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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Smurf Islands handover tops coverage of Egypt

Topping coverage of Egypt in the foreign press this morning is the House ofRepresentative’s Legislative Committee voting to approve the Tiran and Sanafir handover agreement. AP’s coverage of the recent reported clashes between protesters outside the Press Syndicate and the police was picked up extensively. Others such as Al Jazeera and the Times of Israel are noting how the protests last year over the announcement of the agreement sparked the worst bout of protests since President Abdel Fattah El Sisi assumed office.

The website ban came in at a very close second, with the Associated Press noting the latest update that the number of banned sites has increased to 64.The newswire also notes the blocking of the websites, which has now expanded to include VPN software designed to circumvent it, has intensified as the government looks to push the Tiran and Sanafir handover agreement through the legislature. Engadget’s Mariella Moon is running with the recycled trope that the move’s intention is to secure the 2018 presidential election for President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

This comes as Amnesty International says Egyptian authorities “must immediately stop arbitrarily blocking news websites.” Out of the list of banned websites, Amnesty International says it could only identify one that was linked to groups that use or advocate violence.

The standoff between Qatar and Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain, and the UAE is lining the pockets of DC lobbyists, The Hill reports. “Qatar has five K Street firms on retainer … Some of Qatar’s well-heeled neighbors, however, have even larger influence war chests, with upwards of 30 firms combined at their beck and call.” The report notes that Qatar hired the firm of former US Attorney General John Ashcroft “to assist in ‘evaluating, verifying, and as necessary, strengthening the client’s [AML] and counterterrorism financial compliance programs and providing legal advice and recommendations to enhance and improve such efforts.’” One former consultant to Qatar says the problems began as Qatar tried “to position themselves for the last decade as the Switzerland of the Middle East … They want to be a place where disputes can get resolved … The unintended consequence of that is that they’ve gotten into bed with a lot of [redacted] up people.”

The United States’ continued arms sales to Egypt and other countries in the Middle East turns a blind eye to “dark records of serious human rights abuses,” Evan Hill writes for The Atlantic, citing a report from the Government Accountability Office.

A bill currently being discussed at the House of Representatives to ban Egyptian parents from giving their children Western names is being widely picked up by the international press, with Newsweek, The Independent, and The New York Post taking note. The proposed law would see parents fined or imprisoned for using foreign names, which MPs allege would change Egyptian society. Morons.

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