Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul

Updated 15 June 2018
0

Egypt changes defense, interior ministers in cabinet overhaul

  • Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed was named minister of defense, replacing Sedki Sobhi.
  • El-Sisi in April won re-election with 97 percent of the vote.

CAIRO: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi replaced the interior and defense ministers in a major reshuffle Thursday, with security forces battling an Islamist insurgency at the start of his second term.
El-Sisi, who also named a new finance minister, swept to another four years in office against a token challenger at elections in March, pledging to tackle the raft of security and economic challenges facing the country.
Egyptian forces have since February been waging a sweeping operation against the local affiliate of the Daesh group in the restive North Sinai province.
The new cabinet under freshly appointed Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli, who previously served as housing minister, was sworn in live on state TV.
General Mohamed Ahmed Zaki Mohamed, who led the republican guard since August 2012, became the new defense minister in place of Sedki Sobhi.
Sobhi had held the post since taking over from El-Sisi when he ran for the top office in 2014, a year after spearheading the ouster of president Muhammad Mursi during mass protests.
The position of interior minister was filled by General Mahmoud Tawfiq, who had led the national security apparatus since October 2017, replacing Magdi Abdel Ghaffar.
Mohamed Ahmed Mohamed Moeet, who has previously held several government posts in various ministries, replaced Amr el-Garhy in the key role of finance minister.
Egyptian authorities are implementing a sweeping economic reform program that prompted the International Monetary Fund to approve a three-year, $12-billion loan in November 2016.
Authorities have since also floated Egypt’s currency, cut fuel subsidies and adopted a value added tax, measures which have led to soaring consumer prices.
Other changes included the ministers overseeing aviation, health, communications, environment, commerce and agriculture.
The former cabinet resigned on June 5, days after El-Sisi was inaugurated for a second term.
El-Sisi has long promised to wipe out the Islamist insurgency in the Sinai as a spate of deadly attacks have hit the country.
Officials say more than 200 jihadists and at least 35 soldiers have been killed since the military launched the “Sinai 2018” operation.
El-Sisi, who has been accused of stamping out dissent in the country, was re-elected in March for his second term with 97 percent of the vote.
He faced only one little-known challenger after more serious opponents were either detained or sidelined.


UAE’s Gargash: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

Updated 18 min 52 sec ago
0

UAE’s Gargash: Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time

  • Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000
  • The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa

DUBAI: The Saudi-led coalition fighting Iran-aligned Houthis for control of Yemen’s main port city of Hodeidah will take a “calculated and gradual” approach to the battle, a senior United Arab Emirates official said on Monday.

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said the military alliance led by Saudi Arabia and the UAE was taking into consideration a “fragile humanitarian situation,” avoiding civilian casualties in addition to military calculations.

Gargash, speaking to reporters in Dubai, estimated the number of Houthi fighters in Hodeidah at between 2,000 to 3,000. He declined to reveal the size of coalition forces but said they had “numerical superiority.”

He said that the Arab coalition’s full control of Hodeidah only a matter of time.

Gargash added that the Hodeidah port is a “major artery” for weapons smuggling from Iran to the Houthis.

“The liberation of Hodeidah is a major step in freeing Sanaa,” the UAE minister said, adding that “the roads leading to the port are filled with mines.”

France is said to be helping the Arab coalition in demining the roads.

“We have opened the road from Hodeidah to Sanaa to allow the militias to flee without resistance,” Gargash said.

The UN envoy for Yemen carried a plan to halt fighting around the key aid port of Hodeidah where Houthi militia have been battling a regional coalition as he arrived Saturday in the militia-held capital Sanaa for emergency talks.

Martin Griffiths was expected to propose to militia leaders that they cede control of the Red Sea port to a UN-supervised committee and halt heavy clashes against advancing government troops backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

(With AFP - Reuters)