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Egypt: Country hit with flooding as economic, security, and political problems worsen
Egyptians gathered in Cairo to buy subsidized sugar from a government truck. A weekslong sugar shortage has plunged people into a panic. (David Degner/The New York Times)
This week’s snapshot focuses on unrest in Egypt. As flooding has disrupted everyday life and killed up to 26 people, economic, security and political problems have rocked the country. A shortage of goods including sugar is sparking outrage among common Egyptians who are angered at the economic downturn and slow reaction to flooding by the Sisi regime. Terrorist attacks throughout the week have sparked security concerns, as the Islamic State continues attacks striking police, soldiers, and other officials as well as civilians. The Sisi administration has traditionally blamed most of the country’s problems on the Muslim Brotherhood, which it ousted in a coup in 2013. On 27OCT, Sisi left the door open for reconcilliation with the banned political/religious organization, although he said it would have to be “the decision of the state.”
News summary of events during the week of 24OCT16 – 31OCT16
- 24OCT: A committee established by the government to determine how much profit should be made from the sale of essential goods will offer guidance only and firms will not be legally required to comply, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said. (Reuters)
- 24OCT: Authorities seized thousands of tons of sugar from confectionery maker Edita Food Industries S.A.E. and PepsiCo Inc., raising concerns about the government’s handling of a sugar shortage in the country. (Bloomberg)
- 26OCT: The Foreign Ministry slammed a recent article by Middle East expert Steven Cook in Foreign Affairs magazine criticizing Egypt’s domestic and foreign policy. (Xinhua)
- 27OCT: President Sisi said that reconciliation with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group is not solely his decision, Ahram Online reported. (Xinhua)
- 27OCT: IMF chief Christine Lagarde said that the country is going through a currency “crisis,” suggesting a quick devaluation to tackle a widening gap between the official and black market rates. (AFP)
- 28OCT: President Sisi said the government will look into revising a protest law under which hundreds of activists have been jailed, after international criticism. (AFP)
- 28OCT: A roadside bombing in the Cairo neighborhood of Ain Shams targeting policemen killed a civilian, the interior ministry said. (AFP)
- 29OCT: The death toll of the country’s massive floods has risen to 26, the Health Ministry said in a statement. (Xinhua)
- 29OCT: Disgruntled Egyptians blocked the road in front of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail’s entourage as he headed to visit a city devastated by heavy rains and flooding. (AP)
- 29OCT: Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry protested remarks by Iyad Madani, the head of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, for mocking President Sisi. (AP)
- 29OCT: A court sentenced two Muslim Brotherhood supporters to life in prison and 16 others to 15 years in jail for a violent assault on a Cairo neighborhood in 2013 after the ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi. (Reuters)
- 29OCT: In five separate militant attacks, two military officers and a soldier were killed and eight others were wounded in the restive northeastern region of the Sinai Peninsula, security officials said. (AP)
- 30OCT: Egypt reached a $2.7 billion currency swap agreement with China, moving closer to mustering the outside financing needed to win final approval of a $12 billion International Monetary Fund loan. (Bloomberg)
- 30OCT: The government banned a rare TV interview with former chief auditor Hesham Genena, who went on trial after publicly alleging massive government corruption. (AP)
- 31OCT: Security officials said militants attacked the same army checkpoint in the Sinai where 12 soldiers were killed earlier this month, this time leaving one soldier dead. (AP)
- 31OCT: State news broadcaster MENA reported that the oil ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with its Iraqi counterpart to pave the way for Egypt to import oil from Iraq. (AP)
Sample of Twitter handles tweeting about escalating crises in Egypt
- @HebaAfify – Heba Afify, Journalist, Mada Masr
- @hossambahgat – Hossam Bahgat, Investigative Reporter, Mada Masr; Former Director, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR)
- @jahdkhalil – Jahd Khalil, Journalist
- @MiriamABerger – Miriam Berger, Freelance Journalist
- @tekaldas – Timothy E Kaldas, Non-resident fellow, Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy
Sample of Third Party Validators regarding the escalating crises in Egypt
Craig Connell, Senior Vice President, Black and Veatch
“Yes, hard currency payments are challenging these days. The reforms are happening, but there is lots of uncertainty over how fast they will happen.”
- “Egypt squeezed between need for reforms and fear of backlash,” AP, 27OCT16
- A. Hellyer, Nonresident Fellow, Atlantic Council
“It is the worst shortage I can remember in my lifetime. I think what everybody is worried about is a repeat of the 1977 bread riots.”
- “Sweet-Toothed Egypt Endures a Sugar Crisis: ‘People Are Going to Snap,’” NYT, 20OCT16
Hani Berzi, Chairman, Edita
“What kind of message does this send to investors? If the government has a problem, they should come and negotiate, but this way of seizing stocks and treating us as smugglers is shameful.”
- “Egypt Police Raid Sugar Sellers as Shortage Doubles Prices,” Bloomberg, 24OCT16
Hany Farahat, Senior Economist, CI Capital
“There’s a chance the funding will be expensive, but regardless of the agreement’s structure, we need every penny we can get.”
- “Egypt Moves Closer to IMF Loan With China Currency Swap Deal,” Bloomberg, 30OCT16
Mostafa Al Naggar, Contributing Writer, Al-Masry Al-Youm; former member of parliament
“We are going through a difficult phase that is being felt by every family in Egypt. The state is responsible for social solidarity. God be gentle with the Egyptians.”
- “As Egypt’s economy struggles, calls for protests against Sissi grow louder,” Washington Post, 19OCT16
Sample of open source research conducted by TRG analysts related to the escalating crises in Egypt
- Egypt’s profit margin guidance will not be legally binding: minister
Byline: Lin Noueihed
Date: 24 October 2016
A committee established by the Egyptian government to determine how much profit should be made from the sale of essential goods will offer guidance only and firms will not be legally required to comply, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said.
Egypt formed a cabinet-level committee this month tasked with devising mechanisms to set the appropriate profit margins on the sales of basic goods.
- Sisi says reconciliation with Muslim Brotherhood “not solely” his decision
Media: Xinhua (China)
Date: 27 October 2016
CAIRO, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi said that reconciliation with the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group is not solely his decision, official Ahram Online reported Thursday.
Sisi made the remarks during a seminar at a national youth conference in the country’s Red Sea resort city of Sharm El-Sheikh.
- Egypt gives life sentences to Brotherhood supporters for 2013 riot
Byline: Mohamed Abdella
Date: 29 October 2016
An Egyptian court sentenced two Muslim Brotherhood supporters on Saturday to life in prison and 16 others to 15 years in jail for a violent assault on a Cairo neighborhood in 2013 after the ouster of former president Mohamed Mursi.
The attack, which left seven dead, was part of a wave of violence that swept across Egypt after the army removed elected Islamist president Mursi from power in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule.
- 5 militant attacks in Egypt’s Sinai leaves 3 dead, 8 wounded
Media: Associated Press
Date: 29 October 2016
EL-ARISH, Egypt (AP) — In five separate militant attacks, two Egyptian military officers and a soldier were killed and eight others were wounded Saturday in the restive northeastern region of the Sinai Peninsula, security officials said.
The officials said that a roadside bomb struck an armored vehicle carrying soldiers to Sheikh Zuwaid near the city of el-Arish, killing one army officer and one soldier and injuring four others. A second armored vehicle also came under attack in southern Sheikh Zuwaid, injuring two others, they said.
- Angry Egyptians disrupt PM’s visit to flood-stricken city
Media: Associated Press
Date: 29 October 2016
CAIRO (AP) — Disgruntled Egyptians blocked the road in front of the Egyptian prime minister’s entourage as he headed to visit a city devastated by heavy rains and flooding.
According to the daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, residents ordered Sherif Ismail to turn around and leave Ras Gharib, the Red Sea port town which was among the hardest hit by Friday’s storms.