Egyptians speak with one voice — live updates

Dictators invariably see themselves as uber-nationalists — right to the point of seeing themselves as indivisible from the nation. Mubarak’s refusal to bow out swiftly means he has chosen chaos. The US and the rest of the world no longer have the luxury of meekly watching from afar.

Mubarak wants to stick around for a few more months — game not over.

Los Angeles Times

Frank Wisner, a former ambassador to Egypt who has good relations with the Mubarak regime, traveled to Cairo at President Obama’s behest to talk to the Egyptian leader about the country’s future.

Wisner delivered a direct message that Mubarak should not be part of the “transition” that the U.S. had called for, according to Middle East experts who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One expert on the region said that in his regular conversations with the Obama administration about the unrest in Egypt, he learned that Wisner’s message to Mubarak was that “he was not going to be president in the future. And this message was plainly rebuffed.”

Reuters — Mubarak will say in a televised speech that he will step down at the next election but would stay in office till then to meet demands of protesters in that period, Al Arabiya TV reported on Tuesday.

New York Times — “President Obama has told the embattled president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, that he should not run for another term in elections in the fall, effectively withdrawing American support for its closest Arab ally, according to American diplomats in Cairo and Washington.”

The Rorschach test from Cairo: a dignified and disciplined act of collective prayer? Or a dangerously large gathering of Muslims?

Perhaps more than anything, American perceptions of Islam reveal the extent to which this nation celebrates religion without the slightest notion of piety — not surprising, given the degree to which religion and nationalism have become interwoven.

— —

“It needs to be understood that if the Egyptian government will fall, the Muslim Brotherhood will take its place, and that will cause even worse problems not only for the Middle East, but for the whole world.” This is the assessment of Israel’s Deputy Minister for Galilee and Negev Development Ayoub Kara.

What’s interesting about these kind of the-sky-is-falling predictions coming from Israel and its febrile supporters is that in a matter of months their fears are likely to be proved baseless. To begin with, the great Islamist bogeyman of Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood, is likely to move from unofficial to legal participation in parliamentary politics quite cautiously. This is a conservative organization in the traditional sense of the term “conservative” — as opposed to the histrionic modern American meaning of the word. Indeed, I doubt that any single political group will be in a rush to grab power during the most difficult period of Egypt’s political rebirth.

The most immediate point of tension between a new Egyptian government and Israel will be over Gaza and this will be the test of the new government’s democratic credentials. Hopefully it will do the right thing and refuse to be complicit in the siege. But of course I’m getting way ahead of events now …

WATCH AL JAZEERA LIVE NOW

Jeff Jarvis: “Vital, world-changing news is occurring in the Middle East and no one — not the xenophobic or celebrity-obsessed or cut-to-the-bone American media — can bring the perspective, insight, and on-the-scene reporting Al Jazeera English can.”

Daniel Levy writes:

As the region reconfigures itself, the US should help Israel adjust to a new reality – convincing Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territories would be the best option, but just explaining to Israel that America now has to deal with an Arab politics that is in its post-dictatorship phase and will henceforth have to be more responsive to public opinion – that will be a necessity.

Indeed — but that could be asserted even more strongly, which is to say, come the day that the US government no longer has at its disposal a clutch of autocratic rulers who depend for their survival on US support, the US will no longer be able to afford the luxury of deferring to Israel’s interests. In other words, this is an opportunity for everyone to grow up — no more pandering to a whiny Zionist brat that has long relied on its ability to manipulate its over-indulgent American parent.

11.16 — Alaa Abd El Fattah: “it looks like across the nationion 4-6 million went out, that’s %5–%8 of the population folks”

The Guardian — Bibliotheca Alexandrina and other cultural sites across Egypt are being protected by Egypt’s young people:

In a statement on the library’s site, Ismail Serageldin tells “friends around the world” that the library is being protected by the city’s youth from the threat of looting by the “lawless bands of thugs, and maybe agents provocateurs” who have materialised since the popular protests sweeping through Egypt’s major cities began several days ago.

“The young people organised themselves into groups that directed traffic, protected neighborhoods and guarded public buildings of value such as the Egyptian Museum and the Library of Alexandria,” he states. “They are collaborating with the army. This makeshift arrangement is in place until full public order returns.”

The Clash of Conservatives! Egyptian revolution causes a split between right-wing xenophobic isolationist Glenn Beck and right-wing xenophobic US hegemonist Bill O’Reilly. Hopefully it won’t take long before all of their hysterical fear-mongering predictions are exposed as baseless. They and many other Americans would be well-served by remembering the courageous and inspiring example that many Egyptian Muslims showed in early January when they offered themselves as human shields, protecting fellow Egyptians who are Christians.

9.04 — While the US State Department is organizing the evacuation of American citizens from Egypt (even though the US acknowledges that there have been no signs of hostility towards Americans), Al Jazeera reports that some tourists from several countries, rather than trying to leave have instead joined the revolution. There are claims that as many as eight million Egyptians across the country are now protesting, calling for Mubarak to stand down. As many as two million are now gathered in Tahrir Square in the center of Cairo.

8.30 — Al Jazeera: Opposition leaders say they will enter into dialogue with Vice President Omar Suleiman after Mubarak stands down.

Simon Tisdall writes: “Suleiman is, in effect, heading a military junta at this point, with all the principal civilian power positions – the presidency, the vice-presidency, the premiership, the defence and interior ministries – held by former senior officers, and with the military itself in full support.

“Mubarak is now reduced to the role of figurehead, sheltering behind this clique. But they will not sacrifice him if they can avoid it. There will be no ignominious flight to Saudi Arabia, like Tunisia’s deposed president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. Mubarak’s pride won’t allow it. The military’s pride won’t allow it.”

New York Times — Obama sends envoy, Frank G. Wisner, to meet Mubarak. No word on what if any message he’s carrying.

Scenes from Tahrir Square:

Interview with anti-government protester at Tahrir Square:

Ahdaf Soueif writes: “Today we have rejected the passivity our rulers have been imposing on us. Our country’s security is being provided by its citizenry. People have automatically taken over the running of their neighbourhoods. On the streets there is unfailing courtesy. The atmosphere in the square sit-ins is celebratory and inclusive.”

Al Jazeera — Erdogan calls for Mubarak to stand down:

EU calls for an orderly transition to a broad-based government:

Bloomberg — The Washington lobbyists in bed with Mubarak

WATCH AL JAZEERA LIVE NOW

Steven Cook writes: “If anyone ever doubted it, recent events highlight that the armed forces is the pillar of the regime. The National Democratic Party no longer exists. Big business has fled. The police (remember all those arguments about how the police supplanted the military?) forces have collapsed. Only the military remains and thus far they don’t seem to be budging. We are getting into existential territory. The result could be a drawn out stalemate with the military pursuing a holding action while Omar Soleiman’s intelligence service tries to split the opposition. These guys are brutal, but not dumb.”

Helena Cobban writes: “There are many objective reasons why Washington has been unable to intervene to prop up its longtime ally. What, after all, could Washington have hoped to do? It has no strike force of its own capable of swooping in and beating back the protesters, in the way that the British or French empires might have attempted in similar circumstances 100 years ago. And in an era in which protesters can immediately hold up for the cameras of the global media tear gas shells or rubber-coated steel bullets that clearly signal “Made in the USA,” there is not a lot of indirect help Washington could have given Mubarak’s security forces, either.”

Jeremy Scahill writes: “The real threat Al Jazeera poses to authoritarian regimes is in its unembedded journalism. That is why the Bush Administration viewed Al Jazeera as a threat, it is why Mubarak’s regime is trying to shut it down and that is why the network is so important to the unfolding revolutions in the Middle East. It is the same role the network plays in reporting on the disastrous US war in Afghanistan.”

Wadah Khanfar, Director General, Al Jazeera Network, says:

As I write, Egyptian President Mubarak is closing our offices and arresting our journalists. The Egyptian government has removed Al Jazeera from NileSat, the state-owned satellite carrier, delaying our ability to be found on the dial in Egypt and North Africa. We have reappeared through other carriers, while instructions on how to find us go viral across the Internet.

Elsewhere, in the United States, Al Jazeera faces a different kind of blackout, based largely on misinformed views about our content and journalism. Some of the largest American cable and satellite providers have instituted corporate obstacles against Al Jazeera English. We are on the air and on the major cable system in the nation’s capital, and some of America’s leading policymakers in Washington, D.C., have told me that Al-Jazeera English is their channel of choice for understanding global issues. But we are not available in the majority of the 50 states for much of the general public.

We believe all Americans, not just those in senior governmental positions, could benefit from having the option to watch Al-Jazeera English — or not to watch us — on their television screens.

We know the demand is there. We have seen a 2000 percent increase in hits on our English-language website, and more than 60 percent of that traffic originates in the United States. We have seen Jeff Jarvis, in the pages of the Huffington Post, make the case publicly that many are making privately. While millions of Americans have turned to the Internet and to Internet-connected-devices, many more millions should have the freedom to flip to our channel on their remotes — especially when the Middle East is on everyone’s mind.

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10 thoughts on “Egyptians speak with one voice — live updates

  1. scott

    can’t believe I’m defending GBeck, but I heard him say, “the Arabs don’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us for our friends.” He had shown the brutality of Mubarak’s regime. I’m still totally confused and off my game after really agreeing with GB. Talk about WTF moments.

  2. scott

    where do we go from here

    I’ve said this essentially in other threads but it bears repeating, Walt has yet to directly address is the commodities price spikes that have increased the cost of subsidies on oil, food and the like. This makes keeping prices level an increasingly expensive endeavor. Add to this that Egypt and Tunisia are both resource poor countries, so unlike Algeria, Libya and the Saudis these countries are sitting ducks whereas those other countries are both hit and helped by commodities speculation.

    These price spikes are the way our banks are re-liquidating themselves, at the expense of the whole world. For those who speak of “liberty” and consider themselves small gov’t advocates, we are paying a TAX directly to the financial sector. Fed policies (cheap credit) foster this but we need regulation of the CFTC to control the financial speculation coming from Wall Street, High Street and Dubai. This is exacerbating our recession, and our recession is hitting these countries Tunisia and Egypt particularly hard, as they rely on tourism, and people are taking fewer overseas vacations.

    We can indeed predict which nations are being similarly pinched. Morocco, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria must be similarly pinched. Lebanon has it’s gov’t issues, but also a long history of these, and their unstable democracy may ironically be more stable than Morocco, Jordan or Syria’s dictatorships. Morocco wouldn’t impact the ME and Syria is considered to be hostile to the West, though a more benign neighbor is hard to envision considering the provocations of the US, Israel and Iraq.

    If Jordan falls, and there have been riots there, that would really make Israel anxious. Egypt was more clearly a military dictatorship, and the military has proven its steady hand. But Jordan has been run as more of a Kingdom. The layers of bureaucracy between King Abdullah and the military/police are likely less defined. Protests there might be bloodier or result in far more instability.

    In Lebanon, Hezbollah recently gained the support of a major Christian bloc. If one man, one vote democracy were to take hold there, they would change their constitution as the Shia who support Hezbollah are still demographically underrepresented.

    And, the US is broke. Who is going to fund your project? Europe is broke and doesn’t buy what you’re selling. China is more coldly interested in oil, not your foreign narrative. So, who to paraphrase the Beatles song, “”Lady Mariam, children at your breast wonders how you manage to feed the rest.” Whatcha gonna do Zionists? I tell you what, the next Israel, the one state for goy and yid alike, that might be the true Israel, this police state that devours lives and land, destroying homes and orchards, a state that miraculously violates every commandment on a daily basis is a sickly and lame golden calf you worship. That is the abomination, your treatment of the Arabs is akin to slaughtering a pig in the holy of holies.

  3. Renfro

    I have waited for years to see the worm turn in the ME.
    So win lose, or compromise, the Egyptians have changed something fundmental in the ME.

    Couple of things.

    The US message to Mubarak being he’s finished long term but not short term…..means the US is playing hands off but not really hands off…it’s still gotta ‘arrange’ to continue it’s interest and Israel’s. To say nothing of the fact the US is as scared of being seen as a back stabber by it’s puppets as the puppets are of being stabbed in the back.

    This is probably the conversation going on between the US and Mubarak,– the US will agree to let the Egyptian military and Sueilman as a ‘balancer’ and ‘interim’ instead of leaving it to the people to organize their own ‘interim.’
    The danger here is whether the Egyptians accept this compromise or refuse it and go into meltdown and economic chaos.
    Meltdown would later equal …. ‘you democracy f***** US hypocritics didn’t help us when we needed it.’
    Ousting Mubarak NOW has become a matter of reclaiming honor and dignity for the Egyptian people and ignoring or backing that down is not smart of the US…..for one reason simply because it’s easier to cultivate another puppet to our interest than to win over or win back an entire population.
    How the US thinks it’s going to walk it’s talk on democracy while semi protecting Mubarak and somehow come out smelling like a rose is probably going to left up to their usual maytag extra large spin cycle.

    But I am enjoying the hell out of watching DC trapped in it’s own hypocritical
    policies…..dammed if does and dammed if it doesn’t…incapable of making a clear cut choice in Egypt because of it’s own past policies ……it’s a other good lesson and example for the public and the world… soon or later all these lesson are gonna add up for anyone tempted to make deals with the US.

  4. Renfro

    scott February 1, 2011 at 10:06 am
    can’t believe I’m defending GBeck, but I heard him say, “the Arabs don’t hate us for our freedom, they hate us for our friends.” He had shown the brutality of Mubarak’s regime. I’m still totally confused and off my game after really agreeing with GB. Talk about WTF moments>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Let me translate Beck for you….

    # “the Arabs don’t hate us for our freedom,”…means Arabs aren’t jealous bof our freedom becuase they don’t believe in freedom, they believe in muderous and radical Sharia law.

    # ” they hate us for our friends.” ……means they hate us for our support of our friend Israel and it’s democracy and respect for human rights and fairness and justice.

    Showing the brutality of Mubarak’s regime was saying ‘see how bad these Arab animals are even without a Islamic government , imagine how much worse even it will be when the MB takes over.’

    Get it now?

  5. est

    yes
    in the free state of vermont
    you can get al jazeera

    some folks tried
    to shut it down awhile back

    but after a free exchange of ideas
    it can be viewed to this day

    also offered by the local -retn-
    for an hour a day at least

    you can shut
    down the internet
    all you want

    the same feelings reside
    in the hearts and minds
    of free men every-where

  6. Norman

    As long as we’re hypothetically musing, the Wikileaks starts to make sense. How so? well, releasing those cables to the World, exposes the old established think of the U.S. State Department, which in essence, is the culmination of the past. Indeed, what better way to clean out the old, to be replaced with something new? I’ve found it hard to believe that the powers to be are so enamored with their own egos, that they can’t see the forest from the trees. As for the Government, meaning the Congressional dilettantes and their “KABUKI” performance, they have their collective heads so far up their “where the sun don’t shine” spot, to even hope that they will figure things out, is the most absurd idea imaginable.

    So, we sit here on the sidelines, as the so called experts give their 15 seconds of brief, yet no one can foretell the future. So far, things seem to be going as planed with little collateral damage. Let’s hope it continues. Interesting note, no one seems to express the thought of the Egyptian Military head being in Washington D.C. at the time this started in Egypt. Coincidence? Perhaps, perhaps not. None the less, time will tell the tale.

  7. scott

    “Perhaps more than anything, American perceptions of Islam reveal the extent to which this nation celebrates religion without the slightest notion of piety — not surprising, given the degree to which religion and nationalism have become interwoven.”

    That’s an acute observation. I played rugby for ten years, I have no compulsion with getting vile and snide, I’m a Texan to boot. But, even I grow weary of the animosity. But, nothing riles me like sophism, and that is in heavy rotation.

  8. zuzupetals

    scott…i was begining to think i’d hallucinated hearing GBeck say something with which i agreed.
    (that “they hate us for our friends”)
    i also realize Beck doesn’t have the same thing in mind as i do when i say that.
    Renfro…I am not sure however that they hate Israel for it’s Democracy or freedoms either.
    I think we, and our allies, are hated mostly for our support of policies that adversely affect
    huge numbers of people worldwide and in particular in the Arab world. Our love of dictators, our support of, or dependance on dictators, thugs and human-rights-abusing rulers and tyrants around the world has helped more to immiserate the world and done less to aleviate the suffering
    than the ways we insist on seeing ourselves.

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