New Suez Canal Built In Record Time Expected To Give A Boost To Egypt’s Economy

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi (pictured above) seems to know how to get things done.

Under his leadership, Egypt has experienced economic growth–and foreign investors have returned to the country. Last week, a 35-kilometer long second Suez Canal was inaugurated after more than 9000 workers must have established a new world record in canal digging. The building of the canal took only one year instead of the expected three. The old 164 kilometer-long Suez Canal, which was built 146 years ago, took more than 10 years to complete. One could say that the speedy completion time made the new Suez Canal a wonder of the modern world as the pyramids were a wonder of the ancient world.

The new canal is expected to double the number of vessels passing through Egypt and is expected to nearly triple the revenues from the Suez Canal to $13 billion a year.

The $8 billion project was launched in August 2014 and was overseen by the army after President al-Sisi ordered the construction to be completed in one year.

The building of a massive international industrial and logistics complex near the new Suez Canal is expected to deliver a further boost to the Egyptian economy.

The revenues of the canal and the new projects are scheduled to count for up to one third of GDP in the near future.

The Egyptian government succeeded in financing the huge project without being totally dependent on large foreign investments. A substantial amount of the construction costs were covered by donations from Egyptian citizens and companies. The rest of the money came from government bonds and loans from banks. Egypt received money from the Gulf States, among them Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The inauguration of the canal took place during the same week when Saudi Arabia and Egypt signed an agreement to enhance military, economic and political cooperation.

President Al-Sisi and Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed Bin Salman issued the so-called “Cairo Declaration,” a six-point document that outlined the strengthening of the cooperation between the two countries as follows:

1. Development of military cooperation and working towards establishing the Joint Arab Force. 2. Enhancing the joint cooperation and investment between the two countries in the fields of energy, electricity, and transportation. 3. Achieving economic integration between the two countries and working on making them a key focus of the World Trade movement. 4. Intensifying mutual investments between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, aiming to increase joint projects in both countries. 5. Strengthening cooperation in the fields of politics, culture, and media in order to jointly counter the dangers of the current regional destabilisation. 6. Defining the maritime borders between the two countries.

The signing of the agreement has everything to do with the continuing turmoil in the Middle East–the rise of Islamic State as well as Iran’s regional hegemonic aspirations. Both countries feel threatened by Iran and its involvement in the wars in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. The establishment of a Joint Arab Force must be regarded as the Arab answer to the activities of the Iranian Al-Quds brigade of the IRGC.

The signing of the agreement doesn’t mean the two countries are on the same page in every aspect of Mideast politics.

For example, the recent reconciliation between Hamas and Saudi Arabia, after Hamas leader Khaled Mashal visited the Saudi capital of Riyadh last month, drew the ire of al-Sisi, who is engaged in a continuing crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch (Hamas.) Egypt isn’t exactly thrilled either by the Saudi effort to establish a Sunni-axis that includes Turkey in order to oppose the Iranian-led Shiite axis. Al-Sisi doesn’t trust Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and won’t forgive him for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas.

So the strengthening of the ties between Saudi Arabia and Egypt is a matter of ‘realpolitik’. Since the retreat of the United States as the sole superpower dominating the Middle East and the rise of Iran and Islamic State, Arab countries like Egypt and Saudi Arabia are looking for new partners.

China and Russia are partly filling the gap the U.S. left behind, and even cooperation with Israel is now suddenly no longer taboo.

The IDF and the Egyptian army are cooperating in the battle against Hamas and Wayilat Sinai–the Islamic State offshoot in the Sinai Peninsula–and al-Sisi sent a new ambassador to Israel after former Egyptian President Morsi severed ties with the Jewish State in November 2012.

In addition, President al-Sisi recently met with a delegation of the American Jewish Committee and has started to battle widespread anti-Semitism in Egypt. He became the first Egyptian president to embark on a campaign to change Egyptian attitudes toward Jews. During Ramadan, the historical TV drama ‘Jewish Quarter’ was broadcast on Egyptian state television. The program depicted the Muslim Brotherhood as a greater threat to unity in Egypt than the Jews–and even the ‘Zionists.’

As Western Journalism has reported, Egypt is regarded as one of the most anti-Semitic countries in the world. Even President al-Sisi was the subject of anti-Semitic rants when respected commentators suggested on TV that he was a Jew who was trying to implement a Zionist conspiracy to turn Egypt into a province of Israel.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Islamic State Attacks Egyptian Navy Vessel, Uses Sophisticated Missile

On Thursday morning, Islamic State affiliate Walayat Sinai got into warfare at sea when it attacked an Egyptian navy vessel at a short distance from the coast opposite the city of Rafah in northern Sinai.

“The mujahideen were able to target a frigate of the naval forces of the apostate Egyptian army in the Mediterranean Sea, north of Rafah, and that was with a guided rocket,” read a message posted by Walayat Sinai on Twitter.

Later, Islamic State in the Sinai posted another message on Twitter in which it said “that the naval attack was the first of its kind and the start of maritme operations in the Mediterranean.”

The attack signals a new level of sophistication of weaponry used by the Islamic State in the Middle East. Oded Granot, the Middle East expert of TV Channel 1 in Israel, reported later that a Kornet anti-tank missile was used in the attack.

Photos published by Islamic State showed a huge explosion on what the group said was a “frigate.” Later, it appeared that the vessel hit in the attack was a patrol vessel built by U.S. manufacturer Swiftships. Hours later, the ship was still smoldering.

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Islamic State used the Kornet anti-tank missile earlier in its battle against the Egyptian army in the Sinai Peninsula when it carried out a string of attacks against army checkpoints and a police station two weeks ago.

The Egyptian army said that it exchanged fire with the terrorists who launched the rocket. The army also claimed there were no casualties. Wayalat Sinai, however, says the ship was destroyed and that everybody on board was killed in the attack.

The Egyptian army has stepped up its campaign against the Islamic State in the Sinai desert; but as today’s attack showed, the organization is still able to carry out devastating attacks–and terror is spreading to other areas in Egypt.

Just yesterday, the Egyptian army foiled a mega attack on the highway to Suez. A suicide bomber tried to drive his explosives-laden truck into an army base next to the highway but was spotted in time. An army spokesman said the vehicle was destroyed and the driver killed.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Islamic State Attacks Israel From Egypt, Tries To Expand Caliphate To Sinai

ANALYSIS

Southern Israel was again attacked with rockets on Friday–but this time, they did not come from Gaza.

Islamic State branch Walayat Sinai (Sinai Province) claimed responsibility for the firing of three Grad rockets at Israel. At 4.20 PM on Friday, sirens went off in southern Israel; and residents sped to their security rooms. A short time later, three rockets exploded in open fields. No damage and casualties were reported.

The attack came at a moment when the Egyptian authorities claimed that the situation in Sinai was under control again after the Islamic State assault on the Egyptian army Wednesday. Sixty-four soldiers, as well as 90 Islamist fighters, died in a wave of attacks on army checkpoints and positions in the Sinai Peninsula.

On Saturday, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said that the assault was, in fact, an attempt to seize territory and to set up an extremist state in Sinai.

He said that Valiyat Sinai had tried to announce “an Islamic state, in their concept, an Islamic State in Sinai. These are the messages, very simply, that they are putting out to us.”

He then added that the area was now under the control of the army again. Al-Sisi praised the army for “foiling a very big plan.”

“No one can impose on the Egyptians something they don’t want. To reach the Egyptians they have to pass through the army, the sons of Egypt,” he said.

On Sunday, it became clear that the battle in Sinai is far from over. The Egyptian newspaper al-Yom al-Sabah reported that the Egyptian security forces were conducting heavy anti-ISIS operations in northern Sinai. Apache helicopters and infantry took part in the operation against Wayilat Sinai.

Reuters later reported the Egyptian army killed 63 members of Walayat Sinai during the operation in the area of Rafah and Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai. A spokesman for the Egyptian army claimed that 241 terrorists were killed as of Wednesday.

Earlier, the Egyptian army cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood after it accused the organization of cooperation with Islamic State to destabilize Egypt. In a raid on Wednesday evening, the army killed nine prominent Brotherhood members. This led to a call to the public by the Muslim Brotherhood to “rise in revolt to defend your homeland.”

The young members of the movement think the time has come to use terrorism to undermine al-Sisi’s regime. The new spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad Montasser, even called for “a revolution that would decapitate heads.”

In the short term, it is unlikely that the current leadership will openly join the young members in the violent struggle. Such a move would cost the movement the support of the current U.S. administration, and probably Turkey.

It is clear, however, that the Muslim Brotherhood is changing direction in Egypt. The old Muslim Brotherhood that sought to establish its goals by non-violent means is dying and has lost the support of the Egyptian people after the mismanagement of the country during Mohammad Morsi’s presidency. Most of the Brotherhood’s leaders have been arrested since the military coup and are now in jail again. Some of them (Including Morsi) are facing the death penalty.

So in the long term, we can expect Muslim Brotherhood members to join ISIS in Egypt.

Something similar is happening now in Gaza, where Hamas is losing support and is slowly starting to realize that Islamic State is threatening its thus-far uncontested rule.

On Friday, senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk admitted for the first time that ISIS has a presence in Gaza. In an interview with Al Quds TV, Marzouk responded to a recent video from Islamic State in Syria in which ISIS threatened to take over Gaza.

“Why do they want to turn Gaza into a sea of blood, and what capabilities does this group have to threaten like this?” Marzouk asked. He ridiculed the power of the group in Gaza and claimed that Hamas would stamp out ISIS soon. Marzouk said that ISIS has only dozens of supporters in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli experts, however think that ISIS’ presence in Gaza is much larger than what Marzouk claims. They estimate that Islamic State has at least hundreds of members in Gaza, and some even say that the organization already has a few thousand members or affiliated terrorists.

Israel is slowly coming to terms with the new reality on its southern border but is not so sure that Hamas is against the rise of Islamic State in Gaza and Sinai.

The head of the IDF division that deals with Gaza, Maj.Gen. Yoav Mordechai, told Al-Jazeera News that the IDF has acquired intelligence about Hamas’ support for ISIS activities in Sinai. He said that Hamas is providing weaponry and other support to Wilayat Sinai and that it smuggled wounded ISIS fighters into Gaza to give them medical treatment. Mordechai added that Hamas commander Abdullah Kishta is training Islamic State terrorists in Sinai and that the IDF has solid proof of this direct support for ISIS by Hamas.

The IDF is currently beefing up its presence on the southern border near Northern Sinai and is monitoring the fighting in Sinai, according to Israel Radio.

The Israeli Army knows that the day is approaching when Wayalat Sinai will turn its weapons to Israel. As Wednesday’s coordinated string of attacks on the Egyptian army and Friday’s rockets on Israel showed, Islamic State in Sinai is building up its military capabilities and is already in the possession of heavy weapons.

In the long run, Israel can expect more cross-border attacks and missiles on a daily basis. These attacks will constitute a double-edged sword for the Islamic State affiliate. It will put more pressure on Israel and make life unbearable in the Israeli communities along the border; and on the other hand, it could drive a wedge in the excellent relations between the IDF and the Egyptian army. The IDF cannot afford to sit on its hands when Islamic State attacks Israel from Gaza, but the Egyptians will not tolerate Israeli counterattacks on its soil.

So a year after the Third Gaza War ended, Israel is gearing up for the next confrontation in the south.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

BREAKING: Egypt Suffers String Of Attacks…As ISIS Reveals New Terrifying Video

Image for representational purposes only.

Today, Islamic State launched a string of massive attacks on Egyptian forces in the Sinai Peninsula. Islamic State affiliate Ansar Bayit al-Maqdis (Waliyat Sinai) simultaneous attacked at least five military checkpoints and a police station in Sheikh Zuweid in northern Sinai this morning. At least 100 people died in the fighting that was still continuing hours later.

Army spokesman Brig-Gen Mohammed Samir reported that more than 70 terrorists fired mortar rounds and detonated a car bomb in attacks on five checkpoints in the Sheikh Zuweid area of North Sinai province. “Ten soldiers were killed or wounded along with 39 assailants,” he added.

Reshet Beth, however, reported that 60 Egyptian soldiers died in the assault by Waliyat Sinai. The Israeli radio station said that the Egyptian government was trying to deflate the number of dead soldiers to avoid the impression that the army is losing the war against ISIS in Sinai. AP later confirmed the Reshet Beth report and reported that in total, 64 Egyptian soldiers were killed by the terrorists. Thirty-eight terrorists also died in the fighting.

Ever since the Egyptian army ousted the Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi, Islamists in Sinai have escalated their attacks on Egyptian security personnel. At least 670 soldiers and policemen have died in the fighting so far.

The situation in Egypt further deteriorated after the assassination of the state prosecutor (Attorney General), Hisham Barakat, in Cairo on Monday. Barakat was hated by the Muslim Brotherhood and Wayilat Sinai for the prosecution of thousands of Islamists since the ouster of the Morsi regime in 2013.

Hours after his assassination, a wave of terror attacks hit Egyptian cities; and at the same time, Islamists in the Sinai launched a new offensive aimed at taking over the Peninsula.

There have been eyewitness reports saying that members of ISIS branch Waliyat Sinai are trying to take over villages and cities in Sinai and then raise their black flag on buildings.

Like the attacks that Islamic State staged last Friday, the assault on Egypt has been predicted by both Islamic State and the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

ISW published a report on June 7 in which it predicted that ISIS would execute a ‘mass casualty attack’ in Tunisia during Ramadan. Egypt was one of the countries in the Middle East that would be targeted during the Muslim holy month, ISW experts predicted. They based their predictions on articles that were published on ISIS’ website and on what ISIS members wrote on social media.

Image credit: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Image credit: Institute for the Study of War (ISW)

Other countries Islamic State has announced as targets during Ramadan are England (where an ISIS plot for a terror attack was foiled last week), France (which was attacked last Friday), Italy, Spain, Caucuses in southern Russia, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Egypt (attacked today), Yemen (also attacked last week), Afghanistan (ISIS has seized large swaths of territory from the Taliban over the past week), Pakistan, and the United States. The United States will probably be attacked during Independence Day at the end of the week.

The goal is to capitalize on religious tensions and war to plunge a large part of the world into chaos by July 18, which marks the end of Ramadan. ISIS has sleeper cells in many countries and has now ordered these cells to become operative. In other countries, Muslim citizens who joined ISIS in Syria and Iraq and have now returned home will operate as lone gunmen in the coming weeks.

ISIS also published a new video today in which it threatened Hamas in Gaza and Israel.

A masked member of the group said: “We will uproot the state of the Jews (Israel) and you (Hamas) and Fatah, and all of the secularists are nothing and you will be overrun by our creeping multitudes.”

The release of the video came hours after Yoram Cohen, the head of Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, informed the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “Hamas is losing control over the Gaza Strip and its ability to govern there is eroding.”

“One of the challenges Hamas is dealing with is the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip following the destruction caused during last summer’s Operation Protective Edge. A major component of which is the lack of foreign funding due to infighting between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority over control of border crossings,” Cohen said according to Ynet News.

In reaction to the ISIS threat, Israel decided to close the border crossings with Gaza and Egypt except for the crossing in Taba in south Israel.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

SHOCK VIDEO: See Why This Political Panel Just Ridiculed Obama As ‘Insane,’ ‘On Drugs,’ Henpecked

As Western Journalism reported last week, President Obama told the latest graduating class at the Coast Guard Academy that the really big security threat they’re facing in today’s troubled world is climate change. Even as ISIS continues its relentless rampage across the Middle East, Iran pushes toward obtaining a nuclear weapon, even as Russia threatens to destabilize Europe, North Korea is again acting out and China modernizes its military — among many other global threats — Obama points to global warming as the big, ominous storm cloud hovering over America’s security interests.

Reaction to the president’s claim that the Coast Guard and other branches of the U.S. military have to go forth and fight climate change has been, at least among right-leaning Americans, swift and sharply critical. As Cal Thomas observed in an opinion piece for The Washington Times: “If ‘climate change’ made terrorism possible, how does the president explain violent jihadism dating back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad, long before carbon was a concern, or even a footprint? If unemployment causes terrorism, millions of jobless Americans would be taking up arms.”

Now in Egypt — a nation that got rid of a Muslim Brotherhood-controlled government led by a man Obama both praised and supported — a political panel has taken to TV to go farther in their criticism of Obama than even the president’s most vocal TV critics would dare to go in this country. It’s a remarkable two-minute-twenty-second segment translated by the folks at MEMRI, the Middle East Media Research Institute.

You can watch these Egyptian commentators tear into Obama, questioning his sanity, wondering if he’s on drugs, even going so far as to say that it’s Michelle who wears the pants in the first family. Click on the video above to hear these three guys utterly destroy Obama as a weak and fearful man who is intent on destroying the United States.

h/t: American Thinker

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth