Category: Ancient Land of Egypt


July 3, 2017

Four years ago today the Egyptian army overthrew the country’s first democratically elected leader, Mohammed Morsi. In the aftermath of the coup Egypt’s armed forces suspended the constitution and appointed the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mansour, as interim head of state. Morsi and his presidential team were detained in an unknown location and later stood trial.

What: Military coup

When: 3 July 2013

Where: Egypt

What happened?

In January 2013, then army Chief Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi warned that the political crisis in the country might lead to a collapse of the state. Two months later the Tamarrod movement collected signatures for a petition calling for new presidential elections in light of Mohamed Morsi’s failure to restore security and fix the economy and organised mass protests to this effect.

On 30 June demonstrators took to the streets. Armed vehicles were deployed around Cairo and armed forces to areas they expected protests in support of Morsi, such as Cairo University.

Morsi warned the country that he was the elected leader and that attempts to overthrow him would lead to chaos but on 3 July he was arrested by the army and detained in an unknown location alongside other members of his presidential team.

That evening Al-Sisi set out his roadmap for Egypt in a televised statement.  President Morsi had ignored the calls of his people, he said, and therefore he was suspending the constitution, calling for early elections, putting the chief justice in charge, putting in place an interim government and setting up a committee to amend the constitution.

Opposition leader and then Vice President Mohamed El-Baradei and the Coptic Pope Tawadros II stood by his side.

What happened next?

In the weeks that followed, Morsi supporters joined mass protests and demanded his release. On 14 August 2013 1,000 people were massacred by the army in Rabaa Square where they had gathered to call for his immediate return to power.

Muslim Brotherhood leaders were prevented from leaving the country and Morsi and his presidential team were held at secret locations. In September 2013 state television announced that Morsi would stand trial for “incitement to murder and violence” during a protest between his supporters and the opposition and for ordering others to be tortured and unlawfully imprisoned.

In November 2013 Morsi and other top Brotherhood figures were put on trial for the first time. In April 2015 they were sentenced to 20 years in prison. They still face trials in a number of cases.

In March 2014, Al-Sisi officially announced his presidential bid and assumed power on 8 June that year. In the four years that have followed the coup the military-led government has inflicted a wide-scale crackdown on all members of the opposition, not just the Brotherhood.

Unprecedented numbers of people have been forcibly disappeared, tried in mass trials or military courts, given the death sentence, tortured in detention and denied medical care once detained. Children are arrested, detained with adults and sexual violence used against them. Human rights organisations and workers have been targeted as well as journalists, activists and lawyers.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170703-remembering-egypts-bloody-military-coup/.

March 12, 2017

Cairo’s population is set to grow by 500,000 this year, more than any other city in the world, adding to the pressure on an Egyptian economy struggling to recover from six years of political turmoil.

Greater Cairo, a metropolitan area including the cities of Cairo, Giza and Qalyubia, is home to some 22.8 million people and will gain another half a million in 2017, a Euromonitor International report released last week shows.

That represents a quarter of Egypt’s 92 million. The national natural population growth of 2.4 per cent per year is double the average of other developing countries, said Mohamed Abdelgalil, adviser to official statistics agency CAPMAS.

Stinging poverty in southern Egypt leads many families to have several children in the hope they can become sources of income. Those children eventually migrate to larger cities for job opportunities scarce in their hometowns.

“In rural areas, and in the south in particular, poor families have many children because they see these children as a safety net,” Maysa Shawky, the head of the National Population Council, told Reuters in an interview.

“Also, many of them have daughters until they have sons,” she added. “They want to produce breadwinners – instead of hiring a worker, they could have their children help them.”

Shawky said awareness campaigns at universities and schools have begun as part of a national population strategy.

New Capital

Internal migration is one of the main causes of overpopulation in Cairo. Egypt lists 351 slums as “unsafe”, most of them in the sprawling capital where the poorest have built ramshackle homes that lack basic amenities such as mains sewage and water. Some 850,000 people are believed to live in such dangerous slums.

“For the average citizen to not be affected by hikes in the prices of goods and services, the economic growth rate must be double the natural population increase rate,” Abdelgalil said.

Egypt’s economic growth was 4.3 per cent in 2015-2016, which is not enough to achieve that. The IMF expects it to be about 4 per cent this year, which is even less.

A new administrative capital, announced in March 2015, is intended partly to reduce the crowding in Cairo. Some 45 kilometres to the east, it will be home to government ministries, housing and an airport.

People will start moving to the as yet-unnamed new city in 2018, said Khaled Abbas, assistant to the housing minister for technical affairs. Work on 17,000-18,000 residential units is nearing completion and they will be put up for sale in April.

“Egypt’s population is expected to reach 160-180 million in 40 years. Where will all these people go?” said Abbas. “We’re also working on developing areas in northern and southern Egypt.”

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170312-cairo-population-to-grow-by-half-a-million-people-in-2017/.

January 10, 2017

The Russian defence ministry has reportedly announced that Egypt would send troops to Syria to observe the implementation of the truce reached between the Syrian regime’s forces and the armed opposition, according to the Israeli website Rotter.

The news website added that the Egyptian troops will arrive in Syria early next week, noting that a number of Egyptian officers had been already in Syria to pave the way for the troops’ arrival.

At the same time, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called on Egypt as a partner to join his country along with Turkey and Iran in the talks on Syria’s future and the implementation of the truce, according to Rotter.

Russia had decided to halt flights to Egyptian airports after a Russian plane crashed in October 2015 over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, killing all 217 passengers on board. The Metrojet flight crashed after its departure from the Egypt’s Sharm El Sheikh International Airport.

Rotter said that for Egypt to join the trio discussing Syria’s future would be a great Russian success, which is also interesting in light of Egypt’s tense relations with Turkey on the one hand and its relations with Iran on the other.

It will be also interesting to know the US response to this step, given that the United States and European countries are not taking part in the Syria talks, the Israeli website added.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170110-citing-russian-defence-ministry-israeli-website-says-egypt-to-send-troops-to-syria-next-week/.

January 05, 2017

CAIRO (AP) — A leading Egyptian activist behind the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak was released from prison Thursday after serving a three-year sentence for violating a ban on unauthorized protests.

Ahmed Maher, who returned to his Cairo home, will remain under surveillance for three years as part of his sentence, his lawyer, Tarek al-Awadi, told The Associated Press. He will not be allowed to leave the country.

Maher, 36, was the co-founder of the April 6 movement, which used social media to bring protesters into the streets in Arab Spring-inspired demonstrations that forced Mubarak to resign in February 2011. Two and half years later, the military overthrew an elected but divisive Islamist president and the new government banned all unauthorized demonstrations.

Maher was arrested in November 2013, and the following month he was convicted along with April 6 co-founders Mohammed Adel and Ahmed Douma. Each was fined and sentenced to three years in prison. Adel will finish his sentence within a month while Douma is serving a life sentence in another case and is awaiting an appeal trial in April.

The government has waged a wide-scale crackdown on dissent over the past three years, jailing thousands of people. Most of those imprisoned are Islamist supporters of President Mohammed Morsi, who was overthrown and jailed in 2013, but the crackdown has also swept up prominent secular activists like Maher, Adel and Douma.

It’s unclear whether Maher will be able to return to activism in the current climate. Al-Awadi said the local police station charged with monitoring Maher would have wide discretion over his treatment.

“If they decide to put a lot of pressure on him, humiliate him and treat him like they treat thieves and drug dealers, they could order him to spend each night of the coming three years at the police station,” al-Awadi said.

Maher’s wife, Reham Ibrahim, welcomed his release in a Facebook post, saying “We will make up for what we missed.” The two have a son and a daughter.

2017-02-13

CAIRO – Lebanese President Michel Aoun on Monday started his first visit to Cairo since his election in October and held talks with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

“Hopes of the role that Egypt could play are high. An Egypt of moderation and openness… could launch an Arab rescue initiative based on a strategy to fight terrorism,” Aoun said at a joint press conference.

He said Egypt could “work on finding political solutions for the crises in the Arab world and especially Syria”.

The two sides “agreed on the need to stand together against the dangers of terrorism”, Sisi said, adding that Egypt was ready “to support the capabilities of Lebanon’s army and its various security bodies”.

Aoun, a Maronite Christian, was to meet later the same day with the leader of Egypt’s Coptic Church, Pope Tawadros II, and also hold talks with Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb of Al-Azhar, the highest institution of Sunni Islam.

On Tuesday, the Lebanese president is scheduled to meet Ahmed Aboul Gheit, secretary general of the Cairo-based Arab League.

Aoun, who was elected with the support of the powerful Iranian-backed Shiite movement Hezbollah, visited Saudi Arabia last month on a mission to patch up relations with Riyadh.

A Lebanese official source said at the time that Saudi Arabia and Lebanon had agreed to hold talks on restoring a $3-billion military aid package that Riyadh froze last year.

Mainly Sunni Saudi Arabia, a fierce regional rival of Iran, froze the aid deal over what it said was Hezbollah’s dominance in Lebanon.

Aoun’s election ended a two-year deadlock between Iran- and Saudi-backed blocs in the Lebanese parliament.

Source: Middle East Online.

Link: http://middle-east-online.com/english/?id=81415.

December 3, 2016

Germany is to start building the first Egyptian military submarine this month, the Egyptian ambassador to Berlin, Bader Abdel-Ati announced yesterday.

In a press conference, Abdel-Ati said that the mutual relationship between Egypt and Germany became stronger and reinforced when Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi became president of Egypt.

He said that there had been an increase in the number of official visits between the two countries as Germany and Europe are convinced that the EU’s stability is highly connected with Egypt’s own.

“Currently, Egypt builds its relations with Germany and the EU on the basis of a strategic partnership, not on the basis of a giver to a recipient,” the Egyptian ambassador said.

In addition, he said that there is mutual cooperation in several sectors, including education and tourism, believing that Egypt has “big opportunities.”

Abdel-Ati claimed that the German Central Bank said during the G20 summit that “Egyptian economic decisions are courageous and unprecedented because they treat the roots of the economic crisis…This proves the political will [in Egypt] is credible.”

As a sign of improving Egyptian-German relations, the ambassador said that German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Al-Sisi met five times in the last year and a half, while her deputy visited Egypt three times this year.

He noted that 100 German businessmen had visited Egypt recently, adding that mutual meetings between for officials from both countries are continuous.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161203-germany-to-begin-constructing-egypts-first-military-submarine/.

November 25, 2016

Egypt’s population reached 92 million people on Thursday evening, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) has revealed.

Egypt’s population increase represents a rise of one million people in less than six months as there were 91 million Egyptians in June this year.

“Egypt’s population is growing at a rate five times higher than that of developed countries, and twice as high as developing countries,” CAPMAS warned.

According to the agency, 2.6 million children are born every year and there are 600,000 deaths. “The population growth limits the state’s ability to make tangible changes in living standards, since the population growth is not proportionate to the current economic growth.”

Only 7.8 per cent of Egyptian territory is habitable. More than a quarter of the population live below the poverty line.

CAPMAS statistics show that Cairo is the most populous governorate with 9.5 million people, while South Sinai is the least populated with just 172,000 residents.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161125-egypts-population-now-at-92-million/.

24 November 2016 Thursday

Archaeologists have uncovered an ancient Egyptian city and graveyard dating back to around 5300 BC, the antiquities ministry said on Wednesday.

The city and cemetery — likely home to senior functionaries and grave builders — was discovered about 400 meters (1300 feet) from the Temple of Seti I in the ancient city of Abydos in southern Egypt, said antiquities minister Mahmoud Afifi.

It is believed to date back to 5316 BC.

Excavators found huts, pottery and stone instruments, Afifi said.

They also discovered 15 large graves — some of them even larger than royal graves in Abydos — suggesting they housed the bodies of important figures.

“This discovery can shed light on a lot of information on the history of Abydos,” a ministry statement quoted Afifi as saying.

The city of Abydos, founded by predynastic rulers, is famed for its temples such as that of Seti I and its graves.

Egypt is rich with ancient sites built by the pharaohs, but years of unrest and attacks have driven away many tourists.

Source: World Bulletin.

Link: http://www.worldbulletin.net/todays-news/180612/lost-egyptian-city-discovered-after-7000-years.

October 10, 2016

Former Chief of the Saudi Royal Court, Khalid Al-Tuwaijri, yesterday condemned the Egyptian regime for voting on a Russian draft resolution.

In a tweet, Al-Tuwaijri expressed his disappointment and reminded the Egyptian authorities that it was the Saudis who assisted the Sisi regime.

Egypt voted on Saturday for two opposing draft resolutions on the Syria conflict. The first was a French-Spanish version and the other was by Russia, calling for relief in Syria, particularly in Aleppo.

Russia vetoed the French-drafted resolution demanding an immediate halt to the bombing campaign that the Syrian government and Russia are carrying out against opposition-held areas of Aleppo.

The Russian draft, which made no mention of a bombing halt, was rejected because it failed to get the minimum nine “yes” votes needed for approval.

Syria has been trapped in a civil war for the last five years between its long-serving government and opposition factions who seek to eliminate Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Shortly after the war began, military and political power vacuums left room for extremist factions to grow, leaving the country in a military quagmire.

Source: Middle East Monitor.

Link: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20161010-saudi-criticises-sisis-backing-of-russia/.

Moscow (AFP)

Oct 11, 2016

Russia and Egypt will hold joint military drills involving airborne troops on Egyptian soil for the first time this month, the Russian defense ministry said Tuesday.

“The joint Russian-Egyptian drills will happen in mid-October 2016 on the territory of Egypt,” it said, without specifying their start date.

The drills, called “Protectors of Friendship-2016”, will include 500 troops, 15 planes and helicopters and 10 military hardware units, the ministry said, describing the exercises as “anti-terrorist”.

“The airborne delivery by parachute of several Russian airborne troops’ combat vehicles to the desert climate of Egypt will occur for the first time in history,” the ministry said.

Last year Russia and Egypt held their first-ever joint naval exercises in the Mediterranean, which included the Black Sea fleet’s flagship Moskva missile cruiser.

Russia has been waging an aerial bombing campaign in Syria for the past year in support of the Syrian government, part of the multi-front war that has claimed some 300,000 lives and has seen Moscow further estranged from the West.

Source: Space War.

Link: http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Russia_to_hold_military_drills_in_Egypt_in_October_999.html.