Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 28, 2011

Open Thread - Feb 28

News & views ...

Posted by b on February 28, 2011 at 11:14 AM | Permalink | Comments (100)

February 24, 2011

More Thread On Libya And Other Middle East Issues

The other one is pretty full.

Posted by b on February 24, 2011 at 02:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (197)

Guttenberg's E Pluribus Unum

"E Pluribus Unum", those are the very first three words in the dissertation of Karl Theodor Maria Nikolaus Johann Jacob Philipp Franz Joseph Sylvester von und zu Guttenberg (yes, those are all his names). K.T. zu Guttenberg is the current conservative German Minister of Defense. 

It is still unknown if the use of those three words were meant as a hidden joke by the ghostwriter, or if Guttenberg himself plagiarized them. Whatever. They and the first two paragraphs of the introduction to the dissertation, the part an author usually writes very carefully and without quoting anyone else, were copied from a piece by another author in a German conservative newspaper without being marked as a citation, an academical no-no.

Copied were also most of the other 408 pages in the dissertation, which was supposed to be a comparison of the American and European constitution forming process. The cooperative project I was involved in over the last week, GuttenPlag (in German), has now found not-attributed quotes on some 80% of its 408 pages. In total some 40-50% (we are still counting) of all lines are from not-attributed sources. If one adds the correctly attributed sources in the paper to that, there is little left the author or his ghostwriter wrote himself.

The current scandal started after a law professor was asked by a professional journal to write a review of Guttenberg's published dissertation. He immediately found five not-attributed quotes and last Wednesday went public with it. The same day a collaborative investigative internet project was born as a Google docs project by some current doctoral candidates. When the finds increased, the crowd sourcing moved to a wiki-format. Within four days a hundred or so people found hundreds of wrongly or not attributed quotes. The media jumped to the ever increasing results GuttenPlag published.

Guttenberg, after first calling the allegations of plagiarism "absurd", was forced to retreat further and further.

Yesterday the University of Bayreuth, his alma mater, revoked Guttenberg's Ph.D. qualification and he lost his academic title. (Over the last years the University had received about a million from Guttenberg family owned companies.) A debate in the Bundestag called for his resignation. He admitted to have "unconsciencly" also used four copyrighted papers from the Bundestag Research Service in his dissertation. An hour later two addition BRS papers were found to have been used by him word by word, unattributed of course. He is obviously still lying.

But as Guttenberg is the only really popular conservative politician, Chancellor Merkel is still backing him. Today he is still Minister of Defense though and we need to keep the pressure up to get him kicked out of office.

Why is that important you might ask.

Guttenberg, age 38, is the candidate of the U.S. neo-conservatives in Germany. He is a member of the U.S. Council of Foreign Relations and the Kissinger affiliated Atlantic-Bridge. Guttenberg was born into a rich family with a big name and centuries of history. Part of a blue-blood bavarian nobility some people still look up to. There are also a pretty wife and children, the now revoked Ph.D., summa cum laude of course, and very good relations with the equivalent of Rupert Murdoch in Germany, the Springer family and its daily "Bild" - the tabloid with the biggest readership in Europe.

Guttenberg is a very good public orator, probably even better than the young Tony Blair. His public strategy is comparable to Sarah Palin's. He is playing the nice anti-elite guy from next door, a mother-in-law's dream. "I am happy I do not have be in that ghastly political Berlin today, but can be here with you in your beautiful whatever town," is his opening line when out to stump. He speaks of truthfulness, honesty and conservative values.

At the same time he has no real political principles. In all of the four major decisions he made as defense minister, he changed his public stated opinion by 180 degree within weeks or days and in one case within hours. Whenever there was a problem, he found some scapegoats to fire.

But the people still like him. Even with all newspapers left to right, except Springer's Bild, and all commentators pressing for his resignation over the dissertation plagiarism and the related lies, recent polls still show him as still having majority support.

Guttenberg is a dangerous man.

People in the states may be used to such politicians and their tactics, Germans are not. Guttenberg is bringing in a populist style which the country and its politicians purposefully avoided for the last several decades. History teaches that Germans falling for a lying populist con man does not end well. Neither for Germany nor for any neighboring country.

So please excuse me for being off for another few days. The German population still has to learn how bad the guy really is - a slow process. We are now working on a conclusive report which will have all the reviewed numbers and graphs the press likes to spread about this issue. The current target date for publishing that is Monday. Until then I'll drop in once a while but will likely do little posting. 

Posted by b on February 24, 2011 at 01:51 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Livni And Democracy

In which Tzipi Livni explains that Israel isn't a democratic state:

democracy to take root in the Arab world - not merely as a government system but as a values system that embraces nonviolence, coexistence, freedom, opportunity and equality

Posted by b on February 24, 2011 at 02:53 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

February 21, 2011

Libya And Other Middle East Issues

Again, sorry for not posting. Taking down Guttenberg is very important for my country. Our work on that is quite successful, but he is stubborn and we'll need another day or two helping to get it done. (I am involved in some of the technical issues on this.)

Please use this thread to post news and views on Libya and other Middle East countries that currently try to throw out their dictators.

Thanks.

Posted by b on February 21, 2011 at 03:02 PM | Permalink | Comments (199)

February 19, 2011

Taking Down Guttenberg

Sorry for currently not posting on global issues. I am busy working on this project (in German) which crowd sources plagiarized passages in the Ph.D. dissertation of the current German defense minister Guttenberg. The crowd so far found plagiarized parts on 248 out of 408 dissertation pages :-).

As Guttenberg was created to become the future German chancellor and a trustworthy poodle of U.S. politics, quite abhorrent if it were to happen, this is a needed act of preemptive regime change.

Reuters has some bits of the story and Spiegel, which earlier took part in promoting and marketing Guttenberg as the best thing since sliced bread, has an English writeup and an update.

It is likely that Guttenberg did not write his dissertation at all. He payed some ghost writer who simply copied lots of stuff from Internet sources. He still insists that the whole thing is his own work. A big mistake as it will not leave him any excuse for all the illegal plagiarizing. His usual reflex to any other scandal within his realm, to fire immediately and without investigation some innocent scapegoats, will thereby not work.

We believe that if we find more plagiarized stuff by him, and can put it into an easily understandable and presentable format, he will have to resign by Monday.

Expect light posting here until that happens.

Posted by b on February 19, 2011 at 12:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (35)

February 18, 2011

Bloody Revolutions

In Egypt a very big crowd is celebrating their, so far, successful revolution in Tahrir square.

Today's protests in Yemen seem not to have been violently suppressed yet.

In Benghazi, Lybia, members of Ghaddafi's "revolutionary committees" have used live fire against protesters.

AlJazeerah just had a doctor from Salmaniya hospital in Bahrain on the phone. He was in panic. The hospital is "full of casualties". Within the last hours many people have been shot and the emergency service can not get through to them.

Good luck to all revolutionaries.

Posted by b on February 18, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Permalink | Comments (66)

February 17, 2011

Some Links - Feb 17

How Goldman Killed A.I.G. - NYT
Interesting but a bit one sided. AIG made, driven by greed, lots of mistakes. But in the end it was Goldman which willfully and out of pure greed took AIG down.

Why Isn't Wall Street in Jail? - Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone
Because they bribe the politicians, regulators and justices.

Spy Games: Inside the Convoluted Plot to Bring Down WikiLeaks - Wired
How the Chamber of Commerce and Bank of America planned to use military COIN tools to suppress critics.

Egypt's Cauldron of Revolt - Anand Gopal, FP
Worker strikes and their role in the Egyptian revolution.

Tactics and self-defense for the modern protester (pdf)
A short booklet which urgently needs some rewriting and extending - may be usefuls to some.

I still need to read up on Bahrain. The protests there have the usual background. They are about dignity and social-economic issues. But there is an additional layer. The majority Shia Bahrain was invaded by a Sunni tribe some 230 years ago and is still under its occupation. There is said to be split in the ruling family with prime minster and defense minister on one side and the king and the interior minister on the other. The army and police is made up of lots of foreigners, Pakistanis, Syrians etc. That may well explain their brutal behavior. The violence they used is tactically idiotic and the amount of teargas deployed against totally peaceful demonstrators is just insane.


Posted by b on February 17, 2011 at 12:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (22)

February 16, 2011

Why Iran, Syria and Sudan Will Not Fall

This explains why the ruling systems in Iran, Syria and Sudan will not fall through public anger.

There are two important points about the American role in Arab and Muslim countries in particular: The vast majority of the people feel that the primary objectives of American policy in the region are to control oil and protect Israel—not to advance democracy. Anger with the United States is only partly about American support for repressive regimes, as it is at the core based on important policy issues, particularly the Arab-Israeli conflict and Iraq--as I have found consistently in the public-opinion polls I have conducted at the University of Maryland in conjunction with Zogby International.

In addition, the U.S. pursuit of priority national interests, such as protecting the American military presence in the Middle East, fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, confronting al-Qaeda and its allies, and minimizing threats to Israel, have not only trumped all else but have inadvertently contributed to the prevalence of repression: Rulers are externally rewarded for supporting American policies that are highly resented by their publics, which in the process makes the rulers more insecure and more inclined toward repression to prevent revolts.

Like every other country Syria, Sudan and Iran have their problems and they have some people who hate the ruling regimes and want to change them. But those people do not have enough support within the society to be able to successfully attempt a revolution.

All the other Middle Eastern regimes are now in danger of revolution attempts. What makes the situation in those Arab regimes different is the support of their rulers for Israel and other colonial U.S. projects.

Deep down this goes back to the dignity of the common people. Economic hardship is difficult, but survivable. To have no say in politics isn't liked, but most are not interested anyway. But being suppressed for even attempting to help fellow Arabs and Muslims, Iraqis and Palestinians, hurts deeply. It is indignient.

This is the secret ingredient that creates the revolutionary storm which now rages over pro-U.S. regimes in the Middle East.  Regimes in countries where this ingredient does not exits will be safe.

It is also the reason why the U.S. will in the end find no way to protect its subordinate rulers in these countries.

Posted by b on February 16, 2011 at 02:16 PM | Permalink | Comments (29)

Obama Lying On Egypt Iran

Well, first of all, on Iran, we were clear then and we are clear now that what has been true in Egypt should be true in Iran, which is that people should be able to express their opinions and their grievances and seek a more responsive government. What's been different is the Iranian government’s response, which is to shoot people and beat people and arrest people.
...
I find it ironic that you’ve got the Iranian regime pretending to celebrate what happened in Egypt when, in fact, they have acted in direct contrast to what happened in Egypt by gunning down and beating people who were trying to express themselves peacefully in Iran.
Press Conference by the President, Feb 15 2011
The U.N. human rights chief said on Tuesday she had unconfirmed reports that up to 300 people may have been killed and over 3,000 injured in the unrest that has engulfed Egypt for the past week. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, was appalled by reported death toll and injury count, saying, "I urge the Egyptian authorities to ensure police and other security forces scrupulously avoid excessive use of force."
...
Pillay urged investigations into the role of security forces during the violence and their sudden disappearance from the streets of Cairo, leaving what she described as a "security vacuum."
UN human rights chief: 300 reported dead in Egypt protests, Feb 1 2011

One person was reported to have been killed during yesterday's small protests in Iran. Nothing was reported about who died and under what circumstances that happened. I wonder if the person killed is the civilian who was heavily beaten up by the protesters simply because he disagreed with them.

Posted by b on February 16, 2011 at 05:40 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

February 15, 2011

Open Thread - Feb 15

News and views ...

Posted by b on February 15, 2011 at 01:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Hot Air In Iran Protest Numbers

Claims the Financial Times:

Iranian security forces clashed with protesters as hundreds of thousands marched in Tehran on Monday in the biggest rally by the opposition Green Movement for more than a year.

Hmmm - "hundreds of thousands"?

A Tehran Bureau blog entry, a private endeavor, taken over by PBS after the 2009 election protests in Iran, has this anonymous account:

10:30 p.m. From a Tehran Bureau correspondent:
 It was amazing today. About 350,000 people showed up. ...

Hmm again. After reviewing many video clips (here, here and here) and pictures of the event I find those numbers totally unbelievable. Crowds of a few hundred people and in one case maybe some single digit thousand are visible in the 30+ video clips I reviewed. Those people are mostly student age folks chanting in the streets and burning a few trash cans. There is no evidence of any bigger demonstration.

That observation somewhat fits with the BBC report from a reporter on the ground:

Riding on the back of a motorbike, holding my mobile to take video footage, I went to central Tehran on Monday afternoon.
...
Thousands of people made their way amicably and silently towards the square, most of them young.
...
Riot police began to disperse the crowd before they even started the rally.

Reuters says:

Thousands of Iranian opposition activists rallied ...

AFP has no own number but reports:

Websites and witnesses said thousands of opposition supporters had taken to the streets ...

AP writes:

Tens of thousands of protesters clashed with security forces along some of Tehran's main boulevards, ...

The New York Times only has a U.S. based source:

Numbers were hard to assess, given government threats against journalists who tried to cover the protests. Aliakbar Mousavi Khoeini, a former member of Parliament now living in exile in the United States, said that 20,000 to 30,000 people had taken part across the country.

Al Jazeera also goes with "thousands".

To reliably guestimate "hundreds of thousands" one would have to either measure a long tight march or have a decent top-view of the event. There is nothing in the FT piece that makes one believe that the reporters actually eye-witnessed or personally observed the rally at all. The number seems to have been plugged from hot air.

Update:

The Washington Post is doing some funny math. Today:

In Tehran, large crowds of protesters defied tear gas to march down a major thoroughfare, chanting "Death to the dictator." It was the biggest demonstration in the Iranian capital since the government effectively crushed the opposition movement in December 2009.

The crowds, which numbered in the tens of thousands, ...

"The biggest since 2009."  But only four days ago the same paper reported:

Hundreds of thousands of government supporters massed Thursday in central Tehran to mark the 31st anniversary of Iran's Islamic revolution, ...

So to Washington Post writers a demonstration of "tens of thousands" is "bigger" than a demonstration of "hundreds of thousands". A few are more than many? Yes, WaPo says, but that is of course only so when the few support the right cause.

Posted by b on February 15, 2011 at 01:15 AM | Permalink | Comments (34)

February 14, 2011

Raymond Davis And The Curious Lack of Drone Strikes

Raymond Davis is a U.S. government contractor who worked in Pakistan. On January 26 he gunned down and killed two people in Lahore under quite murky circumstances. He is currently in Pakistani custody. The U.S. is now claiming that he is protected under diplomatic status. But that claim seems to have evolved only after the killing. Davis arrived in Pakistan on a business visa and without diplomatic papers. In any case there is no diplomatic status protection for serious crimes.

The U.S. is pressing the Pakistani PPP-party government for the release of Davis. That isn't easily done for the Zardari government as the case happened and will be judged in the state of Punjab where the major opposition party rules.

In the current downsizing and rearrangement of the Pakistani cabinet the, until recently, foreign minister Qureshi was supposed to stay on but yesterday he was ousted over the case:

Mr Qureshi, according to sources, was angered by President Zardari’s move to stop him from issuing any statement as foreign minister on the issue of Davis and assign the task to Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
...
Mr Qureshi reportedly stated that “the kind of blanket immunity Washington is pressing for Davis is not endorsed by the official record of the foreign ministry”.

The murky circumstances of the crime itself and the political shenanigans to get Davis release is already enough to make this case interesting.

But I suspect even more interesting behind this.

In 2010 119 U.S. drones strike hit in Pakistan, 13 of those in November and 12 in December. In the first three weeks of January 9 drone strikes occurred, the last one on January 23, three days before the murder in Lahore.

Since then - silence. The last three weeks there was no drone strike reported, not one.

So while there was an uninterrupted campaign of drone strikes on Pakistani ground every three days for several month, taking Mr. Davis off the street seems to have stopped it.

It may be that the U.S. stopped the strikes to prevent further diplomatic complications. But earlier rows between the Pakistani and U.S. government never stopped the drone campaign.

Another reason may well be that Mr. Davis is a critical component in the drone campaign and that without what he was doing, collecting targeting data from informants or whatever, the drone strikes can not continue.

It may also be that this correlation of events is not causal.

But to me it seems that keeping Davis off the streets has probably saved some Pakistani lives. Keeping him further off and inside a jail may probably save even more. That should be enough reason to press for his custody to continue.

Posted by b on February 14, 2011 at 12:11 PM | Permalink | Comments (51)

February 12, 2011

The Day After The Revolution

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

It seems that people will stay in Tahrir until the next steps are done. Good.

via The Guardian, Reuters:

"People's Communique No. 1" demands the dissolution of the cabinet Mubarak appointed on Jan. 29 and the suspension of the parliament elected in a rigged poll late last year.
The reformists want a transitional five-member presidential council made up of four civilians and one military person.
The communique calls for the formation of a transitional government to prepare for an election to take place within nine months, and of a body to draft a new democratic constitution.
It demands freedom for the media and syndicates, which represent groups such as lawyers, doctors and engineers, and for the formation of political parties. Military and emergency courts must be scrapped, the communique says.

and this on a council the protest organizers are forming:

"The purpose of the Council of Trustees is to hold dialogue with the Higher Military Council and to carry the revolution forward through the transitional phase," said Khaled Abdel Qader Ouda, an academic.
"The council will have the authority to call for protests or call them off depending on how the situation develops," he added.
Ouda said the Council of Trustees would call for a mass rally next Friday to celebrate the success of the revolution.
The council would have about 20 members, including protest organisers, prominent individuals and leaders from across the political spectrum, he said.

Also: Good morning revolution: A to do list

I am optimistic now. The fear is broken, it will not come back anytime soon.

---

15:00 GMT - 17:00 Cairo

Nice tweet: "Everyone knew it was impossible. Then came along a fool who didn't know it, and he did it."

Reuters: PA announced that Presidential & Legislative elections will take place before September 2011

14:00 GMT - 16:00 Cairo

Suleiman's Mubarak's Resignation Speech (remixed)

Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator with Israel, resigned

Hamas: Egypt sticking with treaty with Israel no problem, but calls for opening border to Gaza

Supreme Military Council:

  • calls on police to service the people
  • says elected civil government will take over
  • says it will honor existing international treaties
  • Egyptian Cabinet to stay in place until new government formed

Thousands still coming to Tahrir, fewer tents though now

13:00 GMT - 15:00 Cairo

Al Jazeera just ran a portrait of the April 6 youth movement which organized the protests in Egypt. During the last weeks they appear to have worked out of the offices of the The Egyptian Center of Economic and Social Rights. There isn't much to be gleaned from its website. I wonder who is behind that organization.

12:00 GMT - 14:00 Cairo

Mubarak reported to be in Abu Dhabi

LRB blog: The revolution is not over

Protests, clashes, mass arrests in Algiers

Big cleanup action on Tahrir

11:00 GMT - 13:00 Cairo

IsMubarakStillPresident.com

The Zionist still don't get it: Egypt's army must now continue down Mubarak's path

Evan Hill on yesterday's march to the palace: Egypt's arduous road to freedom

10:00 GMT - 12:00 Cairo

NYmag Q&A with Ayman Mohyeldin

Photos and blog of Hossam el-Hamalawy, aka 3ARABAWY

Interesting: Egypt influence network - Twitter relations

More people coming into Tahrir

Algiers - protests and security clamp down - 30,000 police deployed

9:00 GMT - 11:00 Cairo

Some army still in place at main entrance to Tahrir, removing some barricade

Fisk: A tyrant's exit. A nation's joy

[T]he Egyptians who have fought for their future in the streets of their nation over the past three weeks will have to preserve their revolution from internal and external enemies if they are to achieve a real democracy. The army has decided to protect the people. But who will curb the power of the army?

Cairo - there will soon be a meeting on the constitution with lawyers, judges with the chief judge of the Supreme Court leading to propose a legal way forward

Alexandria - people dancing in the street, on top of tanks kissing soldiers, people directing traffic, cleaning streets

Barricades are still standing, but no army visible around them

Some people dancing in a circle

Tahrir, of course, still in the hands of the people

8:00 GMT - 10:00 Cairo

Posted by b on February 12, 2011 at 03:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (54)

February 11, 2011

Feb 11 - Live Coverage Of Protests in Egypt - HE IS GONE

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

Ending live coverage:

My sincere congrats to the people of Egypt - you have set an example for all of us. Thank you!

---

Obama speech: history taking place - Egypt people have spoken - not the end but a beginning - military has to assure credibly transition - clear pass to fair and free election - U.S. continue to be friend and partner - new opportunities - (the usual blah-blah-blah follows) [noticeable NO assuring hint to Israel]

Abu Mussa will leave as Arab League chairman

[15 hours of live blogging - I must be crazy]

20:00 GMT- 22:00 Cairo

Israel's days are numbered - good

AFP: "Hezbollah congratulates the great people of Egypt on this historic and honorable victory"

To keep in mind: you do not need a leader, nor be one - indeed having a leader, or being one, is dangerous for any movement - this movement survived because it had no leader

For what, exactly, does the U.S. spend $100 billion per year for its secret services when they didn't see this coming?

Alexandria live video - pure euphoria

Which dictatorship will be next?

People in Amman, Jordon, party - fireworks in Beirut

Hillary Leverett on AJE: now Obama will be at odds with the people of Egypt - he tried to orchestrate Suleiman into position 

19:00 GMT- 21:00 Cairo

Fire eater performing in Tahrir, people with flag dance around him

Guardian: On this day 32 years ago the Iranian revolution took place when the Shah's forces were overwhelmed

To keep in mind: demonstrations lead to celebrations

Muslim Brotherhood spokesperson El Erian - want full democratic system - army is committed to full democratic system

Supreme Council Communication No.3 via spokesman: - all aware of gravity of matter - will implement radical changes - seek guidance and assistance from god - deliberating about future - will later make statement - legitimacy comes from the people - thanks Mubarak for his work - salute all martyrs - (spokesman salutes perfectly)

Live video from Gaza - horns honking, Egyptian flags, party

Camera zoomed in on a man who held a white dove - he showed the dove to the camera and then released it - then gave thumbs up to camera

18:00 GMT- 20:00 Cairo

ElBaradei to BBC: "I think it is not going to just be Tantawi, but the whole military leadership. I also understand that they are going to reach out to all sections of Egyptian society. I hope it will want to share power with civilians through the transitional period. I hope we will have a presidential council, a government of national unity and have enough time - perhaps a year - to prepare for genuine and free elections." [Tantawi is "Mubarak's poodle", 75 years old, and hated by the real military]

Tanks get removed from Tahrir entrances

Swiss government freezes Mubarak assets in Switzerland

Fireworks over Tahrir

People in Tahrir carry some soldiers on their shoulders

ElBaradei: "Transitional constitution, some government from civilian and military side, one year to full democratic elections"

Via Fran in comments BBC: "Al-Arabiya reports that the Higher Military Council will sack the cabinet, suspend both houses of parliament and rule with the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, the country's highest judicial body. A statement is expected later on Friday."

AlJazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin (Egyptian with U.S passport) tweets:

Freeeeeeeedddooooommm!!!!!! #tahrir #jan25 #jan28

17:00 GMT- 19:00 Cairo

It seems the Israelis are just as dumb about Egyptians as Clinton and Mubarak - Haaretz piece from early today:

In any case, we can assume that the number of demonstrators will decrease after yesterday's announcement.

Every car honking, fireworks, celebratory gunfire - tonight Egypt will have one countrywide street party

Hillary Clinton on #Jan25 "Our assessment is that the Egyptian government is stable" - 18 days later ...

I don't drink alcohol before 19:00, but today must be an exception, a whiskey for me and for the barflies here whatever they like on the house.

What powers does Suleiman now have?

I think this is the first time ever that Egypt has an ex-President

I doubt that Mubarak will stay in Sharm al-Sheikh. He isn't secure there anymore.

Congratulations to the people of Egypt! YOU did it. But this was only the first step. Keep the pressure up!

LOUD crowd in Tahrir

18:02 Cairo - Suleiman on TV: "Mubarak has resigned. He has delegated the responsibility of running the country to the Supreme Military Council" !!!!!

Tanks at presidential palace in Cairo turned their guns away from the protesters

16:00 GMT- 18:00 Cairo

Senior officers enter State TV building

State TV still held by army - just removed some barriers (earlier report of people streaming into building  was false)

Evening prayer in Tahrir - some preacher with a microphone leads- thousands in neet rows

Zanobia on presidential palaces: Before it was presidential

Secretary general of ruling NDP party Hossam Badrawi resigned, left party

Police station in Areesh, northern Sinai, attacked with small arms and RPGs - at least one protester killed, 20 wounded (the Beduins there hate the police)

A protester died today in Asuit (300km south of Cairo), NDP building there destroyed

Reuters: Police station in north Sinai attacked by 1,000 people

Protesters at State TV on top of some tank now

Bridge to Tahrir shown - hundreds of people streaming into Tahrir, hundreds of people out - crowd in Tahrir itself seems less dense now than earlier

15:00 GMT- 17:00 Cairo

People in Tahrir have a huge banner (8x8 meters) in flag colors and with the pictures of five killed in the protests on it

Two helicopters landed on the grounds of the presidential palace in Cairo

State TV shows protesters outside of state TV - currently a flimsy barbed wire fence is holding them back - a State TV guy talks with some of them

Protester at State TV: We try to shut it down, but for now not by force but coercion

State TV: Mubarak will soon make another announcement

Good: Issandr El Amrani: A quick analysis of the situation

AJE: Military blocks road to presidential palace in Cairo

Mubarak in Sharm El Sheikh, Sinai

Alexandria - some negotiation seems to go on between soldiers (some seem presidential guards, some sailors) and protesters - sailors hand out more rations - soldiers setting up a loudspeaker system on top of a police car

Alexandria - Further down the road at the palace entry some 500 guards - seem to be police(? black uniforms) - plus a fire engine

14:00 GMT- 16:00 Cairo

Alexandria - if that crowd would press, the few (100?) soldiers/sailers deployed would be overrun

Video from Alexandria shows a big crowd in front of a military barrier with navy soldiers - two M1 and two M113 supporting, snipers on the roofs reporter says - this is on the way to the presidential palace there - some sailors throw food rations into the crowd

Crowd at Presidential Palace in Cairo reported as very upscale and quiet for now (rich area around) - people from Tahrir on their way there - will change the mood ...

NYT: "western" official says Mubarak left Cairo

AJE: Mubarak and family left Cairo - destination unknown

The military Supreme Council will issue another statement today

Reports of protests in all major cities

13:00 GMT- 15:00 Cairo

Military barrier on way from Tahrir to State TV taken down by people - military stands by - lots of people now on the way to State TV

More rumours from senior government people that Mubarak left Cairo

State TV is guarded by presidential guard (some say paratroupers) - tanks all around building - machine guns at 2nd floor windows

CNN reporter - 10,000+ around State TV

Danish PM calls for Mubarak to step down (first EU member to do so)

Senior Muslim Bortherhood guy: Mubarak still deceiving the people, not committed to change, insulting people for 30 years, national strike - we are part of this people, doing our best - we don't want majority in election - calls on all countries to be with the Egyptian people, but not to interfere

Military speaker on state TV: Army guarantees elections will be held etc, safeguards local people [who will trust this?]

Rumors on TV and Twitter that Mubarak left Cairo - not confirmed

AJE has live pictures from Mansoura now - some hundred protesters, but also moving traffic

Former NDP leader: Mubarak not to give up lightly - stubborn - thinks he is elected - his own believe match with what he is doing - army still supporting him - Saudi Arabia will support him economically (money)

Cairo - some 1,000 protesting at presidential palace

Cairo - Tahrir is full, people get send to State TV for protest

Alexandria - protest moving to presidential palace in Alexandria

12:00 GMT- 14:00 Cairo

NDP (ruling party) website at www.cairondp.org says: "Closed until dropping Mubarak & the regime"

Al-Arabia: people in Suez have taken some government buildings

Presidential palace: some people get angry with the military guarding the palace - intense

Sermon was filled with anti-Mubarak statements - preacher was one who officially isn't allowed to preach

Massive crowd visible in Alexandria - praying

Many, many flags in Tahrir - Tahrir is filled

11:00 GMT- 13:00 Cairo

Friday prayer [wonder what the preachers said ...]

10:00 GMT- 12:00 Cairo

[Bad announcement - seems like endorsement of Suleiman/Mubarak ..]

"Supreme Council of Armed Forces" announcement on State TV - [mixed message] - keep emergency law until no longer needed etc ... peaceful transition of power ... restore normal way of life, return to work ...

Protester surround State TV building - siege

Tahrir already pretty full - wonder where they will march to ..

9:00 GMT- 11:00 Cairo

[Reading some "warnings" of a Muslim led Egypt, I am reminded of the danger of living in a state where two of the three ruling coalition parties have "Christian" in their name and where the ruler is the daughter of a evangelic mullah]

Friday prayers are around noon local time - after that, to the streets ...

8:00 GMT- 10:00 Cairo

[Is Mubarak baiting people into violence?]

New statement of "Supreme Council of Armed Forces" expected soon.

ElBaradei OpEd in NYT: The Next Step for Egypt’s Opposition "We have nothing to fear but the shadow of a repressive past."

7:00 GMT- 9:00 Cairo

Protester - march to presidential palace - more worker action next week

Seems many more tents in Tahrir than yesterday

Protesters are at presidential palace, state TV, parliament, Tahrir - lot of mist in Cairo

Mubarak gave Obama the finger last night - will there be consequences? [no]

Live view of Tahrir - looks relatively empty, just some thousands milling around

5:00 GMT- 7:00 Cairo

Posted by b on February 11, 2011 at 01:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (74)

February 10, 2011

Live Blogging Egypt: Step 1 Is Done

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

Retired Army General: Clear error - wait for statement no.2 of military - Mubarak sick - fact may give power to military - president psychological ill - Mubarak/Suleiman burned, grave mistake committed - grave and dire - statement 2 of military will heal

The title of this post, "Step 1 Is Done", chosen hours ago, is wrong. Step 1 isn't done, it only seemed to be. It will happen, but now in a likely bloody way.

Presidential Guard, not regular military, deployed around state TV.

Suleiman is more stupid and distant to the people than Mubarak - I didn't think that to be possible - well ...

This was political suicide by Mubarak and Suleiman and the military establishment.

Suleiman on State TV now: delegated by the president - to safeguard Egypt by president's request to help in this goal - laid down roadmap - door open for dialog: committed to peaceful transfer of power within constitution, - civilized dialog . all citizens make future pride - [blah blah] - realization of demand of youth - [blah blah] go back home, go back to my words, do not listen to satellite stations only listen to conscience, started work on relying of armored forces to preserve - [blah - blah]

Suleiman said to be on TV soon - will not matter anymore - he is gone, after more blood

I'd expect a quite bloody attack on the State TV building in Cairo tonight. This is heavily guarded by the military now. My guess: the military will be overwhelmed/change side - no matter what - if not today, than tomorrow.

AJE- Alexandria - crowd going quite crazy now - marching to military base now

Tomorrow will be bloody - the folks now are angry, really angry - expect a very, very violent Friday tomorrow - this was dumb, very, very dumb of Mubarak and of the armed forces to allow him to do such a speech

Wow - now there is real anger in Tahrir - that was a very, very stupid statement by Mubarak - where is that "Supreme Council" of the armed forces - this idiot will take you down too

Mubarak: "Speech from father to children, blood will not have gone down drain in vain, will not penalize, will on those who did bad, totally determined to fulfill demands, if legitimate, mistakes of government are natural, will punish those responsible, will not accept dictate from outside, will not run in elections, will stay until September with free elections, will keep oath, insure stability of society, peaceful transitions of power, continue to observe proper implementation, lay foot on right path of crisis - clear road - specific timetable, constitutional committee [his people], independent and transparent, unfortunate events, handed down orders for investigations, will change constitutions, para 76,77,93,189, annulment of others, propose at later state other changes, esp. election law, propose change of 179 of constitution if/when confidence restored, can not tolerate circumstances to continue, youth will be first victims of current problems, all have same problems, stability and peace of all, I defended homeland - [crowd in Tahrir is chanting loud against him] - never thought power - defining movement of history, put homeland above all, put power to vice-president [?]- no satellite state - unique Egypt spirit, lived for this nation, Egypt will live until I hand over banner, will not leave Egypt until burred.

Mubarak on TV now

Mubarak 40 minutes behind schedule to hold speech - Washington/Tel Aviv still negotiating "issues"?

Al Arabia: Mubarak to apologize to families of people killed, [some other superficial measures ... still behind events]

Reuters: Mubarak to lift emergency law, stay President but move power to Suleiman

State TV reading out charges against former ministers: corruption,  corruption, corruption ...[nothing about military corruption though]

From visuals: Tahrir packed as never - a million would probably be underestimated

We need to 'keep kicking their behinds': Mohamed ElBaradei speaks to FP

Reuters: Egypt (Dis-)Info Minister: Mubarak not to step down

Mubarak TV address supposed to start soon

20:00 GMT - 22:00 Cairo

[Jacky Rowland and Ayan Moyadin deserve highest journo prices - excellent deep analysis under extremest circumstances]

State TV now shows the pictures of the big demonstration in Tahrir just like AJE - 180 degree change

NYT's Kristof tweets: "I worry that the Egyptian army's plan may be to have a Mubarak-style govt without Mubarak. Am I too pessimistic?" [answer: No - but you are wrong saying that it is the Egyptian army's plan - it is the U.S.rael's plan]

From visual: Tahrir packed more than ever - reporter: all access roads totally filled

19:00 GMT - 21:00 Cairo

Reuters: Mubarak will announce constitutional procedures before handing over powers [manipulating thigs again so Suleiman or army council can completely take over?]

Mubarak speech expected at 20:00 GMT (in one hour)

AJE analyst Ayman: Thinks the Reuters statement is not realistic - doesn't reflect real military opinion

Reuters: "Egypt army will act if protesters do not accept transfer of power to Suleiman"

CNN Homepage has embedded Nile TV feed - an Egyptian state station(!) [couldn't get AJE feed?]

Live Obama speech in Michigan on Egypt: we are witnessing history unfolding - U.S. will continue to support orderly and genuine transition - [that seems to have been all - weird - so he doesn't know?]

AJE from Alexandria: about 1,000 people in front of main station - chanting - lots of military around the city, some police back - people dislike police very much

Al Hurra (U.S. paid arabic TV): "Mubarak will arrive in Dubai within hours"

Guy from stage: "Allah akbar" - crowd repeats LOUD

18:00 GMT - 20:00 Cairo

Karama opposition leader: Believes military took Mubarak down today - worker strikes were the decisive issue - have to wait and see if demands are really met

AJE analyst Ayman: Suleiman taking over would be problematic - army taking over also problematic - people do not want military role in politics anymore - military has too much interest in status quo

Former leading NDP member: has feeling: Mubarak will give power to army, not Suleiman

Demonstration organizer: We will not talk with Suleiman - he is the system - people celebrating, but do not trust anyone - this isn't over

State TV- showed Suleiman talking to Mubarak - no tone, Suleiman explaining something, Mubarak quiet, just once seeming to say "yes"

State TV - Mubarak currently meeting with Suleiman

State TV - Mubarak speech will be live(!) from the Presidential Palace [so he has not left?]

Kefaya movement: We need a civilian state, not a military state -

National Committee of Change: The tyrant has left - Mubarak may formally remain in office, but army has the power - we will keep on until demands met

17:00 GMT - 19:00 Cairo

More army deployed into the streets over the last hours

Tahrir Square is packed and very loud

"Supreme Council" only held three meeting in 30+ years (1967, 1973, 2011)

Ret. General on AJE "this is a revolution to restore the situation" [what may that mean?]

Hmm - Mubarak will make a statement on TV this evening - Suleiman probably still in

Not everything is clear yet - White House says "situation fluid" -  State TV building gets evacuated

16:20 GMT- 18:20 Cairo

---

Though not yet confirmed it seems sure now that Mubarak is out. The "Supreme Council of the Armed Forces", whatever that may be,  convened and stands "on the side of the people".

Video from the council meeting did not show Mubarak and, probably more important, did not show Suleiman.

The army is said to have hindered Mubarak making a speech in which he would have given the powers to Suleiman.

I assume this means Suleiman is out too. This is then a coup within a coup. The first coup established Suleiman as strongman and kicked the neoliberal oligarchs out. This coup then removed the new installed government and the power of the internal security forces under Suleiman.

 

Posted by b on February 10, 2011 at 11:24 AM | Permalink | Comments (67)

Crazy Talk by Ahmed Aboul Gheit

The Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit lives in an Orwellian world:

"When you have a president who is stepping down, you have one of two possibilities. The demonstrators and the opposition insisting that they compose a government unconstitutional. And then maybe the armed forces would feel compelled to intervene in a more drastic manner," he said. "Do we want the armed forces to assume the responsibility of stabilising the nation through imposing martial law, and army in the streets? The army is in defence of the borders of the country and the national security of the state. But for the army to rule, to step in, to put its friends on the scene, that would be a very dangerous possibility."

When I checked this about 2 minutes ago:

  • Egypt was under an emergency law that is equal to a martial law
  • The army was in the streets all over Cairo and other cities
  • The whole government leadership was made up of army "friends", they are generals.

But I agree with Ahmed Aboul Gheit that having an emergency law, the army in the streets and generals as government leaders is indeed very dangerous and it should end.

I take today's rainbow over Tahrir Square, caught by Abul Einein, as a sign for that to happen.


huge version

Posted by b on February 10, 2011 at 09:23 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

February 09, 2011

The Dark Bats Of The Night

Egypt's Vice President General Omar Suleiman talked of a "coup" that might happen if the protests go on. That is somewhat difficult to understand.

Since the protests started the military has already conducted what looks like a coup. The core of the military authoritarian regime asserted itself by sidelining Mubarak and throwing out all its civilian attachments. Mubarak's son and the civilian neoliberal oligarchs were kicked out of the government.

Mubarak, himself a "former" general, was shifted to the side and General Suleiman put up as vice-president. After Suleiman finished his oath to office, he saluted Mubarak, offically still his supreme commander, even though both were in civilian cloth. Another General was put up as Prime Minister. While many positions in the government changed, the Defense Minister, another General, was kept in place. The sham civilian parliament was not allowed to convene.

When the military came into the street, it was greeted friendly by the demonstrators. But when the Interior Ministers thugs are one side of the coin the military is just the other. As Kent State Professor Joshua Stacher wrote in Foreign Affairs two days ago:

With the protesters caught between regime-engineered violence and regime-manufactured safety, the cabinet generals remained firmly in control of the situation.
...
This latest adaptation of autocracy in the Arab world is more honest than its previous incarnations. Before the uprising in Egypt began, the military ruled from behind the curtain while elites, represented by public relations firms and buoyed by snappy slogans, initiated neoliberal economic policies throughout Egypt. In this latest rendering, with Suleiman at the helm, the state's objective of restoring a structure of rule by military managers is not even concealed. This sort of "orderly transition" in post-Mubarak Egypt is more likely to usher in a return to the repressive status quo than an era of widening popular participation.

With escalating protests, now accompanied by labor strikes, the last sentence's estimate may change.

The Egyptian military apparatus owns a lot of land, production assets and other economic valuables It has immense business interests:

Paul Sullivan, a National Defense University professor who has spent years in Egypt, says it is huge, probably accounting for 10% to 15% of Egypt's $210 billion economy.

The generals are unlikely to give those assets up. A real democratic transition, which would allow a new civilian government to control or take over the military businesses, is not in the Generals interests. They'd likely rather shoot some civilians over that.

Therein of course might lay the danger of the "coup" Suleiman warned of. There may be some Majors and Colonels who would not want to be part of a violent military crackdown on their brothers and sisters. But the regime still has an alternative to a military crackdown that migh incite a coup. It can reignite terror in the streets with the secret civil part of its rule, the Interior Ministry. After a few weeks of random mass night killings be snipers and "thugs" and the propagandizing the resulting fear, the soldier part of the regime could again be seen as savior, or simply as the less threatening alternative.

Suleiman alluded to that strategy:

He warned of chaos if the situation continued, speaking of "the dark bats of the night emerging to terrorise the people."

Posted by b on February 9, 2011 at 02:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (27)

February 08, 2011

"The Fear Changed Camp"

The release from prison of protest organizer Wael Ghonim and his very emotional interview (press the CC button for English subtitles) on private TV yesterday evening has given the revolution in Egypt new momentum.

There are signs now that the fire is reaching new parts of the society. Today professors of Cairo University marched from the university to Tahrir. Two hundred journalists from state media protested. A huge step for them to take. The semi-official daily Al-Ahram carried an editorial by its chief editor that was somewhat critical of Mubarak. Despite this being a normal working day several hundred thousands took to the streets in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Assuan and other cities. Many of them for the first time.

Some protesters went to new places with a reported thousand in front (video) of the People's Assembly, the parliament building. There are new demands being made by the protester. The slogans chanted now call not only for Mubarak to step down, but for prosecution of him and his family. A group of lawyers have petitioned the attorney general to investigate Mubarak's family alleged wealth.

The regime is still in retreat. Yesterday it increased state sector pay by 15%. Today Suleiman, Israel's choice for following Mubarak, announced several new presidential decrees to implement some pseudo democratic changes to the constitution. He announced that no protester would be prosecuted. Of course no one is believing him.

At the same time secret security forces are still hard at work and pick people off the street. But as one guest at Aljazeera observed: "The fear changed camp." It is no longer the people that fear the state apparatus, now the state fears the people. The revolution can still be slowed down, but I believe no one and nothing can stop it now.

Posted by b on February 8, 2011 at 10:37 AM | Permalink | Comments (28)

February 07, 2011

Missing The Opportunities

The recent events in Egypt show two entities which never fail to miss an opportunity.

The Muslim Brotherhood broke the momentum of the protester movement by joining into talks with Suleiman. Staying away would have kept up the pressure to get rid of Mubarak and his system. They earlier had announced that they would let ElBaradei do the negotiations. But he wasn't even invited to that meeting. The MB has now broken the coalition of protesters.

It even agreed on negotiating about constitutional changes. How stupid can one be? A revolution always trumps the existing constitution and writes its own, new one. That is its purpose. Thankfully ElBaradei is said to have some good folks working on that.

The Muslim Brothers probably listened to their old CIA handlers. Reading their history, have they ever managed something without screwing up?

The second entity that never fails to miss an opportunity is the United States. Instead of backing the protesters by taking away the aid from the military with a promise to reinstante it when Mubarak and his system is gone, they backed the old crony regime by sending Mubaraks own lobbyist, allegedly to tell him to leave, which the lobbyist of course did not do at all.

With ElBaradei ready to act as interim president, a liberal youth on the street and the regime at the border of collapse only a small push would have been needed to achieve real change of the system while at the same time assuring that it would be a secular and liberal one and the blood shed small. But the U.S. missed that chance. Years ago it missed a similar chance when it it supported the Shah up to his very end instead of his then secular opposition.

Mubarak and his system, which of course includes Suleiman, will fall. Raising the pay for public servants by 15%, scapegoating some functionaries and propaganda will not solve the deep problems Egypt has. The IMF has largely succeeded in destroying its economy. Egypt is now exporting strawberries to Europe - fine, but it now also has to import some 40% of the wheat it needs. This put the real basic needs of its in average dirt poor people into the hand of speculators. Such economic policies are deadly for any regime.

But when, not if, the current system in Egypt falls, it is now unlikely to come under rule that is friendly to the U.S., it will not be secular and less liberal than the crowd in Tahrir is looking. It will also be a more bloody event.

Posted by b on February 7, 2011 at 02:04 PM | Permalink | Comments (31)

February 06, 2011

Again And Again - Destroying The Town To Save It

The British Army fought a bloody campaign to get some control over Sangin, a town in Helmand, Afghanistan. I have yet to find someone able to explain the particular importance of that town.

Against a lot of resistance they build a couple of bases there to control a few hundred meters of their surroundings. From a pure low-level tactical military standpoint, that was the right thing to do.

Responsibility for Helmand change in late 2010 when the U.S. Marines took over that province. They gave up on many of those bases the British had fought for at a high price of Afghan and British blood. Wrote the Telegraph:

British military sources criticised the Americans, saying they were abandoning parts of Sangin where the locals had been won over. The move would also allow the Taliban to lay more explosive devices along Route 611, the main trade artery in Sangin.
...
“They are trying a new approach but it was one tried by us in the past and led to troops being tied to just the outskirts of town and gave the Taliban the chance to plant IEDs virtually wherever they wanted.”

Well, guess what happened. The Marines took three month to recognize their arrogant mistake and took another month of bloody and very destructive fighting to reoccupy some of the former British bases.

Please try to watch this BBC Panorama report on that brutal campaign through the eye of the Afghan people living and dying there.


Posted by b on February 6, 2011 at 02:15 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

February 05, 2011

From Dictator To Dictator - Obama's "Orderly Transition"

I'll be happy to be wrong with this, but I believe the anti-government protests in Egypt will get snuffed for now. The revolution is aborted but not yet dead. It is likely to return in one form or another though that may take a while.

As I write this hundreds of additional troops in riot gear have arrived around Tahrir. The army is trying to remove the barricades around the square and to push, slowly, slowly, the people out. A General talked to the people who are determined not to leave. Civil resistance can win against unmotivated riot-police or a mob of thugs. A few thousand demonstrators without weapons in a rainy place can not win in direct confrontation with a halfway competent military force.

The army announced that it will, from now on, "vigorously" enforce the curfew which begins at 19:00 Cairo time. I'd take them on their word. If real military violence is needed, its likely that the Presidential Guard, which is separate from the army, or armed riot police will be used for the bloody task under the cover of the night.

The decisive weight of the U.S. was put on the side of a continued military dictatorship. That certainly could have been different. The $1.3 billion bribe the U.S. is paying each year to the Egyptian military could certainly have been used to achieve a real step to democracy and a civil government.

Instead Obama's "orderly transition" will only take place from one General to another, Mubarak to Suleiman, with the later one likely to turn out to be an even more vile dictator than Mubarak ever was.

To play to the media and "western" public some regime negotiations will follow with a fake opposition which will not include any of the real opposition that took to the streets.

One can already see this playing out on Al Jazeera. The editorial line of the ancor man has somewhat changed today from emphasis of the protesters and their demands to playing up general economic hardship and the talking lines of so called "world leaders" - all of them "westerners" of course. Its coverage of Cairo has markedly while the picture quality of some of their visual takes from Cairo is suddenly back to a normal level. Were there phone calls made from the White House and Cairo to Qatar who's Emir founded and controls Al Jazeera?

The negotiations with the opposition will be sold as "meaningful" without any real positive change for freedom of Egyptians. Instead of that we can expect a months long harsh but very silent and brutal crackdown on anyone who is somehow identified as related to the opposition.

Looking back the Egyptian government must have anticipated such protests for quite some time. In hindsight the total scheme that played out looks well prepared.

Taking the police off the street, releasing thugs and prisoners, organized looting, closing down communication, closing down commerce and banking - all done by the regime, not the opposition, without any real need to do so - was sold by the regime propaganda as done by the protesters.

In between this "chaos and fear" campaign a disgruntled military initiated a coup at the very top of the Egyptian government. Mubarak was pressed by the military to name a General as successor and to install a cabinet led by another General. He had to discard his plans to install his own son Gamal and his neoliberal entourage as his successor. Some scapegoats will be found and kicked out of the political hierarchy.

That done, the military has found ways to fix relations with Washington which for a short moment seemed to lean to the side of the protesters. Concerted pressure from the Israeli, Egyptian and Saudi lobby helped. As did the usual reflex of Obama to play to his constituency while actually doing the opposite of what they demand. "Stability" for Israel was and is the primary concern in Washington D.C.  We thereby now get "orderly transition".

Its now time to develop new strategies that can defeat the government playbook we have seen here.

Posted by b on February 5, 2011 at 10:46 AM | Permalink | Comments (88)

The U.S.-Egyptian "Counter Opposition" Scheme

The Mubarak regime seems to be working with the U.S. administration towards a scheme which, while moving Mubarak aside, would keep the dictatorial system he implemented. More on that below.

In Tahrir square the night was calm and in the morning the crowd there was again growing. People are reinforcing the barricades they had build, expecting more tensions and attacks in the coming days.

Overnight a gas pipeline in north Sinai which delivers natural gas from Egypt to Israel was blown up. It is currently unknown who is responsible for this. There are several potential motives for such an act which do include a regime attempt to create more tensions and international pressure for a false compromise.

As the NYT sells this compromise:

[S]everal groups of prominent intellectuals and political analysts are pushing plans to endorse an initial transfer of power to Mr. Suleiman, who already appears to be governing in Mr. Mubarak’s place, they said.

“The reality on the ground is that the vice president is the one managing the situation and what we want to do is legalize it,” said Wahid Abdel Neguid, the deputy director of the Al Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies and one of the figures working on the plans.
...
The groups putting forward the proposal include Nabil Fahmy, former Egyptian ambassador to the United States; Naguib Sawiris, one of the most prominent businessmen in Egypt; Ahmed Kamal Aboul Magd, a lawyer and influential Islamic thinker; and Ahmed Zewail, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist.

There is no person of the real opposition included in that group. Issandr at The Arabist has put up an English copy of the groups demands. His source is the Carnegie Endowment:

In view of the high level of interest in the events in Egypt, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers its readers this unofficial translation of the statements issued by the committee, which have not appeared in English so far. The Carnegie Endowment does not endorse the statements but believes they are of sufficient interest to be shared.

The last sentence is suspicious. From a Washington Post piece which expresses some U.S. administration support for this "wise men" solution:

Members of the group have demanded that Mubarak turn over his authority to Suleiman, who would use it to manage a transition to democracy while Mubarak remains as a figurehead president until new elections.

"It's basically a face-saving solution," said Amr Hamzawy, research director for the Carnegie Middle East Center and one of the participants. Suleiman and Shafiq have been receptive, he said, and there have been "encouraging signs" from Mubarak.

Carnegie "does not endorse" this "face-saving solution" but "was one of the participants"?

This stinks. Reading the Carnegie text commentator Tom at The Arabist remarks:

This is odd. First it calls for pretty much exactly what Suleiman has been calling for. Second, it uses a style and vocabulary that track what he said in a television interview, yesterday.
...
I wouldn't put it past the government to be trying to publish false "demands" that suit them perfectly well and then make a big act of "responding to the people's demands".

I think this is more likely along the same lines as the "counter-protesters" -- just another attempt on the part of the current power establishment to win the war through empty propaganda and their control of so many communications channels.

I agree with that analysis. Unfortunately it seems that the Egyptian regime has the support of the Obama administration for this scheme. The pro-democracy protesters at Tahrir are unlikely to fall for it.

Posted by b on February 5, 2011 at 04:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (16)

February 04, 2011

Non-Egypt Stuff and Opinons ...

News and views - open thread - ...

Posted by b on February 4, 2011 at 03:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (41)

Feb 4 - Live Coverage Of 'Day of Departure'

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

This article gives a good impression on how brutal and systematic the police cracks down on any supporter of the anti-government forces. Note that the army is cooperating with this: `You Will Be Lynched,' Says Egyptian Policeman: First Person - not a good sign for what is coming.

On the other side the demonstrations do not get smaller, in Alexandria they were bigger today than last week, the general fear to protest has been broken, the regime was pressed to give some concessions, the neoliberals are out and the international sentiment has turned from pro-Mubarak to anti-Mubarak.

This whole thing still hangs much in balance.

---

I get the feeling that the regime continues to gear up for a full crackdown. The bureau of the online site of the Muslim Brotherhood has been attacked by "thugs" and shut down, same with the bureau of AlJazeera in Cairo and security in hotels near the Tahrir is confiscating cameras. Reporters continue to receive threats. State media are in full propaganda and spin mode to set the protesters into a bad light. When the media is chased away, the full power of the state will come down onto the protesters. Being able to defend against that is easier in masses than alone. That now may develop into a main reason to keep the square occupied.

---

Tahrir square still pretty full even though some are leaving - peaceful for now

Alexandria live pictures: Some ten thousands people, more joyous today as before says reporter

17:00 GMT - 19:00 Cairo

Alexandria: Protesters there will now stay in the street and camp out like in Tahrir

16:00 GMT - 18:00 Cairo (darkness)

Prayer in the square, more people seem to leave now

Getting dark in Cairo, some leaving - crowd at top was about 500,000 (my estimate)

"Protest leader" on State TV was fake [shows how bad these folks are]

The State TV story may be false - could be government trick

A man hits a hanged effigy of Mubarak with his shoe

State TV has one of protest leaders on in an interview - [very significant] - also shows closeer up of protest crowd for the first time

According to reporter: Big frenzy was about a (wrong) rumor that Mubarak left, some people start leaving

Four former assistents of former Interior Minister have been detained by the regime

Big frenzy on Tahrir right now - reporter does not know why

15:00 GMT - 17:00 Cairo (curfew time)

Travel restrictions were announced for a former trade minister [regime in slow retreat]

The NDP party bigwig that accused on BBC of "western conspiracy" is one of neoliberal Gamal Mubarak folks who have been sidelined in the new cabinet

Aera east of Tahrir square is said to be filled with lot of police in civilian cloth, Army chased off some hundred pro-Mubarak folks that tried to get to Tahrir through the Museum entrance.

Protest in Damaskus, announced by some folks on Twitter, did not take place at all a BBC reporter on the ground says. Announced protests in Sudan turned out to be 200 students of one University who were quickly dispersed.

Earlier today Amr Moussa joined the protesters and was greeted with large applause. He es former foreign minister who was popular for his tough stand towards Israel. Mubarak sidelined him by making him head of the Arab League - he would be possibly winning presidential candidate in new elections

14:00 GMT - 16:00 Cairo

Party bigwig of ruling NDP on BBC: "western media conspiracy" "Egypt betrayed by west" "Mubarak will not step down"

AJ Evan Hill: also some clashes in streat east of Tharir

Some clashes between pro-Mubarak and antiregime groups some 300 meters west away from the Egyptian Museum entrance to the square

13:00 GMT - 15:00 Cairo

AJ reporter: Some 200 Mubarak supporters try to get near the square - army is trying to hold them back

Access bridge to Tahrir still full of people coming in

Alexandria has tense atmosphere - some police in the streets

Demonstrations reported from other cities additional to Alexandria and Cairo

According to the government and State TV the protesters are supported by: Hamas, Mossad, Hizbullah, U.S., Iran, Israel and Darth Vader

AJ tweets: Al jazeera Arabic's Cairo office has been stormed by unknown men and the office has been trashed

Crowd in Tahrir now probably 2-300,000

El Baradei: I met with nine protest leaders last night. When they left my house they were all arrested, these are Mubarak's promises

12:00 GMT - 14:00 Cairo

Berlusconi: Mubarak "the wisest of men"

State TV says "demonstration in Tahrir is for stability"

Live from Cairo shows one man held and his ID held to the camera - probably pro-Mubarak police in civilian cloth

Cairo: Square still filling up even more, crowd getting denser, difficult to move through

Alexandria: Car with loudspeakers - more organized than last week

Alexandria: dense crowd, maybe 100,000+ visible

Cairo - Tensions outside the square - rumors/reports of some anti-government people on the way to the square get attacked by pro-government folks

Alexandria live video - some scuffles in the crowd - tension - scuffle over - lots of Egyptian flags

11:00 GMT - 13:00 Cairo

Alexandria live video - big crowd, still in prayers

Prayers over - LOUD chanting

Alexandria: Tens of thousands on the street in front of mosque - cordon of seculars protecting those praying - prayer leading iman is one who was forbidden to preach by regime

Sermon in square demands: Regime change, prisoner release, constitutional change

Prayers in the square, quiet - BBC pics confirm AJ pics of some 100,000+ now

Bridge to Tahrir filled with people wanting to come in, military has several checkpoints with barbed wire, more checkpoints set up by protesters

From visuals I estimate the crowd at near 100,000 now

Toni Karon: In Egypt, as Mubarak Vows to Maintain Order, There Will Be Blood

So while the protesters have vowed to hold a massive march to Mubarak's residence on Friday to demand his resignation, the signals from Suleiman and Mubarak suggest that the authorities are shaping up to reclaim control of the streets in a violent crackdown.
...
Suleiman has thrown down a gauntlet to the Obama Administration and other Western allies of Egypt that have pinned their hopes on the Mubarak regime's beginning an immediate political transition. For now, the regime's plan is to hold on to power and put an end to the protest movement. And to do that, it will have to ignore Washington's demand that it refrain from violence in order to reclaim the streets. With protesters digging in to hold on to Tahrir Square, it's looking increasingly likely that if Suleiman's promises are implemented, there will be blood. The question is whether there's any further leverage that the U.S and its allies are willing or able to exercise in order to change Mubarak's mind.

10:00 GMT - 12:00 Cairo

In interview Suleiman said late yesterday "army will not be used against protesters" [not sure I believe him]

Protesters at entry checking IDs (which shows the profession) for up to 10-12 times, have some help from army

Live TV shows further growing crowd, loud chanting

09:00 GMT - 11:00 Cairo

Legal difficulties in replacing a president: The Egyptian constitution’s rulebook for change

People get frisked before entering the square, fear of armed infiltrators

Reporter from square: At some entries military in riot gear is not allowing people through

Live pictures seems to show a growing crowd in Tahrir, festive music playing

08:00 GMT - 10:00 Cairo

From video pictures I estimate 10-15,000 people in Tahrir Square

NYT: U.S. administration discussing with Egypt government about Mubarak departure - setting up a military triumvirate, Suleiman, Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, chief of the Egyptian armed forces, and Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the defense minister, to start constitutional reform

anti-government protester from square: everyone is exited - will stay until Mubarak leaves -planing for march to Presidential Palace, but not sure it will work out - don't know where the army stands - military police was trying some crack down yesterday - two field hospitals in the square and next to museum plus a bigger one in a mosque

Video shows more infantry deployed - helmets with visor [military police?]

Rallies planed for today in Yemen, Syria, Jordan and of course in Egypt where it is the 'Day of Departure'

AJ reporter: It was a calm night

07:00 GMT - 09:00 Cairo

Posted by b on February 4, 2011 at 02:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (68)

February 03, 2011

Feb 3 - Live Coverage Of Protests In Egypt

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

Off live blogging the next few hours now for personal reasons - please update in the comments

Five things you may want to read:

Must-read: On Egypt's society , the various groups, their interests and relations, Prof. Paul Amar: Why Mubarak is out

Late but right - Prof. Marc Lynch, who is consulting the White House, says the U.S. can and should use its leverage with the Egypt military: Egypt Endgame

The Egyptian military must receive the message loudly, directly and clearly that the price of a continuing relationship with America is Mubarak's departure and a meaningful transition to a more democratic and inclusive political system. It must understand that if it doesn't do this, then the price will not just be words or public shaming but rather financial and political.

Via Cynthia in comments: Juan Cole, with whom I often disagree, with a very engaged point on piece: Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu

Rami Khouri setting the historic context: The Middle East's freedom train has just left the station

Make no mistake about it, we are witnessing an epic, historic moment of the birth of concepts that have long been denied to ordinary Arabs: the right to define ourselves and our governments, to assert our national values, to shape our governance systems, and to engage with each other and the rest of the world as free human beings, with rights that cannot be denied forever.

In January 2011, a full century after some Arabs started agitating for their freedoms from Ottoman and European colonial rule, and after many false starts in recent decades, we finally have a breakthrough to our full humanity.

And Issandr takes us back to 1952: Parallels: The Cairo Fire

---live blogging from today below in time reverse order below ---

Reports of pro-Mubarak forces with crash helmets around Tahrir

19:00 GMT - 21:00 Cairo

Reuters:The State Department is warning of bigger protests and "real confrontation" on Friday

Leila Fadel freed, Lara Logan arrested [her they can keep ...]

Activist from square on AJ: thugs preparing in the streets around the square

AJ: Three of our journalists arrested, one missing - most equipment gone

19:00 GMT - 21:00 Cairo

Gregory Johnson, the go-to Yemen specialist, was/is(?) in Cairo and helped out at a neighborhood defense: The Egyptian Protests: A View from the Ground

Helicopter noise in BBC live report

Leila Fadel with WaPo and previously McClatchy (had lots of good Iraq reporting) is arrested in Cairo

BBC reports secret police in the streets of Alexandria

AJ reporter in square: pretty quiet now - no fights - curfew announced for tomorrow

18:00 GMT - 20:00 Cairo

Demonstration for tomorrow is named "Day of Departure" and is supposed to go to the presidential palace to request Mubarak's departure  - could be difficult, will depend on numbers

Reporter in square: pro-government forces melted away for now - anti-government have somewhat retreated into the square and the road next to the museum

Live pictures of Tahrir show a quite big crowd there - more than yesterday

Dozens of foreign journalists have been arrested in the last hours

Opposition groups including Muslim Brotherhood reject Suleiman's "offers"

[That was quite a bit of manipulative lying and obfuscation - could be understood as announcement of later crackdown on anti-government demonstrators]

Suleiman: Some foreign media (he means AlJazeera) incite with false reports - new cabinet was formed fast - all specialized and experienced - people were angry with certain businessmen in cabinet [Gamal gang], we ended them - all who made mistakes will be penalized - the police behaved well - outside forces attacked police stations and prisons - Egypt has not been shaken - call on youth to go back home - [this is btw. an interview with state TV - the questions/softballs are asked to blame the youth] - inmates should get back to prisons - all youth arrested, unless omitted crime, will be released - to youth: state will follow your demands - give state an opportunity - your parents need you - end

Suleiman: Mubarak stepping down would be some alien step - we need a leader

Suleiman: Armed forces now manages to keep both sides apart [tell that the people dying now]

17:00 GMT - 19:00 Cairo

Reuters: Ten dead in Tahrir Square

Suleiman: armed forces were to protect all people

Suleiman: youth protests manipulated for certain agendas - foreign agendas, or Muslim brotherhood, or businessmen - will find out who will pulling the strings

Suleiman: conspiracy behind the last days clashes - denies state being behind the attackers - someone pushed them forward - [he keeps this kind of open - might use it to crack down on anti-government protesters]

tank coming over Oct.6 bridge shooting .50cal tracers into air

Vice President Suleiman on TV: demands will be heard - accuses infiltrators to be in anti-government crowd - Mubarak responded to lawful demands - elections in August or September - promises constitution amendments - takes time - Muslim Brotherhood (officially banned) will also be invited to talks and demands - meeting with representatives of the youth (the demonstrators) - [weak promises, no guarantees]

Gunshot heard on live transmission, more, loud chanting "God is great" (in Arabic)

Snipers were earlier reported by the Guardian to be on the Hilton hotel

AJ reporter - 20 meters from the frontline - three people with gunshot wounds to their head dead - snipers

BBC World got equipment stolen by security force

Attack on the road crossing at entry point to the Tahrir square next to the museum - petrol bombs thrown [I believe that is the Abdel Monem Riyad Square, but not sure yet]

BBC's Khaled Ezzelarab reports: One protestor killed in Abdel Monem Riyad Square in central Cairo, many more injured, among them three in critical condition.

16:00 GMT - 18:00 Cairo (darkness)

Alexandria: live pictures - big (several thousands), loud demonstration

Washington Post:Cairo bureau chief and photographer arrested

Algeria just lifted restriction on protest marches [signs of the time ...]

A big modern shopping mall in north Cairo on fire

Rumor: "State of emergency", in place since 19 years, will be lifted

Gamal Mubarak has resigned from the ruling NDP party (now confirmed)  [neoliberals getting kicked from party - must be big inner party fight]

Blogger Sandmonkey reported released after having been beaten up

Amnesty International: some of our employees arrested

AJ reporter from Tahrir: new mentality in place, people will not give up territory, no one will leave tonight, stocking up supplies, good security at the entrances, everyone getting organized

15:00 GMT - 17:00 Cairo (curfew time, near darkness)

More machine gun/automatic weapon fire - this is outside the square but unknown where exactly

Heavy gun fire - APC machine cannon? - not sure where

[likely not smart - too long supply lines]

Pro-democracy groups have advanced and now build new barricades further away from the square

Running battle on the street between the Egyptian Museum and the Hilton hotel. That is the road north of and leading west above the museum in the upper left

[This presents is big shift in the Egypt powergroups - for a very good primer on the various the military, economic and social forces, groups and interests in Egypt: Why Mubarak Is Out]

[Those are all from the Gamal Mubarak neoliberal gang which privatized and monopolized to themselves importent industries, for example Ahmed Ezz, who owned 60% of the steel market]

Several former ministers and business men have been banned from travel and their assets frozen - includes former Interior Minister who ordered police off the street and let the prisoners out

Muslim scholars in Egypt say "everyones duty" to come out tomorrow for big demonstrations

Skirmish at the Egyptian Museum square exit - pro-democracy groups advancing onto the outside road - shots heard

Blogger and activist Sandmonkey was arrested today and his blog closed. His last post from earlier today, quite moving, is available here: Egypt, right now

14:00 GMT - 16:00 Cairo

The Prime Minister now taking questions - avoids answers by attacking questioners

Military now said to prevent food etc to be brought into the square

Lots of reports of arrests of reporters, human rights layers, well known bloggers etc.

[lying or not in control?]

Egypt Prime Minister on live state TV "I vow to you that this will not pass easily - this is due to the absence of security - there will be an investigation - offer apology"

pro-government forces again mass up at the access road next to the Egyptian museum - tense atmosphere

Vodafone forced to send regime SMS

AJ reporter: 25,000 people in square

Shots heard at Tahrir and the Kaser Enile bridge - soldiers shooting into the air

13:00 GMT - 15:00 Cairo

State TV has announced foreign reporters are "Israeli spys" - mob hunting journos

UN sending two planes to evacuate most of its staff from Egypt

BBC: "An immense amount of rock throwing going on now" (no visuals)

Thugs have pulled back from the square entrances - reorganizing?

The army has put more infantry into the streets now - seem to have orders to prevent further clashes

12:00 GMT - 14:00 Cairo

Some 10,000+ people in the square - growing slowly

The army did intervene shortly ago when pro-dictator forces tried to throw stones onto an entrance of the square

Saleh's dirty tricks:

On the eve of what the opposition promised would be the largest demonstration yet against the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, security forces sealed off Liberation Square in San'a, the capital, erecting tents they claimed were for "mass weddings" the next day, a source in San'a told Human Rights Watch.

When demonstration organizers discovered armed men in the tents, they moved the protest to San'a university, where thousands protested peacefully on Thursday morning, a participant told Human Rights Watch.

BBC: Some skirmishes at one entrance of Tahrir

BBC: Violent clashes in Alexandria

New reports of reporters getting attacked

AFP: Pro Mubarak forces break through the buffer zone [no oidea where - nothing visible yet]

11:00 GMT - 13:00 Cairo

Pro-dictator forces room the access streets and confiscate supplies supporters want to bring into the square - siege

BBC interviewed a former general: Egyptian army 'will fire on pro-Mubarak protesters'

Pictures of police(?) ID's of pro-dictator forces

Prayer in the square, about a third of the crowd - a bigger share than before

10:00 GMT - 12:00 Cairo

A very good primer on the military, economic and social forces and groups in Egypt - RECOMMENDED: Why Mubarak Is Out - there are btw more interesting pieces at that site: Jadaliyya

The square is filling up with more people

Barricades have been build on all entrances of the square from metal sheet that surrounded a big construction site next to the square

Prime Minister is said to apologize for the violence, calls for investigation - searching for a political solution?

live video from inside the square - some hundreds marching around the center circle, chanting

09:00 GMT - 11:00 Cairo

A row of soldiers a few steps in front of the barricade - 2-3 meters between each - intention unknown

For the first time the army is deploying infantry - probably good, they need more men on foot to keep things under control

The army seems to prepare to keep pro- and anti- forces separate from each other

One M1 tank moved onto the bridge that overlooks the main frontline barricade

More people trickle in to the Tahrir Square - only few pro-dictator people to be seen

08:00 GMT - 10:00 Cairo

AFP: Tens of thousands protest in Yemen

Small skirmishes at the front barricade - pro-government crowd at that front seems to have grown a bit - some still chanting in the square - 2,000 to 4,000 there AJ reporter in the square says

07:00 GMT - 09:00 Cairo

Soldiers seem to prepare for some action - no idea what they want to do

06:00 GMT - 08:00 Cairo

From the comments, Fisk: Blood and fear in Cairo's streets as Mubarak's men crack down on protests

Three army water tankers moving along

At the barricade next to the museum there are many more pro-democracy protesters than Mubarak supporters - the army pulled back and standing back

AJ says at least five dead in the square - gun fire - live picture shows several cars and a bus burned at the road next to the Egyptian Museum

They still hold the square! - Amazing

05:00 GMT - 07:00 Cairo

Posted by b on February 3, 2011 at 12:02 AM | Permalink | Comments (37)

February 02, 2011

Feb 2 - Live Coverage Of Protests In Egypt

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

Lots of Molotov cocktails thrown now from both sides on a side street - all fall short of the "enemy" lines it seems

Firebombs form both sides in stand off next tp Egyptian Museum

21:00 GMT - 23:00 Cairo

Pro-democracy protesters seem to have pushed back the dictators' forces a few hundred meters along the road next the the Egyptian Museum and have errected a makeshift barricade there that gives them some protection

The US is now arranging for a coup against the will of the Egyptian people

Suleiman/Mubarak thinks he has upper hand now - before he asked opposition groups for negotiations, now says no dialog unless protests stop

Military warned shortly before of armed goons coming to the square

Very unclear situation it seems

Video view of pro-dictator side - much less people than before - a few hundreds - maybe a thousand - military tank -M113- moving within the crowd

Firebombs just seen thrown down from a building with pro-dictator people on it

22:18 Cairo time - automatic gunfire heard in the square on AJ live feed  - army repositioning

---

Despite a determined attack by government goons and security services in civilian cloth the people in the Tahrir square managed to hold their position. This alone is a big victory.

The Tahrir Square seems pretty silent for now but unfortunately too empty. Reinforcement for the pro-democracy people is said to be on its way, but we haven't seen any yet. If there is an determined attack overnight, they will likely not be able to hold out. That would be a very bloody outcome. On the other side leaving the square right now may be even more dangerous than staying there.

The Egyptian army lives off an annual 1.3 billion dollars bribe from the U.S. In a country where a teacher makes $50 per month there is no way it can make that much money with so little work. If the U.S. says it is over and Mubarak has to leave now they will make him leave. Listening to the White House press conference, it seems that the related phone calls are being made right now.

Mubarak leaving would not change much though. Omar Suleiman, chief torturer of the regime, and the other guys at the top would likely carry on with Mubarak's policies. The aim must be complete regime change. It is unlikely though that the U.S. would support that.

The people will have to fight on to get there.

I expect another big demonstration this Friday. If the Muslim Brotherhood and all the other groups openly calls out it supporters for that, the numbers may be even bigger than what we saw yesterday. That would probably be decisive.

---live blogging from today below in time reverse order---

19:00 GMT - 21:00 Cairo

Graham Wood has been on the square and writes for The Atlantic: The Battle in Cairo's Tahrir Square - he thinks the goons will clear the square later tonight.

Finally two ambulances enter Tahrir square

BBC correspondent: "US government officials make very clear to us that Mubarak now has to leave much earlier than September"

18:00 GMT - 20:00 Cairo

[The order for the coup?]

AlArabiya Adm Mullen has called Lt Gen Sami Annan, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Army

people get warned to move inside from balconies and to take cover

Police vans deploying to Tahrir squares - said to have order to shoot

Interview with former military intelligence general - "this shows Mubaraks paranoia"

anti-government people show more state security IDs to the camera

One doctor in a makeshift hospital in a mosque said at least 1500 wounded on the anti-government side

Live video: anti-government people show a man in civil cloth and an ID card to the camera - couldn't read it but maybe police ID

State security is systematically checking hotel rooms to look for reporters who film into Tahrir Square

17:00 GMT - 19:00 Cairo

The interior square now shows only aa few hundred people. There are likely more at the periphery. Still it would be good for them to get some reinforcement over the next hours.

Live video shows a group fo 30 people breaking pavement for getting more stones - seems to be pro-government side, not sure though

AFP estimates 500 wounded [From my experience is such clashes, the real number must be higher, probably double that -  those were lots of stones flying]

DepState spokesman appeals to "all sides" to show restrain [he obviously didn't watch what I watched]

The fire were Molotov cocktail that had been thrown into the inner perimeter of the Egyptian Museum

EU Foreign Policy Speaker Ashton on AJ - still doesn't call for Mubarak to step down immediately, blah, blah, ...

Some fire-engine is trying to put out a fire - still really not sure where that is, but seems to be right next to the museum

For orientation a picture with the Tahrir Square on the bottom right and the Egyptian Museum on the top left. The anti government protesters in the square were mainly attacked through the road coming down from the top next to the museum inot the square.

16:00 GMT - 18:00 Cairo (darkness)

fighting seems to have calmed down now

Uoh - video now shows some fire again but not sure where that is

The fire seems to have been put out by someone

Molotov cocktails (petrol bombs) get thrown from a roof now - could endanger the museum

Amnesty International "we have proof that this is organized violence"

UN Ban Ki Moon "transitions should take place now"

fire in one of the shops in the street - lost of smoke in the street

more warning shots being fired again - seem to be from the military that guards the Egyptian museum, the fighting is in the road next to the museum

now some 100 pro side on top of buildings next to the road that is fought about - throwing down everything they find or can rip off - big sat antennas etc

truck driving into square with pro-side people on top - truck vanished, no idea where its is now

pro-forces breaking up the pavement to have more stones to throw

[With this the international position of Mubarack dropped another 10 points]

ElBaradei talks of "crime against Egypt", Ban Ki Moon says "unacceptable", Cameron condemns violence

after being attack from the top, anti-retreat, pro side has the trucks back

about 50 people on top of a building ripping roof parts off and throwing them down onto anti-government protesters

pro-side probably got orders to retreat - this move looked organized

15:00 GMT - 17:00 Cairo (curfew time)

anti side rushing forward and pro side retreats fast, pro side seems to be less motivated now, retreats fast and far

anti-side hands captured people to the military

pro side has used positions in high rises at the position of the trucks to attack the anti from above, they now push the trucks towards the anti side - huge clouds of smoke/teargas

helicopter above Tahrir, pro side recaptured the trucks after teargas attack towards anti-side

tear gas being fired towards anti-side

NYT columnist Kristof in Tahrir, tweets:

mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs, very menacing.

A Human Rights Watch guy who was in Tahrir reports many people with wounds from stones thrown, no knife wounds - speaks of pro-government "gangs" rooming through the side streets

In the last minutes just stand-off with stones being thrown over a gap between the crowds

pro-government site said to get reinforcement, anti-crowd can not be reinforced as there is no open entry to the square

AJ seems to wait for military intervention, but for the military to get there in sufficient numbers would likely take hours - a few battle tanks don't do

pro-government sides throwing molotov cocktails now

all exists from Tahrir seem plocked by the clashes, women and children in the middle of the square

anti-government group tries to rush the trucks - and wins them

the trucks are now used as barricade to block off one road and protect the pro-government crowd

pro-government have taken over three military vehicle, trucks, and drive them towards the square

automatic weapon fire heard - single shot mode - some 10 shots

clashes in the side street that around the Tahrir square - the square itself is calm, some 10,000+ people there, most seem to have moved to the streets around

14:00 GMT - 16:00 Cairo

Reports of large demonstrations in Alexandria

another rush - pro-government catch one anti who had fallen down while fleeing, some ten people beat him up heavily with sticks

counter rush - back to starting position

another rush by the pro-government side against the anti forces - stops after some 100 meter

this happens on the wide road next to the Egyption museum that leads to the square

several attacks of pro-government site on journalists from CNN, Al Arabiya, Spanish radio, ...

short pause - no side winning any ground now

Earlier smoke grenate was tear gas, pro-government protesters confirmed to have police IDs, shown on camera at AJ arabic

video shows a crowd beting someone up - not clear which side

some hundreds anti-government people praying in rows prtected by a cordon of others

again stand-off position - the two groups some 50 meter apart, throwing rocks, waiting for one side to rush

ElBaradei accuses the government of scare tactics

pro-government protesters retreated afti the anti government side rushed onto them - now pro-government rushing again

Riot police in full uniform (helmets etc) on the side of pro-government side, but do not intervene yet

Clashes continue - Suez reports similar happening

13:00 GMT - 15:00 Cairo

Two horseriders were pulled down by anti-government protesters

Men on horse and camels are rushing against anti-Mubarak protester in the square - armed police seems to accompany pro-Mubarak crowd

Another tank joins

An army tanks is now trying to block a street through which the pro-Mubarak demonstrators push onto the square - the soldiers seem to have no weapon, just urge people to stay apart

Clashes in the side streets of Tahrir square

Uniformed police/state security officers lead the pro-Mubarak crowd in a car with loud-speaker systems

Eyewitnesses report injuries

Clouds of smoke on one side of Tahrir - seems to have been some  military smoke grenade though there is no military visible

Video shows two huge groups with some 20 meter no-mans-land in between. pro-Mubarak try to rush, anti-Mubarak group retreats, avoids direct conflict

Video shows stones flying and one group, I assume pro-Mubarak police in civil cloth, with long sticks

Clashes in Tahrir square

More pictures (good but data heavy) part 1, part 2

Both groups shouting at each other but so far shwing restrain - may get ugly any moment

12:00 GMT - 14:00 Cairo

About a thousand pro-Mubarak protesters moving into Tahrir square - the army has retreated

Some people have no shame: Tony Blair: Mubarak is 'immensely courageous and a force for good'

Crowd in Tahrir is growing fast, I estimate 100,000

Zeinobia in Cairo made notes while it happened - now uploaded: Jan 28 : Chronicles of The longest Friday in Egypt, #Jan 29 : After the 28th,

Pictures from yesterday just uploaded

The government announced constitutional changes to happen in about two month.

Some Internet access seems to be back in Egypt.

After facing demonstrations yesterday, Yemens dictator announced today that he will not run again for presidency and also not install his son.  

The crowd on the Tahrir Square is growing. So is the crowd of pro-Mubarak demonstrators. These are currently around the state TV building, only a few minutes away from the Tahrir square.

11:00 GMT - 13:00 Cairo

Overnight:

Yesterday evening a few hundred pro-Mubarak demonstrators shortly clashed with anti-Mubarak protesters in Alexandria. The military had to shoot into the air to separate the stone throwing groups.

Concerned about further clashes the military called for ending all demonstration.

There are still several thousand people in Tahrir Square, many more will likely come, and they are determined to stay there until Mubarak leaves. Egyptian state TV shows a pro-Mubarak demonstration of about one thousand people. They are mostly mid-aged men and an Al Jazeera reporter on the ground describes their mood as "aggressive". If pro and anti demonstrators meet, there may well be some violent incidences.

Banks, the stock exchange and many business stay closed. Downgraded by rating agencies and tourists leaving are increasing the economic pressure on the state.

According to the LA Times, Obama had asked Mubarak to step down immediately:

A U.S. envoy in Cairo told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak that he needed to step aside and allow a new government to take shape without him but was rebuffed, according to Middle East experts who have discussed the matter with the Obama administration.

If that is really the case one wonders why Obama mentioned no such demand in yesterday's speech.

Posted by b on February 2, 2011 at 05:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (51)

Various Secrecy Issues

1. A cable from the State Department to a delegation taking part in a meeting of the Australia group to discuss export controls on chemical weapon materials includes this order:

If AG participants raise the issue of Vils Mirazayonov's book "State Secrets: An Insider's View of the Russian Chemical Weapons Program," the Del should: -- Report any instances in which the book is raised. -- Not/not start or provoke conversations about the book or engage substantively if it comes up in conversation. -- Express a lack of familiarity with the issue. -- Quietly discourage substantive discussions by suggesting that the issue is 'best left to experts in capitals.' CLINTON

Hmm - why would the U.S. not want to talk about Mirazayonov's book, Russias chemical weapon programs and the Novichok agent?

2. This cable describes three additional 9/11 attackers that somehow didn't make it into their plane on 9/10 and then fled via London to Qatar.

3. Richard Sale, a journalist and author of Clinton’s Secret Wars, provides an account of the CIA and Saudi intelligence rivalry with regards to Lebanon and their agents Bashir Gemayel and Rafik Hariri. In three parts at Patrick Lang's blog: Bashir and Hariri (Part 1 and 2), Crisis and Death - Hariri (Part 3)

Posted by b on February 2, 2011 at 04:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (5)

February 01, 2011

Feb 1 - Live Coverage Of Protests In Egypt

Some scenes and thoughts from watching AlJazeera live and other sources. Newest entry on top.

End of day comment:

It is over - though it may take a few more days.

When the Egyptian military announced that it would not use force against its people, the decisive step was taken. It allowed today's large and peaceful demonstrations and marked the end of Mubarak, the neoliberal Egyptian ruling class and the supressive system of the NDP party.

The violent crack down I expected two days ago is now unlikely to evolve.

The peole can now be certain that they will win and they will indeed win. Whoever will make it to the top after this will have to serve a quite awake und unruly people. Such pressure makes for good governments. (We in the "west" should remember that.)

This will inevitable change all of the Middle East and thereby global politics. Egypt is the most populous and the most decisive nation in the Arab world in all relevant aspects. Watch the Zionist shitting their pants.

There will be many difficulties. What to do about the 1.2 million people who work for the Interior Ministery and suppressed the people and protected the regime? Leaving them without income is dangerous, keeping them impossible. The economy is in bad shape - a social-democratic middle ground needs to be found to heal it while also lifting the poor from their mess. It will take years. Suez passage payments will have to go up, influencing global trade and prices. Some process must be found to give justice to those who where hurt and those who did the hurting.

Someone please give a big price to Al Jazeera - their coverage under these conditions is incredible. Despite equipment confiscated, the local bureau closed, licenses revoked, no internet, interupted phone lines, its satellite feeds hijacked, eight days of continuous day and night reporting - they manage to keep up and even installed new live feeds today (Alexandria) and kept many good correspondents on the ground giving live reports and high quality political analysis. Incredibly indeed. Some pretty girl, please kiss Ayman Mohyeldin, the superb AJ analyst on the ground and Evan Hill and the others who make this happen technically. Hug all the other AJ women and men. They really deserves it. And of course hug the Egyptians on the street, they deserve it even more, much more, they won.

---live blogging from today below in time reverse order---

This speech has incited more protests.

Folks in Tahrir seem not amused about that speech - loud chanting "leave" and whistling - M.  speech -> #fail

Mubarak speaking on Egyptian state TV now - reading off a sheet - lamenting about looting (which he ordered to take place) - "chaos or stability" - (M. still reading from a sheet - not connecting to watchers) - "I never seeked power or influence" (except for dictating your life for the last 30 years) - will not run for next elections, will continue until handover, will discuss law on electibility with the parliament (his bootlickers),  reforms blah-blah, police is responsible (haven't we seen that?) - (M. still not looking into the camera but reading off sheet) - "will die on the soil of Egypt" - "judged by history" - end.

A pic from Tahrir at sundown prayer time - a noticable bigger share of praying people than in previous protest assemblies it seems


AJ talks to a leading protester (middle class) about immediate personal economic issues: -  doesn't matter how long this takes - we are screwed economically under Mubarak - we don't care anymore - we will go on

There is now a big projection screen and PA system in Tahrir Square that shows various TV stations.

Chants: "Freedom. May god make it happen. Tonight."

Mubarak to be on TV soon.

20:00 GMT - 22:00 Cairo

A historian on AJ: (transcript not verbal)  "The Tahrir (Liberation) Square is named so because 110 years ago a big group of women protested in the square for women rights and took off their veils. Anyone who thinks this is about Islam, Muslim Brotherhood or anti-Israel feelings should remember that.  This is about freedom."

Department of TOO LITTLE TOO LATE - Obama Urges Mubarak Not to Run Again

AJ live pictures from Alexandria - still thousands milling around and chanting slogans

From visuals the number of people in Tahrir have fallen but are still at about 200,000 - it is said to be quite cold tonight in Cairo

19:00 GMT - 21:00 Cairo

Mubarak to give a speech on TV tonight saying he will not be a candidate in the next election but stay until then. [not enough anymore - step down and flee or get taken down and hanged]

A pic of Tahrir Square some two, three hours ago - the square is huge - so is the crowd


Not sure it is the reason for the chanting

Sultan just tweets:

BREAKING Al Arabiya: Reports that Mubarak will announce tonight that he will not run again for presidency

Now a rythmic chanting - AJ does not what it is about

Loud uproar in Tahrir - no idea why

Earlier today the son of former Egypt President Nasser joined the protesters

Sultan Al Qassemi, who writes for The National, tweets based on Arab media:

Egyptian police changes its slogan from "The Police & People at the service of the State" to "The Police at the service of the People"

To note: Turkey and Iran were the first governments to fully support the people of Egypt

18:00 GMT - 20:00 Cairo

AJ is making too much editorial advertising for new Google, Twitter, Facebook - the revolution is taking place without these tools available in Egypt

Abolnaga repeats something that was heard more often today - Mubarak and the government stepping down may not be enough anymore "these people belong in court"

AJ interviews famous Egypt actor and UNICEF goodwill ambassador Khaled Abolnaga. He is really furious. "These people deserve better"

AJ reruns a piece about the prison break. The guards say - "they lootershad  more weapons than we when they attacked, they were Arabs from the Sinai" [I guess that means Bedouins]

Is this the day where all U.S.rael lunatics have their coming out? Bolton: Mubarak's downfall would mean we'd have to bomb Iran

AJ says Egypt state TV is changing its tone - now reports large peacful demonstration instead of fear mongering

Two days ago I linked to this document - the looting order by the Egyptian Interior Minister

[Best guess: Next Friday 3 million will march to the presidential palast and take it and Mubarak down.]

Well - the Israelis do anyway: Israeli critics open up on US ‘abandonment' of Mubarak

[That makes it official. No one can now argue that Mubarak should stay even a day longer.]

WaPo: Looters included undercover Egyptian police, hospitals tell Human Rights Watch

Peter Bouckaert, the emergency director at Human Rights Watch, said hospitals confirmed that they received several wounded looters shot by the army carrying police identification cards. They also found several cases of looters and vandals in Cairo and Alexandria with police identification cards.

US ambassador met with ElBaradei today

Glenn Beck is a lunatic

Crowd in Alexandria sings the Egyptian national anthem

A sound system and projection system get set up in Tahrir Square now - unknown who will address the crowd

AJ has live pictiures from the protests in Alexandria now - big, chanting slogans

Robert Fisk talks with Mohamed ElBaradei

Darkness in Cairo - the square now seems to have a few less protesters

[Just had an electricity blackout of about an hour - very seldom here so I have no power backup - sorry]

17:00 GMT - 19:00 Cairo

AJ showed Egypt state TV a pro-Mubarak demonstartion of about 50 people

15:00 GMT - 17:00 Cairo

The AJ feed from ArabSat had been blocked. Now some other Arab channels show solidarity and broadcast AlJazeera over their sat-frequencies and channels.

AJ: Sinai: 250,000 protest, Mansoura several hundred thousand [AJ may be estimating too high]

Video from Alexandria shows several ten thousand protesting

[The protests in Jordan are not only about food but about political demands - this is an "old guard" replacement - not sure that this will be enough]

(Reuters) - King Abdullah of Jordan, a close U.S. ally, on Tuesday replaced his prime minister after protests over food prices and poor living conditions, naming a former premier with a military background to head the government.

Obama has send former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner to Egypt. Besides him being a bankster, he is also too(?) near to Mubarak and has lobbied for him. But he may also carry an offer Mubarak can not refuse.

Official curfew time - noone cares

AJ says "up to two million in square and nearby roads". From visuals I can agree to a one million estimate but not to two million.

AJ shows a report of a prison that had been opened and looted pretty hard. Some of the prisoners are now living there freely - they do not want to flee because their time will be soon over. They are working with some guards to clean up.

A former Egypt general and now Egypt think tanker on BBC says the majority of military leaders "understands that Mr Mubarak should step down, only the methodolgy is the problem".

[What does the U.S. DepState know that is does this now?]

U.S. pulls out all non-emergency staff from the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

14:00 GMT - 16:00 Cairo

AJ shows pictures from Alexandria, big demonstration there too as in other cities.

AJ distribution is cut off from ArabSat, its satellite distribution throughout the Middle East. It was earlier cut from NileSat, its Egyptian satellite distributer. Arabsat was founded by the Arab League. The collection of kings and dictators fear the example the people in Egypt are setting?

Live feed is back.

Live feed from Cairo to Al Jazeera seems to be cut.

AJ talks to someone in the square who has been part of the organizers. Says ElBaradei is trying to hijack the movement. Has only been in the square 20 minutes. Has nothing to do with it.

AJ says that military police is setting up barbed wire around the presidential palace Mubarak's residence in a suburb

13:00 GMT - 15:00 Cairo

AJ interviews a retired Brigadier General. Pro protesters - "this will be over in a few days"

The protests loom large. Jordan's King Abdullah has dismissed his government and appointed a new prime minister.

An effigy of Mubarak has been hanged from a lamppost.

12:00 GMT - 14:00 Cairo

The opposition groups have rejected offers for talks from Vice President Omar Suleiman.

Protesters seem well organized with a PA system, doctors etc.

Reviewing several recent pictures from the square the number of protesters could now top a million. The access roads to the square are reported to be full too.

Mobile phone services in and around the Tahrir square is now said to have been shut down (unconfirmed).

Calls from all opposition groups leaders for Mubarak to step down and to leave the country.

ElBaradei will not be in the square for "personal security" reasons. [Hmmm - that's not "leading" - the people will NOT like this]

Essam El Erian of the Muslim Brotherhood to AJ: "We refuse to talk to Mubarak or Suleiman. We demand a new constitution".

Egyption TV shows the October 6 Nile bridge with light traffic.

Demonstrations also take place in Alexandria and other cities.

The army has announced that it will not use force, but I would not bet on that if people start to storm some barricade.

The route to the palace and the palace itself is said to be blocked by several military barricades.

An hour ago there was some announcement from organizers that the march would not be made. I am not sure though that they have the ability to hinder people to try a march.

The original plan was to march from Tahrir to the presidential palast. A map of the route shows that this would be a six+ miles long walk.

ElBaradei's people have announced that he will not come to the protests. [Too dangerous?]

The government has done a lot to keep the protester numbers down. Train service has been shut down. Major highways are closed and the military has also closed the Cairo ring road. There are lots of roadblocks around the square and people on the way to the square get searched for weapons several times.

Estimates of the numbers of protester in the Tahrir Square in Cairo currently vary between 200,000 and 500,000.

11:00 GMT - 13:00 Cairo

Posted by b on February 1, 2011 at 06:12 AM | Permalink | Comments (72)

 
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