Egypt arrests 8, including ex-lawmaker, for plotting riots

The raid targeted at least 19 businesses and economica entities with links to the Brotherhood. (File/AFP)
Updated 25 June 2019

Egypt arrests 8, including ex-lawmaker, for plotting riots

  • Egyptian officials said the detained have links to the brotherhood
  • They also said the detained were plotting to incite violence and riots on June 30

CAIRO: Egyptian police arrested at least eight people on Tuesday, including a former lawmaker and key secular activists in the country’s 2011 uprising, for their alleged ties to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood group, authorities said.
The arrests mark the latest in a years-long crackdown by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi’s government on Islamists, critics and dissent in general.
Last week, Egypt’s former President Muhammad Mursi who hailed from the Brotherhood, collapsed and died in a Cairo courtroom during one of his trials.
His death sparked criticism of El-Sisi’s government with rights activists accusing it of mistreating Mursi in jail and failing to provide adequate medication, allegations denied by authorities.
Mursi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, had been imprisoned since his ouster by the military in 2013, after only one year in power and amid mass protests against his divisive rule.
Tuesday’s statement from the Interior Ministry, which oversees the police, said the arrest of Zyad El-Elaimy, the former lawmaker, was part of a raid that targeted at least 19 businesses and economic entities linked to the Brotherhood, which Egypt designated a terrorist group in 2013.
According to rights lawyer Gamal Eid, police arrested El-Elaimy on Tuesday morning in Cairo’s Maadi district. A vocal critic of El-Sisi’s government, El-Elaimy is a leading member of the secular Egyptian Social Democratic Party. He was a parliament member after the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat President Hosni Mubarak.
Economist Omar El-Shenety and journalists Hossam Monis and Hisham Fouad were also arrested, the ministry said.
Monis was the presidential campaign manager for opposition leader Hamdeen Sabahi, the only candidate who ran against El-Sisi in the 2014 presidential election.
Abdel-Aziz El-Husseini, a senior leader in the Karama, or Dignity party, said El-Elaimy and Monis took part in meetings with political parties and opposition lawmakers to discuss possibilities to run in the 2020 parliamentary elections. Their latest meeting was late Monday in Cairo, he added.
“These public meetings are legitimate. They are members in legitimate parties and absolutely have no ties to the Brotherhood,” he said.
The meetings included the Civil Democratic Movement, a coalition of liberal and left-leaning parties, which called for their release.
The Interior Ministry statement said the detained were collaborating with wanted Brotherhood members in Turkey to plot violence and riots on the anniversary of the June 30 mass protests that led to the military ouster of Mursi from power.
The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights said the detained were questioned by prosecutors later Tuesday.
Mursi, who was known to have diabetes, was often held in solitary confinement and was largely barred from receiving visitors. His family was only allowed to visit three times. While in detention, Mursi continued to appear in court on a range of charges.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a fierce El-Sisi critic, has claimed that Mursi did not die of natural causes but was killed. He has also said he believes the United Nations should take up “Mursi’s suspicious death.” Egyptian authorities deny mistreatment of Mursi and have dismissed Erdogan’s claims.


Hundreds of employees fired from Turkey’s Incirlik air base

Updated 24 min 28 sec ago

Hundreds of employees fired from Turkey’s Incirlik air base

  • Incirlik Air Base is located in Turkey’s Adana province, near the Syrian border, and it has been a strategic element in ties between Ankara and Washington
  • It has also played a key role for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against Daesh in Syria and Iraq in the past

ANKARA: More than 420 people working at a crucial military air base in southern Turkey have lost their jobs, with some analysts considering it symbolic of decreased cooperation levels with the US and as the Pentagon reconsiders Middle East deployments.
Incirlik Air Base is located in Turkey’s Adana province, near the Syrian border, and it has been a strategic element in ties between Ankara and Washington. It has also played a key role for the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) against Daesh in Syria and Iraq in the past, as well as hosting US nuclear warheads.
The Colorado-based company Vectrus System Corporation, which provides day-to-day maintenance and operation services at the base, terminated the contracts of almost half of its employees at the base earlier this month.
“The base surged to support OIR,” Aaron Stein, director of the Middle East program at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, told Arab News. “The Turkey-based staff for OIR has mostly left. So, the base is going back to its pre-OIR level of people, and that level requires less contractor support.”
Vectrus did not reply to Arab News’ request for comment about its decision to scale back at the base.
Joe Macaron, a resident fellow at the Arab Center in Washington, said the move was largely symbolic as the canceled contracts related to logistical support rather than the US military mission.
“But obviously, it comes against the background of some tensions in the US-Turkish relationship and previous hints by Ankara that it might reconsider the status of the Incirlik base,” he told Arab News. “The Pentagon is reconsidering its deployment across the Middle East and it might be looking to become less dependent on Incirlik without fully exiting this crucial military air base.”
Incirlik air base has been used in the past as a bargaining chip at times of tension between the two countries.
“Turkey may re-evaluate the status of the Incirlik Air Base if the US imposes sanctions,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said last month in an interview with pro-government channel A-Haber, referring to the potential fallout from Turkey’s decision to buy an air defense system from Russia. 
Washington has threatened to use its Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act to punish Ankara for buying the S-400 system.
Seth J. Frantzman, who is executive director of the Middle East Center for Reporting and Analysis, said reports of the US reducing presence at Incirlik, or challenges to the US presence there, have been growing over the last years.
“Whether these reports relate to changes or are just random is unclear and it is important to note that the large interests of the military and history tend to mean the US does not simply walk away from bases, even if it reduces its role slowly over time,” he told Arab News.
The US has invested heavily in the Jordanian Muwaffaq Salti Air Base to expand its presence there.