$142bn shot uplifts El-Sissi

Updated 24 March 2015
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$142bn shot uplifts El-Sissi

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi on Sunday boisterously marked the final day of a major economic conference that has injected billions of dollars' worth of aid and investment in his country, while still acknowledging that Egypt's road to recovery will be long and costly.
Egyptian Investment Minister Ashraf Salman said the three-day event was instrumental in mobilizing funds worth $142 billion required for the country’s fast economic recovery.
“The final investment and financial agreements reached during the conference have amounted to $33 billion while MoUs have amounted to $92 billion,” he said. Total aid and grants reached $17 billion including $12.5 billion from four GCC states and $5 billion from European countries.
Crown Prince Muqrin, deputy premier, who led the Kingdom’s delegation to the conference, held talks with El-Sissi before returning to Riyadh.
He conveyed the greetings of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman to El-Sissi and congratulated him on the conference’s success. He also wished greater progress and prosperity to Egypt and its people.
Prince Muqrin and El-Sissi discussed major regional and international developments and prospects of expanding cooperation between the two countries. El-Sissi commended King Salman’s stances in support of Egypt.
A jubilant El-Sissi invited young Egyptian organizers to join him at the podium before he addressed a packed auditorium at the Sinai resort. Several seized the opportunity to take selfies with the Egyptian leader and joined him in what has become his customary slogan of “Long live Egypt!”
But the president swiftly stopped a chant of ‘long live El-Sissi.’
“Long live Egypt and no one else,” said El-Sissi, who in the 35-minute address let out several hearty laughs and joked about how he drove hard bargains with top multinational executives to reduce prices, deliver ahead of schedule and allow longer grace periods for loan repayments.
Earlier, addressing the delegates seated in the massive conference hall, El-Sissi said: "You have no idea how much joy you have given the people of Egypt."
El-Sissi has staked his legitimacy on fixing the economy and restoring security, and the three-day conference has been seeking a sign of international confidence in the country's political stability.
"Some people thought my country has died, but Egypt is a country that God created so it can forever live," El-Sissi said. "Egypt was there 7,000 years ago and taught the entire world."
"This nation is awakening now," he declared.
The president said he would not wait around if Egyptians demanded new change in leadership in the country. “Egyptians are able to make changes … If the Egyptian people wanted to change (their leader) again they will but I will not wait for that moment,” he told the delegates.
El-Sissi said Egypt needed as much as $300 billion in investments to rebuild and give the country's 90 million people a genuine hope to live well.
"Loving Egypt cannot just be words," he warned. "We are behind, and those who are late must either speed walk or run," he said. "Even running will not be enough in our case."
The three-day gathering is meant to show the world Egypt is open for business again, and to draw investors scared off by four years of instability and turmoil that followed the 2011 Arab Spring uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Investors committed $10.7 billion to projects on Saturday, a day after Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries announced a $12.5 billion aid package, continuing the largesse they have shown Egypt since ouster of Muhammad Mursi.
The agreements include a $6.5 billion deal with Egypt's Orascom group and the Abu Dhabi-owned International Petroleum Investment Co. to build a coal-fired power plant over four years, organizers said in a statement. The deals were signed a day earlier.
Of Saturday's agreements, Cairo Financial Holding, formerly led by Investment Minister Ashraf Salman, had the second-largest investment — $1 billion into a tourism fund.
Preliminary engineering and finance agreements amounting to $5.8 billion were also signed, along with a further $5.4 billion in loans and grants from international partners and organizations.


Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

Updated 16 June 2019
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Field fires in Syria's Hasakeh kill 10: monitor

  • Civilians and SDF forces are among the dead
  • Some people are claiming the fires were set on purpose

]QAMISHLI: Fires engulfing vital wheat fields across Syria’s northeast have killed at least 10 people, a war monitor said Sunday, as Kurdish authorities claim the blazes were set deliberately.
Kurdish authorities and the Damascus regime are competing to buy up this year’s harvest as fires — some claimed by the Daesh group — continue to scorch crops in the country’s breadbasket.
The victims included civilians and members of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces who died while trying to extinguish the blazes since Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The fires in the Kurdish-majority province of Hasakah also wounded another five people, according to a spokesman for the Kurdish Red Crescent.
“The victims were trying to douse the blaze but they were trapped by the fire,” Kamal Derbas said.
Kurdish officials have called on the US-led coalition to help extinguish blazes in the cereal and oil-rich region under their control.
“The largest fires have ravaged up to 350,000 hectares of land,” head of the Kurdish agriculture authority Salman Baroudo told AFP.
He claimed the fires were “deliberate,” saying they serve to “stir up strife between area residents and undermine the Kurdish administration” in the country’s northeast.
He did not specify who he believed was behind the blazes.
The official state news agency SANA on Saturday blamed the field fires in Hasakah on Kurdish-led forces.
It said they deliberately sparked a blaze to prevent local farmers from selling their crops to the government.
Analysts say wheat will be key to ensuring affordable bread prices and keeping the peace in various parts of the country in the coming period.
Farmers have separately blamed the fires on revenge attacks, sparks from low-quality fuel, and even carelessness.
SANA said Saturday that other field fires in the northwestern countryside of Hama province were sparked by jihadist artillery attacks.
Clashes in the area on Saturday between government forces and militants left dozens of combatants dead, including 26 pro-regime fighters, the Observatory said.
More than 370,000 people have been killed in Syria’s war since it erupted in 2011 with a violent crackdown on anti-government protests.