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