President Mohamed Morsy’s meeting with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde on Monday is the top story in Thursday’s local newspapers. Private and state-owned newspapers report the same story differently, as the loan has stirred controversy within Egyptian economic and political circles since the government’s announcement about the deal on Wednesday.
Egypt’s state-owned flagship Al-Ahram reports that the state has formally requested a US$4.8 billion loan from the IMF. The daily highlights Qandil’s remarks on the benefits of the loan in its headline, “Qandil: International borrowing is the solution because of its lower interest than local options.”
Conditions on the loan are considered acceptable in comparison to those imposed on local borrowing, as the interest is set at 1.1 percent as compared to 12 percent interest on a local loan, said Qandil.
“The economic reform program associated with the loan is 100 percent Egyptian, written by Egyptian experts and the Egyptian government has control over the expenditure of the money,” added the prime minister.
On the other hand, the privately owned Al-Tahrir newspaper adopts a critical stance with its front page headlines: “Morsy starts his reign with loans after meeting with the IMF’s director,” and “The Muslim Brotherhood returns to the IMF’s embrace.” Al-Tahrir runs a picture from the protests that took place outside the cabinet building Wednesday denouncing Lagarde’s visit.
Similarly, the privately owned Al-Watan newspaper reports that dozens of members of the Revolutionary Socialists movement and the Popular Socialist Alliance Party protested Wednesday before the cabinet against Lagarde’s visit. The demonstrators raised signs that said, “We won’t be ruled by the IMF,” and “We won’t pay Mubarak’s debts,” as they chanted, “Down with the Supreme Guide’s rule,” referring to the Brotherhood’s top leader.
Neither Al-Ahram, nor the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Daily, report on the cabinet protests.
The state-owned Al-Gomhurriya newspaper leads with, “Egyptian tanks in Sinai upset Israel.” In response to media reports on Israel’s request that Egypt withdraw its troops from Sinai, presidential spokesperson Yasser Ali said that Sinai’s security is an integral part of Egypt’s national security and nothing will change that, reports Al-Gomhurriya.
“Egypt respects its international commitments and it has the right to secure any vital part of its lands, such as Sinai,” said Ali.
Israel’s Prime Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned earlier that Egypt is breaching the peace treaty between the two countries by deploying heavy artillery in Sinai. Israeli media reported that the US will use its aid to Egypt to pressure the latter to withdraw its forces from Sinai, says Al-Gomhurriya.
On the contrary, the US Department of State’s spokesperson Victoria Nuland had said that Egyptians are working hard to fight terrorism and eradicate the security threats on Sinai.
The independent daily Al-Watan, in contrast, quotes Egyptian military official and former border guard leader General Ahmed Youssef as saying that all of the artillery that entered Sinai to carry out Operation Eagle against the jihadist groups had Israel’s approval.
Similarly, Al-Tahrir defends Egypt's position, running statements from security experts that denounce Lieberman and Benjamin Netanyahu’s warnings to Egypt. “Will Egypt succumb to Netanyahu’s threats?” asks the headline.
Regarding the entry of Egyptian forces into Sinai over the past three years, General Mohamed Qadry Saeed said that at first Egypt asked Israel for permission to increase the number of troops from 750 to 2,500 soldiers, then asked to be allowed to send in helicopters and armored vehicles in order to activate surveillance. However, the entry of tanks and heavy weaponry only happened in this recent operation and is not considered a violation of the peace agreement because the operation is being conducted in coordination with Israel, said Saeed, who added that there is a joint committee between Egypt, Israel and the US working on this issue.
Al-Tahrir also quotes international law professor Ibrahim al-Anany as saying that international treaties can be violated in exceptional circumstances in order to ensure stability and security.
As for anti-Muslim Brotherhood protests scheduled for tomorrow, the Freedom and Justice newspaper runs stories that denounce the demonstrations, with headlines like “Professional Syndicates: 24 August protest is a counter revolution.”
According to the paper, professional syndicates have announced that they won’t participate in 24 August protests because it is a call for sedition and chaos in Egypt. The demonstration’s advocates seek their own self-interest without regard for the country, and it is suspected that they are serving foreign agendas, the story adds.
Freedom and Justice quotes a statement by the Islamist Construction and Development Party which described the calls for the protests as “suspicious,” seeking the instability of the country and fostering religious sectarianism.
Al-Watan, on the other hand, runs a front page story reporting that 16 political groups and parties will participate in Friday’s protests, including Coptic and Azhar groups, some Shias and the Maspero Youth Union, in addition to the Tagammu, Ghad and Social Justice parties. The Ministry of Interior will heavily deploy security forces on that day in order to protect state buildings and prevent any sabotage attempts, according to the paper.
Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt
Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size
Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run
Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run
Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned
Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned
Al-Watan: Daily, privately owned
Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party
Youm7: Daily, privately owned
Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned
Freedom and Justice: Daily, published by the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party
Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned
Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Nasserist Party
Al-Nour: Official paper of the Salafi Nour Party