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Friday, October 11, 2013

Egypt Criticizes US Aid Suspension

In a statement on Thursday the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs criticized the United States for its recent decision to withhold the deliveries of tanks, fighter aircraft, helicopters and missiles to Cairo as well as $260 million in cash aid, calling it “wrong in terms of content and time.”  United States officials described the move as merely a “recalibration” and  emphasized its continuing desire to maintain a strong bilateral relationship. Despite the aid suspension most remaining economic assistance remains in place along with military training and education. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday  military aid may be restored  ”on the basis of performance” that encourages democracy through elections.

In Cairo, New Protests Planned for Friday

Muslim Brotherhood supporters led by the National Alliance in Support of Legitimacy, an “anti-coup” organization seeking the restoration of Former President Mohamed Morsi, called for fresh protests on Friday. The organization called for protesters to gather in Tahrir Square under the banner “Tahrir is for all Egyptians.”  The planned protests follow clashes on Sunday that left 57 dead when violence broke out between security forces and Morsi supporters during Egypt’s annual October 6 War celebrations.

Detained Canadians Allowed to Leave Egypt

After being detained for more than six weeks without charges, two Canadians, John Greyson and Tarek Loubani, were allowed to leave Egypt on Thursday after authorities lifted their travel ban.  The two men were passing through Cairo on their way to the Gaza Strip, where Loubani was to teach a medical course while Greyson made a documentary film about him. They were arrested on August 16 while attending a demonstration outside al-Fateh mosque in downtown Cairo and brought to Tora prison, which they described as having “ridiculous”conditions, with “no phone calls, little to no exercise… sleeping like sardines on concrete with the cockroaches, sharing a single tap of earthy Nile water.”  The two were released following a high-profile campaign that included a petition with upwards of 150,000 signatures, including actors Ben Afleck and Charlize Theron.

Mental Health Problems Linked to Violence in Sinai

A rise in the number of militant attacks in the Sinai following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July has prompted an increase in the number of people in the area suffering from depression and other mental health problems. President of  the Association of Crisis Management in Sinai Sheikh Salem al-Bayady called for greater awareness and assistance from the Ministry of Health on the occasion of World Mental Health Day. On Thursday at least five Egyptian soldiers were killed in the volatile region’s latest incident when a car bomb exploded at a checkpoint in the northern city of Arish.

Weekend Read

Violent attacks around Egypt following the country’s annual October 6 War celebrations have many wondering if extremism typically associated with the restive Sinai peninsula could be spreading to the country at large. Writing for Al Jazeera, Alastair Beach looks at the parallels between Egypt’s experience cracking down on Islamist extremism in the 1990s and attempts to do so today.

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