This Week in Egypt: Week 24 -2021 ( June 14-20)

Top Headlines

  • Sudan seeks UNSC resolution obliging Ethiopia to delay GERD filing until reaching ‘legal’ deal
  • Head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service visits Libya
  • Libyan FM visits Cairo, hails Egypt’s role in success of Libyan dialogue, ending divisions
  • Suez Canal ship case is adjourned for settlement talks
  • Egypt and Qatar FMs agree on continued mechanisms to settle outstanding issues
  • Egypt upholds death sentence for 12 senior Muslim Brotherhood figures
Libya FM visits Cairo

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

  • Ethiopia slams Arab League resolution backing Egypt, Sudan in GERD dispute, vows to proceed with second filling
  • Egypt hands documents to Italy refuting role of police officers in Regeni’s murder
  • Egypt to receive 1.9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine as part of COVAX agreement

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

  • Egypt’s Central Bank keeps key interest rates on hold

Saturday

  • Libyan FM hails Egypt’s role in success of Libyan dialogue, ending divisions
  • Egypt keeps Rafah crossing open to receive injured Palestinians, deliver aid
  • Egypt Air notifies of Ethiopia’s halt of visas on arrival for all travellers

 Sunday

Reports

  • Battle for the Nile: How Egypt will be impacted by Ethiopia’s filling of GERD reservoir. Jonathan Gornall 
  • Friends, foes and fractures: Ethiopia in the Horn of Africa. AFP
  •  Egypt mobilizes Arab support in Nile dam dispute with Ethiopia. Ayah Aman
  • Egypt plans to resettle millions in Sinai amid anti-terrorism operations: in Sinai Al-Monitor
  • Importing inflation. Safeya Mounir
  • Heliopolis residents resist home demolitions, forced relocation for road expansion project.  Mada Masr

Twitter

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Podcast: Turkey and NATO

Ahead of NATO summit in Brussels, I recorded this podcast with Steven Cook, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, Aval’s Turkey Trends, on how Turkey presents a geopolitical dilemma for NATO.

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Podcast: Turkey’s crime boss Sedat Peker

Reposting my podcast for Ahval’s Turkey Trend with Ryan Gingeras,  a professor of Turkish and Middle Eastern history at the Naval Postgraduate School in the United States. on crime boss Sedat Peker and his claims of corruption at the heart of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s government.

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This Week in Egypt: Week 23-2021 ( June 7-13)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt and Sudan urge Ethiopia to negotiate seriously over giant dam 
  • Egypt Asks for UN Help in Long-Running Ethiopian Dam Dispute
  • Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
  • Egyptian firms plot return to Libya as rebuilding efforts begin
  • Egypt and UAE central banks sign deal to combat terror financing
  • Egypt to build suspension bridge across Lake Nasser to connect Sudan to Cairo-Cape Town Railway

Egypt signs 1.7 bln euros of financing deals with France

Main Headlines

Monday

  • Egypt to start local production of Sinovac vaccine mid-June
  • Multi-Arab military drill kicks off in Saudi Arabia with participation of Egypt
  • Egypt on the short list of partner countries for US vaccines: US embassy in Cairo

Tuesday

  • Apple’s new ‘private relay’ feature will not be available in few countries including Egypt
  • Egypt and Poland sign agreement on establishing Polish industrial zone in Ain Sokhna

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Egypt and France air forces conduct joint drill  
  • Annual inflation rate down to 4.9% in May
  • Egyptian regulator tells Banque du Caire, others to sell shares on the stock exchange this year

Friday

  • Egypt and UAE central banks sign deal to combat terror financing

Saturday

Sunday

  • Egypt decries unilateral filling of GERD in a letter to UNSC
  • Egypt signs 1.7 billion euros of financing deals with France
  • Sisi discusses military cooperation with Pakistan’s chief of staff
  • Egypt’s GDP growth to reach pre-pandemic level of 6% in 2022: Fitch ratings
  • Egyptian bourse chief expects four IPOs in second half of year

Reports

From Twitter

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Will Egypt inherit Gaza?

Egypt sent building equipments to Gaza – Via yahoo

History repeats itself is a valid cliché in the Middle East. Following the defeat of the Arab states by Israel in 1948, the Israel-Egypt Armistice Agreement was signed in Rhodes on February 24, 1949. The border between Egypt and the new state of Israel was drawn along the 1906 internationally agreed border between Ottoman Palestine and British-ruled Egypt____ except near the Mediterranean Sea, where Egypt controlled a strip of land along the coast, which became known as the Gaza Strip. 

Seventy-two years later, another war has dragged Egypt into the Gaza strip, albeit more subtly. This time, Egyptian engineers and workers with their bulldozers, cranes and trucks have crossed into the Gaza strip to start reconstruction work, repairing what the latest Israel-Hamas confrontation destroyed. Egypt’s swift involvement following this conflict poses some valid questions, one of which, posted by journalist Khaled Abu Toameh in the Jerusalem Post, asked: Is Egypt planning to retake control of the Gaza Strip? 

The answer is not a simple yes or no. 

Abu Toameh cited an unnamed veteran Palestinian journalist, who claimed that rumours abound that the Egyptians are planning to return to the Gaza Strip. “Many people here are convinced the Egyptian-sponsored reconstruction work is part of a plan to pave the way for a permanent Egyptian security presence in the Gaza Strip,” he added. Another unnamed analyst cited by Abu Toameh dismissed the idea of returning to a full Egyptian administration of the Gaza Strip, but added that current Egyptian president El-Sisi’s decision to contribute to the reconstruction effort shows he wants to be heavily involved with everything concerning the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, unlike his predecessors, Sadat and Mubarak, El-Sisi is not shying away from involvement in Gaza. He does not see the impoverished strip as a burden, but as an opportunity to validate Egypt’s strategic regional rule. During Mubarak’s reign, Egypt was trying to ignore Gaza, throwing its responsibility totally on Israel. The result was the proliferation of thousands of tunnels under the Gaza-Sinai border, flourishing smuggling routes, and radical terrorists inhabiting North Sinai. It is an undeniable fact that Egypt has paid a hefty price for ignoring Gaza, and the current leadership is not willing to repeat the fatal strategic mistakes of the past. 

Involvement in Gaza is crucial for Egypt on several fronts. 

On the security front, Gaza represents a strategic landmark for Sinai’s security. Until few years ago, Egyptian media asserted that terrorists in Sinai got logistical support and share the ideological outlook of some Gaza-based groups, despite strong denials from Hamas. lately, however, an alleged Sinai-based radical claimed on a Club House application that using non-Egyptian simcards for mobile phones would avoid Egyptian security tracking. 

On the domestic front, the scenes of Egyptians helping Gaza has had positive impacts on the hearts and minds of the Egyptian public, and has garnered majority support for what Egyptians believe is a balanced approach that is helping Gazans without compromising Egypt’s national security. Moreover, inside Gaza, reconstruction is not just bricks and mortar, but a chance to build bridges with locals who, for years, have known nothing about Egypt except border closures and “hostile Egyptian regime”.

On the strategic front, Egypt’s involvement in Gaza has not just raised Egypt’s strategic assets in the eyes of the US Biden administration and other Western governments; Egypt is fully aware of the Turkish ambitions in Gaza and how Erdogan’s Turkey regards Gaza as a potential foothold in the East Mediterranean, and as a means of replicating the “Libyan model”. Already the Turkish media has openly advocated that Turkey should sign a maritime deal with “Palestine”, a deal neither Israel nor Egypt will allow, as analyst Michael Koplow told me in a recent podcast

Nonetheless, Gaza is a political, social and military minefield. The serene strip Egypt inherited decades ago has changed dramatically. It is true Hamas does not want to get into trouble with Egypt, but it is naïve to assume the group will not shy away from igniting another round of confrontation with Israel, just because Egyptians are working hard to rebuild Gaza. The latest threat by the group of a new escalation if settlers hold a rally in East Jerusalem is a glaring example. Israel, wisely cancelled the march, but the incident highlighted the challenges facing Egypt in Gaza. 

Furthermore, Hamas also threatens to renew fighting if Qatari funds don’t enter Gaza; the group also admits it received money from Iran.  Will Israel tolerate the continuous stream of funds to a group openly proud of its upgraded military capabilities? And for how long? The new government in Israel may adopt a softer approach than Netanyahu, but showing flexibility on funding Hamas will be, at best, a short-term policy. 

Egypt is keen to secure a foothold in Gaza, but Cairo is neither interested in inheriting the strip, nor standing alone against Hamas. To expect Egypt to do more is frankly unrealistic. Egypt merely wants to maintain its role as the sole mediator between Hamas and Israel, keep the uneasy peace in the impoverished strip, and prevent regional rivals from using Gaza to threaten Egypt’s security and strategic interests. To fulfill those goals, the Egyptian leadership will adopt a flexible tactical approach within a pragmatic framework that will evolve in accordance with the fluid developments on the ground. A repeat scenario of rockets versus airstrikes is always possible, and could torpedo many of Egypt’s strategic goals in Gaza. 

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Turkey Trends Podcast: The latest rapprochement between Turkey and Greece

Here is my latest podcast for Ahval’s Turkey Trends with European affairs analyst Yannis Koutsomitis on the recent rapprochement between Turkey and Greece. Following a year of heightened tensions, Turkey and Greece have initiated joint action and cooperation on tangible projects, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said Monday, underlining that the two countries have agreed on 25 topics for better ties.

Republished in Greek here

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This Week in Egypt: Week 22-2021 ( May 31-4June 6)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt sends building equipment to begin Gaza reconstruction 
  • Erdogan woos Egypt and Gulf states in push to repair ties
  • Egypt permits women to work in Egypt’s State Council and Public Prosecution
  • Egypt plans to vaccinate 40% of population by end of 2021 
  • US plans to distribute coronavirus vaccines to several countries, including Egypt
  • Egypt fully vaccinates all tourism staff in Red Sea and South Sinai resorts
  • Seven countries including Bahrain, Egypt and Sri Lanka are added to UK’s travel red list  

Egypt sends a convoy of engineers and building equipment to Gaza to begin reconstruction

Main Headlines

Monday

  • US special envoy visits Qatar, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kenya over GERD
  • Egypt slams statements by Ethiopia PM on building over building 100 dams; says they reveal “ill intent”
  • Egypt’s external debt climbed to $129 bln in 2Q of FY2020/21 
  • Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority is showing ‘full flexibility’ in compensation talks with Ever Given owner 

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Egypt permits women to work in Egypt’s State Council and Public Prosecution
  • Egypt to allocate EGP 600 bln for national project to develop countryside
  • Egypt’s international reserves reached $40.4 billion in May, the highest since February: CBE 
  • Egypt is keen on boosting cooperation with Benin with Benin in infrastructure, energy, countering terrorism: President Sisi 
  • Egypt fully vaccinates all tourism staff in Red Sea and South Sinai resorts 

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Reports

  • Israel-Gaza fighting in reunited Egypt and Qatar
  • Egypt turns to China for water advice amid Nile dam crisis. George Mikhail
  • Can modernization of Egypt’s railway network avert train accidents? Hagar Hosny
  • I had an illegal abortion in Egypt. Egyptian Streets
  • Egypt: the latest coronavirus counts, charts and maps. Reuters

Read

From Twitter

Plus

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Podcast: Erdoğan keeping Kavala behind bars based on conspiracy theories

Here is my latest Turkey Trends Podcast for Ahval with Henri J. Barkey, an adjunct senior fellow for Middle East studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. Prof. Barkey explained how the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has a personal dislike for philanthropist Osman Kavala and how Kavala’s imprisonment since 2017 is based on conspiracy theories.

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Podcast: On Turkey and Israel, and the recent escalation in Gaza

Reposting my podcast for Ahval’s Turkey Trends with Michael Koplow , Policy Director at the Israel Policy Forum in Washington D.C., on the relations between Turkey and Israel and how both Israel and Egypt seek to keep Turkey out of Gaza.

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This Week in Egypt: Week 21-2021 ( May 24-30)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s Sisi and president Biden discuss Gaza cease-fire and reconstruction 
  • Blinken says U.S. and Egypt are working closely to reinforce ceasefire in Gaza
  • Israeli FM visits Egypt for first time in 13 years
  • Egypt’s intelligence chief holds talks with Netanyahu to consolidate ceasefire
  • Egypt invites Hamas, Palestinians, Israel for further talks
  • Egypt and Sudan begin Guardians of the Nile military drills
  • Egypt’s chief of staff visits Kenya and Rwanda signs cooperation agreements
  • Egypt to use IMF account to help reduce Sudan’s debt


Egypt’s Sisi meets US Sec Blinken – Via Ahram online

Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

 Thursday

Friday

  • Rafah crossing is remained open for 13th day to receive injured Palestinians, deliver aid 

Saturday

Sunday

Egypt’s Sisi photo on Billboard in Gaza

Reports

And

  • Readout of President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Call with President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt 

Read

From Twitter

Sports

  • Africa Super Cup: Egypt’s Al Ahly beat Berkane of Morocco 2-0 to lift trophy in Doha

Plus

  • Egypt’s ‘King of the Sun’ exhibition proves to be a big draw in Prague
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