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Thursday, 16 February 2017

A mixed bag of nuts for Egypt in the international press on 16 February 2017

Egypt’s role in regional peace processes is at center stage this morning as the international media look at Cairo’s efforts to mediate between warring factions in Libya and discuss Egypt’s role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after US President Donald Trump decided he would back either a one- or two-state solution. Trump reportedly hopes Egypt and KSA can help him break the logjam between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The New York Times’ Ian Fisher and Ben Hubbard, however, is playing into age old orientalist tropes of “the bad Israeli-hating Arab” as to why Trump’s proposal will fail. Egypt, for one, is also grappling with its own set of major challenges to economy and security and may just be too busy to look outward.

The Times of Israel, meanwhile, resurrects a perpetual canard with a report that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has proposed giving up some of the Sinai for the establishment of a Palestinian state, citing Israeli Minister Ayoub Kara. We’re business geeks, not foreign policy types, but our take: When pigs fly, folks.

Al-Monitor’s Ahmed Fouad seems to think that Trump’s decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, could have catastrophic results for Egypt, particularly the Suez Canal, which is a major connection in the trade route between TPP members on either side of the world.

Meanwhile, on the business front: Egypt’s decision to float the EGP in November set it on a different path from Nigeria, where the government is insisting on maintaining a currency peg, Bloomberg’s Paul Wallace writes, re-treading ground that has been trod to death since December. Elsewhere, Euronews reports that “Five years on from the revolution that saw the fall of the Mubarak regime, and Egypt is still on its knees” economically. Subtle, no? Someone go get us some kneepads.

Egypt’s Golden Triangle project could be a way for Egypt to bypass the bureaucracy and drive growth, Patrick Werr writes for The National. As an independent body, the Golden Triangle Authority’s chairman reports directly to the prime minister, and the authority can issue its own set of terms for mining, which is expected to account for 60-65% of investment in the area, effectively sidestepping obstructionism from the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority.

Let’s check in with the fundies, shall we? The Ikhwan are divided between old and new leadership, and are struggling to maintain unity against “unprecedented repression,” writes Khalil Al Anani for Al Jazeera. Despite a “moderate level of oppression” generally working in the Ikhwan’s favor, the narrative of victimisation backfired after the events of July 2013, he says. Young members are increasingly more disenfranchised from their old leadership, many of which are in prison or exile. Foreign pressure on the group could also be on the rise as relations between Egypt and Sudan appear to be easing, with reports of Khartoum expelling Ikhwan members as a gesture to mend fences with Cairo, Shounaz Meky writes for Al Arabiya. A news report from Al Hayat quotes an Islamist source saying the Sudanese government was sending Egyptian Islamist who fled to Sudan following 2013 an “indirect message” that it “is better for them to leave Sudan.”

Reusing “old glass jars, tuna cans [for] ashtrays, and plastic crates [for] chairs” has always been a thing here in Egypt, but young, upper-middle class city folk are just picking up the habit. Rowan El Shimi zeroes-in on Up-Fuse’s recycled bags and Reform Studio’s plastic waste-based furniture in her latest piece on “conscious consumption” for Gulf News.
An ongoing Project by Polish architect Agnieszka Dobrowolska called “Outside In: the Art of Inclusion” is bringing contemporary art to Cairo’s City of the Dead, Reuters reports.

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