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Archive for Egypt

Newsline: US climate envoy contracts COVID-19 as COP27 remains in deadlock

US climate envoy John Kerry has tested positive for COVID-19 at the United Nations climate talks in Egypt, where negotiators were desperately trying to break a deadlock over loss and damage funding for developing countries battered by weather disasters. Kerry’s illness has added worries to the negotiations, which were scheduled to end on Friday but have been continuing with no clear end in sight. “He is fully vaccinated and boosted and experiencing mild symptoms. He is working with his negotiations team and foreign counterparts by phone to ensure a successful outcome of COP27,” Kerry’s spokeswoman Whitney Smith wrote in a statement late on Friday. (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/11/19/cop27-in-deadlock-as-us-envoy-john-kerry-contracts-covid-19) The talks at the COP27 summit in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh have stumbled on the controversial issue of “loss and damage” funding for less developed countries to deal with the effects of climate change. Loss and damage remains the main sticking point between rich and poor nations, particularly the issue of how to compensate countries that have already been ravaged by climate-driven floods, droughts, mega-storms and wildfires. Negotiations, at least those in public, hit a lull by Friday evening as press conferences and plenaries were postponed or cancelled. Diplomats said they hoped for late-night progress as they changed airline reservations for talks going into extended overtime on Saturday.

Newsline: German embassy complains to Egypt for too much surveillance of COP27

The German embassy in Cairo has lodged a complaint with the Egyptian government over the excessive surveillance of its participants at the World Climate Conference (COP27) being held in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. According to the embassy, Egyptian security officials kept a close eye on some events held in the German pavilion, to the point of videotaping them. The German Embassy has called on the Egyptian authorities to cease this activity. (https://www.msn.com/en-in/news/techandscience/germany-complains-to-egypt-for-excessive-surveillance-of-cop27-participants/ar-AA143Ie9) In recent days, the German conference area has hosted events focusing on the human rights situation in Egypt. Among the participants were the directors of Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Amnesty International, Tirana Hassan and Agnès Callamard, along with Egyptian activist Sanaa Saif, a filmmaker who has served prison sentences in Egypt. In a statement released before the start of the summit, HRW deplored the existence of cameras in cabs leading to the event, and the fact that the Egyptian government has forced all attendees to download an application that collects personal information and requires access to the camera, microphone and location service of the cell phone.

Newsline: Ethiopia summons U.S. ambassador over Trump comments in dam dispute

Ethiopia on Saturday summoned the U.S. ambassador over what it called an “incitement of war” between Ethiopia and Egypt from President Donald Trump over their dispute about the filling and operation of a massive hydropower dam. Trump called on Friday for an agreement between the countries, but added it was a dangerous situation and that Cairo could end up “blowing up that dam”. Ethiopian Foreign Affairs Minister Gedu Andargachew summoned U.S. Ambassador to Addis Ababa Mike Raynor to seek clarifications on the comments. “The incitement of war between Ethiopia and Egypt from a sitting U.S. president neither reflects the longstanding partnership and strategic alliance between Ethiopia and the United States nor is acceptable in international law governing interstate relations,” Gedu’s ministry said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-ethiopia/ethiopia-summons-us-ambassador-over-trump-comments-in-dam-dispute-idUSKBN2790C0) Trump made the comments during a call with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok following Sudan and Israel’s announcement to normalise ties. Ethiopia, Sudan and Egypt have been locked in a bitter dispute over the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), which remains unresolved although the reservoir behind the dam began filling in July. Trump said on Friday he had brokered an agreement to resolve the issue but that Ethiopia had broken the pact, forcing him to cut funds, adding: “They will never see that money unless they adhere to the agreement … You can’t blame Egypt for being a little upset.” He said he had also urged Egypt to resolve the dispute.

Newsline: Israel’s new ambassador to Egypt finally assumes post

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi received the credentials of the new Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Amira Oron. Sisi received the credentials of 14 other new ambassadors the same day, including Mohamed Elias from neighboring Sudan. Oron is the first female ambassador of Israel to Egypt. The Israeli ambassadorship to Egypt is a significant position, as Egypt is one of only four Arab states to recognize Israel. (https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/09/israel-new-ambassador-egypt-amira-oron-sisi-president.html) Oron’s path to Cairo was a long one. The veteran diplomat was first selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the ambassadorship in 2018, but she was not approved until this past June. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then considered former parliamentarian Ayoob Kara for the position instead. Kara is a member of Israel’s Arabic-speaking Druze community and is known for his nationalist and right-wing views. Netanyahu proposing a new candidate to the important post after one had already been nominated lacked precedent and caused an outcry.

Newsline: Israel names female ambassador to Egypt

The government on Sunday approved the appointment of Amira Oron as Israel’s ambassador to Cairo. Oron is the first woman to represent the Jewish state in Egypt, a Foreign Ministry statement said. (https://www.israelhayom.com/2020/06/08/in-first-israel-names-female-ambassador-to-egypt/) Previously stationed in Ankara, Turkey, Oron will succeed Ambassador David Govrin, who took office in 2016, but was recalled with his staff in 2017 for eight months due to unspecified security threats.

Newsline: Israeli Government to Weigh Long-delayed Appointment of New Ambassador to Egypt

After a delay of more than a year, the government will on Sunday debate the appointment of Amira Oron as Israel’s ambassador to Egypt. A Middle East affairs expert, Oron speaks Arabic and is a former head of the Foreign Ministry’s Egypt desk and has also served as ambassador to Turkey. After Oron was designated by a professional appointments committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu froze the appointment and considered cancelling it in favor of Ayoub Kara, a former Likud minister, who has caused a number of embarrassing diplomatic incidents in the past. He once reportedly caused a crisis in Israeli-Italian relations by revealing a security affair involving Israel. Israel has been without an ambassador to Cairo since Netanyahu froze Oron’s appointment about a year ago. In June 2019, Foreign Ministry personnel wrote to former Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz to take steps to protect Oron’s appointment. A group of former ambassadors also called on the government to expedite the process of naming Oron at the time. “A professional appointment is worthy of the sensitive role in Egypt and much more important than a political deal,” they wrote. However, because of the freeze on appointments to sensitive postings during the prolonged election period over the past year, only now is Oron’s name being put forward again for consideration.(https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israeli-government-to-weigh-long-delayed-appointment-of-new-ambassador-to-egypt-1.8891372) During her time as charges d’affaires in Turkey, Oron faced claims that she called for Netanyahu’s ouster in a meeting with lawmakers and officials. She denied the allegation.

Newsline: Suspect in Egyptian diplomat murder case released

Switzerland’s highest tribunal has released a man suspected of the murder of an Egyptian diplomat in Geneva in 1995, according to French-language newspaper Le Temps. The Lausanne-based Federal Supreme Court decided on Monday that the charges against the 49-year-old man are insufficient to justify the continuation of the pre-trial detention ordered 18 months ago. (https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/fruitless-investigations-_suspect-in-egyptian-diplomat-murder-case-released-/45773732) The suspicions were based on traces of DNA and statements by an ex-girlfriend who had allegedly received information in confidence from the defendant’s brother. But the court said investigative efforts had not yielded the tangible results that would justify keeping the suspect in custody. On November 13, 1995, a permanent adviser of the Egyptian Mission to the United Nations was shot dead by several bullets in the basement of his building in Geneva. The police found a home-made silencer. In 2007, new analysis methods revealed the DNA profiles of four people – three men and one woman. In 2018, investigators determined that one of these profiles matched the male suspect. The remaining DNA was not identified. The 40-year-old was taken into custody and charged with murder or assassination. The Swiss attorney general later levelled the same charges against the suspect’s brother.

Newsline: Sudan Shuts Down its Cairo Embassy after Angry Protesters Storm it

Sudan has indefinitely shut down its embassy in Cairo after it was stormed on Tuesday by Sudanese nationals who were left stranded in Egypt following a lockdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Sudan declared on Monday a state of health emergency and closed all airports, ports and land crossings over fears on the spread of the coronavirus. It only opened its main airport for 48 hours to enable the return of nationals from abroad. The decision excluded flights from Egypt, angering dozens of Sudanese, who protested outside their embassy in Cairo, demanding financial aid, Egyptian sources said. Charge d’Affairs at the Sudanese Embassy Khalid Ibrahim told Sudan News Agency, SUNA, in a phone call that the embassy was working on resolving the problems of members of the Sudanese community when some nationals exploited the situation by storming the mission and trying to set it ablaze. (https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/2212481/sudan-shuts-down-its-cairo-embassy-after-angry-protesters-storm-it) It was then that the Sudanese Foreign Ministry decided to shut it down, he said.

Newsline: Ex-Italian diplomat sentenced for smuggling Egyptian artefacts

A Cairo criminal court sentenced a former honorary Italian consul to 15 years in jail in absentia for smuggling antiquities out of the country, a judicial source said. Ladislav Otakar Skakal, Italy’s former honorary consul in Luxor, attempted to smuggle 21,855 artefacts from various historical eras in 2017, according to the prosecutor general. These included over 21,000 golden coins, 151 miniature figurines, five mummy masks, 11 pottery vessels, three ceramic tiles dating to the Islamic period and a wooden sarcophagus. Italian police found the sizeable loot in a diplomatic shipping container heading from the port city of Alexandria to Salerno in Italy in 2017. (https://www.thelocal.it/20200122/italian-diplomat-sentenced-for-smuggling-egyptian-artefacts) Skakal’s trial, along with other accomplices, began in September last year. Prosecutors found that the antiquities were smuggled with the aid of Raouf Ghali, the brother of former Hosni Mubarak-era finance minister Youssef Ghali. A verdict is expected next month for Skakal’s alleged Egyptian accomplices. Egypt managed to retrieve the stolen antiquities in cooperation with Italian authorities in 2018. It also requested that Interpol issue a red notice against the disgraced diplomat.

Newsline: Turkey summons Egyptian diplomat

Turkey summoned a senior Egyptian diplomat to protest what it said was a raid by Egyptian security forces on the Cairo office of Turkey’s state-run news agency, in which four people were detained. The Anadolu news agency said the four employees, including one Turkish national, had been taken to an undisclosed location after the raid. Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the move, which it described as “an act of violence” against Anadolu. It later said that it also summoned the Egyptian charge d’affaires over the matter. “This act of violence against Anadolu not only shows the Egyptian leadership’s hostile stance toward the freedom of the press, but also once again shows its grave conditions on democracy and transparency,” the ministry said. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-egypt-security/turkey-says-egyptian-security-forces-raid-news-agency-in-cairo-idUSKBN1ZE1U5) It called on Egyptian authorities to immediately release the detained Anadolu personnel.