Archive for the ‘Egypt’ Category

Israel & Egypt Make Peace – jewishvirtuallibrary.org

On March 26, 1979, sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem, Israel and Egypt – long standing enemies – signed a peace treaty on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC.

This peace drive, however, did not begin with Sadat’s trip to Israel, but rather came only after more than a half-century of efforts by early Zionist and Israeli leaders to negotiate peace with the Arabs. Every government in Israel’s history had declared its desire to live in peace with all Arab states, including those who had ruthlessly attacked the Jewish state in 1948 and again in 1967 and 1973.

Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, like Sadat, was willing to go the extra mile to achieve peace. Although he faced intense opposition from within his Likud Party, Begin froze Israeli settlements in the West Bank to facilitate the progress of negotiations. Despite the Carter Administration’s tilt toward Egypt during the talks, Begin remained determined to continue the peace process. In the end, he agreed to return to Egypt the strategically critical Sinai 91 percent of the territory won by Israel during the Six-Day War in exchange for Sadat’s promise to make peace.

In recognition of his willingness to join Sadat in making compromises for peace, Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with the Egyptian leader.

Israel – which had repeatedly been the target of shipping blockades, military assaults and terrorist attacks staged from the Sinai – made far greater economic and strategic sacrifices in giving up the region than Egypt did in normalizing relations with Israel.

While it received additional U.S. aid for withdrawing, Israel gave up much of its strategic depth in the Sinai, returning the area to a neighbor that had repeatedly used it as a launching point for attacks. Israel also relinquished direct control of its shipping lanes to and from Eilat, 1,000 miles of roadways, homes, factories, hotels, health facilities and agricultural villages.

Because Egypt insisted that Jewish civilians leave the Sinai, more than 7,000 Israelis were uprooted from their homes and businesses, which they had spent years building in the desert. This was a physically and emotionally wrenching experience, particularly for the residents of Yamit, who had to be forcibly removed by soldiers from their homes.

Israel also lost electronic early-warning stations situated on Sinai mountaintops that provided data on military movement on the western side of the Suez Canal, as well as the areas near the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat, which were vital to defending against an attack from the east. Israel was forced to relocate more than 170 military installations, airfields and army bases after it withdrew.

By turning over the Sinai to Egypt, Israel may have given up its only chance to become energy-independent. The Alma oil field in the southern Sinai, discovered and developed by Israel, was transferred to Egypt in November 1979. When Israel gave up this field, it had become the country’s largest single source of energy, supplying half the country’s energy needs. Israel, which estimated the value of untapped reserves in the Alma field at $100 billion, had projected that continued development there would make the country self-sufficient in energy by 1990.

Israel also agreed to end military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, withdraw its troops from certain parts of the territories and work toward Palestinian autonomy. The Begin government did this though no Palestinian Arab willing to recognize Israel came forward to speak on behalf of residents of the territories.

In 1988, the Jewish State relinquished Taba a resort built by Israel in what had been a barren desert area near Eilat to Egypt. Taba’s status had not been resolved by the Camp David Accords. When an international arbitration panel ruled in Cairo’s favor on September 29, 1988, Israel turned the town over to Egypt.

More than three decades have passed since Israel and Egypt signed their treaty and peace has been maintained. Still, it is regarded as a cold peace because relations between the two peoples have not significantly improved and, in the wake of the Arab Spring national uprising in 2011, have even slightly deteriorated. Trade and tourism are primarily in one direction – from Israel to Egypt. Under former president Hosni Mubarak, the government-controlled press and the intellectual elite remained hostile toward Israel and anti-Semitic articles and cartoons were widely published in newspapers and magazines. Mubarak was an active participant in the peace process, though more often than not he contributed to the hardening of Arab positions toward Israel. He has also refused to visit Israel with the lone exception being to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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August 28, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Jews of Egypt – Jewish Virtual Library

Between June and November 1948, bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter of Cairo killed more than 70 Jews and wounded nearly 200.2 In 1956, the Egyptian government used the Sinai Campaign as a pretext for expelling almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscating their property. Approximately 1,000 more Jews were sent to prisons and detention camps. On November 23, 1956, a proclamation signed by the Minister of Religious Affairs, and read aloud in mosques throughout Egypt, declared that “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state,” and promised that they would be soon expelled. Thousands of Jews were ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government.3

When war broke out in 1967, Jewish homes and property were confiscated. Egypt’s attitude toward Jews at that time was reflected in its treatment of former Nazis. Hundreds were allowed to take up residence in Egypt and given positions in the government. The head of the Gestapo in occupied Poland, Leopold Gleim (who had been sentenced to death in absentia), controlled the Egyptian secret police.

In 1979, the Egyptian Jewish community became the first in the Arab world to establish official contact with Israel. Israel now has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate general in Alexandria. At present, the few remaining Jews are free to practice Judaism without any restrictions or harassment. Shaar Hashamayim is the only functioning synagogue in Cairo. Of the many synagogues in Alexandria only the Eliahu Hanabi is open for worship.4

Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian press is found primarily, but not exclusively, in the nonofficial press of the opposition parties. The Government has condemned anti-Semitism and advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitism. There have been no anti-Semitic incidents in recent years directed at the tiny Jewish community.5

In September 2000 construction began on a highway-bridge through the ancient Basatin Jewish cemetery in Cairo. Cooperation and funding were provided by the Egyptian Ministry of Housing and an American ultra-Orthodox Jewish Athra Kadisha group. The plans will not harm any tombs and it will honor Jewish law concerning cemeteries.

Anti-Semitism is rampant in the government-controlled press, and increased in late 2000 and 2001 following the outbreak of violence in Israel and the territories. In April 2001, columnist Ahmed Ragheb lamented Hitlers failure to finish the job of annihilating the Jews. In May 2001, an article in Al-Akhbar attacked Europeans and Americans for believing in the false Holocaust.6 On March 18, 2004, Bad al-Ahab Adams, deputy director of Al Jumhuriya, accused the Jews of the terrorist attack in Madrid on March 11 as well as of the September 11, 2001 attacks.7

A positive development was the announcement that a Cairo synagogue built in 1934, which had been closed because so few Jews remain in Egypt, would be reopened in July 2005. The head of Cairos Jewish community, Carmen Weinstein, and Israels ambassador to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, arranged to reopen the synagogue, which the Israeli Embassy will help to maintain.8

On October 30, 2007, the Sha’ar Hashamayim synagogue in Cairo was rededicated by the city’s small Jewish community. Many guests from Egypt and around the world attended the event which celebrated the synagogue’s 100-year anniversary and the completion of recent renovations that occurred with assistance from the Egyptian government.9

In March 2013, Egyptian security agencies banned an Egyptian film about the Arab nation’s once-thriving Jewish community, called “The Jews of Egypt,” just a day before it was due to open in cinemas. Producer Haytham el-Khamissy said no reason had been given for the ban, which recalls the worst excesses of the famously censorial regime of former dictatorHosni Mubarak. The film is based on testimony from researchers, political figures and exiled Egyptian Jews, and presents a harmonious vision of early 20th century multicultural Egypt and asks “how did the Jews of Egypt turn in the eyes of Egyptians from partners in the same country to enemies?”10

As of 2013, the Jewish community in Egypt numbers only a few dozen and is quickly fading into extinction. In May 2013, the Egyptian government announced that it would be canceling its annual $14,000 stipend to the Jewish community which has been part of the state budget since 1988. The stipend had been used to pay for renovations to the Bassatine cemetery, the second-oldest Jewish cemetery in the world behind only The Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The funds also helped to pay for security.11

In December 2014 an Egyptian court placed a ban on a yearly festival that attracts hundreds of Jewish individuals from all over the Middle East. The annual festival celebrates the birth of Abu Hatzira, a legendary Moroccan Rabbi revered for his kindness and known for performing miracles. Abu Hatzira was also the grandfather of famous Kaballist known as “the Baba Sali”. The festival was banned by an Egyptian court because the celebration involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages, dancing, and casual intermingling of the sexes.The celebration takes place at Abu Hatzira’s tomb and as part of the ruling the court also ordered that the tomb be taken off of Egypt’s list of antiquities, cultural sites, and monuments lists. The festival was called off in 2012 due to security concerns surrounding the Arab Spring.12

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi appointed an ambassador to Israel in June 2015, following a significant three year lapse in diplomatic relations between the countries.13 Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi recalled the previous ambassador to Israel in 2012 in protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli embassy in Egypt was re-opened on September 9, 2015, after a closure due to security concerns during the Egyptian revolution that began in January 2011. On September 9, 2011, angry and violent protestors descended upon the Israeli embassy in Egypt, forcing the Diplomats and other officials inside to evacuate immediately. The embassy remained vacant for four years. Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, stated at the re-opening ceremony on September 9, 2015, that, Egypt will always be the biggest and most important state in the region. This event taking place in Cairo is also the beginning of something new. 14

For the first time since the State of Israel’s creation in 1948, Egyptian representatives at the United Nations voted in Israel’s favor, in October 2015. Egypt was one of 117 countries who voted in favor of Israel joining the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs. The Egyptian representative refused to comment before or after the vote. 15

Sources:1 David Singer, Ed. American Jewish Year Book 2001. NY: American Jewish Committee, 2001; Aharon Mor & Orly Rahimiyan, “The Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands,”Jerusalem Center for Public Opinion, (September 11, 2012).2Howard Sachar, A History of Israel, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 401.3 AP, (November 26, 1956); New York World Telegram, (November 29, 1956).4Jewish Communities of the World.5U.S. Department of State, 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, (September 5, 2000).6 U.S. Department of State, 2001 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, (October 26, 2001).7U.S. Department of State, 2004 Report on Global Anti-Semitism, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, January 5, 2005).8 Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (July 13, 2005).9 Dateline – Cairo, The Jerusalem Report (November 26, 2007), p.40.10 Ben Child, “Egypt Bans Film About Jewish Community,” The Guardian, (March 13, 2013).11 Ponts, Zach, “Egypt Cuts Annual Stipend for Jewish Community From new Budget,” Algemeiner (May 23, 2013).12″Egypt Court Bans Festival Honoring Reverred Moroccan Rabbi,” The Daily Mail, (December 29, 2014).13 Fahmy, Omar/Aboulenein, Ahmed/Fisher Ilan, Allyn. “Egypt Appoints First Ambassador to Israel in Three Years,” Reuters, (June 21, 2015).14″Israel Reopens it’s Embassy in Egypt,” MFA, (September 9, 2015).15Soffer, Ari. For the first time ever, Egypt votes for Israel at the UN, Israel National News (November 2, 2015)

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July 18, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

EgyptIsrael barrier – Wikipedia

The EgyptIsrael barrier (or EgyptIsrael border fence; Project name: Hourglass, Hebrew: , Sha’on Haol) refers to a border barrier built by Israel along sections of its border with Egypt. It was originally an attempt to curb the influx of illegal migrants from African countries.[2] Construction was approved on 12 January 2010[3] and began on 22 November 2010.[4][5] However, following increased insurgent movement across the southern border in 2011, Israel upgraded the steel barrier project to include cameras, radar and motion detectors. In January 2013, construction of the barrier was completed in its main section.[6] The final section of the fence was completed in December 2013.[7]

A number of countries, including the United States and India, have sent delegations to Israel to study border security and the various technologies used by the IDF to secure Israel’s borders, including the IsraelEgypt border. Some of these countries may implement these technologies as part of their own border fences.

About 152 miles (245km) long,[8][9][10] the fence from Rafah to Eilat took three years to construct, at an estimated cost of NIS1.6 billion ($450 million), making it one of the largest projects in Israel’s history.[7]

An old rusty low fence swamped by shifting sand dunes has existed along Israel’s Sinai Peninsula border with Egypt, mainly serving as a marker between the two countries. Smuggling of cigarettes and drugs often carried on camels by Bedouins whose tribal lands straddle the border, has been a long-term problem. In December 2005 armed infiltrations into Israel along the porous border led to calls for the construction of a security fence.[2] The Israeli government decided in the late 2000s to build the barrier.

The barrier was originally planned in response to high levels of illegal migrants who successfully entered Israel across the border, mainly smuggled by Bedouin traffickers, from Eritrea and Sudan. Tens of thousands of people try to cross from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula into Israel every year, predominantly economic migrants. During Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian border guards sometimes shot African migrants trying to enter Israel illegally.[11][12] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the barrier is meant to “secure Israel’s Jewish and democratic character.”[13] The 2011 Egyptian revolution, the demise of Mubarak’s regime, increased lawlessness in the Sinai as well as the 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks led to the project’s upgrading with surveillance equipment and its timetable for completion being expedited.[14]

The fence has two layers of fencing, one with barbed wire.[15] The structure includes the installation of advanced surveillance equipment. Eventually the whole border will be sealed. The estimated cost of the project is NIS1.6 billion ($450 million).

In March 2012, nearly 105km of fence had been built by 30 contractors working concurrently and building several hundred meters of the fence every day. The goal was to finish the remaining 135km, including those running through the mountainous area of Sinai, in 2012.[16] Construction of the main section 230km was completed in January 2013.[17][18] The project was completed in December 2013.[7]

Egypt has said it did not object to the fence’s construction, so long as it was built on Israeli soil.[13]

While 9,570 citizens of various African countries entered Israel illegally in the first half of 2012, only 34 did the same in the first six months of 2013, after construction of the main section of the barrier was completed.[19][20][21] After the entire fence was completed, the number of migrant crossings had dropped to 16 in 2016.[22]

A number of countries have sent delegations to Israel to study border security and the various technologies used by the IDF to secure Israel’s borders, including the IsraelEgypt border. For example, a delegation from India arrived in August 2012 to study these technologies that are used to secure the borders with the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Egypt, which may be implemented as part of Indias own fence with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The interest in Israeli border security increased since the construction of the fence along the IsraelEgypt border. The United States, which occasionally adds to a partial barrier along its border with Mexico, is also following Israels decisions on border security closely.[23]

Media related to Israel-Egypt border fence at Wikimedia Commons

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February 7, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

‘Egypt is Preparing for War with Israel’ – Israel National …

Noha Hashad (51), an Egyptian nuclear scientist who fled the Nile state in 2011 after her support of Israel made her a target for torture over many long years, has exposed troubling insightsregarding Egypt’s military buildup in the Sinai Peninsula, as it fights terrorist organizations there.

Speaking toIsrael Hayom’s Emily Amrousifrom her new homein Haifa, Hashad was asked to give her take about Egypt’s actions in Sinai, where the Egyptian army has been fighting radical groups such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a group that recently swore allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS).

“That’s all for show,” appraised Hashad. “In the race for the presidency, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis supported (President Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi,who isn’t really fighting them.”

The nuclear scientist warned “Egypt is preparing for war with Israel. It armed and trained Hamas in Gaza. Whoever knows Arabic can hear the heads of Egyptian military intelligence talk about wide canals that open up between Israel and Egypt that will be used at the appropriate time.”

The warning echoes appraisals byCol. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of the Israel National Security Council, who wrote inIsrael Defenselast December that the”Badr 2014″ military maneuver, its largest in decades, wasmeant to prepare for “apotential conflict with Israel.”

Hashad spoke to the Israeli paper about the culture of hatred for Israel that has been rampant in Egypt, despite a decades-old peace treaty.

She argued that the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs isn’t the cause of Egyptian hatred for Israel, but rather “the Palestinian struggle is a byproduct of Egyptian hatred. (Palestine Liberation Organization founder Yasser)Arafat served in the Egyptian army. The Palestine Liberation Organization was invented by Egypt during the reign of (former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel)Nasser.”

“Egyptian generals give lectures everywhere and tell stories of how Israel is the only enemy of the Arabs, the only target,” said Hashad. “The incitement against Jews is done on a daily basis on television, in films and by famous actors. They treat Israel as a temporary phenomenon.”

Egypt has been imposing amassive buffer zoneinside Gaza on the southern border with the Sinai, evicting thousands of locals and creating a presence within the Hamas stronghold.

Last February the Nile statesealed a$2 billion arms dealwith Russia, and just last Tuesday US President Barack Obamaunfroze Americanmilitary aidthat had been suspended in the violent coup that put al-Sisi in power in July, 2013.

“The Koran is a Zionist text”

Hashad received her doctorate in nuclear physics from Beni-Suef University, and taught nuclear physics at the university as well as at Cairo University. She also ran her own research laboratory.

Born as a Muslim in Cairo, she was sent to a private school in Saudi Arabia where she studied Islam. Her mother’s family traces its ancestry to Hussein Bin Ali, the ground of the founder of Islam Mohammed, and himself the founder of Shia Islam.

She toldIsrael Hayom that her father’s family has a connection to Judaism, saying, “apparently, my last name, Hashad, is derived from the Hebrew word Hassid.”

After a chance encounter with an Israeli professor through an e-mail in 1999 and a rebuff from the government denying her from attending a conference in Jerusalem or leaving Egypt, her interest in the Jewish people was sparked by aBBCarticle that quoted the Koran referencing the Temple and King Solomon.

“I discovered that the Koran mentions Jewish rights to the land of Israel in a clear manner. Later on, during my interrogations, I was accused of the horrible crime of supporting Zionism. If being a Zionist means to say that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, then the Koranisa Zionist book,” she said.

Hashad elaborated that in the Koran “it is written that the land of Israel belongs to ‘the nation of Moses.’ Who are ‘the people of Moses’ if not Israel? This also appears in books that offer commentary about the Koran. The sheikhs know this, but they prefer to nurture the incorrect narrative in order to deny this right to the Jews and to take over land.”

Secret police crackdown

Eager to reveal more of this hidden information about the Koran, Hashad went to the library of Al-Azhar University, considered one of the most important Islamic repositories of texts and research.

At the institution, she told Amrousi,shefound the “original interpretation of the Koran before it was politicized and it turns out that, indeed, I was correct. The Land of Israel belongs to the Jews.”

Her research caught the attention of informants who tipped off the secret police, who had her blocked from the library and had her arrested. In2002 she was arrested by a police officer whokickedand punchedher repeatedly, tearing ligaments in her knee, shattering her jaw and causing a herniated disc in her back.

Then in jail, without being given medical treatment she was thrown in a cell with other women at which point the officer told them “you get a Jewish woman. Show me what you know how to do.”

He left her to be assaulted by the other women, and at a certain point another officer came in to the cell to beat her with a wooden stick.After several days of the torture, she was released, only to be arrested five more times over the next two years.

“In one instance, police officers took me to a Jewish cemetery, poured gasoline on me, and threatened me by placing a match close to my ear,” she said. “They told me that I gave them inspiration and ideas on how to kill all of the Jews. This is what happens to anyone in Egypt who tries to speak up in favor of Israel.”

Exodus from Egypt

Hashad finally got her opportunity to flee in 2011, as the “Arab Spring” saw Hosni Mubarak’s regime toppled.

“I took part in the demonstrations in Tahrir Square,” she told Israel Hayom. “The events that took place there were like a miracle. It was my Passover, my spring, my own exodus from Egypt. The security services collapsed. I submitted a request to travel to Jordan for medical treatments. The torture that I endured left me paralyzed in my back and foot, my jaw was shattered and I needed surgery.”

She was able to make it to Jordan, and from there to Israel where she finally was able to sort out the diplomatic hardships and establish herself.

“Israel is a jewel. Israel is a diamond, and I’m lucky to be here,” Hashad said.

Currently she is working to found a center promoting peace in the Middle East by confronting the cultural hatred towards Israel.

She is also translating Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s first book, “The Birth and Death of Zionism” from 1977, into English to reveal the true face of Israel’s “peace partners.”

She has received death threats, but she says “I’m not afraid.I don’t know why. I don’t have the gene of fear.”

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November 19, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Mubarak-era tycoon Hussein Salem acquitted of money laundering charges – Ahram Online

Cairo Criminal Court ordered the acquittal on Tuesday of Mubarak-era business tycoon Hussein Salem of money-laundering charges linked to the export of gas to Israel.

His son Khaled and daughter Magda, who were charged in the same case, were also aquitted on Tuesday.

Salem and his offspring were originally convicted in absentia in October 2011 and sentenced to 7 years in prison and over $4 billion in fines. However, he later appealed at the Court of Cassation, which granted him a retrial, the outcome of which was Tuesday’s aquittal.

Salem was accused of laundering more than $2 billion in profits he made from the deal, which was agreed between the governments of Egypt and Israel.

Earlier this year, Salems lawyer Mahmoud Kebbiesh, told Ahram Online that the “money laundering charges in connection with the gas export deal represented the last criminal case against Hussein.

Salem had faced various charges relating to the gas deal.

In 2012, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia after being convicted of corruption in connection with the same Israel gas deal. He was charged of being involvedin providing Egyptian natural gas to Israel at prices below the international market price.

He was later acquitted in a retrial in 2015, a ruling the prosecution later appealed. But he was finally acquitted by Cairo Criminal Court in May 2017.

Salem, who was granted Spanish citizenship in 2008, fled to Madrid soon after the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time president Hosni Mubarak. The businessman still resides in Spain, although there has been discussion of his possible return to Egypt.

Since 2011, Salem has been sentenced to several prison terms for corruption, money laundering, seizing state-owned land, bribery, and squandering public funds.

However, in 2013, he filed several requests with the prosecution to reconcile with the Egyptian state by paying large amounts of money in exchange for charges against him and his family members being dropped.

In mid-2016, the Egyptian government agreed to settle with Salem and his family members in three corruption cases, on the condition that he pays EGP 5.3 billion.

In February, an Egyptian court unfroze the assets of Salem and his family.

Salems lawyer Kebbiesh said previously that the businessman had the option of returning from Spain after the reconciliation deal with the government in 2016. However, the lawyer said he had no idea when he would return.

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

A Strong Egypt, As Trump Knows, Is a Strong Middle East – Newsweek

Mabruk is a common word in Arabic used to greet good news, though in the Middle East recently this has been in scarce supply. However, President Donald Trumps recent visit to the Middle East had many in the region feeling a sense of optimism.

Perhaps surprising given the presidents overtly hostile words on the campaign trail against Islam especially, and in the enactment of the travel ban aimed at Arabs in particular. Nevertheless, while many in the region were left unable to visit America, President Trumps visit to the Middle East in May left many feeling positive, and especially in Saudi Arabia with his hosts very literally rolling out the red carpet. Though perhaps more surprising still, is that one country most buoyed by his first foreign trip was a country he did not actually visitEgypt.

The reason for their optimism? The end of the perceived American abandonment of its traditional Middle Eastern allies. A change that could have not come a moment later. With Syria devastated by years of civil war, Iran forging ahead with its plan for regional dominance, and the gradual erosion of Lebanons sovereignty by Hezbollah, the Arab worldor more specifically the Sunni worldwatched in apprehension as the ominous clouds of Iran and its proxy armies loomed on the horizon, eager to fill the vacuum caused by the seemingly imminent fall of the Islamic State.

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For Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, there were early signs of encouragement. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was an early visitor to the White House, as was Egyptian President Fattah Al-Sisi. While the previous incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had refused to host President Sisi, Trump notably invited him to visit in his first 100 days in office.

Furthermore, having regarded President Sisis leadership of Egypt as illegitimate, the Obama administration noticeably cooled relations with Cairo, and did not intervene in support of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally for three decades.

In contrast, President Trumps desire to forge warm ties with the Sisi government was evident in the Egyptian presidents early invitation to the White House, and subsequent remarks at the press conference where President Trump warmly praised his Egyptian counterpart, calling him a great friend and ally.

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walks during the opening ceremony of the new Suez Canal expansion including a new 22-mile channel on August 6, 2015 in Suez, Egypt. David Degner/Getty

Moreover, the seismic geostrategic shift in the region in the aftermath of the fallout between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, with Qataraccused of funding terrorismhas not only isolated Qatar, but has again shone a spotlight on Irans funding of terrorism and its role as an acknowledged destabilizing force in the region.

It is no surprise that President Trump pivoted towards Egypt for assistance in understanding and navigating the crisis. In a phone call with the Egyptian leader on July 5, the U.S. president urged all parties to resolve the diplomatic crisis, while adopting demands consistent with Egyptian policy under President Sisi: ceasing the financing of terror and discrediting extremist ideology.

There is not enough being done to meet the late President Anwar Sadats call to break down the barriers between the people of Egypt and Israel, a crucial ingredient in achieving lasting peace. But make no mistake, Egypt is a strategic ally for the U.S., and a strategic ally for Israel, too. Egypts relationship with Israel has never been stronger at both the military and intelligence level. The Trump administrations renewed relationship with the Egyptian leadership reflects an awareness of the role that Egypt plays in the region and its centrality to maintaining regional security.

As the sun rises on a new day for the Middle East, the international community must understand that a stable and prosperous Egyptis a stable and prosperous region. Just as the Nile was the ancient patron of plenty, today, Egypts well-being is the regions well-being.

Egypt standsas it did in the days of the pharaohsas the gateway to Africa. It stands up to the Muslim Brotherhoods extreme teachings and support for terror. It is bravely fighting Islamic State cells in the Sinai Peninsula. And it has taken a firm stand against Hamas, the Palestinian terror group which continues to hold the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants hostage.

And while for many conservatives it will seem strange, the security of Egypt is a strategic interest of the U.S. and of Israel too. The Trump administration which champions the America First mantra, and the strong bonds with Israel, has wisely realized a strong Egypt benefits all of us.

Ambassador Ron Prosor is the Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center IDC Herzliya.He is also a former Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom and a former Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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August 8, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Netanyahu kept defense minister in dark about German-Egyptian submarine deal report – The Times of Israel

Israel reportedly gave an official go-ahead to Germany to sell advanced submarines to Egypt without telling its defense minister or the president.

In May 2015, during a visit to Berlin to mark 50 years of Israeli-German diplomatic relations, President Reuven Rivlin told Chancellor Angela Merkel that he had been asked to convey concern about the German deal to sell four submarines and two anti-submarine warships to Cairo, Channel 10 investigative reporter Raviv Drucker reported Tuesday.

To the embarrassment of both, Merkel told Rivlin that Israel had already given the green light for the deal to go forward, Drucker said.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Germany had told Israel it was delaying the signing of a different deal, for Israel to purchase three new submarines, amid a rapidly expanding corruption scandal surrounding several multi-billion-dollar naval agreements between the two countries.

Germanys transaction with Egypt which involved submarines very similar in advanced technology to those that Israel has ordered was vehemently opposed by then-defense minister Moshe Yaalon and the defense establishment.

Outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (C) arrives at a press conference at army headquarters in Tel Aviv to announce his resignation from politics, May 20, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied having approved the Egyptian deal when Yaalon, who found out about the transaction by chance, asked him about it, Yedioth reported.

It was only after Rivlins return from Berlin that he realized it had been approved, over the heads of the Defense Ministry.

It was the second time Germany had agreed to sell submarines to Egypt.

In 2009, Netanyahu and the defense minister at the time, Ehud Barak, gave their approval to German moves to sell less advanced submarines to then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The deal fell through after Mubarak was ousted and replaced by Mohammad Morsi in 2012 and was only renegotiated after Abdel Fattah el-Sissi came to power in 2014.

Meanwhile, Israeli police have been probing possible corruption in a series of deals that Israel signed with the German shipbuilder, ThyssenKrupp, to buy submarines and ships.

Miki Ganor, the former Israeli agent for ThyssenKrupp, is under arrest in connection with the case, along with former National Security Council deputy head Avriel Bar-Yosef. Others suspects have been released or are under house arrest.

Ganor continued Tuesday to negotiate a deal to turn states witness via his new lawyer, Eli Zohar, who was at the police fraud squads Lahav 433 headquarters in Lod during the day.

Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as Case 3000, is brought for a court hearing at the Magistrates Court in Rishon Lezion, July 10, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool)

On Tuesday, reports emerged that a second individual was also interested in turning states witness.

Police believe Ganor holds highly sensitive information about other Israeli defense deals that could implicate additional figures in the defense establishment.

Ganors transformation to states witness could spell bad news for another suspect in the case, former commander of the Israeli Navy Maj. Gen. (res) Eliezer Marom, who has admitted agreeing to recommend Ganor to represent the German shipbuilding giant in Israel but has denied being paid to do so.

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Netanyahu kept defense minister in dark about German-Egyptian submarine deal report – The Times of Israel

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July 19, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt’s Leader Faces a Crisis of His Own MakingOne That Reveals His Nation’s Dangerous Weakness – Council on Foreign Relations (blog)

This article, which I coauthored with my research associate, Amr Leheta, was originally published here on Salon.com on Sunday, July 2, 2017.

On Monday, Egypts media outlets, government spokesmen and a large number of citizens will celebrate the countrys second revolution. Four years ago, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew President Mohammed Morsi a member of the Muslim Brotherhood after a massive popular uprising against Islamist rule. The militarys intervention was greeted with joy, the generals popularity soared and almost overnight a cult of personality emerged around Sisi. In the Egyptian court of permissible public opinion, intellectuals, journalists, business leaders and others depicted Sisi as a hero who had saved Egypts nationalist identity.

Today, Sisi, who has been president since his election in May 2014, finds himself in hot water with the general public. Even government-friendly polling indicates that the support he once commandedhas declined. Thus far, the Sisi era has been marked by mass arrests, detention, and torture of dissidents from all across the political spectrum; numerous horrific attacks on Coptic Christians; security lapses that resulted in civilian, police, and military deaths; and a deteriorating economic situation. These conditions have produced criticism, but Sisis repression and Egypts instability have meant there is no sustained public outcry.

Instead, its the Egyptian governments plan to transfer two tiny Red Sea islands called Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia that has galvanized widespread and persistent opposition. This is because as bad as things have gotten for Sisis critics and political dissidents, many Egyptians do not share their concerns. Land is different, however. It is an issue that is bound up in Egyptians collective sense of dignity and historical trauma.

The trouble started in April 2016 when Sisi and the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, signed a new maritime border agreement that formally established the boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Strait of Tiran. Included in the deal was a provision to transfer or to transferback, some would argue sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately, demonstrations erupted in Cairos Tahrir Square and elsewhere, and the government responded with arrests. The show of force has not deterred people, though. In the 14 months since the deal was signed, ordinary Egyptians, lawyers, historians, public figures and media personalities have protested the islands transfer as unpatriotic and illegal.

A few weeks ago, on June 14, Egypts House of Representativesapprovedthe deeply unpopular agreement. Sisiratifiedit 10days later. Defiant representatives in the legislature insisted that the islands are Egyptian, but could do little more than vocally register their dissent. Public response has been nothing short of vitriolic.Not long after the vote, Egyptian social media quickly filled with angry accusations of high treason. Almost half of Egyptians recentlypolled 47 percent believe the islands belong to Egypt, while only 11 percent support the Saudi territorial claim (the remaining 42 percent are unsure).

In response to the outrage, Sisi and his cabinet have argued that the islands were never formally Egyptian lands in the first place. The historical record seems to give their case some weight. The government cites the fact that the Egyptian military only occupied Tiran and Sanafir in January 1950 at the behest of the Saudi king, who felt the Egyptians could better defend them against Israel.

Others, however, point to Egyptian diplomats whoinformed the United Nations Security Council in 1954that the islands were Egyptian territory, under the terms of the British-mediatedTurco-Egyptian border agreement all the way back in 1906. Yet that agreement, which demarcated the line that now divides Egypt from Israel and the Gaza Strip, only concerned itself with establishing a land border. Delineating territorial waters and claiming islands in the Gulf of Aqaba was never under discussion and wouldnt have been the gulf and the small fishing village that Aqaba was then had little if any strategic, military or commercial value for the Ottomans, the Egyptians or the British at the time. (The Saudi claim is similarly shaky: The Riyadh government has referred to a1957 letter to the United Nationsattesting that the islands were Saudi territory. Some in Saudi Arabia have made the far-fetched allegation that the islands wereonce the property of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged.)

The tension between Sisis government and those who oppose the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir is rooted in the values of the modern Egyptian nation-state. In the late 19th and early 20th century, nationalist historians, politicians, artists and activists weaved a compelling narrative of a common history and destiny for the inhabitants of the land of Egypt. The peasant who tilled the same fields on the banks of the Nile for centuries became a symbol of that nationalist sentiment. After the Free Officers came to power in a coup in 1952, propagandists elevated the honorable soldier protecting Egypts borders into another nationalist icon. Gamal Abdel Nasser, first among equals within the ruling junta, packaged those values and worked to embed them in the countrys political culture.

As such, the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia is, for many, a bewildering betrayal of Egyptian nationalisms central axiom that Egyptian land is sacred and intimately tied to the nations pride. With the deal over the islands, Sisi, who has consciously sought to cultivate the idea that he represents the rightful legacy of the Free Officers, has done the opposite of what Nasser did when he nationalized the Suez Canal in July 1956. In the process, Nasser declared that Egypts resources would be used for the benefit of Egyptians, effectively sealing his status as a nationalist hero. When Sisi came to power, he rested the legitimacy of the militarys intervention in large part on promises to protect and preserve Egypts identity and territorial integrity.

During Morsis year-long tenure, he and the Muslim Brotherhood were said to have compromised those central values inalleged deals to sell off parts of the Canal Zone. The tables have now been turned. Instead of Nasser, opponents of the islands transfer liken Sisi to the folkloric character of Awwad, who sold his land to appease his new wife but ultimately brought shame on his family. That the maritime agreements signing took place a day after a summit between Sisi and King Salman in which contracts and investment deals worth $22 billion were reached including an agreement to build a Saudi-Egyptian causeway that would traverse Tiran only helped facilitate the comparison.

The deal also tapped into nationalist traumas of the past and present. In Egypts official narrative, Nasser was the first Egyptian to govern and defend Egyptian land since the pharaohs. That cemented sovereignty over ones territory as a marker of national dignity in the popular imagination. In June 1967, Egypt lost a large part of its territory to Israel in the first three days of the Six-Day War. It was not until 1982 that Egyptians could claim the Sinai Peninsula had been liberated. It was a jubilant moment, tempered by the fact that the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limits Egyptian sovereignty over its own territory.

Now there is the Tiran and Sanafir transfer, which is primarily about land but, in an additional layer of complexity, also raises the issue of Egypts place in the modern Middle East. Egyptians tend to imagine their country in Middle Kingdomlike terms, but reality has been crueler. For all of its attributes as the inheritor of a great civilization, the largest Arab country (by population) and, at one time, the social cultural, and political bellwether of the Middle East, Egypt is a poor country, long dependent on the goodwill of others and unable to project power outside its borders.

The islands episode is all too reminiscent of Nassers post-1967 cap-in-hand visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to ask his rival, King Faisal, for much-needed economic assistance. It signaled then, as it does now to opponents of the islands transfer, Egypts decline as a regional power in favor of the Saudis who, to many Egyptians, lack history and culture. ThatIsrael approved of the transfer, in keeping with the terms of the Camp David accords, added insult to injury to those in Egypt who remain suspicious of Israel despite the peace treaty.

Immediately after the new border agreement was signed in 2016, Egyptians flooded the public sphere withvideos of Nasserasserting that the Gulf of Aqaba which Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians and Saudis share belongs to Egypt,mapsfrom various time periods that attribute Tiran and Sanafir to Egypt,scansofstate-approved school textbooksteaching generations of children that the islands are Egyptian because Egyptian soldiers died defending them, andexcerptsfrom books and manuscripts detailing Egyptian activity on those islands since the days of the pharaohs. Tiran also features prominently in nationalist stories about the Arab-Israeli wars, when Nasser blocked the strait to Israeli shipping in both 1956 and 1967. In other words, given that the state has spent decades telling its people that Tiran and Sanafir are integral parts of Egypts land and history, citizens were caught blindsided when they were suddenly told that the islands were actually Saudi and would be handed back.The predictable result was outrage.

The January 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubaraks presidency was a moment of empowerment for many Egyptians who looked forward to a new era in which their demands for bread, freedom and social justice which, taken together, promised dignity would be met. It did not work out as they had hoped. In Sisis Egypt, the patterns of politics and authoritarian pathologies are familiar. As in the Mubarak era, there remains a significant gap between what the government is telling Egyptians and what their objective reality actually is. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Tiran and Sanafir episode, where a leader who came to power promising to ensure Egypts nationalist pride stands accused of ignominiously handing over Egyptian territory for the most craven of reasons Saudi Arabias money. The islands, which few Egyptians ever thought about before 2016, are now a potent symbol of Egypts terminal weakness.

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Egypt’s Leader Faces a Crisis of His Own MakingOne That Reveals His Nation’s Dangerous Weakness – Council on Foreign Relations (blog)

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt’s leader faces a crisis of his own making one that reveals … – Salon

On Monday, Egypts media outlets, government spokesmen and a large number of citizens will celebrate the countrys second revolution. Four years ago, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew President Mohammed Morsi a member of the Muslim Brotherhood after a massive popular uprising against Islamist rule. The militarys intervention was greeted with joy, the generals popularity soared and almost overnight a cult of personality emerged around Sisi. In the Egyptian court of permissible public opinion, intellectuals, journalists, business leaders and others depicted Sisi as a hero who had saved Egypts nationalist identity.

Today, Sisi, who has been president since his election in May 2014, finds himself in hot water with the general public. Even government-friendly polling indicates that the support he once commanded has declined. Thus far, the Sisi era has been marked by mass arrests, detention, and torture of dissidents from all across the political spectrum; numerous horrific attacks on Coptic Christians; security lapses that resulted in civilian, police, and military deaths; and a deteriorating economic situation. These conditions have produced criticism, but Sisis repression and the Egypts instability have meant there is no sustained public outcry.

Instead, its the Egyptian governments plan to transfer two tiny Red Sea islands called Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia that has galvanized widespread and persistent opposition. This is because as bad as things have gotten for Sisis critics and political dissidents, many Egyptians do not share their concerns. Land is different, however. It is an issue that is bound up in Egyptians collective sense of dignity and historical trauma.

The trouble started in April 2016 when Sisi and the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, signed a new maritime border agreement that formally established the boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Strait of Tiran. Included in the deal was a provision to transfer or to transfer back, some would argue sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately, demonstrations erupted in Cairos Tahrir Square and elsewhere, and the government responded with arrests. The show of force has not deterred people, though. In the 14 months since the deal was signed, ordinary Egyptians, lawyers, historians, public figures and media personalities have protested the islands transfer as unpatriotic and illegal.

A few weeks ago, on June 14, Egypts House of Representativesapproved the deeply unpopular agreement. Sisi ratified it 10days later. Defiant representatives in the legislature insisted that the islands are Egyptian, but could do little more than vocally register their dissent. Public response has been nothing short of vitriolic.Not long after the vote, Egyptian social media quickly filled with angry accusations of high treason. Almost half of Egyptians recently polled 47 percent believe the islands belong to Egypt, while only 11 percent support the Saudi territorial claim (the remaining 42 percent are unsure).

In response to the outrage, Sisi and his cabinet have argued that the islands were never formally Egyptian lands in the first place. The historical record seems to give their case some weight. The government cites the fact that the Egyptian military only occupied Tiran and Sanafir in January 1950 at the behest of the Saudi king, who felt the Egyptians could better defend them against Israel.

Others, however, point to Egyptian diplomats who informed the United Nations Security Council in 1954 that the islands were Egyptian territory, under the terms of the British-mediated Turco-Egyptian border agreement all the way back in 1906. Yet that agreement, which demarcated the line that now divides Egypt from Israel and the Gaza Strip, only concerned itself with establishing a land border. Delineating territorial waters and claiming islands in the Gulf of Aqaba was never under discussion and wouldnt have been the gulf and the small fishing village that Aqaba was then had little if any strategic, military or commercial value for the Ottomans, the Egyptians or the British at the time. (The Saudi claim is similarly shaky: The Riyadh government has referred to a 1957 letter to the United Nations attesting that the islands were Saudi territory. Some in Saudi Arabia have made the far-fetched allegation that the islands were once the property of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged.)

The tension between Sisis government and those who oppose the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir is rooted in the values of the modern Egyptian nation-state. In the late 19th and early 20th century, nationalist historians, politicians, artists and activists weaved a compelling narrative of a common history and destiny for the inhabitants of the land of Egypt. The peasant who tilled the same fields on the banks of the Nile for centuries became a symbol of that nationalist sentiment. After the Free Officers came to power in a coup in 1952, propagandists elevated the honorable soldier protecting Egypts borders into another nationalist icon. Gamal Abdel Nasser, first among equals within the ruling junta, packaged those values and worked to embed them in the countrys political culture.

As such, the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia is, for many, a bewildering betrayal of Egyptian nationalisms central axiom that Egyptian land is sacred and intimately tied to the nations pride. With the deal over the islands, Sisi, who has consciously sought to cultivate the idea that he represents the rightful legacy of the Free Officers, has done the opposite of what Nasser did when he nationalized the Suez Canal in July 1956. In the process, Nasser declared that Egypts resources would be used for the benefit of Egyptians, effectively sealing his status as a nationalist hero. When Sisi came to power, he rested the legitimacy of the militarys intervention in large part on promises to protect and preserve Egypts identity and territorial integrity.

During Morsis year-long tenure, he and the Muslim Brotherhood were said to have compromised those central values in alleged deals to sell off parts of the Canal Zone. The tables have now been turned. Instead of Nasser, opponents of the islands transfer liken Sisi to the folkloric character of Awwad, who sold his land to appease his new wife but ultimately brought shame on his family. That the maritime agreements signing took place a day after a summit between Sisi and King Salman in which contracts and investment deals worth $22 billion were reached including an agreement to build a Saudi-Egyptian causeway that would traverse Tiran, only helped facilitate the comparison.

The deal also tapped into nationalist traumas of the past and present. In Egypts official narrative, Nasser was the first Egyptian to govern and defend Egyptian land since the pharaohs. That cemented sovereignty over ones territory as a marker of national dignity in the popular imagination. In June 1967, Egypt lost a large part of its territory to Israel in the first three days of the Six-Day War. It was not until 1982 that Egyptians could claim the Sinai Peninsula had been liberated. It was a jubilant moment, tempered by the fact that the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limits Egyptian sovereignty over its own territory.

Now there is the Tiran and Sanafir transfer, which is primarily about land but, in an additional layer of complexity, also raises the issue of Egypts place in the modern Middle East. Egyptians tend to imagine their country in Middle Kingdomlike terms, but reality has been crueler. For all of its attributes as the inheritor of a great civilization, the largest Arab country (by population) and, at one time, the social cultural, and political bellwether of the Middle East, Egypt is a poor country, long dependent on the goodwill of others and unable to project power outside its borders.

The islands episode is all too reminiscent of Nassers post-1967 cap-in-hand visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to ask his rival, King Faisal, for much-needed economic assistance. It signaled then, as it does now to opponents of the islands transfer, Egypts decline as a regional power in favor of the Saudis who, to many Egyptians, lack history and culture. That Israel approved of the transfer, in keeping with the terms of the Camp David accords, added insult to injury to those in Egypt who remain suspicious of Israel despite the peace treaty.

Immediately after the new border agreement was signed in 2016, Egyptians flooded the public sphere with videos of Nasser asserting that the Gulf of Aqaba which Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians and Saudis share belongs to Egypt, maps from various time periods that attribute Tiran and Sanafir to Egypt, scans of state-approved school textbooks teaching generations of children that the islands are Egyptian because Egyptian soldiers died defending them, andexcerpts from books and manuscripts detailing Egyptian activity on those islands since the days of the pharaohs. Tiran also features prominently in nationalist stories about the Arab-Israeli wars, when Nasser blocked the strait to Israeli shipping in both 1956 and 1967. In other words, given that the state has spent decades telling its people that Tiran and Sanafir are integral parts of Egypts land and history, citizens were caught blindsided when they were suddenly told that the islands were actually Saudi and would be handed back.The predictable result was outrage.

The January 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubaraks presidency was a moment of empowerment for many Egyptians who looked forward to a new era in which their demands for bread, freedom and social justice which, taken together, promised dignity would be met. It did not work out as they had hoped. In Sisis Egypt, the patterns of politics and authoritarian pathologies are familiar. As in the Mubarak era, there remains a significant gap between what the government is telling Egyptians and what their objective reality actually is. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Tiran and Sanafir episode, where a leader who came to power promising to ensure Egypts nationalist pride stands accused of ignominiously handing over Egyptian territory for the most craven of reasons Saudi Arabias money. The islands, which few Egyptians ever thought about before 2016, are now a potent symbol of Egypts terminal weakness.

Continued here:
Egypt’s leader faces a crisis of his own making one that reveals … – Salon

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July 2, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Israel & Egypt Make Peace – jewishvirtuallibrary.org

On March 26, 1979, sixteen months after Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s dramatic visit to Jerusalem, Israel and Egypt – long standing enemies – signed a peace treaty on the lawn of the White House in Washington, DC. This peace drive, however, did not begin with Sadat’s trip to Israel, but rather came only after more than a half-century of efforts by early Zionist and Israeli leaders to negotiate peace with the Arabs. Every government in Israel’s history had declared its desire to live in peace with all Arab states, including those who had ruthlessly attacked the Jewish state in 1948 and again in 1967 and 1973. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin, like Sadat, was willing to go the extra mile to achieve peace. Although he faced intense opposition from within his Likud Party, Begin froze Israeli settlements in the West Bank to facilitate the progress of negotiations. Despite the Carter Administration’s tilt toward Egypt during the talks, Begin remained determined to continue the peace process. In the end, he agreed to return to Egypt the strategically critical Sinai 91 percent of the territory won by Israel during the Six-Day War in exchange for Sadat’s promise to make peace. In recognition of his willingness to join Sadat in making compromises for peace, Begin shared the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize with the Egyptian leader. Israel – which had repeatedly been the target of shipping blockades, military assaults and terrorist attacks staged from the Sinai – made far greater economic and strategic sacrifices in giving up the region than Egypt did in normalizing relations with Israel. While it received additional U.S. aid for withdrawing, Israel gave up much of its strategic depth in the Sinai, returning the area to a neighbor that had repeatedly used it as a launching point for attacks. Israel also relinquished direct control of its shipping lanes to and from Eilat, 1,000 miles of roadways, homes, factories, hotels, health facilities and agricultural villages. Because Egypt insisted that Jewish civilians leave the Sinai, more than 7,000 Israelis were uprooted from their homes and businesses, which they had spent years building in the desert. This was a physically and emotionally wrenching experience, particularly for the residents of Yamit, who had to be forcibly removed by soldiers from their homes. Israel also lost electronic early-warning stations situated on Sinai mountaintops that provided data on military movement on the western side of the Suez Canal, as well as the areas near the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Eilat, which were vital to defending against an attack from the east. Israel was forced to relocate more than 170 military installations, airfields and army bases after it withdrew. By turning over the Sinai to Egypt, Israel may have given up its only chance to become energy-independent. The Alma oil field in the southern Sinai, discovered and developed by Israel, was transferred to Egypt in November 1979. When Israel gave up this field, it had become the country’s largest single source of energy, supplying half the country’s energy needs. Israel, which estimated the value of untapped reserves in the Alma field at $100 billion, had projected that continued development there would make the country self-sufficient in energy by 1990. Israel also agreed to end military rule in the West Bank and Gaza, withdraw its troops from certain parts of the territories and work toward Palestinian autonomy. The Begin government did this though no Palestinian Arab willing to recognize Israel came forward to speak on behalf of residents of the territories. In 1988, the Jewish State relinquished Taba a resort built by Israel in what had been a barren desert area near Eilat to Egypt. Taba’s status had not been resolved by the Camp David Accords. When an international arbitration panel ruled in Cairo’s favor on September 29, 1988, Israel turned the town over to Egypt. More than three decades have passed since Israel and Egypt signed their treaty and peace has been maintained. Still, it is regarded as a cold peace because relations between the two peoples have not significantly improved and, in the wake of the Arab Spring national uprising in 2011, have even slightly deteriorated. Trade and tourism are primarily in one direction – from Israel to Egypt. Under former president Hosni Mubarak, the government-controlled press and the intellectual elite remained hostile toward Israel and anti-Semitic articles and cartoons were widely published in newspapers and magazines. Mubarak was an active participant in the peace process, though more often than not he contributed to the hardening of Arab positions toward Israel. He has also refused to visit Israel with the lone exception being to attend the funeral of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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August 28, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Jews of Egypt – Jewish Virtual Library

Between June and November 1948, bombs set off in the Jewish Quarter of Cairo killed more than 70 Jews and wounded nearly 200.2 In 1956, the Egyptian government used the Sinai Campaign as a pretext for expelling almost 25,000 Egyptian Jews and confiscating their property. Approximately 1,000 more Jews were sent to prisons and detention camps. On November 23, 1956, a proclamation signed by the Minister of Religious Affairs, and read aloud in mosques throughout Egypt, declared that “all Jews are Zionists and enemies of the state,” and promised that they would be soon expelled. Thousands of Jews were ordered to leave the country. They were allowed to take only one suitcase and a small sum of cash, and forced to sign declarations “donating” their property to the Egyptian government. Foreign observers reported that members of Jewish families were taken hostage, apparently to insure that those forced to leave did not speak out against the Egyptian government.3 When war broke out in 1967, Jewish homes and property were confiscated. Egypt’s attitude toward Jews at that time was reflected in its treatment of former Nazis. Hundreds were allowed to take up residence in Egypt and given positions in the government. The head of the Gestapo in occupied Poland, Leopold Gleim (who had been sentenced to death in absentia), controlled the Egyptian secret police. In 1979, the Egyptian Jewish community became the first in the Arab world to establish official contact with Israel. Israel now has an embassy in Cairo and a consulate general in Alexandria. At present, the few remaining Jews are free to practice Judaism without any restrictions or harassment. Shaar Hashamayim is the only functioning synagogue in Cairo. Of the many synagogues in Alexandria only the Eliahu Hanabi is open for worship.4 Anti-Semitism in the Egyptian press is found primarily, but not exclusively, in the nonofficial press of the opposition parties. The Government has condemned anti-Semitism and advised journalists and cartoonists to avoid anti-Semitism. There have been no anti-Semitic incidents in recent years directed at the tiny Jewish community.5 In September 2000 construction began on a highway-bridge through the ancient Basatin Jewish cemetery in Cairo. Cooperation and funding were provided by the Egyptian Ministry of Housing and an American ultra-Orthodox Jewish Athra Kadisha group. The plans will not harm any tombs and it will honor Jewish law concerning cemeteries. Anti-Semitism is rampant in the government-controlled press, and increased in late 2000 and 2001 following the outbreak of violence in Israel and the territories. In April 2001, columnist Ahmed Ragheb lamented Hitlers failure to finish the job of annihilating the Jews. In May 2001, an article in Al-Akhbar attacked Europeans and Americans for believing in the false Holocaust.6 On March 18, 2004, Bad al-Ahab Adams, deputy director of Al Jumhuriya, accused the Jews of the terrorist attack in Madrid on March 11 as well as of the September 11, 2001 attacks.7 A positive development was the announcement that a Cairo synagogue built in 1934, which had been closed because so few Jews remain in Egypt, would be reopened in July 2005. The head of Cairos Jewish community, Carmen Weinstein, and Israels ambassador to Egypt, Shalom Cohen, arranged to reopen the synagogue, which the Israeli Embassy will help to maintain.8 On October 30, 2007, the Sha’ar Hashamayim synagogue in Cairo was rededicated by the city’s small Jewish community. Many guests from Egypt and around the world attended the event which celebrated the synagogue’s 100-year anniversary and the completion of recent renovations that occurred with assistance from the Egyptian government.9 In March 2013, Egyptian security agencies banned an Egyptian film about the Arab nation’s once-thriving Jewish community, called “The Jews of Egypt,” just a day before it was due to open in cinemas. Producer Haytham el-Khamissy said no reason had been given for the ban, which recalls the worst excesses of the famously censorial regime of former dictatorHosni Mubarak. The film is based on testimony from researchers, political figures and exiled Egyptian Jews, and presents a harmonious vision of early 20th century multicultural Egypt and asks “how did the Jews of Egypt turn in the eyes of Egyptians from partners in the same country to enemies?”10 As of 2013, the Jewish community in Egypt numbers only a few dozen and is quickly fading into extinction. In May 2013, the Egyptian government announced that it would be canceling its annual $14,000 stipend to the Jewish community which has been part of the state budget since 1988. The stipend had been used to pay for renovations to the Bassatine cemetery, the second-oldest Jewish cemetery in the world behind only The Mount of Olives cemetery in Jerusalem. The funds also helped to pay for security.11 In December 2014 an Egyptian court placed a ban on a yearly festival that attracts hundreds of Jewish individuals from all over the Middle East. The annual festival celebrates the birth of Abu Hatzira, a legendary Moroccan Rabbi revered for his kindness and known for performing miracles. Abu Hatzira was also the grandfather of famous Kaballist known as “the Baba Sali”. The festival was banned by an Egyptian court because the celebration involves the consumption of alcoholic beverages, dancing, and casual intermingling of the sexes.The celebration takes place at Abu Hatzira’s tomb and as part of the ruling the court also ordered that the tomb be taken off of Egypt’s list of antiquities, cultural sites, and monuments lists. The festival was called off in 2012 due to security concerns surrounding the Arab Spring.12 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi appointed an ambassador to Israel in June 2015, following a significant three year lapse in diplomatic relations between the countries.13 Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi recalled the previous ambassador to Israel in 2012 in protest of Israeli treatment of Palestinians in Gaza. The Israeli embassy in Egypt was re-opened on September 9, 2015, after a closure due to security concerns during the Egyptian revolution that began in January 2011. On September 9, 2011, angry and violent protestors descended upon the Israeli embassy in Egypt, forcing the Diplomats and other officials inside to evacuate immediately. The embassy remained vacant for four years. Director-General of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, Dore Gold, stated at the re-opening ceremony on September 9, 2015, that, Egypt will always be the biggest and most important state in the region. This event taking place in Cairo is also the beginning of something new. 14 For the first time since the State of Israel’s creation in 1948, Egyptian representatives at the United Nations voted in Israel’s favor, in October 2015. Egypt was one of 117 countries who voted in favor of Israel joining the UN Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space Affairs. The Egyptian representative refused to comment before or after the vote. 15 Sources:1 David Singer, Ed. American Jewish Year Book 2001. NY: American Jewish Committee, 2001; Aharon Mor & Orly Rahimiyan, “The Jewish Exodus from Arab Lands,”Jerusalem Center for Public Opinion, (September 11, 2012).2Howard Sachar, A History of Israel, (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 1979), p. 401.3 AP, (November 26, 1956); New York World Telegram, (November 29, 1956).4Jewish Communities of the World.5U.S. Department of State, 2000 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, (September 5, 2000).6 U.S. Department of State, 2001 Annual Report on International Religious Freedom, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, (October 26, 2001).7U.S. Department of State, 2004 Report on Global Anti-Semitism, Released by the Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor Washington, DC, January 5, 2005).8 Jewish Telegraphic Agency, (July 13, 2005).9 Dateline – Cairo, The Jerusalem Report (November 26, 2007), p.40.10 Ben Child, “Egypt Bans Film About Jewish Community,” The Guardian, (March 13, 2013).11 Ponts, Zach, “Egypt Cuts Annual Stipend for Jewish Community From new Budget,” Algemeiner (May 23, 2013).12″Egypt Court Bans Festival Honoring Reverred Moroccan Rabbi,” The Daily Mail, (December 29, 2014).13 Fahmy, Omar/Aboulenein, Ahmed/Fisher Ilan, Allyn. “Egypt Appoints First Ambassador to Israel in Three Years,” Reuters, (June 21, 2015).14″Israel Reopens it’s Embassy in Egypt,” MFA, (September 9, 2015).15Soffer, Ari. For the first time ever, Egypt votes for Israel at the UN, Israel National News (November 2, 2015)

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July 18, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

EgyptIsrael barrier – Wikipedia

The EgyptIsrael barrier (or EgyptIsrael border fence; Project name: Hourglass, Hebrew: , Sha’on Haol) refers to a border barrier built by Israel along sections of its border with Egypt. It was originally an attempt to curb the influx of illegal migrants from African countries.[2] Construction was approved on 12 January 2010[3] and began on 22 November 2010.[4][5] However, following increased insurgent movement across the southern border in 2011, Israel upgraded the steel barrier project to include cameras, radar and motion detectors. In January 2013, construction of the barrier was completed in its main section.[6] The final section of the fence was completed in December 2013.[7] A number of countries, including the United States and India, have sent delegations to Israel to study border security and the various technologies used by the IDF to secure Israel’s borders, including the IsraelEgypt border. Some of these countries may implement these technologies as part of their own border fences. About 152 miles (245km) long,[8][9][10] the fence from Rafah to Eilat took three years to construct, at an estimated cost of NIS1.6 billion ($450 million), making it one of the largest projects in Israel’s history.[7] An old rusty low fence swamped by shifting sand dunes has existed along Israel’s Sinai Peninsula border with Egypt, mainly serving as a marker between the two countries. Smuggling of cigarettes and drugs often carried on camels by Bedouins whose tribal lands straddle the border, has been a long-term problem. In December 2005 armed infiltrations into Israel along the porous border led to calls for the construction of a security fence.[2] The Israeli government decided in the late 2000s to build the barrier. The barrier was originally planned in response to high levels of illegal migrants who successfully entered Israel across the border, mainly smuggled by Bedouin traffickers, from Eritrea and Sudan. Tens of thousands of people try to cross from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula into Israel every year, predominantly economic migrants. During Hosni Mubarak’s regime, Egyptian border guards sometimes shot African migrants trying to enter Israel illegally.[11][12] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the barrier is meant to “secure Israel’s Jewish and democratic character.”[13] The 2011 Egyptian revolution, the demise of Mubarak’s regime, increased lawlessness in the Sinai as well as the 2011 southern Israel cross-border attacks led to the project’s upgrading with surveillance equipment and its timetable for completion being expedited.[14] The fence has two layers of fencing, one with barbed wire.[15] The structure includes the installation of advanced surveillance equipment. Eventually the whole border will be sealed. The estimated cost of the project is NIS1.6 billion ($450 million). In March 2012, nearly 105km of fence had been built by 30 contractors working concurrently and building several hundred meters of the fence every day. The goal was to finish the remaining 135km, including those running through the mountainous area of Sinai, in 2012.[16] Construction of the main section 230km was completed in January 2013.[17][18] The project was completed in December 2013.[7] Egypt has said it did not object to the fence’s construction, so long as it was built on Israeli soil.[13] While 9,570 citizens of various African countries entered Israel illegally in the first half of 2012, only 34 did the same in the first six months of 2013, after construction of the main section of the barrier was completed.[19][20][21] After the entire fence was completed, the number of migrant crossings had dropped to 16 in 2016.[22] A number of countries have sent delegations to Israel to study border security and the various technologies used by the IDF to secure Israel’s borders, including the IsraelEgypt border. For example, a delegation from India arrived in August 2012 to study these technologies that are used to secure the borders with the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and Egypt, which may be implemented as part of Indias own fence with Pakistan and Bangladesh. The interest in Israeli border security increased since the construction of the fence along the IsraelEgypt border. The United States, which occasionally adds to a partial barrier along its border with Mexico, is also following Israels decisions on border security closely.[23] Media related to Israel-Egypt border fence at Wikimedia Commons

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February 7, 2018  Tags:   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

‘Egypt is Preparing for War with Israel’ – Israel National …

Noha Hashad (51), an Egyptian nuclear scientist who fled the Nile state in 2011 after her support of Israel made her a target for torture over many long years, has exposed troubling insightsregarding Egypt’s military buildup in the Sinai Peninsula, as it fights terrorist organizations there. Speaking toIsrael Hayom’s Emily Amrousifrom her new homein Haifa, Hashad was asked to give her take about Egypt’s actions in Sinai, where the Egyptian army has been fighting radical groups such as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a group that recently swore allegiance to Islamic State (ISIS). “That’s all for show,” appraised Hashad. “In the race for the presidency, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis supported (President Abdel Fattah) al-Sisi,who isn’t really fighting them.” The nuclear scientist warned “Egypt is preparing for war with Israel. It armed and trained Hamas in Gaza. Whoever knows Arabic can hear the heads of Egyptian military intelligence talk about wide canals that open up between Israel and Egypt that will be used at the appropriate time.” The warning echoes appraisals byCol. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of the Israel National Security Council, who wrote inIsrael Defenselast December that the”Badr 2014″ military maneuver, its largest in decades, wasmeant to prepare for “apotential conflict with Israel.” Hashad spoke to the Israeli paper about the culture of hatred for Israel that has been rampant in Egypt, despite a decades-old peace treaty. She argued that the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Arabs isn’t the cause of Egyptian hatred for Israel, but rather “the Palestinian struggle is a byproduct of Egyptian hatred. (Palestine Liberation Organization founder Yasser)Arafat served in the Egyptian army. The Palestine Liberation Organization was invented by Egypt during the reign of (former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel)Nasser.” “Egyptian generals give lectures everywhere and tell stories of how Israel is the only enemy of the Arabs, the only target,” said Hashad. “The incitement against Jews is done on a daily basis on television, in films and by famous actors. They treat Israel as a temporary phenomenon.” Egypt has been imposing amassive buffer zoneinside Gaza on the southern border with the Sinai, evicting thousands of locals and creating a presence within the Hamas stronghold. Last February the Nile statesealed a$2 billion arms dealwith Russia, and just last Tuesday US President Barack Obamaunfroze Americanmilitary aidthat had been suspended in the violent coup that put al-Sisi in power in July, 2013. “The Koran is a Zionist text” Hashad received her doctorate in nuclear physics from Beni-Suef University, and taught nuclear physics at the university as well as at Cairo University. She also ran her own research laboratory. Born as a Muslim in Cairo, she was sent to a private school in Saudi Arabia where she studied Islam. Her mother’s family traces its ancestry to Hussein Bin Ali, the ground of the founder of Islam Mohammed, and himself the founder of Shia Islam. She toldIsrael Hayom that her father’s family has a connection to Judaism, saying, “apparently, my last name, Hashad, is derived from the Hebrew word Hassid.” After a chance encounter with an Israeli professor through an e-mail in 1999 and a rebuff from the government denying her from attending a conference in Jerusalem or leaving Egypt, her interest in the Jewish people was sparked by aBBCarticle that quoted the Koran referencing the Temple and King Solomon. “I discovered that the Koran mentions Jewish rights to the land of Israel in a clear manner. Later on, during my interrogations, I was accused of the horrible crime of supporting Zionism. If being a Zionist means to say that the land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel, then the Koranisa Zionist book,” she said. Hashad elaborated that in the Koran “it is written that the land of Israel belongs to ‘the nation of Moses.’ Who are ‘the people of Moses’ if not Israel? This also appears in books that offer commentary about the Koran. The sheikhs know this, but they prefer to nurture the incorrect narrative in order to deny this right to the Jews and to take over land.” Secret police crackdown Eager to reveal more of this hidden information about the Koran, Hashad went to the library of Al-Azhar University, considered one of the most important Islamic repositories of texts and research. At the institution, she told Amrousi,shefound the “original interpretation of the Koran before it was politicized and it turns out that, indeed, I was correct. The Land of Israel belongs to the Jews.” Her research caught the attention of informants who tipped off the secret police, who had her blocked from the library and had her arrested. In2002 she was arrested by a police officer whokickedand punchedher repeatedly, tearing ligaments in her knee, shattering her jaw and causing a herniated disc in her back. Then in jail, without being given medical treatment she was thrown in a cell with other women at which point the officer told them “you get a Jewish woman. Show me what you know how to do.” He left her to be assaulted by the other women, and at a certain point another officer came in to the cell to beat her with a wooden stick.After several days of the torture, she was released, only to be arrested five more times over the next two years. “In one instance, police officers took me to a Jewish cemetery, poured gasoline on me, and threatened me by placing a match close to my ear,” she said. “They told me that I gave them inspiration and ideas on how to kill all of the Jews. This is what happens to anyone in Egypt who tries to speak up in favor of Israel.” Exodus from Egypt Hashad finally got her opportunity to flee in 2011, as the “Arab Spring” saw Hosni Mubarak’s regime toppled. “I took part in the demonstrations in Tahrir Square,” she told Israel Hayom. “The events that took place there were like a miracle. It was my Passover, my spring, my own exodus from Egypt. The security services collapsed. I submitted a request to travel to Jordan for medical treatments. The torture that I endured left me paralyzed in my back and foot, my jaw was shattered and I needed surgery.” She was able to make it to Jordan, and from there to Israel where she finally was able to sort out the diplomatic hardships and establish herself. “Israel is a jewel. Israel is a diamond, and I’m lucky to be here,” Hashad said. Currently she is working to found a center promoting peace in the Middle East by confronting the cultural hatred towards Israel. She is also translating Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s first book, “The Birth and Death of Zionism” from 1977, into English to reveal the true face of Israel’s “peace partners.” She has received death threats, but she says “I’m not afraid.I don’t know why. I don’t have the gene of fear.”

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November 19, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Mubarak-era tycoon Hussein Salem acquitted of money laundering charges – Ahram Online

Cairo Criminal Court ordered the acquittal on Tuesday of Mubarak-era business tycoon Hussein Salem of money-laundering charges linked to the export of gas to Israel. His son Khaled and daughter Magda, who were charged in the same case, were also aquitted on Tuesday. Salem and his offspring were originally convicted in absentia in October 2011 and sentenced to 7 years in prison and over $4 billion in fines. However, he later appealed at the Court of Cassation, which granted him a retrial, the outcome of which was Tuesday’s aquittal. Salem was accused of laundering more than $2 billion in profits he made from the deal, which was agreed between the governments of Egypt and Israel. Earlier this year, Salems lawyer Mahmoud Kebbiesh, told Ahram Online that the “money laundering charges in connection with the gas export deal represented the last criminal case against Hussein. Salem had faced various charges relating to the gas deal. In 2012, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison in absentia after being convicted of corruption in connection with the same Israel gas deal. He was charged of being involvedin providing Egyptian natural gas to Israel at prices below the international market price. He was later acquitted in a retrial in 2015, a ruling the prosecution later appealed. But he was finally acquitted by Cairo Criminal Court in May 2017. Salem, who was granted Spanish citizenship in 2008, fled to Madrid soon after the 2011 revolution that ousted long-time president Hosni Mubarak. The businessman still resides in Spain, although there has been discussion of his possible return to Egypt. Since 2011, Salem has been sentenced to several prison terms for corruption, money laundering, seizing state-owned land, bribery, and squandering public funds. However, in 2013, he filed several requests with the prosecution to reconcile with the Egyptian state by paying large amounts of money in exchange for charges against him and his family members being dropped. In mid-2016, the Egyptian government agreed to settle with Salem and his family members in three corruption cases, on the condition that he pays EGP 5.3 billion. In February, an Egyptian court unfroze the assets of Salem and his family. Salems lawyer Kebbiesh said previously that the businessman had the option of returning from Spain after the reconciliation deal with the government in 2016. However, the lawyer said he had no idea when he would return. Short link:

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August 22, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

A Strong Egypt, As Trump Knows, Is a Strong Middle East – Newsweek

Mabruk is a common word in Arabic used to greet good news, though in the Middle East recently this has been in scarce supply. However, President Donald Trumps recent visit to the Middle East had many in the region feeling a sense of optimism. Perhaps surprising given the presidents overtly hostile words on the campaign trail against Islam especially, and in the enactment of the travel ban aimed at Arabs in particular. Nevertheless, while many in the region were left unable to visit America, President Trumps visit to the Middle East in May left many feeling positive, and especially in Saudi Arabia with his hosts very literally rolling out the red carpet. Though perhaps more surprising still, is that one country most buoyed by his first foreign trip was a country he did not actually visitEgypt. The reason for their optimism? The end of the perceived American abandonment of its traditional Middle Eastern allies. A change that could have not come a moment later. With Syria devastated by years of civil war, Iran forging ahead with its plan for regional dominance, and the gradual erosion of Lebanons sovereignty by Hezbollah, the Arab worldor more specifically the Sunni worldwatched in apprehension as the ominous clouds of Iran and its proxy armies loomed on the horizon, eager to fill the vacuum caused by the seemingly imminent fall of the Islamic State. Daily Emails and Alerts – Get the best of Newsweek delivered to your inbox For Egypt, and Saudi Arabia, there were early signs of encouragement. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman was an early visitor to the White House, as was Egyptian President Fattah Al-Sisi. While the previous incumbent at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had refused to host President Sisi, Trump notably invited him to visit in his first 100 days in office. Furthermore, having regarded President Sisis leadership of Egypt as illegitimate, the Obama administration noticeably cooled relations with Cairo, and did not intervene in support of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a staunch U.S. ally for three decades. In contrast, President Trumps desire to forge warm ties with the Sisi government was evident in the Egyptian presidents early invitation to the White House, and subsequent remarks at the press conference where President Trump warmly praised his Egyptian counterpart, calling him a great friend and ally. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi walks during the opening ceremony of the new Suez Canal expansion including a new 22-mile channel on August 6, 2015 in Suez, Egypt. David Degner/Getty Moreover, the seismic geostrategic shift in the region in the aftermath of the fallout between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain, with Qataraccused of funding terrorismhas not only isolated Qatar, but has again shone a spotlight on Irans funding of terrorism and its role as an acknowledged destabilizing force in the region. It is no surprise that President Trump pivoted towards Egypt for assistance in understanding and navigating the crisis. In a phone call with the Egyptian leader on July 5, the U.S. president urged all parties to resolve the diplomatic crisis, while adopting demands consistent with Egyptian policy under President Sisi: ceasing the financing of terror and discrediting extremist ideology. There is not enough being done to meet the late President Anwar Sadats call to break down the barriers between the people of Egypt and Israel, a crucial ingredient in achieving lasting peace. But make no mistake, Egypt is a strategic ally for the U.S., and a strategic ally for Israel, too. Egypts relationship with Israel has never been stronger at both the military and intelligence level. The Trump administrations renewed relationship with the Egyptian leadership reflects an awareness of the role that Egypt plays in the region and its centrality to maintaining regional security. As the sun rises on a new day for the Middle East, the international community must understand that a stable and prosperous Egyptis a stable and prosperous region. Just as the Nile was the ancient patron of plenty, today, Egypts well-being is the regions well-being. Egypt standsas it did in the days of the pharaohsas the gateway to Africa. It stands up to the Muslim Brotherhoods extreme teachings and support for terror. It is bravely fighting Islamic State cells in the Sinai Peninsula. And it has taken a firm stand against Hamas, the Palestinian terror group which continues to hold the Gaza Strip and its 1.5 million inhabitants hostage. And while for many conservatives it will seem strange, the security of Egypt is a strategic interest of the U.S. and of Israel too. The Trump administration which champions the America First mantra, and the strong bonds with Israel, has wisely realized a strong Egypt benefits all of us. Ambassador Ron Prosor is the Abba Eban Chair of International Diplomacy at the Interdisciplinary Center IDC Herzliya.He is also a former Permanent Representative of Israel to the United Nations, a former Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom and a former Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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August 8, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Netanyahu kept defense minister in dark about German-Egyptian submarine deal report – The Times of Israel

Israel reportedly gave an official go-ahead to Germany to sell advanced submarines to Egypt without telling its defense minister or the president. In May 2015, during a visit to Berlin to mark 50 years of Israeli-German diplomatic relations, President Reuven Rivlin told Chancellor Angela Merkel that he had been asked to convey concern about the German deal to sell four submarines and two anti-submarine warships to Cairo, Channel 10 investigative reporter Raviv Drucker reported Tuesday. To the embarrassment of both, Merkel told Rivlin that Israel had already given the green light for the deal to go forward, Drucker said. On Tuesday, it was reported that Germany had told Israel it was delaying the signing of a different deal, for Israel to purchase three new submarines, amid a rapidly expanding corruption scandal surrounding several multi-billion-dollar naval agreements between the two countries. Germanys transaction with Egypt which involved submarines very similar in advanced technology to those that Israel has ordered was vehemently opposed by then-defense minister Moshe Yaalon and the defense establishment. Outgoing Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon (C) arrives at a press conference at army headquarters in Tel Aviv to announce his resignation from politics, May 20, 2016. (Miriam Alster/Flash90) Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied having approved the Egyptian deal when Yaalon, who found out about the transaction by chance, asked him about it, Yedioth reported. It was only after Rivlins return from Berlin that he realized it had been approved, over the heads of the Defense Ministry. It was the second time Germany had agreed to sell submarines to Egypt. In 2009, Netanyahu and the defense minister at the time, Ehud Barak, gave their approval to German moves to sell less advanced submarines to then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The deal fell through after Mubarak was ousted and replaced by Mohammad Morsi in 2012 and was only renegotiated after Abdel Fattah el-Sissi came to power in 2014. Meanwhile, Israeli police have been probing possible corruption in a series of deals that Israel signed with the German shipbuilder, ThyssenKrupp, to buy submarines and ships. Miki Ganor, the former Israeli agent for ThyssenKrupp, is under arrest in connection with the case, along with former National Security Council deputy head Avriel Bar-Yosef. Others suspects have been released or are under house arrest. Ganor continued Tuesday to negotiate a deal to turn states witness via his new lawyer, Eli Zohar, who was at the police fraud squads Lahav 433 headquarters in Lod during the day. Miki Ganor, arrested in the submarine affair also known as Case 3000, is brought for a court hearing at the Magistrates Court in Rishon Lezion, July 10, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool) On Tuesday, reports emerged that a second individual was also interested in turning states witness. Police believe Ganor holds highly sensitive information about other Israeli defense deals that could implicate additional figures in the defense establishment. Ganors transformation to states witness could spell bad news for another suspect in the case, former commander of the Israeli Navy Maj. Gen. (res) Eliezer Marom, who has admitted agreeing to recommend Ganor to represent the German shipbuilding giant in Israel but has denied being paid to do so.

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July 19, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt’s Leader Faces a Crisis of His Own MakingOne That Reveals His Nation’s Dangerous Weakness – Council on Foreign Relations (blog)

This article, which I coauthored with my research associate, Amr Leheta, was originally published here on Salon.com on Sunday, July 2, 2017. On Monday, Egypts media outlets, government spokesmen and a large number of citizens will celebrate the countrys second revolution. Four years ago, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew President Mohammed Morsi a member of the Muslim Brotherhood after a massive popular uprising against Islamist rule. The militarys intervention was greeted with joy, the generals popularity soared and almost overnight a cult of personality emerged around Sisi. In the Egyptian court of permissible public opinion, intellectuals, journalists, business leaders and others depicted Sisi as a hero who had saved Egypts nationalist identity. Today, Sisi, who has been president since his election in May 2014, finds himself in hot water with the general public. Even government-friendly polling indicates that the support he once commandedhas declined. Thus far, the Sisi era has been marked by mass arrests, detention, and torture of dissidents from all across the political spectrum; numerous horrific attacks on Coptic Christians; security lapses that resulted in civilian, police, and military deaths; and a deteriorating economic situation. These conditions have produced criticism, but Sisis repression and Egypts instability have meant there is no sustained public outcry. Instead, its the Egyptian governments plan to transfer two tiny Red Sea islands called Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia that has galvanized widespread and persistent opposition. This is because as bad as things have gotten for Sisis critics and political dissidents, many Egyptians do not share their concerns. Land is different, however. It is an issue that is bound up in Egyptians collective sense of dignity and historical trauma. The trouble started in April 2016 when Sisi and the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, signed a new maritime border agreement that formally established the boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Strait of Tiran. Included in the deal was a provision to transfer or to transferback, some would argue sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately, demonstrations erupted in Cairos Tahrir Square and elsewhere, and the government responded with arrests. The show of force has not deterred people, though. In the 14 months since the deal was signed, ordinary Egyptians, lawyers, historians, public figures and media personalities have protested the islands transfer as unpatriotic and illegal. A few weeks ago, on June 14, Egypts House of Representativesapprovedthe deeply unpopular agreement. Sisiratifiedit 10days later. Defiant representatives in the legislature insisted that the islands are Egyptian, but could do little more than vocally register their dissent. Public response has been nothing short of vitriolic.Not long after the vote, Egyptian social media quickly filled with angry accusations of high treason. Almost half of Egyptians recentlypolled 47 percent believe the islands belong to Egypt, while only 11 percent support the Saudi territorial claim (the remaining 42 percent are unsure). In response to the outrage, Sisi and his cabinet have argued that the islands were never formally Egyptian lands in the first place. The historical record seems to give their case some weight. The government cites the fact that the Egyptian military only occupied Tiran and Sanafir in January 1950 at the behest of the Saudi king, who felt the Egyptians could better defend them against Israel. Others, however, point to Egyptian diplomats whoinformed the United Nations Security Council in 1954that the islands were Egyptian territory, under the terms of the British-mediatedTurco-Egyptian border agreement all the way back in 1906. Yet that agreement, which demarcated the line that now divides Egypt from Israel and the Gaza Strip, only concerned itself with establishing a land border. Delineating territorial waters and claiming islands in the Gulf of Aqaba was never under discussion and wouldnt have been the gulf and the small fishing village that Aqaba was then had little if any strategic, military or commercial value for the Ottomans, the Egyptians or the British at the time. (The Saudi claim is similarly shaky: The Riyadh government has referred to a1957 letter to the United Nationsattesting that the islands were Saudi territory. Some in Saudi Arabia have made the far-fetched allegation that the islands wereonce the property of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged.) The tension between Sisis government and those who oppose the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir is rooted in the values of the modern Egyptian nation-state. In the late 19th and early 20th century, nationalist historians, politicians, artists and activists weaved a compelling narrative of a common history and destiny for the inhabitants of the land of Egypt. The peasant who tilled the same fields on the banks of the Nile for centuries became a symbol of that nationalist sentiment. After the Free Officers came to power in a coup in 1952, propagandists elevated the honorable soldier protecting Egypts borders into another nationalist icon. Gamal Abdel Nasser, first among equals within the ruling junta, packaged those values and worked to embed them in the countrys political culture. As such, the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia is, for many, a bewildering betrayal of Egyptian nationalisms central axiom that Egyptian land is sacred and intimately tied to the nations pride. With the deal over the islands, Sisi, who has consciously sought to cultivate the idea that he represents the rightful legacy of the Free Officers, has done the opposite of what Nasser did when he nationalized the Suez Canal in July 1956. In the process, Nasser declared that Egypts resources would be used for the benefit of Egyptians, effectively sealing his status as a nationalist hero. When Sisi came to power, he rested the legitimacy of the militarys intervention in large part on promises to protect and preserve Egypts identity and territorial integrity. During Morsis year-long tenure, he and the Muslim Brotherhood were said to have compromised those central values inalleged deals to sell off parts of the Canal Zone. The tables have now been turned. Instead of Nasser, opponents of the islands transfer liken Sisi to the folkloric character of Awwad, who sold his land to appease his new wife but ultimately brought shame on his family. That the maritime agreements signing took place a day after a summit between Sisi and King Salman in which contracts and investment deals worth $22 billion were reached including an agreement to build a Saudi-Egyptian causeway that would traverse Tiran only helped facilitate the comparison. The deal also tapped into nationalist traumas of the past and present. In Egypts official narrative, Nasser was the first Egyptian to govern and defend Egyptian land since the pharaohs. That cemented sovereignty over ones territory as a marker of national dignity in the popular imagination. In June 1967, Egypt lost a large part of its territory to Israel in the first three days of the Six-Day War. It was not until 1982 that Egyptians could claim the Sinai Peninsula had been liberated. It was a jubilant moment, tempered by the fact that the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limits Egyptian sovereignty over its own territory. Now there is the Tiran and Sanafir transfer, which is primarily about land but, in an additional layer of complexity, also raises the issue of Egypts place in the modern Middle East. Egyptians tend to imagine their country in Middle Kingdomlike terms, but reality has been crueler. For all of its attributes as the inheritor of a great civilization, the largest Arab country (by population) and, at one time, the social cultural, and political bellwether of the Middle East, Egypt is a poor country, long dependent on the goodwill of others and unable to project power outside its borders. The islands episode is all too reminiscent of Nassers post-1967 cap-in-hand visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to ask his rival, King Faisal, for much-needed economic assistance. It signaled then, as it does now to opponents of the islands transfer, Egypts decline as a regional power in favor of the Saudis who, to many Egyptians, lack history and culture. ThatIsrael approved of the transfer, in keeping with the terms of the Camp David accords, added insult to injury to those in Egypt who remain suspicious of Israel despite the peace treaty. Immediately after the new border agreement was signed in 2016, Egyptians flooded the public sphere withvideos of Nasserasserting that the Gulf of Aqaba which Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians and Saudis share belongs to Egypt,mapsfrom various time periods that attribute Tiran and Sanafir to Egypt,scansofstate-approved school textbooksteaching generations of children that the islands are Egyptian because Egyptian soldiers died defending them, andexcerptsfrom books and manuscripts detailing Egyptian activity on those islands since the days of the pharaohs. Tiran also features prominently in nationalist stories about the Arab-Israeli wars, when Nasser blocked the strait to Israeli shipping in both 1956 and 1967. In other words, given that the state has spent decades telling its people that Tiran and Sanafir are integral parts of Egypts land and history, citizens were caught blindsided when they were suddenly told that the islands were actually Saudi and would be handed back.The predictable result was outrage. The January 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubaraks presidency was a moment of empowerment for many Egyptians who looked forward to a new era in which their demands for bread, freedom and social justice which, taken together, promised dignity would be met. It did not work out as they had hoped. In Sisis Egypt, the patterns of politics and authoritarian pathologies are familiar. As in the Mubarak era, there remains a significant gap between what the government is telling Egyptians and what their objective reality actually is. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Tiran and Sanafir episode, where a leader who came to power promising to ensure Egypts nationalist pride stands accused of ignominiously handing over Egyptian territory for the most craven of reasons Saudi Arabias money. The islands, which few Egyptians ever thought about before 2016, are now a potent symbol of Egypts terminal weakness.

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July 5, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed

Egypt’s leader faces a crisis of his own making one that reveals … – Salon

On Monday, Egypts media outlets, government spokesmen and a large number of citizens will celebrate the countrys second revolution. Four years ago, Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi overthrew President Mohammed Morsi a member of the Muslim Brotherhood after a massive popular uprising against Islamist rule. The militarys intervention was greeted with joy, the generals popularity soared and almost overnight a cult of personality emerged around Sisi. In the Egyptian court of permissible public opinion, intellectuals, journalists, business leaders and others depicted Sisi as a hero who had saved Egypts nationalist identity. Today, Sisi, who has been president since his election in May 2014, finds himself in hot water with the general public. Even government-friendly polling indicates that the support he once commanded has declined. Thus far, the Sisi era has been marked by mass arrests, detention, and torture of dissidents from all across the political spectrum; numerous horrific attacks on Coptic Christians; security lapses that resulted in civilian, police, and military deaths; and a deteriorating economic situation. These conditions have produced criticism, but Sisis repression and the Egypts instability have meant there is no sustained public outcry. Instead, its the Egyptian governments plan to transfer two tiny Red Sea islands called Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia that has galvanized widespread and persistent opposition. This is because as bad as things have gotten for Sisis critics and political dissidents, many Egyptians do not share their concerns. Land is different, however. It is an issue that is bound up in Egyptians collective sense of dignity and historical trauma. The trouble started in April 2016 when Sisi and the Saudi monarch, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, signed a new maritime border agreement that formally established the boundary between the two countries in the Gulf of Aqaba and the Strait of Tiran. Included in the deal was a provision to transfer or to transfer back, some would argue sovereignty of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia. Almost immediately, demonstrations erupted in Cairos Tahrir Square and elsewhere, and the government responded with arrests. The show of force has not deterred people, though. In the 14 months since the deal was signed, ordinary Egyptians, lawyers, historians, public figures and media personalities have protested the islands transfer as unpatriotic and illegal. A few weeks ago, on June 14, Egypts House of Representativesapproved the deeply unpopular agreement. Sisi ratified it 10days later. Defiant representatives in the legislature insisted that the islands are Egyptian, but could do little more than vocally register their dissent. Public response has been nothing short of vitriolic.Not long after the vote, Egyptian social media quickly filled with angry accusations of high treason. Almost half of Egyptians recently polled 47 percent believe the islands belong to Egypt, while only 11 percent support the Saudi territorial claim (the remaining 42 percent are unsure). In response to the outrage, Sisi and his cabinet have argued that the islands were never formally Egyptian lands in the first place. The historical record seems to give their case some weight. The government cites the fact that the Egyptian military only occupied Tiran and Sanafir in January 1950 at the behest of the Saudi king, who felt the Egyptians could better defend them against Israel. Others, however, point to Egyptian diplomats who informed the United Nations Security Council in 1954 that the islands were Egyptian territory, under the terms of the British-mediated Turco-Egyptian border agreement all the way back in 1906. Yet that agreement, which demarcated the line that now divides Egypt from Israel and the Gaza Strip, only concerned itself with establishing a land border. Delineating territorial waters and claiming islands in the Gulf of Aqaba was never under discussion and wouldnt have been the gulf and the small fishing village that Aqaba was then had little if any strategic, military or commercial value for the Ottomans, the Egyptians or the British at the time. (The Saudi claim is similarly shaky: The Riyadh government has referred to a 1957 letter to the United Nations attesting that the islands were Saudi territory. Some in Saudi Arabia have made the far-fetched allegation that the islands were once the property of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh, to which the Prophet Muhammad belonged.) The tension between Sisis government and those who oppose the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir is rooted in the values of the modern Egyptian nation-state. In the late 19th and early 20th century, nationalist historians, politicians, artists and activists weaved a compelling narrative of a common history and destiny for the inhabitants of the land of Egypt. The peasant who tilled the same fields on the banks of the Nile for centuries became a symbol of that nationalist sentiment. After the Free Officers came to power in a coup in 1952, propagandists elevated the honorable soldier protecting Egypts borders into another nationalist icon. Gamal Abdel Nasser, first among equals within the ruling junta, packaged those values and worked to embed them in the countrys political culture. As such, the transfer of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia is, for many, a bewildering betrayal of Egyptian nationalisms central axiom that Egyptian land is sacred and intimately tied to the nations pride. With the deal over the islands, Sisi, who has consciously sought to cultivate the idea that he represents the rightful legacy of the Free Officers, has done the opposite of what Nasser did when he nationalized the Suez Canal in July 1956. In the process, Nasser declared that Egypts resources would be used for the benefit of Egyptians, effectively sealing his status as a nationalist hero. When Sisi came to power, he rested the legitimacy of the militarys intervention in large part on promises to protect and preserve Egypts identity and territorial integrity. During Morsis year-long tenure, he and the Muslim Brotherhood were said to have compromised those central values in alleged deals to sell off parts of the Canal Zone. The tables have now been turned. Instead of Nasser, opponents of the islands transfer liken Sisi to the folkloric character of Awwad, who sold his land to appease his new wife but ultimately brought shame on his family. That the maritime agreements signing took place a day after a summit between Sisi and King Salman in which contracts and investment deals worth $22 billion were reached including an agreement to build a Saudi-Egyptian causeway that would traverse Tiran, only helped facilitate the comparison. The deal also tapped into nationalist traumas of the past and present. In Egypts official narrative, Nasser was the first Egyptian to govern and defend Egyptian land since the pharaohs. That cemented sovereignty over ones territory as a marker of national dignity in the popular imagination. In June 1967, Egypt lost a large part of its territory to Israel in the first three days of the Six-Day War. It was not until 1982 that Egyptians could claim the Sinai Peninsula had been liberated. It was a jubilant moment, tempered by the fact that the terms of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel limits Egyptian sovereignty over its own territory. Now there is the Tiran and Sanafir transfer, which is primarily about land but, in an additional layer of complexity, also raises the issue of Egypts place in the modern Middle East. Egyptians tend to imagine their country in Middle Kingdomlike terms, but reality has been crueler. For all of its attributes as the inheritor of a great civilization, the largest Arab country (by population) and, at one time, the social cultural, and political bellwether of the Middle East, Egypt is a poor country, long dependent on the goodwill of others and unable to project power outside its borders. The islands episode is all too reminiscent of Nassers post-1967 cap-in-hand visit to the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to ask his rival, King Faisal, for much-needed economic assistance. It signaled then, as it does now to opponents of the islands transfer, Egypts decline as a regional power in favor of the Saudis who, to many Egyptians, lack history and culture. That Israel approved of the transfer, in keeping with the terms of the Camp David accords, added insult to injury to those in Egypt who remain suspicious of Israel despite the peace treaty. Immediately after the new border agreement was signed in 2016, Egyptians flooded the public sphere with videos of Nasser asserting that the Gulf of Aqaba which Egyptians, Israelis, Jordanians and Saudis share belongs to Egypt, maps from various time periods that attribute Tiran and Sanafir to Egypt, scans of state-approved school textbooks teaching generations of children that the islands are Egyptian because Egyptian soldiers died defending them, andexcerpts from books and manuscripts detailing Egyptian activity on those islands since the days of the pharaohs. Tiran also features prominently in nationalist stories about the Arab-Israeli wars, when Nasser blocked the strait to Israeli shipping in both 1956 and 1967. In other words, given that the state has spent decades telling its people that Tiran and Sanafir are integral parts of Egypts land and history, citizens were caught blindsided when they were suddenly told that the islands were actually Saudi and would be handed back.The predictable result was outrage. The January 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubaraks presidency was a moment of empowerment for many Egyptians who looked forward to a new era in which their demands for bread, freedom and social justice which, taken together, promised dignity would be met. It did not work out as they had hoped. In Sisis Egypt, the patterns of politics and authoritarian pathologies are familiar. As in the Mubarak era, there remains a significant gap between what the government is telling Egyptians and what their objective reality actually is. Nowhere is this clearer than in the Tiran and Sanafir episode, where a leader who came to power promising to ensure Egypts nationalist pride stands accused of ignominiously handing over Egyptian territory for the most craven of reasons Saudi Arabias money. The islands, which few Egyptians ever thought about before 2016, are now a potent symbol of Egypts terminal weakness.

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July 2, 2017   Posted in: Egypt  Comments Closed


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