Egypt Daily Update: U.S. to Resume Bright Star Military Exercises with Egypt

August 15, 2017

U.S. to Resume Bright Star Military Exercises with Egypt

Italy Will Return Ambassador to Cairo after Standoff over Student’s Murder

HRW: Jailed Journalist’s Health Deteriorating

Cartoon of the Day: Chairman of the Railway Authority

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U.S. to Resume Bright Star Military Exercises with Egypt

The Trump administration has decided to conduct the U.S. military’s first major exercise with Egypt since President Barack Obama cancelled the Bright Star war games in 2013 in response to the mass killings of protesters in Cairo. Conducted once every two years beginning in 1980, the exercises will restart next month. A U.S. official with knowledge of the planning told Foreign Policy that the war games will differ from past years, as only a few hundred American military personnel will participate, as opposed to the thousands involved in the past.

Operation Bright Star will focus on counterinsurgency next month as Egypt struggles to deal with a small but well-supplied Islamist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula. Analyst David Schenker told Foreign Policy that “a small exercise focused on these highly technical things is the best thing that Egypt could get.” The event has not been held since 2009, as the 2011 exercises were made impossible by political turmoil surrounding the Egyptian revolution that ousted Mubarak, and Obama cancelled the 2013 exercises due to human rights concerns. Trump’s decision to restart the exercise has been widely seen as another signal of largely unconditional support to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.


Italy Will Return Ambassador to Cairo after Standoff over Student’s Murder

The Italian Foreign Ministry announced on Monday that the country would send an ambassador to Cairo for the first time since recalling its ambassador in April 2016 over Egyptian obstructionism in the investigation of the death of Italian student Giulio Regeni. Regeni’s body was discovered in a ditch on the outskirts of Cairo on February 3, 2016, bearing the marks of extensive torture. Credible intelligence and security sources, indicate that Egyptian security forces arrested Regeni on January 25, 2016. Suspicion has fallen on the Egyptian government for his death, though it denies any involvement. No suspect has ever been charged in the case, and Egypt has refused to provide evidence to Italian authorities and has reportedly obstructed the investigation.

Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano stated [It] that, “the commitment of the Italian government remains to clarify the tragic death of Giulio,” and added that sending an ambassador would allow them to have closer contacts to Egyptian authorities. However, Regeni’s parents rejected [It] the normalization of relations, saying that “only when we will have the truth about why and who killed Giulio, when we are given, alive, his torturers and all their accomplices, only then can the ambassador return to Cairo without trampling on our dignity.”


HRW: Jailed Journalist’s Health Deteriorating

Human Rights Watch has urged Egyptian authorities to provide adequate health care to Hisham Gaafar, an Egyptian journalist who has been detained without trial for 21 months. Gaafar’s health reportedly has deteriorated quickly in recent months, and due to the lack of sufficient medical treatment, he risks losing his eyesight. Gaafar was arrested by the Egyptian National Security Agency on October 21, 2015, from the offices of the Mada Foundation for Media Development, where he served as director. Prosecutors ordered him detained on suspicion of membership in the Muslim Brotherhood and illegally accepting foreign funds for his organization, and he has been detained without trial ever since.

According to Human Rights Watch, Gaafar has not been consistently provided with the medicine that he needs for his conditions. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch, stated, “Egypt’s Interior Ministry has shown contempt for Hisham Gaafar’s health and well-being… It is deeply concerning that Egypt’s judiciary has become complicit in human rights violations by cruelly detaining people like Gaafar for years without justification, exposing them to serious abuse and harm.”


Cartoon of the Day: Chairman of the Railway Authority

Sign: “Office of the Chairman of the Railway Authority”
Mohamed Anwar – Al-Masry Al-Youm – 08/15/2017


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