The assault on Tahrir Square — live updates


White House hiding from the press — David Corn: “WH journos send letter to Gibbs protesting that WH has shut out press in past 2 days, not able to ask POTUS/Gibbs Qs re #Egypt.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper describes being attacked by pro-Mubarak thugs.

Robert Fisk on yesterday’s March of Millions: “It was a victory parade – without the victory.”

Rime Allaf:

[T]he U.S. had a recent history of backing popular movements in a wide range of countries, in a rainbow of colors, and in an eclectic mix of monikers and symbols. From Georgia to Iran, the will of the people was supported, marketed and managed by Washington as it berated authoritarian regimes and glorified the democratic aspirations of the secular masses.

This noble approach came to a screeching halt on January 25, when like the Tunisians before them, Egyptians took massively to the streets with no banners, no colored wristbands and no slogans other than “the people want the fall of the regime.”

Taken yet again by surprise, Washington pretended to look the other way until the protesters swelled to millions in mere days, while Egypt was cut off from the Internet and mobile calls. Unenthusiastically, US officials mumbled generalities about basic rights to non-violent demonstrations and to communication. And when President Obama addressed his nation personally last night, all he could muster was a patronizing compliment to the Egyptian army and a vague call for an “orderly transition.” Orderly for whom, however, was not specified.

11.02 — @Sandmonkey: “Pro Mubarak people are throwing molotov cocktails on the egyptian museum and setting it on fire. #jan25”

10.57 — Nicholas Kristof: “It’s not quite right to describe what’s happening in #Tahrir as “clashes.” These are attacks by #Mubarak thugs.”

Laura Rozen:

Council on Foreign Relations Egypt expert Steve Cohen said the army’s behavior Wednesday suggested complicity and a possible pretext for imposing martial law.

“How will the military restore order if they are involved in this, if by only standing aside and issuing warnings?” Cook said by e-mail.

“It’s clear that Mubarak, [Vice President Omar] Suleiman and the senior command are still in charge,” he said. “This may provide a pretext for the army to intervene, restore order, and reconstitute the political order.”

“It was massive unrest that ultimately led to the Free Officers’ coup in 1952,” he said. “People will be relieved when order is restored. Sound familiar?”

10.36 — CNN’s Ben Wedeman: “People in Tahrir square begging Obama to intervene. They are terrified a bloodbath is about to occur. #Jan25 #Egypt”

MSNBC on America’s friend and Egypt’s torture chief Omar Suleiman — interview with Rashid Khalidi.

Mob supporters on Fox News.

10.17 — Nicholas Kristof: “I tried to interview a young woman who was surrounded and bullied by Mubarak’s thugs. She stood her ground.heroically.” “Then the mob prevented me from talking to her, and she slipped away. It’s #Mubarak thugocracy on #Tahrir.”

Laura Rozen:

The descent into seemingly regime-orchestrated mob violence put the Obama administration under increasing pressure to accelerate Mubarak’s departure.

“This is exactly what we have been saying: that the longer this went on, the more chance of violence,” the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s Michele Dunne told POLITICO Wednesday. “I am pretty sure that these ‘pro-Mubarak demonstrators’ are organized by the security forces, who have always used plainclothes thugs to intimidate demonstrators and to turn peaceful demonstrations violent.” …

Dunne said that the Obama administration should privately press Egypt’s military to “restore stability to the country. That is going to mean Mubarak leaving office now and the military negotiating transition arrangements with the opposition.”

10.09 — Nicholas Kristof: “Pro-Mubarak thugs everywhere have same talking points, same signs, same hostility to journalists. An organized crackdown.”

10.05 — Mondoweiss: “Even NBC’s Brian Williams pronounces pro-Mubarak forces ‘recruited and compensated'”

9.59 — BBC: “Prime Minister David Cameron condemns violence in Egypt in joint statement outside Downing Street with UN Secretary General.”

9.59 — Obama administration official handwringer: “We are concerned about detentions and attacks on news media in #Egypt. The civil society that Egypt wants to build includes a free press.”

9.57 — Nicholas Kristof: “Pro-#Mubarak thugs at #Tahrir v hostile to journalists. Several journalists attacked. I was threatened but am fine.”

As’ad AbuKhalil writes: “There are a lot of similarities already between Iran of 1953 and Egypt of 2011. Don’t forget what happened in 1953 in Iran? The CIA then hired armed goons and thugs to defeat the pro-democracy movement. This time around, the armed goons are hired by the regime itself. Mubarak state TV is now showing “pro-Mubarak” demonstrations all over Egypt. These scenes will only fool Obama and his team.”

9.45 — Nicholas Kristof: “In my part of Tahrir, pro-#Mubarak mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs, very menacing.”

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7 thoughts on “The assault on Tahrir Square — live updates

  1. Colm O' Toole

    Very disappointed in the military just standing by and not protecting the protesters from Mubaraks thugs. Everyone knew that this was likely after Mubarak gave his speech saying he would remain until September “to maintain stability”.

    Of course it reminds me of two other counter revolutionaries factions. In Flint Michigan when the workers of General Motors went on strike GM got corporate guards and the local police to brutally repress the workers. In the end Governor Frank Murphy called in the National Guard to defend the workers against these corporate thugs.

    Another similar situation would be the fascist Blackshirts in Italy during World War 2 who were paid and funded by the wealthy to crush socialist and labor unions especially around Milian where several left wing figures were murdered.

  2. Butch in Waukegan

    9.45 — Nicholas Kristof: “In my part of Tahrir, pro-#Mubarak mobs arrived in buses, armed with machetes, straight-razors and clubs, very menacing.”

    Most of the MSM portray the clashes simply as between Mubarack supporters and opponents — not organized attacks by government goons. The BBC captioned a picture of 2 thugs flailing whips and galloping their horses through a crowd: “Some government supporters rode horses and camels and wielded whips.”

    This thuggery is the practical application of the “transition” Obama advocates.

  3. Renfro

    What a typical O adm fuck up….just let the damn pot sit and boil, fricking idiots.
    And hell, I am not even a dues paying interventionalist–but like the Jesuits believe there is an exception to every rule.
    O should interfer NOW…the decision point is here.

  4. Dieter Heymann

    Leaders of the insurgents want an “orderly transition”. Orderly implies a transition governed by laws, above all by a constitution. Like it or not, that implies that Mubarak need not step down under pressure from protesters in the street many of whom probably do not want an “orderly transition” but his scalp. If he remains as President and the rigged elections are allowed to proceed that is still “orderly”. The convening of a committee to recommend a complete overhaul of the Egyptian constitution which is a hodgepodge of Marx and Mohamed fits into “orderly transition” and so does the appointment of yet another government, one of “national unity” in which all factions, including Mubarakists, are represented. Why “Mubarakists”? Because there are tens of thousands of government employees who did not participate in government brutalities and whose interests must be taken into account.
    I have read rumors that the “leaders” of the insurgents will not talk with the Armed forces until Mubarak is gone. If true that is a slap in the face of the Armed Forces and ultimately a huge political blunder.

  5. Norman

    At this point, nobody knows what is going to happen. As for the so called thugs, more like security police, sent there to provoke the protesters, to try and get them to react in kind. Face it, at this point, the U.S., Israel, any others, including the Financial elite, are uncertain just what to do or who to back. One thing does seem certain, heads will roll over this fiasco from the intelligence departments, the bankers, politicians too.

    A side note, here in the U.S., while “O” seems unable to articulate his position in a coherent rational manner, the Congressional dilettantes playing around in the Washington D.C. sand box, need their diaper’s changed, a slap on the ass, and given their daily milk bottle and sent to bed.

  6. Alex Bell

    I was in Egypt from Thursay 27 January with a Code Pink delegation which intended to go to Gaza, and saw the beginning of the protests.

    On Thursday there was some unrest on the streets, but it didn’t seem much worse than those we saw when we were in Cairo for the Gaza Freedom March last year.

    Things became much more intense on Friday after mid day prayers. There were thousands and thousands of mainly young people on the streets facing lines of police in full riot gear, and being tear gassed by them. I was tear gassed by accident after a group of young people erupted from a side street followed by many rounds of tear gas. Some students who couldn’t have known me from Adam rushed over and gave me first aid, and made sure I got back to my friends. The students were clearly focused using non violent means, and I was impressed with their admirable restraint in keeping their more excitable members calm.

    Later that day I was at another confrontation between protesters and police, with the army in tanks and armoured personnel carriers separating the two groups. They did not intervene except to try calm people down.

    I watched another confrontation from the 9th floor of the downtown hotel where we stayed in which the police fired many rounds of made in America tear gas at protesters we couldn’t see. They fired in an almost continuous barrage for several minutes, but as they were firing up wind they soon came running back, with many of them overcome. Even on the 9th floor the tear gas affected my eyes which were still sensitised from the morning.

    By the evening of that day the students had taken over Midan Tahrir, and immensely symbolically significant event to Egyptians. Almost all those I spoke to were very pleased indeed to welcome us and were very friendly. They just wanted us to get the message out to the world that Mubarak must go now. Perhaps 3-4 though were clearly consumed with rage against America for propping up Mubarak and other dictators.

    Many of the students stayed in Midan Tahrir continuously for days and many thousands joined them during the day. There was a tremendous atmosphere of exhilaration and joy, and it was very clear that they would not tolerate anything but Mubarak’s immediate departure.

    We left on Monday to try to get through the Rafah crossing to Gaza, but when it became clear that this was impossible we returned to Cairo on Tuesday. There was a Bedouin check point just on the Sinai side of the Peace Bridge over the Suez canal, but that was the only one we saw. Army checkpoints became more and more frequent the nearer we got to Cairo, but almost all of them were respectful and friendly. When we got closer to Cairo we decided to go by the back roads, and had to endure scores of check points, some run by the army but most by ‘neighbourhood watches’. They were friendly enough when they saw we were foreigners, but quite demanding. It seemed to me that they had been oppressed and powerless for so long that they became drunk on power when they had a taste of it. Their hatred of Mubarak and the security police was palpable.

    I was evacuated by the Australian government on Wednesday, but did see some pro-Mubarak supporters start to gather on the streets. Their attitude was totally different from the anti-Mubarak protesters, and it is quite clear that they started and provoked the violence which later occurred.

    And that’s the end of my first hand observations.

    Regards, Alex

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