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Arabic press review: Egypt expects 'breakthrough' for political prisoners

Meanwhile, former Yemeni minister blasts Saudi Arabia, Oman seeks release of detained citizens in UAE, and Houthi attacks on Saudi soil escalate
Egypt's al-Qanatir women's prison, at the tip of the Nile delta in Qalyoubiya province (AFP)

'Imminent breakthrough' for Egypt's political prisoners

Government and security sources in Egypt say the issue of political detainees "will see a breakthrough soon, but to a restricted and limited degree," the London-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed reported.

Egyptian authorities have in recent days released journalists Khaled Daoud, Solafa Magdy and Hossam Al-Sayyad, all of whom were in pre-trial detention without any conviction issued against them by the courts.

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According to the sources, the "anticipated breakthrough" comes following the advice of various political and trade union leaders close to those in power, especially the director of general intelligence, Major General Abbas Kamel, who advised the authorities to take serious steps to solve the situation.

The sources revealed that the emphasis in the first phase of the "late" security response to Kamel's advice will include the release of a limited number of political detainees, journalists and left-wing activists.

According to various rights groups, thousands of political prisoners languish in Egypt's jails, many of them in pre-trial detention. Those imprisoned include opponents of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi from across the political spectrum. Most of the detainees are supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, but many are left-wing and liberal critics of the Sisi government.

Former Yemeni minister hits out at Saudis 

Yemen's former transport minister, Saleh al-Jabwani, has accused Saudi Arabia of complicity in the refusal of the UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council (STC) to implement the Riyadh Agreement.

According to Arabi21, al-Jabwani said that "the implemented agreement in Riyadh concerns the legitimate Yemeni authority and falls within the interest of the Transitional Council, but as for the important part of the agreement, which is the security and military aspect, the council refused to adhere to it".

The former Yemeni official explained that the Saudi government did not take action "either out of incompetence or complicity," noting that "both possibilities are terrible".

On 16 March, demonstrators loyal to the STC stormed the Maashiq Presidential Palace in protest against the poor living conditions in Yemen and the deterioration of the local currency, without any response from the palace guards, while Prime Minister Maeen Abdulmalik and a number of ministers were still inside the premises.

Oman seeks release of citizens detained in UAE

Oman's authorities are seeking the release of two Omani citizens imprisoned in the UAE, following trials denounced by international human rights organisations.

An informed Omani source said that the government's moves to release its citizens detained in the UAE come within the framework of its "commitment to follow up on the conditions of Omanis abroad, and the legal problems they face," the Omani Atheer newspaper reported.

The source pointed out that the government endeavour came "in response to appeals from the families of those citizens".

The newspaper suggested that the Omani citizen Abdullah bin Awad al-Shamsi, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the UAE, is among those to be released, along with one of his imprisoned relatives.

Al-Shamsi's mother sent a message in mid-January to the wife of the Sultan of Oman, Haitham bin Tarik, asking to ​​save her son and end his suffering.

A human rights organisation revealed that last May a court in Abu Dhabi sentenced al-Shamsi to 25 years in prison for "spying for Qatar" after he was arrested for 19 months, six months of which he spent in illegal detention facilities.

Houthis escalate missile attacks on Saudi soil

More than 37 explosive aircraft and ballistic missiles have been launched by Houthi forces from Yemen towards Saudi cities and facilities since Riyadh announced its initiative to end the war in Yemen on 23 March, according to a report published by Asharq Al-Awsat.

The London-based newspaper reported that the Houthi escalation coincided with the continued attack on the city of Marib in Yemen and the targeting of civilians and refugee camps with artillery and ballistic missiles, which exacerbated the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in the country.

Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed Awad bin Mubarak called for greater international pressure to force the Houthis to de-escalate and adhere to the peace track.

UN special envoy Martin Griffiths and Tim Lenderking, the US special envoy for Yemen, are conducting intensive consultations with various Yemeni, regional and international parties to formulate a possible peace agreement, according to Asharq Al-Awsat.

*Arabic press review is a digest of reports that are not independently verified as accurate by Middle East Eye