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TODAY’S DAILY BRIEFING
25-Apr-2017
Egypt
Politics
“Dissident leader from Gamaa Islamiya Awad el-Hatab talks to Zaman…”  (Az-Zaman, Iraq)
Terrorism - Unrest
On April 24, the independent Az-Zaman newspaper carried the following report by its correspondent in Cairo Mustafa Amara: “In exclusive statements to Az-Zaman, dissident leader from [Egypt’s] Gamaa Islamiya Awad el-Hatab excluded “seeing the initiative launched by the Gamaa to stop the violence in Sinai and hold a combining national conference between Sinai’s tribes and all the influential sides, in exchange for dropping the charges against all those who commit to the outcome of dialogue, echoed inside or outside of Egypt,” calling on the Gamaa Islamiya to withdraw from the coalition in support of the deposed [president Muhammad Morsi], disown its armed members and leaders domestically and abroad, and stop its media campaigns against Egypt… (Read More)
“Es-Sisi in Al-Riyadh: Egyptian mediation with Ansarullah?”  (Al-Akhbar Lebanon, Lebanon)
Arab Diplomacy - Military and Defense
On April 25, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report by Jalal Khayrat: “…The reconciliation between Egypt and Saudi Arabia was “crowned” with a visit by President Abdul Fattah es-Sisi to Al-Riyadh, the first of its kind visit for more than a year. In a noteworthy initiative, King Salman received the Egyptian president at the airport and took him to Al-Yamamah palace where an official reception was prepared for Es-Sisi and his accompanying delegation. Then, a round of bilateral discussions ensued followed by expanded discussions that brought together the officials of both countries with the attendance of a number of new ministers who joined the Saudi government following the latest amendments… (Read More)
Iran
Politics
"Who benefits from state media?"  (E'temad, Iran)   
Democracy and Party Politics - Media
On April 19, a report by Zeinab Safari in the reformist E'temad said: "Ebrahim Raisi, whose supporters believe he is very much like Beheshti, has written two letters whilst the Guardian Council is reviewing his and his rivals' qualifications. His letters are short and express grievances; one is sent to the head of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, and the other one to his strongest rival Hassan Rouhani. He has criticised Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran for failing to maintain "campaign fairness" and he has criticised his arch rival Hassan Rouhani for, as he puts it, failing to act ethically. Why is Raisi criticising Voice and Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and what does he mean by "campaign fairness"? Has Hassan Rouhani failed to act ethically, and are his actions for campaigning purposes? In his letter to Aliaskari he has written: "In order to holding a healthy, exciting and competitive election the state media is expected to commit itself to upholding campaign fairness. Unfortunately, unlike under the ordinary circumstances, state media is continuously filled with live news and voluminous report of the programmes of the honourable President who is a candidate in the upcoming presidential election himself. As many of these programmes are not limited exclusively to the president, and they will not stop without his presence, it is expected that the state media act based on its legal objectives and missions and seriously avoid any measures that can be perceived as partial election campaigning on behalf of one person or a specific faction which can lead to distorting the process of accurate and informed judgement of honourable people." In his letter of 117 words that Hojjat ol-Eslam Raisi has written to Aliaskari it is not quite clear where the state media has shown unfairness in broadcasting President's programmes. Is showing President's speech on Army Day, which is broadcast live every year, an example of unfair campaigning, or perhaps showing National Nuclear Technology Day in presence of the president, or live programme showing the president opening phase 17 to 21 of South Pars Project which has finally and after 10 years placed Iran on an equal footing as Qatar are examples of unfair campaigning?… (Read More)
Iraq
Opinion
“Who’s the winner in the matter of the kidnapped Qatari hunters?”  (Website, Middle East)
On April 24, the Rai al-Youm daily newspaper carried the following piece by Marwan Yassin al-Dalimi: “The play of the kidnapping of the Qatari hunters in Iraq has been concluded while suspicions are still roaming over the role played by some governmental Iraqi parties within the ruling national alliance, a role that started with the kidnapping operation and ended with the negotiations’ process and the release of the hostages… (Read More)
Jordan
Politics
“Syrian regime stops renewing passports and documents of Syrians living in Jordan…”  (Al-Quds al-Arabi, United Kingdom)
On April 25, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report from Amman: “The Syrian embassy in the Jordanian capital Amman did not explain the reasons behind its sudden decision to stop renewing the passports and ID cards of the Syrian residents in Jordan and abroad, including those classified as refugees. At this level, Al-Quds al-Arabi noticed that the queue in front of the embassy, west of the capital Amman, was unusually short in these last two days, after Damascus’ embassy officially announced – and placed flyers on its gates saying – that the reception of applications for the renewal of the documents of the Syrian residents in Jordan was deferred until further notice. And while the embassy’s authorities did not state the reason behind the latter measure, the Jordanian authorities also abstained from commenting on it… (Read More)
Lebanon
Opinion
“Hezbollah: Lebanon’s Shi’is or Iran?”  (Al-Hayat, United Kingdom)
Military and Defense - Religion
On April 25, the Saudi-owned London-based Al-Hayat newspaper carried the following opinion piece by Hazem Saghieh: “Since its establishment in the early 80s, Hezbollah has had two functions: Empower the Shi’i sect and serve Iranian, and consequently Syrian, influence. However, the two functions are incompatible, even contradictory. And if war with Israel is truly on the horizon…, one could say that this contradiction is currently at its peak, since one is bound to detonate the other, because either Hezbollah separates from the sect and becomes a mere Iranian stick used to subjugate it, or it separates from Iran, restores its cohesion with its people, and ensures the prevalence of their interests, which is an unlikely scenario. The problem begins from the empowerment function, because Hezbollah’s empowerment of the Shi’is is different from Amal’s approach, which relies on seizing posts in the administration and institutions… (Read More)
Politics
“The disparity between the patriarchate and President Aoun is emerging”  (Ad-Diyyar, Lebanon)   
Democracy and Party Politics - Religion
On April 25, the Ad-Diyyar daily newspaper carried the following report by Naji Samir al-Boustany: “As a repetition of the same positions, which he had voiced out several times in the past, the Maronite Patriarch, Mar Bechara Boutros al-Rahi, declared, in a clear and transparent manner, that “it’s not wrong to admit the failure in reaching a new electoral law and to proceed with the elections based on the present law.” He added: “We rely on the wisdom and responsible nature of the president to prevent any political or economic crises pertaining to the electoral law… (Read More)
Middle East
Business
“Jordan’s envoy to Saudi Arabia: 2030 vision is the strongest in the region and the world…”  (Al-Arabiya.net, Middle East)
Arab Diplomacy - USA EU
On April 24, the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya.net news website carried the following interview with the Jordanian Monarch’s envoy to Saudi Arabia Dr. Bassem Awadallah, by its correspondent Mamdouh Meheyni… (Read More)
Politics
“Rare differences…between Es-Sisi and King Abdullah II…”  (Website, Middle East)   
Religion - USA EU
On April 24, the Rai al-Youm daily newspaper carried the following report: “The veil was lifted off some “rare differences” that emerged in Washington between the Jordanian Monarch, King Abdullah II, and the Egyptian President, Abdul Fattah es-Sisi, on the margin of their last visit to Washington. Rai al-Youm learned that the US President Donald Trump asked the two leaders a direct question when he met with them earlier this month on their vision on how to deal with the file of the Muslim Brothers… (Read More)
Morocco
Opinion
"He is alive and kicking" - on Bouteflika  (Newspaper, Middle East)
Arab Diplomacy
On April 24, an editorial by Taoufik Bouachrine in the Moroccan daily Akhbar al-Youm said: "The Moroccan Foreign Ministry has spoiled the weekend of the Algerian ambassador in Rabat and summoned him urgently to the ministry to convey to him some of its anger, denunciation and condemnation of what happened at the eastern borders last week. In fact, the Algerian authorities had forced 54 Syrian refugees to leave Algerian territory compulsorily and to move towards Morocco across the eastern border. This was a blatant violation of international agreements, humanitarian obligations and ethical considerations that prevent a state from "getting rid of refugees that have come to its territory by throwing them onto neighbours in an inhuman manner." International agreements and norms also prevent a responsible state from trifling with border security in a way that is unacceptable among states. I imagine that the poor Algerian ambassador has written down on a piece of paper the remarks of Minister Bourita and promised to convey the message to his country, using a few diplomatic expressions usually learned off by heart by ambassadors. And when he returns to his office in Rabat he will note down what he saw and the words he has heard, and he might return with an answer and he might not… (Read More)
“On the suspension of journalist Soumia Dghoughi and the term “Western Sahara””  (Website, Middle East)   
Human Rights - Media - Refugees
On April 24, the Moroccan Lakome news website carried the following opinion piece by Naoufal Bouamri: “Several media outlets circulated the news surrounding the suspension of journalist Soumia Dghoughi from presenting the newscast, due to her use of the term “Western Sahara” in a report on Medi 1 TV. I believe that this incident needs to be discussed, especially since its tackling by the media reached levels which I deem unacceptable and exaggerated… But before I address this subject, I would like to recall that in previous years, whenever the official media wanted to talk about the camps, it used all sorts of slanderous terms against them and their inhabitants. However, after the king used the term “the camps’ population,” which was a positive signal to the official media pointing to the need for it to optimize its language, I have noticed some change and appeasement in the discourse… (Read More)
Sudan
Politics
“Sudanese-American security cooperation in criminal investigation”  (Al-Quds al-Arabi, United Kingdom)   
Terrorism - USA EU
On April 25, the Qatari-owned Al-Quds al-Arabi daily carried the following report by its correspondent in Khartoum Salahuddin Mustafa: “Yesterday on Monday, the Sudanese capital Khartoum witnessed a meeting between the Khartoum police and an FBI delegation headed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation chief in North Africa... In press statements, Khartoum Police Chief General Huquqi Ibrahim Othman indicated that the meeting reached fruitful understandings, “and discussed the ways to enhance joint cooperation between both sides in the areas of prevention, intelligence, and the achievement of justice…” Othman then indicated that the “visit falls in the context of cooperation and coordination between the FBI and the Sudanese police in the criminal investigation field, to expose the various crimes and provide the needed assistance in all areas, and featured an appreciation of the role which the Sudanese police has been playing… (Read More)
Tunisia
Politics
"Tunisia: Chahed’s difficult days…"  (Al-Akhbar Lebanon, Lebanon)   
Financial Markets - Unrest
On April 25, the Al-Akhbar daily newspaper carried the following report: “Youssef Chahed’s difficult days are proceeding. The man was hoping that the protests that erupted in the country over the past weeks will cool off upon his announcement of “a calendar of visits” to a number of the ignited cities. However, he was disappointed since the social anger is mounting in light of a sudden drop in the Tunisian dinar… (Read More)
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