Tag Archive | Egypt

Egypt’s U-Turn on Iraq and Syria*

Egypt’s U-Turn on Iraq and Syria*

By Peter Korzun

The Middle East geopolitical scenarios are going through rapid changes with new factors emerging on the regional chessboard.

Cairo’s foreign policy has been given a new twist. It has been announced recently that Egypt is set to receive one million barrels of petroleum per day from Iraq. Saudi Arabia had informed Egypt that shipments of oil products expected under a $23 billion aid deal were been halted indefinitely, suggesting a deepening rift between the countries. From now on, Egypt will enjoy as much oil as it needs at a lower cost, compared to Saudi pricing.

Egyptian President Al-Sisi rejected the Saudi-backed efforts to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. He is also reaching out to former-Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and to his Houthi allies Saudi Arabia is fighting since March 2015. Cairo opened diplomatic channels with the pro-Iranian Lebanese Hezbollah, fighting on the side of President Assad in Syria against the rebel groups supported by Riyadh.

Iraq will provide Egypt with 1 million barrels of Basra light oil each month. The agreement involves extending an oil pipeline from Iraq to Egypt via Jordan. In December, Iraqi petroleum minister Ali al-Luiabi met with the heads of major oil and natural gas companies in Cairo, inviting them to contribute into developing the industry in his country.

Egypt is about to train four Iraqi army units on war against terrorism, in the light of the rapprochement between Egypt and the Iraqi-Iranian axis in the region.

It also mulls sending peacekeeping troops to Syria during the coming days to support the ceasefire agreement under the auspices of Russia, Iran, and Turkey. It has been reported that a unit of Egyptian ground forces might deploy to Syria this month. Last October, Syrian National Security Bureau head Ali Mamlouk visited Cairo to meet Khaled Fawzy, the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service. The two sides agreed to coordinate political positions and strengthen cooperation in «the fight against terror».

Egypt is a predominantly Sunni nation. Its open support of the Russia-backed coalition in Syria is a game changing event of fundamental importance. It makes the sectarian interpretation of the Syria’s conflict not valid anymore.

Middle East Observer quotes Nziv Net, an Israeli outlet close to intelligence sources, saying that

«Egypt has sent a group of officers to Syria for the first time since the relations have frozen during Morsi’s reign».

Last December, Ibrahim al-Eshaiker al-Jaafari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, called on Egypt to participate in «a strategic project to fight terrorism», which includes Iran.

In September, Egyptian Foreign Minister Samih Shoukry met for the first time with his Iranian counterpart, Jawad Zarif, during their visits to New York to attend the U.N. General Assembly.

In October, Egypt backed a Russian-backed motion in the U.N. calling for a ceasefire in Syria. The move angered Saudi Arabia, which suspended oil shipments to Cairo.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi publicly affirmed his support for the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The relations between Russia and Egypt have been on the rise. In February 2015, Egypt signed a breakthrough agreement on establishing a free trade zone with the Russia’s Eurasian Economic Union.

The progress in military cooperation is tangible. Egypt signed arms deals with Russia worth up to $5 billion by 2015 to include 50 MiG-29M combat aircraft, Buk-M2E and Antey-2500 long range air defense systems and about 50Ka-52K helicopters for Egypt’s new Mistral-class assault ships bought in France. The ships will receive the originally planned Russian helicopters and electronics suite.

The two countries signed several agreements for the renovation of military production factories in Egypt. A protocol is signed to grant Egypt access to GLONASS, the Russian global satellite positioning system. In September, Minister of Defense Sedky Sobhy visited Russia to discuss the issues related to long-term close security relationship. Last October, the militaries held a joint exercise.

Egypt is the most populous country in North Africa and the Arab world, the third-most populous in Africa and the fifteenth-most populous in the world. Last year, the country’s population has just reached 92 million. Its policy shift is well-substantiated. Cairo is fighting the Islamic State on the Sinai Peninsula. The fierce fighting there seldom hits media headlines but the IS poses a grave threat to Egypt. IS militants can also strike Egypt from Libya. The IS presence in Libya brings Egypt and Algeria together as the two great nations face the same threat.

The emerging Iran, Iraq, Russia and Turkey alliance may also include Algeria. In response to the growing menace, Algiers is strengthening ties with Moscow. It has recently purchased 14 Su-30MKA fighters and 40 Mi-28 «Night Hunter» attack helicopters from Russia. Last February, Russia and Algeria laid out a roadmap for deepening bilateral economic and military cooperation during Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s visit to Algeria.

Russia’s cooperation with Egypt, Algeria and other countries of the Middle East and North Africa reflects Moscow’s growing clout in the region.

With the Astana process making progress, other large and influential actors, such as Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Algeria, may join the emerging Russia, Iran, Turkey coalition to make the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region face tectonic and dramatic changes.


Related Topics:

Egypt Says No to Saudi, Drafts Generals and Pilots to Fight alongside Syrian Army against ISIS*

When Syria, Palestine and Egypt were there for Europeans in their Time of Need*

Mohamed Morsi Life Sentence Quashed by Egypt Court*

Qaradawi Responds to Violations of al-Sheikh and the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars with al-Azhar, Cairo*

U.S. Withdraws Troops from Sinai, Warns of Coming Egyptian Coup*

Egypt’s Sisi under Fire for Giving Away Red Sea Islands*

Israel Conducted Drone Raids in Egypt’s Sinai*

Saudi Arabia Facing Flack from both Sunni and Shia Leaders*


When the Sahara was Green*

When the Sahara was Green*

Researchers Peter deMenocal and Jessica Tierney examine a core of marine sediments taken off the coast of West Africa. The two used that and other marine cores to figure out the Sahara’s climate 25,000 years into the past. (Photo: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

Researchers Peter deMenocal and Jessica Tierney examine a core of marine sediments taken off the coast of West Africa. The two used that and other marine cores to figure out the Sahara’s climate 25,000 years into the past. (Photo: Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory)

A UA-led team has identified the climate pattern that generated a “Green Sahara” from 5,000 to 11,000 years ago. The region had 10 times the rainfall it does today.

The Sahara Desert extends eastward from the Atlantic Ocean some 3,000 miles to the Nile River and the Red Sea, and southward from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Mediterranean shores more than 1,000 miles to the savannah called the Sahel. More than 16 times the size of France, the Sahara Desert blankets nearly all of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Niger; the southern half of Tunisia; and the northern parts of Mali, Chad and Sudan. Image credit: NASA’s MODIS instrument (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)

The Sahara Desert extends eastward from the Atlantic Ocean some 3,000 miles to the Nile River and the Red Sea, and southward from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Mediterranean shores more than 1,000 miles to the savannah called the Sahel. More than 16 times the size of France, the Sahara Desert blankets nearly all of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Niger; the southern half of Tunisia; and the northern parts of Mali, Chad and Sudan. Image credit: NASA’s MODIS instrument (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)

The Sahara Desert extends eastward from the Atlantic Ocean some 3,000 miles to the Nile River and the Red Sea, and southward from the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Mediterranean shores more than 1,000 miles to the savannah called the Sahel. More than 16 times the size of France, the Sahara Desert blankets nearly all of Mauritania, Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt and Niger; the southern half of Tunisia; and the northern parts of Mali, Chad and Sudan. Image credit: NASA’s MODIS instrument (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer)

By Mari N. Jensen

Rainfall patterns in the Sahara during the 6,000-year “Green Sahara” period have been pinpointed by analyzing marine sediments, according to new research led by a UA geoscientist.

What is now the Sahara Desert was the home to ‘hunter-gatherers’ who made their living off the animals and plants that lived in the region’s savannahs and wooded grasslands 5,000 to 11,000 years ago.

“It was 10 times as wet as today,” said lead author Jessica Tierney of the University of Arizona. Annual rainfall in the Sahara now ranges from about 4 inches to less than 1 inch (100 to 35 mm).

Although other research had already identified the existence of the Green Sahara period, Tierney and her colleagues are the first to compile a continuous record of the region’s rainfall going 25,000 years into the past.

The team’s paper, “Rainfall regimes of the Green Sahara,” was scheduled for publication in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday.

The multi-corer device being lowered into the ocean takes eight one-foot cores from the seafloor. Scientists analyze such cores for clues to the climate of the past several thousand years. (Photo: Peter deMenocal)

The multi-corer device being lowered into the ocean takes eight one-foot cores from the seafloor. Scientists analyze such cores for clues to the climate of the past several thousand years. (Photo: Peter deMenocal)

Archaeological evidence shows humans occupied much of the Sahara during the wet period, but left for about a thousand years around 8,000 years ago — the middle of the Green Sahara period.

Other investigators have suggested the Sahara became drier at the time people left, but the evidence was not conclusive, said Tierney, a UA associate professor of geosciences.

Her team’s continuous rainfall record shows a thousand-year period about 8,000 years ago when the Sahara became drier. That drier period coincides with when people left, she said.

“It looks like this thousand-year dry period caused people to leave,” Tierney said.

“What’s interesting is the people who came back after the dry period were different — most raised cattle. That dry period separates two different cultures. Our record provides a climate context for this change in occupation and lifestyle in the western Sahara.”

Tierney and her colleagues also used their rainfall record to suggest ways current climate models can better replicate the Sahara’s ancient climate and therefore improve projections of future climate.

Tierney’s co-authors are Francesco Pausata of Stockholm University in Sweden and Peter deMenocal of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Science Foundation and the Swedish Research Council funded the research.

Researchers had long known the Sahara was much greener in the past, but how much of the Sahara was wetter and how much wetter was not well understood, Tierney said. Although scientists can learn about past climate by examining ancient lake sediments, in the Sahara the lakes dried up long ago and their sediments have blown away.

Instead of lake sediments, Tierney and her colleagues used cores of marine sediments taken off the coast of West Africa at four different sites. Because the cores were taken over a north-south distance of about 800 miles (1,300 km) — from offshore Cape Ghir, Morocco, to the northwestern corner of Mauritania — the cores revealed both the ancient rainfall patterns and the areal extent of the Green Sahara.

In terrestrial plants, the chemical composition of a leaf’s wax changes depending on how dry or wet the climate was when the plant was growing. Leaf wax also washes into the ocean and can be preserved in the marine sediments that are laid down year after year.

“The waxes record the climate conditions on land,” Tierney said.

By analyzing the leaf wax from ancient marine sediments, the team determined the region’s past rainfall patterns and also gathered clues about what types of plants were growing.

The team also wanted to know whether the conditions on land interacted with the atmosphere to affect climate, because most of the current climate models don’t simulate the Green Sahara period well, she said.

The amount of solar radiation the Earth receives during the Northern Hemisphere summer depends on where the Earth’s “wobble,” known as precession, is in its 23,000-year cycle.

At the beginning of the Green Sahara, the Northern Hemisphere was closer to the sun during summer. Warmer summers strengthened the West African monsoon and delivered more rain. Toward the end of the Green Sahara, the Northern Hemisphere was farther from the sun and the West African monsoon was weaker.

There’s a feedback between vegetation, dust and rainfall, Tierney said. Right now the Sahara Desert is the planet’s biggest source of dust — but a vegetated Sahara would produce much less dust.

Co-author Francesco Pausata added additional factors — more vegetation and less dust — to a climate model. His changes improved how well the model replicated the amount of rainfall during the Green Sahara and dry periods.

“Getting a better handle on the important influence of the vegetation and dust feedback will help us simulate future climate change in the Sahara and Sahel,” Tierney said.


Related Topics:

The Sahara and the Amazon, a Tale of Interdependence*

Rare Snow Falls on the Sand Dunes of Algeria*

The Igbo’s Traditional View on the Sanctity of Life*

Hidden Human History*

Biblical Garden of Eden Discovered in Iraq’s Marshes?*

Rujm el-Hirri: The Stonehenge of Syria

Looted Palmyra Treasures Discovered in Geneva Warehouse*

Olmecs: The People behind the Long Count were not Mayans*

Secret History of the British People*

The Genocide of the Peoples of Europe*

Erasing a People from History: Australian Pygmies*

Last Member of 65,000-year-old Tribe Dies*

The End of Times and ‘The Lost Book of Enki’: Sumeria

Egyptian Hieroglyphs in Australia Prove the Ancient World Was Connected*

A 200,000 Year-Old City in Southern Africa pre-Dates Sumer*

DNA study Proves Indigenous Australians Date Back 50,000 yrs*

DNA Testing Proves Genealogy of indigenous Americans is One of the Most Unique in the World*

Netanyahu halts Israeli Funding of 5 U.N. Bodies in Revenge for Settlement Freeze Demand*

Netanyahu halts Israeli Funding of 5 U.N. Bodies in Revenge for Settlement Freeze Demand*

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) told President Obama (C) that Israel was not considering a full-scale invasion, as Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas remains wary. © Tim Sloan / AFP


Israel has suspended its multimillion dollar contribution to a number of United Nations bodies and is re-evaluating its relationship with the organization, after the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution on Israeli settlement construction.

“I instructed the Foreign Ministry to complete within a month a re-evaluation of all our contacts with the United Nations, including the Israeli funding of U.N. institutions and the presence of U.N. representatives in Israel,” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu said on Saturday while addressing the nation.

“I have already instructed to stop about 30 million shekels ($7.8 million) in funding to five U.N. institutions, five bodies, that are especially hostile to Israel … and there is more to come,” he added without offering any further details.

Netanyahu harshly criticized President Barack Obama for his decision on Friday to abstain from vetoing the resolution that declares settlements as having “no legal validity.” The resolution passed 14 to zero, with the United States abstaining.

The resolution demands that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the ‘occupied’ Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem.”

The resolution “doesn’t bring peace closer. It pushes it further away,” Netanyahu said Saturday, calling the document “crazy.”

President Barack Obama’s administration constituted a “shameful ambush” by allowing the resolution’s passage, Netanyahu said in his first public comments since Friday’s vote.

“Half a million … are being slaughtered in Syria, tens of thousands are butchered in Sudan. The Middle East is up in flames, yet the Obama administration and the U.N. Security Council choose to set upon the only democracy in the Middle East,” Netanyahu told his television audience.

Netanyahu said that by abstaining the U.S. has violated a pledge made by former president Jimmy Carter who promised Tel Aviv that Washington would not dictate peace terms to Israel at the U.N. Security Council.

BREAKING: UNSC passes resolution demanding end to Israeli settlement building on occupied Palestinian land https://t.co/8vIDh2WIzTpic.twitter.com/zBojoLWii9

— RT (@RT_com) December 23, 2016

In a statement after the vote on Friday, Netanyahu’s office personally accused Obama of failing to “protect Israel against this gang-up at the U.N.,” accusing the administration of working “behind the scenes.”

The UNSC was initially scheduled to vote on the resolution presented by Egypt on behalf of Palestine on Thursday. But Cairo pulled its text at the last minute after Netanyahu allegedly exerted heavy pressure on Egyptian President Abdel Sisi.


Related Topics:

Israel’s Rule of Annexation in West Bank*

Israeli Prepares to Build Illegal Settlement that would Split West Bank in Two*

Lawsuit Seeks Billions in Damages from Americans Who Fund Israeli Settlements*

Israeli Manufacturers Move Factories from Settlements to Avoid E.U. Labelling*

Israel Anger over E.U. to Label Settlement Goods*

Israel Takes Advantage of Syrian Civil War to Expand Illegal Golan Heights Settlements*

Norway Aiding Israeli Fuel Extraction on the Golan Heights Under Fire*

The Brothers who Funded Blair, Israeli Settlements and Islamophobia*

While Waging War on Gaza Israel Expands Settlement Construction on West Bank and Jerusalem*


Russia and China Veto Phony Aleppo Ceasefire U.N. Security Council Resolution*

Russia and China Veto Phony Aleppo Ceasefire U.N. Security Council Resolution*

By Stephen Lendman

U.S., U.K. and French dirty hands were behind a Security Council resolution calling for a seven-day ceasefire in Aleppo – on the phony pretext of providing humanitarian aid they’re supplying only to terrorists. 

Egypt, New Zealand and Spain were used to introduce what they should have rejected outright.

Russia, China and Venezuela responsibly opposed another scheme to give U.S.-backed terrorists time to regroup, replenish their ranks, rearm and continue committing atrocities in Aleppo, largely against defenseless civilians.

A deceptive Security Council statement claimed

“(t)he proposed cessation of hostilities would have lasted at least one week and would have demanded immediate safe access to all areas for humanitarian assistance” – without explaining the absence of a way of enforcing what’s agreed to. America and its rogue allies consistently violate terms accepted.

Most of eastern Aleppo already has access to humanitarian aid, thanks to Syrian, Russian, and allied forces. They alone are combating terrorism and providing it – U.S., Britain, France and their allies denying it to civilians in need, sending it only to ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. So-called “moderate rebels” don’t exist.

Syrian U.N. envoy Bashar al-Jaafari denounced America, Britain and France as the “three musketeers” for terrorism – supported by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, other Gulf States, Jordan and Israel.

Where were they when so-called “moderate rebels” launched lethal mortar fire on a Russian mobile field hospital in Aleppo, killing two doctors and injuring other medical staff?

Pro-Western Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the ICRC failed to condemn the attack. Russian Defense Ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov expressed outrage over the ICRC’s

“cynical comments, not worthy of (its alleged) high status…(showing) indifference to the murder of Russian doctors in Aleppo.”

The attack was “pre-planned, cold-blooded murder…” America, Britain, France and their rogue allies failed to condemn it. Who provided terrorists with coordinates of Russia’s facility? Were U.S. dirty hands responsible?

Clearly Washington spurns peace, wants endless war, Syrian suffering to continue, Assad ousted and pro-Western puppet governance replacing sovereign Syrian independence.

Addressing SC members before the vote, Russia’s U.N. envoy Vitaly Churkin said it violated the 24-hour rule – the draft resolution submitted only hours earlier in the day.

It was proposed while Russia and America agreed to meet on December 7 to discuss withdrawal of all militants from eastern Aleppo as a pre-condition for ceasefire.

The draft resolution included nothing about withdrawal. Previous ceasefires always turned out the same way. Terrorists used them to their advantage, cessation of hostilities never achieved for a single day.

Efforts by what Churkin called the Western “P3 troika” always make matters worse in Aleppo, not better.

He denounced efforts to prevent ceasefire in Aleppo, saying “someone (always) topples it.” Russia/U.S. talks while Obama remains in power are virtually worthless, ending in failure every time.

It remains to be seen if Trump wants responsible conflict resolution or intends being a warrior president like his predecessors.


Related Topics:

Syria Raps U.N.’s Security Council for Meeting in Support of Terrorists*

Russia Vetoed a U.N. backed French-drafted Resolution that Would End Air Strikes against ISIS*

French Draft Resolution on Syria Reflects its Longing for its Colonial History in Africa*

As Expected U.S. Failing to Fulfill Obligations of Syria Ceasefire Deal*

U.S., Britain and France Step-Up War Plans

French and U.S. Airstrikes ‘kill over 140 civilians’ in Syria*

U.S.-Sponsored Genocide in Syria*

U.S. Still cannot Determine Who are the Terrorists in Syria*

Syria Raps U.N.’s Security Council for Meeting in Support of Terrorists*

Syria Raps U.N.’s Security Council for Meeting in Support of Terrorists*

Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Ja’afari has censured the Security Council for permitting representatives of terrorist organizations to call for the convening of an emergency meeting.

During a UNSC emergency session held on Wednesday, Ja’afari also expressed his regrets that three members of the council had drafted a resolution without coordinating with his delegation.

The draft resolution, submitted by Egypt, New Zealand and Spain, calls for a 10-day humanitarian ceasefire in the divided Syrian city of Aleppo.

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, remains split between government forces in the west and foreign-backed terrorists in the east, making it a frontline battleground.

 “It is high time to end this political theatre” said Ja’afari, while noting that militant groups were still active in Syria and were using civilians as human shields in Aleppo.


Related Topics:

Syrian Army Regains Full Control Over Al-Tall City of 60,000 in Damascus*

U.N. Passes Resolution Urging Israel to Leave Syria’s Golan Heights*

Erdogan Comes Face to Face with U.S., Russia in Syria*

Russian-backed Syrian Operation Saves 80,000+ Civilians*

Syrian Army Liberates Northern Part of Aleppo City, Delivers Devastating Blow to Terrorists*

Iraqi Forces Kill over 950 ISIS Terrorists in Mosul*

French Draft Resolution on Syria Reflects its Longing for its Colonial History in Africa*

Egypt Busts Int’l Organ Trafficking Network*

Egypt Busts Int’l Organ Trafficking Network*

Main building of Egypt’s Administrative Control Authority in Cairo

Main building of Egypt’s Administrative Control Authority in Cairo


Egyptian authorities have busted a network of organ trafficking, saying the large international group allegedly bought organs from poor Egyptians and sold them to customers from other countries.

Egypt’s Administrative Control Authority said in a statement on Tuesday that the group of organ traffickers included university professors and doctors from Egypt and other Arab countries.

“Today at dawn, the largest international network for trading human organs has been captured,” said the statement.

In addition to university professors and doctors, owners of medical centers, intermediaries and brokers were also among the 25 detainees.

The Egyptian authority, which tracks corruption cases in the country’s state institutions, said the network was taking “advantage of some of the citizens’ difficult economic conditions so that they buy their human organs and sell it for large sums of money.”

The statement said those arrested possessed “millions of dollars and gold bullion.”

A report in 2010 by the World Health Organization named Egypt as one of the top five countries in illegal organ trade. The announcement prompted Egypt’s parliament to pass a law that banned commercial trade in organs as well as transplants between Egyptians and foreigners, except in cases of husband and wife.

The United Nations has also issued reports saying that Egyptians are still involved in illegal organs trade. The reports claim that hundreds of poor Egyptians sell their kidneys and livers each year to pay for their food and debts.

There were also reports in 2012 showing that refugees in the Sinai were being “killed for the traffic of organs.”


Related Topics:

Africans Found Butchered Organs Removed In Egypt*

Israel is the Organ Harvesting and Human Trafficking Global Ringleader, with Help from U.S. and Turkey*

Parents Pressured into Donating Organs of their 4 Month Old Baby After Receiving 7 Vaccine Doses*

Some Refugees Are Being Sold For Organs*

Rape and Organ Theft in Turkish Refugee Camps*

Israel Harvesting Slain Palestinians’ Organs*

Obama Endorses Planned Parenthood’s Cash-For-Organs Scheme*

Egypt’s after Nubian Land*

Egypt’s after Nubian Land*

Government has drawn Nubians’ ire after it decided to sell lands in southern Egypt in auction as part of agricultural mega-project

Nubians staged sit-in for two weeks in response to government policies (Hisham Abdel Hamed / MEE)


By Leena ElDeeb

After two meetings that lasted for seven hours on Wednesday between representatives of the Egyptian government and the Nubian Return Caravan (NRC), Nubian activists decided to suspend a sit-in and give the government one month to fulfil its promises.

Nubian advocates and officials discussed demands raised by protesters decrying government policies toward Nubian land.

The meetings were attended by about 30 NRC advocates, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal and Nubian MP Yassin Abdel-Sabour.

Mohamed Azmy, president of the Nubian Union, said the recent protests began in response to the government putting Nubian land up for sale.

This was the first case of selling Nubian land in an upfront manner. Most of the past deals were cases of usufruct and what not,” he told MEE.

“But this time it was a loud and clear trade, so it was a dangerous signal for us. If this land is sold, the rest of the land will follow, so we had to take a stand.”

Nubians are an indigenous African people in southern Egypt. They have complained of displacement by state-sponsored projects for many decades. They also say they struggle with cultural marginalisation and colour discrimination.

The government drew Nubians’ ire when it decided to sell land in southern Egypt in an auction as part of a plan known as the One Million and a Half Acres. The government wants to reclaim land to narrow the gap between supply and demand for food produce, thereby reducing imports.

Nubian activists staged a sit-in in the Toshka and Forkund areas of the southern Aswan governorate.

What do Nubians want?

NRC representatives have presented five demands to Ismail and Abdel-Aal.

  • First, they requested a halt in “distribution of pamphlets” – a form of pre-sale documentation – setting out conditions for the sale of 110,000 acres from the Nubian village of Forkund at Toshka, until the village is removed from the project. The trade is part of the previously mentioned state-owned project to reclaim deserted lands
  • Second, they demanded ownership of the Nubian residence at the stream of the Aswan reservoir and its ramps, and dedicated lands for each Nubian village, with a specific timeline
  • Third, they included a draft bill to establish an authority for the development, reconstruction and resettlement of the people of Nubia during the current legislative term
  • Fourth, they called on President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to establish a technical committee to nominate Nubians to review all plans and investment projects within the south of the High Dam area and specify their scopes beyond the limits of the Nubian villages. The duties of this committee would be over once the bill of establishing a resettlement authority is issued
  • Finally, they demanded that the 2014 presidential decree 444, which declared former Nubian villages a military zone, be adjusted

What does the government think?

The prime minister promised the NRC that the authorities would form a committee from the ministers’ council, which would include MP Abdel-Sabour, in addition to a group of coordinators from the NRC. The committee would look at the maps and updates for the Forkund area to divide its borders in preparation for removing it from the project as demanded.

However, Ismail said that the Egyptian Countryside company, which is responsible for selling the lands to investors, has not allocated any land yet within the borders of Egypt: what has been put up for sale was just for the opening of the project.

Abdel-Aal promised to discuss the bill for establishing an authority for development, reconstruction and resettlement. He didn’t specify a timeline, according to the statement posted by the NRC, but promised to submit the bill soon.

Article 236 grants Nubians the right to return to their villages (Hisham Abdel Hamed / MEE)

However, Abdel-Aal said presidential decree 444 was not presented before parliament, describing it as a sovereign decision that cannot be altered as a matter of national security.

As for the rest of the demands, government officials promised to consider and present them to both the governor of Aswan and the president.

Egypt’s rush for land

On Monday, the leftist Bread and Liberty Party hosted a number of Nubian researchers and politicians in a seminar entitled The Nubian Case, Between the Diaspora and the Return.

Mohamed ElHawary, a member of the party’s economic and legal committee, described Egypt’s rulers as “land brokers”.

He said Nubian land is being targeted because areas around urban centres such as Cairo and Alexandria are already being fought over by the so-called estate or industrial developers.

“The state sees Nubian land as unwanted land, so they can do what they wish with it,” he said. “They’re selling an acre for EGP50 ($2.80), and with instalments up to 10 years.” The fair price per acre, according to ElHawary, is 4,000 to 5,000 Egyptian pounds.

What the presidential decrees mean

Article 236 of the Egyptian constitution holds the government responsible for setting up a plan that would ensure the return of Nubians to villages they were displaced from by state-sponsored projects.

But two presidential decrees signed after the constitution was passed have complicated these efforts. Decree 444, issued by Sisi in 2014, took more than 110 square kilometers of Nubian land – the equivalent of 16 villages – and labelled them as military zones where habitation is forbidden.

In August, the president signed another decree that moved 922 acres of state-owned land to the private New Toshka development project. It was later discovered that the transfer paved the way to selling Nubian land.

Azmy told MEE that about 400 protesters escalated their opposition into a sit-in at Forkund.

Dr Saker Abdel-Nour, a Nubian rural sociologist at L’École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in France, said Nubians have been mobilising since 2009, but article 236 motivated them still further.

“They waited until there is a parliament to transform this constitutional article to law. The constitution has no operational format without a legal framework, so it transforms into legal procedure and therefore becomes a plan on the ground,” he told MEE.

Fatma Emam, an independent Nubian researcher, said Nubians were disappointed that the parliament did not move to implement article 236, and that lawmakers failed to challenge the presidential decrees.

“This article was and still is imprisoned in the drawers of the state, [from 2013] until now,” she told MEE.

Rami Yehia, the political coordinator of the Coalition of the Nubian Return, said the displacement of Nubians robbed them of political influence.

“For starters, there is no such thing as a Nubian representative, the term is politically incorrect,” he told MEE, explaining that new demographic realities do not allow Nubians to elect their own candidates.

Yehia added that even Nubian MPs are not voted in exclusively by Nubians.

Nubian MPs have been able to connect activists to the government, he continued, but other than that they are too few in numbers to stand against the majority in the parliament.

“On another note, we were displaced by a presidential decree, why don’t we return with a presidential decree?” Yehia said.


Related Topics:

Labelled as One of the Most Racist Countries, Egyptian – Nubian Clashes Break Out*