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Sunday, 24 February 2019

What we’re tracking on 24 February 2019

The first EU-Arab League summit gets underway today in Sharm El Sheikh. Senior European and Arab officials are set to discuss security, terrorism, investment and regional development. UK Prime Minister Theresa May and Saudi King Salman have already arrived for the summit.

Topping the agenda: The groundwork for a Turkey-style migration pact, in which Arab states would control the flow of migrants to Europe in return for financial aid. Don’t expect too much though: Officials have already began downplaying the likelihood of any concrete agreements due to ongoing political disputes, according to Reuters.

Also likely to come up: Forcing countries to take back their Daeshbags. The Washington Post suggests Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel is pushing the idea of an international court to prosecute Daesh fighters European (and North American) countries try to figure out what to do with citizens who took up arms in Syria and Iraq.

Brexit will also make headlines in Egypt today as European Council President Donald Tusk is set to meet with UK Prime Minister Theresa May on the sidelines of the summit late this afternoon. Both sides are downplaying chances of a breakthrough.

The Saudi-Egyptian Business Council will meet in Cairo today, according to the domestic press. As many as 100 leaders of some of the largest Saudi companies are expected to attend.

Another notable summit will take place this week as The Donald and Kim Jong Un travel to Vietnam for their second round of face-to-face talks. Even if the meeting fails to produce an agreement, it will be worth it for the memes alone. The WSJ has more.

Egyptian officials are among a group of Geneva-based diplomats who traveled to China early last week, Reuters reports. The trip was part of a Chinese initiative to ward off criticism of its “re-education facilities” in the Muslim-majority Xinjiang province. The news comes as the WSJ gave front-page placement this weekend to The Muslim world looks on as China persecutes its Muslims.

Also making headlines in the region this weekend:

  • State of emergency in Sudan: Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir has declared a 12-month state of emergency, dissolved the federal government, and replaced all state governors with state security officials, the BBC reports.
  • “Thousands” protest Bouteflika: Demonstrators across Algeria marched on Friday against 81 year-old President Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s plan to seek a fifth term in office, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile: Saudi Arabia has appointed its first woman ambassador to the United States. Princess Reema bint Bandar is the daughter of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the 1983-2005 ambassador to D.C. who was so close to the ruling elite in the US that he was known as Bandar Bush. Reema comes from a business background and replaces Prince Khalid bin Salman, who returns to Riyadh to become deputy defense minister. See coverage in the FT | Bloomberg | Reuters.

Warren Buffett turned in one of his biggest-ever quarterly losses after taking a writedown on Kraft Heinz and being forced by new accounting rules to book unrealized losses on his investment portfolio in the final quarter of 2018. (FT | WSJ | Reuters | Bloomberg)

It’s Oscar night: The Academy Awards get underway at 3am CLT tomorrow (Monday) morning, with a certain satellite network still appearing to be the only way to watch the broadcast if you dwell in our part of the world. Fill out your own ballot at the New York Times, read the Carpetbagge’s predictions (Egyptian-American Rami Malek FTW) check out the Hollywood veterans the WSJ is hoping will finally win (Spike Lee, please), or read the FT’s surprisingly good Oscar rundown.

PSA- We’re looking at a modest heatwave through Tuesday, according to the national weather service, reports the local press. Coastal and delta dwellers may also see some light showers. Look for daytime highs of 24°C today and 28°C tomorrow in the capital city.

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