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Gangs hunt journalists and rights workers in Egypt
February 3, 2011 1:55 PM   Subscribe

"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak unleashed an unprecedented and systematic attack on international media today as his supporters assaulted reporters in the streets while security forces began obstructing and detaining journalists covering the unrest that threatens to topple his government."

Security forces and gangs chanting in favor of the Egyptian government hunted down journalists at their offices and in the hotels where many had taken refuge on Thursday in a widespread and overt campaign of intimidation aimed at suppressing reports from the capital. Human rights activists have also been detained. The Committee to Protect Journalists is investigating at least two dozen cases of reporters being detained.
posted by anya32 (196 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should this go in the existing thread on Egypt? I know it's a lengthy thread.
posted by cashman at 2:00 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reports I heard on the radio this morning are a big enough turn of events that maybe this one should stay. Over and over people were saying "they're (pro-mubarak) confiscating reporter's gear in preparation for the real violence tomorrow."
posted by boo_radley at 2:07 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah that thread is Egypt central. I don't want to be following two giant threads...
posted by unSane at 2:08 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tomorrow is the end game, one way or the other. If they don't get a million people on the streets after prayers, its over.
posted by empath at 2:08 PM on February 3, 2011


the unofficial estimates from yesterday are 2 million, empath.
posted by leviathan3k at 2:11 PM on February 3, 2011


i'm working on moving this over! i'm new to metafilter posts but i'll get it added to that thread. sorry for the faux pas.
posted by anya32 at 2:13 PM on February 3, 2011


unless a mod has suggested that or has deleted your thread (which will still be available to you) I'm not sure there's a need? Maybe that's just me, I dunno.
posted by boo_radley at 2:17 PM on February 3, 2011


So, one side consists of democratic protestors, while the other consists of gangs and thugs?

I certainly don't want to throw any weight behind Mubarak, but those are some powerful word choices there.
posted by schmod at 2:18 PM on February 3, 2011


i just asked them what to do so i'll wait to hear.
posted by anya32 at 2:18 PM on February 3, 2011


I prefer having this be a separate thread. The other one is just too monstrously massive to follow carefully at this point, so related stuff that might be worth talking about works better not buried. It might be a semi-faux pas (but not really! Really!) but there's enough meat on this post to stand alone as a separate topic.

So, thanks, anya32. Your post is A-okay by me.
posted by byanyothername at 2:18 PM on February 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


I've been trying to get a handle on the Mubarak supporters; they seem very organized. Are they actually un-uniformed military or police, or is it more of (and please excuse the comparison) tea party type zealous group taking marching orders from some government media outlet?
posted by quin at 2:19 PM on February 3, 2011


Regarding Egypt: I think the least of anyone's worries are how many threads are started on MeFi.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:23 PM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


quin: "I've been trying to get a handle on the Mubarak supporters; they seem very organized. Are they actually un-uniformed military or police, or is it more of (and please excuse the comparison) tea party type zealous group taking marching orders from some government media outlet"

NPR had people (Egyptian man-on-the-street stuff) saying that government officials were going to prisons, giving people money and e.g. a whip or a cudgel.

The weird and darkly humorous thing was hearing people incredulous about some of the scenarios: "A man came down the street... on a camel... whipping people with a whip! Can you believe that? Where did that come from? It's like-- like a postcard from the past!"
Basically I guess there really aren't any camels in Cairo's city.
posted by boo_radley at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've been trying to get a handle on the Mubarak supporters; they seem very organized. Are they actually un-uniformed military or police, or is it more of (and please excuse the comparison) tea party type zealous group taking marching orders from some government media outlet?

As far as I understand it, most of them are paid. Or rather, they turn up at their government-run workplace and are told they won't be paid unless they go do some pro-Mubarak protesting. Which is a method that's been used for at least 25 years to do things like stop people voting etc.
posted by Jimbob at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've honestly been really impressed by the anti-Mubarak protestors. I have to wonder if you could get that many motivated Americans together in one place without somebody who just has to be a violent asshole. The fact that the violence only started up when the pro-Mubarak people got involved is very telling.

I'm not a huge fan of Anderson Cooper (really, 'cause I'm just down on cable news in general), but I have to sympathize with him and his crew after his report about being attacked yesterday. Defending oneself is a reasonable reflex; it's got to be maddening to know that if you hit back, you're only going to cause overwhelming escalation from the crowd.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


So, one side consists of democratic protestors, while the other consists of gangs and thugs?

One side is, or was, non-violently protesting, while the other was assaulting them with clubs, razors, rocks, machetes, and whips on horse and camelback, so, yes, I think the "thug" label is somewhat apropos.
posted by blucevalo at 2:24 PM on February 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


The anti-Mubarak folks are saying this about the pro-Mubarak people:

1. Many have been fund to be carrying security forces IDs (Interior Ministry or police, I gather)
2. Some employers received orders to send their workers to the square. The camels in that opening charge yesterday probably came from a state-sponsored camel ride franchise at Giza, for example.
3. Others appear to have been directly recruited for pay by security forces

I did hear a cabbie on the radio two days ago who was vocally pro-Mubarak, though, so it seems clear that there could be non-professional security personnel who do support the regime. I believe the consensus is that the pro-Mubarak people on the square in Cairo were organized by the security forces, however.

Hope that helps, and this is based on nothing more than what I have gathered through the media, primarily NPR and AJE, with a sprinkle of info from the massive MeFi thread.
posted by mwhybark at 2:28 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm not entirely comfortable with the "unprecedented" description of governments using violence or intimidation against the media unless we're going to use a whole lot of qualifiers. Al Jazeera has gotten this sort of treatment in a bunch of countries, and even here in Canada the G20 police didn't exactly check press credentials when rounding up and detaining people. The scale may be different, and this is certainly very disturbing, but it's not without precedent, is it?
posted by Hoopo at 2:29 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've been wondering: why now? Did the initial days of protest take the government so off-guard that it took them more than a week to round up "supporters"? And if the Army is so non-hostile or supportive of the anti-Mubarak protesters, then why have their actions seemed so half-hearted when they've deign to step in and break up clashes?
posted by rtha at 2:31 PM on February 3, 2011


Basically I guess there really aren't any camels in Cairo's city.

Not really, no. Especially around Tahrir Sq, it's perfectly modern and you wouldn't really feel out of place there. (Except it's way more crowded than anywhere I've been before).

Go down some of the smaller streets over towards the old town and you might see donkeys pulling carts, but certainly no camels. The camels perhaps came from the Pyramids, as mwhybark says - there's certainly a lot of them there.
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


The scale may be different, and this is certainly very disturbing, but it's not without precedent, is it?

"Unprecendented," like "literally," has gone from a word with an actual meaning to a middle-brow fluff intensifier.
posted by Electrius at 2:34 PM on February 3, 2011 [29 favorites]


Did the initial days of protest take the government so off-guard that it took them more than a week to round up "supporters"?

My guess is yes. There was a WSJ article a few days ago that pointed out that the initial protests last week were far more successful than anyone expected, and emboldened the organizers to do a bigger one on Friday last week. Then due to internal politics, Mubarak's order to use live ammunition went unimplemented, Friday's rally was bigger, and the police force disappeared. It probably didn't take long to get it together, and find people, but they probably just got a late start due to the above. They're also doing propaganda campaigns via text message and reports on state-owned TV.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:42 PM on February 3, 2011


This article is interesting. Mubarak blames the Muslim Brotherhood for the violent behavior on his behalf and says that he only staying to protect Egypt from chaos. It's also interesting that Suleiman has become the TV face for the current administration.

Also I like a new thread because I was clearly overwound yesterday. sorry
posted by vapidave at 2:45 PM on February 3, 2011


Yeah, it's fine having another post. The whole thing has been nuts and protracted, and while we don't want to go crazy with posts about it I think the volume has been okay and this is distinct enough and notable enough an aspect of it that a new post works alright. Carry on.
posted by cortex at 2:45 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Everything these bands of thuggish pro-Mubarak people are currently doing to violently quell the protests, including especially their really bad decision to go after western journalists, reeks of desperation and will almost certainly backfire (Tiananmen Square comparisons notwithstanding). If this is coming under orders directly from Mubarak, it was a really, really bad decision on his part; though it reveals it his true colors, surely.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 2:51 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The reporter from Swedish TV, Bert Sundström last gave a report at lunchtime today.
Before the evening news, his hotel phone was answered by an angry voice in arabic saying that he had been "taken care" of by the government, you bastards.
He is now in a Cairo hospital, we were informed.
posted by jan murray at 2:54 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Right wingers keep pointing to this as an example of 'muslim violence' and keep implying that it's anti government protesters. It's grossly dishonest.
posted by empath at 2:54 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


Right wingers are free to say anything they want but I seriously haven't seen that in any mainstream media.
posted by proj at 2:56 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Vodafone: Governement Made Us Send Pro Mubarak Text Messages
posted by benzenedream at 2:57 PM on February 3, 2011


Hoopo, I work at the Committee to Protect Journalists. We've been documenting attacks on the press since 1981, the "unprecedented" is taken from our comments, and I hope the context shows that it's unprecedented for Egypt (or perhaps I should say "even for Egypt"), rather than no such violence or intimidation against the media has ever taken place before.

That said, the ferocity of the crackdown has been astounding. We've been overwhelmed. Two dozen cases dwarfs the number of reports we'd get from any country in a year: that's our statistic for just the last 24 hours in Egypt. Mubarak forces have been specifically tasked with attacking journalists, and the Vice President was on television today earlier blaming "unfriendly media".

We just updated our list here. A lot of the reports we've gathered and confirmed have been prompted by journalists on Twitter describing the attacks as they happen. Two of our own board members were threatened, and one forced back to her hotel at gunpoint.

My colleague, Mohamed Abdel Dayem recently summarized the situation by saying "the Egyptian government is employing a strategy of eliminating witnesses to their actions". That would certainly seem to be the case.
posted by ntk at 2:58 PM on February 3, 2011 [98 favorites]


I feel awful for the Egyptians who have to deal with this, but I really do think that having an organized calvary was a huge mistake for Mubarak. It removes any doubt that the violence was anything other than an organized assault, and at a time like this I really hope that forces outside powers to step in in whatever fashion is most effective but mutually palatable, at least to keep sides separated and oversee elections. The government is clearly showing that it has no intention of stepping down properly and needs to be shown its place in the modern world.

I've been very careful to note which news sources note who is attacking whom in the headlines and which are circumspect. It's despairing how many seem to view objectivity as "say no bad thing about any part" instead of "say the facts."
posted by Schismatic at 2:59 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Democracy Now's coverage, is, as always, salient.
posted by a_green_man at 3:01 PM on February 3, 2011


Update on swdish reporter Bert Sundström.
In hospital with head injuries and knife wound.
Dagens Nyheters (biggest national daily) web report
posted by jan murray at 3:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


I remain worried that driving off journalists is merely the opening move in a repressive counter-insurgency operation that, after a few days of state-directed riots systematically hunts down every identifiable or rumored protester and causes that person to disappear.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 3:05 PM on February 3, 2011


proj: Right wingers are free to say anything they want but I seriously haven't seen that in any mainstream media.

Yup, nothing in this recent coverage on the Fox News main news site, which states that "State TV reported Tuesday night that foreigners were caught distributing anti-Mubarak leaflets, apparently trying to depict the movement as foreign-fueled."

Nothing anti-Muslim on this related Fox News blog post, which states "[Fox Business Network's Ashley] Webster tells Fox News that security burst into his hotel room and forced the cameraman off the balcony, shouting that they will kill them."
posted by filthy light thief at 3:07 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The timing for this has been...interesting. As soon as Western governments have started making muffled official suggestions that it's perhaps time for Mubarak to go, he's sicked his goons onto anybody looking slightly foreign, starting with the journalists. By doing this, he's clearly forfeited his claim to represent a loyal bulwark against anti-Western fundamentalism. He clearly doesn't count on the West to save his ass, relying instead on sheer violence.

Logical, but perhaps not the wisest of moves...
posted by Skeptic at 3:10 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know, apart from the Twitter/Phone gateway, are there any efforts underway to reestablish the internet in the country? (That we know of.)
posted by run"monty at 3:11 PM on February 3, 2011


To complete my previous post: what has kept Mubarak in place until now has been the military's careful neutrality. They respect him and Suleiman as two of their own, and probably also fear them not a little. However, Egypt's military is far too reliant on US assistance to look forward to a bout of xenophobic isolationism. If they feel that Mubarak risks turning the country into a hermit kingdom, they'll fall on him like the proverbial ton of bricks, I guess.
posted by Skeptic at 3:15 PM on February 3, 2011


If this is coming under orders directly from Mubarak, it was a really, really bad decision on his part; though it reveals it his true colors, surely.

Honestly it's his only real card to play at this point for several reasons but the best reason I think is having violence like this muddies the waters for both the outside observers and the peaceful citizens of Egypt in a way that having the army attack the protesters does not. No better way to undermine legitimate dissent than to make it difficult to determine loyalties by making all the actors "plainclothes"
posted by nola at 3:16 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Right wingers are free to say anything they want but I seriously haven't seen that in any mainstream media.

Agreed, but I am wondering why they're not pointing out that this is -- literally, for once -- TERRAR perpetrated by a regime which HATES FREEDOMS.
posted by vorfeed at 3:17 PM on February 3, 2011 [7 favorites]


His tenacity suggests to me that the odds are tilting away from helicopter, towards meathook. I honestly don't see that as a bad thing in the long run.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:17 PM on February 3, 2011



Does anyone know, apart from the Twitter/Phone gateway, are there any efforts underway to reestablish the internet in the country? (That we know of.)


Its been back on for a while, IIRC.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:19 PM on February 3, 2011


Honestly it's his only real card to play at this point...

Except of course bowing out gracefully by stepping down (something he may well be forced to do anyway at this point). He's making the situation much worse for himself by having thug-loyalists attack everything in sight this way.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 3:20 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pro-government camel riders and scowling protestors (img)
posted by stbalbach at 3:24 PM on February 3, 2011


Agreed, but I am wondering why they're not pointing out that this is -- literally, for once -- TERRAR perpetrated by a regime which HATES FREEDOMS.

For me the answer is simple, the media in the US has been complicit with the government on the US's support for dictatorships like this one for 40 years around the world and reporting on this story with any deep or meaningful clarity would reveal corruption of American "principles" not just US foreign policy but also US media's complicity. The whole event is a touchy situation for America because of our involvement. It's something we'd rather not look at, and just keep the coverage as superficial as possible.
posted by nola at 3:25 PM on February 3, 2011 [13 favorites]


It's also hard to say if the increased violence was by design, or things getting out of Mubarack's control of his own supporters.
posted by stbalbach at 3:28 PM on February 3, 2011


nolanjazeera Dan Nolan
the Aljazeera live shot of Tahrir Sq had to be pulled as it was putting our lives at risk. Will be back up as soon as its safe to do so

posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:28 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Skeptic: Logical, but perhaps not the wisest of moves...

Maybe logical for him, or expected for someone who doesn't want to leave yet, but he'll go out in a really bad way. This isn't the way to "go down fighting."

In regards to the online access, BBC says "In the past 24 hours Egyptian authorities have partially reopened access to the Internet."
posted by filthy light thief at 3:29 PM on February 3, 2011


They have to know that their cameras are the only thing keeping the protesters alive, right?
posted by empath at 3:31 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's also hard to say if the increased violence was by design, or things getting out of Mubarack's control of his own supporters.

Horses, camels, and whips. This violence came pre-organized.
posted by Navelgazer at 3:33 PM on February 3, 2011


"Due to the gravity, immediacy and dynamic nature of the situation in Cairo, our hotel is implementing additional measures to ensure the ongoing safety and security of our guests and employees, as this remains our highest priority. These measures include a request not to film from the property due to the threat this poses to the reporters themselves as well as others on property. We appreciate your understanding and support during these challenging circumstances."
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:33 PM on February 3, 2011


Right, this is a well established tactic of governments that know their control is slipping. It's classic scientific strike breaking.
posted by nola at 3:34 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's also hard to say if the increased violence was by design, or things getting out of Mubarack's control of his own supporters.

This sort of detail speaks to the depth of my own personal ignorance as to what's been going in Egypt since say the assassination of Sadat; not that I was paying much attention before then either. Again, I'm moved to toss in a link to the third still active Egypt thread: WHY MUBARUK IS OUT.

Many international media commentators are having a hard time understanding the complexity of forces driving and responding to these momentous events. This confusion is driven by the binary “good guys versus bad guys” lenses most use to view this uprising. Such perspectives obscure more than they illuminate. There are three prominent binary models out there and each one carries its own baggage:

and so on ...
posted by philip-random at 3:35 PM on February 3, 2011


Translation of the Hilton memo: we couldn't beef up internal security and don't have enough influence/bribes with the authorities to keep them from doing room to room searches, so you're on your own.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:38 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


They have to know that their cameras are the only thing keeping the protesters alive, right?

Arrested or dead reporters with confiscated or broken equipment aren't going to be broadcasting a whole lot of footage. I have a feeling they're approaching the situation with a better sense of the compromises in risk involved than those of us fucking around on a website halfway around the world are.
posted by cortex at 3:41 PM on February 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


Can't really knock Hilton for that. Not like you can expect hotel security to stand against government thugs.
posted by auto-correct at 3:41 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I've been trying to get a handle on the Mubarak supporters; they seem very organized. Are they actually un-uniformed military or police, or is it more of (and please excuse the comparison) tea party type zealous group taking marching orders from some government media outlet?"

"1. Many have been fund to be carrying security forces IDs (Interior Ministry or police, I gather)"

ID confiscated from pro-Mubarak attackers: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24271114@N08/5411316721/in/set-72157625838724811/

Those are both NDC and security forces ID. Much what one would expect, really.
posted by jaduncan at 3:42 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Translation of the Hilton memo...

Are there any tourists left in Egypt anyway? I thought they had all fled or were stuck at the airport trying to do so.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 3:42 PM on February 3, 2011


Oops, made it link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24271114@N08/5411316721/in/set-72157625838724811/
posted by jaduncan at 3:42 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I see an acquaintance, every day or so, we have been looking at each other rather then talking, it says more. He grew up in the region and I shall not editorialize. The look I saw today as I left was truly heartening and I cannot explain 20 emotions in a facial expression that lasts 2 seconds. I put my fingers in ‘V’ and pressed it to his car window, I think it helped. I cannot begin to convey his hopes and fears which I have merely observed. Confusion begets anger begets longing begets worry begets…
Hosni has 12 hours or the People get really mad. The army will then act. There is no shame in stepping down, on your knees asking for forgiveness, like that picture of the police man crying being lifted by people. This is truly amazing in it’s scoop of tragedy and hope.
I suggest madamejujujives' twitter link.
posted by clavdivs at 3:43 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Translation of the Hilton memo...

Are there any tourists left in Egypt anyway?


It's where many journalists are staying - and filming from balconies.
posted by CunningLinguist at 3:44 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am not leaving my thread until Mubarak leaves, but I support all threads about Egypt.
posted by notion at 3:45 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lots of friends covering this on the ground in Egypt. A few have been attacked. ABCNews is keeping a record of attacks on journalists on their tumblr.
posted by msbrauer at 3:46 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


clavdivs: "like that picture of the police man crying being lifted by people"

URL?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:49 PM on February 3, 2011


Can't really knock Hilton for that. Not like you can expect hotel security to stand against government thugs.
Sometimes a hotel can stand up for people. But what hurts here is that journalists are pretty obvious targets, given the way they do their work, and how visible they are.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:49 PM on February 3, 2011


It's also hard to say if the increased violence was by design, or things getting out of Mubarack's control of his own supporters.

David Kurtz at TPM suggests that the orders to attack might not be coming from Mubarak himself, but from elements of his government who are vying for power in the post-Mubarak era. Seems plausible to me. It could be upper-management in the police and security forces who were recently fired by Mubarak, who realized when M announced he was not going to run for re-election, that they might be permanently out of power if they didn't do something desperate. Maybe they see the military on the verge of a Coup and they want to make sure that they are included in any transitional government or talks.

I can also see Mubarak thinking he could end the demonstrations quickly with intimidation and claim a mandate for his "compromise," but it was an insane PR move sending in the camels and horses from Giza with whips. It hardly makes your side seem like the good guys.
posted by boo at 3:57 PM on February 3, 2011


"Can't really knock Hilton for that."

Yes, you can. The police can ask reporters not to report/steal their kit/beat them up themselves. It isn't the place of the hotel to do their dirty work (and remember, if they get kicked out of the hotel without their satphones they lose access to data uplink). The hotel might advise, but this is really quite distasteful.
posted by jaduncan at 4:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Reports Without Borders: All-out witch-hunt against media
posted by msbrauer at 4:05 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


*Reporters
posted by msbrauer at 4:09 PM on February 3, 2011


Wow, look at all the people. Did they just win the Super Bowl?
posted by banshee at 4:16 PM on February 3, 2011


One can compare the socialist strikes in the US in the early 1900's; Seattle was apparently under peaceful general strike for five days before the government came in and started busting heads, castrating and murdering a strike leader. Workers set up a free economy, feeding one another and ensuring people were well cared for. A similar strike in St. Louis was put down by the military some years earlier.
posted by kaibutsu at 4:20 PM on February 3, 2011 [18 favorites]


Horses, camels, and whips. This violence came pre-organized.

But by who.. it appears there are wealthy cabals of businessmen that stand to loose, with Mubarack gone they'd no longer have the sweet arrangements. They have apparently have organized violence before, in 2005.
posted by stbalbach at 4:24 PM on February 3, 2011


Pro-government camel riders and scowling protestors
well damn, I'd scowl too if a camel was coming down on my head
posted by angrycat at 4:24 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is happening outside of Cairo? Are there still cameras anywhere?
posted by zennie at 4:31 PM on February 3, 2011


Obama should just tell Mubarak that he's suspending aid until he steps down. I'm pretty sure the military would take care of the rest at that point.
posted by jnaps at 4:32 PM on February 3, 2011


He's making the situation much worse for himself by having thug-loyalists attack everything in sight this way.

Because it worked out so badly for Iran in '09. Not to mention China and Tienanmen Square. I am more pessimistic now about the prospects for any pro-democracy uprising than I have EVER been. (I try not to use the phrase "this will not end well", but nothing really "ends well" anymore)
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's making the situation much worse for himself by having thug-loyalists attack everything in sight this way.

Regime crackdown virgin, eh?
posted by dhartung at 4:36 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Egypt isn't Iran.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 4:40 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


An example. not sure if this was posted already. Sorry if it was.
posted by Splunge at 4:43 PM on February 3, 2011


Also.
posted by Splunge at 4:48 PM on February 3, 2011


Obama should just tell Mubarak that he's suspending aid until he steps down. I'm pretty sure the military would take care of the rest at that point.

I seriously doubt Mubarak cares a whit about US aid. He's displaying all the signs of a rigid old man whose work and reputation as a powerful historical figure are slipping out of his desperate fingers. He said that if he steps down, Egypt will erupt into chaos (as if it's just peachy now), and I am inclined to think that he truly believes himself that vital to the nation. And the military probably doesn't have a problem waiting a few months to claim political independence from Mubarak and reestablish ties with the US. The $1.3B from the US is important, but they do have other resources and infrastructure to tide them over.
posted by zennie at 4:50 PM on February 3, 2011


Photo: Christians protect Muslims during prayers.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:51 PM on February 3, 2011 [69 favorites]


Egypt isn't Iran.
But it isn't Tunisia either.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:59 PM on February 3, 2011


Actually the camel herself looks panicky. Camels don't Like riots. Probably these are camels from the Pyramid camel ride concession. I can just hear it now now, 'Cooperate with the authrities or your camels will be pastirma!'
your average city Egyptian has spent less time on camel back than I have (a whole 10 minutes..) and not much time on horseback either. They hop busses, trains, taxis and planes, they have cars. You actually need experience to ride a camel at full speed in a crowd. The guy looked like his camel was about to lose her saddle.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:01 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


He could have unleashed endless quantities of alcohol. Woo; that would REALLY make for some riotous action!
posted by buzzman at 5:10 PM on February 3, 2011


zennie as well, I don't see Obama making such a move. In fact he isn't in a position to make a unilateral move like that. In the other thread there was talk of pragmatism. It was taken by some to be a dirty word. I think that doing anything that drastic would be counterproductive. Either we support a dictator or we are meddling in affairs that are none of our business.

I don't pretend to know what to do. That's why I'm an unemployed IT guy. Not the head of a government.

I have my opinions, but they don't matter here.
posted by Splunge at 5:12 PM on February 3, 2011


Yeah, I see what you guys are saying. I guess it's harder for me to distance myself from a lot of these events, because I've been to these locations. I've seen these people. When you travel for a living, what's happening on CNN isn't so far removed from your life. People are people are people.

I just think it makes us look really weak, as a nation, to have our administration declare that they're "reviewing" funding to Egypt, to blatantly tell Mubarak and his regime to step down and avoid violence...and then do nothing to follow through. If Mubarak falls, which I think is only a matter of time, I think that the US will rightly be the focus of some animosity from whoever picks up the reigns.

I don't see it as meddling -- it's our money, we should be able to decide not to spend it on despots who are murdering their own people. Maybe that's overly idealistic, but I'm not so sure cynicism has helped us in the long term with our foreign affairs.
posted by jnaps at 5:23 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sounds like Obama and Clinton may be trying to broker a plan for a transition.
posted by Mngo at 5:26 PM on February 3, 2011


Obama should just tell Mubarak that he's suspending aid until he steps down. I'm pretty sure the military would take care of the rest at that point.

White House, Egypt Discusses Plan for Mubarak’s Exit

Sounds like the backroom discussions are ongoing.
posted by bonehead at 5:26 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


In the other thread there was talk of pragmatism. It was taken by some to be a dirty word. I think that doing anything that drastic would be counterproductive. Either we support a dictator or we are meddling in affairs that are none of our business.

The dirty part of the suggestion that we shouldn't interfere is the implication that we aren't already interfering. We've put in 60 billion dollars and 30 years of support over 8 presidential terms.
posted by notion at 5:28 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


If and when Mubarak finally steps down, the protests in Tunisia and Egypt, I think, will pale in comparison to how the rest of the Middle East reacts. And then, the question becomes, What happens to Israel and Palestine?
posted by reductiondesign at 5:31 PM on February 3, 2011


What happens to Israel and Palestine?

Israel shits or gets off the pot.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:33 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Pope Guilty: "Photo: Christians protect Muslims during prayers."

Oh god, that's beautiful.
posted by notsnot at 5:34 PM on February 3, 2011 [11 favorites]


notion: "In the other thread there was talk of pragmatism. It was taken by some to be a dirty word. I think that doing anything that drastic would be counterproductive. Either we support a dictator or we are meddling in affairs that are none of our business.

The dirty part of the suggestion that we shouldn't interfere is the implication that we aren't already interfering. We've put in 60 billion dollars and 30 years of support over 8 presidential terms
"

Point taken.
posted by Splunge at 5:38 PM on February 3, 2011


It's also hard to say if the increased violence was by design, or things getting out of Mubarack's control of his own supporters.

OK. Violence, you must understand, is a tool of the state. In fact, if you're full-on libertarian/anarchist, you believe that it is a monopoly on violence which creates the state. There is zero chance that these were supporters "getting out of control". They are the control.

In particular, the violence and intimidation of reporters (must stay on topic!) is effectively impossible without state sanction. Any reporter that gets more than a little roughed up, like the Swede (I gather), is going to generate a strongly-worded telegram from his capital about his treatment as a member of the press. The regime has concluded in advance that they can brush these off. This is really quite scary, as there is a level of toleration beyond which this has gone far, and the press really can be the source of PR that helps legitimize the state (as they have up till now, with Mubarak-the-regional-leader being a shining example of Arab moderation). Chucking that aside with impunity implies they are quite dangerous at a level heretofore not recognized outside of a small coterie of predictable outlets.

It almost can't be coincidence that they waited for the crackdown until the press was already everywhere in Cairo. It almost can't be a coincidence that they hammer the square at night, which is prime time in the US. It's a bit of a laugh in the face of the apparently feckless Obama-Clinton team. (To their credit, they have recognized this new turn and are responding more firmly.) It's a bit like the street thug who stood on my porch steps and refused to leave when I told him he was trespassing, which preceded by a couple of minutes his bashing me on the head with a 2x4. I'm dangerous. You aren't. You're not going to stop me. (My personal brush with The Gift of Fear. I managed to save myself, but I try to recognize the signs now.) I think either they are actually unhinged -- as a judge said today, in full panic -- or unhinged is exactly how they want or need to appear.

the orders to attack might not be coming from Mubarak himself, but from elements of his government who are vying for power

No. You don't win a power struggle by attacking a third party. At best this is a symptom of a power struggle, as the alleged refusal to fire live ammo last weekend itself was.

Obama should just tell Mubarak that he's suspending aid until he steps down. I'm pretty sure the military would take care of the rest at that point.

If only it were that simple. First of all, suspending aid is the equivalent of losing any remaining leverage. It might yet come to that, but the retention of aid is probably one of the biggest spoils in the game. That said, the security services have had less access to that aid than the military, due to US law. But the military isn't going to turn on Mubarak for coin. That would end their legitimacy with the people. Besides, as I've said before, the military isn't the source of this revolt, and the revolt would reject a military takeover outside of certain narrow conditions or circumstances. This revolt is about the relationship of the autocratic regime and its people.

The hotel might advise, but this is really quite distasteful.

This is the way that hotels are presumed to function, pretty generally, in unfree countries. Egypt just went from partly free to something like categorically unfree. I know we want to look for resistance in every corner, but it just isn't the case.
posted by dhartung at 5:43 PM on February 3, 2011 [20 favorites]


I suppose the question now is will the day's targeted attacks on journalists produce clear and unequivocal responses from western governments and media organizations, or not? With coverage drastically minimized and what promises to be the decisive day tomorrow, will you wait for the events that are being set up or will you act? This thread is clearly going to be read by members of western media and diplomatic organizations. Your time is *right now*, guys, and you can save lives is you can get those cameras back in place or get Mubarak out of there overnight.

We're counting on you. So are those kids down there. You can do it. We all want you to. Make us proud.
posted by mwhybark at 5:57 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


"is you can"

if you can, of course.
posted by mwhybark at 5:59 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stupid question, but why is tomorrow the decisive day? I understand that everyone sees it as such, but what is the mechanism or event expected to take place tomorrow?

What are the ways that we see this possibly going down?
posted by Navelgazer at 6:04 PM on February 3, 2011


Stupid question, but why is tomorrow the decisive day?

Tomorrow, as it was explained to me, is the beginning of the weekend for most Egyptians. The majority of the populace will have time on their hands, and what they choose to do with it will be telling.
posted by lekvar at 6:07 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Did the initial days of protest take the government so off-guard that it took them more than a week to round up "supporters"

I think Friday-Saturday night was a pivotal moment, because the military was basically playing "wait and see." In those opening hours the Mubarak regime was at its most vulnerable—the army was for the most part abstaining from the argument altogether. The problem is there is no anti-Mubarak leadership that people can turn to that can fill Mubarak's role in Egyptian government. No one has taken the reigns, so the options are quickly becoming anarchy and freedom or… well, I guess back to Mubarak and let's pretend this never happened (please don't torture me).

I believe the opposition's failure to provide a more structured transitional leadership is going to be what finally blows this opportunity for true democracy in Egypt. Because in the end, people need to eat. People need to feed their kids. You can only spend so many nights awake protecting the family store from looters before you realize the stability came at a cost but was it really so bad…? The people of Egypt aren't backwater jihadists living in mud huts. They're as modern as any Western country and they don't want it to turn into Iran. The army, they're getting paid, their families are getting fed. After a week or two of this, society is going to start breaking down. If something more coordinated doesn't coalesce soon this is going to become the Middle East's Tienanmen Square. I hope I'm wrong, but I fear Mubarak is starting to believe the hype that he's the only thing protecting the Egyptian people from the Muslim Brotherhood, and that all the upcoming bloodshed will be justified because he did it to keep Egypt "free" of the crazies. Uh, the other crazies.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:07 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stupid question, but why is tomorrow the decisive day?

If I understand correctly, Friday is a congregational prayer day, and afterwards, it's sometimes traditional to do protests and such.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:09 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tomorrow is the bug day because Muslim men in Egypt will pray Friday prayer together at their local mosques, then since they are already at one place at one time, go out to protest
posted by mulligan at 6:09 PM on February 3, 2011


An example. not sure if this was posted already. Sorry if it was.

Wow. She was extremely calm about that.

Also, FUCK THIS SHIT. Is she okay?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 6:34 PM on February 3, 2011


"This [the MidEast] was the one area of growth that these defense companies could point to," Stallard said, noting the forecast for flat or declining U.S. and European defense budgets. "If you take this away as well, what are you left with?"
posted by benzenedream at 6:36 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


"If you take this away as well, what are you left with?"

Retool the industry?
posted by perspicio at 6:42 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


Specifically, they had stated earlier in the week that if he doesn't step down by Friday they will march on the presidential palace.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:43 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


What are these references to protests "after prayers"? I Googled for Muslim prayer times and there are actually several of them throughout the day.
posted by crapmatic at 6:50 PM on February 3, 2011


If I understand correctly, that would be after noon prayers. 5am est.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:52 PM on February 3, 2011


It would be really great if a democratic Egypt would help Israel to chill out.
I'm not optimistic. Injustice is so much more often stronger than justice.
posted by angrycat at 7:02 PM on February 3, 2011


this blog post describing the actors at play in Egypt is nice. i don't think this is at all clearly stated but the Mubarak regime ended the night the army came out and didn't enforce the curfew:
On that night the Egyptian military let Mubarak’s ruling party headquarters burn down and ordered the police brigades attacking protesters to return to their barracks. When the evening call to prayer rang out and no one heeded Mubarak’s curfew order, it was clear that the old president been reduced to a phantom authority.
Notice that the former chief of the security police (the interior minister) is one of the people who have been reported to be banned from travelling out of egypt. the thugs and (former) security police are likely acting to behest of the nexus of civilians who were tied very closely to the Mubarak regime, starting with interior minister. these are people whose careers and fortunes were built on access to Mubarak. If there is not a 'orderly transfer of power' these people will lose hard. in fact, i think you can define an orderly transfer of power by how these people are handled.

but it's important to remember that Mubarak is a respected Air Force general, as well as president-for-life. He is still part of the military. But more important, the chiefs of the various egyptian military services are tied closely to him. They risk losing control of the military if there isn't an orderly transition. Unfortunately, if they try to push the lower ranks too hard against the protesters they also risk losing control of the military.

The way I read the situation right now is that the military chiefs are desperate to jettison mubarak and his civilian friends in a way that preserves their own power. This means getting the protesters to stand down, peacefully. If the protests continue on, or if the protesters successfully occupy government buildings and cause the everyday functioning of the state to collapse then all bets are off. An "orderly transition" for the Obama administration means an egypt controlled by the military old guard, because they are the only ones who are interested in preserving the "cold peace" with Israel and who will be responsive to US requests.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:12 PM on February 3, 2011 [14 favorites]


i meant to say that it isn't at all clearly stated in media coverage the the mubarak regime is already gone.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:19 PM on February 3, 2011


Still the military hasn't acted against or for either side.

A question: If the Egyptian military did act who or what is in a position to resist?

So far the military has avoided taking sides.
posted by vapidave at 7:29 PM on February 3, 2011


So, the protests started in Tunisia, spread loudly to Egypt, and now are being seen in Yemen, Sudan, and Jordan (where King Abdullah appears to be handling things exactly as he should be.)

Are we to take Mubarak's shouts that this is all the "fault" of the U.S. to be setting the stage for potential reactions against America when/if it all spreads to Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Libya?
posted by Navelgazer at 7:32 PM on February 3, 2011


The Egyptian army is conscripted, not volunteer. This means that they may not have many soldiers willing to take up arms against fellow Egyptians. The generals may be wisely trying to stay out of it, rather than risk mutiny.
posted by jenkinsEar at 7:35 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


I am an old man. I've seen many dictators that were held up by American money go to shit. I've also seen my country support the "wrong" people since Viet Nam.

What the fuck do you young kids expect to happen? Sometimes the good guys are not the good guys. Sometimes there are no good guys. Sometimes there isn't even the lesser of two evils. Some times it's stand the fuck back and see what happens.

In my book it's better than a Bay of Pigs. It's better than a Bush pounding Iraq with bombs. Sometimes it's just America the Great, sitting back and saying, "Fuck this, let's see who wins and decide then if we will support them."

Why should we, as in the government of the USA do anything now? yeah, as someone upthread said, we pumped money into the Mubarak government. But now "we" can stop that as fast as we started it? But why the guessing game? We have Obama now and I think he's doing fine. He is specifically not putting his nose in where it is not wanted.

But there is one problem. When, exactly when, is his nose needed? When should we fund a government that may be a government in exile?

When do we throw the money? Who do we throw the money at?

Earlier today I was watching a NYC news report where it was stated that Mubarak was blaming the USA for not supporting him.

What the fuck?

I guess it's all about isolationism again.

Bunker down and do nothing. Fuck the other guy. Did we get that force field that protects the country from the world yet? How does it work?
posted by Splunge at 7:39 PM on February 3, 2011 [8 favorites]


Why should we, as in the government of the USA do anything now?

I'm a young guy. I agree. It's not our place to meddle with these sorts of things.

That said, we have meddled. And it's too late to undo all of this bullshit. SO we need to sac-up and deal with these problems as they come down the pipeline. This one is RIGHT in front of the fucking pipeline.

I think the best thing the American government can do is say: "We have always supported the Egyptian people. At times, our aid has been diverted to causes that the American people do not support. We have been careless with our dealings in your country, and for that we apologize. From here on out, we ABSO-FUCKING-LUTELY pledge to support your newly established fledging democracy. Your army will not lose any aid money from us, and we will try and help you build a strong, self-sufficient nation to the best of our abilities."

Also, the only caveat to that agreement should be that if Mubarak doesn't leave, we abandon the entire fucking region.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:49 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that Obama makes decisions via perception instead of intuitive judgements. It takes him forever to come out with his viewpoint and settle on something. He's also always willing to listen to input from everywhere. Finally he seems focused on getting all the stakeholders onboard, even when it means getting much less than might have been gotten by a narrower coalition. I suspect these personalty trays are the reason that man are so frustrated with his leadership during this crisis. Peope who process the world throgh more intuitive and judgemental decision making processes want action items and certainty. Thus his conversations with the generals and refusal to take more overt action frustrates many. It isn't that he's trying to preserve the old order it is more like HCR where he is trying to feel his way through it.
posted by humanfont at 7:52 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It takes him forever to come out with his viewpoint and settle on something.

That sounds like an unqualified GOOD THING after the aughts.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 8:03 PM on February 3, 2011 [6 favorites]


They are coming back:
Through woodsmoke weaving from fires
And swirls of dust from erratic breezes
You will see
Ghosts are returning
Ghosts of young men, young women,
Young boys, young girls,
Students:
And if you look closely
You will see
Many of them have torn flesh
Have wounds bright with fresh blood:
And there is blood in the sands of Soweto
The ghosts are coming back
Past barking police dogs
Through shifting veils of smoke
Those who oppose oppression are coming back
Demanding dignity
Challenging injustice
They return to join a new generation
They chant:
Resume the fight, resume the fight,
Resume the fight.”

-Dennis Brutus, Remembering June 16, 1976
posted by clavdivs at 8:12 PM on February 3, 2011 [19 favorites]


thsmchnekllsfascists: " It takes him forever to come out with his viewpoint and settle on something.

That sounds like an unqualified GOOD THING after the aughts
"

Agreed. Slow government is the best. Thought trumps snap judgment every time.
posted by Splunge at 8:27 PM on February 3, 2011


I'm not sure replacing Mubarak with Suleiman, the torture czar and CIA's point man in Egypt for rendition, even transitionally, is such a great idea. What happened to El Baradei, according to some the best prospect to lead Egypt?

Also: Chomsky's take on Egypt situation.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 8:36 PM on February 3, 2011 [5 favorites]


Well I'm sure that the NYT has a direct phone to the White House. And they give them all the dirt. But really. If that was true, what could or should the US do about it?
posted by Splunge at 8:44 PM on February 3, 2011


At what point does it get weird? At what point do we go all CIA make this government ours and pop the wrong guy in the head from a distance? When do we or anyone get to decide who should be in power?

Oh hey Egypt, we were supporting the wrong guy all this time. Nice that you got him out of power. Oh, hold on, this is the guy you're putting in there. Oh no. You can't do that.

Democracy motherfucker. You keep choosing and I'll tell you where to stop. I'm America. I'm the guy that tells you who to pick. Wheel of fortune baby, and I'm Vanna fucking White!
posted by Splunge at 8:53 PM on February 3, 2011


Yeah, that's right. I mixed up my game shows. Bomb my house now.

i gotta go to bed now.
posted by Splunge at 8:57 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Egypt is where I'm Vanna White.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:07 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


The person who should take over for the transition is whoever it is that is keeping the army neutral.

Difficutly: We have no idea who that is, it may be Mubarak or Suleiman or someone else. Hell if I know anything about the Egyptian military.

Suleiman may have the credibility for transition if Mubarak steps down. According to a poster in Egypt in the Something Awful thread:


Omar Suleiman is part of the military apparatus in Egypt, not the NDP, but most people see him as a link between those two forces.

You guys have to remember Omar Suleiman is 75 years old this year and intended to resign from his intelligence chief post completely in order to spend time with his grandchildren, part of me wants to believe that if he's in power, he'd work for meaningful democratic and constitutional reform then leave it up to Egyptians to choose their fate.

posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:09 PM on February 3, 2011


Difficulty. Forget load new, where is my edit window?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:10 PM on February 3, 2011


Sir Thomas More: I think that when statesmen forsake their own private conscience for the sake of their public duties, they lead their country by a short route to chaos.
posted by nola at 9:34 PM on February 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really not about the US, this revolution.
posted by wilful at 9:39 PM on February 3, 2011 [4 favorites]


true.
hi wally
posted by clavdivs at 9:45 PM on February 3, 2011


Not entirely, but our foreign policy is deeply entwined with that of Egypt. We weren't forcing that aid on Mubarak, it is a relationship that goes all the way back to Camp David.

If we could spend $2 billion a year to forge a permanent peace between South and North Korea, clean up the DMV, end the NK nuclear program, get international media, aid and business in to North Korea...would it be worth it even if we had to leave the dictator in power?

I know why it isn't, but do you think if Egypt wasn't open to western business and media this protest would be as hard to shut down?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:47 PM on February 3, 2011


It's hard to image these attempts at silencing journalists could be successful, and the attempts only strengthen my perception of Mubarak as someone who is incredibly out of touch with the world today. Naive, like a child who thinks that if they close their eyes, they'll be invisible. It's so simple: Oh, turn off the internet. Oh, get rid of all the reporters.

From a PR standpoint, it's the worst tack he could take -- silencing the messengers never works, at least not when it's a corporation trying to quash the bad news... the attempts at quashing just garner even more outrage and publicity. And the power that everyday citizens have to report and broadcast events around them means that the campaign to silence journalists could be endless.

On the other hand, while silencing the negative story never works for a corporate crisis... most corporations don't have the violent apparatus of the state.
posted by crackingdes at 9:52 PM on February 3, 2011


Why is Mubarak clinging to power? Maybe because the life of an exiled dictator isn't what it used to be.
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 10:04 PM on February 3, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting observations from Ashraf Khalil, who feels that some attacks on journalists are part of an organized campaign but others are now happening as more spontaneous actions born out of fear, panic, etc.:
I don't think that the mob that harassed me was part of a coordinated campaign against journalists. Our attackers were just ordinary Egyptian citizens whose nerves had been frayed by 10 days of uncertainty and unrest. State television fueled their anxiety with a steady diet of conspiracy theories claiming that shadowy foreign influences were behind the waves of civil unrest and that foreign journalists were hopelessly biased toward the anti-Mubarak protesters -- thus actively helping to bring the regime down.

Elsewhere in Cairo, however, it genuinely seemed like journalists had indeed been explicitly targeted, starting during the day on Wednesday and peaking in a cascade of incidents on Thursday. Those who weren't attacked by mobs were arrested by police officers or detained -- allegedly for their own safety -- by the military.
posted by scody at 10:04 PM on February 3, 2011


Thanks, scody. His conclusion is also worth noting:
There's really only one reason to attack journalists -- if you don't want them to report their observations to the outside world. Although the protesters occupying Tahrir Square on Thursday had a relatively peaceful day, the sudden wave of attacks against journalists has fueled concerns that there's a tsunami coming -- something the government and its supporters don't want the world to see.

But Mubarak and his supporters should also be concerned. The forces they're unleashing will not be so easy to contain again. The paranoia and xenophobia I witnessed on Thursday were unlike anything I've seen from the Egyptian people in 13 years of covering this country. For a country that depends heavily on a steady flow of foreign tourists, turning the Egyptian people against the outside world could have catastrophic long-term consequences.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:30 PM on February 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


Troops in riot gear patrol Cairo as demonstrators plan mass protests
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Troops wearing riot gear toted automatic weapons and stood guard in the area around Cairo's Tahrir Square early Friday, as anti-government demonstrators promised another day of large protests to demand President Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

Security forces detained some people leaving the square, pointing guns at them and forcing them to lie on the ground. Others blocked the nearby October 6 bridge.

A handful of pro-government protesters cheered as large vans filled with security forces arrived at the square around 6 a.m. (11 p.m. ET). It was unclear whether those inside were members of the military or police.
posted by metaplectic at 11:12 PM on February 3, 2011


Police van plows through crowd at high speed.
posted by metaplectic at 11:33 PM on February 3, 2011


Morning in Egypt, the twitterers are starting to wake up - sounds like checkpoints run by the military, to get into the Tahrir Square area, which they have cordoned off (with barbed wire?) except for one entry. Protesters are hearing rumor that secret police are going to try to come in to the cordoned area, mingle with the protesters and "attack from within". State tv has been broadcasting various things to discredit the protesters (they're being paid by outside forces, they're being lavishly fed by the western businesses near the square, etc), and protesters are getting phone calls from relatives who are at home watching state tv and believe these claims.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:16 AM on February 4, 2011


Mapped near-realtime tweets about protests in Egypt. Choose region(s) of origin: Middle East, East or West US, Europe.

(Posted in the other thread a while ago too...but I just discovered that that link, like several others in the same time period, inexplicably ended up just pointing back to the thread.)
posted by perspicio at 12:33 AM on February 4, 2011


sounds like checkpoints run by the military, to get into the Tahrir Square area, which they have cordoned off (with barbed wire?) except for one entry. Protesters are hearing rumor that secret police are going to try to come in to the cordoned area, mingle with the protesters and "attack from within".

AJ liveblog reporting that people's IDs are being checked as they enter Tahrir (which indeed seems to have a single entrance at this point) to make sure police, etc. don't get in (professions are listed on Egyptian ID). Even if they are successful in keeping the police out, the whole arrangement still makes me incredibly nervous, like people being penned in for a coming massacre. I hope I am very, very wrong.

Also reporting that defense minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi has addressed the crowd:
"The man [Mubarak] told you he won't stand again," Tantawi said, referring to the president's announcement that he will not seek re-election in polls to be held this autumn. Tantawi also repeated a call from the Egyptian government for the Muslim Brotherhood, the country's biggest opposition group, to join a dialogue with the government.
posted by scody at 2:22 AM on February 4, 2011


I'm a little surprised, but pleased that some journalists got their video gear back. No talking heads in the crowds, maybe not safe enough, but appropriate some how.
posted by ZeusHumms at 3:02 AM on February 4, 2011


So CNN makes it sound like the square is cordoned off and thug free. Is this true and is it good or ominous?
posted by Mngo at 5:49 AM on February 4, 2011


So CNN makes it sound like the square is cordoned off and thug free. Is this true and is it good or ominous?

I'm watching Aljazeera's live feed at the moment and the large crowed inside square itself looks quite calm. Apparently the military has an outer circle cordoned off, and the pro-democracy protesters have formed in inner circle where they are checking IDs and performing pat downs to prevent pro-mubarak police or weapons from getting in.

A reporter who been watching the October Six said that a crowd of pro-mubarak protestors have formed on/near the bridge, but so far there's been very little violence today.
posted by arcolz at 5:57 AM on February 4, 2011


I'm glad this stayed up. My comment was more a tentative question than an edict.
posted by cashman at 7:08 AM on February 4, 2011


There would be enormous good publicity for any digital video camera company who felt like smuggling in some inexpensive digital video camera models to give away to protestors. 100 inexpensive cameras might cost $20k plus paying some NGO to distribute them. And that get's your name plastered all over the news. Isn't that pretty damn cheap as ad campaigns go?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:19 AM on February 4, 2011


thanks, cashman. i'm new to this so i was worried.
posted by anya32 at 7:26 AM on February 4, 2011


Isn't that pretty damn cheap as ad campaigns go?

That is not cost effective. A nice campaign in the US maybe (debatable), but it means your cameras would be pulled from the shelves in Egypt and other "regimes" too.

Also, your cry for corporations to join with the people is a little bit tone deaf. There is not one digital video camera company who would risk the massive hit to sales from "unfree countries" such a move would cause, and I doubt the board of directors, executives involved in such a decision or even most shareholders would even agree with what the Egyptian protesters are demanding.

Witness the "oooo scary Muslims might take over" line from the major news outlets.

Mubarak is good for digital video camera companies, democratic protests are bad.

Witness the "businessmen" driving the violence against the protesters.

Corporations like money the status quo. Shit, you're more likely to see them implement some sort of firmware which gives governments the power to turn the cameras off than put them in the hands of protesters.
posted by fullerine at 7:34 AM on February 4, 2011


What are people doing for bathrooms, much less food?
posted by dunkadunc at 7:42 AM on February 4, 2011


Corporations like money the status quo.

It's true. All this heightened emphasis on international stability in the world today is driven almost purely by the business needs of multinationals, who need predictability in order to get capital for investments and in order to be able to predict business costs and returns with a relatively high degree of accuracy and certainty. The demands of the business world for stable capital flows and predictability in commerce are really what we're talking about when we talk about promoting stability around the world. Whatever keeps business running smoothly is what gets priority. That's not necessarily all bad (and its even a good thing to a point), but don't ever make the mistake of thinking that the kind of stability the West values is necessarily the kind of stability that yields equal benefits for all levels of society, or that the promotion of "stability" reflects some kind of virtuous commitment to the wellbeing of mankind.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:50 AM on February 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


What are people doing for bathrooms...
The al Jazeera correspondent is saying that they're using side streets pretty much. Not exactly good conditions.
posted by ashirys at 7:58 AM on February 4, 2011


What are people doing for bathrooms, much less food?

On the food front, there are multiple accounts of people bringing food for the day, and to share.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:46 AM on February 4, 2011


Guardian: Al-Jazeera office attacked in Egypt protests
AP: Al-Jazeera says Cairo office was ransacked

Their Cairo office was 'stormed by "gangs of thugs" who burned and damaged equipment'.

From the Guardian:
It said its website had been hacked earlier today with a banner advertisement replaced with a slogan "Together for the collapse of Egypt", which linked through to a web page with content critical of the network. The banner remained in place for two hours.
Also, at least one of al-Jazeera's reporters is pulling out. That might be an individual thing for the network. But Katie Couric and Brian Williams left; CNN & Anderson Cooper are working from a hidden location; and there seem to be a never ending stream of reports of harassment.
posted by ZeusHumms at 8:59 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, props to Anderson Cooper. The man's made of sterner stuff than I thought.

Thinking out loud here:
I wonder if the threat of trials at the Hague are actually a net positive or not. They didn't seem to discourage Mubarak from doing what he did, and now he's hanging on for dear life in fear of going to court. I could be completely wrong, of course.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:48 AM on February 4, 2011


Guardian reporters have hair-raising encounters with the Egyptian security forces and an angry mob: Guardian
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:01 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, props to Anderson Cooper. The man's made of sterner stuff than I thought.

Yup.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:02 AM on February 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the Anderson Cooper wiki:

During college, he spent two summers as an intern at the Central Intelligence Agency. Although he technically has no formal journalistic education, he opted to pursue a career in journalism rather than stay with the agency after school

Call me paranoid but ... I can certainly see how this doesn't exactly deflate certain claims over the past few days that foreign journos are spies.
posted by philip-random at 10:10 AM on February 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's actually a rule that no one who has ever been on CIA funding can work in the Peace Corp for exactly that reason. It would destroy the Peace Corp's functionality if everyone in it were suspected of being spies. Not to say it doesn't happen anyway, but the policy maybe helps a bit...
posted by kaibutsu at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2011


whoa. i had no idea cooper was such a true, old-school blue-blood. impressive pedigree on that guy, if you're impressed by pedigrees.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:17 AM on February 4, 2011


Graeme Wood of The Atlantic reports being dragged through the streets by a mob accusing him of being an Iranian spy.
posted by albrecht at 10:31 AM on February 4, 2011


Similar reports of xenophobic threats by police and soliders at Bloomberg and the Guardian:

'You Will Be Lynched,' says Egyptian policeman

'You come near Tahrir Square again and things won't be so good'
posted by gompa at 10:35 AM on February 4, 2011


by police and soliders

Please be really careful not to confuse these two in this case.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:38 AM on February 4, 2011


NadiaE Nadia El-Awady
An army officer stopped me and @arwasm on our way home and asked for our IDs. He then told us out of the blue this elaborate story (cont)

NadiaE Nadia El-Awady
Army officer said he picked up an israeli and an iranian with forged ID cards (cont)

posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:57 AM on February 4, 2011


Ah yes, the governments of israel and iran. Old, long-time friends, I hear.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:38 AM on February 4, 2011


WSJ (and others) reporting "Thugs" have destroyed Al-Jazeera office in Cairo. Judging by the relative scarcity of the reports coming out of Egypt today, these efforts to shut down the press in the region seem to be having an effect.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:01 PM on February 4, 2011


I suspect what happened is that Anderson Cooper got to intern at Langley and discovered that it was a bureaucratic nightmare of cynicism and turf wars, with very little of the actually exciting James Bond shit going on. Mostly just looking at spreadsheets and compiling reports that no one is going to bother to read. Since he is super-rich and handsome he realized that there was a more exciting career prospect to be had in journalism.
posted by humanfont at 12:15 PM on February 4, 2011


humanfont, it is interesting because he is definitely the CIA/OSS type from the early years -- Ivy League pipe-smoking tweedy analysts.

Judging by the relative scarcity of the reports coming out of Egypt today

On the flip side, Twitter seems to indicate that it's been a much quieter day, both in the square (people are bringing their kids again) and for journalists, and the mood is optimistic that some form of interim government compromise is in the works. If nothing else, I'm sure that there was a lot of backchannel communication to the regime on the treatment of foreign nationals. The focus of the counterrevolutionary activity today seems to be propaganda over state media with an aim of dividing and conquering psychologically.
posted by dhartung at 1:34 PM on February 4, 2011


On the "people are bringing their kids again" note, this is one of my favorite pictures from today.
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:54 PM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Journalist dies from gunshot wound - was shot on the 28th.
posted by madamjujujive at 2:08 PM on February 4, 2011


Two NYT reporters describe being detained.
posted by nangar at 3:24 PM on February 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Al Jazeera is currently running a campaign to have its broadcast on cable TV in the US. The form to send a request/comment to your cable company is on the right side in blue. From what I understand, Al Jazeera offers their broadcast free of any fees to cable providers.
posted by amuseDetachment at 7:17 PM on February 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


Nile TV anchorwoman Shahira Amin resigned yesterday in protest at the state run channel’s coverage of the Egyptian uprising.
Meanwhile the Guardian has been blogging in Arabic; and in the USA conservative pundits stifle laughs while journalists are harassed, beaten and detained by pro-Mubarak forces.
posted by adamvasco at 12:18 AM on February 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


An excerpt from the story nangar linked to:
Captivity was terrible. We felt powerless — uncertain about where and how long we would be held. But the worst part had nothing to do with our treatment. It was seeing — and in particular hearing through the walls of this dreadful facility — the abuse of Egyptians at the hands of their own government.

For one day, we were trapped in the brutal maze where Egyptians are lost for months or even years. Our detainment threw into haunting relief the abuses of security services, the police, the secret police and the intelligence service, and explained why they were at the forefront of complaints made by the protesters.

...The Mukhabarat has had a working relationship with American intelligence, including the C.I.A.’s so-called rendition program of prison transfers. During our questioning, a man nearby was being beaten — the sickening sound somewhere between a thud and a thwack. Between his screams someone yelled in Arabic, “You’re a traitor working with foreigners.”

...Ms. Mekhennet asked her interrogator, “Where are we?” The interrogator answered, “You are nowhere.”

We were blindfolded and led to the blank room where we would spend the night and into the next afternoon on the orange plastic chairs. The screams from the torture made it nearly impossible to think.
posted by scody at 12:50 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


BBC: At the time of writing, the "Day of Departure" rally is being filmed by state TV from a distant rooftop, described by the Orwellian caption "Demonstrations to support stability".
posted by adamvasco at 4:40 AM on February 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


The live streaming coverage from Al Jazeera is the best argument for net neutrality. Can you imagine this crisis 10 years ago. We'd have utterly relied on CNN, Fox and MSNBC for the coverage. The conservatives would have owned the narrative.
posted by humanfont at 5:53 AM on February 5, 2011 [10 favorites]


Guardian Liveblog: Tamer Wageeh, who works for BBC Monitoring, has been detained by the army.
posted by adamvasco at 10:01 AM on February 5, 2011


..and is safe.
posted by adamvasco at 10:02 AM on February 5, 2011


From the New Yorker: Detained in Cairo. "I was shoved into the Army captain’s car, then pulled out of it and into an ambulance used as a transport vehicle by the Army. By then, my head was bleeding and the blood visibly trickling behind my ear and onto my neck. I touched my head and raised my fingers, which were covered in blood. Throughout the ordeal, an Army officer and two soldiers were just two yards away—and stood absolutely idle."
posted by scody at 2:18 AM on February 6, 2011


On air, Al Jazeera English is calling for release of correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin. A tweet went up an hour ago: Al Jazeera
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:24 AM on February 6, 2011


This was just after it was reported that in a meeting between Suleiman and opposition leaders, the government agreed to release political prisoners and "not to hamper freedom of press and not to interfere with text messaging and Internet." (Guardian)

I was curious if they'd follow through by actually releasing people and curtailing their harassment of reporters. It didn't take long to see if they were sincere or not.
posted by nangar at 7:48 AM on February 6, 2011


Well let's give them a few hours to implement the new agreement and make sure it wasn't a rouge element, but it doesn't look like a great start. There are many provocateurs who would like to sabatoge any agreement.
posted by humanfont at 7:54 AM on February 6, 2011


Anyone else feel like me that the concessions being offered by the Egyptian government to the protesters amount to some pretty weak sauce, and feel as though they are merely a stall-tactic until the revolutionary fervor of the present moment passes over?
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 12:52 PM on February 6, 2011


According to Al Jazeera English, Ayman Mohyeldin has just been released.

Here's a first-hand account from Andrew Henderson, a photographer for UAE-based paper The National, of an incident last week in which he and another photographer were attacked by a pro-Mubarak mob and rescued by the Army. (Audio narration with slideshow.) Disclosure: reporter Chris Stanton, mentioned at the beginning, is a friend of mine.
posted by hippugeek at 2:06 PM on February 6, 2011


Anyone else feel like me that the concessions being offered by the Egyptian government to the protesters amount to some pretty weak sauce, and feel as though they are merely a stall-tactic until the revolutionary fervor of the present moment passes over?

Sitting at the table with the Muslim Brotherhood is an enormous step as is agreeing to recind the emergency law. The emergency law and the suppression of the Beotherhood was the mechanism of control for the last 30 years. The constitutional reforms and implementation will be the big test.
posted by humanfont at 2:41 PM on February 6, 2011


According to Al Jazeera English, Ayman Mohyeldin has just been released.

Very glad to hear that. (It sounds like he was held by the army for seven hours but not handed over to another agency.)

The government has also promised to release Wael Ghonim (but, for some reason, at 4:00pm local time tomorrow).
posted by nangar at 4:05 PM on February 6, 2011


Anyone else feel like me that the concessions being offered by the Egyptian government to the protesters amount to some pretty weak sauce, and feel as though they are merely a stall-tactic until the revolutionary fervor of the present moment passes over?

It's always hard to judge these things. What does a protest movement deserve to achieve? That's why democracy decides things with elections.

Personally, I think the regime was very shaken, and this may well have truly prevented Mubarak from being re-"elected", and depending on whom you listen to, his son from succeeding him -- a quasi-monarchist move which was gaining the implication of a trend, after Assad Jr. in Syria (not helped by our own Bush Jr., despite differences in process).

The inclusion of El Baradei, representing a Western-oriented technocratic elite that seemed to be in ideological tune with the protest movement, and the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been frozen out of Egyptian politics for decades, are big steps, and at least the ability to propose changes to the constitution and open up the press and election system are concrete things which the movement can lay claim to. Their aim was unseating Mubarak, as Ben Ali had fled Tunisia, but that may not have been politically possible. Most regime changes of this sort only take place when there is a significant power center in society which makes the move.

Given Egypt's much greater significance than Tunisia to strategic needs of the global community, represented by the Suez Canal as well as the peace treaty with Israel, it was a given that regime stability would have much broader international support. I believe it was this which Suleiman stressed to interlocutors from the diplomatic community, and may have even gone to the extent of engineering the attacks on the press and the pipeline explosion to underline that point. Aside from that, the involvement of the army in the economy and the support of the -- for want of a better term -- bourgeoisie were probably key factors domestically.

Time will tell if this creates a lasting process of liberation (fast version: Chile; slow version: Spain), or leads to a new lurching simulacrum of democracy that masks an autocracy (say, Russia) -- meanwhile a Chinese-style retrenchment and de-politicization of the country seems unlikely without the bribe of economic growth -- but I do feel the movement has awakened a new generation of Egyptians to the possibilities in the 21st century and going back is well-nigh impossible. Well, I hope. Look at the influence of entrenched interests here in the US and you can see that simply having elections is not in and of itself a panacea.

I do think these are significant alterations to the foundational power structure, though, and what is built on them is going to be the responsibility of a maturing political movement. When you consider that they managed this without themselves creating anarchy or assaulting the corridors of power (NDP installations perhaps, but I mean the Presidential Palace), and only employing violence in effectively self-defense, it's pretty damned impressive. Having won a seat at the table, the movement now has to make good on its mandate by using that to achieve lasting results. There are limits to what you can do taking over a few city squares.
posted by dhartung at 6:45 PM on February 6, 2011


The government has also promised to release Wael Ghonim (but, for some reason, at 4:00pm local time tomorrow).

I think that's 9 AM Eastern Time, so they're trying to not make the morning news cycles in the US.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:41 PM on February 6, 2011


Yes, it's all about the USA, isn't it?
posted by Mister Bijou at 10:44 PM on February 6, 2011


Wael Ghonim released.
posted by adamvasco at 10:38 AM on February 7, 2011


“To ask a dictator to implement democratic measures after 30 years in power is an oxymoron,” opposition leader Mohamad Elbaradei said last week...Democracy vs. Autocracy in Egypt: Which Side is the Obama Administration On? (2/7)

The U.S. appears ready to have Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak tossed out in exchange for his newly-named Vice President, Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian spy master. That is, maintain the status quo by swapping a dictator for a torturer (2/6)
posted by The Emperor of Ice Cream at 1:23 PM on February 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tonight NPR's All Things Considered had some audio from some of the unfortunates involved with that horse and camel cavalry charge. The Australian appears to have spoken to one of the same men. They do appear to have been workers and animals from the Pyramids.

(crossposted in the megathread, which has taken a turn for the worse in the form of heated rhetoric)
posted by mwhybark at 5:25 PM on February 8, 2011


Guardian correspondent Robert Tate: 28 hours in the dark heart of Egypt's torture machine. A blindfolded Robert Tait could only listen as fellow captives were electrocuted and beaten by Mubarak's security services.
posted by adamvasco at 2:00 PM on February 9, 2011


A blindfolded Robert Tait could only listen as fellow captives were electrocuted and beaten by Mubarak's security services.

Jesus christ.

I can only wonder: what is the regime's strategy by essentially making journalists witness torture and then releasing them, thus allowing them to write to an international audience about the very atrocities the regime is denying are even taking place? Do they think it will adequately frighten the protesters into backing off?
posted by scody at 3:23 PM on February 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It has to be that it's just such a standard operating procedure that they don't see the effect it will have. They're encouraged to do it in general, and in general when they do it the people are powerless to fight back.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:31 PM on February 9, 2011


The Saudis off to match any ails withdrawn by the US to take the pressure off the Egyptian military.
posted by humanfont at 3:40 PM on February 9, 2011


Laura Logan was sexually assaulted in Egypt.
posted by anya32 at 1:25 PM on February 15, 2011


Darn, the link didn't work: here it is.
posted by anya32 at 1:25 PM on February 15, 2011


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