#AceNewsReport – July.08: The UN Security Council is set to meet Thursday on Ethiopia’s mega-dam project, which has sparked fears in downstream Sudan and Egypt over their water supplies, diplomats said.
CAIRO: Ethiopia tells Egypt it has resumed filling giant Nile dam and Egypt has informed Ethiopia of its categorical rejection of the measure, which it regards as a threat to regional stability, irrigation Minister Mohamed Abdel Aty said.
July 05, 2021 23:04:
Both nations have been pushing Ethiopia to ink a binding deal over the filling and operation of GERD on the Blue Nile that broke ground in 2011. Addis Ababa, which said it last year reached its first target in the years-long filling of the dam, has announced it will proceed in July with or without a deal.
The public session was requested by Tunisia on Egypt and Sudan’s behalf, according to a diplomatic source. France’s ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, said last week that the council itself can do little apart from bringing the sides together.
We can open the door, invite the three countries at the table, bring them to express their concerns, encourage them to get back to the negotiations and find a solution,” he told reporters.
Sudan and Egypt have written to the council to urge it to take up the matter in recent weeks. Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in his note that negotiations are at an impasse and he accused Ethiopia of adopting “a policy of intransigence that undermined our collective endeavors to reach an agreement.”
Shoukry also held talks with his Sudanese counterpart Mariam Sadiq Al-Mahdi in New York on Monday as part of the framework of Egyptian-Sudanese coordination in the preparation for the Security Council session.
Moreover, Ethiopia said Tuesday it rejected “unwelcome meddling” by the Arab League in the dispute over the mega-dam. “Ethiopia rejects the unwelcome meddling by the League of Arab States on the matter of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) following the League’s submission of a letter to the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly to intervene in the matter,” Tuesday’s Ethiopia foreign ministry statement said. “The League of Arab States has a reputation for its unfettered and unconditional support to any claim Egypt has presented on the issue of the Nile.”
The Arab League announced last month it was backing Security Council intervention, despite Ethiopia’s insistence that talks proceed under an ongoing process led by the African Union.
Ethiopia says the dam on its Blue Nile is crucial to its economic development and providing power to its population. Egypt views the dam as a grave threat to its Nile water supplies, on which it is almost entirely dependent. Sudan, another downstream country, has expressed concern about the safety of the dam and the impact on its own dams and water stations. Egypt and Sudan have been engaged in a diplomatic campaign for a legally binding deal over the dam’s operation, but talks have repeatedly stalled. The diplomatic push intensified ahead of the first filling of the dam with last summer’s rains in Ethiopia, and again in recent weeks ahead of the second filling.
EGYPT: UN experts condemn the execution of Coptic Christian monk: In a press release published by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the experts confirmed that Mikhil was reportedly arbitrarily detained, tried, convicted and sentenced to death on 22 April, 2019, for allegedly killing an abbot at a monastery.
March 18, 2021
“The execution was conducted in secrecy, which is a serious violation of the inherent dignity of the human person and, specifically, violates the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” the experts expressed.
According to the experts, Mikhil was subjected to discriminatory treatment in prison prior to his execution. He was prevented from practicing religious rituals, prohibited from attending the weekly mass service and meeting the priest in charge of the prison service, despite this right being guaranteed by the Egyptian Constitution and law.
“The death penalty in retentionist states should be reserved for the most serious crimes and should be imposed only with extreme exception. However, the prevalence with which the death penalty is being executed in Egypt does not demonstrate that it meets the most stringent requirements or moving towards its abolition,” the experts stressed.
According to information received by the experts, over 50 executions have already taken place this year: 17 people were executed in April, 30 in March, six in February and one in January.
The UN experts called on the Egyptian authorities to end their systematic use of the death penalty, including against religious minorities
#AceNewsReport – May.21: More than 230 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s brutal attack which started on 10 May, including 65 children. A further 1,700 were injured, while many thousand lost their homes. Twelve Israelis were also killed.
CEASEFIRE: Palestinians celebrate as ceasefire goes into effect over Gaza: Mosques across the Gaza Strip hailed a “victory” and prayers could be heard across the enclave as a ceasefire took hold in Gaza at 2am local time (11pm GMT), bringing to an end to 11 days of the fiercest bombing campaign the Strip has come under since 2014 with at least 230-Palestinians killed, including children and nearly 2,000 injured’
The Cabinet unanimously approved the ceasefire unanimously; Time designated for the start of the ceasefire: 02:00 at night – subject to understandings between Hamas and Egypt. https://t.co/gyZ3k4nGwG
Palestinians carry a model of Dome of the Rock as they gather for a celebration after “mutual and simultaneous” cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas took effect at 2 am Friday (2300GMT Thursday), ending the 11-day conflict, in Rafah, Gaza on 21 May 2021. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]May 21, 2021 at 10:39 am
Palestinians could be seen dropped to the floor in prostration by way of thanks to God. Celebrations reverberated across the besieged Strip, in the occupied West Bank and in Jerusalem, where fireworks were set off, cars lined the streets with drivers honking.
Many worshippers heading to the Al-Aqsa Mosque for morning prayers also prostrated in thanks for the safety of their brothers and sisters in Gaza.
The truce took hold after the Israeli cabinet agreed to the “mutual and unconditional” ceasefire proposed by Egypt.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed the “mutual and simultaneous” agreement.
Commiting on the ceasefire, UN Secretary-general Antonio Guterres said: “Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.”
He added that the UN was ready to help both parties return to “meaningful negotiations” on a two-state settlement.
ABC’s ‘World News Tonight’ suggests Biden brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, avoids crediting Egypt
ABC News praised Biden for ‘walking a fine line throughout’ his ‘first big foreign policy test’
8 hours ago
ABC’s “World News Tonight” heavily implied that President Biden was responsible for the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas when it was actually Egypt that brokered the truce.
“Tonight, breaking news as we come on the air. Israel and Hamas agreeing to a cease-fire. President Biden speaking just moments ago,” ABC News anchor David Muir began the program. “After 11 days of relentless rockets and missile attacks, a truce now set to take effect just a short time from now. President Biden, who put increasing pressure on Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden talking just a short time ago.”
Muir told viewers that “we knew” that President Biden told the Israeli Prime Minister that he “wanted to see a significant de-escalation in the Israeli operation.”
ABC News correspondent Matt Gutman, who was reporting from Tel Aviv, read a statement that was released by Hamas saying a “mutual and simultaneous ceasefire in the Gaza Strip” had been reached. However, Gutman scrubbed the first part of that sentence from the official Hamas statement, which read, “We were informed by our brothers in Egypt that an agreement had been reached.”
After reiterating Biden’s push for a “significant de-escalation,” Muir brought on ABC News White House correspondent Mary Bruce to talk about the “delicate dance” that Biden endured and the “quiet diplomacy” that was enacted.
“David, this was the first big foreign policy test for this president and Biden walked a fine line throughout,” Bruce told Muir. “He was facing growing pressure from his own party to take a tougher stance on Israel and you seemed to see the president nod to that tonight in his remarks, saying, quote, ‘I believe the Palestinians and Israelis deserve to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy.’”
“Now, White House sources I’ve talked to feel that this all shows Biden’s approach to diplomacy working. He laid low in those first few days, trying to rely heavily on that quiet, intensive, behind-the-scenes diplomacy, and then upped the public pressure on Israel in just the recent days,” Bruce explained. “He and prime minister Netanyahu have a relationship, they understand how each other work. Biden took an increasingly serious tone, I am told, and made it clear to Israel that it would not be in their interest if this continued.”
However, as NewsBusters news analyst Nicholas Fondacaro pointed out, ABC’s report made no mention of Egypt’s critical role in the ceasefire.
Reversely, CBS and NBC gave credit to Egypt.
“The truce follows last-minute negotiations led by Egypt after days of what the White House has called quiet intensive diplomacy,” Norah O’Donnell of “CBS Evening News” told viewers.
“Israel’s security cabinet said it unanimously approved the Egyptian initiative for Israel and Hamas to simultaneously stop their attacks, starting in just minutes,” NBC News correspondent Richard Engel said in his report on “NBC Nightly News.”
#AceNewsReport – May.14: Following a nine-month investigation the four suspects in the case have now been released, prosecutors said:
CAIRO: Egypt #MeToo campaign prompts alleged rape arrests that fuelled a case that has been Egypt’s #MeToo movement shelved due to insufficient evidence after a woman alleged in a social media post last year that she was drugged and gang raped at the five-star Fairmont Nile City Hotel in Cairo in 2014’
16 hours ago
But they added that the case could be reopened if new evidence came to light.
In a statement, prosecutors said they had pursued the suspects last year by enforcing travel bans and issuing international arrest warrants for three of the men from Lebanon.
But, they added, “there is insufficient evidence against the defendants to proceed with a criminal case. The release of those temporarily detained has been ordered”.
They said they had interviewed 39 witnesses, and that “contradictions appeared in the testimonies of witnesses about key facts of the incident”.
Prosecutors also questioned police and forensic doctors, they said, as well as the alleged victim.
Assault Police, the campaign account that first reported the allegations last year, posted about the case being dropped with the hashtag “#justiceforthefairmontsurvivor”.
When it was first publicised last year, the case led to people across Egypt sharing their experiences online of sexual harassment and assault.
#AceNewsReport – May.07: Salama was ambushed, then abducted at gunpoint in a hijacked vehicle on the eve of 7 Nov, 2020 as he was on the street for a local errand in his village Bir-al-Abd. In the scuffle, as Nabil tried to fight off his three armed, unmasked attackers, he dropped his mobile phone. It was later retrieved by passers-by and returned to his family. This small detail has some significance, as reported below.
Nabil Habashi Salama, taken by unseen watchers; he was ‘executed’ by ISIS, March 2021
Nabil had been splitting his time between the village and El-Arish, a city about 68 miles east along the Mediterranean coast towards the border with the Gaza strip.
Five days after his abduction, on 12 Nov, his son Peter received a call from those holding his father. They allowed him to speak to Nabil, but said they needed 2 million Egyptian pounds (US $127,550 or GBP 91,2000) – not as hostage ransom but as a ‘jizya’ tax from the remaining Copts in the village – if they wanted to see Nabil return.
The kidnappers gave Peter 48 hours to collect the money. However, it then increased to 5 million Egyptian pounds (approximately US $321,000 or GBP 230,000) with an order that the Coptic Bishop, Cosman, would be given time to gather the money from all the local Christian families.
When, after some time, the kidnappers called him again, Peter said they had not been able to collect the amount of ‘jizya’ demanded. At this, the caller threatened that the group would kill Peter and his brother Fady, as well as their hostage father. Hearing this, the police asked the brothers to leave the local area, as they could not guarantee their safety.
On 1 January, shortly before Orthodox Christmas, under the stressful anxiety of fearing every day for their father’s life, the brothers now felt forced to leave everything behind and uproot their families to move.
Even then, there was another call: “We know where you are; we know everything about you”.
The last call came at the end of February “That was the last time I was able to speak to my Dad; we didn’t hear anymore after that” Peter told World Watch Monitor.
On Sunday 18 April , the day that Islamic State in Sinai posted the video – in which Habashy and two other Sinai tribesmen are killed – to its Telegram channel, the video was sent ‘at the first hour of dawn’ to the family, to their utter shock and horror. Again, threats against the two brothers’ lives accompanied it.
And those death threats have not stopped coming, even into this past week as the family grieved. (Habashy also left a daughter Marina).
But one of the most disturbing aspects of the ‘announcement’ of the death of Nabil Habashy Salama is that it was often accompanied by a picture of him, apparently repairing the wall of his church building, a smile on his face. He looks pleased and content as he writes. At least one media outlet credits Nabil himself for the photo. But Peter had never seen it before – it did not belong to the family’s now-treasured collection of photos of their father. Peter told World Watch Monitor he believes the photo was taken by someone who’d been watching their Dad’s movements, perhaps even one of his kidnappers, if not killers. And for that reason, the family is acutely on edge, aware that the extremist militia who killed their dad have their phone number and continue to issue death threats.
‘Jizya’ tax on non-Muslims as protection money
Under traditional Islamic law, jizya(h) is a tax per head paid by non-Muslimsonly to the authorities. According to Definition.net “From the point of view of Muslim rulers, jizya was…proof of the non-Muslims’ acceptance of subjection to the state and its laws. In return, non-Muslims were permitted to practice their faith, to enjoy a measure of communal autonomy, to be entitled to the Muslim state’s protection from outside aggression, and to be exempt from military service and the zakat taxes obligatory upon Muslims”.
In 2012, Bishop Cosman said that, of about 4-500,000 people in his diocese of North Sinai – an area 200km long and 127km – there were only about 740 Christian families (c.3,000 individuals) so they were pretty scattered. To compare, over 2,000 Christian families then lived in the urban Cairo district of Hadayak al-Maadi.
Father Youssef Sobhy, a priest at Saint Mary and St. Michael Coptic Orthodox Cathedral (the Archbishopric of North Sinai), told World Watch Monitor:
“The majority of the Christian families fled El-Arish, after they felt they were targeted by those militants, their lives were in danger, and there wasn’t any protection for them. Police were focusing efforts on protecting the entry points to the city and police presence inside El-Arish is not as dense as it is around it.”
In addition to targeting Christians and state security forces, the insurgents in November 2017 opened fire on Sufi Muslims (who Islamic State believe to be heretical) be praying in a Bir al-Abd mosque, killing over 300.
A Copt activist told WWM: “Accountability about the failure of security plans is an urgent necessity, and the protection of Copts is a social, moral and humanitarian responsibility. What Copts need today are actions without words and not promises without action.
“These murders of Christians nowadays are an ongoing scheme amidst a media blackout and that is not separated from the previous murderous crimes against Copts for years. The deadly hands are one and the same.
“Those perpetrators haven’t been punished for their previous crimes.Leaving with impunity Islamic extremists who target and kill Copts for their religious identification drives them and others to increase targeting of Copts and killing them for their faith in Jesus Christ.
“This continued failure to protect the Copts is not justified, especially after the imposition of the state of emergency, amendments to the laws of terrorist entities and criminal penalties and procedures.”
Previous incidents when Christians were targeted in N. Sinai
3 March 2021: ISIS members stopped the car of Sobhy Samy Abdul Nour, 40, (from Jazeerat Masoud village, El Husseiniya, Sharqia Governorate), 500m from the police checkpoint in Balouza village at the entrance to the North Sinai Governorate. The extremists shot him dead as soon as they found out that he was a Christian, then seized his car, ID card and mobile and threw his body onto the road before fleeing. His funeral was held at Saint Mark Coptic Orthodox Church in El Husseiniya city on 4 March 2021; he was buried in the family cemetery in Jazeerat Masoud village.
18 Jan, 2019: Armed militants kidnapped a 55 year old single man, Adeeb Nakhla Yassa, who was on a microbus on the coastal road to Arish city. Some 50 km west of the city, it was stopped by a group of armed men who boarded it and began checking the identity of the passengers, looking for police and military recruits or Christians. When they found out that Yassa was Christian, they ordered him to disembark and carried him off in a four-wheel drive vehicle. They let the bus continue its journey. Once the passengers reached their destination, they informed the police who in turn told Adeeb’s relatives.
May 2016. An employee in the Directorate of Health in North Sinai, Misak Nasrallah, was returning home on the workbus with colleagues. Masked men stopped the bus at gunpoint and asked if there was a Christian among the passengers. His Muslim colleagues asked the only Christian not to speak. They said ‘No, all of us are Muslims’. But Misak refused to deny Christ and said ‘Yes I’m a Christian’ showing them the cross on his right wrist. They took him out of the bus, said ‘You don’t deserve to live because you are Kaffir’ and shot him with 14 bullets, killing him instantly.
#AceNewsReport – Apr.28: Responding to the news that the Egyptian authorities executed nine people today, including an 82-year-old man, after a grossly unfair trial, in relation to the killing of 13 police officers during an attack on Kerdasa police station in August 2013, Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Research and Advocacy Director, Philip Luther said:
Egypt: ‘Nine people put to death in chilling Ramadan executions: Mondays execution of nine people is a chilling demonstration of the Egyptian authorities’ disregard for the right to life and their obligations under international law’ …….Last week, Amnesty International’s annual death penalty report revealedthat the number of recorded executions in Egypt tripled in 2020 making it the world’s third most frequent executioner after China and Iran.
26 April 2021, 17:29 UTC:
“By carrying out these executions during the holy month of Ramadan the Egyptian authorities have displayed a ruthless determination to persist with their escalating use of the death penalty.
By carrying out these executions during the holy month of Ramadan the Egyptian authorities have displayed a ruthless determination to persist with their escalating use of the death penalty.Philip Luther, Amnesty International
“The use of the death penalty is abhorrent in all circumstances, and in Egypt it is extremely concerning that it is used after unfair trials, with courts routinely relying on torture-tainted ‘confessions’.
“These death sentences were issued following a grossly unfair trial in which defendants were denied access to their lawyers and were coerced to ‘confess’. According to international law, proceedings in capital cases must scrupulously observe fair trial standards and carrying out executions after unfair trials violates the right to life.
“The Egyptian authorities must immediately put a stop to this alarming surge in executions. We call on states worldwide to take a clear stance by publicly condemning Egypt’s use of the death penalty and urging the government to immediately establish an official moratorium on executions, as a first step towards abolishing the death penalty.”
In December 2014, Giza Criminal Court convicted 184 people, sentencing 183 to death and a child to 10 years in prison in relation to the attack on Kerdasa police station. During a retrial at the Cairo Criminal Court in July 2017 20 people were sentenced to death. In September 2018, Egypt’s Court of Cassation upheld their death sentences. Nine Egyptian human rights organizations denounced the verdict, highlighting gross violations of fair trial rights including defendants being denied access to their lawyers during their detention, and during interrogation and being forced to “confess”. Three other men in the same case were executed on 4 October 2020
#AceNewsReport – Apr.18: Meanwhile, Egypt has been cracking down on the Muslim Brotherhood, while Muslim Brotherhood affiliates are alive and well in Western countries, and are advancing their agenda without any significant pushback:
Egypt: Court sentences acting Muslim Brotherhood leader to life in prison: Back in February, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi instructed the education ministry to delete some Qur’an verses and Hadiths from the country’s educational curricula, because they help spread terrorism’
“Court sentences acting Muslim Brotherhood leader to life in prison,” Reuters, April 8, 2021:
CAIRO (Reuters) – An Egyptian court sentenced Mahmoud Ezzat, the former acting leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, to life in prison on Thursday, months after he was detained in a Cairo apartment.
Security forces arrested Ezzat last August in a raid in Cairo’s Fifth Settlement district, the latest blow to a movement that has been the target of a crackdown since it was forced from power in 2013.
Ezzat was sentenced on charges of inciting violence and supplying firearms during clashes outside the Brotherhood’s headquarters between its supporters and opponents in 2013, a judicial source said. Other senior Brotherhood members have been sentenced to life in prison in the same case.
Ezzat’s lawyer could not immediately be reached. At the time of Ezzat’s arrest, the Brotherhood said he had been pursued on “false political charges”.
Ezzat was an influential former deputy to Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, and considered a hardliner within the group. He became acting leader after Badie’s arrest in August 2013.
Ezzat had previously been sentenced to death and to life in prison in absentia, but faces retrials following his detention….
#AceNewsReport – Apr.06: Until the encouragement Islamic law gives to honor killing is acknowledged and confronted, more women will suffer:
Egypt: stabs his sister in neck, murders her in honor killing, gets five years in prison
“Egypt man who killed sister in ‘honour killing’ given meagre 5-year sentence,” Middle East Monitor, March 17, 2021 (thanks to Henry):
Cairo Criminal Court heard that Karim deliberately killed his sister, Suad, by stabbing her in the neck and then trapping her in the bathroom when she tried to escape.
The length of the sentence has stirred anger on social media since even political prisoners have spent similar periods of time on remand in Egyptian prisons.
In February, Al Jazeera journalist Mahmoud Hussein was released after more than four years on pretrial detention.
Women’s rights advocates are calling on authorities to issue tougher penalties for perpetrators of gender-based violence in Egypt – the absence of tough penalties is emboldening them, people believe.
Weak sentences are commonly handed out to male relatives who murder their female relatives with judges viewing such cases with leniency.
In March last year, the international women’s rights organisation Equality Now called on Egypt to repeal and amend Article 237 of the penal code which allows men to kill their wives on discovering them in the act of adultery and to receive a lesser punishment than other types of murder.
In contrast, a woman who kills her husband would be given a full sentence.
Karim’s sentencing follows an honour killing several days ago carried out by a landlord, neighbour and doorman who broke into the apartment of a 34-year-old female doctor in the Al Sallam neighbourhood, assaulted her and pushed her off a balcony after she invited a male colleague into her apartment….
Additional News & Views of Writers: Ace News Services Does not support or deny any of the news on the links below or give credence to the validity of its argument either factually or to its accuracy of its content:
The Palestinian Authority gives pardons or suspended sentences for honor murders. Iraqi women have asked for tougher sentences for Islamic honor murderers, who get off lightly now. Syria in 2009 scrapped a law limiting the length of sentences for honor killings, but “the new law says a man can still benefit from extenuating circumstances in crimes of passion or honour ‘provided he serves a prison term of no less than two years in the case of killing.’” And in 2003 the Jordanian Parliament voted down on Islamic grounds a provision designed to stiffen penalties for honor killings. Al-Jazeera reported that “Islamists and conservatives said the laws violated religious traditions and would destroy families and values.”
#AceNewsReport – Mar.29: Satellite data from MarineTraffic.com showed that the ship’s bulbous bow, once firmly lodged in the canal’s eastern bank, had been wrested from the shore:
Giant ship stuck in Suez Canal partially refloated, officials say
Nearly a week ago, the skyscraper-sized Ever Given got stuck sideways in the crucial waterway, creating a massive traffic jam. The obstruction has held up $9 billion each day in global trade and strained supply chains already burdened by the coronavirus pandemic. At least 367 vessels, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle, were still waiting to pass through the canal, while dozens more were taking the alternate route around the Cape of Good Hope at Africa’s southern tip, adding some two weeks to journeys and threatening delivery delays.
by ASSOCIATED PRESS
The partial freeing of the vessel came after intensive efforts to push and pull the vessel with 10 tugboats when the full moon brought spring tide, Leth Agencies said, raising the canal’s water level and hopes for a breakthrough. Videos shared widely on social media appeared to show tugboats in the canal sounding their horns in celebration of the Ever Given being wrenched from the shore, the most significant sign of progress yet. Lt. Gen. Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, confirmed that the vessel had been partially refloated after responding successfully to “pull-and-push maneuvers.” He said that workers had almost completely straightened the vessel’s course and that the stern had moved 102 meters (334 feet) from the canal bank.
When high tide returns at 11:30 a.m. local time on Monday, salvage crews will resume their attempts to pull the ship into the middle of the waterway and toward the Great Bitter Lake, a wide stretch of water halfway between the north and south end of the canal, where it will undergo technical examination, he said.
Overnight, several dredgers had toiled to vacuum up 27,000 cubic meters of sand and mud around the ship. Another powerful tugboat, Carlo Magno, was racing to the scene to join the efforts. Although the vessel is vulnerable to damage in its current position, Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd., the company that owns the Ever Given, dismissed concerns on Monday, saying that the ship’s engine was functional and it could pursue its trip normally when freed. It wasn’t clear whether the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship, hauling goods from Asia to Europe, would head to its original destination of Rotterdam or if it will need to enter another port for repairs.
Ship operators did not offer a timeline for the reopening of the crucial canal, which carries over 10% of global trade, including 7% of the world’s oil. Over 19,000 ships passed through last year, according to canal authorities. Millions of barrels of oil and liquified natural gas flow through the artery from the Persian Gulf to Europe and North America. Goods made in China – furniture, clothes, supermarket basics – bound for Europe also must go through the canal, or else take a circuitous 5,000 kilometer (3,1000 mile) detour around the southern tip of Africa.
The unprecedented shutdown has threatened to disrupt oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East and raised fears of extended delays, good shortages and rising costs for consumers. Canal authorities have desperately tried to free the vessel by relying on tugs and dredgers alone, even as analysts warned that 400-meter-long ship, weighing 220,000 tons, may be too heavy for such an operation. As a window for a breakthrough narrows with the high tide receding this week, fears have grown that authorities would be forced to lighten the vessel by removing the ship’s 20,000 containers – a complex operation, requiring specialized equipment not found in Egypt, that could take days or weeks.
#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Last Update: Mar 29, 2021 2:47 pm
#AceNewsReport – Mar.28: Egypt’s Suez Canal chief said Saturday that “technical or human errors” could be behind the grounding of a huge container ship blocking the vital waterway, causing a backlog of over 300 vessels:
Egypt: ‘Suez canal chief says human error could be behind ship’s grounding: Authority says that ship could possibly be afloat again by Sunday night’ Osama Rabie, head of the Authority, told reporters’
The crisis has crippled global supply chains, forcing companies to consider the expensive option of re-routing vessels around the southern tip of Africa.
Officials had previously blamed 40-knot gusts and a sandstorm that impeded visibility, but Rabie said Saturday that “strong winds and weather factors were not the main reasons for the ship’s grounding — there may have been technical or human errors”.
But he sounded an optimistic note when asked when the vessel might be freed.
“We could finish today or tomorrow (Saturday or Sunday), depending on the ship’s responsiveness” to tides, he said.
Billions of dollars-worth of cargo are now stalled at either end of the vital shipping lane linking Asia and Europe.
That has forced cargo firms to decide whether to wait it out or take the longer, more expensive route around the Cape of Good Hope — at the cost of up to 12 additional days at sea.
Egypt is also losing some $12-14 million in revenue from the canal for each day it is closed, Rabie said.
The MV Ever Given, which is longer than four football fields, has been wedged diagonally across the span of the canal since Tuesday, blocking the waterway in both directions.
When will it move?
The canal chief’s timeline echoed comments Friday by the ship’s owners, but the parent company of the salvage firm was less optimistic.
Yukito Higaki, president of Japanese firm Shoei Kisen which owns the vessel, told local media on Friday that the ship could be freed from the canal bed by late Saturday.
But the executive director of Royal Boskalis, parent company of Smit Salvage which is in charge of the salvage operation, suggested the ship could be afloat again “at the start of next week”.
“We are already in the process of installing a crane on land,” Peter Berdowski told a public television chat-show late Friday.
“That will allow us to eventually remove all the containers from the foredeck, which could involve hundreds of containers.”
But Nick Sloane, 59, a South African salvage master who was in charge of refloating Italy’s Costa Concordia cruise liner, said using a crane to remove containers would take time.
“If they have to do that, there’s going to be a very long delay,” he said.
The blockage has caused a huge backlog of ships at both the Red Sea and Mediterranean ends of the 193-kilometre (120-mile) long canal, causing major delays in the delivery of oil and other products.
Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement (BSM) — the ship’s technical manager — said efforts were focused on “dredging to remove sand and mud from around the port side of the vessel’s bow”.
Salvage crews worked through the night, using floodlights and a large dredging machine.
Stakes ‘too high’
But the vessel with gross tonnage of 219,000 and deadweight of 199,000 has yet to budge, forcing global shipping giant Maersk and Germany’s Hapag-Lloyd to look into re-routing around Africa.
“Shipping companies are being forced to confront the spectre of taking the far longer route around the Cape of Good Hope to get to Europe or the east coast of North America,” said Lloyd’s List, a shipping data and news company.
“The first container ship to do this is Evergreen’s Ever Greet… a sistership to Ever Given,” it said.
Lloyd’s List said the blockage was holding up an estimated $9.6 billion worth of cargo each day between Asia and Europe.
The canal authority has said between 15,000 and 20,000 cubic metres of sand would have to be removed in order to reach a depth of 12-16 metres and refloat the ship.
If those efforts fail, salvage teams will look to unload some of the Ever Given’s cargo and take advantage of a spring high tide, due to start Sunday night, to move the vessel.
Plamen Natzkoff, an expert at VesselsValue, said teams would likely throw even more resources behind their efforts in the coming days to make the most of that opportunity.
“If they don’t manage to dislodge it during that high tide, the next high tide is not there for another couple of weeks, and that becomes problematic,” he said.
“The stakes are too high for it to take months.”
Video: Moment of Ever Given Cargo Ship Crashing Into Bank of Suez Canal Captured on Satellite Feed
Vessel Finder has posted a video of a satellite feed created using an onboard tracker which shows the Ever Given cargo container ship veering in the Suez Canal and running aground, blocking the route.
According to the statement by Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, the vessel crashed due to strong winds as it entered the canal.
Suez Canal runs between Africa and the Sinai Peninsula and facilitates 12% of international shipping. Ever Given ran aground about 3.7 miles north of the southern entrance with its bow touching the canal’s eastern wall, and its stern lodged against the western wall.
According to the owner of the cargo ship, Japanese firm Shoei Kisen KK, at least 10 tugboats were deployed to refloat the vessel. According to the firm’s president, there are possible plans to remove containers from the cargo ship to lighten the vessel if refloating efforts fail. Now, workers are dredging the banks and seafloor near the vessel’s bow to refloat it.
Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority said that to refloat the ship, between 15,000 and 20,000 cubic metres of sand would have to be removed.
The canal blockage has caused costly delays or diversions to longer routes for other vessels and created a traffic jam of over 200 ships.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.12: Shoukry said during a discussion with Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, that Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will have negative repercussions and stressed the importance of global involvement to resolve the case, news channel Al-Arabiya reported:
Egypt & EU FM’s discuss Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam crisis: “ Meanwhile, Borrell tweeted that the “EU will keep working closely… with Egypt for a prosperous neighbourhood according to Arab News sources
March 11, 2021 11:20:
I spoke last evening with #Egypt FM Shoukry. Good and open discussion on regional developments incl #GERD, Libya & bilateral relations in view of the new Agenda for the Mediterranean. EU will keep working closely engaging with #Egypt for a prosperous neighbourhood.@MfaEgypt
Egypt last month said it has endorsed a Sudanese proposal to internationalize arbitration in the years-long dispute with Ethiopia over the dam that Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile. Shuokry said Cairo backs the formation of an “international quartet” including the US, the European Union, and the UN, along with the African Union to facilitate reaching a deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam. The dispute centers on how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries would settle any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan also call for a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.
#AceNewsReport – Mar.23: Leader of the Ghad party, Moussa Mustafa Moussa, is Al-Sisi’s only contender after the opposition candidates Sami Anan, Anwar Sadat and Ahmed Shafiq were bullied out of the race: Former prime minister Shafiq has now publically endorsed Al-Sisi for president #AceNewsDesk reports
Billboards of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi are seen in Cairo, Egypt [Mohammed Bendari/Apaimages]
March 23, 2018 at 12:14 pm
Moussa’s candidacy has been widely criticised as a token presidency bid to give the appearance of a democratic contest as he has endorsed Al-Sisi for a second term, both prior to his bid and after: Days ahead of the elections, Al-Sisi himself said that he wishes there were ten candidates standing against him but that Egyptians are not ready for democracy. He has also asked the Egyptian people for $2 trillion to help rebuild Egypt.
Earlier this week Egyptian MP Mostafa Bakry offered to cut off his head if Al-Sisi asked him to do so. Speaking at a mass conference Bakry called on Egyptians to participate in the elections scheduled for next week.
Al-Sisi won the elections in 2014 with 97 per cent of the vote but voter turnout was low. There is fear among ruling authorities that this year will be no different, which will undermine the legitimacy of the government. In an attempt to counter this, says Azzam, a state propaganda campaign is in “full swing”:
“[This has] involved a great deal of fear-mongering, intimidation and vicious character assassination of anyone who questions the legitimacy of the single candidate election as unpatriotic and a threat to the integrity and stability of the State.”
Sisi announces date for presidential elections – Cartoon [Alaraby.co.uk]
A lawsuit has been filed demanding BBC reporter Orla Guerin is expelled from Egypt and for a boycott of the network until it issues a formal apology over a report published at the end of February which interviewed the families of torture victims and the forcibly disappeared.
Egypt is already considered the third worst jailer of journalists worldwide. Since 2015, death penalty sentences have increased as have the number of civilians being tried in military courts.
Fourteen international and regional rights organisations have declared that Al-Sisi has stifled basic freedoms, says Azzam. “For the sake of upholding at the very least some semblance of respect for democratic values and human rights the international community must speak out openly against the abuse of power by the current military regime in Egypt.”
A coalition of Egyptian opposition groups have called to boycott the elections which they describe as “an absurdity bordering on madness”.
#AceNewsReport – Aug.06: Islamic State’s Egyptian affiliate has allegedly released a video showing a Croatian hostage who said the group would kill him in 48 hours if Muslim women being held in jails in Egypt are not released, Reuters reports.
#AceNewsReport – EGYPT:July.01: At least 50 Egyptians, including soldiers, were killed after an Islamic State affiliate launched simultaneous attacks on army checkpoints in the Sinai Peninsula, officials said. It comes two days after Egypt’s top prosecutor was assassinated.
The identities of those killed were not immediately clear, Reuters reported. Sources earlier said there were soldiers among the dead. The army also said that troops have been killed.
The assaults took place just south of the town of Sheikh Zuweid and targeted at least six military checkpoints, officials told AP. Two of the checkpoints were completely destroyed.
The militants took soldiers captive and seized weapons and several armored vehicles, the officials added, stating that the attackers used mortars, rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s military spokesman, Brig. Gen. Mohammed Samir, put the number of killed soldiers at 10, and said that fighting was still under way between armed forces and militants.
Samir’s statement, posted on his official Facebook page, said that about 70 militants attacked five checkpoints in northern Sinai, and that Egyptian troops killed 22 of them. He said soldiers destroyed three all-terrain vehicles fitted with anti-aircraft guns.
The website cited a Twitter post believed to belong to Islamic State senior member Said Abu Obeida, who states the assault on the Karnak temple was organized by ISIL militants.
The temple is one of Egypt’s most famous historic sites and second in popularity only to the Giza pyramids. It attracts millions of tourists every year.
Egyptian police said earlier in the day that three suicide bombers attempted to fight their way past the checkpoint at the entrance to the ancient shrine after security officers attempted to screen them.
One of the attackers was shot dead and another wounded, while a third detonated a bomb killing himself and injuring four bystanders. Security forces are checking if the trio had other accomplices, Egyptian media said.
Jihadist militants have killed hundreds of security employees and servicemen in Egypt since the 2013 coup deposed the country’s President Mohamed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood Islamist organization.
According to private Egyptian newspaper Youm7, two terrorists were killed and one police officer was injured when a car bomb detonated near Luxor’s Karnak Temple. Sky News Arabia reports that the detonation occurred after security forces confronted the car laden with explosives. Sky News added that a third attacker was injured in the foiled car bomb attempt.
#AceWorldNews -EGYPT (Cairo) – October 01 – Egypt has reportedly offered to train pro-government forces battling rival armed groups in Libya. Ahmad Buzeyad Al-Missmari, spokesman of the Libyan General Chief of Staff, confirmed Egypt had offered training for troops, Reuters said.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi earlier called for decisive action against militants based in Libya. Egypt says they sneak across the border to help Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis jihadists attack Egyptian security forces in its Sinai Desert near Israel.
#AceWorldNews – EYGPT (Cairo) – September 07 – The secretary-general of the Arab League has appealed to Arab countries to find the political will to confront Islamic State insurgents and other militant groups, describing them as an existential threat.
Nabil Elaraby said Sunday the unprecedented challenges facing Arab countries, including the Islamic State group holding territory in Iraq and Syria, chaos in Libya and turmoil in other part of the regions, has tested the 22-member regional group.
He said the group often disagrees over what to do or uses the pretext of non-interference to avoid accusation of meddling in each other’s affairs, while saying some wouldn’t refuse a Western intervention.
#AceWorldNews – EGYPT (Cairo) – September 07 – Egypt news reported that Ansar al-Bayt al-Maqdis, a group labelled as a terrorist organization by Egypt and the US, distributed a pamphlet to residents of Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid, North Sinai seeking their support against the military.
According to security sources and eyewitnesses, the group has lost a great deal of its balance after being pounded by military and police operations and the anger of Sinai tribes after nine youth were killed by the group over alleged cooperation with Israel and the security forces.
“We want to answer your concerns. You might be asking who we are. We are your sons of the Mujahideen of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, men of this country, grey-haired and young. We might be your neighbours or your relatives, but we are preoccupied with this nation. We want its goodness and we reject humiliation, slavery, or to be ruled by other than God’s law,” the statement read. “Be with us in order to implement God’s religion. We are not more courageous and bestowing than you are. But the nation needs more of you and if you are not with us, do not be with our enemies.”
Tribal sources in North Sinai confirmed that this statement is not the first of its kind in the region, but it is the first in Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid and the first time elements of the group distribute a statement publicly to citizens.
Security sources said that the group is losing ground and is trying to come back through a popular cover, pointing out that a state of anger prevails in Arish, Rafah and Sheikh Zuwaid because of the practices of the group.
The sources added that police receive daily tips by citizens about roadside bombs planted by the group.