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Chaos in Egypt

By Kelly Thomas - Posted on 29 January 2011

(Links are from CNN.)

I'm sure you are all disturbed about the recent unrest and protests in Egypt. On the other hand, perhaps we are also looking at the situation with a glimmer of hope for change, as we watch the determination of an oppressed people. I thought I would start a thread for discussion. Do you think President Obama is responding appropriately to the crisis? Hitting the right tone? I think he is well aware of how delicate the situtation is and does not want to be seen as meddling in another country's affairs. On the other hand, he is sending a signal that the people of Egypt deserve to be heard and changes must be made. I have not seen right-wing attacks on the president for his reaction (waiting for Sarah Palin's non-sensical tweets...) which surprised me. But there have seen some of the more liberal blogs questioning why he is not being more forceful about human rights, demanding an end to violence against the people/corruption, and refusing to give more money to the government until the president of Egypt steps down. Will the right-wing attacks be coming soon?

Here is an article updating the tense situtation.

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- President Hosni Mubarak's efforts to redeem his 30-year-rule did little to quell Egyptian discontent Saturday as tens of thousands of demonstrators again defied a curfew to demand change and a new fear of anarchy percolated.

The world's attention fell on central Cairo where the Army was deployed to replace police forces that clashed brutally with demonstrators. But with many Cairo neighborhoods left without any security, Egyptians began to feel the sting of politics cutting into personal safety.

Shops and businesses were looted and abandoned police stations stripped clean of their arsenals.

In one area, residents set up barricades and handed out sticks and kitchen knives as defense measures. Another group of men armed themselves and planned to sit outside all night to guard their houses.

After days of silence, the embattled Mubarak acted swiftly Saturday. He fired his entire cabinet, then tapped two new leaders to stand by his side.

Mubarak appointed his trusted and powerful intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, as his deputy, the first time the authoritarian regime has seen such a post. He also asked Ahmed Shafik, the civil aviation minister in the cabinet that just stepped down, to form a new government, state-run Nile TV reported. Shafik is a former Air Force officer with strong military connections.

But Egyptians fed up with with what they see as Mubarak's hollow promises for reform were hardly appeased. In a fifth day of protests engulfing the Arab world's most populous nation, people took to the streets, chanting "Down with Mubarak" and burning pictures of the authoritarian leader.

This article highlights Western reaction to the crisis (US and UK)

(CNN) -- The U.S. State Department called Saturday on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to fulfill his promises of reform, while the British foreign secretary said Mubarak must "seize this moment to make these reforms real and visible."

The Egyptian government "can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat," department spokesman P.J. Crowley tweeted. He added that Mubarak's "words pledging reform must be followed by action."

"With protesters still on the streets" in Egypt, he wrote, "we remain concerned about the potential for violence and again urge restraint on all sides."

The people of Egypt "no longer accept the status quo," Crowley added. "They are looking to their government for a meaningful process to foster real reform."

President Obama said earlier that he had spoken with Mubarak after the Egyptian president made a televised speech overnight. Mubarak, in his address, said he understands "these legitimate demands of the people and I truly understand the depth of their worries and burdens, and I will not part from them ever and I will work for them every day."

Obama said he told Mubarak "he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise."

"Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people," Obama said in a televised appearance. "Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away."

Members of Obama's diplomatic and national security teams, including Vice President Joe Biden, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, held a two-hour discussion on Egypt Saturday morning, according to White House spokesman Tommy Vietor.

The president was scheduled to get an update on the situation later, according to Vietor.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague, meanwhile, said in a statement that his government remains "deeply concerned about the level of violence we have witnessed over the past few days. We call on the government to exercise restraint and on the Egyptian people to pursue their legitimate grievances peacefully."

Referring to Mubarak's speech, Hague said, "We call on him now to listen urgently to the aspirations expressed by the Egyptian people. He must seize this moment to make these reforms real and visible and to base them on the universal values that are the right of people in all countries."

This is a link to stay informed of the latest developments throughout the crisis.

[Update 8:19 p.m. Cairo, 1:19 p.m. ET] Cairo residents have given accounts of lawlessness after police withdraw from the streets. There were reports of looting and residents appealing to authorities for protection.

  • CNN photojournalist Mary Rogers saw businesses looted in a downtown Cairo mall. She saw fast-food restaurants - KFC and Hardee's - smashed and looted. People were carrying items from the mall.
  • Journalist Ian Lee said vigilante groups in a middle-class Cairo neighborhood called Dohy were forming to protect personal property. He heard live fire, but saw no police presence. Soldiers were in the area but did not respond to the trouble, he said.
  • CNN's Fred Pleitgen tweeted: Illegal checkpoints popping up in Cairo. Just ran by a group of guys with guns and clubs.
  • From Alexandria, CNN's Nic Robertson tweeted: Without police, Alexandria residents fearful of looting, set up neighborhood watch, board shop windows.

[Update 7:05 p.m. Cairo, 12:05 p.m. ET] CNN's Ben Wedeman (#bencnn) sent this series of tweets within the past 20 minutes:

  • Came to office by Cairo metro today. People talking about Mubarak as president IN THE PAST TENSE. For most I spoke, Mubarak is gone.
  • Almost all police stations ransacked, arsenals looted. Suddenly weapons in the streets wielded by thugs. Where is the army?
  • Saw a truckload of riot police leaving Cairo this morning. they looked defeated and scared. people say "they should be"
  • Widely believed hated #Egypt police force playing part in the chaos and looting. they've abandoned their posts, in civilian clothes
  • In residential areas of Cairo people setting up barricades to protect their streets. Wielding clubs, knives fearing looters.
  • Man in Tahrir Square told me "We have fired Mubarak." It's clear from the streets that he's no longer wanted.



The right wing attacks are coming, surely as the sun rises in the east.

But these attacks will be wrong.  We (the U.S. government) never learn.  We always hitch our wagon to autocratic governments, and pay lip service to human rights violations.  Then, when the nation's population tires of autocratic rule (see Iran, 1979) and a more popular regime takes over, the U.S. is seen as the power that supporrted the autocrat AGAINST the people.  We do it time after time.

I just heard that King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called to express his support of Mubarak.  Of course, the Saudis, with U.S. support, run one of the most autocratic governments in the world.  But because of our dependence on oil, our government feels it has to support these governments.  That's another reason we should be developing new sources of energy, both natural and synthetic.  Then we wouldn't have to feel beholden to these types of anti-people governments.


What kind of right wing attacks? From Republicans? About what? 

What you were talking about with supporting the governments even if it's not entirely for the people (especially when oil is involved) is exactly what the Daily Show joked about on Thursday. They were saying how the US supported the overthrow in Tunisia but not Egypt. People from both sides are saying that either Bush or Obama was the reason for the revolt.  

Daily Show: The Rule of the Nile Jason Jones, Olivia Munn, Sam Bee and Aasif Mandvi disagree on who deserves the credit for a wave of democratic uprising sweeping the Muslim world.
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Rule of the Nile
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog</a> The Daily Show on Facebook
Anybody want this in our country? That's why I hate when anyone even hints about a violent revolt or "2nd amendment solutions" here. It effects so so many innocent people and it's terrifying. It could never actually happen anyway but it's not something I want tossed around in our political climate.   

King Tut Objects Damaged?

The Eloquent Peasant Egyptopologist blog has done some fascinating detective work and been trying to figure out what was exactly damaged. Her suggestions for the damaged pieces in the TV footage that has been making the rounds is quite convincing.

So sad. That will never be found.

Nine men broke into the Egyptian Museum in the early hours of yesterday, taking advantage of damage caused to the building’s security by a fire in the neighbouring headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.

They were caught by police and a crowd of civilians while carrying out the skulls of mummies and two statues estimated to be more than 2,000 years old.


I hope it was those two statues above.

Egypt's Tombs, Temples Under Siege

Abusir and Saqqara are reported to have suffered great damage. “All the sealed tombs were entered last night. Only the Imhotep Museum and the adjacent central magazines are currently protected by the military. Large gangs are digging day and night everywhere,” Hanna said. (Source)


This is beyond anything that any of us wish to hear.

I would think that any ancient Egyptian artifact would be held sacred by most Egyptians. I guess criminals are just taking full advantage of the situation. Pathetic.
I would think that any ancient Egyptian artifact would be held sacred by most Egyptians. I guess criminals are just taking full advantage of the situation. Pathetic.
I just heard on Twitter that Link TV is showing Al Jazeera's coverage of Egypt's uprising. Dish Network channel 9410, DirectTV channel 375.
With Egypt's internet still down, I was trying to find that link early today with no luck. Thanks
I found out afterwards that they only broadcasted until 9pm EST. However you may be able to find videos at the Link TV site I posted.
You can watch Live Stream video at Al Jazeera English at

Is Egypt losing itself... Thousands of inmates escape from Egyptian prisons

Now, there are new reports that thousands of inmates have broken out of several Egyptian prisons.

Mob rule is taking over Egypt and Egyptians are now living in fear.

As the protests continue, thousands of prisoners - witnesses say 10,000 or more - have escaped from at least five main Egyptian prisons.

The Egyptian police are no longer in evidence in Egypt. They're not on the streets, or at most police stations.

Cairo's airport is still open, but in chaos.

Hearing this made my gut sink deep. 

I fear for the innocent people of the country. How long until they get their safety and everyday lives back without immense fear?  

Egypt, January 31, 2011

Cairo airport a scene of chaos as foreigners flee

A Nation in Waiting

A special programme looking at Egypt under Hosni Mubarak.

Hosni Mubarak won't run again

When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it -- always. - Mahatma Gandhi

Anderson Cooper & crew were punched and kicked in the crowds. They're ok it appears and this is a video of Anderson talking about it once they were out of the crowd.

I think some are saying it's not the protestors but Mubarak supporters or plain clothes police. Not sure. At first I thought it was the protestors. 

Anderson Cooper … be careful … this is not a Tea Party where no one gets hurt.

and stop the name calling...

Cooper has described on air as “thugs” descended upon him and ultimately started throwing punches... Let's review, shall we? Call people names and then go visit them... what's his IQ again?

Internet access in Egypt were restored Wednesday... some ATMs are working

Sorry, I can't resist this.

Is this Obama's Katrina #6 or Katrina #7? I've lost track.

no, no, that's not it ... ok ...

It's Waterloo #3... This one will get him for sure

Oh my, can't really tell... the goal post keep moving. What do you think it is?

Seriously, President Obama has handled this with such diplomacy and grace.

The Obama administration is, apparently, beginning to publicly choose sides in Egypt.  The Israelis (Netanyahu) have complained to the administration that the U.S. should be publicly siding with Mubarak, against the protesters.  The administration's reply has been firmly that they are not in a position to orchestrate events in Egypt, but see the trend as a democratic tide, and wish to possibly influence events toward that end. Implicit in Netanyahu's plea to Obama may be a warning: we (Israel) may have to take military action in the situation if the next Egyptian government turns out to be radical Muslim rulers openly hostile to Israel.  The Obama administration seems to believe that the next government will be a secular one not openly hostile to Israel.

There is a great risk in siding with professed democratic reformers against autocrats.  The Bush administration (G.W. Bush) sided with "democratic" elections in the Palestinian territories, and wound up getting a HAMAS-controlled regime in Gaza, and a president holding on in the West Bank against popular will.  This can happen in areas where there has been no past democratic traditions or institutions. 

Noone knows now how this situation will eventually be resolved.  Hopefully, the Israelis will reserve judgment, and give the new government a chance.


A good way to encourage someone to be your enemy is to insist on the outset that they must be your enemy. Not that Israel doesn't have good cause for their fears. It is also flat out hypocritical for the US to publicly support an autocrat over a population demonstrating for democracy. I just wish the US could say it was none of our business.

Hamas, by the way, used to be Muslim Brotherhood; the same Muslim Brotherhood that, although they did not initiate the current round of demonstrations against Mubarak, quickly decided that it was in the best interest of their agenda to try to "usurp" the demonstrations.

The Muslim Brotherhood was formed in Egypt.  Some of its members (the more militant ones) migrated to Gaza during the time Egypt controlled Gaza.  This was the main reason Egypt refused to annex or even administer the Gaza Strip; the Egyptian government realized there were too many militants there.

Anwar Sadat (president prior to Mubarak) had tried in the mid 1970s to reach a rapproachment with the Muslim Brotherhood. That effort came to an end in 1977 when the group supported a strike against the government.  After that, Sadat tried to marganalize the group, arresting many of its members.  Many still blame the Muslim Brotherhood for the Sadat assassination in 1981, after the peace deal  between Sadat and Israeli prime minister Begin known as the Camp David Accords, reached at the prodding of U.S. president Jimmy Carter.

Just a bit of background on Muslim brotherhood, although the group's support within Egypt, according to estimates of people supoposedly in the know, is limited to between 30 and 35 percent (that was before the current unrest in the country, however).


Thank you for the information about the Muslim Brotherhood and the connection with Hamas. I know very little about them.
The reason(s) why the current Israeli government is very concerned with the situation in Egypt becomes quite obvious when the connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is understood.  I would hate to think that the fall of Hosni Mubarak could lead to an Israeli attack on Egypt but, if the Muslim Brotherhood did eventually take over in Cairo, it would be akin to Hamas governing a nation of 80 million people.  Kind of a scary thought.

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