In Focus – Daily News Egypt https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com Egypt’s Only Daily Independent Newspaper In English Sat, 19 Oct 2019 07:30:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.1 Abiy Ahmed: wide reforms, but some sceptic over unsettled issues https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/18/abiy-ahmed-wide-reforms-but-some-sceptic-over-unsettled-issues/ Fri, 18 Oct 2019 09:00:02 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=711277 Despite all his achievements in Ethiopia, the GERD dispute is still unsettled

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For his efforts to establish peace with Eritrea, the Norwegian Nobel Committee selected last Friday the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed to receive the Nobel Peace Prize 2019.

The Ethiopian leader was honoured for ending years of hostility and border conflict between the two countries. He was among more than 300 candidates, including individuals and institutions, who competed for the award this year.

Many found Ahmed’s winning of the Nobel Prize surprising and wondered why it was not awarded to the Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, being Ahmed’s partner in the peace talks.

Washington Post quoted foreign analysts on the situation between two countries, saying that despite the 2018 agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia to end the conflict between the two nations, the agreement remains largely unimplemented, and there have been a few visible benefits for the Eritreans.

Nobel Prize

The prize is worth KR 9m (about $0.9m). The award ceremony will take place in the Norwegian capital Oslo on 10 December and he is scheduled to give a speech ahead of receiving the prize.

The Nobel Committee said that it awarded the prize to Ahmed for “his decisive initiative to resolve the border dispute with neighbouring Eritrea.”

The prize appreciates the efforts of “all parties working for peace in Ethiopia, East and North-East Africa,” the committee said.

Ahmed commented on his victory saying, “I am so humbled and thrilled. Thank you very much. It is a prize given to Africa, given to Ethiopia. I can imagine how the rest of Africa’s leaders will take it positively to work on peace building process in our continent.”

Meanwhile, Ahmed’s office said, “The award is a proof of the values of unity, cooperation, and coexistence that the prime minister has consistently promoted.”

Ethiopia and Eritrea

Ethiopia and Eritrea restored relations in July 2018 after years of hostility and after a 1998-2000 border war. Ahmed headed to the Eritrean capital of Asmara in July in his first historic visit.

In another unprecedented scene, thousands of Eritreans took to the streets to welcome Ahmed, holding flags of Eritrea and Ethiopia. Asmara was also decorated with flags of both countries celebrating the special occasion.

On 9 July 2018, Ethiopia and Eritrea officially signed the Declaration of Reconciliation and Friendship, upon which embassies of the two countries were opened, ports and flights resumed, in tangible signs of a rapprochement that ended a two-decade feud.

The declaration ended one of Africa’s long-running military confrontations, which destabilised the region and forced the two governments to pour large sums of money from their budgets to spend on security and armed forces.

“After the discussion, we agreed to reopen our embassies,” Ahmed said in remarks broadcasted on state televisions of both countries.

Moreover, Eritrea’s President Afwerki visited the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa twice after the agreement. In his second official visit on 14 October 2018, the two sides ended their differences and agreed on launching economic cooperation.

During the visit, Afewerki and Ahmed discussed boosting bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

However, some people were sceptical, Laetitia Bader, a researcher at Human Rights Watch told WP “I think there was a lot of hope in Eritrea, but very quickly, Eritreans saw that things were not changing on the ground.”

Also,  Vanessa Tsehaye, an Eritrean activist based in London was quoted saying that he believes that recompilation did not have a positive impact on Eritrea people, as conditions are the same as it was before the deal.

Similarly, Eritrean Human Rights activist Selam Kidane commented on the victory of Ahmed saying in a tweet “ I didn’t know one could win a peace award without achieving peace,” about the current situation between both countries after the deal.

Despite the deal, open borders were short-lived, as Eritrea has immediately closed the border again.

Women of Ethiopia

Some believe that Ahmed succeeded to make 2018 an unprecedented year for Ethiopian women, as many reached senior executive and legislative positions.

In February 2018, the Ethiopian diplomat Samia Zakaria assumed the presidency of the national election council, for the first time in the country’s history. Moreover, Sahle-Work Zewde is the current President of Ethiopia and the first woman to hold the office. She was elected president unanimously by members of the Federal Parliamentary Assembly on 25 October 2018. The position is largely a ceremonial one, with executive power vested in the prime minister.

Also, Muferiat Kamil was elected as the first female parliament speaker in the country, succeeding Abba Dola. She is currently the Minister of Peace and the Chairperson of the Southern Ethiopian People’s Democratic Movement (SEPDM), one of the four parties that make up the ruling coalition in the country, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

The chairmanship of the House of Federation – the upper house of the Ethiopian parliament – was assigned to Keria Ibrahim. Moreover, 10 out of 20 seats in the Ethiopian government were assumed by women, including Aisha Mohammed Mussa who was the country’s Defence Minister from October 2018 until 18 April 2019.

Sudan welcomes Ahmed’s Nobel Prize win

Several Sudanese political parties welcomed Ahmed’s Nobel Prize winning, and considered it a source of pride for the Sudanese revolution – which started on 19 December 2018 – and an affirmation of the global momentum gained as it was one of the most important milestones of peace efforts led by Ahmed at the local and regional levels.

Many Sudanese political leaders highlighted Ahmed’s participation in the negotiation between Sudan’s Forces of Freedom and Change, and the Transitional Military Council, which helped in completing its path after it was halted for time. They said Ahmed was realistic and showed logical and great tendency towards peaceful solutions.

GERD

Despite all recognised achievements made by Ahmed in Ethiopia, he seems not cooperating very well with Egypt to settle the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) which started in 2015. Ethiopia seeks to complete the construction of the dam, while Egypt is concerned that it will affect its share of Nile River.

Writer Adly Sadek said in an op-ed at The Arab newspaper, based in London, “All these successes of Ahmed do not mean that the man has solved all his country’s problems completely, but he still has the GERD dispute.”

The writer believes that Ahmed managed to encourage his people to “support his national projects, especially the GERD. However, he has not shown any sign to make a compromise with Egypt as it objected some technical aspects of the project.

Now it is a test for him, as he must find a suitable way out of this issue which is a major contributor to peace and development in the region, Sadek said

About Ahmed

In March last year, Ahmed was chosen to be Ethiopia’s first Muslim prime minister. He is also the first Ethiopian prime minister from the country’s largest ethnic group, the Oromo, which makes up one-third of the population in a country suffering ethnic conflict among its 90 constituent groups.

Ahmed’s first speech in the parliament was a declaration of a new era in Ethiopia’s history, in which he announced a roadmap for long-awaited reforms, launching political freedom, fighting corruption, and developing the economy. Ahmed has fought all symbols of corruption, including leaders of the Ethiopian army.

He previously joined the Oromo Democratic Party, which fought against the Marxist Mengistu Haile Mariam’s regime.

Many encouraged his election to be Ethiopia’s leader for his mixed religious background, as his father is Muslim and his mother is Christian.

After taking the office, Ahmed incorporated several reforms and expanded freedoms in his country, which had been limits in many areas. Dozens of detainees were released, and others returned from exile.

Ahmed received his PhD on local conflict resolution in the country from the Institute for Peace and Security Studies in Addis Ababa last October. According to the party members, Ahmed is an excellent speaker, preferring to make decisions based on arguments.

He has a military and intelligence background, as he established a network and information security agency that sought to monitor ordinary Ethiopians, including dissidents in Europe and North America.

Between 2008 and 2010, Ahmed oversaw the expansion of radio and television broadcast at a time when Ethiopia was known for its lack of press freedom. He served as Minister of Science and Technology in 2015.


Once in power, he focused on the country’s ethnic conflicts which displaced 2.5 million Ethiopians. Ahmed also solved some outstanding issues with neighbour countries, mainly the Oromo-Somali clashes.

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Turkish offensive: Trump defends retreat, Germany, France halt arms exports https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/15/turkish-offensive-trump-defends-retreat-germany-france-halt-arms-exports/ Tue, 15 Oct 2019 19:33:07 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=711060 'Withdrawing support from SDF is a small price to pay for getting Turkey to relieve Trump of Syria burden," says Fellow

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United States (US) President Donald Trump, who abandoned Washington’s key allies, the Kurds, last week, has defended his decision to pullback US forces from northeast Syria.

“I don’t think our soldiers should be there for the next 50 years guarding a border between Turkey and Syria when we can’t guard our borders at home,” Trump said in a speech to the Value Voters Summit in Washington on Saturday. 

Trump’s move to withdraw US forces, leaving behind the Kurdish fighters who helped the US defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) in Syria, drew huge criticism internationally.

His decision was met by opposition from Republican lawmakers as they rebuked his move to withdraw US troops. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that such a plan is expected to bolster ISIS fighters. 

Moreover, Lindsey Graham, chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, said that Turkey needs to know that Congress will take a different path and it will pass “crippling sanctions in a bipartisan fashion.”

“The re-emergence of ISIS is on the way. And if you think only Europe is threatened, you (Trump) are sadly mistaken,” Graham tweeted on Friday in response to the US move. 

Trump’s sudden retreat raised huge concerns, in particular, over the fate of tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and their families who have been detained by the Syrian Kurdish forces in prisons and outlawed internment camps.

More than 11,000 people are estimated to be held inside that prisons, including Syrian and Iraqi fighters and others from around 50 foreign countries. 

 

Trump complained that he kept pressing on Germany, France, and other European countries, in which many ISIS fighters belong, to take them back, as the US is not able to take the cost of holding them anymore. 

 

 Seeking to get over the “Syrian burden,” Trump gave the green light to Turkey to attack Kurds and to begin a military offensive into northeast Syria when he announced that American troops would withdraw from the area around Syria’s border with Turkey. 

Trump’s move followed a phone call between Trump and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan last Sunday. The White House announced that Turkey would move forward with its long-planned operation into Northern Syria.

“The US will not support or be involved in the operation, and US forces, having defeated the ISIS territorial ‘Caliphate,’ will no longer be in the immediate area,” the statement read. 

 

 With such a decision, Trump cleared the way for Turkey to attack the Kurds.

Turkey began its offensive on Wednesday last week, and it is apparently making gains, amid a huge humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands of people have been displaced, while more are threatened to be killed or displaced too. 

Now, Turkey is accused of shelling prisons holding ISIS fighters. On Wednesday, Turkey reportedly bombarded a part of Chirkin prison in the city of Qamishli, where ISIS fighters are held, according to the Kurdish-led authorities. 

Meanwhile, there are also around 100 ISIS-affiliated women and children who escaped from Ain Issa Camp, which is guarded by Kurdish forces, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

There are also reports that four ISIS fighters escaped from other jails in northeast Syria amid shells by Turkish troops.

International Condemnations, humanitarian crisis

 

More than 200,000 in Syria have fled since the offensive began, according to the Syrian Democratic Forced (SDF) and the United Nations. Dozens of civilians were killed, including women and children as well as Kurdish fighters. 

Video footage spread by social media users and local and international media showed women and children crying, as thousands of civilians fled the violence.

The US retreat was received by international and local condemnations as well as some actions. 

In the latest updates on the Turkish offensive, Germany and France on Saturday temporarily halted arms exports to Turkey over its military incursion. 

The Arab League also condemned Turkey’s “invasion” into Syrian territories. Arab countries Foreign Ministers held an emergency meeting to denounce Turkey’s actions, calling it an “occupation” of Arab lands. 

However, Turkey responded to the Arab League accusations. “I strongly condemn the Arab League for mischaracterising Turkey’s counter-terrorism operation in north-eastern Syria as an “invasion” in a statement issued earlier today,” Fahrettin Altun, Turkey’s communications director tweeted on Saturday. 

On the other hand, Russian President Vladimir Putin, the main supporter of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad, has warned that the Turkish offensive of northern Syria could result in the freeing of thousands of captured ISIS fighters. 

 

 Turkey advances

 

 Turkey is attacking Kurds under the veil of fighting “fighting terrorists.” It launched an offensive dubbed “Operation Peace Spring” against the SDF led by Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, killing and injuring dozens, and forcing tens of thousands of people to flee the violence. 

Turkey considers the Kurdish YPG  as “terrorists,” accusing them of having ties to a separatist Kurdish group in Turkey, the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK). 

 Beside its “fighting terrorism goal,” Turkey intends to create a “safe zone” for the return of millions of refugees to Syria. Erdoğan stated that the “Turkey military operation” aims to bring back peace to the region and to ensure that Syrian refugees will return to their countries. 

Now there is a critical danger with the US’s withdrawal from Syria, that the ISIS fighters might escape from prisons and camps where they are held to revive the Caliphate again. 

 Turkey is making gains from its offensive, managing to capture 11 border towns up until Friday night, according to AFP and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. 

On Saturday, Turkey said that its forces have captured the key Syrian border town Ras Al-Ayn’s residential centre in the east of the Euphrates River. However, an SDF spokesperson refuted that. 

Facing international condemnation of the Turkey offensive, Erdogan threatened to release millions of Syrian refugees in his country to migrate to Europe if the continent’s leaders call the Turkish invasion of Syria an “occupation.”

“We will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way,” Erdogan said on Thursday.  

 The burden of Syria 

 

“Trump does not want to pick a fight with Erdogan over Syria because the US president sees Erdogan as one of his key foreign allies. Ultimately, Trump does not want the United States to have a long presence in Syria, and he is convinced that Erdogan will take the burden of Syria off of his shoulders,” Nicholas A Heras, Middle East Security fellow at the Center for a New American Security told Daily News Egypt. 

“For the White House, withdrawing support from the SDF is a small price to pay for getting Turkey to relieve Trump of the burden of Syria,” Heras added. 

“Surprisingly, the Trump administration does not have a plan to ensure that 9,000 plus ISIS prisoners, most of them local Syrians and Iraqis, get transferred over into Turkish custody. The result of Trump’s new Syria plan is chaos which helps ISIS,” Heras concluded.  

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USAID in consultation with Egyptian partners for new projects: Mission director https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/11/usaid-in-consultation-with-egyptian-partners-for-new-projects-mission-director/ Fri, 11 Oct 2019 06:20:56 +0000 https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=710514 "Our programmes contribute to stability, prosperity for Egyptians," says Carlin

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The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is in close consultation with the Egyptian authorities for implementing new projects, Mission Director of the USAID in Egypt Sherry Carlin told Daily News Egypt during the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham)’s event last Thursday. 

“We have 13 ministries as partners and we will continue to implement developmental projects for the good of the Egyptian people,” Carlin added, noting that the USAID’s programmes in education, health, economic growth, and governance are contributing to the stability and prosperity for the Egyptians, through accessible, effective, and countable institutions.

USAID’s programmes are giving future generations the tools to succeed and providing opportunities for Egypt’s large youth population as they enter higher education and the workforce, she pointed out. Besides, the USAID is improving agriculture and water productivity and enhancing livelihoods in rural areas where poverty and unemployment exist, she added.

“We seek to enhance the contributions of government officials, civil society, communities, and individual to build and strengthen institutions that meet the political and economic needs of the Egyptian people,” Carlin asserted. 

USAID’s programmes in Egypt amount to over $30bn since 1978, according its recent report, “40 years of inspiring Egyptian success”, noting that it has directly and fundamentally supported gains such as a reduction in infants and maternal mortality rates, improvement of reading ability in the early grades, and an increase in marketable skills.

 

Economic growth is a key area of USAID activities

USAID works with public and private sector partners to create more and better jobs especially in the labour-intensive agriculture and tourism sector, the report stated, explaining that USAID’s programmes improve the policy and business regulatory environment, stimulate entrepreneurship, and boost enterprises which improve the employment of Egypt’s youth and provide support and financing for micro, small, and medium enterprises.

The report also referred to the USAID’s role in advancing women’s economic empowerment through facilitating increased employment opportunities and working with businesses to adopt gender-balanced policies. They also provide training and expertise to increase the exporting capacities of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to expand export markets, buyer contacts, and sales.

With regards to the tourism sector, USAID works with international and local organisations to conserve Egypt’s rich cultural and natural heritage which increase both skills and employment, the report mentioned.

 

USAID implementing three current programmes in the agriculture sector

Since 1978, the USAID has provided more than $1.4bn to Egypt’s agriculture sector, according to the USAID’s report, stating that the US government’s global initiative ‘Feed the Future’ encourages free-market competition and helps match farmers with local and international buyers to meet market needs and consumer demands.

Agriculture is a major component of the Egyptian economy, contributing 14.5% of the GDP while the sector accounts for 28% of all jobs. Over 55% of employment in Upper Egypt is agriculture-related.

Workforce development and women’s empowerment are essential to ensure the sustainability of USAID efforts in the agriculture sector, the report said, adding that the USAID is working with agricultural technical schools, universities, and research institutions to strengthen the quality of education and creating jobs.

The USAID is implementing three current programmes in Egypt’s agricultural sector, including the “Feed the Future Egypt Food Security and Agribusiness Support” programme with an estimated cost of $23m. This programme targets seven Egyptian governorates including, Assiut, Aswan, Beni Suef, Luxor, Minya, Qena, and Sohag.

This programme increases agriculture-related incomes of 14000 farmers by strengthening sustainable fruit and vegetable value chains for domestic and export markets. It also incorporates innovative technologies in small-scale cold storage infrastructure and irrigation, in addition to working with farmers on production, post-harvest process, marketing and nutrition. The program started in July 2015 and will be finished in June 2020.

The second current programme of the USAID’s agriculture portfolio is ‘Egypt rural agribusiness strengthening’ with estimated cost of $36.3m in 17 governorates including, Alexandria, Aswan, Assiut, Beheira, Beni Suef, Cairo, Dakahlia, Giza, Gharbia, Ismailia, Menoufia, Minya, Qalyoubia, Qena, Sharkia, and Sohag.

This programme, which started in August 2018 and is planned to be finished in December 2023, helps farmers in Upper Egypt and the Delta to become self-reliant and grow marketable crops that meet international standards for export. 

The third current programme of the USAID agricultural activities in Egypt is “Evaluating Impact and Building Capacity” which generates evidence that informs policy and programme design implementation. These evaluations show the direct link between agriculture, health, and nutrition.

The total cost of this five-year programme which will end on June 2020, is $5.5m, the report stated.

 

USAID promotes Egypt’s trade and investment sector through five activities

Upon the Egyptian government’s request. The USAID is strengthening public financial management and public investment planning through its “Macroeconomic Stabilisation and Reform” programme in partnership with Ministries of Finance and Planning, Monitoring, and Administrative Reform.

The USAID is providing training and capacity building to improve fiscal management, budgeting, and expenditure control as well as to promote greater budget efficiency, transparency, and accountability, the report noted.

This programme started in April 2018 and will be finalised in the same month of 2023 with a total cost of $22.66m, the report clarified.

The USAID is collaborating with the Ministry of Education and Technical Education to improve technical secondary education through its programme “Workforce Improvement and Skills Enhancement” with a total cost of $24.6m.

This programme that started in November 2015, will be finalised by end of this month, targeting 11 governorates including, Alexandria, Aswan, Beni Suef, Damietta, Fayoum, Gharbeya, Ismailia, Menoufia, Port Said, Red Sea, and Sharqeya.

The USAID is also supporting the development of entrepreneurship among youth and promotes the growth and competitiveness of micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) by improving access to high quality public and private services with a cost estimated at $22.9m, through its programme “Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development”.

The USAID is also promoting Egypt’s trade and investment sector through the “Egyptian American Enterprise Fund” which aims at promoting financial inclusion and job creation. Its total estimated cost is at $300m from March 2013 to December 2026.

Through its programme, “Enhancing the US-Egypt Commercial Trade and Investment Relationship”, the USAID is supporting legal and trade-related technical assistance to the government of Egypt, promoting private sector investments. This programme will last from December 2018 to December 2020 with a total cost of $975,000.

 

 

USAID provided over $100m in assistance to conserve Egypt’s antiquities

 

Over $100m were provided by the USAID to assist Egypt in the conservation of its antiquities, according to the report, adding that it is currently implementing three programmes in the antiquities field, including the project “Rediscovering Esna’s Cultural Heritage Assets”.

The programme, which started in October 2016 and will be finalised in November 2019, amount to $3.1m. The second programme in the field of antiquities is establishing the temple Medinet Habu as an open-air museum, with a total cost of $3m, while the third programme is groundwater lowering, with a total cost of EGP 101.8m

 

USAID’s $3.5bn investments in water services benefit 25 million Egyptians

 

The report mentioned that 25 million Egyptians benefited from the USAID’s $3.5bn investments in Egypt’s water and sanitation sector, noting that it helped the government of Egypt establish the Holding Company for Water and Wastewater, a water regulator and a national umbrella to standardize and govern local water utility companies.

The USAID supports the Egyptian government restructure tariffs and help water companies come closer to achieving cost recovery for operations and maintenance, according to the report. It added that the USAID continues to support the Egyptian government to increase access to clean water and sanitation services in underserved rural areas where citizens suffer from unreliable and low-quality potable water and few wastewater connections.

 

 

The USAID is currently involved in three projects in Egypt’s water sector, including the project “Water Utilities Management” with $30m cost to improve access to water and sanitation services. The programme started in October 2014 and will end on September 2020, targeting four governorates; Assiut, Beni Suef, Luxor and Sohag.

The second programme is the “North Sinai Initiative” with $50m to increase access to potable water and improve sanitation for residents of Sinai. This programme started in October 2014 and will last to June 2020. By September 2019, the programme provided direct potable water access to 300,000 of the 450,000 people living in North Sinai.

The third current programme in water area is Construction Monitoring and Engineering Services Support (CMESS). This activity provides technical and oversight support to USAID’s staff in monitoring, implementing and finalising projects procured and managed by the Egyptian government. This programme will wrap up in September 2020 after beginning in July 2015 with a total cost of $1.5m.

 

Egypt is home for the largest school system in the Middle East

With more than 18 million students, Egypt is home of the largest school system in the Middle East, where boys and girls attend schools at nearly equal rates.

The USAID helped establish Egypt’s first two Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) schools in 2011 and 2012. Their success encouraged the Ministry of Education to expand its model to 12 additional schools while still maintaining their high quality.

The USAID is working to eliminate illiteracy among Egypt’s most vulnerable populations using an innovative and intergenerational literacy approach for mothers and their primary school-aged children, in community schools in some of Egypt’s most rural regions, the report stated.

 

USAID’s health programmes in Egypt place particular emphasis on poor 

For nearly 40 years, USAID has worked with the Egyptian people to improve healthy behaviours. Egypt’s health challenges disproportionately affect the rural poor and have the potential to impact the country’s economic prosperity more broadly over the long term. 

The USAID’s programmes improve health behaviours, enhance the quality of health services, and help the Egyptian government guide policy and programme design by supporting research and monitoring in key areas such as nutrition and infectious disease. 

The USAID’s health programmes in Egypt place particular emphasis on poor and underserved populations, including women and youth, in addition to geographical areas where there are health disparities. It also aims to address gender inequalities in the health sector. 

To improve health and promote a stronger workforce, key areas of intervention include; maternal, neonatal, and child health and nutrition; emerging and infectious disease detection and response; health communication; and support for research to improve information on key health topics.   

 

Governance is key for USAID’s current activities

The USAID works with key government institutions to support Egyptian-led governance and rule of law reforms. These reforms are improving the delivery of essential public services and increase citizens’ ability to participate in the national decision-making processes. 

The USAID also supports international and Egyptian organizations that raise awareness of and advocate for improved public services and increased civic participation on key rights. These projects combat gender-based violence and trafficking in persons, promote gender equality and civic participation and advocate for the rights of persons with different abilities.

“Safe Cities Free of Violence Against Women and Girls” is one of the USAID’s important projects in governance areas, initially working to combat sexual harassment in public. 

As a result of its success both at the community level and in promoting legislation to combat sexual violence, its scope has expanded to include support mechanisms for survivors of violence against women. 

This programme was implemented in cooperation with the UN Women from October 2013 for September 2019, with a total estimated cost of $7m.

“Promoting Civic Education among Youth in North Sinai” programme is also one of the USAID’s key programmes. It builds a culture of civic participation and volunteerism among youth in conflict-affected North Sinai through high-impact civic education. 

This programme helped provide youth with an alternate way to improve their communities, training 2,200 youth to exercise their political rights at the community-level through their tribal government or school elections. Besides, 2,400 grassroots community leaders participated in workshops on the importance of including youth in community decision-making. 

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Gaming in Egypt: Is It Possible? https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/10/02/gaming-in-egypt-is-it-possible/ Wed, 02 Oct 2019 11:12:26 +0000 https://eklutdvotyzsri.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=709882 If Egypt is anything, it’s a country with a rich history. Although, archeologists have made many discoveries that date to Egypt in ancient times some mysteries are still puzzling them.

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If Egypt is anything, it’s a country with a rich history. Although, archeologists have made many discoveries that date to Egypt in ancient times some mysteries are still puzzling them. The pyramids are the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of the country and despite their popularity, the mystery of how they were built is yet to be solved. After being a British protectorate for some time, in 1922 it gained its independence and became the Arab Republic of Egypt a country with its laws and regulations.

Since it is a Muslim country, gaming or gambling is prohibited in Egypt. However, the national lottery is perfectly legal. So the issue with gaming is a complicated one. Gambling has been popular since ancient times so it’s hard to get rid of, especially if it’s done worldwide. A total of 3 cities have gambling facilities in Egypt, among which Cairo is the largest with 13 facilities. But there’s a twist to it.

Egyptian citizens aren’t allowed to play in casinos. The only ones allowed to do that are foreigners, namely tourists that have to show a passport to get in. The legal age for gaming is 18 and some casinos require a patron to be 21. What’s peculiar about them is that the only accepted currency is US dollars. Unlike casinos, sports betting is legal in Egypt and the most popular sport to bet on is football.

With this tough situation, casinos might look for their customers online. Since there aren’t any regulations for online gaming technically it isn’t illegal to play slots, blackjack or roulette online. There are many online casinos such as William Hill, GoodWin Casino, NetBet and others, that offer this option. They have interesting bonuses and offers for their players. Additionally, Egyptians are allowed to play their favorite games on other online casinos without a problem.

What’s problematic about casinos in Egypt is the rigorous legislation. According to the law, casinos have to pay their licensing fees and the government is entitled to 50% off their earnings. Although this is tough regulation at its finest, the government’s tax money is filled mainly with casino money. This is good because that money can be used for better purposes.

This begs the question as to why the government has such a tight grip on gaming if it brings financial gains. If the laws were changed and the fees lowered the tax money will increase and it can be put to good use in any infrastructure. However, since it’s a Muslim country those changes could take a toll and might be met with resistance. Tradition could suffer a heavy blow and reactions from the populace might be severe.

Whatever they decide to do it’s up to them to solve this problem. There are many variants to gaming that can be taken up and since technology is always booming new trends will take over and offer a friendlier climate. Either way, gaming online is more popular than ever around the world and will continue to be so in the coming years.

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Tunisia’s presidential runoff: anger, frustration behind ‘unforeseen’ results https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/22/tunisias-presidential-runoff-anger-frustration-behind-unforeseen-results/ Sun, 22 Sep 2019 18:43:17 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=708700 "Tunisians gravitating toward people from outside system to bring them what they want, whether it is economic improvement or social dignity," says think tank fellow

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Tunisia surprised the world as usual, as two political outsiders head to presidential runoff in the country’s second free and democratic presidential elections since Jasmine Revolution in (December 2010-January 2011), in what could be seen as a “rebellion” against the political establishment.

Tunisians now have to choose between Nabil Karoui, a jailed businessperson and media mogul who is facing charges of money laundering and tax evasion, or Kais Saied, a little-known law professor. 

According to the electoral commission’s Wednesday announcement, Saied received 18.40% of the votes and Karoui took 15.58%. The date for the runoff has not yet been announced, but it could be in October, as the parliamentary election is scheduled on 6 October. 

Both long-shot candidates, one independent who flirts with Tunisia’s Islamists and the other is secularist who is running for office behind bars, surprisingly defeated a former prime minister, a defence minister, a former president, and Tunisia’s mammoth Ennahdha Party’s candidate Abdelfattah Mourou.

Adding more drama to the political scene, Tunisia’s ousted president Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali died last Thursday in self-imposed exile in Saudi Arabia aged 83, a day after the results of the second round were announced. 

Ben Ali, who spent 23 years in office, was toppled in January 2011 following a sweeping revolution which inspired other Arab countries in the Middle East to follow Tunisians’ steps. 

Since then, nine successive governments led the country, but all failed to solve its economic, security, and political problems.

Economically, the unemployment rate reached 15.30% in 2019. For security, two suicide attacks hit the capital killing two, including a police officer, and injured several others. Earlier in October 2018, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Avenue Habib Bourguiba, wounding 20 people including 10 police personnel.

In July, the Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi passed away after a severe health crisis forcing the national election to be held on 15 September instead of 17 November. 

The voter turnout was 45%, compared to 63% in the 2014 election, the Independent High Authority for Elections announced.

According to the 2014 Tunisian Constitution, the president and a government chosen by parliament share executive powers and governing, as the president has authority on foreign and defence policy.

Results reflect anger 

“The two winners, both political outsiders, reflect the anger and frustration many Tunisians feel about the political establishment,” Sarah Yerkes, fellow, Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Daily News Egypt. 

“Much like elsewhere across the globe, Tunisians are gravitating toward people from outside the system who can bring them what they want – whether it is economic improvement or social dignity,” Yerkes added.

 

She pointed out that the presence of one of the candidates, Karoui, in jail, tremendously complicates the electoral process. 

“As several observation missions have noted, the timing of Karoui’s arrest makes it impossible for him to have fair access to the voters. Should Karoui prevail in the runoff to be held in October, the judicial system will need to figure out how to handle a truly unique situation,” Yerkes continued. 

Moreover, Yerkes highlighted that Tunisia is naturally entering a new era that is quite different from 2011.

 

“The political transition has made tremendous progress and many institutions operate effectively. However, the economy has not improved, thus many voters are looking for a candidate that can bring real and positive change to their lives,” Yerkes explained, adding that both candidates will need to prove to voters how they will do that. 

“The election is another testament to the tremendous progress Tunisia has made toward consolidating its democratic transition. I witnessed enthusiastic voters and poll workers who took their jobs very seriously,” Yerkes, who observed the election, described the electoral scene in Tunisia. 

Who is running off? 

Kais Saied, a 61-year-old law professor and an expert on constitutional affairs, was endorsed and backed by Ennahda and Moncef Marzouki, former Tunisian president who was named by Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly following the 2010 Revolution. 

Saied ran as an independent candidate. He is campaigning under the slogan “The people want”. 

In an interview with Sky News Arabia, Saied asserted that he is ideologically independent, denying being the Islamists’ candidate. Saied also renewed his opposition toward granting Muslim women equal inheritance rights. 

Tunisians, especially women, fear that big leaps made regarding their civil rights by Essebsi could be revoked after his death.

Essebsi took a brave move in August 2018 to support an unprecedented draft law which grants Muslim women equal inheritance rights, as the law was based on the Islamic Shariah where females only inherit half of the inheritance given to males.

Essebsi further decreed that Muslim women can marry men outside the Islamic faith. Islam sets strict rules that prevent women from marrying non-Muslim men.

 

The second candidate is Nabil Karoui, the owner of the private Nessma TV channel and head of the Qalb Tounes (Heart of Tunisia) party.

 

Karoui was arrested just weeks before the vote over charges of money laundering and tax evasion which he denies. Although he is currently jailed pending investigation, Karoui still can run for president under the Tunisian Law.

Last Wednesday, a judge refused a request to release Karoui, saying it was not in his jurisdiction, according to the candidate’s lawyer. However, Tunisian authorities agreed on Friday to allow him to take part in the presidential debates in the runoff election. The state authorities said Karoui can partake in presential debates, whether from prison or he will be allowed to go to the state TV headquarters.

In an exclusive interview with French weekly magazine Le Point, Karoui accused the head of Tunisian government, who failed to head to the second round of the presidential election, Youssef Chahed and the Ennahda movement, of being behind his apprehension. 

If he wins, Karoui pledged to be “a contemporary president” who would defend democracy and the rights of the minorities, adding that he “would wander the land to improve the living conditions of citizens.” 

Karoui also promised to fight terrorism and bolster security in the country. 

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Decline of inflation means price stability, not decrease: experts https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/21/decline-of-inflation-means-price-stability-not-decrease-experts/ Sat, 21 Sep 2019 12:06:52 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=708596 Some experts suggest citizens cannot yet feel decline due to other services not included by CAPMAS

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Despite fears over facing extra price hikes after the cut to subsidies on fuel at the beginning of the current fiscal year, inflation rates fell short of everyone’s expectations in August.

The market was able to handle the increases and the new energy prices did not affect general inflation in Egypt.

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced last week that Egypt’s annual consumer price inflation declined to 6.7% in August 2019, making it the lowest in over six years.

Also, in July, Egypt’s annual consumer price inflation fell to 7.8%, down from 13% in July 2018.

Egypt is approaching the end of its IMF-backed economic reform programme, which, during 2017, saw inflation rates rise to a high of 33%. The inflation number reported was lower than some analysts expected.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as food, also declined, to 4.9% in August from 5.9% in July, the central bank said on Tuesday.

Inflation is a mirror for the market’s prices. It is calculated according to changes in the prices of vegetables and fruits. The reduction of inflation is one of the central bank’s objectives to improve the economy.

According to the CAPMAS, the annual inflation rate in Egypt in 2015 was about 10.4% and then increased in 2016 to 13.8% and then reached its historical peak in 2017 after the EGP’s flotation, which brought inflation rates to 29.5%. In 2018, it dropped to about 14.4%. Up until 2019, inflation has recorded 7.5%.

Also according to the CAPMAS, the term “inflation” refers to the percentage change in the prices of consumer goods. This rate is measured by 1,000 commodities and services per month from 15,000 sources nationwide. The prices of food, industrial goods, and services are collected monthly from urban and rural areas between the 1-28 of each month and the number of their sources: “10,085” for urban, and “4,337” for the countryside.

One-third of these goods and services are monitored on a weekly basis, or about 333 goods and services per week, purchased by the CAPMAS’s employees and officials. The centre keeps receipts. These goods are constantly changing in price on a weekly basis.

In recent years, the Egyptian government has taken steps toward economic reform. The most important of these steps is eliminating subsidies on some consumer goods, with fuel being the most prominent of these goods.

The ministry of petroleum and mineral resources announced in July the decision to increase the price of petroleum products and completely cut its fuel subsides.

Several economic experts explained the reasons for the decline of inflation and how citizens are affected by it and whether the decline is a positive or negative step toward improving Egypt’s economy.

The Director of the Capital Center for Economic Research and Studies (CCESR), Khaled El-Shafie, said that the recent decline in inflation was a result of the decline in prices of vegetables and fruits and a number of other commodities, explaining that this rate is a large percentage for one month.

  

In other words, Egyptian traders have yet to change the prices of their goods and services for consumers after the recent cuts in subsidies. This is what has mainly contributed to the decline in inflation rates to its lowest levels.

“There was an expectation that the decline in inflation would not last long under cuts of subsides but the market has been able to handle the increases in energy prices and it has not been affected the general inflation in Egypt, which gave an incentive to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to reduce the interest rate by 1.5%,” he added.

El-Shafie predicts that the coming period will witness a further decline in inflation, seeing that the IMF’s harsh reforms are almost completed.

He suggested that this was due to the cautious performance of the CBE when dealing with the waves of inflation experienced after floating the EGP in November 2016.

Moreover, economic expert Hossam Al-Ghaish, said that inflation means the change in the prices of basic goods that are most consumed by citizens, such as vegetables, fruit, meat, and medicines and therefore any change occurring in these groups determines how high or low inflation is.

Al-Ghaish also said that the decline in inflation does not mean prices in the markets have fallen, but that the pace of price increase has decreased, or has become stable. He cited that, “if a commodity is rising annually by one pound, and in one year it has risen by half a pound, here we mention that the rate of inflation declined.”

Inflation from the end of 2016 to the beginning of 2019 has been very high, but during the current period of the year there is near-stability in prices, and if there are rises, they are very slight, which indicates improvement in inflation rates, he said.

The expert suggested that the current decline in inflation is due to the fact that economic indicators are witnessing stability at the macroeconomic level. The decline witnessed by the dollar in the Egyptian market since the beginning of the year, which amounts to about 8%, is leading to the stability of commodity prices.

“Commodity prices became slightly lower, but the most notable decline was in the price of red meat and poultry,” he noted.

Al-Ghaish concluded that in order for citizens to feel a real decline in prices of goods on the ground, there must be two conditions achieved; the first is an increase in the production of goods and an increase in the supply markets, and the second factor is the continuous decline in foreign exchange rates and the rise of the value of the EGP.

Citizens still cannot feel inflation decline

Economist Sherif El-Demerdash said that citizens cannot feel a decline in inflation for two important reasons. The first reason is that many people do not understand the meaning of inflation itself. Meanwhile, secondly, the inflation rate measures in the rise of prices for various commodities does not concern the majority of the population.

Al-Ghaish explained that “The inflation rate is at 6.7%. This is the average and not the decline for all commodities. It is possible that the goods that affect the basic needs of citizens increase more than the average rate, especially food and drink items. ”

Therefore, what reduces the rate of inflation might be products that are not of major importance for everyday citizens, such as cars, durable goods, etc. Thus, the average citizen does not feel the low inflation rate.

And just because inflation rates of goods are decreasing does not hide the fact that prices are still high. Al-Ghaish agrees with other experts that the rate of increase is falling by 6.7%, and he also agrees that the prices of these goods have not fallen at all. Meaning that goods and commodities still end up expensive for the average consumer.

On the other hand, economist Wael El-Nahas says that government studies depend on certain commodities in calculating the inflation rate.

The decline in meat and poultry prices in the previous period is the biggest reason for the decline in inflation this month. Meanwhile, commodities such as fruits and vegetables are experiencing a steady gain in market prices, he explained.

El-Nahas concluded that the average Egyptian does not feel this improvement in prices or stability for other commodities due to other expense aspects. There are other things that he must budget for, like school, high prices of electricity, gasoline, and other goods and services, are not one of the goods that are included when calculating inflation rates.

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Fate of outlawed Islamists, Brotherhood members in post-Bashir Sudan https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/21/fate-of-outlawed-islamists-brotherhood-members-in-post-bashir-sudan/ Sat, 21 Sep 2019 12:04:16 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=708598 Sudan’s transitional government seeks new era with Egypt through extraditing wanted Islamists, MB members, says political expert

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Security sources said on condition of anonymity that preparations are now underway in Sudan to extradite wanted militants to Egypt after reaching common understanding. Madin Ibrahim Hassaneen is the first one to be extradited to Egypt under this arrangement.

Madin is a leading figure at the Ansar al-Sharia Brigades and is convicted of murdering police officers in Sharqeya governorate in Egypt.

According to security sources, Madin, 59, adopts the Takfir Wal-Hijra (Excommunication and Exodus) ideology which was founded by Shukri Mustafa in the 1970s. Madin was also responsible for establishing Ansar Al-Sharia (Sharia Advocates) militant group in Sharqeya in the period that followed the Rabaa sit-in dispersal.

The Radical Islamist Takfir Wal-Hijra group, also known as Jama’at al-Muslimin (The Assemblage of Muslims), appeared in Egypt in 1971. The group’s first leader Shukri Mustafa was born in June 1942. He was executed by an Egyptian court in connection with the assassination of Egypt’s former religious endowments minister Sheikh Dahabi. It considers the modern Egyptian society as ‘infidels’ and believes that it is the Muslims’ duty to separate themselves from it until they can return in strength to conquer and Islamise the country, as Prophet Muhammad did to Mecca.

Although the group was crushed by the Egyptian security forces. It is said to have paved the way for extremists’ extensive activity in the subsequent years and decades.

Ahmed Atta, a political researcher at the Middle East Forum in London, told Daily News Egypt that Madin Hassanin Ibrahim is one of the leaders of the jihadist elements who emerged in the early 1970s and promoted the idea of Takfir Wal-Hijra.

He added that Madin participated in the jihadist project against the Soviet Union during the invasion of Afghanistan where he met with groups of jihadi leaders, including Abu Anas Al-Libi, leader of Ansar al-Sharia which blew up the United States embassy in Tanzania in Dar es Salaam, killing over 200 people.

Atta noted that the 2011 US National Security report confirmed that Ansar Al-Sharia has a branch in a number of Egyptian governorates.

Madin was arrested more than once during the rule of former president Mubarak due to the establishment of military cells affiliated with Ansar Al-Sharia.

“Madin was detained in Wadi Al-Natroun prison where he met with the ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi. In prison, the two were able to meet and create a plan to move the larger jihad movement towards a unified ‘Free Islamic Army’ to include all jihadist factions throughout the Arab world,” Atta said.

“Madin fled prison with Morsi during the 2011 Revolution with the help of armed factions of Hamas and the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood leaders,” Atta added.

“After the Brotherhood topped the political scene in Egypt. Morsi and Madin met again in the presence of the Brotherhood leading member Khairat Al-Shater, where Madin offered to facilitate the return of the Islamist militants from Afghanistan and Pakistan to start forming the ‘Free Islamic Army’ to serve the jihadist state project,” he continued.

“Al-Shater agreed to finance the project and asked Madin to tour Turkey, Libya, Sudan, and Tunisia where he got advanced training on communication between jihadist factions by the Turkish intelligence,” according to Atta.

“Madin returned and established armed focal points in the Brotherhood sit-ins of Rabaa and Nahda, and called on all supporters across Egypt to join these militant points,” Atta claimed.

Atta clarified that after the collapse of the Brotherhood project and in the wake of the 30 June uprising, Madin travelled to Libya, then to Sudan where he settled and “formed security units for fugitive elements of the Brotherhood. This unit was fully funded by Qatar.”

Atta said that Sudan’s current transitional government is seeking a new era with Egypt through extraditing wanted extremists such as those Brotherhood affiliates, unlike the previous period of ousted Sudanese president Oma Al-Bashir.

Moreover, the UAE newspaper of Al-Ain quoted an Egyptian security source saying that Egypt has officially addressed Sudan to hand over dozens of wanted militants.

The source added that the most prominent of these names are three leaders of the Shura Council of the Brotherhood, Yasser Hassanein, Mohammed Sharif, and Helmi Al-Jazzar. The source added two leading figures, Yousef Harbi and Abdulhadi Shalabi.

Egypt demands that Sudan hand over some 70 members of the Brotherhood’s armed wing, most notably Ahmed Abdel Meguid and Mustafa Tantawi, the two main suspects in the attempted assassination of former Alexandria security chief Mostafa El-Nemr.

Many leaders of the Brotherhood recently escaped from Sudan to Turkey. The most dangerous of them is Al-Jazzar who is accused of violence incitement.

Al-Jazzar fled to Istanbul early this year and appeared a few days ago accompanied by Brotherhood preacher Youssef al-Qaradawi at his home.

Other prominent Brotherhood names, who are based in Sudan, are Mohamed Abdel Malik El-Halouji, an Egyptian Brotherhood official in Sudan; Mohamed El Behairy, head of the International Brotherhood Organisation in Africa; and other Brotherhood leaders including Mohamed Farid, Hossam El Kashef, Ahmed Awad, Tarek Seif, and Medhat Radwan

On the nature of security coordination between Egypt and neighbouring countries, an Egyptian security source told Al-Ain that Egypt worked to consolidate its relations with its neighbours and concluded agreements at the highest level to extradite fugitive elements accused of terrorism.

The source asserted that a high-profile security team is responsible for the implementation of the arrangement to arrest fugitives in Arab countries, most notably Kuwait and Sudan, praising the speed of coordination and effective cooperation.

Several Arab countries are expected to hand over several Egyptians associated with the Brotherhood soon, he added. This international cooperation is the result of multiple Egyptian requests for the extradition of these terrorist elements, as well as Egyptian delegations’ visits to those countries to follow up on the matter.

Sudan was a safe haven for Brotherhood members fleeing Egypt after the 30 June Revolution, mainly due to its proximity. The number of Brotherhood fugitives in Sudan after 2013 reportedly exceeded 3,000.

A source close to the group says that most of the Brotherhood members in Sudan are wanted in terrorism cases in Egypt. In addition, many of them do not have valid passports or personal identity due to their illegal entry into Sudan.

Although Egypt has repeatedly called on Sudan since 2014 to hand over wanted Brotherhood members, the former Bashir government has ignored the requests and supported the Brotherhood’s presence there.

During his recent visit to Cairo, head of the Sudanese Military Council, Abdel Fattah El-Burhan, promised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi that he would not accept Sudan to continue as a safe haven for terrorist groups. The two sides signed an agreement to tighten security measures on borders and fight terrorism.

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Netanyahu makes last-minute push at eleventh hour of election race  https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/15/netanyahu-makes-last-minute-push-at-eleventh-hour-of-election-race/ Sun, 15 Sep 2019 10:00:04 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=708014 'Prime minister is in the midst of a death match for his political career,' says analyst  

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Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is at a tight race to win the re-lection of the general poll which will be held on 17 September, relying as usual on electoral pledges to gain more votes and trying hard to convince Israeli voters that he is the only leader capable of maintaining the security of Israel.

This time, Netanyahu vowed to annex parts of the occupied West Bank if he returned to office this week. He announced that he intends to impose the “Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea”.

 

With such an announcement, Netanyahu hoped that right-wing parties would support in the election; upon which, he could eventually be able to form a coalition to lead Israel, in what appears to be one of the most difficult challenges in his political career. 

The September re-election will be held because Netanyahu failed to form a coalition. In April’s election, results showed that the right-wing bloc gained 65 seats, while the centre-left bloc only got 55. 

“Today I announce my intention to apply with the formation of the next government Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea,” Netanyahu said in a televised speech last week. 

Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party, is facing a strong rival in this poll, former General Benny Gantz of the opposition centrist Blue and White party. 

 Final polls suggested on Friday that Likud and Blue and White party are tied at 32 seats. Polls have predicted that the right-wing bloc could take 58-59 seats in the Knesset, and 53 seats for the centre-left. 

In Israel, Netanyahu still faces ‘dangerous’ charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three cases pending a final hearing. 

On the other hand, the premier also revealed that the United States Mideast plan or what became known as the so-called ‘Deal of the Century,’ is expected to be released following the Israeli elections, echoing Trump’s previous statements regarding the time of the release.  

Annexing the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea, if applied, would determine any future for a two-state solution, as Palestinians insist to have an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 borders. 

Netanyahu also said that Israel would probably have no choice but to go to war in the Gaza Strip, amid an ongoing escalation in recent months with the Hamas movement. 

 

Strong condemnation 

 

Netanyahu’s remarks of the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea sparked a regional as well as an international backlash, even from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who had received the Israeli Prime Minister five days ago before the Israeli election. 

 Netanyahu made a one-day trip to Sochi in a visit that was seen as a desperate attempt to rally the Likud elder Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel. 

The European Union spokesperson also commented on Netanyahu’s plans and said the bloc “will not recognise any changes to the pre-1967 borders” of Israel. “The policy of settlement construction and expansion is illegal under international law and its continuation, and actions taken in this context, undermine the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” the EU spokesperson said in a statement. 

The UK, Italy, France, Germany, and Spain voiced concerns regarding the prime minister’s plans. 

Meanwhile, Palestinian officials and Arab countries also condemned Netanyahu’s plans including Jordan and Saudi Arabia. 

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that “confiscating and annexing Palestinian land and building settlements is a unilateral measure we condemn.” 

 “They’ll kill prospects for peace,” Safadi tweeted. 

 

Concurrently, Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the Palestine Liberation Organization said that the plans “would bury any chance for peace,” calling on the international community to denounce Netanyahu’s plans. 

Similarly, the Arab League (AL) Secretary-General, Ahmed Aboul Gheit said that Arab Foreign Ministers denounced Netanyahu’s promise to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. 

In a statement, the AL said that the announcement is “a dangerous update and Israeli aggression,” as it violates international law, the charter of the UN and UN Security Council Resolution 242/338. 

Furthermore, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that “such steps, if implemented, would constitute a serious violation of international law.” 

“They would be devastating to the potential of reviving negotiations and regional peace, while severely undermining the viability of the two-state solution,” Guterres added. 

 

 Trump’s support 

Israel occupied the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights during the War of 1967. In 1981, Israel unilaterally annexed the Golan Heights, a move that was never internationally recognised.

The Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea constitute almost 30% of the West Bank. Nearly 65,000 Palestinians and some 11,000 Israeli settlers live there, according to Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

 

Netanyahu hoped to be backed by the US President Donald Trump in his new plans to recognise Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea.  

Trump already extended similar favours for his Israeli friend to strengthen his position in the general election held last April. 

In March, Trump signed an official proclamation recognising Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, overturning US foreign policy that has been held for decades. Earlier in December 2017, Trump formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordered the relocation of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Earlier this month, Netanyahu renewed his promise to annex all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. 

More than 628,000 Israeli settlers live in illegal settlements in the West Bank and Jerusalem, according to Human Rights Watch.

In 2017, Israel agreed on plans to establish 10,536 housing units in its settlements in the West Bank, compared to 4,611 units between 2015-2016, according to the Peace Now non-governmental Israeli organisation. 

 

 A death match

 

“Netanyahu is in the midst of a death match for his political career and he is leaning hard onto the one issue that has always helped him defeat his political opponents: security,” Nicholas A Heras, Middle East Security fellow at the Center for a New American Security told Daily News Egypt. 

“There is no doubt that Netanyahu made his remarks concerning the Jordan River Valley to appeal to Israeli voters who are worried that the Jordanian side of the border with the West Bank could be a revolving door for terrorist groups to attack Israel,” Heras continued. 

On Russia’s visit, Heras explained that he visited Putin to show Israelis that “only he, Benjamin Netanyahu, has the personal connection and strength to deal with the Russian leader on equal terms to ensure that Israel’s northern border with Syria is not breached by Iran.” 

 

“Netanyahu wants Israeli voters to associate him with the word “security,” and this effort is a major part of his re-election campaign,” Heras highlighted. 

 

 On a possible war in Gaza or with Iran-backed Hezbollah, Heras pointed out that Netanyahu is more likely to go back to war with Hamas than with Hezbollah for a simple reason. “There is a powerful voting bloc of security-focused Israelis who live close to Gaza, and their support is essential if Netanyahu wants to remain prime minister if he is re-elected.”

“Hamas is also a much weaker actor in comparison to Hezbollah, and Netanyahu is a risk-averse leader who would not want to risk a major war with Hezbollah that would bring in Iran and could lead to mass destruction within Israel,” Heras noted. “The stakes, both political and regarding the existential survival of Israel, are much, much higher for Netanyahu if there was a war with Hezbollah,” Heras concluded. 

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As US marks 18th anniversary of 9/11 attacks, what lies ahead for Al-Qaeda https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/11/as-us-marks-18th-anniversary-of-9-11-attacks-what-lies-ahead-for-al-qaeda/ Wed, 11 Sep 2019 21:20:25 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707743 The 911 attacks were conducted by the militant group of Al-Qaeda which is considered as one of the fiercest jihadi organisations in the world and includes thousands of fighters

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A total of 18 years passed after the 911 attacks that led to the death of 2, 977 individuals and the suffering of 75,000 people from psychological and physical disorders as a result of these attacks. During the last 18 years, nearly 156 people passed away after they suffered from poisoned fumes and dust from the collapse of the New York two World Trade Centre towers.

The 911 attacks were conducted by the militant group of Al-Qaeda which is considered as one of the fiercest jihadi organisations in the world and includes thousands of fighters. The group was founded by the Saudi citizen Osama bin Laden, who was killed eight years ago in a United States militant attack that targeted his residence in Pakistan.

But with the killing of its leader, and the emergence of Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda’s power and influence has been significantly weakened.

Through this report, Daily News Egypt attempts to shed light on the impact of Al-Qaeda today and the threat that this group is currently posing to global security. 

On a media scale, the IS news has dominated the media in recent years, while Al-Qaeda’s group has resorted to a reconstruction strategy that was based on forming alliances with regional groups. According to a recent report from US intelligence, a warning popped up that senior leading figures from Al Qaeda are strengthening the global leadership structure of the group and continue to encourage attacks against the west and the US.

Similarly, a UN report released earlier this year on the global threat of terrorism unveiled that the Al-Qaeda group possesses “high ambitions”, is still coherent and active in many regions, and has the ambition to present itself more on the international stage.

A new war tactic

With the rise of the ferocious drone campaigns, the killing of Osama bin Laden and the challenge of the IS, Al-Qaeda adopted a new war tactic. This tactic focused on affording support to the group’s affiliates in Africa, the Middle East, and south Asia.

These affiliates are local militias, integrated into communities, and sworn to loyalty to Al-Qaeda leadership. Plus, the group is keen to engage with the local population, unlike the IS which is perceived with hostility from locals due to the violent actions that it undertook against innocent civilians.

In 2013, Al-Qaeda issued the ‘Jihad Guidelines,’ which included several reforms within the organisation.

The ‘Jihad Guidelines’ document focuses, among other things, on the community approach, and instructs its fighters to avoid any behaviour that could lead to a “revolution between people”.

Decentralisation strategy

Al-Qaeda has doubled its attacks through its affiliate branches. In 2018, it carried out 316 attacks worldwide. These branches are located in the Islamic Maghreb, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Indian subcontinent, Somalia, East Africa, Egypt, and Syria.

The group appeared in the Islamic Maghreb in 2006 when an Algerian militia sided with Al-Qaeda following a crackdown by Algerian forces. The militia has moved to west Africa, while in the Indian subcontinent, the group was established in 2014 and went active in countries such as Pakistan, India, Myanmar, and Bangladesh.

Meanwhile, the group was active in 2009 in the Arabian Peninsula through the merger of local jihadists with the international jihadist network in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, while in Syria the group was called the ‘Tahrir al-Sham’ entity which rose from the merger of many Jihadist militias with ties to Al-Qaeda.

In Egypt, the group’s affiliate militias appeared in the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula. 

Future leadership

In a 2015 speech, current Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri presented a young man as a “lion of the group.” That young man was Hamza bin Laden, son of former Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, and is widely seen as the future leader of Al-Qaeda.

The US considers him a global terrorist and has a warrant out for $1m for any information about his whereabouts.

Promoting him as the new leader of Al-Qaeda, several web sites loyal to Al-Qaeda present Hamza bin Laden as a rising star who will inspire the next generation of jihadists and infuse the group’s arteries. Through recent years Hamza bin Laden has issued voice and video messages urging supporters of the group to attack the US and its allies in retaliation for his father’s death.

In the same context, the observatory of “Takfiri fatwas” translated into “Extremist Views” of the Dar Al-Ifta, the highest religious institution in Egypt, recently released a report on the changing stages experienced by “Al-Qaeda” since the 911 attacks in 2001.

The observatory noted that the organisation succeeded in dealing with the variables of the stage in such a way that kept it present until now without being eliminated.

The observatory added that Al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks continued to present itself on the ground as the vanguard of extremist organisations and does not seek to establish an “Islamic Caliphate” in the short term, and therefore it adopted several methods aimed at staying as coherent as possible, by providing capabilities and channelling fighters.

The report pointed out that Al-Qaeda has divided the new followed methods into several stages. After the September 11 attacks, the organisation found it difficult to recruit fighters. Subsequently, this forced it to be dependent on the network of relations in the areas where it is deployed, in addition to relying on supporters abroad to carry out terrorist operations such as the Madrid and London attacks in 2004 and 2005.

Al-Qaida worked on a plan based on the fact that each of its groups was responsible for a particular region, ie, it followed a pattern of “decentralisation”, which indicates that the organisation has left these groups to operate individually, while maintaining the idea of “uniting Muslim society” through the destruction of current societies and the establishment of other alternative societies, which it regards as the real targeted society according to their ideas.

The report said that Al-Qaeda worked to change its speech after 2011, where it tried to put forward and use new terms that were not used in its speech like the ‘nation,’ and abandoned the superstitious speech that was communicated through its publications, whether visible or written, provided that the speech is far from enforcing its ideology. This came as Zawahiri believed that Muslims should learn “right first” according to their extremist beliefs.

The observatory’s report pointed out that the waves of change in the group’s ideas led it to focus on targeting Muslims through speech and governments via the intensification of terrorist operations against security forces and others. The people’s strategy was fully evident when Zawahiri announced it must first work to mobilise the masses.

The report added that with the rise of the IS in late 2013, this led to a partial competition between the two organisations, where Al-Qaeda focused its operations on the “near enemy,” while the IS worked to focus its operations on the “remote enemy”.

According to the report, Al-Qaeda relied on non-intensification of external operations, worked to avoid security prosecutions, and left the stage for IS and its elements to be vulnerable to security targeting, as the Al-Qaeda strategy is based on ‘intellectual deployment’ and not on the basis of geographical control.

The observatory concluded the report by noting that although Al-Qaeda has recently retreated and the terrorist scene topped the IS, especially after the strikes that rocked Al-Qaeda, such as the killing of Hamza bin Laden and the conflict between him and Zawahiri over the leadership of the organization, however the organisation may return on the ruins of the IS, in an attempt to exploit all the gaps.

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Sudan’s new transitional government sworn in, a step toward achieving revolutionary demands https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/11/sudans-new-transitional-government-sworn-in-a-step-toward-achieving-revolutionary-demands/ Wed, 11 Sep 2019 13:26:08 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707665 Sudanese cabinet include four female ministers for first time

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Sudan’s transitional government was finally sworn in, on Sunday, after multiple weeks of negotiations and delays, marking the first step toward achieving the demands of the four-month revolution.

The new cabinet is the first since the ouster of long-time president Omar Al-Bashir, who remained in power for almost 30 years.

The 18-member cabinet led by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, included four women, marking unprecedented representation of women in the Sudanese government. Also, the country now has a female foreign minister for the first time.

The ministerial portfolios held by women included Asmaa Abdallah as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Walaa Essam Al-Boushi as Minister of Youth and Sports, Lina Al-Sheikh as Minister of Labour and Development, and Intisar Al-Zein as Minister of Higher Education.

Asmaa Abdallah is not only the first female foreign minister in Sudan, but also the Arab world.

Women played a leading role in the months of street protests against Al-Bashir’s rule which started December 2018. Hundreds of females were detained during the uprising and many others were beaten and sexually harassed by security forces, as reported by political activists and witnesses during the revolution.

The cabinet formation came as a result of the power-sharing deal between protesters and military generals who came in power after the ouster of Al-Bashir in April. Two ministers are yet to be appointed, where Hamdok stated that he is still negotiating with the pro-democracy movement over the last two posts.

The cabinet is expected to steer the daily affairs of the country during a transition period of 39 months when general elections are scheduled to be held. The prime minister has said he was adamant that his cabinet is representative of all of Sudan’s regions, including areas which had, in the past, been routinely overlooked.

The next step is the creation of a transitional legislature in which women have been guaranteed at least 40% of its 300 seats. The chamber should sit by November at the latest. The Forces of Freedom and Change, a wide coalition of civilian and opposition forces, will select two thirds of the members, while the remainder will come from political parties outside the alliance.

Hamdok, who previously served as an economist at the United Nations, said in a press conference on Sunday that his country will begin a new phase through the new government which will work in harmony and with integrity, referring that their priorities are to end the long-running conflicts in western and southern Sudan and to establish peace.

The Sudanese prime minister explained that there is a need to reconsider the issue of the public budget, saying: “If we can sign peace agreement in a period of one to six months, this will create a good atmosphere because the war spent 70-80% of our budget, so we can then spend more on education and infrastructure and restore production through a strong and sustainable economy.”

The newly appointed Finance Minister Ibrahim al-Badawi said “We have a 200-day programme for reviving the economy in a way that could help reduce the cost of living for our people in the near term.”

“We also have a long-term plan to restructure the overall economy,” he said, adding the country is expecting new donations soon to help tackle some immediate challenges.

Economy is the biggest challenge facing the new government, as it has collapsed since the south seceded in 2011, which led to the deprivation of the north of three quarters of its oil reserves.

The new Sudanese government is required to work on the provision of foreign exchange to finance and cover the import bill for basic commodities such as fuel and flour.

The new government is also striving to negotiate the removal of Sudan from the US list of state sponsors of terrorism and extremism, as well as reducing the country’s military spending, which represents up to 70% of the public budget.

Vice-President of the Egyptian Council for African Affairs, Salah Halima, said that the government will face a series of difficult challenges that require confrontation, and if the government managed to overcome them this will represent a great criterion for its success, which undoubtedly came at a difficult stage in the history of Sudan.

The government of Hamdok will have to deal with the economy file in order to improve it as well as living conditions, especially after the hike in prices.

The economic conditions were the main motive behind the protests that came out against the former Sudanese president.

He referred to the importance of dealing with armed factions in Sudan, where a dialogue should be established with the various factions in order to overcome the presence of armed groups in Sudan, deeming that this will be difficult work, but not impossible for the new Sudan.

“Among the government of Hamdok will be its tasks to work in cooperation with other Sudanese institutions, to achieve a foreign policy more in harmony with the Arab region, and to move away from axes adopted by Al-Bashir which brought to Sudan a lot of internal and external conflicts,” Halima concluded.

Moreover, Seif El-Din Soliman, a Sudanese journalist and analyst, expressed his high hopes for the new transitional government which he believes represents all the national sectors in the country and is not a partisan government as it was during the last 30 years under the rule of Al-Bashir.

The new government has many challenges, but the people have to remain united as they have been in recent months so that the government can carry out its tasks, Soliman urged, asserting that restoration of security and stability and the enforcement of law and social justice must be on the list of priorities of the new transitional government to promote the economy and restore the power of the state.

However, Al-Bashir’s rule has come to an end, as the human rights, political and economic situations in Sudan deteriorated. Many of the protestors who called for peace, justice, rule of law, and economic reforms have paid the price of change with their lives and liberty.

Sudanese Court formally indicted former Al-Bashir on corruption and holding illicit foreign currency during his third trial last week.

This came after authorities had seized €6.9m, $351,770 and 5.7m Sudanese pounds at Al-Bashir’s home which he acquired and used illegally.  Al-Bashir said he had received $ 25 million from Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman, as well as funds from other sources, but he claimed that he did not use the money for his own benefit.

Al-Bashir has been detained since being ousted from power in April after months of protests.The ousted president was initially facing charges of illegally possessing foreign currency, corruption. He was also charged in May with incitement and involvement in the killing of protesters, and prosecutors also want him questioned over suspected money laundering and terrorist financing. Additionally, he has been indicted by the International Criminal Court in The Hague on charges of masterminding genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Al-Bashir was one of the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) longest-running fugitives. The court has issued two arrest warrants for the former Sudanese leader – the first on 4 March 2009 and the second on 12 July 2010. He stands accused of criminal responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide following the killing, maiming, and torturing of hundreds of thousands of people in the Sudanese region of Darfur.

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Tunisia vote: meet the front-runners competing for presidency https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/08/tunisia-vote-meet-the-front-runners-competing-for-presidency/ Sun, 08 Sep 2019 11:00:08 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707342 Tunisia's Ennahda named a candidate for first time since 2011 revolution

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Tunisia is gearing up for its second free and democratic presidential election that is expected to be held on 15 September, two months earlier that its supposed date as the country’s President Beji Caid Essebsi died in July after severe health crisis. The elections were supposed to be held on 17 November.

Tunisia’s Independent High Authority for Elections announced on 31 August that it approved the papers of 26 candidates with diverse ideologies, including two women, running for the office. More than seven million Tunisians are expected to cast their ballots in the vote.

Candidates started their campaigns on 2 September as they will last until 13 September. Initial results are to be announced on 17 September.

Essebsi came to office in December 2014, after winning the country’s first free presidential poll since the sweeping uprising which toppled long-time autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 after 23 years in office. 

Among the candidates are Nabil Karoui of the Qalb Tounes party (Heart of Tunisia), former prime minister Mehdi Jomaa, Abdel Fattah Mourou chosen by Ennahda party (Renaissance), former president Moncef Marzouki, former head of government Youssef Chahed, President of the Free Destourian Party (PDL) Abir Moussi, and former Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi. 

Tunisia is widely seen as the only successful symbol of democracy following the Arab Spring in 2011. However, the country’s nine governments which took the lead of the country, since then, have failed in tackling its economic troubles.  

Meanwhile, Tunisians, especially women, fear that big leaps made regarding their civil rights by Essibsi could be revoked after his death.

Essebsi took a brave move in August 2018 to support an unprecedented draft which aims to grant Muslim women equal inheritance rights, as the current system is based on the Islamic Shariah Law which permit daughters only half of the inheritance given to sons.

Essebsi further decreed that Muslim women can marry men outside Islamic faith. Islam sets strict rules that prevent women from marrying non-Muslim men.

“The choice between voters is going to be influenced by two opposing elements: the willingness to claim the legacy of Essebsi on specific issues, including women’s rights, versus the ability to calm citizens’ fears and meet their expectations,” Haykel Ben Mahfoudh, a senior non-resident fellow at the Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East wrote in the Atlantic Council think tank.

According to the 2014 Tunisian Constitution, the president and a government chosen by parliament share executive powers and governing, as the president has authority on foreign and defence policy.

Noteworthy, Essebsi called for amending the constitution a few months before his death, amid disputes with the head of government, Youssef Chahed.

Here are the main candidates running for presidency: 

Youssef Chahed 

Chahed run the upcoming elections under the umbrella of his party Tahya Tounes (Long Live Tunisia).

He is a 43-year-old agriculture engineer chosen by Essebsi to lead the cabinet in 2016, as he was a member of the Nidaa Tounes party (Call for Tunisia), founded by Essebsi.

Earlier this year, Chahed and several MPs founded the secular party Tahya Tounes, intending to compete with moderate Islamists in the presidential race.

The move followed months of disputes between Chahed and the Nidaa Tounes amid accusations to Mohamed Essebsi, the son of the late president, of seeking to serve his interests.

During his term, Chahed was criticised over “failing” to save the country’s economy and improve the citizens’ living conditions.

Chahed said he wants to split from the old regime, and to empower the Tunisians, especially youth, and to give them hope for a better future.

During an electoral campaign rally on Friday in Kasserine, west-central Tunisia, Chahed left the scene after protests over his government performance in the past years, as people called for his departure.

Abdel Fattah Mourou

Ennahda, described as Tunisia’s largest and moderate Islamist party, also named its candidate for presidential elections for the first time since the 2011 revolution.

Mourou, a 71-year-old lawyer, is acting currently as the interim speaker of the parliament after Mohamed Ennaceur, who was sworn in as Tunisia’s interim president following Essebsi.

He is considered as one of the most prominent historical leaders and founders of the Islamist movement in Tunisia.

Mourou worked as a judge until 1977, then he became a lawyer.

He left Ennahda party after he was apprehended in 1991 and spent two years in prison. In 2012, he returned to Ennahda and the political scene after toppling Ben Ali. 

Mourou, a Beethoven fan known for his passion for music and with moderate thoughts, pledged to be the president of all Tunisians, not only a president for Ennahda supporters.

In an interview with Al-Hurra, Mourou pledged to maintain what was achieved regarding women’s rights, adding that all the laws and darts issued by the parliament are considered as “acquis of Tunisian people.”

Abdelkarim Zbidi

Zbidi, 69, was the defence minister under the government of Chahed since 2017. He submitted his candidacy papers as an independent last month. He is backed by the Nidaa Tounes and the Afek Tounes parties.

Since 1981, Zbidi, a doctor, served in several posts under the rule of Tunisian presidents Habib Bourguiba, Bin Ali, and Essebsi. 

Zbidi holds a PhD in medicine from the Claude Bernard University Lyon 1, France. Following the 2011 uprising, he was appointed as the defence minister under the government of Mohamed Ghannouchi until he quit in March 2013.

He said in a recent interview with Reuters that he intends to amend the constitution if he is elected as president, as he wants to end “the division of power between the prime minister and the head of state.”

Zbidi was seen as one of the most serious rivals to Youssef Chahed

Moncef Marzouki 

Marzouki was named by Tunisia’s Constituent Assembly to be the first president following the 2011 revolution. He was a human rights activist and was known for his opposition to Ben Ali.

 

Marzouki was born on 7 July in 1945 in Grombalia. He holds a PhD in medicine in 1973 from Strasbourg University in France and specialised in Internal Medicine and Neurology.

 

Marzouki lectured in medicine at the Medical University of Sousse until he was fired in 2000 for his political activity. In 1980, he joined the Tunisian League for the Defence of Human Rights, which he led in 1989, according to his biography on his website. 

 

He is also an author of several works on political philosophy. He is the founder of the centre-left Congress Party for the Republic (CPR). 

 

Marzouki immigrated to France and spent two decades in exile before returning to Tunisia in 2011, days after Ben Ali fled the country. 

In the 2014 elections, Marzouki lost polls with 44.32% to 55.68% for Essebsi. 

Nabil Karoui

Karoui, a businessperson and owner of the private channel Nessma TV, was arrested over charges of money laundering and tax evasion just weeks before the vote. 

The 56-year-old media mogul is one of the main candidates competing for the presidency.

Karoui’s party, Heart of Tunisia, said that the apprehension is meant to exclude him from the election race. However, the arrest has not prevented him from remaining a candidate in the polls.

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Customary marriage: unprohibited in Islam, but MP drafting law to criminalise it https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/04/customary-marriage-unprohibited-in-islam-but-mp-drafting-law-to-criminalise-it/ Wed, 04 Sep 2019 08:30:30 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=707056 Experts debated over the draft law, showing its cons and pros

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A wave of social and religious debate on the possibility of criminalising customary marriage stirred again, after the parliamentary member Amna Nosseir announced drafting a new law to criminalise it.

Nosseir said she will present the draft law to parliament speaker Ali Abdel Aal by the beginning of the next parliamentary round scheduled for October.

Several experts rejected the draft law, believing that this type of marriage is needed in many cases, and that it differs than secret marriage, but its only problem is the absence of legal documentation. The experts also believed that partners of customary marriage should not be punished except in case of not documenting their marriage.

Meanwhile, Nosseir believes that customary marriage is increasingly spreading, that’s why there must be a legislation to criminalise this type of marriage, noting that customary marriage lacks the legal elements of a traditional marriage, which is declared, approved by the partner’s guardians, and documented by the authorized registrar “Ma’zoun”.

The draft law aims to protect society from the risk of customary marriage, and to educate girls, especially minors, to ensure their rights once they marry, Nossier said.

“Is it right for a girl to marry behind her family and when the young man takes what he wants from her, he abandons her without giving her right,” she said, highlighting that many girls have resorted to her to get their rights from men they have customarily married without the knowledge of their parents, seeking help to get their rights.

This was not the first time for Nossier to speak about the necessity of putting regulations to criminalise the customary marriage. In 2018, she also submitted a similar draft to the parliament, but it was not discussed.

In a press statement, Nossier said that she would seek insights and opinions of all the consultants in the concerned parties on the draft law, as well as open a broad discussion about it after referring it to the concerned parliamentary committees’ members, in addition to the possibility of offering it for community dialogue to achieve social consensus.

She continued that her move aimed at facilitating all ways of official Islamic marriage for young people, pointing out that if the draft was approved, she will add guarantees to the law to save men from punishment if he decided to turn the customary marriage into official acknowledged one according to Islamic rules and give his wife her rights.

She explained that the main features of the draft law on customary marriage will focus on ensuring the officiality of marriage through legal controls, and impose penalties on men, up to imprisonment, while only punishing women morally, saying: “moral disciplining is enough.”

Nossier explained that her draft law will punish a customarily married man with at least a year in prison. 

She added, “the law also calls on families not to exaggerate in marriage dowry as long as the basics are existing and the man is suitable for marriage, describing customary marriage as a corruption that destroys the foundations of society.”

“Customary marriage results in an unstable family and thus negatively affects the society, so criminalising it would restore security and safety in the Egyptian family and preserve the rights of women,” Nossier said. 

She stressed, “the family is the pillar of society and whenever there is a strong and cohesive family, we have a cohesive society.”

What do experts say?

Ali Sabri, a lawyer who specialises in personal status cases, said in a televised interview that the rise in customary marriage rates is a very serious indicator, as the latest statistics show that it exceeded 15% of the total marriage contracts, as the people’s culture in marriage does not really care about the legal aspects of the process.

However, it is difficult for the state to criminalise customary marriage, as Al-Azhar did not issue an official fatwa to invalidate the customary marriage, or said it is forbidden or unacceptable, he urged. 

Sabri explained that customary marriage is complete when three conditions are met; a contract, witnesses, and publicity, but the absence of documentation makes it a crime. 

The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) pointed out that the customary marriages in Egypt exceeded 141,000 cases in 2018 alone, representing 15% of total marriage contracts, pointing out that this rate is a dangerous and very alarming indicator.

Moreover, the family affairs expert Manal Khedr said the customary marriage in many cases meets the conditions of traditional marriage, but it lacks documentation so that the woman can avoid suspension of her pension in case she is a widow or from her father, or her alimony once she get married, especially if the new husband is underprivileged.

In such cases, customary marriage ensures the woman a permanent financial source to spend on her children, she said.

“Also it gives a chance for the husband who lives unhappily with his wife and does not want to harm his family to have another chance to marry another woman while maintaining his first family,” she added, noting that this type of marriage is important and needed by society in many situations as long as the law does not prohibit it.

The exaggeration in the dowry is behind the prevalence of customary marriage among youth, and ignoring it is dangerous for society.

She stressed, “customary marriage among youth has become a phenomenon in the Egyptian society now.” She learned from the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Alexandria University, that 25% of students are married customarily.

Lawyer Amal Mostafa said she believes that marriage documentation now is a must for the benefit of women and to preserve its rights, but in case the marriage is not documented, there should be a legislation to punish the violators.

MP Khaled Hanafi, a member of the parliamentary committee on constitutional and legislative affairs, commented that the issuance of a law to criminalise customary marriage is a violation of the Egyptian law, and it is difficult to apply it. He added that as long as the conditions of marriage have been met, publicity and witnesses, there is no problem in marriage.

Also, MP Mohamed Fouad suggested the need to take the opinion of Al-Azhar in the proposal of MP Amna Naseer to criminalise customary marriage because it is the official religious body entrusted with determining the legitimacy of customary marriage or not, stressing the need to refer to it before discussing the draft law.

Sharia Law Professor Mostafa Ibrahim urged that there is a confusion between customary and secret marriage – which is behind the back of the father and the family – and hidden from members of the family or relatives, but only known by their friends, while customary marriage meets the legitimate conditions of marriage.

Ahmed Koryma, a professor at Al-Azhar University, said if we apply the penalty of imprisonment for customarily married people, a lot of people will be imprisoned. 

He continued, “customary marriage is the one that meets the conditions of the official marriage and lacks only documentation,” pointing out that marriage may not be documented for certain circumstances, as is the case in some areas like Sinai or Upper Egypt.

He pointed out that there are 15 types of customary marriage, so the draft law should determine the type of marriage to be criminalised, calling for the need to submit any laws relating to religious affairs to Al-Azhar and the Council of Senior Scholars for discussion to provide their legitimate opinion. 

Al-Azhar does not object documenting customary marriage contracts, but there are societal consequences that must be addressed first, as some may resort to customary marriage to benefit from pension, he explained, concluding that “customary marriage can be valid and invalid at the same time.” 

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Syrian refugees no longer welcome in Turkey, as authorities intensify crackdown, deportation https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/03/syrian-refugees-no-longer-welcome-in-turkey-as-authorities-intensify-crackdown-deportation/ Tue, 03 Sep 2019 18:26:10 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706954 Hundreds of protesters gathered near Bab al-Hawa crossing, shortly before Russia announced a "unilateral ceasefire," on Saturday morning in this area of north-western Syria.

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In a step that reflects the Turkish government’s refusal of the presence of the Syrian refugees in the country, the Turkish army stationed along the border with Syria on Friday and fired tear gas to disperse a demonstration involving hundreds of Syrians on the Syrian side of the border who protested the Turkish strikes on Idlib province in north-western Syria.

Some protestors tried to break through the Bab al-Hawa border crossing, according to an AFP reporter.

Hundreds of protesters gathered near Bab al-Hawa crossing, shortly before Russia announced a “unilateral ceasefire,” on Saturday morning in this area of north-western Syria.

Russia supports Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and hid regime. The Syrian regime forces have made significant progress in Idlib since 8 August, months after bombing the jihadist-held areas.

Turkey, known as a primary sponsor of some armed groups in Syria, has demanded a cessation of hostilities for fear of a humanitarian crisis that could cause a new influx of refugees toward its borders.

Since late April, offenses carried out by the Assad regime and his Russian ally led to the death of more than 950 civilians in Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. While more than 400,000 people have been displaced, according to UN.

Idlib, with a population of about three million people, is under the control of the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) militant group, a former branch of Al-Qaeda.

On Friday, Russia called leaders of militant groups to abandon provocations and join the process of peaceful settlement in the areas they control.

In response to the protests, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Syrian demonstrators stormed the Bab al-Hawa border crossing and entered the Turkish territory to demand a halt to the shelling of civilians by the Assad regime and his Russian ally.

“Developments in Idlib are unacceptable and we are taking all measures to protect our interests,” Erdogan said in a press statement after Friday prayers.

“There is a new wave of refugees from Idlib, because of the ongoing hostilities there, starting to move toward Turkey,” Erdogan added.

In the same context, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said the Turkish army will leave Syria when a political solution is found, pointing out that the Assad regime does not believe in the political solution at the moment.

Speaking to reporters in Oslo, Çavuşoğlu warned that ongoing attacks by Assad’s forces and their militia in Idlib could cause another wave of Syrian refugees to flee to Europe.

He noted that Russia had assured Turkey that Turkish checkpoints in north-western Syria would not be attacked by Syrian regime forces.

On Wednesday, Syrian regime raids targeted the perimeter of the Turkish observation post in Sher Maghar in the northern countryside of Hama, but there were no casualties among Turkish soldiers.

Meanwhile, Erdogan said that Turkish forces were on alert at the 12th checkpoint in northern Syria, located in Maar Hatat town near the city of Hayesh in the southern countryside of Idlib.

The Russian Ministry of Defence announced that the Syrian regime forces will abide by the unilateral ceasefire in Idlib, starting from Saturday.

The Turkish authorities had announced that thousands of Syrian refugees in Istanbul, which is the largest Turkish city, had until 20 August to leave the city.

Istanbul authorities say that this decision was issued in July and gave Syrians living in Istanbul enough time to settle their situation and return to the states where they were registered upon the order of the Turkish Interior Ministry.

It justifies the decision as a step toward easing the pressure migrants are putting on the city.

However, some human rights organisations question the Turkish justification and say that some Syrians are forced to return to their country, and some have been deported to war-torn areas in Syria.

The issue of Syrians living in Turkey has become one of the most controversial issues in public opinion in Turkey in recent years.

Discussions intensified following the announcement by the Istanbul municipality of a large-scale campaign against illegal migration.

Since the outbreak of the 2011 popular uprising that later turned into an armed conflict and civil war, Syrian refugees have flocked to Turkey under temporary protection status (a special status granted to nationalities of some countries suffering from the impact of wars or natural disasters).

In July, the number of Syrian refugees registered in Turkey reached 3,649,750 people, according to a statistic from the General Directorate of Immigration at the Turkish Ministry of Interior.

They constituted the broadest category of Syrian presence in Turkey which has been steadily increasing annually since 2011.

Temporary protection status excludes Syrians in good economic standing who have been granted residence in Turkey. About 99,643 Syrian refugees, according to a statistic issued from the Turkish General Directorate of Immigration in 2018, are representing the second category of Syrians in Turkey.

The category of people living under temporary protection is considered the largest among Syrians in Turkey.

The third category of Syrians living in Turkey is the category of illegal migrants. It includes those who entered the country illegally, or violated entry laws or visa periods.

Turkish authorities require Syrians to register their names when entering to the country if they are seeking temporary protection status.

According to statistics from the Turkish General Immigration Department on 14 August, a total 21,988 illegal migrants have been arrested this year.

In 2014, the number was 24,984 people, and in 2015 it rose to 73,422 people, then in 2016 it dropped to 69,755, and to 50,217 in 2017. In 2018, Turkey had 53,344 Syrian illegal migrant detainees.

A report from the Turkish opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on “migrant workers” in Turkey claims that about 1 million Syrians work illegally in the country.

The report notes that many of these employees work in harsh conditions with very low wages in agriculture, food industries, manufacturing, and construction sectors.

The report says that one in five Syrian informal workers are children under 15.

In response to accusations addressed to Turkey on the forced deportation of Syrian refugees, the head of communication department in the Turkish presidency, Fakhruddin Altun, asserted that these allegations are “just nonsense”, and that his country rejects the accusation that Syrian refugees are facing the risk of deportation.

Altun said in an article he wrote to Foreign Policy magazine, published on Friday evening, on Turkey’s policy toward Syrians, that Turkey has adopted since 2011 the policy of “open door” for Syrians displaced from their land, and opened its doors to about 3.6 million refugees.

He stressed that during the same period, Jordan received 1.4 million people, while the United States only accepted 18,000 people, pointing out that his country granted citizenship to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees, and spent $40bn on war victims.

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Fury, protests over Boris Johnson decision to prorogue UK Parliament  https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/02/fury-protests-over-boris-johnson-decision-to-prorogue-uk-parliament/ Mon, 02 Sep 2019 07:00:38 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706715 'Johnson’s attempt is an outrage, a threat to our democracy,' says Labour leader 

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to suspend the UK parliament has prompted an angry backlash from lawmakers and sparked furious protests across the country as well as some calls to consider legal actions against the decision.

Johnson, who has repeatedly vowed that Britain will leave the European Union (EU) with or without a deal, asked Queen Elizabeth last week to suspend the Parliament just for five weeks from 10 September to 14 October. The Queen approved his request. 

The suspension comes a few weeks before the Brexit deadline which is supposed to be on 31 October. Consequently, Johnson’s move to suspend parliament until October 14 — just two-and-a-half weeks before Brexit — has sparked a storm of criticism. Critics reject the decision because they fear it means that MPs will not have enough time to discuss the Brexit. However, the government insists that there will be time to debate the Brexit. 

 

In a tweet on Friday, Johnson affirmed: “The referendum result must be respected. We will leave the EU on the 31st of October.”

 In response, thousands of protesters took to the streets across the UK against Johnson’s move. A group called “Another Europe is Possible”, an anti-Brexit campaign, organized protests on Saturday against Johnson. “We won’t let Boris Johnson shut down democracy to push through No deal.” 

 Meanwhile, a movement named “Stop the Coup”, said that protests will take place on more than 30 cities and towns on Saturday. 

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets across different cities, including Manchester, Leeds, York and Belfast. In London, Whitehall has been brought to a standstill, with protesters chanting “Boris Johnson, shame on you”.

Users on Twitter shared on Saturday videos and photos of protesters holding banners in which written “Defend Democracy. Resist The Parliament ShutDown.”

On the other hand, Brexit supporters received Johnson’s move with relief, as they aspire that the country will finally leave the EU, ending a three-year stalemate since since the leave referendum. 

 Constitutional outrage

 

House of Commons Speaker John Bercow reacted with fury to Johnson’s decision, describing it as “constitutional outrage”. 

Bercow affirmed that he was not consulted by Johnson before the suspension. He explained that it was made to prevent MPs from debating Brexit. 

“However it is dressed up, it is blindingly obvious that the purpose of prorogation now would be to stop parliament debating Brexit and performing its duty in shaping a course for the country,” Bercow said in a statement. 

Meanwhile, MP Philip Hammond said that “It would be a constitutional outrage if Parliament were prevented from holding the government to account at a time of national crisis. Profoundly undemocratic.”

On the other hand, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, pledged to prevent Johnson from suspending the Parliament when the House of Commons returns next week. 

“Boris Johnson’s attempt to suspend parliament to avoid scrutiny of his plans for a reckless No Deal Brexit is an outrage and a threat to our democracy,” Corbyn tweeted Thursday.

Corbyn added that the Labour party “will work across Parliament to hold the government to account and prevent a disastrous No Deal.”

A joint statement was issued on Thursday from the UK Labour Party, the SNP (Scotland’s largest political party and a party of Government), the Liberal Democrats, the Independent Group for Change, and the Green Party to stop “Johnson’s smash and grab on democracy.” 

“We condemn the undemocratic actions of Boris Johnson following his suspension of parliament until 14 October,” the statement read. 

“There is no mandate from the public for a damaging no-deal Brexit. The Prime Minister is shutting down parliament with the sole aim of stopping MPs from avoiding a no-deal Brexit,” the statement added.

“This will be the longest prorogation in recent history, and one that comes at a critical moment in the history of our respective nations and the Brexit process.”

“Voters are being deprived of the opportunity to have their representatives hold the government to account, make any key decisions, and ensure there is a lawful basis for any action that is taken,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, a petition against the Johnson’s plan to suspend Parliament has received more than a million signatures.

Moreover, former Tory Prime Minister Sir John Major announced he will join forces with anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller to oppose the decision to suspend Parliament in the courts.

 

 Johnson pledges better deal 

 

The UK was supposed to leave the EU on 29 March this year, but the date of the withdrawal was extended after the parliament rejected formed PM Theresa May’s EU Withdrawal Agreement Bill three times.

Earlier in March, May announced in an emotional statement that she would resign as UK’s Prime Minister and stood down as leader of the Conservative party on 7 June. 

May held office in July 2016 and became the UK’s second female prime minister. May took her decision after she failed to gain support for the Brexit deal that she reached with the EU. 

Afterwards, Johnson, 55, was appointed as the new UK Prime Minister – without elections after winning the Conservative Party leadership vote. After his appointment, he pledged to get a new deal, a better deal” from the EU. He also picked a new cabinet from hard Brexit supporters.

The US President Donald Trump reacted to Johnson move of suspension the parliament, saying that it be very hard for Jeremy Corbyn “to seek a no-confidence vote against New Prime Minister Boris Johnson, especially in light of the fact that Boris is exactly what the UK has been looking for and will prove to be “a great one.”

Trump was one of the first leaders who congratulated Johnson on being the new British Prime Minister, affirming that “he will be great.”

What is Brexit?

The UK joined the EU in 1973 when the EU was known as “European Economic Community” (EEC). On 23 June 2016, a public referendum was held on whether the UK should leave the EU or not. Voters agreed with 52%, while 48% said no.

Then, the ‘Brexit’ word appeared, as it refers to Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Since the vote, Theresa May had been struggling to reach a “divorce deal” and settlement for the future relations with the bloc following the separation. 

May suggested an agreement which covered three points, the UK financial settlement to break up with the EU, the rights of the UK citizens living in the EU countries, and the EU citizens living in the UK. The third point was how to avoid a “hard border” between Northern Ireland (part of the UK) and the Republic of Ireland (part of the EU). 

Effects on the economy

On Friday, the Bank of England (BoE) said that Brexit process has cut the productivity of British companies by between 2% and 5% since the 2016 Brexit referendum.

Most of the shortfall reflects a drop in productivity within businesses as senior managers commit several hours per week to plan for Brexit, the researchers said.

“We also find evidence for smaller negative between-firm effects as more productive, internationally exposed, firms have been more negatively impacted than less productive domestic firms,” the report said.

The BoE research said that, since the EU referendum, “anticipation of Brexit has substantially reduced UK investment”, estimating the effect lowered capital spending by 11% compared with what would have happened. Real business investment has been flat since the 2016 referendum, which has been unusual at a time of high employment rates and lower than in other advanced economies.

All in all, BoE research adds to evidence that the Brexit vote has taken a toll on the UK businesses even before Britain leaves the EU, now due to take place on Oct. 31.

 

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Egypt’s growth will outperform B-rated peers, debt affordability remains weak: Moody’s https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/09/01/egypts-growth-will-outperform-b-rated-peers-debt-affordability-remains-weak-moodys/ Sun, 01 Sep 2019 16:46:09 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706720 Increase in fertility rates, securing water resources represent long-term economic challenges

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Moody’s said in its annual credit analysis report on Egypt that the country’s economy ranks in the 70th percentile among all the sovereigns Moody’s rate by GDP size, and fifth among B-rated peers, and that its GDP growth rate of 5.6% in the fiscal year (FY) 2019, reflect a ramp-up in natural gas production and a continued recovery in the tourism sector, “we expect further convergence to 6% by 2021.”

However, the credit rating agency explained that Egypt’s current credit rating (B2 stable) reflects its weak, though gradually improving, government finances and its very large government financing needs of about 30-40% of GDP annually.

“Egypt’s debt affordability as measured by interest to revenue will remain very weak and financing needs very large in the next few years,” said Elisa Parisi-Capone, a Moody’s vice president – senior analyst and the report’s co-author.

“Over the longer term, the removal of structural obstacles to a more inclusive, private sector-led growth model will be a gradual process that remains exposed to long-standing vested interests or the risk of reform reversal,” she added.

A strong economy, yet weak finances

Moody’s report indicates that Egypt’s economy is well-diversified and has high growth potential, underpinning Egypt’s significant shock absorption capacity.

Consequently, the credit rating agency assesses Egypt’s economic strength as “high,” primarily supported by the country’s large scale and economic diversification, which have offered a degree of economic resilience through difficult economic and political conditions starting in 2011.

The report indicates that Egypt’s credit strengths include its large domestic funding base and replenished foreign exchange reserves, adding that growth is broad-based and the unemployment rate at 7.5% as of June 2019 has declined to pre-2010 levels.

Moreover, the report forecasts that wide fiscal deficits and high government debt levels will decline gradually as primary surpluses will be maintained, supported by comparatively low levels of foreign currency-denominated and external government debt.

Domestic borrowing costs to gradually decline as the level effects of energy price and tariff hikes dissipate, allowing the central bank to lower interest rates, the report added.

Growth likely to remain high, backed by natural gas, tourism

The report forecasts GDP growth to hit 6% by 2021, as natural gas production increase, and tourism recovery continues, “Our growth forecast is above the median for B-rated sovereigns and in line with Egypt’s long-term trend growth.”

However, the report indicates that over the longer term, more inclusive growth will depend on a rise in the employment rate – particularly among women – to absorb a large number of new entrants to the labour market in light of Egypt’s comparatively high fertility rate and higher than average share of youth unemployment, particularly among graduates.

Egypt’s energy sector is key to the sustainability of the country’s growth potential, the report explains, adding that, as of June 2019, Egypt’s arrears to foreign oil companies had fallen to $900m from $1.2bn a year earlier.

Additionally, Moody’s believes that the gradual clearance of these arrears has resulted in renewed exploration activity, combined with Egypt’s strategic location and the availability of liquefied natural gas (LNG) export infrastructure support its ambition to become a regional gas hub to collect and distribute significant new gas resources that have recently been discovered in the Mediterranean, including in Cyprus and Israel.

Another growth factor cited by the report is the large infrastructure projects aimed at reducing congestion in the capital Cairo while providing development and employment opportunities in less developed regions.

Such projects include the New Administrative Capital which is intended to become Egypt’s new administrative and financial capital housing main government departments, ministries, and foreign embassies, and will also provide housing for up to 5 million people. Other large infrastructure projects include the Suez Canal Economic Zone; the National Housing Project; and a commitment to invest EGP 51bn (around 20% of GDP) in upgrading roads over the next five years.

Institutional strength does not yet reflect undertaken reforms

Moody’s “low” assessment of Egypt’s institutional strength does not reflect the country’s economic, monetary and fiscal reforms over the past three years under Egypt’s three-year IMF programme and the government’s demonstrated commitment to continued reforms.

The credit rating agency assessment is based on the Worldwide Governance Indicator (WGI) scores as a starting point, which still reflects the impact of almost three years of political turmoil (2011-14).

“Backward-looking indicators such as WGI (2017 being the latest available) are not representative of the improvement in government effectiveness that has been evident over the past three years,” the report indicates.    

Moreover, Moody’s believes that Egypt’s current monetary policy framework remains based on money targeting as the central bank moves to an inflation-targeting regime with technical assistance from the IMF, indicating that despite policy rate cuts by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) in February and in August 2019 to 14.25%, the current monetary policy stance remains restrictive, with real rates in positive territory.

However, the exchange rate remained stable after sharply depreciating in November 2016, and since early 2019, the pound has begun to appreciate slightly vis-à-vis the US dollar in light of renewed capital inflows.

“We project a gradual decline in the exchange rate in response to the monetary easing cycle that we expect to continue,” the report forecasts.

Fiscal performance outperforms target, debt affordability remains challenging

Moody’s indicates that Egypt’s budget deficit narrowed to 8.2% of GDP in FY 2019 from 9.8% in FY 2018, against an initial target of 8.4%, forecasting a fiscal deficit of 8.2% of GDP for FY 2019 and that the primary surplus expanded to 1% of GDP after recording a small deficit in FY 2018.

“We expect the primary surplus to continue to increase toward the 2% of GDP threshold in FY 2021 and that the general government deficit will decline to 7.5% in FY 2020, mostly supported by spending reductions,” said the report.

The report cites the final round of fuel subsidy cuts, increasing domestic prices by between 16-30%, and applying the price indexation mechanism is key to permanently reducing Egypt’s fiscal sensitivity to volatile international oil prices. “The government remains committed to eliminating electricity subsidies by establishing cost-efficient tariffs by the end of FY 2022.”

However, the credit rating agency foresees that Egypt’s “very low (-)” score for fiscal strength reflects large fiscal deficits and a very high, though declining, government debt burden, as well as the increased foreign-currency share of total debt at around 30% since the flotation.

“As such, very low debt affordability will remain a key feature of Egypt’s fiscal profile, indicating a heightened sensitivity to higher borrowing costs. The question of debt affordability would become one of domestic and external access to liquidity in the event of a severe shock,” the report indicates.

Yet, Moody’s expects domestic borrowing costs to begin to gradually decline in line with lower inflation expectations as the level effects of energy price hikes dissipate. However, gains from lower short-term borrowing costs will be partly neutralised by the extension to longer maturities, which are more expensive because of the term premium.

Moody’s downplays political, liquidity, and banking sector risks

The report indicates that Egypt’s “moderate (+)” assessment of political risk is driven by domestic political risk. A combination of factors, including government measures to distribute the proceeds of strong growth more effectively and higher growth to support labour market activity, has reduced the risk that reforms could be reversed over the next few years.

In the longer term, however, removing structural impediments to a shift to more inclusive, private sector-led growth will be a gradual process and one that remains exposed to long-standing vested interests or the risk of reform reversal, or eventual succession risk.

In regards to Egyptian banks, the credit rating agency describes them as a reliable and important source of domestic funding, indicating that relative to capital, Egyptian banks’ sovereign exposure ranges between 4x and 9x the capital base of individual banks, among the highest of rated banks globally.

The report indicates that although banking sector assets amounted to 110.5% of GDP as of March 2019, the potential for industry growth remains significant because of the country’s low levels of financial inclusion and efforts to increase that level through technology.

“We expect banks’ exposures to government securities to increase further because Egyptian banks will remain the government’s main source of financing. However, we also expect balance sheet growth of around 15% in FY 2019, propelled by brisk economic activity,” the report added.

In regards to the government’s gross borrowing requirements, they remain very large as a result of large fiscal deficits and the relatively short average term to maturity of the government debt stock.

The report indicates that Egypt’s gross financing needs are the third largest among the sovereigns that Moody’s rate, after Barbados and Japan, and only marginally higher than Bahrain.

Its high-interest bill of around 9% of GDP and the short average maturity of its domestic debt stock at below 3.5 years will according to Moody’s estimates result in annual gross financing needs of 30-40% of GDP over the next few years. These elevated financing requirements expose the government to shocks in borrowing costs that could rapidly contribute to adverse debt dynamics, a key source of government liquidity risk.

On the other hand, Egypt’s external vulnerability risk was assessed as “low (-)”, reflecting the shift to a positive basic balance in which net foreign direct investment inflows cover the current-account deficit of around 2.5-3.5% of GDP, the report indicates.

The report cites Egypt’s increase in fertility rates and securing water resources as long-term economic challenges, citing the country’s fertility rate which has risen to 3.5 children per woman from a low of 2.7 in 2009 following the 2011 revolution, and around 3.5 million young Egyptians are projected to join the labour force over the next five years, creating demand for employment.

On the water resources issue, the report cites the decreasing rate of annual rainwater which affected the Nile flow, accordingly Egypt is seeking to reduce its water dependency on the Nile via the installation of desalination plants and via the application of strict rules for the cultivation of water-intensive crops such as rice and sugarcane, among other measures.

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Citizens’ complaints on the rise since 2017: Social Justice Platform https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/27/citizens-complaints-on-the-rise-since-2017-social-justice-platform/ Tue, 27 Aug 2019 19:45:27 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706302 Offices were allocated in all metro stations to receive citizens' complaints

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Egypt has established several centres to allow people express their views or voice their concerns over public services, starting with the unified government complaints system affiliated to Egyptian cabinet through opening offices to receive citizens’ complaints at metro stations. It comes as free expression alternative rather than social media or street protests.

The state has created unified government complaints system to receive people complaints through field offices in ministries, government headquarters, and metro stations, as well as online portal, hotline number, WhatsApp, and mobile application.

Early August, the National Authority for Tunnels has allocated a number of offices in each metro station to receive citizens’ complaints, as they receive millions of commuters daily, giving the people the chance to express their thoughts and send suggestions to the government.

This came after Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly instructed speed dealing with citizens’ complaints to make life easier for them. He also ordered developing a new mobile application named “at your service” and linking it to the unified government complaints system.

It’s easy to use the new app. Citizens can create an account and write their complaints, then choose the competent authority and just click send. They can later open the website to view the ministry’s response. The allocated offices in metro stations offer tablets to citizens to submit their complaints.

After putting legal restrictions on protest in 2016, Egyptians started using social media platforms to express their concerns and complaints about public services, leading to misunderstanding between citizens and the government, therefore the state created the unified complaints system to receive the people’s comments and respond to them.

Egypt’s parliament was the main authority that receive citizens’ complaints, suggestions, and comments, but this was somehow ineffective.

Social Justice Platform (SJP), an independent research centre, stated in a report released on Saturday, that most of street protests turned into complaints (1,070), either sent or handed to officials and members of the parliament, or sent to newspapers.

“Sending complaints is a type of protest that has been on the rise since 2017,” the report said.

The report that tackles protests in first half (H1) of 2019, reported information based on data collected from media reports from a different array of outlets, including governmental, independent, privately-owned, pro-state media outlets, and others affiliated with political parties.

Speaking on the nature of people’s issues, the report said that protests with social demands reached 1,121 protests, marking 86.03% of total protests in this period, while labour protests came second recording 94 protests, and finally protests with economic demands were third recording 88 protests.

Similarly, the year 2018 was dominated by social protests recording 2,024 protests, marking 80.90% of the total protests, while labour protests came second (276, 11.03%), and economic protests were third (202, 8.07%), according to previous report by SJP.

The research said that around 1,303 protests in 1H19, in which Egyptians expressed their dissatisfaction with their economic and social conditions.

The report highlighted that 88 economic protests were monitored in the last six months, either by farmers, lawyers, or journalists, or drivers, against policies that hinder their work, in addition to 94 labour protests were documented, of which 41 carried by stable workforce, while the rest were held by unstable labour. Of these protests, 41 were held in public sector workplaces, 15 in the public enterprise sector, and 38 in private

workplaces.

“Filing complaints and reports remain a favourite and safe method of expressing discontent with social and economic problems, especially amid increasing limitations on various kinds of political dissent and difficulties of organisation. Nevertheless, 58 protests included demonstrating, workplace sit-ins, or road blocking,” said SJP.

MP Hammam El-Adly, head of the parliament’s suggestions and complaints committee, said in a press statement that the Egyptian government’s efforts to listen to citizens and the establishment of a new system to receive complaints is an extremely important step, and it reflects government’s seriousness in listening to citizens’ complaints and working to overcome them according to available resources.

“Egypt had witnessed a huge drop in communicating with citizens in the past years, but the situation changed after opening doors for people to voice their concerns, and this is a positive step that should be highlighted,” he said.

Al-Adly said that online portals are not enough, but every official in the Egyptian state institutions should work to solve the problems of citizens, pointing out that there are steps that had been taken on solid ground which already confirms seriousness in listening and responding.

A statistic was issued in August by the unified government complaints system revealed that 1,663,343 complaints and inquiries were received from citizens through its electronic portal, since its establishment, on the state administrative apparatus, bureaucracy, and corruption issues.

 

The statistics showed that the percentage of settlement of these complaints and inquiries submitted by citizens amounted to nearly 85%, and that the remaining part is being studied by the concerned authorities.

The unified portal is a modern interface for the government and aims to achieve direct communication with the Egyptian citizens through information and communication technologies to alleviate suffering and in order to improve the level of services.

The portal of the unified government complaints system is the main tool in receiving, reviewing, and verifying complaints before forwarding them to the competent authority, and even evaluating the responses and informing the citizen of the final response and then closing the complaint.

 

Other sectors in the state also have created complaints committee to receive their users’ comments and suggests. The Egyptian National Railways allocated a phone number to receive passengers’ complaints and suggestions via Whatsapp, especially in connection with booking train tickets, in support of the initiative to improve the level of service provided to passengers and achieve a quick response to passenger complaints.

Head of the Egyptian National Railways, Ashraf Raslan, said he has offered other means to receive complaints, including the website of the authority to respond immediately to the complaints of passengers, explaining that they have obtained a certificate from the cabinet’s complaints system confirming that the rate of response to complaints in the authority reached 100%. The complaints were mostly related to delays in appointments, problems with cashiers and train missing, as well as train delays.

Media outlets including independent newspapers Youm Sabea, Sout Al-Omma, and Al-Watan have also contributed in strengthening communication between the state and citizens by opening complains portals so their readers can send their complaints and they can forward them to the government.

Moreover, “Ask the President” initiative was launched in 2018 to offer people the opportunity to submit questions on politics, economy, as well as social and security issues. The initiative opens two weeks before the annual National Youth Conference, so the president can answer the questions during a specialised session. A number of “Ask the President” sessions were held during the World Youth Forum last year.

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As G7 summit wraps up, DNE break down top moments https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/27/as-g7-summit-wraps-up-dne-break-down-top-moments/ Tue, 27 Aug 2019 19:05:16 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706296 The group regards itself as a community of values, with freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.

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As the G7 group of nations conclude their 45th summit meeting in the French resort town of Biarritz for what will be its 45th summit. Daily News Egypt provides a break down to the summit, explaining its purposes, members and the most important events that took place.

What is the G7, and its purposes?

The G7 (or Group of Seven) is an organisation made up of the world’s seven largest so-called advanced economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The group regards itself as a community of values, with freedom and human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and prosperity and sustainable development as its key principles.

In 1975, the initial group of six first met, in 1976 Canada joined. From 1997 to until 2014, the Group of Eight (G8) was formed after Russia joined until it was kicked after Crimea annexation.

Throughout the year, ministers and government official from the G7 countries hold meetings to discuss matters of mutual interest.

The G7 presidency is rotational, as each member nation takes over the presidency, and host the annual two-day summit meeting.

Following the summit, a communiqué is issued, outlining what has been agreed.

Trump says US-China trade-talks to resume

US President Donald Trump told reporters on Monday that China had contacted US trade officials overnight to say they wanted to return to the negotiating table.

Trump statements came on the sidelines of the G7 Summit, where he hailed Chinese President Xi Jinping as a great leader and said he welcomed his desire for a deal and calm.

“One of the reasons China’s a great country is they understand how life works,” Trump told reporters during a morning meeting alongside Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

“I have great respect for it. This is a very positive development for the world,” Trump stressed.

The two countries have been on an increasingly bitter trade war, with both sides imposing more tariffs on each other’s exports.

“It’s been really good. It’s not quite over yet, but I will tell you we have had great unity,” Trump said before a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Merkel said that she’d be “very glad” if the US and China can end their bitter trade war.

G7 leaders to help Brazil fight Amazon fires

World leaders announced on Monday that they are preparing to help Brazil battle wildfires sweeping across the Amazon region.

Speaking at the G7 summit in Biarritz, French President Emmanuel Macron said summit leaders were nearing an agreement on different ways to support Brazil to control the fires.

Macron revealed that the agreement would involve both technical and financial mechanisms “so that we can help them in the most effective way possible.”

In the same time, Brazilian far-right President Jair Bolsonaro announced that he mobilised tens of thousands of soldiers to help fight fires, which have caused global alarm. However, only a few hundred troops had been sent so far.

Brazil’s satellite monitoring agency has recorded more than 41,000 fires in the Amazon region so far this year, with more than half of those coming this month alone.

Japan, US inch closer to a trade deal

The US and Japan agreed in principle on the basic features of a trade deal on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said they hoped to sign the agreement in New York next month.

Trump told reporters at the G7 that Japan had agreed to buy excess US corn that is burdening farmers as a result of the US-China trade war.

“It’s a very big transaction, and we’ve agreed in principle. It’s billions and billions of dollars. Tremendous for the farmers,” Trump explained. Farmers were the main losers of Trump’s trade dispute with China, hence, Trump aims to resolve the problem particularly in political swing states that he needs to support him in his bid for re-election in 2020.

When signed, the agreement eases the trade cold-war between the two allies. US trade representative Robert Lighthizer revealed that the new deal includes agriculture, industrial tariffs and digital trade. However, Auto tariffs would remain unchanged.

However, Japan’s Prime Minister said that more work is still needed, adding that he is optimistic that it can be finalised by the time of the United Nations General Assembly in September.

“We still have some remaining work that has to be done at the working level, namely finalizing the wording of the trade agreement and also finalizing the content of the agreement itself,” he told reporters.

Abe added that “we would like to make sure that our teams … accelerate the remaining work for us to achieve this goal of realizing the signing of the agreement on the margins of the UN General Assembly at the end of September.”

Trump seemed to dismiss Abe’s emphasis that the Japanese private sector would handle the purchases of excess US corn, adding that “The Japanese private sector listens to the Japanese public sector very strongly … It’s a little different than it is in our country perhaps.”

In response, Abe said, “We believe that there is a need for us to implement emergency support measures for the Japanese private sector to have the early purchase of the American corn.”

Al-Sisi, African, G7 leaders sign G7 & Africa Partnership

The deceleration dictates that the leaders of G7, Egypt (current chair of the African Union), Rwanda

(former chair of the AU), South Africa (future chair of the AU), Senegal (chair of NEPAD), Burkina Faso (chair of the G5 Sahel), and the African Union Commission Chairperson, to review the international situation, recent developments in Africa, address the main challenges of the African continent, including eradicating poverty, ensuring the full realization of the right to education, providing good quality health care and increasing access to clean water.

Moreover, the declaration focuses on fighting inequality, strengthening governance and

promoting inclusive sustainable economic growth, in the framework of a prosperous the global economy, and social development.

Promoting entrepreneurship was one of the main goals of the agreement, along with and private sector youth employment in Africa through multilateral initiatives. Women empowerment topped the agenda, as the leaders called for reforms to address the social, legal and regulatory barriers to women’s

full and free economic participation and empowerment.

Trump wants Russia re-admitted

On Sunday, Trump demanded the re-admission of Russia into the G7, sparking heated debates on the matter. Russia was removed by the previously named G8, following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

French President Emmanuel Macron and European Council president Donald Tusk expressed their opposition to Trump’s suggestions, stressing that only liberal democracies should be in the group, and for that reason they cannot allow Russian President Vladimir Putin back in.

On the other hand, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte – who announced his resignation earlier this week – supported Trump’s proposal, position.

Trump told reporters in Biarritz that “It’s certainly possible, we’ll see,” based on a conversation among the members that happened the previous night.

“We had a very good discussion on Russia and President Putin, and a lively discussion, but, really, a good one,” Trump said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the comment, and added that “It was lively.”

Sahel Partnership Action Plan

Among the G7’s promising partnerships is the Sahel Partnership Action Plan which acknowledges that the Sahel faces acute risks of destabilization, with security crises fuelled by multiple factors of fragility.

In the partnership, the G7 countries also upon the rest of the international community, including financial institutions, to intensify their efforts in support of Sahel region, asserting the need for all stakeholders to enhance, coordinate and align their activities with the priorities of the G5 Sahel.

The countries also recognized the need for more investment in human development in the Sahel

with a strong focus on empowering women and girls and targeting the most

vulnerable areas.

The G7 also said they are alarmed by the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation, and in

particular by the spread of inter-community violence, in the Sahel region, which has

been compounded by growing instability in the Lake Chad Basin.

They said they will remain committed to working with Sahel countries to improve and better coordinate efforts to enhance their defence and internal security capabilities, including through support for structural reforms of their security apparatus.

The countries also praised the establishment of a Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel, which it hopes will bring together countries in the region and their international partners. The partnership will aim to identify security needs and increase the effectiveness of the domestic defence.

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Controversial TV host suspended over body-shaming https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/26/controversial-tv-host-suspended-over-body-shaming/ Mon, 26 Aug 2019 12:05:02 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=706111 Reham Saeed comes under fire after describing obese people as "dead and burden to state"

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TV host Reham Saeed last Friday was temporarily suspended by Al-Hayat TV network a few days following a controversial episode in which she harshly criticised obese people, especially women, and described them as “dead and burden to the state.”

The TV network said that the suspension of Saeed and her TV programme will last until investigation carried out by the Supreme Media Council concludes.

Earlier, Saeed was summoned to an investigation by the media watchdog as the body is expected to hold a meeting on Sunday to address the issue and complaints filed against Saeed.

Egypt’s Media Syndicate also decided to suspend Saeed from working as an anchor, explaining in a statement that she committed “ethical and professional misconducts.”

The Syndicate pointed out that Saeed is not a member of the syndicate, so they reported this issue to the prosecution as Saeed is practicing the profession without a license.

This came after the National Council for Women (NCW) filed a complaint against Saeed at the Supreme Media Council regarding her controversial episode. In a statement, the NCW said that the episode outraged Egyptian women and included “inappropriate” descriptions.

The controversial anchor has taken the brunt of the backlash over her recent remarks in which people accused her of “humiliating and body-shaming” obese people.

Saeed, who raised controversies several times before and was imprisoned on different charges including “invasion of privacy” and “inciting to kidnap children,” said during her episode broadcasted last week that obese people “are dead and a burden to their families and the state. Obese people distort the view.”

Saeed then addressed obese women: “You lost your femininity and your smile. You lost everything.”

“I quit”

Following the outrage that her comments and attitude stirred as well as the decision of suspension, Saeed announced that she quit her profession as an anchor.

Saeed denied in a Facebook video that she humiliated obese people, adding that critics did not even watch her episode. “No one watched the episode,” Saeed said. “All I said that the looking of obese people is not beautiful, that they live like they are dead, this is what they told me.”  

Saeed apologised to people who got upset from her “without any reason.”

“I will never get back to work as a TV host or an actress. This profession (media field) is dangerous than cancer and obesity. It is time to enjoy my life and take care of my children and husband, to be a normal person such as you.”

Saeed continued that she spent years “serving people for the sake of God without gaining profits or taking an interest.”

She also denied that she committed “any mistakes” in the past, saying all previous incidents were “ambushes” to her because she was “very successful.”

“This is not just bullying”

On social media, Saeed’s remarks caused outrage among users who demand an apology from the TV network and suspending her, accusing the anchor of “racism and fascism” and humiliating the Egyptian women.

Several hashtags were trending over the past few days on Twitter, attached with hundreds of comments which denounced Saeed.

“This is not ‘just’ bullying. This is destruction. You destroyed the wellbeing of people with your humiliating and inhuman words. The TV channel must offer an apology to the whole world,” a user named Younis tweeted.  

Another user said Saeed had the chance to tackle obesity more professionally, through raising awareness of its dangers without insulting obese people.

Meanwhile, a third user pointed out that obesity is a disease and some people do not have enough money to recover from it or eat healthy food.

During the episode, Saeed did not only criticise obese people, but also described them as “uneducated” because they do not, she complains, take the matter seriously.

She claimed that obese women do not enjoy their normal lives and they can’t help their families if one of them get sick. She moved on to say that even regarding marriage, obese people chose each other because they are (obese) not because they like or love each other.

Saeed, who seemingly did not expect this wave of outrage, was supposed to lead a campaign to help women to lose weight throughout her TV show “Sabaya” on the same TV network. But after the last episode and the decision of suspension, it is uncertain whether the campaign will continue.

This incident was not the first for Saeed as she has a history of suspension.  

In 2016, a court sentenced Saeed for one and a half years in jail on charges of “insult and defamation” of a sexual harassment survivor who was known as “the girl of the mall,” as well as “invasion of (her) private life.” She was also fined of EGP 10,000.

In 2015, Saeed hosted in her TV show “Sabaya El-Kheir” the girl of the mall after a video of the latter went viral on Facebook showing a man slapped the girl after he sexually harassed her. During the episode, Saeed aired private photos of the girl which her producing team allegedly stole from the girl’s cell phone.

In February 2018, Saeed was sentenced to jail again over charges including “inciting to kidnap children and publish and broadcast false news.” Eventually, Saeed was acquitted.

Saeed denied all charges, claiming that she was not aware of the topic of the short reportage aired during her episode and denied inciting to kidnap any child.  

Despite previous cases, Saeed always somehow returned to TV through different channels despite decisions of suspension.  

“She must be suspended”

“Obesity is a disease and is being researched by many scholars currently,” a user named Louai tweeted. “Being part of obesity educational campaign has nothing to do with how she talked and the words she used,” he added.

Louai called on El Hayat TV to “make a rational decision and suspend or fire Saeed.”

Egyptian actress Engy Wegdan also denounced Saeed remarks. She said via Twitter that she enjoys a normal and happy life despite being an obese woman. 

Wegdan continued that she works normally and suffers nothing of the problems that Saeed mentioned during her episode. She pointed out that some people have diseases that cause obesity, criticising Saeed’s comments.   

Meanwhile, Amir Teima, Egyptian songwriter, tweeted: “Even fools must have limits and red lines.”

Lebanese TV host Rabia Al Zayyat tweeted: “The words of this woman exude racism, ignorance, and incurable diseases. This example (Saeed) poses a threat to the media field.

 

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IS in Afghanistan: The fall of ISIL and the rise of the Khorasan Province https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/23/is-in-afghanistan-the-fall-of-isil-and-the-rise-of-the-khorasan-province/ Fri, 23 Aug 2019 12:00:02 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705893 After last week’s violent attack against Shia wedding, does IS only attack civilians in Afghanistan and Pakistan?

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In Kabul, early this week, an Afghan wedding turned into a tragic massacre as a suicide bombing killed 80 people, and injured 160 others. The attack was one of the most deadly and latest attacks claimed by the Islamic State (IS) extremist group against the Shia minorities in the worn-torn country, an attack that was described by President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani inhumane and barbaric.

The Islamic State, whose affiliate in Afghanistan is known as The Khorasan Province, was formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

In 2015, as more militants around the world pledged allegiance, IS was able to expand in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Khorasan province is also backed by jihadist militant groups from the neighbouring countries, including parts of South Asia such as India and Bangladesh.

Although the IS militants in Afghanistan mainly carry out attacks against Shia minorities, governmental organizations, embassies, and policemen, they also attack tribes’ elders, carry out bombings in mosques and gatherings, as well as kidnap and execute civilians in bloody attacks.

In this article, Daily News Egypt traced the start of the Islamic State in Afghanistan and Pakistan, discussed the main targets they attacked and listed the most prominent attacks they did.

The foundation of Khorasan province

The origins of the Islamic State can be traced to 1999, in the group of Jama’at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad which was based in Iraq. Jama’at Al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad continued its radicalisation till the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, under the command of Abu Mossab Al-Zarqawi.

In June 2014, as the civil war in Syria intensified, the group proclaimed itself as a worldwide caliphate and began referring to itself as the Islamic State, claiming religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.

IS was reported to have military bases in 18 countries across the world, such as Libya, Algeria, and Egypt, also including Afghanistan and Pakistan. It started to expand its military bases in Pakistan since September 2014, when IS sent representatives to Pakistan to meet with local militants, such as the local Pakistani Jihadist group Tehrik-i-Taliban, which is now globally known as Taliban.

In January 2015, IS announced the establishment of Islamic State – Khorasan province- and started to recruit defectors from Taliban, in particular among those who were disgruntled with their leaders, which later caused clashes between IS and Taliban.

The clashes between Taliban and IS

Although Ashraf Ghani, the president of Afghanistan, accused Taliban of “laying the foundation for IS brutal killings,” Taliban in many occasions condemned IS’ activities in Afghanistan since 2015.

The mean difference between Taliban and IS is civilian targets. While the Taliban targets government institutions and officials, IS targets civilians as well as officials.

In 2015 Taliban’s leader Akhtar Mansour sent a letter addressing IS’ leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, to stop the recruitment in Afghanistan and asserting that Afghanistan should be under the Taliban leadership, which caused tensions and eventually clashes between the two groups in the Nangarhar Province which lies in the eastern part of the country.

The Nangarhar Province is one of the main scenes of operations of IS. In June 2015, after months of clashes with Taliban, IS seized territory in Afghanistan driving Taliban out of parts of Nangarhar. What followed was a campaign by IS militants that carried out attacks against Afghan forces in the province.

The Khorasan Province territorial control

The Khorasan Province started to carry out attacks since 2015. The intensity of these attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan started to escalate in 2017 as IS tried to regain its influence after losing control of its declared “caliphate” in the city of Mosul in Iraq to the Iraqi army in July 2017.

In Syria, following the Mosul defeat which pushed lots of IS militants out of Iraq, the group lost more territories. By November 2017 the group, which in 2014 could not imagine defeat, it controlled no meaningful territory in worn-torn Syria.

Hence a big number of militants were reportedly returning to Libya, Egypt, Syria, and to Afghanistan. In, Afghanistan, the Khorasan Province’s main activity remains till now in the border region between eastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan.

However, the Khorasan Province area of operations also includes other parts of Asia, including parts of Iran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan, as these countries have borders with the Khorasan province.

In India, some militants pledged allegiance to IS, to the extent that the ‘India Province’ was reportedly declared. Some analysts claim that the rise of this new province is the reason why India is justifying its crackdown in Kashmir.

In Bangladesh as well, several groups also affiliated to IS, started carrying out attacks against officials, Christian, and homosexuals, till the extent that on 15 May 2019, IS announced ‘Pakistan Province’.

American efforts against IS

As the territory of the Khorasan Province expanded and the violence intensified, the Afghan government, with the support of the US, has advanced its negotiations with the Taliban.

Some experts believe that the American negotiations with the Taliban are a clear attempt to uproot IS’ Khorasan province, gaining security guarantees from the Taliban in exchange for withdrawing US troops.

After the attack on the Afghan wedding, the negotiations are believed to be an attempt to polarise Taliban defectors who are against negotiating with the US. Various opinions agreed that the negotiations “are a great opportunity for IS to recruit Taliban fighters, as they are an opportunity for Taliban militants to continue fighting against those they see as infidels.”

Most prominent attacks carried out by IS in both Afghanistan and Pakistan (2015 – 2019)

In 2015

18 April, a suicide bombing outside a bank in Jalalabad in Afghanistan killed 33 and injuring 100 people

13 May, a group of eight gunmen attacked a bus in Karachi in Pakistan, killing more than 40 people and injuring dozens. This was reportedly the first Khorasan Province attack in Pakistan

In 2016

20 June, a suicide bombing targeted a convoy of Canadian embassy security guards in Kabul in Afghanistan. Both IS and the Taliban claimed responsibility.

23 July, two suicide bombers blew themselves up during a protest by the Hazara ethnic minority, killing 80 and injuring 260 in Kabul’s deadliest attack since 2001 in Afghanistan.

8 August, multiple attackers carried out a suicide bombing and shooting at a government hospital where lawyers were gathered in Quetta in Pakistan, which killed 94 and injured more than 130 people. Militant group Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility.

24 October, three heavily armed attackers carried out a mass shooting at police cadets at the Quetta Police Training College in Pakistan while they were asleep. One militant was killed during the operation, while two others blew themselves up, killing 61 cadets and injuring more than 160. The Sunni supremacist and jihadist militant organisation based in Afghanistan Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility.

12 November, at least 55 people including women and children were killed and over 100 injured when a suicide bombing took place in the crowded Shah Noorani Shrine in Hub town, in Pakistan.

21 November, more than 32 people were killed and over 80 were injured in a suicide bombing at a Kabul Shia mosque Baqir-ul-Olum.

2017

The year was the most significant year since establishing Khorasan province after they lost control of its declared caliphate. The group tried to regain its influence, so they carried out 21 deadly attacks.

7 February, 22 people were killed and 41 wounded in a suicide blast at Afghanistan’s Supreme Court in Kabul.

8 February, IS killed six local employees of the Red Cross in the Qush Tepa district in Afghanistan.

16 February, suicide bombing at a popular shrine in southern Pakistan killed at least 88 people and wounded over 250.

8 March, gunmen attacked the Sardar Daud Khan Hospital, killing more than 49 people, while 63 others were injured.

31 July, Khorasan Province militants staged an attack on the Iraqi Embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul. One militant blew himself up and another three entered the embassy. Two Afghan guards were killed and three others injured in the attack.

1 August, two suicide bombings targeted Shia mosque in the heart in Afghanistan, killing at least 33 people and injuring more than 66.

20 October, a suicide bombing in a Sunni mosque of Ghor Province in Afghanistan, killed 33 people and wounded 10. The main target of the attack was a local commander from the anti-Taliban Jamiat party.

28 December, suicide bomber stormed a Shi‘ite cultural centre and news agency in the Afghan capital, killing 50 people and wounding 80 people. Many of the students attending a conference.

2018

The attacks carried by IS was doubled two times and a half compared to the previous years.

The Khorasan Province committed 52 attacks, killing 812 people, and injuring 1675 civilians and officials. The attacks targeted Shi‘ite mosques and shrines, police checkpoints, “Save the Children offices”, army posts, voter registration centre, gathering of Afghanistan’s top clerics in Kabul, attacks on education buildings.

One of most deadly attacks carried out by IS was on 22 April 2018, a suicide bombing targeted voter registration centre in the Afghan capital Kabul killing at least 69 people and injured 120 others, it was reported that the casualties were all civilians. However, on 13 July 2018, At least 131 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in a suicide bombing at an election rally in Pakistan.

2019

The group’s attacks decreased to reach only eight attacks in 2019, the attacks targeted policemen, Shi‘ite minorities and government authorities.

15 January, a car driver was killed in Kabul the capital city of Afghanistan, when a magnetic bomb exploded while attached to the car. The IS claimed responsibility saying that the person killed was an Afghan intelligence officer.

5 February, a policeman was killed in the city of Jalalabad in Afghanistan.

13 February, two militants from the Taliban were killed in an attack by IS in Laghman’s Alingar District in Afghanistan.

6 March, a suicide bombing took place in a building company near the Jalalabad airport. Later four gunmen attacked the area killing 16 people and wounding 10. All five attackers were killed in the attack. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack

7 March, three people were killed and 22 wounded in shelling at a gathering commemorating the death anniversary of Shia leader Abdul Ali Mazari.

20 April, an explosion followed by gunfire targeted the Afghan Ministry of Information, killing seven civilians, and three security personnel.

21 April, on Easter Sunday, three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo the capital of Sri Lanka, were targeted in a series of terrorist suicide bombings, killing 259 and injuring more than 500.

17 August, the suicide blast in the Afghan wedding hall in Kabul, in a Shia neighbourhood, packed with people celebrating a marriage, killing 80 and injuring 160.

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Yemen conflict: mosaic of power struggle https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/21/yemen-conflict-mosaic-of-power-struggle/ Wed, 21 Aug 2019 18:16:29 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705693 “Happy Yemen” sucked into quagmire of proxy wars, famine with no end in sight

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Fighters belonging to the Southern Transitional Council (STC), seeking secession from the rest of Yemen, managed to capture most of Aden’s important installations and government buildings last week.

The STC took advantage of the failure of the Yemeni interim government, which is supported by Saudi Arabia.

The conquest of Aden added further complexity to the already intricate Yemen conflict, but the STC didn’t just appear from thin air, as the conflict dates back for more than half-century.

“We do not intend to leave Aden,” said Aidroos Al-Zubaidi, the leader of Yemen’s STC, whose forces have taken over the southern port city.

The STC, founded in 2017 following a dispute with Yemeni President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi, sees capturing Aden as a step toward its goal of setting up an independent state in southern Yemen.

The latest infighting has fractured the Saudi-led military coalition fight against Iran-backed Houthi group, which controls the Yemeni capital Sanaa.

Last Thursday, the STC supporters took to the streets of Aden which has served as the Hadi government’s base since the Houthi rebels took over Sanaa in 2014.

People holding flags of the former South Yemen can be seen all over the city, which were also installed on top of public institutions and hung from multi-storey buildings.

United Yemen? It was never the norm!

Unified Yemen is only 29 years old, the unity came into force in 1990, after more than a century apart, Marxist South Yemen and conservative North Yemen were unified as the Republic of Yemen.

Ali Abdullah Saleh, who was the president of North Yemen at the time, became the new country’s president, and Ali Salem Al-Beidh, leader of the South Yemeni Socialist Party, became vice president.

The unrest in Yemen is not an individual conflict but a mosaic of multifaceted local, regional, and international power struggles, that are connected to both recent and long-past events.

Even after unity, the cultural rifts between the two regions didn’t cease to exist, accentuated by their divergent histories. Southern Yemen heavily influenced by a century of British influence, since the mid-19th century.

Situated at southern Arabian Peninsula, the country was divided between the British and the Ottoman empires in this period.

During the British occupation, the strategic port of Aden was run directly as a colony. Britain established itself in the port’s hinterlands and other areas of the south through financial and military aid.

To solidify their presence, British occupation struck deals with the heads of the various sultanates, sheikhdoms, and emirates that constituted the Federation of South Arabia and the neighbouring Protectorate of South Arabia.

In 1967, following the establishment of the Arab world’s first and only Marxist state, the People’s Republic of South Yemen, rifts between north and south only deepened.

Who’s Who

STC

The call for South Yemen’s split to be an independent country isn’t new. The country’s unification in 1990 was not a smooth transition. Afterwards, the 1991 economic crises in Yemen brought the country to the brink of collapse. It was followed by a small-scale civil war and erupted between southern secessionists and Yemen’s northern-based government in 1994, temporarily dissolving the new union.

Since its founding, the bulk of the south Yemen separatist movement’s more powerful components have coalesced in the STC, a grouping of politicians, tribal leaders, and military figures largely allied to the United Arab Emirates.

The STC has said its forces will hold Aden until the Islamist Al-Islah party, a key component of Hadi’s government, and northerners are removed from power positions in the south.

The UAE regards Al-Islah as part of the Muslim Brotherhood, banned by Egypt and UAE, on the other hand, Saudi Arabia tolerates it because it has helped to prop up Hadi.

Houthis

In the north, the Houthis emerged out of Yemen’s mountainous areas in 2004 from Believing Youth, a revivalist Zaidi Shi’a movement fuelled by local fears of encroachment by Sunni ideologies.

In their first days, fighting was largely limited to the Houthi strongholds in mountainous areas in Saada, it soon spread to northern areas of Amran and western areas of al-Jawf.

During the 2011 uprising, the Iran-aligned Houthis gained control of Saada province during the unrest in Yemen inspired by the Arab uprisings. In September 2014, they seized Sanaa and swiftly expanded their control south to Ibb province and west to Al-Hudaydah.

Following President Hadi’s forced resignation in January 2015, the Houthis advanced southward to Abyan, Aden, and Lahj. In July and August 2015, they were pushed back by militia fighters supported by the Saudi-led coalition.

Al-Qaeda

Moving back to the south, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has a strong presence in southern Yemen provinces. It has been considered the terrorist group’s most dangerous branch. The Islamic State group has also been active in central and southern Yemen, though its growth was curbed by the strong Al-Qaeda presence.

The US military has been conducting drone strikes over Yemen, targeting AQAP since 2010. But the scale and frequency of attacks have intensified since US President Donald Trump took office in January 2017.

Famine, diseases, and rotting economy

According to the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), Yemen remains the most complex and challenging humanitarian crisis in the world. The four-year conflict has pushed millions of Yemenis to the brink of famine. Some indicators have started to improve in several hard-hit areas as WFP has boosted support for them. The overall situation remains precarious and the humanitarian community cannot slow the pace of assistance now.

According to UN estimates, the conflict has left 13 million Yemeni civilians without food, labelling it as one of the largest man-made famines in history.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Yemen experienced the world’s worst cholera outbreak in 2017, with more than one million suspected cholera cases reported.

The deteriorating humanitarian situation, coupled with the lack of a functioning health system and limited access to safe water and hygiene facilities, has made it difficult to control the spread of the disease systematically. Since February 2019, the number of suspected cholera cases reported each week started to increase, peaking at over 29,500 cases at the beginning of April and stabilising in early July.

“A total of 451,895 suspected cholera cases were reported in the first six months of 2019, compared to 380,000 cases in the whole of 2018. So far this year, 705 deaths associated with cholera have been reported, including 200 children. Under-5 children represented 23.4% of total suspected cases during the first half of 2019,” WHO stated in a July report.

Achim Steiner, UN Development Programme administrator, said last month that Yemen was already the Arab world’s poorest country before the war, now Yemen’s four-year war has set back the country’s economic development by 20 years.

Yemen’s civil war has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, with nearly 80% of the population, 24.1 million people, requiring some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.

“People are hungry and suffering as their institutions, schools, and local administrations have collapsed, and for many of them, life as they knew it simply has ceased to exist,” Steiner said.

However, economic analysis firm FocusEconomics said in a July report that the Yemeni economy is expected to return to growth this year for the first time in six years on the back of donor support and greater macroeconomic stability.

FocusEconomics panellists project the economy to expand by 0.7% in 2019, which is unchanged from last month’s forecast, and 6.5% in 2020.

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Iran’s anti-freedom policies fuel incitations non-hijabi women https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/20/irans-anti-freedom-policies-fuel-incitations-non-hijabi-women/ Tue, 20 Aug 2019 16:23:47 +0000 https://ww.dailynewssegypt.com/?p=705566 Police forces reportedly encourages citizens to report on each other and send a text message to locate women who don’t wear hijab

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In our Arab societies there is no official punishment for the removal of the veil (hijab), but, instead individuals who do so suffer from psychological punishment from members some members of society.

Historically, Arab women could face criticism, judgment as well as abuses when they take off their veil, but were never subjected to legal punishment.

Early in August, Iranian authorities arrested Yasmin Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi and Mojgan Keshava were sentenced for the crime of peacefully protesting compulsory hijab. Mojan was sentenced to 23 years in prison, while Aryani and Arabshahi were sentenced to 16 years.

The activists are facing charges of gathering and colluding to act against national security and spread “propaganda against the regime” as well as, promoting and prepare grounds for corruption and prostitution.

The activists were arrested after an online video widely circulated on social media, showing them walking without a veil inside Tehran Metro and distributing flowers to passengers.

The punishment for not wearing the veil ranges from a fine to imprisonment and 74 lashes according to Article 638 of the Islamic Penal Code in Iran. The dress code law which came into force in Iran after the Islamic revolution in 1979, imposes on women out veiled and wearing a long and  wide dress.

The three females were detained in April, and reportedly faced enforced disappearance for 9 to 14 days. Iranian media outlets also reported that activists were initially unable to see a lawyer during the first phase of the investigation and “their legal representatives did not have the right to be represented during their trial.”

In the early 2000s, Iranian activist Messih Ali Nejad, opposed the compulsory hijab decision. She has has launched a movement called “White Wednesday”, a popular online platform in which activists and females living inside Iran share visuals of themselves walking in public without wearing a headscarf, expressing opposition to wearing a mandatory headscarf, and discussing their hopes for women’s rights.

There are dozens of females in Iran who also reject the veil, imposed by the Iranian authorities after the Islamic revolution.

Iranian activist Messih Ali Nejad, who is based in US, have previously explained that she is not against the veil but against the obligating females to wear it, noting that there is a big difference between the two ideas.

She said that several females in the Arab World are veiled due to succumbed to the pressure of Islamic groups, and to slogans which threatens women with a severe punishment “when judgment day comes.”

She added that these Arab women “did not wear hijab for the sake of God but to avoid negative gaze in societies who judge women for their clothes and not their morals and behavior.”

Iranian activist Messih Ali Nejad

Moreover, “those who take decision to remove Hijab due face curses and insults, even from members of friends and family,” Nejad added.

Nejad succeeded in attracting the attention of people inside and outside Iran. In response to these movements, Iranian authorities decided to tighten the punishment. Iran has threatened women who take pictures of themselves or others while not wearing the hijab and sent them to Nejad, with 10 years imprisonment.

Following the arrest of the activists, the UN’s special rapporteurs on human rights in Iran have called on the Iranian government to release the three women who arbitrarily detained.

“We are concerned that the long arrests and sentences imposed on these women are directly linked to the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and assembly in their pursuit of gender equality in Iran,” the experts added.

The rapporteurs said that the use of repressive legislation to criminalize the exercise of freedom of expression and peaceful assembly is contrary to Iran’s obligations under international human rights law, arguing that since January 2018 there have been at least 32 people arrested and 10 people imprisoned, as they protested to wear the mandatory headscarf.

Also, the U.S. State Department has condemned the hefty prison terms for three women.

In a tweet on August 14, the State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus wrote, “We condemn the Iranian regime for sentencing Yasaman Aryani, Monireh Arabshahi, and Mojgan Keshavarz to 55 years in prison for protesting compulsory hijab laws while simply handing out roses.”

The Iranian Center for Strategic Studies headed by the President Hassan Rouhani, revealed in a recent report that 49.8 percent of men and women in Iran regard the veil as a personal matter that the authorities should not interfere.

Iranians are trying to resist the imposition of the veil by putting a blanket on the headscarf, which Iranian pro-government media have called  “bad veil,” while others are holding demonstrations against forced headscarves, often with arrests.

Despite the harsher punishment, Iranian women still send their pictures and videos to Nejad for publication around the world.

Activists see that criticisms against Iran should not be limited not limited to “fighting terrorism and securing navigation in the Gulf”, but must include combating “the repugnant social model that the Iranian regime offers to a Muslim citizen inside and outside Iran.”

In a different incident, as part of crackdown on women freedom in Iran, on Friday six females activists were summoned for questioning by security in Tehran, and detained overnight for attending a football match, while Iranian females are not allowed to attend matches.

Among the measures to impose compulsory but otherwise arbitrary hijab rules in recent weeks, there has been an increase in the number of vice squad members detaining and punishing women for not following the law.

These measures, as reported by acticitst also include threatening women who doesnt wear the hijab tasking car drivers to report female passengers who do not observe the dress code. The Tehran subway operator has promised stricter hijab control on its trains in the coming week.

Police forces reportedly encourages citizens to report on each other and send a text message to locate women who don’t wear hijab


Social media users have warned that measures like this will further cause fragments among the Iranian society which is already dangerously divided as a result of a political system that gives all the powers and wealth in the country to clerics and military.

Those who are called in to a designated vice-squad station get jail sentences or have to pay a fine in cash, although there are also reports about individuals receiving lashes for some “offenses.”


Only in Gilan province, some 66,000 women have been called in to police stations via text messages on their cell phones, the iranian labour News Agency(ILN) reported. In Tehran, 300,000 text messages were sent to women and many cars were detained, the agency added.

Critics often cite financial corruption, discriminatory practices and rising crime figures as a result of mismanagement and chaotic clerical rule in Iran. Critics however say that hijab is the only thing that gives the Iranian government its Islamic appearance.

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War drills threaten peace efforts between North Korea, the US and South Korea https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/18/war-drills-threaten-peace-efforts-between-north-korea-the-us-and-south-korea/ Sun, 18 Aug 2019 10:00:00 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=705201 Pyongyang protested against joint US-South Korea military drills, largely computer-simulated, calling them a rehearsal for war

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North Korea launched at least two short-range ballistic missiles on Friday, South Korea’s military said, shortly after Pyongyang described South Korea’s president as “impudent” and vowed that inter-Korean talks are over.

Pyongyang has protested against joint US-South Korea military drills, largely computer-simulated, which kicked off last week, calling them a rehearsal for war. It has also fired several short-range missiles in recent weeks.

Japan’s defence ministry said it did not see any imminent security threat from the latest projectile launch.

North Korea said on ٍSaturday that leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire demonstration of newly developed, short-range ballistic missiles intended to send a warning to the United States and South Korea over their joint military exercises.

North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Saturday that Kim showed “great satisfaction” over his military’s recent testing activity and vowed to build up “invincible military capabilities no one dares to provoke.”

While discussions have begun between the US and South Korea, to get the latter to pay more for the cost of maintaining US troops in the region to guard against any threat from North Korea.

In early August, North Korea again expressed anger at US-South Korean military drills by launching new tactical guided missiles. They were fired from South Hwanghae province across the peninsula, travelled about 450 kilometres and landed in the sea to the east, KCNA said.

South Korea’s military had described those missiles as similar to the Russian-made Iskander, a solid-fuel, the nuclear-capable missile that is highly manoeuvrable and travels on low trajectories, improving its chances of evading missile defence systems.

This is North’s fourth provocation in less than two weeks, came amid stalled denuclearisation talks with Washington, although Washington and Seoul played down the tests.

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday that he is tacitly giving North Korea permission to continue testing. “I say it again, there have been no nuclear tests. The missile tests have all been short-ranged — no ballistic missile test. No long-range missiles,” he stressed.

The United States has responded to this kind of warnings before when North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday.

This and the two similar missile tests last week, raised the stakes for US and South Korean diplomats hoping to restart talks on North Korean denuclearisation.

On Wednesday, a senior US defence official said it does not plan to make changes to a military drill with South Korea, despite a series of North Korean missile launches intended to pressure Seoul and Washington to stop joint exercises.

The US and South Korean militaries joint exercise which started on 11 August, known as Dong Maeng, which is believed to be a slimmed-down version of an annual drill once known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise, which included thousands of US troops. It is unclear how many US troops were involved this year, but the official noted that the exercise, as in the past, would have a large computer-simulated portion.

North Korea had earlier said that it will wait to see if this August exercises actually take place to decide on the fate of its diplomacy with the United States and also whether to continue its unilateral suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests, which leader Kim Jong Un announced last year amid a diplomatic outreach to Washington.

Earlier in August, Trump tweeted “It was a long letter, much of it complaining about the ridiculous and expensive exercises. It was also a small apology for testing the short-range missiles, and that this testing would stop when the exercises end.”

Future of US-Korean alliance would carry a huge bill for Seoul

Since the end of the Korean conflict, when Washington fought alongside Seoul against North Korea, the US has had troops stationed in South Korea. The US has about 28,000 troops stationed in South Korea and another 50,000 in Japan.

Each year, the two countries conduct military drills, often also called war games. Seoul and Washington say the drills are defensive but Pyongyang sees them as a preparation for war.

Following the 2018 summit in Singapore where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US President Donald Trump agreed on a vague denuclearisation statement, the US president also said he’d cancel the war games.

It is no doubt that the North Korean nuclear program represents a clear threat to both North Korea and its greatest ally, since the second world war, the United States.

And besides their shared disapproval for the North, US is South Korea’s second most important trading partner after China.

However, Trump has repeatedly said Seoul should bear more of the burden of keeping some 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea, where the United States has had a military presence since the 1950-53 Korean War. And US national security adviser John Bolton discussed the cost-sharing issue during his visit to Seoul in July, according to the Blue House.

South Korean and US officials signed an agreement in February, under which Seoul would raise its contribution to just under 1.04 trillion won ($927m), an increase of about $70.3m. The interim agreement was due to expire in a year.

Finally, nuclear activity appears to be continuing, however, and satellite images of North Korea’s main nuclear site last month showed movement, suggesting the country could be reprocessing radioactive material into bomb fuel.

The Korean War Timeline:

September, 1945: Korea divided between North backed by the Soviet and South backed by the US, after World War II

1949: A pro-Soviet puppet government is left in charge of North Korea with a vastly superior army to US-supported South

June 24, 1950: North Korea invaded South Korea

June 27, 1950: Truman orders air and naval support for South Korea & calls for UN intervention

September 15, 1950: In surprise landing behind enemy lines, US forces push North Korean army back north.

October 19, 1950:  Pyongyang falls to UN forces


November 4, 1950:  With increased opposition, UN offensive stalls and then collapses. Chinese troops push UN forces back across the 38th parallel and capture Southern capital of Seoul

1952: Korea becomes campaign issue in 1952 presidential election

July 27 , 1953:  Armistice formally re-established the division of Korea

January 21, 1968: a team of 31 North Korean commandos is sent to Seoul to assassinate President Park Chung Hee, but is intercepted by South Korean security. All but two are killed, and only one of those captured.

August 18, 1976: North Korean soldiers attack a work party trying to chop down a tree inside the demilitarised zone. Two US army officers are killed in what becomes known as the “axe murder incident”.

October 9, 1983: An attempt to kill South Korean President Chun Doo Hwan takes place when North Korea plants a bomb in a mausoleum in Yangon, Myanmar during a visit by Chun. He survives but 21 people, including some government ministers, are killed.

November 29, 1987: A bomb planted on a Korean Air flight explodes over the Andaman Sea, killing all 115 people on board. Seoul accuses Pyongyang, which denies involvement.

September 18, 1996: A North Korean submarine on a spying mission runs aground off the eastern South Korean port of Gangneung. After a 45-day manhunt, 24 crew members and infiltrators are killed.

June 15, 1999: South Korean and North Korean naval ships clash off South Korea’s Yeonpyeong island. North Korean casualties are estimated at around 50.

October 9, 2006: It carries out its first successful nuclear test. Since then it has come under a series of international sanctions.
March 26, 2010:
The South Korean corvette Cheonan sinks, killing 46 sailors. An international investigation concludes it had been torpedoed by a North Korean submarine. Pyongyang denies the charge.

November 23, 2010: North Korea fires 170 artillery shells at Yeonpyeong, the first attack on an area populated by civilians since the war: four are killed, including two civilians. South Korea’s troops fire back with cannon.

August 20, 2015: South and North Korea trade artillery fire across their border.

September 21, 2017: South Korea’s new President Moon Jae In tells the United Nations he does not want the “collapse” of North Korea but warns against tensions becoming “overly intensified” and “accidental military clashes”.

November 2017: Seoul imposes new unilateral sanctions, putting 20 North Korean organisations including banks on a blacklist. The measures are in addition to fresh sanctions by the UN.

January 3, 2018: the Koreas reopen a cross-border hotline, shut down for two years, after Kim Jong Un suggests Pyongyang could send a team to next month’s Winter Olympics in the South.

January 5, 2018: North Korea accepts the South’s offer of talks to take place on January 9, the first since 2015.

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Odds and consequences for the no-deal Brexit scenario https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/10/odds-and-consequences-for-the-no-deal-brexit-scenario/ Sat, 10 Aug 2019 07:00:25 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704944 How will a no-deal Brexit, which is highly expected by politicians, affect the Scottish question of independence, and British economy?

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United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson made his first visit to Scotland last week, as part of his tour of the United Kingdom as Prime Minister. The tour comes in a decisive time, where his Conservative Party has refused to support a no-deal Brexit. However, his trip to Edinburgh was marred by crowds of protesters who booed and jeered as he arrived at Bute House for talks with Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Even more, the majority of Scots would vote for independence in another referendum, according to a shocking new poll conducted in the wake of Boris Johnson’s visit to Edinburgh.

At the same time, the pound sterling has fallen sharply early Tuesday to $1.2120, its lowest since March 2017. The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has warned the government that neither the UK nor the EU is ready for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

A no-deal Brexit scenario is highly expected by politicians, becoming more and more inevitable as time passes. In this UK would face, several national and foreign issues. On the political scale, this scenario is facing odds between the UK and Scotland.

The Scottish affair

Johnson has vowed to leave the EU, “come what may” by the 31 October, the date the UK must depart if no deal has been reached “no ifs or buts” and the government is ramping up preparations for “no-deal” — something some senior politicians have warned could make the breakup of the United Kingdom more likely.

Scottish politician and Leader of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party since 2011, Ruth Davidson has issued a defiant challenge to Boris Johnson, pledging she will refuse to back a no-deal Brexit before his first visit to Scotland as prime minister.

Writing in her regular column for the Scottish Mail on Sunday, Davidson said: “when I was debating against the pro-Brexit side in 2016, I don’t remember anybody saying we should crash out of the EU with no arrangements in place to help maintain the vital trade that flows uninterrupted between Britain and the European Union.”

She added that “I don’t think the government should pursue a no-deal Brexit and, if it comes to it, I won’t support it.”

Johnson-made Michael Gove, British Conservative Party politician and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, responsible for planning à no-deal Brexit. Gove has said the UK government is currently “working on the assumption” of a no-deal Brexit. He said that his team still intends to reach an agreement with Brussels, but, writing in the Sunday Times, he added: “No deal is now a very real prospect.”

In the 1975 European Communities membership referendum, it was England that returned the biggest majority for the UK joining the common market with 69%. Northern Ireland’s 52% support was the smallest. Next came Scotland on 58%, though it included the only two regions in the UK that voted to stay out – the Shetland Islands and the Western Isles.

In the Brexit referendum of 2016, the political dynamics had reversed. Now voters in England and Wales voted to leave the EU, while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain. This difference has set the tone for much of what has happened since.

In 2014, Scotland rejected independence by a 55% majority. One of the reasons cited by those opposed to Scottish independence was that it would endanger Scotland being part of the European Union (EU). Following this Conservative victory, the “Leave” side won the June 2016 referendum with 52% of the vote. In Scotland, 62% of the votes were to “Remain” in the EU, with a majority of voters in every local authority area.

Fuelling calls for a second independence vote.

Although the concerns of those who voted to leave must be listened to and addressed, there is a strong desire in Scotland to be a full and active member of the European family of nations. The Scottish Government shares that desire.

After the 2016 referendum came the inevitable debate about whether Scotland and Northern Ireland could avoid leaving the single market against their will. Six months after the vote, the Scottish government published a Blueprint for achieving this by Scotland becoming a member of the European Economic Area after the UK leaves. The UK government refused to even entertain the idea of a differentiated Scottish Brexit.

The most straightforward way for both those regions to remain in the single market would entail the whole UK opting to stay in the EU’s single market. However, this option is impossible right now.

Johnson started his tenure by announcing £300m packages of new investment is for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which he said would “strengthen the union”.

Scotland has been part of the EU for more than 40 years, delivering many social, economic and cultural benefits for individuals, businesses and communities across Scotland. So, a “hard Brexit” would severely damage Scotland’s economic, social and cultural interests. It will hit jobs and living standards, according to Nicola Sturgeon the First Minister.

Nevertheless, whether the only option for Scotland to maintain its economy is “an independent Scotland” is a question that poses itself to the British political scene.

No-deal tolls over the UK’s economy

Although the Scottish affair is far from being the only issue that the UK is facing, a huge event such as the Brexit would necessarily have significant economic effects on both sides. A no-deal Brexit has always meant that the UK would have greater flexibility to set its trade tariffs because it won’t be any more part of the EU single market. Which means that the UK doesn’t have to accept all four EU freedoms: movement of goods, capital, services and people.

The government has now introduced its temporary plans on how it would take advantage of that opportunity. It has said it will cut tariffs to zero on 87% of the goods it imports if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal in place.

As a member of the EU, the UK currently applies the EU’s common customs tariff to goods imported from outside the EU. Accordingly, goods from countries with which the EU has free trade agreements are exempted of such fees. But in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would no longer apply the EU’s tariff policy and so would have to make decisions about what, if any, tariffs to impose.

UK government has published details of its temporary tariff regime for no deal, in March 2019, designed to minimise costs to business and consumers while protecting vulnerable industries. Under the temporary tariff, 87% of total imports to the UK by value would be eligible for tariff-free access. Tariffs would still apply to 13% of goods imported into the UK. This includes a mixture of tariffs and quotas on beef, to support farmers, retaining several tariffs on finished vehicles to support the automotive sector.

At the moment the EU maximum tariff on cars from outside the EU is 10%, while on some types of beef it is 12.8% plus 265 euros per 100kg.

All Tariff revenue would go to the UK Treasury, which provides revenue for governments, although compared with other types of tax the contribution is relatively small in rich countries. Tariff revenue collected by the UK was about £3bn in 2017. It could be less if tariffs are eliminated widely enough, or more because remaining tariffs would be applied to EU goods that are currently tariff-free. To complicate things further, new tariffs can reduce demand for some imports, and cutting tariffs can do the opposite.

Tariffs are, as a general rule, are reduced or eliminated where there are no British producers to protect, which may help lower costs in the shops. However, it is important to note that some goods are already exempted from the EU tariffs, where the country concerned has a trade agreement, so the drop in prices may not be as great as expected.

Another consideration is that lower tariffs might be offset by a decline in the value of the pound sterling, which analysts think is particularly likely in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Consequently, some beef cuts will be subject to tariffs of over €150 per 100kg. Vehicles from mopeds to busses will be hit with tariffs ranging from 6% to 22%. Imported porcelain or china tableware and kitchenware will be hit with a 12% tariff.

All these tariffs, if and when they come in to force, will apply to imports from the EU, which are currently completely tariff-free, as well as imports from elsewhere. Under the World Trade Organization (the UK is a member) rules. Theresa May’ Chequers plan, the past Prime Minister focused on building a long-term relationship with the customs union and the single market to keep Britain in an EU-UK free trade area covering goods and agriculture.

Farmers say millions of sheep might have to be slaughtered if tariffs are slapped on lamb exports to the EU. On the contrary, Johnson’s office argues that leaving the 28-nation bloc and its rules-bound Common Agricultural Policy will be “a historic opportunity to introduce new schemes to support farming” and will open up new markets for UK agricultural exports. Also, he insists that the bloc make major changes to May’s deal.

This might be negotiable, as the British pound touched its lowest level in over two years against the dollar.

No-deal Brexit would have profound economic consequences with GDP shrinking by up to 8%, putting thousands of jobs at risk, the Confederation of British Industry is to warn. When adjusted for inflation, total earnings in the last three months of 2018 rose by 1.3%, the fastest increase since late 2016, the ONS said.

In late February British workers’ pay growth maintained its fastest pace in a decade in late 2018 and job creation stayed strong, data showed, suggesting the labour market was buoyant ahead of Brexit as the broader economy slowed. Which leads us to discuss the job creation question.

With unemployment at its lowest rate since 1975 – 4.0% in the three months to December – employers have begun raising pay for staff more quickly. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, a human resources professional body, said that private-sector employers planned to increase basic pay rates this year by the most since the survey started in 2012. The Bank of England has said it will need to raise interest rates gradually to offset inflation pressures from rising pay.

The ONS data showed a fall in the number of EU workers in the United Kingdom, largely driven by a decline in eastern European workers. But the number of non-EU workers rose, resulting in a total annual increase of 83,000 foreign workers in the country in the last three months of the year.

Noting that the UK economy has become increasingly reliant on the service sector, both as the main engine of job creation and as a source of export demand. Between 1997 and 2013, according to ONS data on final demand5, the proportion of services in total UK exports rose from 28% to 41%, with rapid growth in key service activities, such as financial and business services. These sectors are now as important to the overall UK export effort as the major manufacturing sectors of cars, aerospace, computers and electronics and pharmaceuticals.

The British pound touched its lowest level in over two years against the dollar after Prime Minister Boris Johnson said a hard divorce from the EU was in the cards, while stocks dipped globally with Wall Street backing off record highs.

Studies published in 2018 estimated that the economic costs of the Brexit vote were 2% of GDP or 2.5% of GDP. According to a December 2017 Financial Times analysis, the Brexit referendum results had reduced national British income by 0.6% and 1.3%.

But Johnson – who just weeks ago put the odds of leaving without a divorce agreement at a million to one – said on Monday he was “very confident” of getting a new deal. Currently, there are no new negotiations planned between Britain and the bloc.

Being less than 90 days away from the deadline, and with Johnson’s announcement, who appears to be sure of UK’s victory, make the world think on how the final chapter of the Brexit will, and which side will have the upper hand in it.

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Egypt’s steel industry, stuck in a legal limbo https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/07/egypts-steel-industry-stuck-in-a-legal-limbo/ Wed, 07 Aug 2019 18:10:41 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704713 Eleiwa says that billet imports reached 1.59 million tonnes last year, El Garhy believes industry is going through a tough period

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Since the beginning of this year, the iron industry has been subjected to a legal battle started by integrated steel plants and hot rolled steel manufacturers after the Ministry of Trade and Industry issued resolution no. 346 in April imposed, a temporary import tariff of 15% on iron billets and 25% on steel rebar, set for 180 days. ending in October.

The crisis dates back to November 2018 after the ministry received a complaint from local steel manufacturers including; Suez Steel Company, Ezz Steel, El Marakby Steel, and Kandil Steel.

The complaint called on the government to implement anti-dumping measures, in the wake of the global oversupply of billets, due to the tariffs imposed by United States President Donald Trump on iron and steel products.

Afterwards, the ministry examined the accuracy of the claims, they found out that domestic steel sales were down by 18%, a drop of 13% in the market share of the domestic industry, as well as an increase of 124% in inventory, turning companies’ net profits into losses.

Local steel manufacturers agreed that the ministry’s Trade Agreements Sector (TAS) did not meet with the industry’s concerned party since November 2018, has not met with parties from the industry since November in order to look into the complaint of the integrated steel plants manufacturers about the issues they faced due to importing large quantities of billet.

The ministry’s April decision took hot rolled steel manufacturers by surprise, as they viewed it as “a favour to the integrated steel plants” and that it would expose consumers to monopoly because integrated steel plants control the billet pricing.

Consequently, hot rolled steel manufacturers have resorted to the administrative court to halt the decision of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to impose temporary protection fees on the imports of billets and rebar.

In July, Egypt’s administrative court has overturned a decision by the ministry of trade and industry to impose a 15% fee on imported iron billets. In turn, the factories challenged the verdict, but they were rejected and resorted to the Supreme Administrative Court, which has rejected all pending appeals to bring back a 15% import duty on iron billets.

Mohamed Eleiwa, CEO Misr Steel

Manufacturers reactions

Mohamed Eleiwa, CEO Misr Steel, said that the steel industry has become unattractive to investment because of the recent decision to impose protection fees.

He explained that several steel companies postponed their expansion plan during the current period, because of the sudden decisions made by the government.

Eleiwa added that Misr Steel has suffered around EGP 100m in losses during the first half this year, with an average losses of EGP 16m-18m per month, due to imposing fees on billet imports.

He went on to explain that the company was forced to halt operations in May, due to the losses, however, the work resumed in June.

Hot rolled steel companies are facing the loss of their clients, market share and employment, he explained, adding that, the impact of hot rolled steel investments on the economy should not be disregarded, especially that even the smallest hot rolling factories have a production capacity of 100,000 tonnes annually, estimated at EGP 400m.

“Since the imposition of protective tariffs on billet imports, estimated to be $55-60 per tonne, there has been an increase in costs by EGP 800-900. Competitiveness is threatened, and if the fee continues, companies would be forced to exit the local market, and the consumer would fall prey to the integrated steel manufacturers,” Eleiwa stressed.

According to industry data, imports of billets amounted to 1.5 million tonnes last year, of which 390,000 tonnes were for integrated steel plants and 1.2 million tonnes for hot rolled steel factories, completely consumed, he explained, adding that Egypt’s total steel production in the same year was 8.7 million tonnes.

Gamal El Garhy, Chairperson of El Garhy Steel Group and Chairperson of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI)

On the other hand, Gamal El Garhy, Chairperson of El Garhy Steel Group and Chairperson of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), said that the decision of the Ministry of Trade and Industry to impose fees on the imports of billets was issued without involving all parties of the industry in the discussion.

He pointed out that the decision to impose temporary or permanent protection fees on the imports of billet creates a kind of monopolistic practices, which threatens to allow a certain group of manufacturers to control iron prices in the market.

“Going to the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) is an escalating step, however, the main issue is to compel the government to implement the court verdict,” he said.

He added that the integrated steel factories are facing a problem in terms of the increased production costs. The Chamber of Metallurgical Industries has sought to find solutions to these problems, the most important of which is the reduction of gas prices for factories, estimated at $7 per million thermal units.

Furthermore, he explained that added that the chamber has repeatedly invited the factories to discuss solutions for the problem of increasing production costs and to figure out why do they want to impose protection fees on the imports of billets.

He explained that the appeal filed by the owners of the integrated steel factories in the Supreme Administrative Court should have been preceded by the government implementing the verdict of the Administrative Court overturn the ministry’s decision to impose a 15% fee on imported iron billets.

El Garhy pointed out that the steel industry should be given great attention by the state during the coming period, especially with the current boom in national projects.

He added that factories have suffered over the past period from a large surplus in production of about one million tonnes of rebar in 2018.

“The decision was sudden, and confused the hot rolled steel factories and led to some of them stopping their work for up to three months. Overall, the factories of the sector operated with only about 30% of their production capacity,” he explained.

He pointed out that El Garhy Steel average direct losses incurred were estimated to be EGP 50m, in addition to other indirect losses.

The group also pays about EGP 400,000 per day demurrage for billet imports that are stored in the warehouses of ports, and are estimated at 90,000 tonnes. He added that the group gradually returned to work in July following the decision by the Administrative Court to reverse the decision of the Ministry of Trade.

El Garhy pointed out that the average billet imports of the groups are estimated to be 800,000 per year, but they declined this year due to the ministry’s decision.

The protection fees on billet imports caused an increase in the cost of production by about EGP 1200 per tonne, but the company has sought to not burden consumers and increased the price of the final product by only EGP 150.

Tarek Al Gioshy, Chairperson of Al Gioshy Steel

Within the same context, Tarek Al Gioshy, Chairperson of Al Gioshy Steel, and member of the Chamber of Metallurgical Industries said that the steel industry is a strategic industry that requires special attention by the state.

Al Gioshy added that the steel sector needs decisions to boost its investment, withing the framework of the economic reforms implemented by Egypt.

“We need the state to support manufacturers and issue iron licenses in the upcoming period; to help the hot rolled steel factories to turn into integrated steel factories, as they are national companies, and purely established with Egyptian capital,” he explained.

He added that it is essential and necessary to bring together integrated steel factories and hot rolled steel factories to benefit the national economy.

On the other hand, one of the integrated steel factories manufacturers told Daily News Egypt that the steel industry is different from the hot-rolled industry. The first is an integrated industry and the other is a synthetic industry. The steel industry is defined globally as the crude steel industry.

He added: “The Rebar industry, in integrated steel plants, goes through four stages: the first stage is reduced iron. Afterwards, they move into the manufacturing phase, which turns them into pure steel, and afterwards into reduced iron again. The second stage is the melting of steel, and then the conversion of the reduced iron to liquid steel. The third stage is converting the liquid steel into billets, and the final stage is the hot rolling stage, which is the conversion of billets to rebar”.

The hot rolling industry is not an industry in the regular sense, but rather an industry of forking and operating. A billet is considered a semi-manufactured product and the value added to the hot rolling phase does not exceed 10%.

The source identified the total employment in the rebar industry at about 30,337 workers, of which 26,222 working in integrated and semi-integrated factories, which start from heavy melting scrap. As for public sector factories, there are 8,706 workers, and the private sector has about 17,000 workers.

“The number of workers in the hot rolling factories is about 4,115 workers,” he added.

He explained that the productive capacities of the integrated and semi-integrated steel factories are about 10.67 tonnes annually, representing 80% of the total production capacity of rebar steel.

The total production capacity of hot rolling factories, which are estimated to be 16 factories, registers at 2.74m tonnes annually.

According to the source, the investment cost of the integrated steel factories is estimated to be at least $785m for one factory, including a reduced iron factory with investments worth $600m, including a smelter and hot rolling factory, next to the power station and auxiliary services.

On the contrary, the typical size of investments of the hot rolled steel factories does not exceed $4m, and the added value of integrated steel factories is estimated to be 70%.

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Ashmwai, the most-wanted terrorist admits training suicide bomber of St. Peter and St. Paul Church attack https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/05/ashmwai-the-most-wanted-terrorist-admits-training-suicide-bomber-of-st-peter-and-st-paul-church-attack/ Mon, 05 Aug 2019 17:39:21 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704488 The army officer-turned-terrorist Ashmwai confessed he was recruiting physicians to be part of a militant group he was forming during the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa sit-in in 2013.

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Egyptian authorities have been interrogating the country’s most-wanted terrorist Hesham Ashmawi recently after he was extradited from Libya, where he was captured, in May.

The army officer-turned-terrorist Ashmwai confessed he was recruiting physicians to be part of a militant group he was forming during the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa sit-in in 2013.

Security sources told Daily News Egypt that one of the recruited physicians, named Moustafa Abu Hajar, later became the main physician of Ashmawi’s militant group. Abu Hajar was responsible for treating wounded militants.

Ashmawi said during the Rabaa sit-in, the outlawed Brotherhood leaders tried to persuade him to join the group. He pretended joining the Brotherhood to use the group’s youth in establishing his new militant group.

While Ashmawi was in the sit-in, many of the Brotherhood’s youth agreed to establish armed movements against the state, he claimed.

Investigations revealed that during his stay in Libya, Ashmawi had good relations with some Brotherhood members who helped him to transfer money to militants, specifically foreigners. Those foreign militants were also linked to the Brotherhood branches in their countries.

Ashmawi revealed the details of terrorist attacks against Egyptian churches and his relation with Wilayat Sinai, the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group’s branch in North Sinai.

There are foreign militants in Sinai, mostly coming from North Africa and Chechnya, Ashmawi claimed, adding that those elements were few in the beginning, but they were gradually increasing over time.

Those foreign militants joined the IS after undergoing allegiance tests, and they knew very well using weapons as some of them had military experience, Ashmawi revealed.

He said many foreign militants participated in the terrorist attacks in Egypt, namely the Karam al-Qawadis attack in Sinai. They have spread across Libya after the defeat of their groups’ in Syria and Iraq.

Ashmawi admitted that he was in charge of training the suicide bomber of the St. Peter and St. Paul Church attack, Mahmoud Shafiq Moustafa.

Moustafa, nicknamed Abu Dujana al-Kanani, was a member of Wilayat Sinai group, but Ashmawi did not want him to carry out the suicide attack, as he wanted to use him in other operations. Ashmawi wanted to take Moustafa with him to Libya, but Wilayat Sinai refused, according to the investigation.

Shadi al-Mani’i, an IS commander in Sinai, had a strong relation with Ashmawi. They were in same terrorist unit that were involved in many attacks targeting Copts in Sinai, the investigation revealed.

Ashmwai was arrested on 8 October 2018 in Libya as part of a wide-scale military operation conducted by the Libyan National Army (LNA).

According to a press statement by LNA, Ashmwai, the IS leader in the Libyan city of Derna, was arrested during a military operation by the army.

Ashmwai was born in 1978, and graduated in 2000 from the military academy, where he was considered a distinguished officer and joined the Sa’ka, an Egyptian military commando force. He served in Sinai for 10 years and witnessed the bombings of Taba, Sharm El-Sheikh and Dahab.

Ashmawi, nicknamed later as Abu Omar al-Muhajir, has received advanced training with the Egyptian army to carry out special operation tasks at American military training institutes.

In 2005, he started to attend sessions for extremist groups held in mosques. As a result, Ashmawi received a warning from the Armed Forces in 2006 and was subjected to investigation. However, he asserted his commitment to the military rules.

In 2007, Ashmawi was transferred to an administrative post according to a verdict from a military court and then was referred to retirement in 2009. He was completely expelled from the army in 2012 because he travelled to Syria twice through Turkey.

After the 30 June uprising, Ashmawi appeared as a key militant figure who trains militants on the usage of weapons, carrying out suicide bombing missions, and killing conscripts.

In the wake of the failed assassination attempt of former Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim in May 2013, his name was mentioned a few times in local media.

The new ideology of the former officer led him to travel to Syria from Turkey in 2013 to fight against the Al-Assad regime. He then returned to Egypt to participate in the Brotherhood Rabaa sit-in against the ouster of late president Mohamed Morsi.

In 2014, Ashmawi became a leading figure of the IS branch in Egypt, which was known as Ansar Byat El-Maqdus at that time. He supervised most important attacks conducted by the group against the army and police forces based in Sinai and Al-Farafra oasis.

Ashmawi has been involved in several major terrorist operations including the attack on the military intelligence headquarters in Ismailia in October 2013, the bombing of the Security Directorate of Al-Dakahlia in December 2013, the bombing of Cairo Security Directorate in January 2014, the attack on a military unit in Farafra oasis in the Western Desert in July 2014, and the attack on the Armed Forces in Karm Al-Qawadis in Sinai in October 2014.

During the Farafra attack, Ashmawy was injured, he then was taken to Libya to receive treatment because of his close relation with al-Qaeda-affiliate Ansar Al-Sharia in Derna.

In October 2017, the Egyptian National Security received information on the presence of a militant group near El-Wahat El Baheria road, located between Giza and Fayoum, the information was collected from four detainees from the Qaluibyia governorate, the security forces headed to location where they faced a fierce militant attack from anonymous militants, the attack led to the death of 16 policemen.

At that time, the Interior Ministry did not clarify the identity of the militants, however, numerous local media reports, that quoted security sources, indicated that the perpetrators were from a new group in Egypt called al-Morabtoon that’s allied to al-Qaeda and formed by Ashmwai.

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Kushner seeks Arab leaders’ support to Mideast peace plan seemingly going into effect https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/08/04/kushner-seeks-arab-leaders-support-to-mideast-peace-plan-seemingly-going-into-effect/ Sun, 04 Aug 2019 17:16:17 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=704402 "What remains are minor details. No Palestinian state, but civilian self-governance," says analyst

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US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, accompanied by a White House team including Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and State Department official Brian Hook, began last week a Mideast tour to rally support from Arab leaders for the White House’s Mideast peace plan aimed, they said, to tackle the Palestinian-Israeli long-standing conflict.

Kushner, the plan’s main architect, made stops at Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel, Egypt, and Morocco reportedly to address roles of each Arab country in the suggested plan and to strengthen the situation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before the general elections on 17 September as the latter seeks to be the Israeli leader who oversaw Trump plan came to effect, political analysts said.

However, Kushner’s tour included no Palestinian officials.

The peace plan, which its economic component was disclosed in a US workshop in Manama, Bahrain, late June, reportedly has come into effect despite it was not officially released yet, the analysts added.

In Egypt, Kushner met with President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi as the latter stressed his support for the two-state solution to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.  

During the meeting, Al-Sisi affirmed that any solution has to include the creation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, according to the Egyptian presidency spokesperson Bassam Rady.

But the US team has kept avoiding the mention of any Palestinian statehood within their proposed plan.

In Israel, Kushner met with Netanyahu

Egypt repeatedly denies that it would give up parts of the Sinai Peninsula in favour of the suggested peace plan, stressing that the Sinai Peninsula is not part of the US proposal.

In Israel, Kushner sat down with Netanyahu reportedly to assure their friend that the US is doing its role perfectly ahead of Israeli elections, in support to Netanyahu’s stance in Israel among his opponents.

Kushner also met with King Abdullah II of Jordan as the monarch asserted his support for the two-state solution during the meeting, calling for a comprehensive peace for Palestinians, including an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 boarders, according to Petra News Agency.

In Morocco, Kushner also met with Oman’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdullah, and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Jerusalem Post reported. No official confirmation released by Morocco’s officials.

No Palestinian statehood

As the tour began, a circulating report by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth claimed on Wednesday that Kushner headed to the Middle East region to personally invite Arab leaders to attend a summit in Camp David in September before the Israeli election.

However, a senior White House official denied the report, saying that “no summit has currently been planned.” The official added that the US team will report the results of their meetings to Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and US National Security Agency to discuss many potential next steps to expand upon the success of the Bahrain workshop.”

Meanwhile, David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel, said on Tuesday ahead of Kushner tour that Trump’s administration supports “Palestinian civilian self-governance.”

“We believe in Palestinian autonomy. We believe in Palestinian civilian self-governance,” Friedman said in a CNN interview.

After frequent delays, the US took a series of steps regarding its so-called “deal of the century” as it has called for an economic workshop in Manama as business delegates and government officials gathered in the Bahraini capital for the Trump’s administration-led $50bn economic “Peace to Prosperity” conference.   

 

Kushner described his plan as “the opportunity of the century” for the Palestinians, noting that their acceptance is a pre-condition to peace.

 

Egypt sent an official economic delegation from the Ministry of Finance to attend the Manama conference reportedly to hear out the propositions.

 

Samir Ghattas, an expert in Palestinian affairs and director of the Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies, told Daily News Egypt that the so-called deal of century does not need to be disclosed or publicly declared anymore because it has already come into effect.

“We heard over and over about the release of the plan, but we only find frequent delays,” Ghattas continued.

 

This assumption shows up, Ghattas explained, in the transfer of the Israeli sovereignty on Jerusalem and the relocating of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city, and in the attempts to the dismantling of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) as well as the US suspension of all funding of billion dollars for the agency.  

 

Ghattas added that the US steps will be followed by a project to resettle the Palestinian refugees inside the countries where they are currently living, such as Jordan and Lebanon.

 

“This plan does not include a Palestinian state but civilian autonomy. What remains to be disclosed are minor details,” Ghattas highlighted.

 

On Kushner visit, Ghattas said that the tour initially aimed to discuss the roles of each Arab country in the plan, including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco.

The US is pressing on Jordan to accept the aspects of the peace plan and to resettle Palestinian refugees in Jordan (estimated with more than 2 million people according to United Nations figures) which, Ghattas said, would disturb the kingdom demography system.

Jordan officially kept rejecting any peace settlement that does not include a two-state solution affirming that no Palestinian state would be created on the kingdom lands. But it faces US pressure regarding the possible transfer of its custodianship of Jerusalem to Saudi Arabia or even to Morocco, Ghattas highlighted. 

The custodianship, a part of the regime’s legitimacy, of Al Aqsa and other Islamic and Christian holy sites in East Jerusalem falls directly under the Hashemite kingdom.  

 

The Jordan-Israel peace treaty signed in 1994 recognises the role of the Hashemite kingdom in caring for the Muslim holy sites in East Jerusalem.

King Abdullah II of Jordan as the monarch asserted his support for the two-state solution during the meeting

Egypt’s role

Ghattas said that the role of Egypt is not clear yet, as Egyptian officials kept denying giving up Sinai as part of the Trump plan.

There were reports published by Reuters in June that the fund of $50bn would be spent to improve the troubled Palestinian territories over 10 years and neighbouring countries. The rest is expected to be split between Egypt, Lebanon, and Jordan with about $9-10bn for Egypt, Ghattas suggested.

He noted that this fund reportedly to be spent on investment projects in the Sinai Peninsula to benefit the Palestinians living in Gaza strip.

For Palestinians, Ghattas pointed out that amid division between Fatah and Hamas movements, there is slight hope for reconciliation. “At the end, Palestinians will get the little, a self-governance that could be limited when needed. But they still maintain the right to use the Veto to stop the US plan.”

 

“I met Mahmoud Abbas and he told me: I will not die as a traitor. I will not accept this deal,” Ghattas concluded.

Too ambitious economic proposal

Tarek Fahmy, professor of Political Science at Cairo University, said that Kushner’s tour is an “exploratory one” to discuss the roles of each Arab country in the US peace plan and to search for other sources of funds after Manama’s workshop saw some reservations.

“The economic proposal was too ambitious and got some reservations,” Fahmy told Daily News Egypt.

 

Fahmy suggested that the US is trying to find alternative pathways to serve its plan.

One of them could be an international conference where Trump would invite Arab leaders, and in this case, Fahmy said, no Arab country would eject such invitation, adding that this conference would not be similar to Manama workshop.

Furthermore, Fahmy believes there will not be a Palestinian state, saying that the US will put pressure on the Palestinian Authority and push for negotiations. He added the office of Palestine Liberation Organization could be reopened in Washington.

Late July, Abbas abruptly decided to suspend all agreements with Israel, without giving details on the procedures he will take to implement such decree.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted Manama conference, announcing that it will not accept any settlement which does not include establishing an independent Palestinian state on the boundaries that existed before the 1967 war, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Earlier, the Palestinians froze contacts with the White House after Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israeli capital.


Kushner should wait


“The Trump team needs to have balanced relations with all Israeli actors, especially if Netanyahu could not make the math work in September to remain in his position,” Nicholas Heras, Middle East Security Fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told Daily News Egypt.

He added if Kushner wants to have the best possible context to release the political part of his peace plan in Israel, he should wait until the Israeli election.  

“Kushner is putting his money where his mouth is with this Middle East tour because he understands that it will take personal diplomacy with regional leaders to build support for his plan. Without the consensus of America’s best Arab partners, the entire plan in both its economic and political parts, will not succeed,” Heras highlighted. 

“The Palestinians are beginning to realise that there is a quiet Arab consensus that started to emerge at least on the economic part of the plan. But what Kushner must tread carefully is how the political part of the plan rolled out, and the Arab perception of how one-sided the plan could be in favour of the Israelis,” Heras concluded.

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Essebsi: The veteran politician who led Tunisia to democracy  https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/28/essebsi-the-veteran-politician-who-led-tunisia-to-democracy/ Sun, 28 Jul 2019 16:30:14 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703696 "He championed national consensus, women's rights, full access of all Tunisians to country’s democratic processes," says scholar

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Tunisia bid farewell to its first freely and democratically elected President, Beji Caid Essebsi, who died last Thursday aged 92, after being admitted to a military hospital due to suffering from a “severe health crisis”. 

Tunisia witnessed on Saturday a grand funeral with the attendance of several world leaders, befitting a man who championed national consensus and who backed women’s rights during his rule; however, some of his actions were controversial among opponents, especially those taken before his presidency.

Essebsi came to office in December 2014, after winning the country’s first free presidential poll since the sweeping uprising which toppled the long-time autocrat Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 after 23 years in office. 

He announced in April that he would not run in the elections that were scheduled in November this year, saying that it is time for younger people to step up. But now with his death, the polls are expected to be held earlier in September, however the date yet to be confirmed.

The speaker of Tunisia’s parliament, Mohamed Ennaceur, was sworn in as interim president on Thursday.

“Thank you, my president. Your funeral will never be forgotten. You are a source of pride for Tunisia,” Nouha Belaid, a Tunisian journalist and professor wrote on Saturday on Facebook.

Essebsi’s death came at a time of increasing tensions for Tunisia. The north African country witnessed two suicide attacks in the capital which killed two, including a police officer while several others were injured.

Earlier in October 2018, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the Avenue Habib Bourguiba, wounding 20 people including 10 police personnel.

“Unique national figure”

“Essebsi was crucial to Tunisia throughout its history as an independent state, so it is fitting that he died on Republic Day,” Sarah Yerkes, fellow, Middle East Programme at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Daily News Egypt.

“While he was not always well-loved, he will be remembered for putting the country ahead of his party, particularly during the very difficult time in 2012-2013 when the democratic transition seemed like it was heading towards failure,” Yerkes continued.

Meanwhile, Yerkes added that Essebsi will also be remembered for his attempts at increasing equality for women, “particularly through changes to the inheritance law to allow women equal opportunity for inheritance.”

Beji Caid Essebsi

He also took a brave move in August 2018 to support an unprecedented draft which aims to grant Muslim women equal inheritance rights, as the current system is based on the Islamic Shariah law which allows daughters to only half the inheritance given to sons.

Essebsi decreed to allow Muslim women to marry men outside the Islamic faith. Islam set strict rules that prevent her from marrying a non-Muslim man.

On the upcoming period for Tunisia, Yerkes pointed out that “there is no one who has such experience as Essebsi in Tunisian politics, other than Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi, so Essebsi’s death leaves somewhat of a vacuum.”

“I expect that his departure will signal a shift in the political scene, but it is not yet clear who will become the next leader of Tunisia,” Yerkes suggested.

“It is also worth noting that the transition after his death was incredibly smooth, something not common in the MENA region and something that can be challenging for a young democracy. Within hours of Essebsi’s passing, the constitutionally-mandated process took over and there was no chaos or uncertainty,” Yerkes highlighted.

Meanwhile, Charles W Dunne, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Arab Center Washington DC agreed that Essebsi was “an almost unique figure in the uprisings and leadership changes of 2011 and after that.”

“He was a national figure who acted in what he saw as national interests, not party interests,” Dunne told DNE.

“Essebsi championed national consensus, women’s rights, and the full access of all Tunisians to the country’s democratic processes,” Dunne noted.

Dunne added, “Essebsi helped broker political compromise at times when it appeared the revolution would collapse. And he voluntarily stood down from power when he needed to. Essebsi set a pattern of leadership that will be vital for Tunisia’s continued progress.”

Important legacy

“Essebsi was not the only actor in Tunisia’s democratic transition since 2011, but he was an important figure in contributing to its success so far,” Amy Hawthorne, deputy director for Research at the Project on Middle East Democracy told DNE.

Hawthorne also praised the temporary transfer of power, describing it as very smooth and peaceful. She added that “his successor will be chosen in a free and fair election in mid-September.”    

“Perhaps his most important legacy was his successful attempts to forge consensus with the Ennahda Party, an Islamist movement, and his secular party, Nidaa Tounes. This power-sharing that he helped achieve has been crucial to Tunisian political stability,” Hawthorne outlined.

“In the future, Tunisia will get a different next president than Essebsi, as he was a very senior figure in Tunisian politics and had served under the dictatorship as well as after the revolution. He represents a certain generation in Tunisian politics, and a new generation will now take the lead,” Hawthorne added.

A controversial leader

Essebsi was a veteran politician who was born on 29 November 1926 in Sidi Bou Said. He studied at the Sadiki Middle School and then moved to Paris to study law and he embarked on a legal career.

On a political level, he had a prominent career of more than 60 years. He served under late President Habib Bourguiba, who took power after the country gained independence from France.

Essebsi was devoted to Bourguiba and a close ally. He served under his rule as director of national security, defence, and interior minister. Looking to him as a “guide,” he wrote a book titled, “Habib Bourguiba: The Wheat and the Chaff,” in 2009.

Under the rule of Tunisian autocrat Ben Ali, Essebsi served as head of parliament. He retired in 1994, but following the Tunisian uprising in 2011, Essebsi came back to the political scene to be an interim prime minister.

In 2012, he founded his secular political party, Nidaa Tounes (Call for Tunisia) against the increasing influence of Islamic fundamentalism. In the October 2014 parliamentary election, his party won most seats in parliament, paving the way for Essebsi to run for office.

During his rule, Essebsi was largely criticized for many reasons, for his old age during his presidency, and most importantly for the period, he served under Bourguiba’s rule, as he was accused when being an interior minister of human rights violations.

A 2019 report by the Instance Verité et Dignité (IVD), or the Truth and Dignity Commission, accused Essebsi of “complicity in torture in his capacity as the interior minister for Bourguiba, from 1965 and 1969,” according to the Human Rights Watch.

The commission detailed in its report the role of Bourguiba and Ben Ali as well as other top officials in “the torture, arbitrary detention, and numerous other abuses of thousands of Tunisians.”

The commission was established in December 2013 and tasked to address human rights violations and corruption between 1955 and 2013.

In response, Essebsi rejected claims, accusing the IVD of increasing divisions among Tunisians, saying that the commission is acting “as a state within a state.”

On the other hand, Essebsi was seen by his supporters as the man who brought stability to Tunisia after the mass revolution that ousted Ben Ali.

The former president was known for his political reforms and supporting gender equality including reforming the country’s laws on marriage and inheritance, despite criticism inside and even outside Tunisia.

Essebsi also asserted that he supports freedom of speech and free press; however, he did not usually welcome some media criticism.

Meanwhile, he was accused of paving the way for his son, politician Hafedh Caïd Essebsi, to inherit the presidency after him, but he repeatedly denied such claims.

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The spinning wheel of US-China trade war https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/28/the-spinning-wheel-of-us-china-trade-war/ Sun, 28 Jul 2019 16:00:59 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703700 As Chinese economy slows, US import prices recognise biggest drop in six months, so when will the trade war end?

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The US government announced last Thursday that it will pay American farmers affected by the trade war with China between $15 and $150 per acre in an aid package totaling $16bn promised earlier by US President Donald Trump.

“Farmers are starting to do great again, after 15 years of a downward spiral. The 16 Billion Dollar China “replacement” money didn’t exactly hurt!” Trump tweeted on 23 July.

As US and Chinese negotiators prepare to meet face-to-face for the first time since talks on the dispute collapsed in May, the agriculture secretary, Sonny Perdue, said the package showed that Trump knew farmers were “fighting the fight”.

The assistance, starting in mid-to-late August, follows the president’s $12bn package last year that was aimed at making up for lower farm good prices and lost sales.

Now and in the 12 months through June, import prices of the United States fell 2.0% after declining 1.1% in May. It dropped 0.9% last month, the biggest decrease since December, the US Department of Labor said.

This comes as the latest episode of the trade dispute which dates back to 2018, when President Trump took decisions targeting the enormous trade deficit between his country and China. He has imposed a series of tariffs as part of his “American First” economic policy.

The United States decided first to raise tariffs on imports of solar panels. Then for other products like steel 25% and aluminum 10%. At the end of 2018, almost half of the products that the US imports from China has been hit with higher tariffs.

In response, the Chinese State Council imposed 25% tariff on agricultural products, automobiles, and “aquatic products.”

Then the tension between the two countries had increased. When the US took aim at the Chinese telecom Huawei, under concerns allegations of Chinese espionage and stealing American intellectual property policies accusations. So, the US effectively blacklisted it from doing business with the US companies which had cost Huawei tremendous damages.

This act was seen by economists as a severe threat to global economy than trade war tariffs.

Trade war taking toll on business

The prices fell mainly due to declines in the costs of petroleum and other goods.

Import prices exclude tariffs. In June, prices for imported fuels and lubricants fell 6.5% after rising 2.3% in the prior month. Also imported food prices trembled 1.5%, the second straight monthly drop.

Chairperson of Federal Reserve System (Fed), Jerome Powell, last week told lawmakers the central bank would “act as appropriate” to protect the economy against risks stoked by the trade war between the United States and China, as well as slowing global growth.

On Friday, Trump tweeted, “Apple will not be given Tariff waiver, or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China. Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!”

Effect on pricing in the US?

Although, since S&P 500 companies began reporting second quarter earnings, more than a third of them have cited tariffs or the US-China trade war as a headwind to profits. Knowing that GDP grew by 2.1% in the second quarter despite the war. Certainly, some industries were hit harder than others. Industries like the IS automotive industry, tech, and agriculture are affected the most by this trade war.

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced package of the $16bn aimed at supporting American farmers hurt by the Trade war while the Administration continues to work on free, fair, and reciprocal trade deals.

On the opposite side, Chinese’s investment in the US has plummeted by nearly 90% since President Trump took office, according to the New York Times.

Chinese economy starts to feel the pain

China’s economic growth is sputtering. A 6.2% growth actually reported in the second quarter, it might seem impressive, but in fact it had slowed about 0.4%, compared to last year and is the weakest since the government began releasing quarterly data in 1992.

Trump has quick to advantage saying that the imposition of new US tariffs is having its effect on the Chinese economy. In response, the Chinese authorities asserted that this is not a ‘bad performance’ considering slower global economic growth and it is within the annual target range of 6-6.5%.

The trade war is hurting exports, as US tariffs bite and is causing imports from the US, Japan, and South Korea to plunge, illustrating how the battle is reshaping global commerce.

Earlier this year, Beijing has stepped up fiscal stimulus plan, including about 2tn yuan ($291bn) of tax cuts. To prevent a sharper slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, which is being squeezed by weaker domestic demand and a trade war with the United States

The People’s Bank of China has also requested banks to not lower mortgage rates further, despite easier monetary conditions. It’s also boosted credit support for small firms, increased liquidity for smaller banks and asked big lenders to sustain funding to avert a squeeze. In June, the top economic planner unveiled a stimulus plan to help spur demand for automobiles and electronics.

Also, in the next decade, Goldman Sachs estimates $1tn will enter China’s bond market from abroad. Putting it among the world’s top investment destinations.

It is not just about economic war; it is a rivalry that could possibly take à military dimension. On 9 June, China denounced a possible US weapon sale to Taiwan as a violation of international law, after the State Department approved a weapon package, including tanks, missiles, and other armaments for the island.

The US has been always supporting Taiwan’s independence from the Chinese governance, for which China is ready to use force to take over, said the Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian.

This trade war between the world’s two largest economies, may have global economic impacts.

Malaysia, appears to be the trade war’s first victim and the rest of the world to come.

In June, the Congressional Research Service has indicated that the trade conflict between the US and China has the potential to affect Malaysia’s trade with both countries. As both are important trading partners. The imposition of safeguard tariffs by the US will affect Malaysia’s solar exports to the US though its exact impact is unclear due to the complicated implementation of this tariff. The tariffs imposed on China raises the possibility of trade and investment diversion to Malaysia.

Till now, we don’t know when this year-long trade war may end, but Trump has warned that China may not strike the agreement until the US elections in 2020.

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Egyptian government’s development plans always ambitious, require international financing partnerships: Al-Rajhi https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/22/egyptian-governments-development-plans-always-ambitious-require-international-financing-partnerships-al-rajhi/ Mon, 22 Jul 2019 20:28:58 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703296 Al-Rajhi said, in an interview with the Daily News Egypt, that the fund approved $270m for Egypt during the last fiscal year (FY), aimed at supporting micro-enterprises, achieving food security through the import of commodities, and financing the import of petroleum products.

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The OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) secured $165m in financing for the Egyptian market from January to the end of June. Saud Al-Rajhi, a member of OPEC’s private sector finance and trade department, said the first half funds included $95m for micro enterprises, $30m to import supply commodities, and $40m to import petroleum products.

Al-Rajhi said, in an interview with the Daily News Egypt, that the fund approved $270m for Egypt during the last fiscal year (FY), aimed at supporting micro-enterprises, achieving food security through the import of commodities, and financing the import of petroleum products.

He expected the fund’s access to the Egyptian market to reach about $220m by the end of this year. He also said that this depends on the continuation of funding requests to proceed at the same pace considering the credit criteria of the fund.

The OPEC fund is an intergovernmental and development institution established in 1976, based on a decision by the heads and leaders of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in their meeting in Algeria some 40 years ago.

The objective of the fund was to support budget accounts in developing countries and to promote cooperation among OPEC member states and developing countries, according to Al Rajhi.

He explained that the activity of the fund branched out to finance basic projects in countries, then started with the private sector, and finally financing trade.

Furthermore, he added that the fund is currently worth $7bn after member states raised their capital for the fourth time in 2011, and expected to increase its capital in the coming period, especially as its founders continue to pump proceeds of the fund into new projects.

Moreover, he pointed out that the fund has been operating in Egypt since its foundation and that it cooperates with all parties in Egypt, whether governmental or institutional, making Egypt one of the first beneficiaries of the fund’s resources.

Additionally, he said that the fund participated in financing 80 projects in Egypt with an investment cost of about $16bn, which includes government projects and the private sector in addition to trade funds.

Over and above, he pointed out that the total funds injected into Egypt, since its inception, reached 10% of the total value of the projects it financed, amounting to $1.6bn, half of which was to the private sector, while the other half was funnelled to finance the private sector and trade, noting that funding accounted for 50% of the total cost of some projects.

The OPEC fund for the public sector in Egypt amounted to $749.8m, divided by $332.4m for the energy sector, $163.2m for agriculture, $160m for other sectors, $37m for health, $20m for education, $14m for the government debt sector, $14m for the transport sector, and $8.7m for the financial sector, according to the official website of the fund.

Also, according to the website, the last three funds in Egypt included the General Company for Silos and Storage worth $14m to build grain silos in Port Said, increase capacity, and reduce losses. The second was to finance small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) worth $95m, and the third was designated to facilitate import of petroleum products worth $637m.

In addition, he added that the fund contributes to facilitating the work of 17 working banks in Egypt and has secured letters of credits for trade valued at $200m since 2006.

What’s more, he pointed out that since 2006, which witnessed the start of the programme of financing trade at the fund, the OPEC fund adopted about $550m to finance imports to Egypt, many of them in partnership with the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC), and included the purchase of commodities such as petroleum and its products, wheat, and food supplies.

He pointed out that the fund works according to funding programmes spanning three years, which are revised annually. This programme is presented to ministries and government agencies to assess if they match reality before being approved by the fund’s management.

“All programmes are assessed in the first, second, and third year. If any of the programmes do not match reality, they are amended to match the changes. In the past years, the fund focused on the roads and irrigation. Most recently, it focused on electricity production. We aim to cope with the changes to support what the market requires,” he stressed.

Furthermore, he said the fund is currently focusing its funding on electricity generation, roads, and irrigation, and if the government asks for new funding for health, education or otherwise, its board will not hesitate to consider funding.

He added that the fund receives funding requests from the Egyptian government, some of which are under study. The latest request was to provide $95m to support micro enterprises through the Social Fund for Development (SFD), which was renamed the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA).

He pointed out that this financing is not the first for SMEs, and that when dealing with the fund started, it was positive and gave positive results, creating keenness on providing new support to the fund, especially since the OPEC fund’s policy focuses on funding the neediest projects.

Additionally, he said that the fund has adopted a new funding programme of $95m to cooperate with the SFD last June, and will focus on financing professions for women, small farmers, fishermen, and entrepreneurs.

In 2015, the fund had approved about $40m for the SFD under a previous programme with the Social Fund. At the end of last month, the fund approved the new funding in preparation for its disbursement after the completion of legal proceedings.

Al-Rajhi predicted that the new funding will reach between 30 and 40,000 beneficiaries, according to specific conditions determined by the SFD.

He said that the fund is always considering financing new projects in Egypt whether for the public, private or trade sectors, but not all projects are approved by the fund.

“We are always keen on consulting with all Egyptian enterprises to find projects to fund. Not more than a month passes before we speak with Egyptian institutions to study the extent to which we can fund projects,” he added.

Moreover, he said that the fund continues to consult with government agencies and the private sector to identify and work on their needs. It also cooperates regularly with the ITFC to participate in financing trade in Egypt.

He highlighted that the fund is currently studying the financing of a private sector hospital in Egypt and that it will soon announce the results of the study after reviewing its financial solvency.

Additionally, he added that the fund contributes with a funding share to the Assiut Power Plant and another share in the South Helwan Power Plant. The fund also approved the financing of six solar plants in 2016 worth $700m, which has not yet been disbursed.

On the Egyptian economic situation, Al-Rajhi said that the Egyptian government’s development plans are always ambitious and that development work in general requires partnerships. This necessitates that the international community mobilise its efforts to meet these demands.

He said, “the latest data on the Egyptian economy indicates that foreign direct flows since December 2010 until now are estimated to be $200bn, and analysts say this is thanks to some steps that were taken, including the liberalisation of the exchange rate.”

“I think those who see the figures will find that Egypt’s economic situation is better than it was in previous years. The reports of international institutions look at this improvement with an optimistic outlook. We also notice an increase in the value of foreign exchange and investments, as well as an improvement in the balance of payments. This contributes to increasing the value of the local currency,” he added.

On the participation of the fund in government the proposals programme to buy shares of the companies offered, Al-Rajhi said that the fund has already participated in the purchase of shares in financial institutions outside Egypt, and if companies within Egypt were found to fit the direction of the fund and need its support, there will be no hesitation to have shares in it, according to El-Rajhi. “As we received requests from offered companies,” he concluded.

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Minibus girl: Victim detained after stabbing her assailant  https://wwww.dailynewssegypt.com/2019/07/21/minibus-girl-victim-detained-after-stabbing-her-assailant/ Sun, 21 Jul 2019 15:46:43 +0000 https://www.dailynewsegypt.com/?p=703182 “She should not be detained, not only because she is a child, but because she was defending herself,” says girl’s lawyer

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The life of an Egyptian little girl has been abruptly side-tracked after she killed a bus driver who attempted to rape her after threating her with a knife more than a week ago. This sheds light on her story and of similar cases of children and women who face various forms of sexual violence including sexual harassment and rape. 

The case of Amira, a 15-year-old student in the second grade of the preparatory school, has been trending on social media, as many users “praised her courage” in defending herself, citing her as a hero, without considering the legal and physiological consequences of her defence.

However, others blamed the girl for killing the assailant, noting that if she wanted to defend herself, she did not have to stab him several times.

Early on Tuesday, the general prosecution renewed the detention of Amira for 15 days pending investigations over charges of “intentional killing and the possession of a shiv.”

Not only did the decision of detaining her and the charges raise criticism, but also that the child has been detained with adults instead of being freed, or even detained with juveniles. This is especially since  she turned herself in to the police and was in a state of self-defence.

According to investigations, the girl was with her boyfriend at the Giza Zoo. After a while, he took her mobile and disappeared.

She thought he was joking with her and so she tried to call him with another mobile but someone else answered the phone. The person on the phone fabricated a story, in a secret agreement with the girl’s boyfriend, claiming that he found this cell phone and if she wanted to receive it, she has to come to him in Al-Ayat, according to Amira’s lawyer, Dina ElMokadem.

Amira believed him and went to meet the minibus driver, the assailant, which investigations revealed was a friend of her boyfriend. She found him, her boyfriend, and a third friend. They got into the minibus with other commuters, ElMokadem told DNE.

On the road, Amira’s boyfriend and his friend got out of the minibus, as well as other commuters, ElMokadem revealed, adding that the bus driver offered her a ride. With that, he attempted to rape her, threating her with a knife. The girl fended him off, grabbed his knife, and stabbed him 13 times, ElMokadem added.

“Amira should not be detained because it was a case of self-defence. Even if she was not a child and only a woman, she should not have to be detained,” ElMokadem asserted.

ElMokadem added, “Amira is detained with adults and was investigated by the general prosecution, while she should be investigated by the juvenile prosecution.”

Meanwhile, ElMokadem said that she will submit a petition on Sunday to release Amira. “We are waiting for the forensic report. The investigation is in favour of Amira and corresponds with her testimony.” 

In solidarity with Amira, the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NNCM) pledged to provide her with all kinds of support.

Azza al-Ashmawy, secretary-general of the NCCM said that the council assigned a lawyer for the girl to follow up on investigations and provide her with legal support.

According to Article No 122 of Egypt’s Child Law No 12 of 1996, “the child court shall exclusively deal with issues concerning the child when accused of a crime or in case of his delinquency.”

“The court shall also be entitled to pass judgments regarding criminal cases outlined in Articles 113 to 116 and Article 119 of this Law.”

“The criminal court or the supreme state security court, according to each case, shall have jurisdiction over criminal cases where the accused – at the time of committing the crime – is a child above fifteen (15) years of age while the accomplice is not a child and the case necessitated bringing the criminal action against the accomplice jointly with the child.”

In this case, the article added, “the court – before passing its judgment – shall examine the circumstances of the child from all aspects and may seek the assistance of experts if it so wishes.”

Women and girls around the globe struggle with various forms of gender-based violence. The types of violence do not just include sexual violence (sexual abuse, sexual harassment, rape, sexual exploitation) but also forced early marriage, domestic violence, marital rape, and trafficking.

A study by the United Nations in 2013 showed that 99.3% of Egyptian women surveyed have been subject to a form of sexual harassment.

A report issued by the Thomson Reuters Foundation in October 2017 showed that Cairo is the world’s most dangerous megacity for women. Another report by the Brazilian-based organisation ‘Instituto Promundo’ revealed that 64% of men admitted to sexually harassing women in the streets of Egypt. The forms of harassment ranged from ogling, stalking, and sometimes rape.

Regular legal procedures

“The prosecution’s decision of detention is a regular and normal legal procedure in such cases because there is a murder. But I disagree that the girl is being investigated by the general prosecution not the juvenile prosecution and that she is detained with adults,” Intesar Al-Saeed, a lawyer and the head of the Cairo Center for Development, told Daily News Egypt.

Al-Saeed noted that people on social media condemned the prosecution because it ordered the detention of the girl, but these are routine procedures, she highlighted. 

“I believe the girl’s narration of the incident and that she is a violence survivor trying to fend off an assailant. We, in the centre, are following the case with Amira’s lawyer and believe that investigations are in her favour,” Al-Saeed added.

“I hope she will be freed soon and that the forensic report will support her stance in the case,” Al-Saeed continued.

Regarding the fact that the girl stabbed the assailant 13 times, Al-Saeed pointed out that she might act this way because of the trauma, meaning she was hysterical because of shock and terror.

Physiological consequences

The young girl in this situation will probably face long-time trauma and physiological consequences which can be expected to impact her future life. This is regardless of whether she would be jailed for a while or released. 

“This child could be killed or raped if she did not fend off her rapist. Would the media and the patriarchal society be pleased with such a result?” Said Sadek, a sociology professor at the American University in Cairo, told DNE.

Sadek said that the media is exploiting the fact that the girl has a boyfriend to attack her. “What is the connection? Rape is something else and has nothing to do with her personal life,” Sadek said.

“This girl found herself in a dangerous situation where her body and life were threatened. She was alone with a strange guy who raised a knife and attempted to rape her. Maybe she feared that if she only hits, or pushes him or even stabbed him once, he could chase her. She was not safe and tried to defend herself,” Sadek explained.

Sadek highlighted that the girl will most likely suffer from the physiological effect of this situation and have trust issues with men in the future.

“How could she trust anyone in the future after the man she loves betrayed her and agreed with his friend to rape her? Of course, she needs long-term therapy to overcome and recover from this horrific experience,” Sadek asserted. 

Sadek added that the girl and her family will probably live in terror forever.

“The assailant’s family could seek revenge from the girl or her family members. Society and their community will not be tolerant with her because that she had a boyfriend and that a man attempted to rape her. They will confront many struggles to restore their normal lives,” Sadek concluded.

The post Minibus girl: Victim detained after stabbing her assailant  appeared first on Daily News Egypt.

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