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Sunday, January 30, 2011

New province won’t weaken country: Altaf

By Mahnoor Sherazee
Published: January 31, 2011
Workers of the MQM present a dance show during the Yaume Yakjahti event in Karachi. PHOTO: INP
KARACHI:
The government needs to pay attention to people calling for provincial status for their regions, chief of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement Altaf Hussain said on Sunday. “The formation of Seraikistan will not weaken the country,” he said.

He was addressing a massive crowd on the occasion of the Yaume Yakjahti or the Day of Unity at the Jinnah Ground in Federal B Area, close to the party’s headquarters.

Warning the country’s elite of a “revolution in the making just like one being witnessed in Egypt”, Altaf Hussain told the feudal lords to beware of an upheaval brewing “right in front of their eyes”.

Hussain went on to urge the “men in uniform” to support the people “who will embrace them fervently if they supported them”, otherwise they would face the same fate awaiting the feudals and landowners.

“People ask me what does revolution mean? My response to them is simple: revolution is what we are seeing in this ground today (people of various ethnicities from across the country gathered under a common banner). This is a revolution in itself,” Hussain told the chanting crowd.

He said that such a large number of people “can never be gathered at gunpoint”, adding that even if his party had arms, it would not have had enough of them to “fill the ground to its capacity”.

“MQM does have arms, but its guns, rocket launchers and cannons do not kill because their ammunition is peace. We want peace and unity in the country.”

Ridiculing people who constantly talk about democracy in the country, he said the constitution of the assemblies have essentially remained unchanged since the country’s inception. “The same feudal keep occupying the assembly seats…and now their children have come to loot

Stressing the need for forging national unity, Hussain said that “this feeling has evaded us since independence”.

In his hour-long speech, Hussain dwelled on various issues, like comparing the US diplomats’ status with that of Aafia Siddiqui to minorities’ rights to a revolution against looters and the corrupt.

Highlighting the importance of merit, Hussain said that no one was above anyone else because of his skin colour, social status, cast, sect, religious beliefs or geographical area.

He urged the Urdu-speaking community to “tell Pakhtun, Baloch, Sindhi, Punjabi communities and people beolonging to minorities that they are your big brothers and you are their younger brothers”.

“The aim is to spread peace and unity and our efforts (of reaching out to all ethnicities) should be preserved and protected.”

Urging feudal landlords to mend their ways and stop torturing the poor, he said that the day “is not far when the man on the street will wring their necks”.

“People who loot and plunder will be publicly hanged,” he proclaimed.

“I did not care for landlords before, and I do not care for them now,” he said. “Beware,” he warned, “Altaf Hussain is here to bring a revolution.”

Highlighting his party’s political ambitions, he said MQM is “built upon democracy, using socialism for bricks and controlled privatisation and capitalism are its decor”.

Referring to the Lahore incident in which a US diplomat’s rampage had resulted in the death of three people, he said, Pakistan should not succumb to American pressure, adding that it should “demand respect and command equal standing”.

On the fiscal front, he said: “Spending on protocol needs to be controlled, as do ludicrous expenses made by bureaucrats, otherwise no one will be able to stop a revolution which will sweep everything away.”

Among those who addressed the gathering before Hussain spoke from London on phone was minister Nadia Gabol who addressed the crowd in Balochi. She said that while people preached of providing ‘roti, kapra and makan’, who would give the people other essential necessities like ‘gas, water and electricity’.

Deputy convenor of MQM’s Rabita Committee and MNA Dr Farooq Sattar praised the solidarity showed by youth at the Jinnah Ground and quoted a verse: “Hum dushman ko bhi pakeeza saza daitay hain. Haath uthatay nahin, nazroon se gira daitay hain.”

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.

Former generals lock horns in multi-billion-rupee scam

Former generals lock horns in multi-billion-rupee scam
By Rauf Klasra
Published: January 31, 2011
Ex-Railways Minister General Qazi claims he had nothing to do with awarding the contract to a foreign firm but former secretary PR General Saeed disagrees.
ISLAMABAD: Two former generals who controlled Pakistan Railways during General Pervez Musharraf’s regime (1999-2002) – Lt General Javed Ashraf Qazi and Lt General Saeeduz-Zafar – have now contradicted each other in their written statements before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, which will resume its hearing on Monday (today) in a multi billion rupees scam.

The scam relates of the lease of 141 acres of land to a foreign firm for construction of Royal Palm and Country Club in the heart of Lahore, as ex-Railways Minister General Qazi claimed that he had nothing to do with the decision to award contract but former secretary PR General Saeed disclosed that the “correct decision was taken with the knowledge and consent of [the then railways minister] General Qazi”.

Lt General Qazi, Lt General Zafar and Major General Hamid Hassan Butt (GM Railways), who would appear before Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhary on Monday to explain their roles in the deal, have joined hands in shifting the blame onto the shoulders of low ranking officials of Pakistan Railways, who were members of the Evaluation Committee, which according to these retired generals, had actually negotiated and finalised the deal with the foreign party.

These three retired army generals who were at the helms of PR during Musharraf’s rule at different positions, have also protested that the Pakistan Army was being defamed by those who had filed petitions in the court, as two of the respondents, were members of Evaluation Committee, which inked the deal.

These retired generals have also defended the whole deal and termed it the best in Pakistan’s interests. They have also defended the deal and said it was in best the interests of Pakistan railways.

A three member SC bench presided over by the chief justice would resume its hearing on Monday (today) on the case after admitting a writ petition filed by former minister Ishaq Khan Khakwani and Dr Mubashir Hassan.

Former chairman senate Wasim Sajjad has been hired by Lt General Qazi while Ahmer Bilal Sofi will represent Lt General Zafar, Major General Hamid Hassan Butt, and former federal secretary Khurshid Alam Khan.

Former chief justice of the Lahore High Court Justice Allah Nawaz is appearing on behalf of Khakwani and Dr Hassan.

The Evaluation Committee comprised Director Marketing, Director Land and Property, Brig Akthar Ali Baig and then divisional superintendent. The names of Director Marketing Khalid Naqi and Aslam Alam were said to be also part of the team which signed the deal.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 31st, 2011.

Israeli court jails Hezbollah spy for nine years

30 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


JERUSALEM, Jan 30 (Reuters) - An Israeli court sentenced an Israeli-Arab human rights activist to nine years in prison on Sunday after convicting him last year of spying for the Lebanese guerrilla group Hezbollah.

Amir Makhoul had confessed to the spying charge as part of a plea bargain at Haifa District Court, which added a further year's suspended sentence to the nine years behind bars. The court dropped a separate charge carrying a much longer sentence.

In passing sentence, the court said: "(The accused), an Israeli citizen, chose willingly and with cognisance, apparently due to nationalistic motives, to aid Israel's most bitter enemies."

Makhoul was director of Ittijah, the Union of Arab Community Based Organisations, a network of Arab NGOs in Israel. He initially pleaded not guilty but agreed to enter a new plea in exchange for reduced charges, and to drop his previous complaints of maltreatment while under interrogation.

Israeli human rights groups accused Israel of denying Makhoul due process at the time of his arrest last April, saying he was refused access to a lawyer for 12 days and that a court gagging order barred publication of his arrest for days.

In October the three-judge panel at the Haifa court found Makhoul guilty of passing information to Hezbollah on the location of several secret installations in Israel and of passing information on various other matters to the group.

Israel and the Iranian-allied Lebanese group fought a 34-day war in 2006, in which 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and 158 Israelis, mostly soldiers, were killed. (Writing by Ori Lewis; editing by Tim Pearce)

"Killing their children and then committing suicide is common,"

US Army man's wife kills her children
Sun Jan 30, 2011 1:8PM
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A Tampa Police officer escorts Julie Schenecker to jail on Friday. AP PhotoAn American mother has confessed to shooting dead her two teenage children in the state of Florida and is being charged with two counts of first degree murder.


Police were alerted when the suspect's mother in Texas told police she was unable to reach her family in Florida.

50-year-old Julie Schenecker was found at her home in New Tampa by police covered in blood -- with her 13-year-old son shot dead in the car in the family's garage, and her 16-year-old daughter in an upstairs room.

The Herald and Weekly Times reported that Schenecker shot her son, Powers Beau Schenecker, twice in the head while driving back to their home on Thursday night. She then proceeded to shoot her daughter, Calyx Powers Schenecker, upon arriving home.
Police said Schenecker has confessed that she killed her children because, "they talked back, they were mouthy."

She had reportedly left a detail note specifying that she planned to commit suicide after killing her children.

Schenecker -- the wife of a colonel in the US Army intelligence who was in Qatar -- has since been hospitalized after being taken to the Hillsborough County Jail to be charged, AFP stated.

"Killing their children and then committing suicide is common," says Kathleen Heide, a professor of criminology at the University of South Florida.

"This is a sign of overwhelming despair. They usually have a major depression with psychosis,” the Tampa Tribune quoted Heide as saying.

Girl with girl cheating OK, half of boyfriends say

Thu Jan 27, 2011 7:10pm GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+] By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Half of men would forgive their female partner's infidelity(Unfaithfulness to a sexual partner, especially a spouse.
), as long as it was with another woman, according to a new study on cheating.

Women, however, were less likely to forgive and forget if their boyfriend had been with another man, the University of Texas at Austin study showed.

Researchers asked 718 college students to imagine being in a long-term relationship and what their reactions would be to several different cheating scenarios.

They found that overall, 50 percent of men would likely continue a relationship with a woman who had a dalliance with another woman, while 22 percent said they could forgive betrayal with another man.

For women, the results were reversed. If their boyfriend cheated with another woman, 28 percent said they'd keep him around, but only 21 percent said they would if he cheated with another man.

Published this month in the journal "Personality and Individual Differences," the study concluded the participant's reactions were based on basic jealousy instincts.

"A robust jealousy mechanism is activated in men and women by different types of cues -- those that threaten paternity(The state of being a father; fatherhood.
) in men and those that threaten abandonment(Abandonment is a legal term describing the failure of a non-custodial parent to provide support to his or her children according to the terms approved by a court of law. In common use, abandonment refers to the desertion of a child by a parent.

) in women," said Jaime Confer, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate in evolutionary psychology.

Men, they said, felt more threatened by a rival male because of paternity uncertainty, whereas they saw a female partner's homosexual affair as "an opportunity to mate with more than one woman simultaneously, satisfying men's greater desire for more partners."
Mark Cloud, one of the study co-authors, stressed in an interview that the homosexual infidelity scenario they asked participants to imagine was very rare in reality.

So, the researchers asked participants about their real experiences with cheating. There again, men showed less tolerance of cheating than women.

"Men were significantly more likely than women to have ended their actual relationships following a partner's affair," according to the study.

(Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

Chinese ready for upheaval and sex in Year of the Rabbit

Fri Jan 28, 2011 9:09am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+]
1 of 1Full SizeBy Ben Blanchard and Michael Martina
BEIJING (Reuters) - The Chinese Year of the Rabbit promises to bring political upheaval from restless youth and sex scandals for the amorous, but in China the government is at least likely to bring inflation under control.

Twelve animals make up the traditional Chinese zodiac, with each year having its own peculiar and unique beliefs, some specific to certain provinces, such as being an auspicious time to give birth or open a new business.

The rabbit is believed to be one of the happiest signs, with people born in that year renowned for their kindness, reliability and loyalty, though with an air of mystery and propensity to cry.

"The Rabbit represents mid-spring when trees and plants are prospering," said Raymond Lo, a Hong Kong-based feng shui master.

"It represents youth, motion and activity and so it will be an energetic year with new movements of young people and more young people demanding changes and reform in politics," he added.



The rabbit, whose year begins on February 3 and is marked by a week-long holiday in China, is also known for romance.

"As such, it will be a year of more sex scandals and sexual affairs," Lo said.

A-list Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, both of whom are rabbits, born in 1963 and 1975 respectively, may be taking a risk if they choose the coming year to finally tie the knot, said well-known Taiwan fortune teller Chan Wei-chung.

==

"Angelina Jolie has two guardian gods, which means one will make sure that her career will flow like a fish in water, and she will make a great fortune. The other god will take care of her relationship," he told Reuters.

"She is very stable in her relationship and won't be too influenced by it; she will be very relaxed about it. But the one who will feel pressure and discomfort, who is likely to feel hurt and want to escape, will be her partner, Brad Pitt."

Economically, China will finally manage to get inflation under control in the second half of the year, CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets said in its light-hearted annual outlook based on the ancient Chinese art of feng shui.

TRADITION AND SUPERSTITION

While such traditional beliefs are widespread in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the overseas Chinese world, they have been discouraged by the officially atheist Communist Party in mainland China.

Yet superstition is common in China, and certain popular beliefs have surged in popularity following landmark economic reforms started in the late 1970s.

Chinese cities will resound with firecrackers and fireworks during the festival, which are believed to scare off evil spirits and attract the god of wealth to people's doorsteps.

There are many taboos too. Washing your hair signifies washing away good luck, while the word for "four" is avoided, as it sounds like the word for "death."

"My father says we can't pick up the red fireworks casings from the ground in the courtyard. If we leave them it will be a good omen(A phenomenon supposed to portend good or evil; a prophetic sign.
) for next year and everyone will get wealthy," said Wang Fang, 24, a Beijing accountant.

=
Feng Rongxin, a 52-year-old Beijing office worker, said people born in the Year of the Rabbit must wear red clothing and jewellery to ensure good fortune, and that setting the right atmosphere at home was important.

"In my family, we'll make sure the house has a decorative rabbit feel. We'll put at least one rabbit (decoration) in the house for each member of the family, and with 14 people, that's a lot of rabbits," she said.

Chinese pet shops are reporting a brisk trade in the animals.

"Rabbits are easy to take care of. People who frequently travel for business are especially fond of owning rabbits," said rabbit seller Chen Yuan.

But People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals objects.

"There's no better time to help rabbits than during the Year of the Rabbit, and you can do so by refusing to support the pet trade that causes so many animals to suffer," the group's Maggie Chen said.

(Additional reporting by Haze Fan, and Ben Tai in Taipei)

Ben Ali's relative seeks refugee status

Sun Jan 30, 2011 7:20AM
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Tunisia's ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's brother-in-law Belhassen Trabelsi. The billionaire brother-in-law of Tunisia's ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has sought refugee status in Canada following the revolution in the North African country.


Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said Saturday that Belhassen Trabelsi, who is the eldest brother of Ben Ali's wife, wants to stay in Canada as a refugee.

"I understand that there has been a request for refugee status," Cannon said in an interview with the CBC News Network.

Trabelsi fled to the Montreal area with his family after Ben Ali was ousted in a popular uprising on January 14.

"We've indicated that these people are not welcome in Canada, but obviously that having been stated, Canada is nonetheless a country that has legislation," the Canadian minister said. "We do abide by the rule of law."
Cannon said Trabelsi, "as well as the members of his family, do have the possibility to use the legislation that is in place to go before the courts and make his case."

Tunisia has urged Canadian authorities to arrest Trabelsi and extradite him. Reports say Ottawa has already revoked the billionaire's permanent residency status, saying Tunisia's former ruling clan is not welcome in the country.

Trabelsi reportedly left the Chateau Vaudreuil, a hotel west of Montreal, on Thursday for an undisclosed location, where he was to be questioned by officials.


He had been staying at the hotel since arriving in Montreal by his private jet last week.

Ben Ali and his family fled to Saudi Arabia on January 14 after days of street protests put an end to his 23-year rule.

The international police agency (Interpol) had earlier issued a global arrest warrant for Ben Ali and six of his family members including his wife, Leila Trabelsi.

Tunisian Justice Minister Lazhar Karoui Chebbi said that Ben Ali and his relatives are wanted on charges of illegally taking money out of the country and acquiring real estate and other assets abroad.

Citing information received from the French secret services, the French newspaper, Le Monde, disclosed on January 17 that Leila Trabelsi took 1.5 tons of gold worth more than 45 million Euros out of the country before the collapse of Ben Ali's regime.
Thirty-three members of his family have already been detained in Tunisia for abusing their power and position to increase their wealth.

Tropical storm Eleven is forecast to strike Australia as an intense tropical cyclone at about 03:00 GMT on 3 February.

Tropical storm Eleven is forecast to strike Australia as an intense tropical cyclone at about 03:00 GMT on 3 February.
30 Jan 2011

Source: Content partner // Tropical Storm Risk



Tropical storm Eleven is forecast to strike Australia as an intense tropical cyclone at about 03:00 GMT on 3 February.Data supplied by theUS Navy and Air Force Joint Typhoon Warning Center suggest that the point of landfallwill benear 18.5 S,146.6 E. Eleven is expected to bring 1-minute maximum sustained winds to the region of around203 km/h (126 mph).Wind gusts in the area maybeconsiderably higher.

According to the Saffir-Simpson damage scale the potential property damage and flooding from a storm of Eleven'sstrength (category 3)at landfall includes:

•Storm surge generally 2.7-3.7 metres (9-12 feet) above normal.
•Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings with a minor amount of curtainwall failures.
•Damage to shrubbery and trees with foliage blown off trees and large trees blown down.
•Mobile homes and poorly constructed signs are destroyed.
•Low-lying escape routes are cut by rising water 3-5 hours before arrival of the centre of the storm.
•Flooding near the coast destroys smaller structures with larger structures damaged by battering from floating debris.
•Terrain continuously lower than 1.5 metres (5 feet) above mean sea level may be flooded inland 13 km (8 miles) or more.
•Evacuation of low-lying residences within several blocks of the shoreline may be required.
There is also the potential for flooding further inland due to heavy rain.


The information above is provided for guidance only and should not be used to make life or death decisions or decisions relating to property. Anyone in the region who is concerned for their personal safety or property should contact their official national weather agency or warning centre for advice.

This alert is provided by TropicalStorm Risk (TSR) which is sponsored by Benfield, Royal & SunAlliance,Crawford & Company and University College London (UCL). TSR acknowledges thesupport of the UK Met Office.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Iran clerics to attend Saudi funeral

Sat Jan 29, 2011 4:49PM
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Sheikh Mohammed Ali al-Amri Two senior Iranian clerics have departed Tehran for the holy city of Medina to attend the mourning ceremony of Saudi Arabia's prominent Shia scholar and leader.


Head of Iran's Guardian Council Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati and Hojjatoleslam Ahmad Marvi left Tehran to attend the mourning ceremony of Sheikh Mohammed Ali al-Amri as the representatives of Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

The two Iranian clerics will convey the condolences of Ayatollah Khamenei to sheikh al-Amri's family.

Sheikh al-Amri passed away on January 24 and was buried in the Jannatul Baqi cemetery on Friday. Top religious figures from Saudi Arabia and other countries participated in the funeral.

BLAST IN SOUTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN KILLS TWO NATO TROOPS, WOUNDS SIX - NATO SPOKESMAN

BLAST IN SOUTHEASTERN AFGHANISTAN KILLS TWO NATO TROOPS, WOUNDS SIX - NATO SPOKESMAN

Kabul suicide attack slays prominent Afghan family

29 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


KABUL, Jan 29 (Reuters) - A prominent Afghan doctor, his rights activist wife and four of their children were all killed in Friday's suicide attack on a Kabul supermarket, President Hamid Karzai said on Saturday.

Hameeda Barmaki, a professor at Kabul University and child rights activist at the country's Independent Human Rights Commission, was shopping with her husband and children when the blast ripped through the three-storey shop in downtown Kabul.

"The martyrdom of this intellectual family who were committed to serving their nation is a loss," Karzai said in statement Saturday, offering condolences on the deaths.

Doctor Masood Yama's mother is senator Mahbuba Hoqoqmal, a former minister of women's affairs under Karzai.

The shop is frequented by foreigners, located at the heart of an embassy district, just a few hundred metres from the British, Canadian, Japanese and several other missions.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, saying they were targeting the head of a foreign security company. But the city police chief's office said on Saturday that while there were foreigners among the wounded, only Afghans died.

It was the first major Taliban suicide bombing targeting foreign civilians in the capital for nearly a year, since two suicide bombers detonated explosives near the city's biggest shopping centre last February, killing at least 14.

But while insurgents normally target foreign and Afghan troops, ordinary Afghans have borne the brunt as they get caught up in the crossfire. More than 2,400 civilians were killed in first ten months of last year, according to U.N. figures.

Violence across the country is at its worst level since the hardline Islamist Taliban were overthrown by U.S.-led Afghan forces in late 2001 and dozens of civilians have been killed in violence across the country so far this month alone. (Reporting by Hamid Shalizi; Editing by Miral Fahmy) (For more Reuters coverage of Afghanistan and Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/news/globalcoverage/afghanistanpakistan)

New oil minister touts fresh Iraqi licensing round

Petroleum Economist, Feburary 2011



Abdul Kareem al-Luaibi, Iraq's new oil minister, has settled in quickly to the hot seat, announcing within a couple of weeks of his appointment plans to launch a new oil and gas licensing round for this year – the country's fourth hydrocarbons auction since the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Luaibi says the new round, expected to feature a number of gas-prone fields, will offer up to 12 blocks in governorates where no acreage was offered in earlier auctions. These include areas such as Najaf and Kerbala, in the south, along with gas-rich Western Anbar province, home to the Akkas field, which may also be included.

Although Abdul-Mahdi al-Ameedi, head of the ministry's licensing and contracting office, had earlier in January said the new bid round would be only for gas blocks, it is likely now that the round will also include oil concessions. This could include areas such as Nineveh, in the north.

The ambition is to boost proved reserves as Iraq gears up for a massive increase in oil-production capacity up to 2017, which could see it reach 6m barrels a day (b/d), compared with the 2.7m b/d now being pumped (PE 12/10 p6).

Iraq last awarded contracts to develop non-associated gasfields in a third tender in October 2010, with the Akkas field awarded to South Korea's Kogas and Kazakhstan's KazMunaiGaz EP, aiming for production of 400m cubic feet a day (cf/d); Siba, awarded to Kuwait Energy and Turkish TPAO, aiming for 100m cf/d; and Mansouriyah with TPAO as operator with Kuwait Energy, aiming for 320m cf/d (PE 11/10 p37).

The third licensing round was small in scale and didn't attract the majors, which had signed up for the first two licensing rounds' service contracts. Luaibi's intention now is to revive the momentum of 2009, when Iraq managed to pull in international oil companies and Asian state-owned firms under the two auctions held that year.

Those service contracts are now starting to bear fruit, with producers starting to hit their target production rates. Output at the Rumaila field, the first large contract award, to a joint venture of BP, China National Petroleum Corporation and South Oil, is reported to have hit 1.28m b/d, representing a 20% increase, and is on course to reach 1.5m b/d by year-end.

The majors have been ploughing resources into Iraq, with the aim of quickly hitting their targets to boost output by 10% above the baseline rate, which is the trigger for them to reclaim their costs and pick up lucrative remuneration fees.

The oil ministry's worry is that the various service contracts could quickly deplete Iraq's crude reserves. This means hitherto untapped areas must be explored to ensure that once the country hits its peak production targets by 2017 – even if these are well below the stated 12m b/d level – it will have substantial new prospects to come on stream to compensate for depletion at the bigger fields.

Boosting domestic gas supply is equally pivotal for a country that has trouble maintaining more than four hours a day of regular electricity.

For Luaibi, the long-standing deputy to the previous oil minister – now deputy prime minister for energy, Hussein al-Shahristani – the prospect of a 2011 exploration round is critical to establish his credibility over the country's main economic sector. Shahristani, a close ally of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, remains a key player in the new Iraqi government, but had become embroiled in factional mudslinging with the Kurdistan Regional Government over recent years.

The new minister represents a fresh start for Iraq's oil and gas sector. If he can engineer a successful licensing round this year, focusing on lesser-known provinces, he will do much to bolster his credentials. Luaibi has made a strong start, with production reaching a post-war high of 2.7m b/d. The addition of a licensing round could prove another tonic for a hitherto underachieving hydrocarbons behemoth.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Quetta: SP escapes life attempt; 7 hurt in explosion

Quetta: SP escapes life attempt; 7 hurt in explosion At least 7 people, including three policemen, were injured when a bomb planted in a car went off near a police mobile in Quetta, Dunya News reported on Saturday.
DIG (operation) Hamid Shakeel, while talking to media, confirmed that SP Shahban, who was to pass by the site was the target of the attack.
The blast was ensued by firing by SP’s guards who resorted to firing to ward off the people from the site. Rescue teams rushed to the site of the blast and shifted the injured to Quetta Civil Hospital. Security agencies sealed the area and started an investigation into the attack.

DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF AFGHANISTAN'S SOUTHERN KANDAHAR PROVINCE KILLED BY SUICIDE BOMBER

DEPUTY GOVERNOR OF AFGHANISTAN'S SOUTHERN KANDAHAR PROVINCE KILLED BY SUICIDE BOMBER-NATO SOURCE

==

"Deputy provincial governor Abdul Latif Ashna was on way to office when a roadside bomb struck his vehicle leaving him dead," Xinhua news agency quoted an official at the press department of provincial administration as saying on Saturday.

Meanwhile, a doctor in Kandahar Mirwais hospital in the provincial capital Kandahar city said that five other people have been injured during the blast, and were taken to hospital for medical treatment.

In November, the deputy director for education in Kandahar province in Afghanistan was also killed in a terrorist attack.

The security situation remains fragile throughout the war-ravaged country despite the presence of 150,000 US-led foreign forces.

Afghan insurgency is mainly focused in Kandahar, where government officials have been specifically targeted by militants throughout this year.

On September 1, Mohammad Hassan Timori, the provincial Director of Haj and Religious Affairs, was killed when his vehicle was hit in a bomb attack in the southern city of Kandahar.

In Dubai, the state of The World is in dispute


AFP/File – An aerial view shows a cluster of man-made islands known as "The World". The cluster of 300 … .by W.G. Dunlop W.g. Dunlop – Fri Jan 28, 6:23 am ET


DUBAI (AFP) – A cluster of 300 artificial islands off Dubai's coast in the shape of a global map is stable, its developer Nakheel insists, despite a court claim alleging that "The World" was neglected and eroding away.

"There is no issue with the stability of The World islands that are approximately 70 percent sold and handed over," a Nakheel spokesman said when asked about the allegations.

"The island purchasers (have) the responsibility to proceed with their developments in due course," he added.

The islands, many of which represent individual countries and which can only be accessed by boat or helicopter, were meant to be one of the Gulf city-state's crowning developments.

Builders have announced plans for a few of the islands, but development has yet to begin on most of them.

A company contracted to provide logistics support to the islands filed a claim with a tribunal that handles cases related to the emirate's troubled Dubai World conglomerate, alleging that third-party developers had not been encouraged to develop the islands, and said they were being hit by erosion.

Nakheel subsidiary The World LLC "did not develop the project as anticipated at the time of the agreement and the project has lain largely undeveloped," according to the claim filed by Penguin Marine Boats Services LLC.

Penguin is contracted to pay "a licence fee of 5 million dirhams ($1.36 million dollars) per annum" to conduct operations, but the lack of development on the islands means it has "been unable to develop its business opportunities," the claim said.

Additionally, "the navigation channels... are presently so ill-defined and the water depths have been so seriously eroded due to reclaimed sand silting up the navigation channels that major reclamation works will henceforth be required," it said.

A lawyer for Penguin Marine, Richard Wilmot-Smith, was quoted by local media as having told the tribunal that "the islands are gradually falling back into the sea."

Nakheel dismissed the allegations as "misleading and mischievous statements."

"The wholly incorrect and unsupported assertion relating to the state of The World islands was made in the context of a legal case brought against The World LLC by a logistics provider," the spokesman said.

"Nakheel will continue to protect the interests of its operations and stakeholders and take such action as is appropriate in the circumstances," he added.
The spokesman said that the case "was dismissed with costs awarded in favour of The World LLC. We are vindicated by the court's decision."
However, a final judgment with reasons for the decision has not yet been posted to the tribunal's website, where judgments appear after they have been issued..




Abu Dhabi-based English-language daily The National said that the tribunal ruled against Penguin but has not yet given its reasons for doing so.

Lawyers for Penguin Marine declined to comment, and the company's general manager Alex Labor said only that "Penguin's position is... what our lawyers said during the trial."


Nakheel, which developed Dubai's iconic palm-shaped islands and the Atlantis luxury hotel among other developments, was hard-hit by the global economic crisis, which led to a sharp fall in Dubai real estate prices.

Nakheel was to split from parent company Dubai World, which rocked global financial markets when it announced in November 2010 that it needed to freeze debt payments, under a debt restructuring plan.

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Dubai creditworthiness still fragile

-- The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own --

By Una Galani
DUBAI, June 15 (Reuters Breakingviews)- Is Dubai really a safe haven? The emirate will try to take advantage of the contrast between the Arab unrest and its financial recovery, with the launch of a 10-year dollar bond, its second sovereign issue since its own debt crisis began in late 2009. But on some measures, indebted Dubai remains only marginally more creditworthy than some of its prickly neighbours.
Dubai is in better shape than it was. With a lifeline from Abu Dhabi, the government has agreed a restructuring for flagship conglomerate Dubai World. Hotel occupancy rose between January and March this year, according to HSBC, with visitors escaping less stable climes.(Climate: in search of warmer climes.
) New export orders have also continued to rise over the period.

But Dubai's move to sweeten its latest sovereign issue highlights the emirate's weak spots. A five-year put will give bondholders the option to redeem their debt at face value before the final maturity date. Final terms haven't been disclosed, but the extra guarantee should enable Dubai to secure a lower cost of borrowing, nearer to that of a five-year bond.
Cost-cutting is welcome. But the option will also add to uncertainty about when the emirate's debts are due. The government's total direct debt is around $31 billion. But if quasi-sovereign entities are included, Dubai could be on the hook for over $111 billion or over 130 percent of nominal GDP in 2010. A little less than one third of the total is due this year and next. And a further $25 billion-plus is maturing in 2014, according to estimates made by Credit Suisse at the start of the year.
Restructuring has given Dubai breathing space but it hasn't addressed concerns about the absolute size of its debt load. And there is little sign of action on that front. The emirate still doesn't have a credit rating, and no asset sales are on the agenda. Nor are plans to implement income or corporate taxes.
Judging by demand for Dubai's previous sovereign issue, the emirate won't struggle to find buyers. High oil prices generate plenty of cash looking for a home. But at around 300 basis points, credit default swaps suggest Dubai is only slightly less risky than Lebanon or post-revolutionary Egypt. The CDSs of true safe havens like Abu Dhabi and Qatar trade at only a fraction of that amount.

CONTEXT NEWS
-- Dubai's government is offering a 10-year dollar bond with a five-year put option, according to banking sources.
-- The benchmark sovereign dollar bond, expected to be issued in the coming days, will be the government's second issue since the debt crisis and is part of an existing $5 billion debt issuance programme.
-- New bond issues in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are expected to match or top last year's $40 billion, according to Deutsche Bank.
-- The five and 10-year bonds sold by the government of Dubai in October carry a coupon of 6.7 percent and 7.75 percent respectively, according to data from Reuters.
-- The joint book-runners for the Dubai sovereign bond are Emirates National Bank of Dubai, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS.
-- Government of Dubai bond prospectus: http://www.londonstockexchange.com/exchange/news/market-news/market-news-detail.html?announcementId=10889667

((una.galani@thomsonreuters.com))
(Editing by Pierre Briançon and David Evans)

Iraq Central Bank Assets at Risk?

Posted on 25 January 2011. Tags: CBI, Central Bank


Following the Supreme Court decision to place several independent bodies under the control of the Iraqi cabinet, rather than the parliament, a legal expert has said that the Central Bank of Iraq is an independent body that cannot be linked to the Cabinet.

According to the report from AKnews, the Central Bank of Iraq warned that its foreign assets would be confiscated by Iraq’s creditors if it was answerable to the government instead of the parliament.

Legal expert, Hassan Shaaban, the General Coordinator of Human Rights and Democracy Assembly in Iraq, told the news agency that the Central Bank of Iraq should not be under the supervision of the Council of Ministers because it is a board that should be managed professionally, independently and without any link to the government.

Contrary to other reports, Shaaban believes that the Central Bank has the right to object and appeal.

The central bank said in a statement issued today that its independence under Iraqi law was still the only thing that guaranteed that its financial resources abroad would not to be confiscated by the country’s international creditors.

(Source: AKnews)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Revolt rocks pillars of Mubarak rule:Egypt: Internet down, police counterterror unit up

Tahrir Square, Cairo, Feb 1 2011 from Oliver Wilkins on Vimeo.


Iran cleric warns Egyptians of US plots
Fri Feb 18, 2011 5:36PM
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Iran's senior cleric Ayatollah Ahmad JannatiA senior Iranian cleric has praised the Egyptian Revolution against Western-backed President Hosni Mubarak, but warned against replacing a puppet leader with another.


“Egyptian people felt humiliated for being a subsidiary to Israel and could not take it any longer and thus the youths took action,” Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said during a Friday sermon in Tehran, IRNA reported.

Ayatollah Jannati criticized the “imprudent” US policy to adopt an ambiguous stance in support for Mubarak despite their better knowledge that the countdown had started for the dictator's rule.

“Our concern is that lest only pawns might be replaced,” he said, warning of an “enemy” plot to sweep new US puppet into power to parry the pro-democracy uprising in Egypt.

“The Egyptians should listen to our message. Many such acts were carried out in our country but resistance and reliance on God stopped them all.”

The Iranian cleric expressed dismay at the Egyptian clergy's failure to “move ahead of people and side by side with them.”

Recalling the clerical leadership in the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, Ayatollah Jannati called on the Egyptian clerics to play a more active role and have share in the formation of the government in-the-making.

“Act like in Iran, do not sit on your hands,” he urged.

Tehran's interim Friday Prayers leader also criticized the Western-backed Arab leaders especially in Bahrain and Yemen.

In January, a popular uprising in Tunisia sent President Zine El Abedine Ben Ali fleeing to Saudi Arabia after 23 years of authoritarian rule.

Egyptians followed suit to oust President Hosni Mubarak -- widely viewed as Israel's closest regional ally.

The revolutions have inspired popular protests in Bahrain, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other Arab and North African nations.


All decrees and agreements signed by ruthless dictators will be null and void Normalisation with US-supported Nazi Israel will be canceled : Excerpts from Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times



All decrees and agreements signed by ruthless dictators will be null and void
The French, the Russian, the Chinese and the Vietnamese revolutions have established new orders, set new legislation defending the interests of their respective peoples and canceled most decrees and agreements signed by the deposed emperors, Tzars, tyrants and dictators. This was clear following the collapse of Nazi Germany and Fascist Mussolini where occupied territories in Africa and Europe were freed and returned to its rightful owners. The ongoing Arab revolution will do just that despite the pressure from panicking USraeli administrations. Since it was the US support for Israeli atrocities and illegal occupation of Arab lands that enraged Arabs, all agreements and pacts signed by their agents will be considered as null and void. This include the so-called peace agreements, normalization with Israel or the Security agreements and oil and gas deals in US-occupied Iraq. The Arab nation, from Morocco to Oman, will soon be free to reject what the Arab Kings, Emirs, Sultans, Dictators and Sheiks accepted to sign under duress, bribery or intimidation. No Arab in his right mind accepts the unjust, illegal and outright criminal activities by the Israelis and their mentors, the Americans. Failure to do so may make Arabs change their demands from peaceful removal from power of USraeli agents to the adoption of Iraqi-style prosecution and execution. Let Netanyahu and Obama stand on their heads, the Arab Genie is out of the bottle.
And like in Tunisia, the Israelis have evacuated their MOSSAD agents from Egypt. The new regimes in Tunisia and in Egypt will expose Bin Ali and Mubarak's cooperation with MOSSAD in liquidating Arabs opposing their illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Many expect the Israelis to be chased out of other Arab countries including the Kurdish areas of US-occupied North Iraq.It is highly recommended for the pro-Israeli Americans to keep a very low profile during this critical time.

USraeli camels are walking headless in the Middle East!

In order to implement unjust and illegal policies, the USraelis have depended on a string of corrupt, mostly aging Arab autocrats, against the will of their respective people. The Israeli war crimes in Gaza in 2008, their attack on Lebanon in 2006 and the use of prohibited weapons against civilians (see Goldstone report) went unpunished. In both of above recent wars the US and its allies continued to supply Israel with all types of weapons and financial aids. The illegal US-led war on Iraq and the destruction of Baghdad and the killing of its people did create a huge gap between the Arab Autocrats’ position supporting US crimes, and their people who have vehemently denounced them; but denied the freedom to express their views. As it is usual, the USraelis with their respective MOSSAD and CIA invested heavily on protecting the Arab dictators and undermining or liquidating the political opposition. The campaign to divert attention to the dangers, not of Israel massive stockpile of Nuclear Weapons, but to Iranian Nukes did little to help. Furthermore, the US tacit support for Israeli atrocities against Palestinians and the continued Israeli defiance of UN Security Council Resolutions by building more settlements in the occupied territories had added to the grievances of Arabs from Morocco to Oman.
What is to be done?
In the past, the US depended on ruthless dictators and autocrats as long as they show their anti-communist credentials and looked the other way when basic human rights were violated. While the present US policy is to support Arab dictators as long as they accept Israeli atrocities and designs. Since the USraeli tactics and strategies have apparently failed, it is high time for the Whitehouse and the US Department of state to take a good look at the advice they have been receiving from mostly Jewish or pro-Jewish consultants and institutes of strategic studies. The likes of Tony Blair and Martin Indyk should be kept away from the corridors of decision making departments. There are 400 million Arabs living in 22 countries while there are less that five million Jews living in Israel. It is never in US long-term interest to arm, support and unleash Israeli dogs to savage(To assault ferociously.
) the Arabs, while at the same time US corporations are signing huge military and oil deals with them. The Arabs are saying enough is enough with Israel, America and their agents in power. Therefore, major changes must be made as no window dressing will be sufficient or acceptable. The USraelis must take into consideration that CIA and MOSSAD dirty works, assassinations and ploys(An action calculated to frustrate an opponent or gain an advantage indirectly or deviously; a maneuver:) have become known to the Arabs.

The US embraces Israeli designs and ignores its own interests

In order to remove one of the biggest threats to Israel, President George W. Bush planned to attack Iraq some eight months before the attack on 9/11. (See Paul O’Neil, the Price of Loyalty). That was at the expense of US interests in Latin America which led to the election of leftists governments throughout the continent.
Similarly, Obama wants to remove another big threat to Israel by destroying Iran while neglecting US vital interests in the Middle East. Hilary Clinton is currently (10.01.2010) waging a cynical anti-Iranian campaign in the Persian Gulf at the time when peoples of US-supported corrupt Arab autocrats got fed up and took to the streets in Tunisia and Algeria and their revolt may soon spread to Morocco, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. According to French President Sarkozy, Al-Qaeda operatives are threatening Western interests in Africa in an area between the Atlantic Ocean and the Red Sea.
As if the above was not enough, the Americans have been diligently working at implementing another Israeli design represented by the splitting of Sudan after castigating its president Omar Al-Bashir as a war criminal.

The Arabs and Muslims are fed up with America, its pro-Israeli designs and its support for the corrupt, mostly geriatric(Of or relating to the aged or to characteristics of the aging process.
), autocrats in power. It seems that 2011 may bring serious changes to North Africa and the Middle East that the Americans can’t afford to ignore.


Israel had introduced nuclear weapons to the Middle East with American support. Your concern about Iranian nukes is misplaced besides being untimely. Let the USraelis go and drink the Dead Sea water, Iran is already a nuclear state.

Former President Carter is one of the most respected American in the Arab and Muslim world. He did supervise the 2006 election in the Palestinian territories and declared them as fair and free. To the hard luck of the Americans Hamas had won. No-one I know tried to kill Carter. The real killers in the Middle East are the Israelis using US weapons and CIA support.

Citing references:
I rarely have the habbit of doing some-one elese home work. Concerning G.W. Bush planning the war on Iraq eigth months before 9/11 it was properly quoted from O'Neil, Bush budget director. The Leftists winning in Brazil, Bolivia, equador ..etc can be easily checked. The visit of Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, to the Gulf states is fresh news. There is a popular uprising in Pro-American Tunis and Algiers. The US support for the corrupt Arab autocrats requires no documntation. Have you heard the Americans criticising the lack of democracy in Saudi Arabia or Egypt? Why Iraq was attacked in 2003 and not Saudi Arabia or Egypt since 15 of the 19 who attacked WTC and the Pentagon were Saudis besides Bin Laden, Mohammed Atta and Dr Al-Zwahiri are Egyptians? I would love to read some meaningful views not slogans or personal attacks.

Jews don't recognise Christianity or Islam. Christianity recognises Judaism but not Islam. But Islam recognises Moses and Jesus while the Torah and the Bible are conidered as holy books. To be more specific, Islam recognises 25 prophets from Adam to Mohammed. In fact Judaism, Christianity and Islam are known as the three Abrahamic religions because they all believe in Prophet Abraham.
But political developments have influedced Arabs and Muslims. The creation of Israel in 1948 and the expulsion of Palestinian Muslims and Christians have poisoned the atmosphere and fueled an anti-Jewish feeling. The on-going USareli anti-Islamic crusade since 9/11, made it difficult for Jews and Christians to move freely in places like Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Pakistan and more recently Iraq and Egypt. In General, Christians can 'safely' travel in Israel and in the Palestinian territories.


Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

====

Middle East Democracies will always be anti-USraeli

Capitalist Philosophers promote the idea that if the corporations are Ok, people will be OK by default. For this reason the main pillar of US foreign policy of successive governments is the promotion of economic cooperation with foreign lands; which may or may not be of mutual interests In some cases where oil and other natural resources are concerned the US went to wars, toppled democratically-elected governments and installed military dictators. After the successful and well publicised CIA assassinations*, dirty works and conspiracies in Latin America, the US went to undermine national governments in the Middle East in support of corrupt autocrats, dictators, Sultans, Emirs and Kings as long as they tow their line.

In Syria a democratically-elected government was replaced by a military dictator as far back as 1949. (See Miles Copeland, Game of Nations). This was followed by toppling Dr Mossadeq’s elected government and installing the Shah in 1952. In Iraq, Saddam Baath party was supported by the CIA to topple the hugely popular Kassem regime in 1963. Both Dr Mossadeq and General Kassem wanted their respective countries to get a fair share of the oil revenues from Western Cartels.

At this moment, there is a huge gap between the people and the pro-USraeli Arab governments. To add insult to injury, America, the main Arab Governments’ Ally, has been supporting, arming and financing all Israeli atrocities and violations. The US has supported the Israel war on Lebanon in 1982 and didn’t react when 800-3000 Palestinians were massacred by Israeli-armed and financed Phalange unit of 150 men; which Sharon met the night before the attack. One of the worst crimes that Arabs will never forget was the destruction of Iraq and the killing of its people as of 2003. Following the invasion, CIA and MOSSAD agents collaborated to assassinate 350 Iraq scientists and university professors.

The Americans have also supported and rushed all types of bombs and missiles to Israel in its attacks on Lebanon and on Gaza respectively, in 2006 and 2008.

According to Bin Laden, the attacks on NY WTC and the Pentagon on 9/11 were to avenge the massacres committed during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon armed by the Pentagon and financed by Wall Street. Many Tunisians, Algerians, Jordanians, Moroccans, Yemenis and Egyptians are awaiting the moments to settle scores with their respective leaders who have been robbing their nations, denying them freedom and implementing USraeli designs at the expense of their nation’s interests. The Americans believe that keeping autocrats in power is much better than having a democratically-elected government. It was no wonder that the Americans have opposed the democratically-elected governments of Hamas and Iran and will undermine the on-going popular uprising in Tunisia against the corrupt and oppressive pro-USraeli Ben Ali. In conclusion, US current foreign policy of conspiracies, dirty works, wars and economic sanctions, not on Israel, but exclusively on Arab and Muslim countries will be incompatible with any future democracy in the Middle East. Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

* President Carter asked his CIA director Adm. Stan Turner to fire 750 CIA agents who had committed homicides. Carter lost the re-election and all these were re-instated by President Reagan and his Vice President G.Bush sr, who was a former CIA director.
==
"Help us see a way of peace"

God-fearing Americans have been at war throughout their history. They had exterminated the natives, enslaved the blacks and killed at lease 3 million Vietnamaese. As a matter of fact, the hands of the Americans are stained with the blood of people from 35 countries. Naturally, the Americans beleieve in Jesus Christ, the lord of love and forgivness. The evil American empire will eventually fall while it takes steps longer than its legs. The invasion of disarmed Iraq put America on its knees. An attack on Iran may finish the job. One hopes to see China becoming the only peaceful superpower.




Forgetting the past and moving on!

Bin Laden and 9/11 are past too, or only others should forget past US crimes. The war on Iraq was illegal as it was neither in self defence nor sanctioned by the UN security Council. Which implies that all the destruction and kiling since 2003 are war crimes by default. We have a crippled and divided country with one million widows and four million orphans.The American war criminals should be brought to justice the way German Nazi war criminals were punished. Until today the Jews talk about the holocaust. The Iraqis have a very long memory coupled with an inherent revenge culture. Have you noticed that after seven years Joe Biden and other US officials make seceret un announced visits to Baghdad. And have you noticed that no US citizen can sit down and have a drink in down town Baghdad.


Saddam had committed his worst crimes while a close friend of the West. Saddam's American war on Iran (1980-1988) was meant to free the US hostages, to contain the Islamic Revolution and to protect the Gulf states.

Saddam had also used chemical weapons against the Kurds who sided with the Iranians. To your information, the precursors came from Searle corporation represented by Donald Rumsfeld who met Saddam twice and from Dutch and German firms. That is why the West didn't complain when Saddam attacked Halbjah. For the samne reason, Saddm was not tried for the use of Chemical weapons so that not to expose the extent of US and European involvment. Iraq was correctly forced to pay compensation for damages done to Kuwait. But who will compensate Iraq for the massive damage done to its infrastructure by US-UK heavy bombardment that killed thousands? Iraqis have a very long memory but eventually they will react.


Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times

====

US double standards and Israeli atrocities fuel radicalisation!

Most security experts, foreign policy gurus and commentators dance around the question of what causes radicalisation of Arab and Muslim youths. The blame is usually put on the mosques, the radical Mullahs, the high unemployment or sarcastically, the promise of virgins in heaven. Deliberately, these highly-paid experts, tied to CIA or to Jewish-run institutes of foreign or strategic studies, ignore the real cause of Arab and Muslim frustrations that drives the youth to commit violence or suicidal attacks. Furthermore, many of these experts have vested interests in terror and mislead Western governments and the US into investing heavily on dealing with the symptoms rather than on the causes of increased violence in the world. For example, would a pro-Israeli Jew in charge of an American Institute for Middle East Studies remotely dare to conclude that the unlimited US support for Israeli violations and atrocities is one of the main causes of anti-American sentiment dominating the streets of Arab and Muslim capitals?
The Arabs and Muslims can justifiably ask why us?

In justifying the invasion of Iraq, G.W. Bush indicated that Iraq was in breach of two UN Security Council Resolutions, developed weapons of mass destruction and attacked its neighbours.

But Arabs and Muslims can easily ask why our countries are targeted and not Israel that is in breach of 39 UN Security Council Resolutions, developed and stockpiled all types of weapons of mass destruction and attacked all its neighbours including far away Baghdad?

To the contrary, Israel is rewarded with a $3 billion a-year financial aid, the most sophisticated weapons, its PM(s) are routinely welcomed at the White House while Iraq was destroyed and its people were killed.

The Arabs and Muslims didn’t introduce suicide attacks but learned the very effective tactics from the Japanese and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka; where no virgins in heaven were promised.

In 1982, the Americans have tacitly supported the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and kept quiet about the massacres of at least 800 innocent Palestinian civilians at Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps. Instead of imposing sanctions on Israel for invading a sovereign state, George Schultz, US Secretary of State at the time,limited his actions to complimenting the Israelis for holding an invetigation into the masscares. Since there was no justice, the Lebanese took upon themselves the task of punishing the Israelis and their supporters with the known consequences and the creation of a strong anti-USraeli force represented by the mighty Hezbullah.

Another very stupid US foreign policy blunder is the American castigation of Hamas following winning the paliamentary election in 2006; which was declared free and fair by former President Carter. That is at the time when the US keep supporting corrupt and autocratic regimes of Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
In conclusion, the American Middle East policy is bankrupted and undermined for being a party to all Israeli crimes and by embracing the policies of extreme right-wing Zionists. As long as US foreign policy remains unfair and unjust, the violence in the world will coninue unabated.

Iraq Occupation Times

And like in Tunisia, the Israelis have evacuated their MOSSAD agents from Egypt. The new regimes in Tunisia and in Egypt will expose Bin Ali and Mubarak's cooperation with MOSSAD in liquidating Arabs opposing their illegal occupation of Palestinian lands. Many expect the Israelis to be chased out of other Arab countries including the Kurdish areas of US-occupied North Iraq.It is highly recommended for the pro-Israeli Americans to keep a very low profile during this critical time.
Adnan Darwash, Iraq Occupation Times


=============













http://britishiraqiforum.wordpress.com/2011/02/12/18-minutes/


Lots of discussion on Twitter about the role of social media and the internet in this revolution, including these Tweets:

This Is actually the first successful revolution in the world based on internet

Nuts that Facebook played such a massive roll in a historic event, being called a "digital revolution" in Egypt.

The revolution was televised, tweeted, Facebooked, YouTubed, and Xeroxed.

By HAMZA HENDAWI and SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Hamza Hendawi And Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press – 1 hr 22 mins ago
CAIRO – Internet service in Egypt was disrupted and the government deployed an elite special operations force in Cairo on Friday, hours before an anticipated new wave of anti-government protests.

The developments were a sign that President Hosni Mubarak's regime was toughening its crackdown following the biggest protests in years against his nearly 30-year rule.

The counter-terror force, rarely seen on the streets, took up positions in strategic locations, including central Tahrir Square, site of the biggest demonstrations this week.

Facebook and Twitter have helped drive this week's protests. But by Thursday evening, those sites were disrupted, along with cell phone text messaging and BlackBerry Messenger services. Then the Internet went down.

Earlier, the grass-roots movement got a double boost — the return of Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei and the backing of the biggest opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood.

After midnight, security forces arrested at least five Brotherhood leaders and five former Members of Parliament, according to the group's lawyer, Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, and spokesman, Walid Shalaby. They said security forces had also taken a large number of Brotherhood members in a sweep in Cairo and elsewhere.

The real test for the protest movement will be whether Egypt's fragmented opposition can come together, with Friday's rallies expected to be some of the biggest so far.

Social networking sites were abuzz that the gatherings called after Friday prayers could attract huge numbers of protesters demanding the ouster of Mubarak. Millions gather at mosques across the city on Fridays, giving organizers a vast pool of people to tap into.

The 82-year-old Mubarak has not been seen in public or heard from since the protests began Tuesday with tens of thousands marching in Cairo and a string of other cities. While he may still have a chance to ride out this latest challenge, his choices are limited, and all are likely to lead to a loosening of his grip on power.

Violence escalated on Thursday at protests outside the capital. In the flashpoint city of Suez, along the strategic Suez Canal, protesters torched a fire station and looted weapons that they then turned on police. The Interior Ministry said in a statement that more than 90 police officers were injured in those clashes. There were no immediate figures on the number of injured protesters.

In the northern Sinai area of Sheik Zuweid, several hundred Bedouins and police exchanged gunfire, killing a 17-year-old. About 300 protesters surrounded a police station from rooftops of nearby buildings and fired two rocket-propelled grenades at it, damaging the walls.

Video of the shooting of the teenager, Mohamed Attef, was supplied to a local journalist and obtained by AP Television News. Attef crumpled to the ground after being shot on the street. He was alive as fellow protesters carried him away but later died.

The United States, Mubarak's main Western backer, has been publicly counseling reform and an end to the use of violence against protesters, signs the Egyptian leader may no longer be enjoying Washington's full backing.

In an interview broadcast live on YouTube, President Barack Obama said the anti-government protests filling the streets show the frustrations of Egypt's citizens. "It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express their grievances," Obama said.

Noting that Mubarak has been "an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues," Obama added: "I've always said to him that making sure that they're moving forward on reform, political reform and economic reform, is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt."

"And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on the streets," Obama said.


In a move likely to help swell the numbers on the streets, the Muslim Brotherhood ended days of inaction to throw its support behind the demonstrations. On its website, the outlawed group said it would join "with all the national Egyptian forces, the Egyptian people, so that this coming Friday will be the general day of rage for the Egyptian nation."

However, Internet disruptions were reported by a major service provider for Egypt. Italy-based Seabone said there was no Internet traffic going into or out of the country after 12:30 a.m. local time Friday.

For the Brotherhood, still smarting from their recent defeat in a parliamentary election marred by fraud, the protests offer a rare opportunity to seize on what is increasingly shaping up as the best shot at regime change since Mubarak came to office in 1981.

The Brotherhood has sought to depict itself as a force pushing for democratic change in Egypt's authoritarian system, and is trying to shed an image among critics that it aims to seize power and impose Islamic law. The group was involved in political violence for decades until it renounced violence in the 1970s.

The Brotherhood's support and the return of ElBaradei were likely to energize a largely youth-led protest movement that, by sustaining unrest over days, has shaken assumptions that Mubarak's security apparatus can keep a tight lid on popular unrest.

ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog and a leading Mubarak opponent, has sought to recreate himself as a pro-democracy campaigner in his homeland. He is viewed by some supporters as a figure capable of uniting the country's fractious opposition and providing the movement with a road map for the future.

For ElBaradei, it is a chance to shake off his image as an elitist who is out of touch after years of living abroad, first as an Egyptian diplomat and later with the United Nations.

Speaking to reporters Thursday before his departure for Cairo, ElBaradei said: "If people, in particular young people, ... want me to lead the transition, I will not let them down. My priority right now ... is to see a new regime and to see a new Egypt through peaceful transition."

Once on Egyptian soil, he struck a conciliatory note.

"We're still reaching out to the regime to work with them for the process of change. Every Egyptian doesn't want to see the country going into violence," he said. "Our hand is outstretched."

"I wish that we didn't have to go to the streets to impress on the regime that they need to change," ElBaradei said. "There is no going back. I hope the regime stops the violence, stops detaining people, stops torturing people."


With Mubarak out of sight, the ruling National Democratic Party said Thursday it was ready for a dialogue with the public but offered no concessions to address demands for a solution to rampant poverty, unemployment and political change.

Safwat El-Sherif, the party's secretary general and a longtime confidant of Mubarak, was dismissive of the protests at the first news conference by a senior ruling party figure since the unrest began.

"We are confident of our ability to listen. The NDP is ready for a dialogue with the public, youth and legal parties," he said. "But democracy has its rules and process. The minority does not force its will on the majority."

El-Sharif's comments were likely to reinforce the belief held by many protesters that Mubarak's regime is incapable, or unwilling, to introduce reforms that will meet their demands. That could give opposition parties an opening to win popular support if they close ranks and promise changes sought by the youths at the forefront of the unrest.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition. According to leaked U.S. memos, hereditary succession also does not meet with the approval of the powerful military.

Mubarak has seen to it that no viable alternative to him has been allowed to emerge. Constitutional amendments adopted in 2005 by the NDP-dominated parliament has made it virtually impossible for independents like ElBaradei to run for president.

Continuing the heavy-handed methods used by the security forces the past three days would probably buy his regime a little time but could strengthen the resolve of the protesters and win them popular sympathy.

The alternative is to introduce a package of political and economic reforms that would end his party's monopoly on power and ensure that the economic liberalization policies engineered by his son and heir apparent Gamal over the past decade benefit the country's poor majority.

He could also lift the emergency laws in force since 1981, loosen restrictions on the formation of political parties and publicly state whether he will stand for another six-year term in elections this year.

Mubarak's regime suffered another serious blow Thursday when the stock market's benchmark index fell more than 10 percent by close, its biggest drop in more two years on the back of a 6 percent fall a day earlier.

Egypt's situation is similar to Iran's manipulation of the Internet during the 2009 disputed elections, said Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, a Chelmsford, Mass.-based security company.

Blocking the Web in countries that exert strong control over their Internet providers is not difficult, he said, because companies that own fiber optic cables and other technologies are often under strict licenses from the government.
"I don't think there's a big red button — it's probably a phone call that goes out to half a dozen folks," he said.

___

Associated Press reporters Hadeel al-Shalchi and Tarek al-Tablawy contributed to this report. AP Technology Writer Jordan Robertson contributed from San Francisco. .


===

Obama ratchets up pressure on Egypt's Mubarak28 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Obama weighs in for first time on Egypt unrest

* White House says Mubarak key ally but not taking sides

* Too early to talk about withholding aid - U.S. official (Adds Clinton, Biden, senior U.S. official)

By Matt Spetalnick and David Alexander

WASHINGTON, Jan 27 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama called on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday to make "absolutely critical" reforms, ratcheting up pressure on a key U.S. ally in the face of street protests seeking his ouster.

Weighing in for the first time after three days of Egyptian unrest, Obama was careful to avoid any sign of abandoning Mubarak but made clear his sympathy for demonstrators he said were expressing "pent-up frustrations" over the lack of meaningful change.

Obama and his aides are performing a delicate balancing act as political upheaval rocks the Middle East, from Egypt to Tunisia to Lebanon to Yemen, catching his administration off-guard and showing the limits of U.S. influence.

While making a point of describing Mubarak as "very helpful on a range of tough issues," Obama sent him a blunt message to heed the demands of anti-government protesters for broader democratic rights after decades of authoritarian rule.

"I've always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform -- political reform, economic reform -- is absolutely critical for the long-term well-being of Egypt," Obama said as he answered questions from an online audience on the YouTube website.

Even with its more assertive tone, the Obama administration seemed to be juggling its desire for regional stability, its support for democratic change and its determination to avoid the rise of an anti-U.S. Islamist government in Cairo potentially aligned with Iran.

"This isn't a choice between the government and the people of Egypt," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters. "This is not about taking sides."

Obama urged the government and protesters to show restraint, saying violence was not the answer. "It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances," he said, citing freedom of expression and access to social networking websites.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reinforced some of those points when she spoke to Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit on Thursday, the State Department said.

But in another sign that Washington was still treading cautiously, Vice President Joe Biden, asked about Mubarak's strong-handed rule in an interview with PBS, said: "I would not refer to him as a dictator."

Human rights advocates have accused successive U.S. administrations of being too soft on Egyptian rights abuses.

But the Obama administration is now pursuing a "dual-track" approach, with U.S. diplomats reaching out to government officials and democracy activists to encourage peaceful dialogue for reform, a senior U.S. official said.

OBAMA'S DILEMMA

Obama spoke out on a day that Egyptian police clashed with demonstrators and Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei arrived home. The death toll rose to five in protests inspired by unrest that toppled Tunisia's president earlier this month.

Despite that, Gibbs said Egypt's government was "stable."

Since taking office two years ago, Obama and his administration have struggled at times to balance support for moderate, authoritarian Arab states considered crucial to U.S. interests with a push for expanded political freedoms.

Egypt is an example of that dilemma. The United States sees it not only as a linchpin for future Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and a bulwark against Iran's regional clout.
Mubarak has rarely heeded U.S. pressure before over his government's behavior, and the senior U.S. official said it was premature to talk about withholding aid to gain leverage.

Anti-American sentiment remains high on the Arab street despite Obama's outreach to the Muslim world and his efforts to ease hostility generated by his predecessor George W. Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The administration is also hemmed in by wanting to avoid the impression of further U.S. interference in the region.

Most U.S.-based analysts believe Mubarak is likely to weather the storm, if for no other reason than his government and military seem prepared to use whatever force is needed.

But if Mubarak does lose his 30-year grip on power, the greatest U.S. fear would be the rise of a government with strong Islamist ties and the risk of Egypt aligning itself with Iran, a bitter foe of the United States and its ally Israel.

This is widely seen as something the powerful Egyptian military would never permit. Washington has poured billions of dollars of military and other aid into Egypt since it became the first of only two Arab states to make peace with Israel.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)

===


Egypt police fire rubber bullets at Cairo protestsFri Jan 28, 2011 12:28pm GMT

1 of 1Full SizeBy Shaimaa Fayed and Yasmine Saleh
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian riot police fired rubber bullets at protesters who had promised a "Friday of Wrath" in Cairo to demand the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule as part of a wave of unrest gripping the Middle East.

Angry protesters gathered in a neighbourhood near a residential palace belonging to Mubarak, and in other areas of the city police used teargas and water cannon to disperse demonstrators. Tens of thousands were demonstrating across the nation, witnesses said.

Protesters shouted "Down, Down, Hosni Mubarak" and stamped on posters of the president after Friday prayers, witnesses said.

Vodafone group said all mobile operators in Egypt had been instructed to suspend services in selected areas, in what activists said was an effort to stop anti-Mubarak demonstrators from communicating and organising.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Laureate who has called for an end to Mubarak's rule, had joined prayers involving about 2,000 people and al Jazeera said he had not been allowed to leave the area.

The worshippers were surrounded by police while praying in a square just outside a mosque in the Giza area of Cairo.

"The people want the end of the regime," they started shouting once prayers were complete.

"Leave, leave, Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits you," they chanted in the protests, which were inspired by a revolt in Tunisia.



In response to the protests, U.S. President Barack Obama said social and political reforms in Egypt were "absolutely critical".

"Inflation has exhausted people. Prices of food, fuel, electricity, sugar are rising. The rich get richer and the poor poorer," said a Cairo taxi-driver, declining to be named. "God knows what will happen today. After Tunisia anything is possible."

Some protesters threw shoes at and stamped on posters of the president. But as the clashes intensified, police waded into the crowd with batons and fired volleys of teargas.

"Leave, leave, Mubarak, Mubarak, the plane awaits you," people chanted.

YOUNG AND RESTLESS

Some of the Cairo protests proceeded peacefully. Demonstrations were also staged in Suez and Ismailiya east of Cairo, Alexandria on the north coast, cities in the Nile Delta and other urban centres across Egypt.

At least five people have been killed over the four days -- far fewer than in Tunisia -- including a police officer. Police have arrested several hundred people.

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood opposition group, including at least eight senior officials, were rounded up overnight. The government has accused the Brotherhood of planning to exploit the youth protests while it says it is being made a scapegoat.

Internet via Egyptian servers was blocked across the country after midnight, closing a key tool for activists relying on social media networks to spread word. Mobile phone and text messaging services appeared to be disabled or working sporadically.
=====

Mobile phone and text messaging services also appeared to be disabled or working sporadically.

Facebook has been the main vehicle for announcing Friday's protest and identifying locations for demonstrations.

The government has accused the Muslim Brotherhood of planning to exploit the youth protests for its "hidden agendas". The Brotherhood says it is being used as a scapegoat.

Security forces shot dead a protester in the north of the Sinai region on Thursday, bringing the death toll to five.


===

Fri Jan 28, 6:28 am ET
TEHRAN, Iran – A senior Iranian cleric says protests in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen are evidence that his country's 1979 Islamic revolution is being replayed.

Addressing thousands of worshippers at Tehran University Friday, Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said a new Middle East is emerging based on Islamic values, not U.S. desires.
Violent protests in Tunisia toppled former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and a "Friday of Wrath" has engulfed Egypt, a U.S. ally. Protesters in Yemen also called for the outser of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled for nearly 32 years.

===


ANALYSIS-Egypt protests leave West in awkward position28 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Have long relied quietly on authoritarian regimes

* Fear instability or Islamist takeover

* Will worry about appearing implicated in crackdown


By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

LONDON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - As protests escalate in Egypt and elsewhere, Western governments are awkwardly trapped between strategic alliances, their own rhetoric on democracy and rights and domestic political sympathy for those demonstrating.

Police and demonstrators fought running battles in the streets of Cairo on Friday on a fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands demanding an end to President Hosni Mubarak's three decades of rule.

Hundreds have been arrested following mass demonstrations inspired by events in nearby Tunisia, where President Ben Ali fled into exile earlier this month after social media-fuelled protests forced him from power.

Yemen's government -- another key U.S. regional ally -- has also faced mounting protests as activists across the Middle East and elsewhere gain inspiration from each other.

Washington and others have long quietly relied on sometimes-repressive regional rulers, seeing them as a bulwark against Islamic extremism. Now they face few good options.

"They haven't managed this balancing act very well and now they are caught in the middle," said Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London's City University.

"They have maintained this polite fiction that they are in favour of democracy and openness but in reality they have been happy to allow regimes to avoid reforms."


Hollis says the strong performance of Islamists Hamas in 2006 Palestinian elections in the Gaza Strip scared many policymakers and deterred them from pushing for genuine democratic reform elsewhere in the region.

U.S. officials including President Barack Obama have called for restraint, but are seen holding back from saying much more.

If Western capitals voiced support for the demonstrators as they did during protests in Iran in 2009, they risk alienating old friends and further emboldening those on the streets.

If security forces crack down brutally, Western leaders will fear the accusation of complicity in rights abuses.

But if more leaders are ousted, a tide of unrest could bring Islamist governments to power and hit regional stability.


DIFFICULT CHOICES

"It's going to be very difficult for the U.S. to tack away from Mubarak, even if they're careful not to offer support for a crackdown," said Ian Bremmer, president of political risk consultancy Eurasia Group.

Egypt is also seen as a key ally against Iran, central to limiting weapon-smuggling to Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. The Suez Canal remains crucial to Europe's imports of oil and cheap Asian goods.

"The least bad option may be to stick with nurse, for fear of finding something worse -- but at the same time try to nudge in the direction of political and economic reform," said Nigel Inkster, a former Deputy Chief of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service MI6 and now head of transnational threats and political risk at London's International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"Ultimately, the U.S. and European powers can do little more than wait upon events and try to ensure they do not unduly antagonise whoever comes out on the winning side."


Western leaders will also be keeping a careful eye on their own public opinion. News organisations and a growing number of politically active young people watch the Tunisian and Egyptian protests closely on sites such as Twitter, and would be very critical of perceived Western acquiescence(Passive assent or agreement without protest.
) in bloodshed.

"Part of the political strategy in events like this has always been about influencing Western public and media opinion and therefore to an extent government policy," said Mark Hanson, a former new media strategist for Britain's Labour Party and London-based social media consultant.

"These protesters are doing that very well."


"UNTOUCHABLE COMPENSATION"

Leaked classified US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks on Friday show diplomats continuing to press Mubarak and his government toward democratic reform, the reduction of censorship and the easing of a state of emergency.

But they also make it clear U.S. financial aid to Mubarak's government -- particularly to the military who may prove a deciding factor if protests continue to rise -- is a requirement for good relations.

"President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as a cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the $1.3 billion in annual FMF (foreign military funding) as untouchable compensation for making peace with Israel," says a Febuary 2010 cable aimed at briefing US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mike Mullen for a visit.

Egypt's army could decide Mubarak's fate and act as kingmakers if they choose not to back him, deciding which other political forces -- ranging from the Muslim Brotherhood to former UN nuclear chief-turned-political dissident Mohamed El Baradei or Mubarak's son Gamal -- might gain influence.
Gamal, 47, is seen having allies in government and business as well as in the West but less clout with the army. Both Gamal and his father deny he is being groomed for succession.

"Gamal is the sort of person they love somewhere like Davos," said City University's Hollis, referring to the World Economic Forum of business and political leaders taking place in Switzerland.
"But his last name is Mubarak and that damns him on the streets. It's really the army that will decide. The army elite is very close to Washington but you have to ask how much anti-American -- and anti-Israeli -- sentiment there might be in the lower ranks."


=====

How long can Egypt's Mubarak last? Buzz up!0 votes Share
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EmailPrint..– Thu Jan 27, 8:30 am ET
New York – As the Tunisian-inspired protests in Egypt continue, can the country's strongman president withstand popular calls for his ouster?

Egypt's anti-government protests continued on Thursday, further intensifying speculation that longtime President Hosni Mubarak could fall, as his Tunisian counterpart did after similar unrest. The authoritarian Mubarak, who has held power for nearly 30 years, is fighting back by declaring all protests illegal and banning Facebook and Twitter, which protesters have used to coordinate their movements. And, "against all evidence," he has attempted to pin the uprising on the Muslim Brotherhood, an opposition party he has demonized for two decades. But with the uprising continuing, and with the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, ready to lead for a transitional period if necessary, can Mubarak hold onto power? (Watch an al Jazeera report about the protests)

Egypt is not the same as Tunisia: It's possible that Egypt could follow Tunisia's lead, says Michael Bell at the Toronto Globe and Mail, but the two cases are different. "Egypt is corrupt, but the Mubarak family doesn't share the odor of decay" that enveloped the clan of Tunisia's ousted iron-fisted leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. And another "factor of great significance" is that "Tunisia's military defied orders to fire on the crowds," avoiding serious bloodshed, while Egypt's troops are showing no signs of restraint.

"Will Egypt go the way of Tunisia?"

Mubarak has the right friends: The protests rage on, says Jon Leyne at BBC News, but "so far they have not risen to a level to threaten President Hosni Mubarak." That's partly because "the West, and many powerful and rich people here have a big investment" in keeping the president powerful. If he is thrown out, those allies will want "an orderly transition to another leader friendly to the West and to business," which is certainly not a given. In any case, events are moving so fast no one can predict what's next.

"Egypt protests: Can Mubarak be toppled?"
He can still salvage his government: The situation in Egypt is "delicate," says The New York Times in an editorial, but Mubarak still has a chance to "steer his country on a stable path without sacrificing it to extremist elements." He can accomplish this by "ordering security forces to exercise restraint against the protesters and — even more importantly — quickly offering Egyptians a credible, more democratic path forward." The Obama administration can help by urging Mubarak to "accept the legitimacy and urgency behind the protests." Ultimately, "a peaceful transition would be best for everyone."

"Mr. Mubarak is put on notice"

Opinion Brief: The Tunisia revolt: A model uprising?
The Bullpen: In Tunisia, a lesson in benign neglect
Opinion Brief: Did Facebook fuel the Tunisia uprising?


======


Egyptian military deploys in Cairo under curfew Buzz up! Share
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EmailPrint.. Play Video AP – Raw Video: Protests in Egypt turn violent
. Slideshow:Anti-government protests in Egypt .
Play Video Video:Raw Video: Egypt protesters clash with police AP .
Play Video Video:Egypt activists keep up the heat, boosted by ElBaradei AFP .
AP – Egyptian riot police officers stand in front of protesters performing Friday prayers in Cairo, Egypt, …
By MAGGIE MICHAEL and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Maggie Michael And Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press – 15 mins ago
CAIRO – Egypt's military deployed on the streets of Cairo to enforce a nighttime curfew as the sun set Friday on a day of rioting and chaos that amounted to the biggest challenge ever to authoritarian President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year regime.

Flames rose up across a number of cities from burning tires and police cars. Even the ruling party headquarters in Cairo was ablaze in the outpouring of rage, bitterness and utter frustration with a regime seen as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of grinding poverty that afflicts nearly half of the 80 million Egyptians.

"I can't believe our own police, our own government would keep beating up on us like this," said Cairo protester Ahmad Salah, 26. "I've been here for hours and gassed and keep going forward, and they keep gassing us, and I will keep going forward. This is a cowardly government and it has to fall. We're going to make sure of it."

After nightfall, some of the protesters defied the curfew and were praying on the streets of Cairo.

In one of many astonishing scenes Friday, thousands of anti-government protesters wielding rocks, glass and sticks chased hundreds of riot police away from the main square in downtown Cairo and several of the policemen stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.
An Associated Press reporter saw the protesters cheering the police who joined them and hoisting them on their shoulders in one of the many dramatic and chaotic scenes across Egypt on Friday.

After chasing the police, thousands of protesters were able to flood into the huge Tahrir Square downtown after being kept out most of the day by a very heavy police presence. Few police could be seen around the square after the confrontation.


===

FACTBOX-Protests and Egypt's financial markets

28 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


Jan 28 (Reuters) - Egypt's financial markets have been badly shaken since the biggest anti-government demonstrations of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule broke out on Tuesday.

Here are some facts about the main markets:

THE EGYPTIAN POUND

The Egyptian pound, which weakened to a six-year low after two days of protests, is entirely convertible, but the central bank tightly manages its movements against the dollar with a view to maintaining stability, allowing it to fluctuate gradually to reflect demand and supply. Currency traders say the bank often intervenes indirectly to maintain the currency at preferred levels via two commercial banks, Suez Canal Bank , which receives dollar receipts from the Suez Canal Authority, and Arab African International Bank, whose capital is partly held in dollars. Traders say the central bank made a rare direct intervention in December 2009 to keep the currency from weakening below 5.70 to the dollar, but there has been no sign of direct intervention since the current protests began. It weakened to 5.855 on Thursday, the last trading day before the Egyptian weekend.

The pound would come under particularly strong pressure if foreign and Egyptian investors were to accelerate the sale of their equity and treasuries holdings. One trader in the treasury room of a bank said several business executives had transferred funds abroad. Some of Egypt's leading businesses executives have close links to the ruling party.

THE EGYPTIAN STOCK EXCHANGE

Egypt's benchmark index of 30 shares <.EGX30> tumbled 7 percent in four days after Tunisia's president was ousted from power, then fell another 16 percent in two days following the outbreak of protests in Egypt on Tuesday. Because of its relatively large size and sophistication, Egypt is heavily weighted in many investment funds dedicated to the Middle East and Africa, which tend to invest in a handful of blue chips such as Orascom Construction Industries and Commercial International Bank . Local retail investors, who tend to invest more speculatively and in smaller companies, are particularly well represented in the market, and in the days since the Tunisian president's ouster the more broadly based index of 100 shares <.EGX100> has tumbled even faster than the main index, losing 29 percent.


GOVERNMENT FIXED INCOME

Holdings of treasury bills by foreigners soared over the past year as investors took advantage of a flood of cheap dollars to buy Egyptian government paper, especially shorter term T-bills that carry yields of around 9 or 10 percent. As of the end of November, foreigners held 61.30 billion Egyptian pounds ($10.5 billion) worth of the country's 274 billion Egyptian pounds in outstanding bills. Analysts say the lack of an active secondary market has dampened the appetite for government paper, especially longer maturities, forcing the government to add a risk premium that has pushed up its cost of funding. The development of secondary trading has been hindered by rules that allow only 15 commercial banks to buy treasury bills and bonds directly from the government, an arrangement that has allowed them to use their deposits to sit on easy and traditionally risk-free sovereign debt [ID:nLDE6670ZF]. The government also had treasury bonds worth 199.2 billion pounds outstanding as of the end of November, with various maturities of up to 20 years.

It is too early to gauge the impact on treasury bills, which many investors hold to maturity, but an increased yield of 40 basis points to an average of 10.62 percent at an auction of 182-day bills on Thursday suggests the central bank is having to pay more to attract buyers.

CORPORATE BONDS

Only a handful of Egyptian firms -- Mobinil , Ezz Steel , GB Auto and Orascom Construction Industries (OCIC.CA> -- have bonds outstanding, and these trade infrequently. The government has taken a number of steps over the past year to make it easier to issue bonds, including the simplification of the regulatory process and the introduction of a rule allowing corporations to issue bonds in batches. [ID:nLDE60R27K]


CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS

The cost of insuring Egyptian debt against default jumped after demonstrations began on Tuesday. During the crisis Egyptian five-year credit default swaps (CDS) have risen to 405 basis points, the highest since April 2009, data from Markit showed on Friday. They traded at 320 bps on Jan 17.

(Editing by John Stonestreet)

====


TEXT-Obama urges Egypt's Mubarak to enact reforms29 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Following is the text of U.S. President Barack Obama's statement on the situation in Egypt on Friday evening.

"Good evening, everybody.

"My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.

"The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights and the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

"I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they've taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cellphone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.

"At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek.

"Now going forward this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues including working together to advance a more peaceful region.

"But we've also been clear that there must be reform: political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people. In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time.

"When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise. Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people and suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.

"What's needed now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people, a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

"Now ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people and I believe the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want, a better life for ourselves and our children and a government that is fair and just and responsive.

"Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization. The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future and we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people, all quarters, to achieve it.

"Around the world, governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the Untied States, that's true in Asia, it is true in Europe, it's true in Africa, it's certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.

"When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected president, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserves.

"Surely there will be difficult days to come but the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free and more hopeful.

"Thank you very much."

====

Egyptian general ends US visit, US urges restraint28 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* US-Egypt defense talks were set to run until Feb. 2

* Egypt receives $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid

* White House says to review aid policy with Egypt (Recasts with details)

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - The Pentagon urged restraint from Egypt's military in face-to-face talks with a top Egyptian general in Washington, before his delegation was called home on Friday because of massive anti-government protests.

Lieutenant General Sami Enan, chief of staff of Egypt's armed forces, abruptly cut short talks in Washington that were due to run through Feb. 2.

"He intends to return today," General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon.

Before his departure, Alexander Vershbow, a U.S. assistant secretary of defense, urged restraint during talks with Enan on Wednesday and Thursday, Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said, without elaborating.

Lapan said the 25-member Egyptian delegation was heading home on Friday evening.

Egypt receives about $1.3 billion a year in U.S. military aid and Washington views Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as a critical partner -- a linchpin for future Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking and a bulwark against Iran's regional clout.
But the White House said its aid to Egypt now was under review, as Egyptian troops took to the streets on Friday to try to control crowds demanding Mubarak step down.

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Take a Look-Mass protests in Egypt [ID:nLDE70O2DA]

Analysis-Egyptian army could hold key [ID:nLDE70R0HS]

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Egypt's armed forces -- the world's 10th biggest with more than 468,000 members -- have been at the heart of power since army officers staged an overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

All four Egyptian presidents since then have come from the military, now led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, 75, who is defense minister and commander in chief.
Enan ranks below him but is one of the top military officers in Egypt and carries considerable clout.

A Middle East military expert in Washington, speaking on condition of anonymity, described Enan as someone who appeared to have the respect of the United States.

"He certainly seems competent," the expert said.

Cartwright said the protests also came up in informal chats in the Pentagon hallways, between the members of Egypt's delegation and U.S. officials.

"It would be hard to have ignored the fact that this was going on. And it wasn't ignored," Cartwright said.

There are about 625 U.S. military personnel in Egypt. The U.S. has provided F-16 jet fighters, tanks, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, anti-aircraft missile batteries and other equipment to the Egyptian military. (Editing by Peter Cooney and Paul Simao)


===========
How Egypt Cut Off the Internet


By DOUG AAMOTH Doug Aamoth – Fri Jan 28, 6:25 am ET
Reports have now verified that Eqypt has cut off access to the internet amid political protests. Renesys, an internet monitoring firm based in Manchester, New Hampshire, calls the situation "an action unprecedented in Internet history," according to a company blog post.

The development of an internet "kill switch" that our own government could use in the case of a national emergency has been proposed here in the U.S., and if we take a look at how Egypt has already flipped its own kill switch, it may give us more insight into how such a system would work here. (See photos of the protests paralyzing Egypt.)

The Basics of an Internet Connection

On the simplest of levels, your computer connects to the internet through an internet service provider (ISP) - Comcast, Time Warner, Qwest, Verizon, etc. - and your service provider either connects directly to all the other internet service providers around the world or to a larger internet service provider that then connects to all the others.

When you open up your web browser and type a domain name into the address bar - say Time.com, for instance - your service provider sends a lightning-quick request to whichever service provider Time.com uses to make its web pages publicly available on the internet.

The computer that holds all of Time.com's web pages sends a response back through its internet service provider basically saying, "Yes, we're online. Here's the web page you requested." (See TIME's video about the ideology behind the protests.)

The Domain Name System

That handshake-type scenario is routed through a domain name system (DNS) server. Your computer is identified with a unique numeric code called an internet protocol (IP) address. Time.com's computers also have their own IP addresses. The DNS server converts the plain-English web address that you typed into your browser from www.time.com to the appropriate numeric IP address so it can be routed through the internet between your computer and whichever computer at Time.com holds the web page you've requested.

In most cases, your internet service provider automatically designates a DNS server for your connection to use. But if that particular DNS server gets knocked offline somehow, you won't be able to negotiate any sort of internet requests. Your computer will send a request for a web page through your ISP, which will try to route it through the assigned DNS server and, if that server's not available, you won't get an answer back. (See how fear of Islamists is plaguing the U.S.)

The beauty of how the internet is structured, though, is that you can use any of a number of publicly-available DNS servers if the one your ISP assigned you has been knocked offline. For instance, the DNS server that my Comcast connection uses got knocked offline for an entire day a couple months ago and I was able to manually configure my wireless router to connect through Google's free DNS server instead. It's tricky, but it works.

Egypt's DNS Servers

The Egyptian government has been able to cut off most of the country's internet access simply by shutting down the various DNS servers used by Egyptian internet service providers. As such, any requests for web pages initiated from inside Egypt have been unsuccessful since there aren't any available DNS servers to facilitate the hand-offs, and any requests for websites located inside Egypt coming from computers anywhere else in the world haven't worked either.

While this has affected most of Egypt's internet traffic, some people are able to work around the issue by manually using DNS servers that haven't been taken offline - similar to the method I used when Comcast's DNS server went down. BGPmon.com is reporting that 88% of Egypt's internet traffic has been knocked offline, which seems to indicate that 12% of those who are still able to access the internet there are either using alternative DNS servers or haven't had their DNS servers taken offline yet (apparently some dial-up internet connections are still able to get through, for instance).
(See TIME's latest updates on the crisis in Cairo.)

The Kill Switch

While images of a big red button housed inside a Plexiglass case that can only be unlocked by two simultaneous key twists of top government officials seem to fit the idea of how such an internet kill switch would work, the reality is far more mundane. In Egypt's case, the internet service providers that operate within the country agree to let the government shut down the commonly-used DNS servers if they see fit to do so.

The BBC reports that one of Egypt's big internet service providers, Vodafone, issued an e-mail statement simply stating that the company was instructed to shut down its DNS servers. "Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such and order and we are obliged to comply with it," said the statement.

The same order was almost certainly issued to all the other internet service providers operating inside Egypt and, just like that, the internet went down.
==================
The day part of the Internet died: Egypt goes dark


By JORDAN ROBERTSON, AP Technology Writer Jordan Robertson, Ap Technology Writer – Fri Jan 28, 7:29 am ET
SAN FRANCISCO – About a half-hour past midnight Friday morning in Egypt, the Internet went dead.

Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the Internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule, experts said.

Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major Internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the Internet to try and silence dissent.

Experts say it's unlikely that what's happened in Egypt could happen in the United States because the U.S. has numerous Internet providers and ways of connecting to the Internet. Coordinating a simultaneous shutdown would be a massive undertaking.

"It can't happen here," said Jim Cowie, the chief technology officer and a co-founder of Renesys, a network security firm in Manchester, N.H., that studies Internet disruptions. "How many people would you have to call to shut down the U.S. Internet? Hundreds, thousands maybe? We have enough Internet here that we can have our own Internet. If you cut it off, that leads to a philosophical question: Who got cut off from the Internet, us or the rest of the world?"


In fact, there are few countries anywhere with all their central Internet connections in one place or so few places that they can be severed at the same time. But the idea of a single "kill switch" to turn the Internet on and off has seduced some American lawmakers, who have pushed for the power to shutter the Internet in a national emergency.

The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once, something that Cowie called "almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history."

The outage sets the stage for blowback from the international community and investors. It also sets a precedent for other countries grappling with paralyzing political protests — though censoring the Internet and tampering with traffic to quash protests is nothing new.

China has long restricted what its people can see online and received renewed scrutiny for the practice when Internet search leader Google Inc. proclaimed a year ago that it would stop censoring its search results in China.


In 2009, Iran disrupted Internet service to try to curb protests over disputed elections. And two years before that, Burma's Internet was crippled when military leaders apparently took the drastic step of physically disconnecting primary communications links in major cities, a tactic that was foiled by activists armed with cell phones and satellite links.

Computer experts say what sets Egypt's action apart is that the entire country was disconnected in an apparently coordinated effort, and that all manner of devices are affected, from mobile phones to laptops. It seems, though, that satellite phones would not be affected.

"Iran never took down any significant portion of their Internet connection — they knew their economy and the markets are dependent on Internet activity," Cowie said.

When countries are merely blocking certain sites — like Twitter or Facebook — where protesters are coordinating demonstrations, as apparently happened at first in Eqypt, protesters can use "proxy" computers to circumvent the government censors. The proxies "anonymize" traffic and bounce it to computers in other countries that send it along to the restricted sites.

But when there's no Internet at all, proxies can't work and online communication grinds to a halt.


Renesys' network sensors showed that Egypt's four primary Internet providers — Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr — and all went dark at 12:34 a.m. Those companies shuttle all Internet traffic into and out of Egypt, though many people get their service through additional local providers with different names.

Italy-based Seabone said no Internet traffic was going into or out of Egypt after 12:30 a.m. local time.

"There's no way around this with a proxy," Cowie said. "There is literally no route. It's as if the entire country disappeared. You can tell I'm still kind of stunned."

The technical act of turning off the Internet can be fairly straightforward. It likely requires only a simple change to the instructions for the companies' networking equipment.

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, a Chelmsford, Mass., security company, said that in countries such as Egypt — with a centralized government and a relatively small number of fiber-optic cables and other ways for the Internet to get piped in — the companies that own the technologies are typically under strict licenses from the government.

"It's probably a phone call that goes out to half a dozen folks who enter a line on a router configuration file and hit return," Labovitz said. "It's like programming your TiVo — you have things that are set up and you delete one. It's not high-level programming."

Twitter confirmed Tuesday that its service was being blocked in Egypt, and Facebook reported problems.

"Iran went through the same pattern," Labovitz said. "Initially there was some level of filtering, and as things deteriorated, the plug was pulled. It looks like Egypt might be following a similar pattern."


The ease with which Egypt cut itself also means the country can control where the outages are targeted, experts said. So its military facilities, for example, can stay online while the Internet vanishes for everybody else.

Experts said it was too early to tell which, if any, facilities still have connections in Egypt.

Cowie said his firm is investigating clues that a small number of small networks might still be available.

Meanwhile, a program Renesys uses that displays the percentage of each country that is connected to the Internet was showing a figure that he was still struggling to believe. Zero.






===========

By HAMZA HENDAWI and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Hamza Hendawi And Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press – 48 mins ago
CAIRO – In his first response to the unrest sweeping his nation, Egypt's president fired his Cabinet Saturday and promised reforms but refused to step down, setting the stage for perhaps even heavier street battles with protesters calling for an end to his nearly 30 years in power.

Four days of the largest anti-government protests in decades exploded into chaos hours earlier. Tens of thousands of Egyptians fed up with crushing poverty, unemployment and corruption poured out of mosques after Friday's noon prayers and battled police with stones and firebombs.

By nightfall, they had burned down and looted the ruling party's headquarters along the banks of the Nile and set fire to many other buildings, roaming the streets of downtown Cairo in defiance of a night curfew enforced by the army.
President Hosni Mubarak, confronted with the most dire threat to his three decades of authoritarian rule, faced his nation in a televised address at midnight, making vague promises of social reform in what is likely to be interpreted as an attempt to cling to power rather than a genuine pledge solve Egypt's pressing problems.

He also defended his security forces and accused the protesters of plotting to destabilize Egypt and destroy the legitimacy of his regime, outraging those still in the streets well into the night.

"We want Mubarak to go and instead he is digging in further," protester Kamal Mohammad said. "He thinks it is calming down the situation but he is just angering people more."

A heavy police crackdown and other extreme measures by the government — including the shutting down of all Internet and mobile phone services in Cairo and other areas — did not stop the surging crowds. With police beaten back in many places, the government called the army into the streets and imposed a nationwide dusk-to-dawn curfew.

Egypt's crackdown drew harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington's most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.

Stepping up the pressure, President Barack Obama told a news conference he called Mubarak immediately after his TV address and urged the Egyptian leader to take "concrete steps" to expand rights and refrain from violence against protesters.

"The United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free and more hopeful," Obama said.

Throughout Friday, flames rose in cities across Egypt, including Alexandria, Suez, Assiut and Port Said, and security officials said there were protests in 11 of the country's 28 provinces.

Calling the anti-government protests "part of a bigger plot to shake the stability and destroy legitimacy" of Egypt's political system, a somber-looking Mubarak said: "We aspire for more democracy, more effort to combat unemployment and poverty and combat corruption."

His promises fell short of the protesters' demands for him to step down.

"Out, out, out!" protesters chanted in violent, chaotic scenes of battles with riot police and the army — which was sent onto the streets for the first time Friday during the crisis.
Protesters seized the streets of Cairo, battling police with stones and firebombs and burning down the ruling party headquarters. Many defied a 6 p.m. curfew and crowds remained on the streets long after midnight, where buildings and tires were still burning and there was widespread looting.At least one protester was killed Friday, bringing the toll for the week to eight. Demonstrators were seen dragging bloodied, unconsciousness protesters to waiting cars and on to hospitals, but no official number of wounded was announced.

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading pro-democracy advocate, was soaked with a water cannon and briefly trapped inside a mosque after joining the protests. He was later placed under house arrest.

In the capital, hundreds of young men carted away televisions, fans and stereo equipment looted from the National Democratic Party, near the Egyptian Museum, home of King Tutankhamun's treasures. Young men formed a human barricade in front of the museum to protect one of Egypt's most important tourist attractions.

Others around the city looted banks, smashed cars, tore down street signs and pelted armored riot police vehicles with paving stones torn from roadways.

"We are the ones who will bring change," declared 21-year-old Ahmed Sharif. "If we do nothing, things will get worse. Change must come!" he screamed through a surgical mask he wore to ward off the tear gas.

Egypt's national airline halted flights for at least 12 hours and a Cairo Airport official said some international airlines had canceled flights to the capital, at least overnight. There were long lines at many supermarkets and employees limited bread sales to 10 rolls per person.

Options appeared to be dwindling for Mubarak, an 82-year-old former air force commander who until this week maintained what looked like rock-solid control of the most populous Arab nation and the cultural heart of the region.

The scenes of anarchy along the Nile played out on television and computer screens from Algiers to Riyadh, two weeks to the day after protesters in Tunisia drove out their autocratic president. Images of the protests in Tunisia emboldened Egyptians to take to the streets in demonstrations organized over mobile phone, Facebook and Twitter.

The government cut off the Internet and mobile phone services, but that did not keep tens of thousands of protesters from all walks of life from joining in rallies after Friday prayers. The demonstrators were united in rage against a regime seen as corrupt, abusive and uncaring toward the nearly half of Egypt's 80 million people who live below the poverty line.

"All these people want to bring down the government. That's our basic desire," said protester Wagdy Syed, 30. "They have no morals, no respect, and no good economic sense."

Egypt has been one of the United States' closest allies in the region since President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel at Camp David in 1977.

Mubarak kept that deal after Sadat's assassination and has been a close partner of every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, helping Washington on issues that range from suppressing Islamist violence to counterbalancing the rise of Iran's anti-American Shiite theocracy.
The Mubarak government boasts about economic achievements: rising GDP and a surging private sector led by a construction boom and vibrant, seemingly recession-proof banks.

But many say the fruits of growth have been funneled almost entirely to a politically connected elite, leaving average Egyptians surrounded by unattainable symbols of wealth as they struggle to find jobs, pay daily bills and find affordable housing.

The uprising united the economically struggling and the prosperous, the secular and the religious. On Friday, several of the policemen even stripped off their uniforms and badges and joined the demonstrators.

The crowd included Christian men with key rings with crosses swinging from their pockets and young men dressed in fast-food restaurant uniforms. Women dressed in black veils and wide, flowing robes followed women with expensive hairdos, tight jeans and American sneakers.

In downtown Cairo, people on balconies tossed cans of Pepsi and bottles of water to protesters on the streets below to douse their eyes, as well as onions and lemons to sniff, to cut the sting of the tear gas.

Junior lawmakers in the ruling party phoned in to national Egyptian TV appealing for calm in the city.

Some of the most serious violence Friday was in Suez, where protesters seized weapons stored in a police station and asked the policemen inside to leave the building before they burned it down. They also set ablaze about 20 police trucks parked nearby. Demonstrators exchanged fire with policemen trying to stop them from storming another police station and one protester was killed in the gun battle.

In Assiut in southern Egypt, several thousand demonstrators clashed with police that set upon them with batons and sticks, chasing them through side streets.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition. According to leaked U.S. memos, hereditary succession also does not meet with the approval of the powerful military.

___

Associated Press reporters Sarah El Deeb, Maggie Michael and Diaa Hadid contributed to this report.

===

Over 20 bodies in Egypt's Alexandria - Jazeera
29 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


DUBAI, Jan 29 (Reuters) Al-Jazeera television said on Saturday its correspondent had seen more than 20 bodies in the Eguyptian city of Alexandria, following massive demonstrations and clashes with security forces on Friday.

The Qatar-based satellite channel gave no further details.

====


Mubarak skeptical of US reform push - leaked cables28 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Shift from public criticism has helped improve ties

* Mubarak sees US reform efforts as source of instability

* Fall of Iranian shah, election of Hamas cited

By David Alexander

WASHINGTON, Jan 28 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's push for democratic reforms in Egypt has faced resistance from its longtime leader, in part because President Hosni Mubarak believes Washington's past pressure for change has caused chaos in the Middle East, leaked U.S. diplomatic cables show.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking on Friday as anti-government protests rocked Egypt for a fourth day, said it was "absolutely vital" for Cairo to embrace political and social change as the United States has been pushing for years.

U.S. diplomatic cables posted on Friday by WikiLeaks show Obama has guided the United States to warmer ties with Egypt by avoiding the public "name and shame" tactics of his predecessor George W. Bush while urging political reforms in private.

But they also show U.S. pressure is viewed skeptically by Mubarak, who believes ill-advised U.S. pushes for reform in the Middle East have produced colossal mistakes, from the ouster of the Shah of Iran to the election of Hamas Islamists in Gaza.

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Take a Look-Egypt's unprecedented protests [ID:nLDE70O2DA]

Egypt map, economic profile http://link.reuters.com/fez67r

White House on Egypt http://link.reuters.com/waj77r

Protest locations http://link.reuters.com/byf77r

Pictures slideshow http://reut.rs/f8etf2

Breakingviews [ID:nLDE70R1QP]

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"We have heard him lament the results of earlier U.S. efforts to encourage reform in the Islamic world," the U.S. embassy in Cairo told Clinton in a cable before Mubarak's visit to Washington in May 2009.

"He can harken back to the Shah of Iran: the U.S. encouraged him to accept reforms, only to watch the country fall into the hands of revolutionary religious extremists. Wherever he has seen these U.S. efforts, he can point to the chaos and loss of stability that ensued."


The cables were part of some 250,000 U.S. State Department documents reportedly obtained by WikiLeaks, a website that aims to expose governments and corporations through the leaking of information not previously made public.

MISSTEPS IN IRAQ

The cables indicate the U.S.-Egypt relationship soured under President Bush. Mubarak viewed the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a mistake that ultimately boosted the influence and power of Iran, Egypt's main Middle East rival.

"Mubarak viewed President Bush ... as naive, controlled by subordinates and totally unprepared for dealing with post-Saddam Iraq, especially the rise of Iran," the May 2009 cable to Clinton noted.

The Egyptian leader believed Iraq needed a tough and strong but fair military officer as its leader.

"This telling observation, we believe, describes Mubarak's own view of himself,"
the cable said.

The cables depict improving ties as Obama moved away from the Bush administration's public criticism.

Obama's overtures, and his speech to the Islamic world from Cairo in 2009, further helped to improve ties, even as his administration continued to press Mubarak's government for greater openness and an end to rights abuses.

"We continue to promote democratic reform in Egypt, including the expansion of political freedom and pluralism, and respect for human rights," the U.S. embassy cabled FBI Director Robert Mueller
ahead of a visit to Cairo in February 2010.

It said Washington was pressing Cairo to lift its state of emergency, in place almost continuously since 1967, and replace it with a counterterrorism law that would protect civil liberties.

The government of Egypt "remains skeptical of our role in democracy promotion, complaining that any efforts to open up will result in empowering the Muslim Brotherhood, which currently holds 86 seats -- as independents -- in Egypt's 454-seat parliament," the cable said.

The Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest opposition group and favors a return to Islamic rules, away from the secularism of the Mubarak government. Its members run as independents to skirt restrictions barring religious parties. (Editing by John O' Callaghan)

===

FACTBOX - International reaction to Egyptian protests
29 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


Jan 29 (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refused to bow to demands that he resign, after ordering troops and tanks into cities in an attempt to quell street protests against his 30-year rule. [ID:nLDE70R2FE]


U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA

"He (President Hosni Mubarak) pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise."

"Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people and suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away."

"What's needed now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people, a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people."


DOMINIC ASQUITH, BRITISH AMBASSADOR TO EGYPT

"I'm struck by the variety of age, of class, of gender, it's across the board, you can see it, you can see the variety of people there.

"It's not, from my perception, religiously driven. This is not the Muslim Brotherhood."

"The important thing that we have to focus on is to try and maintain a state of order where what President Mubarak talks of, a national dialogue, can take place, the government can respond to protesters; desires, aspirations, and to go through what those aspirations are."


ALI LARIJANI, IRAN'S PARLIAMENTARY SPEAKER

"The Americans can tolerate seeing blood shed in Egypt but not see a regime fall in Egypt into the hands of the people,"

CATHERINE ASHTON, EU FOREIGN AFFAIRS CHIEF

"I reiterate my call on all parties to exercise restraint and calm and I urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release all peaceful demonstrators from detention."

"I also reiterate my call upon the Egyptian authorities to urgently establish a constructive and peaceful way to respond to the legitimate aspirations of Egyptian citizens for democratic and socioeconomic reforms."

KING ABDULLAH OF SAUDI ARABIA

"No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred."


CARL BILDT, SWEDISH FOREIGN MINISTER

"You can describe it as a demographic tsunami to the south of the Mediterranean that can only be met by sustained economic reforms."

"It is now even more obvious that what Egypt needs is a political initiative that leads to an open and democratic presidential election later this year."


SALAM FAYYAD, PALESTINIAN PRIME MINISTER

"There is no question, a lot of changes need to take place.

"If this process of change is managed well -- and that begins by those in government not being dismissive of the desire for change given the high degree of dissatisfaction with the status quo."


YORAM MEITAL, MIDDLE EAST ANALYST

"There is currently a sort of earthquake, nothing less. It started in Tunisia, it is continuing in Egypt; the political situation in Lebanon is, in any case, very complicated; in Yemen there are already two straight days of protests which have their own local peculiarities ... it cannot be said that these are just isolated incidents, there is something broader which can be termed the Tunisia or Al Jazeera effect.

ANTHONEY SKINNER, ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR OF POLITICAL CONSULTANCY MAPLECROFT

"Mubarak is showing he is still there for now and he is trying to deflect some of the force of the process away from himself by sacking the Cabinet. In some ways, it is reminiscent of what Ben Ali did in Tunisia before he was forced out."

"We will have to see how people react but I don't think it will be enough at all. I wouldn't want to put a number on his chances of survival -- we really are in uncharted territory."
(Compiled by London World Desk)


====

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and DIAA HADID, Associated Press Maggie Michael And Diaa Hadid, Associated Press – 52 mins ago
CAIRO – Egyptian security officials say at least 62 people have been killed nationwide over the last two days of mass anti-government protests.

The officials say an additional 2,000 people have been injured in the demonstrations, that have included violent clashes between police and protesters.

They said Saturday the figures include injuries and deaths of both protesters and security forces.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to brief the media.

===

Mubarak names VP, new PM as deadly protests continue
24 minutes ago - AFP 2:10 | 0 views
Embattled Hosni Mubarak tapped Egypt's military intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president and named a new premier on Saturday, as a mass revolt against his autocratic rule raged into a fifth day.


===

Egypt unrest causes fuel shortage in Gaza Strip29 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Gazan car owners start hoarding fuel

* Tunnel smuggling less lucrative


By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Gaza Strip residents flocked to petrol stations on Saturday after clashes in neighbouring Egypt hampered smugglers ferrying fuel supplies through tunnels that run under the border into the enclave, witnesses said.

Merchants and tunnellers said the pace of smuggling of fuel and other materials had dropped in recent days and reached its lowest level on Saturday as clashes between Egyptian residents of north Sinai and security forces intensified.

Fearing that makeshift fuel pipes that run through the smuggling tunnels would soon dry up completely, Gaza car owners filled their tanks to the brim and also took extra cans to stock up with additional supplies.

"Move now and fill your car," read a mobile phone text message that Gazans circulated.

A statement issued by Hamas officials tried to calm fears by issuing a statement saying that there was no shortage of any goods in the coastal strip but it did not deter drivers from filling their cars.

Palestinian get most of their fuel from Egypt through a network of underground tunnels.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sent troops and armoured cars into Egyptian cities on Friday in an attempt to quell street fighting and mass protests demanding an end to his 30-year rule.

Egyptian troops have a high presence in Rafah and police the border to try to prevent the smuggling of munitions and goods into the Gaza Strip that is partially blockaded by Israel.

Sounds of gunfire and explosions on the Egyptian side of the border could be heard across the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah where Hamas security forces have been placed on high alert to prevent any possible breach of the border fence.

A Hamas interior ministry spokesman said the border was "secure and there were no violations."

Only a few dozen tunnels remain along Gaza's border with Egypt due to repeated Israeli air strikes and a stepped-up security crackdown by Egypt. Three years ago hundreds were used to smuggling munitions for militant factions.

Israel tightened its land, air and sea blockade of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after Gaza militants abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid.

Tunnellers have said their business has become less lucrative because of the increased risk that has raised prices and because Israel has eased its restrictions on the importation of civilian goods and has allowed goods to be exported from the territory.

===
Chaos engulfs Cairo as Mubarak points to successor


By HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press – 44 mins ago
CAIRO – With protests raging, Egypt's president named his intelligence chief as his first-ever vice president on Saturday, setting the stage for a successor as chaos engulfed the capital. Soldiers stood by — a few even joining the demonstrators — and the death toll from five days of anti-government fury rose sharply to 74.
Saturday's fast-moving developments across the north African nation marked a sharp turning point in President Hosni Mubarak's three-decade rule of Egypt.

Residents and shopkeepers in affluent neighborhoods boarded up their houses and stores against looters, who roamed the streets with knives and sticks, stealing what they could and destroying cars, windows and street signs. Gunfire rang out in some neighborhoods.

Tanks and armored personnel carriers fanned out across the city of 18 million, guarding key government buildings, and major tourist and archaeological sites. Among those singled out for special protection was the Egyptian Museum, home to some of the country's most treasured antiquities, and the Cabinet building. The military closed the pyramids on the outskirts of Cairo — Egypt's premier tourist site.

But soldiers made no moves against protesters, even after a curfew came and went and the crowds swelled in the streets, demanding an end to Mubarak's rule and no handoff to the son he had been grooming to succeed him.

"This is the revolution of people of all walks of life," read black graffiti scrolled on one army tank in Tahrir Square. "Mubarak, take your son and leave," it said.

Thousands of protesters defied the curfew for the second night, standing their ground in the main Tahrir Square in a resounding rejection of Mubarak's attempt to hang onto power with promises of reform and a new government.

Police protecting the Interior Ministry near the site opened fire at a funeral procession for a dead protester, possibly because it came too close to the force. Clashes broke out and at least two people were killed.

A 43-year-old teacher, Rafaat Mubarak, said the appointment of the president's intelligence chief and longtime confidant, Omar Suleiman, as vice president did not satisfy the protesters.

"This is all nonsense. They will not fool us anymore. We want the head of the snake," he said in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. "If he is appointed by Mubarak, then he is just one more member of the gang. We are not speaking about a branch in a tree, we are talking about the roots."


The crackdown on protesters has drawn harsh criticism from the Obama administration and even a threat Friday to reduce a $1.5 billion foreign aid program if Washington's most important Arab ally escalates the use of force.

Thousands of passengers were stranded at Cairo's airport as flights were canceled or delayed, leaving them unable to leave because of a government-imposed curfew. Several Arab nations, meanwhile, moved to evacuate their citizens.

The cancelations of flights and the arrival of several largely empty aircraft appeared to herald an ominous erosion of key tourism revenue.

The protesters united in one overarching demand — Mubarak and his family must go. The movement is a culmination of years of simmering frustration over a government they see as corrupt, heavy-handed and neglectful of poverty.

Egyptians were emboldened by the uprising in Tunisia — another North African Arab nation, and further buoyed by their success in defying the ban on gatherings.

At the end of a long day of rioting and mass demonstrations Friday, Mubarak fired his Cabinet and promised reforms. But the demonstrators returned in force again Saturday to demand a complete change of regime.

The president appeared to have been preparing his son Gamal to succeed him, possibly as soon as presidential elections planned for later this year. However, there was significant public opposition to the hereditary succession.

The appointment of Suleiman, 74, answers one of the most intriguing and enduring political questions in Egypt: Who will succeed 82-year-old Mubarak?

Another question is whether his appointment will calm Egypt's seething cities.

Mubarak appointed Suleiman shortly after the U.S. said he needed to take concrete action to achieve "real reform." Suleiman is well known and respected by American officials and has traveled to Washington many times.

Before word that Mubarak had picked his first vice president, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the U.S. wanted to see Mubarak fulfill his pledges of reform.

"The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat," Crowley said on his Twitter account. "President Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action."

As the army presence expanded in Cairo Saturday, police largely disappeared from the streets — possibly because their presence seemed only to fuel protesters' anger. Egyptian police are hated for their brutality.

On Friday, 17 police stations throughout Cairo were torched, with protesters stealing firearms and ammunition and freeing some jailed suspects. They also burned dozens of police trucks in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. On Saturday, protesters besieged a police station in the Giza neighborhood of Cairo, looted and pulled down Egyptian flags, then burned the building to the ground.

There were no clashes reported between protesters and the military at all, and many in the crowds showered soldiers with affection.

One army captain joined the demonstrators in Tahrir Square, who hoisted him on their shoulders while chanting slogans against Mubarak. The officer ripped apart a picture of the president.

"We don't want him! We will go after him!" demonstrators shouted. They decried looting and sabotage, saying: "Those who love Egypt should not sabotage Egypt!"


Some 200 inmates escaped a jail on the outskirts of the city, starting a fire first to cover their breakout. Eight inmates were killed during the escape.

On Saturday, feelings of joy over the sustained protest mingled with frustration over the looting and Mubarak's refusal to step down.

"To hell with Mubarak; We don't serve individuals. We serve this country that we love, just like you," yelled another soldier to protesters from atop a tank scrawled with graffiti that said: "Down with Mubarak!"

Like Mubarak, Suleiman has a military background. The powerful military has provided Egypt with its four presidents since the monarchy was toppled nearly 60 years ago. He has been in charge of some of Egypt's most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.

Suleiman, additionally, is widely seen as a central regime figure, a position that protesters were likely to view with suspicion.

Mubarak also named his new prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and fellow former air force officer.

Both appointments perpetuate the military's overriding role in Egyptian politics.

Suleiman's frequent trips to Israel could be held against him by a population that continues to view the Jewish state as a sworn enemy more than 30 years after the two neighbors signed a peace treaty.

With the two occupying the country's most important jobs after the president from the military, Gamal, a banker-turned-politician, appears out of the running for his father's job.

A leaked U.S. diplomatic memo said Gamal and his clique of ruling party stalwarts and businessmen were gaining confidence in 2007 about controlling power in Egypt and that they believed that Mubarak would eventually dump Suleiman, who was seen as a threat by Gamal and his coterie of aides.

Gamal launched his political career within the ranks of the ruling National Democratic Party, climbed over the past 10 years to become its de facto leader, dictating economic policies and bolstering his own political standing.

Gamal's close aide and confidant, steel tycoon Ahmed Ezz, resigned from the party on Saturday, according to state television. Gamal and Ezz are suspected of orchestrating the rigging of the last parliamentary election in November, making sure the ruling party won all but a small fraction of the chamber's 518 seats.

Nineteen private jets carrying families of wealthy Egyptian businessmen with ties to the Mubarak family left Cairo late Saturday, most of them bound for Dubai, an airport official.

"There is nothing short of Mubarak leaving power that will satisfy the people," Mohamed ElBaradei, the country's leading pro-reform activist told The Associated Press on Saturday. "I think what Mubarak said yesterday was an insult to the intelligence of the Egyptian people."

Buildings, statues and even armored security vehicles were covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti, including the words "Mubarak must fall," which by morning had been written over to say "Mubarak fell."
The military extended the hours of the night curfew imposed Friday in the three major cities where the worst violence has been seen — Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. State television said it would begin at 4 p.m. and last until 8 a.m., longer than the 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. ban Friday night that appeared to not have been enforced.

The Internet appeared blocked for a second day to hamper protesters who use social networking sites to organize. And after cell phone service was cut for a day Friday, two of the country's major providers were up and running Saturday.

In the capital on Friday night, hundreds of young men carted away televisions, fans and stereo equipment looted from the ruling National Democratic Party, near the Egyptian Museum.

Others around the city looted banks, smashed cars, tore down street signs and pelted armored riot police vehicles with paving stones torn from roadways.

Banks and the stock market will be closed on Sunday, the first day of the week, because of the turmoil.

_____

AP reporters Sarah El Deeb, Maggie Michael, Margaret Hyde in Cairo and Hadeel Al-Shalchi in Alexandria, Egypt, contributed to this report.

===

US secretly backed leading figures behind Egyptian uprising

US secretly backed leading figures behind Egyptian uprising Popular British newspaper “The Daily Telegraph” has revealed that the American government secretly backed leading figures behind the Egyptian uprising who have been planning “regime change” for the past three years.
According to the newspaper, the American embassy in Cairo helped a young dissident attend a US-sponsored summit for activists in New York, while working to keep his identity secret from Egyptian state police. On his return to Cairo in December 2008, the activist told US diplomats that an alliance of opposition groups had drawn up a plan to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak and install a democratic government in 2011. He has already been arrested by Egyptian security in connection with the demonstrations and his identity is being protected by The Daily Telegraph. The crisis in Egypt follows the toppling of Tunisian president Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, who fled the country after widespread protests forced him from office. The disclosures, contained in previously secret US diplomatic dispatches released by the WikiLeaks website, show American officials pressed the Egyptian government to release other dissidents who had been detained by the police.


===========

Egypt vigilantes defend homes as police disappear

29 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Clashes in supermarkets as people stock up

* Egyptians use sticks, razors to protect homes

* Gated compounds tighten security as looting spreads

(Adds carjacking of ambulances and police vehicles)

By Dina Zayed and Sherine El Madany

CAIRO, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Egyptians armed with guns, sticks, and blades have formed vigilante groups to defend their homes from looters after police disappeared from the streets following days of violent protests.

Banks, junctions and important buildings previously guarded by the police and state security were left abandoned on Saturday and civilians have quickly stepped in to fill the void.

"There are no police to be found anywhere," said Ghadeer, 23, from an upscale neighbourhood. "Doormen and young boys from their neighbourhoods are standing outside holding sticks, razors and other weapons to prevent people from coming in."

She added: "The community is working together to stop this and protect ourselves."

Police withdrew from the streets when the army was sent in to take over security in Cairo. Witnesses have since seen mobs storming supermarkets, commercial centres, banks, private property and government buildings in Cairo and elsewhere.

Egyptians have called for army intervention to bring back law and order. On Saturday, many protesters changed: "No to plundering and no to destruction." [ID:nLDE70S02E]

Dozens of shops across Egypt have painted display windows white to hide contents and discourage looting. A cash machine was broken in an upscale neighbourhood, witnesses said.

"They are letting Egypt burn to the ground," said Inas Shafik, 35.

Several government buildings were set ablaze during days of protests against President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule. They were often left to burn without the intervention of authorities.


LOOTING SPREADS

State television said army reinforcements were being sent to sites across Egypt to protect public and private property. Police arrested 470 people across the Egyptian capital on charges of looting, arson and damage of public property.

The military also rounded up suspects, state television showed later on Saturday evening.

Islamic leaders have in the meantime called on people to join vigilante groups to protect their homes themselves. Yet, scenes of looting appeared to spread from upscale parts of Cairo to downtown and poorer areas as well.

"Our jobs are done and over. There are thugs everywhere, ransacking our shops," Saleh Salem, a shop owner in central Cairo. "Since the government is not doing it, we are sending down our boys to create human shields to fight the criminals."
Rumours were rife with reports of escaped convicts running through the streets. State television reported at least 60 rape cases during the unrest but it was impossible to confirm that.

Some 700 prisoners escaped in Fayoum, south of Cairo, and killed a senior police officer, sources said. Another senior police officer was also kidnapped in Damietta, a witness said.

In Cairo, witnesses said armed men seized ambulances and police vehicles, quickly driving off away from streets where they were chased by community watch groups.

"They are torching down the prisons. Our lives and property are at risk. Get out of the way," one shopper shouted, echoing the anxieties of many as they raced to stock up at supermarkets.

Others stayed penned inside their homes for fear of what they said were marauding gangs in some areas. On Friday, looters broke into the Egyptian Museum -- home to the world's greatest collection of Pharaonic treasures -- and destroyed two pharaonic mummies, said Zahi Hawass, Egypt's top archaeologist.
In walled-off estates on the outskirts of Cairo, private security locked down gates and refused to let people in.

Gated communities have grown up in recent years in the desert outskirts of Cairo, often grouping expensive villas with open green spaces. Many, like Mohandiseen, are near slums.

"Mohandiseen is surrounded by several shantytowns whose residents have taken advantage of the security vacuum there and started looting private property and shops," said Mohyi Mahmoud, a shop-owner in Mohandiseen.
Ghadeer said: "The looters want to plunder and the government is washing its hands clean of any responsibility."

============

Egyptians defy curfew, call for Mubarak to goSat Jan 29, 2011 2:45pm GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+]
1 of 1Full SizeBy Patrick Werr and Alison Williams

CAIRO (Reuters) - Thousands of angry Egyptians defied a curfew on Saturday for the second day in a row and stayed on the streets to push their demand that President Hosni Mubarak resign.

The army had warned that anyone who remained on the streets after 4 p.m. (1400 GMT) would be in danger, but as the deadline passed, protests continued in central Cairo and the port city of Alexandria, witnesses said.

Soldiers took no immediate action. They seemed relaxed and some protesters chatted with troops mounted on armoured vehicles, the witnesses said.

On the fifth day of unprecedented protests against Mubarak's 30-year-rule, it looked increasingly as if the army held the key to the nation's future.

The president ordered troops and tanks into Cairo and other cities overnight and imposed a curfew in a bid to quell unrest in which dozens of people were killed.

In an effort to appease the protesters, he dismissed his cabinet and said he would listen to demands for reform.

The protesters, many of them young urban poor or students, are enraged over endemic poverty, corruption and unemployment as well as the lack of democracy in the most populous Arab nation. They pledged to press on with protests until Mubarak quits.

The unrest, which follows the overthrow of Tunisian strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali two weeks ago in a popular uprising, has sent shock waves through the Middle East, where other autocratic rulers may face similar challenges.


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Several thousand people flocked to central Cairo's Tahrir Square on Saturday, waving Egyptian flags and pumping their arms in the air in unison. "The people demand the president be put on trial," they chanted.

Troops made no attempt to break up the demonstration and protesters encouraged them to support their cause.

The scene contrasted with Friday, when police fired teargas and rubber bullets and protesters hurled stones in running battles.

While the police are generally feared as an instrument of repression, the army is seen as a national institution.
ARMY IS KEY

One Middle East expert, Rosemary Hollis, of London's City University, told Reuters the army had to decide whether it stood with Mubarak or the people.

"It's one of those moments where as with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe they can come down to individual lieutenants and soldiers to decide whether they fire on the crowd or not."
In Alexandria, police used teargas and live ammunition against demonstrators earlier on Saturday.

Al Jazeera TV reported police opened fire on protesters trying to storm the Interior Ministry in Cairo, killing three, but the report could not be confirmed.


====

According to a Reuters tally, at least 74 people have been killed during the week although there was no official figure. Medical sources said at least 1,030 people were injured in Cairo.

Government buildings, including the ruling party headquarters, still blazed on Saturday morning after being set alight by demonstrators who targeted symbols of Mubarak's rule

As well as Cairo and Alexandria, clashes have also occurred in Suez, site of the strategically important canal.

"We are not demanding a change of cabinet, we want them all to leave, Mubarak before anyone else," said Saad Mohammed, a 45-year-old welder in Tahrir Square.

Mubarak, a key U.S. ally, has held power since the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by Islamist soldiers and his government still rules with emergency laws.

He promised to address Egyptians' grievances in a television address on Friday but made clear he intended to stay in power.

So far, the protest movement seems to have no clear leader or organisation even if Mubarak did wish to open a dialogue.

Prominent activist Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Laureate for his work with the U.N. nuclear agency, returned to Egypt from Europe to join the protests. But many Egyptians feel he has not spent enough time in the country.

In an interview with France 24 television, ElBaradei said Mubarak should step down and begin a transition of power.

===

"There is a consensus in Egypt in every part of society that this is a regime that is a dictatorship, that has failed to deliver on economic, social, and political fronts," he said.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group, has also stayed in the background, although several of its senior officials have been rounded up. The government has accused it of planning to exploit the protests.

The deployment of army troops to back up the police showed that Mubarak still has the support of the military, the country's most powerful force. But any change of sentiment among the generals could seal his fate.

MOCKING MUBARAK

Protesters in Tahrir Square mocked Mubarak's sacking of his cabinet as an empty gesture.

Mahmoud Mohammed Imam, a 26-year-old taxi-driver, said: "All he said was empty promises and lies. He appointed a new government of thieves, one thief goes and one thief comes to loot the country."

"This is the revolution of the people who are hungry, this is the revolution of the people who have no money against those with a lot of money."
The final straw appeared to be the prospect of elections due to be held in September. Until now few had doubted that Mubarak would remain in control or bring in a successor in the shape of his 47-year-old son Gamal.

It also poses a dilemma for the United States. Mubarak, 82, has been a close ally of Washington and beneficiary of U.S. aid for decades, justifying his autocratic rule in part by citing a danger of Islamist militancy.
=

Egypt plays an important role in Middle East peacemaking and was the first Arab nation to sign a peace treaty with Israel.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he had spoken to Mubarak shortly after his speech on Friday and urged him to make good on his promises of reform. U.S. officials made clear that $1.5 billion in aid was at stake.

The European Union and other foreign governments appealed to Mubarak to show restraint and listen to the demands of the people but stopped short of suggesting he should quit. Saudi Arabia's King Abdallah expressed his support for him.

Britain, Germany and other countries advised their nationals against travel to the main cities hit, a development that would harm Egypt's tourist industry, a mainstay of the economy.

Banks will be shut on Sunday as "a precaution", Central Bank Governor Hisham Ramez told Reuters.

The stock market, whose benchmark index tumbled 16 percent in two days, will also be closed on Sunday. The Egyptian pound fell to six-year lows.


===

Lawlessness on Egypt's streets, Mubarak clings on
Sun Jan 30, 2011 8:49am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+] By Samia Nakhoul and Sherine El Madany
CAIRO (Reuters) - Looted stores, burnt out cars and the stench of blazing tyres filled the streets of Cairo as day broke on Sunday, with President Hosni Mubarak clinging to office and security forces struggling to contain looters.

Egyptians put their trust in the army, hoping troops would restore order to streets seized by rampaging gangs, but would not open fire to keep Mubarak in power.

In five days of unprecedented protests which have rocked the Arab world, more than 100 people have been killed, investors have taken fright, Mubarak has offered a first glimpse of a plan to step down and 80 million long-suffering Egyptians are caught between hope for democratic reform and fear of chaos.

The United States and European powers were busy tearing up their Middle East policies, which have supported Mubarak at the head of the most populous Arab country for 30 years, turning a blind eye to police brutality and corruption in return for a solid bulwark against first communism and now militant Islam.

The biggest immediate fear was of looting as all public order broke down. Mobs stormed into supermarkets, banks, jewellery shops and government buildings. Thieves at the Egyptian Museum damaged two mummies from the time of the pharaohs.

Through the night, ordinary Egyptians took to the streets armed with clubs, chains and knives to guard neighbourhoods from marauders. By morning, streets were largely deserted, with tanks and armoured vehicles deployed at banks and major buildings.

On a main street in the Maadi district, groups of men stayed up through the night at barricades built from old lampposts, bits of wood and anything else they could find.

The police who had battled protesters for days had disappeared from the streets, replaced by army troops who have so far mostly been embraced by the public.


===

In surreal scenes, soldiers from Mubarak's army stood by tanks covered in anti-Mubarak graffiti: "Down with Mubarak. Down with the despot. Down with the traitor. Pharaoh out of Egypt. Enough."
Asked how they could let protesters write anti-Mubarak slogans on their vehicles, one soldier said:
"These are written by the people, it's the views of the people."

Residents expressed hope the troops would restore order. "People are terrified from these outlaws on the streets looting, attacking and destroying,"
said Salah Khalife, an employee at a sugar company.

SUCCESSION PLAN?

On Saturday, 82-year-old Mubarak bowed to protesters and appointed a vice-president for the first time, a move seen as lining up Omar Suleiman, hitherto his chief of intelligence, as an eventual successor, at least for a transition. Many saw it as ending his son Gamal's long-surmised ambitions to take over.

Egyptians say the changes mean nothing unless Mubarak goes.

"All these changes he made are sedatives," said Khalife. "People don't want Mubarak any more. People want change ... He doesn't want to leave. He is a thug."

In Washington, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Saturday: "The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat."

Since protesters toppled Tunisia's leader two weeks ago, demonstrations have spread across north Africa and the Middle East in an unprecedented wave of anger at authoritarian leaders, many of them entrenched for decades and enjoying U.S. support.

===

"This is the Arab world's Berlin moment," said Fawaz Gerges of the London School of Economics, comparing the events to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. "The authoritarian wall has fallen, and that's regardless of whether Mubarak survives."

As in Tunisia, Egypt's exploding young population, most of them underemployed and frustrated by oppression at the hands of a corrupt and rapacious elite, were demanding a full clear-out of the old guard, not just a reshuffle of the governing class.

DEATH TOLL OVER 100

Saturday saw the worst bloodshed so far of the five-day uprising. Police shot dead 17 people in Bani Suef, south of Cairo. Various estimates put the overall death toll at more than 100 in the five days of unrest.

Overnight on the Corniche promenade alongside the River Nile, people stayed out after the curfew, standing by tanks and chatting with soldiers who took no action to disperse them.

At one point, dozens of people approached a military cordon carrying a sign reading "Army and People Together". Soldiers pulled back and let the group through: "There is a curfew," one lieutenant said. "But the army isn't going to shoot anyone."

Rosemary Hollis, Middle East expert at London's City University, said the army had to decide whether it stood with Mubarak or the people. "It's one of those moments where, as with the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, they can come down to individual lieutenants and soldiers to decide whether they fire on the crowd or not."
Like other Arab leaders, Mubarak portrays himself as a bulwark against the West's Islamist enemies. Egypt's banned opposition movement the Muslim Brotherhood has been only a small part of the week's events and lays claim to moderation.

"A new era of freedom and democracy is dawning in the Middle East," Kamel El-Helbawy, a cleric from the Brotherhood said from exile in London. "Islamists would not be able to rule Egypt alone. We should and would cooperate."

Sunday is normally a working day in Egypt but banks and financial markets were ordered shut by the central bank.

The stock market's benchmark index had tumbled 16 percent in two days before shutting on Thursday for the weekend.


===========


Iraqis watch Egypt unrest with sense of irony

AP – Iraqi men watch Egyptian anti-government protesters on TV in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011. … .By BUSHRA JUHI and KIM GAMEL, Associated Press Bushra Juhi And Kim Gamel, Associated Press – 54 mins ago
BAGHDAD – Iraqis who have long suffered from high unemployment, poverty and endemic corruption — the catalysts of unrest spreading in the Arab world — called on their own government to take notice.

Many watched footage of riots and looting on the streets of Egypt, the region's traditional powerhouse, with a sense of irony. The scenes brought back disturbing memories of similar mayhem in Iraq, but also feelings of admiration for an uprising that came from the streets rather than in the wake of a foreign invasion.

The demonstrations come as Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki grapples with complaints that he has failed to provide basic services and security as he begins a new four-year term with a fragile coalition.

"I wish similar demonstrations would take place in Iraq against the government," said Najat Shaiyal, the 31-year-old owner of a tea stand in central Baghdad.

"The government does not provide jobs or services. We are still suffering from a lack of electricity," he said, smoking a cigarette as he served customers in the mainly Shiite neighborhood of Karradah.


Analysts and many Iraqis said people in the war-weary country were not likely to take to the streets en masse.

But U.S. officials have warned that poor services, such as electricity and water, pose one of the greatest threats to Iraq's shaky peace.

A report released Sunday by the U.S. reconstruction watchdog agency noted that Iraqi officials are trying improve the nation's electricity grid with hopes of meeting power demands by 2010 but acknowledged that doing so would be costly and difficult.

"The lack of perceived improvements in Iraq's water, sewage, and electricity systems could lead to popular unrest more so than political or sectarian disagreements," the special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction found.

Shiite hard-liner Hakim al-Zamili warned that the events unfolding in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and even neighboring Jordan show that all rulers must eventually answer to their people, and that the lack of jobs and services could prove the tipping point.

"Everything has an expiration date and the Arab regimes that neglected their people for decades have reached theirs," he said. "These outdated regimes have offered nothing to their people."


He urged restraint region-wide, noting the damage done by widespread looting and chaos after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.

"The region is moving toward chaos, not stability," he said. "Surely, what is happening in the Arab countries will expand to include Iraq if the Iraqi government fails to fulfill its promises and pledges given before the elections."

Many Iraqis from Baghdad to the semiautonomous northern Kurdish region said they were inspired by the uprisings and prepared to join protests at home.

"I wish the young people here would stage demonstrations and make an uprising — something that I would like to call the jobless revolution," said Hazim Kadhim, a 27-year-old arts graduate who has been unemployed for four years.


Jameel Ahmed, a 40-year-old government employee in the former Sunni insurgent stronghold of Azamiyah, however, pointed out that Iraqis had been isolated for nearly three decades under Saddam's iron-fisted rule. Widespread protests against a lack of electricity last summer also failed to take root.

"The Iraqis do not have the culture of change that other nations have," he said. "Besides that, Iraqis have been through a lot of disasters and they won't risk having more disasters by asking for change."


Al-Maliki has come under widespread criticism for the state of the country nearly eight years after Saddam's ouster, and Iraqis remain bitter over months of political deadlock that followed an inconclusive March 7 election.

The prime minister seated a Cabinet on Dec. 21 but has not filled key security posts, including the defense, interior and national security ministries. Anger rose after a wave of bombings over the past two weeks that killed more than 200 people.

Some battle-hardened Iraqis chuckled when state-run TV reported that the embassy in Cairo was calling on Iraqis in Egypt to be careful and providing them with a number to call in case of emergency.
In his first public comments on the situation, al-Maliki said the Egyptian government and other regimes need to give people space to express their views instead of punishing them.

"The best way to do that is the return to democracy and real and honest elections and transparency," he said in an excerpt of an interview with Iraqi state TV to be broadcast in full later Sunday.


Shiite cleric Sadriddin al-Gubbanchy called the string of uprisings an "Islamic Arab Revival" and urged the Iraqi government to appoint the new security ministers and improve services, according to the Ahlul Bayt News Agency.

"The people's silence does not reflect their satisfaction, and their patience shall end just as the patience of the Tunisian people did," he said during Friday prayers in the holy city of Najaf.

Hadi Jalo, a political analyst at Baghdad University, said Iraqis largely lacked the political will to rise up in large numbers to demand change.

"The Iraqis are not revolutionary people," he said. "All the revolutions that took place in Iraq were supported by foreign countries and not by the majority of people."
___

Associated Press writers Hamid Ahmed in Baghdad and Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah contributed to this report.

====

QATAR-BASED AL JAZEERA TV CHANNEL SAYS EGYPT'S NILESAT CUTS ITS SIGNAL, BUT OTHER SIGNALS AVAILABLE

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India sends plane to Egypt to evacuate citizens
30 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


(Refiles to additional subscribers)

NEW DELHI, Jan 30 (Reuters) - India has sent one of state-run airline Air India's planes to Egypt to evacuate Indian citizens, the airline said on Sunday.

An aircraft left India at 1710 local time (1040 GMT) bound for Cairo, a destination to which the airline does not normally fly.
"It has left for Cairo and it will carry about 380 people," the spokesman said. "As of now there are no requests for further flights."

Around 3,600 Indians live in Egypt, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna said earlier on Sunday.

(Reporting by C.J. Kuncheria; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

==

PLANE CARRYING FAMILIES OF ISRAELI DIPLOMATS EVACUATED FROM EGYPT LANDS IN TEL AVIV-FOREIGN MINISTRY


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US State Dept. reduces staff in Egypt amid violence
30 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


WASHINGTON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Sunday moved to reduce its diplomatic presence in Egypt, saying it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents of diplomats and non-essential workers.

The move came amid violent demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and other parts of Egypt against President Hosni Mubarak's government. (Reporting by Arshad Mohammed; Editing by Eric Beech)

=======
30 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


US SAYS MOVES TO REDUCE DIPLOMATIC FOOTPRINT IN EGYPT BY OFFERING FLIGHTS OUT TO EMBASSY DEPENDENTS AND NON-ESSENTIAL WORKERS
===
Armed gangs free Muslim militants in Egypt

By HAMZA HENDAWI and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Hamza Hendawi And Maggie Michael, Associated Press – 40 mins ago
CAIRO – Gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn Sunday, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as police vanished from the streets of Cairo and other cities.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo told its citizens in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible, and said it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees, a display of Washington's escalating concern about the stability of its closest Arab ally.

The army sent hundreds more troops and armored vehicles onto the streets of Cairo and other cities but appeared to be taking little action against gangs of young men with guns and large sticks who were smashing cars and robbing people.

At least one Nile-side shopping mall in Cairo was on fire after being looted the previous day.

The Arab world's most populous nation appeared to be swiftly moving closer to a point at which it either dissolves into widespread chaos or the military expands its presence and control of the streets.

A broader and tougher military role could be welcomed by increasingly fearful Egyptians but would run a risk of appearing to place the army on the side of the regime and antagonizing protesters.

The demonstrators from all segments of Egyptian society have taken to the streets for nearly a week calling for President Hosni Mubarak, 82, to step down. Mubarak named his intelligence chief, former army general Omar Suleiman, to the new role of vice president on Saturday, a move that perpetuated the overriding role of military men in Egyptian politics.

Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and Mubarak fellow former air force officer, was named prime minister.

Many protesters said Sunday that they wanted the complete removal of an administration they blame for poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and police brutality.

"If the president leaves today, chaos will be over," said schoolteacher Hussein Riyad. "People have been suffering for 30 years, a few days of horror don't matter."
The army appeared to be taking tougher action on the streets by early Sunday afternoon — and were coordinating with protesters.

At Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, where Riyad and tens of thousands of other protesters were marching, two military armored vehicles blocked the entrance, and soldiers working with civilian protester volunteers were checking IDs and bags of people arriving to join the marches. The soldiers and volunteers said they were searching for weapons but also looking to make sure plainclothes police did not enter the square.

"The army is protecting us, they won't let police infiltrators sneak in!" one volunteer shouted to the crowds lining up to get in. Inside the square, protesters chanted, "The army and the people are one joined hand!"

The soldiers also found a kitchen knife hidden in a plastic bag carried by a man in his 20s as he attempted to enter the square. The soldiers wrestled the man to the ground, beat him and put him inside their tank.

Egyptian security officials told The Associated Press that army troops were hunting for the escaped prisoners, in some cases with the help of the police. State television also showed footage of what it said was dozens of prisoners recaptured by the army troops, squatting on dirt while soldiers kept watch over them.

State Egyptian TV showed footage of Mubarak during what it said was a visit to the country's military command center. Mubarak looked somber and fatigued in his first public appearance since he addressed the nation late Friday to promise reform and annouce the dismissal of his Cabinet.

The brief footage appeared designed to project an image of normalcy.

Some 4,000 protesters chanted slogans against Mubarak in the square, the main gathering point for protesters since anti-government demonstrations began Tuesday, emboldened by Tunisians' success in driving out their president earlier in the month.

An unprecedented Internet cutoff remained in place after the country's four primary Internet providers stopped moving data in and out of the country early Friday in an apparent move by authorities to disrupt the organization of demonstrations.

Egyptian mobile networks were back up but with text-messaging widely disrupted. Blackberry Messenger and Internet services were operating sporadically.

The American University of Cairo has delayed the Sunday start of the semester a week because of the ongoing unrest, spokeswoman Rehab Saad. The Iraqi government offered to evacuate citizens for free.

"We will send whatever planes are needed to those who want to leave Egypt," Transportation Ministry spokesman Aqeel Hadi Kawthar told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "It will be free of charge."


Army helicopters were flying low over Cairo and entire neighborhoods remained without any troops two days after Mubarak called the army out on the streets. But many Cairo neighborhoods and other parts of the country remain untouched by looting or street crime.

President Barack Obama met with security aides Saturday afternoon and issued a plea for government restraint in Egypt, where Washington has long feared increasing influence by Muslim militants.

Egyptian security officials said that overnight armed men fired at guards in gun battles that lasted hours at the four prisons including one northwest of Cairo that held hundreds of militants. The prisoners escaped after starting fires and clashing with guards.

Those who fled included 34 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best organized opposition group. The Muslim Brotherhood's lawyer, Abdel-Monaem Abdel-Maqsoud, told The Associated Press the 34 were among scores rounded up by authorities ahead of the large anti-government demonstrations on Friday. The escapees included at least seven senior members of the group.
The Egyptian security officials said several inmates were killed and wounded, but gave no specific figures. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share the information with the media.

Looting and arson continued until dawn as the police totally disappeared from the streets of the capital and several major Egyptian cities. There was no explanation for why the police vanished.

The vacuum left by their melting away has prompted residents to form neighborhood protection groups, armed with firearms, sticks and clubs. The citizens set up self-styled checkpoints and barricades and used bricks and metal traffic barriers to block off side streets.

Groups of youths also directed traffic in parts of Cairo, chasing away the gangs of criminals smashing passing cars. Residents said gangs were also stopping people on the streets and robbing them.

In the upscale neighborhood of Zamalek, long lines formed at shops and grocery stores as Egyptians tried to stock up on food, water and other supplies. Stores appeared to be running short of most items, especially bottled water. At one store, water was selling for three times the normal rate.
State Egyptian television, meanwhile, said authorities have decided to close down the Cairo offices of the Qatar-based Al-Jazzera television and suspend the accreditation of its reporters.

The Egyptian TV did not give a reason for the move, but Egyptian authorities have often in the past charged that the station's coverage of events in Egypt was sensational or biased against Mubarak's regime.

===

Egypt turmoil rattles Middle East stock markets

By ADAM SCHRECK, AP Business Writer Adam Schreck, Ap Business Writer – 1 hr 23 mins ago
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Investors nervous about the instability gripping Egypt drove stocks down sharply across the Middle East as markets reopened Sunday following a weekend of violent protests.

The losses, led by a drop of more than 4 percent in the business hub of Dubai, reflect concerns the unrest that has roiled the Arab world's most populous country and nearby Tunisia could spread, jeopardizing the economic recovery across the region.


"There's this contagion effect, where investors are thinking: Well, is this going to spread out across the Arab world?" said Haissam Arabi, chief executive of Gulfmena Alternative Investments, a fund management firm in Dubai.

The benchmark index for the Dubai Financial Market tumbled 4.3 percent to close at 1,543.02.

Among the biggest losers in Dubai were real estate developer Emaar Properties, the builder of the world's tallest tower, which sank 8.3 percent to 3.11 dirhams (85 cents). Shares of discount carrier Air Arabia, which is growing its operations in Egypt, dropped 6.1 percent to 0.79 dirhams (22 cents).

Abu Dhabi's main index sank 3.7 percent to close at 2,561.06.

Shares of the exchange's biggest loser, Emirati natural gas producer Dana Gas, plunged 9.9 percent to finish at 0.64 dirhams (17 cents) despite assurances that its Egyptian operations haven't been stopped amid the protests.

"Dana Gas Egypt is continuing with routine operations, and the production has not been affected by the current events in Egypt," CEO Ahmed al-Arbeed said in a statement.

Most other regional markets also fell.

Kuwait shares dropped 1.8 percent to close at 6,822. Qatar's benchmark index slumped 3 percent to 8,709.77.

Saudi Arabia was the only major market to post gains, but they fell short of offsetting steep losses the previous day. The kingdom's Tadawul All Shares Index was up 2.5 percent to 6,425.39 in afternoon trading Sunday.

Saudi shares fell 6.4 percent to close at 6,267 points on Saturday, when it became the first major Arab market to reopen for business following widespread Egyptian protests that intensified Friday.

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Fighter jets swoop over Cairo in show of force

AP – A boy shows spent cartridges used by Egyptian security forces, in Cairo, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011. The Arab …
. Slideshow:Anti-government protests in Egypt .
By HAMZA HENDAWI and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Hamza Hendawi And Maggie Michael, Associated Press – 18 mins ago
CAIRO – Fighter jets swooped low over Cairo Sunday in what appeared to be an attempt by the military to show its control of a city beset by looting, armed robbery and anti-government protests.

Minutes before the start of a 4 p.m. curfew, at least two jets appeared and made multiple passes over downtown, including a central square where thousands of protesters were calling for the departure of President Hosni Mubarak.

Police could be seen returning to some streets nearly two days after virtually disappearing, creating a security vacuum only partially filled by the presence of army troops backed by tanks at key sites around this city of 18 million people.

After days of escalating chaos, gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn, helping to free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates. Gangs of young men with guns and large sticks smashed cars and robbed people in Cairo.

Banks were closed on orders from Egypt's Central Bank, and the stock market was shut on what is normally the first day of the trading week. Markets across the Middle East dropped on fears about the instability's damage to Egypt's economy, and the region's.

An unprecedented Internet cutoff remained in place after the country's four primary Internet providers stopped moving data in and out of the country in an apparent move by authorities to disrupt the organization of demonstrations blaming Mubarak's regime for poverty, unemployment, widespread corruption and police brutality.

The official death toll from five days of growing crisis stood at 74, with thousands injured.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo told its citizens in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible, and said it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees, a display of Washington's escalating concern about the stability of its closest Arab ally.

Private tour groups and corporations began trying to evacuate their clients and expatriate employees. But dozens of flights were canceled and delayed and crowds filled Cairo International Airport, desperate and unable to leave.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the U.S. expects that the protests in Egypt will lead to free and fair elections as part of an "orderly" transition to "real democracy."

"I want the Egyptian people to have a chance to chart a new future," she said. "It's not a question of who retains power ... It's how are we going to respond to the legitimate needs and grievances expressed by the Egyptian people."

Israel's prime minister told his Cabinet that he was "anxiously following" the crisis, saying in his first public comments on the situation that Israel's three-decade-old peace agreement with Egypt must be preserved.

After a night of violence in many cities across Egypt, the army sent hundreds more troops and armored vehicles onto the streets starting Sunday morning. Truckloads of hundreds of police poured back into Cairo neighborhoods Sunday afternoon and took up positions on the streets.

In some spots, they were jeered by residents who chanted anti-police slogans and demanded that they only be allowed to deploy jointly with the military.

State television showed Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi in green fatigues on a central Cairo street, speaking with soldiers and civilian onlookers.

Then, as the curfew loomed, the jets roared over the Nile and toward Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, where thousands of protesters have gathered each day to demand the end of the administration.

The jets made several passes over the square, dropping lower every time and setting off alarms in parked cars.

Some protesters clapped and waved to them while others jeered.

"This is terrorism, they are trying to scare the people with the planes and the tanks. They are trying to make people afraid and leave the square," said Gamal Ahmed, a 40-year-old air-conditioning technician.

Lines of army tanks jammed a road leading into Tahrir, and a military helicopter hovered overhead. Soldiers working with civilian protester volunteers checked IDs and bags of people arriving to join the marches.

Mubarak, 82, perpetuated the overriding role of military men in Egyptian politics by naming his intelligence chief, former army general Omar Suleiman, to the new role of vice president on Saturday. Ahmed Shafiq, the outgoing civil aviation minister and Mubarak fellow former air force officer, was named prime minister.

State TV Sunday showed images of Mubarak during what it said was a visit to the country's military command center. The president looked somber and fatigued in his first public appearance since he addressed the nation late Friday to promise reform and annouce the dismissal of his Cabinet. The brief footage appeared designed to project an image of normalcy.

Egyptian security officials said that overnight armed men fired at guards in gun battles that lasted hours at the four prisons including one northwest of Cairo that held hundreds of militants. The prisoners escaped after starting fires and clashing with guards.

Those who fled included 34 members of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest and best organized opposition group. The Muslim Brotherhood's lawyer, Abdel-Monaem Abdel-Maqsoud, told The Associated Press the 34 were among scores rounded up by authorities ahead of the large anti-government demonstrations on Friday. The escapees included at least seven senior members of the group.

The security officials said several inmates were killed and wounded, but gave no specific figures. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to share the information with the media.

The officials told The Associated Press that army troops were hunting for the escaped prisoners, in some cases with the help of the police. State television also showed footage of what it said was dozens of prisoners recaptured by the army troops, squatting on dirt while soldiers kept watch over them.

In the southern city of Assiut, officials said riot police stormed the city's main prison to quell a prison riot, using tear gas and batons against inmates. An Associated Press reporter saw army tanks were deployed outside the prison, on bridges straddling the Nile and at the police headquarters.

Thousands of Alexandrians met to pray in downtown Alexandria, a Mediterranean port city that is a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood. After prayers, the crowd marched towards the city's old mosque to pray for the souls of those who died in the protests.

Egyptian mobile networks were back up after days of cutoffs but with text-messaging widely disrupted. Blackberry Messenger and mobile Internet services were operating sporadically.

The pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera said that Egyptian authorities ordered the closure of its Cairo news hub overseeing coverage of the country's massive street protests, denouncing the move as an attempt to "stifle and repress" open reporting.

The Qatar-based network has given nearly round-the-clock coverage to the unprecedented uprising against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and had faced criticism by some government supporters and other Arab leaders as a forum to inspire more unrest.

___

Sarah El Deeb and Diaa Hadid contributed to this report.


===============


FACTBOX-Egypt's powerful military

30 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


Jan 30 (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's ruling apparatus has relied on the military since he came to power in 1981. For an analysis on the military, click on [ID:LDE70T04W]

All four Egyptian presidents since the 1950's have come from the military, now led by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.

The army now guards key installations after police lost control of the streets, but it has neglected to enforce the curfew and has often fraternised with protesters rather than confront them.

Here are some details of Egypt's military which totals around 468,500 active personnel, plus a reserve of 479,000:


* ARMY:

Numbers: 280,000 - 340,000 including conscripts.

Main Battle Tanks - 3,723, including 973 A1M1 Abrams tanks.

Reconnaissance vehicles - 410.

Armoured Infantry Fighting vehicles - 610.

Armoured personnel carriers - 4,160.

Artillery pieces 4,480 (including 492 self-propelled, 962 towed).

Mortars - 2,528.

Air Defence surface-to-air missiles - at least 2,100.

Tactical surface-to-surface missiles - over 42.


* NAVY:

Numbers: 18,500 including conscripts.

Submarines - 4 tactical patrol submarines.

Surface combatants - 10

Patrol and coastal combatants - 41


* AIR FORCE:

Numbers: 30,000 including 10,000 conscripts.

Combat capable aircraft - 461. 165 fighter aircraft including 26 F-16A, 12 F16-B, 74 MiG-21F and 53 Mirage D/E.

Helicopters - 4 Commando electronic Intelligence

125 Electronic Attack helicopters


* OTHER FORCES:

There are also 150,000 Air Defence Command troops and 397,000 paramilitaries comprising Central Security Forces, National Guard and Border Guard forces.

Sources: Reuters/IISS Military Balance 2010. (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit;


========

Egypt's Al Jazeera bans shows channel's key role
30 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


By Andrew Hammond

CAIRO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Egypt's decision on Sunday to close the offices of Al Jazeera illustrates the leading role the Arabic broadcaster has taken in reporting unprecedented popular revolts against Arab rulers.

Egypt has often harassed the Qatar-based channel since it began in 1996, setting off a revolution in Arab media in the face of state-controlled information, but it had never before tried to shut down its operations completely.

But the channel led the coverage of a Tunisian uprising when it began in late December and toppled Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali on Jan. 14, even though it was already banned from the North African country.

Then, sensing that Tunisia's example would set off copycat movements elsewhere, the channel charted mobilisation in Egypt that led to huge protests in the past week demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak's rule.

"Al Jazeera saw the gravity of the situation," said Shadi Hamid of the Brookings Institute in Doha, referring to the two revolts. "They saw it was going to be big before other people did and that it would stand as one of the historic moments in Arab history."

Arab governments have often closed the offices of the channel, which helped put tiny Gulf state Qatar on the map and boosted its status as a leader of regional diplomacy.

A major oil and gas power, Qatar employs vast resources to back the channel. This month it began a stack of secret documents revealing embarrassing Palestinian Authority concessions to Israel in peace talks. Emad Gad of the Al Ahram Strategic and Political Studies Centre said the effort to smother Al Jazeera was the last effort of a dying authoritarian system to control events in the traditional heavy-handed manner.

He cited the government's move to completely shut off the Internet and mobile phone lines on Friday in an effort to stop people gathering.

"Is cutting the Internet or the mobile network in 2011 a solution? This is equivalent to that. It's the behaviour of a dictatorial state breathing its last," Gad said.

Social media and mobile phone technology have also been cited as playing a major role in the street mobilisations of the past month, which touched Yemen and Jordan too.


STATE TV TRIES TO HIT BACK

Having ignored the protests for five days, Egyptian state TV has now focussed on the disorder that erupted after state security forces withdrew from the streets on Friday rather than ongoing protests against Mubarak. On Sunday state TV -- which like other Arab official outlets has tried to modernise to keep up with the Qatari trend-setter -- sniped against the station saying only a handful of protesters were in central Cairo, "in contrast to the tens of thousands Al Jazeera talked about".

But Al Jazeera carried images from a still camera of crowds gathering throughout the day at Tahrir Square. The station also has a live channel whose transmission Egypt tried to block on its Nilesat satellite last week.

"We should have taken steps before with this channel since it has caused more destruction than Israel for Egypt," governor of Minya province, Ahmed Diaeddin, raged on state TV. "I call for the trial of Al Jazeera correspondents as traitors." Salah Issa, editor the state-owned weekly al-Qahira, said Islamists often said to dominate Al Jazeera's editorial line were driven by a vendetta against Mubarak.

"It's managers think they are creating a revolution, first in Tunisia, now in Egypt," he said.

Saudi-owned Al Arabiya has been more conservative in covering the Arab uprisings -- less proactive in covering the protests in the early stage and quicker to promote a return to stability once concessions are offered.

As'ad AbuKhalil, a politics professor in the United States, wrote on his popular blogsite Egyptian and Saudi media were both trying discredit the protest movement.

"House of Saud's propaganda is on over-drive. They are really trying hard to discredit the protests in Egypt," he said, citing a headline in Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat "Egypt mutilates itself".

(Editing by Samia Nakhoul)

============
Egyptian reform leader calls for Mubarak to resign



By HAMZA HENDAWI and MAGGIE MICHAEL, Associated Press Hamza Hendawi And Maggie Michael, Associated Press – Sun Jan 30, 7:04 pm ET
CAIRO – Egypt's most prominent democracy advocate took up a bullhorn Sunday and called for President Hosni Mubarak to resign, speaking to thousands of protesters who defied a curfew for a third night. Fighter jets streaked low overhead and police returned to the capital's streets — high-profile displays of authority over a situation spiraling out of control.

Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei's appearance in Tahrir, or Liberation, Square underscored the jockeying for leadership of the mass protest movement that erupted seemingly out of nowhere in the past week to shake the Arab world's most populous nation.

Now in their sixth day, the protests have come to be centered in the square, where demonstrators have camped since Friday. Up to 10,000 protesters gathered there Sunday, and even after the 4 p.m. curfew, they numbered in the thousands, including families with young children, addressing Mubarak with their chants of "Leave, leave, leave."

"You are the owners of this revolution. You are the future," ElBaradei told the crowd after nightfall. "Our essential demand is the departure of the regime and the beginning of a new Egypt in which every Egyptian lives in virtue, freedom and dignity."

In a further sign of Mubarak's teetering position after three decades in power, his top ally — the United States — called for an "orderly transition to democracy."

Asked if Washington supports Mubarak as Egypt's leader, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton avoided a direct answer, telling Fox News: "We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy, and we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged the Egyptian government to implement democratic reforms and stop violence against protesters.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Cabinet that he was "anxiously following" the crisis, saying Israel's three-decade-old peace agreement with Egypt must be preserved.

Protesters have shrugged off Mubarak's gestures of reform, including the sacking of his Cabinet and the appointment of a vice president and a new prime minister — both seen as figures from the heart of his regime.

ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, has gained a following among young secular democracy activists with his grassroots organizing. But some demonstrators dismiss him as an expatriate long removed from Egypt's problems.

"Many people feel he loves prizes and traveling abroad," said Muhammad Munir, 27. "He's not really one of the people."


The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to establish an Islamist state in Egypt, has made some statements that it was willing to let ElBaradei act as point man for the movement. But it also appeared to be moving for a more prominent role after lying low when the protests first erupted.

On Sunday evening, the presence of overtly pious Muslims in the square was conspicuous-Easy to notice; obvious.
, suggesting a significant Brotherhood representation. Hundreds performed the sunset prayers. Veiled women prayed separately.

A senior Brotherhood leader, Essam el-Erian, told The Associated Press he was heading to Tahrir Square to meet with other opposition leaders. El-Erian told an Egyptian TV station that the Brotherhood is ready to contact the army for a dialogue, calling the military "the protector of the nation."

Clinton suggested there were U.S. concerns over the possibility of the Brotherhood seizing direction of the movement. She warned against a takeover resembling the one in Iran, with a "small group that doesn't represent the full diversity of Egyptian society" seizing control and imposing its ideological beliefs.

The military was taking the lead in restoring order after police virtually vanished from the streets Friday without explanation after initially clashing with protesters. The disappearance of the police opened the door for a wave of looting, armed robberies and arson in cities around the country.

The anarchy was further fueled when gangs of armed men attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn, freeing hundreds of criminals and Muslim militants. Gangs of young men with guns and large sticks smashed cars and robbed people in Cairo.

The official death toll from the crisis stood at 97, with thousands injured, but reports from witnesses across the country indicated the actual toll was far higher.

The military, which enjoys far greater support among the public than the police, fanned out in tanks and armored vehicles around Cairo. At Tahrir Square, they appeared to cooperate with protesters in keeping order, and there were many scenes of affection between soldiers and demonstrators, who allowed troops to use their mobile phones to call home or offered them cigarettes.

"I am glad they are continuing to protest. God willing, he (Mubarak) will go," said one air force captain in uniform who drove by the edge of the square.

One banner held by protesters summed up the military's dilemma: "The army must chose between Egypt and Mubarak."

Minutes before the start of the curfew, at least two jets roared over the Nile, making several passes over the square, dropping lower every time and setting off alarms in parked cars. Some protesters clapped and waved to them while others jeered.

Police began reasserting their presence, moving back into some Cairo neighborhoods. In some spots, they were jeered by residents.

Interior Minister Habib al-Adly said he was ordering security forces to return to the streets in Cairo and elsewhere to work in tandem with army troops to restore order.

"It is necessary that the police role is quickly restored and that there should be cooperation in the field with the armed forces ... to defend the present and future of the nation."

The police move could put an end to lawlessness and looting, which stunned many in Cairo and which the military struggled to control. But it could also lead to renewed clashes with protesters, among whom hatred of the black-garbed security forces runs deep — although it appeared the police would not be deployed in Tahrir Square.

In a sign of the distrust, many protesters were convinced the police intentionally allowed the looting in order to spread chaos that would undermine the demonstrations.

"Those people who are looting are from the police, they want to scare us and make us stay home and not participate in the demonstrations," said Walid Ambar, an engineer who joined the crowds in Tahrir along with his 2-year-old son and pregnant wife. "This is a campaign to scare us. But I came here to join the demonstration and I will not leave until Mubarak leaves."


In a bid to show he remained in control, the 82-year-old Mubarak met with his defense minister and Omar Suleiman, the military intelligence chief whom he named as vice president over the weekend, to review the security situation. A tired-looking Mubarak was shown on state TV conferring with Suleiman and the new prime minister-designate Ahmed Shafiq, like Mubarak a former air force officer.

An unprecedented Internet cutoff remained in place for a third day after the country's four primary Internet providers stopped moving data in and out of the country in an apparent move by authorities to disrupt protest organizers. Egyptian mobile phone networks were back up but with text-messaging widely disrupted.

The lawlessness, uncertainty and indications of an attempted exodus from Cairo were gravely damaging Egypt's economy, particularly tourism, which accounts for as much as 11 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

Banks were closed on orders from Egypt's Central Bank, and the country's stock market was shut on what is normally the first day of the trading week.

On the first day of trading across the Mideast after a weekend of protests and violence, nervous investors drove stocks down sharply. Crowds of foreigners filled Cairo International Airport, desperate and unable to leave because dozens of flights were canceled and delayed.

The U.S. Embassy told Americans to consider leaving Egypt as soon as possible and said it was organizing flights Monday. It said it had authorized the voluntary departure of dependents and non-emergency employees, a display of Washington's escalating concern about the stability of its closest Arab ally.

On Sunday, Canada also announced it would charter flights as early as Monday that will fly Canadians who wish to leave to London, Paris or Frankfurt.

Egyptian security officials said armed men fired at guards in overnight battles that lasted hours at the four prisons — including one northwest of Cairo that held hundreds of militants. The prisoners escaped after starting fires and clashing with guards.

Those who fled included 34 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose lawyer, Abdel-Monaem Abdel-Maqsoud, told the AP they were among scores rounded up by authorities ahead of Friday's large demonstrations. The escapees included at least seven senior members of the group.

State TV later reported that 2,000 escaped inmates were recaptured.

In the southern city of Assiut, officials said riot police stormed a prison to quell a riot, using tear gas and batons against inmates. An AP reporter saw army tanks deployed outside the prison, on bridges straddling the Nile and at police headquarters.

The pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera said Egyptian authorities ordered the closure of its Cairo news hub overseeing coverage of the protests. The channel denounced the move as an attempt to "stifle and repress" open reporting.

The Qatar-based network has given nearly round-the-clock coverage to the unprecedented uprising and had faced criticism by some government supporters and other Arab leaders as a forum to inspire more unrest.

___

Sarah El Deeb, Diaa Hadid and Maggie Hyde contributed to this report.

===

Governments move to fly nationals out of Egypt

31 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


(For main story on Egypt: nLDE70U00B)


* Chartered Chinese, Japanese aircraft bring out nationals

* U.S., Turkey offer to evacuate citizens

* Some foreign companies fly out expatriate staff

* Russian, German tourists on Red Sea continue holidays

By Chris Buckley

BEIJING, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Governments took steps on Monday to whisk their nationals out of Egypt on chartered or scheduled aircraft as demonstrators pressed their mass campaign to topple President Hosni Mubarak.

More than 100 people have died in six days of unrest aimed at ending Mubarak's 30-year-old rule, with the outcome appearing to depend greatly on whatever steps are to be taken by the military. Protesters called for a general strike on Monday.

Two Chinese airlines, Air China and Hainan Air, said they would each send a chartered flight to Cairo on Monday to bring home Chinese citizens. There were at least 500 Chinese nationals stuck at Cairo's international airport, a Chinese consular official in Cairo told Reuters by telephone.

Japan's Foreign Ministry said chartered aircraft would fly out about 500 citizens stranded at Cairo airport, to Rome. But the exact number was unclear as Kyodo news agency said 335 evacuees had boarded an Egyptair flight to Japan overnight.

The United States and Turkey offered to evacuate their nationals and major airlines, including Lufthansa and Air India, pledged to send more planes to Cairo and Alexandria.

The Greek foreign ministry said at least two Greek military aircraft were on standby. Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki dispatched a plane to Egypt to pick up Iraqi citizens.

Germany's foreign ministry issued a travel warning late on Sunday -- singling out hotspots Cairo, Alexandria and Suez -- though it described the situation at Red Sea tourist destinations as calm for the moment.

Other countries advised their citizens to leave Egypt or avoid traveling to major cities, although Russian and German tourists at Red Sea resorts have made no move to cut short their holidays.

Britain recommended its citizens leave the three centres "where it is safe to do so." The U.S. State Department moved to reduce diplomatic staff in Egypt, authorising the voluntary departure of diplomats and nonessential workers.

Some European and Asian companies started evacuating staff.

Witnesses reported scenes of chaos at Cairo Airport, with many people, including Egyptians, scrambling to get on a decreasing number of operational flights.

U.S.-based Delta Air Lines Inc, for instance, said on Friday it was suspending its service into Cairo indefinitely.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Consular Affairs Janice Jacobs said U.S.-government sponsored flights would be leaving Cairo on Monday.

"Those will begin tomorrow and then they will be ongoing until we are able to get all Americans who are not able to get out via commercial airlines," she told CNN.


KEY TOURIST INDUSTRY

Egypt's tourism industry, which provides about one in eight jobs in a country beset by high unemployment, took a hit in 1997 when gunmen killed 58 tourists and four Egyptians at an ancient temple in Luxor, and after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
But decreases in tourist levels have previously been temporary, and the trend has been broadly upward for a decade.

Two Japanese firms shut down operations -- Nissan Motor Co. at a small plant in Giza, near the capital, and a subsidiary in the Cairo suburbs of drugmaker Otsuka Holdings .

Some Korean companies pulled back their nationals, though only a handful of Koreans were working in the country.

Oil company Royal Dutch Shell planned to evacuate about 60 families of its international staff from Egypt as a safety measure, a source close to the company told Reuters.

In Cairo's residential area, two buses stood outside the offices of the Italian oil company ENI to evacuate families. One foreign employee said his wife and three children would go but he would stay. There was no immediate comment from ENI.

"It's not an issue during the day, it's at night when we don't know what will happen," the employee said.


The Philippines foreign ministry readied a 25 million pesos ($567,000) standby emergency fund for the evacuation of about 6,600 Filipinos if necessary, while Thailand advised some 2,600 Thais in the country to stay put.

"They have been asked to stay indoors with food and water in case of an emergency," Thai ministry spokesman Thani Thongpakdi said, adding there was no need for an evacuation at this point.

The wealthy Asian sultanate of Brunei moved its 86 nationals in the country -- students and their families -- into its Cairo embassy, the Brunei embassy to the Borneo Bulletin newspaper.

In Baku, an Azeri Foreign Ministry spokesman said an accountant at the Azeri Embassy was killed in street clashes late on Saturday on his way home from work. Plans called for the evacuation of about 70 Azeris studying in Egypt.

Most of the estimated 40,000 Russians vacationing in Egypt have no plans to cut short their trips despite the protests, the acting head of the Russian Federal Tourism Agency, Alexander Radkov, told Interfax news agency on Saturday.

"On the whole, the situation in Egyptian resorts remains calm ... People do not want to interrupt their holiday," he said.

Tour operator TUI Deutschland reportted no increase in cancellations and rebookings to the Red Sea coast and Thomas Cook flew in a fresh batch of tourists from Germany on Sunday.

But Belgian travel agency Jetair, owned by TUI Travel, said on its website it was working on an evacuation plan due to start on Monday. Belgian media said about 1,700 tourists were involved. The company was not immediately available for comment. ($1=44.10 Philippine Peso) (Additional reporting by international bureaux; Writing by Ron Popeski; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani) (Asia desk, Singapore ronald.popeski@thomsonreuters.com +65 6870 3815)

===

By MAGGIE MICHAEL and HAMZA HENDAWI, Associated Press Maggie Michael And Hamza Hendawi, Associated Press – 6 mins ago
CAIRO – Police and garbage collectors appeared on the streets of Cairo Monday morning and subway stations reopened after soldiers and neighborhood watch groups armed with clubs and machetes kept the peace in many districts overnight.

Banks, schools and the stock market remained closed for the second working day. Long lines formed outside bakeries as people tried to replenish their stores of bread, the main source of sustenance for most Egyptians.

Barbed wire sealed off the main road to Tahrir Square, a central downtown plaza that demonstrators have occupied since Friday, turning it into the national focal point of calls for the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, whom they blame for widespread poverty, inflation and official indifference and brutality during his 30 years in power.

Thousands of people had gathered into Tahrir, or Liberation Square by early morning. Many slept sprawled on the grass or in colorful tents. Others were filtering into the square in the early morning.

Protesters called for a general strike and civil disobedience starting Monday.

"We don't want life to go back to normal but until Mubarak leaves. We want people to abandon their jobs until he leaves," Israa Abdel-Fattah, one of the protests organizers and one of the founders of April 6 group, a grass-roots movement of young people that has been pushing for democratic reform since 2008.
Countries sent planes to evacuate their citizens from the unrest as world leaders called on Mubarak to implement reforms and seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

Egypt's economy took another blow as Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Egypt's government bond rating to Ba2, and changed its outlook from stable to negative.

The revision in the outlook on Monday is at least the second downgrade by an international ratings agency since mass protests erupted in Egypt last week. The bond ratings were cut from Ba1.

State TV reported that Mubarak has given instructions to the new cabinet to alleviate economic burdens on citizens. State-run newspapers also reported that Mubarak has asked his new prime minister to introduce reforms and ensure "wider participation" by political parties.

A leading Muslim Brotherhood official told The Associated Press that the fundamentalist movement wants to form a committee of opposition groups along with Nobel laureate and leading reform advocate Mohammad ElBaradei as a way of uniting the disparate groups calling for Mubarak to go.

Saad el-Katatni said his group has not picked ElBaradei to represent it, but if the committee members agree on naming ElBaradei as the head of the committee, "this is fine."

"We didn't deputize anybody because we don't want anybody to be solely in charge," el-Katatni said.

The outlawed Muslim Brotherhood is Egypt's largest opposition movement, and wants to form an Islamist state in the most populous Arab nation. Its support base comes in large part from its elaborate network of social, medical and education services. It made a suprisingly strong showing in parliamentary elections in 2005, winning 20 percent of the legislature's seats, but it failed to win a single seat in elections held late last year and are widely throught to have been rigged in favor of Mubarak's ruling party.
Mubarak, a former air force commander in office since 1981, is known to have zero tolerance for Islamists in politics, whether they are militants or moderates, and it remains highly unlikely that he would allow his government to engage in any dialogue with the Brotherhood.


====
What the U.S. Loses if Mubarak Goes

By TONY KARON Tony Karon – Mon Jan 31, 4:30 am ET
The revolt that appears to have fatally undermined President Hosni Mubarak's prospects for remaining in power is a domestic affair - Egyptians have taken to the street to demand change because of economic despair and political tyranny, not because of the regime's close relationship with Israel and the U.S. But having tolerated and abetted Mubarak's repressive rule for three decades precisely because of his utility to U.S. strategy on issues ranging from Israel to Iran, his fall from power could deprive Washington of a key Arab ally.

"The birthpangs of a new Middle East" was then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's description of the bombs falling on Beirut in 2006 as Israel and Hizballah traded blows in an inconclusive war, but her words more aptly describe the convulsions currently shaking Egypt. Rice's vision of an alliance of Israel and Arab autocrats crushing Iran, Syria, Hamas and Hizballah proved to be a chimera, but Mubarak's ouster could change the regional order in ways quite at odds Secretary Rice's vision. (See how Obama has been forced to sit on the sidelines during Egypt's turmoil.)

The situation in Egypt remains dangerously fluid, its outcome still difficult to predict. But even if the duration and terms of the inevitable transition are unknown, five days of dramatic street demonstrations have effectively called time on the strongman's 30-year rule. Even the Obama Administration appears to be distancing itself from a leader that Washington has long hailed as a pillar of regional stability. The White House has stopped short of demanding that Mubarak resign, but it has called for "an orderly transition" to "a democratic participatory government," and for Egypt's U.S.-funded security forces to refrain from violence against protestors. Heeding those calls would effectively consign Mubarak to political oblivion. And even if he tried to fight his way out of the crisis, the autocrat's ability to serve as a bastion of stability will have been fatally compromised. In the space of less than a week, a central pillar of U.S. regional strategy has become an untenable ruler.

The man most likely to replace him if the political process is thrown open now looks to be Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize winning former nuclear inspector who has been endorsed as a presidential candidate by the smaller secular parties and importantly also by the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's largest opposition party. ElBaradei is a moderate and a democrat, but he doesn't share Washington's allergy to Islamist parties and has publicly questioned the Obama Administration's strategy on Iran's nuclear program.

Curiously enough, years before the current turmoil, Washington was warned it could expect a difficult transition after Mubarak, even if his succession had been handled within the regime. "Whoever Egypt's next president is, he will inevitably be politically weaker than Mubarak," reads a remarkably prescient May 2007 cable from the U.S. embassy in Cairo released late last year by WikiLeaks. "Among his first priorities will be to cement his position and build popular support. We can thus anticipate that the new president may sound an initial anti-American tone in his public rhetoric in an effort to prove his nationalist bona fides to the Egyptian street." (See TIME's video "Tahrir Square: The Epicenter of Cairo's Protests.)

The cable also warns that any new president would have to bolster his support by reconciling with the banned Muslim Brotherhood. If all of that was true for what was then anticipated would be an in-house transition, it may be even more so now that the citizenry has demanded a say in the matter. It's not that the rebellion is fueled by anti-Americanism or radical Islamist sentiments; on the contrary, it's a protest driven by Egyptians' own economic and political needs. The U.S. is viewed with hostility among the demonstrators first and foremost because of its longtime support for a tyrannical regime.

The Muslim Brotherhood may be in the "radical" column of Condi Rice's schema, but Egypt's democracy movement doesn't see it that way. "The Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian movement, has nothing to do with extremism as we have seen it in Afghanistan and other places," ElBaradei said over the weekend. He called the Brotherhood a conservative group that favors secular democracy and human rights, and said that as an integral part of Egyptian society, it would have a place in any inclusive political process. (Read "Is There an ElBaradei Solution?")

Israel has looked on aghast as its most important friend in the region tumbles - with the U.S. doing little to save him. On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly reached out to Washington and European capitals to urge them to ease off on criticism of the Egyptian leader, whose ouster would bring instability to the wider region. It's highly unlikely that any new Egyptian government would go to war with Israel, but an administration more responsive to its own citizenry than Mubarak will almost certainly cool relations. Mubarak's role as the go-to guy when the U.S. and Israel have wanted to pressure the Palestinians into new talks, for example, is unlikely to be reprised by any successor. Nor can Israel count on Egypt's continued cooperation in imposing an economic siege on Gaza, aimed at unseating the territory's Hamas rulers.

If Israel is alarmed, so is the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, who on Saturday phoned Mubarak to express his solidarity and whose security forces blocked demonstrations in support of the Egyptian democracy protests. Mubarak has been an important source of political cover for Abbas in his dealings with Israel and the U.S., and has kept the pressure on Hamas in Gaza. And the Palestinian leader who presides over a less-than-democratic administration won't have been thrilled by the Egyptians' example to his own people of the power of mass protest.

None of the region's moderate autocrats will have been particularly reassured by the Obama Administration's perceived willingness to wave goodbye to an Egyptian autocrat whose 30 years of service to U.S. regional agendas had the likes of Vice President Joe Biden just last week reiterating how important his contribution had been. (Comment on this story.)

Syria and Iran, of course, are celebrating the travails of one of their fiercest Arab antagonists - even if the type of popular rebellion that has rocked Mubarak could at some point also come to the streets of both Damascus and Tehran. Indeed, the Egyptian rebellion may stand as the ultimate negation of the Bush Administration "moderates" vs. "radicals" approach to the region: Mubarak's ouster might be a loss for the moderate camp, but that wouldn't necessarily translate into a gain for the radicals. Instead, it marks a new assertiveness by an Arab public looking to take charge of its own affairs rather than have them determined by international power struggles. Even that, however, suggests turbulent times ahead for U.S. Middle East policies that have little support on the Egyptian street.

=======




. .
Mon Jan 31, 2:11 pm ET
All eyes on Egypt’s military: How will it respond?

By Zachary Roth
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By Zachary Roth zachary Roth – Mon Jan 31, 2:11 pm ET


As mass demonstrations continue to threaten Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak's grip on power, the country's powerful military is emerging as perhaps the crucial player in determining the course of events in the Middle East's most populous nation.

Already, the army -- which has long enjoyed close ties to the ruling regime -- is playing a key role in the efforts of the embattled Mubarak regime to control the growing chaos. Over the weekend, after police withdrew, the army deployed to cities across Egypt, keeping order but generally not forcing protesters from the streets. Today, the Egyptian government received permission from Israel to move soldiers into the Sinai Peninsula, which has been largely demilitarized since a 1979 peace treaty between the two countries. And Mubarak has now turned to three career military men -- including Omar Suleiman, a former army general and head of the intelligence services, now appointed vice president -- to help run the government.

But the army has promised not to fire on peaceful protests, and has said it recognizes the legitimacy of the protester's demands. If it were to turn completely on Mubarak, he could lose his already tenuous hold on power. The Lookout asked Stephen Zunes, a professor of politics and chair of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco, about how the Egyptian military might respond, and how that response might influence events:

LOOKOUT: What role has the military played in Egyptian society during Mubarak's regime? How is it viewed by ordinary Egyptians?

SZ: Egypt has essentially been under military rule since the revolution that overthrew the monarchy in 1952. Mubarak, for example, was the commander of the Egyptian air force prior to Sadat (also a career military officer) naming him as vice-president in 1975. In recent years, the military hierarchy appeared to oppose Mubarak's intention of naming his son Gamal as his successor. With the naming of military intelligence chief Suleiman as vice president, the military hierarchy is reasserting its political leadership.

LOOKOUT:Â Now that the army has been called out into the streets in certain areas to confront protesters, are Egyptian soldiers expected to remain loyal to Mubarak? Would that still likely be the case if they were ordered to fire on Egyptian citizens?

SZ: While the military might be willing to push Mubarak aside, they are unlikely to support a democratic transition of the kind being demanded from the street. And there are certainly those in the military leadership who would be willing to try a Tiananmen Square-style massacre to stop it. The bigger question is whether soldiers, overwhelmingly from the poorest and most disenfranchised segments of the Egyptian population, would be willing to obey those kinds of orders. I would tend to doubt it.

LOOKOUT: Without the support of the army, would Mubarak have any way to hold onto power?

SZ: In either case, it appears at this point that Mubarak is finished. Certainly by September, when the presidential elections are scheduled, but I am assuming long before then. You can have all the formal trappings of government you want and all the military firepower at your disposal you can muster, but if people don't recognize your authority and refuse to obey your orders, you no longer have power. Dictators from [Ferdinand] Marcos to [Slobodan] Milosevic, when faced with similar uprisings, found this out the hard way, and it's becoming increasingly likely that Mubarak will as well.

LOOKOUT:Â What are the various pressures acting on the military, both the commanders and the rank-and-file troops?

SZ: The Obama administration has apparently told the military that a crackdown would lead to the severing of US military aid and cooperation, which -- given the $1.5 billion annual taxpayer-funded US assistance -- is quite a disincentive. For the troops, they may be faced with the choice of disobeying commands or attacking their friends, family and neighbors.

LOOKOUT: The military could well play a role in any new regime that replaced Mubarak. What might such a government look like and how might it rule differently from Mubarak's regime? Would it be any more democratic or open?

SZ: Some argue that the military under Oman Suleiman's leadership is essentially in charge already. In any case, Suleiman has shown strong leadership and mediation skills, and is well liked in some Western capitals, but he is no democrat. He is despised by many Egyptians as a result of his ruthlessness as head of military intelligence, where he effectively served as torturer-in-chief.

While some hope he might be pragmatic enough to lead a democratic transition, it is unlikely that the protesters will be satisfied unless there is a broad representative civilian interim government that can oversee free elections. Neither Mubarak nor the military can be trusted to supervise free and fair elections.

(AP Photo/Ben Curtis: A man wearing the uniform of a captain in the Egyptian army is carried by demonstrators on Tahrir, or Liberation Square, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday.)


===

ANALYSIS-US, caught off guard by Egypt, tries balancing act
01 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* U.S. sees risks in more assertive Egypt stance

* Sudden eruption catches intelligence officials off guard

* Private pressure, but will it bring results? (Adds Berman on U.S. aid, edits)

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The turmoil in Egypt first caught the U.S. government off guard, and now it faces a wrenching struggle to balance strategic interests, including loyalty to allies in the Middle East, with its desire for political reform in the region.

Call it the peril of high expectations.

Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been criticized for being slow to grasp the scale of the upheaval in Egypt where tens of thousands of people have protested for days to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, a long-time U.S. ally. [ID:nN3157462]

Clinton, in particular, was mocked for saying initially that Mubarak's government appeared "stable" before she joined Obama in toughening U.S. rhetoric over the weekend with a call for an "orderly transition" -- a signal that Washington feels the 82-year old leader's days may at last be numbered.

Some political analysts have drawn unflattering parallels between the cautious U.S. response and Obama's own pledge, made in a groundbreaking speech in Cairo in 2009, that the United States wanted to see greater political freedom and accountability in the Muslim world.

"The U.S. needs to break with Mubarak now," the Washington Post said in an editorial on Saturday, a demand likely to unsettle other authoritarian U.S. allies in the region ranging from Jordan to Saudi Arabia.

But the speed with which Egypt's turmoil is unfolding, and the recognition of limited U.S. leverage, has left the Obama administration trying to perform a delicate dance: seeking to encourage reform without attempting to dictate Egypt's future.

"Nobody knows what regime will be in charge once this is over, what its goals will be, or how Egyptians will perceive that new regime. There simply is no way to know how to get out in front," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

He called demands for a more direct U.S. role unrealistic.

"Administrations do not take the status quo and shatter it for the sheer fun of it," Cordesman said. "They haven't fallen off the tightrope, and in one sense that is an achievement.

SHAKEN PARTNER

Mubarak has been a close U.S. partner for decades and has cited the danger of Islamic militancy as, at least in part, a justification for his long grip on power.

Egypt also plays an important role in Middle East peacemaking. It was the first of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel and is seen by Washington as a crucial counterweight to Iran's regional clout.

Despite Egypt's strategic importance to Washington, the United States has limited influence. The roughly $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Egypt each year is important, but represents only about 1 percent of Egypt's GDP compared to the 20 percent it did in 1980.

"There is a deep and broad relationship, but I don't think there's an underlying dependency," said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the CSIS.

Democratic congressman Howard Berman said the aid should continue -- in part to give the U.S. a hand in whatever may come next in Egypt.

"So long as the Egyptian military plays a constructive role in bringing about a democratic transition, the United States should also remain committed to our ongoing assistance programs," Berman said in a statement.

The U.S. administration was clearly shaken by how quickly Egypt's unrest erupted after similar protests toppled nearby Tunisia's longtime president on Jan. 14.

While Clinton and other officials had repeatedly warned about political challenges facing U.S. allies across the Middle East, the notion that Egypt itself could be in immediate danger was not entertained until Tunisia revolted.

"Six weeks ago people were not writing about this at all. A week ago, yeah," said one U.S. intelligence official.

American and European officials also acknowledge that the spread of social media -- Facebook, Twitter and texting -- and the leaking of sensitive U.S. documents by the WikiLeaks website were other factors that made it difficult for analysts to predict what might happen and when.

White House officials met with a bipartisan group of think-tank analysts dubbed the Working Group on Egypt who have called for more specific U.S. demands including immediate presidential and parliamentary elections in Egypt, lifting the state of emergency and a pledge by Mubarak not to run again.

But in their public comments the White House and the State Department stuck to the cautious approach, emphasizing that Egypt's future was up to Egyptians to decide.

"It's not for us to make these choices. It is for us to encourage Egypt to open up space for true economic and political reform to occur," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Privately, one senior official expressed frustration at the demands for a more activist public approach.

"This is the irony here: on the one hand we are accused of dominating everything and dictating everything. On the other hand we are being accused of not dominating and dictating everything ... it's not for us to dictate what happens here."

Mideast expert Stephen Cohen, who helped draft Obama's Cairo speech, said the response was informed in part by the lessons of the war in Iraq, which previous U.S. leaders once hoped would usher in a new political era in the region.

"The United States can't force democracy onto an Arab country. We made that mistake once," he said.

The Egyptian crisis may provide the United States with another lesson on how to handle its future ties in the Middle East, according to Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

"Today, our closest institutional relationships in the Arab world, driven by strategic U.S. priorities, are military to military, intelligence to intelligence, security service to security service. These agencies are the anchors of repression in the region, regardless of who rules at the top," Telhami said in an online commentary.

"Given that repression now appears to be failing, this is a moment for a bigger assessment of U.S. policy in the region -- beyond what happens in Egypt." (Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, editing by Christopher Wilson)

====

ANALYSIS-US, caught off guard by Egypt, tries balancing act

01 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* U.S. sees risks in more assertive Egypt stance

* Sudden eruption catches intelligence officials off guard

* Private pressure, but will it bring results? (Adds Berman on U.S. aid, edits)

By Andrew Quinn

WASHINGTON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - The turmoil in Egypt first caught the U.S. government off guard, and now it faces a wrenching struggle to balance strategic interests, including loyalty to allies in the Middle East, with its desire for political reform in the region.

Call it the peril(imminent danger) of high expectations.

Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been criticized for being slow to grasp the scale of the upheaval in Egypt where tens of thousands of people have protested for days to demand the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, a long-time U.S. ally. [ID:nN3157462]

Clinton, in particular, was mocked for saying initially that Mubarak's government appeared "stable" before she joined Obama in toughening U.S. rhetoric over the weekend with a call for an "orderly transition" -- a signal that Washington feels the 82-year old leader's days may at last be numbered.

Some political analysts have drawn unflattering parallels between the cautious U.S. response and Obama's own pledge, made in a groundbreaking speech in Cairo in 2009, that the United States wanted to see greater political freedom and accountability in the Muslim world.

"The U.S. needs to break with Mubarak now," the Washington Post said in an editorial on Saturday, a demand likely to unsettle other authoritarian U.S. allies in the region ranging from Jordan to Saudi Arabia.

But the speed with which Egypt's turmoil is unfolding, and the recognition of limited U.S. leverage(Positional advantage; power to act effectively: ), has left the Obama administration trying to perform a delicate dance: seeking to encourage reform without attempting to dictate Egypt's future.

"Nobody knows what regime will be in charge once this is over, what its goals will be, or how Egyptians will perceive that new regime. There simply is no way to know how to get out in front," said Anthony Cordesman, a national security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

He called demands for a more direct U.S. role unrealistic.

"Administrations do not take the status quo and shatter it for the sheer fun of it," Cordesman said. "They haven't fallen off the tightrope, and in one sense that is an achievement.


SHAKEN PARTNER

Mubarak has been a close U.S. partner for decades and has cited the danger of Islamic militancy as, at least in part, a justification for his long grip on power.

Egypt also plays an important role in Middle East peacemaking. It was the first of only two Arab states to have signed a peace treaty with Israel and is seen by Washington as a crucial counterweight to Iran's regional clout.

Despite Egypt's strategic importance to Washington, the United States has limited influence. The roughly $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid to Egypt each year is important, but represents only about 1 percent of Egypt's GDP compared to the 20 percent it did in 1980.

"There is a deep and broad relationship, but I don't think there's an underlying dependency," said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the CSIS.

Democratic congressman Howard Berman said the aid should continue -- in part to give the U.S. a hand in whatever may come next in Egypt.

"So long as the Egyptian military plays a constructive role in bringing about a democratic transition, the United States should also remain committed to our ongoing assistance programs," Berman said in a statement.

The U.S. administration was clearly shaken by how quickly Egypt's unrest erupted after similar protests toppled nearby Tunisia's longtime president on Jan. 14.

While Clinton and other officials had repeatedly warned about political challenges facing U.S. allies across the Middle East, the notion that Egypt itself could be in immediate danger was not entertained until Tunisia revolted.

"Six weeks ago people were not writing about this at all. A week ago, yeah," said one U.S. intelligence official.


American and European officials also acknowledge that the spread of social media -- Facebook, Twitter and texting -- and the leaking of sensitive U.S. documents by the WikiLeaks website were other factors that made it difficult for analysts to predict what might happen and when.

White House officials met with a bipartisan group of think-tank analysts dubbed the Working Group on Egypt who have called for more specific U.S. demands including immediate presidential and parliamentary elections in Egypt, lifting the state of emergency and a pledge by Mubarak not to run again.

But in their public comments the White House and the State Department stuck to the cautious approach, emphasizing that Egypt's future was up to Egyptians to decide.

"It's not for us to make these choices. It is for us to encourage Egypt to open up space for true economic and political reform to occur," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Privately, one senior official expressed frustration at the demands for a more activist public approach.

"This is the irony here: on the one hand we are accused of dominating everything and dictating everything. On the other hand we are being accused of not dominating and dictating everything ... it's not for us to dictate what happens here."

Mideast expert Stephen Cohen, who helped draft Obama's Cairo speech, said the response was informed in part by the lessons of the war in Iraq, which previous U.S. leaders once hoped would usher in a new political era in the region.

"The United States can&'t force democracy onto an Arab country. We made that mistake once," he said.

The Egyptian crisis may provide the United States with another lesson on how to handle its future ties in the Middle East, according to Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

"Today, our closest institutional relationships in the Arab world, driven by strategic U.S. priorities, are military to military, intelligence to intelligence, security service to security service. These agencies are the anchors of repression in the region, regardless of who rules at the top," Telhami said in an online commentary.

"Given that repression now appears to be failing, this is a moment for a bigger assessment of U.S. policy in the region -- beyond what happens in Egypt."
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball, editing by Christopher Wilson)


=====

ANALYSIS-The return of emerging market political risk

31 Jan 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Egypt surprises investors, prompts risk reappraisal

* Unrest worries could prompt unorthodox economic policies

* Casts long shadow over other authoritarian economies

* Inflation, rising commodity, energy prices in focus


By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

LONDON, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Taking the world by surprise, Egypt's uprising may prompt renewed focus on political risk in emerging economies at a time of rising food and fuel prices, raising investor fears of unorthodox or repressive policy moves.

That could see investors demand a higher risk premium on investments particularly in authoritarian emerging economies, refocusing attention on potential political and succession risks in countries previously seen to be stable.

Demonstrators thronging the streets in Cairo and other cities continue to call for President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Monday in unprecedented protests that come hot on the heels of the ousting of Tunisia's President Ben Ali.

"The Egypt developments are...unravelling assumptions about political stability in emerging market countries into question almost overnight." said Tina Fordham, political analyst at Citi.


That could have an impact across commodity, energy, government debt, currency and stock markets as well as on the cost of insuring foreign direct investment.

Recent events may make other leaders more worried about being swept from power -- making them perhaps turn to food subsidies, capital controls and other measures possibly including censorship and crackdowns to try to stave off unrest.

At the very least, governments may hike spending to placate the masses and hope to avoid them taking to the streets.

That would make government bond investors unhappy, while stock and currency traders are more worried about anything that would make it harder to get money in and out. Egypt's stock exchange has been closed since Thursday, trapping investors.

"Emerging market investors should know these things happen -- but what happened was people forgot," said Michael Ganske. "They looked at countries like Egypt and just looked at the numbers -- which were good -- and assumed the regime would be there forever. They priced it wrong."


As another reminder of the potential dangers of emerging economies, Ivory Coast looked headed for a default on a sovereign debt interest payment on Monday as rival presidential candidates faced off after last year's disputed election.

That would be the first full sovereign default since 2008.

Global shares slid on Monday on events in Egypt, while oil prices rose towards $100 a barrel on fears unrest might spread to neighbouring countries and could affect energy exports including through the Suez Canal.

FOCUS ON INFLATION WORRIES

A more restive Middle East would produce higher commodity prices fuelling inflation particularly in developing economies, increasingly seen as the essential engine of world growth.

Concerns over political fallout from rising food costs is already seen prompting Algeria to boost food purchases, driving up global prices still further and draining state coffers.

Investors had already been worrying over unorthodox policy responses in the face of inflation, with both Turkey and Kenya cutting interest rates just as conventional economic textbooks say they should rise in part for domestic political reasons.

Global investors have increasingly shrugged off political dangers in developing economies in recent years, focusing more on policy risks in the developed world -- particularly around the eurozone's troubled fringe.

Certainly, emerging European economies in particular have slashed spending much more easily than their Western counterparts -- but Egypt has acted as a stark reminder of the perhaps potentially greater strains within authoritarian states.

After Tunisia and Egypt, analysts say nearby countries probably have the greatest risks of copycat unrest -- but the implications spread much further across Southeast Asian states like Thailand and authoritarian Central Asian countries.

"In terms of contagion risk, Yemen, Sudan, Jordan and Syria all look vulnerable," said Zaineb Al-Assam, Head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting for London-based consultancy Exclusive Analysis. "However, the greatest risk in terms of both probability and severity is in Saudi Arabia".


SAUDI ARABIA, CHINA

Whilst few see the ousting of the Saudi government as their base case scenario -- not least because its colossal wealth gives it much more room to manoeuvre than Egypt -- even a modestly increased perceived risk could push oil higher still.

Analysts disagree over what an environment of greater concern over social unrest and rising commodity prices means for already growing "currency war" tensions particularly between the United States and China. Governments around the world are seen to have been keen to weaken their currencies to promote exports and jobs, sparking fears of wider trade wars.

===
Chinese journalists tackle currency wars and balance sheets in Beijing
2010-11-23 10:51:01

Participants and trainer, Daniel Bases, during a session on the grounds of 'Tsinghua University'

More than a dozen journalists working for English language Chinese news outlets took part in a week-long training course on business, economic and financial writing, hosted by Tsinghua University in Beijing. The participants, with varying degrees of experience in the field, had as a backdrop the real-time “currency war” to discuss ahead of the G20 meeting as well as China’s booming economy and ballooning real estate bubble.

Graduate students from Tsinghua’s global business journalism program rotated through the course, taking part in the writing exercises and discussions. The Thomson Reuters Foundation run course put the participants through a rigorous series of discussion and real-time writing exercises to help improve content knowledge and skills to navigate through different story themes, including M&A, monetary policy, IPO’s and economic data.

One element given particular focus was the breakdown of corporate balance sheets and what kinds of stories that could be extracted from the data. China’s corporate information is considered opaque, making the balance sheet reading skills a key component for journalists’ success. Another drill split the group in two with each trying to find value in a merger and a focus on the questions faced by corporate executives and the actions they take. The experience of being forced to think like an executive gives the journalists a chance to reflect on what makes for a better question and hopefully a better story for public consumption.

In the course of the week, writing style, content and comprehension, and speed improved as the participants were forced to extract the most relevant information quickly. “It helps in general, especially making me better understand some news,” wrote one participant. Another said they would apply what they learned by brining “better story ideas, more critical and comprehensive views on the economy as a whole.”

The course was taught by New York-based Thomson Reuters senior correspondent Daniel Bases and former Reuters correspondent Joyce Liu.




===
"In the face of rising inflationary pressures, central banks and finance ministries within this sphere (emerging markets) may well start to see the advantages after all of a strengthening currency," said Bank of New York Mellon in a note.


But unemployment looks to have been at least as big a factor in fuelling discontent in both Egypt and Tunisia, and some argue that could harden attitudes amongst emerging policymakers.

Commerzbank's Ganske said that if anything events in Egypt make Beijing more reluctant to to allow currency appreciation that could undermine export industries and potentially throw urban factory workers out of work.

Beijing's rulers appear to noted events in North Africa with at least some concern, blocking the word "Egypt" from searches on Chinese Twitter-style micro blog social networking sites over the weekend [ID:nTOE70T00].

"The Chinese know that their currency is valued too low but their economy is so export dependent and they are worried about unrest," Ganske said. "It is not that there will be direct contagion(direct cause) but there will be a political effect."




===


Wary China avoids comment on calls for reform in Egypt02 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING, Feb 2 (Reuters) - China's tightly controlled state-run media has largely avoided commenting on the turmoil sweeping Egypt, wary that calls for political reform in the Arab world's most populous nation could ripple into China.

The strife has been reported as a secondary story, concentrating on government efforts to rescue stranded Chinese and hardly any images shown of the mass protests or tanks on the streets.

"It's a highly sensitive story for the government and brings back memories of 1989," said Li Datong, a former journalist sacked for challenging censorship, referring to the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"Certainly they want to limit coverage, and would be especially nervous of pictures showing troops mixing peacefully with protesters and not opening fire on them."

But China's situation is very different from Egypt and the Communist Party's grip on power is as strong as ever. The economic boom over the past few decades has raised millions from poverty, and few Chinese would likely wish to see the sort of unrest which has riled Cairo repeated on Beijing's streets.

Chinese websites have disrupted searches for "Egypt" on micro-blogs, though some comments have been getting through, as well as pictures of the protests and tanks on the streets, in an echo for some of the anti-government protests in Beijing in 1989.

"These are the real soldiers of the people," wrote one poster on a blog operated by portal baidu.com. "The Egyptian army has not opened fire on their fathers or brothers."

"Rising corruption, inflation, high housing prices -… I think there's another country like this, but which could that be?" wrote another person sarcastically on the sina.com micro-blog.

Pictures carried in newspapers and on official websites on Wednesday generally showed either screenshots of beleaguered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak speaking on television, or Chinese travellers smiling on their return to China.

Xinhua's English-language service, which is aimed at a foreign audience, noted the call by some Egyptians to stay away from violence.

"Despite opposition partie's calls for an indefinite strike and a one-million-people march to the presidential palace, some Egyptian intellectuals distributed leaflets among protesters, urging people to stay away from 'violence' and 'chaos'".


COLOUR REVOLUTIONS

State television, in contrast to the likes of CNN and the BBC which have given blanket coverage to Egypt, has hardly mentioned the unrest, concentrating its reporting on the run-up to the traditional Chinese lunar new year holiday.

China's response also reflects its traditional reluctance to criticise other authoritarian governments in the developing world, as well as its limited sway in the Middle East, a major source of oil for the fast-growing Asian economy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday repeated the line that China considered Egypt a friend and that it hoped the country would "return to social stability and normal order as soon as possible".


Almost the only Chinese newspaper to comment on Egypt has been the Global Times, a popular tabloid with a strong nationalist bent run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily.

On Sunday, it warned in an editorial that "colour revolutions" in places like Tunisia and Egypt would not bring about the kind of democracy hoped for by Western nations.

"Democracy is still far away for Tunisia and Egypt. The success of a democracy takes concrete foundations in economy, education and social issues," it wrote.

"As a general concept, democracy has been accepted by most people. But when it comes to political systems, the Western model is only one of a few options. It takes time and effort to apply democracy to different countries, and to do so without the turmoil of revolution."

(Editing by Nick Macfie)





=============



BREAKINGVIEWS-Middle East contagion raises geopolitical risks01 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


By Una Galani

LONDON, Feb 1 (Reuters Breakingviews) - There is an upside scenario if the Arab world can transition to democracy. But with unrest closing in on Saudi Arabia and Israel maybe losing its few friends in the region, there is also danger. So long as it's uncertain how things will end up, global markets will be volatile.


Full view will be published shortly.


<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Get Breakingviews alerts directly to your inbox three times a day. To sign up click here: http://online.thomsonreuters.com/3000XtraBVRegistration


^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


CONTEXT NEWS

-- Reuters story: More than 200,000 in Cairo demand Mubarak quit [ID:nLDE71000N]

-- The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own --

-- For previous columns by the author, Reuters customers can click on [GALANI/]

(Editing by Hugo Dixon and David Evans)


===
TechnoTalk - Google and Twitter help Egyptians bypass Internet closure
By Emma Batha | Yesterday at 6:34 PM | Comments ( 0 )



An anti-government protester defaces a poster of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria. REUTERS/Stringer Egypt

Google and Twitter have launched a service enabling Egyptians to carry on tweeting, circumventing the country’s internet shutdown amid anti-government protests.

The speak-to-tweet service lets people leave a voicemail on an international phone number and the service then instantly tweets out a link to the voice message using hashtag #egypt.

The service has only just been launched, but it sounds like something that could be useful in earthquakes and other major disasters as a means of getting information out to the world when internet connections go down.

It was set up by a small team of engineers from Twitter, Google and SayNow, a company Google acquired last week.

“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,” Ujjwal Singh, co-founder of SayNow, and Abdel Karim Mardini, Google product manager for the Middle East and North Africa, wrote in a blog on Monday.

“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 hope that this will go some way to helping people in Egypt stay connected at this very difficult time.”

Social networking services like Twitter and Facebook have been widely used by protesters in Egypt who are calling for an end to the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. But internet services have now been suspended around the country.

The speak-to-tweet service appears to have been taken up rapidly. By Tuesday messages were arriving every few minutes.

Quite independently of Google, a group of volunteers have set up a site called Alive In Egypt which is already translating and transcribing the messages.

A message on the website’s homepage says: “We were so impressed and excited with the technology and the number of calls coming in that we wanted to help bring the voice of the Egyptians to even more people. “

The numbers for using the service are: +16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to twitter.com/speak2tweet. To read the messages already translated by volunteers click here.





===
Egypt crowds unmoved by Mubarak's vow not to run


By SARAH EL DEEB and HADEEL AL-SHALCHI, Associated Press Sarah El Deeb And Hadeel Al-shalchi, Associated Press – 1 hr 36 mins ago
CAIRO – President Hosni Mubarak defied a quarter-million protesters demanding he step down immediately, announcing Tuesday he would serve out the last months of his term and "die on Egyptian soil." He promised not to seek re-election, but that did not calm public fury as clashes erupted between his opponents and supporters.

The protesters, whose numbers multiplied more than tenfold in a single day Tuesday for their biggest rally yet, have insisted they will not end their unprecedented week-old wave of unrest until their ruler for nearly three decades goes.

Mubarak's halfway concession — an end to his rule seven months down the road — threatened to inflame frustration and anger among protesters, who have been peaceful in recent days.

In the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, clashes erupted between several hundred protesters and government supporters soon afterward, according to footage by Al-Jazeera television. The protesters threw stones at their rivals, who wielded knives and sticks, until soldiers fired in the air and stepped in between them, said a local journalist, Hossam el-Wakil.

The speech was immediately derided(To speak of or treat with contemptuous mirth.) by protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Watching on a giant TV, protesters booed and waved their shoes over their heads at his image in a sign of contempt. "Go, go, go! We are not leaving until he leaves," they chanted. One man screamed, "He doesn't want to say it, he doesn't want to say it."


In the 10-minute address, the 82-year-old Mubarak appeared somber but spoke firmly and without an air of defeat. He insisted that even if the protests had never happened, he would not have sought a sixth term in September.

He said he would serve out the rest of his term working "to accomplish the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power." He said he will carry out amendments to rules on presidential elections.

Mubarak, a former air force commander, vowed not to flee the country. "This is my dear homeland ... I have lived in it, I fought for it and defended its soil, sovereignty and interests. On its soil I will die. History will judge me and all of us."

The step came after heavy pressure from his top ally, the United States. Soon after Mubarak's address, President Barack Obama said at the White House that he had spoken with Mubarak and "he recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place." Obama said he told Mubarak that an orderly transition must be meaningful and peaceful, must begin now and must include opposition parties.

Earlier, a visiting Obama envoy — former ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner, who is a friend of the Egyptian president — met with Mubarak and made clear to him that it is the U.S. "view that his tenure as president is coming to a close," according to an administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the ongoing diplomacy.

The United States has been struggling to find a way to ease Mubarak out of office while maintaining stability in Egypt, a key ally in the Mideast that has a 30-year-old peace treaty with Israel and has been a bulwark against Islamic militancy.

Mubarak would be the second Arab leader pushed from office by a popular uprising in the history of the modern Middle East, following the ouster last month of the president of Tunisia — another North African nation.

The U.S. ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey, spoke by telephone Tuesday with Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, the embassy said. ElBaradei, a pro-democracy advocate and one of the opposition's most prominent leaders, has taken a key role in formulating the movement's demands. He is also a member of a new committee formed by various factions to conduct any future negotiations on the protesters' behalf once Mubarak steps down.

There was no immediate word on what he and Scobey discussed.

Only a month ago, reform activists would have greeted Mubarak's announcement with joy — many Egyptians believed Mubarak was going to run again despite health issues. But after the past week of upheaval, Mubarak's address struck many of his opponents as inadequate.

"The people have spoken. They said no to Mubarak, and they will not go back on their words," said Saad el-Katatni, a leading member of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood. "Enough suffering. Let him go, and leave the Egyptians to sort themselves out."

Ayman Nour, a former presidential candidate who is a member of the negotiating committee, said Mubarak clearly didn't get the message.

"This is a unique case of stubbornness that will end in a disaster," he said. "It is only expected that he wasn't going to run because of his age.... He offered nothing new."


Tuesday's protest marked a dramatic escalation that organizers said aims to drive Mubarak out by Friday, with more than 250,000 people flooding into Tahrir, or Liberation, Square.

Protesters jammed in shoulder to shoulder: farmers and unemployed university graduates, women in conservative headscarves and women in high heels, men in suits and working-class men in scuffed shoes. Many in the crowd traveled from rural provinces, defying a government transportation shutdown and roadblocks on intercity highways.

They sang nationalist songs, danced, beat drums and chanted the anti-Mubarak slogan "Leave! Leave! Leave!" as military helicopters buzzed overhead. Similar demonstrations erupted in at least five other cities around Egypt.

Soldiers at checkpoints set up at the entrances of the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering. The military promised on state TV Monday night that it would not fire on protesters answering a call for a million to demonstrate, a sign that army support for Mubarak may be unraveling.

The movement to drive Mubarak out has been built on the work of online activists and fueled by deep frustration with an autocratic regime blamed for ignoring the needs of the poor and allowing corruption and official abuse to run rampant. After years of tight state control, protesters emboldened by the Tunisia unrest took to the streets on Jan. 25 and mounted a once-unimaginable series of protests across this nation of 80 million.

The repercussions were being felt around the Mideast, as other authoritarian governments fearing popular discontent pre-emptively tried to burnish their democratic image.

Jordan's King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the face of smaller street protests, named an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet and ordered him to launch political reforms. The Palestinian Cabinet in the West Bank said it would hold long-promised municipal elections "as soon as possible."

Egypt's protesters have rejected earlier concessions by Mubarak, including the dissolution of his government, the naming of a new one and the appointment of a vice president, Omar Suleiman, who offered a dialogue with "political forces" over constitutional and legislative reforms.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya television Tuesday, ElBaradei dismissed Suleiman's offer, saying there could be no negotiations until Mubarak leaves. In his speech, Mubarak said the offer still stands and promised to change constitutional articles that allow the president unlimited terms and limit those who can run for the office.

Egypt's state TV on Tuesday ran a statement by the new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, pleading with the public to "give a chance" to his government.

The United States ordered nonessential U.S. government personnel and their families to leave Egypt. They join a wave of people rushing to flee the country — over 18,000 overwhelmed Cairo's international airport and threw it into chaos. EgyptAir staff scuffled with frantic passengers, food supplies were dwindling and some policemen even demanded substantial bribes before allowing foreigners to board their planes.

Banks, schools and the stock market in Cairo were closed for the third working day, making cash tight. Bread prices spiraled. An unprecedented shutdown of the Internet was in its fifth day.

The official death toll from the crisis stood at 97, with thousands injured, though reports from witnesses across the country indicated the actual toll was far higher.

But perhaps most startling was how peaceful the protests have been in recent days, after the military replaced the police around Tahrir Square and made no move to try to suppress the demonstrations. No clashes between the military and protesters have been reported since Friday night, after pitched street battles with the police throughout the day Friday.

Egypt's military leadership has reassured the U.S. that they do not intend to crack down on demonstrators, but instead they are allowing the protesters to "wear themselves out," according to a former U.S. official in contact with several top Egyptian army officers. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Troops alongside Soviet-era and newer U.S.-made Abrams tanks stood guard at roads leading into Tahrir Square. Protester volunteers wearing tags reading "the People's Security" circulated through the crowds in the square, saying they were watching for government infiltrators who might try to instigate violence. Organizers said the protest would remain in the square and not attempt to march to the presidential palace to avoid frictions with the military.

Two effigies of Mubarak dangled from traffic lights. On their chests was written: "We want to put the murderous president on trial." Their faces were scrawled with the Star of David, an allusion to many protesters' feeling that Mubarak is a friend of Israel, still seen by most Egyptians as their country's archenemy more than 30 years after the two nations signed a peace treaty.

Every protester had their own story of why they came — with a shared theme of frustration with a life pinned in by corruption, low wages, crushed opportunities and abuse by authorities. Under Mubarak, Egypt has seen a widening gap between rich and poor, with 40 percent of the population living under or just above the poverty line set by the World Bank at $2 a day.

Sahar Ahmad, a 41-year-old school teacher and mother of one, said she has taught for 22 years and still only makes about $70 a month.

"There are 120 students in my classroom. That's more than any teacher can handle," said Ahmad. "Change would mean a better education system I can teach in and one that guarantees my students a good life after school. If there is democracy in my country, then I can ask for democracy in my own home."

Tamer Adly, a driver of one of the thousands of minibuses that ferry commuters around Cairo, said he was sick of the daily humiliation he felt from police who demand free rides and send him on petty errands, reflecting the widespread public anger at police high-handedness.

"They would force me to share my breakfast with them ... force me to go fetch them a newspaper. This country should not just be about one person," the 30-year-old lamented, referring to Mubarak.


Among the older protesters, there was also a sense of amazement after three decades of unquestioned control by Mubarak's security forces over the streets.

"We could never say no to Mubarak when we were young, but our young people today proved that they can say no, and I'm here to support them," said Yusra Mahmoud, a 46-year-old school principal who said she had been sleeping in the square alongside other protesters for the past two nights.

Authorities shut down all roads and public transportation to Cairo and in and out of other main cities, security officials said. Train services nationwide were suspended for a second day and all bus services between cities were halted.

Still, many from the provinces managed to make it to the square. Hamada Massoud, a 32-year-old lawyer, said he and 50 others came in cars and minibuses from the impoverished province of Beni Sweif south of Cairo.

"Cairo today is all of Egypt," he said. "I want my son to have a better life and not suffer as much as I did ... I want to feel like I chose my president."

___

AP correspondents Maggie Michael, Maggie Hyde, Lee Keath and Michael Weissenstein in Cairo and Kimberly Dozier in Washington contributed to this report.


=====

Wary China avoids comment on calls for reform in Egypt
02 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


By Ben Blanchard

BEIJING, Feb 2 (Reuters) - China's tightly controlled state-run media has largely avoided commenting on the turmoil sweeping Egypt, wary that calls for political reform in the Arab world's most populous nation could ripple into China.

The strife has been reported as a secondary story, concentrating on government efforts to rescue stranded Chinese and hardly any images shown of the mass protests or tanks on the streets.

"It's a highly sensitive story for the government and brings back memories of 1989," said Li Datong, a former journalist sacked for challenging censorship, referring to the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"Certainly they want to limit coverage, and would be especially nervous of pictures showing troops mixing peacefully with protesters and not opening fire on them."

But China's situation is very different from Egypt and the Communist Party's grip on power is as strong as ever. The economic boom over the past few decades has raised millions from poverty, and few Chinese would likely wish to see the sort of unrest which has riled Cairo repeated on Beijing's streets.

Chinese websites have disrupted searches for "Egypt" on micro-blogs, though some comments have been getting through, as well as pictures of the protests and tanks on the streets, in an echo for some of the anti-government protests in Beijing in 1989.

"These are the real soldiers of the people," wrote one poster on a blog operated by portal baidu.com. "The Egyptian army has not opened fire on their fathers or brothers."

"Rising corruption, inflation, high housing prices -… I think there's another country like this, but which could that be?" wrote another person sarcastically on the sina.com micro-blog.

Pictures carried in newspapers and on official websites on Wednesday generally showed either screenshots of beleaguered Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak speaking on television, or Chinese travellers smiling on their return to China.

Xinhua's English-language service, which is aimed at a foreign audience, noted the call by some Egyptians to stay away from violence.

"Despite opposition parties' calls for an indefinite strike and a one-million-people march to the presidential palace, some Egyptian intellectuals distributed leaflets among protesters, urging people to stay away from 'violence' and 'chaos'".


COLOUR REVOLUTIONS

State television, in contrast to the likes of CNN and the BBC which have given blanket coverage to Egypt, has hardly mentioned the unrest, concentrating its reporting on the run-up to the traditional Chinese lunar new year holiday.

China's response also reflects its traditional reluctance to criticise other authoritarian governments in the developing world, as well as its limited sway in the Middle East, a major source of oil for the fast-growing Asian economy.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Tuesday repeated the line that China considered Egypt a friend and that it hoped the country would "return to social stability and normal order as soon as possible".

Almost the only Chinese newspaper to comment on Egypt has been the Global Times, a popular tabloid with a strong nationalist bent run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily.

On Sunday, it warned in an editorial that "colour revolutions" in places like Tunisia and Egypt would not bring about the kind of democracy hoped for by Western nations.

"Democracy is still far away for Tunisia and Egypt. The success of a democracy takes concrete foundations in economy, education and social issues," it wrote.

"As a general concept, democracy has been accepted by most people. But when it comes to political systems, the Western model is only one of a few options. It takes time and effort to apply democracy to different countries, and to do so without the turmoil of revolution."

(Editing by Nick Macfie)



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1 / 26 Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation on Egyptian State TV in this still image taken from video, February 1, 2011.
Credit: Reuters/Egyptian State TV


Obama: A new chapter in Egypt (02:47) ReportBy Edmund Blair and Samia Nakhoul

CAIRO | Wed Feb 2, 2011 12:29am EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday he would surrender power in September, angering protesters who want an immediate end to his 30-year-rule, and prompting the United States to say change "must begin now."

The 82-year-old leader said he would not seek re-election when his presidential term ends in September. "I will work in the remaining months of my term to take the steps to ensure a peaceful transfer of power," he said in televised address.

And to those demanding he leave Egypt, he said, "This is my country ... and I will die on its soil."

His 10-minute speech was greeted with dismay among protesters whose numbers swelled above 1 million across Egypt on Tuesday after week-long demonstrations.

"We will not leave! He will leave!" some chanted.

Washington, caught off guard by the wave of anger over oppression and hardship which has spread from Tunisia to one of its closest Arab allies, added pressure on Mubarak to speed up his response while stopping short of calling on him to quit.

"What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now," President Barack Obama said after speaking to him by phone.

But inside Egypt the immediate future remained unclear.

Soon after Mubarak's speech, state television, which had largely ignored anti-government protests, broadcast footage of smaller demonstrations held in support of the president.

These pro-government marches were an unusual development given there had so far been almost no sign of any counter-demonstrations.

At Cairo's Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, focus of protests for a week, people defying a curfew bitterly criticised Mubarak for failing to heed their call for him to quit.

"The speech is useless and only inflames our anger," said Shadi Morkos. "We will continue to protest."

In Alexandria, the second city, troops in tanks fired shots in the air to keep order after skirmishes between anti-government and pro-Mubarak groups.

ARMY ROLE CRUCIAL

Much will depend on the army, once Mubarak's power base, which has dominated Egypt since it toppled the monarchy in 1952.

====

Many see it as trying to ensure a transition of power that would allow it to retain much of its influence. It has promised not to fire on protesters and called their demands legitimate.

But some analysts said tensions could rise even within the army if Mubarak were to hang on too long, and if senior officers were seen to be protecting a leader who had lost legitimacy.

"The longer this goes on, the more people will associate the military top brass with Mubarak. That is very dangerous," said Faysal Itani, deputy head of Middle East and North Africa Forecasting at Exclusive Analysis.

"It will put enormous strain on the security services."


A British-based cleric from the Muslim Brotherhood, the officially banned Islamist party and the most organized Egyptian opposition group, also said there was a risk of conflict.

"It will add fuel to the fire. His speech will bring the danger of conflict in the country. We were expecting him to be stubborn, but not to that extent," Kamel el-Helbawy said.

Retired diplomat Mohammed ElBaradei, who has emerged as a leading figure in the opposition, was quoted by CNN calling Mubarak's move a "trick."

Tuesday's demonstration was an emphatic rejection of Mubarak's appointment of a new vice president, Omar Suleiman, and an offer to open a dialogue with the opposition.

Many protesters spoke of a new push on Friday to rally at Cairo's presidential palace to dislodge Mubarak: "This won't fly any more," said 35-year-old doctor Ahmed Khalifa. "If Egyptians stay on the streets till Friday, probably Mubarak's next offer will be to step down right away."
U.S. DIPLOMATIC TIGHTROPE

Obama spoke to Mubarak for a half hour by telephone after he announced plans to step down in September.

A senior administration official said Obama's conversation with Mubarak was frank and direct and left no doubt that "the time for transition is now, it can't be put off."

"He said it was clear how much he (Mubarak) loves his country, and how difficult this is for him. President Obama explained to him that an orderly transition can't be prolonged, it must begin now,"
the official said.

Obama's comments were the clearest sign yet that Washington believes Mubarak might have to leave sooner rather than later. But officials were reluctant to press openly for his resignation to avoid undermining other allies in the region who might face similar uprisings.

His departure would reconfigure the politics of the Middle East, with implications from Israel -- which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 -- to oil giant Saudi Arabia.

Just four weeks since the death of Mohammed Bouazizi, the Tunisian who set himself on fire to protest at oppression and corruption, the wave of anger he set in motion has gathered strength across the region.

====
King Abdullah of Jordan replaced his prime minister on Tuesday after protests. Yemen and Sudan have also seen unrest.

The unrest has sent oil prices higher on fears of trouble in Saudi Arabia and on Egypt's Suez Canal. That in turn has raised worries about a further rise in inflation, increasing the potential for social unrest far beyond the Middle East.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hammond, Patrick Werr, Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, and Alison Williams in Cairo, editing by Myra MacDonald)

===

Pro- and anti-government supporters clash in Cairo
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Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak demonstrate in Cairo, Egypt. More photos »
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By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI and SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Hadeel Al-shalchi And Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press – 27 mins ago

CAIRO – Several thousand supporters of President Hosni Mubarak, including some riding horses and camels and wielding whips, attacked anti-government protesters Wednesday as Egypt's upheaval took a dangerous new turn. In chaotic scenes, the two sides pelted each other with stones, and protesters dragged attackers off their horses.

The turmoil was the first significant violence between supporters of the two camps in more than a week of anti-government protests. It erupted after Mubarak went on national television the night before and rejected demands he step down immediately and said he would serve out the remaining seven months of his term.

Wednesday morning, a military spokesman appeared on state TV Wednesday and asked the protesters to disperse so life in Egypt could get back to normal. The announement could mark a major turn in the attitude of the army, which for the past two days has allowed protests to swell, reaching their largest size yet on Tuesday when a quarter-million peace packed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square.

Nearly 10,000 protesters massed again in Tahrir on Wednesday morning, rejecting Mubarak's speech as too little too late and renewed their demands he leave immediately.

In the early afternoon Wednesday, an Associated Press reporter saw around 3,000 Mubarak supporters break through a human chain of anti-government protesters trying to defend thousands gathered in Tahrir.

Chaos erupted as they tore down banners denouncing the president. Fistfights broke out as they advanced across the massive square in the heart of the capital. The anti-government protesters grabbed Mubarak posters from the hands of the supporters and ripped them.
The two sides began hurling stones and bottles and sticks at each other, chasing each other as the protesters' human chains moved back to try to shield the larger mass of demonstrators at the plaza's center.

At one point, a small contingent of pro-Mubarak forces on horseback and camels rushed into the anti-Mubarak crowds, swinging whips and sticks to beat people. Protesters retaliated, dragging some from their mounts, throwing them to the ground and beating their faces bloody.
Click image to see photos of anti-government protests in Egypt


AP/Ben Curtis
Protesters were seen running with their shirts or faces bloodied, some men and women in the crowd were weeping. A scent of tear gas wafted over the area, but it was not clear who had fired it.

The army troops who have been guarding the square had been keeping the two sides apart earlier in the day, but when the clashes erupted they did not intervene. Most took shelter behind or inside the armored vehicles and tanks stationed at the entrances to Tahrir.

===

A spokesman from Egypt's foreign ministry tells Reuters it rejects the intervention of U.S. and European political figures in Egypt's internal political development.

Just to recap, here's what a few world leaders had to say Mubarak's decision to quit in September:

President Barack Obama:
"What is clear and what I indicated tonight (Tuesday) to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now."

British Prime Minister David Cameron:
"The transition needs to be rapid and credible and it needs to start now. We stand with those, in this country, who want freedom, who want democracy and rights the world over -- that should always be our view."

Statement from office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
"After President Mubarak's speech, the president (Sarkozy) reiterates his wish to see a concrete transition process start without delay in response to a desire for change and renewal so strongly expressed by the population."

Read more reaction here: www.reuters.com

======
Chaos in Cairo as Mubarak backers, opponents clash


By HADEEL AL-SHALCHI and SARAH EL DEEB, Associated Press Hadeel Al-shalchi And Sarah El Deeb, Associated Press – 12 mins ago
CAIRO – Thousands of supporters and opponents of President Hosni Mubarak battled in Cairo's main square Wednesday, raining stones, bottles and firebombs on each other in scenes of uncontrolled violence chaos as soldiers stood by without intervening. Government backers galloped in on horses and camels, only to be dragged to the ground and beaten bloody.

At the fighting's main front line, next to the famed Egyptian Museum at the edge of Tahrir Square, pro-government rioters blanketed the rooftops of nearby buildings, dumping bricks and firebombs onto the crowd below — in the process setting a tree ablaze inside the museum grounds. Below on the street, the two sides, crouched behind abandoned trucks, hurled chunks of concrete and bottles at each other, and some government supporters waved machetes.
(A large heavy knife with a broad blade, used as a weapon and an implement for cutting vegetation.
)
Bloodied anti-government protesters were taken to makeshift clinics in mosques and alleyways, and some pleaded for protection from soldiers stationed at the square, who refused. Soldiers did nothing to stop the violence beyond firing an occasional shot in the air.

"Hosni has opened the door for these thugs to attack us," one man with a loudspeaker shouted to the crowds during the fighting.

The violence marked a dangerous new phase in Egypt's upheaval — the first significant violence between supporters of the two camps in more than a week of anti-government protests. It erupted after Mubarak went on national television the night before and rejected protesters' demands he step down immediately and said he would serve out the remaining seven months of his term.

That speech marked an abrupt and darker change in tone in the crisis. A military spokesman appeared on state TV Wednesday and asked the protesters to disperse so life in Egypt could get back to normal. That was a major turn in the attitude of the army, which for the past few days allowed protests to swell and reaching their largest size yet on Tuesday when a quarter-million peacefully packed into Cairo's central Tahrir Square.

Also, the regime for the first time Wednesday began to rally supporters in significant numbers to demand an end to the unprecedented protest movement calling for Mubarak's removal. Some 20,000 pro-government demonstrators held an angry but peaceful rally across the Nile River from the violence, saying Mubarak's concessions were enough and demanding protests end.
Having the rival sides both on the streets is particularly worrying because there do not appear to be enough police or military on the streets to control the situation.

International concern mounted. The White House deplored the violence and called for restraint. British Prime Minister David Cameron says Egyptian authorities must accelerate their political reforms and said that "if it turns out that the regime in any way has been sponsoring or tolerating this violence, that would be completely and utterly unacceptable." German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the violence "raises the urgent question whether the political leaders of Egypt understand the need for rapid democratic reform."

The violence began after nearly 10,000 anti-government protesters massed again in Tahrir on Wednesday morning, rejecting Mubarak's speech as too little too late and renewing their demands he leave immediately.

In the early afternoon, around 3,000 Mubarak supporters broke through a human chain of protesters trying to defend the thousands gathered in Tahrir, according to an Associated Press reporter at the scene. They tore down banners denouncing the president, fistfights broke out as protesters grabbed Mubarak posters from the hands of the supporters and ripped them to pieces.

From there, it escalated into outright street battles as hundreds poured in to join each side. They tore up chunks of sidewalks and from a nearby construction site and began hurling stones, chunks of concrete and sticks at each, chasing each other.

At one point, a small contingent of pro-Mubarak forces on horseback and camels rushed into the anti-Mubarak crowds, trampling several and swinging whips and sticks to beat people. Protesters retaliated, dragging some from their mounts, throwing them to the ground and beating their faces bloody. The horses and camels appeared to be ones used by touts giving rides for tourists.

The main battle line next to the Egyptian Museum — the famed treasury of pharaonic antiquities and mummies — surged back and forth repeatedly for hours. Anti-Mubarak protesters held up sheets of corrogated metal ripped from the construction site as shields from the hail of stones. Some claimed that police IDs were found on several government supporters involved in the fighting.

Some tried to charge into the buildings from which government supporters on the roofs were pelting them with stones, but they were stopped by plainclothed security forces at the entrances. Several firebombs from the roof landed in the museum grounds, setting a tree ablaze. Soldiers tried to put it out with a hose.

Protesters were seen running with their shirts or faces bloodied. Men and women in the crowd were weeping. Scores of wounded were carried to a makeshift clinic at a mosque near the square and on other side streets. Doctors in white coats rushed about with bags of cotton, mercurochrome and bandages. One man with blood coming out of his eye stumbled into a side-street clinic.

As night fell, protesters not engaged in the continued fighting knelt in prayers at the center of Tahrir Square, while others went to get food — a sign they plan to dig in for a long siege.

The army troops who have been guarding the square for days had been keeping the two sides apart earlier in the day, but when the clashes erupted they did not intervene. Most took shelter behind or inside the armored vehicles and tanks stationed at the entrances to Tahrir.

Some anti-Mubarak protesters begging with soldiers to help. "Why don't you protect us?" some shouted, but the troops replied they did not have orders to do so and told people to go home.

Many in the Tahrir rally — who for days have showered the military with love for its neutral stance — now accused the troops had intentionally allowed the attackers into the square.

"The army is neglectful. They let them in," said 52-year-old protester Emad Nafa.

The new tensions began to emerge immediately following Mubarak's speech Tuesday night. Later in the night, clashes erupted between pro- and anti-government demonstrators in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria, while in Cairo groups of Mubarak supporters took to the streets, some carrying knives and sticks.

Gatherings of Mubarak supporters took a harsher tone against journalists and foreigners. Two Associated Press correspondents and several other journalists were roughed up during various such gatherings. State TV reported Tuesday night that foreigners were caught distributing anti-Mubarak leaflets, apparently trying to depict the movement as foreign-fueled.

The violence could represent a dangerous new chapter in the nearly 10 days of upheaval that has shaken Egypt, which has already taken a series of dramatic and unpredictable twists.

After years of tight state control, protesters emboldened by unrest in Tunisia took to the streets on Jan. 25 and mounted a once-unimaginable series of demonstrations across this nation of 80 million. Initially, police cracked down hard with brutal and deadly clashes on the demonstrators. Then police withdrew completely from the streets for the day, opening a wave of looting, armed robberies and arson — largely separate from the protests themselves — that stunned Egyptians.

But since Sunday, the army moved in to take control and the situation became more peaceful. The military announced it would not stop protests. As a result, the demonstrations swelled dramatically, protesters gained momentum and enthusiasm and many believed Mubarak's immediate fall was at hand. The United States put intense pressure on Mubarak to bring his rule to an end while ensuring a stable handover.

Wednesday's events could mean the regime has had enough, and that it and the military aim to ensure the end of the unrest after the 82-year-old Mubarak made the concession of announcing he would not run for a new six-year term in September elections.

As if to show the public the crisis was ending, the government began to reinstate Internet service after days of an unprecedented cutoff. State TV announced the easing of a nighttime curfew, which now runs from 5 p.m. to 7 a.m. instead of 3 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Mubarak supporters were on the street in significant numbers for the first time on Wednesday. Across the Nile River from the chaos in Tahrir Square, around 20,000 pro-government demonstrators held a rally in front of Mustafa Mahmoud Mosque in the upper-class neighborhood of Mohandiseen, after notices on state TV calling for attendance.

They waved Egyptian flags, their faces painted with the black-white-and-red national colors, and carried a large printed banner with Mubarak's face as police officers surrounded the area and directed traffic. They cheered as a military helicopter swooped overhead.

Some appeared to be the sort of young toughs that the opposition accuses the regime of paying to be its fist in the streets.
But the large majority were middle-class families, some of whom said Mubarak's concessions were enough and that they feared continued instability and shortages of food and other supplies if protests continue.

"I want the people in Tahrir Square to understand that Mubarak gave his word that he will give them the country to them through elections, peacefully, now they have no reason for demonstrations," said Ali Mahmoud, 52, who identified himself as middle-class worker from Menoufia, a Nile Delta province north of Cairo.


The movement against Mubarak, meanwhile, was working to prevent any slipping in its ranks after the speech and resist any sentiment that the concession may have been enough.

One protest organizer said the regime was going all out to pressure people to stop protesting.

"Starting with the emotional speech of Mubarak, to the closure of banks, the shortage of food and commodities and deployment of thugs to intimidate people, these are all means to put pressure on the people," said Ahmed Abdel-Hamid, a representative of the Revolutionary Committee, one of several youth groups that organized the protests.

The movement is fueled by deep frustration with an autocratic regime blamed for ignoring the needs of the poor and allowing corruption and official abuse to run rampant. Tuesday's massive rally in Tahrir showed a large cross-section of Egyptian society.

In his 10-minute speech Tuesday night, Mubarak emphasized the theme that he has often used in justifying his rule during his nearly three decades in power — that he can keep stability. Now he was promising to do so as he heads out the door.

The president, who almost never admits to reversing himself under pressure, insisted that even if the protests demanding his ouster had not broken out, he would not have sought a sixth term in September.

Somber but firm — without an air of defeat — he said he would serve out the rest of his term working "to accomplish the necessary steps for the peaceful transfer of power." He said he will carry out amendments to rules on presidential elections.

The step came after heavy pressure from his top ally, the United States. Soon after Mubarak's address, President Barack Obama said at the White House that he had spoken with Mubarak and "he recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place." Obama said he told Mubarak that an orderly transition must be meaningful and peaceful, must begin now and must include opposition parties.

____

AP correspondents Diaa Hadid, Lee Keath, Michael Weissenstein and Maggie Michael contributed to this report.




==============


Pro-government demonstrators march towards anti-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2 , 2011. REUTERS/Mohamed Abdel Ghany
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 5:47:38 PM20:47
State TV saying 403 people have now been wounded and one killed in the Cairo violence.
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 2/2/2011 5:47:26 PM20:47
Al Jazeera's Gregg Carlston joins CNN's Anderson Cooper on the list of journalists getting banged up in the clashes today in Cairo. Writes Carlson on Twitter: "I was chased by angry mobs twice, kicked a few times, had rocks thrown at me. Crowd very hostile to journalists (esp. AJ), foreigners."
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 5:44:31 PM20:44

Update from the Pentagon: Top U.S. General Mullen reiterates call for a return to calm in Egypt in telephone call with his Egyptian counterpart and also expressed confidence in the Egyptian military's ability to provide security initernally and in the Suez Canal area.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 5:28:51 PM20:28
State TV is now reporting that health officials in Egypt say 350 injured in the clashes in Egypt.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 5:26:12 PM20:26
Protests in Alexandria getting heated as well as pro-government demonstrators argue with anti-government protesters. Photographer Dylan Martinez was there to capture the images below:
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 5:04:50 PM20:04

A pro-government protester argues with anti-government protesters during mass demonstrations in Alexandria February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 5:02:16 PM20:02

An anti-government protester (R) argues with a pro-government protester during mass demonstrations in Alexandria February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 5:01:44 PM20:01
CNN correspondent Ivan Watson in Cairo posted the following update on Twitter minutes ago: "Nightfall. Bloody battle continues to rage here in Tahrir Square. We are trapped inside with the opposition, who say they'll fight to death."
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 4:51:15 PM19:51
New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof sounds off on the clashes taking place today in Tahrir Square in Cario. "Today President Mubarak seems to have decided to crack down on the democracy movement, using not police or army troops but rather mobs of hoodlums and thugs.I’ve been spending hours on Tahrir today, and it is absurd to think of this as simply “clashes” between two rival groups. The pro-democracy protesters are unarmed and have been peaceful at every step. But the pro-Mubarak thugs are arriving in buses and are armed — and they’re using their weapons." Read his full column, here: kristof.blogs.nytimes.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 4:42:07 PM19:42
A report from AFP says that at least 500 people have been injured in today's clashes according to a medic in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 4:35:38 PM19:35

Pro-government supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak take cover behind make shift protection panels as they clash with anti-government protesters, barricated behind destroyed army trucks in Tahrir Square in central Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 4:29:45 PM19:29
At least four petrol bombs were thrown in Cairo's Tahrir Square and the army moved to extinguish the flames, according to a Reuters witness.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 4:11:02 PM19:11
As protests continue to shake Egypt for the ninth day in a row, fears are high for the country's ancient artifacts after looters broke into the Egyptian Museum in Cairo last week and damaged two Pharaonic mummies.

Officials and archaeologists at international museums are on high alert. "All of us who are friends of Egypt can help the efforts to stop looting of archaeological sites, stores and museums, by focusing on the international antiquities trade," London's Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology said in a statement. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 4:08:50 PM19:08
U.S. calls on all sides to avoid violence in Egypt www.reuters.com

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon also urges restraint www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 4:00:46 PM19:00

A pro-Mubarak supporter is held by anti-Mubarak demonstrators during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:58:22 PM18:58

Pro and anti-Mubarak supporters clash during rioting at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:57:29 PM18:57

A man gestures as another throws a stone during clashes between pro and anti-Mubarak supporters clash at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:56:09 PM18:56
Does Egypt's fate rest on its top soldier's shoulders? A new Reuters piece takes a look:

"The fate of Egypt's pro-democracy movement may rest on the shoulders of the country's top soldier, who has so far refused to use force against protesters demanding the removal of President Hosni Mubarak.

In a rare balancing act, Lieutenant General Sami Enan, the armed forces chief-of-staff, has won praise from both the United States and a leading member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, who said he could be an acceptable successor to Mubarak."

Read more: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:49:53 PM18:49
Reuters' Andrew Quinn reports from Washington that the U.S. State Department has expressed concerns about detentions and attacks on news media in Egypt. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:40:51 PM18:40
As of Sunday, the U.S. said it had no plans to halt aid to Egypt. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:34:03 PM18:34
ProPublica, a non-profit investigative journalism website, has a primer on U.S. military aid to Egypt that details how much the U.S. gives, where it goes and who decides how it is spent. www.propublica.org
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:29:53 PM18:29

An injured demonstrator is helped during rioting between pro and anti-Mubarak supporters at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 3:17:34 PM18:17
Photographer Goran Tomasevic comes face to face with the wounded.
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 3:16:39 PM18:16

An injured demonstrator walks from rioting between pro and anti-Mubarak supporters at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 3:16:20 PM18:16
Some reactions to the dramatic street battles taking place in Tahrir Square in Cario today and on Mubarak's decision to not seek re-election in September, compiled by the Reuters world desk in London:

Kamel El-Helbawy, a UK-based Muslim Brotherhood cleric:
"Mubarak is sending to the streets his gangs of thieves and criminals, who have been newly released from prison and armed with knives, clubs and pistols, to scare the people."

Hani Sabra, an analyst with Eurasia Group:
"...Mubarak's announcement that he will not seek re-election in September 2011 represents the start of a long, drawn out, and messy negotiation process between the government and the opposition. Both Mubarak and the opposition will downplay the significance of the speech. But it represents a breakthrough. In the medium term, these negotiations will likely produce an Egypt best described as a hybrid democracy, combining a strong military with a more pluralistic electoral system."
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 3:13:18 PM18:13

A ninth day of protests takes place in Cairo against the rule of Hosni Mubarak, while the first rallies in support of the president begin.
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/2/2011 2:59:21 PM17:59
More comments from opposition leader ElBaradei by way of Al Jazeera: "I ask the army to intervene to protect Egyptian lives." He also told the news agency that he has proof the attacks on protesters are being perpetrated by police.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:58:21 PM17:58
Egyptian armed forces denied earlier reports from Al Jazeera and Reuters that they fired shots in Tahrir Square, State TV reports.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:55:36 PM17:55
A testment to just how tense the climate is in Cairo's Tahrir Square,
CNN's Anderson Cooper said he and his production crew were attacked there earlier on Wednesday amid clashes between pro-Mubarak demonstrators and anti-government protestors. Cooper said they were pushed and shoved, but that nobody was seriously injured. He describes how the attack happened in a video on CNN.com: www.cnn.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:49:16 PM17:49
A Reuters witness says shots have been fired in the air in the Tahrir area of Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:33:36 PM17:33
A spokesman from Egypt's foreign ministry tells Reuters it rejects the intervention of U.S. and European political figures in Egypt's internal political development.

Just to recap, here's what a few world leaders had to say Mubarak's decision to quit in September:

President Barack Obama:
"What is clear and what I indicated tonight (Tuesday) to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now."

British Prime Minister David Cameron:
"The transition needs to be rapid and credible and it needs to start now. We stand with those, in this country, who want freedom, who want democracy and rights the world over -- that should always be our view."

Statement from office of French President Nicolas Sarkozy:
"After President Mubarak's speech, the president (Sarkozy) reiterates his wish to see a concrete transition process start without delay in response to a desire for change and renewal so strongly expressed by the population."

Read more reaction here: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:30:25 PM17:30

Egyptian army uses teargas to disperse clashing crowds
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/2/2011 2:29:39 PM17:29

Mubarak supporters converge on Tahrir Square
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/2/2011 2:29:19 PM17:29

Pro-Mubarak supporters take to the streets
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/2/2011 2:28:55 PM17:28
Photographers follow the clashes between pro and anti-Mubarak protesters on the streets of Cairo.
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 2:27:30 PM17:27

Demonstrators take cover during rioting between pro and anti Mubarak supporters in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 2 , 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/2/2011 2:26:58 PM17:26
ElBaradei condemns Egyptian government over clashes www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:22:13 PM17:22
Al Jazeera correspondent reports shots have been fired in the air by the Egyptian army to disperse demonstrators clashing.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:19:01 PM17:19

Pro-government supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (L) clash with anti-government protesters in Tahrir square in central Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:15:53 PM17:15

Pro-government supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak carry an Egyptian flag as they push their way towards Tahrir square after overrunning a military checkpoint in central Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:14:03 PM17:14

Pro-government supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (above) and anti-government demonstrators (below) clash in Tahrir Square, the center of anti-government demonstrations, in Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 2:13:34 PM17:13

BBC technology reporter Rory Cellan-Jones just tweeted this graph from Arbor Networks showing Egypt's Internet traffic has nearly returned back to normal levels farm6.static.flickr.com
by Matt Reeder via Farm6.static.flickr at 2/2/2011 2:09:33 PM17:09
Egypt's Central Bank Deputy Governor Hisham Ramez told Reuters' Patrick Werr that Egypt's banks will reopen on Sunday after being closed for a full week. "The whole banking system will reopen . . . They will be ready and liquid and everything," Ramez said. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:59:10 PM16:59
Photographer Yannis Behrakis captures the tension in Tahrir Square in the image below of an Egyptian army soldier trying to contain thousands of pro-government supporters pushing their way toward the square past a military check point.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:53:20 PM16:53

by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:51:23 PM16:51
State TV in Egypt now reporting that the Interior Ministry denies charges that plain clothes police are involved in protests in Cario.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:48:41 PM16:48
Reuters' Marwa Awad reports that anti-government protesters in Cairo said they won't leave Tahrir Square until Mubarak steps down, despite clashes with supporters of the president.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:43:07 PM16:43
Al Jazeera is now reporting that the army is calling through loudspeakers on the protesters in Tahrir Square to stop clashes. The news agency also says the army has told pro-Mubarak supporters the response will be firm if they continue to attack anti-government protesters.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:26:42 PM16:26
Mubarak backers charge towards Tahrir on horses and camels: witness www.reuters.com
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/2/2011 1:25:27 PM16:25
In a new interview with the BBC, opposition figure ElBaradei said he's extremely concerned about the clashes in Cairo. He also reiterated his view that Mubarak must go and accused the government of using "scare tactics".
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:16:47 PM16:16
Another Reuters witness said that they believed that some of the pro-Mubarak supporters behind the clashes on Wednesday were plain clothes police.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:14:38 PM16:14
A Reuters witness in Cario said supporters of Egypt's President Mubarak wielding sticks and whips, charged on horses and camels towards Cairo's Tahrir Square, where clashes were taking place with anti-government protestors.
by Matt Reeder at 2/2/2011 1:13:19 PM16:13
Foreigners scramble for flights out of Egypt
www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves at 2/2/2011 12:55:37 PM15:55
Interactive map: Protests in Africa and the Middle East
www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves at 2/2/2011 12:34:29 PM15:34
Al Jazeera TV footage shows clashes between pro-Mubarak and anti-government protesters in central Cairo
by josh.hargreaves at 2/2/2011 12:33:23 PM15:33
Reuters witness saw four bloodied people in Tahrir Square after scuffles, sees people carrying sticks
by josh.hargreaves at 2/2/2011 12:32:09 PM15:32
Timeline: Protests in Egypt
www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves at 2/2/2011 12:20:36 PM15:20
Few hundred pro-Mubarak protesters in middle of Cairo's Tahrir Square, flanked by anti-government protesters: Reuters witness
by josh.hargreaves at 2/2/2011 12:16:14 PM15:16

Pro-government supporters of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shout slogans atop an army tank near Tahrir square in central Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Suzanne Urpecz at 2/2/2011 11:37:47 AM14:37
Factbox: World reaction to Egypt's Mubarak quitting in September. Find out more on www.reuters.com
by Suzanne Urpecz at 2/2/2011 11:32:51 AM14:32

Pro-government Egyptian protesters carry a banner bearing a photo of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during a march near Tahrir square in central Cairo February 2, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis


=========


F.A.Q. on U.S. Aid to Egypt: Where Does the Money Go—And Who Decides How It’s Spent?by Marian Wang
ProPublica, Jan. 31, 2011, 4:53 p.m.
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An Egyptian demonstrator looks up at a helicopter as he and others gather in Tahrir Square, in Cairo, on Jan. 31, 2011. (Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images)
The protests in Egypt have prompted renewed questions about the U.S.’s aid to the country—an issue that the U.S. government has also pledged to reconsider [1]. We’ve taken a step back and tried to answer some basic questions, such as how as much the U.S. has given, who has benefitted, and who gets to decide how its all spent.
How much does the U.S. spend on Egypt?

Egypt gets the most U.S. foreign aid of any country except for Israel. (This doesn't include [2] the money spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.) The amount varies each year and there are many different funding streams, but U.S. foreign assistance to Egypt has averaged just over $2 billion every year since 1979, when Egypt struck a peace treaty with Israel [3] following the Camp David Peace Accords, according to a Congressional Research Service report from 2009.
That average includes both military and economic assistance, though the latter has been in decline since 1998 [4], according to CRS.

What about military aid—how much is it, and what does it buy?

According to the State Department, U.S. military aid to Egypt totals over $1.3 billion annually [5] in a stream of funding known as Foreign Military Financing.

U.S. officials have long argued that the funding promotes strong ties between the two countries’ militaries, which in turn has all sorts of benefits. For example, U.S. Navy warships get “expedited processing” through the Suez Canal.
Here’s a 2009 U.S. embassy cable recently released by WikiLeaks that makes essentially the same point [6]:

President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance program as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the USD 1.3 billion in annual FMF as "untouchable compensation" for making and maintaining peace with Israel. The tangible benefits to our mil-mil relationship are clear: Egypt remains at peace with Israel, and the U.S. military enjoys priority access to the Suez Canal and Egyptian airspace.

The military funding also enables Egypt to purchase U.S.-manufactured military goods and services, a 2006 report [7] from the Government Accountability Office explained [PDF]. The report criticized both the State Department and the Defense Department for failing to measure how the funding actually contributes to U.S. goals.

Does this aid require Egypt to meet any specific conditions regarding human rights?

No. Defense Secretary Gates stated in 2009 that foreign military financing “should be without conditions [8].”
Gates prefaced that comment by saying that the Obama administration, like other U.S. administrations, is “always supportive of human rights.”

The administration of former president George W. Bush had threatened to link military assistance to Egypt’s human rights progress [9], but it didn’t follow through. When exiled Egyptian dissident, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, called on the U.S. government to attach conditions to aid to Egypt, U.S. officials dismissed the idea as unrealistic [10].

Who benefits from the military aid?

Obviously the aid benefits Egypt’s military and whatever government it supports, which has so far been Mubarak’s. Foreign military financing is a great deal for Egypt—it gets billions in no-strings-attached funding to modernize its armed forces and replace old Soviet weapons with advanced U.S. weaponry and military equipment.

According to the State Department, that equipment has included [5] fighter jets, tanks, armored personnel carriers, Apache helicopters, anti-aircraft missile batteries and aerial surveillance aircraft.
Egypt can purchase this equipment either through the U.S. military or directly from U.S. defense contractors, and it can do so on credit. In 2006, the GAO noted that Egypt had entered some defense contracts in advance of—and in excess of—its military assistance appropriations. Some of those payments wouldn’t be due in full until 2011, the GAO said.

The other group that benefits from this aid arrangement is U.S. defense contractors [11]. As we reported with Sunlight Foundation, contractors including BAE Systems, General Dynamics, General Electric, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin have all done business [12] with the Egyptian government through relationships facilitated by high-powered DC lobbyists.
What about economic aid?

U.S. economic aid to Egypt has declined over the years, but is generally in the hundreds of millions annually.

Some of this aid also comes back to benefit the U.S. through programs such as the Commodity Import Program [5]. Under that program, the U.S. gives Egypt millions in economic aid to import U.S. goods. The State Department, on its website, describes it as “one of the largest and most popular USAID programs.”

Others were not as successful. A 2006 inspector general’s audit of a 4-year, $57-million project to increase jobs and rural household incomes found that the U.S. investment “has not increased the number of jobs as planned [13]” among participants [PDF]. A 2009 audit of a $151 million project to modernize Egypt’s financial sector found that while the country’s real estate finance market experienced significant growth throughout the project’s duration, USAID’s efforts were “not clearly measurable [14]” [PDF] and the growth could be due to market forces or the Egyptian government's actions.

Critics of the Obama administration’s economic aid to Egypt have noted that in 2007, for instance, such aid only amounted to $6 per capita [15], compared with the $40.80 per capita spent on Jordan that same year. Ahmad El-Naggar, economic researcher at Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, criticized the U.S. in 2009 for focusing on “programs valued for strict ideological reasons,” and not on the country’s growing poverty and unemployment rate—two issues fueling the current protests.

What about funding for democracy promotion and civil society?

Funding for programs that promote democracy and good governance through direct funding to NGOs in Egypt averaged about $24 million from fiscal year 1999 to 2009. But these, too, had “limited impact,” due to “a lack of Egyptian government cooperation [16],” according to an October 2009 inspector general audit [PDF]:

The Government of Egypt has resisted USAID/Egypt’s democracy and governance program and has suspended the activities of many U.S. NGOs because Egyptian officials thought these organizations were too aggressive.

Recently released cables from WikiLeaks show that officials within the Egyptian government have asked that USAID stop financing organizations [17] that were “not properly registered as NGOs” with the Egyptian government. AFP reports on a 2007 embassy cable that describes President Mubarak as “deeply skeptical of the US role in democracy promotion.”
Per the Egyptian government’s complaints, the U.S. now limits its funding to NGOs registered with the government, therefore excluding most human rights groups [18], Huffington Post reported. Such funding has also declined sharply under the Obama administration.

Inform our investigations: Do you have information or expertise relevant to this story? Help us and journalists around the country by sharing your stories and experiences.

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Mubarak supporters open fire on protesters (00:58) ReportBy Samia Nakhoul and Marwa Awad

CAIRO | Wed Feb 2, 2011 11:25pm EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Supporters of President Hosni Mubarak opened fire on Thursday on protesters camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square, wounding at least seven, witnesses said.

Al Arabiya television quoted a doctor at the scene as saying one protester was killed when a barrage of gunfire rang out across the square at around 0400 am (9 p.m. EST Wednesday). Another witness said as many as 15 people had been wounded.

"People are too tired to be terrified," al Jazeera television quoted a 33-year-old woman in the square as saying.

But she said protesters who launched an unprecedented challenge to Mubarak's 30-year-rule last week would not give up. "We cannot go back at this point."

Mubarak promised on Tuesday to surrender power in September, angering protesters who want him to quit immediately and prompting the United States to say change "must begin now."

A day later, the army told reformists to go home and Mubarak backers, throwing petrol bombs, wielding sticks and charging on camels and horses, attacked protesters in Tahrir Square in what many saw as a government-backed attempted crackdown.

Anti-Mubarak demonstrators hurled stones back and said the attackers were police in plainclothes. The Interior Ministry denied the accusation, and the government rejected international calls to end violence and begin the transfer of power.

This apparent rebuff along with the spike in violence -- after days of relatively calm demonstrations -- complicated U.S. calculations for an orderly transition of power in Egypt.

In pointed comments, a senior U.S. official said it was clear that "somebody loyal to Mubarak has unleashed these guys to try to intimidate the protesters."

By nightfall on Wednesday, the protesters were still holding their ground in Tahrir (Liberation) Square, the hub for protests over oppression and economic hardship now into their 10th day.

Skirmishes continued well into the night and there was sporadic gunfire, with blazes caused by firebombs.

After a brief period of calm, a barrage of gunfire could be heard ringing out across the square.

"They fired at us many petrol bombs from above the bridge in the northern end of Tahrir Square," said one witness.

At least 145 people have been killed so far and there have been protests across the country. United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said up to 300 people may have died.

STOP THE BLOODSHED


===

By Samia Nakhoul and Marwa Awad

CAIRO | Wed Feb 2, 2011 11:54pm EST

"They fired at us many petrol bombs from above the bridge in the northern end of Tahrir Square," said one witness.

Despite the violence, protesters said they would not give up. "We cannot go back at this point," a 33-year-old woman in the square told al Jazeera.

An estimated 150 people have been killed so far and there have been protests across the country. United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay said up to 300 people may have died.

Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Wednesday urged the 2,000 demonstrators in Tahrir Square to leave and observe a curfew to restore calm. He said the start of dialogue with the reformists and opposition depended on an end to street protests.

Officials said three people were killed in Wednesday's violence and a doctor at the scene said over 1,500 were injured.

Reacting to the tumult in Egypt, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Wednesday that, "If any of the violence is instigated by the government it should stop immediately."

OPPOSITION REJECTS TALKS
Opposition figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate, called on the army to intervene to stop the violence.

Khalil, a man in his 60s, blamed Mubarak supporters and undercover security men for the clashes. "We will not leave," he told Reuters on Wednesday. "Everybody stay put," he added.

"I will stay with my brothers and sisters in Tahrir until I either die or Mubarak leaves the country," said medical student Shaaban Metwalli, 22, as night closed in on Wednesday.


An opposition coalition, which includes the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, said it would only negotiate with Suleiman, a former intelligence chief appointed by Mubarak at the weekend, once the president stepped down.

The crisis has alarmed the United States and other Western governments who have regarded Mubarak as a bulwark of stability in a volatile region, and has raised the prospect of unrest spreading to other authoritarian Arab states.

President Barack Obama telephoned the 82-year-old Mubarak on Tuesday to urge him to move faster on political transition.

"The message that the president delivered clearly to President Mubarak was that the time for change has come," Gibbs said, adding: "Now means now." Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a call to Suleiman, underlined that U.S. position.

But Mubarak dug in his heels on Wednesday. A Foreign Ministry statement rejected U.S. and European calls for the transition to start immediately, saying they aimed to "incite the internal situation" in Egypt.

"This appears to be a clear rebuff to the Obama administration and to the international community's efforts to try to help manage a peaceful transition from Mubarak to a new, democratic Egypt," said Robert Danin, a former senior U.S. official now at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.
====

The administration supplies the Egyptian army annually with about $1.3 billion in aid. But international backing for Mubarak, a stalwart of the West's Middle East policy, a key player in the Middle East peace process and defense against militant Islam, crumbled as he tried to ride out the crisis.

France, Germany and Britain also urged a speedy transition.

Some of the few words of encouragement for him have come from oil giant Saudi Arabia, a country seen by some analysts as vulnerable to a similar outbreak of discontent.
Israel, which signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979, is also watching the situation in its western neighbor nervously.

At the weekend, Mubarak reshuffled his cabinet and promised reform but that was not enough for the pro-democracy movement.

(Additional reporting by Andrew Hammond, Patrick Werr, Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, and Alison Williams in Cairo; Writing by Myra MacDonald; editing by Samia Nakhoul)


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Analysis: Can the Arab revolt learn from Turkish model?

By Ibon Villelabeitia

ANKARA | Wed Feb 2, 2011 1:28pm EST

ANKARA (Reuters) - If President Hosni Mubarak bows to the clamor of the street and goes, Egyptians and other Arabs seeking to turn a page on autocratic government may look at Turkey for some clues on marrying Islam and democracy.

Relatively stable, with a vibrant economy and ruled by a conservative and pragmatic government led by former Islamists, Turkey has often been cited as a model Muslim democracy and a linchpin of Western influence in the region.

With a wave of unrest spreading from Tunisia to Jordan to Yemen and as calls intensify for Mubarak to start a transition soon, Middle East analysts are turning their attention to Turkey, a rising diplomatic force in the region.

"The only effective, working model in the Middle East is the Turkish model. There is nothing else," said Fatwa Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics.

"Turkey's model serves as a foundation for similar societies so I think then in the wake of the protests Arabs will be taking a second look at the Turkish model that marries Islamic values and democracy as a universal form of government," Gerges said.


But analysts cautioned that deep differences between Turkey, a NATO partner and European Union candidate with a moderate brand of Islam, and an Arab Middle East lacking a culture of political freedom, means the model cannot be readily copied.

"There is no question Turkey's example can be an inspiration in Tunisia or in Egypt, but if any Arab country would take Turkey as a model it would take it decades to emulate Turkey's political and economic development," said Fadi Hakura, associate professor at London's Chatham House think tank.


THE ROLE OF THE MILITARY

With protesters demanding an end to Mubarak's 30-year-rule and clashes breaking out in Cairo streets between opponents and supporters of the government, Egypt's military may hold the key to Mubarak's fate and to Egypt's pro-democracy movement.

Wednesday, Egypt's armed forces told protesters their demands had been heard and they must clear the streets, but the army has so far not used force.

In Turkey, the powerful military has ousted four governments since 1960, and has acted as a final arbiter of power in a parliamentary system that has prevailed since the 1950s.

During the past few years, Turkey's democracy grew hardier as reforms undertaken by Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's AK Party to make Turkey fit for EU membership have clipped the generals' power.

Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center in Beirut, noted that this was not the case in Egypt, where the military has been at the heart of power since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952.

"The military in Egypt has to make a basic decision which the Turkish military did successfully and with such a good outcome, which is to step back, focus on protecting the country's sovereignty, protect the constitution and allow civilian politics to grow," Salem said.

"This is exactly what the military has been asked to do in Egypt and in Tunisia and in Jordan, but we are not there yet."


=
THE AK PARTY

Analysts say Islamist groups are likely to play a prominent role in Tunisia after the fall of former President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali and in Egypt once Mubarak goes.

Such prospects are a concern for the United States, which has backed autocratic Arab rulers as bulwarks against the perceived threat of militant Islam.

U.S. support of Israel and reliance on Middle East oil supplies has made Arabs mistrust Washington's motives.

Tunisia's newly returned Islamic leader Rachid Ghannouchi has compared his party more to Turkey's ruling AK Party than to Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition.

Erdogan's AK Party emerged from a banned Islamist movement to become a moderate party that favours foreign investment.

Its victory in 2002 elections was seen as a triumph for a strain of political Islam centred on promoting Muslim values democratically rather than imposing strict Islamic law.

The Brotherhood says it would preserve democracy, but experts are divided on which way it may go.

Lorenzo Vidino, an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood at the RAND Corporation, said the Turkish experience was the best case scenario for an Islamist movement getting into government in Egypt, but said he did not see that happening.

"The Muslim Brotherhood has not undergone the evolution that took place in Turkey where in the 1990s Erdogan and (President Abdullah) Gul got rid of the old Turkish Islamist guard who were anti-democratic," Vidino said.

"That generational change has not taken place in the Muslim Brotherhood where there is a struggle between the old school and the second generation Islamist, so the jury is still out.
Vidino also said Turkey's tradition of secularism since Mustafa Kemal Ataturk founded modern Turkey in 1923 means Turks are more wedded to the separation of state and religion."



But Gerges said he saw the Brotherhood, aware the protests are part of a broad-based movement, "traveling a similar journey to that of the Turkish Islamists."

"This revolution was about rebuilding the failed institutions of Arab states and rebuilding democracy, so the Brotherhood are having a major discussion," Gerges said.
Whatever road developments in the Middle East take, experts say Turkey will likely see its diplomatic clout rise.

President Barack Obama called Erdogan Saturday evening to discuss the turmoil in Egypt and stressed the importance of his role as an elected leader in the region.
===
But Turkey is no predictable ally. Increasingly assertive, it has charted an independent course in recent years.

Turkey has fallen out of step with the United States and Western allies on some foreign policy issues, notably on Iran.

And Erdogan's vehement condemnations of Israel after an offensive in the Palestinian Gaza enclave in late 2008 heralded a breakdown in Turkey's friendship with the Jewish state but won admiration across the Middle East.

(Editing by Jon Hemming)

===

Middle East situation "fragile": World Bank chief
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Egypt protestsBy Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON | Wed Feb 2, 2011 6:04pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The situation in the Middle East is "fragile" with countries like Egypt and Tunisia caught in a dilemma of "partial modernization" in which the political system does not allow the masses to benefit from economic advances, the head of the World Bank said on Wednesday.

Interviewed by phone from Berlin as riots raged across Egypt, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the lender was ready to move quickly to support nations in the region as they press forward with economic and political reforms.

"We are in a very fragile situation, not only for Egypt but for a number of countries across the Middle East," he told Reuters.

"It is extremely difficult at this point to read exactly what will happen" in Egypt, Zoellick said, adding that implementing economic and social reforms while political unrest rages was especially difficult. "Doing reforms in a midst of a revolution is a tricky prospect," he said.

Nine days of anti-government protests in Egypt took a violent turn on Wednesday when supporters of President Hosni Mubarak clashed with demonstrators who want an immediate end to his 30-year rule.

The uprising spread from Tunisia, where weeks of protests against poverty, repression and corruption toppled President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali after 23 years in power. Protests have also hit Algeria, Jordan and Yemen.

Egypt has enjoyed stronger growth than most Arab nations and it has a relatively low level of poverty by international standards.

The problem, Zoellick suggested, was that countries like Tunisia and Egypt did not press forward aggressively enough with modernizing their economies after putting in place basic building blocks of growth, leaving a high level of unemployment, especially among youths.

"What we have seen is a partial modernization process ... at the stage of developing the ports, the infrastructure, the industrial zones, in creating those jobs to move up the value-added ladder these countries did not move far enough, nor fast enough," he said.

Zoellick said one of the lessons from the tensions in the Middle East was that economic reforms were not always enough.

"There is a sclerosis(A thickening or hardening of a body part, as of an artery, especially from excessive formation of fibrous interstitial tissue.
) that takes different forms in different countries -- sometimes corruption, sometimes nepotism. This is where each country has its own unique circumstances," he said.

THREAT OF PARALYSIS

He said he was concerned the fast-moving events in the Middle East would paralyze other governments, including donor nations, as they try to digest the developments.

"Any time you have dramatic events like this, people understandably pull back to reflect and learn," he said. "But we shouldn't let this slip into paralysis.

Zoellick said the World Bank was in the process of withdrawing its staff from Egypt for security reasons, but said the institution remained focused on the situation.

===
Analysis: Time up for Egypt's Mubarak, but what next?
Samia Nakhoul

CAIRO | Tue Feb 1, 2011 5:22pm EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - As Egyptians poured onto the streets on Tuesday to demand he go, President Hosni Mubarak had already given more ground in a week than ever before in his 30 years in power. His abdication seems to have already begun.

For a man dubbed "The Pharaoh," it is an end of historic proportions. Some recalled the coup of 1952 which killed off Egypt's royal dynasty and urged Mubarak to get on with quitting.

"King Farouk never allowed any of this to happen in this country. He left without leaving havoc," said Cairo shopkeeper Maamoun Saleh, who compared Mubarak to the monarch whose overthrow by the army ushered(One who serves as official doorkeeper, as in a courtroom or legislative chamber.
) in the present political system.

"The country is being ruined and he is still there," the 45-year-old Saleh said. "Let him go. The people want him to go."

An uncertain future awaits the 82-year-old leader, who just a week ago seemed confident of either unchallenged re-election in September, or of handing over to his businessman son. But huge uncertainty now awaits 80 million Egyptians, their neighbors, Western powers and Mubarak's fellow Arab autocrats.

Protesters among perhaps a million on the streets said he should face prosecution and retribution for years of repression, corruption, mismanagement of wealth and police brutality.

"He and his ministers should be put on trial. They should not leave unpunished for the wealth they stole," said Mursi Imaeeddine, a vegetable vendor in the slum city of Imbaba. "He starved the people. People are suffering from his policies."

Mubarak, knocked off balance by an unprecedented revolt that was inspired by the overthrow last month of Tunisia's veteran strongman, has turned to his new vice-president, Omar Suleiman. He has asked him to open a dialogue with all political parties -- the sort of opening that he spent three decades eschewing.

His opponents say it is too little, too late to save him.

"Our first demand is that Mubarak go. Only after that can dialogue start with the military establishment on the details of a peaceful transition of power," said Mohamed el-Beltagi, a leader of the mass Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood.

Liberal figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei, a retired U.N. diplomat, said: "I hope to see Egypt peaceful and that's going to require as a first step the departure of President Mubarak."

AFTER MUBARAK?

But the next steps are unclear. How they proceed will answer some key questions: Can Egyptians work together for change or might the most populous Arab state descend into anarchy and civil war? Will the Islamists, long the voice of the oppressed, overturn long-standing alliances with the West and with Israel?

In three decades, Mubarak failed to create an institutional framework for democratic transition, complicating an orderly transfer of power. His opponents sense their time has come.

The opposition, ranging from young secular dissidents to the Muslim Brotherhood, want not just him but his ruling elite out. They want parliament dissolved and bans lifted on opposition parties, as well as rapid, free elections.

=
But when, rather than if, Mubarak does go, the alternatives provide plenty of fuel for worry. Systematic repression has weakened all mainstream parties other than the ruling NDP.

To surmount this institutional fragility and avoid opening a vacuum, the broad-based national movement for change led by ElBaradei is calling for a transitional government.

Under discussion is a "board of trustees" comprising Vice President Suleiman, Sami Anan, the chief-of-staff of the armed forces, ElBaradei, the former head of the U.N. nuclear agency, and Ahmed Zeweil, a Nobel chemistry prize-winner.

For three months, this group would amend the constitution to ensure free elections. The government then elected would have a two-year interim mandate, ElBaradei's organization said.

That plan looks tentative, however. While the views of Egypt's silent majority are hard to gauge, the two forces best placed to fill any vacuum are the military and the Brotherhood.

Either option will alarm the rulers of neighboring countries, as well as the United States, which gives the Egyptian army about $1 billion a year and regards Egypt as a linchpin of stability and Western influence in the region.

U.S. President Barack Obama faces comparisons with his predecessor Jimmy Carter, who abandoned the Shah to an Islamic revolution when Iranians revolted in 1979 against years of U.S.-funded oppression. Foreign policy setbacks damaged Carter, who was voted out in 1980. Obama faces re-election next year.
WESTERN DILEMMA

Washington has called for a free election, but also insists it will not tolerate power going to those who would then stifle democracy -- in other words it wants to avoid another Iran.
Free elections in Egypt could usher in the Brotherhood, many analysts say. The movement says it would preserve democracy, but Western powers would take some convincing. Free elections in the Middle East have a history of perplexing them. Algerians and Palestinians, in 1991 and 2006, voted for Islamist majorities but then saw international opposition to them, and civil war.
John Sfakianakis, chief economist at Banque Saudi Fransi, said investors would scarcely welcome a U.S. drive for democracy that could bring the Brotherhood to power.

"They should be careful what they wish for," he said. "If they push for free elections, then the Muslim Brotherhood may come to power."

"If Mubarak goes what is the option? Are we going to have the Brotherhood in power running government, which will have policies with anti-Western and anti-Israeli aspirations?

"That would be a page turner for international investors."

Given that anxiety in the West -- which is amplified in Israel -- some analysts believe the army is seeking a face-saving way to have Mubarak leave in a way that preserves the prestige, and influence, of the military establishment.
Some cite as a model late 20th-century Turkey, where the army stood in the background as a guarantor of the secular constitution in what was otherwise an open parliamentary system.
==

but many of the 80 million Egyptians are impatient for change, and have huge aspirations for better economic times.

The explosion of protests has uncovered the fury of young Egyptians who have grown up in the age of information revolution but have faced political, economic and social degradation.

Mubarak's governments have failed to keep pace economically with a demographic bulge, denying the growing ranks of the young both freedom and the prospect of decent education and jobs.

Economic growth of up to 7 percent a year has not trickled down to the poor. Torture and rape have been used routinely in police stations to intimidate and suppress dissent.

That adds up to enormous pressure from the Egyptian street to bring change and bring it quickly -- a tall order for any government, let alone one picking up the pieces after Mubarak.

As other Middle East autocrats now wonder anxiously about a domino effect spreading from Tunis and Cairo, the pace of events may quicken yet, however long Mubarak hesitates at the exit.

(Editing by Alastair Macdonald)


===

How Will Egypt Affect Iraq?

2 February 2011


With political and social upheaval, first in Tunisia and now in Egypt, the big question on many minds at the moment is to what extent the unrest will spread to other countries in the Arab world.



But despite the undoubted poverty in Iraq, it is rarely mentioned as possible candidate for a popular uprising, and the reason is that Iraq has a functioning democratic system, painfully slow and imperfect though it may be. The people of Iraq have had the chance to express their opinions at the ballot box.



The turmoil is clearly having an impact on Iraq in another way: the price of oil. Hitting $102 on Wednesday, crude oil is up 7% in the past week, and is well above the $73 per barrel on which the country's 2011 budget is based.



A spokesman for Iraq's Ministry of Oil confirmed that the Egyptian situation would not restrict Iraq's output and export of oil, and if that continues to be the case, Iraq may stand to benefit significantly from these developments.



Upper Quartile and AAIB work closely with businesses in the energy and infrastructure sectors. To see how they can assist your business in Iraq, please contact Gavin Jones or Adrian Shaw.

===

Egypt spy chief on mission impossible for Mubarak?
By Marwa Awad

CAIRO | Tue Feb 1, 2011 8:46am EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Omar Suleiman, a former spymaster and link-man with Israel and the United States, may have emerged from the shadows too late to save his longtime master, President Hosni Mubarak, or establish his own authority.

Mubarak, who has done without a vice-president for 30 years, hurriedly appointed the 74-year-old Suleiman, an ex-general and close presidential adviser, to the post on Saturday as swelling crowds of protesters demanded the veteran ruler's ouster.

Suleiman announced he had a mandate to start a dialogue with all political forces on constitutional and legislative reforms, but it remains unclear who, if anyone, is talking to him.

For the demonstrators thronging Egyptian streets for the past week, Suleiman's talk of political reform and fighting poverty, unemployment and corruption was too little, too late.

"Hosni Mubarak, Omar Suleiman, both of you are agents of the Americans," protesters shouted after his appointment.

Suleiman has long been quietly touted as a possible successor to Mubarak, 82, although many Egyptians believed their president would serve for life or try to hand power to his son.

A trusted confidant of Mubarak, Suleiman has headed the Egyptian General Intelligence Services (EGIS) since 1993, taking on a prominent diplomatic role in Egypt's relations with Israel, Palestinian factions and aid donor and ally the United States.
TOO LATE?

Fluent in English, Suleiman may be better known to these foreign interlocutors than he is to ordinary Egyptians.

His intended role may be to ensure an orderly transition that would maintain the sway of the military, which has been close to power ever since a 1952 army coup ousted the king.

But analysts doubt that angry Egyptians will stand for any facade that would essentially preserve the ruling system.

"This all aims to gain time, calm the mood on the street, drive the protesters away and diminish the revolution," said Cairo University politics professor Hassan Nafaa. "The president must end his rule and leave, there is no alternative."


Among demands, beyond Mubarak's departure, are an end to emergency law, changing rules that gives the ruling party an effective veto over who can run for president and dissolving the parliament elected last year in a vote many believed was rigged.

As intelligence chief, Suleiman was in charge of Egypt's most sensitive political security files, and is credited with masterminding the fragmentation of Islamist militant groups who fought the state in the 1990s until they were crushed.
Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side, a book on the U.S. "war on terror," says Suleiman was "the CIA's pointman in Egypt for renditions(A translation, often interpretive.
) -- a covert program in which the CIA snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances."

=
Writing in The New Yorker Magazine's latest issue, Mayer said Suleiman had a reputation for loyalty and effectiveness, but that "he also carries some controversial baggage from the standpoint of those looking for a clean slate on human rights."

Suleiman has not commented publicly on Mayer's allegations about his relations with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which she said two other books had also documented. No immediate confirmation was available.

Suleiman was born on July 2, 1936 in Qena, in southern Egypt. He enrolled in Egypt's premier Military Academy in 1954 and received further military training in the then Soviet Union.

He has also studied political science at Cairo University and Ain Shams University.

Suleiman took part in a war in Yemen in 1962 and the 1967 and 1973 wars against Israel. Among other posts, he served as director of military intelligence before taking over EGIS.

(Writing by Alistair Lyon, editing by Paul Taylor)

===

Edition:U.S.

===

A protester writes anti-Mubarak graffiti on a sea wall during mass demonstrations against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria February 3, 2011. The graffiti reads: "he killed his people." REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 6:01:37 PM21:01
ReplyAnd this is what the White House had to say about Egypt targeting journalists www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 2/3/2011 5:40:18 PM20:40
Amid the violence, dozens of foreign journalists, covering the developments on the ground, have been arrested alongside human rights workers.
"Those detained were believed to include Washington Post Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel and Post photographer Linda Davidson. The New York Times said two of its reporters were held overnight but had been released, and Al Jazeera said three of its journalists were detained and a fourth was missing." The Post outlines here www.washingtonpost.com
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 2/3/2011 5:37:54 PM20:37

A pro-Mubarak supporter apprehended by opposition demonstrators is led away during rioting near Tahir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011.REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 5:32:24 PM20:32
We have enough on our plate with Iraq and Afg, hopefully we won't be party to foreign intervention.
comment by BAS at 2/3/2011 5:25:43 PM20:25
The propaganda and tactics being enacted by the Egyptian regime are lower than low. It is time for the international community to intervene, for both human rights and democracy.
comment by Chabalala at 2/3/2011 5:25:41 PM20:25
@ Utah Thanks for your comment. Just to clarify, our earlier comment did not specify a day. We'll clarify that as we get more information. In the meantime, read the full story here www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 5:22:13 PM20:22
Photographer Dylan Martinez is in Alexandria to show the state of the protests across Egypt.
by Corinne Perkins at 2/3/2011 5:18:25 PM20:18

A passenger on a train shows his support for protesters as they chant anti-government slogans during mass demonstrations against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Corinne Perkins at 2/3/2011 5:17:41 PM20:17
Your reports state ten people died today. How many of those dying today were anti-Mubarak, and how many were pro-Mubarak? Also, how many were injured just today?
comment by Utah at 2/3/2011 5:16:02 PM20:16
Egypt's VP also reacts to comments from foreign leaders, saying Egypt does not accept foreign intervention in its internal affairs.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 5:11:58 PM20:11
British-based human rights group Amnesty International saying one of their workers and a colleague from Human Rights Watch have been detained in Cairo and taken to an unknown location.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 5:10:11 PM20:10
Corrected: Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman tells State TV that President Mubarak will not put himself forward for the presidency again. He did not say that he himself will not run, as our earlier report stated. He also said about 1 million tourists have left Egypt in the last nine days.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 5:08:28 PM20:08
i urge people all over the world to back us up in egypt , dead people are everywhere in the streets.
comment by angel at 2/3/2011 5:05:52 PM20:05
Ten people are dead in Cairo Square, doctors in makeshift clinics there tell Reuters.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 4:56:17 PM19:56
In a new address, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman says the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized opposition movement, has been invited to meet with then new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties. Here’s our primer on the Muslim Brotherhood www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 4:45:31 PM19:45
But as protesters vow to go on in Cairo, Reuters corresondents Sherine El Madany and Shaimaa Fayed report that some Cairenes are desperate for a return to normalcy. "I can't work any more. Last night, one of my patients was in labor, and I couldn't reach her at all. For how long will this go on?" said Ahmed Naguib, a 48-year-old doctor.

Teacher Amira Hassan, 55, said "I can't carry on with my ordinary life. I can't even go to my dentist because his clinic is downtown. I want this to end so that I can go to work. It makes no difference to me now whether Mubarak stays or leaves. I just want to see security back on the streets so that I can go on with my life." Read more www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 4:38:30 PM19:38
As commenter fizo noted below, protests are also happening now in Egypt’s second largest city of Alexandria. According to our reporters there, thousands are protesting with anti-Mubarak banners, one reading: “In all languages of the world, we tell you: go out, Mubarak.” And in northeastern Egypt, around 4,000 people marched in Suez calling for Mubarak to step down, while in Ismalia a crowd of 2,000 are holding similar demonstrations.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 4:28:27 PM19:28
I urge every person in Alexandria to go support the protestors in sidi gaber station now .
comment by fizo at 2/3/2011 4:24:32 PM19:24
It’s now after 6 p.m. in Egypt and pro- and anti-Mubarak groups continue to skirmish in central Cairo. Here are some details from our reporters on the ground covering the events:

A literal stone's throw from the Egyptian Museum, home to 7,000 years of civilization in the most populous Arab state, angry men skirmished back and forth with rocks, clubs and makeshift shields, as the U.S.-built tanks of Mubarak's Western-funded army made sporadic efforts to separate them.

Protestors have lined up small rocks to fight off attacks by pro-Mubarak groups. "We are using these stones as a means of defence. Yesterday they attacked us with molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) and all we have to protect ourselves with is stones," protestor Ali Kassem told Reuters.

A Reuters journalist saw protesters overpower someone they said was an undercover member of the security services. Over a loudspeaker a voice urged: "Don't beat him. Hand him to us and the organising committee and we will hand him over to the army. The international media is watching us and saying we are peaceful people."

As he tended to some of those on the square, doctor Mohamed al-Samadi voiced anger: "They let armed thugs come and attack us. We refuse to go. We can't let Mubarak stay eight months."

Protesters, who numbered some 10,000 on Tahrir Square on Thursday afternoon, have called major demonstrations for Friday. Many formed human chains across roads to seal off the square.

Read our full wrap-up for more details www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 4:24:01 PM19:24

A woman opposition supporter takes shelter while providing water during rioting with pro-Mubarak demonstrators near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/3/2011 4:23:47 PM19:23

An opposition supporter throws a rock during rioting with pro-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/3/2011 4:22:46 PM19:22
An Al Jazeera online producer shot this bird’s-eye view video of anti-government protesters breaking through throngs of Mubarak loyalists in downtown Cairo on Thursday. Follow Al Jazeera English's live coverage now on its YouTube channel www.youtube.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 4:02:11 PM19:02
An estimated 150 people have been killed in Egypt since the protests against President Mubarak’s regime began ten days ago. Here is a timeline of events so far, compiled by the Reuters editorial reference desk in London: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 3:46:47 PM18:46
Elsewhere in North Africa, Algeria's state of emergency will be lifted in the "very near future", the official state news agency there quoted President Adbedlaziz Bouteflika as saying. He also said that TV and radio outlets should give airtime to all political parties and that lawful protest marches will now be permitted, but not in the capital Algiers.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 3:28:17 PM18:28
The violence in Egypt has prompted new calls from Western leaders for President Hosni Mubarak to start handing over power immediately.

In a strongly worded joint statement issued earlier, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain said “We are observing a deterioration of the situation in Egypt with extreme concern. We condemn all those who use or encourage violence, which will only worsen Egypt's political crisis. Only a rapid and orderly transition towards a broadly representative government will allow Egypt to overcome the challenges that it is facing. This process of transition must start now.”

Separately, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she spoke with President Mubarak and told him dialogue must begin now. She said he must let people hold peaceful demonstrations and attacks on Egyptian demonstrators must stop.

Our world desk in London has rounded up more reaction, which can be found here: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 3:20:58 PM18:20
Photographer Goran Tomasevic continues to cover the unrest from the streets of Cairo.
by Corinne Perkins at 2/3/2011 3:16:11 PM18:16

A rock flies past an opposition supporter during rioting against pro-Mubarak demonstrators near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/3/2011 3:15:49 PM18:15
As mentioned earlier, Egypt has placed a travel ban on some ex-government ministers. Those affected by the ban are former interior minister Habib al-Adly, former housing minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi and former tourism minister Zuhair Garana. Former National Democratic Party member Ahmed Ezz was also among those banned from leaving the country. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 3:04:31 PM18:04
Al-Arabiya news network is reporting that Mubarak supporters are storming hotels in Cairo and chasing journalists.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 2:57:29 PM17:57
While there is likely a significant amount of support for Mubarak still, the people who attacked Tahrir Square are not suggestive of it, indeed if anything the opposite, indicating that Mubarak doesn't have sufficient pop support to weather the protests w/o escalating to violence.
comment by erik at 2/3/2011 2:46:39 PM17:46
state tv is misleading the puplic
comment by SMSegyptian at 2/3/2011 2:46:39 PM17:46
Egyptian State TV is now reporting that the vice president says President Mubarak’s son Gamal will not run for president in upcoming elections. He also said the government is releasing all youth detained in protests who were not involved in criminal acts and will punish all those involved in inciting violence and lawlessness in Tahrir Square.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 2:36:56 PM17:36
The Egyptian Central Bank is releasing more information now on this weekend’s bank openings. It says selected bank branches in Cairo and major provincial cities will reopen on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and that cash withdrawals by individuals will be limited to 50,000 Egyptian pounds or $10,000. Corporations and companies, however, will not have a limit on cash withdrawals. It also said there will be no limit on transfers abroad.
by Matt Reeder at 2/3/2011 2:25:08 PM17:25
Egypt's public prosecutor issues travel ban, freezes bank accounts of some ministers from former government: report
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/3/2011 2:11:48 PM17:11
Speaking to reporters, new Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq apologized for the violence in central Cairo. "As officials and a state which must protect its sons, I thought it was necessary for me to apologize and to say that this matter will not be repeated."
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/3/2011 2:07:38 PM17:07
Will Egypt's army protect the protesters, or the president? Check out Reuters' latest Egypt analysis by Security Correspondent William Maclean www.reuters.com
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/3/2011 1:41:08 PM16:41
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says transition of power in Egypt should begin now www.reuters.com
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/3/2011 1:20:31 PM16:20
Mobile operator Vodafone is accusing Egyptian authorities of using its network to send pro-government text messages to its subscribers, without clear attribution www.reuters.com
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/3/2011 1:05:06 PM16:05
Al Arabiya TV is reporting heavy gunfire heard in Cairo's Tahrir Square
by josh.hargreaves at 2/3/2011 12:53:39 PM15:53
Egypt's opposition Wafd party says it has suspended talks with the government after Tahrir clashes and it blames Mubarak's ruling party for causing the violence
by josh.hargreaves at 2/3/2011 12:35:56 PM15:35

Opposition supporters take shelter during clashes with pro-Mubarak demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

====


Our correspondent Marwa Awad gathers some reactions to the broadcast interview by Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman earlier today.

Mohamed Anis, 29, protesting in Tahrir Square:

“How simple minded and illogical. Suleiman has not listened to the people's needs. We want Mubarak to leave immediately, not to stick around for another six months. We have refused dialogue and negotiation with Suleiman until Mubarak steps down.”

Diaa Rashwan, a political analyst at Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies:

“Suleiman made some positive moves, mainly his acceptance to hold dialogue with all opposition forces and specifically the Muslim Brotherhood. This is the first time in about 30 years that the Mubarak regime has sought dialogue with the Muslim Brotherhood. Suleiman makes the process of political reform conditional on the outcome of the dialogue with the opposition.”

Mohamed Katani, a senior Muslim Brotherhood member:

“There was nothing new in the interview. There is no clear cut agenda presented upon which we can hold a dialogue. The issue is serious and needs clarity. I do not think the protesters will agree to leave Tahrir and quit their sit-in according to Suleiman's request. The only way Egyptians will accept to hold dialogue with Suleiman is after Mubarak's departure ... when he steps down.”

===

By Jonathan Wright and Marwa Awad

CAIRO | Thu Feb 3, 2011 11:08am EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - A bitter and, by turns, bloody confrontation gripped central Cairo on Thursday as armed government loyalists fought pro-democracy protesters demanding the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak.

At least six people were dead and 800 wounded after gunmen and stick-wielding Mubarak supporters attacked demonstrators camped out for a tenth day on Tahrir Square to demand the 82-year-old leader immediately end his 30-year rule.

A literal stone's throw from the Egyptian Museum, home to 7,000 years of civilization in the most populous Arab state, angry men skirmished back and forth with rocks, clubs and makeshift shields, as the U.S.-built tanks of Mubarak's Western-funded army made sporadic efforts to separate them.

Away from the lenses of global media focused on Tahrir Square, a political battle was being fought with implications for competing Western and Islamist influence over the Middle East and its oil. European leaders joined the United States in urging their long-time Arab ally to start handing over power.

His government, newly appointed in a reshuffle that failed to appease protesters, stood by the president's insistence on Tuesday that he will go, but only when his fifth term ends in September. Mubarak continues to portray himself as a bulwark against anarchy, or a seizure of power by Islamist radicals.

The opposition won increasingly vocal support from Mubarak's long-time Western backers for a swifter handover of power.

"This process of transition must start now," the leaders of Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain said in a statement.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon added his voice.

They all echoed the message President Barack Obama said he gave Mubarak in a phone call on Tuesday. U.S. officials also condemned what they called a "concerted campaign to intimidate" journalists, after many were attacked by government loyalists.

Opposition leaders including the liberal figurehead Mohamed ElBaradei and the mass Islamist movement the Muslim Brotherhood said again that Mubarak must go before they would negotiate.

TRIAL OF STRENGTH

As he tended to some of those on the square, doctor Mohamed al-Samadi voiced anger: "They let armed thugs come and attack us. We refuse to go. We can't let Mubarak stay eight months."

Protesters, who numbered some 10,000 on Tahrir Square on Thursday afternoon, have called major demonstrations for Friday. Many formed human chains across roads to seal off the square.

This is a trial of strength in which the army has a crucial role as its commanders seek to preserve their institution's influence and wealth in the face of massive popular rejection of the old order, widely regarded as brutal, corrupt and wasteful.
The government, which rejected assumptions by foreign powers that it had orchestrated the attacks on demonstrators, seemed to be counting on winning over the sympathy of Egyptians feeling the pinch of unprecedented economic dislocation.


=

"I just want to see security back on the streets so that I can go on with my life," said Amira Hassan, 55, a Cairo teacher. "It makes no difference to me whether Mubarak stays or leaves."

New Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq sought to appease anger at home and abroad by apologizing for the violence and promising to prevent a repeat. But he insisted he did not know the culprits.

Vice President Omar Suleiman, seen as a possible interim successor to Mubarak, took up the theme, promising to release detained demonstrators and to punish those who fomented trouble.

He also confirmed that Mubarak's businessman son Gamal would not run for president to succeed his father. Ten days ago, that would been shock news. It surprised no one after the uprising.

The protesters in Tahrir Square, dominated now by a youthful hard core including secular middle-class graduates and mostly poorer Islamist activists from the Brotherhood, barely listened. They have been inspired by the example of Tunisia, where veteran strongman Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee last month.

But many other Egyptians have more respect for Mubarak and seem willing to let him depart more gracefully in due course.

Those supporting the calls for constitutional change and free elections saw the violence, unleashed on Wednesday by men they assume to be secret policemen and ruling party loyalists, as the desperation of a president who cannot count on his army.

It was a "stupid, desperate move," said Hassan Nafaa, a political scientist and leading opposition figure. "This will not put an end to the protests," he said. "This is not the Tahrir Square revolution, it is a general uprising."
Though less numerous than earlier in the week, there were also demonstrations in Suez and Ismailiya, industrial cities where inflation and unemployment have fueled the sort of dissent that hit Tunisia and which some believe could ripple in a domino effect across other autocratic Arab states.

ARMY ROLE

Many analysts see the army seeking to preserve its own position by engineering a smooth removal of Mubarak, a former air force commander. Its course is unclear. On Monday it gave protesters heart by pledging to let them demonstrate.

But on Wednesday, troops stood by as Mubarak supporters charged Tahrir Square on horseback and camels, lashing out at civilians. After dark, several demonstrators were shot dead.

Only on Thursday morning did soldiers set up a clear buffer zone around the square to separate the factions. But that did not prevent new clashes, as groups pelted each other with rocks.

Many believe Mubarak's efforts to hang on may create strains within the army, which may seek to cut short the confrontation.

"There is a real threat to the integrity of the armed forces, the longer this goes on," said Faysal Itani of Exclusive Analysis. "The pressure on the army must be intense to put him on a plane or in a villa ... I'd give him seven to 10 days."

Support for a new order is far from unanimous, however.

Many of the 80 million Egyptians have much to lose from change, whether businesspeople enjoying lucrative concessions in the mixed economy or those employed by the extensive apparatus of the state and its security forces. An even greater number is losing patience with unrest after 10 days of disrupted business.

"My work depends on tourists and there aren't any tourists coming any more," said Ragab Abdel Hamid Mansour, a 48-year-old cruise boat owner on the Nile in Cairo. "I want those protests to end now, and even not tomorrow. I can't live."

Egypt was the first and so far almost the only Arab state to make peace with Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says revolution in Cairo could create an Iranian-style theocracy.

Egyptian Health Minister Ahmed Samih Farid said six people died and 836 were wounded in the Cairo fighting. An estimated 150 people have been killed since last Tuesday.

Oil prices have climbed on fears the unrest could spread to affect oil giant Saudi Arabia or interfere with oil supplies from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.

Brent crude passed $103 a barrel on Thursday.

On Thursday, tens of thousands of pro-and anti-government protesters squared off in the Yemeni capital Sanaa. Algeria announced it would relax longstanding restrictions on political activity and introduce measures to tackle unemployment.

(Reporting by Edmund Blair, Samia Nakhoul, Patrick Werr, Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, Sherine El Madany, Yannis Behrakis, Jonathan Wright, Andrew Hammond, Tom Perry and Alison Williams in Cairo, Myra MacDonald in London and Leigh Thomas in Paris; writing by Alastair Macdonald; Editing by Jon Boyle)

======


Telling Obama "You don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now," Mubarak remains in the presidential palace - heavily guarded - alongside his family, says ABC
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:39
ReplyThe under-fire president blames the Muslim Brotherhood for violence in Tahrir Square, telling ABC his government is not responsible.
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:36
Mubarak goes on to say he fears if he stands down now, Egypt will sink into chaos, according to ABC
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:35
"Fed up" Mubarak tells ABC he would like to leave office, but can't.
The ABC website quotes the troubled president saying:
"After 62 years in public service I have had enough. I want to go"

===

Telling Obama "You don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now," am telling you mubarak we can understand the egyptian culture more than you and obama and we want you to get out our country
comment by Ahmed Osama Said at 23:05
Replythe new Prime Minister promised the violence against the demonstrators would cease. it hasn't. without that commitment coming true, he will have no legitimacy. how many moderate politicians will Mubarak dishonor by either encouraging or allowing his supporters to encourage and organize violence against the people in Liberation Square?
comment by TheRealInspectorHound at 22:58

An opposition demonstrator throws a rock during rioting with pro-Mubarak supporters near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Matt Reeder at 22:50
What does Mubarak propose as a solution to punishing the agent provocateurs he hired? What major parallels can be seen compared with other revolutions, namely Iran? So far as I can tell, it seems to be almost mandated that under a dictator any middle eastern unrest is first quelled by removing the ability to communicate, then supress news agencies, followed by agent provocateurs to beat down civilians. Compared to Iran, is the US strategy in Egypt as equally identical?
comment by Luke W at 22:48
A draft Senate resolution calls on Mubarak to transfer power to an inclusive interim caretaker government
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:47

An opposition protester collects stones during rioting against pro-Mubarak demonstrators near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 22:46
Telling Obama "You don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now," Mubarak remains in the presidential palace - heavily guarded - alongside his family, says ABC
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:39
The under-fire president blames the Muslim Brotherhood for violence in Tahrir Square, telling ABC his government is not responsible.
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:36
Mubarak goes on to say he fears if he stands down now, Egypt will sink into chaos, according to ABC
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 22:35
"Fed up" Mubarak tells ABC he would like to leave office, but can't.
The ABC website quotes the troubled president saying:
"After 62 years in public service I have had enough. I want to go"

===

Mubarak says he won't quit early

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1 / 24 Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman speaks to ABC News' Christiane Amanpour in an interview at the Presidential Palace in Cairo February 3, 2011.
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Apologies and Promises in Egypt (02:24) By Jonathan Wright and Marwa Awad

CAIRO | Thu Feb 3, 2011 10:43pm EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - President Hosni Mubarak ruled out resigning immediately to end a violent confrontation over his 30-year-rule, arguing this would bring chaos to Egypt, but the New York Times said the Obama administration was in talks with Egyptian officials for him to quit now.

Speaking in an interview with ABC Thursday, after bloodshed in Cairo that killed 10 people, the 82-year-old leader said he believed his country still needed him.

"If I resign today, there will be chaos," he said. Asked to comment on calls for him to resign, he said: "I don't care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country."

The New York Times said Friday the administration of President Barack Obama was discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately.

Under the proposal, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, the newspaper said, citing administration officials and Arab diplomats.

Facing an unprecedented challenge to his rule from Egyptians angered by political repression, Mubarak has promised to stand down in September, appointed his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice-president, and offered talks on reforms.

But that has failed to satisfy protesters who are hoping to rally thousands of Egyptians Friday for a fresh demonstration to try to force Mubarak to quit now.

With the confrontation turning increasingly violent -- protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square were attacked by Mubarak supporters Wednesday -- the United States has increased pressure on Mubarak to begin the transition of power now.

Protesters in Tahrir (Liberation) Square -- which has become the hub of pro-democracy demonstrations -- were hoping to be joined by thousands more for a big demonstration they are calling the "Friday of Departure."

Organizers called on people to march from wherever they were toward the square, the state television building and the parliament building -- all within around a mile of one another in the heart of the city.

The U.S. State Department said it expected confrontation in what would be the 11th day of protests.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington believed elements close to the government or Mubarak's ruling party were responsible for the violence which erupted on Wednesday. The Interior Ministry has denied it ordered its agents or officers to attack anti-Mubarak protesters.

GOVERNMENT OFFERS TALKS

In a move to try to calm the disorder, Vice President Omar Suleiman said Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most organized opposition movement, had been invited to meet with the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties.

An offer to talk to the banned group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on January 25, indicating progress made by the reformist movement since then. However, the opposition has refused talks until Mubarak goes.

=
The United States, which supplies the Egyptian army -- Mubarak's power base -- with about $1.3 billion in aid annually -- is struggling to find a solution to the crisis which does not exacerbate instability in the Arab world's most populous nation.

The White House said Thursday Washington was discussing with Egyptians a "variety of different ways" of moving toward a peaceful transition in Egypt.

Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said President Barack Obama has said now is the time to begin "a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations."

The New York Times said the U.S. proposal called for a transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country's electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September.

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. Mubarak had also justified his use of emergency rule as needed to curb Islamist militancy in a country where al Qaeda had its ideological roots.

Mubarak described Obama as a very good man, but when asked by ABC if he felt that the United States had betrayed him, he said he told the U.S. president: "You don't understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now."

An estimated 150 people have died in the protests, which were inspired by events in Tunisia, where its leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee last month.

Oil prices have climbed on fears the unrest could spread to affect oil giant Saudi Arabia or interfere with oil supplies from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.

(Reporting by Edmund Blair, Samia Nakhoul, Patrick Werr, Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, Sherine El Madany, Yannis Behrakis, Jonathan Wright, Andrew Hammond, Tom Perry and Alison Williams in Cairo, Myra MacDonald in London and Leigh Thomas in Paris; Writing by Myra MacDonald; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

====

Warden Message 9: February 3, 2011

U.S. Embassy Cairo
The U.S. Embassy advises that there will be no U.S. government evacuation flights on Friday, February 4. There will be U.S. Embassy personnel at the airport to assist U.S. citizens departing on commercial flights. We plan to continue evacuation efforts on Saturday, February 5 on a very limited basis in view of the availability of commercial flights and decreased demand for U.S. government evacuation flights. Additional U.S. government flights after Saturday are extremely unlikely.

All remaining U.S. citizens who wish to depart Egypt on a U.S. government flight and who are able to do so should proceed to Terminal 1, Hall 4 (Hajj Hall) as soon as possible on Saturday, February 5. Do not wait for a call from the U.S. Embassy. Further delay is not advisable.

This assistance will be provided on a reimbursable basis, as required by U.S. law. U.S. citizens who travel on US government – arranged transport will be expected to make their own onward travel plans from safehaven locations in Europe. Flights to evacuation points began departing Egypt on Monday, January 31.

The welfare and safety of U.S. citizens in Egypt remains one of State Department’s top priorities. Approximately 2,000 U.S citizens and their family members have been evacuated from Egypt in an operation that began on Monday, January 31.


Immediate family members (spouses and children) who are not U.S. citizens must be documented for entry into the safehaven country and/or U.S., if that is your final destination. All U.S. citizen travelers and their spouses and children, are required to have valid travel documents. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo will assist U.S. citizens with travel documents. U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa and are interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.

In the event of demonstrations, U.S. citizens in Egypt should remain in their residences or hotels until the demonstrations subside. Security forces may block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, and U.S. citizens should not attempt to come to the U.S. Embassy or the Tahrir Square area during that time. Demonstrations have degenerated on several occasions into violent clashes between police and protesters, resulting in injuries and extensive property damage. While demonstrations have not been directed toward Westerners, U.S. citizens are urged to remain alert to local security developments and to be vigilant regarding their personal security. The U.S. Department of State strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid all demonstrations, as even peaceful ones can quickly become unruly and a foreigner could become a target of harassment or worse. If caught unexpectedly near a demonstration, U.S. citizens should obey instructions from police and leave the area as quickly as possible. U.S. citizens resident in Egypt should monitor local news broadcasts and U.S. citizen visitors should ask tour guides and hotel officials about any planned demonstrations in the locations they plan to visit. U.S. citizens should carry identification and a cell phone that works in Egypt.

Frequently Asked Question:

I’m ready to go. What do I do?

Documented U.S. citizens may proceed to Terminal 1, Hall 4 (Hajj Hall) of the airport on Saturday, February 5. Please be aware that there is a curfew in effect.

Do I need to prove I completed military service to board a plane?

Male dual nationals staying in Egypt for more than six months from the date of arrival and who have not completed military service are not generally required to enlist in the armed forces. However, they must obtain an exemption certificate through the Ministry of Defense Draft Office before they can leave Egypt.

My child is a U.S. citizen. Can my whole family be evacuated?

A U.S. citizen child may be escorted by one adult, preferably a parent, who has appropriate travel documents. If a family has more than one U.S. citizen child, the one-adult rule still applies.

Do I need a U.S. passport?

All U.S. citizen travelers and their spouses and children, are required to have valid travel documents. The U.S. Embassy in Cairo will assist U.S. citizens with travel documents. U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa and are interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the US Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.

What do I do if my child is a U.S. citizen, but hasn’t yet been documented?

Contact the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. U.S. citizens who do not hold a valid U.S. passport or visa interested in departing Egypt via USG-chartered transportation should contact the U.S. Department of State and Embassy Cairo by sending an email to EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or by calling 1-202-501-4444.
My family members aren’t U.S. citizens. Can they travel with me?

The scheduled evacuation flights will transport U.S. citizens and their immediate family members. Immediate family members – defined as spouses and children – who are not U.S. citizens will be required to have travel documentation that will permit their entry into the safe haven destinations. At this time, flights are expected to travel to Istanbul, Turkey, Athens, Greece, and Nicosia, Cyprus. Safe haven destinations may change. U.S. citizens requesting evacuation will not be able to select their safe haven destinations.
Will you fly me to the United States?

Our goal is to get people to a safe place, where they can make their own onward travel arrangements. Travelers will be responsible for their own onward travel arrangements and accommodations in the safe haven city. Consular officers will provide travelers with information on airlines and hotels.

What should I bring?

Travelers should bring valid travel documents and any necessary medications. Each traveler may bring one suitcase and a small personal carry-on item. U.S. citizens seeking evacuation should be prepared for a substantial wait at the airport. Travelers are advised to bring food, water, diapers and other necessary toiletries with them to the airport.

What about my pets?

Evacuation flights will not be able to accommodate pets.

Do I have to pay for the flight?

U.S. citizens requesting evacuation will be asked to sign paperwork promising to reimburse the U.S. Government for flight costs at a later date. Exact flight costs are not yet available, but should be comparable to a one-way commercial flight from Egypt to the safe haven location.
How do I get to the airport?

At this time, public transport to include taxis is still operating in Egypt.

==

Iraq war ordered 15 days after 9/11'
Fri Feb 4, 2011 4:52AM
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Former US Secretary of Defense Donald RumsfeldFormer US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld says in his memoirs that ex-President George W. Bush ordered the Iraq war just two weeks after September 11.


In his autobiography scheduled to be released on February 8, Rumsfeld writes that 15 days after 9/11, when Pentagon's focus was on Afghan war, Bush called him to his office and ordered a review plans for Iraq war.

“Two weeks after the worst terror attacks in our nation's history, those of us in the Department of Defense were full occupied,” but Bush called for a “creative” option for invading Iraq, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday.

However, Rumsfeld says Iraq war has been worth the costs and offers no apology for the way he handled the conflict.

He says if former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime was not ousted, the Middle East would be “far more perilous than it is today.”

Elsewhere in his memoir, Rumsfeld casts doubt over US' full military engagement in Afghanistan, saying he “did not see more US troops as the solution to Afghanistan's many challenges.”

“Sending more troops to the village and valleys of Afghanistan would not resolve the country's long-term problems. In fact, they could exacerbate them by fostering resentment among a proud population and providing more targets for our enemies to attack," he adds.

Rumsfeld was an architect of Iraq war plan. He and other US officials cited Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as their reason for invading the country, but such weapons were never found.

In 2006, Rumsfeld was sacked after the US war in Iraq came to a deadlock after three and a half years.

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, at least 4,440 US soldiers have been killed and more than 31,830 others injured.

The devastating war has also left more than 1,300,000 Iraqi civilians dead and some 4.7 million Iraqis displaced, according to reports.

===


Khamenei hails 'Islamic' uprisings
Iranian supreme leader urges Egyptians to follow in the footsteps of Iran's 1979 revolution.
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2011 13:41 GMT
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Iranians are marking the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic revolution, which toppled the country's monarchy [Reuters]

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader has called the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia an "Islamic liberation movement".

In his address, during Friday prayers at Tehran University in Iran's capital, he said that people are witnessing the reverberations of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution.

"The awakening of the Islamic Egyptian people is an Islamic liberation movement and I, in the name of the Iranian government, salute the Egyptian people and the Tunisian people,"he said.

Khamenei has urged Egypt's protesters to follow in the footsteps of the Iranian revolution which toppled a pro-US leader and installed an Islamic Republic, calling on Egyptians to unite around religion.

He said events in Tunisia and Egypt, were a sign of "Islamic awareness" in the region and that these movements will spell an "irreparable defeat" for the United States.

'Servant of Zionists'
Khamenei added that the Egypt's embattled president, Hosni Mubarak, is a "servant" of Israel and the United States.

"For 30 years this country [Egypt] has been in the hands of someone who is not seeking freedom and is the enemy of those seeking freedom.

"Not only he is not anti-Zionist, but he is the companion, colleague, confidant and servant of Zionists. It is a fact that Hosni Mubarak's servitude to America has been unable to take Egypt one step towards prosperity."

The spiritual leader's remarks were received by cheering crowds of worshippers who, raising their hands, chanted "Death to America! Death to Israel!"

The sermon marked the first time in seven months that the leader has addressed the weekly Friday prayers, and came as protesters were massing in Egypt to participate in "departure day" demonstrations to force Mubarak to quit

"Today's events in North Africa, Egypt and Tunisia and some other countries have different meanings for us," Khamenei said.

"This is what was always talked about as the occurrence of Islamic awakening at the time of the Islamic revolution of the great Iranian nation and is showing itself today."

Top Iranian officials have supported the protests in Egypt and have warned Tehran's arch-foe Washington against "interfering" in what they say is a movement of the people.

Khamenei said that Israel was the country most concerned about the Arab revolts.

"Today more than the fleeing Tunisian and Egyptian officials, Israelis and the Zionist enemies are the most worried about these events as they know if Egypt stops being their ally and take its rightful place, it would be a great event in the region," he said..



Dorsa Jabbari, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tehran, said Khamenei "is asking them to follow through what he is calling a real earthquake in the region".

The Iranian people are supporting the uprising in Egypt as "they believe that it has been long time in the making and it is about time that [the Egyptian] people put an end to the dictatorship in their country", our correspondent said.

"They [the Iranians] see the events as extremely significant as they feel that it is the opportunity to change the religious field in the region."

====

Egypt's army has been instructed to assist foreign media and help protect them from groups in plain clothes who have attacked and beaten journalists, the Egyptian cabinet's spokesman told Reuters www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/4/2011 1:51:52 PM16:51
ReplyEgyptian soldiers isolated on the Gaza border are said to be getting bread, canned goods and other supplies from an enclave normally on the receiving end of food aid www.reuters.com
by Aviva_Reuters at 2/4/2011 1:13:54 PM16:13

Protesters gather in Cairo
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/4/2011 12:54:48 PM15:54
Here are some quotes from the streets of Cairo about Friday's mass demonstrations to try to force President Hosni Mubarak to quit.
www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves at 2/4/2011 12:18:05 PM15:18

A member of the press lies on the ground after being attacked by mobs while soldiers surround him in Cairo February 3, 2011. The United States and Britain condemned the intimidation of foreign reporters covering protests against President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday. REUTERS/Kyodo
by josh.hargreaves at 2/4/2011 12:09:55 PM15:09
CNN tries to answer the question, "Why are reporters being attacked?" www.cnn.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 11:34:31 AM14:34

An Egyptian army member stops a pro-Mubarak supporter from speaking about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, during a speech by a cleric asking Mubarak to step down, before Friday prayers at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 11:18:01 AM14:18
Here's a Reuters analysis that takes a look at the meaning, and intent, of "Islamists" www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 11:05:53 AM14:05
Egypt's Prime Minister tells state TV: "I offer my apology for everything that happened yesterday because it's neither logical nor rational." www.latimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 10:47:37 AM13:47
Canadian photographer Yonathan Kellerman describes how he found himself under attack by thugs in Cairo. www.nationalpost.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 10:30:17 AM13:30

Opposition supporters gather and listen to Egyptian-born cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who says President Hosni Mubarak must stand down and leave Egypt, before Friday prayers at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 10:13:52 AM13:13

Protesters hold placards during a rally demanding for an end to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's rule, outside the U.S. embassy in Kuala Lumpur, February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 10:07:40 AM13:07
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says that uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia will spell an "irreparable defeat" for the U.S. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 9:47:02 AM12:47
CNN is reporting that protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square are chanting "We've been here for more than 10 days, and change is coming." www.cnn.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 9:25:08 AM12:25
Here is an analysis from Reuters on why independence is key for autocrats who want to hang on to power www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 9:19:51 AM12:19

A pro-Mubarak supporter (2nd L) is detained by anti-government demonstators during clashes at Tahrir Square in Cairo February 3, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 9:11:29 AM12:11
Egypt's defense minister and other top army officials are currently visiting Cairo's Tahrir Square, according to a defense ministry source.
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 8:43:11 AM11:43
LIVE VIDEO feeds need to be BACK on the networks! Independent monitors and journalists are being removed/arrested or equipment confiscated or destroyed since last evening. World needs oversight. Potential Tiananmen Square or Jenin here
comment by Asif from Canada at 2/4/2011 8:30:10 AM11:30
CNN reports that demonstrators have built a barbed-wire barricade and stacked piles of rocks throughout Cairo's Tahrir Square. www.cnn.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/4/2011 8:27:17 AM11:27
A day-by-day interactive map of the protests from the New York Times www.nytimes.com

===

Factbox: Quotes on Egypt's "Friday of Departure" protest
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CAIRO | Fri Feb 4, 2011 8:25am EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Protesters massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday calling on Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to quit, while others were desperate for protests to end.

Here are quotes from both sides, starting with protesters.

CHANTS IN TAHRIR AFTER FRIDAY PRAYERS

"The people want the fall of the regime"

"Leave, leave, leave"; "Join us, join us"

"We want the murderer to be tried"

"The army and people are united"

AHMED KHIDR, 27, MOBILE PHONE SHOP OWNER AND PROTESTER
"Why should we go now? I'll be a fool to leave after all this murder and this sabotage. I have been in Tahrir for four days. I don't understand, why doesn't he get, he needs to go.

"We don't want ElBaradei either, and I don't want the Muslim Brotherhood but I want a transitional government that will give us time to prepare for a truly free and fair election. If Mubarak loves Egypt, he should go."

ABDEL HALIM MOHAMED ALI, 62, TECHNICAL SCHOOL TEACHER AND SUPPORTER OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
"I will not wash, and I will not take my medicine until he leaves. We need freedom, all freedoms. Omar Suleiman is good as long as he leads a temporary government. We welcome anyone who leads a temporary government even (Coptic) Pope Shenouda."

METWALY FARGHALI, 32, PROTESTER
"We are not going to leave the square. We want the army on our side but the army must realize the people's revolution is here to stay."

MOHAMED RAFAH TAHTAWY, SPOKESMAN FOR EGYPT'S HIGHEST ISLAMIC AUTHORITY, AL AZHAR, WHICH IS RUN BY THE STATE

"I have resigned. I am participating in the protests and I have issued statements that support the revolutionists as far as they go, however I will always remain in the service of Al Azhar and its grand Imam."


KHALED YOUSSEF, DIRECTOR OF FILMS CRITICAL OF GOVERNMENT

"The Brotherhood are here in Tahrir, so what? They are part of this nation - everyone is here. When citizens desire life, fate must respond."


SHERIF ABDEL KADER, 23, ACCOUNTANT HEADING TO TAHRIR

"I think today is the finale of this charade, the 30 years of oppression and breaking the human law that every respectable government can uphold."

SHOWAN EBADI, 23, FLEW IN FROM SWEDEN TO SUPPORT THE PROTEST

"I think it is important to support democracy and our government in Sweden is supporting a dictator."

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NAGWA SALEM, 26, BANKER

"My entire life is paralyzed. I can't go to work or even go out. There is no security on the streets, and life has become unstable. I want Mubarak and his regime to leave, but it makes no difference to me whether he leaves immediately or in six months. Even after the protests end and all those events are over, my life will not go back to normal. I will still be afraid to take my car anywhere or stay out late at night."

ALIYA GALAL, 21, UNIVERSITY STUDENT

"I'm depressed. Enough is enough. I'm sick and tired of all those protests. I want my life to go back to normal. The country is gridlocked. In my opinion, Mubarak made huge concessions, and perhaps the new government is good. We need to give them (government) a chance."

HESHAM GALAL, 33, ENGINEER

"My life has turned upside down. I've become like a bat -- I stay up at night to guard my neighborhood and sleep in the morning. I feel I'm batman."

ESSAM MASSOUD, 39, TAXI DRIVER

"I'm very upset because the curfew has cut my work hours short. And there are few people around because they are afraid to go out. Business is very minimal, and I have installments on this taxi that I have to pay on a monthly basis."

HUSSEIN MAHMOUD, 48, SHOP OWNER

"Food products have become expensive. There is no money in the ATM machines, and the banks are closed. My shop is opened, but no one is buying anything. I tell Mubarak: enough, you have to leave. The protesters want him to leave now because they fear his revenge later or that he might change his mind and decide to remain in power. A new president has to come, with a new mindset."

ASSMAA BAYOUMY, 57, HOUSEWIFE

"I want the security back again. I want Egypt to return to normal. The banks are closed, and I don't have an ATM card, so I only spend money on necessities. I am worried about my children taking part in the protests because I heard the protests are chaotic and filled with thugs."


NASER, OWNER OF A DOWNTOWN BAKERY STORE

"Our lives have stopped. I agree with everything the protesters ask for and were able to get for us but life is very hard and we don't know what to do."

(reporting by Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Sherine El Madany; Yasmine Saleh, Alexander Dziadosz, Andrew Hammond and Jonathan Wright; Compiled by Alison Williams)


====
Analysis: Independence key for autocrats who want to hang on
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Interview -Tunisian Islamists say they’re excluded, call for unity govt.
Related TopicsWorld »
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By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS | Fri Feb 4, 2011 1:03am EST




By Patrick Worsnip

UNITED NATIONS | Fri Feb 4, 2011 1:03am EST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Autocrats who are seen by their citizens as beholden to foreign powers stand more risk of being swept away by popular protests than equally repressive ones who pursue more independent policies.

Commentators looking at the people's uprisings that have shaken Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks have also focused heavily on the loyalty of security forces as pivotal in what happens to rulers.


In Tunisia, President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali fled into exile on January 14 after army chief General Rachid Ammar refused to fire on demonstrators. In the so far unresolved drama in Egypt, the stance of the armed forces also appears critical.

By contrast, in Iran in the summer of 2009, police and Basij Islamic militia who showed no signs of wavering crushed protests against presidential elections the opposition said were rigged.

In Ivory Coast, attempts by Western and African nations to oust incumbent Laurent Gbagbo from the presidency they say he lost to challenger Alassane Ouattara in a November 28 poll are based in part on a belief that if Gbagbo runs out of cash to pay his troops he will collapse.

But analysts say that as important in blunting(Slightly rounding a cutting edge to reduce the probability of edge chipping.
) uprisings as the brute force available is the extent to which a ruler, ruthless authoritarian as he may be, at least appears an authentic champion of his country and not a pawn of others.

While foreign affairs seem so far to have taken a back seat in Tunisia and Egypt to issues of poverty, corruption and police brutality, Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak both have been known as friends of the West. So have the leaders of Jordan and Yemen, where protests have also erupted.

"Mubarak is the most pro-American leader in the Arab world in the most anti-American Arab society. So that was a recipe for trouble," said Thomas Carothers, a democracy expert at Washington's Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

Not surprisingly, officials of radical Arab countries such as Syria and Sudan have argued that they are immune from the unrest sweeping their region.

"Syria is stable. Why?" President Bashar al-Assad said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal this week. "Because you have to be very closely linked to the beliefs of the people ... When there is divergence ... you will have this vacuum that creates disturbances."

A Sudanese embassy spokesman in London, Khalid Mubarak, said in a blog: "Uprisings happen against docile leaders who ingratiate themselves to the West and put its interests above national dignity."

NATIONALIST APPEAL

While such arguments may be self-serving and could ultimately turn out to be wrong -- there have already been some protests in Sudan -- independent analysts say there is something to them.

"When we look at a regime or a leader and say 'how likely are they to collapse?', the question we should be asking is not just will the army shoot the demonstrators or not, but do they have any reserves of legitimacy?" Carothers saidHe recalled meeting a Syrian dissident who said that despite economic failures and repressive rule, Syria's Assad "still defies Israel and the United States. That's all he's selling to the public is defiance. But that sells pretty well." The same applied to Iran and Cuba, Carothers said.


=
Lack of legitimacy, as much as economic stagnation, was what finished off the communist rulers of eastern Europe whom their peoples saw as Soviet puppets. After Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told a Bucharest summit of the Warsaw Pact in July 1989 there would no more interventions to put down popular unrest, his allies' governments collapsed within months.

Georgia's "rose revolution" of 2003 and Ukraine's "orange revolution" of 2004-05, in which mass protests led to power changes in the two former Soviet republics, were also essentially against leaders seen as too close to Moscow.


In Latin America, U.S.-backed dictatorships faded away in the 1980s and 1990s as their value to Washington as bulwarks against communism declined.

Autocrats with no foreign dependence are also insulated from the kind of pressures Mubarak has come under from U.S. President Barack Obama and others to restrain action by security forces against demonstrators.

While Western powers deplored incidents like the Chinese army's forcible clearing of democracy protesters from Tiananmen Square in 1989 and the 2009 Iranian actions against opposition demonstrators, they had no leverage to bring to bear.

'ZERO TOLERANCE FOR DISSENT'

As those episodes showed, if an authoritarian government wants to stay in power, it also needs to build up disciplined, motivated enforcers of their rule who will not decide when the going gets tough that the moral force has passed to the demonstrators.

Iran's ruling clergy appeared to have learned lessons from the Islamic revolution that toppled the pro-Western Shah and brought them to power in 1979.

Then, security forces faced with huge demonstrations lost the initiative despite overwhelming firepower in a classic case of what 1960s Doors rocker Jim Morrison called "They got the guns but we got the numbers."

"One of things authoritarian leaders seem to have learned is that when opponents of the regime start to mobilize, the way to stay in power is to immediately begin repressing and to do so hard: zero tolerance for dissent, no negotiations, etc," said Jennifer Gandhi of Emory University in Atlanta.

"At the end of the day, I think what matters are the concrete benefits that regimes offer to key supporters -- whether they come from the military, the political or the economic elite."

(Editing by Frances Kerry)
===

BBC interviews Egyptian journalist Shaheera Amin, who resigned from her post at the state run news channel, Nile TV, and actually joined the protesters in Tahrir Square. www.bbc.co.uk
by Patricia Launt at 21:02
Reply
An anti-government protester celebrates after hearing a rumor that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will resign near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 20:58

An injured anti-government protester rests by a burned out bus, used as barricade, alongside the Egyptian Museum near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 20:49
Al Arabiya is reporting that Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq says it is unlikely President Hosni Mubarak will hand presidential powers to his newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:43

Locals walk past burnt out vehicles, which have been there for a week during protests against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, in Alexandria February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Corinne Perkins at 20:33
Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saluted today what he termed an "Islamic liberation movement" in the Arab world, and advised the people of Egypt and Tunisia to unite around their religion and against the West. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 20:23
An Austrian newspaper is reporting that Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei says he will not run for president in future Egyptian elections. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:19
Speaking to reporters in Brussels about the situation in Egypt, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said: "I hope that in Egypt there can be a transition toward a more democratic system without a break from President Mubarak, who in the West, above all in the United States, is considered the wisest of men and a precise reference point." www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 19:54

Tourism nosedives in Egypt as the turmoil continues.
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 19:46

Opposition supporters sleep near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 19:31
European Union leaders call on Egyptian authorities to begin the transfer of power to a broad-based government immediately. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 19:25
It's now 6:00 p.m. in Cairo on this "Day of Departure". The curfew is on but people remain in the streets.
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 19:56
Al Jazeera says that its office in Cairo has been burned and destroyed by "gangs of thugs," but it will continue to report from Egypt www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/4/2011 3:58:47 PM18:58
The world's unelected rulers have had a few unsettling weeks, Reuters' Chrystia Freeland writes in her piece "The Authoritarian International goes on the defensive" blogs.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/4/2011 3:51:14 PM18:51
Photographer Dylan Martinez is in Alexandria to capture the sentiment at the mass demonstrations there.
by Corinne Perkins at 2/4/2011 3:44:08 PM18:44

Protesters show their anger as they chant anti-government slogans during mass demonstrations against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Alexandria February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Corinne Perkins at 2/4/2011 3:43:39 PM18:43
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is heading to a global security conference in Munich today and the Egyptian crisis will likely dominate the agenda www.reuters.com

===

The Authoritarian International goes on the defensiveFeb 4, 2011 10:00 EST
authoritarian international | boris nemtsov | egypt | mohamed el-erian
It has been a bad couple of weeks for what Vitali Silitski, a political scientist, calls the Authoritarian International.

Mr. Silitski is from Belarus — a good background for studying authoritarian rulers — and he is a student of the troubling way in which the world’s autocrats responded to the “color” revolutions in some former Soviet republics a few years ago by increasing repression at home and forming a loose international support group.

China is the star of this Authoritarian International, with its robust growth guided by a government that quashed the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests but now wins plaudits even from many Western business leaders who concede that it is often better at getting things done than querulous democracies.

But just as the Authoritarian International drew strength from the Chinese model and the so-called “Beijing Consensus” it inspired, the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia have been unsettling for the world’s unelected rulers.

“When you see somebody like Chávez in Venezuela reaching out to somebody like Ahmadinejad it is clear these authoritarian regimes are forming an alliance that helps them to maintain their control,” Aryeh Neier, the president of the Open Society foundations, said, referring to President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran. “If I were Hu Jintao,” he said of the Chinese president, “I would be nervous at this moment.”

If you happen to be a dictator, the scariest thing about the Egyptian uprising is its suddenness.

Mohamed A. El-Erian, chief executive of the bond giant Pimco, is the son of an Egyptian diplomat, holds an Egyptian passport, and spent much of his childhood in Egypt. He is an expert in emerging markets, where regime change is the norm, and he spent Christmas with his family in Egypt. But he, like everyone else, was taken by surprise.

“These processes aren’t linear,” Mr. El-Erian said. “Nothing happens, and nothing happens and nothing happens, and then everything happens. The protest movement got ahead of policy makers in both Egypt and the West.”


That was certainly true last week at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, which largely ignored the world-changing events in the Middle East in its long-set official program. Yet Egypt was the talk of the corridors and cafes, and, apart from the Arab participants, some of the most riveted were the Russians.

That is because, as the Russian opposition leader Boris Y. Nemtsov said by telephone from Moscow this week, “many in Russia are drawing direct parallels between Mubarak and Putin.”
A key similarity between the Egyptian leader and Prime Minister Valdimir V. Putin, in the view of
Mr. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and provincial governor, is that “both are corrupt regimes and both regimes have been about the enrichment of a small group of people around the leader.”

Mr. El-Erian agrees that the gap between the super-privileged and everyone else was an Achilles’ heel of the Mubarak regime.

That weakness was invisible — or deemed irrelevant — to many because of the growth of the economy overall.


But the lesson of history is that the most fragile authoritarian regimes aren’t necessarily the poorest ones. They are often those where the economy is doing reasonably well, but where gains are unequally shared. Hence, for example, the complaints in Tunisia about the enrichment of Leila Trabelsi, wife of the deposed president, and her family.
“In Egypt, there was an income distribution problem, even though the economy was growing impressively,” Mr. El-Erian said. “But there wasn’t enough trickle down.”

China’s mandarins are seen by some as the world’s smartest authoritarians. One example might be the information war that China has waged around the events in Egypt, restricting online access to independent news while in the official media emphasizing the “chaos” attendant upon the uprising.

Another is that Chinese leaders are conscious of their vulnerability to public perceptions that Communist Party rule is about enriching the cadres, rather than generating prosperity as a whole.
That is why the most surprising story out of China recently was the conviction of Li Qiming, son of a senior police official, who ran over and killed a young woman.

At some level, the Russians have listened. Speaking in Davos before the uprising in Egypt had gathered true force, President Dmitri A. Medvedev said: “What happened in Tunisia, I think, is quite a substantial lesson to learn for any authorities. The authorities must not simply sit in their convenient chairs but develop themselves together with the society. When the authorities don’t catch up with the development of the society, don’t meet the aspiration of the people, the outcome is very sad.”

Mr. Nemtsov doesn’t think that Russia’s rulers will necessarily heed that advice. Russia has oil, he noted, “but the Russian regime is so corrupt it requires the price of oil to constantly increase. Oil won’t save Putin.”


For the West, one conclusion must be that even though authoritarian plutocrats can be easier to work with than dissidents — a few weeks ago, Hillary Rodham Clinton, the U.S. secretary of state, has spoken publicly about her warm personal friendship with Mr. Mubarak and his wife, Suzanne, who has upheld women’s rights — staying close to the activists is not just morally justifiable, it is pragmatic, too.

Carl Bildt, the Swedish foreign minister, wrote in an e-mail that one indirect consequence of the uprising in Egypt will be that “Western governments will be more alert to the need to reach out to civil society in these societies and be more proactive on some sort of democracy agenda.”

He sent that message from Warsaw, where he was working to support the beleaguered opposition in Belarus.

Indeed, the hardest part of overthrowing authoritarian regimes is often the day after. “If you look at the most successful transitions — Poland, Mexico, Taiwan — they’ve been long hauls,” said Lucan Way, a political scientist at the University of Toronto. “You want there to be established oppositions, and that doesn’t happen in a two-week period.”

Mr. Silitski argues that the Authoritarian International was emboldened by the disappointing performances of the governments that were installed by the color revolutions — the Rose Revolution in Georgia, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan.

What one might dub the Democracy International could be needed now to prevent a similarly disappointing second act in the Arab world.

===

Gamal Mubarak (Arabic: جمال مبارك‎). Gamal Al Din Mohammed Hosni Sayed Mubarak (Arabic: جمال الدين محمد حسنى سيد مبارك‎, IPA: [ɡæˈmæːl edˈdiːn muˈħæmed ˈħosni muˈbɑːɾɑk]), born 1963, is the younger of the two sons of current Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Suzanne Mubarak (the First Lady). In contrast to his older brother Alaa, Gamal has pursued an active public profile and was starting to wield some influence on political life in the country before the current unrest.

For his early education, Gamal Mubarak attended St. George's College, Cairo before entering the American University in Cairo. He graduated with a Business Degree from the university and he claims he also earned an MBA from the school.[citation needed] He began his professional life working for Bank of America's Egyptian branch. He was then transferred to the London branch, ultimately becoming one of its executives[citation needed]. He worked primarily in the field of investment banking.

With a few colleagues, Mubarak left Bank of America to set up London-based Medinvest Associates Ltd, which manages a private equity fund, and to do some corporate finance consultancy work.[2] His role with Medinvest has since ended.

He is also the Chairman of the Future Generation Foundation (FGF), an NGO dedicated to job training, and an honorary member of the Rotary, which was awarded to him in May 2000 by then Rotary International president Frank Devlyn.[3]

[edit] Inheritance of PowerThe grooming of Gamal Mubarak to be his father's successor as the next president of Egypt became increasingly evident at around the year 2000.[4] With no vice-president, and with no heir-apparent in sight, Gamal started enjoying considerable attention in the Egyptian media.[5] Bashar al-Asad's rise to power in Syria in June 2000 just hours after Hafez al-Asad's death, sparked a heated debate in the Egyptian press regarding the prospects for a similar scenario occurring in Cairo.[6]

Both President Mubarak and his son have denied the possibility of any inheritance of power in Egypt, although this is widely speculated. Most recently, this claim was made in early 2006, when Gamal Mubarak declared repeatedly that he has no aspiration to succeed his father, but that he will maintain his position in the NDP as deputy secretary general, a post he holds in addition to heading the party's policy committee, probably the most important organ of the NDP.[7]

In September 2004 several political groups (most are unofficial), on both the left and the right, announced their sharp opposition to the inheritance of power. They demanded political change and asked for a fair election with more than one candidate.[8]

On February 26, 2005, Mubarak ordered the constitution changed to allow multi-candidate presidential elections before September 2005 by asking parliament to amend Article 76 of the Egyptian constitution. This change in the constitution is seen by some analysts as a ploy to seamlessly allow Gamal Mubarak to inherit the top position in Egypt. According to this view, Gamal Mubarak would be one of the candidates in a presidential elections and would be supported by the ruling party and the government-controlled media. Since remaining serious candidates would be disqualified by the NDP-controlled People's Assembly leaving only the less popular candidates, the inheritance of power would be accomplished through a "democratic" process.

Following the commencement of the 2011 Egyptian protests, Omar Suleiman was appointed the vice-president of Egypt on January 29 2011.[9] Suleiman announced on 3 February 2011 that Gamal Mubarak would not seek election. There are speculations as to his whereabouts following the unrest in the country where confirmed reports have surfaced he has left the country with his family to an undisclosed location in Latin America most likely Brazil.[10]

===

It's time for Obama to say Kefaya!

He took the White House armed with hope and promise of change, but has Obama already been beaten down by Washington?
Mark LeVine Last Modified: 25 Jan 2011 18:55 GMT
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Obama ended last year's State of the Union address by vowing not to quit in the face of challenges [GALLO/GETTY]
Please read the second update (2/2/11) at the end of this article.

The democracy protests that swept Tunisian President Zine el Abedine Ben Ali from power are going viral, but sadly President Obama and other Western leaders seem immune.

Indeed, it is quite likely that the president and his colleagues in Europe are as frightened of the potential explosion of people power across the Middle East and North Africa as are the sclerotic(The tough white fibrous outer envelope of tissue covering all of the eyeball except the cornea. ) autocratic leaders of the region against whom the protests are being directed.

The question is, why?

Why would Obama, who worked so hard to reach out to the Muslim world with his famous 2009 speech in Cairo, be standing back quietly while young people across the region finally take their fate into their own hands and push for real democracy?

Shouldn't the president of the United States be out in front, supporting non-violent democratic change across the world's most volatile region?
The known knowns

The answer, as is increasingly the case, comes from the ever-growing cache of leaked documents from WikiLeaks and other sources that are providing inside evidence of America's true interests and intentions in the Middle East.

Specifically, as The Palestine Papers revealed by al Jazeera demonstrate (and which I will analyse in more detail in my next column), the US under Obama-as much if not more so than under his predecessor-demands that leaders remain in place who will do its bidding even if it means subverting the will of the citizens of a country and maintaining a system that manifestly harms their interests.

Thus the administration at least twice threatened to cut funding to the Palestinian Authority if elections were called and anyone other than Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad remained in power.

And it actively works with Israeli and Palestinian security services to deny the democratic will of Palestinians.

What is clear, then, is that Obama not only prefers the status quo, but the United States will actively subvert democracy in order to ensure that governments that will follow its policies remain in power.

If the administration has taken such an anti-democratic line with Palestinians, imagine how it must feel about the protests that have just exploded in Egypt, where substantive democratic change and a truly representative government would no doubt be far less amenable to US policies and strategic objectives regarding Israel and the war on terror than is Mubarak's.

Such a position is as tragic as it is stupid, as the president has been offered an unprecedented and until a few weeks ago unimaginable opportunity to back radical but peaceful change that is not stained by Western intervention in a region that everyone believes must undergo such change in order to prevent it becoming even more of a hotbed for terrorism and anti-Western sentiments.

There is no one in the intelligence community who does not know this, and as the numerous diplomatic cables brought to light by WikiLeaks have revealed, our diplomats across the region are equally aware of the corrosive effects of rampant government corruption, violence and authoritarianism on their societies as well.

The tyranny of the status quo

So the question really needs to be asked - whose interests is President Obama serving by remaining silently supportive of the status quo when he could, and by any measure, should, be lending vocal, public support for the peoples of the Arab world as they finally rise up against their leaders?

Is it companies like Lockheed Martin, the massive defence contractor whose tentacles reach deep into every part of the fabric of governance (as revealed by William Hartung's powerful new book, Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military Industrial Complex)?

Is it the superbanks who continue to rake in profits from an economy that is barely sputtering along, and who have joined with the military industrial complex's two principal axes-the arms and the oil industries-to form an impregnable triangle of corrupt economic and political power?

It's hard to think of any other candidates at the present time.

Tonight in his State of the Union address the world will learn whether President Obama has any of his once celebrated vision, courage and audacity left in him, or if he's been so thoroughly beaten down by the forces that actually run Washington that he can barely muster support for the young people around the Arab world who are increasingly saying "Kefaya", Enough!, to their governments, and the larger global system that has kept them in power for so long.

It's probably too much to ask the President to say "Kefaya" to the forces that have so circumscribed his once progressive vision.

But it would be nice if he could at least offer a few words of support to the people of Tunisia, and now Egypt and other countries across the region, who are actually following the example of the United States and fighting for their freedom.

Update: In his State of the Union speech, the President did not mention Egypt at all. He did mention Tunisia, declaring "we saw the desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: The United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

"That is a nice sentiment, but it's both a "day late," since the revolution has already succeeded, and glaring in its omission of Egypt, whose capitol was burning as he made the speech. Indeed, earlier in the day Secretary of State Clinton declared, "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable and is looking for ways to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people." If this is Obama's official policy, then the intifada in Egypt risks becoming a revolution against the US as much as against Mubarak, with far reaching consequences across the Muslim world.

Update II (2/2/11): As I write this, the curfew in in Cairo has prevented my flight from arriving there. For the last week President Obama has apparently worked with the leadership of Egypt to formulate a plant to ease Mubarak out while retaining the existing political-military-security structure in place. It must be remembered here that the tanks in Egypt's streets are American made Abrams; the planes that buzzed Tahrir square are paid for by American tax dollars. The newly appointed Vice President, Omar Suleiman, isn't just the former intelligence chief, but is someone who personally supervised the detention and torture of victims of CIA-rendition. He is, as much as Mubarak, "America's man."

The evidence strongly points to the attacks on protesters as being regime-authorised and organised-- Unorganised mobs don't truck in camels and horses from the pyramids or arrive by the busload. The frightening part is, it is highly unlikely that US intelligence officials weren't aware of Mubarak's and Soliman's plans to foment chaos and violence, order the army to stand by while it unfolded, and then have them call for protesters to leave, thus providing a pretext for further violence against protesters. And yet Obama has continued to resist endorsing the protesters' call for his immediate resignation.

These are the wages of Obama's unwillingness to take a direct, early, public and forceful stand in full support of the pro-democracy movement. His wavering and sending back-door diplomats only gives the impression that the US is either working with the regime to help quash the protests and enable Mubarak to stay on long enough to ensure a new government continues to follow American policies, or at the very least has done nothing to stop this process from unfolding.

But Egyptians will remember this, and whether or not Mubarak succeeds in holding on to power till the fall, it is likely that the Egyptian people will hold President Obama and the United States at least partly responsible for the bloodshed that is threatening to destroy their revolution.





Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden. His most recent books are Heavy Metal Islam (Random House) and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books).
====


It's not radical Islam that worries the US – it's independence

The nature of any regime it backs in the Arab world is secondary to control. Subjects are ignored until they break their chains


Comments (206)
Noam Chomsky guardian.co.uk, Friday 4 February 2011 16.30 GMT Article history'The Arab world is on fire," al-Jazeera reported last week, while throughout the region, western allies "are quickly losing their influence". The shock wave was set in motion by the dramatic uprising in Tunisia that drove out a western-backed dictator, with reverberations especially in Egypt, where demonstrators overwhelmed a dictator's brutal police.

Observers compared it to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are important differences. Crucially, no Mikhail Gorbachev exists among the great powers that support the Arab dictators. Rather, Washington and its allies keep to the well-established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it conforms to strategic and economic objectives: fine in enemy territory (up to a point), but not in our backyard, please, unless properly tamed.

One 1989 comparison has some validity: Romania, where Washington maintained its support for Nicolae Ceausescu, the most vicious of the east European dictators, until the allegiance became untenable. Then Washington hailed his overthrow while the past was erased. That is a standard pattern: Ferdinand Marcos, Jean-Claude Duvalier, Chun Doo-hwan, Suharto and many other useful gangsters. It may be under way in the case of Hosni Mubarak, along with routine efforts to try to ensure a successor regime will not veer far from the approved path. The current hope appears to be Mubarak loyalist General Omar Suleiman, just named Egypt's vice-president. Suleiman, the longtime head of the intelligence services, is despised by the rebelling public almost as much as the dictator himself.

A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant) opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. The US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent the threat of secular nationalism.

A familiar example is Saudi Arabia, the ideological centre of radical Islam (and of Islamic terror). Another in a long list is Zia ul-Haq, the most brutal of Pakistan's dictators and President Reagan's favorite, who carried out a programme of radical Islamisation (with Saudi funding).

"The traditional argument put forward in and out of the Arab world is that there is nothing wrong, everything is under control," says Marwan Muasher, a former Jordanian official and now director of Middle East research for the Carnegie Endowment. "With this line of thinking, entrenched forces argue that opponents and outsiders calling for reform are exaggerating the conditions on the ground."

Therefore the public can be dismissed. The doctrine traces far back and generalises worldwide, to US home territory as well. In the event of unrest, tactical shifts may be necessary, but always with an eye to reasserting control.

The vibrant democracy movement in Tunisia was directed against "a police state, with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights problems", ruled by a dictator whose family was hated for their venality. So said US ambassador Robert Godec in a July 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks.

Therefore to some observers the WikiLeaks "documents should create a comforting feeling among the American public that officials aren't asleep at the switch" – indeed, that the cables are so supportive of US policies that it is almost as if Obama is leaking them himself (or so Jacob Heilbrunn writes in The National Interest.)

"America should give Assange a medal," says a headline in the Financial Times, where Gideon Rachman writes: "America's foreign policy comes across as principled, intelligent and pragmatic … the public position taken by the US on any given issue is usually the private position as well."

In this view, WikiLeaks undermines "conspiracy theorists" who question the noble motives Washington proclaims.

Godec's cable supports these judgments – at least if we look no further. If we do,, as foreign policy analyst Stephen Zunes reports in Foreign Policy in Focus, we find that, with Godec's information in hand, Washington provided $12m in military aid to Tunisia. As it happens, Tunisia was one of only five foreign beneficiaries: Israel (routinely); the two Middle East dictatorships Egypt and Jordan; and Colombia, which has long had the worst human-rights record and the most US military aid in the hemisphere.

Heilbrunn's exhibit A is Arab support for US policies targeting Iran, revealed by leaked cables. Rachman too seizes on this example, as did the media generally, hailing these encouraging revelations. The reactions illustrate how profound is the contempt for democracy in the educated culture.

Unmentioned is what the population thinks – easily discovered. According to polls released by the Brookings Institution in August, some Arabs agree with Washington and western commentators that Iran is a threat: 10%. In contrast, they regard the US and Israel as the major threats (77%; 88%).

Arab opinion is so hostile to Washington's policies that a majority (57%) think regional security would be enhanced if Iran had nuclear weapons. Still, "there is nothing wrong, everything is under control" (as Muasher describes the prevailing fantasy). The dictators support us. Their subjects can be ignored – unless they break their chains, and then policy must be adjusted.

Other leaks also appear to lend support to the enthusiastic judgments about Washington's nobility. In July 2009, Hugo Llorens, U.S. ambassador to Honduras, informed Washington of an embassy investigation of "legal and constitutional issues surrounding the 28 June forced removal of President Manuel 'Mel' Zelaya."

The embassy concluded that "there is no doubt that the military, supreme court and national congress conspired on 28 June in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the executive branch". Very admirable, except that President Obama proceeded to break with almost all of Latin America and Europe by supporting the coup regime and dismissing subsequent atrocities.

Perhaps the most remarkable WikiLeaks revelations have to do with Pakistan, reviewed by foreign policy analyst Fred Branfman in Truthdig.
The cables reveal that the US embassy is well aware that Washington's war in Afghanistan and Pakistan not only intensifies rampant anti-Americanism but also "risks destabilising the Pakistani state" and even raises a threat of the ultimate nightmare: that nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists.

Again, the revelations "should create a comforting feeling … that officials are not asleep at the switch" (Heilbrunn's words) – while Washington marches stalwartly toward disaster.

© 2011 Noam Chomsky

====


An Egyptian journalist who was shot in the head while filming protests against Egyptian President Mubarak from the balcony of his home last Saturday died of his injuries on Friday, his wife told Al Jazeera TV earlier. Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud worked with the state-owned daily al-Ahram, and is the first journalist known to have died so far in the uprising. Read more at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/5/2011 3:49:30 AM6:49
ReplyHere’s the latest from our correspondents on the ground in Cairo:

With the unrest entering its 12th day, protesters camped out in Tahrir Square, the hub of demonstrations in the heart of Cairo, prepared on Saturday to wait President Hosni Mubarak out.

"Mubarak must go, Mubarak must go" and "Hold your ground, God is with us," someone shouted over a loud speaker, after a brief burst of heavy gunfire shortly before 2 a.m. local time.

The origin of the gunfire was unclear and there were no reports of casualties. One protester said the army, which is separating pro-democracy supporters and Mubarak loyalists after violent clashes earlier this week, had fired in the air.

Television footage later showed people milling around but there was no sign of violence.

Read the full wrap-up at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/5/2011 3:21:58 AM6:21
We know plenty about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s political life, but an ABC News investigation sheds some new light on a matter more personal to the embattled leader: his family’s wealth. According to the report, some experts estimate the Mubarak family’s net worth to be somewhere in the range of $40 to $70 billion, much of that built from military contracts during his tenure as an air force officer. Read the full story at abcnews.go.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/5/2011 2:48:27 AM5:48

Protesters march in support of the Egyptian protesters and against the Egyptian government along 42nd St. past the Empire State Building in New York February 4, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
by Matt Reeder at 2/5/2011 12:42:29 AM3:42
It's just after 2 a.m. in Egypt. Our Cairo newsroom is reporting heavy gunfire in Tahrir Square. It's not clear if anyone has been hurt. We'll bring more updates as we have them.
by Matt Reeder at 2/5/2011 12:12:21 AM3:12
Alexander Dziadosz has been a correspondent for Reuters in Egypt since October, 2009. He's been covering the events on the ground in Egypt this week. Here he gives a first-hand account of an encounter with Egyptian police and unidentified armed men in a Cairo slum on Friday. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/4/2011 11:53:28 PM2:53

New video from the Reuters TV team of Obama's statements earlier.
by Matt Reeder at 2/4/2011 10:49:08 PM1:49
An update from our correspondents Arshad Mohammed and Matt Spetalnick in Washington on President Obama’s comments Friday about the political situation in Egypt:

"President Barack Obama on Friday appealed to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to make the "right decision" as the United States kept up its push for an orderly transition of power in the face of mass protests.

Obama stopped short of calling for Mubarak to immediately resign -- the demand of the thousands of protesters on the streets of Cairo. But Obama pointedly noted that the Egyptian president has already made a decision not to run re-election.

Obama told reporters that in their two conversations since mass protests against Mubarak's 30-year rule began 11 days ago he stressed the need for an orderly transition to democracy in the country, long a cornerstone of U.S. Middle East strategy.

"Having made that psychological break, that decision that he will not be running again, I think the most important thing for him to ask himself ... is how do we make that transition effective and lasting and legitimate," Obama said at a news conference."

Read more www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder edited by Matt Reeder at 7:17
CPJ reporting first jouranlist death in Egypt. Al Ahram newspaper are also carrying the story. cpj.org
comment by Elena at 2/4/2011 9:16:55 PM0:16

"Revolution-ing -- in style! (Cairo University professor Kamal Mogith)" on Tahrir Square taken just now by @TravellerW

by storyful at 2/4/2011 9:03:34 PM0:03

"In Tahrir: one of my fav posters thus far (fyi the art has been amazing) -- Egypt personified as bride, pulled by both Mubarak and people." Taken earlier today by US journalist @LaurenBohn

===

4 February 2011 Last updated at 12:37 GMT Share this pageFacebookTwitter ShareEmail Print

Egypt crisis 'costing economy $310m a day' Credit Agricole has revised down its estimate for Egypt's economic growth this year Continue reading the main story
Egypt UnrestEgypt unrest
Live
Obama pushes further
Media struggle
Military at heart of state
Egypt's uprising is costing the country at least $310m (£192m) a day, according to analysis from Credit Agricole bank.

Economists at the bank have also revised down their economic growth estimate for Egypt this year from 5.3% to 3.7%.
Banks and the stock exchange have been closed for days, and many factories in the major cities have shut.

There have also been more food price rises, one reason tens of thousands of protesters were already on the streets.

Egypt is still in the middle of its peak tourist season, which commonly lasts until May, but airlines and travellers are shunning the destination.

The Suez Canal trade link, which earned Egypt revenues of $4.77bn in 2010, remains open. But Denmark's AP Moller-Maersk, the world's largest shipping group, has closed some facilities, including a canal terminal.
The building materials group Lafarge has also closed plants.

==

Egyptian residents in Japan shout slogans during a rally against Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in Tokyo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Issei Kato
by Allan Shifman at 10:49
ReplyResidents in the area near the site of the pipeline explosion reported a huge blast and said flames are still raging.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 10:47
Egyptian authorities have turned off the flow through a pipeline supplying gas to Israel after an earlier explosion, says a security source.
by Reuters_RossChainey edited by Reuters_RossChainey at 10:42
Friday was a time for the pro-democracy demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square to consolidate their gains, says Al Jazeera. english.aljazeera.net
by Reuters_RossChainey at 10:33
Saboteurs have taken advantage of the security situation in Egypt to blow up a gas pipeline that runs through North Sinai and supplies gas to Israel, according to state television.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 10:29
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan tells the BBC in a telephone interview that he is expecting banks to reopen on Sunday, and the Stock Market to resume work on Monday.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 10:28
More on that meeting from Reuters' Marwa Awad and Andrew Hammond: "Vice President Omar Suleiman was due to meet a group of prominent figures on Saturday to examine a proposed solution under which he would assume the president's powers for an interim period, one of the group's members said." uk.reuters.com
by Reuters_RossChainey at 10:24
BBC reports that members of the government and opposition leaders may meet later today.

===

Saboteurs attack Egypt-Israel gas pipeline - report
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CAIRO | Sat Feb 5, 2011 7:56am GMT

CAIRO (Reuters) - Saboteurs blew up a pipeline that runs through Egypt's North Sinai and supplies gas to Israel, state television and other sources reported on Saturday.

State TV quoted an official as saying that the "situation is very dangerous and explosions were continuing from one spot to another" along the pipeline.

"It is a big terrorist operation," a state TV reporter said.

A security source said the Egyptian army closed the main source of gas supplying the pipeline.

"The armed forces and the authorities managed to close the main source of flow and are trying to control the fires," the source said.

Israel's National Infrastructure Ministry said it was looking into the incident.

Egypt is a modest gas exporter, using pipelines to export gas to Israel and also to Jordan and other regional states. It also exports via liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities on its north coast, but those are not in the Sinai region.

State television said the pipeline that was attacked supplied both the Israeli and Jordanian gas lines.

Israel imports 40 percent of its natural gas from Egypt, in a deal built on their 1979 peace accord.

The SITE intelligence group, which monitors al Qaeda and other Islamist websites, said some groups had been urging Islamic militants to attack the pipeline to Israel.

"Saboteurs took advantage of the security situation and blew up the gas pipeline," a state television correspondent reported, saying there was a big explosion.

Residents in the area also reported a huge explosion and said flames were raging in an area near the pipeline in the El-Arish area of north Sinai.

"Jihadists suggested that Muslims in Sinai take advantage of Egyptian unrest and strike the Arish-Ashkelon gas pipeline, arguing that it would have a major impact on Israel," SITE said.
Site quoted one Islamist website author as saying: "To our brothers, the Bedouins of Sinai, the heroes of Islam, strike with an iron fist, because this is a chance to stop the supply to the Israelites."

Sinai Bedouins have long grumbled about being neglected and have often sporadically clashed with Egyptian security forces. Many Bedouin were rounded up after a series of explosions in Sinai tourists resorts between 2004 and 2006.

(Reporting by Tom Perry, Mohamed Abdellah and Samia Nakhoul in Cairo, Yusri Mohamed in Ismailia, Dan Williams and Doug Hamilton in Jerusalem; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

===

Soldiers stands near opposition supporters during prayers near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak, who has reshuffled his government but refused to step down, met some of the new ministers on Saturday, the state news agency said, in a clear rebuff to the hundreds of thousands of people publicly demanding the 82-year-old leader step down. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Shadia Ismail at 18:44
ReplyEgypt's Hossam Badrawi replaces Mubarak loyalist Safwat El-Sherif as secretary general of Egypt's ruling party. He also replaces Mubarak's son Gamal in ruling party - Al Arabyia TV
by Shadia Ismail at 18:29
Our colleagues in Cairo report that an Egyptian army commander has addressed thousands of protesters camped out at Tahrir Square in central Cairo. "You all have the right to express yourselves but please save what is left of Egypt. Look around you," Hassan al-Roweny said. The crowd responded with further chants calling on President Mubarak to step down.
by Reuters_RossChainey edited by Reuters_RossChainey at 18:06

Soldiers stand guard while opposition supporters pray near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Sharon Ho at 17:48
An explosion has hit a church in Rafah, near the Egyptian border with the Gaza Strip, according to eye witness reports. The source and the scale of the blast were not immediately clear. uk.reuters.com
by Reuters_RossChainey at 17:46
"Egypt's commercial banks will take a leap into the unknown when they reopen on Sunday after a week-long closure due to political unrest", writes Reuters' Patrick Werr. uk.reuters.com
by Reuters_RossChainey at 17:45
@LaraABCNews tweets: "Much heavier security presence on the streets of #Cairo today...more Army, more police #Egypt"
by Reuters_RossChainey edited by Reuters_RossChainey at 17:34

An opposition supporter stands at a barricade near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Sharon Ho at 17:21
More from that security meeting in Munich. The Quartet of Middle East peace negotiators say they would give high piority to the impact of the current unrest in Egypt on the stalled peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

In a draft statement due to be endorsed by the United Nations, European Union, Russia and the United States, they said further delays in resuming talks would be "detrimental to prospects for regional peace and security". uk.reuters.com
by Reuters_RossChainey edited by Reuters_RossChainey at 17:14
@sharifkouddous tweets: "Massive line to get in to Tahrir. They are letting ppl in 1 by 1 who have been waiting 3 hours. Demonstration may break out on the bridge."
by Reuters_RossChainey at 17:05

Opposition supporters protest on the frontline near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Sharon Ho at 17:03

Opposition supporters gesture on the front line near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Sharon Ho at 16:41
BBC Arabic correspondent Mustafa Menshawy says dozens of soldiers have attempted to remove barriers set up by the protestors at Tahrir Square www.bbc.co.uk
by Sharon Ho at 16:27
Egypt's central bank denies the Official News Agency report and says banks will open on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. and close at 1:30 p.m. as planned earlier.
by Sharon Ho at 16:06
The Official News Agency is reporting that Egypt's banks will open at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday and close at 1:30 p.m.
by Sharon Ho at 15:46

Egyptian army tanks move towards opposition supporters' front lines near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Sharon Ho at 15:44

An injured opposition supporter is carried after clashing with the army near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Steve Crisp
by Sharon Ho at 15:31

"Prayers at Egyptian museum. Soldiers on the scene." via @fpleitgenCNN
by storyful at 15:07
The message from Europe to Egypt today is, 'After Mubarak, don't rush election.' European powers Germany and Britain have urged Egypt to change leaders rapidly but take its time holding elections, saying traditions of tolerance and fairness had to be built to make democracy work. uk.reuters.com
by Reuters_RossChainey at 14:56
Egypt's Finance Minister says 1.5 billion Egyptian pounds have been set aside to finance wheat purchases. That's about $250 million.
by Reuters_RossChainey edited by Reuters_RossChainey at 14:56
Eye witness reports of the explosion at a gas pipeline in northern Egypt said the blast was huge. Our picture below appears to back this up.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 14:50

Flames are seen at the site of a pipeline blast in North Sinai February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Stringe
by Reuters_RossChainey at 14:48
If you are just joining us, here's a quick recap of the latest events in Egypt:

- Saboteurs blew up a gas pipeline in northern Egypt in a further sign of the country's instability on a 12th day of demonstrations on Saturday against the 30-year-rule of President Hosni Mubarak.

- Mubarak, who has reshuffled his government but refused to step down, met some of the new ministers on Saturday, the state news agency said, in a clear rebuff to the hundreds of thousands of people publicly demanding the 82-year-old leader step down.

- Western governments have expressed support for the demonstrators but some were cautious about expecting too much too fast.

"There will be change in Egypt ... but it needs to be change in such a way that it is peaceful and orderly," German Chancellor Angela Merkel told a security conference in Munich where world leaders will discuss how to proceed.

At the same time, British Prime Minister David Cameron called for a rapid transition to new leadership and political reform.

"The longer it is put off, the more likely we are to get an Egypt we wouldn't welcome," he said.

- Vice President Omar Suleiman was due to meet a group of prominent figures on Saturday to examine a proposed solution under which he would assume the president's powers for an interim period, one of the group's members said.

But with some of the protesters insisting they wanted not just Mubarak but also his allies out, it was unclear that would be enough to end the crisis.

- the prime minister said on Friday that it was unlikely the president would hand presidential powers to his newly appointed deputy, Al Arabiya television reported.

"We need the president to stay for legislative reasons," Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq was quoted as saying in a headline.

uk.reuters.com
by Reuters_RossChainey at 14:40
Egypt's stock exchange will remain closed on Monday, despite earlier reports that it would reopen. The reopening will be announced 48 hours beforehand, a bourse official said.

==

8:12pm in Egypt: Thousands more pro-democracy protesters flock to Tahrir Square amid reports of possible army evacuation of the square - Al Jazeera
by Shadia Ismail at 21:46
Reply
Opposition demonstrators stand behind a make-shift barricade on the front line near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Shadia Ismail at 21:38
What's astounded many about events in Cairo and across Egypt is how suddenly Egyptians have found their voice and the collective courage to criticise the regime. The format of this video is a little off, but the protester is very clear about wanting Mubarak and his aides out, and the reasons for the same.
by storyful at 20:50

Secretary of State Clinton warns of "perfect storm" in Middle East if Egypt fails to institute democratic reforms swiftly.

by Shadia Ismail edited by Shadia Ismail at 20:51

Hundreds of demonstrators protested in the French capital's Place de la Republique on Saturday in a show of solidarity with Egyptians in Cairo.

by Shadia Ismail edited by Shadia Ismail at 20:49
U.S. crisis envoy to Egypt Frank Wisner says that Mubarak must stay in power to steer changes.
by Shadia Ismail at 20:45
Despite suggestions that the protests were losing steam today, there was still a steady line of people queueing to get into Tahrir square and make their voice heard.
by storyful at 20:43

This screengrab of the feed from Al Arabiya is a good illustration of the constant flux of information coming from supposedly official channels in Egypt.

by storyful edited by storyful at 20:40

Demonstrations in Cairo continue for the 12th day.

by Shadia Ismail edited by Shadia Ismail at 20:41
U.S. views reports Gamal Mubarak has resigned from Egyptian ruling party as a positive step. The U.S. looks forward to additional steps toward political change in Egypt www.reuters.com
by Shadia Ismail edited by Shadia Ismail at 21:39
U.S. Egypt crisis envoy Frank Wisner says many risks remain but path to solution is opening.
by Shadia Ismail edited by Shadia Ismail at 20:25
Egyptian State TV retracts report that President Mubarak resigned as head of ruling party.
by Shadia Ismail at 20:21

People jog past a sand sculpture of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak created by the Indian sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik on a beach in Puri in the eastern Indian state of Bhubaneswar February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Stringer
by Shadia Ismail at 20:20
Egypt's Mubarak claims that the Muslim Brotherhood "orchestrated the mass protests that have brought his rule to the brink of collapse" www.reuters.com
by Shadia Ismail at 19:37
Egypt's State TV is reporting that Hosni Mubarak resigns as head of ruling party.
by Shadia Ismail edited by Shadia Ismail at 20:21

Soldiers move into position near Tahrir Square in Cairo February 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
===

http://www.nytimes.com/packages/flash/newsgraphics/2011/0128-cairo-map/index.html?hp
Mapping the Protests in Cairo, Day by Day
A map of some of the places where protesters rioted and clashed with the police in and around Cairo.
Updated: February 3, 2011

===

Cheney says Egypt's Mubarak "a good man"
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0diggsdiggEmailFactboxFactbox: Views of other countries on Egypt crisis
Fri, Feb 4 2011Related NewsU.S. backs Egypt transition, warns of attempts to derail
Sat, Feb 5 2011
Obama hopes Mubarak will make "the right decision"
Fri, Feb 4 2011
Egyptians demand Mubarak quit on "Departure Day"
Fri, Feb 4 2011
U.S. in talks over possible Mubarak departure
Fri, Feb 4 2011SANTA BARBARA, California | Sun Feb 6, 2011 6:33am GMT

SANTA BARBARA, California (Reuters) -
Former Vice President Dick Cheney praised Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday as "a good man" and a strong friend of the United States, but said the Egyptian people will decide his fate as leader.

"He's been a good man, he's been a good friend and ally to the United States, and we need to remember that," Cheney said during a question-and-answer session at a tribute to former U.S. President Ronald Reagan.

"In the end whatever comes next is going to be decided by the Egyptian people," he said.

The United States has urged long-time ally Egypt to immediately begin an orderly transition to democracy after days of massive street protests to end Mubarak's 30-year rule.

U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday the era of suppressing political dissent in Egypt was over and he hoped Mubarak would make "the right decision."

Cheney, a frequent critic of Obama, offered no opinions on Obama's handling of the crisis but said it was important to conduct diplomacy in private.

"It is very hard for some foreign leader to act on U.S. advice in a visible way," he said.

Cheney was U.S. defense secretary in 1990 when Iraq invaded Kuwait. He said Mubarak was a vital contributor to the military response against Iraq, granting overflight rights to U.S. planes and contributing troops to the war effort.

He declined to make a prediction about Mubarak's future.

"I don't know. But I also think there comes a time for everybody when it's time to hang it up and move on," he said.

"You get to the point where the years add up, the burdens become tougher to deal with. But as I say, that's a decision that only the Egyptians can make."

(Reporting by John Whitesides; editing by Anthony Boadle)

===

Egypt cbank sets 5.90 pound/dlr interbank rate
06 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


CAIRO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Egypt's central bank set a rate of 5.90 Egyptian pounds to the dollar in the interbank market on Sunday, indicating that it was going to defend the pound aggressively, a banker said.
"We'll see if it will be able to keep it at that rate," said the banker, who asked not to be identified.

The Egyptian pound last traded at 5.855 to the dollar before banks closed for one week because of political protests. (Reporting by Patrick Werr)

==

Egypt cbank to auction 15 bln EGP in T-bills Monday
06 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


Feb 6 (Reuters) - Egypt's central bank said it would auction 15 billion Egyptian pounds ($2.56 billion) in Treasury bills on Monday, the first auction after a week-long closure by Egyptian banks caused by political protests.

The bank will auction 8 billion pounds in 91-day bils, 5 billion pounds in 182-day bills and 2 billion pounds in 273-day bills. The settlement date is on Tuesday.
Following are Egyptian financial instruments on offer in the auction:


INSTRUMENT AUCTION DATE AMOUNT MATURITY 91-day T-bills 7/02/2011 8,000 10/05/2011 182-day -bills 7/02/2011 5,000 9/08/2011 273-day T-bills 7/02/2011 2,000 8/11/2011

NOTE - Amounts in millions of Egyptian pounds. ($1 = 5.8496 Egyptian pounds) (Reporting by Mohamed Samir in Cairo, Writing by Patrick Werr)

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Customers queue at Egypt banks after protests
06 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* First day of opening in a week

* Fears of panicked withdrawals


By Patrick Werr and Marwa Awad

CAIRO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - A steady stream of employees flowed into Cairo's financial district and customers queued to access their accounts on Sunday, the first day for the country's banks to open after a week-long closure due to political protests.

Bankers are bracing for chaos in dealing rooms with foreign investors and local businessmen fleeing the Egyptian pound after the street protests paralysed much of the economy and dried up important sources of foreign exchange.

Armoured personnel carriers stood guard at intersections where soldiers had erected sandbag barriers, as buses dropped employees off at large state banks.

Outside the banks, dozens of customers were waiting to enter when they open for public business at 10:00 a.m. (0800 GMT).

"We have to have some order around here. People are anxious to get paid and pull money out. It has been almost two weeks and life is at a standstill," said Metwali Sha'ban, a volunteer making a list of customers to organise who would enter first.

With the political crisis still unresolved, banks may see panicky withdrawals of cash by Egyptians worried that access to their deposits could be restricted again.

Banks may also be nervous to trade with each other in the domestic money markets, a source of funding for them.

Some 341 bank branches, including 152 in Cairo, are opening across the country.

In nearby Tahrir Square, the focal point of nearly two weeks of protests against President Hosni Mubarak, soldiers were opening the doors of the main government administrative building, the Mugamma.
A line of Egyptians was lining up at doors in the back of the building that does not face onto the square.


==
Govt aims to get Egyptians back to work06 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Bank reopening will show economic toll from protests

* U.S. backs gradual, orderly change

* ElBaradei says protesters will not give up


By Patrick Werr and Alexander Dziadosz

CAIRO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - President Hosni Mubarak's government aimed to get people back to work on Sunday with banks and businesses reopening, in the first clear test of how far his opponents can keep up the momentum of protests to force him out.

Protesters camped out in Cairo's Tahrir Square vowed to continue their battle to oust Mubarak, but the 82-year-old president insists he will stay until September polls.

And with some Egyptians keen for a return to normal, the government appears to be trying to emphasise the threat to stability and the economy from the protests, and tough it out.

The reopening of banks at the start of Egypt's working week will give the first clear indication of the economic toll of almost two weeks of protests against Mubarak's 30-year rule.

"We want people to go back to work and to get paid, and life to get back to normal," Egyptian army commander Hassan al-Roweny said. He was touring Tahrir Square to try to convince protesters to leave the usually busy intersection at the heart of the city. The United States, Egypt's ally and aid donor, is stressing the need for gradual change and talks between the government and opposition groups on an orderly handover of power.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday threw her weight behind talks between Mubarak's handpicked vice president, Omar Suleiman, and opposition groups, saying the government's dialogue with the opposition must be given time.

Suleiman is due to meet opposition groups at 11:00 a.m (0900 GMT) on Sunday in talks joined for the first time by the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's most organised opposition group.

"We have decided to engage in a round of dialogue to ascertain the seriousness of officials towards the demands of the people and their willingness to respond to them," a spokesman for the banned Brotherhood told Reuters on Saturday.

It is testimony to the ground protesters have gained that the government is willing to talk to the group.

But opposition activists are concerned about any compromise which would see Mubarak hand over powers to Suleiman but also serve out his term -- essentially relying on the old authoritarian system to pave the way to full civilian democracy.

"To hear ... that Mubarak should stay and lead the process of change, and that the process of change should essentially be led by his closest military adviser ... would be very, very disappointing," opposition activist Mohamed ElBaradei said.

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For all stories on the crisis, click on [nLDE70O2DA]

Mubarak interview with ABC http://link.reuters.com/red87r

Protest timeline http://link.reuters.com/zyc77r

For graphics, click on http://r.reuters.com/nym77r

Live Blog http://live.reuters.com/UK/Event/Unrest_in_Egypt

Column on effect on Egypt's financial system [nLDE7120R1]

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CITY CENTRE PARALYSED

At Tahrir Square, army tanks on Saturday sought to squeeze demonstrators to make way for traffic. Protesters, huddled under tents to escape a rare rain shower, refused to leave.

"It is very clear that they are trying to suffocate us. This shows ill intent. But we are not moving until our legitimate demands are met," one protester, Moustafa Mohamed, said.

But many Egyptians, even some who joined massive countrywide demonstrations, are desperate for return to normal life.

Many shops have been closed during 12 days of protests and banks have been shut, making it hard for Egyptians to stock up on basic goods. Some prices have been pushed up, and economic growth, which was running at 6 percent, is expected to suffer.

Some also see challenge in keeping anti-government ranks united, with the opposition already showing signs of splintering over its earlier stance that there could be no talks until Mubarak quit.

"Until now there is no agreement among the various parties and factions on one scenario," Mohammed Morsy, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters.

Sunday's bank openings will test how worried foreign investors are about the events that have sent shockwaves across the Middle East. Egypt was inspired by a Tunisian revolt. Since then protests have spread to Yemen and Jordan.

Egypt closed its banks and the stock exchange for a week during the protests that have driven away a million tourists -- one of Egypt's main sources of revenues.

The central bank has insisted it has the reserves to deal with any outflows, which could hit $8 billion in two weeks the governor said, saying Egypt had handled bigger outflows.

"I am confident that the market will be orderly," governor Farouk el-Okdah said.

But analysts say there may be chaos in bank dealing rooms as foreign investors and local businessmen flee the Egyptian pound, which tumbled to six-year lows in the two days the market was open after Jan. 25.

The stock exchange's sudden decision on Saturday to stay closed on Monday next week, instead of reopening as originally planned, suggests authorities are not confident that the financial system will resume smooth operations quickly.

Many protesters, however, including the youth who used the Internet to mobilise mass support for change, are unlikely to deterred by market turbulence. ElBaradei said there was a "hard core" who would not give up as long as Mubarak held onto power.

"It might not be every day but what I hear is that they might stage demonstrations every other day," he said.

"The difference is that it would become more angry and more vicious. And I do not want to see it turning from a beautiful, peaceful revolution into a bloody revolution."

The United Nations estimates 300 people have died in the unrest and the health minister has said around 5,000 people have been wounded since Jan. 25. (Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Marwa Awad, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, Sherine El Madany, Jonathan Wright, Andrew Hammond, Tom Perry and Alison Williams in Cairo; Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Myra MacDonald)

===

U.S. in talks over possible Mubarak departureTweet this
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0diggsdiggEmailRelated NewsObama hopes Mubarak will make "the right decision"
Fri, Feb 4 2011
U.S. discussing transition plan with Egyptians
Fri, Feb 4 2011
U.S. discussing with Egypt ways of moving to transition
Fri, Feb 4 2011
Mubarak says resigning would bring chaos
Thu, Feb 3 2011
Lawmakers demand Mubarak transfer power in Egypt
Thu, Feb 3 2011
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman (C) arrives for a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his office in Gaza City, in this file picture taken August 29, 2005.
Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem/Files
By Steve Holland and Susan Cornwell

WASHINGTON | Fri Feb 4, 2011 5:41am GMT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials said on Thursday they were discussing with Egyptians different scenarios for a transition of power, including one in which President Hosni Mubarak leaves office immediately.

"That's one scenario," said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity. "There are a number of scenarios, but (it is) wrong to suggest we have discussed only one with the Egyptians."

The New York Times reported on Thursday the Obama administration was talking with Egyptian officials about a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately.

The White House would not confirm the Times report but said discussions have been under way with Egyptians in an attempt to resolve the 10-day crisis in Egypt.

Violence has raged between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators after Mubarak declared he would resist demands to leave now and would remain in power until September.

Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said President Barack Obama has said now is the time to begin "a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations."

"We have discussed with the Egyptians a variety of different ways to move that process forward, but all of those decisions must be made by the Egyptian people," Vietor said.
More than one option was under discussion, a senior administration official said.

Obama and his top aides have carefully avoided calling for Mubarak's resignation, instead insisting that an orderly transition "must begin now" and raising doubts about Mubarak's plans to stay in power until September.

The Times reported that under a proposal discussed with high-level Egyptian officials, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke to Suleiman on Thursday and urged that "credible, inclusive negotiations begin immediately in order for Egypt to transition to a democratic government."

Biden urged the Egyptian government to ensure no violence breaks out and appealed for the release of detained journalists and human rights advocates as the possibility of a new round of rioting loomed on Friday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that he hoped the situation would "evolve peacefully so that the Egyptian people can end up with the government that they want."

Mullen has praised the Egyptian military's restraint in the face of the anti-government protests in recent days and stressed on Thursday that Egyptian top brass had told him they would not engage in a violent crackdown.

"In discussions I've had with their military leadership, they have reassured me that they have no intent to fire on their own people," he said in an interview on "The Daily Show."

===

Reuters' Marwa Awad tells us that attendees of the meeting led by Egypt's Vice-President include members of secular opposition parties, independent legal experts and business tycoon Naguib Sawiris. A representative of opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei was also there.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 10:50:35 AM13:50
ReplyEgypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman has begun talks with opposition leaders, including the Muslim Brotherhood, state news reports.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 10:42:51 AM13:42
John Simpson, writing in the Daily Telegraph, says the crisis in Egypt has revolutionary parallels with Iran and China. www.telegraph.co.uk
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 10:40:09 AM13:40
Services to remember those who have died during the protests will be held at churches across Cairo later today. Meanwhile, those still at Tahrir Square are saying prayers for those who were killed.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 10:38:06 AM13:38

by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 10:25:07 AM13:25
Egyptians, living in Finland's capital Helsinki, showed their support to anti-government protesters past Saturday, by the Egyptian Embassy
comment by Alena at 2/6/2011 10:25:03 AM13:25
Hague: This is a time of opportunity for the Middle East. Leaders can show that there is irrevocable change taking place.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 9:44:09 AM12:44
The UK Foreign Secretary is also on this morning's Andrew Marr show (BBC). William Hague says Britain and other nations do not have the right to choose Egypt's President, but we are allowed to protest at mobile phone networks being blocked and physical abuse of protesters.

The process of change is what matters, not that it happens on a particular date, he adds.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 9:43:50 AM12:43
Egypt's Minister of Antiquities, Zahi Hawass, tells the BBC's Andrew Marr that President Mubarak's state of mind is "fine". Mubarak wants to stay, and the majority of Egyptian people would like him to stay. Egypt needs a smooth transition of power and the only man who can do that is President Mubarak, he adds.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 9:36:42 AM12:36
The Independent's Robert Fisk writes that Mubarak is on the cusp of a final departure. "The old man is going. The resignation last night of the leadership of the ruling Egyptian National Democratic Party – including Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal – will not appease those who want to claw the President down. But they will get their blood. The whole vast edifice of power which the NDP represented in Egypt is now a mere shell, a propaganda poster with nothing behind it." www.independent.co.uk
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 9:22:13 AM12:22
Michael Levy, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's special envoy to the Middle East, tells the BBC's Andrew Marr show that in his opinion Mubarak will certainly have to step down, the only question is when. Mubarak's son, Gamal, will not take over, he adds.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 9:14:37 AM12:14
"It is impossible to overstate the angst, even hysteria, that Israelis are feeling about their neighborhood as they watch what is unfolding in the streets of Cairo," writes Aaron David Miller in the Washington Post. www.washingtonpost.com
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 9:09:58 AM12:09
The Egyptian pound opened at 5.892 to the U.S. dollar before weakening to around 5.9, according to central bank Deputy Governor Hisham Ramez. The pound last traded at 5.855 before banks closed for a week due to the protests.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 8:26:15 AM11:26
@Eyousry tweets: "Muslim prayers and Sunday mass today at noon in #Tahrir sq., praying and honoring the memory of those who died for our freedom #jan25 #Egypt."
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 8:16:09 AM11:16
My colleague Patrick Werr writes: "Egypt's central bank said it was not setting an Egyptian pound reference rate for the dollar in the interbank market ahead of the market opening on Sunday.

"A banker had earlier said the bank had set a reference rate for the pound at 5.90 to the dollar, compared to 5.855 to the dollar before banks closed for one week because of political protests."
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 8:13:28 AM11:13
Will it be chaos at the banks? There are fears of panicked withdrawals and bankers are bracing for chaos in dealing rooms with foreign investors and businessmen fleeing the Egyptian pound.
by Reuters_RossChainey at 2/6/2011 8:05:26 AM11:05
Egypt's banks are beginning to open their doors again after a week-long closure due to the protests. Reuters' Patrick Werr and Marwa Awad report steady streams of employees flowing into Cairo's financial district and customers queuing to access their accounts on Sunday. uk.reuters.com

===

Naguib SawirisFrom Wikipedia,

Naguib SawirisNaguib Onsi Sawiris (15 June 1954) (also: Sawires, Arabic: نجيب ساويرس) is an Egyptian business pioneer who transformed his telecommunications company Orascom Telecom Holding (OTH) to become one of the leading telecom players in the world. He is currently the Executive Chairman of OTH, Executive Chairman of Wind Telecom (former Weather Investments) and Chairman of the board of Wind Telecomunicazioni SpA (in Italy). His outspoken, flamboyant and charismatic traits have made him an icon in the telecom field, among his 20,000 employees worldwide as well as a magnet for the media. However the vision and decisions that he made has certainly affirmed OTH’s position in the telecom world arena. He started the company with launching the first mobile operator in Egypt, Mobinil. He then went on expanding; currently OTH operates in 12 countries. His success at the beginning can be attributed to the boldness in his decisions, operating in high growth markets as well as having operated in regions that no other company dared to go. While OTH’s strategy was to target underpenetrated high population markets, now this strategy has changed as it started to pursue more developed markets with the latest launch of “Wind Mobile” in Canada in December 2009. He also made history in North Korea in 2008, by launching the first mobile operator there, “Koryolink”.

Contents [hide]
1 Background
2 Wind Telecom S.p.A.
3 Associations
4 Awards & recognitions
5 Education
6 Personal life
7 External links
8 See also
9 References

[edit] BackgroundSince joining Orascom, the family business, in 1979, Naguib Sawiris has continuously contributed to the growth and diversification of the company into what it is today – one of Egypt’s largest and most diversified conglomerates. The Orascom Group is the country’s largest private sector employer and has the largest market capitalization on the Cairo & Alexandria Stock Exchange. Naguib Sawiris established and built the railway, information technology, and telecommunications sectors of Orascom. The success of these ventures as well as the other sectors of the company led to the management’s decision to split Orascom into separate operating companies: Orascom Telecom (OT) www.orascomtelecom.com ,Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) www.orascomci.com ,Orascom Hotels & Development www.orascomhd.com and Orascom Technology Systems (OTS) www.ots.com.eg. Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E.(OTH) was established, in late 1997, and since then, has been chaired and led by Naguib Sawiris.[edit] Wind Telecom S.p.A.In early 2005, Naguib Sawiris founded Weather Investments and led the landmark leveraged buyout of a majority stake of Wind Telecommunications in Italy taking over management as its Chairman in late summer 2005. Almost a year after this important step, he led Weather Investment’s acquisition of Tim Hellas in Greece and re-branded it under the name “Wind Hellas. In November 2006, Wind Telecommunications floated the largest ever PIK debt in Europe with proceeds used to complete the buyout of Wind from ENEL resulting in the Sawiris Family owning 98% of Weather. These latest acquisitions mark a new milestone in Naguib Sawiris’ long and successful career journey in leading the international growth of his telecom empire. In January 2011, the company decided to change it's name, switching from "Weather Investments S.p.A." to "Wind Telecom S.p.A.", due to the intention to bring a new image to the group, focusing to the strong points as leading subject in telecommunications and capitalizing all the value and success achieved by the Wind brand in recent years, as declared by Khaled Bichara.

[edit] AssociationsAt international and regional levels, Naguib Sawiris serves on the following Boards, Committees and Councils:

- Member of the international advisory committee to the NYSE Board of Directors (IAC) since November 2005 - Board member of the International Advisory Board to the National Bank of Kuwait - President of the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce for 2008–2009 - Board member of the Supreme Council of Sciences and Technology formed by a presidential decree issued by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The council's board includes a galaxy of scientists including Nobel laureate Dr Ahmed Zewail, Dr Farouq el-Baz and Dr Magdy Yaqoub - Co-chair, the Egyptian Italian Business Council - Board member on both the Board of Trustees and the board of Directors of the Arab Thought Foundation - Board of Trustees member of the French University in Cairo - Board member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs - Board member of the Consumer Rights Protection Association of Egypt - Chairman of the Board of Endeavor

[edit] Awards & recognitionsIn January 2003, and in recognition of its regional role in the telecommunication industry, Orascom Telecom represented by Naguib Sawiris, was appointed as Board Member of the GSM Association. The appointment came as an acknowledgement of the group’s position as one of the largest ten operators based on subscriber numbers. Naguib Sawiris is also the recipient of numerous honorary degrees, industry awards and civic honors, including the “Legion d’honneur“ (the highest award given by the French Republic for outstanding services rendered to France), and the prestigious “Sitara-e-Quaid-e-Azam” award (conferred upon him in 2006 by General Pervez Musharref for services rendered to the people of Pakistan in the field of telecommunication, investments and social sector work).[edit] EducationNaguib Sawiris holds a Diplom (similar to a Master's) in Business Administration and Mechanical Engineering from the Swiss Institute of Technology (ETH), Zurich, Switzerland and the Abitur (diploma) from the German Protestant School, Cairo, Egypt.

[edit] Personal lifeNaguib Sawiris is the eldest of the three brothers, Nassef Sawiris and Samih Sawiris of the Orascom Empire of companies. He is the son of Onsi Sawiris who established the Orascom Group which split up into Orascom Telecom (OT) www.orascomtelecom.com, Orascom Construction Industries (OCI) www.orascomci.com ,Orascom Hotels & Development www.orascomhd.com and Orascom Technology Systems (OTS) www.ots.com.eg.

In 2010, Naguib Sawiris was listed in Forbes magazine as the 374th richest person in the world, with personal wealth down at US$2.5 billion.[1]

===

Robert Fisk: The wrong Mubarak quits. Soon the right one will go
Protesters in Tahrir Square are right to be sceptical despite the apparent shake-up in Egypt's ruling party


Sunday, 6 February 2011
Reuters

A demonstrator praying before soldiers yesterday




The old man is going. The resignation last night of the leadership of the ruling Egyptian National Democratic Party – including Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal – will not appease those who want to claw the President down. But they will get their blood. The whole vast edifice of power which the NDP represented in Egypt is now a mere shell, a propaganda poster with nothing behind it.


The sight of Mubarak's delusory(Tending to deceive) new Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq telling Egyptians yesterday that things were "returning to normal" was enough to prove to the protesters in Tahrir Square – 12 days into their mass demand for the exile of the man who has ruled the country for 30 years – that the regime was made of cardboard. When the head of the army's central command personally pleaded with the tens of thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in the square to go home, they simply howled(To cry or wail loudly, as in pain, sorrow, or anger.
) him down.

In his novel The Autumn of the Patriarch, Gabriel Garcia Marquez outlines the behaviour of a dictator under threat and his psychology of total denial. In his glory days, the autocrat believes he is a national hero. Faced with rebellion, he blames "foreign hands" and "hidden agendas" for this inexplicable revolt against his benevolent but absolute rule. Those fomenting the insurrection are "used and manipulated by foreign powers who hate our country". Then – and here I use a precis of Marquez by the great
Egyptian author Alaa Al-Aswany – "the dictator tries to test the limits of the engine, by doing everything except what he should do. He becomes dangerous. After that, he agrees to do anything they want him to do. Then he goes away".


•Brotherhood to hold Egypt talks
•Cameron in Egypt talks with Obama
•Behind closed doors, the 'wise men' take on the politicians
•Obama treads the diplomatic high wire above Cairo's streets
•All eyes on the Suez Canal as bomb shuts gas pipeline


Hosni Mubarak of Egypt appears to be on the cusp of stage four – the final departure. For 30 years he was the "national hero" – participant in the 1973 war, former head of the Egyptian air force, natural successor to Gamal Abdel Nasser as well as Anwar Sadat – and then, faced with his people's increasing fury at his dictatorial rule, his police state and his torturers and the corruption of his regime, he blamed the dark shadow of the country's fictional enemies (al-Qa'ida, the Muslim Brotherhood, al-Jazeera, CNN, America). We may just have passed the dangerous phase.

Twenty-two lawyers were arrested by Mubarak's state security police on Thursday – for assisting yet more civil rights lawyers who were investigating the arrest and imprisonment of more than 600 Egyptian protesters. The vicious anti-riot cops who were mercifully driven off the streets of Cairo nine days ago and the drug-addled gangs paid by them are part of the wounded and dangerous dictator's remaining weapons. These thugs – who work directly under ministry of interior orders – are the same men now shooting at night into Tahrir Square, killing three men and wounding another 40 early on Friday morning. Mubarak's weepy interview with Christiane Amanpour last week – in which he claimed he didn't want to be president but had to carry on for another seven months to save Egypt from "chaos" – was the first hint that stage four was on the way.

Al-Aswany has taken to romanticising the revolution (if that is what it truly is). He has fallen into the habit of holding literary mornings before joining the insurrectionists, and last week he suggested that a revolution makes a man more honourable – just as falling in love makes a person more dignified. I suggested to him that a lot of people who fall in love spend an inordinate amount of time eliminating their rivals and that I couldn't think of a revolution that hadn't done the same. But his reply, that Egypt had been a liberal society since the days of Muhammad Ali Pasha and was the first Arab country (in the 19th century) to enjoy party politics, did carry conviction.

If Mubarak goes today or later this week, Egyptians will debate why it took so long to rid themselves of this tin-pot dictator. The problem was that under the autocrats – Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak and whomever Washington blesses next – the Egyptian people skipped two generations of maturity. For the first essential task of a dictator is to "infantilise" his people, to transform them into political six-year-olds, obedient to a patriarchal headmaster.(A man who rules a family, clan, or tribe.
) They will be given fake newspapers, fake elections, fake ministers and lots of false promises. If they obey, they might even become one of the fake ministers; if they disobey, they will be beaten up in the local police station, or imprisoned in the Tora jail complex or, if persistently violent, hanged.


Only when the power of youth and technology forced this docile Egyptian population to grow up and stage its inevitable revolt did it become evident to all of these previously "infantilised" people that the government was itself composed of children, the eldest of them 83 years old. Yet, by a ghastly process of political osmosis, the dictator had for 30 years also "infantilised" his supposedly mature allies in the West. They bought the line that Mubarak alone remained the iron wall holding back the Islamic tide seeping across Egypt and the rest of the Arab world. The Muslim Brotherhood – with genuine historical roots in Egypt and every right to enter parliament in a fair election – remains the bogeyman on the lips of every news presenter, although they have not the slightest idea what it is or was.

But now the infantilisation has gone further. Lord Blair of Isfahan popped up on CNN the other night, blustering badly when asked if he would compare Mubarak with Saddam Hussein. Absolutely not, he said. Saddam had impoverished a country that once had a higher standard of living than Belgium – while Mubarak had increased Egypt's GDP by 50 per cent in 10 years.

What Blair should have said was that Saddam killed tens of thousands of his own people while Mubarak has killed/hanged/tortured only a few thousand. But Blair's shirt is now almost as blood-spattered as Saddam's; so dictators, it seems, must now be judged only on their economic record.


Obama went one further. Mubarak, he told us early yesterday, was "a proud man, but a great patriot".

This was extraordinary. To make such a claim, it was necessary to believe that the massive evidence of savagery by Egypt's state security police over 30 years, the torture and the vicious treatment of demonstrators over the past 13 days, was unknown to the dictator. Mubarak, in his elderly innocence, may have been aware of corruption and perhaps the odd "excess" – a word we are beginning to hear again in Cairo – but not of the systematic abuse of human rights, the falsity of every election.

This is the old Russian fairy tale. The tsar is a great father figure, a revered and perfect leader. It's just that he does not know what his underlings(One of lesser rank or authority than another; a subordinate.
) are doing. He doesn't realise how badly the serfs are treated.(Serfs were the peasants who lived on either a manor or a fief, the two organizing entities of the Middle Ages (500-1350). They performed labor and were bound to the lord of the property where they lived and worked) If only someone would tell him the truth, he would end injustice. The tsar's servants, of course, connived(To cooperate secretly in an illegal or wrongful action; collude) at this.

But Mubarak was not ignorant of the injustice of his regime. He survived by repression and threats and false elections. He always had. Like Sadat. Like Nasser who – according to the testimony of one of his victims who was a friend of mine – permitted his torturers to dangle prisoners over vats(A large vessel, such as a tub, cistern, or barrel, used to hold or store liquids.
) of boiling faeces and gently dunk them in it. Over 30 years, successive US ambassadors have informed Mubarak of the cruelties perpetrated in his name. Occasionally, Mubarak would express surprise and once promised to end police brutality, but nothing ever changed. The tsar fully approved of what his secret policemen were doing.

Thus, when David Cameron announced that "if" the authorities were behind the violence in Egypt, it would be "absolutely unacceptable" – a threat that naturally had them shaking in their shoes – the word "if" was a lie. Cameron, unless he doesn't bother to read the Foreign Office briefings on Mubarak, is well aware that the old man was a third-rate dictator who employed violence to stay in power.

The demonstrators in Cairo and Alexandria and Port Said, of course, are nonetheless entering a period of great fear. Their "Day of Departure" on Friday – predicated on the idea that if they really believed Mubarak would leave last week, he would somehow follow the will of the people – turned yesterday into the "Day of Disillusion". They are now constructing a committee of economists, intellectuals, "honest" politicians to negotiate with Vice-President Omar Suleiman – without apparently realising that Suleiman is the next safe-pair-of-hands general to be approved by the Americans, that Suleiman is a ruthless man who will not hesitate to use the same state security police as Mubarak relied upon to eliminate the state's enemies in Tahrir Square.

Betrayal always follows a successful revolution. And this may yet come to pass. The dark cynicism of the regime remains. Many pro-democracy demonstrators have noticed a strange phenomenon. In the months before the protests broke out on 25 January, a series of attacks on Coptic Christians and their churches spread across Egypt. The Pope called for the protection of Egypt's 10 per cent Christians. The West was appalled. Mubarak blamed it all on the familiar "foreign hand". But then after 25 January, not a hair of a Coptic head has been harmed. Why? Because the perpetrators had other violent missions to perform?

When Mubarak goes, terrible truths will be revealed. The world, as they say, waits. But none wait more attentively, more bravely, more fearfully than the young men and women in Tahrir Square. If they are truly on the edge of victory, they are safe. If they are not, there will come the midnight knock on many a door.

The key players

Hosni Mubarak

A former Egyptian air force commander who was thrust into power after Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1982, Mubarak has proved to be a ruthless and resilient President. By combining political repression at home with close relations with the US, and relatively cordial relations with Israel, he has been able to retain Egypt's place as a pivotal voice in the Arab world. His handling of the Egyptian economy has been less successful, however.


Ahmed Shafik

Like President Mubarak, Prime Minister Shafik's background is in the Egyptian air force, which he at one point commanded; he has also served as aviation minister. Both his military background and his reputation for efficiency as a government minister made him an obvious choice during the reshuffle forced by the protests.


Omar Suleiman

As the head of the Mukhabarat, Egypt's secret service, Suleiman was one of the most powerful and feared men in Egypt. He also cultivated a close relationship with the US: Mukhabarat cells became one of the destinations for terror suspects who had been "renditioned" by the CIA. As Egypt's new Vice-President, however, he hardly represents a new face for the Mubarak regime. Reports of an assassination attempt against him last week have been denied by the Egyptian authorities.


Mohamed Elbaradei

Winner of the Nobel Peace prize, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has the highest international profile of Mubarak's potential successors. However, he still lacks a strong domestic support base in Egypt, and among the Tahrir Square protesters. It remains to be seen whether he has time to build that kind of support before Mubarak leaves.

Quotes...

"We need to get a national consensus around the pre-conditions for the next step forward. The President must stay in office to steer those changes."

Frank Wisner, US special envoy for Egypt

"There are forces at work in any society, and particularly one that is facing these kinds of challenges, that will try to derail or overtake the process to pursue their own specific agenda.... [That is] why I think it is important to support the transition process announced by the Egyptian government, actually headed by now Vice-President Omar Suleiman."

Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State

"We need a transition of power within a constitutional framework. At this stage, we have two possible directions: either constitutional reforms or a coup d'état by the army. I don't see another way out."

Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, secretary general of the liberal Wafd Party

"I don't believe that we solve the world's problems by flicking a switch and holding an election.... Egypt is a classic case in point."

David Cameron, speaking at security conference in Munich


"I think a very quick election at the start of a process of democratisation would be wrong.... If there is an election first, new structures of political dialogue and decision-making don't have a chance to develop."

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor


===

An English Translation in article format on the ongoing crisis in Egypt.

Crisis in Egypt and Middle East

What is the driving force behind this uprising?
Why American wants their own favouriet pawns to be released?
What motives America and wants to achieve from this uprising?
What is the guidance of the Supreme Leader?
Where will this lead towards?

Please read attached...

For the Urdu lecture on the same issue, please click below link:
http://www.islamimarkaz.com/iis6953.asp
==
Tide turns in favour of Egypt's Brotherhood in revoltMon Feb 7, 2011 7:04am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+] By Samia Nakhoul
CAIRO (Reuters) - The first time Essam el-Erian, went to jail, he was 27. Last Sunday, he left prison for the eighth time at the age of 57.

The medical doctor's crime for each incarceration was belonging to the Muslim Botherhood, Egypt's most influential and best-organised Islamist opposition movement and long feared by President Hosni Mubarak, Israel and the United States.

Egypt's courts have repeatedly rebuffed the Brotherhood's requests for recognition as a party on the grounds that the constitution bans parties based on religion.

Now the world could not look more different to the past three decades when Brotherhood members were repressed, arrested, tried in military courts and shunned by the Egyptian government.

After the last tumultuous days of popular revolt against Mubarak, it is now the government that is seeking out the Muslim Brotherhood to discuss Egypt' future.

Mubarak's Vice President Omar Suleiman met opposition groups on Sunday in talks joined for the first time by the Brotherhood.

The once outlawed group is finally well-placed to play a prominent role as Mubarak's government struggles to survive after 30 years in power.

I've been in and out since 1981," said Erian, a leading figure in the Brotherhood. "I have seen all forms of torture. I have been suspended by ropes, beaten, electrocuted and left outside in the cold for hours. I must say the treatment improved along the years and because of my age."

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"All this only increased my resolve,"said Erian. "The Mubarak regime exists to monopolise not only power but wealth."

Erian was among 34 Brotherhood members who walked out of Wadi Natroun prison last Sunday after relatives stormed the jail, overcame the guards and freed the prisoners during protests which spilled out of control across the country.

Erian, rounded up last month during preparations for the protests, went straight from jail to Tahrir Square, the epicentre of anti-Mubarak protests.

POWER THROUGH THE BALLOT?

His group has been active in the uprising. But decades of repression have taught the Brotherhood to take a backseat and it is anxious to maintain the impression that the Islamists are one part of the wider protest movement.

"We're not seeking power but our participation is a duty under a democratic and independent process. Our goal is to make sure the identity of society is Islamic," Erian said.

"It is the right of everybody to compete and if people like us then where is the problem? We have sacrificed a lot...It is our right to win a majority as in any country, like Turkey."


The popular uprising against Mubarak sent off alarm bells in Israel and the United States. They fear the Islamist movement might end up in power through the ballot and would eventually achieve its ultimate aim of implementing Sharia law in Egypt.

The Muslim Brotherhood is certainly hostile to Israel and the United States's policy in the region. It has historic links with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and shares its belief in armed struggle against Israel.
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But unlike the militant groups that fought Mubarak's rule in the 1990s the Brotherhood has an overwhelmingly lay leadership of professionals with modern educations -- engineers, doctors, lawyers, academics and teachers. The core membership is middle-class or lower middle-class.

The government's willingness to talk to the Brotherhood is a political shift with historic proportions and testimony to the perseverance of a movement seen by analysts as playing a long waiting-game.

Western governments have until now avoided direct contacts with the Brotherhood, for fear of angering the government. But they have not been able to brand the group, which renounced violence in the 1950s, a "terrorist" organisation.

In such a disfigured political environment it is impossible to judge the real popularity of the Brotherhood. In parliamentary elections in 2005, the first stages of which were relatively fair, the Brotherhood won 88 of the 165 seats they contested. In the latter stages police stopped people voting.

ISLAMIC IDENTITY

The crackdown failed to dent the movement's drive to expand its popular base through charity and social work.

Brotherhood ideology steadily seeped into schools, households, the media, bookshops and even clothing shops. Much of this Islamic resurgence stems from social dislocation, economic hardship and political frustration.

Arab defeat in the 1967 war with Israel, the political vacuum opened after the collapse of President Gamal Abdel Nasser's secularist pan-Arabism in the 1970s, and a sudden peace with the Jewish state after years of enmity gave impetus to Islam as a competing and substitute ideology.
But for the Islamists the issue goes beyond the immediate future to a political landscape in which they believe they are steadily dominating by seeding the terrain with people of faith


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Many Brotherhood leaders, most of whom have been jailed for years, believe that the future is for Islam as long as they are patient, determined and resolute.

They are confident that Islam and sharia (Islamic law) will eventually rule and they are working to achieve that goal.

The Brotherhood, founded in 1928, wants democracy, except governed by the main principles of the Sharia. It had for long demanded greater political freedom, freedom of expression, free and fair elections where people of all trends are represented.

Supporters also dominate most of Egypt's main professional syndicates, have strong presence at universities and run thousands of charities providing health care and education.

But perhaps the most novel element in its manifesto is that it advocates "ijtihad", innovative interpretation of the Koran to bring Islamic law in tune with the demands of changing times.
FEAR OF IRANIAN MODEL

Liberals involved in the uprising are also worried about the Brotherhood's ambitions -- that they will capitalise on an uprising, launched by a mixture of political and secular forces, to emerge on top as happened in Iran during the 1979 Revolution.

Analysts say the dynamics of Egyptian politics have changed from the 1990s when the Brotherhood versus the government was the only game in town.

The January 25 uprising has revealed a diversity in liberal movements which could see the creation of new political parties.

"The situation cannot be compared to the past. I don't think the experience can be repeated or compared with Iran in the same way but of course there are fears," Diaa Rashwan, an expert at al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said.

"Nobody can predict the future but the uprising was against a dark regime. We could have something better, but we could also have chaos as something may happen to spoil and sabotage this uprising".


==

'Egypt's Mubarak will not survive'
Mon Feb 7, 2011 7:5AM
Interview with Sameh Elatfy, lawyer and member of Change for Egypt, London
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Millions of anti-government protesters demonstrate in Liberation Square, Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011.Egyptian opposition groups have called on embattled President Hosni Mubarak to resign immediately, saying the government should meet protesters' demands.


The demand follows negotiations between the opponents of Mubarak's regime and Vice President Omar Suleiman to resolve the current standoff in the North African country.

A representative of the Muslim Brotherhood -- Egypt's main opposition group -- told Press TV that it is not negotiating with the Mubarak regime, but merely conveying the opposition's ultimatums to the embattled president.

Millions of Egyptians took to the streets on Sunday to honor hundreds of protesters killed during the anti-government rallies of the past 13 days.

According to the United Nations, at least 300 people have so far been killed and thousands more injured during nationwide protests in crisis-hit Egypt.

In order to have an in-depth analysis of the latest developments in Egypt, Press TV has interviewed Sameh Elatfy, lawyer and member of Change for Egypt, London.

Press TV: Today, on the 13th day [of massive demonstrations in Egypt] -- we have reports that up to two million people have made it to Tahrir Square, Liberation Square, today. Do you see this movement gaining momentum or not?

Sameh Elatfy: First of all, we have to salute all Egyptians covering every single day. We see all kinds of Egyptians at the moment at the Tahrir Square, and as you see, [as] everyone sees in the world, millions of millions change in the[ir] position and go to the streets to demand one thing only.

And I think this revolution is not going to stop and these millions of people don't want to go back to normal life unless one demand only is met: President Mubarak has to go. This demand is not met at the moment for all these talks with Mr. Suleiman and all these parties and Muslim Brotherhood as well. So, this revolution will not end and it will continue. Egyptian people proved they are no more scared of this regime and it has to go completely. They don't want to accept any decoration and all this fake moves by the government.

So, many Egyptians, young and old, know what is going on; they know what they need.

So, I think the revolution is going to continue inside Egypt and outside it through the support of all Egyptians over the world as well.

Press TV: How likely is it in your perspective that Mubarak could actually survive this until September?

Sameh Elatfy: Realistically looking at the situation now in Egypt, and just Egypt, what is going on there, we have seen a lot of dilemma, we have sees the status is going to have a lot of problems in the next few days.

We have the banks open today for some hours; a lot of people withdrew all the money and there is no supply of main basic foods and we have no police force. In these cases, Mubarak can't survive… I think he is trying to save his case from entering Egyptian or international court, but the political view now doesn't favor his survival at all, because we have no country, the Egyptian economy is damaged every single day.

So, no one can afford this for a long time, I mean thirteen days, the demonstration is every day in the streets, the suspension of universities, schools, they don't have wages. The life is stopped there. So, I don't think Mubarak's survival will last long, his stay in office till September.

Mr. Suleiman is trying hard now to start a national dialog with all parties including Muslim Brotherhood, and some of the youth of the 25th Movement. I think Mubarak is looking now to America and Israel for how he can get out of this dilemma Egypt is in. But I don't think that he can last long because… look at the international community now. Here in London, we have a big protest, a demonstration in front of Downing Street and we handed Mr. Cameron some demands to stop supporting dictator criminal Mubarak in Egypt and try to use his power to call for democracy in Egypt.

The international community is not the United States or Britain now; we have a lot of Egypt's allies withdrawing investments in Egypt. So we will have a dark future for the next few weeks if Mubarak is not getting out of power. And I think all the dialog is for getting out peacefully and transferring the power to Suleiman.

This is the problem. And millions and millions of people on the streets refused over Suleiman as he was part of the regime, he was an advisor for Mubarak for 25 years. He is an ally to Israel as well. When our guest says Israel will not trust Suleiman, I disagree with him. Omar Suleiman is the best for Israel.

He is the one helping to kill a lot of people in Gaza. He is the one [with] the idea of the wall between Egypt and Gaza. He is good for Israel. I think Israel will play a big part to replace Mubarak with Suleiman.

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Mubarak still in power as government, opposition talkMon Feb 7, 2011 6:50am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+] By Alison Williams and Andrew Hammond
CAIRO (Reuters) - President Hosni Mubarak held onto power on Monday, defying a popular uprising against his autocratic rule, after the government opened talks with opposition groups to resolve Egypt's deepest crisis in 30 years.

The banned Muslim Brotherhood was among the groups who met with officials over the weekend, a sign of how much has already changed in 13 days that have rocked the Arab world and alarmed Western powers.

But opposition figures said their core demand that Mubarak must go immediately was not met. Some expressed concern that the government was playing for time in the hope that Mubarak would hang on until September, when his current term expires.

People in central Tahrir Square, focal point of an uprising that has seen hundreds of thousands of protesters take to the streets and clashes in which an estimated 300 people have been killed, said they would intensify their battle to oust him.

After nightfall on Sunday, soldiers fired shots in the air to try to disperse the crowd. But the demonstrators, who on Saturday lay down in front of army tanks, remained and the troops abandoned the attempt.

The nation got back to work on Sunday and banks reopened after a week-long crisis with lines of customers seeking access to their accounts.

Government ministers will hold their first full cabinet meeting on Monday since Mubarak reshuffled his cabinet on January 28 in an attempt to mollify protesters enraged by years of corruption, economic hardship and political oppression.

But it was far from certain that the situation had been defused, despite appeals from longtime Mubarak backer the United States for an "orderly transition" to more democratic rule.

The presence at the talks of the banned Muslim Brotherhood, whose members have for years been repressed by Mubarak's feared security forces, was a significant development.
The demonstrators around Tahrir Square, largely young and secular, lack their clear organisation and leadership.

The government said after the meeting, chaired by Vice President Omar Suleiman, they agreed to draft a road map for talks, indicating Mubarak would stay in power to oversee change.

It would also move to release jailed activists, guarantee press freedom and lift Egypt's emergency laws. A committee was set up to study constitutional issues.

But the opposition said the government failed to meet their demand for a complete overhaul of the political system.

Abdel Monem Aboul Fotouh, a senior Brotherhood figure, said the government statement represented "good intentions but does not include any solid changes".
Opposition activists reject any compromise which would see Mubarak hand over power to Suleiman but also serve out his term -- essentially relying on the old authoritarian system to pave the way to full civilian democracy and saving his face.

Nobel peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who has emerged as a figurehead for the opposition coalition, criticised the fledgling negotiations and said he was not invited.

"It is all managed by the military and that is part of the problem." he told NBC television in the United States.

Gamal Soltan, editor of the al-Mesryoon newspaper, said the protesters would not leave before their demands were met.
"The problem is that the regime's hesitancy in taking serious steps will lead to complications and the increase of the popular demonstrations and possibly force an army intervention," he said.

However, former cabinet member Rachid Mohamed Rachid, said: "I believe the presence of Mubarak in the next phase of transition for the next few months is very critical."

ANTI-AMERICAN

The United States, which had bankrolled Mubarak and the army to the tune of $1.3 billion a year, was taken by surprise by the uprising against a ruler it saw as a bastion against Islamic militancy and a friend, albeit a reluctant one, of Israel.

It has called for gradual change and an orderly transition but has given confused messages about when exactly it thought Mubarak should step down.

In Washington on Sunday, President Barack Obama said he believed Egypt was "not going to go back to what it was," and that the time for change was now. But in an interview with Fox News, he said only Mubarak knew what he was going to do.

Obama also said he believed the Muslim Brotherhood was only one faction in Egypt and that strains of their ideology were anti-American -- comments that could the anger the powerful Islamist group.
Thousands of people gathered in Tahrir Square again on Sunday but in the evening, soldiers fired shots in the air in a failed attempt to disperse the crowd.

"The coward is a coward and the brave is a brave and we will not leave the square," said Sameh Ali, a protester in his 20s.
But many Egyptians, even some who joined the demonstrations, say they are desperate for a return to normal life.

Shops have been closed, making it hard for people to stock up on basic goods. Some prices have risen.

The currency could face pressure on Monday when banks outside the Middle East reopen after the weekend. The pound fell on Sunday when trade resumed in Egypt but the drop was less sharp than many traders had expected as the central bank appeared to support the currency.

Another confidence test will be a central bank auction of 15 billion pounds of short-term Treasury bills, postponed from last week. The stock market is still closed.

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Q&A: Who's taking the lead in Egypt's crisis?
By Edmund Blair and Samia Nakhoul

CAIRO | Mon Feb 7, 2011 6:08am EST



(Reuters) - Protesters who have paralyzed Egypt and pushed the government into making concessions unimaginable two weeks ago, are still far from achieving their core demand that President Hosni Mubarak end his 30-year rule now.

Instead, the government seems to have regained the upper hand, at least for now, in controlling the pace of change and drawing the opposition under its umbrella for discussions.

Below are some questions and answers about what happens next:

* WHAT HAS THE OPPOSITION GAINED?

After two weeks of protests, Mubarak has said he will not run again for president, his son has been ruled out as next in line, a vice president has been appointed for the first time in 30 years, the ruling party leadership has quit and the old cabinet was sacked. Perhaps more importantly, protesters now go onto the streets almost with impunity in their hundreds of thousands. Before the wave of protests began on January 25, even a few hundred would have met a crushing police response.

These are staggering gains won from Egypt's leadership which had stifled any opposition voice almost completely, with the exception of a few hardy independent newspapers.

Yet the government has so far dodged the protesters' main demand that Mubarak must go now. The state-owned al-Gomhuria newspaper seemed to sum it up on Monday: it had a banner headline reading "New Era" above a photo of Vice President Omar Suleiman meeting the opposition while he stood under a picture of Mubarak.
* WHERE DOES THE GOVERNMENT STAND?

Although the hard core of the opposition has refused to budge on letting Mubarak stay on, some more pragmatic elements have said rather that the president, at the very least, should delegate his powers to Vice President Suleiman.

The government has rejected both demands. Instead, it has persuaded opposition representatives who joined the dialogue to adopt a government statement as the basis for talks that puts the establishment in the driving seat.

The statement, issued after the first round of talks on Sunday, referred to the president "ending his current term" in September when an election is due. This means the government is dictating a departure timetable.

Protesters have demanded an end to emergency law, in force for decades, which they say has been used to stifle dissent. The government statement said lifting it depended on "security conditions," rather than conceding the principle that it go now.

Sidestepping a call to dissolve parliament, the statement said the government would accept court rulings against fraudulent results in the last election in November 2010, a vote rights groups dismissed as a sham. But that falls far short of holding another election to replace the parliament that is now overwhelmingly dominated by Mubarak's ruling party.

* HOW UNITED IS THE OPPOSITION?

Two broad trends seem to be emerging between youths -- who can reasonably claim to have been the driving force for the protests -- and the more formal opposition groups ranging from liberals and leftists to Islamists, which are more pragmatic and more ready to engage in political horse-trading.

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Egypt protesters press demands, brace for long haul
07 Feb 2011

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Protesters in Tahrir say opposition talks unacceptable

* Other Egyptians try to get on with normal lives


By Dina Zayed and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Cairo protesters dug in for a long fight on Monday, pressing their demand for an overhaul of the political system and the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak as many Egyptians tried to resume their normal lives.

Up to 2,000 people bedded down overnight under blankets and tents made from plastic sheeting in Tahrir Square. Some slept while others camped out on woollen blankets as national and revolutionary songs blared out from loudspeakers.

Some slept in the tracks of the army's armoured vehicles to prevent them being used to force the protest into a smaller place to allow traffic to circulate. Makeshift barricades were still up and some burned out vehicles had not been moved.

Protesters searched people to ensure there were no trouble-makers entering Tahrir, or Liberation, Square which has come to symbolise opposition to 30 years of Mubarak's rule.

Many young men dismissed a dialogue taking place between new Vice President Omar Suleiman and opposition groups as unacceptable, vowing to stay in the square and pursue what has been described as the "Nile Revolution".

"I reject dialogue. We don't recognise this government. Mubarak has to go. The despot has to go," Sayyed Abdel-Hadi, a 28-year-old accountant, said. "We will not despair. We will stay until he leaves".

"We don't want Suleiman, he is a symbol of Mubarak. If he becomes president we will stage another revolt. We have been living for 30 years under humiliation and injustice," Osama Gamal, a 22-year-old teacher, said.

"We want our rights. We want better education," he added.

Amongst the tents in Tahrir, protesters set up food stalls and played traditional music. They also chanted anti-Mubarak slogans and prayed.

Elsewhere in Cairo, streets began to clog with familiar traffic jams. Many shops reopened and crowds gathered outside small groceries and vegetable and fruit shops freshly stocked after days of disrupted supply lines.


TWO WEEKS OF PROTEST

Although the protest movement, now in its 14th day, has yet to secure its key demands, many Egyptians who were not directly involved have followed its lead to try to win what they say are their political rights.

Hundreds of Egyptians demanding cheaper apartments rallied outside a government office on Monday, emboldened by mass anti-government demonstrations to press their case.
Many stood for hours outside the downtown offices with their application forms. Some said they would join the protest camp if they were not allowed to enter. "If you don't let us in, we will head to Tahrir," they shouted.

In Alexandria, protesters were on the streets in smaller numbers on Monday but said they planned larger demonstrations for Tuesday and Friday.

Shops were mostly open in the Mediterranean second city, where protest numbers have rivalled those in Cairo, as people began to resume their normal lives.

A similar pattern was seen in the industrial port city of Suez, which has seen some of the most violent protests, with numbers expected to gather on the streets in the afternoon after banks close and bigger protests planned for Tuesday and Friday.

State-run schools and universities remain closed for the week, for the normal mid-year holiday.

Amateur footage of apparent police violence against protesters has filtered out into the media. Amateur video broadcast by Al Jazeera shows what it says were images of a protester being shot dead by police in Alexandria on Jan. 28.

In an empty street, the man is seen walking slowly towards police officers with his arms outstretched. He then halts and removes his jacket before being shot at a distance of some 10 metres, falling to the ground.

(Additional reporting by Samia Nakhoul and Yasmine Saleh, Writing by Alexander Dziadosz)

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BEIRUT | Mon Feb 7, 2011 11:11am EST

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday Egyptian protesters demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak were changing the Middle East with their battle for "Arab dignity."

"Your movement will entirely change the face of our region for the interest of its own people," Nasrallah said in a televised address to a conference in Beirut, held to support the popular uprising in Egypt.

"You are going through the battle of Arab dignity, restoring the dignity of Arab people," he said.

Egypt has been rocked by two weeks of protests demanding Mubarak, who has ruled for 30 years, step down before his term expires in September. Mubarak has refused, saying his departure would cause chaos in the Arab world's most populous nation, while saying he will not run for re-election in September.

Mubarak's government is suspicious of Hezbollah's links to Iran and backs the Shi'ite group's political rivals in Lebanon.

Last year an Egyptian court sentenced Hezbollah member Sami Chehab to 15 years in prison on charges of planning attacks in the country. Hezbollah said Chehab escaped from jail last week in the chaos of the Egyptian uprising.

Nasrallah told the Egyptian protesters that his group did not seek to intervene in their "internal business" or influence their decisions.

But he praised their achievements, saying they were as significant as the 2006 war in which Hezbollah fought Israel to a standstill, and said he wished he could be with them in Cairo's Tahrir Square -- epicenter of the protests.

"What you have done is no less significant than the historic steadfastness the Islamic Resistance achieved in 2006 and the resistance in Gaza in 2008," he said, referring to the Israeli military assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza.
(Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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The shaping of a New World Order
If the revolutions of 2011 succeed, they will force the creation of a very different regional and world system.
Mark LeVine Last Modified: 06 Feb 2011 15:07 GMT
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Armed women on guard at one of Tehran's main squares at the start of the Iranian Revolution [Getty]

I remember the images well, even though I was too young to understand their political significance. But they were visceral, those photos in the New York Times from Tehran in the midst of its revolutionary moment in late 1978 and early 1979. Not merely exuberance jumped from the page, but also anger; anger fuelled by an intensity of religious fervour that seemed so alien as to emanate from another planet to a "normal" pre-teen American boy being shown the newspaper by his father over breakfast.

Many commentators are comparing Egypt to Iran of 32 years ago, mostly to warn of the risks of the country descending into some sort of Islamist dictatorship that would tear up the peace treaty with Israel, engage in anti-American policies, and deprive women and minorities of their rights (as if they had so many rights under the Mubarak dictatorship).

I write this on February 2, the precise anniversary of Khomeini's return to Tehran from exile. It's clear that, while religion is a crucial foundation of Egyptian identity and Mubarak's level of corruption and brutality could give the Shah a run for his money, the situations are radically different on the ground.

A most modern and insane revolt

The following description, I believe, sums up what Egypt faces today as well as, if not better, than most:

"It is not a revolution, not in the literal sense of the term, not a way of standing up and straightening things out. It is the insurrection of men with bare hands who want to lift the fearful weight, the weight of the entire world order that bears down on each of us - but more specifically on them, these ... workers and peasants at the frontiers of empires. It is perhaps the first great insurrection against global systems, the form of revolt that is the most modern and the most insane.
One can understand the difficulties facing the politicians. They outline solutions, which are easier to find than people say ... All of them are based on the elimination of the [president]. What is it that the people want? Do they really want nothing more? Everybody is quite aware that they want something completely different. This is why the politicians hesitate to offer them simply that, which is why the situation is at an impasse. Indeed, what place can be given, within the calculations of politics, to such a movement, to a movement through which blows the breath of a religion that speaks less of the hereafter than of the transfiguration of this world?"

The thing is, it was offered not by some astute commentator of the current moment, but rather by the legendary French philosopher Michel Foucault, after his return from Iran, where he witnessed firsthand the intensity of the revolution which, in late 1978, before Khomeini's return, really did seem to herald the dawn of a new era.

Foucault was roundly criticised by many people after Khomeini hijacked the revolution for not seeing the writing on the wall. But the reality was that, in those heady days where the shackles of oppression were literally being shattered, the writing was not on the wall. Foucault understood that it was precisely a form of "insanity" that was necessary to risk everything for freedom, not just against one's government, but against the global system that has nuzzled him in its bosom for so long.

What was clear, however, was that the powers that most supported the Shah, including the US, dawdled on throwing their support behind the masses who were toppling him. While this is by no means the principal reason for Khomeini's successful hijacking of the revolution, it certainly played an important role in the rise of a militantly anti-American government social force, with disastrous results.

While Obama's rhetoric moved more quickly towards the Egyptian people than did President Carter's towards Iranians three decades ago, his refusal to call for Mubarak's immediate resignation raises suspicion that, in the end, the US would be satisfied if Mubarak was able to ride out the protests and engineer a "democratic" transition that left American interests largely intact.

The breath of religion

Foucault was also right to assign such a powerful role to religion in the burgeoning revolutionary moment - and he experienced what he called a "political spirituality", But, of course, religion can be defined in so many ways. The protestant theologian Paul Tillich wonderfully described it as encompassing whatever was of "ultimate concern" to a person or people. And today, clearly, most every Egyptian has gotten religion from this perspective.

So many people, including Egypt's leaders, have used the threat of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover to justify continued dictatorship, with Iran as the historical example to justify such arguments. But the comparison is plagued by historical differences. The Brotherhood has no leader of Khomeini's stature and foreswore violence decades ago. Nor is there a culture of violent martyrdom ready to be actualised by legions of young men, as occurred with the Islamic Revolution. Rather than trying to take over the movement, which clearly would never have been accepted - even if its leaders wanted to seize the moment, the Brotherhood is very much playing catch up with the evolving situation and has so far worked within the rather ad hoc leadership of the protests.

But it is equally clear that religion is a crucial component of the unfolding dynamic. Indeed, perhaps the iconic photo of the revolution is one of throngs of people in Tahrir Square bowed in prayers, literally surrounding a group of tanks sent there to assert the government's authority.

This is a radically different image of Islam than most people - in the Muslim world as much as in the West - are used to seeing: Islam taking on state violence through militant peaceful protest; peaceful jihad (although it is one that has occurred innumerable times around the Muslim world, just at a smaller scale and without the world's press there to capture it).

Such imagery, and its significance, is a natural extension of the symbolism of Mohamed Bouazizi's self-immolation, an act of jihad that profoundly challenges the extroverted violence of the jihadis and militants who for decades, and especially since 9/11, have dominated the public perception of Islam as a form of political spirituality.

Needless to say, the latest images - of civil war inside Tahrir Square - will immediately displace these other images. Moreover, if the violence continues and some Egyptian protesters lose their discipline and start engaging in their own premeditated violence against the regime and its many tentacles, there is little doubt their doing so will be offered as "proof" that the protests are both violent and organised by the Muslim Brotherhood or other "Islamists".

A greater threat than al-Qa'eda

As this dynamic of nonviolent resistance against entrenched regime violence plays out, it is worth noting that so far, Osama bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, have had little - if anything - of substance to say about the revolution in Egypt. What they've failed to ignite with an ideology of a return to a mythical and pure beginning - and a strategy of human bombs, IEDs, and planes turned into missiles - a disciplined, forward-thinking yet amorphous group of young activists and their more experienced comrades, "secular" and "religious" together (to the extent these terms are even relevant anymore), have succeeded in setting a fire with a universal discourse of freedom, democracy and human values - and a strategy of increasingly calibrated chaos aimed at uprooting one of the world's longest serving dictators.

As one chant in Egypt put it succinctly, playing on the longstanding chants of Islamists that "Islam is the solution", with protesters shouting: "Tunisia is the solution."

For those who don't understand why President Obama and his European allies are having such a hard time siding with Egypt's forces of democracy, the reason is that the amalgam of social and political forces behind the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt today - and who knows where tomorrow - actually constitute a far greater threat to the "global system" al-Qa'eda has pledged to destroy than the jihadis roaming the badlands of Afghanistan, Pakistan, or Yemen.

Mad as hell

Whether Islamist or secularist, any government of "of the people" will turn against the neoliberal economic policies that have enriched regional elites while forcing half or more of the population to live below the $2 per day poverty line. They will refuse to follow the US or Europe's lead in the war on terror if it means the continued large scale presence of foreign troops on the region's soil. They will no longer turn a blind eye, or even support, Israel's occupation and siege across the Occupied Palestinian territories. They will most likely shirk from spending a huge percentage of their national income on bloated militaries and weapons systems that serve to enrich western defence companies and prop up autocratic governments, rather than bringing stability and peace to their countries - and the region as a whole.

They will seek, as China, India and other emerging powers have done, to move the centre of global economic gravity towards their region, whose educated and cheap work forces will further challenge the more expensive but equally stressed workforces of Europe and the United States.

In short, if the revolutions of 2011 succeed, they will force the creation of a very different regional and world system than the one that has dominated the global political economy for decades, especially since the fall of communism.

This system could bring the peace and relative equality that has so long been missing globally - but it will do so in good measure by further eroding the position of the United States and other "developed" or "mature" economies. If Obama, Sarkozy, Merkel and their colleagues don't figure out a way to live with this scenario, while supporting the political and human rights of the peoples of the Middle East and North Africa, they will wind up with an adversary far more cunning and powerful than al-Qa'eda could ever hope to be: more than 300 million newly empowered Arabs who are mad as hell and are not going to take it any more.

Mark LeVine is a professor of history at UC Irvine and senior visiting researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Lund University in Sweden. His most recent books are Heavy Metal Islam (Random House) and Impossible Peace: Israel/Palestine Since 1989 (Zed Books).

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Revolt rocks pillars of Mubarak rule

Tue Feb 8, 2011 6:30am GMT
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1 of 1Full SizeBy Tom Perry
CAIRO (Reuters) - The mass revolt against President Hosni Mubarak's rule has shaken the civilian pillars of his rule: the police force, the ruling party and state media.

In the short term at least, the blows dealt to all three institutions will make it harder for Mubarak's administration to assert the level of control it exercised just a few weeks ago.

The army now has a decisive say over the country's fate for the first time in decades.

The police force still appears in disarray nearly two weeks after it largely dissolved in the face of the protests, leaving a vacuum that was filled by looting and vigilantes. The Interior Minister has been sacked and is under investigation.

The entire leadership of the National Democratic Party (NDP) resigned on Saturday, including politicians who had served Mubarak for decades. With Mubarak due to step down in September at the latest, some wonder whether it will survive at all.

And the credibility of state media, fiercely loyal to Mubarak, is in tatters. Its attempts to ignore or misrepresent the uprising that has paralysed the country appeared surreal to the many viewers with access to satellite channels.

At least two journalists have walked out.

To the protesters in Tahrir Square, the steps against the NDP and change at the top of the Interior Ministry appear no more than tactical moves to absorb popular anger.

But inside the government, the departure of officials who served Mubarak for years marks a radical departure from the past.In Cairo, many believe the changes show Mubarak's role has already diminished. The central role the vice president appears to be playing has strengthened that perception.

"There is a general impression that the security forces have disintegrated. The same happened to the NDP," Mustapha Kamal al-Sayyid, an Egyptian politcal scientist, said.

"With their disintegration they almost left the political scene free for the armed forces to regain the position they had at the beginning of the revolution in 1952," he said, referring to the year the army overthrew King Farouk in a coup.


SHAPING MUBARAK'S ERA


The Interior Ministry and the NDP have shaped Mubarak's rule over three decades. The party ensured Mubarak's control over the parliament and the ministry secured his control of the streets, enforcing notorious emergency laws that have stifled dissent.

Habib al-Adli, sacked as interior minister, had served in his post for 13 years. Safwat el-Sherif, who on Saturday resigned as secretary general of the NDP, along with the rest of its leadership, had been at the heart of government for decades.

Every five years, their two institutions would join forces during parliamentary elections, the police using force to help NDP candidates secure victory in districts where they faced opposition, which mainly came from the Muslim Brotherhood.

The party has been a symbol of cronyism, corruption and election-rigging. The police have been a symbol of brutality. Together, their reputations explain much of the anger that has driven the unprecedented protests against Mubarak.

NDP headquarters have been set ablaze across the country. With Mubarak set to step down by September at the latest, some believe the party could be dissolved altogether.
As for the police, newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman has said they will take a few months to recover from the chaos that ensued in the days after the protests erupted on January 25.

Adli's departure from the Interior Ministry marks a major shake-up in a government where change has only ever happened at glacial pace for 30 years.

Egyptians want to know why the police abandoned the streets in the early days of the protests. While the riot police were overwhelmed by the demonstrators, many have concluded that the disappearance of other parts of Egypt's vast police force was part of a conspiracy to cause a breakdown in law and order.
There has been no explanation yet as to why, for example, prison guards allowed an unknown number of inmates to escape.

"WHO TOLD THEM NOT TO COME BACK?"
"A large part of the security forces were destroyed but the bigger part was simply dismissed", said Safwat Zayyat, a former Egyptian army officer and expert on security affairs. "Large parts are out of control," he said. "There is great talk of a conspiracy -- that this was deliberate," said Zayyat.

Under Mubarak, the Interior Ministry had grown ever stronger, employing well over 1 million people, including a paramilitary police force. Its stature grew during Egypt's campaign against militant Islamists in the 1990s.

In a televised interview last week, Suleiman was heavily critical of their performance and said he would find out what had gone wrong. Questioning why they had not redeployed, he asked: "Who told them not to come back?"

He was also critical of what he described as the negative impact big business had had on the Egyptian government, a reference to the ruling party and a group of businessmen who were seen to be steering economic policy since 2004.
Gamal Mubarak, the president's son and one of the figures to quit the party, had led an effort to reform the NDP and boost its popular appeal. His rapid rise through its ranks fuelled speculation that he was set for the presidency.

That assumption unravelled when Mubarak appointed Suleiman as his vice president. Suleiman, like Mubarak, a military general, is widely assumed to enjoy the support of the army.

Though all of Egypt's presidents have come from the military since it overthrew the king in 1952, the army has had little or no role in domestic affairs since the 1967 Middle East war.

Now, with the pillars of Mubarak's rule wobbling, it appears to hold the balance of power between the protesters and the administration. So far, it has tried to stay neutral. "Neutrality is an intelligent position," Zayyat said.

"The army is waiting for the result of the dialogue between what is left of the governing institution and the political organisations and the protest movements.

"If they do not reach an agreement that satisfies the Egyptian street, I think that time is not on anyone's side," he added. "The army might act if it feels that matters are deteriorating."



====


Egyptians stage big protest, dismiss power plan

Tue Feb 8, 2011 5:21pm GMT
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By Marwa Awad and Andrew Hammond
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptians staged one of their biggest protests yet on Tuesday demanding President Hosni Mubarak step down now, their wrath undiminished by the vice president's announcement of a plan to transfer power.

Protesters, many moved by a Google executive's tearful account of detention by Mubarak's state security, poured into Cairo's Tahrir Square to pack a space that can take a quarter of a million people.

While the government refuses to budge on the demonstrators' main demands, Vice President Omar Suleiman promised there would be no reprisals against the protesters for their campaign now entering a third week to eject Mubarak after 30 years in office.

But they dismissed his promises, accusing the government of playing for time, and swore they would not give up until the current "half revolution" was complete.

Wael Ghonim, the Google executive whose tears in a television interview appear to have boosted Tuesday's turnout significantly, addressed the cheering crowd in a protest movement that has yet to produce a leader.

"You are the heroes. I am not a hero, you are the heroes," said Ghonim, who had described on Monday night being blindfolded by state security during his 12 days in detention.

Activists say Ghonim was behind a Facebook group that helped to inspire the wave of protests. His interview also appears to have persuaded many Egyptians to side with the protests.

"Ghonim's tears have moved millions and turned around the views of those who supported (Mubarak) staying," website Masrawy.com wrote two hours after the interview. In that short span, 70,000 people signed up to Facebook pages supporting him.


Later Ghonim expressed his sorrow for the victims of the violence that has claimed an estimated 300 lives during the current wave of protests.
"My condolences to the fathers and mothers who lost sons and daughters who died for their dream," he told Reuters. "I saw young people dying and now the president has a responsibility to see what the people demand," he said, adding that these demands include Mubarak, 82, stepping down.

Google had launched a service to help Egyptians circumvent government restrictions on using the social network Twitter, enabling them to dial a telephone number and leave a voice mail that would then be sent on the online service.

The state news agency said 34 political prisoners had been released, the first to be set free since Mubarak promised reforms to quell the popular uprising.

FIRST TIMERS

Protesters completely filled Tahrir Square for the third time since the demonstrations began on January 25.

"I came here for the first time today because this cabinet is a failure, Mubarak is still meeting the same ugly faces," said Afaf Naged, 71, a former member of the board of directors of the state-owned National Bank of Egypt. "He can't believe it is over. He is a very stubborn man," she said.

Vice President Suleiman, a long-time intelligence chief, has led talks this week with opposition groups including the Muslim Brotherhood -- Mubarak's sworn enemies.

In comments broadcast on state television, he said: "A clear road map has been put in place with a set timetable to realise the peaceful and organised transfer of power."

So far the government has conceded little ground in the talks and Mubarak has promised only to stand down when his term expires in September.
Many in a country where about 40 percent of people live on less than $2 a day are desperate to return to work and normal life, even some of those wanting to oust Mubarak.

For Cairo cab driver Mustafa Fikri, the last thing on his mind was protesting against Mubarak's rule. He couldn't even be at his wife's hospital bedside when she gave birth to their first son on Monday, as he was working.

Fikri cried for joy at the news but could not stop work and go to the hospital. "If I don't work my family will starve. There isn't any money left in the house."

"HALF A REVOLUTION"

People on Tahrir Square were sceptical about the talks and suspicious of Mubarak's motives. Youssef Hussein, a 52-year-old tourist driver from Aswan, held up a sign saying: "Dialogue prolongs the life of the regime and gives it the kiss of life. No dialogue until Mubarak leaves."

"This dialogue is just on paper, it is just political manoeuvring to gain time," said Sayed Hagaz from the Nile Delta.


Ayman Farag, a Cairo lawyer, said the protesters' work was far from complete. "What has happened so far is only half a revolution and I hope it will continue to the end," he said.

Suleiman promised that the harassment of protesters would end. "The president emphasised that Egypt's youth deserve the appreciation of the nation and issued a directive to prevent them being pursued, harassed or having their right to freedom of expression taken away," he said.

Tuesday's rally and another called for Friday are tests of the protesters' ability to maintain pressure on Mubarak.
Opposition figures have reported little progress in the talks with the government. The official news agency said Mubarak issued a decree ordering the establishment of a committee to study and propose legal and constitutional amendments.

The Muslim Brotherhood, by far the best-organised opposition group, said on Monday it could quit negotiations if protesters' demands were not met, including the immediate exit of Mubarak.

The United States, adopting a cautious approach, has urged all sides to allow time for an "orderly transition" to a new political order in Egypt, for decades a strategic ally.

In Washington, Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged other countries to carry out reforms, taking heed of Egypt, and of Tunisia whose president was overthrown last month.

"My hope would be that other governments in the region -- seeing this spontaneous action in both Tunisia and in Egypt -- will take measures to begin moving in a positive direction toward addressing the political and economic grievances of their people," he told a news conference.


===


Hosni possesses $70 Billion: report
Hosni possesses $70 Billion: report A British news paper has declared Egypt President Hosni Mubarak as the world’s richest person having assets worth $70 billions dollars.

enough to feed the entire Egypt for 1.25 yr @ $2/day.


According to the paper, the President has accumulated an estimated 70 billion dollars in properties and assets in banks in the US, Switzerland, Britain and in Dubai. His ruling party has raised an army of hired goons to recently attack peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square in Cairo. He recently unplugged the entire country from the internet and encouraged his security forces to assault foreign journalists so his state owned media could control the message. He promised the Egyptian people that he would only serve two terms but ended up lording over them for five consecutive terms.


The paper declares Carlos Slim as world’s second riches person with 53.5 billion dollars and Bill Gates as third richest person with 53 billions dollars.


====

Suleiman: The CIA's man in Cairo

Suleiman, a friend to the US and reported torturer, has long been touted as a presidential successor.

Lisa Hajjar Last Modified: 07 Feb 2011 14:10 GMT

Suleiman meets with Israeli president Shimon Peres in Tel Aviv, November 2010 [Getty]

On January 29, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s top spy chief, was anointed vice president by tottering dictator, Hosni Mubarak. By appointing Suleiman, part of a shake-up of the cabinet in an attempt to appease the masses of protesters and retain his own grip on the presidency, Mubarak has once again shown his knack(A clever, expedient way of doing something.
) for devilish shrewdness. Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran - and he has long been the CIA’s main man in Cairo.

Mubarak knew that Suleiman would command an instant lobby of supporters at Langley and among 'Iran nexters' in Washington - not to mention among other authoritarian mukhabarat-dependent regimes in the region. Suleiman is a favourite of Israel too; he held the Israel dossier and directed Egypt’s efforts to crush Hamas by demolishing the tunnels that have functioned as a smuggling conduit for both weapons and foodstuffs into Gaza.

According to a WikiLeak(ed) US diplomatic cable, titled 'Presidential Succession in Egypt', dated May 14, 2007:

"Egyptian intelligence chief and Mubarak consigliere((kōn'sē-lyĕ'rĕ)
n., pl., -ri (-rē).
An adviser or counselor, especially to a capo or leader of an organized crime syndicate.
), in past years Soliman was often cited as likely to be named to the long-vacant vice-presidential post. In the past two years, Soliman has stepped out of the shadows, and allowed himself to be photographed, and his meetings with foreign leaders reported. Many of our contacts believe that Soliman, because of his military background, would at least have to figure in any succession scenario."

From 1993 until Saturday, Suleiman was chief of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service. He remained largely in the shadows until 2001, when he started taking over powerful dossiers in the foreign ministry; he has since become a public figure, as the WikiLeak document attests. In 2009, he was touted by the London Telegraph and Foreign Policy as the most powerful spook in the region, topping even the head of Mossad.

In the mid-1990s, Suleiman worked closely with the Clinton administration in devising and implementing its rendition program; back then, rendition involved kidnapping suspected terrorists and transferring them to a third country for trial. In The Dark Side, Jane Mayer describes how the rendition program began:

"Each rendition was authorised at the very top levels of both governments [the US and Egypt] ... The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence agency, Omar Suleiman, negotiated directly with top [CIA] officials. [Former US Ambassador to Egypt Edward] Walker described the Egyptian counterpart, Suleiman, as 'very bright, very realistic', adding that he was cognisant that there was a downside to 'some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish(Easily shocked or disgusted.
), by the way'. (p. 113).

"Technically, US law required the CIA to seek 'assurances' from Egypt that rendered suspects wouldn't face torture. But under Suleiman's reign at the EGIS, such assurances were considered close to worthless. As Michael Scheuer, a former CIA officer [head of the al-Qaeda desk], who helped set up the practise of rendition, later testified, even if such 'assurances' were written in indelible ink, 'they weren't worth a bucket of warm spit'."

Under the Bush administration, in the context of "the global war on terror", US renditions became "extraordinary", meaning the objective of kidnapping and extra-legal transfer was no longer to bring a suspect to trial - but rather for interrogation to seek actionable intelligence. The extraordinary rendition program landed some people in CIA black sites - and others were turned over for torture-by-proxy to other regimes. Egypt figured large as a torture destination of choice, as did Suleiman as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief. At least one person extraordinarily rendered by the CIA to Egypt — Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib — was reportedly tortured by Suleiman himself.

Suleiman the torturer

In October 2001, Habib was seized from a bus by Pakistani security forces. While detained in Pakistan, at the behest of American agents, he was suspended from a hook and electrocuted repeatedly. He was then turned over to the CIA, and in the process of transporting him to Egypt he endured the usual treatment: his clothes were cut off, a suppository was stuffed in his anus (A small plug of medication designed to melt at body temperature within a body cavity other than the mouth, especially the rectum or vagina. Also called bougie.
), he was put into a diaper - and 'wrapped up like a spring roll'.

In Egypt, as Habib recounts in his memoir, My Story: The Tale of a Terrorist Who Wasn’t, he was repeatedly subjected to electric shocks, immersed in water up to his nostrils(Either of the external openings of the nose; a naris.
) and beaten. His fingers were broken and he was hung from metal hooks. At one point, his interrogator slapped him so hard that his blindfold was dislodged, revealing the identity of his tormentor: Suleiman.

Frustrated that Habib was not providing useful information or confessing to involvement in terrorism, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a shackled prisoner in front of Habib, which he did with a vicious karate kick. In April 2002, after five months in Egypt, Habib was rendered to American custody at Bagram prison in Afghanistan - and then transported to Guantanamo. On January 11, 2005, the day before he was scheduled to be charged, Dana Priest of the Washington Post published an exposé about Habib’s torture. The US government immediately announced that he would not be charged and would be repatriated to Australia.

A far more infamous torture case, in which Suleiman also is directly implicated, is that of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi. Unlike Habib, who was innocent of any ties to terror or militancy, al-Libi was allegedly a trainer at al-Khaldan camp in Afghanistan. He was captured by the Pakistanis while fleeing across the border in November 2001. He was sent to Bagram, and questioned by the FBI. But the CIA wanted to take over, which they did, and he was transported to a black site on the USS Bataan in the Arabian Sea, then extraordinarily rendered to Egypt. Under torture there, al-Libi "confessed" knowledge about an al-Qaeda–Saddam connection, claiming that two al-Qaeda operatives had received training in Iraq for use in chemical and biological weapons. In early 2003, this was exactly the kind of information that the Bush administration was seeking to justify attacking Iraq and to persuade reluctant allies to go along. Indeed, al-Libi’s "confession" was one the central pieces of "evidence" presented at the United Nations by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell to make the case for war.
As it turns out, that confession was a lie tortured out of him by Egyptians. Here is how former CIA chief George Tenet describes the whole al-Libi situation in his 2007 memoir, At The Center Of The Storm:

"We believed that al-Libi was withholding critical threat information at the time, so we transferred him to a third country for further debriefing. Allegations were made that we did so knowing that he would be tortured, but this is false. The country in question [Egypt] understood and agreed that they would hold al-Libi for a limited period. In the course of questioning while he was in US custody in Afghanistan, al-Libi made initial references to possible al-Qa'ida training in Iraq. He offered up information that a militant known as Abu Abdullah had told him that at least three times between 1997 and 2000, the now-deceased al-Qa'ida leader Mohammad Atef had sent Abu Abdullah to Iraq to seek training in poisons and mustard gas.

"Another senior al-Qa'ida detainee told us that Mohammad Atef was interested in expanding al-Qa'ida's ties to Iraq, which, in our eyes, added credibility to the reporting. Then, shortly after the Iraq war got under way, al-Libi recanted his story. Now, suddenly, he was saying that there was no such cooperative training. Inside the CIA, there was sharp division on his recantation. It led us to recall his reporting, and here is where the mystery begins.

"Al-Libi's story will no doubt be that he decided to fabricate in order to get better treatment and avoid harsh punishment. He clearly lied. We just don't know when. Did he lie when he first said that al-Qa'ida members received training in Iraq - or did he lie when he said they did not? In my mind, either case might still be true. Perhaps, early on, he was under pressure, assumed his interrogators already knew the story, and sang away. After time passed and it became clear that he would not be harmed, he might have changed his story to cloud the minds of his captors. Al-Qa'ida operatives are trained to do just that. A recantation would restore his stature as someone who had successfully confounded the enemy. The fact is, we don't know which story is true, and since we don't know, we can assume nothing. (pp. 353-354)"

Al-Libi was eventually sent off, quietly, to Libya - though he reportedly made a few other stops along the way - where he was imprisoned. The use of al-Libi’s statement in the build-up to the Iraq war made him a huge American liability once it became clear that the purported al-Qaeda–Saddam connection was a tortured lie. His whereabouts were, in fact, a secret for years, until April 2009 when Human Rights Watch researchers investigating the treatment of Libyan prisoners encountered him in the courtyard of a prison. Two weeks later, on May 10, al-Libi was dead, and the Gaddafi regime claimed it was a suicide.

According to Evan Kohlmann, who enjoys favoured status among US officials as an 'al-Qaeda expert', citing a classified source: 'Al-Libi’s death coincided with the first visit by Egypt’s spymaster Omar Suleiman to Tripoli.'

Kohlmann surmises and opines that, after al-Libi recounted his story about about an al-Qaeda–Saddam-WMD connection, "The Egyptians were embarassed by this admission - and the Bush government found itself in hot water internationally. Then, in May 2009, Omar Suleiman saw an opportunity to get even with al-Libi and travelled to Tripoli. By the time Omar Suleiman’s plane left Tripoli, Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi had committed 'suicide'."

As people in Egypt and around the world speculate about the fate of the Mubarak regime, one thing should be very clear: Omar Suleiman is not the man to bring democracy to the country. His hands are too dirty, and any 'stability' he might be imagined to bring to the country and the region comes at way too high a price. Hopefully, the Egyptians who are thronging the streets and demanding a new era of freedom will make his removal from power part of their demands, too.

Lisa Hajjar teaches sociology at the University of California - Santa Barbara and is a co-editor of Jadaliyya.

This article first appeared on Jadaliyya.
====
FACTSHEET



Who is Vice-President Omar Suleiman


· From 1993 until January 2011, Suleiman was Minister without portfolio and Chief of Egypt’s feared General Intelligence Service.

· In 1995, Suleiman worked closely with the Clinton administration in devising and implementing its CIA rendition program; back then, rendition involved kidnapping suspected terrorists and transferring them to a third country for questioning.

· Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments; that is, Omar Suleiman negotiated directly with top CIA officials.

· After September 2001, Egypt figured large as a torture destination of choice, as did Suleiman as Egypt’s torturer-in-chief.



· One of the victims of the CIA rendition program was a Canadian citizen, Ahmad El Maati, who was detained and tortured in Egypt for 22 months.

· Egyptian-born Australian citizen Mamdouh Habib — was reportedly tortured by Suleiman himself in October 2001.

o To loosen Habib's tongue, Suleiman ordered a guard to murder a shackled Turkistan prisoner in front of Habib

· Prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, the CIA transferred a detainee in Afghanistan known as Ibn Sheikh al-Libi to Egypt who confessed under torture that there was a link between Iraq's Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda.

o When the then US secretary of state Colin Powell made the case for war before the United Nations, he referred to details of al-Libi's confession. Al-Libi eventually recanted his account.

o Thus Egypt provided the fake information used by the United States to go to war in Iraq.

· Wiklieaks dispatches disclose that Suleiman authorised draconian steps to prevent African migrants from entering the Sinai Peninsula en route to Israel, a path trodden by many Sudanese refugees.

o A November 2007 cable quotes Mr Suleiman as saying that he is preventing "all black people from accessing the Sinai, even as tourists".

· Other Wikileaks files suggest that Suleiman wanted Hamas "isolated", and thought Gaza should "go hungry but not starve".

· On 29 January 2011 Mubarak sought to quell anti-regime unrest by appointing Suleiman as Vice-President.

· On 3 February 2011, in an interview on state television, Suleiman accused the demonstrators in Tahrir Square of implementing foreign agendas, and described foreign journalists as enemies of the state.



Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch assert Suleiman’s career has moved in lockstep with a regime marked by widespread abuses.



Both the United States and Israel see Omar Suleiman as the preferred candidate to replace Hosni Mubarak – that is, they want to exchange a dictator for another dictator who is also a torturer - to maintain the status quo.



As people in Egypt and around the world speculate about the fate of the Mubarak regime, one thing should be very clear: Omar Suleiman is not the man to bring democracy to the country. His hands are too dirty, and any 'stability' he might be imagined to bring to the country and the region comes at way too high a price.



News to Know:

Sayyed Hasan to Egyptians: Your Victory Will Change Face of Region:

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=224898

Top Shia Cleric: Enemies Admit Islamic Revolution Plays Role in Egypt:

http://www.abna.ir/data.asp?lang=3&id=224852


===

King warned Obama Saudi could fund Egypt -paper
10 Feb 2011 07:54

Source: reuters // Reuters


LONDON, Feb 10 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah told U.S. President Barack Obama that his country would prop up Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak if the United States withdrew its aid programme, The Times said on Thursday.

Abdullah told Obama not to humiliate Mubarak, who is under pressure from protesters to quit immediately, in a telephone call on Jan. 29, the newspaper said, citing a senior source in Riyadh.
Obama's administration has wavered between support for Egypt in Washington's conflict with militant Islam and backing for Egyptians who have been protesting for weeks to demand Mubarak and his government quit.

The United States has long nurtured its alliance with key ally Egypt, giving billions of dollars in aid as it seeks to influence affairs in a region whose autocratic rulers are struggling to contain social discontent.

The United States has stopped short of endorsing calls for Mubarak, 82, to leave office immediately. He said last week he would step down in September when an election is due.

On Jan. 28, the White House said the United States would review $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt. Officials later said no such review was planned currently. (editing by David Stamp)

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Mubarak likely to quit on Thursday night: officialsThu Feb 10, 2011 4:23pm GMT
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1 of 1Full SizeBy Andrew Hammond and Alexander Dziadosz
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak looked likely to step down on Thursday in response to more than two weeks of nationwide protests against his 30-year rule.

Asked if Mubarak would step down, an Egyptian official told Reuters: "Most probably".

The BBC also quoted the head of Mubarak's political party as saying that the president might go.

"I spoke to the new secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party, Hossan Badrawi," a BBC reporter said. "He said: 'I hope the president is handing over his powers tonight'.

The head of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency also said it was likely Mubarak would step down in the next few hours.

"There's a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening, which would be significant in terms of where the, hopefully, orderly transition in Egypt takes place," Leon Panetta told a congressional hearing in Washington.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq also told the BBC that the 82-year-old strongman may step down.

The president has been buffeted by widespread protests against poverty, repression and corruption that broke out last month in an unprecedented display of frustration at his autocratic rule.

Hundreds of thousands of people have taken to the streets to demand that Mubarak quit and clashes between protesters and security forces have killed at least 300 people.
Mubarak has clung on to power, promising to step down in September, but that was not enough to end the uprising.

On Thursday afternoon, Egypt's military announced it was taking measures to preserve the nation and aspirations of the people after a meeting of the Higher Army Council.

The meeting of the Higher Army Council was headed by the defence minister and Mubarak was not present, according to television footage.

Pro-democracy protesters in the main focus of the opposition, Tahrir, or Liberation, Square, cheered as it seemed that Mubarak's removal was imminent.

Organisers were promising another major push on the streets on Friday when protesters said they plan to move on to the state radio and television building in "The Day of Martyrs" dedicated to the dead.

Washington has pressured Mubarak to speed up the pace of reform but has stopped short of demanding the resignation of the president of the country, which has a peace treaty with Israel and an army which receives about $1.3 billion in U.S. aid a year.

"The army is facing the choice between standing with Mubarak and perhaps being swept aside or going with the popular flow. I think they will give away Mubarak almost as a fig leaf. Possibly (Vice President Omar) Suleiman as well, although he is not as unpopular as Mubarak. There is an element of regime preservation going on here from the army elite," Julien Barnes-Dacey, a Middle East analyst at Control Risks in London, told Reuters.

===

Reactions to Mubarak’s speech flooding in on Twitter:

Al Jazeera’s Tristan Redman: “Confusion in #tahrir. Is he gone? Or is he staying? Nobody seems to understand.”

CNN’s Ivan Watson comments: “Mubarak finishes speech. Does not say he will step down. Angry Tahrir Square crowd chanting ‘He leaves, we leave.’ The stand-off continues”

Blogger Sandmonkey: “People are going crazy in the street. We are joining them.”

Matthew Cassel: “Tonight or tomorrow, Tahrir is not big enough to contain this rage.”

by Matt Reeder edited by Matt Reeder at 0:13
ABC News reporter Lara Setrakian is tweeting: "Tahrir chants: 'we won't go. he will go.' The scene is set for a confrontation."
by Patricia Launt at 0:09
Protesters in Tahrir Square shout "down, down, Hosni Mubarak" in rage at speech
by Patricia Launt at 0:05
Mubarak says he will not leave Egypt
by Patricia Launt at 0:03
Crowd in Tahrir Square is shouting "get out, get out" in response to Mubarak's speech, CNN is reporting
by Patricia Launt at 0:03
Mubarak says transfer of power to Suleiman to prove that protester demands will be met by dialogue
by Patricia Launt at 0:02
Mubarak says he will delegate powers to Vice President Omar Suleiman, according to the constitution
by Patricia Launt at 0:00
Witnesses in Tahrir Square wave shoes in dismay at Mubarak speech
by Patricia Launt at 23:59
Mubarak calls to continue national dialogue, away from disputes
by Patricia Launt at 23:59
Mubarak says he is concerned not with himself, but with Egypt
by Patricia Launt at 23:58
Mubarak says he proposes amending articles of the constitution, including cancelling 179, which gives powers regarding terror cases
by Patricia Launt at 23:57
Mubarak says Egypt is heading day after day to a peaceful transfer of power
by Patricia Launt at 23:54
Mubarak says dialogue with opposition led to preliminary consensus to resolve the crisis
by Patricia Launt at 23:53
Mubarak says he is committed to protect the constitution until a transfer of power to whoever is elected in an honest election
by Patricia Launt at 23:51
Mubarak confirms he will not run again for the presidency
by Patricia Launt at 23:50
Mubarak says he will not accept foreign dictation whatever the justification
by Patricia Launt at 23:50
Mubarak says he responds to demands with commitment and will not go back and that he believes in the honesty of protester demands and intentions
by Patricia Launt at 23:49
Mubarak says that those who died did not die in vain in the unrest, and he feels the pain of those who lost family
by Patricia Launt at 23:48
Mubarak starts his televised address to the Egyptian people, his third such address since protests began on January 25
by Patricia Launt at 23:46
Once again, people are left waiting on President Mubarak. Earlier reports said he would begin his remarks at 10 p.m. local time in Egypt. It’s now after 10:30 p.m. People have decided to poke a little fun at the embattled leader on Twitter, creating a hashtag #reasonsmubarakislate.
by Matt Reeder edited by Matt Reeder at 23:44
Not all great news if Al Arabiya is to be believed...where does Mubarak go now? Or does he stay?
comment by AG at 23:41
Leaving things to Suleiman does not end the demonstrations. They will not end until democracy is installed. Step-by-step democracy will come - so keeping protests alive will get you proud Egyptians your freedom
comment by Vasant at 23:41
Al Arabiya says Mubarak will say he will transfer powers to Vice President Suleiman according to the constitution
by Patricia Launt at 23:33
Mubarak confirms he will not run for another presidential term, Al Arabiya says
by Patricia Launt at 23:30
Mubarak will transfer powers to Vice President Suleiman, Al Arabiya says, citing sources
by Patricia Launt at 23:28
Mubarak reportedly says in his speech he does not accept orders from outside, Al Arabiya is reporting
by Patricia Launt at 23:25
Suleiman for Mubark? No thanks, that is like Pinochet leave his position as Dictator in hands of "Mamo" Contreras, CNI`s leader, something like chilean CIA version between 1973-1985-.
comment by mutanrashen at 23:24
Egypt state TV says Mubarak's speech will start shortly
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 23:20
More conflicting reports as to whether Mubarak will step down. CNN is quoting a senior Egyptian official who says Mubarak will step down. We should know for sure soon because Mubarak is expected to speak shortly.
by Patricia Launt at 23:00
Mubarak is "definitely not going to step down," information minister tells Reuters shortly before Mubarak is to speak to the nation www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 23:12
Was this the first white house/state dept. mention of "democracy"? I remember a lot of "respect for the aspirations of the people" talk but I am pretty sure I would remember Obama or Clinton using the D word. And odds are Obama has heads up, odds are his pr people would not let him go live on TV with a historic call for democracy an hour before the military takes over for the comming years.
comment by Rt at 22:47
Live television coverage from Tahrir Square shows a euphoric crowd as Egyptians wait for Mubarak to speak.
by Patricia Launt at 22:40
Canadian journalist Nahlah Ayed is tweeting that the crowd in Tahrir Square keeps getting bigger. She says "So many children."
by Patricia Launt at 22:33

by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 22:24

Demonstrators kiss an Egyptian soldier in Tahrir square February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by Corinne Perkins at 22:20
Al Arabiya is reporting that Mubarak will announce constitutional procedures before handing over powers www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 22:14

An opposition supporter reacts after commander Hassan al-Roweny addressed protesters in the opposition stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 21:52
President Obama says "We want all Egyptians to know America will continue to do every thing that we can to support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt." www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 21:56

An Egyptian soldier is mobbed by celebrating anti-government protesters inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 6:48:47 PM21:48
Instant view: Egypt's Mubarak may step down www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:42:56 PM21:42
Egypt Brotherhood talks of coup, but retracts comment www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:42:14 PM21:42
Factbox: The changing U.S. reaction to Egypt's crisis www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:40:56 PM21:40
Obama says following today's events in Egypt 'very closely', witnessing history unfold
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:40:14 PM21:40
Factbox: Egyptians comment on Mubarak seen possibly quitting www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:35:03 PM21:35
Snap analysis: How will the dust settle in Egypt's transition www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:33:57 PM21:33
Egypt's army will act if the protesters refuse a plan by Mubarak to hand over to the vice president: Al Arabiya www.reuters.com
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong edited by Patricia Launt at 21:57
Obama to speak on Egypt in about 10 minutes: White House
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:20:39 PM21:20
Obama to make remarks shortly on Egypt situation at start of speech in Michigan on Thursday: White House
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 6:15:36 PM21:15
Egyptian state TV is reporting that Mubarak will speak at 10 p.m. (3 p.m. ET)
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 6:03:46 PM21:03

Opposition supporter waves flags after a senior army general addressed the crowd inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 5:51:49 PM20:51
With strikes and labor unrest spreading throughout Egypt, is this becoming a "workers' revolution"? www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 5:37:33 PM20:37
A look back at three decades of Mubarak in pictures www.reuters.com
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 5:35:19 PM20:35

by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 5:32:44 PM20:32

Anti-government protesters carry a poster of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 5:22:52 PM20:22
the speech will be at 6:30 GMT
comment by Omar Nasr Ebeid at 2/10/2011 5:19:04 PM20:19
President Obama, asked about the situation in Egypt, says "we're going to have to wait and see what's going on"
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 5:18:59 PM20:18
State TV says Mubarak is meeting with his Vice President Omar Suleiman at his Cairo palace now and shows images of the meeting
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 5:16:40 PM20:16

An opposition supporter lifts his daughter over the growing crowd after a senior army general addressed the crowd inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 5:14:58 PM20:14
The warm welcome given for visitors to Tahrir Square as they arrive.
by storyful at 2/10/2011 5:10:20 PM20:10
A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood says he wants Mubarak out, but he's worried by developments because it "looks like military coup"
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 5:06:42 PM20:06
Wael Ghonim is taking a decidedly more positive tone with this Tweet: "Revolution 2.0: Mission Accomplished"
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 5:04:56 PM20:04
This is the 17th day of protests in Egypt. Can three weeks of protests end 30 years of authoritarian power?
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 4:57:56 PM19:57
Egyptian blogger and Google exec Wael Ghonim, who was held by state security for 12 days, Tweets this cautious message "Guys, dont do much speculations for now. Just wait and see" after earlier writing "Mission accomplished. Thanks to all the brave young Egyptians." You can follow Wael here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 4:54:15 PM19:54
Journalists in Cairo are Tweeting that protesters are already celebrating in Tahrir Square: BBC's Lyse Doucet - "Driving thru Cairo traffic.People already beeping horns & waving V for victory signs" and Canadian journalist David Common - "Mass celebrations #Tahrir Square."
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 4:46:09 PM19:46
Lawyers protesting in Cairo, one of a number of professional groups who have been protesting today, including doctors and nurses.
by storyful at 2/10/2011 4:44:57 PM19:44

by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 2/10/2011 4:38:07 PM19:38
State TV is now reporting that Mubarak will speak to the nation tonight from his palace in Cairo. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 4:34:08 PM19:34

A tearful opposition supporter holds an Egyptian army officer after commander, Hassan al-Roweny, addressed protesters in the opposition stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 4:29:52 PM19:29
Canadian journalist Nahlah Ayed is Tweeting "This country is shutting down. Highway transport workers apparently on strike" and "Railway workers block tracks in Cairo. A very angry crowd". After 17 days, the protests are getting bigger and more widespread, not smaller. You can follow Nahlah here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 4:29:31 PM19:29
Photographers Dylan Martinez and Suhaib Salem are on the streets of Cairo to capture the celebrating protesters.
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 4:26:21 PM19:26

Anti-government protesters celebrate after a senior army general addressed the crowd inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 4:25:43 PM19:25
The head of Egypt's ruling party, Hossam Badrawi, said in a live interview with the BBC that the right thing for Mubarak to do would be to "step aside."
by Patricia Launt at 2/10/2011 4:22:24 PM19:22

Opposition supporters celebrate after Egyptian army commander, Hassan al-Roweny, addressed protesters in the opposition stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 4:21:37 PM19:21
Even if Mubarak steps down, will it be enough for the protesters? This is a common them on the Twittersphere: #Egyptians do not want another government from the NDP or from the military. They want a government from #Tahrir Square.

===


Opposition supporters react in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 0:55
ReplyMore reactions to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our colleagues on the London World Desk:

Alanoud Al Sharek, a senior fellow in regional politics at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says “"He doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don't think it will suffice. He still seems to think he is the top patriarch and custodian of the Egyptian people. He doesn't realise that there is a genuine act of resistance taking place. He has performed quite a sleight of hand. He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler.”

Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., said: "Given the intense disappointment with the speech in Egypt, the country has entered this evening an ominous period of extreme tension and danger that can only be resolved by credible regime change that the majority of Egyptians can buy into"

Bill O’Grady, chief investment strategist at Confluence Investment Management, says: "The younger military really want to see this guy go and they are allied with the protesters. The older military don't want to give up power just yet and want to play a role in the orderly transition of power. This is playing out a lot like the situation with Anwar Sadat.”
by Matt Reeder edited by Matt Reeder at 0:54

An opposition supporter reacts in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 0:46
Suleiman says he is committed to doing everything he can to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in Egypt.
by Matt Reeder at 0:43
Suleiman says Mubarak has put his country above his own interests.
by Matt Reeder at 0:42
Egyptian VP Suleiman says in TV address a dialogue has been started and a road map has been agreed upon.
by Matt Reeder at 0:39
defiant ? further proof he needs to step aside
comment by truthfairy at 0:35
Just praying for a peaceful transition!
comment by Martin Musatov at 0:35

Opposition supporters react in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 0:35
Steven Cook, Middle East expert with the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, reacts to Mubarak speech: "We have seen today some movement but nevertheless Hosni Mubarak appears defiant to the end."

===

Published: February 10, 2011
Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
On Thursday, Egypt’s military announced on state television that it would take steps to “maintain the homeland” and meet the protesters’ demands — a move that was suggested that it was prepared to take power. But, in a nationally televised address on Thursday, President Hosni Mubarak said he would not resign his post. Related Article »
Air Marshal Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed
Air Force commanderLt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan
Armed forces chief of staffField Marshal Hussein Tantawi
Defense ministerLt. Gen. Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen
Commander of air defense.
Reuters TV

Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan
Armed forces chief of staff
The general appeared in Tahrir Square before the council meeting, pledging to meet the demands of the protesters and to safeguard their security. In response, the protesters roared with approval.
. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi
Defense minister
The 75-year-old commander, known by some officers as "Mubarak's poodle," has appeared among the protesters to encourage them to leave. The minister led the supreme council meeting in the absence of President Hosni Mubarak.
.Some of the other members in attendance
Vice Admiral Mohab Mamish, Navy commander in chief

Air Marshal Reda Mahmoud Hafez Mohamed, Air Force commander

Lt. Gen. Abd El Aziz Seif-Eldeen, Commander of air defense

===

Mubarak stays on: Key questions and answers
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AFP – Egyptian anti-government demonstrators react as they listen to a speech by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. …
By Yahoo! News yahoo! News – Thu Feb 10, 7:32 pm ET

By Steve Clemons

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak stunned protesters in Cairo and proved numerous reports wrong Thursday when he announced in a televised speech that he would not step down from the presidency or leave the country. Instead, he handed his powers over to Vice President Omar Suleiman. (Latest developments)

Mubarak's surprising and confusing announcement raises numerous questions about what is happening in Egypt. Here are some answers:

Who is really in charge now—the military, Vice President Omar Suleiman or Mubarak?
Mubarak clearly has major political and institutional influence in the current political order — despite the upheaval — that continues to help him survive. Mubarak matters. Suleiman's influence is growing dramatically. The military matters — but they are all slightly different nuances of the same political order. There is no clear, visible split between these parties at the time of this writing, and thus while Suleiman and the army are clearly gaining influence, the Mubarak franchise still remains definitive and at the helm.
[ For complete coverage of politics and policy, go to Yahoo! Politics ]


Why did Mubarak not step down, as rumored?

At this point, all we can do is speculate. Given the statement from the military earlier in the day that "all of the protesters' demands would be met," expectations were raised that Mubarak would resign and leave the country. His failure to do so could indicate that either there is a serious split in the national security structure in Egypt that Mubarak overcame, or Mubarak was able to offer things to the military leadership in exchange for their continued support. But we probably won't know the real inside story for some time.

What are the chances that Mubarak will remain in office until September?

Mubarak just doubled down on staying as head of state until the end of his term. The protesters and Mubarak are now on a very clear, potentially violent collision course. Mubarak's chances of remaining in power are mixed — and could be high depending on the willingness of the army to engage in serious confrontations against protesters. Ultimately though, if the public refuses to yield ground and numbers swell even larger in Tahrir Square, the military may finally decide that its own survival depends on dumping Mubarak — leading to a coup. Things are very murky at the moment — and fluid.

What challenges does this latest development hold for the Obama administration; what does the White House do now?

The White House can be expected to stick to its principles — insisting on no violence, demanding that the people's basic human rights of assembly and protest be respected, and calling for meaningful, immediate political transition. If Mubarak proceeds to violate these principles, the White House could be expected to ratchet up(A mechanism consisting of a pawl that engages the sloping teeth of a wheel or bar, permitting motion in one direction only.
) the stridency(Loud, harsh, grating, or shrill; discordant) of its demands and help generate international disdain and concern for Mubarak. If there is a serious crackdown, Obama could then assert that Mubarak has violated the terms of his social contract with the nation and depart. But the White House must be humble and continue to articulate, as it has, that the results in Egypt are determined by the Egyptian people, not by the White House.

What role is the Egyptian military likely to play now?

The military still remains a key player in the future of Egypt's political system. For the most part, it has straddled the incumbent regime and the protesters, keeping itself in a position to support a power equation that included many different options. If the military cracks down on the protesters, the institution's relationship with the public may be seriously undermined — leading to a potential civil war and serious violence. Right now, the military remains a key institution to watch, but its course and the decisions it is making about its place in a future Egyptian political order were put into doubt with Mubarak's decision not to leave the scene.

Steve Clemons is founder and senior fellow of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. He is part of a group of foreign policy experts that the White House has consulted with concerning the situation in Egypt. He also is publisher of The Washington Note.

===

The Muslim Brotherhood is urging Egyptians to stay on the streets to oust President Mubarak from power, calling the veteran ruler's latest speech a trick. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 16:15
Reply
Anti-government protesters pray during Friday prayers inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 16:12
Minutes after the initial report from Al Arabiya came out, they issued an adjustment saying that Mubarak and his family left Cairo, not Egypt www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves edited by Patricia Launt at 16:18
Al Arabiya quotes reports that Mubarak and his family have left Egypt to an "unknown destination"
by josh.hargreaves edited by Patricia Launt at 16:18

Opposition supporters attend Friday prayer in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Allan Shifman at 14:35
An op-ed from the New York Times by Mohamed ElBaradei begins, "When I was a young man in Cairo, we voiced our political views in whispers, if at all, and only to friends we could trust." www.nytimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 14:28
Here's a factbox detailing the changing U.S. reaction to Egypt's crisis. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 14:09
Egypt's army says it is ready to lift emergency law, which has been imposed on the nation for 30 years. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 13:24
Egypt's vice-president has told the country's prime minister to appoint a deputy premier from a council of "wise men" who have been in talks with the government to find a way out of the country's crisis. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 13:20

An opposition protester shouts in front of an army tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 13:00
The Nobel peace prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei says "The rats are leaving the sinking ship." The people in Tahrir square are calling for their criminal leaders to be held to account. The RATS must not be allowed to flee with their stolen BILLIONS.
comment by marc Johnson at 12:52

A soldier (L) stands next to a tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 12:51
BBC says Iran is jamming its Persian language TV broadcasts of the mass protests in Egypt.
by Allan Shifman at 12:38
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan tells Reuters the military was not intervening in daily government matters. Radwan said, "The armed forces are there to protect the demonstrators and to protect the country but the powers have been handed over, not to the military, but to the vice president. So if that formula works, we will be in a much better position." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:37
A small group of protesters has gathered outside Mubarak's palace in Cairo. A witness tells Reuters the army has not tried to remove them. Razor wire and six tanks and armored vehicles separate them from the residence. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:14
Mohamed ElBaradei says Egypt's leadership is in "total chaos." The Nobel peace prize winner goes on to say, "It is like the Titanic. The rats are leaving the sinking ship." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:10
Its time for the people to remove Hosni Mubarak from office but also remove his stolen billions for the benefit of Egypt. Hosni Mubarak's assets should be frozen worldwide! His hands are wet with the blood of more than 300.
comment by marc Johnson at 12:04

Egyptians living in South Korea shout slogans during a rally demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, near the Egyptian embassy in Seoul, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Truth Leem
by Allan Shifman at 12:00
Egypt finance minister urges foreign investors to stay the course despite "slight kink" in economy.
by Allan Shifman at 11:52
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan said in an interview with the BBC, "The nightmare of a coup is very bad for everybody, for the young people, for the economy...That is a scenario we would like to avoid." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 11:46
An Egyptian army officer who joined protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square says 15 other middle-ranking officers have also gone over to the demonstrators. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 11:16
Who makes up Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces? The New York Times breaks it down. www.nytimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:52:46 AM9:52
Here's a slideshow from Reuters looking back at 30 years of Mubarak rule in Egypt www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:27:56 AM9:27
Al Arabiya is reporting that Egypt's Higher Council of the Armed Forces to issue important statement.
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:09:56 AM9:09

by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:32:26 AM8:32
Wondering how it all began? Here's a timeline looking back at the 30 years of Mubarak's reign www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:27:52 AM8:27
Here's a week-by-week interactive map of the unrest from the BBC www.bbc.co.uk
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:24:39 AM8:24

by Grant Surridge at 2/11/2011 4:37:15 AM7:37
Time in Egypt 6:30am. Al Jazeera correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin tweets this 20 minutes ago: Sunrise call 2 prayers echoing across a quiet #egypt Today the people will deliver their response to #Mubarak's speech
by Grant Surridge at 2/11/2011 4:32:00 AM7:32
Read the latest wrap-up on the events in Egypt from our reporters Marwa Awad and Alexander Dziadosz in Cairo. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 3:08:12 AM6:08
The Washington Post has a full transcript of Mubarak’s remarks www.washingtonpost.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 2:38:52 AM5:38
Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US military assistance, something to the tune of $1.3 billion last year. Ending this assistance now will send the clearest signal possible that the US government stands on the side of democracy in Egypt. While it is impossible to know how the Egyptian military would react, the protesters in Cairo would view it as a great moral victory. And so would many Americans.
comment by JWRB at 2/11/2011 2:37:20 AM5:37
The army forces are the last secured exit channel from the current situation. If the army leaders gambled with their credibility they will gamble also the future of Egypt stability for indefinite years to come. Egypt on the edge of street war if the army did not interfere swiftly
comment by Eyad Harfoush at 2/11/2011 2:37:18 AM5:37
The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill argues that Mubarak’s refusal to step down shows just how little influence Obama seems to have on events in the country now:

“The Obama administration has been putting pressure on Mubarak since last week to stand down straight away, but Mubarak, in what appeared to be a direct snub to the US president, said he would not bow to international pressure.

Mubarak's response offers further evidence of the US's slow decline from its status as superpower to a position where it is unable to decisively influence events in Egypt, in spite of that country being one of the biggest recipients of US military aid.”

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 2:36:15 AM5:36
It’s currently 3:45 a.m. in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s Arabic service is reporting that there are about 10,000 protesters surrounding the state TV building in Cairo now. CNN reported earlier that an estimated crowd of 1,000 protesters were nearing the site of Egypt’s presidential palace. Many protesters remain camped out in Tahrir Square. CBS News has a live video feed from the square at www.ustream.tv
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:46:00 AM4:46
You can read Obama’s full statement on Egypt at www.whitehouse.gov
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:07:22 AM4:07
Obama also says the Egyptian government must offer a credible, concrete path toward democracy, says they have not yet seized that opportunity. Obama also urges the government to lift emergency law and hold talks with a broad range of opposition on Egypt's future.
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:02:26 AM4:02
Finally, updates from the White House: Obama urges the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made. He adds that it's not yet clear that the transition of power in Egypt is "immediate, meaningful or sufficient."
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:55:32 AM3:55
In a new analysis, Reuters correspondent Alistair Lyon takes a closer look at what Mubarak's latest moves could mean for Egypt's political fate:

"By clinging to office, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has defied the demonstrators clamouring for an end to his 30-year rule, setting the stage for further conflict in which the military's role could be crucial.

Even after Mubarak told the nation in a televised speech late on Thursday that he was handing powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, it remained unclear who was really in charge.

Mubarak did not resign and, according to Hassan Nafaa, an independent analyst and government critic, the president retained important powers and could regain those he had ceded.

'Suleiman cannot dissolve parliament, he cannot change the cabinet and he cannot even ask for constitutional reforms without the president's consent,' Nafaa said.

'Mubarak still holds the reins to power and he can easily and at any time retrieve presidential powers from Suleiman.'"

Read the full analysis at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:46:41 AM3:46
Watch a video of the demonstration taking place outside the building that houses the offices of Egyptian state TV, courtesy of Egyptian blogger and activist Ramy Raoof: bambuser.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:32:05 AM3:32
Reuters’ Tom Perry reports on the dramatic change in mood in Tahrir Square after President Mubarak’s speech earlier:

“Joy turned to despair and then anger in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday when President Hosni Mubarak's dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters demanding his resignation.” Read the full story at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:12:07 AM3:12
Read the full text of Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman’s speech today www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:04:23 AM3:04
In his blog, New York Times writer Nick Kristof argues that Mubarak's speech is a reminder of just how deeply entrenched the powers that be are in Egypt. kristof.blogs.nytimes.com
by Aviva West at 2/10/2011 11:59:03 PM2:59
It wasn't simply Islamists during the '79 revolution. There were Marxist groups as well. In addition Khomeini talked about the Shah's issues with corruption, and unequal distribution of wealth in Iran at the time. Sound familiar? It was thought that Iran was too western to worry about a theocracy. While it's not a direct parallel, the potential IS there.
comment by Tristan Sterling at 2/10/2011 11:41:38 PM2:41
the coming days will reveal the personality of the egyptian people and how much patience and understanding they are prepared to use to secure a peaceful future
comment by truthfairy at 2/10/2011 11:41:09 PM2:41
He was kind of all over the place with that speech. "I'm sorry. You know I am a war hero, right? Here's what I'll do. I love you and Egypt 'till they put me in the grave. And you know what? I am just not going to leave. Goodnight everybody!"
comment by murrowseye at 2/10/2011 11:41:07 PM2:41
U.S. President Obama expected to issue a written statement soon on the latest developments in Egypt.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:36:29 PM2:36
Louis Charbonneau, our colleague at the United Nations, has more on opposition leader ElBaradei’s reaction to the latest developments in Egypt:

“ElBaradei, interviewed from Egypt by CNN, said: ‘People are very angry.’ He added that it was up to the army to ‘save the country from going down the drain.’

‘We should be quite worried,’ he said. ‘They (Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman) need to step aside. People have lost confidence in them.’ Mubarak earlier announced that he was delegating powers to Suleiman.

ElBaradei said Mubarak had lost all legitimacy.

Referring to Mubarak's passing of his powers to the vice president, ElBaradei said: ‘How can you be a president without any power?’”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:25:31 PM2:25
Palestinians are with Egypt just as they were with us in the Gaza attack. Allah is with you.
comment by Palestinian at 2/10/2011 11:24:50 PM2:24
@truthfairy When the people are asking for basic things like food and justice and their government is defiant for their requests it is time for change, I agree.
comment by Martin Musatov at 2/10/2011 11:24:31 PM2:24
defiant ? further proof he needs to step aside, he's done...
comment by truthfairy at 2/10/2011 11:24:29 PM2:24
I fear that speech was like a match on a pile of dynamite. It makes my heart sick w/fear of what will happen next.
comment by dafonz at 2/10/2011 11:24:11 PM2:24
Egypt's respect for their military and realistic ability for the military to play the moderator in this seemingly sure transition should weaken proclamations for total revolution--both religious and otherwise. While there are always many dangers in a power struggle, the sources of discontent in this case were Egyptian society as a whole and not merely islamic groups. This weakens comparisions to the Iranian revolution.
comment by CautiousOptimist at 2/10/2011 11:24:05 PM2:24
Read highlights from Mubarak’s speech to the nation on Thursday evening: www.reuters.com Translations by Samia Nakhoul and Dina Zayed.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:03:20 PM2:03

Demonstrators react as they listen to Mubarak's speech in front of a big screen in Tahrir square, February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by jashong.king at 2/10/2011 10:58:08 PM1:58

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen as President Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation in a televised speech February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:46:34 PM1:46
New comments from Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague on BBC TV: “We are studying very closely what the president and vice president of Egypt have said. It is not immediately clear what powers are being handed over and what the full implications are. We think the solution to this has to be owned by the Egyptian people themselves. All we want in the United Kingdom is for them to be able to settle their own differences in a peaceful and democratic way. And that is why we have called from the beginning of this crisis for an urgent but orderly transition to a more broadly based government in Egypt, and in the meantime we look to the Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:44:57 PM1:44

An anti-government protester in Cairo's Tahrir Square listens as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:44:13 PM1:44
Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's ambassador to the U.S., tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Mubarak has delegated all power to Vice President Suleiman, calling him "de facto" head of state.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:39:59 PM1:39

Opposition supporters shout in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:38:43 PM1:38
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei reacts on Twitter to the latest developments: "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:37:32 PM1:37
people were planning to move in millions on the streets tomorrow anyway, all he's done now is made the people viscous and angry. is he that dissociated from reality or is he doing this on purpose?
comment by Lucy at 2/10/2011 10:36:06 PM1:36

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:34:15 PM1:34
Prayers are answered, Suleiman says 'committed to peaceful transition'. This is like a global soap opera. Amazing. A revolution televized.
comment by Martin Musatov at 2/10/2011 10:31:33 PM1:31
How will Turkey respond? They are a power player in this process
comment by Display Name:steve at 2/10/2011 10:31:19 PM1:31
It’s now about 12:30 a.m. in Egypt. CNN is reporting that protesters have formed a human chain around the headquarters of state TV in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:30:33 PM1:30
More expert reaction to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our world desk in London:

Stephen Grand, Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington:

“It was quite surreal. He's a stubborn old man who refused to see the writing on the wall. I happen to believe the demonstrations will continue, people will continue to push for his ouster and eventually will succeed.”

Robert Springborg, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School:

“The speeches tonight are not intended to bring an end to the crisis in a peaceful way but to inflame the situation so there is justification for the imposition of direct military rule. They are risking not only the coherence of the military but even indeed, and I use this term with advisement here, civil war."

“I think it needs to be made perfectly clear (by outside powers) that Mubarak and his regime are forfeiting Egypt's future. Egypt is in an economic crisis. It is going to have to be bailed out and the short answer to what they are doing now is that it will not be bailed out with anything like a military regime in place that is associated with Mubarak, Omar Suleiman and these people who are part of this regime.”

Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies:

“The truth is that even the senior military now at the top of the power structure under Mubarak almost certainly have no clear idea of what happens next, and it will be days before anyone know how well the transition will function, who goes and who stays, and how stable the result really is.”

“It is also important to understand that democracy is less important to most Egyptians than material benefits, jobs, decent education, effective government services, ending corruption and favouritism, and emphasizing the concept of justice in ways that provide security and honest police and courts. People aren't looking for a vote as much as they want to stop the economic, political and social injustice.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:22:05 PM1:22

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen in dismay as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:14:59 PM1:14

by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:13:28 PM1:13
President Mubarak once again spurned protesters’ demands that he quit office immediately. Check out our timeline of Mubarak’s 30 years in power: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:12:26 PM1:12
Everything will be alright if he just stepped down from day one. and by stepping down, I don't mean after he steps down another awful twin, or worser, of embarak comes in to rule Egypt.
comment by Palestinian at 2/10/2011 10:09:12 PM1:09
Time for the military to comply with their words to saveguard the interests of the people and as such remove the actual egoistic government
comment by Frans at 2/10/2011 10:08:58 PM1:08
this is not so much a revolution as an evolution of a people, who seek not to seize power but embody the power of their need for freedom and change. Revolutions have a life of their own which often implodes and strangles the heart of the cause. keep heart and keep sight of the freedom you desire people of Tahrir square -
comment by cattleshed at 2/10/2011 10:08:46 PM1:08
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy weighs in on the events in Egypt, saying change in Egypt is unavoidable and that he hopes for democracy there.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:08:33 PM1:08
Our colleagues in Cairo have rounded up some quotes from Egyptians in Cairo's Tahrir Square and on social networking sites after Mubarak told the nation he had handed powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, but would not resign.

Mustafa Naggar, leading activist: "The street is fed up with Mubarak. If Mubarak leaves the country he will help to calm the crisis. If he continues, he will lead Egyptians into chaos."
"Plans for tomorrow stand. We will march in the millions to Tahrir Square and other locations."

Antoini Abu Sayed, 50, a university professor: "This would have been enough before the intifada (uprising), but not now. The people will continue to demonstrate. Most of us present will continue."

Ismail Zakaria, 45, a teacher: "The speech was unprecedented in its stubbornness and foolishness. Tomorrow I am heading to the palace in protest. Until Mubarak falls. There is no turning back."

Sameh Ali, 29, an activist: "Giving Suleiman presidential powers means nothing to protesters. The protesters' calls have fallen on deaf ears. And we will escalate our protests tomorrow, until victory".

Ahmed Aly, a businessman not protesting in Tahrir: "The speech was very emotional and decent. The president did what the youth requested, he left power but in a decent way that preserves his dignity and that of the Egyptian people ... All that has happened are great achievements that we would have never been able to achieve without the revolution led by the youth on Jan. 25."

by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:04:54 PM1:04
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reports on Twitter that crowds have started surrounding the state TV headquarters in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 9:59:27 PM0:59

Opposition supporters react in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 9:55:21 PM0:55
More reactions to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our colleagues on the London World Desk:

Alanoud Al Sharek, a senior fellow in regional politics at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says “"He doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don't think it will suffice. He still seems to think he is the top patriarch and custodian of the Egyptian people. He doesn't realise that there is a genuine act of resistance taking place. He has performed quite a sleight of hand. He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler.”

Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., said: "Given the intense disappointment with the speech in Egypt, the country has entered this evening an ominous period of extreme tension and danger that can only be resolved by credible regime change that the majority of Egyptians can buy into"

Bill O’Grady, chief investment strategist at Confluence Investment Management, says: "The younger military really want to see this guy go and they are allied with the protesters. The older military don't want to give up power just yet and want to play a role in the orderly transition of power. This is playing out a lot like the situation with Anwar Sadat.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 9:49:01 PM0:49

An opposition supporter reacts in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem


===

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Print version
Email to a friend .Rage in Egypt as Mubarak hangs on
10 Feb 2011 23:31

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Mubarak to hand powers to vice president, not resigning

* Disappoints protesters, plans for big rallies on Friday

* Fears of violence after army declares it is in control

* ElBaradei says: "Egypt will explode"

(Adds Egyptian ambassador to Washington, further analyst)

By Edmund Blair and Samia Nakhoul

CAIRO, Feb 10 (Reuters) - President Hosni Mubarak provoked rage on Egypt's streets on Thursday when he said he would hand over powers to his deputy but refused to step down after more than two weeks of protests demanding that he quit.

The armed forces high command had earlier issued "Communique No.1", declaring it was taking control of the nation in what some called a military coup seeking to end the turmoil under the 82-year-old former general, who has ruled for 30 years.

"Leave! Leave!" chanted hundreds of thousands who had gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square in anticipation that a televised address would be the moment their demands were met.

Instead, the former air force commander portrayed himself as a patriot and war hero overseeing an orderly transition until an election in September -- in which he said last week he would not stand. Mubarak praised young people who have stunned the Arab world with unprecedented rallies. He offered constitutional change and a bigger role for Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Waving shoes in the air in a dramatic Arab show of contempt, the crowds in central Cairo chanted: "Down, down Hosni Mubarak."

Asked if Mubarak would step down, an Egyptian official had told Reuters before the speech: "Most probably". But his information minister had said that would not be the case.

Joy turned to despair and then to anger.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel peace prize winner and retired U.N. diplomat who runs a liberal political movement, wrote on Twitter: "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."

<^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For all stories on the crisis, click on [nLDE70O2DA]

Mubarak interview with ABC http://link.reuters.com/red87r

Protest timeline http://link.reuters.com/zyc77r

For graphics, click on http://r.reuters.com/nym77r

Live Blog http://live.reuters.com/UK/Event/Unrest_in_Egypt ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>


DELEGATING POWERS

In a 20-minute address in which he said he would not bow to foreign pressure -- Washington has called on its old ally to make way quickly -- Mubarak said he would "delegate to the vice president of the republic the prerogatives of the president of the republic in a manner that is fixed by the constitution".

Egypt's ambassador to Washington said Mubarak had passed "all authority" to Suleiman, who was now "de facto president" while Mubarak remained head of state "de jure" -- in formal law.
But Hassan Nafaa, an Egyptian analyst and government critic, said: ""Mubarak still holds the reins to power and he can easily and at any time retrieve presidential powers from Suleiman."
Suleiman, a 74-year-old former intelligence chief who was promoted just last month, is not widely popular with protesters who are seeking a complete break with the military-dominated system that has governed Egypt for the past six decades.

Suleiman appeared on state television to say there was a "road map" for transition and said he would oversee a "peaceful transition of power" in the Arab world's most populous nation.

Egypt's sprawling armed forces -- the world's 10th biggest and more than 468,000-strong -- have been at the heart of power since army officers overthrew the British-backed king in 1952.
The army, from politically plugged-in generals to poor conscripts and junior officers, is key to what happens next. "This poses a real dilemma for the army," said Rosemary Hollis at London's City University. "Are they going to allow the demonstrators to escalate their demonstrations so that they push the point that Mubarak has got to go, and that means the army definitely does split with Mubarak? The demonstrators are very disappointed and there will be violence."

Robert Springborg of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School called Mubarak and Suleiman's speeches "enormously provocative", made by "desperate men, willing to gamble the fate of the nation for their own personal interest".
"The speeches ... are not intended to bring an end to the crisis in a peaceful way but to inflame the situation so there is justification for the imposition of direct military rule. They are risking not only the coherence of the military but even indeed, and I use this term with advisement here, civil war."

The army quelled bread riots in Egypt in 1977 and halted a rampage by policemen over pay in 1986, but the momentous scale and consequences of the uprising that began on Jan. 25 across the country dwarfs those events.


I FELT YOUR PAIN

"I have felt all the pain you felt," said Mubarak, who last week had already pledged not to run again in September. "I will not go back on my response to your voice and your call."

"Your demands are legitimate and just ... There is no shame in hearing your voices and opinions, but I refuse any and all dictations from abroad," he said.

"I have announced my commitment to peacefully hand over power after upcoming elections ... I will deliver Egypt and its people to safety,"
he said, once more, as he did last week, trying to paint himself as the father of the nation.

After the speech last week many Egyptians beyond the urban elites in the vanguard of recent protests had said they were satisfied by a promise of change in due course and have said they were more interested now in an end to economic disruption.

Tourists, a key source of income to the country of pyramids and Red Sea beaches, have deserted the hotels since last month.

But the anger on the streets of Cairo and Alexandria, hours ahead of a planned "Day of Martyrs" protest on Friday to commemorate the 300 or more killed by security forces since Jan. 25 appeared ominous in an environment where the army has been on the streets for two weeks and on Thursday said it was in charge.

"The army is worried that tomorrow on Friday the people will overpower state buildings and the army will not be able to fire back," protester Mohamed Anees said. "The army now is pressuring Mubarak to resolve the situation."
It remained to be seen if his speech would satisfy the army.

"He doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don't think it will suffice," said Alanoud al-Sharek at the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "He has performed quite a sleight of hand. He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler."

WASHINGTON WARY OF TUMULT

News that Mubarak may hand over power, or be unseated, in this key American ally in the Middle East had provoked loud and emotional cheers in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the focal point for pro-democracy demonstrations. But some in the crowd were quick to protest they did not want military rule.

Washington's approach to the turmoil has been based from the start on Egypt's strategic importance -- as a rare Arab state no longer hostile to Israel, as the guardian of the Suez canal linking Europe and Asia and as a major force against militant Islam in the Middle East.

President Barack Obama, hailing history unfolding, said the United States would support an "orderly and genuine transition to democracy" -- Washington would be publicly uncomfortable if the army held on to power, and also does not want Islamist rule.It had no immediate reaction to Mubarak's speech.

Washington pressured Mubarak to speed up the pace of reform but stopped short of demanding the resignation of the president of the country, which has a 1979 peace treaty with Israel and an army which receives about $1.3 billion in U.S. aid a year.

The protests that have shaken the Egyptian political system and the political landscape of the Middle East was partly inspired by the example of Tunisia, where street protesters toppled the president on Jan. 14.

(Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Tom Perry, Dina Zayed, Marwa Awad, Andrew Hammond, Alexander Dziadosz, Yasmine Saleh, Sherine El Madany, Patrick Werr, Edmund Blair, Jonathan Wright and Alison Williams in Cairo, Erika Solomon and Martin Dokoupil in Dubai, Arshad Mohammed in Washington, David Stamp in London and Brian Rohan in Berlin; Writing by Peter Millership; Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

===

We're starting to get international reaction. The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says she "respects" Mubarak's decision to step down, and itimportant to accelerate dialogue for broad-based government
by Patricia Launt at 19:20
Reply
Anti-government protesters ride through the presidential palace in Cairo grounds. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by ReutersPictures at 19:19
BBC's Lyse Doucet Tweets: "Cairo streets transformed into parade of honking horns waving flags"
by Patricia Launt at 19:18

Anti-government protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by ReutersPictures at 19:16
Protesters celebrate in Tahrir Square, chanting "the people have brought down the regime"
by Patricia Launt at 19:12
Canadian journalist Nahlah Ayed made this interesting observation on Twitter prior to Suleiman's speech: "What's happened here today is a verbal, bloodless coup"
by Patricia Launt at 19:09
CNN showing crowds erupting in cheers and waving Egyptian flags in celebration
by Patricia Launt at 19:04
Egypt's VP says appoints military council to run affairs, in a statement on state television
by Patricia Launt at 19:04
Egypt's VP Suleiman says Mubarak is stepping down: state TV
by Patricia Launt at 19:03
State TV is reporting that an important statement from the Egyptian presidency is expected within minutes
by Patricia Launt at 19:01
Twitter is abuzz with news that Hossam Badrawi, the head of Egypt's ruling party, resigned. These are just a few of the comments people are writing:

Hossam Badrawi did the right thing. Hope others will follow.

Hossam Badrawi is finally a respectful man

Hossam Badrawi resigns from #NDP..full respect & appreciation

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 18:55
A top military spokesman has arrived at the state TV building in Cairo, a military source tells Reuters
by Patricia Launt at 18:48

Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters marching in Alexandria. REUTERS/Stringer
by ReutersPictures at 18:47
A U.S. official says they believe Mubarak is now in Sharm el-Sheikh and calls it a "positive first step."
by Patricia Launt at 18:45
ABC's Terry Moran Tweets: "At the palace: Soldiers and crowd now waving and cheering each other across the concertina wire." You can follow Terry here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 18:29

An Egyptian soldier stands atop a tank guarding the state TV building on the Corniche in Cairo. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by ReutersPictures at 18:27
Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharanksy says the time has come for the leaders of the free world to link their cooperation and their demand for democratic reforms to their aid to countries like Egypt. blogs.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 18:26

Opposition supporters in front of the presidential palace. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by ReutersPictures at 18:24
BBC's Lyse Doucet is Tweeting that Hossam Badrawi, the head of Egypt's ruling party, tells BBCArabic he is resigning because he is unhappy with the President's speech. Just yesterday Badrawi told the BBC he would be surprised if Mubarak was still president today.
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 18:52
Can any sane person tell me what Mubarak wants?
comment by Hany at 18:10
As Egypt's revolt against poverty, corruption and repression gains momentum, the country's official media has slowly, but surely, seen fit to change its tone. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 18:10
Witnesses tell Reuters that at least two helicopters took off from Mubarak's presidential palace
by Patricia Launt at 17:53
Egypt state TV says an important, urgent statement is expected from the presidency shortly www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 18:02

Demonstrators chant slogans against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while holding up shoes near the state television headquarters building in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 17:36

Opposition supporters perform Friday prayers near tanks in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 17:19
Thomas Friedman writes about Mubarak in The New York Times today: "This man is staggeringly out of touch with what is happening inside his country. This is Rip Van Winkle meets Facebook." www.nytimes.com
by Patricia Launt at 17:14
Follow Reuters for comments from Egyptians demonstrating at Cairo's Tahrir Square, the presidential palace and outside the state television building. www.reuters.com
by Aviva West at 17:09
Google exec and Egyptian blogger Wael Ghonim just Tweeted: "Dear Western Governments, You've been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don't get involved now". Are his feelings shared by many Egyptians?
by Patricia Launt at 17:05
BBC reporter Lyse Doucet says on Twitter that a senior official confirms Mubarak and his wife have left Cairo for Sharm el-Sheikh. You can follow Lyse here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 16:52
CNN's Ben Wedeman and other journalists are Tweeting that large crowds (Wedeman says 15,000) are gathering in front of the state TV building in Cairo.
by Patricia Launt at 16:36
The Muslim Brotherhood is urging Egyptians to stay on the streets to oust President Mubarak from power, calling the veteran ruler's latest speech a trick. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 16:15

Anti-government protesters pray during Friday prayers inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 16:12
Minutes after the initial report from Al Arabiya came out, they issued an adjustment saying that Mubarak and his family left Cairo, not Egypt www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves edited by Patricia Launt at 16:18
Al Arabiya quotes reports that Mubarak and his family have left Egypt to an "unknown destination"
by josh.hargreaves edited by Patricia Launt at 16:18

Opposition supporters attend Friday prayer in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Allan Shifman at 14:35
An op-ed from the New York Times by Mohamed ElBaradei begins, "When I was a young man in Cairo, we voiced our political views in whispers, if at all, and only to friends we could trust." www.nytimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 14:28
Here's a factbox detailing the changing U.S. reaction to Egypt's crisis. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 14:09
Egypt's army says it is ready to lift emergency law, which has been imposed on the nation for 30 years. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 13:24
Egypt's vice-president has told the country's prime minister to appoint a deputy premier from a council of "wise men" who have been in talks with the government to find a way out of the country's crisis. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 13:20

An opposition protester shouts in front of an army tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 13:00
The Nobel peace prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei says "The rats are leaving the sinking ship." The people in Tahrir square are calling for their criminal leaders to be held to account. The RATS must not be allowed to flee with their stolen BILLIONS.
comment by marc Johnson at 12:52

A soldier (L) stands next to a tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 12:51
BBC says Iran is jamming its Persian language TV broadcasts of the mass protests in Egypt.
by Allan Shifman at 12:38
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan tells Reuters the military was not intervening in daily government matters. Radwan said, "The armed forces are there to protect the demonstrators and to protect the country but the powers have been handed over, not to the military, but to the vice president. So if that formula works, we will be in a much better position." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:37
A small group of protesters has gathered outside Mubarak's palace in Cairo. A witness tells Reuters the army has not tried to remove them. Razor wire and six tanks and armored vehicles separate them from the residence. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:14
Mohamed ElBaradei says Egypt's leadership is in "total chaos." The Nobel peace prize winner goes on to say, "It is like the Titanic. The rats are leaving the sinking ship." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:10
Its time for the people to remove Hosni Mubarak from office but also remove his stolen billions for the benefit of Egypt. Hosni Mubarak's assets should be frozen worldwide! His hands are wet with the blood of more than 300.
comment by marc Johnson at 12:04

Egyptians living in South Korea shout slogans during a rally demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, near the Egyptian embassy in Seoul, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Truth Leem
by Allan Shifman at 12:00
Egypt finance minister urges foreign investors to stay the course despite "slight kink" in economy.
by Allan Shifman at 11:52
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan said in an interview with the BBC, "The nightmare of a coup is very bad for everybody, for the young people, for the economy...That is a scenario we would like to avoid." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 11:46
An Egyptian army officer who joined protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square says 15 other middle-ranking officers have also gone over to the demonstrators. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 11:16
Who makes up Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces? The New York Times breaks it down. www.nytimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:52:46 AM9:52
Here's a slideshow from Reuters looking back at 30 years of Mubarak rule in Egypt www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:27:56 AM9:27
Al Arabiya is reporting that Egypt's Higher Council of the Armed Forces to issue important statement.
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:09:56 AM9:09

by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:32:26 AM8:32
Wondering how it all began? Here's a timeline looking back at the 30 years of Mubarak's reign www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:27:52 AM8:27
Here's a week-by-week interactive map of the unrest from the BBC www.bbc.co.uk
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:24:39 AM8:24

by Grant Surridge at 2/11/2011 4:37:15 AM7:37
Time in Egypt 6:30am. Al Jazeera correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin tweets this 20 minutes ago: Sunrise call 2 prayers echoing across a quiet #egypt Today the people will deliver their response to #Mubarak's speech
by Grant Surridge at 2/11/2011 4:32:00 AM7:32
Read the latest wrap-up on the events in Egypt from our reporters Marwa Awad and Alexander Dziadosz in Cairo. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 3:08:12 AM6:08
The Washington Post has a full transcript of Mubarak’s remarks www.washingtonpost.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 2:38:52 AM5:38
Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US military assistance, something to the tune of $1.3 billion last year. Ending this assistance now will send the clearest signal possible that the US government stands on the side of democracy in Egypt. While it is impossible to know how the Egyptian military would react, the protesters in Cairo would view it as a great moral victory. And so would many Americans.
comment by JWRB at 2/11/2011 2:37:20 AM5:37
The army forces are the last secured exit channel from the current situation. If the army leaders gambled with their credibility they will gamble also the future of Egypt stability for indefinite years to come. Egypt on the edge of street war if the army did not interfere swiftly
comment by Eyad Harfoush at 2/11/2011 2:37:18 AM5:37
The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill argues that Mubarak’s refusal to step down shows just how little influence Obama seems to have on events in the country now:

“The Obama administration has been putting pressure on Mubarak since last week to stand down straight away, but Mubarak, in what appeared to be a direct snub to the US president, said he would not bow to international pressure.

Mubarak's response offers further evidence of the US's slow decline from its status as superpower to a position where it is unable to decisively influence events in Egypt, in spite of that country being one of the biggest recipients of US military aid.”

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 2:36:15 AM5:36
It’s currently 3:45 a.m. in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s Arabic service is reporting that there are about 10,000 protesters surrounding the state TV building in Cairo now. CNN reported earlier that an estimated crowd of 1,000 protesters were nearing the site of Egypt’s presidential palace. Many protesters remain camped out in Tahrir Square. CBS News has a live video feed from the square at www.ustream.tv
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:46:00 AM4:46
You can read Obama’s full statement on Egypt at www.whitehouse.gov
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:07:22 AM4:07
Obama also says the Egyptian government must offer a credible, concrete path toward democracy, says they have not yet seized that opportunity. Obama also urges the government to lift emergency law and hold talks with a broad range of opposition on Egypt's future.
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:02:26 AM4:02
Finally, updates from the White House: Obama urges the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made. He adds that it's not yet clear that the transition of power in Egypt is "immediate, meaningful or sufficient."
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:55:32 AM3:55
In a new analysis, Reuters correspondent Alistair Lyon takes a closer look at what Mubarak's latest moves could mean for Egypt's political fate:

"By clinging to office, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has defied the demonstrators clamouring for an end to his 30-year rule, setting the stage for further conflict in which the military's role could be crucial.

Even after Mubarak told the nation in a televised speech late on Thursday that he was handing powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, it remained unclear who was really in charge.

Mubarak did not resign and, according to Hassan Nafaa, an independent analyst and government critic, the president retained important powers and could regain those he had ceded.

'Suleiman cannot dissolve parliament, he cannot change the cabinet and he cannot even ask for constitutional reforms without the president's consent,' Nafaa said.

'Mubarak still holds the reins to power and he can easily and at any time retrieve presidential powers from Suleiman.'"

Read the full analysis at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:46:41 AM3:46
Watch a video of the demonstration taking place outside the building that houses the offices of Egyptian state TV, courtesy of Egyptian blogger and activist Ramy Raoof: bambuser.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:32:05 AM3:32
Reuters’ Tom Perry reports on the dramatic change in mood in Tahrir Square after President Mubarak’s speech earlier:

“Joy turned to despair and then anger in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday when President Hosni Mubarak's dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters demanding his resignation.” Read the full story at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:12:07 AM3:12
Read the full text of Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman’s speech today www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:04:23 AM3:04
In his blog, New York Times writer Nick Kristof argues that Mubarak's speech is a reminder of just how deeply entrenched the powers that be are in Egypt. kristof.blogs.nytimes.com
by Aviva West at 2/10/2011 11:59:03 PM2:59
It wasn't simply Islamists during the '79 revolution. There were Marxist groups as well. In addition Khomeini talked about the Shah's issues with corruption, and unequal distribution of wealth in Iran at the time. Sound familiar? It was thought that Iran was too western to worry about a theocracy. While it's not a direct parallel, the potential IS there.
comment by Tristan Sterling at 2/10/2011 11:41:38 PM2:41
the coming days will reveal the personality of the egyptian people and how much patience and understanding they are prepared to use to secure a peaceful future
comment by truthfairy at 2/10/2011 11:41:09 PM2:41
He was kind of all over the place with that speech. "I'm sorry. You know I am a war hero, right? Here's what I'll do. I love you and Egypt 'till they put me in the grave. And you know what? I am just not going to leave. Goodnight everybody!"
comment by murrowseye at 2/10/2011 11:41:07 PM2:41
U.S. President Obama expected to issue a written statement soon on the latest developments in Egypt.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:36:29 PM2:36
Louis Charbonneau, our colleague at the United Nations, has more on opposition leader ElBaradei’s reaction to the latest developments in Egypt:

“ElBaradei, interviewed from Egypt by CNN, said: ‘People are very angry.’ He added that it was up to the army to ‘save the country from going down the drain.’

‘We should be quite worried,’ he said. ‘They (Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman) need to step aside. People have lost confidence in them.’ Mubarak earlier announced that he was delegating powers to Suleiman.

ElBaradei said Mubarak had lost all legitimacy.

Referring to Mubarak's passing of his powers to the vice president, ElBaradei said: ‘How can you be a president without any power?’”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:25:31 PM2:25
Palestinians are with Egypt just as they were with us in the Gaza attack. Allah is with you.
comment by Palestinian at 2/10/2011 11:24:50 PM2:24
@truthfairy When the people are asking for basic things like food and justice and their government is defiant for their requests it is time for change, I agree.
comment by Martin Musatov at 2/10/2011 11:24:31 PM2:24
defiant ? further proof he needs to step aside, he's done...
comment by truthfairy at 2/10/2011 11:24:29 PM2:24
I fear that speech was like a match on a pile of dynamite. It makes my heart sick w/fear of what will happen next.
comment by dafonz at 2/10/2011 11:24:11 PM2:24
Egypt's respect for their military and realistic ability for the military to play the moderator in this seemingly sure transition should weaken proclamations for total revolution--both religious and otherwise. While there are always many dangers in a power struggle, the sources of discontent in this case were Egyptian society as a whole and not merely islamic groups. This weakens comparisions to the Iranian revolution.
comment by CautiousOptimist at 2/10/2011 11:24:05 PM2:24
Read highlights from Mubarak’s speech to the nation on Thursday evening: www.reuters.com Translations by Samia Nakhoul and Dina Zayed.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:03:20 PM2:03

Demonstrators react as they listen to Mubarak's speech in front of a big screen in Tahrir square, February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by jashong.king at 2/10/2011 10:58:08 PM1:58

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen as President Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation in a televised speech February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:46:34 PM1:46
New comments from Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague on BBC TV: “We are studying very closely what the president and vice president of Egypt have said. It is not immediately clear what powers are being handed over and what the full implications are. We think the solution to this has to be owned by the Egyptian people themselves. All we want in the United Kingdom is for them to be able to settle their own differences in a peaceful and democratic way. And that is why we have called from the beginning of this crisis for an urgent but orderly transition to a more broadly based government in Egypt, and in the meantime we look to the Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:44:57 PM1:44

An anti-government protester in Cairo's Tahrir Square listens as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:44:13 PM1:44
Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's ambassador to the U.S., tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Mubarak has delegated all power to Vice President Suleiman, calling him "de facto" head of state.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:39:59 PM1:39

Opposition supporters shout in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:38:43 PM1:38
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei reacts on Twitter to the latest developments: "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:37:32 PM1:37
people were planning to move in millions on the streets tomorrow anyway, all he's done now is made the people viscous and angry. is he that dissociated from reality or is he doing this on purpose?
comment by Lucy at 2/10/2011 10:36:06 PM1:36

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:34:15 PM1:34
Prayers are answered, Suleiman says 'committed to peaceful transition'. This is like a global soap opera. Amazing. A revolution televized.
comment by Martin Musatov at 2/10/2011 10:31:33 PM1:31
How will Turkey respond? They are a power player in this process
comment by Display Name:steve at 2/10/2011 10:31:19 PM1:31
It’s now about 12:30 a.m. in Egypt. CNN is reporting that protesters have formed a human chain around the headquarters of state TV in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:30:33 PM1:30
More expert reaction to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our world desk in London:

Stephen Grand, Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington:

“It was quite surreal. He's a stubborn old man who refused to see the writing on the wall. I happen to believe the demonstrations will continue, people will continue to push for his ouster and eventually will succeed.”

Robert Springborg, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School:

“The speeches tonight are not intended to bring an end to the crisis in a peaceful way but to inflame the situation so there is justification for the imposition of direct military rule. They are risking not only the coherence of the military but even indeed, and I use this term with advisement here, civil war."

“I think it needs to be made perfectly clear (by outside powers) that Mubarak and his regime are forfeiting Egypt's future. Egypt is in an economic crisis. It is going to have to be bailed out and the short answer to what they are doing now is that it will not be bailed out with anything like a military regime in place that is associated with Mubarak, Omar Suleiman and these people who are part of this regime.”

Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies:

“The truth is that even the senior military now at the top of the power structure under Mubarak almost certainly have no clear idea of what happens next, and it will be days before anyone know how well the transition will function, who goes and who stays, and how stable the result really is.”

“It is also important to understand that democracy is less important to most Egyptians than material benefits, jobs, decent education, effective government services, ending corruption and favouritism, and emphasizing the concept of justice in ways that provide security and honest police and courts. People aren't looking for a vote as much as they want to stop the economic, political and social injustice.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:22:05 PM1:22

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen in dismay as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:14:59 PM1:14

by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:13:28 PM1:13
President Mubarak once again spurned protesters’ demands that he quit office immediately. Check out our timeline of Mubarak’s 30 years in power: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:12:26 PM1:12
Everything will be alright if he just stepped down from day one. and by stepping down, I don't mean after he steps down another awful twin, or worser, of embarak comes in to rule Egypt.
comment by Palestinian at 2/10/2011 10:09:12 PM1:09
Time for the military to comply with their words to saveguard the interests of the people and as such remove the actual egoistic government
comment by Frans at 2/10/2011 10:08:58 PM1:08
this is not so much a revolution as an evolution of a people, who seek not to seize power but embody the power of their need for freedom and change. Revolutions have a life of their own which often implodes and strangles the heart of the cause. keep heart and keep sight of the freedom you desire people of Tahrir square -
comment by cattleshed at 2/10/2011 10:08:46 PM1:08
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy weighs in on the events in Egypt, saying change in Egypt is unavoidable and that he hopes for democracy there.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:08:33 PM1:08
Our colleagues in Cairo have rounded up some quotes from Egyptians in Cairo's Tahrir Square and on social networking sites after Mubarak told the nation he had handed powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, but would not resign.

Mustafa Naggar, leading activist: "The street is fed up with Mubarak. If Mubarak leaves the country he will help to calm the crisis. If he continues, he will lead Egyptians into chaos."
"Plans for tomorrow stand. We will march in the millions to Tahrir Square and other locations."

Antoini Abu Sayed, 50, a university professor: "This would have been enough before the intifada (uprising), but not now. The people will continue to demonstrate. Most of us present will continue."

Ismail Zakaria, 45, a teacher: "The speech was unprecedented in its stubbornness and foolishness. Tomorrow I am heading to the palace in protest. Until Mubarak falls. There is no turning back."

Sameh Ali, 29, an activist: "Giving Suleiman presidential powers means nothing to protesters. The protesters' calls have fallen on deaf ears. And we will escalate our protests tomorrow, until victory".

Ahmed Aly, a businessman not protesting in Tahrir: "The speech was very emotional and decent. The president did what the youth requested, he left power but in a decent way that preserves his dignity and that of the Egyptian people ... All that has happened are great achievements that we would have never been able to achieve without the revolution led by the youth on Jan. 25."

by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:04:54 PM1:04
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reports on Twitter that crowds have started surrounding the state TV headquarters in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 9:59:27 PM0:59

Opposition supporters react in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 9:55:21 PM0:55
More reactions to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our colleagues on the London World Desk:

Alanoud Al Sharek, a senior fellow in regional politics at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says “"He doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don't think it will suffice. He still seems to think he is the top patriarch and custodian of the Egyptian people. He doesn't realise that there is a genuine act of resistance taking place. He has performed quite a sleight of hand. He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler.”

Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., said: "Given the intense disappointment with the speech in Egypt, the country has entered this evening an ominous period of extreme tension and danger that can only be resolved by credible regime change that the majority of Egyptians can buy into"

Bill O’Grady, chief investment strategist at Confluence Investment Management, says: "The younger military really want to see this guy go and they are allied with the protesters. The older military don't want to give up power just yet and want to play a role in the orderly transition of power. This is playing out a lot like the situation with Anwar Sadat.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 9:49:01 PM0:49

An opposition supporter reacts in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 9:46:27 PM0:46

==
Mubarak swept away by people power, army

By Alistair Lyon

CAIRO | Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:27pm EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - Hosni Mubarak, an immoveable object at the helm of Egypt for almost 30 years, finally met an irresistible force -- his own people.

In a couple of terse sentences, his vice-president, Omar Suleiman, declared Friday that the 82-year-old leader had stepped down, after 18 days of mass protests against his rule.

Egypt erupted in joy, a further humiliation for a man who always posed as a benign, tireless father figure protecting the stability of his country and serving the welfare of its people.

His downfall, under fierce pressure from pro-democracy protesters across Egypt, was apparently orchestrated by the military after it lost confidence he could weather the storm.

The former air force chief, who officials said had flown to the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh with his family earlier in the day, had vowed not to flee Egypt and to "die on its soil."

In many ways, his removal bore an uncanny resemblance to that of former Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, who fled his country last month, apparently after the Tunisian army refused to crush demonstrations demanding his overthrow.

Always dourly confident, never showing a trace of doubt about his lifetime achievements, Mubarak never seemed to grasp the depth of popular hatred he had accumulated in 30 years.

In a last desperate attempt to fend off the inevitable, he handed powers to Suleiman Thursday, but refused to step down before a presidential election due in September. He spoke in patronizing tones that only enraged the demonstrators further.

Mubarak once said he planned to "bear his responsibilities" as long as his heart was beating. But millions of angry Egyptians abruptly ended the autocratic leader's dream.

Their unquenchable determination to oust him, defying the vast security apparatus that enforced his writ, is likely to have led the military to draw the curtain on the Mubarak era.
The struggle to overthrow Mubarak has plunged Egypt into uncertainty after decades of repressive stagnation.

OBSESSION WITH SECURITY

Reflecting his obsession with security, the former pilot said 11 days ago that the surge of popular protests against him "impose on us a choice between chaos and stability."

His supporters can argue he saved Egypt from chaos after Islamist militants shot dead his predecessor in 1981, kept Egypt out of wars, restored relations with the Arab world after the 1979 peace treaty with Israel and, after long delays, allowed his government to open up the economy to stimulate growth.

He also managed to suppress a long Islamist insurgency in southern Egypt in the 1990s, after 1,200 people were killed.

===

Mubarak swept away by people power, army

But Mubarak's stubborn refusal to change the corrupt and authoritarian system he inherited finally caught up with him.

Eleven days ago he had been forced to promise he would not run in the September election and to name a vice-president for the first time. The concessions also killed off the presidential hopes of his businessman son Gamal, whose rise had led many to fear the establishment of a dynasty of latter-day pharaohs.

Up to 300 people may have been killed in the last 18 days of protests in Egypt, most of them by Mubarak's riot police.

The violence did not deter the crowds of demonstrators occupying Cairo's Tahrir (Liberation) Square, who had stuck doggedly to a simple demand: Mubarak must go and go now.

Mubarak was born on May 4, 1928, in the Nile Delta village of Kafr el-Moseilha. He joined the military academy in 1947, later opting for the air force and further training which took him to the Soviet Union, where he learned to fly bombers.

In 1967 he became director of the air academy and in 1969 air force chief-of-staff. President Anwar Sadat chose him to command the air force and prepare it for the 1973 war against Israel. Two years later Sadat appointed him vice-president.

Mubarak narrowly escaped death when soldiers linked to a radical Islamist group shot Sadat dead at a military parade in Cairo on October 6, 1981. He has been the target of several assassination attempts since, including a spectacular attack on his motorcade in Addis Ababa in 1995.
Sadat, the architect of peace with Israel, had taken Egypt far from its leadership role in the Arab world and upset many Egyptians by aligning the country firmly with the United States.

RESTORING ARAB TIES

Mubarak painstakingly restored ties with Arab states and was able to bring the Arab League back to Cairo.

After Iraqi President Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, Mubarak joined the United States and its allies in the campaign to drive the Iraqis out. In return he managed to win relief of Egyptian debts worth more than $20 billion.

But in public he strongly advised against the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, correctly predicting that it would cause chaos.

He rode out U.S. President George W. Bush's short-lived campaign for democracy in the Arab world, allowing multi-candidate presidential elections for the first time ever in 2005. But as soon as Bush lost interest he went back to his old ways, and the parliamentary election of November 2010 saw more abuses than any previous elections, rights groups said.

From the 1990s, Mubarak acted as an unofficial patron of the Middle East peace process, mediating between Palestinians and Israelis, and between rival Palestinian factions in an elusive quest for a settlement.

His Arab critics say he gave too much weight to U.S. and Israeli interests to the detriment of ordinary Palestinians.

After the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 Mubarak went along with the Israeli blockade of the territory from the Egyptian side. When Israel attacked Gaza in early 2008 he allowed Israeli planes to fly over Egyptian territory on their bombing raids.

======

Mubarak, who has clung to power so long, finally hinted on Thursday that he had made errors and apologised to his people.

"Your demands are legitimate and just," he told the nation. "Mistakes are possible in any system and in any state but the important thing is to admit these mistakes and correct them."

(Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

=

* Mubarak steps down after 30 years in power

* Hands over power to military council ahead of Sept vote

* Ecstatic scenes in Cairo's Tahrir Square

(Updates with details, context of Mubarak giving up power)

By Edmund Blair and Samia Nakhoul

CAIRO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - Hosni Mubarak stepped down as Egypt's president on Friday, handing over to the army and ending three decades of autocratic rule, bowing to escalating pressure from the military and protesters demanding that he go.

Vice President Omar Suleiman said a military council would run the affairs of the Arab world's most populous nation. A free and fair presidential election has been promised for September.

A speaker made the announcement in Cairo's Tahrir Square where hundreds of thousands broke down in tears, celebrated and hugged each other chanting: "The people have brought down the regime." Others shouted: "Allahu Akbar (God is great).

The 82-year-old Mubarak's downfall after 18 days of unprecedented mass protests was a momentous victory for people power and was sure to rock autocrats throughout the Arab world and beyond.

Egypt's powerful military gave guarantees earlier on Friday that promised democratic reforms would be carried out but angry protesters intensified an uprising against Mubarak, marching on the presidential palace and the state television tower.

It was an effort by the army to defuse the revolt but, in disregarding protesters' key demand for Mubarak's ouster now, it failed to calm the turmoil that has disrupted the economy and rattled the entire Middle East.
The military's intervention was not enough.

The tumult over Mubarak's refusal to resign had tested the loyalties of the armed forces, which had to choose whether to protect their supreme commander or ditch him.

The sharpening confrontation had raised fear of uncontrolled violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key U.S. ally in an oil-rich region where the chance of chaos spreading to other long stable but repressive states troubles the West.

Washington has called for a prompt democratic transition to restore stability in Egypt, a rare Arab state no longer hostile to Israel, guardian of the Suez Canal linking Europe and Asia and a major force against militant Islam in the region. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For all stories on the crisis, click on [nLDE70O2DA]


Should Russia, China worry? link.reuters.com/byb97r
Protest timeline link.reuters.com/zyb97r

For graphics, click on r.reuters.com/nym77r

Live Blog Egypt">here ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

The army statement noted that Mubarak had handed powers to govern the country of 80 million people to his deputy the previous day -- perhaps signalling that this should satisfy demonstrators, reformists and opposition figures.

"This is not our demand," one protester said, after relaying the contents of the army statement to the crowd in Cairo's central Tahrir Square. "We have one demand, that Mubarak step down." He has said he will stay until September elections.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist opposition group, urged protesters to keep up mass nationwide street protests, describing Mubarak's concessions as a trick to stay in power.

REFORMS TOO LITTLE TOO LATE

Hundreds of thousands of protesters rallied across Egypt, including in the industrial city of Suez, earlier the scene of some of the fiercest violence in the crisis, and the second city of Alexandria, as well as in Tanta and other Nile Delta centres.

The army also said it "confirms the lifting of the state of emergency as soon as the current circumstances end", a pledge that would remove a law imposed after Mubarak became president following Anwar Sadat's assassination in 1981 and that protesters say has long been used to stifle dissent.

It further promised to guarantee free and fair elections and other concessions made by Mubarak to protesters that would have been unthinkable before Jan. 25, when the revolt began.

But none of this was enough for many hundreds of thousands of mistrustful protesters who rallied in cities across the Arab world's most populous and influential country on Friday, fed up with high unemployment, a corrupt elite and police repression.

Since the fall of Tunisia's long-time leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, which triggered protests around the region, Egyptians have been demonstrating in huge numbers against rising prices, poverty, unemployment and their authoritarian regime.


EMERGENCY LAWS

World powers had increasingly pressured Mubarak to organise an orderly transition of power since the protests erupted on Jan. 28 setting off an earthquake that has shaken Egypt sending shock waves around the Middle East.


Mubarak, 82, was thrust into office when Islamists gunned down his predecessor Anwar Sadat at a military parade in 1981.

The burly former air force commander has proved a far more durable leader than anyone imagined at the time, governing under emergency laws protesters say were used to crush dissent.

The president has long promoted peace abroad and more recently backed economic reforms at home led by his cabinet under Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. But he always kept a tight lid on political opposition.

Mubarak resisted any significant political change even under pressure from the United States, which has poured billions of dollars of military and other aid into Egypt since it became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel, signing a treaty in 1979. (Cairo newsroom, writing by Peter Millership; editing by Mark Heinrich)

===========

Protesters celebrate in Cairo. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by ReutersPictures at 22:05
Reply
by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 22:02
Lots of discussion on Twitter about the role of social media and the internet in this revolution, including these Tweets:

This Is actually the first successful revolution in the world based on internet

Nuts that Facebook played such a massive roll in a historic event, being called a "digital revolution" in Egypt.

The revolution was televised, tweeted, Facebooked, YouTubed, and Xeroxed.
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 22:04

Fireworks in Tahrir square. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by ReutersPictures at 21:57
On a day like today, it's pictures that tell the story best. We'll keep bringing you images of this historic day - both from Egypt and around the world.
by Patricia Launt at 21:52

A young Egyptian is raised by his father to shake hands with an army officer atop a tank in Tahrir square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 21:51
Amid the celebrations we're getting word of five people dying in clashes between protesters and police in the north Sinai town of el-Arish, according to witnesses.
by Patricia Launt at 21:50

Tahrir Square after the announcement. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by ReutersPictures at 21:43
France's Nicolas Sarkozy is following his European counterparts in calling for free elections in Egypt.
by Patricia Launt at 21:40

Egyptians celebrate with their flag in Paris after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
by Reuters_Helen Cook at 21:40
Stay tuned for President Obama's statement on Egypt at 3 p.m.. We'll carry it live in this space.
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 21:54
This timeline of events gives a countdown to Mubarak's resignation www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 21:35

Egyptians celebrate in Paris after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 21:23
No surprise that Tunisians, who started this wave of North Africa unrest, are celebrating with their Egyptian brothers. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 21:21
U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-Moon calls for a transparent, orderly and peaceful transition in Egypt and free, fair and credible elections leading to civilian rule. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 21:53
A statement cited by a military source says Egypt's military council says it recognizes the "gravity and seriousness" of the current situation. The source says the military council is studying measures to achieve the hopes of the people.
by Patricia Launt at 21:12
The White House says President Obama's statement on Mubarak's resignation is postponed
by Patricia Launt at 21:08
Egyptian blogger Wael Ghonim Tweets: "They lied at us. Told us Egypt died 30 years ago, but millions of Egyptians decided to search and they found their country in 18 days"
by Patricia Launt at 20:58
‎"Let freedom reign. The sun never set on so glorious a human achievement" -
Nelson Mandela; freed on THIS historical day, 11 February 1994!
comment by Jason Aarons at 20:56

by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 20:49
Hosni Mubarak, an immoveable object at the helm of Egypt for almost 30 years, finally met an irresistible force -- his own people. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 20:44
Palestinians in Gaza let off fireworks and shot into the air to celebrate the resignation of Egyptian President Mubarak, and Hamas called on Egypt's new rulers to change his policies. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 20:40

Jubilation in Cairo. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by ReutersPictures at 20:37
President Obama is expected to welcome Mubarak's decision to step down, but Washington now faces a number of challenges in dealing with Egypt's potentially volatile transition of power. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 20:36
British Prime Minister David Cameron says Egypt has precious moment of opportunity, must put in place building blocks of open, free, democratic society
by Patricia Launt at 20:33

Protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by ReutersPictures at 20:31
Which country will be next?
comment by hufa at 20:29
Mubarack has left and that is good. But the happy protesters and people of Egypt now have to transition into another form of government, be it a sectarian or religious based democracy. So they say they want, so they should bhave. The alarmists will cry Islamic Brotherhood-beware. Maybe they have a point. Either way, Mubarack and his family have left Cairo. The world prays for Egypt and hopes that yet another autocratic police state is not installed. The world needs a free and democratic Egypt, with religious tolerance, dare we ask, acceptance.
comment by Swindon at 20:29
I can not stop crying It's a crucial moment in the history of Egypt and the world ... we must wait for the military Council's statement in order to know what’s after
comment by bahaa dkrory at 20:29
Biden says what is at stake in Egypt will not touch Egypt alone.
by Patricia Launt at 20:29
Vice President Biden says "pivotal moment" in history of Egypt, MidEast and transition in Egypt must be irreversible change, a negotiated path towards democracy. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:43
A Swiss foreign ministry spokesman says the Swiss government has frozen potential Mubarak assets in Switzerland www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:42

Celebrations in Tahrir Square. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by ReutersPictures at 20:22

by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 20:19

by Reuters_Natalie Armstrong at 20:18
Even most Muslims do not want a Religious government! the people all can stand together and have the 1st real democracy the had always dreamed of!
comment by Dali at 20:16
Canadian journalist David Common captures the feeling of being in Tahrir Square with this Tweet: "Fireworks, horns honking, flags waving, cameras snapping for posterity. History in the making. Watching #Egypt before my eyes". You can follow David here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 20:16
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi just Tweeted: "Young people leading #Egypt towards democracy-their energy changed Egypt, their actions are an inspiration to the world."
by Patricia Launt at 20:14
The people of Egypt are my hero's! What they've done they did for all people. I feel like the whole world is free today.
comment by Ali at 20:09

Celebrations in Tahrir Square. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by ReutersPictures at 20:05
A senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood says this is a "victory for Egyptian people" and they await new steps from higher military council
by Patricia Launt at 20:04

The crowd celebrates in Tahrir Square. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by ReutersPictures at 20:03
More reaction from the Middle East. Al Arabiya is reporting that the Arab League's Amr Moussa says the "White Revolution" is a new development in the history of Egypt and that Mubarak's departure is a great opportunity for Egyptians.
by Patricia Launt at 20:03
Germany's Angela Merkel says Mubarak did service to the people of Egypt by stepping down and there will have to be free elections in Egypt. She says Egypts contracts with Israel need to be honored.
by Patricia Launt at 20:01

Opposition protesters celebrate in Tahrir Square. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by ReutersPictures at 19:57

Celebrations in Tahrir Square. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by ReutersPictures at 19:55
A senior Israeli official says Israel hopes there will be no change in peace with Egypt after Mubarak's resignation www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:32
As a soldier once stationed in Egypt, I am delighted to this day come for their country. Now the rebuilding the country can began. The people have spoken and through peace they have acheved their goal of forcing out 30 years of suppression. Let this be an example for the region as well as the world that a peaceful protest can move mountains. America stands with you.
comment by Richard Murrell at 19:54
Make your future be exactly what you envisioned it would be - an Islamic focus/state does not have to mean suppression.
comment by snappytoes at 19:53
Its awesome watching this video coverage of Tahrir Square is electrifying. Congratulation to the Egyptian people....
comment by Joel 'Rican' Vasquez at 19:53
Let freedom ring! Let's not stereotype the Egyptian military. They're protecting the citizenry like they should. They have done an admirable job, seeing how there were no bombs exploding causing mass casualties and letting the people just be themselves without fear for their safety. Americans, take heart: we did not see any American flags being burned or hear anti-American chanting. I wish the Egyptian nation the best for their future. Congratulations! You all have my admiration and respect and hope to visit your great country one of these days!
comment by changery at 19:53
The people have spoken, and the world has heard the resounding roar.
comment by Wubba at 19:49
There's nothing to celebrate until we find out whos hands the power is going to fall into.
comment by Aaron at 19:49
It's a great thing that the Mubarak/Suleiman is stepping down. The restraint of the military not to intervene leads one to assume they can be trusted, however, getting ANY military to transfer power to a democratically elected government is very very tricky. Egypt made great strides today towards democracy, but their biggest challenges still lie ahead.
comment by Brian M at 19:49
I'm afraid we will be turned into an Islamic state like Iran.
comment by Momar at 19:48
The illusion of power by authoritarians has been broken. I hope this knowledge will be used for good and not for endless chaos.
comment by hopefuleconomist at 19:48
This is only the beginning...now we wait to see who fills the power vacuum.
comment by ads at 19:48
God be with the people of Egypt. I am so happy for you that those few who sacrificed their lives for your struggle, their deaths will no have been in vain....now the work begins.... (:
comment by Ingrid at 19:48
Let's hope this isn't just a military coup and that free elections do take place.
comment by Jane Griscti at 19:48
Egyptians nationwide are flooding into the streets in celebration, according to Reuters' witnesses
by Patricia Launt at 19:45

Opposition protestors celebrate Mubarak's resignation. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

by ReutersPictures edited by ReutersPictures at 19:44
Al Arabiya is also reporting that an Egyptian army statement will announce the sacking of the cabinet and says that the head of the constitutional court will lead with military council www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:08
Al Arabiya is reporting that an army statement will suspend the upper and lower house of Egypt's parliament
by Patricia Launt at 19:40
Egyptian defense minister, field marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi heads the military council, a military source tells Reuters
by Patricia Launt at 19:39
The first reaction we're getting from one of Egypt's MidEast neighbours. Qatar-based Al Jazeera is reporting that Qatar says Egypt's transfer of power to military council is "positive", important step
by Patricia Launt at 19:38

The crowd cheers at Cairo's Tahrir Square following Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's resignation. REUTERS/Reuters TV
by ReutersPictures at 19:36
A Bloodless coup! Thank God.
comment by mtb at 19:31
I've never seen anything so powerful...and amazing to see what heart can do to change history
comment by Lauren Law at 19:31
right now power is given to the military
comment by suvi at 19:31
Mohamed ElBaradei tells Reuters this is the "greatest day" for him and Egyptians, and he looks forward to working with the military. He says he sees a period of military-people co-sharing power, and that running for president is not on his mind. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 20:11
great demo of people power quite humbling for western powers in future dimplomacy...
comment by ProudIndian at 19:27
the question is who is stepping in?
comment by lsb at 19:27
Obama will no doubt take credit for Mubarak stepping down
comment by lsb at 19:27
The White House says President Obama will make his statement on Egypt at 1:30 p.m. EST www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 19:52
A U.S. official says Obama was informed in a meeting today of Mubarak's decision to step down, and he watched TV coverage from Cairo
by Patricia Launt at 19:22
The White House is saying President Obama will make a statement on Egypt later today
by Patricia Launt at 19:22
We're starting to get international reaction. The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton says she "respects" Mubarak's decision to step down, and it's important to accelerate dialogue for broad-based government
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 19:21

Anti-government protesters ride through the presidential palace in Cairo grounds. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by ReutersPictures at 19:19
BBC's Lyse Doucet Tweets: "Cairo streets transformed into parade of honking horns waving flags"
by Patricia Launt at 19:18

Anti-government protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by ReutersPictures at 19:16
Protesters celebrate in Tahrir Square, chanting "the people have brought down the regime" www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 19:51
Canadian journalist Nahlah Ayed made this interesting observation on Twitter prior to Suleiman's speech: "What's happened here today is a verbal, bloodless coup"
by Patricia Launt at 19:09
CNN showing crowds erupting in cheers and waving Egyptian flags in celebration
by Patricia Launt at 19:04
Egypt's VP says appoints military council to run affairs, in a statement on state television
by Patricia Launt at 19:04
Egypt's VP Suleiman says Mubarak is stepping down: state TV
by Patricia Launt at 19:03
State TV is reporting that an important statement from the Egyptian presidency is expected within minutes
by Patricia Launt at 19:01
Twitter is abuzz with news that Hossam Badrawi, the head of Egypt's ruling party, resigned. These are just a few of the comments people are writing:

Hossam Badrawi did the right thing. Hope others will follow.

Hossam Badrawi is finally a respectful man

Hossam Badrawi resigns from #NDP..full respect & appreciation

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 18:55
A top military spokesman has arrived at the state TV building in Cairo, a military source tells Reuters
by Patricia Launt at 18:48

Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters marching in Alexandria. REUTERS/Stringer
by ReutersPictures at 18:47
A U.S. official says they believe Mubarak is now in Sharm el-Sheikh and calls it a "positive first step."
by Patricia Launt at 18:45
ABC's Terry Moran Tweets: "At the palace: Soldiers and crowd now waving and cheering each other across the concertina wire." You can follow Terry here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 18:29

An Egyptian soldier stands atop a tank guarding the state TV building on the Corniche in Cairo. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by ReutersPictures at 18:27
Former Soviet dissident Natan Sharanksy says the time has come for the leaders of the free world to link their cooperation and their demand for democratic reforms to their aid to countries like Egypt. blogs.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 18:26

Opposition supporters in front of the presidential palace. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by ReutersPictures at 18:24
BBC's Lyse Doucet is Tweeting that Hossam Badrawi, the head of Egypt's ruling party, tells BBCArabic he is resigning because he is unhappy with the President's speech. Just yesterday Badrawi told the BBC he would be surprised if Mubarak was still president today.
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 18:52
Can any sane person tell me what Mubarak wants?
comment by Hany at 18:10
As Egypt's revolt against poverty, corruption and repression gains momentum, the country's official media has slowly, but surely, seen fit to change its tone. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 18:10
Witnesses tell Reuters that at least two helicopters took off from Mubarak's presidential palace
by Patricia Launt at 17:53
Egypt state TV says an important, urgent statement is expected from the presidency shortly www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 18:02

Demonstrators chant slogans against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak while holding up shoes near the state television headquarters building in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 17:36

Opposition supporters perform Friday prayers near tanks in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 17:19
Thomas Friedman writes about Mubarak in The New York Times today: "This man is staggeringly out of touch with what is happening inside his country. This is Rip Van Winkle meets Facebook." www.nytimes.com
by Patricia Launt at 17:14
Follow Reuters for comments from Egyptians demonstrating at Cairo's Tahrir Square, the presidential palace and outside the state television building. www.reuters.com
by Aviva West at 17:09
Google exec and Egyptian blogger Wael Ghonim just Tweeted: "Dear Western Governments, You've been silent for 30 years supporting the regime that was oppressing us. Please don't get involved now". Are his feelings shared by many Egyptians?
by Patricia Launt at 17:05
BBC reporter Lyse Doucet says on Twitter that a senior official confirms Mubarak and his wife have left Cairo for Sharm el-Sheikh. You can follow Lyse here: twitter.com
by Patricia Launt at 16:52
CNN's Ben Wedeman and other journalists are Tweeting that large crowds (Wedeman says 15,000) are gathering in front of the state TV building in Cairo.
by Patricia Launt at 16:36
The Muslim Brotherhood is urging Egyptians to stay on the streets to oust President Mubarak from power, calling the veteran ruler's latest speech a trick. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 16:15

Anti-government protesters pray during Friday prayers inside Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

by Patricia Launt edited by Patricia Launt at 16:12
Minutes after the initial report from Al Arabiya came out, they issued an adjustment saying that Mubarak and his family left Cairo, not Egypt www.reuters.com
by josh.hargreaves edited by Patricia Launt at 16:18
Al Arabiya quotes reports that Mubarak and his family have left Egypt to an "unknown destination"
by josh.hargreaves edited by Patricia Launt at 16:18

Opposition supporters attend Friday prayer in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Allan Shifman at 14:35
An op-ed from the New York Times by Mohamed ElBaradei begins, "When I was a young man in Cairo, we voiced our political views in whispers, if at all, and only to friends we could trust." www.nytimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 14:28
Here's a factbox detailing the changing U.S. reaction to Egypt's crisis. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 14:09
Egypt's army says it is ready to lift emergency law, which has been imposed on the nation for 30 years. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 13:24
Egypt's vice-president has told the country's prime minister to appoint a deputy premier from a council of "wise men" who have been in talks with the government to find a way out of the country's crisis. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 13:20

An opposition protester shouts in front of an army tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 13:00
The Nobel peace prize winner Mohamed ElBaradei says "The rats are leaving the sinking ship." The people in Tahrir square are calling for their criminal leaders to be held to account. The RATS must not be allowed to flee with their stolen BILLIONS.
comment by marc Johnson at 12:52

A soldier (L) stands next to a tank in front of the presidential palace in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Dalsh
by Allan Shifman at 12:51
BBC says Iran is jamming its Persian language TV broadcasts of the mass protests in Egypt.
by Allan Shifman at 12:38
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan tells Reuters the military was not intervening in daily government matters. Radwan said, "The armed forces are there to protect the demonstrators and to protect the country but the powers have been handed over, not to the military, but to the vice president. So if that formula works, we will be in a much better position." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:37
A small group of protesters has gathered outside Mubarak's palace in Cairo. A witness tells Reuters the army has not tried to remove them. Razor wire and six tanks and armored vehicles separate them from the residence. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:14
Mohamed ElBaradei says Egypt's leadership is in "total chaos." The Nobel peace prize winner goes on to say, "It is like the Titanic. The rats are leaving the sinking ship." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 12:10
Its time for the people to remove Hosni Mubarak from office but also remove his stolen billions for the benefit of Egypt. Hosni Mubarak's assets should be frozen worldwide! His hands are wet with the blood of more than 300.
comment by marc Johnson at 12:04

Egyptians living in South Korea shout slogans during a rally demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, near the Egyptian embassy in Seoul, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Truth Leem
by Allan Shifman at 12:00
Egypt finance minister urges foreign investors to stay the course despite "slight kink" in economy.
by Allan Shifman at 11:52
Egypt's Finance Minister Samir Radwan said in an interview with the BBC, "The nightmare of a coup is very bad for everybody, for the young people, for the economy...That is a scenario we would like to avoid." www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 11:46
An Egyptian army officer who joined protests in Cairo's Tahrir Square says 15 other middle-ranking officers have also gone over to the demonstrators. www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 11:16
Who makes up Egypt’s Supreme Council of the Armed Forces? The New York Times breaks it down. www.nytimes.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:52:46 AM9:52
Here's a slideshow from Reuters looking back at 30 years of Mubarak rule in Egypt www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:27:56 AM9:27
Al Arabiya is reporting that Egypt's Higher Council of the Armed Forces to issue important statement.
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 6:09:56 AM9:09

by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:32:26 AM8:32
Wondering how it all began? Here's a timeline looking back at the 30 years of Mubarak's reign www.reuters.com
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:27:52 AM8:27
Here's a week-by-week interactive map of the unrest from the BBC www.bbc.co.uk
by Allan Shifman at 2/11/2011 5:24:39 AM8:24

by Grant Surridge at 2/11/2011 4:37:15 AM7:37
Time in Egypt 6:30am. Al Jazeera correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin tweets this 20 minutes ago: Sunrise call 2 prayers echoing across a quiet #egypt Today the people will deliver their response to #Mubarak's speech
by Grant Surridge at 2/11/2011 4:32:00 AM7:32
Read the latest wrap-up on the events in Egypt from our reporters Marwa Awad and Alexander Dziadosz in Cairo. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 3:08:12 AM6:08
The Washington Post has a full transcript of Mubarak’s remarks www.washingtonpost.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 2:38:52 AM5:38
Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US military assistance, something to the tune of $1.3 billion last year. Ending this assistance now will send the clearest signal possible that the US government stands on the side of democracy in Egypt. While it is impossible to know how the Egyptian military would react, the protesters in Cairo would view it as a great moral victory. And so would many Americans.
comment by JWRB at 2/11/2011 2:37:20 AM5:37
The army forces are the last secured exit channel from the current situation. If the army leaders gambled with their credibility they will gamble also the future of Egypt stability for indefinite years to come. Egypt on the edge of street war if the army did not interfere swiftly
comment by Eyad Harfoush at 2/11/2011 2:37:18 AM5:37
The Guardian’s Ewen MacAskill argues that Mubarak’s refusal to step down shows just how little influence Obama seems to have on events in the country now:

“The Obama administration has been putting pressure on Mubarak since last week to stand down straight away, but Mubarak, in what appeared to be a direct snub to the US president, said he would not bow to international pressure.

Mubarak's response offers further evidence of the US's slow decline from its status as superpower to a position where it is unable to decisively influence events in Egypt, in spite of that country being one of the biggest recipients of US military aid.”

Read more at www.guardian.co.uk
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 2:36:15 AM5:36
It’s currently 3:45 a.m. in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s Arabic service is reporting that there are about 10,000 protesters surrounding the state TV building in Cairo now. CNN reported earlier that an estimated crowd of 1,000 protesters were nearing the site of Egypt’s presidential palace. Many protesters remain camped out in Tahrir Square. CBS News has a live video feed from the square at www.ustream.tv
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:46:00 AM4:46
You can read Obama’s full statement on Egypt at www.whitehouse.gov
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:07:22 AM4:07
Obama also says the Egyptian government must offer a credible, concrete path toward democracy, says they have not yet seized that opportunity. Obama also urges the government to lift emergency law and hold talks with a broad range of opposition on Egypt's future.
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 1:02:26 AM4:02
Finally, updates from the White House: Obama urges the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made. He adds that it's not yet clear that the transition of power in Egypt is "immediate, meaningful or sufficient."
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:55:32 AM3:55
In a new analysis, Reuters correspondent Alistair Lyon takes a closer look at what Mubarak's latest moves could mean for Egypt's political fate:

"By clinging to office, Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has defied the demonstrators clamouring for an end to his 30-year rule, setting the stage for further conflict in which the military's role could be crucial.

Even after Mubarak told the nation in a televised speech late on Thursday that he was handing powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, it remained unclear who was really in charge.

Mubarak did not resign and, according to Hassan Nafaa, an independent analyst and government critic, the president retained important powers and could regain those he had ceded.

'Suleiman cannot dissolve parliament, he cannot change the cabinet and he cannot even ask for constitutional reforms without the president's consent,' Nafaa said.

'Mubarak still holds the reins to power and he can easily and at any time retrieve presidential powers from Suleiman.'"

Read the full analysis at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:46:41 AM3:46
Watch a video of the demonstration taking place outside the building that houses the offices of Egyptian state TV, courtesy of Egyptian blogger and activist Ramy Raoof: bambuser.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:32:05 AM3:32
Reuters’ Tom Perry reports on the dramatic change in mood in Tahrir Square after President Mubarak’s speech earlier:

“Joy turned to despair and then anger in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday when President Hosni Mubarak's dashed the hopes of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian protesters demanding his resignation.” Read the full story at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:12:07 AM3:12
Read the full text of Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman’s speech today www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 12:04:23 AM3:04
In his blog, New York Times writer Nick Kristof argues that Mubarak's speech is a reminder of just how deeply entrenched the powers that be are in Egypt. kristof.blogs.nytimes.com
by Aviva West at 2/10/2011 11:59:03 PM2:59
It wasn't simply Islamists during the '79 revolution. There were Marxist groups as well. In addition Khomeini talked about the Shah's issues with corruption, and unequal distribution of wealth in Iran at the time. Sound familiar? It was thought that Iran was too western to worry about a theocracy. While it's not a direct parallel, the potential IS there.
comment by Tristan Sterling at 2/10/2011 11:41:38 PM2:41
the coming days will reveal the personality of the egyptian people and how much patience and understanding they are prepared to use to secure a peaceful future
comment by truthfairy at 2/10/2011 11:41:09 PM2:41
He was kind of all over the place with that speech. "I'm sorry. You know I am a war hero, right? Here's what I'll do. I love you and Egypt 'till they put me in the grave. And you know what? I am just not going to leave. Goodnight everybody!"
comment by murrowseye at 2/10/2011 11:41:07 PM2:41
U.S. President Obama expected to issue a written statement soon on the latest developments in Egypt.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:36:29 PM2:36
Louis Charbonneau, our colleague at the United Nations, has more on opposition leader ElBaradei’s reaction to the latest developments in Egypt:

“ElBaradei, interviewed from Egypt by CNN, said: ‘People are very angry.’ He added that it was up to the army to ‘save the country from going down the drain.’

‘We should be quite worried,’ he said. ‘They (Mubarak and Vice President Omar Suleiman) need to step aside. People have lost confidence in them.’ Mubarak earlier announced that he was delegating powers to Suleiman.

ElBaradei said Mubarak had lost all legitimacy.

Referring to Mubarak's passing of his powers to the vice president, ElBaradei said: ‘How can you be a president without any power?’”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:25:31 PM2:25
Palestinians are with Egypt just as they were with us in the Gaza attack. Allah is with you.
comment by Palestinian at 2/10/2011 11:24:50 PM2:24
@truthfairy When the people are asking for basic things like food and justice and their government is defiant for their requests it is time for change, I agree.
comment by Martin Musatov at 2/10/2011 11:24:31 PM2:24
defiant ? further proof he needs to step aside, he's done...
comment by truthfairy at 2/10/2011 11:24:29 PM2:24
I fear that speech was like a match on a pile of dynamite. It makes my heart sick w/fear of what will happen next.
comment by dafonz at 2/10/2011 11:24:11 PM2:24
Egypt's respect for their military and realistic ability for the military to play the moderator in this seemingly sure transition should weaken proclamations for total revolution--both religious and otherwise. While there are always many dangers in a power struggle, the sources of discontent in this case were Egyptian society as a whole and not merely islamic groups. This weakens comparisions to the Iranian revolution.
comment by CautiousOptimist at 2/10/2011 11:24:05 PM2:24
Read highlights from Mubarak’s speech to the nation on Thursday evening: www.reuters.com Translations by Samia Nakhoul and Dina Zayed.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 11:03:20 PM2:03

Demonstrators react as they listen to Mubarak's speech in front of a big screen in Tahrir square, February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by jashong.king at 2/10/2011 10:58:08 PM1:58

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen as President Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation in a televised speech February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:46:34 PM1:46
New comments from Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague on BBC TV: “We are studying very closely what the president and vice president of Egypt have said. It is not immediately clear what powers are being handed over and what the full implications are. We think the solution to this has to be owned by the Egyptian people themselves. All we want in the United Kingdom is for them to be able to settle their own differences in a peaceful and democratic way. And that is why we have called from the beginning of this crisis for an urgent but orderly transition to a more broadly based government in Egypt, and in the meantime we look to the Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:44:57 PM1:44

An anti-government protester in Cairo's Tahrir Square listens as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:44:13 PM1:44
Sameh Shoukry, Egypt's ambassador to the U.S., tells CNN's Wolf Blitzer that Mubarak has delegated all power to Vice President Suleiman, calling him "de facto" head of state.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:39:59 PM1:39

Opposition supporters shout in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:38:43 PM1:38
Egyptian opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei reacts on Twitter to the latest developments: "Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now."
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:37:32 PM1:37
people were planning to move in millions on the streets tomorrow anyway, all he's done now is made the people viscous and angry. is he that dissociated from reality or is he doing this on purpose?
comment by Lucy at 2/10/2011 10:36:06 PM1:36

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:34:15 PM1:34
Prayers are answered, Suleiman says 'committed to peaceful transition'. This is like a global soap opera. Amazing. A revolution televized.
comment by Martin Musatov at 2/10/2011 10:31:33 PM1:31
How will Turkey respond? They are a power player in this process
comment by Display Name:steve at 2/10/2011 10:31:19 PM1:31
It’s now about 12:30 a.m. in Egypt. CNN is reporting that protesters have formed a human chain around the headquarters of state TV in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:30:33 PM1:30
More expert reaction to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our world desk in London:

Stephen Grand, Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington:

“It was quite surreal. He's a stubborn old man who refused to see the writing on the wall. I happen to believe the demonstrations will continue, people will continue to push for his ouster and eventually will succeed.”

Robert Springborg, professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School:

“The speeches tonight are not intended to bring an end to the crisis in a peaceful way but to inflame the situation so there is justification for the imposition of direct military rule. They are risking not only the coherence of the military but even indeed, and I use this term with advisement here, civil war."

“I think it needs to be made perfectly clear (by outside powers) that Mubarak and his regime are forfeiting Egypt's future. Egypt is in an economic crisis. It is going to have to be bailed out and the short answer to what they are doing now is that it will not be bailed out with anything like a military regime in place that is associated with Mubarak, Omar Suleiman and these people who are part of this regime.”

Anthony Cordesman, Center for Strategic and International Studies:

“The truth is that even the senior military now at the top of the power structure under Mubarak almost certainly have no clear idea of what happens next, and it will be days before anyone know how well the transition will function, who goes and who stays, and how stable the result really is.”

“It is also important to understand that democracy is less important to most Egyptians than material benefits, jobs, decent education, effective government services, ending corruption and favouritism, and emphasizing the concept of justice in ways that provide security and honest police and courts. People aren't looking for a vote as much as they want to stop the economic, political and social injustice.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:22:05 PM1:22

Anti-government protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square listen in dismay as President Hosni Mubarak speaks to the nation February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:14:59 PM1:14

by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 10:13:28 PM1:13
President Mubarak once again spurned protesters’ demands that he quit office immediately. Check out our timeline of Mubarak’s 30 years in power: www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:12:26 PM1:12
Everything will be alright if he just stepped down from day one. and by stepping down, I don't mean after he steps down another awful twin, or worser, of embarak comes in to rule Egypt.
comment by Palestinian at 2/10/2011 10:09:12 PM1:09
Time for the military to comply with their words to saveguard the interests of the people and as such remove the actual egoistic government
comment by Frans at 2/10/2011 10:08:58 PM1:08
this is not so much a revolution as an evolution of a people, who seek not to seize power but embody the power of their need for freedom and change. Revolutions have a life of their own which often implodes and strangles the heart of the cause. keep heart and keep sight of the freedom you desire people of Tahrir square -
comment by cattleshed at 2/10/2011 10:08:46 PM1:08
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy weighs in on the events in Egypt, saying change in Egypt is unavoidable and that he hopes for democracy there.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:08:33 PM1:08
Our colleagues in Cairo have rounded up some quotes from Egyptians in Cairo's Tahrir Square and on social networking sites after Mubarak told the nation he had handed powers to Vice-President Omar Suleiman, but would not resign.

Mustafa Naggar, leading activist: "The street is fed up with Mubarak. If Mubarak leaves the country he will help to calm the crisis. If he continues, he will lead Egyptians into chaos."
"Plans for tomorrow stand. We will march in the millions to Tahrir Square and other locations."

Antoini Abu Sayed, 50, a university professor: "This would have been enough before the intifada (uprising), but not now. The people will continue to demonstrate. Most of us present will continue."

Ismail Zakaria, 45, a teacher: "The speech was unprecedented in its stubbornness and foolishness. Tomorrow I am heading to the palace in protest. Until Mubarak falls. There is no turning back."

Sameh Ali, 29, an activist: "Giving Suleiman presidential powers means nothing to protesters. The protesters' calls have fallen on deaf ears. And we will escalate our protests tomorrow, until victory".

Ahmed Aly, a businessman not protesting in Tahrir: "The speech was very emotional and decent. The president did what the youth requested, he left power but in a decent way that preserves his dignity and that of the Egyptian people ... All that has happened are great achievements that we would have never been able to achieve without the revolution led by the youth on Jan. 25."

by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 10:04:54 PM1:04
CNN’s Ben Wedeman reports on Twitter that crowds have started surrounding the state TV headquarters in Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 9:59:27 PM0:59

Opposition supporters react in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem
by Corinne Perkins at 2/10/2011 9:55:21 PM0:55
More reactions to Mubarak’s speech, compiled by our colleagues on the London World Desk:

Alanoud Al Sharek, a senior fellow in regional politics at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, says “"He doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt. At this point I don't think it will suffice. He still seems to think he is the top patriarch and custodian of the Egyptian people. He doesn't realise that there is a genuine act of resistance taking place. He has performed quite a sleight of hand. He has transferred authority to Omar Suleiman while somehow retaining his position as ruler.”

Mohamed El-Erian, co-chief investment officer at Pacific Investment Management Co., said: "Given the intense disappointment with the speech in Egypt, the country has entered this evening an ominous period of extreme tension and danger that can only be resolved by credible regime change that the majority of Egyptians can buy into"

Bill O’Grady, chief investment strategist at Confluence Investment Management, says: "The younger military really want to see this guy go and they are allied with the protesters. The older military don't want to give up power just yet and want to play a role in the orderly transition of power. This is playing out a lot like the situation with Anwar Sadat.”
by Matt Reeder at 2/10/2011 9:49:01 PM0:49

An opposition supporter reacts in dismay at President Hosni Mubarak's speech to the nation in their stronghold of Tahrir Square, in Cairo February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

===


Egypt and Pakistan; something borrowed, something newFeb 9, 2011 17:45 EST
egypt | Islam | muslim world | Pakistan
The Egyptian uprising contains much that is familiar to Pakistan – the dark warnings of a coup, in Egypt’s case delivered by Vice President Omar Suleiman, the role of political Islam, and a relationship with the United States distorted by U.S. aid and American strategic interests which do not match those of the people.

President Hosni Mubarak cited Pakistan as an example of what happened when a ruler like President Pervez Musharraf – like himself from the military - was forced to make way for democracy. ”He fears that Pakistan is on the brink of falling into the hands of the Taliban, and he puts some of the blame on U.S. insistence on steps that ultimately weakened Musharraf,” a 2009 U.S. embassy cable published by WikiLeaks said.

Comparisons with Pakistan tend to make you somewhat sceptical about the chances of Egypt’s uprising turning out well.

Yet there is something quite new coming out of Egypt that has the potential to be transformative across the Muslim world. And that is the rejection of all forms of old authority, including, significantly, religious authority.

“The revolution was not just directed against the autocratic, repressive and corrupt Egyptian regime, which relied on an alliance of money, power and corruption. It was also directed against the official religious establishment and its discourse that supports this regime, either directly or indirectly.” Hossam Tammam writes in Egyptian paper Al Masry Al Youm. (scroll down to see the story as the link opens a page with a lot of space at the top).
“The Egyptian revolution has completely reconfigured the religious scene and clarified the public’s position towards religious institutions and discourses in the country. The result has been surprising. No one expected that religious Egyptians are capable of overriding the powers of religious institutions and of challenging religious discourses that they suddenly perceived as part of a corrupt and repressive regime. The official religious establishments–both Islamic and Christian–have been the biggest losers in the revolution.”


Such a trend, if it were allowed to flourish, would be tremendously important in the context of Pakistan, where political parties and the military alike have both used, and been held hostage by religious parties whose power by far exceeds their poor showing at the ballot box. In a conservative society (as both Egypt and Pakistan are) few dare face down the accusation of “not being Muslim enough” by challenging the religious establishment. The last well-known figure to do so in Pakistan, Punjab governor Salman Taseer, was gunned down last month over his call for a reform to the country’s blasphemy laws, and his death celebrated by the religious right. Many of the voices speaking out against his killing came from young Pakistan bloggers.

In Egypt, religion has been sidelined – but not abandoned – by an uprising which has seen Christians and Muslims protesting, and praying together, in Tahrir Square.

In his essay about the uprising, Mohammed Bamyeh writes that.” remarkable was the virtual replacement of religious references by civic ethics that were presumed to be universal and self-evident. This development appears more surprising than in the case of Tunisia, since in Egypt the religious opposition had always been strong and reached virtually all sectors of life. The Muslim Brotherhood itself joined after the beginning of the protests, and like all other organized political forces in the country seemed taken aback by the developments and unable to direct them, as much as the government (along with its regional allies) sought to magnify its role. ”

“Like in the Tunisian Revolution, in Egypt the rebellion erupted as a sort of a collective moral earthquake—where the central demands were very basic, and clustered around the respect for the citizen, dignity, and the natural right to participate in the making of the system that ruled over the person. If those same principles had been expressed in religious language before, now they were expressed as is and without any mystification or need for divine authority to justify them. I saw the significance of this transformation when even Muslim Brotherhood participants chanted at some point with everyone else for a “civic” (madaniyya) state—explicitly distinguished from two other possible alternatives: religious (diniyya) or military (askariyya) state.”
The media has made much of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the role it might play in the Egypt which emerges from the current upheaval. Many argue that the west must engage with Egypt’s most organised opposition group, noting that it has renounced violence and stressed its commitment to democracy. Others see it as a dangerous group which inherently cannot escape its origins as an anti-colonial organisation whose thinking provided the ideological roots for al Qaeda.

Yet in a sense, that is completely the wrong way to frame the debate. The uprising in Egypt is not about substituting one organisation with another – or even about overthrowing autocratic rule for a democratic government including the Brotherhood. It is about something new that we don’t understand yet and probably won’t understand for some time to come. Its spontaneity so far has been its strength; its heroes, like Google executive Wael Ghonim, surprising.

Or as Tammam writes in Al Masry Al Youm, “Any discussion of the status of Islamists in a new Egypt makes little sense if it’s based on the same data that was previously used to study religious movements, and if it ignores the fact that Egypt has witnessed a revolution that destroyed many of the old features of its religious scene.”


Writing in Pakistan, in a very different context, Yasser Latif Hamdani argues in the Daily Times that the current fury over the blasphemy laws is a last-ditch and doomed attempt by the mullahs of the religious right to reassert their authority. “The march of history is irreversible. Today there are more women in the workforce than before and the internet revolution is a permanent revolution.”

“Pakistan’s future lies in ensuring that the democratic process is allowed to continue, that internet proliferation and the technological revolution reaches everyone in this country. When enough people are exposed to the world at large, enough women are in the work force and the youth of this country are no longer susceptible to false religious frenzy, the mullah will wither away or turn on himself. ”

His views may turn out to be wishful thinking. The Egyptian uprising may yet be crushed, or exploited. No one can predict the outcome of a revolution. But we do seem to be seeing something here that goes well beyond the way people choose to be governed.

(Photo: candlelit vigil in Tahrir Square)

==

What does Mubarak’s fall mean for Israel? The Atlantic Wire rounds up some possible answers to that hotly-contested question, including further isolation for the country in the Middle East, the dissolution of certain international agreements with Egypt, domestic political troubles for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and more. Read the full post at www.theatlanticwire.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 3:53:16 AM6:53
“What caused the uprising in Egypt that swiftly brought down Mubarak’s thirty-year-old regime? Depending on whom you’re listening to, the Internet had either everything or nothing to do with it,” writes Sam Graham-Felsen in The Nation. Read the full story at www.thenation.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 3:17:50 AM6:17
Local time in Egypt is 4:22am. Check out the latest Reuters wrap: After Mubarak, Egypt looks forward www.reuters.com
by Grant Surridge at 2/12/2011 2:25:58 AM5:25
Below are a couple of shots of Hosni Mubarak meeting with world leaders from the Reuters pictures archives:
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 2:10:59 AM5:10

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (L) shakes hands with Gamal Sadat, the son of the late Anwar Sadat, during celebrations marking the 12th anniversary of the October 1973 war with Israel, in Cairo, Egypt in this October 6, 1985 file photo. REUTERS/Khaled Abu Seif/Files
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 2:09:41 AM5:09

U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak are surrounded by ceremonial honour guards as they walk away from the tomb of the unknown soldier in Cairo, Egypt in this October 26, 1994 file photo. REUTERS/Aladin/Files
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 2:09:00 AM5:09
“At this remarkable moment in Middle Eastern history, it is worth recalling what scholars, diplomats and pundits said in years past about stability in Egypt and Tunisia. This jog down memory lane is one of those delicious moments where the experts are yet again proved ignorant of the present and incapable of predicting the future,” writes David Keyes, director of CyberDissidents.org, in a new commentary for Reuters.com. blogs.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 12:25:15 AM3:25
In an interview with CNN, Facebook spokesman Elliot Schrange responds to Egyptian activist Wael Ghonim’s comments to the news network earlier that Facebook helped make the revolution in Egypt possible: "Mr. Ghonim is a hero and, like all true heroes, he diminishes his own role and gives credit to others. We've witnessed brave people of all ages coming together to effect a profound change in their country. Certainly, technology was a vital tool in their efforts but we believe their bravery and determination mattered most."
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 12:15:20 AM3:15
It’s 2 a.m. in Egypt and the street celebrations continue. Our photographers on the scene captured the images below of the jubilant crowds in Tahrir Square and elsewhere around Cairo.
by Matt Reeder at 2/12/2011 12:00:53 AM3:00

Opposition protesters celebrate Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, from their stronghold of Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:54:21 PM2:54

Egyptian civilians celebrate near Tahrir square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:52:16 PM2:52

Egyptians wave the national flag as they celebrate Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo's Tahrir Square February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:48:07 PM2:48

People celebrate in Cairo's Tahrir Square, after Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak resigned, February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:46:58 PM2:46

Palestinians celebrate the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, while Israelis voice concern over the power shift. Katharine Jackson reports.
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:42:03 PM2:42
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a press briefing earlier that the Iranian government’s clampdown on media coverage of the upheaval in Egypt in recent days has shown officials there are fearful of their own people. In response to a question about whether the Obama administration would like to see a similar change of the guard in Tehran, Gibbs had this to say: “The administration would like to see the ability of the people of Iran to voice what they'd like to see from their government.” Reuters Alister Bull has more www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:30:49 PM2:30
"From New York hookah lounges to London's streets, Egyptian expatriates joined their countrymen in celebrating the fall of President Hosni Mubarak," write Reuters correspondents Basil Katz and Mohammed Abbas in a new piece. Read their full report at www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 11:10:55 PM2:10
CNN reports that Egypt’s stock market will reopen this coming Sunday, after weeks of being closed due to the political unrest in the country.
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 9:45:09 PM0:45
Our colleague Jeff Mason in Washington untangles the many messages sent by Obama in his remarks earlier about Mubarak’s fall from power. www.reuters.com
by Matt Reeder at 2/11/2011 9:39:58 PM0:39
Pundits comparing this to Iran 1979 forget that both Stateside and in Iran, every protestor wore full head masks (paper bags with eyeholes cut) to prevent the Shah's regime from torturing Iran-resident relatives.
comment by deporodh at 2/11/2011 8:58:01 PM2/11/2011 23:58
was on the streets of alexandria all day, we stayed at the presidential palace at ras el-tin, when we heard the news ppl went hysterical. today is a great day for egypt, we r free thanks to a perfectly peaceful; and PROUD to be Egyptian.
comment by Lucy at 2/11/2011 8:57:44 PM2/11/2011 23:57
From New York hookah lounges to London's streets, Egyptian expatriates joined their countrymen celebrating the fall of President Mubarak. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:56:05 PM2/11/2011 23:56
The White House says it's "important" that the next government of Egypt recognize the accords reached with the government of Israel.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:50:58 PM2/11/2011 23:50

Anti-government protesters carry a placard and celebrate in Tahrir square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:49:39 PM2/11/2011 23:49
Reuters Breakingviews' columnist Pierre Briançon says this won’t be the best of weekends for Middle Eastern autocrats, but the fact that Mubarak is gone does not guarantee a smooth transition to a more democratic regime and the rule of law. blogs.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:48:44 PM2/11/2011 23:48

The sun sets on protesters as they demonstrate in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:42:32 PM2/11/2011 23:42
No sooner had Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down than the chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee warned against letting the Muslim Brotherhood emerge as a powerful force. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:40:49 PM2/11/2011 23:40
New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweets this review of the president's latest statement on Egypt: "Obama finally gets it right. Pitch perfect speech embracing people power in #Egypt, while acknowledging challenges."
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:37:42 PM2/11/2011 23:37
After delivering his speech on Mubarak's resignation, Obama heads to his press secretary Robert Gibbs last press briefing (this is Gibbs last day) and deadpans "Obviously Gibbs departure is not the biggest one today."
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:35:06 PM2/11/2011 23:35
Reuters Special Correspondent Alistair Lyon argues in this analysis that the hard work has only just begun for Egyptians intent on seeing an end to military rule. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:23:53 PM2/11/2011 23:23

Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of President Mubarak's resignation in Cairo February 11, 2011. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:19:18 PM2/11/2011 23:19
CNN says Egyptian state television carried President Obama's comments live to the people of Egypt.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:13:56 PM2/11/2011 23:13
President Obama says "today belongs to the people of Egypt."
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:12:32 PM2/11/2011 23:12
President Obama says the United States will be a friend and partner to Egypt, ready to provide any assistance necessary for transition to democracy. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:11:36 PM2/11/2011 23:11
President Obama says the Egyptian military must lift emergency law and lay out a clear path for free elections.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:10:29 PM2/11/2011 23:10
President Obama says the military has served responsibly in Egypt and will now have to ensure a credible transition.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:09:53 PM2/11/2011 23:09
President Obama says Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will suffice.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:09:19 PM2/11/2011 23:09
President Obama says many questions remain unanswered in Egypt.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:08:29 PM2/11/2011 23:08
President Obama says by stepping down, Mubarak addressed people's hunger for change.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:07:45 PM2/11/2011 23:07
President Obama says witnessed history taking place in Egypt, the people there have spoken and Egypt will never be the same.
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:07:01 PM2/11/2011 23:07
As we await President Obama's comments on Egypt, let's take a look back at public comments by President Obama and other U.S. officials over the course of the uprising in Egypt. www.reuters.com
by Patricia Launt at 2/11/2011 8:05:58 PM2/11/2011 23:05
Egypt's state news agency is reporting that Arab League chief Amr Moussa says he will leave the Arab League within weeks

===

How Cyber-Pragmatism Brought Down Mubarak Sam Graham-Felsen
February 11, 2011


What caused the uprising in Egypt that swiftly brought down Mubarak’s thirty-year-old regime? Depending on whom you’re listening to, the Internet had either everything or nothing to do with it.



On one extreme are the so-called “Cyber-Utopians,” who hail Egypt’s revolt as the “Facebook Revolution” and emphasize the role Internet tools played in sparking it over offline organizing by activists. On the other extreme are Malcolm Gladwell, Jon Stewart, Frank Rich and other media figures, whose eagerness to dismiss the Internet’s role has been equally unsubtle. Focusing almost entirely on social conditions in Egypt, these critics have treated the uprising as the inevitable consequence of poverty and human rights abuses.


Rich has a point: some Western media outlets dwelled on the novelty of social media while under-reporting the longer-term social forces that precipitated protests in Egypt. But others, criticized for having credited the Internet with ushering in the wave of protests in Iran, have downplayed social media’s role in bringing down Mubarak.

Oppressive social conditions do stoke a common hunger for change; however, a movement isn’t born until a core group of extraordinarily brave activists take that extra step, translating their outrage into public action. The reality is that social movements arise from a combination of conditions and courage.
What’s been missing in these arguments is a consideration of those early movers. How did they summon the courage to first step into Tahrir Square—and did the Internet embolden them?

In recent days, a young Google employee from Cairo named Wael Ghonim has emerged as the hero of the protest movement. Ghonim—who was arrested on January 28 and secretly detained until February 7—was the then-anonymous founder of the “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page that initially called for and organized the January 25 protest. The page, which honors a 28-year-old from Alexandria who was pulled out of an Internet café and beaten to death by police who suspected him of releasing videos of police corruption online, was launched over six months ago. What started as a campaign against police brutality grew into an online hub for young Egyptians to share their frustrations over the abuses of the Mubarak regime. Among the active early participants in the “We Are All Khaled Said” community were human rights activists and dissident bloggers, many of whom knew one another and had been organizing against Mubarak’s policies for years, and some of whom had endured jail time for their activities.

Dalia Ziada, a long-time human rights activist and blogger, was one of these core activists. A few years ago, she came across an American comic book from the 1950s that told Martin Luther King’s story. Inspired by the success of King’s nonviolent tactics, she translated the book into Arabic and published it in print and online.

“MLK was only 29 years old when he launched his campaign and motivated the whole Afro-American community,” Dalia told me. “When people learned about MLK and Gandhi success stories they realized they can do it here too. We have the power to turn our dreams into real tangible facts.” Ziada distributed thousands of print and digital copies of the comic book to her fellow organizers, who took not only inspiration but instruction from the persistence and tactical sophistication of the civil rights movement.

Over time, hundreds of thousands joined the “We Are All Khaled Said” page, sharing stories of police abuse and posting inspirational YouTube videos and photos, while core organizers pushed them to attend a series of nonviolent “silent stand” protests in public. None of these protests, which took place in June and August of 2010, drew more than a few thousand people.

But in the wake of the Tunisia uprising—when activists saw that the nonviolent tactics of King and Gandhi had succeeded in a nearby country—Ghonim and his fellow organizers seized on the collective hope. Calling a protest on January 25, activists quickly began distributing downloadable flyers and detailed instruction manuals that included advice on how to counteract tear gas. To ensure greater numbers, organizers promised one another that they would each bring at least ten non-connected people they knew to the protests. They even agreed on messaging tactics in advance. In order to better succeed at recruiting poorer, less-educated Egyptians to join them, they focused on economic issues as a rallying cry, not torture. “We spoke their language,” said Dalia, “not our language as Internet users.”

“The fact that everything was very organized from the beginning made people feel safe and more willing to participate. For example there were maps to the protest locations and how groups should move and who should be in the front row,” says Dalia. “This gave some sense of safety for the participants. In other words, it was not a random or spontaneous upheaval. No, it was well planned and organized.” This web-based planning was critical, given that the vast majority of people on the “We Are All Khaled Said” page—and those who entered the streets on the 25th—were not veteran human rights activists and bloggers.

Call it “Cyber-Pragmatism.” The Internet has helped activists like Ziada weave history into the present, to promote examples of nonviolent movements that have succeeded elsewhere, learn from those that failed and rapidly evolve their nonviolent tactics as their own movement progresses.

When I asked Kamal Sedra, another Egyptian activist and blogger who has been active in the protests, what he and fellow activists have learned since the movement began, he replied, “There are many, many points we learned… this movement will add a lot to nonviolence civil resistance science.”

Ultimately, activists are developing a kind of movement wiki—one that is being continually re-edited and improved upon by an increasingly expanding web of contributors. In doing so, they have given each other the sense that they just might bend history towards justice.

It’s worth taking a step back to consider that for most ordinary people living under repressive regimes, nonviolent public protest is an absurd, laughable notion. The risk of being beaten, jailed, tortured or killed—as many Egyptian human rights activists have been over the past three decades—is terrifying. The only way a street protest becomes a remotely tenable proposition is if you know that you’re not alone—that many, many people not only share your anger but share your desire to do something about it. And when you see that your fellow protesters have a plan—that they are knowledgeable, organized and prepared—it gives you the confidence that your participation won’t be in vain. This is why the “We Are All Khaled Said” page—and the online organizing through private Facebook messages, e-mail list serves and Google Docs that sprung out of it—was so important for first-time activists.

When these young activists took their collective confidence into the streets—in numbers that hadn’t been seen for decades in Egypt—they showed that nonviolent mass mobilization was possible. Only then did the hundreds of thousands of older and non-connected Egyptians, who silently shared their grievances all along, feel compelled to act, too.

A veteran opposition leader told Sedra, “The youth have done in six days what we’ve been trying to do for thirty years.”
Sam Graham-Felsen
February 11, 2011

===

Iranian government "scared" by Egypt upheaval: W.House
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WASHINGTON | Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:17pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A clampdown by the Iranian government on media coverage of the unrest in Egypt exposes how deeply the authorities in Tehran fear their own people, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said on Friday.

"What you've seen in the region is the government of Iran, quite frankly, scared of the will of its people," Gibbs said. "The government of Iran ... has met ... the concerns of its people with threatening to kill them."

The BBC said Iran was electronically jamming its Persian language television broadcasts of the protests in Egypt, which earlier on Friday forced Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down and hand control to the country's army.

Asked if the White House would like to see a similar transition in Tehran, Gibbs said the important thing was that the Iranian authorities respect freedom of speech.

"The administration would like to see the ability of the people of Iran to voice what they'd like to see from their government," he told a news briefing at the White House.

The BBC said it suspected the Iranian authorities may have acted after an interactive TV show allowed Iranian and Egyptian viewers to exchange their views on the crisis.

Iran has previously accused the BBC and other Western broadcasters of interfering in its affairs and trying to undermine the government.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told celebrations on Friday marking the 32nd anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution that Egyptian upheaval was an "Islamic awakening." This was a reference to the uprising that toppled the U.S.-backed Shah in 1979 and swept the Shi'ite Muslim clergy to power.

Most opposition groups in Egypt, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, have stressed the secular nature of their protests.

(Reporting by Alister Bull; Editing by Eric Beech)

===
U.S. sees Egypt's Tantawi as resistant to change

By David Alexander and Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON | Fri Feb 11, 2011 5:17pm EST





(Reuters) - U.S. officials see the head of Egypt's military council as an ally committed to avoiding another war with Israel but have in the past portrayed him privately as being resistant to political and economic reform.

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the head of the Higher Military Council that took control of Egypt on Friday after President Hosni Mubarak was swept from power, has spoken with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates by telephone five times since the crisis began, including as recently as Thursday evening, according to the Pentagon.

The ties are long-standing and important to Washington, which gives about $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt each year. Senior U.S. defense and military officials had no immediate comment about Mubarak's decision to step down.

Pentagon officials have also been tight-lipped about the content of the talks between Tantawi and Gates.

The U.S. defense chief has publicly praised Egypt's military for being a stabilizing force during the unrest. On Tuesday, Gates said Egypt's military had "made a contribution to the evolution of democracy."


In private, U.S. officials have characterized Tantawi as someone who was "reluctant to change" and uncomfortable with the U.S. focus on fighting terrorism, according to a 2008 State Department cable released by the WikiLeaks website.

Tantawi, 75, has served in three conflicts with Israel, starting with the 1956 Suez Crisis and in both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars.

The State Department cable said he is "committed to preventing another one ever."

'AGED AND CHANGE-RESISTANT'

Still, diplomats warned ahead of a 2008 visit to Washington that U.S. officials should be prepared to meet a "an aged and change-resistant Tantawi."

"Charming and courtly, he is nonetheless mired in a post-Camp David military paradigm that has served his cohort's narrow interests for the last three decades," the cable said, in reference to Israel's peace accord with Egypt.

"In the cabinet, where he still wields significant influence, Tantawi has opposed both economic and political reforms that he perceives as eroding central government power," the cable said.

"He is supremely concerned with national unity and has opposed policy initiatives he views as encouraging political or religious cleavages within Egyptian society."


The cable said Tantawi viewed the military's role as protecting constitutional legitimacy and internal stability. It said he had signaled a willingness to use the military to control the Muslim Brotherhood ahead of 2008 local elections.

Tantawi was skeptical of Egypt's economic reform program early in the decade, believing the relaxation of government controls on prices and production fostered social instability, the cable said.

=
Egypt's Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is the head of the Higher Military Council that took control of Egypt after Hosni Mubarak resigned his post as president on Friday.

Here are some facts about Tantawi:

* He was born on October 31, 1935 and joined the armed forces in 1956.

* Tantawi holds the rank of Field Marshal and has served in the government of Egypt as minister of defense and military production since 1991 and a general commander for the armed forces since 1995.

* Tantawi has served in three wars against Israel, starting with the 1956 Suez Crisis and both the 1967 and 1973 Middle East wars.

* He was appointed deputy prime minister, in addition to his post as defense minister, after Mubarak sacked his cabinet in a failed attempt to calm mass protests on January 29.

* His military background and seniority had led to speculation he could be a possible runner for presidency, though some analysts said he had limited support among the armed forces' rank and file.

(Writing by Dina Zayed)

===

(Reuters) - An official Chinese newspaper on Saturday called for stability in Egypt after the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and said foreigners should keep from intervening, offering Beijing's first reaction to the Egyptian leader's resignation.

The comments underscored that Beijing's reaction to the upheaval in Egypt is likely to be more cautious, and more driven by concerns about its own internal control, than the welcome in Western capitals to Mubarak's resignation.

"Following this extraordinary development, it is hoped that the Egyptian military, government and its people will make every effort to maintain social stability and restore normal order," the China Daily newspaper said in an editorial.

"Social stability should be of overriding importance. Any political changes will be meaningless if the country falls prey to chaos in the end," said the paper, China's official English-language newspaper.

"Given Egypt's status as a major Arab power of pivotal strategic importance, if the current situation continues to deteriorate, it will not only be nightmarish for the 80 million Egyptians, but also perilous to regional peace and stability."

The editorial was the first extensive comment from China's state-run media on Mubarak's ouster on Friday after 30 years as Egypt's ruler.

The Foreign Ministry later issued a brief statement, without mentioning Mubarak's resignation or saying what had happened.

"China has been closely following the changing situation in Egypt and hopes the latest developments will help Egypt to restore national stability and normal order as soon as possible," Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

"Egypt is a friend of China and we believe Sino-Egyptian relations will continue to develop in a healthy and stable manner."

China's Communist Party government is wary of any foreign upheavals that could reflect badly on its own authoritarian controls and it long been suspicious of what it sees as Western-led efforts to topple governments in other countries.

"Stability comes before all else," is a slogan that Chinese officials sometimes use to sum up their domestic priorities.

Echoing comments from the Foreign Ministry in recent days, the paper said "what is happening in Egypt is an internal affair. It should be resolved without foreign interference."

State television news reported on Mubarak's fall without comment and did not show pictures of crowds in Cairo, while the Chinese-language People's Daily newspaper ran a story on its third page, but made no editorial comment on the matter.

Many commentators have noted that Mubarak's departure came on the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution and 21 years since Nelson Mandela's release from prison. Saturday was also the 99th anniversary of the abdication(The act of abdicating; the renunciation of a high office, dignity, or trust, by its holder; commonly the voluntary renunciation of sovereign power; as, abdication of the throne, government, power, authority.

) of the last emperor of China, who stepped down on Feb 12, 1912.

Chinese Internet sites have restricted public comment on the unrest in Egypt, apparently reflecting official worry that criticism of Mubarak's regime could also turn on Beijing.

The popular Sina.com micro-blogging site, which operates like Twitter, told users searching for comment on Egypt that it could not be displayed for legal reasons, which it did not explain.

But discussion of Mubarak's fall, both for and against, could nonetheless be found on blogs.

"The impact of this event will go beyond the Arab world," wrote one Chinese blogger on Sina.com. "Faraway China will also feel its consequences."

(Reporting by Tom Miles, Chris Buckley and Zhou Xin; editing by Ron Popeski)

===
Factbox: Reaction to fall of Mubarak around the world


Fri Feb 11, 2011 4:18pm EST

(Reuters) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Friday after 18 days of mass protests against his rule.

Here is some reaction from around the world:

* UNITED STATES

-- "The people of Egypt have spoken...Egyptians have made it clear that nothing less than genuine democracy will carry the day," said President Barack Obama.

"There will be many difficult days ahead and many questions remain unanswered."

"The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people," Obama said.

* UNITED NATIONS

-- U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a "transparent, orderly and peaceful transition" in Egypt. Ban also said he wanted to see "free, fair and credible" elections.

* IRAN

-- "I congratulate the great Egyptian nation for this victory and we share their happiness," Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying by state television.

"We hope that the civil movement in Egypt can complete its victory through resistance and by a strong will so that it can successfully reach all its demands."

"It is expected that at this sensitive time, the Egyptian army which has a shining record in fighting oppression and the aggressions of the Zionist regime, carries out its historical duty by accompanying, supporting and listening to demands of its great nation until their goals are achieved."

* RUSSIA

-- "We hope the latest developments will help restore stability and normal functioning of all power structures. We hope that not only the government but also the opposition will show willingness to stabilize the situation," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

* ISRAEL

-- "It's too early to foresee how (the resignation) will affect things," a senior Israeli official said. "We hope that the change to democracy in Egypt will happen without violence and that the peace accord will remain."

===

Hezbollah hails Egypt Revolution
Fri Feb 11, 2011 7:33PM
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A woman reacts to the announcement of Hosni Mubarak giving up power on February 11, 2011 in Cairo, Egypt.Lebanon's Hezbollah Resistance Movement has congratulated Egyptian people for managing to force President Hosni Mubarak to step down from power.


Describing Mubarak's resignation as an "historic victory” for Egyptians, Hezbollah said on Friday that the movement strongly supports the Egyptian Revolution.

"Hezbollah congratulates the great people of Egypt on this historic and honorable victory, which is a direct result of their pioneering revolution," Hezbollah said in a statement

"It is the unity the people showed in this revolution, women and men, children and adults, which marked the triumph of blood over the sword," it added.

"Hezbollah is filled with pride over the achievements of the Egyptian Revolution."

Hezbollah has invited its supporters to join in a mass celebration.

Hundreds of Lebanese also took to the streets of the capital Beirut following Mubarak's resignation and celebrated the occasion by waving Egyptian flags and with fireworks.

Crowds also gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy in Beirut and voiced their support for the new leadership in Egypt. There were also reports of celebrations in other Lebanese cities, including the northern port city of Tripoli.

On Friday, after 18 days of massive anti-Mubarak protests across Egypt, the Egyptian leader finally stepped down and handed power to the military after 30 years.

However, The transition of power to the military comes while Mubarak, Vice President Omar Suleiman and Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq are all former military men. Analysts believe despite the transition Mubarak would still remain in power.

This is while millions of Egyptians have for the past 18 days called for the departure of Mubarak and the establishment of a democratic government.

===

'No change with Egypt military in picture'
Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:22AM
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Egyptians celebrate President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Liberation Square on February 11.The Egyptian revolution may fail to bring about reforms unless the military establishment is taken over by a civilian-led government, says an analyst.


“We have succeeded in a very important step which is getting rid of [President Hosni] Mubarak. But Mubarak for the past five years has not been governing this country. He's been sitting in Sharm el-Sheikh where he is now,” Zulficar, a political analyst, told Press TV on Friday.

Zulficar added that Mubarak “hardly ever comes to Cairo. It (Egypt) has been run by Vice President General Omar Suleiman who was vice president until a couple of hours ago, may still be. It was run, from security point of view and from a foreign policy point of view by Omar Suleiman. He is a close friend of the Israelis and of the Americans. Nothing has changed.”

He further said that the Egyptian revolution “is only the very beginning of a long process. We must be sure that we have civilian rule and not military rule. We must be sure that the remnants of this regime that are still in positions of power do not remain in these positions.”

Meanwhile, millions of Egyptians waved their country's flags, danced in the streets of Cairo and several other cities, honked horns and launched fireworks until the early hours of Saturday to celebrate the departure of Mubarak.

The historic overthrow trigged an influx of reaction by world leaders and officials.

Thousands of Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip also took to the streets on Friday, celebrating Mubarak's resignation.

Gazans congratulated the Egyptian people on the success of their revolution, describing it as the victory of the will of the Egyptian people and their sacrifices.

===

'Mubarak wanted an honorable way out'
Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:4AM
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Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-EliezerThe former Israeli defense minister says he had a telephone call with former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in which the deposed strongman stated that he was looking for an honorable exit.


Former Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, who is widely regarded as a close friend and ally of the 82-year-old former ruler of Egypt, told Israel TV on Friday that following his 20-minute telephone conversation with him on Thursday, Mubarak realized that his era had come to an end, and that he should look for an honorable way to abandon power.

Mubarak, the second Arab leader to be overthrown by a popular revolution in a month, resigned on late Friday following 18 tumultuous days of non-stop demonstrations in protest against poverty, corruption and his regime's repressive measures in the country.

Ben-Eliezer, who is also a member of the center-left Labor Party further noted that Mubarak took a swipe at the United States for its democracy slogans and "had very tough things to say about the United State.”

"'They may be talking about democracy, but they don't know what they're talking about and the result will be extremism and radical Islam,'" he quoted Mubarak as saying.

The Israeli official also expounded on "what he (Mubarak) expects will happen in the Middle East after his fall.”

"He contended the snowball [of revolution] won't stop in Egypt and it wouldn't skip any Arab country in the Middle East and in the [Persian] Gulf," according to Ben-Eliezer.

"He said 'I won't be surprised if in the future you see more extremism and radical Islam and more disturbances -- dramatic changes and upheavals," the former Israeli defense minister added.

Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that an Iranian-style revolution in Egypt could be augured in if the Muslim Brotherhood party wins in the forthcoming elections in September.

Since the outbreak of the revolution, officials in Tel Aviv have persistently expressed deep concern that pro-democracy demonstrations against Mubarak could bring its 31-year-old peace treaty with Egypt under strains.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 following days of secret negotiations at Camp David, the United States. Many Egyptians, however, believe that the treaty did not end Israeli occupation and therefore are opposed to it.

===

Egyptians urged to topple military ruleSat Feb 12, 2011 10:30AM
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A young man stands in front of graffiti in Liberation Square during a celebration over President Hosni Mubarak's stepping down February 11 in the Egyptian capital Cairo.The revolution in Egypt has turned the military rulers' fear campaign on themselves, requiring Egyptians to maintain pressure until a civilian government takes charge, says an analyst.


“My assessment is the fear, which is for the population to be afraid of the regime, has changed camps. The people are no longer afraid. They have shown that they can overturn an oppressive government,” Said Zulficar, a political analyst, said in an interview with Press TV on Friday.

He suggested that the military establishment is now harboring fears of an overthrow and noted, “And the other camp was not just the regime but the people are supporting the regime, which was the army. I still think that the top brass of the army has not changed that fundamental feeling. They are doing what they call the crisis management.”

His comments came on the heels of a brief announcement by the Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman on Friday, in which Suleiman said that the embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had "abandoned the presidency" and handed over power to the Supreme Council of the Egyptian Armed Forces, which is headed by Defense Minister Gen. Mohammed Tantawi.

Zulficar, however, cautioned Egyptians against complacency in their struggles for democracy and said that the country's ruling military has merely employed a shape-shifting strategy by leaving Mubarak out.

Zulficar pointed to foreign interventions meant to preserve the military rule in the Arab world' most populous country and said that the Egyptian military seems to be advised “to get rid of Mubarak who was a total liability and that they must do some crisis management, which is take over power and try and have certain amounts of reform which I fear might be cosmetic unless the people who are no longer afraid must continue the movement.”

He said that Egyptians “must not demobilize. They must still maintain the aims of the movement. They must maintain the demands which are the dissolution of both Houses of the Parliament, the abrogation of the emergency law, the establishment of social justice and a normal, legal justice and having a civilian government.”

Mubarak's resignation has triggered celebrations among millions of protesters in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, and other cities across the North African country. Opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood, however, have called for the formation of a civilian-led government.

===

By Edmund Blair

CAIRO | Sat Feb 12, 2011 6:13am EST

CAIRO (Reuters) - People took to the streets in their thousands demanding the end of the government. They marched on the headquarters of the state broadcaster which had been churning out the government line. The president fell. The army took charge.

Cairo in 2011? No, Sudan in 1985.

As I watched the unprecedented protests in Egypt that have overturned what seemed like the immutable ruling system of President Hosni Mubarak, I have constantly found myself thinking of the last time I had a front row seat at a military takeover.

I keep wondering whether the coup in Sudan, which marked the first step toward a civilian government, albeit one that only lasted four years, provides clues to what will happen in Egypt.
To me, it suggests the jubilation I witnessed on Cairo on Friday is just the first step and protesters will return to their homes only if they are sure the officers now in charge will dismantle the old order and deliver civilian rule.

I was a teenager when I watched Sudanese President Jaafar Nimeiri tumble. My parents had a house with a verandah overlooking the Nile. Along the riverside ran a road that led to Radio Omdurman, the main broadcasting building.

There was no better place to watch the coup unfold.

Demonstrators in their thousands marched up to the state broadcaster's building, the government's mouthpiece, chanting "Ya Nimeiri, Ya himar" -- "Oh Nimeiri, you donkey."

Popular discontent had grown as the economy, weak for years, gradually disintegrated leaving millions impoverished.

RATIONS AND SHORTAGES

My father, an expatriate worker, once spent 60 hours, sleeping in our family car, waiting to get four gallons of fuel. That was our weekly ration. We had to queue for bottles of cooking gas. Eggs, sugar and flour were in short supply.

That was the daily struggle for a Western family living on a good salary. For Sudanese, multiply the battle to survive many times. Sudan's pound went into freefall.

Patience ran out. The demonstrators demanded change and the army stepped in. They threw out one of their own. Nimeiri was an army officer who had seized power in 1969.
Here's where the usual African script for military coups changed. Suwar al-Dahab, the army officer who took charge, promised he would hold elections in a year's time. Few believed him. But exhausted, the people trusted him. He delivered.

In 1986, Africa's largest country by land area and at the time riven by a civil war between north and south, held multi-party elections. A civilian government took office.


=


Until Tunisia's revolt in January, it was the last time an Arab people -- northern Sudan is Arabic-speaking -- could claim to have changed their government by a popular movement.

The parallels with Egypt are far from perfect. Like Sudan, it was a combustible mix of economic and political anxieties that drove Egyptians onto the streets.

Egyptians throughout the country demanded Mubarak go, blaming him and his allies for high prices, unemployment, a yawning gap between rich and poor and political repression.

On Friday, they achieved what they could hardly have imagined was possible. They showed the people could control the streets and make Egypt ungovernable. The people decided. Mubarak fell. A military council has taken charge.

The council has pledged to meet the people's demands. It has promised to lift emergency laws in place for 30 years, which have been used to crush dissent. Crucially, it has promised free and fair elections.

NOVELTY IN EGYPT

That will be a novelty in Egypt. The November parliamentary poll was blatantly rigged. Hardly a seat in the lower house went to a member of the opposition. Most of the main opposition forces in Egypt simply boycotted the contest.

Egypt has held just one multi-candidate presidential election. In 2005, Mubarak predictably swept up the votes. His main rival, Ayman Nour, came a distant second and was then jailed on charges that he said were politically motivated.

With a military council in charge, Egypt may be able to re-write the constitution. The existing document, occasionally amended with cosmetic changes, was written to ensure Mubarak and his clique had a built-in guarantee of power.

Now many Egyptians, waking up to a new order, are starting to wonder what comes next.

Are the armed forces really ready to put civilians back in charge? Will they hand back power they seized in 1952 when Gamal Abdel Nasser and his "Free Officers" overthrew the monarchy? Is Egypt's most powerful institution, the only one to survive the tumultuous events, ready to take a back seat?
The message from many protesters is clear.

"Civilian, civilian" was one of the chants greeting news when it reached Tahrir Square, the epicenter of Egypt's political earthquake, that Mubarak had quit and the army was in charge.

The officers now ruling Egypt are led by Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. He regularly sat next to Mubarak at military parades showing off the army's might. He has been in his post for 20 years.

Many Egyptians hope Tantawi will show allegiance to the people who dared to challenge Mubarak's security apparatus. After 18 days of protests, they do not look like a people ready to accept the old formula of power backed by the army.

In 1985, a military commander in a country on Egypt's southern bordered delivered on his promise. For the Sudanese, it proved a brief experiment in civilian rule. Three years after the 1986 election, another military officer seized back control.

==

What I witnessed in Sudan a quarter of century ago was an amazing moment when history seemed to be re-written. A military officer defied the skeptics, Sudanese and Western alike, and kept his promise to establish civilian rule.

I wonder if I will see it happen again. I wonder if the Egyptians will be ready to go back to their homes if the army does not deliver.

(Editing by Peter Millership and Andrew Dobbie)


===


ANALYSIS-Gulf rulers shaken by Egypt, but will weather storm12 Feb 2011 17:02

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Biggest demand for reforms likely in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain

* Some Gulf governments already taking pre-emptive steps


Cynthia Johnston

DUBAI, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Gulf Arab rulers, eyeing the fall of a fellow U.S.-ally in Egypt, have lost a longheld sense of invulnerability to popular unrest and will only survive the immediate crisis if they offer concessions to their populations.

From oil behemoth Saudi Arabia to majority-Shi'ite Bahrain and sleepy Oman, Gulf governments may be forced to offer political and economic reforms to prevent unrest from reaching their shores.

But they will also not hesitate to use force to stifle dissent if needed to maintain their hold on power.

"I don't think any regime is immune," said Mustafa Alani, a security analyst at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai. "I think this is some sort of disease that will never recognise borders. Freedom and democracy, actually, you cannot stop it"In the Gulf, I think that major pressure is going to be for reform, more transparency, more accountability," he said, adding that that would be a bigger focus of demands than regime change.."


The massive oil and gas wealth of the Gulf states -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Oman -- fuelled a development boom that lifted many into prosperity even as other Arab states struggle to raise living standards.

Analysts say that wealth has enabled Gulf rulers to strike a golden bargain, giving their people relative affluence in exchange for political quiescence aimed at blocking the type of revolt that toppled Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Friday.

But Mubarak's exit has changed the geopolitical reality.

"Egypt is the pillar of the Arab world. In the Gulf they don't have a serious problem between the rulers and the ruled but they have issues with regard to reforms, so pressure will be applied," prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi said.

Among the Gulf states that may face the biggest demands for reform are top oil exporter Saudi Arabia -- the richest Arab nation -- whose web-savvy young population often lacks access to good education and jobs.
But an Egypt-style revolt is not on the table, analysts say.

Riyadh, which gave refuge to Tunisia's ousted ruler in January, was among Mubarak's strongest supporters, denouncing what it called "blatant interference" by foreign countries in Egypt, where Washington had called for a transition. On Saturday, Saudi said it welcomed the peaceful transition.

"Many people have been asking me if what happened in Egypt could happen in Saudi Arabia. The short answer is no. Saudi Arabia, and the other five GCC countries, are politically and economically more stable. That doesn't mean things are not happening," Saudi blogger Ahmed al-Omran wrote on his blog.

"Young Saudis are becoming more engaged than ever in the effort to reform," he said on the blog, Saudijeans.

Bahrain, where a Sunni dynasty rules over a Shi'ite majority, faces protests on Monday. Risks are less in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where a small, prosperous local population is dwarfed by a huge expat community.

U.S. ABANDONMENT

But even as Gulf states contend with the loss of an ally in Mubarak, they are perhaps more shaken by how swiftly Washington cut loose what was perceived as a solid and strategically vital relationship with the leader of the most populous Arab country.

If it happened to Mubarak, it could happen to them.

"They were surprised how fast the U.S. washed its hands of a friendly regime, and how fast the EU dumped them and how fast the official media changed sides," Alani said, adding that could in fact make them more responsive at home.

"The only insurance policy now is to satisfy your own people,"
he added.

Gulf states have already taken steps to minimise risks of unrest, some before Mubarak stepped down. Bahrain, home of the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has said it would give 1,000 dinars ($2,650) to each family, the latest step to appease the public ahead of the planned protests on Monday.

"We're in uncharted territory here," said security analyst Theodore Karasik of Dubai-based INEGMA. "I think you are going to see ... more concessions to calm the populace, if you will. If that fails, then I think you'll see some type of crackdown."


Kuwait, perhaps the most politically vibrant of the Gulf states, accepted the resignation this week of its interior minister following torture allegations over the death of a Kuwaiti man who died in police custody.

It announced last month it would give every Kuwaiti over $3,500 plus free food rations in what was billed as a long-planned gesture marking 50 years of independence.

In the Arabian Peninsula state of Yemen, a poor neighbour of the oil-exporting Gulf, President Ali Abdullah Saleh has tried to pre-empt a revolt by promising to step down when his term ends in 2013 and vowed he would not hand over power to his son.

But Saleh, who has faced weeks of sporadic anti-government protests, has yet to bring the opposition on board. Protests on Saturday turned to clashes, as pro- and anti-government demonstrators scuffled with traditional knives and batons.

"The Middle East will never be the same ... I think Saleh has to be nervous," Yemen analyst Brian O'Neill wrote on his blog, Always Judged Guilty.

"You can estimate and gameplan, but predictions are going to leave you slack-jawed, whiplashed by the tumultuous force of people. Thank you, Egyptians, for reminding us of that." (Additional reporting by Ulf Laessing in Riyadh and Martina Fuchs in Dubai; Writing by Cynthia Johnston, editing by Diana Abdallah)

===========


Egypt: Hosni Mubarak used last 18 days in power to secure his fortune

Hosni Mubarak used the 18 days it took for protesters to topple him to shift his vast wealth into untraceable accounts overseas, Western intelligence sources have said.

The price of Brent crude rose sharply early on Friday when it appeared that President Mubarak would cling to power Photo: ReutersBy Philip Sherwell, in New York, Robert Mendick, and Nick Meo in Cairo 8:26PM GMT 12 Feb 2011
The former Egyptian president is accused of amassing a fortune of more than £3 billion - although some suggest it could be as much as £40 billion - during his 30 years in power. It is claimed his wealth was tied up in foreign banks, investments, bullion and properties in London, New York, Paris and Beverly Hills.

In the knowledge his downfall was imminent, Mr Mubarak is understood to have attempted to place his assets out of reach of potential investigators.

On Friday night Swiss authorities announced they were freezing any assets Mubarak and his family may hold in the country's banks while pressure was growing for the UK to do the same. Mr Mubarak has strong connections to London and it is thought many millions of pounds are stashed in the UK.
But a senior Western intelligence source claimed that Mubarak had begun moving his fortune in recent weeks.

"We're aware of some urgent conversations within the Mubarak family about how to save these assets," said the source, "And we think their financial advisers have moved some of the money around. If he had real money in Zurich, it may be gone by now."
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Egyptians celebrate their moment of history 12 Feb 2011
Switzerland to freeze Mubarak's assets 11 Feb 2011
Anxious international community waits to see democracy 11 Feb 2011
Egypt rejoices as Mubarak resigns 12 Feb 2011
The revelation came as the ruling military council, which took power as Mr Mubarak stepped down on Friday, confirmed its pledge eventually to hand power to an elected civilian government, although it did not set a date.

It also reassured allies that Egypt will abide by its peace treaty with Israel, as it outlined the first cautious steps in a promised transition to elections and "to build a democratic free nation".

The military council's spokesman, Gen Mohsen el-Fangari, appeared in front of a row of Egyptian military and national flags as he read a statement, proclaiming respect for the rule of law - a sign that the current system of emergency law may be ended.

But demands were growing among protesters in Cairo last night for Mr Mubarak to be put on trial for corruption.

The former president was at his family villa in the resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh. There were unconfirmed reports that he was effectively under house arrest, as the focus of protesters moved from toppling the hated ruler to seizing his fortune, although the army's ruling council which is in charge of the country pending its transition to democracy said Mr Mubarak was beingn treated with due respect.

During the protests last week, former deputy foreign minister Ibrahim Yousri and 20 lawyers petitioned Abdel Meguid Mahmoud, Egypt's prosecutor general, to put Mr Mubarak and his family on trial for stealing state wealth.

Crowds in Tahrir Square were yesterday hotly debating what to do with the disgraced former president, as protesters assembled themselves into clean-up squads to remove rubbish and cranes took away wrecked vehicles.

Manar Louay, 16, a student, said: "I don't think they should put him on trial - he did keep our country out of wars. But they should take his money, it is not his."

Mohamed El Beblawy, 60, a driver, said: "Not only should Mubarak be prosecuted, all the other thieves should be as well."

Fatma Samy Ahmed, 50, who was part of the clean-up operation, said: "He should be executed like Saddam Hussein. Half of the population lived in poverty, while Mubarak and those around him lived in heaven."

The intelligence source suggested that 82-year-old Mubarak may have learnt the lesson of his fellow dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, the former president of Tunisia, who was forced with his family into a hasty exile in Saudi Arabia while Swiss authorities froze the family's bank accounts.

A US official told The Sunday Telegraph: "There's no doubt that there will have been some frantic financial activity behind the scenes. They can lose the homes and some of the bank accounts, but they will have wanted to get the gold bars and other investments to safe quarters."
The Mubaraks are understood to have wanted to shift assets to Gulf states where they have considerable investments already – and, crucially, friendly relations. The United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia have frequently been mentioned as likely final destinations for Mr Mubarak and possibly his family.

The UK Treasury said it would have the power to seize Mubarak's British assets if Egypt made a formal request - and no order had yet been made.

But Lord Malloch-Brown, a former Labour foreign minister and former Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, told The Sunday Telegraph: "When people are forced out of office, if they have money way beyond what they should have earned, then a country like Britain should freeze those assets pending a court action by the new government.

"Given his and his family's strong links to the UK, it is reasonable to assume at least some of his assets are here."



Reports emanating from Egypt claim that Mubarak had accounts with the Swiss bank UBS as well as with HBOS, now part of Lloyds Banking Group, which is 41 per cent owned by the British Government. But it is understood that Lloyds bank officials have so far found no evidence Mubarak had secret accounts with them.

Quite how much Mubarak has stashed away - and where he has hidden that fortune - in the past 30 years is open to speculation. His 69-year-old wife Suzanne Mubarak - known in some circles as the Marie Antoinette of Egypt - is half-Welsh while it is claimed the couple's two sons Gamal and Alaa may even have British passports.

Intelligence sources indicate that the Mubarak fortune may be most easily traced via the business dealings of Gamal Mubarak, 47.

He once lived in a six-storey house in Belgravia in central London and worked in banking before setting up an investment and consulting firm in London. He resigned as a director of the company 10 years ago.

The president made his two sons the "go to" men for any companies that sought to do business in Egypt.

Kefaya, an opposition coalition that emerged before the 2005 elections to oppose the then president and his plans to transfer power to Gamal, released a lengthy investigation into nepotism, corruption and abuse of power by the ex-president and his two sons.

It said it was routine for businesses to be required to hand a cut – between 20 to 50 per cent - to Gamal or Alaa simply to set up shop. Favoured entrepreneurs who worked with the brothers were given virtual monopolies in return.

Arwa Hassan, a Middle East specialist for the anti-corruption group Transparency International, said Gamal appeared to be at the centre of the Mubarak family's finances. Miss Hassan said: "It was really common for Gamal Mubarak to approach a successful business and say, make me a partner in your business. I've heard this from various sources. I don't think it was a secret."
Dealing with the former president will present a major challenge to Egypt's first real democratic government, which is expected to be formed after elections.

On Saturday night the army was in charge, hugely supported by the people after promising to hand over power as soon as possible. The army was quick to promise to honour all existing treaties including the crucial Camp David Accord with Israel.

Most Egyptians spent yesterday celebrating their new freedom.

Hundreds of thousands filed through Tahrir Square, smiling soldiers let children climb onto, and even into, their tanks, and a sea of Egyptian flags waved over the heads of the crowd.

Some protesters promised to resume protests if the army does not show clear signs of allowing a transition to civilian rule. The people of Cairo were waking up to a very different world. After weeks of paralysis the economy is in chaos; expectations for the future have been raised dangerously high; and the revolution was so rapid that there is no leadership to offer a vision of a secure political future.

But the mood on Cairo's streets was euphorically positive. Dina Sadek, 21, a student protester, said: "A month ago people were too scared to criticise him in public. Now we have won our freedom and we are proud to be Egyptian."
Hundreds of pro-democracy supporters were arrested in Algeria, as hopes of freedom swept the Arab world.


====

Egypt military rulers under pressure from protesters13 Feb 2011 00:02

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Leaders threaten more protests if demands unmet

* Start of first working week since Mubarak's downfall

* Obama welcomes military pledges to uphold democracy

By Peter Millership and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Egypt's new military rulers, who have promised to hand power to civilians, are facing impatient protesters who want swift steps to prove their nation is set for democracy after Hosni Mubarak's overthrow.

The nation wakes up to its first working day on Sunday since Mubarak was toppled during the Egyptian weekend, and protest organisers have threatened more rallies if the military fails to meet their demands.

The military has given no timetable for the transition but says it is committed to civilian rule and democracy. A cabinet meeting, due later on Sunday, could provide some answers.

As Egypt celebrated the dawn of a new post-Mubarak era, the streets of central Cairo were still filled with euphoric crowds dancing to loud music and waving flags into the early hours of Sunday, more than 24 hours after Mubarak resigned.

On Sunday, shops will reopen and many will head back to work, with life expected to begin to return to normal after 18 days of protests that changed the course of Egypt's history.

Mubarak's toppling marked the beginning of a new, uncertain era in the Middle East where autocratic leaders fear Egypt's revolt could spill over into other parts of the oil-rich region.

Restoring order is a top priority. Tanks and troops have been guarding strategic buildings so far as police disappeared from the streets. Repairing police stations burned down during the protests is another urgent task. <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For all stories on the crisis, click on [ID:nLDE71327H]

Should Russia, China worry? http://link.reuters.com/byb97r

Protest timeline http://link.reuters.com/zyb97r

For graphics, click on http://r.reuters.com/nym77r

Live Blog http://live.reuters.com/UK/Event/Unrest_in_Egypt

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^>

Hundreds camped out in Tahrir Square in central Cairo overnight to keep up the pressure on the military leadership, saying they would stay there until the ruling Higher Military Council accepts their agenda for reform.

"If the army does not fulfil our demands, our uprising and its measures will return stronger," said Safwat Hegazi, a protest leader. Organisers want the dissolution of parliament and the lifting of a 30-year-old state of emergency.
Some protest organisers were forming a Council of Trustees to defend the revolution and negotiate with the military.


CARNIVAL ATMOSPHERE

The carnival atmosphere in Cairo contrasted sharply with the tense and menacing atmosphere prior to Mubarak's downfall when soldiers with tanks manned checkpoints and vigilantes with baseball bats guarded neighbourhoods.

Brightly lit pleasure cruisers plied their trade on the Nile while horse-drawn carriages were back on the streets for intrepid sight-seers. Some people took photographs alongside smiling soldiers, and showed victory signs to each other.

Fashion and music shops reopened on Saturday night for the first time since the start of the crisis, and loud music reverberated through central Cairo all night.

Military leaders promised to honour Egypt's treaties, a message clearly aimed at easing concerns in Israel, which has a 1979 peace accord with Egypt, and in the United States, which considers that treaty the cornerstone of Middle East security.

U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed the announcement from military leaders that they were committed to a democratic civilian transition and would stand by Egypt's international obligations. Obama called the leaders of Britain, Jordan and Turkey on Saturday to discuss Egypt.

The new administration, keen to dissociate itself from Mubarak's old guard, said it was investigating accusations against the former prime minister, interior minister and information minister, state television reported. Mubarak, 82, was believed to be at his residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, his future unclear.

The events in Egypt sent shockwaves abroad. In Yemen, an anti-government protest was broken up on Saturday and in Algiers thousands of police stopped protesters from staging a march. (Reporting by Samia Nakhoul, Edmund Blair, Marwa Awad, Yasmine Saleh, Dina Zayed, Shaimaa Fayed, Alexander Dziadosz, Sherine El Madany, Patrick Werr, Alistair Lyon, Tom Perry, Andrew Hammond, Jonathan Wright, Peter Millership and Alison Williams in Cairo and Christian Lowe in Algiers; Writing by Maria Golovnina)

====

Egypt protesters say fear punishment, reprisals07 Feb 2011 16:41

Source: reuters // Reuters


* Protesters say government should cancel emergency law

* Find security presence ominous


By Andrew Hammond

CAIRO, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Egyptian protesters say they fear security forces will take revenge on them for continuing their campaign in central Cairo for President Hosni Mubarak's ousting, despite official promises to the contrary.

Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said on Thursday there would be no "security pursuit" of thousands of activists who took over Tahrir Square four days into an uprising against poverty, corruption and political repression that began on Jan. 25.

But with the government having so far survived a revolt that has left what the United Nations says could be as many as 300 people dead, many say they do not believe Shafiq.

The government says it respects the right to protest -- one of the gains of the uprising -- but it wants to clear Tahrir for life to return to normal in one of the world's most congested cities.

"If there is really to be no security pursuit, why don't they cancel the emergency law? They make promises without action," said Ehad al-Hinawy, 46, a pharmacist from Zaqaziq.

Protesters have set up checkpoints and barricades to keep out pro-Mubarak supporters who assaulted them last week but they believe plainclothes intelligence officers have infiltrated the protest zone or lie in wait for them outside.

"State security people are registering us at checkpoints, looking at us in a certain way. It's enough to see them to feel scared," said Saad Shibahi, 27, a driver from Alexandria.
Egypt has been under emergency law since Mubarak came to power in 1981 following the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Under Mubarak's watch the Interior Ministry expanded to more than 1 million people including informers, bureaucrats and members of various unpopular security services.
A meeting of opposition figures with Mubarak's deputy Omar Suleiman on Sunday agreed that the emergency law would be lifted as part of a series of political reforms but gave no indication when. It also linked cancelling it to the security situation.


HARASSMENT CONTINUES

Protesters say they have faced security harassment in recent days, though it appears linked to government accusations that "foreign infiltrators" are mobilising the Tahrir protests.

One protester, called Karim, said that after leaving the square on Thursday he was detained overnight with around two dozen others and questioned by intelligence and military intelligence officers. He was picked up for breaking the curfew and held over photographs of the protests on his phone.

But he said the detention under army auspices was far more pleasant than treatment before the uprising by state security forces, who have yet to fully return to work.

Protester Mahmoud Turki said in a talk show on state television this week that "security pursuit" was a real fear.

"The people have concluded the resolution being sought here is one concerning security -- via dispersing them and pursuing them -- not a political solution to their problems," he said.

"Security pursuit" could involve preventing people obtaining jobs or harassment on university campuses. Tunisia, which saw a similar uprising last month, has said it will dissolve a security agency charged with monitoring students.

A protester called Isra said on the TV talk show -- which had young pro-democracy activists as guests -- that the movement had no faith in government promises of reform while Mubarak and his people remained in power.

"Neither the prime minister, vice president or president found it in themselves to call for public mourning of the dead," she said. "No one can guarantee that if these people go home their demands will be met, that's why they are still in Tahrir."

(Editing by Michael Roddy)

====

By Phil Stewart

WASHINGTON | Sat Feb 12, 2011 3:07pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. officials are concerned that Islamic extremists may try to exploit Egypt's upheaval but are not yet convinced that the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's most influential Islamist opposition group, is necessarily a threat.

The toppling of President Hosni Mubarak on Friday marked the beginning of a new, uncertain era in Egypt that promises to empower Islamist movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, long viewed with deep suspicion in the West.

Al Qaeda is widely seen as weak in Egypt thanks partly to Mubarak, and his departure is raising fears in the U.S. Congress that the rise of even moderate Islamists may give radical elements more room to operate.

James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, sought to play down fears about the Muslim Brotherhood this week, saying it "has eschewed violence and has decried al Qaeda as a perversion of Islam."

"They have pursued social ends, betterment of the political order in Egypt, et cetera," he told lawmakers on Thursday.

"With respect to what's going on in Egypt, I think this truly a tectonic event," Clapper said on Thursday.

"There (is) potentially a great opportunity here to come up with a counter-narrative to al Qaeda."




Clapper acknowledged that the Muslim Brotherhood was only an umbrella group, and FBI Director Robert Mueller noted that some elements have supported terrorism in the past.

The movement, which Mubarak's government banned and sought to demonize, is certainly hostile to Israel and the U.S. policy in the region.

It has historic links with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which Washington considers to be a terrorist organization, and shares its belief in armed struggle against Israel.

But unlike the militant groups that fought Mubarak's rule in the 1990s, the Brotherhood is led by professionals with modern educations -- engineers, doctors, lawyers and academics. The core membership is middle-class or lower middle-class.

President Barack Obama himself has acknowledged the group's anti-American ideological strains but said the Muslim Brotherhood did not have majority support in Egypt.

The group itself said on Saturday it would not seek a parliamentary majority or the presidency.

FRAYED NERVES

But that is unlikely to sooth frayed nerves in the U.S. Congress, where anxiety is growing that Islamic extremists might turn a key U.S. ally into an opponent that would harbor militant groups and pose a threat to Israel.

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican chairwoman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, warned against allowing the Muslim Brotherhood to emerge as a powerful force.

Representative Sue Myrick, also a Republican, called them a danger to post-Mubarak Egypt.

"The Brotherhood isn't a danger just because they're terrorists, but because they push an extremist ideology that causes others to commit acts of terrorism," Myrick said.

U.S. intelligence officials say al Qaeda, despite thriving in nearby states like Yemen and Somalia, is not currently seen as a serious threat in Egypt.

A senior U.S. defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said al Qaeda's leaders likely view events in Egypt as positive steps toward Islamic radicalism but doubted they would be able to quickly exploit the power vacuum.

"Rather than democracy triumphing, they see this as the first stage that sets the conditions for them. Think Russian revolution," the official said, speaking before Mubarak's ousting, without personally taking that position.

Instead, U.S. officials say they believe the pro-democracy movement in Egypt may puncture the al Qaeda narrative that violence is needed to bring change.


(Editing by Vicki Allen)



=
Emirates' exiles in spotlight after Mubarak fall


By BRIAN MURPHY, Associated Press Brian Murphy, Associated Press – 2 hrs 1 min ago
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – For political figures in exile, the United Arab Emirates has been a luxury refuge, a base for plotting attempted comebacks and — for at least one unable to escape assassins — a final stage. There is no shortage of speculation that Egypt's Hosni Mubarak could join the list.

The Dubai-based network Al-Arabiya reported Saturday that the former Egyptian president was making plans to head to the Emirates. A Kuwait daily, Al-Qabas, said Friday that UAE officials have offered Mubarak haven in Al Ain, a desert city near the Omani border.
UAE officials have made no public comment on the reports, which were so persistent that the UAE's state news agency WAM issued a rare denial Sunday of bulletins that Mubarak's plane had landed in the Sharjah emirate north of Dubai.

But it wouldn't be out of character to open their doors to a former leader with few options at home — just as neighboring Saudi Arabia did for toppled Tunisian ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali last month and Uganda's Idi Amin in 1979.

The roster of Emirate exiles includes former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, the late Pakistani ex-Premier Benazir Bhutto and a turncoat Chechen warlord who was gunned down by a killer with a gold-plated pistol.
Just hours before stepping down, Mubarak and his family fled Cairo to a walled compound in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. Their next move is unknown. In his last nationwide address on Thursday, the 82-year-old Mubarak said he would "die on the soil of Egypt."

But he also vowed in the same speech to remain in office until elections later this year. Suddenly, the prospect of seeking sanctuary abroad seemed more likely and the UAE is the option most mentioned in Arab media reports.

"It wouldn't be a surprise if Mubarak ends up in the UAE. They've taken in others before," said Theodore Karasik, a regional security expert at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis in Dubai. "The UAE was a loyal friend of Mubarak and this would be a reflection of that."
Yet a possible offer to host Mubarak comes with risks attached for the tightly controlled Emirates.

It could shine a harsher light on the country's two faces: huge wealth and ambitions in places such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but a virtually closed political system that gives no room for public protests or dissident.

There's also the demands to track Mubarak's money. Any Egyptian investigation into allegations that state wealth was looted would likely bring scrutiny on Dubai, whose once-booming property markets and international banking hubs have been drawn into other anti-corruption investigations, including one involving Afghanistan's Kabul Bank.

"It's expected that Dubai would be brought into probes of Egyptian assets linked to Mubarak and his clan," said Karasik. "Hosting Mubarak would just bring more attention to the UAE and bring it faster."

A decade ago, that would have been enough to scare off the UAE's ruling sheiks. The UAE tried hard to make as few diplomatic ripples as possible while building its reputation as a crossroads for global aviation and commerce.

Recently, however, the Emirates has shown greater confidence. It took a prominent role in aid to Pakistan after last year's devastating floods and has won praise from Washington for tighter enforcement of economic sanctions on Iran at the UAE's ports and financial networks.

In a statement late Friday, the UAE said it has "confidence in the ability" of Egypt's armed forces to manage the affairs of the country "in these delicate circumstances." It gave no hint, though, that it could offer Mubarak haven as it's done with others.

The Pakistan links run the deepest.

Bhutto spent part of her eight-year self-exile in Dubai before she returned home and was assassinated in December 2007. An ex-Pakistani leader now being investigated in connection with her slaying also has a base in the UAE.

Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf — who earlier this year was meeting reporters in Dubai — was named in an arrest warrant Saturday as part of a preliminary investigation in Pakistan. Musharraf's whereabouts where unclear, but he has repeatedly denied any role in Bhutto's death.

Bhutto's widower, Asif Ali Zardari, is now Pakistan's president. He also reached out to UAE officials to allow his family long-term refuge if he died or was killed, according to a secret U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks in January.
Thailand's deposed Prime Minister Thaksin has also spent considerable time in Dubai since leaving his homeland after a military coup in 2006. Reports from Thailand — though never confirmed — said he often took part in morning walks through Dubai's vast malls for exercise. Thaksin has been keeping a far lower profile since offering interviews in 2009 to the international media, including The Associated Press.

He broke the tacit rule set by the UAE for its exiles: keep quiet. The UAE frowns deeply on any kind of political activism within its borders, including by exiles and others targeting their rivals at home.

Even the huge Iranian community in Dubai has been under a clampdown against demonstrations or rallies since the political turmoil unleashed by the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in June 2009.

Erik Prince, the founder of the former Blackwater private security firm, moved to Abu Dhabi last year and has made no public statements or appearances. Prince has been linked to militia training in Somalia, but his spokesman has said he is only providing advice to several anti-piracy operations.

The speculation about Mubarak's possible passage to the UAE was bolstered in some Arab media by the visit of the UAE's foreign minister to Cairo just days before Mubarak stepped down.

But Christopher Davidson, an expert in Gulf affairs at Britain's University of Durham, believes it was "a mistake for the UAE to get involved" at a time when the Arab world is basking in the power of popular protests.

"Both countries, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, were identified with the old Middle Eastern order," Davidson said. "That does not sit well with the UAE young population."

The UAE, meanwhile, has faced some messy spillover from its growing international stature.

Chechen strongman Sulim Yamadayev was gunned down in March 2009 in a beachfront parking lot. A gold-plated pistol was left near the body.

Yamadayev switched sides in the conflict between Chechen rebels and the Russian government. He later fell out of favor with Chechnya's Kremlin-allied president and made his way to Dubai.

Nine months after the slaying, another killing reinforced Dubai's reputation for intrigue. Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in his hotel room in January 2010 in a murder Dubai police blamed on a hit squad from Israel's Mossad secret service using disguises and fraudulent passports.
"I do not think Mubarak wants to leave Egypt," Davidson said. "But you never know how the wind will blow during a revolution."

==

'Egyptian revolution not completed yet'
Mon Feb 14, 2011 12:26AM
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Officials remove a portrait of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at the main Cabinet building in Cairo, on Sunday, Feb. 13 2011.The Egyptian revolution has not come to a conclusion yet and people should continue protests to press their demand for a civilian government, a political analyst says.


Ali al-Ahmad, the director of IGA in Washington, told Press TV on Sunday that "it is too early to say that the revolution has succeeded" since it has not brought ousted President Hosni Mubarak and his people to justice yet.

Al-Ahmad said the main obstacle that is still present is the state of emergency that has been in place since Mubarak came to power nearly thirty years ago.

The analyst added that though Mubarak has left, his property has not been confiscated and his cronies are still in power which can form a "military dictatorship" unless people elect a government.

"The military is ruling the country without any supervision and there is no guarantee that will continue to be so for years," he said.

Al-Ahmad said that Egypt's new day will begin when the constitution is re-written and approved by the people and a government that is "responsible for people" is formed.


He warned the leaders of the revolution that the military is conducting a conspiracy to "steal the revolution" and asked people to continue their demands by holding demonstrations every Friday.

The Egyptian military that assumed power following Mubarak's ouster has dissolved the parliament and suspended the constitution.

The military has announced that it would stay in power for six months before a civilian government is elected.

Thousands of protesters, who doubted a rapid transition to democracy, streamed into Cairo's Liberation Square on Sunday, saying they will not quit unless their demands are met.

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May be good to know that Maliki after the Egyptian’s people repelling their president and his government for sake of better life more than a democracy,So Maliki did closed the main bridge to the green zone for maintenance work while military and police forces guarding that bridge also he did make announcement as old tyrant’s style by giving Iraqis an amount THREE times more of food items who holding food card, he also giving ID 15000.00 for Iraqis who is in needs.

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WITNESS-EGYPT/IRAQ =214 Feb 2011 06:01

Source: reuters // Reuters


GRIM PAST

The ferocity with which Mubarak's security forces previously dealt with opposition may have had a lot to do with that, and makes the bravery of those who began the protests on Jan. 25 all the more startling.

In 1992, I moved to Cairo after 16 years of civil war in my native Lebanon and time spent also covering the first Gulf war. In Egypt, long the cultural hub of the Arab world, I was looking forward to writing about life not death, peace not war, and about a country in hopeful transition, reforming its way into the modern world. I was excited by the country's majestic archaeological treasures and reputed intellectuals.

Just one week into my new job, however, the Islamist militant group al-Gama's a al-Islamiya staged its first attack against foreign tourists, targeting Egypt's number one currency earner and economic lifeline. The Islamist resurgence became my focus and I set off to the slums of Imbaba, on Cairo's outskirts, to find out whether it was true that the radical Islamists had set up a sharia law state-within-a-state.

I interviewed their emir or sheikh. Soon after, I had my first "invitation" to Egypt's Interior Ministry. After I refused to provide information on whom I had met, I soon began seeing men in cars parked outside my apartment building, ostentatiously reading newspapers; just in case I hadn't noticed, the men from the ministry made sure to tell me that I was being followed.

There ensued several weeks of slander in government newspapers. They depicted me as the Lebanese who had come to Cairo to spread civil war, some sort of Levantine Mata Hari. Mubarak himself indignantly denied that there was any such thing as an Islamist challenge to his Egypt. Yet a month later he sent more than 20,000 troops into Imbaba. In a week of house-to-house fighting, they rounded up scores of suspected Islamists including the sheikh I had interviewed. Days later he was paraded on state television. His face was bruised and swollen. He was hard to recognise.

Throughout the mid-1990s, I travelled to meet Islamists in their strongholds in Cairo and the southern province of Assiut, witnessing attacks on mosques by Mubarak's men and learning to play cat-and-mouse with the ubiquitous security services: always do interviews in distant towns before checking in to the hotel; if you register first, the police will be on your tail.

I learned, too, how to get through my regular "invitations" to enjoy the hospitality at the Interior Ministry -- keep your answers consistent; don't lose your temper; and don't count the hours. For all that, entering their headquarters at La Zoughly, no one could shut out of their mind the well-documented tales of savage torture that was routine for prisoners in the dungeons.

By 1997, Mubarak was claiming victory over the Islamists, though the price had been high. Attending trials of many of the thousands arrested was disturbing. Military tribunals showed scant regard for evidence, turned a blind eye to torture and were, in effect, a conveyor belt to the gallows.

I grabbed interviews with the accused in their courtroom cages. They were fleeting. The judges wasted little time before banging down the gavel and meting out the death sentence.


POVERTY, BRUTALITY

Heart-rending scenes would ensue. Mothers fainted, fathers sobbed, the condemned would brandish the Koran. Sometimes, it was the judge who looked most frightened. I remember one who read out his verdict and fled, ducking a chair hurled by a mother. "The sons of Islam will haunt you," she yelled. "Mubarak, you are a tyrant!"
Much of the trial process was a sham. The state occasionally produced indictments against men already hanged. Such was the impunity of state power, no one bothered to cover up the errors.

While some of those convicted had indeed taken up arms, many were condemned only for membership of Islamist parties. And they were far from alone in harbouring deep grievances against Mubarak. By this year, millions of young people have never had a job. Whether Islamist or secular, many millions were frustrated by the arrogance and corruption of the elite.

In the past decade, Egypt seemed to sink further into poverty and exploitation, hardly covered by the fantasies of state media which continued to trumpet the achievements of Mubarak's rule. As in Iraq under Saddam, the security apparatus stretched its tentacles into every aspect of everyday life.

Rights groups said thousands of detainees filled Egypt's jails. No one knew, or knows still, the exact figure.

Mubarak pushed economic liberalisation policies that drew crony capitalists into the bosom of the administration but left tens of millions of Egyptians below the poverty line. As the middle class was emaciated, the rich opted for gated communities in the desert around Cairo. The poor got poorer in the slum belts.

I watched the capital of the Arab world, a city rich with thousands of years of civilisation and history, going from bad to worse, its buildings crumbling, its diplomatic role in the world diminishing, its creativity stifled and freedoms thwarted.

The revolution that began on Jan. 25 has given Egyptians back their pride and dignity. They have not just thrown out an unpopular ruler. Unarmed, they have faced down the might of a ruthless police state which had never shrunk from detaining anyone, for any reason, for any length of time.

In the process, they have ripped up stereotypes of a nation that for millennia was supposedly ready to bow down before the pharaoh, regardless of the humiliations heaped upon it.

Opposition politician Ayman Nour -- a man who paid the price of prison for daring to challenge Mubarak's supremacy at the ballot box -- said it was the greatest day in Egypt's history.

"This nation has been born again," he said. "These people have been born again, and this is a new Egypt."


Whereas, Baghdad, subdued and occupied, descended into an orgy of looting and violence among the communities which Saddam had divided in order to rule, Cairo is having a carnival.

In the joy of the moment, each Egyptian seems to have the sense that they personally have taken on Pharaoh, and won.

"I am Egyptian, I have toppled Hosni," people chanted on streets, drunk on the heady scent of a free nation.

So very unlike Iraq eight years ago and, surely, a better starting point for an uncertain future.

(Editing by Alastair Macdonald)

=============


WITNESS-Joy at Mubarak's demise contrasts with tense accession

14 Feb 2011 06:01

Source: reuters // Reuters


(Repeats story originally issued on Feb. 11)


* Cairo was tense and shocked after Sadat assassinated

* Sadat's last weeks were marked by mass arrests, long rants

* Mubarak was once a reassuring presence for many Egyptians


By Jonathan Wright

CAIRO, Feb 11 (Reuters) - This time people leapt(to jump over) for joy, hugged their neighbours and in unison cried "Freedom" and "God is Great". They waved their Egyptian flags, beat their drums and headed downtown for the party of a generation.

It was a very different scene I witnessed 30 years ago when Egypt last lost a president with the assassination of President Anwar Sadat, which brought Hosni Mubarak to power.

On Friday, the day Mubarak bowed to popular pressure and resigned, the streets outside the presidential palace in northeast Cairo were packed with jubilant crowds, celebrating the success of the popular uprising.

Fireworks lit up the sky and passing cars honked their horns. Groups of young men posed in front of the army's armoured personnel carriers for pictures snapped by mobile phone.

I walked the same streets of the same Cairo suburb of Heliopolis on Oct. 6, 1981,(7th Zulhajjag 1401) the day I saw Sadat's body carried out of the back of the grandstand where Islamist militants gunned him down at a military parade.

That day the streets of Cairo were tense and shocked. In the absence of satellite television, mobile phones and the Internet, information travelled slowly and most Egyptians knew very little about what had happened at the parade ground.

I was sitting about 50 metres (yards) to the left of Sadat and Mubarak, then his vice president, both dressed in the fancy Prussian-style uniforms which Sadat favoured. When Sadat arrived I noticed his high-heeled cowboy boots, not standard issue but another sign of the man's sartorial flamboyance.



The army vehicles trundled past, celebrating the performance of the Egyptian armed forces in the Middle East war of 1973, regarded in Egypt as a victory.


TAKING COVER

Then suddenly one truck stopped. A group of men jumped out of the back and ran towards the podium where Sadat was sitting.

I must have been looking in another direction, maybe at the Mirage fighters swooping down towards the grandstand with coloured smoke streaming out behind them.

Then a grenade exploded. This was not part of the normal, predictable act. It was followed by bursts of automatic rifle fire. By then the people behind and above me on the grandstand were taking cover on the floor and metal chairs were spilling down on top of me. I put my arms over my head and crawled away.

When I reached the left end of the grandstand I looked back towards where Sadat had been sitting and saw a scene of pandemonium. I did not know it at the time, but Sadat and 11 others were killed and many injured in the shooting.

Wary of the mayhem and of so many men with guns, I walked briskly around the back of the stadium and ran into a cluster of men in suits carrying a body wrapped in blankets. One was waving a pistol and shouting "Out of the way. The president's been hit." I could see Sadat's distinctive bald crown and the same cowboy boots protruding from either end of the blankets.

I put my hands up and edged to the side as they put the body in a waiting helicopter, its rotors already spinning. The helicopter took off and headed south.

I finally found a telephone at the gatehouse to a company's compound and the guard let me use it. I told my colleague what I had seen, saying Sadat was wounded and had left by helicopter.


TROUBLED TIMES

All the streets were closed to traffic for the parade and there was not a taxi in sight, so I set off on foot, finally finding a ride to nearby Heliopolis.
As news of the shooting spread through the city, an atmosphere of gloom and anxiety descended. Sadat's last weeks had already been traumatic, with mass arrests and long speeches in which Sadat ranted against his enemies.
Hosni Mubarak, who appeared on television later the same day, his hand bandaged from a minor injury he suffered, was a reassuring presence for many Egyptians in troubled times.

As usual in such cases, many predicted he would not last long. A former air force commander, he had little political experience and showed few signs of ambition.

But ruling Egypt became a habit. He never showed any sign that he had any vision of how to steer the country away from the autocratic system he inherited. He said he was merely serving his country but he thought himself indispensable and belittled the qualifications of anyone who challenged him.

As Mubarak aged and new ideas spread among a fresh generation of networked young Egyptians, Mubarak's paternalistic and authoritarian approach was harder and harder to sustain.

When Tunisians overthrew President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in January, Egyptians suddenly realised what was possible. The popular uprising against Mubarak began on Jan. 25 and gathered pace as the barriers of fear came down.

Right up his to last full day in power, Mubarak was offering Egyptians what he offered in 1981 and throughout his reign: stability at any price. In the end Egyptians said the price was too high to pay. Instead they shouted "Freedom" and rejoiced. (Editing by David Stamp)


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Egypt opposition needs time, or Islamists will win

Tue Feb 15, 2011 5:44am GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+] By Tom Perry
CAIRO (Reuters) - The Muslim Brotherhood will be the only group in Egypt ready for a parliamentary election unless others are given a year or more to recover from years of oppression, said a former Brotherhood politician seeking to found his own party.

Abou Elela Mady broke away from the Brotherhood in the 1990s. He tried four times to get approval for his Wasat Party (Centre Party) under President Hosni Mubarak's rule, but curbs on political life prevented him doing so.

"They turned political life into a farce," said Mady, who likens the ideology of his party to that of Turkey's ruling AK Party, which has roots in political Islam but appeals to a wider electorate including more secular middle class elements as well as religious conservatives.

Mubarak had sought to bring about the "political death" of Egyptian society, Mady said.

After 15 years of trying, Mady hopes the Wasat Party will finally come into being on Saturday, when a court is scheduled to rule on an appeal marking the latest round of his battle with the Egyptian authorities.

After Mubarak's 30 years in power, the only political forces left standing in Egypt are the state and the Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist group founded in the 1920s and which has deep roots in Egypt's conservative Muslim society.

"If parliamentary elections happen now, the only party ready are the Muslim Brotherhood. As for the rest, they are not," Mady said. "We have had dialogue with all the parties. We ask for a transitional period for a year in which there is freedom for parties and organisations," he said.
Mubarak's administration used tools including emergency laws to suppress politics. The officially-recognised opposition parties have little support.

Mady said the collapse of the ruling National Democratic Party showed it never represented a real political force.
"Parliamentary elections need time so that there is a chance for all parties to reform themselves, to rebuild," Mady said.

"A BALANCED PARLIAMENT"

"At that point, a balanced parliament will emerge representing all parties without a single party forming a majority that causes concern to anyone," he said.

The Brotherhood, though formally banned, was tolerated by Mubarak as long as it did not challenge his power.

Since Mubarak's rule was ended by a mass uprising, the Brotherhood has stated that it does not seek power, saying it will not seek the presidency or a majority in parliament.

The military council to which Mubarak handed power on Friday has said it will stay in power for six months or until free and fair elections can be held for parliament and the presidency.

"We can hold presidential elections soon, we have no problem with that, because it is one seat and the Brotherhood have said they will not run for the presidential elections," said Mady, who split from the movement because of what he described as its "narrow political horizons".

Mady's first attempt at founding the Wasat Party in 1996 landed him in jail. He was held for five months during a military trial, accused of seeking to set up a party that was a front for the Brotherhood.

He also drew heavy criticism from the Brotherhood, which accused him of seeking to split the movement.
Unlike the Brotherhood, the Wasat Party counts Christians among its members. "We want freedom for Islamists and secular people, for believers and atheists, for men and women, for Muslims and Christians, for women who wear the headscarf and those who don't," Mady said.

Fusing a respect for Islamic civilisiaton with democracy, Mady expects the party to draw support from the middle classes. It supports a market-driven economy with a role for the state in defending the poor.

Without a formal licence, the Wasat Party has not been able to build its membership or open offices. Under Mubarak, the head of the committee that approved all parties was also a top official in the president's ruling party, giving it a veto.

"We hope that the prevailing atmosphere of freedom will influence the court in its ruling on Saturday," Mady said.

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Mubarak's retreat a far cry from the real EgyptTue Feb 15, 2011 4:57pm GMT
Print | Single Page[-] Text [+]
1 of 1Full SizeBy Alexander Dziadosz
SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - Anyone wondering how veteran President Hosni Mubarak lost touch with Egyptian reality needs look no further than this Red Sea resort, where he took refuge after his overthrow last week by a popular uprising.

With its tidy rows of palm trees and wide streets, Sharm el-Sheikh looks more like a Florida suburb than the teeming, polluted industrial cities and crumbling rural villages where most ordinary Egyptians live.

Tourists sunbathe and drink beer openly in a sea breeze that residents say lured the 82-year-old Mubarak to spend more and more time here in the twilight of his 30-year rule, hobnobbing with foreign leaders or recovering from ailments.

His fondness for the remote town, symbolised by his retreat to Sharm el-Sheikh after he was ousted, were signs of his estrangement from Egypt's everyday problems.

"Mubarak wanted to try to avoid seeing or hearing what was happening in reality," Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said.

"This helped lead to a credibility gap between Mubarak and the new generations, especially in Cairo, Alexandria and cities in the Nile Delta like Mansoura."

The security afforded by the sea and mountains at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula also made Sharm el-Sheikh a natural spot for Mubarak to host high-profile summits.

The city became a stage for years of fruitless Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The 2011 Arab Economic Summit was convened at the luxury resort near Mubarak's family villa less than a week before Egypt's demonstrations began.

Nowadays, local gossip has turned from spotting dignitaries such as Kofi Annan and Mahmoud Abbas -- one restaurant owner said he saw Mubarak himself driving alone about eight years ago -- to rumours about the deposed president's health.

Some residents, citing unsubstantiated media reports and local rumour, say Mubarak fell into a coma after the revolution, or became depressed and refused to take medicine.

Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat said on Tuesday Mubarak's health was deteriorating.

A military source told Reuters Mubarak was "breathing" but would give no details of his condition. Another source with links to the family said he was not well but did not elaborate.

HISTORY

Property developers, drawn by the Sinai Peninsula's natural beauty, transformed Sharm el-Sheikh from a fishing outpost around a sandy bay into a tourist hub after Israel returned the land to Egypt in the early 1980s.

The peace that followed the 1979 Camp David accords allowed investors to clear landmines left over from three wars with Israel and build a network of hotels, casinos, restaurants, scuba diving centres and bars along the coast.

Many local residents credit Mubarak with their prosperity and tend to talk about the ex-president more like a doddering(infible), isolated father than a heavy-handed dictator.
"The last 15 years were bad, but the first 15 were not so bad," said Mahmoud el-Helefy, a 30-year-old restaurant manager, adding that Mubarak seemed to grow more disconnected as he aged.

"You know sometimes you talk to old people and they lean in and say, 'what, what?' ...
If you can't hear well, you can't think well."
Alaa, another restaurant manager who declined to give his full name, said he viewed Mubarak fondly for the most part and blamed bad advisers for the corruption that enraged protesters.

"If you want to know Mubarak and what he did for Egypt, read history,"
he said.

But many of the almost 50 million Egyptians who have lived their whole lives under Mubarak's reign -- out of a total population of 79 million -- are indifferent to the distant past.

"If you see people hurting me, and you don't stop them, then you are hurting me," said Ibrahim Mohamed, 27, a hotel worker.


Mohamed said many of his friends joined demonstrations in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the centre of the protest movement, and he was proud of what they accomplished in less than three weeks.

Widespread Internet access allowed many young Egyptians to watch as the outside world moved forward, adding to frustrations over the lack of serious political reform at home, he added.

"We were watching the world outside," he said. "I'm a human too. We were created in the same way. So I have to look for the reason. Freedom and democracy -- if you won't give it to me, I will take it. It's my right."