Blinken set to see Israelis, Arabs wary about Iran, Ukraine
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will try to use his three-nation tour of the Middle East and North Africa to reassure wary Israelis and Arabs that the Biden administration is committed to the region’s security at a time when Washington is confronting multiple foreign policy challenges.
Blinken claims progress in effort to boost Gaza truce
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has wrapped up a two-day Mideast mission, winning valuable diplomatic support and hundreds of millions of dollars of pledges from Arab allies as he moved to shore up the cease-fire that ended an 11-day war between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s militant Hamas rulers.
Egypt plans Suez Canal expansion after vessel was grounded
Egypt on Tuesday announced plans to widen and deepen the southern part of the Suez Canal where a hulking vessel ran aground and closed off the crucial waterway in March. The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Lt. Gen. Osama Rabe, announced details of the plan in a televised ceremony in the canal’s city of Ismailia. The plan includes widening the canal’s southernmost stretch by about 40 meters (yards) to the east, on the side of the Sinai Peninsula, Rabei said.news.yahoo.com
With ship now freed, a probe into Suez Canal blockage begins
Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, is seen in Egypt's Great Bitter Lake Tuesday, March 30, 2021. Experts have boarded Ever Given container ship that had blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week before it was dislodged. A canal pilot says engineers are inspecting the Ever Given for damage and trying to determine why it ran aground. Global legal firm Clyde and Co. said the Ever Given's owner likely would pay Egypt's canal authority for the assistance already rendered to the vessel. He stood before a sign that said: "Welcome to the Suez Canal: Egypt's lifeline of peace, prosperity and development."
Trains crash in southern Egypt, killing at least 32
(AP Photo)CAIRO – Two trains crashed Friday in southern Egypt, killing at least 32 people and injuring 165, authorities said in the latest of a series of deadly accidents on the country’s troubled railways. Those remarks came a day after a passenger train collided with a cargo train, killing at least 12 people. AdA year earlier, two passenger trains collided just outside Alexandria, killing 43. In 2016, at least 51 people were killed when two commuter trains collided near Cairo. Egypt’s deadliest train crash was in 2002, when over 300 people were killed after fire broke out in a train traveling from Cairo to southern Egypt.
EXPLAINER: What we know about a ship blocking the Suez Canal
This photo released by the Suez Canal Authority on Thursday, March 25, 2021, shows Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority, investigating the situation with the Ever Given, a Panama-flagged cargo ship, after it become wedged across the Suez Canal and blocking traffic in the vital waterway. Over its 150-year history, Egypt's Suez Canal has seen wars and crises — but nothing quite like the stranding of the Ever Given. The vessel entered the canal from the Red Sea on Tuesday morning and ran aground 45 minutes later. While the supersize of ships can increase their risk of running aground in the Suez Canal, boats just as big buffeted by winds just as strong have passed through the waterway without incident before. President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi poured $8.2 billion into a lavish expansion of the canal that was unveiled in 2015.
Shipping losses mount from cargo vessel stuck in Suez Canal
This satellite image from Cnes2021, Distribution Airbus DS, shows the cargo ship MV Ever Given stuck in the Suez Canal near Suez, Egypt, Thursday, March 25, 2021. (Cnes2021, Distribution Airbus DS via AP)ISMAILIA – Dredgers, tugboats and even a backhoe failed to free a giant cargo ship wedged in Egypt’s Suez Canal on Thursday. The Suez Canal Authority said one idea the team discussed was scraping the bottom of the canal around the ship. “BSM’s continuing priorities are to safely re-float the vessel and for marine traffic in the Suez Canal to resume,” it said without providing timeframe. Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal is a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo.
Massive cargo ship becomes wedged, blocks Egypt's Suez Canal
In this photo released by the Suez Canal Authority, a boat navigates in front of a massive cargo ship, named the Ever Green, rear, sits grounded Wednesday, March 24, 2021, after it turned sideways in Egypts Suez Canal, blocking traffic in a crucial East-West waterway for global shipping. (Suez Canal Authority via AP)DUBAI – A skyscraper-sized container ship has become wedged across Egypt's Suez Canal and blocked all traffic in the vital waterway, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic. Ad“The Suez Canal will not spare any efforts to ensure the restoration of navigation and to serve the movement of global trade,” vowed Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei, head of the Suez Canal Authority. Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. Ad“It’s because of the breakneck pace of global shipping right now and shipping is on a very tight schedule,” he said.
US: Human rights will be 'central' to relations with Egypt
WASHINGTON – The Biden administration on Tuesday told Egypt that human rights will be “central” to its policy in dealing with the key Arab state and major American partner in the Middle East. It was not immediately clear how the new emphasis on human rights would manifest itself. The Trump administration had largely given Egypt's leadership a pass on human rights. Ad“The secretary raised concerns over human rights, which he emphasized would be central to the U.S.-Egypt bilateral relationship, and Egypt’s potential procurement of Su-35 fighter aircraft from Russia,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. However, rights groups accused authorities of targeting families of activists and rights defenders living abroad, in an apparent attempt to intimidate critics.
The Latest: China's northeast outbreaks appear under control
Cambodia on Sunday received its first shipment of COVID-19 vaccine, a donation of 600,000 doses from China, the country's biggest ally. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)BEIJING — China appears to have stamped out its latest coronavirus outbreaks centered on the northeast, reporting no new cases of local infection in its latest daily report. ___TEHRAN, Iran — Iran has unveiled its second homemade coronavirus vaccine and says it has begun human trials, state TV reported Sunday. ___JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia’s Food and Drug Authority has announced an emergency use authorization to give the COVID-19 vaccine produced by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. to people over 60. ___KABUL, Afghanistan — Some 500,000 doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine arrived Sunday in Afghanistan from the government in India.
Sudan says it signs pact on normalizing ties with Israel
Justice Minister Nasredeen Abdulbari signed the deal with visiting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, according to the prime minister's office. Abdulbari said Sudan welcomed “the rapprochement" with Israel and other countries as well as the beginning of diplomatic relations. Although Sudan is not a regional powerhouse, establishing ties with Israel is deeply symbolic. During his visit, Mnuchin met with Gen. Abdel-Fattah Burhan, head of the ruling sovereign council, and Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August became the first top U.S. diplomat to visit Sudan since 2005, when Condoleezza Rice visited.
Italian returns French Legion award after el-Sissi gets one
ROME – A prominent Italian journalist has returned his Legion of Honor to the French Embassy to protest the awarding of the prize to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi during his protest-marred visit to Paris last week. El-Sissi’s state visit sparked protests by human rights activists incensed that French President Emmanuel Macron had rolled out the red carpet while el-Sissi presides over the heaviest crackdown on dissent in Egypt’s modern history. The award ceremony was held without the press before a Sept. 7 dinner at the Elysee presidential palace in Paris. “France is on the front lines for human rights and makes no compromises,” he tweeted after Augias returned his prize. During the visit, France and Egypt signed contracts for French development aid and hospital and transport cooperation.
Protesters demonstrate against el-Sissi's visit to France
A woman holds a placard as she stages a protest against the Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi by the National Assembly in Paris, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)PARIS – French protesters and human rights activists demonstrated outside the National Assembly in Paris on Tuesday in opposition to the state visit of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi even though he wasn't inside. El-Sissi's visit is in its second and final day. The protesters, who carried placards reading “Egypt, Human Rights Emergency,” were also angry at French President Emmanuel Macron for rolling out the red carpet to the Egyptian leader, whom they view as a human rights abuser. Despite human rights groups’ criticism, el-Sissi signed contracts with French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Tuesday for French development aid and hospital and transport cooperation.
Final goodbye: Recalling influential people who died in 2020
The world also said goodbye to U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a lion of the civil rights movement who died in July. Other former political figures who died this year include Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, New York Mayor David Dinkins, Arizona Gov. Here is a roll call of some influential figures who died in 2020 (cause of death cited for younger people, if available):___JANUARY___David Stern, 77. The guitarist who supplied the scratching, seething sound that fueled the highly influential British punk band Gang of Four. He fused African rhythms with funk to become one of the most influential musicians in world dance music.
Egypt's El-Sissi, France's Macron at odds over human rights
French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Siss gesture upon el-Sissi arrival at the Elysee palace, Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 in Paris. Macron welcomed el-Sissi at the Elysee Palace at the start of the Egyptian president's two-day state visit to France. Yet Macron ruled out making France's cooperation with Egypt on economy and defense conditional on human rights issues, because Egypt is France's key partner in the fight against extremism and for the stability of the region. "The rank of religious values is much higher than human values ... they are holy and above all other values," he added. That's what was brought by the philosophy of the Enlightment and the foundation of the universalism of human rights.”Under France's secularism, blasphemy is allowed in France, Macron stressed.
Egypt's president in Greece on 1st visit since maritime deal
Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou, left, and his Egyptian counterpart President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi review the Greek Presidential guard before their meeting in Athens, Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020. The Egyptian President is on a two-day official visit in Greece. President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi was holding talks with the Greek president and prime minister in the morning, while Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry will sit down with Greek counterpart Nikos Dendias in the evening. In August, Greece and Egypt signed a maritime deal demarcating the two countries’ maritime boundaries and setting out respective exclusive economic zones for the exploitation of resources such as oil and gas drilling. Greece, Cyprus and Egypt widely criticized the deal between Ankara and Tripoli, saying it infringed on their economic rights.
World leaders hope for fresh start after Biden win
Other leaders who supported Trump including President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines congratulated Biden, indicating they rejected Trump’s claim the election wasn’t over. Prime Minister Scott Morrison of Australia told reporters he looked forward to a “great partnership” with Washington. Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan said he looked forward to working together to end illegal tax havens and on peacemaking in Afghanistan. Others expressed hope Biden will help to heal divisions in American society and global politics. Prime Minister Janez Jansa was the only leader who congratulated Trump even before all votes were counted and showed support after Biden’s win was announced.
Many world leaders express hope, relief after Biden win
World leaders congratulated U.S. President-elect Joe Biden on his victory, cheering it as an opportunity to fortify global democracy and celebrating the significance of Americans having their first female vice president. Other leaders who sent congratulations included German Chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Still, Iraqi President Barham Salih tweeted his congratulations to Biden, describing him as a friend and trusted partner. His rival, Juan Guaido, also thanked Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their “firmness and determination” in confronting Maduro. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who struck up a cordial working relationship with Trump, also avoided congratulating Joe Biden.
Egyptians vote in 2nd stage of parliamentary election
A woman casts her vote on the first day in the second and final stage of the country's parliamentary elections in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020. Egyptians began voting on Saturday after a relatively low turnout in the first stage that embarrassed the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. A total of 568 seats in the lower chamber are up for grabs in the election, with half the seats reserved for candidates running as individuals. The other 50% of seats in the House of Representatives are for over 1,100 candidates running on four party lists. For weeks before the vote, pro-government media called voting a patriotic duty and urged Egyptians to vote in high numbers.
Egypt's parliamentary vote likely to tighten leader's grip
A woman casts her ballot on the first day of the parliamentary election inside a polling station in Giza, Egypt, Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020. Egyptians began voting Saturday in the first stage of a parliamentary election, a vote that is highly likely to produce a toothless House of Representatives packed with supporters of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. (AP Photo/Nariman El-Mofty)CAIRO – Egyptians cast ballots Saturday in the first stage of the country's parliamentary election, a vote which is highly likely to produce a toothless lower chamber packed with supporters of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi. Like the Senate election in August, Egyptian election authorities said face masks would be handed out to voters for free and polling stations were disinfected. In Alexandria, lawmaker Haitham el-Hariri, who was one of the few opposition figures in the outgoing parliament, urged his supporters to vote.
Egypt outlet says reporter detained while covering unrest
Egypt has in the past arrested journalists who it says are operating without proper permissions. The outlet Mostafa works for is banned from operating in Egypt and its website is blocked. Mostafa had recently reported on the death of a young man while in police detention in Cairo in September. It remains among the world’s worst jailers of journalists, along with Turkey and China, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Mahmoud Kamel, a board member of Egypt’s Journalists' Union, said authorities have arrested five journalists since the beginning of September.
The Latest: Boris Johnson to urge global unity against virus
___5:50 p.m.British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tell the U.N. General Assembly that the coronavirus pandemic has frayed the bonds between nations and will urge world leaders to unite against the “common foe” of COVID-19. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi also used his U.N. speech this week to describe the dam, Africa’s largest, as an existential threat. Khan has frequently criticized the decision by the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in August 2019 to strip Jammu and Kashmir’s statehood, scrap its separate constitution and remove inherited protections on land and jobs. The United Kingdom is a founding nation of the United Nations and a member of the Security Council, and the country has been a global diplomatic juggernaut for centuries. Michel’s ire was raised when British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he would contemplate breaking an agreement he signed with the EU.
The Latest: Nigeria urges vaccine to be available to all
(UNTV via AP)TANZANIA – The Latest from the U.N. General Assembly (all times EDT):8:15 p.m. ___6:55 p.m.Argentine President Alberto Fernández is asking the world to think beyond creating a vaccine that will help end the coronavirus pandemic. Speaking Tuesday to the annual U.N. General Assembly, French President Emmanuel Macron decried the United Nations’ failure to vanquish the virus. ___11:50 a.m.South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is the first world leader at the United Nations'' annual gathering to mention the Black Lives Matter movement. Trump is accusing China of not sharing timely information with the world on the new disease in a taped address to the virtually gathered United Nations General Assembly.
Watchdog: Virus stalks Egypt's prisons amid news blackout
It documented multiple cases of detainees who died after experiencing suspected virus symptoms without being tested or receiving adequate medical treatment. Tens of thousands of people in Egypt are crammed into what rights groups say are overcrowded and unsanitary prisons. The group reported that Egypts National Security Agency summoned, interrogated and punished inmates when news media began to crackle with reports of suspected virus cases in prisons. Even as the daily infection rate in the nation has declined this month, accounts of virus cases in prisons are mounting. In almost all cases, HRW said, prison authorities have done little to protect prisoners from infection beyond grouping suspected cases in the same cell.
American student released after 486 days in Egyptian prison
CAIRO An American medical student detained without trial in an Egyptian prison for nearly 500 days has been freed and returned to the United States, the U.S. State Department said on Monday. We welcome the release of U.S. citizen Mohamed Amashah from Egyptian custody, and thank Egypt for its cooperation in his repatriation, the State Department said. Before boarding a flight home late Sunday, he relinquished his Egyptian citizenship as a condition of his release. No one wanted to take the risk of another Kassem, said Mohamed Soltan, founder of the Freedom Initiative. His case is welcomed progress and a step forward in the right direction, the Freedom Initiative said in a statement.
Nile countries agree to restart talks over disputed dam
FILE - This satellite image taken Thursday, May 28, 2020, shows the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile river in the Benishangul-Gumuz region of Ethiopia. Sudan, which also depends on the Nile for water, has played a key role in bringing the two sides together after the collapse of U.S.-mediated talks in February. Sticking points in the talks have been how much water Ethiopia will release downstream from the dam if a multi-year drought occurs and how Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan will resolve any future disagreements. Filling the dam without an agreement could bring the stand-off to a critical juncture. Both Egypt and Ethiopia have hinted at military steps to protect their interests, and experts fear a breakdown in talks could lead to open conflict.