This Week in Egypt: Week 7-2018 ( Feb 12-18)

Top Headlines 

  • Egypt arrests former-Islamist presidential candidate Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh, and raid his party headquarters
  • Egypt’s military prosecution detains former anti-corruption chief Geneina
  • Egyptian air force destroys ten 4×4 vehicles infiltrating border from Libya
  • Egypt military says 53 militants killed in week-long offensive in Sinai
  • Egypt cut interest rates for the first time since floating the currency at the end of 2016
  • US hindering the completion of Egypt-France Rafale deal according to La Tribune
  • Ethiopia postpones Renaissance Dam meeting amid domestic tension

 Main Headlines

Monday

  • Egypt’s military pledges legal actions after Geneina’s claims that Anan possesses documents containing state secrets state secrets
  • Tillerson says U.S. backs Egypt on security at start of a regional tour
  • Egypt’s military said it killed almost 30 militants in Sinai over the past few days
  • Minister of Transport urges public to extract train subscriptions ahead of ticket price increase

Tuesday

 Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Sports

  • The sky’s the limit for Liverpool’s Salah as he reaches 30-goal mark

Plus

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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Egypt, Turkey, and the gas politics

Here is an English version of my latest piece in Al-Hurra

Zoh gas field

Zohr Gas Field- Photo via Offshore Technology

Last week, Egypt launched a comprehensive security operation, Sinai 2018, mainly targeting terror groups in the country. A quick glance, however, at the intensive activities of the Egyptian navy within this unprecedented security operation indicates that the operation’s goal also has some regional objectives. Sinai 2018 is not just a mission against terrorists; it is also a message to rival regional foes, mainly Turkey.

Days after Egypt inaugurated the first stage of production at the super-giant Mediterranean Zohr gas field, Turkey announced it would explore oil and gas in the Eastern Mediterranean. Turkey justified its clear rejection of 2013’s maritime border demarcation between Egypt and Cyprus by saying it “violates the Turkish continental shelf at latitude 32, 16, and 18 degrees.” Turkey also said Greek Cypriots were disregarding the “inalienable rights on natural resources” of Turkish Cypriots and jeopardizing the region’s stability.

Alarmingly, Turkey’s hostile rhetoric and threats of legal action have been coupled with an aggressive manoeuvre. Last Friday, Turkish warships obstructed a rig belonging to the Italian energy firm, ENI, which discovered and operates the Egyptian Zohr field, and prevented it from approaching an exploration area southeast of Cyprus.

Cairo has not taken Turkey’s rhetoric lightly – even before the latest obstruction of ENI’s rig. Reuters reports that Egypt’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Ahmed Abu Zeid, warned that “any attempt to infringe or diminish Egypt’s rights in that area” would be confronted. Abu Zeid added that the accord between Egypt and Cyprus in 2013 had been deposited with the United Nations.

Shehab Al-Makahleh is right to point out that as long as there is no mutual cooperation between the Eastern Mediterranean countries concerned due to the demarcation issue, war could break out at any moment. Indeed, the prospect of an all-out confrontation between Egypt and Turkey as a result of this maritime dispute is much more probable than one arising out of all the other possible Eastern Mediterranean gas disputes.

Observers of the Turkish-Egyptian impasse point to the bitter rivalry between Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Egypt’s Abdel Fattah Sisi,, which has been brewing for the past five years. Since the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood by Egyptian President Morsi in 2013, Turkey’s President Erdogan has showered the Egyptian leadership with hostile rhetoric. He has also welcomed many exiled Brotherhood figures and allowed Istanbul to be the base for many anti-Sisi TV channels.

Nonetheless, the gas conflict between Egypt and Turkey is much deeper than the two countries’ ideological differences.

President Erdogan sees the Turkish Republic as a continuation of the Ottoman Empire. Despite having a successfully functioning state, Erdogan is keen on reconfiguring it to fit his ideological Islamist agenda, in which he sees himself as the leader of an Ottoman-inspired political Islamist project. Within that contest, the question of gas drilling for Turkey is a matter of prestige and regional influence, and not necessarily based on need or a gas scarcity. Economically, Turkey has adopted a new energy policy, in which it adopts a shift from an energy sector-based mainly on imported natural gas to an integrated energy industry based on local resources such as coal and renewables. Moreover, Turkey aims to trade the excess gas that will have access.

For Egypt, however, the Mediterranean gas issue is a not a matter of ideology or regional rivalry, but a life-or-death situation. ENI SpA’s massive “Zohr” natural gas field and its huge reserves could prove a permanent remedy to the most populous Arab nation’s power needs and bring Egypt closer to its goal of energy self-sufficiency. No Egyptian president can simply afford to let it go. The alternative would be a return of the dreaded era of power blackouts and massive public queues to purchase gas cylinders.

Egypt views security along its Mediterranean borders as a matter of great importance, and that it must be maintained at all costs. Since the start of the Sinai 2018 operation, Egyptian Army spokesmen have made no effort to hide the fact that defending the country’s maritime economic goals is part of the mission.

Turkey’s latest aggressive behavior against the Italian company ENI’s ship will not go unnoticed in Cairo. Ankara’s neo-Ottoman leadership probably understands that settling a maritime legal dispute will take years, and the verdict may not be in its favor; therefore, it has seemingly decided to switch to bullying tactics to make the drilling for the Italian company challenging and costly. Erdogan’s regime has become increasingly unpredictable. Its “playing-with-fire” attitude can easily ignite a regional confrontation Egypt will not shy away from easily.

Backing down to Turkey on the 2013 maritime deal with Cyprus would simply be suicidal for any Egyptian leadership, and not just the current one of Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. The current year has started with a huge Egyptian military manoeuvre. Egypt is subtly telling the increasingly ambitious Turkish leadership to stay away from its new Mediterranean treasure____ the Zohr gas field.

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This Week in Egypt: Week 6- 2018 ( Feb 5-11)

Top headlines

  • Egypt launches unprecedented counter-terrorism operation “ Sinai 2018”
  • Maximum security alert nationwide after comprehensive military operation in Sinai
  • Tillerson kicks off tense Middle East trip in Egypt
  • IMF: Egypt’s economic structure is at a turning point
  • Egypt warns Turkey over eastern Mediterranean economic interests 
  • Egypt removes name of prominent Turkish Sultan from street in Cairo
  • Football stadiums will begin allowing fans to attend matches for ‘Egypt Cup’ games

Main headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

From Twitter

 

Video

Plus

  • Egyptian girl who sells tissues proves poverty is no limit, win race barefoot
  • 25% of restoration of Alexandria Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is completed

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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This Week in Egypt- Week 5 -2018 ( January 29-Feb 4)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s elections find last-minute challenger to Sisi
  • A coalition of eight Egyptian opposition parties called for a boycott of Egypt’s presidential election
  • Egypt’s leader issues tough warning after election criticism
  • The US Department of State designates Egypt-based Hasm and Liwa Al-Thawra as terrorist groups
  • Military spokesperson denies reports that Israel carries out airstrikes in Egypt
  • Egypt unveils 4,400-year-old tomb of ancient priestess

 Main Headlines

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday 

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

 

 

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

Posted in Diary of Aak, Egypt, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

This Week in Egypt: Week 4-2018 ( Jan 22-28)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt is heading towards elections with only President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s name on the ballot
  • Political opposition figures demands halt of electoral process
  • Leading member of halted Egyptian presidential campaign Hisham Genina was attacked and injured
  • Egypt’s Sisi pardons British woman who was jailed for smuggling Tramadol
  • Italian prosecutor: Giulio Regeni was murdered in Egypt “over research”
  • King Ramses II statue is moved to Grand Egyptian Museum

 Main Headlines

Monday

  • Egypt is concerned over reports Addis Ababa rejects role for World Bank in stalled dam talks
  • US ordered more stringent inspections of air cargo at seven airports in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE
  • Russian security delegation to inspect Cairo Int’l Airport on Monday ahead of direct flight resumption Egypt
  • All Egyptian expats can vote in March presidential elections regardless of legal status in host countries
  • Assailant opens fire on priest’s car in Minya
  • Luxor’s Nile cruise ordered shut after 31 struck by food poisoning

Tuesday

Wednesday 

Thursday

 Friday

Saturday

Sunday

 Good Reports

From Twitter

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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Reflections on General Sami Anan’s failed presidential bid

Here is an English version of my latest Arabic piece for Al-Hurra

Anan

Hours after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi declared his candidacy for March’s presidential election, former armed forces Chief of Staff, General Sami Anan, also declared his intention to run for President. His declaration was quickly followed by many supportive and animated responses on social media from both Islamist and non-Islamist opponents of President Sisi. A few days later, however, Egypt’s army released a statement calling the General’s announcement an incitement against the military, and said it was summoning him over the issue.

The controversies regarding General Anan’s quest for the presidency are not the core issue in my opinion. But his candidacy exposes the flawed thinking of General Anan, his team, and his supporters.

General Anan, once described as “thoughtful, astute, and competent professionally,” by Admiral William J. Fallon, retired head of the United States Central Command, seems to have carefully planned his political comeback. He served as Mubarak’s military Chief of Staff for years, then as a senior member of the post-Mubarak ruling Supreme Council of Military forces (SCAF), only to be later sacked by the Muslim Brotherhood’s President Mohamed Morsi.

General Anan focused on the grievances of Sisi’s opponents, and presented himself in his video announcement as a team leader, rather than a one-man project. He announced two important civilian figures in his campaign: Hisham Genena, Egypt’s former top auditor, who Sisi sacked in 2016, and political scientist Hazem Hosny, his official spokesman. General Anan’s video announcement was also full of subtle but strong criticisms of Sisi, whom he described as just one candidate among others “who may leave the office in a few months.”

But General Anan’s approach and the strategy of Sisi’s opponents were misguided for many reasons.

First, one would assume that an experienced military General like Sami Anan, with such extended military experience, would adopt a cautious, tactful approach toward his own military establishment. Announcing his candidacy before receiving formal permission from the military was a fatal lapse in judgment. There has been a history of disagreements between senior military ranks in the past. The conflict between President Nasser and his military chief Abdel Hakim Amer, following 1967 defeat, is but one example. However, never in the history of Egypt’s military establishment was an ex-General was favoured at the expense of a serving president. The military establishment in Egypt wants to project a united front. Any assumption otherwise is nonsensical and simply delusional.

Second, the hasty support from Sisi’s opponents for Anan’s candidacy—even before reading the details of his manifesto—projects how disconnected his supporters are from the public and its demands or aspirations. For example, none of those who cheered Anan on social media questioned his economic plan. He did not announce an economist within his presidential team, despite knowing that the economy and inflation are the top concerns for many Egyptians. Anan’s supporters were focused on one task: Anyone but Sisi.

Third, General Anan ‘s vague attitude and handling of Islamist groups has raised many questions. After years of demonising Egypt’s military forces as the “ruling Junta,” guests on pro-Brotherhood channels gave various justifications for backing General Anan, an ex-military man, as Egypt’s next president. Furthermore, according to Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, Youssef Nada, the Muslim Brotherhood financial strategist, set “six conditions” for backing Anan, including asking imprisoned ousted president Morsi (who once sacked Anan) to “formally step down.” The timing of such surreal demands exposed the Brotherhood’s mediocrity and haste, and ruined Anan’s chances to get military approval of his candidacy.

Fourth, and more importantly, any assumption that ordinary Egyptians would favour an ex-military leader over their current ex-military president is naïve. Egyptians prefer democracy to autocracy, but if they have to choose an autocrat, they will choose a strong one; not a bridge figure who might enable many hollow parties to jump aboard and ruin an already vulnerable ship.

It is too early to judge Sami Anan’s legacy. There are, however, similar qualities that General Anan shares with another army man, Mohammed Naguib, Egypt’s first president after ousting King Farouk in the 1950s. Although Naguib’s discourse was different, both men were two accommodative to the Army’s nemeses, particularly from the Islamist camp, to a degree that earned them much despise from the rest of the military establishment.

 

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This Week in Egypt: Week 3-2018 ( Jan 15-21)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt’s Sisi announces intention to run for second term
  • Ex-military chief of staff to run in Egyptian presidential election
  • Pence starts Middle East tour in Egypt, pledges ‘shoulder-to-shoulder’ support
  • Sisi appoints his office director as acting head of General Intelligence Directorate
  • Ethiopia leader rejects call for World Bank arbitration in dam dispute with Egypt
  • Egypt rejects Turkish military operations against Syrian Afrin

 

Pence and Sisi.jpg

 

Main Headlines

Monday

 Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

 

 

 

 

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

 

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Reblog: The Schizophrenia of Mahmoud Abbas

I strongly recommend this piece on the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. As Michael aptly wrote: The aging Palestinian leader a uniquely frustrating figure.
Enjoy…

Ottomans and Zionists

Much has already been said of Mahmoud Abbas’s vilely ahistorical and anti-Semitic speech to the P.L.O.’s Central Council on Sunday. There is no need to go through a blow by blow of the Palestinian president’s repugnant claims that European Jews marched to the ovens in order to avoid emigrating to Palestine, his ludicrous charge that Israel has nothing to do with Judaism, or his nescient reading of history in which Zionist leaders conspired with Arab potentates to make their countries Judenrein in order to boost Israel’s Jewish population. Abbas’s screed deserves unqualified condemnation, and it only adds to his schizophrenic legacy.

Abbas has been a disappointing political partner for Israel, to say the least. This is not to say that Israel has made things easy for him, or that Israeli leaders have all been champing at the bit to strike a deal and have been stymied by an unwilling…

View original post 1,044 more words

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This Week in Egypt: Week 2-2018 ( January 8-12)

Top Headlines

  • Presidential elections set for March 26-28 in Egypt
  • Egypt opens criminal inquiry over a New York Times article
  • Egypt approves cabinet reshuffle ahead of elections
  • Ex-military chief of staff General Sami Anan will run in Egyptian presidential election
  • Israel had destroyed a cross-border attack tunnel that ran from Gaza into Israel and Egypt
  • Alexandria court overturns sentence against activist Mahinour El-Masry in Red Sea islands protest case

 Main Headlines

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Good Reports

From Twitter

Plus

Plus

Finally, here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

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

This Week in Egypt: Week 1-2018 ( Jan 1-7)

Top Headlines

  • Egypt to extend state of emergency for 3 months
  • Former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafik is no longer considering running for president in this year’s election
  • Sudan recalls its ambassador from Egypt amid tensions
  • Sisi attended Christmas mass at the new Nativity of Christ Cathedral in the new administrative capital
  • Egypt garners 3 CAF titles, Mohamed Salah named best African play

 Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

 Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

  • Former Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafik is no longer considering running for president in this year’s election
  • Egypt refutes a New York Times’ report on tacit acceptance of Jerusalem move
  • Hot air balloon flights continue in Egypt’s Luxor, investigation still on going into Friday’s accident
  • Iraq waits for Egyptian company assistance in Iraqi reconstruction

Good Reports

Good Read

From Twitter

Sports

  • Egypt wins National team of the Year award

Plus

Finally here are Jayson Casper’s prayers for Egypt

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment