Before dawn last Friday in Al-Anbar in Iraq, “Islamic State” (IS) took over the government complex in Ramadi, the capital of the province. In the meantime, news spread that the security forces retreated from the complex following violent clashes with IS. The government complex includes the province’s office, Al-Anbar’s police department, the affairs directorate of Al-Anbar, and a number of government and service entities.
The debate over the new investment law has taken a new turn. It is no longer about the law’s content only, but speaks to the generally confused state of legislation in Egypt at present, and raises the question of how to fix statutory errors once they are enshrined in law.
We [judges] are the masters and the rest are the slaves” is indeed the most memorable quote by Egypt’s new Justice Minister Ahmed Al-Zind, head of the Judges’ Club. The rest of this sentence as said by Al-Zind during a phone interview on a TV show was: “Whatever represents an attack on the Judiciary’s prestige, dignity and respect will not pass lightly. On the land of this nation, we are the masters and the rest are the slaves…whoever burns a judge’s photo will have his heart, his memory and his shadow burned from Egypt’s land.”
President Al-Sisi has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the tourism sector. The head of the Egyptian Tourist Authority Samy Mahmoud said he wants to target the Asian and Russian markets, and the former head of the Federation of Tourism Chambers Elhamy Elzayat has called for more investment in tourist infrastructure. Tourism will continue to be important for the Egyptian economy, up to 10% or more of GDP. Recently, tourism has shown some growth, but has not rebounded to pre-2011 levels. What to do to boost the tourism sector?
A common friend/colleague’s name came up in a recent conversation. My memory for names was always abominable and is becoming increasingly so with age. To make sure we were, in fact, referring to the same person, I asked: “Is she the one with the … ” gesturing with my hand across my head to indicate the headscarf, or veil — the non-verbal gesture very likely an attempt to blunt the edge of a possibly un-PC question. “Yes, she is,” came the answer, “but she’s taken off the veil.”
Cairo Criminal Court has upheld a three-year sentence against deposed president Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, fining them LE125,779,267, ordering them to return an additional LE21,197,000 to the state, confiscating all the forged written documents and ordering the defendants to pay for the trial expenses. This verdict was issued in the retrial of the case charging them with embezzling LE125 million of the presidential budget allocated to Egypt's presidential palaces and forging official written documents.
There were doubts inside David Cameron’s camp that the British Conservative Party could win a majority (326 seats or more) in the recent general elections, but it won 331 seats — the biggest win of an incumbent government since the victories Margaret Thatcher scored in the 1980s. What are the reasons behind this result? And what challenges will Mr Cameron's government face in the Commons?
A minister is gone but injustice remains. At a time when Egypt longs with the desperation of a hungry toddler for its mother’s milk for justice, its minister of ‘justice’ has been ushered stage politically. Mahfouz Saber’s mistake was not uttering a politically embarrassing classist diatribe, but rather it was saying a truth that both uncovered a regime and a society. That societal elites govern developing nations, in particular, is not a socio-political secret and Egypt is a standard bearer in that regard rather than an exception. But the record speed with which the naïve minister was dispatched speaks of a more sinister truth: the regime wants no reminders of the successes and failures of a revolution that dreamt of justice and social equality.
A unique meeting will take place between US President Barack Obama and the kings and princes of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) on 13-14 May at the White House and Camp David. Obama intends to reassure his Gulf allies about the preliminary agreement reached between Iran and six world powers (P5+1) to halt its military nuclear programme in return for lifting sanctions.
Several unfortunate accidents were in the headlines this week: One person died and hundreds were under observation for water poisoning in Sharqiya; part of a bridge in Daqahliya collapsed; the Abbasiya metro jumped the tracks; and a fire broke out in a train car. Clearly someone is to blame for these frequent misfortunes.
Why all this noise about the altercation that took place between a woman and a police officer at the airport? Does this not happen every day at other government bodies between citizens and public employees? Did this incident really happen or was it the police trying to refute the press campaign accusing them of the arbitrary abuse of power by showing how the airport officer was calm and restrained while the woman insulted him?
Pope Tawadros II is currently touring the Netherlands on a five-day visit to the local Coptic community. But a leading Dutch newspaper questions whether he should have been granted access to the country. Last Friday, marking the second day of the pontiff’s visit to this cheese-blessed nation, Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsbladpublished an editorial, titled “He is anti-western too, yet welcomed [in the Netherlands]”, in which the magazine disputes the Netherlands authorities’ decision to issue Pope Tawadros a travel visa. “Is he a hate pope?” the authors wonder, alluding to the Dutch term “haatimam”: a neologism commonly used to describe the extremist preachers blamed for inspiring Dutch youth to fight along self-described “Islamic State” (IS).
Labor Day would have passed without fanfare were it not for two incidents—one largely symbolic and the other of more immediate concern—which cast a shadow over the state of employment in Egypt, and underscore the need for an honest, serious debate over the future of trade unions and labor relations in the country.
The situation is as follows: A stalled road map, stalled subway stations, stalled power stations, stalled investments, stalled hospitals, stalled universities, stalled facilities and stalled services.
Some consider the sudden show of accountability in Egypt’s political sphere has been contrived as a one-off display to aid Egypt’s bid to become a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
There are reports about opening cafeterias and restaurants in Tahrir Square, now that the multi-storey underground parking has been opened. The idea is to make use of the narrow space downtown twice: once under the ground and once above the ground.
It has been four years since the Arab Revolt was ignited and the resulting social upheaval has all but left the region in tatters. From Egypt to Syria and Iraq, it appears that the old elites in these countries are unable to remain in power without substantial international support. Beset by social unrest and the rise of violent non-state actors, some of these states have lost their ability to act autonomously in the international arena. They have become proxies to other regional powers, most notably Saudi Arabia and Iran, as they expand their quest for regional dominance.
Once again, Greece has raised the issue of reparations for the colonial period and its tragedies, demanding Germany pay reparations for the money that the Nazi government looted from Greece, including its gold reserves at the time, and the destruction and devastation it caused during the Second World War.
I have borrowed the title of my article from Anthony Doerr’s novel that was published last year about a blind French girl who lived during World War II. The story takes place from Germany’s invasion of France until the landing of the Allies in Normandy and beyond.
The crime that took place in front of and inside the Itihadiya Palace, a few months after Mohamed Morsi’s rule, raised a sort of panic and early concern for a wide number of Egyptians. Several court rulings have recently been issued against the murder of a group of peaceful protesters, as well as seriously injuring others. However, the deep concern that has started to take shape since that moment was over more than the crime of murder and injury. More precisely, we mean here the crime scene and the details in which the presidential palace was involved in.
Among the many nightmares of this decade, and the plenty of unfortunate outcomes of the Arab Spring, is the birth of Islamic State in Iraq and Sham, or ISIS, or DAESH, or whatever else you want to call it, even if you refer to it as “those violent young Muslims who cover their faces and dress in black” (which is one of the descriptions I have actually heard).