post Fruitful outcomes recorded during society dialogues on amending NGOs Law appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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