DUBAI: Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi thanked Saudi Arabia and the UAE for their continued support of his country.
Speaking as a guest of honor in the 10th annual World Government Summit on Monday, El-Sisi addressed a packed conference hall at Dubai’s Madinat Jumeirah in a session entitled “Investing in Egypt: Empowering the Private Sector and the Role of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt.”
He told delegates that the past decade had presented his country with tough challenges and that Egypt continued to face hard times.
But the president thanked the Kingdom and the UAE for their continuous support of his country.
“Had it not been without the support of our brothers from the UAE and Saudi,” he said, “we would not have been able to cross to safety.”
On the devastating earthquake that hit southern Turkiye and northern Syria last week, El-Sisi praised the UAE which has already provided over $100 million in aid.
But he added: “I have even asked Mohammed Bin Zayed to increase his aid to Syria. I do not think Emirati citizens will be upset with that — on the contrary, they will be proud.”
And El-Sisi outlined the problems his government faced in the electric, health and education sectors, adding that perseverance and patience were needed for positive outcomes.
“The education sector alone needs $250 billion. I do not have this budget which is a challenge in itself. Education is a long-term investment for a better Egypt; it is a right for my son, my grandson and every child in Egypt. Education is a long-term investment, it needs 14 years to reap its benefits.
“I prioritize all the country’s problems equally. Egypt faced loss of hope after 2011. People think when a government falls it’s destroyed for good but by God’s grace Egypt bounced back. We had a terrorism problem — the targeting of mosques, of churches and of infrastructure, even the targeting of regular civilians. Now that things have progressively gotten better we must focus on attracting investments.”
El-Sisi said the Arab Spring could not be repeated as it made Egypt pay a heavy price — the cost to the country was about $450 billion.
However, he said the government was now better placed to embark on deals and partnerships to better the lives of civilians.
“I am now able and wish to pursue a power link project not only with Jordan but with Saudi Arabia and Italy as well,” he said.
The president reminded the crowd and leadership alike that “historical, brotherly ties” should not be shattered because of outside forces causing intentional disruption between Arab governments.
Local authorities had initially reported two fatalities and five "seriously injured" in the incident early on Thursday in the town of Tit Mellil
Updated 58 min 17 sec ago
RABAT: The partial collapse of a textile factory near Morocco’s commercial capital of Casablanca has killed five people, a labor union said on Saturday in a revised toll.
Local authorities had initially reported two fatalities and five “seriously injured” in the incident early on Thursday in the town of Tit Mellil.
“The tragedy has claimed the lives of five workers,” the textile and clothing branch of the Democratic Confederation of Labour said in a statement on Saturday.
The statement said they had been working on the construction of “four additional floors above the factory, in conditions that do not meet basic safety regulations.”
The labor union called for those responsible to be brought to justice, including any officials who had approved the construction.
Citing local authorities, state news agency MAP reported on Thursday that an investigation has begun into what caused the collapse.
‘We were really hoping Sudan would have a chance to stabilize and prosper,’ EU envoy for the Sahel tells Arab News
Emanuela C. Del Re “very saddened by the crisis,” but underscores need to help countries, especially those in “a very difficult condition”
She made the comments on the sidelines of anti-terrorism conference in Riyadh, which she said would be “valuable for a long time”
Updated 10 June 2023
RIYADH: Although the conflict in Sudan is viewed by many in the international development sphere as a major setback, the EU’s special representative for the Sahel believes donors and aid agencies must not lose hope but continue to remain engaged.
Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the Ministerial Meeting of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS in Riyadh on Thursday, Emanuela C. Del Re said there were great hopes that Sudan would stabilize and prosper following the toppling of longtime dictator Omar Al-Bashir in 2019.
However, after the military’s removal of Abdalla Hamdok, head of the short-lived transitional government, in October 2021, followed by the sudden outbreak of violence between the Sudanese Armed Forces and paramilitary Rapid Support Forces on April 15 this year, those early glimmers of hope were quickly dashed.
“I was very saddened by the crisis in Sudan. There was a moment in which we were really hoping that the country would have a chance to stabilize and to prosper,” Del Re said.
Recalling the mass protests that prompted the military to move against Al-Bashir, she said the international community had been inspired by the energy and ambition of Sudan’s urban youth who led the revolt and had been eager to help them realize their goals.
“It was a moment in which the students of the universities … were proposing a new society,” she said. “At that time, there was a lot of support by the international community and the leadership was willing to create a new renaissance for the country.”
Amid clashes between the regular army, led by Sudan’s de facto leader Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan, and the RSF, led by Al-Burhan’s deputy-turned-rival Mohamed “Hemedti” Hamdan Dagalo, Del Re said there was a risk the world would give up on Sudan’s transformation.
“It is particularly sad because it is having an impact on the global public opinion, making people think that no matter how much you invest, there will always be something happening that may completely destroy what you have been building,” she said.
“We must not lose optimism, but continue to believe that we need to help the countries, especially if they are in a very difficult condition.”
One particularly vulnerable demographic among the displaced in Sudan are women and girls. Stories of harassment, violence and rape are already pouring out of the country, where armed men are able to act with impunity amid the state of lawlessness.
Asked what the EU was doing to bring some sort of pressure to bear upon the feuding factions to make sure their forces do not target women and girls, Del Re pointed to the union’s record on protection and on helping to secure a ban on the practice of female genital mutilation.
“Of course, we are doing a lot,” she said. “We always engage in and fund projects that are aimed at protecting women and girls, and all our projects have obtained good results in Sudan.
“For instance, at one point, it was a very great success that with the pressure of the international community, female genital mutilation was introduced in the criminal code as a crime.”
Since the violence in Sudan began almost two months ago, security analysts have raised concerns about the conflict’s potential spillover across the Sahel, an area of the African continent encompassing parts of Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia.
Possible knock-on effects include the proliferation of light weapons, involvement of mercenaries and, more immediately, the massive cross-border displacement of civilian populations, which could trigger a new global refugee crisis.
The EU’s contribution to the work of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh comes, to a large extent, in the form of funding for counterterrorism and counter-radicalization initiatives.
“The role of the EU is very important because the EU is composed of 27 countries and their contribution to the issues of terrorism is very consistent,” Del Re said. “We spend per year something like 500 million euros in activities dedicated to combating terrorism.
“If you look at the total amount, 60 percent of the money that we spend in the missions and activities and actions is dedicated to Africa and to the Sahel. We are particularly interested in tackling terrorism for the benefit of the continent of Africa and in the world in general.
“We know very well that unless we have a balance in power and also an opportunity for all populations, of course we will not be able to fight against this very serious phenomenon.”
Part of this is the EU Strategy for Security and Development, which introduced a new “integrated vision” for the Sahel in 2021 related to security.
“We have to act on all the sectors to make sure that society develops a strong resilience against all sorts of security threats, terrorism, of course, and you can only do this by working on education, health and access to basic services,” Del Re said.
“If we can help the Sahel countries develop a sound welfare system, this would be the start of a change. At the moment, the real threat that comes from terrorists is not only violence, which is already causing a lot of casualties. Because there is a vacuum of power and institutions, the terrorists are able to create an alternative system of welfare, which is absolutely fake.
“Of course, this is the biggest challenge and danger, because if the territory is controlled by terrorists, this means it will be very difficult to regain it. And the populations lose, in particular, young people, who are recruited by being given a small amount of money, being promised a career.
“They are given a pistol that would give them the sense of power because the young people often feel very much marginalized and humiliated.”
To protect displaced communities and host nations in the Sahel, Del Re said the EU was donating funds to support humanitarian programs, with a particular focus on Chad — a country that as of June 5 had accepted 113,332 people who had entered from Sudan.
As one of the most poorly equipped nations to offer sanctuary, Del Re said Chad was already hosting Sudanese citizens displaced by previous crises.
“The EU is helping in terms of humanitarian aid, especially in Chad,” she said. “This is our duty and our help in terms of humanitarian aid is particularly consistent. We are one of the biggest donors at the global level and in particular in the Sahel.”
Commenting on the GCC-EU Conference on Countering Extremist Ideology and Radicalization, which ended on Wednesday at the GCC General Secretariat in Riyadh, Del Re said the main aim was to identify the causes and possible remedies for radicalization.
“I highlighted the perception we have, for instance, of a specific region like the Sahel in Africa, where terrorism is actually multifaceted, with very different identities, and we need that to redefine our strategy to fight against it,” she said.
“The most important thing that emerged is the need to work on the root causes of terrorism, from poverty to lack of education and lack of access to basic services, work to create a good system of governance that can reinforce the social contract and make sure that people can develop their own skills, that we have employment for young people and prevent them from be recruited by extremists.”
Del Re said the ministerial meeting on Daesh in Riyadh served to highlight the terror group’s evolving strategies as well as clarify the ways in which the international community could confront the continuing threat.
An extremist group which began life as an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, ISIS — another name for Daesh — seized vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014 before the coalition was able to dislodge its fighters from their final holdouts in 2019.
The group’s members and sympathizers were also responsible for several mass-casualty attacks in Europe, prompting governments to overhaul their security policies and revamp screening protocols for migrants and refugees.
“The meeting in Riyadh was a very important moment that will really be valuable for a long time,” Del Re said.
“Not only was the participation incredibly rich, but we had the presence of Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, showing the fact that we are all together, motivated, engaged to defeat the challenges of Daesh.
“It is important to increase the cooperation between like-minded countries because it is the only way by which we can really create a barrier against terrorism that is very urgent to be created in this historical moment.”
Egypt church quashes rumors about Pope Tawadros’ health
Pontiff suffers from facial nerve inflammation and diabetes, his condition is stable
Updated 10 June 2023
CAIRO: Several social media posts have surfaced expressing concern over the health of Egypt’s Coptic Pope Tawadros after he showed signs of tiredness during the last Easter sermon at the Cathedral of the Nativity of Christ in the New Administrative Capital in Cairo.
He is the 118th pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the See of St. Mark, succeeding the late Pope Shenouda III as leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria.
Church spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said that Pope Tawadros’ sudden health problem occurred after the end of the Mass prayer and that a medical examination revealed “a simple inflammation of the facial nerve.”
He added: “It is known that the facial nerve mainly shows its effects on the face and that Pope Tawadros, following the doctors’ instructions, stopped pastoral meetings for several days. However, he continues to receive visitors according to the meetings scheduled. He will not completely stop all activities.
“The treatment of inflammation of the facial nerve requires relative rest with appropriate medications and physical therapy, and recovery from inflammation varies from person to person and according to the degree of response, but in all cases, it takes several days or weeks.”
Coptic activist and researcher Robert Al-Fares told Arab News: “The pope, during the Easter Mass, adhered to meeting well-wishers on the morning of the feast, and appeared on television because he did not want people to worry about him amid the joy of the holiday.
“It was necessary for him to go to the hospital for medical analysis and x-rays. As soon as the results of the examinations appeared, he returned to the papal residence in Cairo.”
Al-Fares added: “His Holiness has a health file in a hospital in Europe for 15 years through which routine periodic follow-ups are conducted.”
Rumors circulating on social media, he said, “aim to harm society and Christians in Egypt and the East, given the status of His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria, and Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.”
Phipps Issa, a priest of the Syriac Orthodox Church in Egypt, said: “Prayers were made for the health and well-being of Pope Tawadros in the blessed Pentecost Mass on the morning of June 4. It is correct that the church does not respond to the rumors that are spread on social media pages, as some rumors do not deserve a church response.
“I see that 95 percent of what is published on the social media pages about the pope’s health are rumors and lies, so the church is not interested in responding to these lies and rumors.
“Yes, we know that the pope suffers from diabetes, like about 5 million Egyptians, and that he needs to change the treatment protocol from time to time, which is normal, so why do they talk on social media about severe injuries due to this chronic disease?”
France’s Macron urges Iran to stop backing Russia in Ukraine
Updated 10 June 2023
PARIS: French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday urged his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi to “immediately end” Tehran’s support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which involves supplying Moscow with attack drones, the Elysee said.
Macron in a telephone call underlined the serious “security and humanitarian consequences” of Iran’s drone deliveries “and urged Tehran to immediately end the support it thus gives to Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” said a statement.
The call came a day after White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Russia was receiving materials from Iran to build a drone factory on its territory that “could be fully operational early next year.”
The White House released a satellite image of the location of the prospective plant in the Alabuga special economic zone, some 900 kilometers (560 miles) east of Moscow.
“The Russia-Iran military partnership appears to be deepening,” Kirby said in a statement, citing US intelligence information.
The United States has said that Russia has received hundreds of Iranian attack drones to attack Kyiv and “terrorize” Ukrainians, a charge denied by Tehran.
According to US data, the drones are built in Iran, shipped across the Caspian Sea “and then used operationally by Russian forces against Ukraine,” Kirby said.
The White House said it would release a new government advisory to assist businesses and governments “to ensure they are not inadvertently contributing to Iran’s (drone) program.”
On May 25, armed Houthis raided a Bahai gathering in Sanaa and seized 17 people
Updated 10 June 2023
AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have rebuffed demands from local rights groups in Yemen to release 17 members of the Bahai sect.
The group have upped their verbal assault against the religious minority, accusing them of being “infidels and Western stooges.”
On May 25, armed Houthis raided a Bahai gathering in Sanaa and seized 17 people, including five women.
They have denied requests from relatives and sect members to meet them or at least reveal their whereabouts.
The UN Human Rights Office demanded that the Houthis immediately release the detained Bahais and allow religious minorities to follow their rituals freely, blaming the Houthis for inciting the local population against the Bahais.
“We remind the de facto authorities in Sanaa, that they must respect the human rights of people living under their control,” Jeremy Laurence, its spokesperson, said in a briefing in Geneva. “Human rights guarantees minorities, among other things, the right to profess and practice their own religion and the right to a fair trial before an independent and impartial tribunal.”
The UN office said that on June 2, the Houthi mufti, Shamseddin Sharafeddin, threatened to execute Bahais if they did not repent and accused them of being traitors.
The Abductees’ Mothers Association, a Yemen-based umbrella organization representing thousands of families of civilian war captives, reiterated their demands for the release of the Bahais, condemning the Houthis for forcibly disappearing them and preventing the group’s attorney from meeting them.
“We hold the Houthi group fully responsible for their lives and safety. We call upon the office of the UN envoy and all human rights organizations to urgently work for their release, uncovering their whereabouts, especially the women, and returning them safely to their homes,” the organization said in a statement.
Other local and international human rights organizations had previously expressed concern about the fate of the imprisoned Bahais and the Houthis’ escalating crackdown on minorities and dissidents.
But the Houthis responded to those appeals by stepping up their verbal attacks on the Bahais. Houthi media outlets have published numerous articles accusing Bahais of attempting to undermine Islam and Muslims.
“The Bahai is an artifact of Crusader colonialism with its numerous names and historical phases, as well as one of the poisoned arrows of Zionism and global Freemasonry,” said one article published by the Houthi-run version of the official news agency SABA on Saturday.
“Today, a new activity has emerged in our Yemeni arena that comes as part of the war that targets our principles, concepts, and total affiliation with Islam. It is the activity of the Bahai faith. This satanic newcomer moved to our country, defaming Islam openly and clearly, and waging a misleading intellectual war against Islam,” said another paper published by SABA on Thursday, quoting the Houthi leader Abdul Malik Al-Houthi.