Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1229, (15 -21 January 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Egypt’s help needed

PRESIDENT Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi has pledged to stand with Iraq in its war against the Islamic State (IS), writes Salah Nasrawi.

The occasion was Al-Sisi’s meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi on the latter’s first visit to Egypt since he took office in August. Al-Abadi arrived on Sunday for talks with Al-Sisi and Prime Minster Ibrahim Mahleb, largely to request Egypt’s help in the war against IS, which has seized large swathes of territory in Iraq.

Presidential spokesman Alaa Youssef told reporters that Egypt, facing Islamist militant insurgents based in Sinai, also called for joint efforts to fight extremism in Iraq and the Arab world. Cairo had expressed support for the US-led international coalition against IS and has been supplying Baghdad with light weapons and ammunition.

Al-Abadi has been touring the region seeking anti-IS support, including weapons and intelligence. He later told reporters that Egypt is prepared “to cooperate in fields of training and supplying the Iraqi army with specific kinds of ammunition.” Youssef said the crisis in Syria was also high on the agenda, with both leaders emphasising the need for a political solution to the four-year-long civil war.

Bilateral economic ties were the focus of talks between Al-Abadi and Mahleb. Egypt sees Iraq as a potential partner in trade and investment, with Egyptian construction and power companies already working on some projects in Iraq. But Cairo hopes to expand cooperation in infrastructure, electricity, road building, housing and health.

Hard hit by its inability to finance fuel imports, Egypt asked Iraq in 2013 to supply it with oil on generous terms but little has been done to finalise an agreement. Iraqi Oil Minister Adel Abdel-Mehdi, who accompanied Al-Abadi, said Egypt has renewed the request for four million barrels of crude oil a month but the two countries have yet to agree on the terms of payment.

While Egypt wants to defer payment for the shipments for 270 days Iraq wants payments to be made within 90 days, Abdel-Mehdi said. Egyptian firms that have been operating in Iraq hope that boosting economic ties will expand their share of the Iraqi market.

Before returning to Baghdad on Monday, Al-Abadi met with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, who urged Al-Abadi’s government to end “hostilities and reprisals,” according to a statement by his office. The statement said Al-Tayab also pressed Al-Abadi to end “exclusion and marginalisation against any sect,” an apparent reference to perceived mistreatment by the Iraqi Shia-led government of Muslim Sunnis. In response, Al-Abadi told Al-Tayeb that his government is doing all it can to “end tensions and strike a balance between Iraq’s communities,” according to Al-Azhar’s statement.

Denouncing terrorism

FOREIGN Minister Sameh Shoukri took part in the Paris march in solidarity with the Charlie Hebdo victims. His participation in the march — in which some 3.7 million people took part — reflects Egypt’s complete denunciation of the terrorist attack.

“Egypt’s participation was made to show Egypt’s firm stand against terrorism and the importance of international cooperation to combat that hateful phenomenon, according to a comprehensive vision that does not focus on military or security measures but on drying up the sources of terrorism and boosting the role of Al-Azhar in spreading the true values of Islam,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Badr Abdel-Ati said Sunday.

During his brief visit to Paris, Shoukri held bilateral meetings with some of his fellow diplomats, also taking part in the march, during which they discussed the issue of terrorism and ways to combat it.

In a related context, both the National Council for Human Rights and the press syndicate organised sit-ins to announce their total denunciation of such terrorist attacks.

Appeal accepted

FORMER Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons will be retried in the “presidential palaces” embezzlement case after the Cassation Court accepted their appeal on Tuesday.

Mubarak, his sons Gamal and Alaa and four new defendants were convicted last May of embezzling LE125 million ($17.9 million), originally allocated to developing communication centres at the presidency, to establish and develop privately owned buildings. The former president received a three-year prison sentence while each of his sons was ordered to serve four years. They were fined LE21,197,000 ($2.96 million) and ordered to return LE125 million ($17.9 million).

Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid Al-Deeb, will submit a request and complaint to the General Prosecution to consider the pre-trial detention time of Alaa and Gamal Mubarak as time served so they can be released. The former president has served the maximum detention period, exceeding it by more than a week, according to Al-Deeb. Accepting the appeal means that Hosni Mubarak will be released because he is not being tried in any other case, according to a judiciary source. He has been serving the three-year sentence since May 2014, but he began his pre-trial detention in April 2011, which continued until August 2013, when he was placed under house arrest.

Criminal law professors say that under Egypt’s criminal law, pre-trial detention is regarded as time served and will be deducted from the sentence given to the defendant. Last week, Egypt’s top prosecutor, Hisham Barakat, accepted the grounds for appeal in the trial of Mubarak for the killing of protesters, a charge dismissed by a court ruling in November.

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