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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Brotherhood leaders, political group call for Friday protests

In an Al Jazeera News broadcast, Essam el-Erian, the vice president of the Freedom and Justice Party (the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing) and Mohamed al-Beltagy, another Muslim Brotherhood leader, called for renewed protests against the military-backed government in Egypt on Friday. The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, another political group, said it would begin a civil disobedience campaign against the Egyptian government on the same day, but didn’t specify what this would look like.

New US Ambassador for Egypt

The US Embassy in Cairo has announced that the US government is ending Ambassador Anne Patterson’s embattled term in Egypt. Patterson received much criticism from protesters in Egypt during the political upheaval in early July for allegedly working too closely with the deposed president and the Muslim Brotherhood. She came to symbolize foreign intervention in Egypt at a time when many Egyptians felt that the foreign press and US administration in particular were siding with Morsi’s government and working to undermine the new army-backed administration. Obama has nominated Patterson as Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. She is due to leave Egypt tomorrow and diplomat David Satterfield will temporarily take her place until a new ambassador is  confirmed.

 Egypt’s political parties soundly reject military Intervention in Syria

More political groups have joined the Egyptian government in rejecting the anticipated US-led military strike on Syria, including the Strong Egypt party and Tamarod (Rebel), the party responsible for organizing the mass protests on June 30th that eventually led to the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi. A spokesperson for the group said that Egypt should shut the Suez Canal in order to prevent western forces from using it for military purposes. The Free Egypt party also denounced the plan, saying on Wednesday that a military strike would “further inflame and complicate the Middle East and will not solve the Syrian issue.”

Arrests of political dissidents, Brotherhood Members increase

In other news, Egyptian security forces continue to arrest members of the Muslim Brotherhood and political dissidents. The son of one of the most prominent leaders, Khairat al-Shater, was arrested yesterday in addition to a former Muslim Brotherhood member of Parliament. In an example of how far the military-backed government is reaching to quell dissent, Ahmed Maher, one of the founders of the left-leaning April 6 Youth Movement and one of the organizers who helped start the mass protests that led to Mubarak’s ouster in 2011 is currently being investigated on espionage charges.

Egypt’s new economic stimulus plan

Egypt’s new interim government has put forth an economic stimulus plan for the next nine months which uses some of the over $12 billion in aid pledged by Gulf countries – Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the UAE – to help spur growth. It plans to increase spending on new public projects like railways, roads and bridges in addition to an extension of the Cairo metro line, and doubles the planned number of low-income homes. The new government also plans to cut spending on energy subsidies, rather than raising taxes.

 

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