Egyptian Chronicles: #Damietta crisis : More than the eye can see

Sunday, November 13, 2011

#Damietta crisis : More than the eye can see

The sit in against Agrium/MOPCO factory in Damietta escalated to violent clashes today between the protesters from civilians and the security forces from another side resulting in the murder of two civilians so far.
The people in Damietta had a sit in for couple of days now closing the Damietta port “One of the main ports in Egypt” as well the highways in the city to protest once again the Agrium/MOPCO factory in the city , the people are demanding this factory to be closed for its environmental bad effects. The army forces were as well the Central security forces “CSF” were there as well.
There were no clashes till today’s early morning when the clashes started with the attack of the security forces “army+police” on the protesters.Many were injured , two at least were killed as live ammunition was used “you will see the photo below of live ammunition” and tens were detained then released under public pressure." The protesters took a small unit from the army as hostages !!" It went from bad to worse to worst
Of course I advise you to search in the archives of April 2008 and May 2008 to know more about the history of our issue here.
According to one of my friends from Damietta , the people have been protesting for three months there against the factory of MOPCO. 
Egyptian air fighters were used to scare the protesters and force them to end their sit in. The air fighters took off from an airbase in Sharkia according to eye witnesses . The protesters set on fire a water station following the MOPCO project on fire.
Here is a photo for the live ammunition used by the security forces.
Live ammunition in Damietta 
Here is a video clip showing allegedly one of the martyrs that were killed in Damietta. “Warning : Graphic content +18”

According to tweeps and activists the people in the city of Damietta took the bodies of the martyrs in a rally through out the city.
From his side the CEO of MOPCO fertilizers company issued a statement to the people of Damietta defending his factory and claiming it does not harm the environment..etc. Medhat Youssef , MOPCO’s CEO claims that the company will respect any decision issued by the Prime minister Sharaf. Youssef also suggested calling experts from WHO to check the factory and its impact on the environment and people’s health.
I am waiting for the statement of SCAF where it blames the escalation and the use of live ammunition on the unknown third party as usual.
Many things are in my mind right now aside from the environmental fair concern of the people in Damietta :
  • The people have been protesting for 3 months , this violent escalation comes just two weeks before the elections that will be held in Damietta “On November 28th”
  • The original fight of Agrium was between Hussein Salem and the new guards in the NDP according to some friends I know , does this have anything to do with what is going on now ?
  • Does this escalation have to do in a way or another with the administrative court order to ban the NDPians from running the elections ? Here I look what is taking place in Damietta , Sohag and Kafr Sheikh , Aswan from protesting and violent clashes. The NDPians use noble causes to escalate matters. People are fed up without doubt , their patience can run but I am sure the NDPians will make sure that their patience run so fast to fulfill the prophecy of their fallen idol Mubarak “Me or Chaos”
  • Economically speaking the sit in has paralyzed the Damietta port which is from the main and most vital ports in Egypt.
I am now getting information that there are more than the eye can see when it comes on what is going on in Damietta , there is no smoke without fire. Economy plus politics plus environment is destructive without doubt.
Ok here is a video for famous lawyer , vice chairman of Al Wasat party speaking about Agrium case.
Essam Sultan speaking about Agrium factory
Now I know that this is the elections season and this can be considered part of Sultan’s electoral campaign especially Sultan is running in Damietta yet you must know that Essam Sultan is the lawyer that filed a lawsuit to close the Agrium factory in Damietta. The court will say its final word in the Agrium/MOPCO factory sage supposedly on November 20th. Interesting date without doubt because this escalation could have taken place after the trial !!
Interestingly enough Sultan accused his old nemesis the Muslim brotherhood of supporting the MOPCO factor as one of the Muslim brotherhood members in Suez is partner in MOPCO.  Sultan also reveals the Agrium/MOPCO’s attorneys are none other than former minister Ahmed Kamel Abu El Maged “!!” and Taher Halmi who is said to be outside the country now.
Tomorrow Monday Sharaf would have a meeting about Agrium. Of course after this terrible escalation , after the blood that was spelt , I believe Agrium factory has no place in Damietta.
There are leaks online that Sharaf and SCAF will issue a decision to close the factory forever. I hope that these are not leaks to calm the people down.

Update :

  • It seems that SCAF has ordered the shut down of the MOPCO factory according to Youm 7 , Masrawy based on MENA news !!
  • The governor of Damietta stated that the MOPCO factory will be closed in 36 hours , the CEO of MOPCO says that the company respects the order but it has not received it 
  • Only one was killed according to news reports "Late Islam" 


  1. Hi Zenobia,

    I will not delve into the politics of the situation but I want people to please understand the economic ramifications of such a decision to close the factory.

    Egypt is in desperate need of economic stimulation mainly coming from foreign investment into the country.

    Mobco/Agrium is an ammonia/urea facility. It is completely environmentally friendly and abides by all local and global environmental legislation, including standards set by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC). IFC environmental standards are known to be the most stringent in the world. This factory is financed by several large European banks that put significant emphasis on compliance with international environmental standards.

    There are at least over 10 other factories identical to this one in Egypt in Suez, Sokhna, Helwan, Alexandria, and Aswan. All these factories were built using the same German technology, the leading technology of this nature globally.

    This company is owned 26% by Agrium, a large Canadian fertilizer company. If the government shuts them down, they will simply go to international arbitration against the Government of Egypt and surely win. This will yet be another devastating loss to the Government which cannot afford anymore such material losses or credibility losses.

    This is a poorly executed decision that will have a negative impact towards the Egyptian economy as the loss of credibility will result in less foreign investment and therefore lower economic growth, making it more difficult for the Government to generate enough revenues to solve the social issues rampant in the country.

    I am more concerned about the future of the country tonight, following this decision (if true) than at any point since the start of the revolution.

    I hope I have been able to provide some context to this serious issue. I do not in anyway condone the violence used by the security forces against the citizens of Damietta. I feel certain individuals who can gain from hurting the Egyptian economy have abused the ignorance (or lack of knowledge) of the Citizens to further hurt the country.


  2. The question is "why they insist to build up the factory in Ras El Bar which is a touristic area? factory there means "stop breathing fresh air,stop swimming and killing Fisheries which is related to Damietta peoples live"
    " Damietta is 0% unemployment .. Damietta is rich with alot of income sources .. a lot of other governorates has no income sources and need such factories. why this place is your target ?
    I know the reason why they selected this location "between the river Nile and the Mediterranean sea"

  3. They selected this location because they need to export the product and therefore require access to a good shipping port North of the Suez Canal. Its that simple. Meeting the required international legislation means that all the emissions are treated before they go into the atmosphere so that people are unaffected. So you can still breath the same fresh air if you want.

    And to everyone on twitter suggesting that the plant is still operating despite the decision to shut them down, please understand there is ammonia in the storage tanks. Ammonia needs to stay at -42 degrees Celsius otherwise it will become a gas and will escape into the atmosphere. That would be an environmental disaster and kill people probably.

    They need to continue to refrigerate the ammonia storage tank so it remains at -42 degrees and this requires certain parts of the factory to continue operating.


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