• Sudan. A desperate Bashir | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2019/02/10/opinion/u/a-desperate-bashir
    https://madamasr.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/de3a43874aaed5fc525baecc672e143e.jpg

    It has been eight weeks since anti-government protests began in Sudan, and the government is running out of money. And so Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is not spending his time addressing rallies and strategizing with his inner circle on how to quell or placate the most serious protests in his government’s 30 year history. He is on a plane, criss-crossing the Middle East and North Africa, visiting heads of states in the hope that he can extract some support to bridge his regime for another few months, to fill petrol pumps with fuel and ATMs with cash. These financial boosts have, in the past, come in many forms, ranging from vanilla aid to development schemes, where land or strategic ports are sold off to foreign sovereign leaders and billionaires. During Osama bin Laden’s years in Sudan, it was rumored that, at one point, the government had sold him over half of the agricultural land under its control. When he was expelled from Sudan, his losses were estimated to have reached US$300 million.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/759993 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Hamas put on the spot after Palestinian Authority withdraws staff from Rafah crossing | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2019/01/12/feature/politics/hamas-put-on-the-spot-after-palestinian-authority-withdraws-staff-from-raf
    https://madamasr.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Fatah-Hamas.jpg

    A January 7 decision by the Palestinian Authority to immediately withdraw its staff from the Rafah border crossing has put Hamas in turmoil.

    Hamas sent internal affairs officers to take control of the crossing, which had been administered by PA officers since November last year as part of a PA-Hamas reconciliation deal brokered by Egypt.

    According to a Hamas source speaking to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, its officers have ensured that the crossing’s systems are working, and prevented theft and sabotage during and since the PA’s withdrawal.

    The decision to withdraw PA employees from Rafah came as one of a series of recent PA moves against Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since winning the legislative elections in 2006. These measures suggest that the Egypt-brokered reconciliation efforts are failing.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/751971 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Egypt. Regeni lawyer discloses names of Egyptian suspects in murder case | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/12/06/feature/politics/regeni-lawyer-discloses-names-of-egyptian-suspects-in-murder-case

    The lawyer representing the family of Giulio Regeni says she has compiled a list of at least 20 people suspected of involvement in the death of the Italian PhD student, who was tortured and killed in Egypt nearly three years ago.

    Alessandra Ballerini made the comments at a press conference in Rome on Wednesday alongside Regeni’s parents and their supporters. She said the list was based on an extensive investigation with a legal team in Egypt, and that most of the suspects were generals and colonels in the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency (NSA).

    “It is very unlikely that President [Abdel Fattah al-]Sisi was unaware of what was going on,” Ballerini said.

    Regeni, a PhD candidate who was researching independent trade unions in Egypt, disappeared from a metro station on January 25, 2016 — the fifth anniversary of the 2011 revolution — while on his way to meet a friend in downtown Cairo. His body was found several days later, bearing marks of severe torture, on the side of a highway on the outskirts of the city.

    Among the names Ballerini identified were the five Egyptian security officials Rome prosecutors placed under official investigation on Tuesday. They include Major General Tarek Saber, a senior official at the NSA at the time of Regeni’s death, who retired in 2017; Major Sherif Magdy, who also served at the NSA where he was in charge of the team that placed Regini under surveillance; Colonel Hesham Helmy, who served at a security center in charge of policing the Cairo district where Regeni lived; Colonel Asser Kamal, who was the head of a police department in charge of street works and discipline; and junior police officer Mahmoud Negm, according to the Associated Press.

    “These people should fear being arrested when they travel abroad because they murdered an Italian citizen,” Ballerini said.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/741755 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Egypt. 2 years after the loan agreement: What the IMF failed to anticipate | MadaMasr

    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/11/22/feature/economy/2-years-after-the-loan-agreement-what-the-imf-failed-to-anticipate

    On November 11, 2016, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Egyptian government finalized a US$12 billion loan agreement tied to an economic reform plan that included a series of austerity measures and the liberalization of the Egyptian pound.

    At the time, Egypt was facing a shortage in foreign currency reserves, and both the IMF and the Egyptian authorities made optimistic forecasts about the future of the Egyptian economy under the new economic program.

    Two years later, the crisis in foreign currency reserves has largely been alleviated and the IMF’s growth targets appear to be on track. Yet those achievements have been offset by soaring rates of inflation and foreign debt, along with the plummeting purchasing power of the local currency. Meanwhile, fuel subsidies, which were meant to be reduced to alleviate the government budget — a specific goal of the economic program — have instead increased as a result of the devaluation of the pound.

    A number of these unanticipated challenges now facing the Egyptian economy are highlighted in a new report by the investment bank Shuaa Capital, which was issued to its clients several days ago and of which Mada Masr has obtained a copy.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/738405 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Egypt : ‘We will kill the men and children and leave you to live the rest of your lives in misery’ | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/11/06/feature/politics/we-will-kill-the-men-and-children-and-leave-you-to-live-the-rest-of-your-l

    Safwat Shehata, a man in his 40s from Upper Egypt’s Minya Governorate, stands outside the entrance of the emergency room at the Sheikh Zayed Hospital on the outskirts of Cairo. Inside, four of his relatives are receiving treatment for injuries sustained in Friday’s militant attack, in which gunmen ambushed Coptic Christians returning from a trip to the St. Samuel Monastery in Minya.

    The assailants injured at least 20 people in the attack and killed seven more. Six of those killed were Shehata’s relatives, ranging in age from 12 to 55 years old.

    At first, Safwat was unaware that his relatives were killed and injured in the attack — he did not even know they were visiting the monastery that day. “I saw news of the attack on the internet and I scrolled through the pictures on social media. I thought that the casualties were from [the governorate of] Sohag. I didn’t know that my cousins and their families were going on that day,” he says.

    Seeing images of bodies covered in blood, Safwat asked God to have mercy on their souls. He kept monitoring news of the attack on Facebook until he received a call from a relative informing him that his cousin-in-law, Youssef Shehata, and five members of his family were dead.

    “You must go and save the wounded in Cairo,” the relative told Safwat between cries. “The bodies are being buried here.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/734205 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Egypt
    Critics blast amendments to Journalists Syndicate law drafted behind closed doors | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/11/01/feature/politics/critics-blast-draft-amendments-to-journalists-syndicate-law

    Proposed amendments to the law governing Egypt’s Journalists Syndicate have come under fire for bypassing normal procedural channels and being rushed through without input from syndicate members. Critics claim the amendments are being imposed by state authorities in an effort to control the drafting process and weaken the syndicate.

    The drafts — the contents or details of which have yet to be published — come in the wake of Parliament’s approval of three controversial press regulatory laws over the summer that grant government authorities far-reaching powers to further clamp down on the media and restrict press freedoms.

    Currently, two separate draft amendments to the Journalists Syndicate law (Law 76/1970) are being prepared and both are reportedly close to being finalized, but neither one has included the involvement of the syndicate’s rank and file in the drafting process.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/732740 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Who’s buying Israeli gas? A company owned by the General Intelligence Service (Egypt) | MadaMasr

    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/10/23/feature/politics/whos-buying-israeli-gas-a-company-owned-by-the-general-intelligence-servic

    When news broke in February that an Egyptian firm named Dolphinus Holdings had signed a US$15 billion deal to purchase Israeli natural gas for supply to Egypt, the Egyptian government refused to comment, portraying it as a private market transaction.

    “The Ministry of Petroleum has no comment on private-sector negotiations or agreements regarding the import or sale of natural gas to Israel,” the ministry spokesperson said in a brief statement at the time.

    That same day, Reuters quoted an anonymous Egyptian government official who said that the deal did not mean the government itself would import gas from Israel. “International private companies will import gas from abroad in the framework of their own needs,” the official said.

    Similar claims were made in September after a preliminary agreement was struck for the acquisition of a stake in a pipeline between Ashkelon and Arish that would allow the transport of natural gas from Israel to Egypt.

    Again, the Petroleum Ministry spokesperson issued a swift response: “The ministry welcomes this new step taken by the private companies involved in the imminent commercial venture.” This time, the Egyptian company involved was called East Gas.

    Last week, CEO and managing director of East Gas Mohamed Shoeib boasted in several interviews that in exchange for the deal, his company had managed to get a handful of arbitration fines and cases against Egypt dropped after 18 months of negotiations. Shoeib attributed the success of the deal to a decision “from the beginning to think outside the government framework.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/731155 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • A relire

    Wikileaks: Egyptian media and journalists go to Saudi for financing | MadaMasr
    https://madamasr.com/en/2015/07/05/feature/politics/wikileaks-egyptian-media-and-journalists-go-to-saudi-for-financing

    Since the Wikileaks website began posting leaked documents from the Saudi Arabian government, the issue of the Kingdom financing Egyptian media channels, journalists and researchers has garnered major attention. 

    While the first group of documents released on the website on June 19 contained details regarding funding requests by pro-regime journalist Mostafa Bakry and religious preacher Amr Khalid, unpublished documents received by Mada Masr, upon an agreement with Wikileaks, has shed light on new names and details.

    Requests for funding from the Saudi government varied, and in some cases was in exchange for writing articles, the fees for which were collected from the embassy.

    One of the documents, titled “Bill of the representative of Dar al-Helal Institution,” is a memo raised by the head of the media affairs department at the Saudi Foreign Ministry to the deputy minister of culture and media in the Kingdom, requesting the disbursement of a check of US$68,000 to the state-owned Egyptian Dar al-Helal in February 2012 “for publishing a series of weekly articles throughout the pilgrimage season 1432 H on the achievements of Saudi Arabia in renovating and expanding the two holy mosques and other recent projects.”

    During the period referred to in the cables, writer Abdel Qader Shohaieb was head of the board of Al-Helal institution, while Hamdi Rizk, a staunch supporter of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government, was editor-in-chief of Al-Mosawar, one of its publications. Al-Helal is considered one of the oldest media publishing houses in Egypt and the region.

    Other publications were not as successful in collecting funds in exchange for publishing articles favoring the Kingdom, especially when the request for funding came after publishing without prior coordination.

    https://seenthis.net/messages/729228 via Nouvelles d’Orient


  • Egypt backs out of verbal agreement on 4-7 year timeframe to fill Ethiopian Renaissance Dam reservoir | MadaMasr

    https://madamasr.com/en/2018/09/27/feature/politics/egypt-backs-out-of-verbal-agreement-on-4-7-year-timeframe-to-fill-ethiopia

    The irrigation ministers of Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan met on Tuesday in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa to be briefed on the latest recommendations on the timeframe to fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam’s reservoir, a contentious issue that has long driven a wedge between the parties amid fears of the impact on downstream water supply.

    A 15-member scientific study group, comprised of five scientists and researchers from each country, presented its findings on Tuesday to Ethiopia’s Minister of Water, Irrigation and Electricity Seleshi Bekele, along with his Egyptian and Sudanese counterparts, Mohamed Abdel Aty and Khadr Mohamed Qasmallah.

    No specific conclusions emerged officially from the meeting, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation announced through the state-owned MENA news agency on Wednesday. The statement affirmed that all parties are committed to continuing talks, without providing further details.

    Yet an Ethiopian diplomatic source, who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, says that there was an initial verbal agreement between the parties, which Cairo has since backed away from.

    “The ministers reviewed what the team has been doing during the past three months and consulted on a way forward,” Teferra Beyene, advisor to Ethiopia’s Ministry of Water, Irrigation and Electricity, tells Mada Masr.

    While the study group’s findings have not been officially disclosed, the Ethiopian source tells Mada Masr that the team recommended the 74 billion cubic meter dam reservoir be filled over four to seven years, depending on the amount of rainfall and intensity of the Nile’s water flow.

    Following the presentation of the report, the source described Ethiopia and Sudan’s ministers as immediately accepting the recommendations, and expressing a readiness to begin work on a joint declaration to bind the parties to these terms.

    While the Egyptian delegation verbally accepted the report’s findings at first, it later said it would need more time to consider, the source explains. “The Egyptian delegation changed their minds and refused to sign the agreement. Instead, they want first to consult at headquarters and come to a decision.”

    The four-to-seven-year window falls outside the timeframe Cairo has pushed for to fill the dam. An Egyptian diplomat told Mada Masr at the close of August that Cairo’s concerns have centered around the pace at which the dam’s reservoirs would be filled, and that this issue was the subject of “tough and elaborate talks.”

    https://seenthis.net/messages/725842 via Nouvelles d’Orient