There were strong reactions in Cairo and Port Said after a court confirmed death sentences for 21 people for their role in a deadly 2012 football riot between supporters of al-Ahly and al-Masri
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By Wael Nawara
The rising influence of Islamist militants comes almost a century after the Sykes-Picot Agreement and other colonial arrangements and promises that has shaped Middle Eastern states since then. Islamists claim that the regional orders — including current Arab (and Muslim) states, borders, economic, social and educational systems, alliances and allegiances — were installed and are being artificially sustained to serve the interests of world powers through controlling natural resources of the region and keep Muslims in bondage, preventing them from reaching their true potential and the word of Allah from reaching the hearts of the rest of humanity.
There are elements of truth in the injustices of a world order that has manipulated the region and used its own political regimes to serve global powers. But many argue that the Islamist militant ideology could also be seen as yet another control mechanism, one that this time uses sectarian sentiments to weaken the unifying threads holding together the fabric of societies with the resulting conflict knocking down pillars of existing states and sending the entire region into chaos and turmoil for decades to come. In any case, the Islamist discourse is evidently unsuited to help Arabs or Muslims advance or alleviate the suffering of the people, because it breaks their societies at their core.
Out of self-preservation, the ruling families of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have realized the importance of preventing the collapse of the regional order. They stood up to face the militant groups for which they once were benefactors and may have provided support out of piety as good Muslims or in cold pragmatism for political purposes against socialists and progressives. King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and rulers of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) recognized that IS and al-Qaeda pose an existential threat to their reign and to the Arab states at large. This is why their support to the Egyptian army and to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was deep and financially generous, beyond any level of aid previously given.
But as cooperation between militants is global, it follows that to face their challenge effectively requires a regional approach and a higher level of cooperation between armies as well as counterterrorism and intelligence agencies. The Gulf states once relied, almost entirely, on the United States to lead security and anti-terrorism efforts guaranteeing regional order and their continued rule. But for many reasons, the United States now seems unsuited to continue playing that role, which means Saudis will have to work alone or find other partners. In fact, the United States, by malice, incompetence or differing interests, bears a large part of the responsibility of the collapse of the regional order.
This situation gives rise to a dire demand for the emergence of a regional security alliance where Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and possibly Algeria’s armies and intelligence communities would cooperate, through a formal institution, NATO-style, to fill the vacuum that is gifting IS and the like with room for quick unopposed advances. Russia could become an important partner to this alliance. Egypt’s military thinks that while such alliance is important, it requires legislative approval to ratify a host of arrangements and details ranging from command structure and sovereignty issues to logistics and budgetary appropriations. Does this mean waiting until Egypt has a parliament? Since time is of the essence, Sisi can, if willing, use his temporary legislative powers, or use existing Arab defense frameworks. The Gulf already has the security alliance Peninsula Shield Force. Qatar continues to pose unresolved problems and may soon be forced out as it persistently fails to meet set ultimatums.
But while this emerging alliance is vitally necessary for the survival of these states, it may alone be insufficient. The chart of relationships, with green and red lines representing support or animosity between militant groups such as IS, al-Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, Hamas, Hezbollah and regimes in Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt as well as other countries and blocs (United States, Russia and the European Union), is very complex. It shows that even among allies, one partner could be supporting a certain militant group or regime, while another partner of the alliance could consider the very same entity as a sworn enemy.
These conflicting intersections and confused relationships are not merely circumstantial. In fact, they represent different priorities and paradigms that must be addressed and resolved at this stage, if the proposed alliance is to work in the long term. At least conflicting priorities must be sorted even if conflicts cannot be resolved in the short term. I would argue that one of the main reasons behind this complexity, which prevents long-term survival of a pan-Arab cooperation, is the Saudi’s overemphasis on the Sunni-Shiite division. This division is certainly sectarian. One cannot wage an effective war against IS and al-Qaeda, which use sectarian sentiments as a motivational tool to garner support among populations and recruit fighters and franchisees, while using the same sectarian sentiment.
This is a historic moment of evolution for Saudi Arabia, to discard the Sunni-Shiite division as a basis for its national identity and alliances and adopt a “citizenship” approach, more or less similar to what binds Egyptians. It was this national feeling of citizenship, rather than sectarian identification, which provided Egyptians with a sense of comradeship allowing Muslims to denounce Muslim Brotherhood attacks on Christian churches after former President Mohammed Morsi’s removal and Christians to withstand the assaults as they felt they were political in nature rather than an assault on the faith. This was the bond that, perhaps once, unified Syria, Libya, Iraq and Sudan before the sectarian division broke those countries into pieces.
If Saudi Arabia can now make that paradigm shift, everything could be possible, including cooperation with Hezbollah, even Iran.
Activist Alaa Abdel Fattah began a hunger strike Monday evening after his father Ahmed Seif El-Islam entered an intensive care unit Sunday, according to a Tuesday statement by Abdel Fattah’s family on Facebook.
Abdel Fatah visited his father in the intensive care unit after he became unconscious Sunday at dawn.
Abdel Fattah went to the hospital Sunday happily holding flowers and looking forward to speaking with his father, he said. He was surprised when he found his father unconscious in an intensive care unit, according to his family’s statement.
“Seeing his father unconscious was a turning point for Abdel Fattah, and at the end of the visit, he decided he will not cooperate with this ‘unjust absurd situation’ even if it costs him his life,” according to the statement.
“Abdel Fattah informed us of his decision, and it was so hard to bear, but we understood his feeling of oppression eventually and his need involve sincerity in the absurd and tragic situation he lives. Abdel Fattah’s decision matches the sensitivity of the situation,” his family’s statement said.
“Abdel Fattah is in prison for the third time since the January 25 Revolution. This cost him much, he was kept away from his family, his first child was born while he was in jail, his programming company was negatively affected due to his absence and his younger sister Sanaa was imprisoned following a march in solidarity with him beside Ithadeya palace.”
Abdel Fattah was allowed to visit his father only when he was unconscious and was not allowed to visit when his father had heart surgery.
Soueif told Al-Masry Al-Youm Tuesday that his family will not start a parallel hunger strike, because they are busy with following his father’s health condition.
Abdel Fattah was sentenced June 9 to 15 years in jail over conducting illegal protests outside the Shura Council in November 2013, Youm7 reported.
By Mohamed Adel
The electricity deficit reached approximately 6,180MW on Monday, resulting in power outages for periods exceeding five hours daily, said an official at the Ministry of Electricity.
A 1900MW portion of the deficit resulted from a shortage of 8m cubic metres of gas and equivalent while another 2500MW was attributed to poor technical conditions at power stations, partially a result of failure to carry out the necessary maintenance and repair operations.
The deficit increased by approximately 1700MW as a result of a rise in the sulphur content of fuel oil supplied to the plants. This led to clogs in fuel oil heaters and reduced efficiency, according to the official.
Power plant consumption rates reached 116m cubic metres of gas and equivalent daily while actual needs are estimated to be approximately 125m cubic metres, the official said.
The deficit for fuel supplied to stations this month increased to approximately 8m cubic metres of gas and equivalent daily compared to 7m last month.
Power stations currently obtain 84m cubic metres of gas per day, 27,000 tonnes of fuel oil, and 3,000 tonnes of diesel, the official said.
The electricity crisis faced by Egypt was exacerbated by utilisation of fuel oil supplies that failed to meet factory specifications, poor technical conditions within power plants, and widespread failure to conduct regular maintenance and repair operations. Some stations operate at no more than 25% of capacity, according to the official.
The official confirmed that the Ministry of Electricity currently receives 70% of gas produced in Egyptian oil fields, which has led to a number of factories receiving reduced gas supplies and others none at all, the official said.
By SARAH MOURAD
CAIRO: A thin blanket of snow covered Tahrir Square the morning of Dec. 13, 2013, the first snow in the capital had seen in decades.
On May 7, severe sandstorms in Aswan in southern Egypt led to a boat accident that killed one, and damaged to a local museum. The next day, Ain Sokhna road in Northern Sinai was hit with strong rains accompanied by thunder, lighting, winds and a substantial decline in temperature.
“Out of 7 possible scenarios expected regarding the River Nile due to climate change, only one is positive,” said Mohamed Hamdy Darrag, Manager of Climate Change Technology and Researches at the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA.) The only optimistic scenario modeled by the Japanese, shows that water levels will increase from 20 to 25 percent due to an advance in the rain belt. However, the other six scenarios show that water will decrease, from 40 to 80 percent.
“luctuations in climate were the norm, not the exception, throughout this calamitous past. ods due
The Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam is a gravity dam on the Blue Nile River, a major tributary to the River Nile, currently under construction. At 6,000 MW, the dam will be the largest hydroelectric power plant in Africa when completed, as well as the 8th largest in the world, sharing the spot with Krasnoyarsk. Ethiopia has denied that the dam will have any negative impacts on the downstream water flows and contends that the dam will in fact increase water flows to Egypt by reducing evaporation on Lake Nasser.
Egypt has planned a diplomatic initiative to undermine support for the dam in the region as well as in other countries supporting the project such as China, Italy, and Norway. However, other nations in the Nile Basin initiative have expressed support for the dam, including Sudan, the only other nation downstream of the Blue Nile.
A 2010 report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that Nile flows, rainfall, and ground water resources affect the vulnerability of Egypt’s water resources. As for the agriculture sector, the study predicted a reduction in the productivity of two major crops in Egypt: wheat and maize by 15% and 19%, respectively, by 2050.
In 2013, IPCC reiterated the scientific opinion that the largest driver of global warming is carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from fossil fuel combustion, cement production, and land use changes such as deforestation, and that human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes.
Climate change and food in Egypt
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, Egypt is the world’s leading importer of wheat. Egyptians consume between 15 and 20 million tons of the grain per year, producing only 10 million tons locally. In a report about Middle East and North African countries in February 2014, UN Food and Agriculture Organization warned of demographic issues and vulnerabilities to price fluctuations and climate change conflicts.
The region’s high population growth of 2%, compared to 1.2% globally, also comes with a high rate of urbanization, with 70% expected to be living in cities by 2050, the report said. “A rapidly increasing urban population, which has distinctly different food consumption habits and a greater dependence on the market than the rural population, is a particular challenge for the food system,” it stated.
In the long term however, such reliance on imports, the report warns, exposes countries to price fluctuations of international markets, which is a major risk. In addition to unknown climate changes that could cause droughts, and will surely be a major risk
Moreover, projected temperature rises are likely to increase crop-water requirements thereby directly decreasing crop water use efficiency and increase irrigation demands of the agriculture sector. Additionally, temperature increases is expected to have adverse effects on livestock and fish production.
According to the EEAA, venerability of crops to changes in pest infestation and plant diseases is another potential impact of climate variability. It also increases the risk of land degradation and desertification. Major crops like wheat and rice will be affected.
“EAA, venerability of crops to changes in pest infestation and plant diseases is another potential impact of climate variability. It also increases the risk of land degradation and desertificat contamination of ground water resources. These impacts are expected to lead to the immigration of 6 to 7 million people from the Nile Delta.” Lydia Elewa, Manager at the Climate Change Researches Department, EEAA told The Cairo Post; adding that necessary adaptation policies entail changes in land use; integrated coastal zones management, and proactive planning for protecting coastal zones.
Lydia also said that tourism sectors, coral reefs, constituting a major attraction in Red Sea resorts, are highly vulnerable to climate change. “Sea level rise on the low elevation Mediterranean coast will definitely lead to losses of beaches.”
The increased frequency and severity of extreme events are expected to negatively impact the archaeological heritage in Egypt, she added.
The 2010 IPCC report also confirms that for the health sector, climate change will contribute to the burden of diseases in Egypt through direct and indirect effects, including communicable and non-communicable diseases.
Share of blame
The National Communication report on Climate Change that was issued in Egypt in 2010 (and is released every 5 years in developing countries but annually in developed ones) state that USA releases the highest global warming gas effects (25% of the world’s), while Russia releases 19%, China 17%, Africa 4%, and the Arab world only 1%. Egypt on its own releases just 0.56%.
“While Russia releases 19%, China 17%, Africa 4%, and the Arab world only 1%. Egypt on its o are highly impacted,” Darrag said.
A rise in temperature and heat waves threaten public health, as well as affect activity and productivity. Darrag also stated that excess warmth of the urban atmosphere compared to the non-urbanized surroundings is another consequence. “The annual mean air temperature of a city with 1 million people or more can be 1-3 degrees Celsius warmer than its surroundings. In the evening, the difference can be as high as 12 degrees Celsius.” he said, adding that all this is because most of green house gas emissions that contribute to global climate change come from urban areas.
Despite the well-known negative consequences of usage of coal as an energy source and calls by environmental groups and specialists in Egypt over the past months to prevent the usage of coal as a means of energy, to date the government still plans to expand its usage of the fossil fuel, “Even though the whole world has taken steps to decrease and even stop using coal as a form of energy, like USA, Germany, and China” Elewa told The Cairo Post.
Xinhua News Agency recently reported that China, which is the country most reliant on coal as an energy source, has announced plans to ban the use of coal by the end of 2020 as the country fights deadly levels of pollution.
Prominent astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and host of TV show TV show,”Tyson and host of TV show TV show scientist Carl Sagan, last month made an episode about Global Warming and Climate Change; he concluded the episode with a discussion about how burning ancient life forms dating from way back in the carboniferous age, in the form of coal, has dumped carbon dioxide into the atmosphere “at a rate the Earth hasn’t seen since the great climate catastrophes of the past, the ones that led to mass extinctions” will only bring back a climate last seen by the dinosaurs.”