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GMC GROUP FOR INDUSTRIAL COMME   1.29        Telecom Egypt   11.48        Modern Company For Water Proof   1.03        Ismailia Misr Poultry   2.45        El Arabia for Investment & Dev   0.34        Egyptian Real Estate Group   6.85        Pioneers Holding   2.84        Ezz Steel   7.86        Orascom Telecom Holding (OT)   3.92        Rakta Paper Manufacturing   4.39        Egyptian Iron & Steel   6.87        Naeem Holding   0.19        Canal Shipping Agencies   7.39        Misr Chemical Industries   5.65        United Arab Shipping   0.43        Egyptians Housing Development    1.94        Universal For Paper and Packag   4.94        Northern Upper Egypt Developme   4.93        Egyptian for Tourism Resorts   0.69        Orascom Construction Industrie   240.82        Modern Shorouk Printing & Pack   7        Upper Egypt Contracting   0.8        Egyptian Financial Group-Herme   7.42        Heliopolis Housing   21.65        United Housing & Development   8.93        Raya Holding For Technology An   4.57        International Agricultural Pro   2.1        Gulf Canadian Real Estate Inve   18.08        Alexandria Pharmaceuticals   45.71        Arab Cotton Ginning   2.46        Egyptian Chemical Industries (   7.26        National Real Estate Bank for    11.84        National Development Bank   6.72        Six of October Development & I   15.03        Oriental Weavers   20.66        Arab Gathering Investment   16.29        Egyptians Abroad for Investmen   2.75        Palm Hills Development Company   1.61        Credit Agricole Egypt   9.04        Remco for Touristic Villages C   2.13        Commercial International Bank    29.87        El Ezz Porcelain (Gemma)   1.9        Egyptian Starch & Glucose   5.4        Arab Real Estate Investment (A   0.41        South Valley Cement   3.12        Citadel Capital - Common Share   2.5        Rowad Tourism (Al Rowad)   5.05        Union National Bank - Egypt "    3.25        Ceramic & Porcelain   2.88        El Nasr Transformers (El Maco)   4.78        Egyptian Media Production City   2.31        GB AUTO   27        Sharkia National Food   3.78        Egyptian Transport (EGYTRANS)   7.85        El Kahera Housing   4.97        El Shams Housing & Urbanizatio   2.45        Egyptian Kuwaiti Holding   0.7        ARAB POLVARA SPINNING & WEAVIN   2.11        Cairo Poultry   8.32        Egyptian Financial & Industria   8        T M G Holding   4.03        Asek Company for Mining - Asco   10.66        Misr Hotels   27        Egyptian Electrical Cables   0.56        Medinet Nasr Housing   22.51        Mena Touristic & Real Estate I   1.21        ELSWEDY CABLES   18        Al Arafa Investment And Consul   0.17        Prime Holding   0.91        Alexandria Spinning & Weaving    0.74        General Company For Land Recla   16.6        Gharbia Islamic Housing Develo   8.41        Alexandria Cement   8.9        Arab Valves Company   0.94        Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals   12.4        TransOceans Tours   0.09        Egyptian for Developing Buildi   6.43        Egyptian Gulf Bank   1.24        Kafr El Zayat Pesticides   18.19        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   35.1        National company for maize pro   11.86        Delta Construction & Rebuildin   4.03        Zahraa Maadi Investment & Deve   48.25        Samad Misr -EGYFERT   3.52        Egypt for Poultry   1.41        Cairo Development and Investme   11.7        Cairo Pharmaceuticals   20.1        Maridive & oil services   0.9        Suez Canal Bank   3.75        Nile Pharmaceuticals   15.81        The Arab Dairy Products Co. AR   73.85        National Housing for Professio   14.39        El Ahli Investment and Develop   4.87        Egyptian Saudi Finance Bank   10.79        Ismailia National Food Industr   5.16        National Societe Generale Bank   25.52        Acrow Misr   19.16        Alexandria Mineral Oils Compan   63.63        Paper Middle East (Simo)   5.59        Egypt Aluminum   12.31        Giza General Contracting   13.12        Middle Egypt Flour Mills   5.82        Extracted Oils   0.6        Assiut Islamic Trading   4.56        Engineering Industries (ICON)   3.95        North Cairo Mills   15.3        Arab Pharmaceuticals   11.88        Grand Capital   5.38        El Ahram Co. For Printing And    10.68        Minapharm Pharmaceuticals   25.49        El Arabia Engineering Industri   13.52        El Nasr For Manufacturing Agri   9.71        Naeem portfolio and fund Manag   1.7        Faisal Islamic Bank of Egypt -   6.76        Natural Gas & Mining Project (   68.26        Housing & Development Bank   13.95        East Delta Flour Mills   31.5        Orascom Development Holding (A   3.22        Memphis Pharmaceuticals   11.12        Abou Kir Fertilizers   134.23        Delta Insurance   5        Cairo Investment & Real Estate   12.18        Cairo Oils & Soap   12.98        Egyptian Arabian (cmar) Securi   0.36        Egyptian Real Estate Group Bea   15.56        Alexandria Containers and good   85.51        Upper Egypt Flour Mills   45.78        Development & Engineering Cons   9.94        Sinai Cement   15.18        Medical Union Pharmaceuticals   28.01        Torah Cement   24.2        Alexandria New Medical Center   46.55        Export Development Bank of Egy   5.04        Egyptian Company for Mobile Se   92.02        Middle & West Delta Flour Mill   32.7        El Kahera El Watania Investmen   4.18        Mansourah Poultry   12.41        Delta Sugar   11.04        Misr Beni Suef Cement   41.21        Egyptian Satellites (NileSat)   6.14        Cairo Educational Services   17.75        Lecico Egypt   7.55        Sharm Dreams Co. for Tourism I   5.3        General Silos & Storage   10.77        Al Moasher for Programming and   0.66        UTOPIA   5.28        Arab Ceramics (Aracemco)   25.4        Barbary Investment Group ( BIG   0.98        

Citizen Journalism - Blogging

Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-11-07 07:54:47
The crash of a Russian airliner in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula last week posed an immediate test for Russia, whose citizens made up most of the 224 killed, and for Egypt, which is responsible for security at the beach resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the flight originated. So it says much about the autocratic regimes that control the two countries that the first word that the destruction of the aircraft might have been a terrorist attack — and the first measures to protect the tens of thousands of tourists still in the Sinai — came from the government of Britain. Prime Minister David Cameron, saying it was “more likely than not” that “a terrorist bomb” had destroyed the airliner, suspended regular British flights to Sharm el-Sheikh while taking steps to bring home some 20,000 British tourists stranded there. The governments of Vladi­mir Putin in Moscow and Abdel Fatah al-Sissi in Cairo reacted indignantly. While Mr. Putin suspended Russian flights on Friday, his spokesman was still insisting there was no reason to conclude that there had been an act of terrorism. When not issuing his own denials, Egypt’s transport minister was obstructing the British evacuation effort, reducing the number of London flights from 29 to eight . While Western governments worried about protecting their citizens, the Sissi and Putin regimes were focused on defending themselves. Both rulers have sold themselves as warriors courageously taking on the Islamic State and its affiliates; both are using that fight as a pretext to accomplish other ends, such as repressing peaceful domestic opponents and distracting attention from declining living standards. On the actual battlefield, both are failing: Mr. Sissi has been unable to pacify the Sinai in two years of scorched-earth operations, while Mr. Putin’s offensive against rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria has quickly bogged down. More»
Zeinab-ElGundy - 2015-10-04 10:01:03
On the first day of Eid Al-Adha, Thursday 25 September at nearly 11am, Yahia El-Masry received news of his mother's death over the phone. Dr Hanan Abdel Azim died in the tragic Mena stampede that occurred the day before.   "We knew about my mother from her pilgrimage group's supervisor at around 11am on the first day of Eid. He said that he was the one who carried her to the hospital where she passed away," El-Masry told Ahram Online. Amid the shock, it soon became clear that Mohamed El-Masry, Yahia's father, could not be found. For nearly three days, Yahia and his brother tried to find any information on their father, a renowned Sharqia governorate-based lawyer who turned out to be one of the victims. Thousands of Egyptians tried similarly to contact family members participating in hajj (pilgrimage) to check on them. To their horror, mobile connections failed due to the pressure on the network in Mecca in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. "It took us up to the evening of the third day of Eid (Saturday, 27 September) to find him, although he had his name tag bracelet on his hand, according to my cousin and his nephew in Saudi Arabia who saw the photo of his body outside Al-Mesiam Morgue in Mecca," said Yahia. Despite having lost both his parents, and his mother's name being among the first casualties to be announced by Egyptian officials, Yehia was not contacted by the authorities. Al-Mesiam Morgue of Mecca was the main morgue that received hundreds of pilgrims from the deadly stampede. Many of the dead, covering numerous nationalities and ages, remain unidentified. Saudi officials are asking governments and citizens from all over the world to help put names to bodies. The stampede occurred as pilgrims converged in Mena, just outside Mecca, to take part in the symbolic ritual of the stoning of the devil at the Mena Pillars complex. The ritual involves pilgrims throwing pebbles at one of three pillars representing satan's temptations in a symbolic reenactment of the Prophet Ibrahim's (Abraham) hajj. Nearly two million pilgrims participated this year in the ritual that is considered the penultimate step before heading to Mecca to visit the Grand Mosque and finish the pilgrimage. Saudi authorities' early statements suggest that some pilgrims moved without following instructions while exiting the Mena Pillars complex, meeting pilgrims coming to the complex. According to Google Maps, the stampede took place 1.12 kilometres away from the Mena Pillars complex in a narrow intersection between streets 204 and 223 where pilgrims' camps are located on both sides. Some of camps of Egyptian delegations were located in the same area. A few hours after the stampede, Egypt's official delegation announced that it had evacuated one of the Egyptian camps following the damage it suffered, according to news reports. It remains unclear if most of the Egyptian victims died while going to or leaving Mena, or due to the fact that they were close to the stampede location while it was expanding. Yahia El-Masry does not know what his parents were doing at the time of the stampede. "I read that there was an Egyptian camp in the area. I knew also my father was tired earlier and decided not to go to Mena complex with the group, and that my mother waited for him," he said. Survivors and eyewitness accounts, as well photos taken from the scene, show that the bodies of the victims as well the injured were transferred to nearby camps — including Egyptian, Algerian and Sudanese camps — till they were transferred to morgues and hospitals. In the past week, Saudi Arabia announced a growing death toll from the tragedy, reaching 769 dead with 934 others injured. There has not been an exact breakdown of nationalities as many of the bodies remain unidentified. Out of 67,719 Egyptian pilgrims, 126 died in the stampede, according to Egypt's official pilgrimage delegation in its latest statements. There are currently 72 missing Egyptian pilgrims and 68 more injured in hospitals in Mecca and Jeddah. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched hotlines in Cairo and Saudi Arabia to receive the calls of Egyptians searching for missing family members. On Thursday, the Egyptian delegation, headed by Egypt's minister of religious endowments, announced that with the cooperation with the Saudi authorities, DNA and fingerprints would be used to identify the remaining bodies. In a parallel move, the Egyptian Consulate in Jeddah published on its Facebook page over 30 photos of Egyptians injured in Saudi hospitals, asking people to identify them. It also published over 40 photos from the morgue showing unidentified bodies believed to be Egyptians, similarly asking people to ID them. A number of Egyptian families only then had their worst fears confirmed. In 24 hours, following the release of the photos, the Egyptian death toll jumped from 84 to 124. Egyptian media has criticised authorities for being late in its action to help the victims and their families, as it took nearly a week for official lists of the Egyptian dead, with photos, to be published, along with direct numbers to the Egyptian Consulate in Jeddah and the official Egyptian pilgrimage delegation. Egyptians continue to share photos of their missing loved ones, in numbers that exceed official statistics on those missing, on Facebook pages like "The Egyptian Community in KSA" and "Mena Missing People." Testimonies of pilgrims who saw the horrifying stampede describe how people were squashed under each other, asking how it could happen. El-Masry's parents are now buried in Saudi Arabia along with most of the Egyptian victims who were identified. The kingdom assigned six public cemeteries to the victims of the stampede, after identitication. To die on hajj and to be buried in the Muslim Holy Land for devout Muslims equals martyrdom. Families of the victims may find solace that their beloved ones died in the holiest site for Muslims, cleansed of their sins according to Islamic belief. Yet for the time being they are also trying to cope, and to understand their sudden loss in otherwise joyful days. "Can this be a bad dream and we find the door knocking and find them wondering why we didn't go pick them up?" Yehia El-Masry tweeted about his parents, adding that their flight came back to Cairo without them. More»
PATRICK COCKBURN - 2015-10-01 09:11:22
Russian military jets have carried out air strikes in Syria for the first time, targeting what Moscow said were Isis positions. The strikes were launched hours after the Russian parliament gave their seal of approval on Wednesday morning. However, a US official has cast doubt on the claim that the Kremlin is tragetting Isis, saying the Russians appeared to be attacking opposition groups fighting Syrian government forces. And on the ground, video footage has emerged of Russian planes flying over anti-Assad rebel groups in Hama. President Vladimir Putin sought to portray the airstrikes as a pre-emptive attack against the Islamic militants who have taken over large parts of Syria and Iraq. Here’s what we know about why Russia would want to target Isis groups More»
Omar Halawa - 2015-09-08 08:45:19
As Egypt prepares to witness the delayed parliamentary elections in October and November, questions loom around whether the political parties are ready to join the race. Some of them are facing uncertainty in terms of leadership and political identity, while others say it is clear that they are reverting to Mubarak-era election rules. According to official records, Egypt has more than 100 parties, including more than 70 parties that were established following the 25 January revolution in 2011. With nearly 4,300 people submitted candidacy requests to run on the individual system, which allocates 448 parliament seats, party-based lists allocate 120 parliamentary seats. Post-revolution rifts and resignations For Amr Adly, a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, Egypt currently has neither a real political spectrum nor well-based parties. "It is normal to see many parties being established following a revolution, as public opinion becomes more open and exposed, but in reality the majority, if not all, of the new parties had similar agendas with no real programs on the ground to communicate with citizens," Adly told Ahram Online. More»
David Marsh - 2015-09-01 15:20:43
One of the larger surprises of the summer is how the Chinese authorities have allowed an apparently technical matter — the possible inclusion of the yuan in the International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right — to become the stuff of global headlines. Whether the yuan USDCNY, -0.1082% becomes part of the IMF’s composite accounting unit should be a question for specialists. But instead — as part of the wider fallout over the performance of the Chinese economy, and as a result of the Chinese leadership brandishing their credentials for SDR inclusion just a little too energetically — it has ended up on the front page of the New York Times. The Chinese decision last month to widen the band for the yuan’s fluctuations against the dollar should have been part of somewhat geeky technical preparations for freeing the exchange rate and meeting one of the IMF’s conditions for bringing the Chinese currency into the IMF reserve unit, at present limited to the dollar DXY, -0.23% , euro EURUSD, +0.3568% , sterling USDGBP, +0.2286% and the yen USDJPY, -1.08% . Relaxing the dollar peg is perfectly consistent with the long-term Chinese goal of turning the yuan into a full-fledged international currency — in fact, it is a precondition for that to take place. It would be difficult for the yuan one day to rival the dollar as an international monetary standard if it was, to a large extent, more or less the same currency. However, as deeper-thinking Chinese officials are aware, a fundamental question has to be raised: whether internationalizing the Chinese currency is actually an advantage or a drawback for China. As U.S., U.K and German experience shows, internationalization is not a cost-free option. Reserve-currency status can be an “exorbitant privilege” for countries that can issue low-cost debt to other people’s central banks. But it can equally become a “poisoned chalice” if nations with an international currency — and the corresponding liabilities and obligations that go with it — become overextended, as both Britain and West Germany learned during the 1970s and 1980s. In a speech I gave in August in the U.S., at a long-running seminar series in Chautauqua, in the northwest of New York state, I theorized that, if I were a believer in conspiracy theories, then I might say that someone in the Obama administration (no doubt buried away in the Pentagon) was deliberately encouraging the Chinese to turn the yuan into an international currency in order to undermine the Communist Party. West German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt railed against the Deutsche mark becoming an international reserve currency in the 1970s precisely because he believed it would unduly expose the country’s many vulnerabilities; this was one of the reasons for the formation of the euro. China is a lot bigger than the former (divided) Federal Republic, but it can still be undermined by forces within and outside the country. Opinion is divided over whether President Ronald Reagan’s 1980s espousal of the Strategic Defense Initiative or SDI (the missile defense program otherwise known as Star Wars) was instrumental for overextending the finances of the Soviet Union and ultimately bringing it down. No one can know whether this was a deliberate ploy — but it certainly happened. I wouldn’t wish to stick my neck out on this — but historians may at some stage see an analogy between Mikhail Gorbachev’s bid to catch up with SDI and Xi Jinpin’s wish to join the SDR. Beijing certainly demonstrates signs of overstretch. Beijing authorities are carrying out exchange rate liberalization at the same time as they have been trying to weather a stock market rout, by bringing in (and then suspending) all kinds of expensive support operations. As a consequence, the Chinese leadership has prompted considerable political and financial market confusion about the separate issues of economic management and technical currency adjustments. Carrying out the depegging earlier would not have obviated this dilemma altogether but it would have softened it considerably. The best possible result is still realizable: a relatively soft landing for the Chinese economy, stabilization of the Chinese stock markets at lower levels, a mid-path between under- and over-appreciation for the Chinese currency, and a relatively problem-free pathway towards the yuan becoming part of the SDR next year. But the odds have shortened on a less-benign outcome, under which the Chinese get the worst of all worlds: a much more abrupt domestic slowdown, further stock-market attrition, a further damaging fall of the yuan (especially if the Fed decides on an early rise in interest rates) and a shelving (no doubt for “technical” reasons) of the SDR decision. In 40 years, the historians will be able to tell us what it all means. More»
Mohamed El-Erian - 2015-08-31 09:41:49
It might be tempting to conclude that there are no lessons to draw from the wild ride in financial markets last week. After all, the Standard & Poor's 500 Index closed 1 percent higher Friday, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the Nasdaq 100 Index ended up recording their best week in almost two months. And some might even dismiss the unusual volatility as the reflection of nothing more than a bout of market irrationality that is temporary, reversible and inconsequential. Such an approach would be inappropriate, much like concluding that crossing minefields isn't dangerous just because we were able to do so once without harm. Many indicators confirm that last week was remarkable and historic. Record after record was set, including the largest daily move, the biggest intra-day reversal and the most harrowing intra-day air pocket. In all, the Dow traveled an unprecedented 10,000 points in just five trading sessions. The VIX, often referred to as the markets’ fear index, spiked to levels not seen since the worst of the 2008 global financial crisis. And, outside the U.S., emerging-market currencies crashed below the levels reached in the darkest days of that crisis. Destinations often matter more than journeys, so there is a natural inclination to believe that last week’s extreme volatility doesn't have much predictive value. That would be a mistake, for at least five reasons: First, it now should be clear that the fundamental underpinnings of the financial markets are -- at a minimum -- somewhat fragile. As a result, there are legitimate questions about the robustness of the global economy, potentially creating uncertainty for market prices that already have been notably decoupled from fundamentals by central bank policies. Second, many retail investors seem unable to stomach such bouts of volatility, resulting in outsize disposals of equity mutual funds (with the majority of the sales seemingly taking place during the worst of the market overshoot and contagion). Third, the plumbing of the marketplace appears far from immune to dysfunction during periods of great price volatility. The manifestations include elusive liquidity or trading systems that get overwhelmed when too many investors rush for the exit at the same time. The impact is amplified by the popularity of exchange-traded funds, some of which struggled to function as promised when subjected to market discontinuities and circuit breakers. Fourth, during intense volatility, the good gets washed out with the bad. This is particularly true of widely held investment brands --such as Apple, GE and Google -- that investors turn into ATMs when they are rushing to raise cash, whether as a precaution, for speculative reasons or to meet sudden obligations. When overleveraged and unhinged investors need to sell, careful selection of marquee-name assets and diversified portfolio allocations become much less of a shield. Finally, though policy makers are still eager to curtail spikes in market volatility, they already have expended a lot of ammunition via quantitative easing, floored interest rates and other unconventional policies. As a result, the series of monetary policy actions in China and the calming remarks from N.Y. Fed President Bill Dudley last week could soon be tested by developments on the ground. Given that more roller coaster rides could be in store, investors would be well advised to immediately assess two things: whether they can stomach this kind of volatility again without being forced to sell at the worst possible time; and whether they have enough reserve investing firepower to pick up the bargains that inevitably emerge during these episodes of market craziness. About the Writer: Mohamed El-Erian is the chief economic adviser at Allianz SE. He’s chairman of Barack Obama's Global Development Council, the author of best-seller "When Markets Collide," and the former chief executive officer and co-chief investment officer of Pimco. More»
Amwal Al Ghad English - 2015-08-22 08:22:30
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi approved on Sunday night a new anti-terrorism law. The new law, which came weeks after President Sisi vowed harsher laws following the assassination of Egypt’s Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, sets up new special courts and outlines tough measures against ‘terrorist activity’. Below are 10 main points you should know about the new law. 1. The law gives greater legal protection to military and police officers In cases of police and military violence, the law gives greater legal leeway for when this is seen to be part of their duty of defeating insurgencies. 2. Under the law, terrorism is defined as “any act that disturbs public order with violence.” The law also allows any case falling under this bracket to be fast-tracked through special courts. 3. Establishing or leading a terrorist group will be punishable by death or a life sentence It remains unclear whether time would be given for a group deemed to be a ‘terrorist group’ to disband before its members are arrested or charged with leading or establishing a terrorist group. More»
Odeh Bisharat - 2015-08-10 09:56:50
When Egypt wanted to expand the Suez Canal, the president didn't turn to tycoons for assistance – he solicited the help of the Egyptian people. Excavations on the Suez Canal began in 1859, after Egyptian ruler Muhammad Sa’id Pasha granted the concession to build it to a French company. The project took 10 years to complete. More than a million Egyptian laborers worked on it, with 120,000 dying in appalling conditions. But when revolutionary leader Gamal Abdel Nasser tried to restore ownership to the Egyptian people some 100 years later, two dying colonial powers, England and France, launched a war – with the enthusiastic cooperation of the nascent State of Israel. The world called the war against Egypt the Tripartite Aggression; Israel called it Operation Kadesh. Every injustice has its holiness (“kedusha”). Egypt learned its lesson, which is why the current president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, decided last year that the money for digging a new Suez Canal – which was dedicated last Thursday – would come from ordinary people. Within eight days, the Egyptian people had bought bonds to the tune of $8 billion. Israel hasn’t learned the lessons of privatization, which here means the wholesale disposal of national resources; it hasn’t learned from the privatization of the Dead Sea, Israel Shipyards, and more. When the gas was discovered in the Mediterranean, the state hastened to give the concession to two or three tycoons, who are now acting the same way the British Empire acted toward Egypt. This was done instead of establishing a national authority to manage the gas resources (similar to the Suez Canal Authority), so the large companies would be subcontractors, not owners, while I, the ordinary citizen, could be a partner for a few shekels. Today – since the people are not, heaven forbid, demanding to restore the gas franchise to its owners but merely to improve the terms – we are facing our own tripartite aggression by American and Israeli companies, backed by the U.S. government, whose embassy contacted MKs from the Joint Arab List to pressure them to support the gas deal proposal. And let’s not forget Sheldon Adelson, who is asking Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make regulatory changes. What chutzpah – some foreign citizen intervening in my regulation! By the way, what’s “regulation”? “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks,” says the prophet Isaiah, and in Egypt they decided to make the army’s Engineering Corps responsible for digging the new canal. A whiff of the End of Days. Perhaps that assignment will moderate the army slightly, and restrain its destructive actions when it confronts fanatical terrorists. The Egyptian story also has a global aspect. After several years in which the Arab nations have been offering displays of horror to the world, along comes Egypt. And, instead of drawn swords and rolling heads, it offers the world some Arab charm – a canal 72 kilometers (44 miles) long that was completed in a year – and that’s just the first stage. During the second stage, which has already begun, some 10 million dunams (2.5 million acres) of land will be developed, with industrial centers all along the canal and lots of new housing. When you see Sissi throwing his weight behind these ambitious projects, risking his political future if the effort fails, and then look at Netanyahu – who I’m not even sure is aware that work has begun on the Tel Aviv light rail – you realize what kind of leadership material the man we are privileged to have ruling over us is made of. Ministers were fighting about the date the rail work was due to start. People were crying about the expected traffic jams, and wailing even harder about the economic calamity about to befall them. And Netanyahu? He’s fully occupied with Iran and U.S. President Barack Obama. But don’t worry. When the next disaster befalls us, you will see him bent over maps (blurred, of course), oozing authority. And if he gets to use that supertanker plane again, even better. About the Writer: Odeh Bisharat is a Haaretz Contributor. More»
Chris Wright - 2015-08-03 12:12:39
Today something strange happened in Egypt: it achieved a goal ahead of time.That isn’t meant to be as condescending as it sounds, as Egyptians themselves bemoan the one-step-forward-two-steps-back pattern of recent years. “In Egypt, we always have wonderful history,” one Egyptian broker told me in Cairo last month. “It’s the present day we have a problem with.” So what to make of the opening of the Suez Canal expansion in one third of the expected time? Clearly, it’s good news economically. The canal’s own officials believe that the expansion will increase the number of ships per day using the canal from 49 to 97 by 2023, will generate $13.2 billion by 2023 up from $5.3 billion today, and has achieved all this two years ahead of time. An $8 billion project largely funded through investment certificates, it also demonstrated the liquidity that is available in Egypt for the right investments (although some would prefer that this had been tapped for a wider range of projects than just the Suez Canal) More»
Noah Feldman - 2015-08-03 08:42:52
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travels to Egypt on Sunday to renew the “strategic dialogue” between the countries that was cut off in 2009. From the standpoint of long-term U.S. national security interests, the renewal is a mistake. Leave aside Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s bad and worsening record on human rights and the trumped up convictions of Muslim Brotherhood leaders and rank-and-file. Forget the tragic message that the short-lived American support for Egyptian democracy is now thoroughly dead. What’s really troubling about the U.S.’s cozying up to Sisi is that it robs the American side of any leverage it might have with Egypt to pursue regional security goals, such as the creation of a stable Sunni coalition to defeat Islamic State. Why should Sisi do anything the U.S. asks for if the U.S. is busy claiming the relationship is already strong? Start with the deep strategic interests. For Egypt, the relationship with the U.S. has clear goals. Egypt wants military aid, which was renewed this year in the teeth of a statute that prohibits U.S. arms aid to countries that have undergone a military coup. The Egyptian military, from which Sisi springs, is not only the most powerful institution in Egyptian society. It’s the only powerful institution left, after its defeat of the Muslim Brotherhood. The army’s special privileges are facilitated and enhanced by $1 billion plus in annual U.S. military aid. Beyond the receipt of aid, Egypt wants the U.S. to ask nothing of it. Egypt’s cold peace with Israel has been sustained since the Camp David Accords were signed, back when I was 8 years old. It requires no U.S. pressure or inducement for Egypt to avoid fighting Israel. Indeed, Sisi and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have a common enemy in the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot. Sisi’s primary hope is that the U.S. will stop giving him a hard time about the methods he’s using to repress the Brotherhood. The less talk of human rights, the better. What the U.S. wants from Egypt is a bit harder to pin down. In the broadest sense, the U.S. national security interest in the Middle East right now is to restore some modicum of stability. George W. Bush’s presidency was devoted to disrupting the stability that had been the traditional American regional interest since the Cold War; now the U.S. would badly like to put the genie back in the bottle. How can Egypt contribute to that goal? The most basic way, of course, is by the regime becoming stable. Sisi is gambling that arrests, sham trials and some executions will achieve that goal. There’s reason to doubt that he’s correct, but for the moment let’s assume he knows his (repressive) business. The point is that the U.S. shouldn’t have to make any concessions to Sisi in order to encourage him to make Egypt stable -- because stability is already in Sisi’s interests. Egypt could potentially take a leading role in helping to achieve stability in neighboring Libya, where the power vacuum presents an attractive opportunity for Islamic State. Sisi for the moment wants to steer clear of the Libyan morass, because neither he nor anyone else has a clear sense of how to impose order there. If the U.S. wanted Egypt to take a stand, and even send peacekeeping troops, it would need leverage to do so. Now that the U.S. has shown that it wants to fund Sisi, and that it’s eager to develop closer relations, it’s losing the leverage it might otherwise have had to pressure Egypt on Libya. Further afield, the U.S. has a pressing national security interest in defeating Islamic State. That will take Sunni Arab ground troops -- and the question is who will provide them. The Saudis aren’t ever going to send an army of their own against Islamic State. But the Saudis might foot the bill if they became convinced that the Sunni militant group was a threat to their own claim of Islamic legitimacy. They would need soldiers from elsewhere to fight on their behalf -- and those troops might conceivably be Egyptian. Indeed, the last Arab League summit saw discussion of a collaborative Sunni military force. Egypt could be expected to participate in the fight against Islamic State only if it had a strong external motive to do so. Money won’t be enough. U.S. approbation and support might be -- if it were otherwise being withheld. Otherwise, it’s not clear what Sisi stands to gain from risking Islamic State retaliation within Egypt. To be fair, Barack Obama’s administration could argue that getting closer to Sisi will create mutual trust and encourage future cooperation. Don’t believe it. Sisi knows perfectly well that the Obama administration would’ve worked with a successful Muslim Brotherhood government, and that the Americans are upset by his heavy-handed human-rights violations. Sisi is not a man given to sentimental friendships or allegiances, having come to power after the Muslim Brotherhood purged his predecessor as commander of the Egyptian military. He’s already shown in his rise that he respects power, not loyalty. The U.S. should lend him legitimacy sparingly, if at all. After the failures of liberal idealism, there’s no disputing that the U.S. will now pursue a realist Middle East policy. That kind of realism requires cold-eyed incentives, not relationship building. About the Writer: Noah Feldman, a Bloomberg View columnist, is a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard University and the author of six books, most recently "Cool War: The Future of Global Competition." More»