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Arabic press review: Egypt army arrests officers suspected of embezzlement 

Meanwhile, Kuwait cancels 60,000 travel reservations over fears of new Covid-19 variant, and Palestinians call for release of relatives held in Saudi Arabia
Egyptian soldiers stand guard at Cairo University on 25 March 2018 in central Cairo, ahead of March presidential election (AFP/File photo)

Egyptian army arrests officers over corruption

Egyptian security services have recently arrested a number of army officers over illegal profiteering from state-funded projects, according to the London-based newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

The paper cited “well-informed sources” as saying that the army officers have been held at a military prison after an investigation into allegations of corruption perpetrated over the past two years by more than 30 senior army and intelligence officers.

The crackdown included confiscating the assets and funds of a number of other officers, in addition to seizing huge sums of money that the officers' families allegedly acquired illegally due to their involvement in the projects.

The sources stated that the investigations also resulted in the recovery of cash, movable assets and gifts worth two billion Egyptian pounds ($127.2m), according to the newspaper.

The campaign, the sources said, "targeted prominent figures in sectors that are far from the focus of public opinion and the business world”.

The investigations started following instructions issued in November by the office of the President, after receiving a report indicating widespread violations in a large number of recently launched projects implemented by the army.

The sources indicated that the Administrative Control Authority had discovered more than 60 cases of embezzlement among personalities used by the government as a public face for several economic projects. 

Kuwait cancels 60,000 travel reservations 

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Health decided to cancel nearly 60,000 travel reservations with the aim of reducing the number of passengers on flights entering the country as a precautionary measure against the spread of the new Covid-19 variant found in the UK, the Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Qabas reported.

The decision led to a significant increase in flight prices, according to the paper.

A member of the Travel and Tourism Agencies Association (KTTAA), Abdul Rahman al-Kharafi, described the decision as "short-sighted”, explaining that "the flight prices will reach unprecedented levels in the coming days in light of the cancellation of scheduled flights by some companies”.

He continued: "Some people have to return to Kuwait during the period covered by the decision to avoid the expiration of their residence permissions," noting that the price of a single flight ticket will reach 1000 Kuwaiti dinars ($3300) for passengers coming from some nearby countries.

The cancellation decision is expected to continue until 6 February, with the exception of households' workers and transit passengers.

The authorities have resorted to reducing the number of passengers on incoming flights after recording numerous cases of infection with mutated strains of the coronavirus.

On Friday, the Kuwait Civil Aviation Authority issued a decision to reduce the number of passengers per flight to 35, saying that the decision would enter into force starting from Sunday, 24 January.

Families call on Saudi Arabia to release relatives

Families of Palestinian and Jordanian detainees held in Saudi prisons for more than two years called for their release in an interview with the Quds Press news agency. 

The families expressed their concern over the conditions of the prisoners, especially since the visits were almost completely banned since March due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

The head of the committee of the families of Jordanian detainees, Khader Meshayekh, called on the competent authorities in Saudi Arabia to "immediately release the detainees and to quickly complete the court proceedings in a manner that guarantees their release”.

"It is time to close the file of Palestinian and Jordanian detainees in Saudi Arabia,” Meshayekh said.

Saudi authorities launched an arrest campaign against Palestinian citizens two years ago, leading to the detention of 62 people who were charged with joining a terrorist entity by the Saudi public prosecutor in Riyadh.

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