Egypt Independent

Wednesday’s papers: Conflict at home and abroad

Scenes of bloody clashes between Tahrir protesters and police forces are back filling the front pages of local newspapers, accompanied by ongoing coverage of the escalating conflict between Israel and Gaza, a contentious IMF loan and constitution-drafting troubles.

Privately owned Youm7 describes the Mohamed Mahmoud Street clashes as "a comeback for the battles of fire and blood."  The violence broke out Monday night as demonstrators marked the one-year anniversary of protests against the then-ruling military council in which 45 people died.

Dozens of protesters blocked Qasr al-Aini Street, according to the newspaper, while police forces used tear gas to disperse them. Judicial sources told Youm7 that the chief public prosecutor has ordered investigations of the clashes after security forces arrested 19 protesters allegedly involved in assaulting police. Medical sources also said 44 protesters were transferred to the Mounira Hospital and Gaber Ahmed, member of April 6 Youth Movement, is being treated in Qasr al-Aini Hospital after being shot in the head.

Private daily Al-Watan runs a photo of an injured Gaber with blood covering his face. The newspaper says the public prosecutor has ordered security cameras in Tahrir Square inspected. The paper also quotes security sources as confirming that nine officers and 20 soldiers were injured during fighting, and additionally quotes them as saying that they used restraint when dealing with protesters.

State-owned Al-Ahram completely sidelines coverage of the clashes, electing to focus on Egypt's efforts to end Israeli aggression on Gaza. The newspaper says Egypt's reconciliation efforts have been successful, despite Israel's continuing bombardment of the enclave and Gaza's return rocket fire.

In contrast to a promising headline quoting Hamas spokesperson Ayman Taha on the Egyptian-brokered truce, the newspaper also quotes in the report's first paragraph Israeli spokesperson Mark Regev as saying no final agreement has been reached.

Al-Watan says in its headline that the Israeli aggression escalates as Egypt is racing against time to reach a truce. The paper quotes President Mohamed Morsy as claiming the "Israeli aggression farce" will end today.

In contradiction with Morsy's promises, the newspaper quotes sources close to both conflicting parties who confirm final negotiations are deadlocked as the two sides refuse to budge on their truce conditions.

Covering domestic affairs, privately owned Al-Shorouk says Egypt is expected to approve a US$4.8 billion loan from the IMF as negotiations wrap up. As part of the loan conditions, the government will likely be forced to decrease the budget deficit to 8.5 percent.

Youm7 quotes Prime Minister Hesham Qandil as saying the wealthy will bear the burden of the loan. Planning and International Cooperation Minister Ashraf al-Araby says the government has designed a national economic program to attract $14.5 billion in aid by the end of 2014, a figure which includes the IMF loan, the paper reports.

State-owned Al-Akhbar writes that the government says its first priority is to achieve social justice after receiving the loan. The paper quotes Araby as saying the government aims to redistribute resources for the sake of the poor and to increase government spending on programs that have a social welfare element, as well as increasing state investments to LE55.6 million.

Al-Shorouk also covers "Final attempts to contain the Constituent Assembly crisis," referring to meetings conducted by the Freedom and Justice Party with the assembly members who withdrew in protest. The party is reportedly trying to convince those forces to return to the body and help it reach consensus over debated articles. Minister of State for Legal Affairs and assembly member Mahmoud Mahsoub says he will meet with church representative to understand why they withdrew from the assembly and convince them to come back as well.

The paper also quotes former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahi who says that his Popular Current electoral campaign supports secular forces as they challenge Islamist domination of the constitution-writing process.

Freedom and Justice, the party newspaper, leads with the embroiled Constituent Assembly. In its lead story, the Muslim Brotherhood mouthpiece says that the allegations of the members who withdrew from the assembly are unfounded and exaggerated. The paper quotes liberal journalist Wael Qandil claiming that those who withdrew acknowledged that the draft constitution is the best one the assembly has come up with.

Egypt’s papers:

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

Al-Sabah: 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