This Week in Egypt: Week 13-2021 ( March 29- April 4)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt holds spectacular grand parade to transfer antiquities to new museum
  • Traffic in Suez Canal resumes after stranded ship re-floated
  • Egypt may seek $1 billion in damages over lost revenue due to Suez crisis
  • Egypt’s Sisi warns Ethiopia dam risks ‘unimaginable instability’
  • GERD talks continue in Kinshasa
  • Egyptian and Sudanese air forces conduct ‘Nile Eagles 2’ air drill in Sudan

Main Headlines

Monday

  • Traffic in Suez Canal resumes after stranded ship is re-floated
  • Egypt’s SIS urges Reuters to retract news that Suez Canal ship swung back after being partially freed
  •  Egypt’s impending relisting on JP Morgan bond index could attract $4.8 billion
  • Suez Canal debacle shows value of Northern Sea Route, Russia says

 Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Egyptian and Sudanese air forces conduct ‘Nile Eagles 2’ air drill in Sudan
  • Egypt has opened a formal investigation into how the Ever-Given got stuck in the Suez Canal
  • Investigator boards ship at start of probe into Suez Canal blockage
  • Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan set for more dam talks after El-Sissi issues stark warning
  • Kamal el-Ganzouri, a veteran Egyptian politician who played a key role in pushing ahead the privatization program in the late 1990s, died at age 88

Thursday

Friday

  • UAE calls for maintaining diplomacy, talks over GERD
  • Sisi inaugurates Medicine City to boost Egypt’s pharmaceutical industry

 Saturday

 Sunday

Reports

  • Russia and Iran propose alternative maritime routes amid Suez Canal blockage. Ahmed Gomaa 
  • Can Israel’s Eilat become an alternative to Suez Canal? Experts say no. Israel Fisher
  • Egypt issues stark warning against Ethiopia over stalled Nile dam talks.
  • Ayah Aman
  • Calls to get rid of Ottoman legacy emerge in Egypt. Al-Monitor
  • Egypt’s royal mummies are on the move, and it’s not their first road trip. National Geographic

From Twitter

Pharaohs Golden Parade

On Suez Canal Blockade

On Ethiopia and GERD

Others

Plus

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter Thread: Suez-Unblocked. End of Suez Crisis II

A brief twitter thread on an extraordinary day in Egypt. After days of despair, the Suez Crisis is over.

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 12- 2021 ( March 22-28)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s Suez Canal is blocked by one of the largest container ships in the world
  • US Navy plans to send assessment team to Suez Canal to assist with stuck container ship, Egypt welcomes cooperation with US 
  • Three possible ways to unblock Suez Canal; lightening lodged ship is the worst
  • 24-hour dredging and tugging as Egypt’s president mulls removing Ever-Given containers
  • Egypt temporarily suspends navigation in Suez Canal, efforts to dislodge giant ship continue
  • At least 20 waiting ships contain cattle, sheep and other livestock, sparking fears about animal welfare
  • At least 32 people killed after two trains collide in Egypt

Main Headlines

Monday

  • Egypt aims for deal to produce Sinovac COVID-19 vaccines
  • Egypt welcomes Saudi ceasefire initiative to end crisis in Yemen

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Efforts to free ship stuck in Suez Canal taking time due to vessel’s massive size
  • Suez Canal is blocked by traffic jam after massive container ship runs aground
  • Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia to hold GERD meeting in Abu Dhabi
  • GERD is an existential issue that affects the lives of millions of Egyptians, Sisi tells Burundi’s president

Thursday

  • Shipping companies eye routes around Suez Canal jam
  • Egypt temporarily suspends navigation in Suez Canal, efforts to dislodge giant ship continue
  • Three possible ways to unblock Suez Canal; lightening lodged ship is the worst
  • Owner of cargo ship blocking waterway has apologized for the disruption to global trade
  • Egypt’s Sisi reiterates support to newly elected executive authority in Libya

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Timeline of the Suez Crisis

Tuesday March 23

  • A giant ship container, 400 metres long, 59 metres wide, has lodged sideways in the Suez Canal. It sailed from China and was on its way to Rotterdam. The Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship operated by Taiwan’s Evergreen and owned by Shoei Kisen KK, a Japanese company, became wedged sideways across the vital waterway.

Wednesday March 24

  • Dutch marine services company’s subsidiary Smit Salvage has been hired to help with the rescue and floating operation.
  • Owner and insurers of the container ships face claims totalling millions of dollars sources, and possible claims from the Suez Canal Authority for loss of revenue.
  • Brent crude rose by $1.75 (2.9 %) to $62.54 a barrel. 
  • Tugboats, dredgers and bulldozers are at work trying to free the enormous ship.

Thursday March 25

  • Dredging operations are underway at the site, which aim to remove 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand from around the vessel’s bow. 
  • A higher tide due on Sunday may help the rescue efforts
  • The Egyptian meteorological authority warns of a “disruption of marine navigation” due to an expected sea storm on Saturday and Sunday.
  • 9 tug boats, 2 dredgers and 4 diggers are at work trying to free the enormous ship
  • Peter Berdowski, CEO of Dutch company Boskalis, which is trying to free the ship, told the Dutch television programme Nieuwsuur, “We can’t exclude that it might take weeks, depending on the situation.”

Friday March 26

  • Nine giant tugboats attempt to re-direct the stranded giant Ever Given container ship began on Friday evening after the conclusion of dredging efforts.  
  • Dutch Smit Salvage added two tugs of 220 – 240 T bollard pull, which will arrive by 28 March to assist in the re-floating attempts.
  • Dredging operation, which began its operations on Thursday evening, has already removed around 17,000 cubic meters of sand from around the vessel’s bow.
  • The dredging operations target removing 15,000 to 20,000 cubic meters of sand from around the bow and reaching a depth level of 12 to 16 meters to allow the vessel to float.
  • Despite all efforts, the latest tugging efforts to dislodge the ship failed.

Saturday March 27

  • 14 tugboats are participating in the rescue mission. 321 vessels were waiting to enter or continue their transit through the canal.
  • Minor progress in dislodging the ship, as there had been some movement at the bow of the ship.
  • Dutch firm Boskalis, which owns emergency response team Smit Salvage hired to assist in the rescue operations, said the ship could be freed by the beginning of next week if heavier tugboats, dredging and a high tide succeed in moving the ship. 

Sunday

  • The Suez Canal Authority (SCA) has decided to postpone Sunday’s attempt to re-float Ever Given until sufficient tug power is in place.
  • Earlier, two attempts to free the giant Ever-Given ship container conducted on Sunday coinciding with high tides helped by a full moon Sunday night. The full moon offers a spring tide, or king tide, in which high tides are higher and the low tides are lower due to the effects of gravity during a straight-line alignment of the Earth, moon and the sun
  • Alternative arrangements are being put in place in case the operation fails.
  • Egypt’s Sisi has ordered preparations to lighten the load of the stranded ship.
  • Offloading the ship is currently the third option for dislodging the massive vessel. The first two options are towing the ship from both sides using tugs, while the second is digging out sand and mud from beneath the bow using dredgers.
  • Egypt sends three veterinary teams to examine cattle aboard ships stuck in Suez Canal.
  • Two additional tugs, the Dutch-flagged Alp Guard and the Italian-flagged Carlo Magno, reach Egypt’s Red Sea.
  • The tugboats will nudge the 400-meter-long (quarter-mile-long) Ever Given as dredgers continue to vacuum up sand from underneath the vessel and mud caked to its port side.
  • Dredging operations reached 27,000 cubic meters of sand, with a depth of 18 meters.

Report/Read

On Suez Crisis

Other Topics:

From Twitter

Plus

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 11-2021 (March 15-21)

Top Headlines

  • Acclaimed Egyptian feminist Nawal Saadawi dies at age 89
  • Turkey asks Egyptian media to limit criticism of Egypt’s Sisi 
  • Erdoğan says Egyptian people do not conflict with Turkey
  • Egyptian president and Greek PM discuss regional issues, bilateral relations
  • Ethiopia set to start second filling of GERD reservoir this year despite Egyptian, Sudanese concerns 
  • Egypt and the U.S. hold naval exercise in the Southern Fleet Red Sea operations zone 
  • Egypt prepares to start move to new capital
Nawal Saadawi

Main Headline 

Monday

Tuesday

 Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Reports

From Twitter

Plus

  • Streets of New Administrative Capital to be named after deceased health sector heroes health sector heroes
Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Middle East, Turkey, women rights | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 10-2021 ( Mar 8-14)

Top Headlines

  • Turkey says it has restarted diplomatic contacts with Egypt
  • Egypt says Turkey must lay ground for normalising ties with actions
  • U.S. joins West in rare criticism of Egypt on human rights abuses
  • Sudan’s PM Hamdok starts of 2-day official visit to Egypt
  • Egypt and Sudan welcome UN’s support for mediation to solve GERD issue
  • Egypt aims to produce 7.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2021/22
  • Ancient Christian ruins discovered in Egypt reveal ‘nature of monastic life’

Main Headlines

Monday

  • Erdogan’s spokesman says Turkey ready to open ‘new chapter’ with Gulf; discuss eastern Mediterranean crisis, Libya with Egypt
  • Egypt and France conduct naval drills in Red Sea

Tuesday

  • Egypt prosecution investigating viral child molestation video
  • Egypt to inaugurate New Administrative Capital by end of 2021; experimental operation to begin in August

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Sudan’s PM Hamdok starts of 2-day official visit to Egypt
  • ‘We aren’t against development in Ethiopia but without harming Egypt and Sudan’: Egyptian FM
  • Egypt welcomes Libyan parliament vote of confidence in interim government
  • Sudanese shipment marks first commercial ship to arrive in Egypt’s Al-Tor Port in years
  • Egypt’s external debt jumped to $125.3 billion by end of September 2020: CBE

Friday

  • U.S. joins West in rare criticism of Egypt on human rights abuses
  • Turkey says it has restarted diplomatic contacts with Egypt
  • Egypt denies Turkish claims over Mediterranean talks
  • Egyptian Prosecution recommends re-listing Aboutrika, 1,527 others on terror list

Saturday

Sunday

  • Egypt says Turkey must lay ground for normalising ties with actions
  • Egypt reviews school curricula textbooks to better portray human rights
  • Sudan holds right to defend its interests if GERD talks fail: Water Minister
  • Egypt aims to produce 7.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day in 2021/22
  • Egypt and Libya agree to facilitate entry procedures of workers
  • Aldar Properties offered to buy a majority stake in Egypt
  • Egypt to review school curricula textbooks to better portray human rights

Reports

From Twitter

Plus

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Reblog: Can Palestinians be wrong? Hussain Abdul-Hussain

This superb piece by Hussain Abdul-Hussain ( originally published here) highlights important flaws of Khalidi’s book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine, and how it suffers logical fallacies, absence of key events, and inadequate understanding of global affairs. Enjoy…

I first read Rashid Khalidi in college. The professor who assigned us the text was a Palestinian who often became emotional in class. “They told us the Iraqi army was coming to beat the Israelis and we left Haifa for the summer expecting to be back,” our professor said. “But we never went back.”

That assignment introduced me to Khalidi as a historian who was several notches above the average Palestinian intellectual, and certainly above American Progressives whose books on Palestine read like activism pamphlets rather than intellectual work. But the Khalidi I once read quarried the data to offer a comprehensive account. Khalidi today demands scholarly work from authors on Palestine/Israel, but does not offer one himself. Instead, this Palestinian-American historian mixes a personal memoir with a roadmap for Palestinian activism recommended to destroy Israel. 

Khalidi’s book, The Hundred Years’ War on Palestine, suffers logical fallacies, absence of key events, and inadequate understanding of global affairs.

The author says that his great great uncle, Yusuf Dia Khalidi, sent a letter to the founder of Zionism, Theodor Herzel, describing Zionism as “natural, beautiful and just,” and adding that “who could contest the rights of Jews in Palestine? My God, historically it is your country!”

The younger Khalidi argues that Zionists often use this quote “in isolation from the rest of the letter,” in which the elder Khalidi warns “of the consequence of the Zionist project.” But here, the younger Khalidi commits a logical fallacy. Recognizing the right of the Zionists in Palestine is one thing, warning of the feasibility of their project is another. When Israelis cite the letter as Palestinian recognition of their right to the land of Palestine, they take nothing out of context. 

Then, when narrating historical events, Khalidi leaves out key details. When he mentions Amin Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, he never hints at any association between Husseini and Nazi Germany, or Husseini’s meeting with Hitler. 

When Khalidi writes about the 1967 war, he describes it as a master plan to control all of mandate Palestine, while conveniently leaving out details, such as Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser closing the Straits of Tiran — through which Israel imported 90 percent of its energy — an act that led to war. He also leaves out Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan’s statement that he expected Arab countries to call him to get their territory back, in return for peace. In response, Nasser convened the Arab League in Khartoum, and issued the famous “three No’s” statement that said “no (Arab) peace, no recognition, no reconciliation” with Israel. 

Khalidi says that shortly after the Oslo Peace Accord, Israel increased its checkpoints. No mention that, a month after signing Oslo, the Palestinians launched a suicide bombing, and that in 1994, five Palestinian suicide attacks killed 38 Israelis. In 1995, while implementing Oslo was in process, Palestinian suicide attacks killed 39 Israelis. Khalidi never mentions Yehya Ayyash, “the Engineer” who planned these bombings. Instead, Khalidi associates Palestinian suicide attacks with the Second Intifada, in 2002, and even then, says bombings came “as a result” of Ariel Sharon’s “provocation,” after his visit to the Dome of the Rock. 

Palestinian Hamas never gave peace a chance, and Arafat was either unable or unwilling to deliver security by stopping them, thus forcing Israel to forcefully escalate even while talking peace. 

Khalidi’s “errors” are not only about Israel. When talking about Hezbollah, he describes it as growing “out of the Lebanese maelstrom.” Notwithstanding Hezbollah’s leaders publicly saying that they work for Iran, or that every academic work considers the Lebanese party to be an Iranian tool, Khalidi throws in his claim, unsubstantiated. 

When talking about ethnic cleansing in Iraq and Syria, Khalidi keeps the culprit unknown: “Forcible transfers of population on a sectarian and ethnic basis have taken place in neighboring Iraq since its invasion by the United States and in Syria following its collapse into war and chaos.” A reader might think that America, not Iran and its militias, is responsible for Iraq’s ethnic cleansing, while in Syria, such atrocities just happen. Khalidi writes 250 pages about empathy, fairness and objectivity, but fails to mention war crimes by Iran and Assad. 

A reader might be willing to forgive Khalidi’s “errors,” perhaps they were an unintended “lapse of memory.” After all, Khalidi is not an objective academic, but an activist who was on the official Palestinian negotiating team with Israel and who had ties to Palestinian leaders. 

The book also shows inadequate Palestinian understanding of global affairs, past and present. In Khalidi’s mind, the Palestinian issue is clear and simple: An Arab majority once lived in mandate Palestine. Then alien Jews migrated en masse, expelled the Palestinians, and illegally constructed a sovereign state that they refuse to share with Palestinians.

But human history teaches us that an indigenous majority, in any land, does not always get the right to sovereignty. The Kurds in Iraq, Turkey and Iran are indigenous majorities in their defined territories, but never sovereign. The Arabs in Iran are also native, but their state (the size of Syria) was annexed by Iran in 1926, and their rights have been compromised since. Turkey annexed the Antioch Province (the size of the West Bank), in the 1930s, despite its Arab majority. 

Khalidi cites three examples of colonialism — South Africa, Ireland and the US — and thinks that if Palestinians can make a similar case to the world, they can beat Israel. But if the US model is what Khalidi is looking for, the indigenous are nowhere near recognition as sovereigns. At best, they either enjoy autonomy on reservations or pledge allegiance to the American republic. Palestinians are not willing to pledge allegiance to Israel. As for Ireland, the conflict ended up dividing the country. In South Africa, racism was horrible and incomparable to the Israeli-Palestinian situation, no matter how hard the Palestinian intelligentsia tries.

Conveniently, Khalidi leaves out indigenous populations whose separatism never worked, such as the Scots and the Welsh in the UK, or the Catalans and the Basque in Spain. 

Where Khalidi sounds misinformed the most is here: “The advantage that Israel has enjoyed in continuing its project rests on the fact that the basically colonial nature of the encounter in Palestine has not been visible to most Americans and many Europeans.” Hence, Khalidi says, “Dismantling this fallacy and making the true nature of the conflict evident is a necessary step if Palestinians and Israelis are to transition to a postcolonial future in which one people does not use external support to oppress and supplant the other.”

But this is not how global affairs go. Israel is not winning because Americans and Europeans have been duped, and, when told the truth, Israel will lose. Even if all Americans and Europeans believe the Palestinian narrative, sympathy alone does not influence global policy. Just look at Syria. All Americans and Europeans see the injustice befalling the Syrians because of their dictator, but none are willing to do anything about it because Syria is strategically unimportant. Similarly for the Palestinians. Even if their case is a slam dunk, why would America or Europe invest resources to change things?

If Khalidi can answer the above question, he will understand why global powers take Israel’s side. Israel has aligned itself with their interests as a reliable ally. Still, Western powers would not have been enough for the Israelis to win. America threw its weight behind its Iraqi allies, but these could never stand up. There is a crucial Israeli ingredient that Khalidi and most Palestinians never seem to notice: Democracy.

Since 1897, the Zionists have been electing their leaders like clockwork, with power always transferred peacefully and seamlessly. On the Palestinian side, Khalidi describes Arafat as “the head of Fatah [who] soon became chairman of the PLO Executive Committee, a post he retained, among others, until his death in 2004.” Thirty-seven years of Arafat’s undisputed leadership and failures, but Khalidi thinks that it is external bias toward Israel that enabled Israel to beat the Palestinians.

The final gem in Khalidi’s inadequate understanding of global affairs is his cheering for the rise of India and China. “Perhaps such changes will allow Palestinians… to craft a different trajectory than that of the oppression of one people by another.” If Khalidi thinks that Palestinian deliverance will be at the hands of China — with its genocide against the Uighur and veto against stopping Assad’s genocide in Syria — then, like generations of Palestinians, Khalidi still does not get it. And hence, Khalidi sounded perplexed: Why did his neighbor and colleague at the University of Chicago Barack Obama, who probably shares Khalidi’s view of Israel/Palestine, not enforce such view when he came president? Answer is that in foreign policy, national interests lead, and “the narrative” follows.

Palestinians will continue living in misery not because the world is misinformed, but because they fail to internalize the Greek wisdom, Know Thyself. Then, build a democratic movement that aligns Palestinian interests with bigger powers — including with Israel. That way, Palestinians will get a state, instead of spending the coming century, like the last, authoring books of frustration. Salam Fayyad tried it, but could not do it alone. Perhaps that is why Fayyad is not in Khalidi’s book, who prefers instead to hang on to words like colonialism, indigenous, Apartheid and Edward Said — words that make their authors feel good, but that will keep Palestinians living in misery.

Posted in Israel, Middle East, Palestine | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 9-2021 ( March 1-7)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s president Sisi visited Sudan amid rapprochement between the two countries  
  • Egypt, Sudan call for international mediation to reach legally binding agreement on GERD
  • African Union holds talks with Ethiopia, Egypt, and Sudan on Ethiopian Dam
  • Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt
  • Egyptian’s Sisi and Greece’s PM discuss East Mediterranean cooperation
  • Qatar, Egypt foreign ministers meet in Cairo after end of row
  • Egypt begins vaccine rollout to wider population

Main Headlines

Monday

  • 68,000 Egyptians signed up for coronavirus vaccine during first 24 hours of registration
  • Egyptian parliament approves postponing controversial Real Estate Registration Law to 2023
  • Al-Azhar grand imam calls for release of school girls abducted in Nigeria

Tuesday

  • Egypt and Sudan urge more outside support to revive negotiations over Ethiopian dam
  • Turkey says it may negotiate maritime demarcation with Egypt

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • The African Development Bank signs agreements worth €109 million to transform sewage coverage in rural areas in Egypt
  • Egypt is working to produce three COVID vaccination within coming period 

Saturday

  • Egypt’s Sisi visits Sudan amid rapprochement
  • Turkey’s Defense Minister said his country shared common values with Egypt
  • Egypt prepares 40 Vaccination Centers, plans for more
  • Egypt is renovating Arish Port in North Sinai to reach international standards

Sunday

  • Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheikh airport receives its first ever Lithuania ‘s Avion Express flight
  • Egypt’s state security prosecution releases journalist Mostafa Sakr under precautionary measures
  • Egypt’s Pope Tawadros II leads Nativity of Christ Cathedral’s 1st ordination mass in the New Administration Capital 
  • Egypt’s FM stresses to UN Special Envoy for Libya necessity of removing foreign troops, mercenaries
  • Egypt begins disbursing last tranche of financial aid to irregular workers hit by pandemic

Reports

Read 

From Twitter

Travel

Plus

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 8-2021 ( Feb 22-28)

Top Headlines

  • Biden administration says human rights will be ‘central’ to ties with Egypt
  • New draft personal status law sparks outrage in Egypt
  • Political parties reject amendments to Egypt’s real estate registration law
  • Egypt, Qatar hold first meeting since ending Gulf dispute

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

  • U.S. raises human rights, Russia aircraft with Egypt – State Dept
  • Egypt receives second shipment of Chinese coronavirus vaccine
  • Higher oil prices push Saudi index up, while Egyptian index declines
  • Egyptian police arrests owner of sunken boat that killed nine
  • Egyptian and Qatar delegations meet in Kuwait to discuss future steps after reconciliation agreement

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

  • Universities across Egypt start mid-year exams under strict coronavirus measures
  • Egypt lifts ban on Ramadan’s Taraweeh prayers in some mosques amid strict coronavirus measures
  • Egypt opens first archaeological replicas factory to counter Chinese knockoffs

Sunday

 Reports

  • New draft personal status law sparks outrage in Egypt. Egyptian Streets
  • Egypt boosts ties with Burundi — with eye on Turkey. Mohammad Hanafi 
  • Egypt versus Turkey in 2021: who has the stronger military? via Egypt Independent 

Read

From Twitter

Video

Plus

  • It turns out that an ancient painting known as Egyptian Mona Lisa is actually depicts an extinct breed of goose  
Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Clubhouse and the Middle East

Echo chambers, trolling, attempts to hijack conversations, and coordinated efforts to de-platform certain people have all been part of my journey since I joined the invitation-only social networking app, Clubhouse. However, in spite of these strange experiences, I have been thrilled to be a member of this group.  

Unlike other social media platforms, Clubhouse offers a unique opportunity for audio social communication, which is more intimate and productive than other text-based social media platforms. 

Because I yearn for smart discussions, mature debates, and building bridges amidst the current depolarised atmosphere, joining Clubhouse was like a dream come true. As I moved from room to room, I encountered good discussions on various topics with refreshing respect, although content can sometimes be of average quality.  

But my honeymoon on clubhouse did not last more than a week. Unlike others who preferred to stay as listeners and refrained from contributing to debates, I decided to immerse myself fully in Clubhouse and engage in various debates; I even hosted small rooms to discuss hot topics. Unfortunately, it did not take long to discover that there were many pitfalls. I once moderated a room in Arabic, but failed to spot some derogatory insults in a certain Gulf accent against another Gulf State. However, I eventually handled the incident and expelled the troll.  

Challenges in the moderating room:

In real life, there is unwritten etiquette among attendants of any symposiums or webinars to respect each other and, more importantly, to respect the moderators. Sometimes such etiquette vanishes, especially in heated discussions, and especially in discussions on tricky Middle-Eastern topics, like the situation in Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I watched a supporter of the Mullah regime bullying an Iranian moderator in a most ugly manner. Moreover, this supporter (who enjoys life in a Western country) opened a Twitter account solely for the purpose of accusing the moderator of “spreading misinformation” about Iran. In other rooms, discussing the Israeli-Palestine conflict, it was hard not to notice an organised group of pro-Palestine activists who skilfully put pressure on moderators, regardless of the actual topic posed, to steer the arguments towards past grievances and to stop any discussion on practical future solutions. In one room, for example, an anti-Zionist Jew claimed that I have no right to speak on Jewish issues because “I am not a Jew.” 

The trap of deplatforming

Alarmingly, I encountered an ugly incident where a group of Egyptians reported a certain speaker “for insulting Islam’s holy book” after he casually joked about a verse in the Quran.  I fear this trap could happen again and again, especially after many Muslim Brotherhood supporters and many regime supporters have joined Clubhouse.

Evolving echo chambers  

Perhaps the greatest risk of Clubhouse, whether from Middle East observers or other participants, is the danger of creating convenient echo chambers that silence opposing voices either overtly by bullying them or subtly by not allowing them a chance to speak and express their views. 

There is a genuine risk that Clubhouse will descend from its current valuable audio-communication offerings and instead become a target of trolling and harassment in which obnoxious speakers dominate conversations, turning them into terrible listening experiences. 

That said, I have had many positive experiences on Clubhouse, especially in my efforts to build bridges. It was inspiring and refreshing to hear about a Jewish journalist who helped his Gaza-based Palestinian friend during Israeli attacks, an Egyptian expat who befriended a Jewish Egyptian in New York City, and an Egyptian Muslim who understood the concept of a homeland for the Jewish people after meeting a German holocaust survivor and her family.  

Because of those refreshing encounters, I still believe Clubhouse offers the opportunity to engage in unique and enriching human interactions and that its members should be supported and protected from the divisive bullying of social media saboteurs.  

Posted in Middle East, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 7-2021 ( Feb 15-21)

Top Headlines

  • US stops Trump’s aid freeze to Ethiopia over dam dispute
  • US approves sale of new military equipment to Egypt 
  • Egypt’s el-Sisi offers support to Libya’s new prime minister
  • Israel to link Leviathan gas field to Egyptian LNG plants
  • Egypt announces citizens can register for coronavirus vaccine next week
  • Egyptian delegation arrives in Tripoli to discuss reopening embassy, consulate in Libya
  • Sudan recalls envoy to Ethiopia as tensions high

Main Headlines

Monday

  • Egyptian army destroys four smuggling tunnels in North Sinai and thwarts illegal migration attempts
  • Egyptian delegation arrives in Tripoli to discuss reopening embassy, consulate in Libya
  • Pakistani FM  to start three-day visit to Egypt on Tuesday
  • Presidential Palace in Cairo to host its first concert to public soon 
  • Egypt is re-elected as rapporteur of UN special peacekeeping operations committee
  • MPs ask former parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal to attend meetings or resign

Tuesday

  • US Department of State approves the sell of new military equipment to Egypt
  • Egypt injects EGP 846 million to upgrade ambulance system
  • An annual population growth rate of 400,000 would allow Egyptians to enjoy fruits of development, says Sisi
  • Egypt’s Sisi pays tribute to healthcare workers who ‘sacrifice to protect Egyptians amid pandemic’

Wednesday

  • Egypt considering reopening its embassy and consulate in Libya
  • Sudan recalls envoy to Ethiopia as tensions high
  • Saudi Arabia seeks to see resolution to Ethiopian Dam crisis

Thursday

Friday

  • US stops Trump’s aid freeze to Ethiopia over dam dispute over dam dispute
  • Egypt’s el-Sisi offers support to Libya’s new PM
  • ‘Treasure trove’ of Christian manuscripts ‘never included in Bible’ found in a church in Egypt
  • TV anchor show is suspended over ‘offensive’ comments against Upper Egyptian parents

Saturday

  • Sudan and Ethiopia trade accusations in escalating border conflict
  • Egypt’s Minister of Defence to attend International Defence Exhibition and Conference (IDEX) in Abu Dhabi
  • Egypt urges self-restraint in Somalia following violence outbreak
  • Egypt reports another 610 new coronavirus cases and 49 deaths

Sunday

Reports

  • Egypt boosts investment in Congo, hoping to secure support in Nile dam crisis. Mohamed Saied
  • Egypt’s richest man Naguib Sawiris is joining the rush to explore the nation’s untapped gold deposits.  National News
  • How Egypt-Gulf consensus can advance peace in Yemen. Mohammad Hanafi
  • East Mediterranean : Friendship forum. Doaa El-Bey

In Photo

From Twitter

Plus

  • Promo of Egyptian famous puppet Abla Fahita’s first Netflix series ‘Drama Queen’ is released
Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment