Daily Archives: June 2, 2016

Egypt’s Foreign ministry hits back at EU statements criticising ‘crackdown’ on journalists

EU External Action spokesperson Catherine Ray

Egypt’s foreign ministry has hit back at statements made by the spokesperson of the EU External Ection Service, Catherine Ray, which criticised “restrictions” on freedom of press and the jailing of journalists in Egypt.

Spokesperson of the Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu Zeid challenged the EU spokesperson to look closely at reports made by the delegation of the EU on the large number of newspapers that are published on a daily basis in Egypt.

On Tuesday, Ray issued a statement slamming the recent indictment of three Journalists’ Syndicate leaders and their referral to court.

Ray described the prosecution of the union leaders as “a worrying development that follows the unprecedented raid of Egyptian security forces on the Journalists’ Syndicate building earlier this month.”

On Tuesday, Egyptian prosecutors charged the chairman of Egypt’s Journalists’ Syndicate, along with the syndicate’s secretary general and undersecretary, with harbouring fugitives and spreading false news in the case of police storming of the union’s headquarters on 1 May to arrest two wanted journalists.

The trio were referred to misdeameanour court. The first session in their trial is set for Saturday.

Ray charged that the indictments “reflect broader limitations on freedom of expression and press freedom in Egypt.”

“We call on the Egyptian authorities to review the charges against those arrested or prosecuted for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and assembly, and work to bring the laws regulating assembly and counter-terrorism into line with the Egyptian Constitution,” the EU official said.

“I call on the spokesperson to follow [Egyptian] daily TV shows that criticise the performance of the authorities, as well as discussions that take place on social media between different segments of Egyptian society,” Abu Zeid said.

“The foreign ministry was surprised that the high representative did not pay similar attention to the humanitarian and living challenges facing the Egyptian citizen,” said Abu Zeid.

Abu Zeid said the EU should make efforts to support the Egyptian government in order to provide better services to Egyptian citizens.

The statement continued that this “reflects broader limitations on freedom of expression and press freedom in Egypt.”

 

 

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Egypt’s Sisi to discuss first two years of presidency in TV interview Friday

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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is scheduled to give on Friday a TV interview hosted by media figure Osama Kamel, the Egyptian presidency announced Thursday.

The interview, which is scheduled for 7:30pm, will be aired on the Egyptian State TV.

According to state-owned MENA news agency, the interview will last an hour and 40 minutes.

MENA added that the interview would cover a number of topics, including El-Sisi’s achievements over the past two years and the challenges Egypt currently faces.

US Air Force Jet Crashes After Commencement Flyover Attended by Obama

A US Air Force Thunderbird F-16 jet has crashed after conducting a flyover of an Air Force Academy graduation commencement attended by President Barack Obama.

The incident occurred south of Colorado Springs airport, where the president delivered the commencement address for the graduating class at the Air Force Academy.

The pilot safely ejected before the plane crashed into a field, according to Air Force spokeswoman Lt. Col. Michal Kloeffler-Howard.

President Obama visited with the ejected pilot shortly before boarding Air Force One.

The cause of the crash is not known at this time.

Chomsky: Obama ‘Dangerously Escalating Tensions Along the Russian Border’

In a new interview, linguist Noam Chomsky warns that US President Barack Obama’s military buildup in Eastern Europe is threatening to destabilize the region.

“He has been more reluctant to engage troops on the ground than some of his predecessors and advisers, and instead has rapidly escalated special operations and his global assassination (drone campaign), a moral disaster and arguably illegal as well,” Chomsky said during a recent interview with Truthout, referring to Obama’s foreign policy.

“On other fronts, it is a mixed story,” he adds. “Obama has continued to bar a nuclear weapons-free (technically, WMD-free) zone in the Middle East, evidently motivated by the need to protect Israeli nuclear weapons from scrutiny.”

“By so doing, he is endangering the Nonproliferation Treaty, the most important disarmament treaty, which is contingent on establishing such a zone.”

But the biggest problem may be Washington’s actions in Eastern Europe.

“He is dangerously escalating tensions along the Russian border, extending earlier policies,” Chomsky said.

The United States has spearheaded NATO’s gradual buildup in Poland and the Baltic states, citing “Russian aggression.” Upcoming military drills have been criticized by Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov.

“We are convinced that these exercises carry a serious destabilizing component,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Their main goal is to continue the aggravation of tensions along the Russian borders.”

Obama’s policy on nuclear weapons is also worrying to Chomsky.

“His trillion-dollar program for modernizing the nuclear weapons system is the opposite of what should be done,” he said.

While treaties forbid the United States from expanding its nuclear arsenal, the upgrades include improved targeting systems, as well as adjustable yields, which could, in theory, make the weapons easier to use.

“These and other moves amount to a mixed story, ranging from criminal to moderate improvement,” Chomsky said.

While a new President will take office after the November elections, the philosopher doesn’t have much hope that things will change.

“Financialization has of course exploded during the neoliberal period, and the general policies, pretty much global in character, are designed to enhance private and corporate power,” he said. “That sets off a vicious cycle in which concentration of wealth leads to concentration of political power, which in turn yields legislation and administrative practices that carry the process forward.”

Egyptian Flag Hoisted on Mistral Helicopter Carrier

A still from a video released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defence on 2 June shows Gamal Abdel Nasser at Saint-Nazaire

A still from a video released by the Egyptian Ministry of Defence on 2 June shows Gamal Abdel Nasser at Saint-Nazaire

Egyptian navy officers raised the country’s flag Thursday on the first Mistral-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD) which Cairo acquired from France in 2015.

Egypt has named the carrier after the late Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser.

The transfer of the Mistral took place in an inauguration ceremony at the port of Toulouse attended by the Egyptian Minister of Defence Sedki Sobhi and the commander of the French naval forces as well as other top military officials from both countries.

Sobhi had traveled on Wednesday to France to attend the celebration of the carrier’s transfer to Cairo in Toulouse.

Sedki was accompanied by a military delegation that included the Head of the Egyptian Naval Forces Osama Rabie.

French and Egyptian military offiicials held a short press conference on Thursday morning before the commencement of the flag-raising ceremony.

French Navy Commander Admiral Bernard Rogel explained during the presser that the Mistral delivered to Egypt is one of the most technologically advanced carrier of its kind manufactured by his country.

“We are extremely happy with our joint Egyptian-French success and we look for ward to more cooperation [with Cairo] to combat terrorism,” says Rogel.

The Egyptian Navy Commander Osama Rabie said during the presser he was honoured to recieve the first mistral ever to serve in in Egypt and the Middle East.

Rabie said advanced military equipment such as the Mistral are key to defend Egypt given the challenges currently facing the MENA region.

The celebration was attended by tens of Egyptian naval officers who recently received training on the Minstral by French officers.

Earlier this month, 170 Egyptian crewmen participated in a week-long training on board the carrier to prepare for taking over its helm.

According to AFP, another Mistral helicopter carrier, named after the late Egyptian President Anwar El-Sadat, will be delivered to Cairo in September.

The contract for the two Mistral carriers, which was finalised in September last year, was valued at 950 million Euros.

France now tops the list of countries which signed military supply agreements with Egypt during the two-year tenure of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Earlier in May, Cairo finalised the purchase of a military reconnaissance and monitoring satellite from France.

Last year, Egypt successfully concluded ‎a purchase of 24 Rafale fighter planes, seven of which were recentlt delivered to Cairo.