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The sixth meeting of the Egyptian-Ethiopian Higher Committee after a three-years impasse


In an official statement the Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Soukry announced his participation at the sixth meeting of the Egyptian-Ethiopian Higher Committee after three years of impasse. The talks will discuss the bilateral economic, social and artistic relations, and also regional and international developments. In addition the foreign ministers of the two countries will set the encounter between the President El-Sisi and the Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. In recent years there have been strained tensions within the relation between Egypt and Ethiopia, because of the Grand Renaissance Dam. It is a situation of concern to Egypt despite assurance from Ethiopia that the dam will not damage the other counties.

Gaza: Egyptian fire kills Palestinian at sea


The Gaza health ministry said Friday night an Egyptian navy opened fire on a Palestinian fishing boat off the southern border near the city of Rafah. The Egyptian officials did not comment, nor was it possible to confirm whether the vessel was trying to cross the Egyptian waters. The Egyptian naval forces had previously opened fire on the inhabitants of Gaza accused of crossing the maritime border, capturing the catch from Egyptian territory to evade the restrictions imposed by the Israeli blockade of the enclave, which Israel maintains due to problems safety. This is a limited fishing zone which, according to the Gaza fishermen, is not big enough to satisfy the demand of the 2 million people on the coast. Gaza is run by the Islamist group Hamas, which fought three wars with Israel and is designated as a terrorist group by Western countries and Israel. Israel withdrew troops and settlers from the territory in 2005, but remains the channel for the passage of goods and supplies most of its electricity. Israel and Egypt, citing security concerns, maintain severe restrictions on the passage of Palestinians across their boundaries with the enclave.

The EU- Egypt Association Agreement


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.

Egypt: the Zohr Field’s potential in the energy sector of Egypt


On 16 December the largest offshore natural gas field in the Mediterranean, the Zohr Field, that covers an area of 100 square kilometres, started production. It could bring Egypt to the goal of self-sufficiency in energy sector by 2018 and to the export of gas by 2019. According to the British Petroleum Statistical Review the Egyptian gas consumption amounts to nearly 5 billion cubic feet per day and its total daily production is almost 4 billion cubic feet but Egypt planned to stop importing the fuel by the end of next year.  Petroleum Minister Tarek Al-Molla declared that The Zohr Field, together with the other two fields of North Alexandria and Nooros will rise the gas production by 50 per cent this year and 100 per cent by 2020. The Italian Eni in 2018 will invest into Egypt $3.5 billion, that corresponds to half the company’s annual investments. Recently the country has adopted several economic reforms in order to attract foreign investments, including  floating the currency and cutting subsidies. In addition the gas pricing formula is flexible instead of fixed as it was in the past. According to the law 196 the private sector can transport, store, market and trade natural gas using the country’s pipeline network, moving away from state monopolies.

Dam negotiations going on: the Ethiopian ambassador to Egypt met the Egyptian FM


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.

Foreign Ministers of Tunisia Algeria and Egypt :”political agreement” for the political solution in Libya


The Foreign Ministers of Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt reaffirmed on Sunday their support of “the political agreement” as a “framework for the political solution in Libya.They also reaffirmed their commitment to Libya’s unity, stability and regional security.Besides, the three ministers welcomed the Security Council’s Declaration of December 14 on “the situation in Libya,” pointing out the United Nations’ crucial role and political and legal responsibility as the sponsor of the Libyan political dialogue. In this regard, they called on all sides to assume their responsibilities to meet the deadlines set out in the political agreement. They also agreed to continue their security co-ordination efforts between their countries to assess the terrorist organisations’ threats to security and stability in Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt and in neighbouring countries and to reinforce intelligence sharing in this regard. This tripartite ministerial meeting is part of the implementation of the Tunisian presidential initiative to reach a peaceful solution to the crisis in Libya.

Egypt, Russia sign protocol to resume Moscow-Cairo flights starting February 2018: Aviation ministry


The Egyptian Minister of Aviation Sherif Fathy travelled to Moscow to meet his Russian counterpart Maxim Sokolov and to sign a protocol to resume flights between Moscow and Cairo for the first time since 2015. In fact the flights between the two countries were halted after the crash of a Russian jet in Sinai that killed 224 people and since that moment Egypt has been implementing the security measures in its airports, according to the Russian request. The aim was to restore the tourism because Russians were the largest tourist group in Egypt, about one-fifth of foreigners in the country in 2015. Sokolov said on Friday that Cairo International Airport has satisfied all the requirements of security measures but he said also that Egypt’s Red Sea resorts need more work. The protocol foresees that the flights between Egypt and Russia resume by 1 February and the two ministers will meet in April to discuss about the security condition of the Egyptian resort cities to resume the Russian tourism also there.

Former Egyptian premier Shafiq says intends to run in 2018 election


Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under the president Mubarak, a former air force commander and a 2012 presidential candidate, announced in a video declaration sent to Reuters that he will run in the next Egyptian presidential election planned for April. Shafiq placed second in the first presidential elections  after the deposition of Hosni Mubarak, in a runoff against Mohamed Mursi , who issued an arrest warrant against him. The former prime minister went to United Arab Emirates and formed a political party, leading it from abroad. In a statement from the UAE he declared: “I‘m honored to announce my will to run in the upcoming presidential elections in Egypt as a choice to be president of the country for the next four years”. In the video he also called for real democracy and  “normal” human rights in his country.

Calls by Sinai tribes to join Armed Forces in war on terrorism stirs debate in Egypt


After the Friday terrorist attack on Al-Rawda mosque, the tribes of Egypt’s Sinai peninsula asked to fight against terrorism with the Egyptian Armed Forces. The Union of Sinai Tribes stated that the tribes will exact revenge on all terrorist in Sinai. However, a member of the Arab Tribes Council, Ibrahim Rafie, which represents tribes in Egypt’s Western Desert, said in an interview on the TV show ‘On My Responsibility’ that he does not support the idea of armed militias and that only members of the official army should be allowed to carry weapons. On the other hand El-Awady believes that the Sinai tribes, along with the Armed Forces, are capable of eliminating terrorism. Ahmed Kamel El-Beheiry, a researcher at the Ahram Centre for Strategic and Political Studies, said that allowing armed civilians against terrorism could have dangerous consequences and he added that: those who carry arms side-by-side with the state could also use them against the state”.

Egyptian MPs unite to condemn North Sinai terrorist attack, call for aid to victims


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.

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