In Cairo was held the fifth session of the Subcommittee on Political Matters, Human Rights and Democracy of the Association Agreement between Egypt and the European Union. The meeting took place within the framework of the Partnership Priorities 2017-2020 signed by Egypt and EU and was chaired by Ambassador Raouf Saad and Colin Scicluna. The members discussed about the Middle East peace process, the situations in Syria, Libya and the Arab region. Both sides recognised the necessity of strengthening dialogue and cooperation on all matters of mutual interest. They discussed also cooperation in human rights, rule of law and democracy in order to achieve stability and peace in the Mediterranean area.
The Ethiopian ambassador to Egypt Taye Stke-Selassie Amde had a meeting with the Egyptian foreign minister and he said that Sameh Shoukry will meet his Ethiopian counterpart Workneh Gebeyehu in January to discuss about the deadlock of the tripartite technical committee of Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan on the possible effects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD). This meeting confirms the Egyptian efforts to break the current deadlock and solve the disagreements between the three states. In November the negotiations broke down, in fact Egypt approved the European consultancy firms’ report while Sudan and Ethiopia rejected it, demanding major amendments to the technical studies. He stressed that his country is concerned due to the delay in the adoption of the proposed studies, adding that it has the desire to build trust with the others, preserving the Egyptian water interests. The talks between the two minister aims to prepare the upcoming visit of the Ethiopian prime minister Desalegn to Egypt in January.
Today an urgent plenary session was held in Cairo, where the members of the parliament have denounced the terror attack on Al-Rawdah mosque of Al-Arish, in North Sinai. The speaker of Egyptian parliament, Ali Abdel-Aal, said that the government will accelerate the process to financially compensate the families of the 305 victims. He added that terrorists know no discrimination among religions and he highlighted the importance of being united in the fight against terrorism. For this reason, according to him: “ordinary citizens themselves can help in preventing terrorists from targeting mosques and churches by cooperating with police and army forces”. Furthermore several members of the parliament, especially those affiliated with North Sinai, asked for a meeting with the Minister of Defence Sobhi. They also asked for a parliamentary delegation to visit the Al-Rawdah mosque showing solidarity with citizens of Al-Arish.
The Cabinet, chaired by King Salman, on Tuesday reaffirmed the statement issued by the emergency meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo and their condemnation of all terror acts committed by Iran and its continued interference in the internal affairs of the Arab countries. The Cabinet meeting, which was held at Al-Yamamah Palace in Riyadh, also stressed that Iran should refrain from supporting groups that fuel sectarian conflicts, notably in the Arab Gulf states, and to stop funding militias and armed parties in the Arab countries. The Cabinet also stressed the Kingdom’s continued stance at the UN on the Palestinian issue. The Cabinet said the Kingdom will vote in support of a decision to allow the Palestinian people to keep their permanent sovereignty in the occupied Palestinian lands, including Eastern Al-Quds; to support the Arab population in the occupied Syrian Golan to exploit their natural resources; and to support the Palestinian people to regain their usurped lands and reject Israeli policies, which do not respect international laws and norms.
The militant group Hassm claimed responsibility on Sunday for an alleged attack on the Myanmar Embassy in Cairo on Saturday night. “The bombing is a warning message to the embassy of slaughterers which kills women and children in Muslim Arakan [the Rakhine State]. [The bombing] is in support of the people of this weak Muslim nation”, the statement added.An official at the Myanmar Embassy, which is located on the island of Zamalek where there are several other embassies and a heavy security presence, denied Hassm’s claim in comments to Mada Masr, saying that there had not been an attack on the embassy on Saturday. “The embassy is operating normally, and I am talking to you from inside the embassy. They are liars”, the official said.A loud explosion was reportedly heard in Zamalek on Saturday night. According to a security source cited in the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper, a gas pipe had exploded in an abandoned apartment building in the area.Hassm has carried out a number of armed attacks against police and military personnel in recent years.
Several academic and political figures from Greece, Cyprus and Egypt gathered in Cairo on Monday for a workshop on the emerging strategic cooperation between the Eastern Mediterranean countries, especially in the fields of energy and security. The workshop was held under the auspices of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Alsaud Center for American Studies and Research (CASAR) at the American University in Cairo. The discussions reflected the growth of cooperation between the three nations in recent years, as evidenced by four tripartite summits involving the three nations’ leaders, the last being in Cairo in October 2016. Among the participants of Monday’s workshop was MP Nicholas Papadopoulos, president of the Democratic Party in Cyprus and candidate in the nation’s presidential elections scheduled for February 2018.He highlighted the potential for increased economic cooperation between the three nations, saying he hoped to conclude an Egypt-Cyprus commercial agreement, making Egypt an export hub for the Aphrodite gas field. The export of gas to Europe was of strategic importance to Egypt, he said.
Cairo is “deeply concerned” about the possible secession of Kurdish-held parts of northern Iraq in the wake of Monday’s referendum on independence and called on all parties to avoid “unilateral measures”, the foreign ministry said in a statement. “The ministry expresses deep concern about the possible negative repercussions of a referendum for the independence of Iraq…despite repeated Arab and international efforts to prevent moving forward with the step”. Egypt urged all parties to exercise “self-restraint” and steer clear of “unilateral measures that could complicate the situation, destabilise Iraq and encourage a climate of chaos and tension in the region”. The ministry called for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to reach a “comprehensive and satisfactory settlement”, saying it backs Iraq’s unity and territorial integrity. Also on Tuesday, Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit expressed regret over the referendum. He voiced concern that “some parties have exploited the crisis to deepen divisions and fuel new conflicts in the region”.
A delegation of MPs affiliated with the Egyptian parliament’s human rights committee began on Tuesday paying field visits to a number of police stations and prisons in Cairo and Giza. Alaa Abed, the head of the committee, told reporters that the visits reflect the committee’s role in supervising the performance of police officers and ensuring that human rights are fully observed in police stations and prison cells. “The visits will in particular focus on police stations and prison cells where some torture cases were reported”, said Abed. Azer told Ahram Online that the parliamentary delegation began on Tuesday by visiting El-Warraq district police station in Greater Cairo.Azer revealed that the committee’s visits will also include orphanages.”We got several reports from the media and independent lawyers that there was a lot of abuses in some orphanages and child care centres and we want to review conditions there”, said Azer.
Egypt has welcomed new steps taken by Palestinian Islamist group Hamas and President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement to build Palestinian unity, the result of Cairo’s efforts to end the long-running feud. Hamas said on Sunday that it had dissolved its administrative committee running Gaza, making way for the arrival of officials from the unity government, who would take control of the area. Hamas said it had also agreed to hold general elections in order to end the decade-long split.The Hamas statement was issued from Gaza on Sunday following talks with Egyptian officials in Cairo last week.Fatah, meanwhile, said on Sunday that it welcomed the pledge by its rival Hamas to accept key conditions for reconciliation.
Following the recent killing of 18 soldiers in North Sinai by Islamic State (ISIS) fighters, Cairo is facing rising calls to deploy more military forces against the group. They come despite legal restrictions limiting the number and type of forces that Egypt can maintain on the restive Sinai Peninsula as part of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.“True, the army has managed to reduce the capabilities of the Sinai terrorists… but Egypt needs to walk a long way until it declares the peninsula totally free of the terrorists”, said Samir Badawi, a retired army general. “This makes it necessary for the army to deploy heavy military equipment and more troops into Sinai, something currently prohibited by the security arrangements included in the peace treaty”.