(5 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette
This is the seventh day of protests in Egypt against the repressive Mubarak government. The police have returned to the streets after having been absent for three days leaving only a military presence that did little to stop the protesters.
Excellent interview from Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed’s entire program on CNN was devoted to the situation in Egypt.
(I will post the transcript as soon as it is available)
It’s now late evening, in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s live blog reports that many protesters slept in the streets and in Tahrir Square, some shared their food with the soldiers.
January 30, Cairo, Egypt-In the second day of defiance of a military curfew, more than 150,000 protesters packed into Tahrir Square Sunday to call on President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The mood was celebratory and victorious. For most, it was not a question of if, but when, Mubarak would leave.
Military tanks have been stationed at entrance points around the square with soldiers forming barricades across streets and alleyways. In another departure from ordinary Cairo life, people quickly formed orderly queues to get through the army checkpoints. Soldiers frisked people and checked their identification cards. One soldier said they were making sure no one with police or state security credentials could enter.
Reports are widespread that many of the looters in Cairo are, in fact, remnants of the police and state security forces that were forced into a full retreat during Friday’s mass street revolt. In addition, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners were released from prisons in Fayyoum and Tora. Many believe it’s all part of an organized campaign by the regime to create lawlessness in the city in a last gasp attempt to maintain its grip on power. The headline of Al-Masry Al-Youm today blared: “Conspiracy by Interior Ministry to Foment Chaos.”
Just when you need a laugh category: Somebody at Fox News failed Geography.
* Al Arabiya’s transmissions have been intermittent, possibly due to heavy internet traffic, Internet is only available in Egypt through dial-up. (yes, I know the link is in Arabic. I’m having difficulty accessing their English language site)
* Train service has been cut, most likely in anticipation of the million person march tomorrow that was organized by the youth group, April 6. Youth groups have also issued a deadline for the army to take sides.
* The Guardian reports that the military has detained about 50 people over the last two days for looting and trespassing at Egyptian National Museum. They say that “there have been concerns that some reports of looting have been exaggerated to give an impression of lawlessness.”
* Former US President Jimmy Carter has called for Mubarak to leave.
* The protests are having a negative impact on the Egyptian economy and world wide have caused a spike in fuel prices, crude oil futures have soared above $100 a barrel.
* The European Union has urged “the Egyptian authorities to embark on an orderly transition to a broad-based government with full respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
* Evacuation flights have started to depart Cairo for Cyprus and Turkey.
* The Associated press has two reports that Israel has given Egypt permission to It has urged “the Egyptian authorities to embark on an orderly transition to a broad-based government with full respect for the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms”.
The other article says says Israeli pundits are ready to blame Barack Obama if Mubarak is toppled. LOL. The Egyptian people would disagree with that.
* The White House met today with Egyptian experts to convey their position on Egypt. One of the experts at the meeting told Politico, “While the administration is considering various options — including the possibility of at some point telling Mubarak privately it’s time to leave — ‘I don’t think they are there yet.’ ”
* This “raw” video shows thousands of Egyptians gathered in central Cairo on Monday, joining many who had spent the night sprawled on the grass or in colourful tents as protesters are stepping up pressure on Mubarak to leave office.
* Egyptians have pride in their country even as Egyptian state television focused on reports of looting and vandalism, in an apparent effort to cast the demonstrators as violent anarchists, several Egyptian bloggers have been attempting to counteract that impression by pointing proudly to examples of government opponents maintaining order and even bringing along brooms to clean up after themselves.
From The Guardian:
* At the White House press briefing, Gibbs is asked: so what is the orderly transition in Egypt that the US is calling for? Negotiations with a broad cross-section of the Egyptian people, including the current government, he replies.
(a) journalist asks if the US government has been in direct contact with Mohamed ElBaradei? :
Gibbs: “Obviously the embassy has been in touch with him in the past. Obviously he is someone, along with a whole host of people in non-governmental voices … that we are regularly in touch with. I believe that they [US diplomats] will continue to reach out to figures like him.”
Q: Has the government spoken to ElBaradei within the last week?:
Gibbs: “Last week? Not that I’m aware of, at least when I came in here.”
Q: Would the US government be comfortable with Islamists in power, for example the Muslim Brotherhood, in Egypt?
Gibbs: “I think, from what we can see, it’s not accurate to say that those protesting are made up of one particular group or one particular ideology. I think it is clear that an increase in democratic representation has to include a whole host of important non-secular actors.”
Q: could the US work with the Muslim Brotherhood in power?
Gibbs: “We do not have contact with them, and we have, as we have throughout the world, standards for that contact… adherence to the law, adherence to non-violence and a willingness to be part of a democratic process and not simply use those process [to win power].”
* From Al Jazeera:
Explicit confirmation comes before Tuesday’s “march of millions” to force President Hosni Mubarak to step down.
In a statement on Monday it said “freedom of expression” was guaranteed to all citizens using peaceful means.
It was the first such explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators who have taken to the streets of Egypt and comes a day before before Tuesday’s “march of millions” to mark the seventh day of the protests as anti-government sentiment reaches fever pitch.
* Reaction to the White House announcment, Martin Indyk at Brookings tells Al Jazeera that the bottom line for the US is a peaceful transfer of power:
“But you have to read in between the lines. The White House does not want to be seen as leading the charge here – pulling the rug out from under Mubarak”
* Protesters remain camped out in Tahrir Square from a variety of political and demographic groups. Despite the insecurity and danger prevalent in Egypt’s capital, an Al Jazeera correspondent on the ground says that the sense of community feels like a “giant sleepover in the square in the middle of Cairo”.
* I wiil quote the full comment as this is not good news
10.49pm GMT: I’ve just had confirmation that Noor, the only Egyptian internet service provider to dodge the government’s internet shutdown since Friday, has now also succumbed and has gone dark.
The speculation was that Noor had been allowed to remain in operation because it supplied data links to Egypt’s stock exchange and other critical parts of the national infrastructure, including airports. Quite what happens now is a mystery.
A visit to the stock exchange’s website, www.egyptse.com, turns up a “server not found” message. The stock exchange is closed tomorrow, because of the protests, so the government may have decided to take the risk and shut down the last ISP.
10.56pm GMT: One way to get around Egypt’s internet blackout: the engineers at Google have helped build a new “speak-to-tweet” feature for those in Egypt who want to get their message out.
From Google’s blog:
Like many people we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground. Over the weekend we came up with the idea of a speak-to-tweet service – the ability for anyone to tweet using just a voice connection.
We worked with a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company we acquired last week, to make this idea a reality. It’s already live and anyone can tweet by simply leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and the service will instantly tweet the message using the hashtag #egypt. No Internet connection is required. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet.
We hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time. Our thoughts are with everyone there.
11pm GMT: Renesys, a US internet monitoring firm, has traffic data showing Noor’s disappearance from the internet, as Egypt’s last functioning internet service provider shuts down.
* Network anchors, cable hosts head to Egypt, celebrity news anchors Katie Couric of NBC and Brian Williams of NBC are en route to Cairo. CNN’s Anderson Cooper – America’s disaster-zone equivalent of the BBC’s Kate Adie – is already there. Heh, Christiane Amanpour has been there since Saturday.
* The pro Mubarak demonstrators are outside the information ministry, with a nearby resident telling al-Jazeera English that they only amounted to 300 or so people gathered near the building. State Egyptian state television is showing footage of the pro-Mubarak demonstrators, claiming that they are numbered in the “thousands”.
* The Guardian’s lead for tomorrow’s print edition is now up, and it focuses on the huge rally set for tomorrow and the army’s vow not to use force against protesters.
* Bill Nelson, the Democratic senator for Florida, has a comment piece in The Hill newspaper in Washington DC:
Mr Mubarak will have to go – but not without an exit strategy that prevents the government from falling and leaving the door open for extremists.
* CNN is saying that cell phone connections have been cut as well as the internet.