El-Sisi sees vindication in moves against Qatar

A handout picture released by the Egyptian Presidency shows Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (C) meeting with French Minister of the French Armed Forces, Sylvie Goulard (3L) and officials at the presidential place in Cairo on June 5, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 10 June 2017
0

El-Sisi sees vindication in moves against Qatar

CAIRO: The alliance with Gulf countries to isolate Qatar has given a significant boost to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, who over the past three years has been trying to find backers in what he calls a “comprehensive” war on militancy.
El-Sisi’s administration and pro-government media have relentlessly denounced Qatar — a top backer of El-Sisi’s nemesis, the Muslim Brotherhood — depicting it as fueling militancy around the region. Now Cairo has the support of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain, which along with Egypt cut ties with Qatar this week.
Just two weeks earlier, El-Sisi delivered his vision of a war against terror in an address to an Islamic summit in Saudi Arabia attended by US President Donald Trump. His speech was peppered with thinly veiled references to Qatar.
“Terrorists are not just those who carry arms,” said El-Sisi. “Regrettably, there are nations that have been involved in supporting and financing terrorist groups and providing them with safe havens.”
At the root of Egypt’s dispute with Qatar is Doha’s support of the Brotherhood. As defense minister, El-Sisi led the military’s 2013 ouster of Mohammed Mursi, removing the Brotherhood from power in Egypt. Since then, Egypt has waged a ferocious crackdown on the group, all but breaking it and driving into exile any prominent members who have not been arrested.
Egypt has also been fighting a bloody militant insurgency in the northern part of the Sinai Peninsula, which grew more potent after Mursi’s ouster. Egyptian officials accuse the Brotherhood of joining the militant campaign and Qatar of supporting terrorism — claims that the Brotherhood and Doha deny.
The militants, led by a local affiliate of the Daesh group, have expanded their fight to Egypt’s heartland with a series of deadly attacks against Christians that have killed more than 100 since December.
El-Sisi has since toughened his campaign, calling for action against countries that back militants. He sent warplanes to bomb militant positions in Libya and vowed to attack militant bases linked to extremists who wage attacks in Egypt wherever they may be.
Here’s a look at how the confrontation with Qatar plays out with Egypt:
The joint action against Qatar potentially boosts the Egyptian government’s campaign against its biggest nemesis, the Brotherhood.
It adds punch to Cairo’s constant complaints against the Al-Jazeera TV network, which Egyptian officials accuse of backing the Brotherhood and other hard-liners and of sowing divisions in Egypt.
Qatar is unlikely to hand over to Egypt wanted Brotherhood leaders who have found refuge in Doha, but they are likely to come under pressure to leave.
The anti-Qatar alliance also solidifies Egypt’s place as a reliable supporter of Saudi Arabia and UAE.
That could revive the Gulf’s interest in keeping Egypt’s economy moving. El-Sisi has introduced a series of ambitious reforms to salvage Egypt’s deeply damaged economy, but revival is still far off.
Egyptian analyst Mustafa Kamel El-Sayed said: “We are now looking at some sort of a new Egyptian-Saudi alliance that has replaced the tension of the past few months.”
Though it complained for years about Qatar, Egypt only moved seriously against it when Saudi Arabia took the lead.
The most populous Arab nation, with 93 million people, Egypt has long portrayed itself as the region’s leader. But whatever claim it had has been undermined by political and economic turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak.
The feud could have more palpable fallout. Though it has shown no sign of doing so yet, Qatar could expel some or all of the more than 200,000 Egyptians living and working in the country. That would cost Egypt millions in lost remittances, exacerbating economic problems.


Child cancer hospital investigation sends shockwaves through Egypt

Updated 17 July 2018
0

Child cancer hospital investigation sends shockwaves through Egypt

  • The hospital receives donations of up to 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($5.6 million) every year, but it pays no more than 160.2 million for the treatment of the children annually
  • Many have questioned the legality of the gag order, given that such directives are usually issued by Egypt’s public prosecutor

CAIRO: With its modernist glass buildings shining over the Cairo skyline and pioneering medical practices admired around the world, Egypt’s leading child cancer hospital had become a source of national pride.
But more than 10 years since the institution was founded on a wave of goodwill, the hospital has become embroiled in a public slanging match that threatens to tarnish its reputation.
Named 57375 after the bank account number set up to accept donations, the hospital was built from and operated by financial contributions from the public, wowed by an impressive fundraising campaign.
Since its establishment in 2007, it has been cited as an exemplary institution in terms of treatment and professionalism, with its round-the-clock efforts to host more and more cancer-stricken children earning wide acclaim.
But last month, Wahid Hamed, one of Egypt’s most famous screenwriters, launched a scathing attack on the hospital’s director Sherif Abu El-Naga.
In a series of columns in the privately-owned Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, Hamed hurled many accusations against Abu El-Naga, including mishandling of the hospital’s finances and placing his own relatives in key positions.
Hamed said that his shocking columns aimed to “stir up a hornet’s nest at the hospital.”
“The hospital receives donations of up to 1 billion Egyptian pounds ($5.6 million) every year, but it pays no more than 160.2 million for the treatment of the children annually,” Hamed wrote in one of his columns.
He also said that the hospital’s leading officials received hefty salaries, which were not compatible with a charitable institution, and questioned its policy of spending “hundreds of millions of pounds” on television ads.
Hamed was known for his anti-government views in the 1990s when corruption was rampant but is now widely viewed as a pro-state figure.
Abu El-Naga has largely remained tight-lipped, but the hospital issued a statement saying it had examined its own records and found that the accusations were “utterly false and confuse public opinion.”
The hospital hired outspoken lawyer Mortada Mansour, who is also the chairman of Cairo’s popular sports club Zamalek, to defend its interests.
As a result of the allegations, the social solidary ministry launched an investigation into any possible corruption at the hospital.
The Supreme Council for Media Regulation, a regulatory body, imposed a gag order on publishing any news on the matter until the investigation has concluded.
Many have questioned the legality of the gag order, given that such directives are usually issued by Egypt’s public prosecutor.
The 57357 hospital has always boasted of a recovery rate of more than 70 percent, but critics said that this has been mainly down to what they call the hospital’s unjustified policy of only agreeing to treat cases that are not at an advanced stage.
The latest accusations have divided opinions, sparking fierce debate on social media.
“My baby girl was treated at this hospital three years ago. Everything was perfect, literally everything. A five-star service and we paid nothing at all,” Karima El-Sawy, a 32-year-old housewife, told Arab News.
“My girl was 100 PER CENT percent cured, thank God. This is mainly down to the professionalism of this hospital. I don’t know how anyone can attack it that way without providing a single piece of evidence for their claims.”
El-Sawy said that there were many corrupt institutions in the country that could be attacked, but instead people had gone after the one that has always been viewed “as an example to follow.”
When contacted by Arab News, most of the parents whose children had been treated at 57375 spoke positively of the hospital, voicing very few reservations about how it operated.
But others called for more government oversight of the hospital.
“I do not doubt the integrity of the hospital officials, but any such institution must be supervised — not managed — by the state,” said Gamal Akram, a 27-year-old whose young brother was treated at the hospital last year.
“It’s the money of the people at the end, so we must know how they spend it. It’s totally our right; there is nothing wrong with that.”