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Thursday, 19 November 2020

Egypt in the News on 19 November 2020

Human rights are dominating the conversation on Egypt in the international press this morning after the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said that authorities had detained two of its staffers on terror charges. Executive director Mohamed Bashir and criminal justice unit director Karim Ennarah were both arrested after earlier meeting with senior diplomats, the group said. France’s foreign ministry has expressed “deep concern” over the arrest and the Egyptian Foreign Ministry replied in a statement it “rejects any interference in its internal affairs, or any attempts to influence an investigation by the public prosecution of an Egyptian citizen.” The story is making headlines from the Financial Times and the BBC to Reuters, the Associated Press and the Telegraph.

The news comes as Egyptian diplomats continue reaching out to Democrats and lobbyists to start building ties ahead of Joe Biden taking over the White House, the New York Times notes in a piece that says we join the UAE and Turkey “in a panicked rush to make inroads in the Biden Administration.” Egypt recently hired lobby group Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck on a one-year gig to help Cairo cosy up to the Biden administration. Egypt’s team in DC is staffed by veteran Washington insiders including retired Republican congressman Ed Royce.

Obama isn’t backing down on his administration’s handling of Egypt during the events of 25 January, responding to claims of inconsistency in US foreign policy by acknowledging “that the world was messy,” he writes in A Promised Land, his newly released memoir, according to the AFP. “Just because I couldn’t in every instance elevate our human rights agenda over other considerations didn’t mean that I shouldn’t try to do what I could, when I could,” he writes, explaining why Bahrain, for instance, was spared the nudge given to former president Hosni Mubarak to step down in 2011.

Did Coca Cola bend US tax rules by assigning too much of its profit to its Egyptian subsidiary, alongside other operations in Brazil and Ireland? That’s the ruling by a US tax court judge, the Wall Street Journal reports, in a case that sees the US taxman trying to get an extra USD 3.3 bn out of the maker of sweet, fizzy drinks.

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