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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

White House Wants to Keep Aid Flowing to Egypt

Despite a recent decision to delay some US aid to Egypt, it appears that the Obama administration wants to reinstate the support as soon as possible.  On Tuesday, the administration asked Congress to find a way to continue providing financial and military aid to the interim Egyptian government. Though the administration will require a legislative waiver, they argue that US interests in the region necessitate that the US continue to provide aid that guarantees the continuation of the 1979 Egypt-Israel Peace treaty signed at Camp David. Congress was reportedly receptive to the request.

Key Muslim Brotherhood Figure Arrested

An apartment raid early this morning ended in the arrest of the deputy leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Essam el-Erian. El-Erian had reportedly been hiding from Egyptian authorities since July, according to the Interior Minister. El-Erian was apprehended in New Cairo (a suburb of Cairo proper) after an anonymous tip lead security forces to his apartment. In a recent message aired on Al Jazeera, el-Erian criticized the interim government and supported continued demonstrations against the military. The arrest comes in the wake of a two-month crackdown on key Muslim Brotherhood politicians and figures following the July 3 ouster of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi.

Bassem Youssef Faces Prosecution

Popular comedian and satirist Bassem Youssef may be going to court again. Youssef, who returned to television after a four month hiatus last week, used his most recent show to poke fun at the current popular support for Egypt’s defense minister, General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. His jokes sparked condemnation from different sectors of society, and many people were outraged by the sexual innuendos in the show’s language. Yesterday, prosecutor general Hisham Barakat referred charges against Youssef to the Cairo Appeal Prosecution for investigation.  The prosecution is charging Youssef with insulting the president and Egypt’s defense minister. Youssef was charged with similar offenses under Morsi last year.

Kerry Could Make Diplomatic Trip To Egypt Soon

US Secretary of State John Kerry appears to be planning a trip to Egypt, and stated on Monday that he will likely visit the country in the coming weeks. After months of deteriorating relationships between the US and Egyptian governments, the US is looking to boost US – Egypt relations. The Obama administration has put the delivery of tanks, helicopters, fighter aircraft and over $260 million dollars in aid on hold, citing the deterioration in human rights and the protection of democratic freedoms. This would be his first visit since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi.

Articles Intended to Protect Civil Rights Passed by Constitution Committee

Five important articles in the draft of Egypt’s new constitution were passed by the Constituent Assembly this week. The articles ban detainment in  “physically inappropriate detention facilities,” declare personal freedom inviolable, and protect homes from unlawful search and seizure. However, Mohamed Zara, lawyer and director of the Arab Penal Reform group, criticized the wording of many of the articles, saying they lack the precision that would make them enforceable. According to the Constituent Assembly spokesperson Mohamed Salmawy, work on the rights and freedoms articles will continue throughout the week.

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