Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
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


Tahya Misr. Long Live Egypt.

Posted by: Lysander | Feb 3, 2011 12:14:03 AM | 1

They are a good and big crowd.

Egypt people has won.

They lost the fear.

Posted by: auskalo | Feb 3, 2011 12:18:02 AM | 2

They are a good and big crowd.

Egypt people has won.

They lost the fear.

Posted by: auskalo | Feb 3, 2011 12:18:02 AM | 3

it's a good sign that they still hold the square today. mubarak's govt has lost its authority but still holds (military) power. the attempt to secure (retain?) control and allegiance (or at least the discipline) of the military through the new appointments is something the opposition must renounce strongly. it will be hard to evoke any real change otherwise. a genuinely endogenous insurrection from w/i the ranks of the officer class would help accelerate the regime's power deflation. of course, there are undoubtedly exogenous pressures trying to ensure that the current military core does not break. earlier in the week it looked like the military was not going to obey any orders to put down unarmed or armed demonstrators and that the regime's power was truly on the wane. wednesday seemed to have changed that, w/ the military obviously not coming to the defense of the pro-democracy crowds. what happens today and friday could be decisive in whether the military actually fragments enough to allow the system to change.

Posted by: b real | Feb 3, 2011 12:31:16 AM | 4

Really impressive. They are much better organized that what the media try to paint them. They used the same tactic than on the assault of the bridge over the Nile on Friday. Create makeshift barricades and gradually move them towards the opposing forces. Yesterday night they were using a large construction truck. You can see it in the current image. Also what seems the bus that someone drove on Tahrir Square.

The next movement should be to take over the symbols of power. Announce a new unity government (this would need backing from El Baradei and the MB though), present it to the international press and then order the chief of staff to obey the new government or be dismissed. Get some ex-general or low level general they can bring to their side and then announce him as the new chief staff. Of course that's not changes where the army stands on but limits their options and will have to come clear.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 1:16:00 AM | 5

There is a report on spanish El Pais about police/military recruits (coming from poor families) being shot by their own officers when they refused to shot back at the protesters last Friday.

"No quería matar a mis hermanos" ("I didn't want to kill my brothers").

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 3:39:24 AM | 6

Looks like the tactics being used are very similar to Honduras. USA condemned and criticised the military junta for violence against the demonstrators but secretly backing the junta. The end result the Junta is still in place, many deaths but nothing achieved. I hope the Egyptian carry on their momentum.

Posted by: hans | Feb 3, 2011 5:25:10 AM | 7


Diplo cable. Created: 2008-12-30 09:09


Summary and comment: On December 23, April 6 activist XX expressed satisfaction with his participation in the December 3-5 "Alliance of Youth Movements Summit," and with his subsequent meetings with USG officials, on Capitol Hill, and with think tanks. He described how State Security (SSIS) detained him at the Cairo airport upon his return and confiscated his notes for his summit presentation calling for democratic change in Egypt, and his schedule for his Congressional meetings. XX contended that the GOE will never undertake significant reform, and therefore, Egyptians need to replace the current regime with a parliamentary democracy. He alleged that several opposition parties and movements have accepted an unwritten plan for democratic transition by 2011; we are doubtful of this claim. XX said that although SSIS recently released two April 6 activists (...) April 6's stated goal of replacing the current regime with a parliamentary democracy prior to the 2011 presidential elections is highly unrealistic, and is not supported by the mainstream opposition. End summary and comment.


XX claimed that several opposition forces -- including the Wafd, Nasserite, Karama and Tagammu parties, and the Muslim Brotherhood, Kifaya, and Revolutionary Socialist movements -- have agreed to support an unwritten plan for a transition to a parliamentary democracy, involving a weakened presidency and an empowered prime minister and parliament, before the scheduled 2011 presidential elections (ref C). According to XX, the opposition is interested in receiving support from the army and the police for a transitional government prior to the 2011 elections. XX asserted that this plan is so sensitive it cannot be written down. (Comment: We have no information to corroborate that these parties and movements have agreed to the unrealistic plan XX has outlined. Per ref C, XX previously told us that this plan was publicly available on the internet. End comment.)

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 3, 2011 6:04:49 AM | 8

All have Lost.

Posted by: timidcurious | Feb 3, 2011 7:35:50 AM | 9

I don't like a bit the impressions I getting from reading through the media. There is a new theme about division and violence that reads as the narrative for the counter revolution coup predicted by AngryArab. Reports of increased involvement of the MB, or what is the same dangerous islamists, to make it look like they are the ones that still don't want a 'compromise' and drive away the international support.

The army is separating thugs from protesters? Or are they bottling up the protesters to avoid reinforcements and eventually drive all of them out for their safety?

If this becomes a competition about the numbers of Mubarak thugs and hardcore protesters this is lost. They have more than enough numbers to cover for hardcore protesters. They always have. Without weapons, which only the army has, this can only won by massive protests like those of Friday and Monday, if most of the people hide out of fear of the violence this won't last. I haven't read anything new about the plans for a Friday march and I don't think that's good.

The increased calls for a transition from western governments can and will be ignored. It will lead to some token sanctions or announcements for change and in one or two years it will be business as usual. Months if there is some new flare up that requires 'collaboration' with the 'moderate' arab regimes.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 8:23:09 AM | 10

Right now it seems like the army will take over, perhaps make another token concessions, and live will continue as it was.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 8:24:09 AM | 11

I thought last night would result in the clearing of the square - obviously not. The courage of the protestors is one reason - another is that the regime has not mobilized the overwhelming force that would be necessary. Civil war might result, and the government apparently considers it might not win such a war.

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. | Feb 3, 2011 8:32:19 AM | 12

The Guardian is posting a tweet saying that the army is blocking the access to Tahrir Square. And meanwhile the mobs and security forces are clearing the area and Cairo from any witness. The soldiers may be just acting in a way that they seem neutral where they know there are cameras.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 8:34:37 AM | 13

i watched this coverage through the night until dawn here & there

it was an incredible testimony to the courage of those in the square & the brutality of the state - 16 hours of hell especially in the morning but it seems they did not want to use armed forces either because the world could not accept it or there are real splits in the elite

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 3, 2011 8:38:24 AM | 14

The information that banks will be open on Monday means that they plan to complete the crackdown through the weekend.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 9:05:10 AM | 15

My feeling from the prime minister conference is that they show more confidence on internal and external support for the regime, including saying that it's unacceptable for Mubarak to step down. And face saving 'apology' for international consumption like they were a normal democracy covering for a common 'mishap'.

I fear that what is happening in Tahrir Square is just a show for the TV. The army or security forces will clear it when they want. The real action is no longer there, the protesters don't control the streets.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 9:14:00 AM | 16

The token concessions have started. Playing the Tunisian tune but without the main act. Let me guess, the former prime ministers and elite members now being 'questioned' are from the pro-Gamal faction.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 9:28:14 AM | 17

Let's hope that tomorrow is as large or larger than Friday and last Tuesday protests. And that the idiot media doesn't play the 'muslim=islamist' card.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 9:40:26 AM | 18

That was an excellent article b posted by Paul Amar.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Feb 3, 2011 10:06:34 AM | 19

Very illuminating, needs to be distributed around.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 10:15:26 AM | 20

Even though I shouldn't be praising Juan Cole after he torn me in shreds for posting a comment about how our trade relations with China are enriching our corporate elites at great cost to our workforce, I will put my pride aside just this once and shower him with praise for writing a post entitled "Mubarak Defies a Humiliated America, Emulating Netanyahu" (read it below), which cuts to the very heart of what is deeply wrong with our relationship with Egypt as it relates to Israel.

Posted by: Cynthia | Feb 3, 2011 11:35:50 AM | 21

The actions of the regime and their allies this last two days are scripted to the minute.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 12:54:21 PM | 22

AngryArab posts that the attack on the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, arrested and beat people was carried by army people (Suleiman henchmen?). The Guardian says that blogger sandmonkey was able to escape.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 3, 2011 1:18:11 PM | 23

b, thanks for the informative Jadaliyya link. re the thugs, sandmonkey's post @ goldman's:

You watched on TV as “Pro-Mubarak Protesters” – thugs who were paid money by NDP members by admission of High NDP officials- started attacking the peaceful unarmed protesters in Tahrir square. They attacked them with sticks, threw stones at them, brought in men riding horses and camels- in what must be the most surreal scene ever shown on TV- and carrying whips to beat up the protesters. And then the Bullets started getting fired and Molotov cocktails started getting thrown at the Anti-Mubarak Protesters as the Army standing idly by, allowing it all to happen and not doing anything about it. Dozens were killed, hundreds injured, and there was no help sent by ambulances. The Police never showed up to stop those attacking because the ones who were captured by the Anti-mubarak people had police ID’s on them.

so, according to the Jadaliyya link i'm assuming the police sandmoney's referencing are the (al-shurta) are run by the Interior Ministry as opposed to the Central Security Services (Amn al-Markazi) autonomous from the Interior Ministry.

but the main thugs (according to sandmonkey) are "NDP members by admission of High NDP officials". party hacks and their private hugs. at least that's what it sounds like. they could be private security contractors for all we know.

would this be your take on it or do you have a keener sense? anyone?

Posted by: annie | Feb 3, 2011 2:17:24 PM | 24

oh, the jadaliyya link i referenced was the one by paul amar. and yes i agree w/morocco bama the paper very illuminating, needs to be distributed around and it's now front paged over @ mondoweiss. thanks b.

Posted by: annie | Feb 3, 2011 2:33:24 PM | 25

Frankly, at the moment I don't know who is going to win.

Mubarak himself is out of it, a lame duck. Umar Sulaiman has taken his place. With all his history of torture and cooperation with Israel.

My feeling is that if Sulaiman does succeed in calming the objections, that will be temporary. The problem of the opposition is that they don't have a plan, or a leader.

Posted by: alexno | Feb 3, 2011 3:42:07 PM | 26

Does anyone else notice the brief clip of Gorbachev which has been spliced into the AJE video mix during the past hour? Positively subliminable!

Posted by: Moraca | Feb 3, 2011 7:16:38 PM | 27

alexno, i don't think transitioning to suleiman is any transition at all. it might be what the US/IS want but i don't see the egyptian people buying it. they're not going to be satisfied w/a shuffling/repeat w/mr torture.

Posted by: annie | Feb 3, 2011 7:46:40 PM | 28

Al Jazeera Breaking News quoting Reuters News Service:
Obama administration discussing proposal with Egyptian officials for Mubarak to resign immediately: NY Times
...AL Jazeera correspondent said the plan is to have the VP hold a transitional Government.

Like annie said, "...I don't see the Egyptian people buying it...

Posted by: Rick Happ | Feb 3, 2011 8:28:25 PM | 29

Here is the NYTimes link for above post:

Posted by: Rick Happ | Feb 3, 2011 8:33:21 PM | 30

i feel great foreboding tonight as i did last night - i feel that the tyrants will go all out & i hve absolutely no trust in an army which has been trained by the us & israel

the elites hatred of the people spelled out today in both suleiman & the prime minister's speech

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Feb 3, 2011 9:31:17 PM | 31


I was surprised at what happened last night/early morning. As usual, you were correct in your prediction of the coming violence. Maybe more violence tonight is why the journalists today were intimidated and are now hiding in their hotel rooms....Mubarak's people may think their violence will be somewhat hidden. It is a very tense situation. A post on Twitter #Jan25 stated that the banks will be open Monday next week so the government is planning on all this to be over somehow.

Posted by: Rick Happ | Feb 3, 2011 9:48:34 PM | 32

This is classic "Good Cop; Bad Cop" stuff. There isn't a millimetre of difference between Suleiman and Obama, they both understand that the required result is the salvation of Revisionist Zionism, so that the project of consolidating a nuclear armed hegemon for the region can continue uninterrupted.
Tactically the US is being very clever, talking vaguely about human rights and democratic values while working to replace Mubarak with Suleiman, who makes old Hosni look not only moderate but authentically representative.
Strategically it is a policy doomed not only to failure but to complete the discrediting of US foreign policy internationally.
Clearly stupidity knows no bounds, certainly not when it is surrounded by careerism and cowardice.
Those old "What Would Jesus Do?" rings have been replaced by "What Would AIPAC want?" baubles.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 3, 2011 10:58:58 PM | 33

Mr. Suleiman, Dick Cheney on line two...

Posted by: Biklett | Feb 3, 2011 11:44:58 PM | 34

Warning, this is brutal....

The diplomatic car that ran over 20 people in cairo (28th-Jan-2011)

I have no idea if this is verified a diplomatic vehicle , however, it does look like a UN transport.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 4, 2011 12:55:42 AM | 35

Warning, this is brutal....

The diplomatic car that ran over 20 people in cairo (28th-Jan-2011)

I have no idea if this is verified a diplomatic vehicle , however, it does look like a UN transport.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 4, 2011 12:55:42 AM | 36

Mubarak's "Security" Forces Drive Through the Crowd

Again, I can't substantiate these...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Feb 4, 2011 1:53:40 AM | 37

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