Egypt Daily Update: U.S. Officials Reportedly Consider Withholding Portion of Aid Over NGO Law

July 27, 2017

U.S. Officials Reportedly Considering Withholding Portion of Aid Over NGO Law

Teenager Found Dead Bearing Signs of Torture after Arrest

Al-Sisi Forms New Counterterrorism Council

Cartoon of the Day: Economic Reform

Top Stories


U.S. Officials Reportedly Considering Withholding Portion of Aid Over NGO Law

According to Reuters, U.S. officials are discussing whether to withhold a portion of U.S. assistance to Egypt in response to an NGO law that was passed in May. A senior administration official told Reuters that officials have not yet reached a decision over whether to proceed with a recommendation to President Donald Trump, but there is a consensus that some action is likely necessary to demonstrate U.S. opposition to the Egyptian adoption of the law. The official clarified that the discussions involve cutting off a portion of U.S. aid, not the whole package. “We told them over and over again don’t do this, that they are putting at risk U.S. aid, but they did it anyway. We’re figuring out how to respond,” the official said.

Administration officials initially stayed quiet after al-Sisi’s ratification of the law in May, though Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did eventually express his disappointment over the ratification of the bill during a June 14 House Appropriations hearing. A number of U.S. Senators also expressed their strong opposition to the law, including Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Ben Cardin (D-MD). The law has also been condemned by a number of international organizations. The law restricts NGO activity and requires registration and compliance with an appointed council, and experts have said that the law will likely decimate Egyptian civil society and prevent human rights groups from operating.


Teenager Found Dead Bearing Signs of Torture after Arrest

On Monday, the heavily scarred body of a 19-year-old Tharwat Sameh was found on the side of the street in al-Fayoum, 60 kilometers south of Cairo. Sameh had been detained for questioning on Saturday, and his family and friends allegedly had no contact with him since his detention. Sameh’s body was covered by intense bruises and scarring consistent with torture, and images [Ar] of his body quickly circulated through Egyptian social media. Sameh’s mother said [Ar] that Tharwat and his family have no political affiliations, and that she received a call from an unknown number saying that her son had an accident on Fayoum Road. Sameh and his family are Coptic Christian.

Comparisons were quickly drawn [Ar] in both Arabic-language and Italian-language social media and news [It] between the murders of Tharwat Sameh and Italian student Giulio Regeni, whose battered body with scarring consistent with torture was found [It] on the side of the street after disappearing last year. At the time, Egyptian police also reportedly detained Regeni before his disappearance, and suggested that he had died as the result of a car accident. Several Italian news websites ran articles with the title “Tharwat Killed Like Giulio.” Tharwat Sameh is the second Coptic Egyptian citizen in a week who has been detained by police and subsequently died under suspicious circumstances with scarring consistent with torture, after Gamal Aweida, a 43-year-old man, died after 15 hours in police custody.


Al-Sisi Forms New Counterterrorism Council 

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi formed [Ar] the National Council to Confront Terrorism and Extremism on Wednesday, three months after he first announced his intentions to create the body. According to al-Sisi’s decree, the council is intended to “mobilize institutional and societal capabilities to limit the causes of terrorism and remedy its effects.” The council will attempt to construct a comprehensive strategy to confront terrorism, consider legislation for counter-terrorism efforts, and “inform the international community about the truth of terrorist organizations.” The council will be chaired by al-Sisi and include 10 Egyptian government ministers, the prime minister, the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, the Coptic Pope, actor Mohamed Sobhy, and a number of other influential public and military figures. The full Arabic text of the decree is available here [Ar].


Cartoon of the Day: Meat Prices

“Meat Prices”
Doaa el-Adl
Al-Masry Al-Youm – 07/27/2017


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