Wednesday’s papers: Sinai kidnapping dominates headlines, power cuts provoke anger

Sinai kidnapping crisis continues to generate headlines in both Wednesday’s state-owned and independent dailies.

Papers highlight that the Egyptian army "is within reach of victory against the unknown assailants" who abducted seven Egyptian soldiers (four from the army and three from the Central Security Forces) in North Sinai last Thursday.

In their headlines, both state-owned papers Al-Akhbar and Al-Gomhorriya dub the army’s rescue mission “the dignity operation.”

State-run flagship daily Al-Ahram’s lead story states that the army has managed to seize the kidnappers after identifying where the hostages were being held.

An anonymous security source is quoted as saying that the military and police forces have increased their operations on the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip by dispatching 40 armored vehicles in the areas of Sheikh Zuwayed and al-Jura as well as setting up additional roadblocks to seal off any escape routes.

On its front-page, independent daily Al-Shorouk echoes the details of the rescue operation.

However, there is a wide discrepancy between Al-Ahram and Al-Shorouk in terms of the reported number of kidnappers involved. While the former states that they total about 500 gunmen, the latter claims that they add up to only 50.

At the end of its report, Al-Shorouk adds substantial commentary indicating that some "Salafi jihadist" sources, who preferred to stay anonymous, denied any involvement in the hostage crisis, instead “placing the blame on the allies of Hamada Abu Shita, who was convicted of storming a police station in Al-Arish.”

Freedom and Justice, the mouthpiece of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm, highlights in one of its front-page headlines that President Mohamed Morsy categorically refuses to come to the table to resolve the kidnapping issue.

Al-Wafd, the liberal newspaper of the opposition Wafd Party, interprets the president’s stance differently.

According to former Brotherhood leading figure Tharwet al-Kherbawy, negotiations have been conducted between the former leader of Nour Party and current presidential assistant Emad Abdel Ghafour on one side, and the kidnappers on the other, in a bid to reach common ground without the use of military interference.  

Speaking to Al-Wafd, Kherbawy said that he believes Morsy’s stance is merely one of the Muslim Brotherhood's political tactics to increase the popularity of the president which, he says, has dramatically deteriorated in recent times.    

Privately-owned daily Al-Dostour issues a hefty challenge to Morsy's policies by covering a New York Times article that sheds light on the security vacuum in Sinai since President Hosni Mubarak was toppled in February 2011.

Another story making the rounds in today’s local press is the power outages.

“Egypt drowns in the darkness of the ‘renaissance’,” screams the top headline of independent daily Youm7.

The paper provides information about the recent power shortages for each of the country’s governorates.

The extensive report states that the harebrained scheme to reduce electricity consumption has triggered public ire directed at Hesham Qandil's cabinet.

Alexandria residents reportedly blocked off the Corniche road on Tuesday in protest of long power cuts that have been taking place more than three times a day.     

Independent paper Al-Watan dedicates almost an entire page to its exclusive interview with Gerhard Reissner, president of the International Association of Judges.

“The association will not allow any interference in the independence of Egypt’s judiciary,” the paper quotes Reissner as saying.

He also regards the dismissal of prosecutor-general Abdel Maguid Mahmoud as “a crime and a violation of law.”

“The association is considering presenting a report on the these issues to the United Nations…to find an instant solution for preserving the independence of the Judiciary in Egypt,” he concluded.  

On Monday, Reissner was invited to participate in an international conference held by the Egyptian Judges Club and the International Association of Judges, the subject of which concerned the protection of the independence of the Egyptian Judiciary. He was expected to address Egypt’s looming judicial crisis and the alleged infringements against judges.

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