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Friday, December 13, 2013

First Snow in Cairo in Decades

The weather in Egypt took a turn for the worse yesterday, and local media are reporting that Cairo received its first snow in over 100 years. The cold spell has hit other parts of the Middle East as well, delighting some and making conditions considerably more difficult for  others, such as the thousands of Palestinian, Iraqi and Syrian refugees who are currently living in tents or temporary dwellings. The cold weather in Cairo is expected to continue until Saturday.

Car Bomb Kills Police Officer

A car bomb exploded yesterday near a police camp in Ismailiya, killing one police officer and injuring at least 35 other people. An anonymous source reported that he heard heavy gunfire coming from the area around the blast after the bomb exploded. Ismailiya is located in the restive northern Sinai peninsula, an area which has witnessed an uptick in militant attacks on police and army officers since former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from office in early July. The Egyptian military is cracking down on the region and has arrested hundreds of people over the last few months; despite this, 10 soldiers died last month in a similar style of attack.

Foreign Policy lists Egyptian Satirist, Human Rights Activists Among Year’s Top Thinkers

Foreign Policy Magazine has chosen Egyptian human rights activists Heba Morayef  and Hossam Bahget and political satirist Bassem Youssef as three of the year’s top 100 global thinkers. Heba Morayef is the director of Egypt’s Human Rights Watch office and Hossam Bahget directs the Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. In a statement on their website, the magazine explained their choices, saying “since Egypt’s 2011 revolution, national politics have devolved into a choice between the Egyptian Army and the Muslim Brotherhood. But pioneering activists like Hossam Bahget and Heba Morayef haven’t stopped reminding Egyptians that their uprising was supposed to be about so much more: the protection of civil liberties and social and economic justice.” The magazine also praised Youssef for supporting a moderate middle ground amidst the current political rhetoric.

Egypt-Cyprus Negotiations

Cyprus’ President Nicos Anastiades met with Egypt’s interim president Adli Mansour today to develop plans for closer diplomatic relations, including a shared project to prospect for natural gas reserves in the Mediterranean between the two countries. The push for closer relations comes not long after Egypt expelled Turkey’s ambassador because it was angry over remarks that the Turkish president Recep Tayipp Erdogan made, calling for better treatment of the political opposition and the deposed President Morsi. Greece and Turkey hotly contest the ownership of the island of Cyprus, and have been in open conflict over their competing land claims since the 1970s.

Weekend Read

Sarah Carr discusses the political environment in Egypt during these “strange and maudlin days” in her latest piece for the independent news website Mada Masr.

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