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Arabic press review: Brand new Egyptian military group formed to protect Sisi

Forces in the new group have also reportedly carried out intelligence operations in Libya and Syria. In Algeria, 300,000 companies face bankruptcy, threatening nearly a million jobs
The new military group is reportedly focused on preventing coup attempts against Sisi (AFP)

Intelligence force for Sisi

The Egyptian government has quietly formed a new military apparatus to protect President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and prevent any coup attempts against him, London-based newspaper Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed reports.

High-ranking sources told the news outlet that the General Intelligence Security (GIS) is affiliated with the intelligence service already serving Sisi and its establishment was overseen by Major General Abbas Kamel when he was director of Sisi’s office before heading the General Intelligence Service, the main Egyptian intelligence agency.

Last week, masked people wearing military uniforms tagged with GIS to indicate their affiliation to the new military group, appeared in footage as former Egyptian special officer Hisham Ashmawy, accused of being behind several attacks in Egypt since 2013, was extradited from Libya.

One of the sources told Al-Arabi Al-Jadeed that members of the group "have a set of tasks, which include securing the president of the republic and reviewing his protection plans, as well as securing and protecting a number of the country’s high-ranking officials".

"These forces are also responsible for securing vital facilities and fighting cross-border terrorism," the source was quoted as saying.

Sources also said that the new special forces have carried out intelligence and combat operations in Libya and Syria, and supervised the interrogation of Egyptians involved in the ongoing conflict in Syria.

Algeria: almost a million jobs at risk

An estimated 300,000 Algerian companies focused on public works are on the verge of bankruptcy, threatening the jobs of the 900,000 employees who work for them, Algerian newspaper Echorouk el-Yawmi reports.

The potential crisis comes after the government froze contract bidding and related transactions to investigate companies involved in corruption cases following the start of widespread protests in February.

Contractors have reportedly not received money they are owed for the past five months although the former prime minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, had pledged to pay them. The contractors are now calling on the government to intervene.

A member of the National Federation of Employers Organisation and the representative of Algerian contractors, Fazaz Zakir, told Echorouk el-Yawmi that the suffering of the companies is unlikely to last long - because they will soon be insolvent. 

Rash of Syrian shop closures in Lebanon

Lebanese authorities have been harshly criticised over a recent increase in the closure of shops and firms run by Syrians without work permits, but the Ministry of Labour has justified the move as an issue of law enforcement, according to Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

Labour Minister Kamil Abu Suleiman denied that the measures were aimed at harassing Syrians and forcing them to return home, telling the paper that no one was specifically targeted, nor are the labour laws new.

"The law has not been applied before, but it is being enforced now," Abu Suleiman said.

Some of the Syrians without permits whose shops were closed are married to Lebanese women or have Lebanese mothers who were living in the country before the beginning of the crisis, Asharq al-Awsat reported.

All Syrians in Lebanon are required to obtain a permit in order to work. This law has not been applied in the past, but it has recently been activated amid discussions in the country about the repercussions of Syrian displacement and calls for Syrians to return home.

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