(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 3
As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English and I am posting this at early so everyone can watch the events in Egypt as they happen.
Violence erupted yesterday in Cairo and continued through the night on the ninth day of anti-government protests. There are reports of five deaths and countless injuries, some burned by thrown molotov cocktails. The Egyptian army has mostly stood by watching doing little to stop the violence that was begun by the pro-Mubarak supporters. The anti-government protesters stood strong against the “thugs” as they were labeled by most of the news media. They formed a line of protection around the Egyptian Antiquities Museum using sheet metal shields to push back the mob that was intent on getting inside to do more damage.
Sharif Kouddous: Live From Egypt: The True Face of the Mubarak Regime
February 2, Cairo, Egypt-The Mubarak regime launched a brutal and coordinated campaign of violence today to take back the streets of Cairo from Egypt’s mass pro-democracy movement.
Pro-Mubarak mobs began gathering near Tahrir Square shortly after Mubarak’s speech on Tuesday night and held a rally in front of the state TV building on Corniche El Nile Street. In the morning, they began marching around the downtown area in packs of fifty to 100.
These were not the same kinds of protesters that have occupied Tahrir for the last few days. These crowds were made up mostly of men, in between 20 and 45 years old. Many wore thick leather jackets with sweaters underneath. They chanted angrily in support of Mubarak and against the pro-democracy movement. They were hostile and intimidating.
CAIRO – The Egyptian government broadened its crackdown of a 10-day uprising that has shaken its rule Thursday, arresting journalists and human rights activists, while offering more concessions in a bid to win support from a population growing frustrated with a reeling economy and scenes of chaos in the streets.
With fighting between pro- and antigovernment forces escalating throughout the day, supporters of President Hosni Mubarak attacked foreign journalists, punching them and smashing their equipment, and shut down news media outlets that had operated in buildings overlooking Tahrir Square, which has become the epicenter of the uprising.
In interviews and statements, the government increasingly spread an image that foreigners were inciting the uprising that has prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets to demand the end of Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power. The suggestions are part of a days-long Egyptian news media campaign that has portrayed the protesters as troublemakers and ignored the scope of an uprising that has captivated the Arab world.
From The Guardian:
10:41 pm GMT: More on the protests spreading to Yemen, where tens of thousands of protesters staged unprecedented demonstrations, with chants of “Down, down, down with the regime” and signs calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.
10:03 pm GMT: NBC’s Richard Engel reports that many journalists have been forced to remain undercover today, making it more difficult for cable news channels to cover the protests in Egypt without cameras and reporters out on the street.
Engel says there are more protesters in Tahrir Square tonight, barricading themselves in to offer protection after last night’s attacks by “goon squads”. Metal shields have been put up around the square, now “turned into a military camp,” according to Engel.
The protesters on Tahrir Square have also set up an “interrogation centre” in the subway under the square, Engel reports.
“Human Rights Watch is currently unaware of the whereabouts of those who were detained,” the organisation said in a statement, adding:
Williams’s detention is part of a clear campaign against independent eyewitnesses of the violence in Egypt, including journalists and civil society activists. Human Rights Watch condemned the crackdown and called on the Egyptian government to release those detained immediately.
9:41 pm GMT: Egyptian state television, in between showing footage of trees and flowers, has a brief report of the country’s prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, telling the interior ministry “not to obstruct peaceful marches on Friday”.
9:30 pm GMT: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has called the treatment of journalists “completely and totally unacceptable” during a briefing onboard Air Force One, which is flying President Obama back from Pennsylvania:
I want to say a word for a second on the systematic targeting of journalists in Egypt. This also is completely and totally unacceptable. Any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately.
I think we need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are taking place right now in Egypt. And I’ll reiterate again that the actions of targeting journalists, that is unacceptable, and that those journalists should be, if they are detained, released immediately. I know the President has been briefed on this as part of the daily briefing this morning.
9:11 pm GMT: The US military is starting to get more involved, with the Pentagon announcing that officials are gathering details on the attacks on journalists in Egypt. It held back from censuring the hands-off stance of the Egyptian armed forces.
“To date, we have seen them act professionally and with restraint. Again, it’s a very fluid situation so we are watching every single day,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan.
It has been reported by the media and in statements from the Egytian government that Pres. Mubaraks’s son, Gamal, wound not run for president and has resigned from the ruling party, NDP. Also the new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, said on state television that he would not run.
Egypt’s Information Ministry said journalists were rounded up across the capital but that it did not know by whom or where the reporters were being held.
Those detained were believed to include Washington Post Cairo bureau chief Leila Fadel and Post photographer Linda Davidson. The New York Times said two of its reporters were held overnight but had been released, and al-Jazeera said three of its journalists were detained and a fourth was missing.
Human Rights Watch said one of its staffers, American former journalist Dan Williams, was among several rights workers taken into custody when police and army personnel raided the Hisham Mubarak Law Center.
Vodafone Group Plc was ordered to send mobile-phone text messages by the Egyptian government, urging people to confront “traitors and criminals” as demonstrators demanded the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak.
The Egyptian authorities can instruct the local mobile network operators, which also include Etisalat and France Telecom SA’s Mobinil service, to send messages under emergency powers provisions, Vodafone said today. The messages were not written by the mobile-phone operators, it said.
“The Armed Forces urge Egypt’s loyal men to confront the traitors and the criminals and to protect our families, our honor and our precious Egypt,” said a Feb. 1 text message sent on Vodafone’s network and obtained by Bloomberg News.
WASHINGTON – A parade of prospective Republican presidential candidates have been visiting the Middle East in recent months, making pilgrimages that are the first steps in a methodical process of building credibility in foreign policy.
But as the diplomatic crisis in Egypt has intensified this week, elevating foreign affairs above domestic political skirmishes, the potential Republican candidates and the party’s leaders in Congress have, with only a few exceptions, had little to say.
SANA, YEMEN – Thousands of pro- and antigovernment demonstrators held peaceful protests in this impoverished capital city on Thursday, playing out the themes that have rocked nations across the Arab world as some demanded the president step down while others supported their embattled leader’s announcement that he will leave office when he completes his term.
Amman, Jordan (CNN) — The main Islamist group in Jordan says it plans further street demonstrations Friday here in the capital to protest the appointment of a new prime minister by King Abdullah II.
The Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, has rejected talks with new Prime Minister Marouf al Bakhit, who is forming a new government. But several of its representatives will be meeting the king later Thursday.
Analysts in the region say the meeting is significant, because it is the first time on record that the leadership of the Brotherhood has met alone with the monarch.
The Front is demanding reform of the country’s election law, so that the prime minister is elected by the parliament, instead of chosen by the king. IAF Secretary-General Hamza Mansour told CNN in an interview Thursday that changing prime ministers was not the solution Jordanians needed.
Summary of even ts from earlier today from The Guardian:
pm GMT: Here is a mid-afternoon summary.
• Violent clashes have broken out in Cairo again as pro-government supporters have continued their assault against protesters in Tahrir Square opposed to President Hosni Mubarak (see 9.17am). There has been more gunfire but it is unclear who is shooting and whether all the gunfire is just warning shots.
• There have been a number of arrests and/or attacks on journalists reported – including those from al-Jazeera (see 2.41pm) and the Daily News Egypt (see 12.20pm). The violence against journalists came after Egyptian state TV reported there were Israeli spies in Egypt. Some journalists have supposedly been rounded up for their own safety (see 12.37pm). US state department spokesman PJ Crowley said there was “a concerted campaign to intimidate international journalists” (see 1.35pm).
• The Egyptian vice-president, Omar Suleiman, is due to make a statement shortly. He has already told state TV that Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal will not stand in the September elections (see 2.33pm).
• The army, criticised for standing by and watching yesterday’s violence, has shown signs of intervening today, forming lines between the two sides and clearing some areas of Mubarak supporters (see 10.59am). However, there have also been accusations that the military is involved in a crackdown against pro-democracy protesters (see immediately below).
• There have been reports of police/army/military police stopping people getting into Tahrir Square and/or taking away food and medical supplies. Between eight and 12 people at the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre were arrested and beaten (see 1.13pm), eyewitnesses said. The activist blogger Sandmonkey was reportedly arrested and beaten (see 11.59am) but has now apparently escaped.
• The Egyptian prime minister Ahmed Shafiq apologised for the violence in Tahrir Square and said it would not be allowed to recur (see 1.53pm). He said the culprits would be found. Shafiq also said he could not say for certain whether the attacks were organised.
• Five people have been killed and 836 injured since the start of yesterday’s violence, the Egyptian health ministry has said (see 7.34am). A doctor said seven people had been shot dead, including one killed by a sniper in the early hours of this morning.
• Thousands of anti-government protesters have gathered in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, to take part in their own “day of rage” against President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime (see 8.01am). His offer to step down in 2013 has not pacified the demonstrators.
• Algeria has lifted its 19-year-old state of emergency law, according to al-Aribaya TV.
Tahrir Square battleground: ‘These people tried to slaughter us last night’
by Peter Beaumont and Jack Shenker in Cairo
Anti-Mubarak protesters in Cairo fight to hold square littered with bricks and burnt-out vehicles after night of bloodshed
They were barely visible at first, a glimmer of tan clothing among the ranks of pro-Mubarak fighters lined on a low overpass above the entrance to Tahrir Square. It was from here that rocks, petrol bombs and bullets had been raining down on the anti-regime opposition defending their barricades below.
At 9am first one, then a second, and then dozens of Egyptian soldiers – the same military forces who had stood back and watched as last night’s bloodshed unfolded – finally appeared at this key strategic flashpoint and began driving back those on the bridge. Before them lay a no-man’s land littered with broken bricks and burnt-out vehicles that spoke of the extraordinary violence that had played out in the darkness.
About ten minutes we started seeing soldiers telling the pro-Mubarak demonstrators to leave the bridge [near the entrance to the square]. Within no more than six or seven minutes the entire bridge was cleared with only one warning shot fired…
I do think it is hopeful, every time we have seen the army intervene in this crisis it has led to a significant lessening of the tension. The problem is we don’t know what the orders are. But they have intervened, and for now at least the battle of Tahrir is Square is over.
8:32 am GMT: A retired Egyptian general told the BBC that the troops stand ready to fire at pro-Mubarak supporters, if they attack protesters today.
This seems to confirm what Peter Beaumont has been seeing on the ground. The general claimed the army could turn on Mubarak as early as tomorrow.
The general told the BBC’s Jon Leyne that Mubarak “would be out of office tomorrow”.
Here are some of the latest news stories this morning.
CAIRO – President Hosni Mubarak struck back at his opponents, unleashing waves of his supporters armed with clubs, rocks, knives and firebombs in a concerted assault on thousands of antigovernment protesters in Tahrir Square calling for an end to his authoritarian rule.
CAIRO – The future of the Arab world, perched between revolt and the contempt of a crumbling order, was fought for in the streets of downtown Cairo on Wednesday.
Tens of thousands of protesters who have reimagined the very notion of citizenship in a tumultuous week of defiance proclaimed with sticks, home-made bombs and a shower of rocks that they would not surrender their revolution to the full brunt of an authoritarian government that answered their calls for change with violence.
The online group Anonymous said Wednesday that it had paralyzed the Egyptian government’s Web sites in support of the antigovernment protests.
Anonymous, a loosely defined group of hackers from all over the world, gathered about 500 supporters in online forums and used software tools to bring down the sites of the Ministry of Information and President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, said Gregg Housh, a member of the group who disavows any illegal activity himself. The sites were unavailable Wednesday afternoon.
TOKYO (Dow Jones)–Tokyo stocks fell Thursday on increasingly violent civil unrest in Eqypt as well as on disappointing earnings reports from high-profile firms such as Panasonic and Ricoh, which offset good news from Fast Retailing.
The Nikkei Stock Average fell 26.00 points, or 0.3%, to 10,431.36 following the prior day’s 1.8% rise. The Topix index of all the Tokyo Stock Exchange First Section issues also fell 2.07 points, or 0.2%, to 927.57 with 15 of 33 subindexes ending in negative territory.
Toll mounts as pro-democracy supporters apparently come under attack from Mubarak loyalists in the Egyptian capital.
Heavy gunfire is being heard in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square as pro-democracy demonstrators continue to defy curfew in the Egyptian capital.
Ambulances were seen heading to the area on Thursday morning and at least two fatalities were reported.
Protesters from the pro-democracy and pro-government camps fought pitched battles on Wednesday in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak for the past nine days.
At least three people were reported to have died and more than 1,500 others injured in those clashes, according to officials and doctors quoted by the Reuters news agency.
An Al Jazeera correspondent, reporting from just outside Tahrir Square late on Wednesday night, said dozens of pro-Mubarak supporters erected barricades on either side of a road, trapping the pro-democracy supporters. They were gathering stones, breaking streetlights and using balaclavas to cover their faces, apparently in preparation for a fresh standoff with the pro-democracy crowd.
Our correspondent said local residents thought the men preparing for the standoff were police officers but the claim could not be independently confirmed.
Just hours earlier, an Al Jazeera online producer reporting from near Tahrir Square said: “Someone – a few people actually – were dropping homemade bombs into the square from the buildings surrounding it.”
Gunshots were also regularly ringing out of the square.
Following violent attacks on protesters in Tahrir Square on Wednesday, activists who were already reluctant to accept the regime’s invitation to negotiate say that such a move is now completely out of the question.
“We might have negotiated a diplomatic solution with the regime, but after today’s developments, the fight will continue; what happened will not weaken it,” said Nasser Abdel Hamid, member of the National Association for Change. “Even if people are forced to leave the square, they will return another day.”