Chadian rebels drop out of peace talks
On Saturday, a total of 20 Chadian rebel groups and political parties withdrew from peace talks being held in Doha, the capital of Qatar, with the country’s military government. A few hours earlier, the government of President Mahamat Idriss Déby Itno had set August 20 as the date for the national peace dialogue, which is supposed to pave the way for democratic elections. This date was set without prior consultation and was an attempt to exclude many armed groups and their political allies from the announced dialogue, the rebel groups said. They also accused the government of “harassment, intimidation, threats and disinformation” in their statement. The talks, which are under the mediation of the emirate of Qatar, are supposed to set the framework for the national dialogue, but they had recently stalled repeatedly and so far remained inconclusive. In particular, there is still disagreement over the composition of the organizing committee for the dialogue and over constitutional reforms. Mahamat Déby has exercised his power at the head of both the military and the country since the death of his father, long-term President Idriss Déby, in April of last year. The transitional period of 18 months proclaimed at the time, during which nationwide democratic elections were to be held, expires in September, but the successful transition to a civilian order does not appear to be within reach in the meantime. In view of the lack of progress in the democratization process, the Wakit Tama movement, consisting of civil society and the opposition, regularly organizes protests, some of which are suppressed with state violence. A recently uncovered corruption scandal at the National Hydrocarbons Company, in which high-ranking state officials are alleged to have been involved and in which a sum amounting to 10 % of the state budget was embezzled, is also putting domestic political pressure on ruler Déby. The discontent of the Wakit Tama is directed not only against the military government, but also against France in particular, which, like other Western countries, relies on Chad as an important partner in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel.
Egypt’s President on a visit to Germany
Being a co-host of the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi visited Berlin at the beginning of the week. Representatives from around 40 countries took part in the gathering, which is considered an important preparation for the World Climate Conference (COP 27) to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November. Later on Monday, al-Sisi met with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz for bilateral talks. A few weeks after the signing of the gas agreement between the European Union (EU), Israel and Egypt, (press review CW 24/2022) the focus of local reporting was accordingly on the intensified German-Egyptian cooperation in the energy sector. During their joint appearance, al-Sisi and Scholz emphasised the importance of the bilateral partnership and the collaborative advancement of Egyptian hydrogen production. The resource is considered a milestone towards industrial CO2 neutrality and is also to be produced in Germany in the future. At the same time, however, Scholz pointed out the importance of imports from a diversified portfolio of reliable partner countries including gas supplies from and through Egypt. More than 6.6 million tonnes of gas were exported in 2021 via the coastal cities of Damiette and Idku, where the only liquefaction plants in North Africa that are essential for the export of natural gas are located. This export volume could be doubled this year by utilising the existing infrastructure and hence replace ten percent of Russian gas imports to Europe. In addition to climate and energy issues, regional conflicts and the effects of the Ukraine war also played a role in al-Sisi’s bilateral talks, where he moreover praised the bilateral economic relations. Only in May, another high-tech agreement in Egyptian-German cooperation got signed when Siemens was awarded the contract for the complete renewal of the ailing railway network. Meanwhile, critical voices see the expansion of the Egyptian-German partnership as an indication of decreasing relevance of human rights concerns when energy is scarce, as the human rights situation in the country is considered to be precarious. When asked about this, Al-Sisi invited journalists to come and assess the situation for themselves during his joint appearance with Scholz.
In other news
On Monday, U.S.-based aerospace engineering company Collins Aerospace announced the establishment of a regional supply platform in Morocco. The subsidiary of Raytheon Technologies, which focuses on the manufacturing and distribution of various aerospace components, is strengthening the kingdom’s booming aerospace industry. The agreement between Morocco and the U.S. company calls for Collins Aerospace to install a supply center in the North African country. This is expected to create 800 jobs and generate $1 billion in revenue by 2032. According to the Moroccan Minister of Industry and Trade, the project confirms Morocco’s attractiveness in the high-tech market. Collins Aerospace settled in Casablanca back in 2012 and most recently expanded production in 2019.