Here are the most significant Egyptian archaeological discoveries that made waves around the world in 2016.
Archaeologists have uncovered what they say is the world’s oldest harbor in the Red Sea of the Egyptian coast. The shipping hub was built by King Cheops 4,600 years ago, experts think.
Archaeologists from the French Institute of Archaeology in Cairo and the Sorbonne University discovered the oldest known harbor at Wadi el-Jarf.
The harbor is believed to have been used by King Cheops for importing materials to build his Great Pyramid of Giza. The harbor is located in the foothills of the desert mountains and was used for importing lighter copper and minerals, which help Egypt make the tools it would need to build the pyramid.
United Nations expert Maina Kiai has expressed serious alarm at Egypt’s approval of a draft law which would impose major restrictions on the work of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
Mr. Kiai said that if the bill became law, it would devastate the country’s civil society for generations to come and turn it into a government puppet.
The Egyptian Parliament approved the bill on 15 November and sent it to the State Council for review; it will be sent back to the Parliament for a final vote at an unknown date. The government did not hold consultations with civil society on its contents.
Mr. Kiai, Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, said the law appeared to be “deliberately drafted to curtail civil society’s ability to operate, and to stifle their ability to freely express themselves”.
Washington sends over a billion dollars to Egypt every year. Will the next president demand a better human rights record in return?
The current US presidential campaign debate on Middle East policy has focused disproportionately on the US response to the Islamic State (ISIS or IS). This series will focus instead on five alternative Middle East policy challenges facing the next president. This third part discusses the future of bilateral relations with Egypt. See part one on Iraq and part two on Tunisia.
The Egyptian mass protests can only be classified as a reform movement that had hoped to create a liberal order. A modest goal that has degenerated into a full-spectrum military autocracy.
The mass protests that erupted in Egypt in 2011, and their aftermath, were dubbed ‘a revolution’ by both opponents and proponents.
The label, on the one hand, has been used to discredit the protests; described as a destructive force that is the reason for the abysmal state of the Egyptian economy. On the other hand, the same label has also been used to romanticize the struggle against the Mubarak regime and its successors.
Prime Minister Theresa May is to meet the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, at a UN summit today, amid mounting concerns over the scale of rights abuses in Egypt.
According to reports today, Mrs May is set to meet Mr Sisi “on the margins” of a meeting of the UN General Assembly. The meeting comes as concerns rise over the abuses associated with Mr Sisi’s rule. Yesterday, the UK criticised Mr Sisi’s government at the UN Human Rights Council, saying: “Reports of torture, police abuses and enforced disappearances are deeply worrying. We call on the Government to release political detainees and end the use of pre-trial detention beyond its legal limits.” However, the statement omitted any mention of the Sisi government’s use of the death penalty, which has seen nearly two thousand prisoners handed death sentences in mass trials since July 2013.
In the Arab world, even the smallest acts of resistance can give a sense of self-worth, encouraging a long-demoralized people to feel that change, after all, is possible.
Long before the term was coined, Egyptians had been very proud of their country’s “soft power,” and rightly so. In the Arab world, Egypt is the most populous country and it has the most potent army, a pivotal location and an influential intelligentsia.
If Cairo sneezed, it was commonly said, the whole region would catch a cold. There could be no Arab war against Israel without Egypt, as former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said. Indeed, Egypt was the trendsetter of the region, paving the way for war and peace negotiations with Israel in the 1950s and 1970s, respectively.
Foreign Office concerns over Egypt’s human rights record have led to a “step-change” in the UK’s approach to that government, according to a new FCO human rights report.
The shift comes days after Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson sparked surprise when he insisted at a press conference with US Secretary of State John Kerry that a “burgeoning crisis” in Egypt was now a priority for the UK.
Video Performers Who Mocked Government Risk Terrorism Charges
Egyptian authorities should drop their investigation into six young men who posted satirical videos commenting on Egypt’s politics on YouTube and release four of them, who have been detained since May 10, 2016. The investigation appears to be based purely on their satirical videos and violates the right to free speech.
Prosecutors are investigating the men, of a group called Street Children, after the Interior Ministry’s National Security Agency alleged that they are “instigators against the ruling regime” who plotted to use “the internet, social media sites and YouTube” to spread video clips that would undermine the country’s stability by inciting citizens to protest. Prosecutors also investigated the four men in custody about terrorism-related accusations. On June 20, the East Cairo Public Prosecution Office sent the case to the Supreme State Security Prosecution, saying it was out of its jurisdiction.
The Gazans have been abandoned and left in the hands of Hamas to do with them as they please. This policy is transforming Gaza slowly but steadily into a hotbed of radicals.
As Palestinians commemorate the 68th anniversary of the Nakba, “catastrophe” in Arabic, when the indigenous people of Palestine were driven into exile and the Israeli State was established, a new Nakba takes place. This new Nakba is the political division between Hamas and Fatah.
The day to day life of the people of Gaza is best represented by the running joke: “Police have arrested a Gazan who has hope”. No hope. No future.
The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt recently opened for two days after a three-month closure. Registered travelers numbered at more than 30,000, but Egyptian border security only allowed 747 into Egypt. A journey, which under usual circumstances should only take five minutes by bus or one hour, including bureaucratic procedures, now takes over 24 hours sometimes 48 hours, leaving hundreds of Palestinians in prison-like areas inside the Egyptian side of the Rafah border, a violation of basic human rights.
Egypt ruled Gaza from 1948 until 1967. Since then, Gazans have attended Egypt’s universities, creating a strong bond with Egypt over time. Nowadays, Egypt’s narrative has changed, and Gazans are treated as enemies.
47 Hunger Strikers May Be Freed
Egyptian courts have sentenced more than 150 people to prison terms since the beginning of May 2016 for participating in peaceful protests or spreading false information. On May 24, an appeals court replaced the prison sentences for 47 who had started hunger strikes, with a fine of 100,000 L.E ($11,270 USD) each which they have to pay before being released.
The authorities should free and drop charges against them and release hundreds of other activists and protesters in pretrial detention on charges that violate freedom of peaceful assembly and speech.
“Egyptian authorities are using national security threats to crush dissent among Egypt’s youth,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “This is a policy of insecurity, not security, leaving young people unable find the smallest space for peaceful dissent that won’t land them in jail.”
What brought down EgyptAir Flight MS804?
In the early hours of 19 May 2016, EgyptAir Flight MS804 disappeared from radar. This disappearance prompted a search and rescue operation by numerous navies and air forces to search for the missing plane. This search eventually found wreckage from the plane and the body parts of its passengers. The downing of this flight has sparked an investigation into its cause. Naturally, many people, including presidential candidates, suspect that the plane was downed by a terrorist attack. However, since the facts surrounding the downing of the plane are unclear, this claim is probably premature. As a result, the evidence for and against this theory should be analyzed.
Since the investigation is ongoing, the facts of the downing of the plane are fuzzy and subject to change. However, at the time of writing, it is believed that EgyptAir Flight MS804 was flying at 37,000 feet. It then made a 90-degree turn to the left, followed by a 360-degree turn as it descended rapidly. It then disappeared from radar at an altitude of 10,000 feet. It is also believed that the smoke was detected in the lavatory and avionics equipment two minutes before the plane disappeared from radar. Many people who have analyzed these facts have argued that it is consistent with a terrorist attack. They would rightfully argue that the smoke is suspicious and consistent with a quick-burning fire or explosion. Alternatively, the erratic flight path of the plane could be consistent with a struggle in the cockpit between the pilots and a possible hijacker. Both of these are consistent with a terrorist attack.
In a recent letter to the UN’s Human Rights Council, Egyptian diplomats responded to a series of concerns raised by the UN body in an urgent appeal on the case of Ibrahim Halawa. Ibrahim – a student from Dublin – was 17 when he was arrested in 2013 in the wake of protests in Cairo. He is being tried alongside 493 other people in mass proceedings, which have been repeatedly postponed in the last three years. Ibrahim is believed to be held in poor prison conditions, and has reported being tortured and threatened with execution throughout his detention. During visits to him, Irish consular officials have noted “serious marks and bruising” on his body.