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Archive for Egypt

Newsline: Egyptian embassies withholding identity papers from dissidents abroad

Egyptian embassies have been systematically refusing to provide or renew identity documents to dissidents, journalists and activists abroad in a crackdown on opposition that extends beyond Egypt’s borders, Human Rights Watch said. The U.S.-based group said it had interviewed 26 Egyptians living in countries including Turkey, Germany, Malaysia and Qatar last year, and had reviewed documents relating to nine of them. “By arbitrarily depriving its citizens abroad from obtaining valid passports and other identity documents, the Egyptian authorities are violating both the constitution and international human rights law,” HRW said. In Turkey, home to a large number of Egyptian opposition figures, Egypt’s consulate requires applicants for almost all services to fill out unofficial forms with private details including the reasons they left Egypt and links to social media accounts, HRW said. Those interviewed said it was “nearly impossible” to challenge refusals to provide documents, it added. (https://neuters.de/world/africa/egypt-withholding-identity-papers-dissidents-abroad-rights-group-2023-03-13/) Egypt’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Newsline: Top Turkish diplomat to visit Egypt after decade-long tensions

Turkey’s foreign minister will travel to Cairo on Saturday in a further sign of thawing relations a decade after diplomatic links were cut by the overthrow of Egypt’s then president and Ankara’s ally Mohamed Mursi. The visit by Mevlut Cavusoglu will be the first time Turkey has sent its top diplomat there since Egypt’s army chief, now president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi led the ousting of Mursi in July 2013. “All aspects of our bilateral relations will be discussed, and views will be exchanged on regional and international issues,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said. The visit “inaugurates a path for restoring normal relationships between the two countries,” Egypt’s foreign ministry said in a simultaneous statement. The visit would launch a “deep dialogue” aiming to reach “a mutual understanding that achieves both countries’ interests,” the Egyptian ministry’s spokesperson added. (https://neuters.de/world/middle-east/top-turkish-diplomat-visit-egypt-after-decade-tension-2023-03-17/) It comes two weeks after Cavusoglu’s Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shourky, visited Turkey to show solidarity after the massive earthquakes that killed more than 50,000 people in Turkey and Syria. There have been signs of a growing rapprochement between Turkey and Egypt in recent months.

Newsline: China’s Top Diplomat Visits Egypt, Ends Africa Tour

China’s chief diplomat was in Cairo Sunday for talks with Egyptian and Arab League officials, marking his last stop in a multi-leg trip to Africa that aims to consolidate Beijing’s footprint across the resource-rich continent. Foreign Minister Qin Gang met separately with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit. He also met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry. In a joint news conference, Foreign Minister Shoukry said the talks addressed Sino-Egyptian relations. Both ministers said they also discussed regional issues including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Tensions have risen after the return to office last month of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is heading Israel’s most right-wing and religiously conservative government. Responding to a Chinese reporter’s question, Qin urged Israel to “stop incitements and provocations, and to refrain from taking uniliteral actions that could worsen the situation.” He also called for “maintaining the status quo” at Jerusalem’s most important holy site, after an ultranationalist Israeli Cabinet minister visited it earlier this year. (https://www.voanews/a/rounding-off-africa-tour-china-s-top-diplomat-visits-egypt-/6919285.html) That visit drew fierce condemnation from across the Muslim world and a strong rebuke from the United States. The aspirations for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state must not be rejected, and the international community must adhere to the two-state solution and adhere to the principle of land for peace, according to the Chinese foreign minister. In his meeting with el-Sissi, the Chinese foreign minister said Beijing would continue to develop its investment in Egypt’s infrastructure projects including those with links to China’s Belt and Road initiative. Qin arrived in Cairo Saturday afternoon. His weeklong trip included Ethiopia, where the African Union headquarters is located, as well as Gabon, Angola and Benin. It was Qin’s first overseas trip since his appointment in December.

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.