Thursday, January 25

Thursday, January 25

INDEPENDENCE TO IRONY Egypt marks anniversary of revolution with protests against oppression Today will mark the seventh anniversary of the

INDEPENDENCE TO IRONY

Egypt marks anniversary of revolution with protests against oppression

Sisi anniversary

Photo: Getty

Today will mark the seventh anniversary of the Egyptian revolution that overthrew Hosni Mubarak. Although declared a holiday, the state has increased police presence in anticipation of nationwide protests.

For many, today’s anniversary is steeped in irony. President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi won the 2014 election in a landslide victory after helping overthrow Mohamed Morsi from office the previous year. Since then he has moved the country back into the clutches of tyranny and has drawn accusations of human rights violations.

Last week, Mr Sisi expectedly announced his bid for re-election. His opponent’s campaigns have thus far been hindered, from being refused hotel rooms to arrested. Due to this lack of major competition, Sisi will almost certainly win the March vote.

In the coming weeks, expect the opposition to capitalise on the non-competitive election, leading protests across the country. Despite the outcry of the people, Sisi has the support of the military and is unlikely to be shaken from power.

AFRICA’S SKIES OPEN

African Union foreign ministers meet as single aviation market beckons

Africa skies open

Photo: Mango

Representatives of 55 African countries will congregate in Addis Ababa today for the AU executive council meeting to discuss, among other matters, the continent’s long-awaited single air transport market on January 28.

The plan, originally agreed to in the Yamoussoukro Decision in 1999, has only now come to fruition after years of glacial implementation. It will allow the opening up of national air markets to foreign competition in the 23 participating countries, which, up to now, had mostly protectionist policies to shelter their national carriers.

The open skies market will likely facilitate growth in air travel on a continent that has 12% of the world’s population but only 1% of its aviation market. Easier access for foreign airlines is likely to push up competition and drive down prices, facilitating economic growth in key sectors, like tourism. It is touted as creating 300,000 direct and 2 million indirect jobs.

However, any growth will continue to be limited by airlines’ going out of business and non-participating countries’ visa and air route restrictions—mostly smaller countries fearing competition will bankrupt their homegrown airlines.

FORK IN ROAD TO DAMASCUS

UN-brokered Syrian peace talks resume

UN Syria talks

Photo: UN/Jean-Marc Ferré

The major parties to the Syrian conflict will resume talks in Vienna today as parallel Russian-backed talks in Sochi next week near.

Previous UN talks, including the last in Geneva, have failed to find consensus. The Syrian government and opposition remain at odds. To date, the opposition has steadfastly refused to entertain any participation in the Russian meetings—which have been going on since early 2017—but a major opposition group has this week softened its stance, wanting “full and clear information” before considering joining the Sochi talks. However, this more likely a move to pressure the UN to force Assad to end the war.

Sochi represents the ongoing failure of the UN peace process, which has been exacerbated by the recent Turkish military operations in northern Syrian city of Afrin against the Syrian-Kurds. Expect the UN to seek a breakthrough in Vienna, such as a timeline for new elections. A bonus achievement would be agreement on key parts of a post-war constitution. Despite the glacial progress, the opposition parties are likely to remain with the UN talks.