Category: Ancient Land of Egypt


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


September 8, 2016

Egypt has the fourth highest rate of illiteracy in the Arab world with 14.5 million people aged 10 and over would couldn’t read or write in 2015, statistics released by UNESCO revealed yesterday…

Released to make World Literacy Day, the figured showed that of the 23.7 per cent of the population who were illiterate, 9.3 million were female.

Yemen has the highest illiteracy rate in the Arab world with 30 per cent of its population unable to read and write. Morocco came second with 28 per cent and Sudan third with 24 per cent.

Meanwhile, Palestine has the lowest illiteracy rate among Arab countries with only three per cent of its population affected.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


Thursday 21 July 2016

CAIRO – When Shereen heard that a coup attempt was underway in Turkey, her heart rate jumped.

“I almost cried,” said the Egyptian housewife and longtime Muslim Brotherhood supporter. “I remembered the same moment, with the same scenario here.”

Shereen, who declined to use her last name for security reasons, stayed up all night watching the news on television.

“My husband told me not to worry,” she said. “What happened here won’t happen there.”

Across town Shaima Sabry, another housewife who shares mutual friends with Shereen, watched a completely different event unfold: This was a “show” that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had put on “to get revenge and more power”.

Sabry, who supports the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, said she was “upset with the way Erdogan and the people treated their military”.

As the coup attempt in Turkey last Friday grabbed the world’s attention, the news hit close to home in Egypt as many, like Shereen and Shaima, saw reflections of politics in their own country in recent years, and their reactions mirror a public that is still deeply divided.

“There is the pro-regime lobby that saw the [Turkish coup] as a victory for the Egyptian regime itself,” said Ziad Akl, a political sociologist and senior researcher at the Egyptian Studies Unit in Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies.

There is also, Akl said, the anti-government lobby, which is composed of different political forces including the Muslim Brotherhood who “think that [the failure of the coup is] a triumph for legitimacy”.

For them, says Akl, Erdogan’s post-coup actions exemplify “how a coup should be dealt with”.

‘Revolution from inside’

Though the international media had confirmed the failure of the coup in Turkey by the early morning hours of 16 July, headlines in public and private Egyptian newspapers told citizens that the attempt to seize power in Turkey had actually succeeded.

“Turkey’s military disposes of Erdogan…The military rules Turkey and removes Erdogan” the front pages of the state-owned al-Ahram, and the privately owned al-Masry al-Youm and al-Watan read.

Controversial talk show host Ahmed Mousa insisted that what took place in Turkey was not a “coup at all,” but a “revolution from inside the Turkish military forces”.

He told viewers that, in Turkey’s “revolutions… the Turkish military always wins”.

Another host on the al-Balad channel said that the Turkish citizens who took to the streets in opposition to the coup “look like ISIS”.

On an official level, however, Egypt blocked a UN Security Council statement that condemned the unrest in Turkey and called on all parties to “respect the democratically elected government of Turkey,” Reuters reported.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said after the incident that they were only opposed to “the wording” of the statement.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry responded: “It is only natural for those who gained power through a coup to avoid taking a stance against the coup attempt that targeted our democratically elected President and Government.”

Reliving the coup

For many Egyptians, the events in Turkey were like a chance to relive the events of 3 July 2013, which saw a popular-backed coup oust democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi – but now with the benefit of hindsight.

Shereen, the Cairo housewife who supports the Muslim Brotherhood, said that watching the Turkish coup attempt made it clear to her that the power of the people is “the most important thing”.

She was one of the millions who took to the streets to protest the 3 July coup in Egypt and who, like her friends, lost loved ones when Egyptian security forces violently dispersed the Rabaa and Nahda sit-ins staged in support of the Muslim Brotherhood in August 2013, killing at least 904 protesters.

“In Turkey, Erdogan had the support of a large faction of the military, the police, the television channels – and the opposition parties stood with him,” she said.

“Here, it was the opposite. We had a really weak alternative media. The police, their families, and a lot of people who believed what was happening took to the streets on 30 June,” she said in reference to a day of mass protests against Morsi’s rule.

“It was a lost cause,” she said.

But for Mohamed el-Raai, an independent photojournalist based in Cairo, the coup attempt in Turkey did not make him think too much of Egypt, “because there are a lot of differences between the incident there and the incident here”.

Still, he said, the way the Egyptian media covered the event “was naïve and backwards – we’ve gotten used to expecting this from them. They insist on scaring us with more arbitrariness, lies, and ignorance.”

Raai also said that the support opposition parties gave Erdogan against the coup was “a great response”.

“They put the nation’s interests, freedom and democracy above their personal disagreements with the ruling group in Turkey,” he said.

“It’s not about Erdogan as a person, but about the ideals of democracy.”

Hatem Ali, a doctor and a political activist, said the first thing that came to his mind as he followed the Twitter feeds of Turkish activists were ”the drawbacks that this coup will bring to the Syrian refugees and to Syria”.

It also, he said, brought memories back of the 2013 coup in Egypt, leaving him wondering if a scenario similar to that of Rabaa Square might follow.

“I kept thinking: How many innocent people will die for this? How many of Erdogan’s supporters will have to die?” he said.

“But in the end, there can’t be a comparison between Egypt and Turkey,” Ali said. “Turkey did not have a [Mohamed al-]Baradei or politicians who said we should get rid of the elected government first, then see how we can deal with the army, as was done in Egypt.”

“The difference,” he said, “is that mainstream people in Turkey, whether they support Erdogan or not, are more conscious and oriented with political life than all the Egyptian ‘politicians’ who now express regret for their participation in overthrowing the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Scarier than Rabaa

Egyptians who fled to Turkey after the crackdown in their homeland also said they had a heartfelt scare last Friday.

Salma Ashraf, an Egyptian human rights worker now based in Turkey, said she initially did not understand what was going on. But when she realized a military coup was underway, she was in “utter shock”.

“It reminded me of when the military in Egypt kept Morsi in secret detention. When Erdogan appeared on FaceTime, I was sure that it was a coup because the exact same things happened with Morsi,” she said.

“[Erdogan’s] calls to the people to take to the streets reminded me of Egypt and, in my mind, I kept saying ‘not again’. I imagined another sit-in, and another Rabaa. My mind just could not take it.”

Ashraf, who was at Rabaa Square in August 2013, said the Turkish coup attempt was scarier for her than Rabaa because it was only later, after the events in the square, that she realized what she had been through. When the events in Turkey began, though, she “quickly felt fear”.

“I kept imagining and remembering everything what I [had] experienced before,” she said.

“People in the streets, helicopters killing them, blood on the streets, protesters shot dead next to us and the whole massacre then: another Egypt, now.”

Ashraf said her brothers, also living in exile in Turkey, admired how quickly the Turkish people reacted to the coup, and that they had had joined anti-coup protesters in the streets.

Ashraf said she was relieved when the coup failed, and her fears that she might be deported began to abate.

But she is watching events closely.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


June 15, 2016

Egyptian authorities are to build a new prison in Qalyubia Governorate, north of Cairo, the third to be built this year and the eleventh since the military coup three years ago, the Anadolu Agency reported yesterday.

Human rights groups have said that there are 40 prisons in Egypt, these along with police stations, military basis and secret prisons are all used to hold prisoners in terrible conditions.

Since the military coup against the first freely elected Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, Egyptian authorities have increased arbitrary arrests based on political opinion.

The Arab Organisation for Human Rights said that the number of prisoners held in Egyptian jails and detention centers has reached more than 41,000.

Egyptian authorities have said that the country’s constitution dictates how prisoners are treated and that they adhere to international laws, a claim human rights groups deny.

Source: Middle East Monitor.


May 02, 2016

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s journalists’ syndicate called for the dismissal of the interior minister and an immediate sit-in at its headquarters in downtown Cairo on Monday, to protest the police detention of two journalists on its premises the night earlier.

After an emergency meeting in the early hours of Monday morning, the group called for the “open-ended” sit-in to run through a Wednesday general assembly meeting and World Press Freedom day on May 3. Later Monday morning, dozens gathered at the steps of the building, chanting “journalists are not terrorists.” They plan for a larger demonstration Monday afternoon.

The syndicate described the police’s entry into the building as a “raid by security forces whose blatant barbarism and aggression on the dignity of the press and journalists and their syndicate has surprised the journalistic community and the Egyptian people.” Some syndicate members have said the raid was heavy-handed, involving dozens of officers and resulted in a security guard being injured.

Police denied they entered the building by force and said only eight officers were involved, who they said were acting on an arrest warrant for the two journalists — accused of organizing protests to destabilize the country. Unauthorized demonstrations in Egypt are banned, and demonstrators subject to arrest.

“The Ministry of Interior affirms that it did not raid the syndicate or use any kind of force in arresting the two, who turned themselves in as soon as they were told of the arrest warrant,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two journalists, Amr Badr and Mahmoud el-Sakka, are government critics who work for a website known as January Gate, also critical of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s government. It was unclear what size any sit-in at the syndicate could achieve. Police, backed by army troops, on Monday had initially barricaded the entire area and prevented people from approaching the building, but they eventually lifted the blockade. Still hundreds of uniformed and undercover police were deployed across central Cairo in order to prevent any protests.

A day earlier, police prevented hundreds of workers from holding a meeting at the building to commemorate International Workers’ Day, prompting independent trade union leaders to urge the government to allow them freedom of assembly.

The syndicate has invited the trade union leaders to join the sit-in to denounce the “raid” and protest restrictions on freedom of assembly for labor organizers. It said the move was illegal and violated its charter, which forbids police from entering the building without the presence of a syndicate official, and is urging police to end their “siege” of the building and stop preventing journalists from entering.

The journalists’ syndicate has been a rallying point for demonstrations in the past, and was blocked in a similar manner ahead of planned anti-government protests last Monday. The building drew particular attention because it was from there that some 2,000 demonstrators gathered last month to protest el-Sissi’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia. Police fired tear gas and arrested dozens to break up the protests, the first significant wave of street demonstrations since the former army chief became president in 2014.

A second round of mass demonstrations over the issue planned for last Monday were stifled by a massive security presence, with hundreds of arrests and only small flash mobs managing to assemble, drawing tear gas and birdshot from the riot police.