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Is a revolution at hand?
January 27, 2011 5:55 PM   Subscribe

In preparation for massive protests after Friday prayers, it's being reported that Egypt has completely shut down access to the internet and most text and MMS messaging.

In June of 2010, 28 year old Khalid Saeed was allegedly dragged away from an internet cafe after refusing to show identification, and then brutally beaten to death in a nearby hallway. Though the authorities claim he died from choking on a bag of drugs he was trying to conceal, the graphic and disturbing photo of his disfigured body show broken teeth, a broken jaw, and horrific lacerations. This event and the wide distribution of the photo sparked massive demonstrations and a Facebook page to honor him, with the slogan "We Are Khalid Saeed." Today, just after an AP video surfaced of a protester being shot in head, Egypt seemingly shut all communications down.

Fast forward to the present, and the success of Tunisian protesters ousting their own dictator of 23 years has sparked protests from Algeria to Lebanon, and seems to have taken hold in Egypt. President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since Anwar Sadat was assassinated for signing a peace treaty with Israel in 1981, is accused of holding false elections (since no one else can run against him under the current constitution) and widespread cruelty. Egypt has largely been under a state of emergency for his entire rule, and dissidents are regularly tortured and killed according to numerous sources.

And today in Egypt, where Friday has already began, the most massive portion of the protest has been planned to begin after Friday prayers. Egypt has called up it's counter-terrorism units, cut off roads, communications, and continued sweeping protesters up in massive arrests from Cairo to Alexandria to Suez. (Jack Shenker, a Guardian reporter, provided a harrowing recording of his experience at the hands of Egyptian police.) Meanwhile the popular opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei has arrived in Cairo to participate in the protests. President Mubarak has not been seen publicly since the start of the protests, though his son and his son's family have already fled to Britain.

Amid the rising tension, the US State department has issued soft statements recommending change and supporting freedom of expression, though it continues to support Mubarak's government as legitimate. Egypt is the second highest recipient of US aid despite their lengthy human rights record, receiving over 1.2 billion dollars every year. It is seen as a stabilizing force in an area that is very valuable not only because of the Suez Canal and the hundreds of millions of barrels of oil that pass through it every year, but as a regime friendly to Israel and US interests. Egyptian military forces were even among the first to enter Kuwait during the first Gulf War to oust the Iraqi invasion.

Already editorials are weighing the merits of democracy in Egypt: the Muslim Brotherhood would see widespread gains in influence if they were allowed representation. The group has yet to show official support of the protests, though it is allowing members to participate individually, and may officially appear in the Friday protests. Founded in 1928 in Egypt, it is one of the oldest political groups in the Islamic world. Though the group officially condemns violence, it has turned more fundamentalist in its viewpoint in the past decade, and officially seeks Sharia Law. One of its most influential members, Sayyid Qutb, believed in violence as a tool to oust governments and reportedly was a huge influence for Al Qaeda. (At the time of this writing, it is being reported that leaders of the Brotherhood have been arrested.)

Among all the uncertainty, the question remains: will the United States support democracy in Egypt? If the interview with PJ Crowley of the State Department by Al Jazeera is any indication, it looks like Washington is going to wait to see what happens later today.
posted by notion (2734 comments total) 166 users marked this as a favorite

 
I would be very surprised if the United States supported a people's uprising against tyranny.
posted by fuq at 5:57 PM on January 27, 2011 [38 favorites]


Tehran is using this moment to kill the green revolutionaries.
posted by humanfont at 5:58 PM on January 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Have we ever supported a "democracy" that wasn't in fact a client state? Ever?
posted by orthogonality at 6:02 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mohamed ElBaradei was the Director of the International Atomic Energy Agency during the Iraq war, so his name was in the news a bit back then.
posted by delmoi at 6:14 PM on January 27, 2011


Have we ever supported a "democracy" that wasn't in fact a client state? Ever?

I guess it depends how you define "support", "democracy", and "client state". There's lend-lease to the UK during WWII; the Marshall Plan (France is certainly not a US client state, at least not since the Suez crisis); significant aid to non-aligned India throughout the cold war; disaster aid of various types to dozens of nations over the decades; we'll sell weapons to pretty much whoever the hell can pay; there's some current development aid to Brazil; etc...

Just trying to pick out examples that are clearly not client states. Not sure what you mean by "support", though.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:16 PM on January 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


I'm really happy the general state of American apathy won't keep me from seeing the future cutting edge videos of a cat on a vacuum cleaner.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 6:16 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


Define "supported." Remembering that it took quite a long time for us to start a sizable collection of client states, and that we have lots of allies.
posted by SMPA at 6:16 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]




it's a game of chess, isn't it? I intensely dislike the hypocrisy and the suffering of the average Egyptian. But is it completely wrong to ask, well, what would happen if Egypt fell apart? could the geopolitical realities outweigh our desire for other people to enjoy the rights that we have?

I know this was the argument made during the Cold War, and that U.S. propping up authoritarian regimes brought on mass suffering. However -- and I say this as a devil's argument sort of thing -- I don't know this disproves the completely disproves the idea that containment of Communism was a good thing.

Please don't misunderstand me: I do get that the U.S. does all sorts of nefarious, hypocritical things globally. I get that people suffer as a result. What I'm not sure about is whether more people would suffer if the U.S. wasn't such a fucking hypocrite about the "democracy agenda."
posted by angrycat at 6:19 PM on January 27, 2011 [10 favorites]




Open thread
posted by briank at 6:20 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


could the geopolitical realities outweigh our desire for other people to enjoy the rights that we have?
our desire? Is that what's important here?
posted by delmoi at 6:21 PM on January 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


I think "wait and see" probably is the US response here.

If we support the uprising and it fails, we take a massive hit with our second closest ally in the region. I can't see it being possible for us to do any business with the Egyptian government after that.

If we support the regime and it falls, we lose any and all opportunity to work with the succeeding regime, similar to what happened in the Iranian Revolution.

If we do nothing, we remain at least potentially able to do business with whoever winds up in power on Saturday.

Sounds like the prudent path to me.
posted by valkyryn at 6:23 PM on January 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


I saw this on reddit a little bit ago and was hoping there would be a post here with more info.

It absolutely amazes me that it's possible to shut down even wireless networks but I guess they need towers and those can be disabled. Actually amaze is incorrect. Fucking terrifies me is more accurate.

Thank you for the extra context to help understand more of what's happening.
posted by sio42 at 6:24 PM on January 27, 2011 [9 favorites]




what would happen if Egypt fell apart?

I totally get where you're coming from with this, and part of me agrees with your Devil's advocating. But I think the only way to stay true to our own values and the values of our society is to support freedom and self-governance wherever it sprouts, regardless of geopolitical consequences.

If we're living in a world where fighting for democracy in Egypt unstabilizes everything, then fuck it. Bring it all down.
posted by auto-correct at 6:29 PM on January 27, 2011 [22 favorites]


I'm mostly computer-illiterate...but...is there anything that people on the rest of the Internet can do to help, at least with regard to the net access?
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:31 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


It absolutely amazes me that it's possible to shut down even wireless networks but I guess they need towers and those can be disabled. Actually amaze is incorrect. Fucking terrifies me is more accurate.
Cell towers are just like huge WiFi routers. Just like you still need to plug a WiFi router into a regular Ethernet port/DSL or Cable line, the Cell Towers need their own internet connection (or they might link to a phone companies internal network, which will then take your requests out onto the internet)

But the bottom line is that, basically, once the internet gets shut down at the root level, cellular internet will get taken down too.

And actually what I heard was that the cell network survived longer then internet or the landline phone system. I don't know how accurate that is.
posted by delmoi at 6:34 PM on January 27, 2011


our desire? Is that what's important here?

nope, that's not what i'm arguing at all. to the extent that our desire matters, i'd say that it only does insofar our desires align with humanity's ability to thrive.
posted by angrycat at 6:34 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think the only way to stay true to our own values and the values of our society is to support freedom and self-governance wherever it sprouts, regardless of geopolitical consequences.

That's a nice thought, but if the consequences are bad for the values of our society, and it's entirely possible that they are, the analysis changes somewhat, no? Ideological purity may be emotionally satisfying but it isn't all that helpful in deciding the best course of action a lot of the time.
posted by valkyryn at 6:36 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm mostly computer-illiterate...but...is there anything that people on the rest of the Internet can do to help, at least with regard to the net access?
Not really, but how long can they keep this up? Lots of businesses rely on the internet working. I assume that's true in Egypt too.
posted by delmoi at 6:36 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


e.g: what the Suez canal becomes outside of the control of Western influence. Yes, our energy policies have made us dependent on the canal to the extent that we are. Stupid, maybe evil policies. But that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be great suffering if the canal closes up, given our petroleum dependence.
posted by angrycat at 6:37 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a nice thought, but if the consequences are bad for the values of our society
In other words, what if they vote for the wrong people?
posted by delmoi at 6:37 PM on January 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


given *humanity's* petroleum dependence. Not just the U.S.
posted by angrycat at 6:38 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, what if they vote for the wrong people?

Yup. That's the big problem with democracy right there.
posted by fuq at 6:39 PM on January 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


is there anything that people on the rest of the Internet can do to help, at least with regard to the net access?

Almost certainly not. If I understand it correctly, the Egyptian government has essentially turned off their telecommunications network, or at least severed its ties to the outside the world. As Telecom Egypt is down, one assumes that's what's happened.

This is really, really easy to do, and there isn't a damn thing anyone can do about it.

That's the thing about all this talk that the Internet is supposed to usher in some kind of new age of freedom: for all its perceived decentralization, it remains, on a hardware level, massively centralized, particularly in economies with a single telecom provider, as one assumes Egypt has. All it really takes is someone throwing a single switch and bam, no net access for you! Even if all they did was shut off access to the outside world and maintained Egypt's internal network, that'd produce much the same effect, as most of the servers that run sites like Facebook, Twitter, etc. are located outside the country.

The only reason the Tunisian revolution worked as well as it did is because it took the government by surprise, where someone was apparently asleep at the wheel. The fact that that government didn't crack down the way Mubarak's is suggests that the Tunisian government was pretty weak already.
posted by valkyryn at 6:42 PM on January 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


e.g: what the Suez canal becomes outside of the control of Western influence. Yes, our energy policies have made us dependent on the canal to the extent that we are.
Actually, most of the oil we use comes from Canada and Venezuela, as well as local production.
posted by delmoi at 6:44 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, what if they vote for the wrong people?

Not exactly. I mean that saying we're going to support any and every democratic grassroots movement is going to mean that we stop being able to have normalized relationships with a huge chunk of the world's governments, some of whom are either 1) pretty important to US interests abroad--including our commitment to democracy!--or 2) not necessarily worse than a "democratically elected" government might be.

No, just because an opposition movement is populist and the reigning regime is tyrannical does not automatically mean that our interests and values lie with the former. I mean, Liberian President Charles Taylor was democratically elected, and look how that worked out.

Again, I say we wait and see what happens and then try to work with whoever is in power after the dust settles. It is, after all, fundamentally an Egyptian problem. Where's all the concern about us not getting involved in foreign entanglements?
posted by valkyryn at 6:49 PM on January 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


In one fell swoop...

I hurt my fingertip tapping the + that hard.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:51 PM on January 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hopefully Mubarak will come to his senses, find his old patriotism, and resign to a caretaker government that holds swift elections.
posted by vrakatar at 6:51 PM on January 27, 2011


I read that just DNS is down, not full internet access. (Although certain sites may be blocked by IP address)
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 6:53 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


How's that internet kill switch looking now?
posted by unSane at 6:55 PM on January 27, 2011 [37 favorites]


Actually, most of the oil we use comes from Canada and Venezuela, as well as local production.

No, most of it, just barely, is domestic. But the crude we do import doesn't go through the canal (VLCCs are too big; hence the Suezmax designation for that dwt). What we do import from the Middle East goes around the Cape in the (almost) biggest ships you can imagine. Ditto for Japan and China.

Europe, however, would be fucked should something shut down the Suez. Actually, if anything shuts down the Suez, the knock-on effects would be...bad.
posted by digitalprimate at 6:55 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]



I read that just DNS is down, not full internet access. (Although certain sites may be blocked by IP address)


You can't even hit Egyptian government sites via IP. I think it is more than DNS.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:58 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm mostly computer-illiterate...but...is there anything that people on the rest of the Internet can do to help, at least with regard to the net access?

I believe witness.org may help place tiny satellite base stations in some of the worst-offending countries for video uploads of human rights violations.

There's not much a government can do to prevent uploads if the video can be delivered to the base station.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:59 PM on January 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


Egypt pop 78.866.635 (July 2009 est) , NTRA number of DSL subscribers in Egypt is 1.027.488 (date unclear) source wikipedia. That's 1,28 lines per hundred inhabitants.
So I guess at best 2-3 million people get the net in Egypt? And I wonder how filtered it is.

That without considering that indeed internet is massively centralized in many countries, and it is rather easily turned off.

That makes Fidonet look like reliable, for it relied on ordinary modems.
posted by elpapacito at 7:00 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


webhund: “Hoping I'm wrong, but don't put too much stock into a Twitter-olution...”

I wanted to note here that I have seen the flurry of Twitter-skeptical articles about the Iranian uprising, and while the articles are factually correct, the general implication is flat wrong. The internet has been used a lot in Iran, and is still used by many to keep in touch and keep tabs on what's going on. Twitter is not as large a player in this as some have said, it's true; that's because Twitter certainly doesn't afford the privacy or layers of acquaintance that, for example, Facebook does. And it's my feeling that Facebook played a large part in Iran, and is playing (or did play, until Egypt went offline) a large part in Egypt. The difference is that it's not exactly possible to know that; Facebook feeds aren't public, you can't track who is following who easily, and you can't gather data on it the way you can with Twitter. Which is sort of the whole point of its utility.
posted by koeselitz at 7:05 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]




We are of course still far from seeing a truly independent Egypt. We may never see one. But a great wall of public fear has been taken down today; the hollow facade of the American-backed tyranny has been punched through, by a courageous upsurging of ordinary people, driven, like the protesters that took down another American-backed tyranny in Tunisia, by the common human need for bread, for employment, for freedom, for dignity, not by religious or ideological fervor. - Chris Floyd
posted by Joe Beese at 7:15 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, what if they vote for the wrong people?

Are the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip better off since electing Hamas? That's not supposed to be a leading question. I don't think they are, but I'm not sure they're worse off, either.
posted by fatbird at 7:23 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


> And actually what I heard was that the cell network survived longer then internet or the
> landline phone system. I don't know how accurate that is.
> posted by delmoi at 9:34 PM on January 27 [+] [!]

If you want a medium/network that can't be taken down centrally you're pretty much limited to ham radio.
posted by jfuller at 7:24 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder how filtered it is
The internet in Egypt is not filtered. Facebook has been the main site activists have used to organize these movements, along with Twitter and SMS.

is there anything that people on the rest of the Internet can do to help, at least with regard to the net access?
I contacted the White House and told them that I am very concerned about the situation in Egypt and asked them to pressure Mubarak to let people protest and open back up SMS and internet.

I know the US can't send in troops and force out Mubarak--but I'm horrified by the idea that one of our closest 'friends' and allies is preparing to massacre its people and yet there's nothing we can do to stop it. I hope Hillary is burning up that phone line.

The latest reports are that Mubarak has activated his counter-terrorism forces (US tax dollars at work to train these troops!) and recalled the police.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:25 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you want a medium/network that can't be taken down centrally you're pretty much limited to ham radio.

Even then, it's possible to kill the power if the government is absolutely determined...
posted by mr_roboto at 7:28 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is what I was referring to: https://twitter.com/kate1956/status/30812662656933888. Some people are able to connect out to Facebook and Twitter by IP address.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:36 PM on January 27, 2011


Hmm, but it appears that routes to all Egyptian ISPs (except for one small one, Noor Group) have been withdrawn: http://www.renesys.com/blog/2011/01/egypt-leaves-the-internet.shtml
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 7:39 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ham radio is not an option for clandestine reporting. Unless one is not worried about tracking.
posted by clavdivs at 7:39 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I didn't want to put it in the FPP unnecessarily, but most of the weapons, including the tear gas and military vehicles, are US made and/or retrofitted and funded by American taxpayers.

We used Egypt as a black site in the post 9/11 era to torture and hold our prisoners for us, so there are darker forces with a keen interest in keeping our ghost detainees a secret and well out of judicial oversight. There's probably a lot of heated phone calls circulating the beltway tonight, and I wouldn't be surprised if they are deciding whether or not to shuffle detainees to other black sites and risk upsetting Mubarak's certainty that his regime will be upheld.
Members of the Rendition Group follow a simple but standard procedure: Dressed head to toe in black, including masks, they blindfold and cut the clothes off their new captives, then administer an enema and sleeping drugs. They outfit detainees in a diaper and jumpsuit for what can be a day-long trip. Their destinations: either a detention facility operated by cooperative countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, or one of the CIA's own covert prisons -- referred to in classified documents as "black sites," which at various times have been operated in eight countries, including several in Eastern Europe.

In the months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the CTC was the place to be for CIA officers wanting in on the fight. The staff ballooned from 300 to 1,200 nearly overnight.

"It was the Camelot of counterterrorism," a former counterterrorism official said. "We didn't have to mess with others -- and it was fun." (source)
posted by notion at 7:40 PM on January 27, 2011 [27 favorites]


Some people are able to connect out to Facebook and Twitter by IP address.

That was yesterday. This is not the case since this afternoon (in the US), when they've managed to block everything, so it seems. I'm even seeing reports from friends that they've managed to block the internet connection of the US Embassy (which runs separately).
posted by bluedaisy at 7:41 PM on January 27, 2011


Yeah it wouldn't be too hard to just jam the hams.
Actually, most of the oil we use comes from Canada and Venezuela, as well as local production.
No, most of it, just barely, is domestic.
If most of our oil production was domestic, then it would also be true that most of oil comes from Canada and Venezuela, as well as local production, since the second is a superset of the first.
posted by delmoi at 7:41 PM on January 27, 2011


Pruitt-Igoe: if you follow #JAN25 on twitter, you'll see that most everyone is saying it's been down. That particular tweet you linked was going around a lot yesterday.
posted by notion at 7:41 PM on January 27, 2011


You can test this yourself.

www.egypt.gov.eg [81.21.104.81]
cairo.usembassy.gov [62.140.73.207]

By domain or IP address, you will time out.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:43 PM on January 27, 2011


That was yesterday. This is not the case since this afternoon (in the US), when they've managed to block everything, so it seems. I'm even seeing reports from friends that they've managed to block the internet connection of the US Embassy (which runs separately).


Oops! Sorry, I read the wrong tweet.

The problem is that no one can read those messages, so it might not help anyone.
posted by bluedaisy at 7:44 PM on January 27, 2011


Instructions for the protests Friday were widely distributed before everything went down, it's going to continue but aside from journalists with sat phones not much is going to get out.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:47 PM on January 27, 2011




In other words, what if they vote for the wrong people?
We'll spit through the streets of the cities we wreck
And we'll find you a leader that you can elect
Those treaties we signed were a pain in the neck
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World

And when we['ve] butchered your sons, boys
When we['ve] butchered your sons
Have a stick of our gum, boys
Have a stick of our bubble gum
We own half the world, oh say can you see
And the name for our profits is democracy
So, like it or not, you will have to be free
'Cause we're the Cops of the World, boys
We're the Cops of the World
posted by orthogonality at 7:54 PM on January 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


The United States produces 2 billion barrels of oil per year as of 2009. It imports 4.2 billion barrels of oil per year, down from a high of 5 billion barrels in 2005. In 2008 we imported 2.1 billion barrels from OPEC nations, and that fell to 1.7 billion barrels in 2009.

To put it another way, if OPEC (which includes Venezuela) decided to stop shipping us oil, our strategic reserve of only 727 million barrels would not last us six months, and maybe a year or 18 months with extraordinary rationing that would cripple our economy. Even if prices of oil dropped due to the economic slowdown worldwide, the sheer lack of production capacity would inflate the price for the West.

I can't find the talk right now, but I remember Chomsky saying that most of the projections he read from the 70s and 80s discussed moving production to more reliable sources closer to the United States, especially North Atlantic sources, but keeping control over middle eastern resources as "veto power" in world affairs. Since the vast majority of our military action and base construction has taken place near Iraq, it seems they are following through with their long term plans.

(from the other thread... sorry for the dupe, but this is the correct spot)
posted by notion at 7:55 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


It absolutely amazes me that it's possible to shut down even wireless networks but I guess they need towers and those can be disabled. Actually amaze is incorrect. Fucking terrifies me is more accurate.

it absolutely amazes me that young, allegedly tech-savvy people don't know that wireless networks are just radio transmitters and receivers. fucking terrifies me actually.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:12 PM on January 27, 2011 [28 favorites]


Looks like the BGP routes were withdrawn.

For the non-technical people, BGP is the Border Gateway Protocol. It's the communication protocol used by the large network providers to tell other network providers what routes are reachable via them.

It looks like the Egyptian government told the big four Egyption ISPs to pull all of the routes. Without that information, other networks on the Internet don't know how to reach individual hosts.
posted by formless at 8:13 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Doh, furiousxgeorge beat me to it.
posted by formless at 8:13 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back in 1999, Noopolitik was one look at what the future effects of open information on US foreign policy could be.

It's always better to be truthful if the structure of information and communication means that all lies, like soft crypto, have a short half-life.

One thing the US could do right now is be a truthful window into what's happening in Egypt. It's not exactly the same thing as transparency, since not all information has to be public. But the information made public should be free of distortion, spin, or manipulation.
posted by warbaby at 8:13 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


No one even mentions the attempt in Myanmar/Burma anymore.

The unadorned fact is, revolution is hard, and rarely succeeds. We can point to the successes because they are dramatic, but for each success there are a hell of a lot more that fail, and even of the successes they don't all lead to good outcomes.

I hope it turns out fantastic in Egypt and Tunisia and all others that try this, I do remain pessimistic though.
posted by edgeways at 8:16 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Suez protester felled by bullet
posted by Joe Beese at 8:22 PM on January 27, 2011




The Guardian's Liveblog.

Big stuff a-goin' down... I'm hoping it produces a bit more change than the Iranian election protests.
posted by kaibutsu at 8:26 PM on January 27, 2011


And this is when I consider taking up HAM radio. Get involved doing Internet over HAM.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


In other words, what if they vote for the wrong people?

Yeah, Cheney and Bush
posted by the noob at 8:29 PM on January 27, 2011


And this is when I consider taking up HAM radio. Get involved doing Internet over HAM.

http://pastebin.com/fHHBqZ7Q

!!!
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:35 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a ghettoization of a collective consciousness.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:37 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It looks like an icecast/shoutcast might get setup for the ham stream here shortly? http://twitter.com/AnonOnABike/status/30843824557260800
posted by curious nu at 8:38 PM on January 27, 2011


Wikileaks just tweeted:

"We will soon release numerous cables on Egypt."
posted by ofthestrait at 8:39 PM on January 27, 2011 [16 favorites]


Unless journalists are traveling with sat phones, nobody can get information in or out. I fear that it's a foreshadowing of a violent response from the government to tomorrow's protests.
posted by dejah420 at 8:41 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]




@notion: compare this to this.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:45 PM on January 27, 2011


Where things go next is hard to tell. Unlike Tunis, the army is probably quite willing to use force to back up the police. The army does benefit from the current institutional arrangement. Nothing says this to me quite as much as the immense growth over the last 30 years of the Officer’s Club in Zamalek, a very affluent section of Cairo, which now has a luxury hotel, an outdoor restaurant, and (at least as nearly as one can judge from peeking through gaps in the very high and solid wall) an extremely relaxing oasis of a club in this island in the middle of the Nile.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:45 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ack! That should have read this to this. Not also the separate break out for OPEC imports.
posted by digitalprimate at 8:47 PM on January 27, 2011


Living on a boat, I've come to rely on satellite for my data connection. I can't help but feel that small sat dishes donated en masse to key dissidents could keep the lines of communication open among the resistance. One dish the size of a coffee pot could serve hundreds. In key locations, given to key people could mean the difference between an Iran style outcome and a Polish one.
posted by karst at 8:51 PM on January 27, 2011 [11 favorites]


Nick Baumann at Mother Jones on What's Happening in Egypt Explained (via medley's twitter)
posted by genehack at 8:53 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think this has already been posted.

From the NY Times: Cables Show Delicate U.S. Dealings With Egypt’s Leaders
posted by bluedaisy at 8:54 PM on January 27, 2011


Ham radio is not an option for clandestine reporting. Unless one is not worried about tracking.

EME - Moon bounce!

Do you have a directional antenna, a 2m SSB transceiver with 50 W output and a PC?

"If your answer is YES then, believe it or not, you are capable of making a QSO with EA6VQ (and other stations) using the Moon as a reflector. Please continue reading this page and you will discover a new world of DX communications, where you can work stations all around the world on 144 MHz."
posted by zippy at 8:56 PM on January 27, 2011 [18 favorites]


I want to stay up, but I have a long day tomorrow. I just want to say that I hope the Egyptians earn their freedom today without bloodshed, Insha'Allah. If this is an issue you care about, please put a call or an e-mail to your representative, or share this story with anyone you know in DC, or even just tweet some support with #JAN25.

Whatever your beliefs may be about democracy in Egypt, it's obvious that the Mubarak regime isn't sustainable in the long run. Let's make what sacrifices we must to accept their right to free will.

(No, I don't believe in God... but I don't think hoping for a little cosmic help can hurt.)
posted by notion at 9:03 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many Egypt-based international businesses will set up hosting outside the country after this.

Also, will the government or the ISPs pay for all the broken internet uptime agreements for business customers?

Finally, is it possible for an enterprising ISP outside Egypt to publish the correct BGP routes and reestablish contact, assuming the physical links are up?
posted by zippy at 9:04 PM on January 27, 2011


Okay. How about a bluetoothed message-passing network? Pass packets on sneakernet. And on open wifi, so neighborhoods can be covered.

City-to-city becomes difficult.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:04 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would argue that sustaining authoritarian rule in the Muslim world does more damage to national security, by giving no outlet internally for grinding poverty and alienation. Ultimately these become recruits for terror, and extremists point to the support for authoritarians from the West to back up their claims that the West must be extinguished. We would do better to proclaim universal rights and denounce state-sponsored violence, than being measured and careful and worried about Islamist rule. If we’re going to be involved at all in the Middle East, we need to be on the right side of history.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:08 PM on January 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


As a ham radio operator, moonbounce isn't as nice and untraceable as you'd like. Directional antennas are never 100% directional- there's always some leakage.

Oh- and if we're worrying about whether dictators should be propped up because the people might vote for the wrong guys, i'd rather go lie down and die.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:10 PM on January 27, 2011 [12 favorites]


Can some tell me, am I interpreting this correctly?

I'm under the impression Egypt has gone black-out: no communications except mouth to ear and whatever samizdat press as exists.

Now I'm about to go browse what purports to be real news media, see if I can get a sense of scale.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:14 PM on January 27, 2011


I think the idea with ham in a situation like this is security through obscurity. They will be so busy shutting down twitter they will forget about old school communication technology.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:19 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm under the impression Egypt has gone black-out: no communications except mouth to ear and whatever samizdat press as exists.

Landlines to some areas are still working. Many people don't have landlines (mobile phones are very popular) though. Apparently some news channels have satellite phones or whatever you call them that are still working.

It's about 7:20 am in Egypt right now, on Friday, the first day of the weekend. And Egyptians aren't exactly known as early risers. So it might be a while before folks are stirring and we can get more news. But certainly many people seem cut off--my expat friends who I'd expect to be online now are not.

Prayers are at noon, so in about five hours, with the big protest expected to follow.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:20 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yeah, it has been pre-planned to happen after the prayers. Communication stayed up long enough to establish that, what happens after is anyone's guess but the media should be awake and broadcasting at that time.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:22 PM on January 27, 2011


Also, Al Jazeera has some good coverage.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:22 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the Internet were to shutdown because of civil unrest in the us, unwound take that as a sure fire sign that The Shit is about to Hit The Fan and as I would basically be unemployed at that point, I would mosey on over to the home of whichever of my friends that has the largest gun collection to wait out the apocalypse.
posted by empath at 9:23 PM on January 27, 2011


Unwound=I would. Yay autocorrect
posted by empath at 9:23 PM on January 27, 2011


If you cut off the WoW nerds the revolution would happen Tuesday morning.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:27 PM on January 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


I agree with that assessment, Empath. I'm surprised that Egypt did this - governments usually try to keep up appearances of stability when unrest appears. The Egyptian government has just told every citizen of the country in language they can't possibly ignore that they have a precarious hold on power. Plus, they've done a huge amount of damage to their economy and their international reputation. They must really believe that this constitutes a real threat.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:29 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Don't the have a ton of satellite tvs in Egypt? They'll still be able to get Al Jazeera, right?
posted by empath at 9:30 PM on January 27, 2011


Satellite TV is what makes Al Jazeera what it is: local governments are powerless to stop it. It's a key instance of innovative new communications channels bypassing government power.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:38 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is their stock market open today? It's going to be complete chaos after Friday prayers.
posted by empath at 9:40 PM on January 27, 2011


Right, but if Al Jazeera is having a hard time getting news out, there might not be as much news for Egyptians to watch. Also, protesters want to be on the streets, not at home watching tv.
posted by bluedaisy at 9:40 PM on January 27, 2011


The other side, of course, is that Al Jazeera is ultimately still a broadcast medium, with correspondents and reporting outposts that are quite vulnerable to government attack, as we saw in the Gulf War and during the last big crackdown in Palestine. Conversely, the internet provides a distributed communications platform, but - as we're now seeing - can be subject to bottlenecks and government take-down.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:41 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Empath, no, it's Friday, so I don't think the stock market is open (the work week in Egypt is Sunday to Thursday).
posted by bluedaisy at 9:43 PM on January 27, 2011


I have a terrible fear that I know what's going to happen: tomorrow the security forces are going to be shooting live ammunition. There's going to be an appalling blood bath; at least a thousand dead.

The reason for the communications blackout is to prevent word getting out to the wider world until after it's all over.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:44 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Atlantic has translated and published some of the Activists Action Plan that was supposed to be kept off the internet as long as possible.
posted by saucysault at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Question: I'm not super familiar with BGP. If this was done by no longer advertising BGP routes and not by cutting cables, couldn't ISP's outside Egypt simply hard code the routes back in to restore service?
posted by empath at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2011


@Alshaheeed, about 3 hours ago: "RT ALJAZEERA: government-hired thugs r pouring petrol over cars & will charge through the streets with swords http://goo.gl/B4TVP #JAN25"
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:48 PM on January 27, 2011


I have a terrible fear that I know what's going to happen: tomorrow the security forces are going to be shooting live ammunition. There's going to be an appalling blood bath; at least a thousand dead.

I'd hope that would mean that the US would completely withdraw support at that point. I'd fucking revolt here if it didn't.
posted by empath at 9:49 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Good luck out there today, people of Egypt.
posted by wander at 9:51 PM on January 27, 2011 [13 favorites]


They don't care if people watch the news, they don't want the net to be used to coordinate protests.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:52 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Question: I'm not super familiar with BGP. If this was done by no longer advertising BGP routes and not by cutting cables, couldn't ISP's outside Egypt simply hard code the routes back in to restore service?

This is not a rhetorical question, btw. I work at an ISP and have access to our BGP routing tables.
posted by empath at 9:53 PM on January 27, 2011


I have a terrible fear that I know what's going to happen: tomorrow the security forces are going to be shooting live ammunition. There's going to be an appalling blood bath; at least a thousand dead.

The reason for the communications blackout is to prevent word getting out to the wider world until after it's all over.


I agree with this. But I'm not going to favorite it.
posted by jsturgill at 9:54 PM on January 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


*things as simple as avoid this street or this square can make all the difference in riot control. If the police have communication and the protesters don't they will be contained.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:54 PM on January 27, 2011




empath: Question: I'm not super familiar with BGP. If this was done by no longer advertising BGP routes and not by cutting cables, couldn't ISP's outside Egypt simply hard code the routes back in to restore service?

This is not a rhetorical question, btw. I work at an ISP and have access to our BGP routing tables.


I'm curious too, but my guess is that it wouldn't work. I think the problem would be that you'd have to manually configure the border routers, not just any router. Right now, the border routers that used to connect to Egypt don't have the routes anymore - you might be able to manually route packets to those routers, but all they're going to do is throw their hands up and return them as undeliverable. If the router that handles the WAN link doesn't know what's on the other side, it'll never route anything that way.

Plus, I'd guess that the BGP routes from Egypt aren't being advertised anymore because the border routers are either disabled or off, not just because they aren't advertising their routes.

However, I have to admit that my knowledge of BGP was fragmentary at best and is years out of date, so I could be wrong. I'm curious to see if anyone who knows more about it answers.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:17 PM on January 27, 2011


i guess that's probably more likely, that they actually physically turned off the edge routers.
posted by empath at 10:19 PM on January 27, 2011


June 2009:

I will participate in the demonstrations tomorrow.  Maybe they will turn violent.  Maybe I will be one of the people who is going to get killed. ... I have to call my friends as well to say goodbye. ... I wrote these random sentences for the next generation so they know we were not just emotional and under peer pressure.  So they know that we did everything we could to create a better future for them.  So they know that our ancestors surrendered to Arabs and Mongols but did not surrender to despotism.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:22 PM on January 27, 2011 [15 favorites]


empath: i guess that's probably more likely, that they actually physically turned off the edge routers.

Actually, now that I think about it, if I were to do something like this, I wouldn't shut down the border routers. WAN links can be a huge pain (and potentially expensive) to bring back up. What I would do is either turn off IP routing on them, or perhaps shut down the port (or pull the cable) that connects the border router to the main routers that run Egypt's local networks. That could potentially explain live WAN links that don't advertise any routes - the border routers are live but aren't hooked up to anything, so they don't advertise anything.
posted by Mitrovarr at 10:26 PM on January 27, 2011


Question: I'm not super familiar with BGP. If this was done by no longer advertising BGP routes and not by cutting cables, couldn't ISP's outside Egypt simply hard code the routes back in to restore service?
Sure you could staticly route to the old peers, but then just as easily you could null route everything if you were in charge of the peering routers.

In a country with limited NAPS and limited links across the boarder it's reasonably easy to knock out the links if you have access to the facilities physically or the routers logically.

Just as an FYI, the internet kill switch idea in the states is a far fetched idea by a bunch of people who don't understand political, technical or financial realities. There is no way congress or the president is going to be allowed to shut down the internet; it's an enormous technical challenge to do in any meaningful way in the states, it's politically about the surest way to get people to flip the fuck out when their smartphones stop working, and no one wants to fuck with the sweet sweet money pipe that is the internet.
posted by iamabot at 10:35 PM on January 27, 2011


The key is what the army decide. Nobody knows that. The US are making noises that essentially say they support both side as nobody knows how this pans out.

I interviewed James Wolfensohn last week and he made a point about the region:

You’ve got 105 million kids in the region, between the ages of 15 and 29 and you’ve got 120 million under 15. They need 5 million jobs a year and they’re getting between 2 and 2.5 million. That varies by country throughout the Arab region, but it means that you have a build up of frustrated young people, who are educated.

The experts I'm speaking to all agree on one point. This current unrest in several countries may be quelled, but the pressure will continue to build as the forces behind people's anger will not go away.
posted by quarsan at 10:37 PM on January 27, 2011 [7 favorites]


@Empath - you would need the help of the ISPs in Egypt. Since nothing seems to be coming out, it is safe to assume that they are unable to provide that. Currently, if you hardcoded your BGP tables, and you were directly connected to Egyptian routers, you might be able to send UDP packets one-way, but never know if anyone was listening.

In order to send traffic from a source to a destination, every ISP (actually autonomous system, but that's splitting hairs) on the AS-PATH needs to know some way of reaching the destination address. So in order to get one-way communications going, you will need to get everyone on a communication path between you and Egypt to hard-code the relevant routes. Even if you have done that, it is highly likely nobody is listening. To what address would you send your UDP packets?

You can't get a conversation going without bi-directional communication, and getting a reverse path requires an Egyptian ISP to go against government orders. No reverse path means no bi-directional communications, and even no TCP because ACKs could never arrive (never mind the impossibility of setting up the 3-way handshake in the first place). The Internet is highly robust to physical destruction, but regional chunks of it seem to be very non-resilient to autocratic governments. The Internet can be destroyed politically, even though a nuclear attack would only slow it down for a matter of minutes.
posted by pmb at 10:40 PM on January 27, 2011 [4 favorites]


Actually, now that I think about it, if I were to do something like this, I wouldn't shut down the border routers. WAN links can be a huge pain (and potentially expensive) to bring back up. What I would do is either turn off IP routing on them, or perhaps shut down the port (or pull the cable) that connects the border router to the main routers that run Egypt's local networks. That could potentially explain live WAN links that don't advertise any routes - the border routers are live but aren't hooked up to anything, so they don't advertise anything.

You dom't need to do anything, just update your route-map and filter incoming announcements. Easy. You don't change the announcement, you just filter inbound announcements or still announce the prefixes but dump them to null0 at the border routers or elsewhere... this is trivial stuff really.
posted by iamabot at 10:47 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wouldn't shut down the border routers. WAN links can be a huge pain (and potentially expensive) to bring back up.

When the government is facing an existential crisis, they won't give a damn about how expensive it will be to restore internet communications.

Turning them completely off is easy and foolproof.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 11:02 PM on January 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It absolutely amazes me that it's possible to shut down even wireless networks but I guess they need towers and those can be disabled.

All you need to do is order Vodafone to help you. Which they did.

Large corporations; tyranny's favourite friend. How much did Ford make from the Nazis, again?
posted by rodgerd at 11:11 PM on January 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


Just to give a sense of how big a deal this is for Egypt, here's a map of Africa showing how Internet-connected its countries are. Egypt's at the top of the list with 3780 AS networks; the next contender is South Africa with 1702. Israel (not shown) has 3973. Internet is a big part of Egypt's infrastructure. Even assuming they're only blocking Internet at the borders & haven't shut it down entirely, it's still a very big deal for them, it will be felt throughout the country's economic system.
posted by scalefree at 11:14 PM on January 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


God, I love anonymous.
posted by empath at 11:17 PM on January 27, 2011 [19 favorites]


All you need to do is order Vodafone to help you. Which they did.

I believe that Vodafone is going to be targetted by Anon tomorrow, but I doubt they can do much to them.
posted by empath at 11:22 PM on January 27, 2011


Motherfuck. My brother, his wife, and their two- and five-year-old daughters are holed up in their apartment in Cairo today.

Word to the revolution, it's over-fucking-due, but I hope there's minimal damage to... well, everyone.
posted by stet at 11:55 PM on January 27, 2011 [14 favorites]


There was mention above of someone planning on broadcasting Ham over Icecast. If anyone out there discovers this is happening, please post it here.
posted by Jimbob at 11:56 PM on January 27, 2011


All you need to do is order Vodafone to help you. Which they did.

Large corporations; tyranny's favourite friend. How much did Ford make from the Nazis, again?


It's not like Vodafone had any choice in the matter. What else could they have done? If they had tried to resist, they would only be putting their Egyptian employees in danger.

It's quite a difference between Vodafone being forced to shut down their Egyptian network and Ford voluntarily profiting from associating with the Nazi regime and it's unfair to equivocate the two.
posted by gyc at 12:11 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


People set themselves on fire; thousands march; they are shot down; journalists are captured and tortured; one man confronts a water tank head on ... and the world ignores them. Turn off the internet and the world is alert and outraged.

This internet censorship may just save the protesters.

Ironically, the decision to shut the internet off could just have been a big blundering misunderstanding of technology:

Hosni Mubarak is 82 years old. He has been Egypt’s absolute ruler for three decades. He is America’s biggest ally in the Middle East. He has probably never really learned how to use a computer. I cannot imagine that he tweets or even fully comprehends how this most omnipresent of social networks works.
The Revolution Will Not be Tweeted?

It is ten am in Cairo now ... two hours till Prayers.

Friday is the holiest day of the Islamic week. It is also the beginning of the weekend in Egypt where Sunday is the first day of the workweek.

Mubarak has never really paraded his Islamic credentials. I wonder if he feels any sense of impending doom on his Judgment day for potentially ordering the massacre of scores of believers, most good Muslims as they emerge from praying the one obligatory group worship required by Islam on its holiest day.

posted by Surfurrus at 12:15 AM on January 28, 2011


City-to-city becomes difficult.

Not necessarily - you can go 20 kilometers with directional, high-gain antenna's - and further if you are willing to "illegally" up your wattage past the factory defaults (sub 1-watt*). You would then need a series of relays to form an "alternet". The problem is - you would have wanted to set all this up prior to this type of event happening. (Many folks in the wifi-tinkering space have been thinking about this type of scenario/challenge for along time).

* (if you are a licensed HAM, you may be able to operate legally past those defaults)
posted by jkaczor at 12:18 AM on January 28, 2011


Is regular phone out, too? Can you still get a voice-line modem? A UUCP network would still work over normal phone service.
posted by ctmf at 12:47 AM on January 28, 2011


Oops - I am a bit dated - current active long-distance Wifi record is 304km - using un-modified, commerical-off-the-shelf equipment and from what I can see, no boosting of wattage.

So - as mentioned above, something like Witness.org would be a possible group to work with to "package" this concept (if cheap-enough, some of that "off-the-shelf" radio equipment is still very expensive) and provide an alternate backbone. (Satellites can be remotely messed-with by big-government-players as well)

But - enough of the internet/armchair pontificating - my thoughts truly go out to those brave people today/tomorrow, I wish you the best; I hope you are able to change things and I hope that few/none get hurt.
posted by jkaczor at 12:52 AM on January 28, 2011


ctmf - Last I saw on twitter, regular phone service (at least calls into/out-of Egypt) is down.
posted by jkaczor at 12:53 AM on January 28, 2011


Man, talk about the Striesand Effect in action… Mubarak has sealed his doom with this action, mark my words. They've legitimized rioters into genuine protesters (because protesters organize).
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:01 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is this information valid?? Can anyone confirm?

The US is sending troops to support Mubarak???

Connecticut National Guard Detachment 2, Company I, 185th Aviation Regiment of Groton has mobilized and will deploy to the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, to support the Multinational Force and Observers.

The unit left Connecticut Jan. 15 for Fort Benning, Ga., for further training and validation. The unit operates C-23C Sherpa aircraft and has deployed three times in the last seven years in support of the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The unit will provide an on-demand aviation asset to the Multinational Force and Observers commander to support its mission of supervising the security provisions of the Egypt/ Israel Peace Treaty.


http://www.theday.com/article/20110124/NWS09/301249955/-1/nws
posted by Surfurrus at 1:02 AM on January 28, 2011


How's that internet kill switch looking now?

Pretty effective? Proponents of the internet kill switch want it to work exactly like this.
posted by odinsdream at 1:05 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


They've legitimized rioters into genuine protesters (because protesters organize).

Except... The "easy" tools used to organize with have been removed - even basic phonecalls are useful, let alone text messages, email, facebook, twitter et all.

Basically all that is left now is word-of-mouth, foot-runners and note-passing - which is workable, but is not as fast or efficient.
posted by jkaczor at 1:13 AM on January 28, 2011


I believe that Vodafone is going to be targetted by Anon tomorrow, but I doubt they can do much to them.

I dunno. Vodafone Australia demonstrated their systems aren't exactly well-run. Of course, Anonymous may start running low on volunteers as we start to see mass arrests for use of the LOIC against anti-Wikileaks targets. Funny how we don't see anyone arrested for equally illegal attacks on pro-Wikileaks infrastructure. I guess that like fucking and arresting leftists while joining the BNP, it all depends on who the police consider the real enemy.
posted by rodgerd at 1:26 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not like Vodafone had any choice in the matter. What else could they have done? If they had tried to resist, they would only be putting their Egyptian employees in danger.

It's quite a difference between Vodafone being forced to shut down their Egyptian network and Ford voluntarily profiting from associating with the Nazi regime and it's unfair to equivocate the two.


That's funny, because the excuse you're offering Vodafone is exactly the one ol' Henry used to keep all the money his European division made.
posted by rodgerd at 1:28 AM on January 28, 2011


Man, talk about the Striesand Effect in action… Mubarak has sealed his doom with this action, mark my words. They've legitimized rioters into genuine protesters (because protesters organize).

What makes you think that? If the army and police are still willing to rape, to torture, to kill, the Internet being off lets them do so with no fear of repercussion, ever.

The US is sending troops to support Mubarak???

I would read that as the US sending troops to make sure that the hard right in Israel don't see this as a chance to go seize the Sinai again, amongst other catastrophic possibilities.
posted by rodgerd at 1:31 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure about range, but it would certainly be possible for someone to set up a GSM tower (not in the physical sense) for all nearby cellphones to connect to. Hacker conferences regularly do this - it's a capability built into most GSM phones that they automatically try to associate with towers - and conferences regularly offer the ability for people attending to call and text eachother.

This of course has no outbound capabilities, but for internal organization it would be perfect.
posted by odinsdream at 1:32 AM on January 28, 2011


Tony Blair, having defended destroying Iraq and being responsible for tens of thousands of deaths for the "greater good" in front of the (hopelessly compromised) Chilcott Inquiry says:

"The challenges have been the same for these countries for a long period of time. The question is how they evolve and modernise, but do so with stability. The danger is if you open up a vacuum anything can happen.

"As Hillary Clinton was saying yesterday, the important thing is to engage in this process of modernisation, and improving systems of government, but do it in a way that keeps the order and stability of the country together."

Asked if Mubarak should stay in power, Blair said: "Well I think the decisions about how this is done is incredibly difficult. President Mubarak has been in power for 30 years. There's obviously in any event going to be an evolution and a change there. The question is how does that happen in the most stable way possible.

[...]

"This is not limited to one country in the region. It's all over the region. You have got to take account of the fact that when you unleash this process of reform, unless you are going to be very, very careful about how it's done and how it's staged, then you run risks as well."


Democracy is delivered by white people with guns, over your children's dead bodies. If your brutal dictator is a friend of Britain, well, suck it up.
posted by rodgerd at 1:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


long distance [..] city-to-city [..] moon bounce

Please realize that entertaining the outside world is not the number one priority for the people on the ground. This isn't the Falklands where you just need to get a call out for help. The two key communications need right now are (1) rapid dissemination of local tactical information such as police movements and roadblocks, and (2) communicating to the local populace why this is happening and why they should support the movement / join the fight.

International communication and even city-to-city communication isn't as important as widely accessible local broadcast. Two-way conversation is not as important as a sense of solidarity and knowing that you are part of a much larger struggle. That is what gives people courage and the will to prolong the fight. The way to communicate this is with Pirate FM Radio.
posted by ryanrs at 1:43 AM on January 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Can someone who knows more about history tell me if protests against dictatorships are becoming more frequent in the last decade or so, or if we're just hearing about more of them because word gets out via the internet before they get shut down?

Good luck, Egyptian protestors.
posted by harriet vane at 1:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Keep in mind this is a popular uprising, not guerilla warfare or an underground resistance. Very different tactics. Secrecy and trust is not important. This will be won or lost on the strength of the rebellion's propaganda and momentum.
posted by ryanrs at 1:51 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


International communication and even city-to-city communication isn't as important as widely accessible local broadcast.

Creating pressure on Obama to move away from Clinton's tut-tutting the protestors is probably pretty important at the moment. So long as the people around Mubarak think the US will keep the money and guns flowing while criticising protestors and lecturing that "violence is not the answer", I imagine they'll feel free to use the tactics of torture and murder that have kept them in power for the last 30 years.
posted by rodgerd at 1:51 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


FFS, this isn't about the US. You really think those rock-throwing kids or the dictator commanding a brutal army give a shit what Clinton or Obama say? No, they don't. The situation on the ground is more immediate than that.
posted by ryanrs at 2:14 AM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


What I'm saying is, Hillary Clinton is not what's giving these people the courage to fight. They are fighting for their own selves and their own future, and they are stronger for it.
posted by ryanrs at 2:21 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


ryanrs: Who else but the US could put the squeeze on Mubarak and tell him to call off his goons?
posted by Surfurrus at 2:22 AM on January 28, 2011


btw, don't romanticize a massacre; this isn't reality tv
posted by Surfurrus at 2:23 AM on January 28, 2011


The people pouring over the gates of his presidential palace. Nobody has ever evacuated their family because the US threatened trade sanctions.
posted by ryanrs at 2:24 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Actually ...

(repost)

It makes one wonder where the US schemers are ... we have always been so good at 'secretly removing' our pet dictators. Remember how Marcos was airlifted out of the EDSA revolution? And how we gave the Shah of Iran asylum ? How we downplayed Pinochet's human rights violations?

Maybe Egypt just needs the US to bring our man Mubarak home to the US and to a life of million dollar book deals.

Bring on the helicopters.
posted by Surfurrus at 2:37 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe that Vodafone is going to be targetted by Anon tomorrow, but I doubt they can do much to them.

The idea that an internet-based movement could have any noticeable effect on an ISP displays the radical naivete of most internet-based movements. I mean, even if Anonymous were partially successful, they cease to be effective as soon as they win. Way to bite the hand that feeds you, guys.

At best, the internet only grants an illusion of freedom. Communication on the internet is, always has been, and as far as I can tell always will be, at the sufferance of the government, depending as it does on highly specialized and concentrated infrastructure.
posted by valkyryn at 2:48 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Earlier today on PBS.
Jim Lehrer: Has the time come for president Mubarak of Egypt to go... to stand aside?

Joe Biden: No. I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction that to be more responsive to some of the needs of people out there.
Video and Transcript.
posted by ryanrs at 2:53 AM on January 28, 2011


Does anyone know if Cairo Airport is affected at all?
posted by divabat at 2:54 AM on January 28, 2011


Someone tweeted earlier that foreign correspondents were being turned back at airport - no confirmation on that.
posted by Surfurrus at 3:16 AM on January 28, 2011


The bloodier this gets the more radicalized the outcome. The only option is for Mubarak and others to step down.
posted by humanfont at 3:35 AM on January 28, 2011


The Guardian's Middle East expert Brian Whitaker will be online at 1pm (GMT) for a live web chat on the unrest in the region...
posted by Auden at 3:36 AM on January 28, 2011


AlArabiya crew has been beaten; BBC reporter beaten; El Baradei has been arrested; tear gas and rubber bullets met the people leaving prayers at the mosques. Still they march on.
http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/
posted by Surfurrus at 3:49 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ah, this sucks, I forgot that arabist.net is in Egypt. Hopefully that crew is doing what they need to do and I look forward to them coming back online.
posted by NoMich at 4:22 AM on January 28, 2011


I have to say, it's absolutely fascinating to hear the discussion of new technology (BGP, wifi ranges) and old (ham radio) in this thread.

As soon as light breaks here I'm going to set up my ham radio rig to see if I can talk to anyone there (or hear anything for that matter) on the HF bands.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:23 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


HOPEFUL sign:
tweet: policemen take off their uniforms and join protesters #Jan25 [via Al-Arabiya]
posted by Surfurrus at 4:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The only option is for Mubarak and others to step down.

Really? Why's that? Mubarak seems to have decent control over both the police and the army, unlike Ben Ali.

At this point I'm seeing no credible evidence that suggests this is going to work out one way or the other. We've got massive civil unrest, true, but that doesn't actually require any particular outcome.
posted by valkyryn at 4:41 AM on January 28, 2011


You guys are all asleep, right?
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:52 AM on January 28, 2011


Sorry, I meant,

Al Jazeera is covering it.

The Daily News is worth a look.

Guardian is doing a liveblog thing too.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:58 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Please realize that entertaining the outside world is not the number one priority for the people on the ground.... he two key communications need right now are (1) rapid dissemination of local tactical information such as police movements and roadblocks, and (2) communicating to the local populace why this is happening and why they should support the movement / join the fight.

Interesting article here about leaflets being distributed in Cairo with this information (well, (2) anyway).

Tragic to see this. I've got photos of central Cairo looking like some of those Guardian pics; but instead of protestors it was filled with football fans celebrating a famous last-minute victory over Algeria. I wonder how many of the people I met that night are protesting. Good luck to them.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:06 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]



Guardian going through the Egyptian Wikileaks cables.

Guardian liveblog: "Jack Shenker in Cairo reports on signs that the police are siding with the protesters. He saw a senior police officer discard a teargas canister to signal to protesters that he was on their side."
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:10 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


The live stream from Al Jazeera is great.
posted by NoMich at 5:17 AM on January 28, 2011


The live stream from Al Jazeera is great.

Yes! - those films of thousands praying in the street -- chicken skin moment!
posted by Surfurrus at 5:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


That Al Jazeera stream is fantastic. I'm amazed at the, well, organized quality to the chaos. The protesters are all so intent and straightforward - there's violence, but it seems so focused. I hope it can be maintained.
posted by Mizu at 5:26 AM on January 28, 2011


I just saw the protestors push back on the bridge... this is incredible. They threw a molotov cocktail at the riot police who are firing back with rubber coated bullets and teargas.
posted by notion at 5:37 AM on January 28, 2011


With the police going after protesters in full view of Al Jazeera's headquarters, you've got to wonder what else they're doing out of sight of the cameras. Scary.
posted by orme at 5:38 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


What happens if Iraq rises up next?
posted by empath at 5:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it just me, or do there not seem to be as many people in the streets as one would expect?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:42 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera -- better than any American news.
posted by empath at 5:43 AM on January 28, 2011


Is it just me, or do there not seem to be as many people in the streets as one would expect?

I guess it depends on where you are looking. They're trying to join up, but the police are stopping them.
posted by empath at 5:43 AM on January 28, 2011


In one area of Alexandria, the riot police have joined the protestors, and the injured riot police were carried to help by the protestors.
posted by notion at 5:43 AM on January 28, 2011


In one area of Alexandria, the riot police have joined the protestors, and the injured riot police were carried to help by the protestors.

From the Guardian Liveblog (1:12pm and 1:33pm):
Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch: We are in East Alexandria. Immediately after prayer, the people came out of mosque with banners and started marching, shouting 'we are peaceful, we are peaceful'. Security arrived and immediately began shooting teargas and rubber bullets at peaceful protesters, about 600. Then one-hour rock throwing clash, but police didn't advance more than one block and kept being pushed back. Then a massive column of protesters came from the other direction and blocked in police, holding up their hands and shouting we are peaceful. Right now police is held up in the yard of mosque and protesters all around, police can't move. They repeatedly ran out of teargas and begged protesters to stop, protesters telling them to join them.
(later) The police have now given up fighting the protesters. The police and protesters are now talking, with protesters bringing water and vinegar (for teargas) to the police. Afternoon prayer has just been called and hundreds are praying in front of the mosque in east Alexandria.
posted by memebake at 5:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


Yeah that Al Jazeera feed is amazing... Cairo streets empty of cars! Who would have thought!
posted by Jimbob at 5:48 AM on January 28, 2011


Damn. The people in Cairo were totally corralled and pushed into disarray, breathing tear gas, and it's not 10 minutes later and they're all streaming back.
posted by Mizu at 5:51 AM on January 28, 2011


I hear much about police, but not of soldiers. What is the military doing right now?
posted by ryanrs at 5:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Basically all that is left now is word-of-mouth, foot-runners and note-passing - which is workable, but is not as fast or efficient.

Do not underestimate the power of momentum.

What makes you think that? If the army and police are still willing to rape, to torture, to kill, the Internet being off lets them do so with no fear of repercussion, ever.

The army and police are comprised of citizens. The amount of murder and mayhem people are willing to do to each other depends intrinsically on how much they feel they'll get away with. If the army and police start to believe the barricades are falling, they'll toss their uniforms into the fire and grab their pitchforks and it's over.

The only way for this to end is for Mubarak to step down and announce elections.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:55 AM on January 28, 2011


Probably waiting to see if the police can hold it.
posted by empath at 5:56 AM on January 28, 2011


The people have cars, too.... why can't they use them? I realize nobody wants to fuck up their ride, but it's a revolution, man...
posted by empath at 5:58 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


One of the correspondents a while back said that the part of the momentum is due to people not being able to contact each other on phone or online, so they go outside and end up involving themselves even more than they otherwise would have. I wonder how true that is?
posted by Mizu at 5:58 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


The only way for this to end is for Mubarak to step down and announce elections.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:55 AM on January 28 [+] [!]


eponysterical?
posted by Think_Long at 5:59 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Holy fuck have you seen what's going on in Alexandria?
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:01 AM on January 28, 2011


Technically and depending on what resources are on the ground and how involved the army gets there are lots of avenues left for local communication. Simple walkie-talkies work fine unless they're being jammed but of course they're limited range and trivial to jam. You could also bootstrap some kind of mesh network, BATMAN seems to be the current front-runner and you ought to be able to repurpose many generic customer wifi routers. Then there's the great work being done to build a fully open-sourced GSM system, OpenBSC, OpenBTS etc have been used at the last two CCCs IIRC but they require specialized hardware to function at all. Maybe the next time this happens some forward-thinking opposition party will slap a few gsm nano cells and satellite uplinks onto the back of pickup trucks.
posted by Skorgu at 6:03 AM on January 28, 2011


I agree, empath... I hope they mass their vehicles to block in the riot vans.
posted by notion at 6:04 AM on January 28, 2011


"ILLEGITIMATE. ILLEGITIMATE."

Wow.
posted by notion at 6:05 AM on January 28, 2011


The only right thing for the US to do is stay the fuck out of the way. Not interfering in other countries affairs means just that - not interfering and not taking sides. Obviously, it's a despicable crime that we've been supporting dictators like Mubarack, and as so often, we reap what we sow. But the answer is not to now start to take sides in civil wars "but on the right side" - imposing our conception of "right" is still an imposition, and liable to backfire... how did our support of the "noble fighters of Afghanistan" work out? We have no idea about what forces may be unleashed, and interfering on either side is rarely appreciated by the societies affected. Much as I despise Bush, I would not appreciate Russia or China trying to restore the stolen election to Gore. So stay the fuck out. Yes, this side or that side in the conflict may try to get us involved, but we'd be wise to resist such temptations. The only exceptions are in cases of war and external invasions - WWII and aftermath, Kuwait etc. (even though the latter was tainted by prior interfering). Societies must resolve such things on their own, even sometimes at terrible cost - it would not have been good if f.ex. Britain took sides in our Civil War *as the South wanted* (again, it's wise not to let yourself be drawn into such conflicts); it would have been a disaster even if Britain supported the "good side" - the North - can you imagine the bitterness and *lack of feeling of resolution* if the South could argue that the result of the Civil War was externally imposed by outside powers? It would mean the war could flare up again, with the South feeling they could prevail without outside support for the North. It's a recipe for decades of instability... as in fact we've seen historically all over the world.

Again, we should resist the very instinct to interfere, and interfering on the side of the "good" (or what we imagine as such) is still interfering. We are not the arbiter of right and wrong, World Cop, and nobody appointed us judge jury and executioner. Let other countries decide their own fates, without the "blessing" of our instinct to interfere. Are we lacking for worthy targets for our moral energies here at home? The sooner we break with our addiction to meddling in other countries internal affairs, the better.
posted by VikingSword at 6:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [27 favorites]


The sooner we break with our addiction to meddling in other countries internal affairs, the better.

I follow a certain formally vocal but now missing right-wing Metafilter member on Twitter. Because he's a good bloke, really. But he's re tweeting a lot of stuff, and it has shocked me how the patriotic, "Freedom-loving" supporters of the "World's Greatest Democracy" are so fearful and anxious about people in other countries trying to achieve what they have. Oh noes the Moslem Brotherhood! Oh noes, what if Egypt stops being friendly with Israel?!

Give me a fucking break. Staying out of it is exactly the right thing to do. For once.
posted by Jimbob at 6:17 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor" Desmond Tutu
posted by Surfurrus at 6:21 AM on January 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


VikingSword has it exactly right.
posted by empath at 6:22 AM on January 28, 2011


This should be your "tear down this wall!" moment.

The world is waiting.
posted by GeckoDundee at 6:23 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


This should be your "tear down this wall!" moment.

All we have to do to make 'the wall' fall is to stop holding it up.
posted by empath at 6:29 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I would read that as the US sending troops to make sure that the hard right in Israel don't see this as a chance to go seize the Sinai again

Now, that would be stupid. Really, really, really stupid.

I wouldn't put it past them, then...
posted by Skeptic at 6:30 AM on January 28, 2011


From The Guardian:
Currently, we're being told that large numbers of plainsclothes police officers and security officers are going through the streets covering parked cars with gasoline. The activists expect that the govt plans to light all the cars on fire, claim that the protesters were burning everything, and use that as a pretext to use severe violence to repress the protests, and eliminating all means for the people to relay the truth out of the country.

They are being told by sources within the regime that very large groups of govt-organized thugs, calling themselves "ikhwan al-Haq" [a group never heard of, roughly translated as "brotherhood of truth"], are going to be in the streets with knives, swords, etc..., attacking and killing protesters in the streets tomorrow [Friday]; they don't know whether this may be deliberately and falsely leaked to discourage demonstrators; but they do see evidence that these groups are being organized. they may also claim that these violent groups are the demonstrators as a pretext to use violence on the real demonstrators.
It worked for the TPS at the G20.
posted by tybeet at 6:31 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I would just read it as "let's have a presence here to make sure no one gets any crazy ideas here about crossing borders."
posted by proj at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2011


"If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor" Desmond Tutu

The US has to be extremely careful. Both the country and the people in the country can only agree with the objectives of the revolution without supporting outright (which at best would be considered opportunism and at worst backfire if the revolution fails). It's not our country, so we can't legitimize what basically amounts to a civil war right now. The easiest right thing to do would be to say nothing. This doesn't mean we're neutral though. The US better be playing up all the diplomatic channels it can to prevent not only bloodshed but to push Egypt to being a more just country to both their citizens and neighbors (yes, I said "should"). We can say things like, "The United States agrees that the protesters have legitimate grievences with the government of Egypt" because that sides things on an ideological as opposed to factional vein. We also don't want to legitimize what might be a governmental form that for all intents and purposes might be just as bad or worse than the previous one. Thus we can offer support for the broad objectives of the revolution, but we don't support factions that might turn out to be jackals.

Easiest thing is for us to say nothing. Put pressure on where we can. Express support for the people of Egypt.

And for the love of God, don't make this about us.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


VikingSword: Most of the weapons they are using to crush this uprising are made in the United States and given to the Egyptian government by ours. We pay Mubarak and his henchmen 1.2 billion dollars every year to keep popular movements repressed for our benefit. It's far too late to not take sides.

Obama himself should address the Egyptian people, and let them know that the Mubarak Regime will no longer receive American dollars and weapons. That's the right thing do to, and our government should do it now.
posted by notion at 6:32 AM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


this isn't about the US

it does involve the US tho and obama/biden/clinton have leverage by virtue of holding some of the purse strings: "Your money, in other words, is keeping Mubarak in power. That government is now doing this to its people."
posted by kliuless at 6:33 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Easiest thing is for us to say nothing. Put pressure on where we can. Express support for the people of Egypt.

By the way, I'm talking about the official US governmental response. All citizens of the US, go to town and support whichever faction you believe is right with all your heart.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 6:34 AM on January 28, 2011


And for the love of God, don't make this about us.

I'm afraid that boat left a long, long time ago. "We" (US as much as Europe) have been propping up truly despicable regimes in the area for decades, nominally to support "stability". Now the chicken are coming home to roost.

The funny thing (if you can call it "funny") is that:

a) despite this fools' bargain the area has been consistently among the least stable in the world;
b) at least since Iran's Islamic Revolution (or even the fall of Egypt's former monarchy!) we've known what the end result of this tactic is.

Of course, the reason for this is that, behind the alibi of "stability", hide solid business links between our oligarchs and theirs...
posted by Skeptic at 6:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Obama himself should address the Egyptian people, and let them know that the Mubarak Regime will no longer receive American dollars and weapons. That's the right thing do to, and our government should do it now.

No, it isn't. Because 1) that won't really change the fact that they've already got all the weapons they need to make this thing work, and 2) it would call explicit attention to that fact.

Let it be. And if there is a change in government, we can walk right back and work with the new guys. Yes, we have relations with the existing government. But this is an internal problem, and we need to let the Egyptians sort this one out themselves, especially if we want to be able to do business with whatever government is in existence next week.
posted by valkyryn at 6:45 AM on January 28, 2011


I can't believe that Obama wants to be on the wrong side of history here. Everyone knows Mubarak should go down. They have to be trying to figure out a way to make that happen with the minimum of bloodshed.
posted by empath at 6:46 AM on January 28, 2011


>I would read that as the US sending troops to make sure that the hard right in Israel don't see
>this as a chance to go seize the Sinai again

Before we twist history around too much let's remember that Israel only took the Sinai after a war was waged against them - they used it as a physical buffer against the people who waged war against them so they would not be invaded again.

And then some years later, in the interests of peace - they gave it back. Which is why Israel and Egypt have not been mortal enemies since the 70's.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a terrible fear that I know what's going to happen: tomorrow the security forces are going to be shooting live ammunition. There's going to be an appalling blood bath; at least a thousand dead.

I have a terrible fear that is going to happen, and also a terrible fear that the repercussions for Egypt will be as bad as, oh...what China faced after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Doesn't most of the world kind of act like that never happened?
posted by marxchivist at 6:49 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your money... is keeping Mubarak in power.

Literally.

July 2007:

The Bush administration is expected to announce a massive series of arms deals in the Middle East tomorrow that are being seen as part of a diplomatic offensive against the growing influence of Iran in the volatile region. ... Egypt too will get a new 10-year deal, worth an estimated $13 billion.

The guns killing the protesters were Made in USA.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:50 AM on January 28, 2011




empath: "I can't believe that Obama wants to be on the wrong side of history here. Everyone knows Mubarak should go down. They have to be trying to figure out a way to make that happen with the minimum of bloodshed"

I imagine this is a "always go with the winner" move, which is a bad sign for the protesters. We know what we've sold and given Egypt, we probably know what Mubarak is willing to do with those weapons to stay in power. The CIA has probably told him that Mubarak isn't going anywhere so he's sucking up beforehand. Disgusting and typical. Also a major problem if the intel turns out to be wrong - not only are all those tear gas canisters labeled "Made in the USA", but the President has given Mubarak vocal support.

And I doubt the Egyptian people will forget this. If they ever do throw off their shackles, we'll have another country that justifiably hates us.
posted by charred husk at 6:57 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The CIA has probably told him that Mubarak isn't going anywhere so he's sucking up beforehand. Disgusting and typical. Also a major problem if the intel turns out to be wrong - not only are all those tear gas canisters labeled "Made in the USA", but the President has given Mubarak vocal support.

He has?
posted by empath at 6:59 AM on January 28, 2011


No, it isn't. Because 1) that won't really change the fact that they've already got all the weapons they need to make this thing work, and 2) it would call explicit attention to that fact.

Who doesn't know the US has been propping up the Mubarak Regime for the last 30 years?! Does putting our collective heads in the sand change reality? Are you more concerned about the paper thin facade of American impartiality than you are about the rights of the Egyptian people?

Sorry... I just can't wrap my head around this desire to pretend like we can just walk away now. Spending thirty billion to prop up a murderous dictatorship and then acting like we've got some dignity to save by pretending that it never happend is just insane. Immoral and insane.
posted by notion at 7:00 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have a terrible fear that is going to happen, and also a terrible fear that the repercussions for Egypt will be as bad as, oh...what China faced after the Tiananmen Square massacre. Doesn't most of the world kind of act like that never happened?

True. But Egypt is not China. I think that that fear is definitely there, but right now it looks like hope, and humanity might be able to crush back oppression and the evil that slaying protesters brings. At least I hope so anyway. Down with tyranny!
posted by IvoShandor at 7:01 AM on January 28, 2011


Is there a way to see the Al-jazeera stream on a Mac? It's calling for Real Player, which I can't get to work.
posted by sugarfish at 7:01 AM on January 28, 2011


empath: "He has?"

Sorry, I consider "Mubarak is legitimate and not going anywhere" as taking a side in this. Maybe "vocal support" is too strong a word.
posted by charred husk at 7:02 AM on January 28, 2011


Well, let me say, first of all, that Egypt's been an ally of
ours on a lot of critical issues. They made peace with
Israel. President Mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough
issues in the Middle East. But I've always said to him that making
sure that they're moving forward on reform -- political reform,
economic reform -- is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being
of Egypt.

And you can see these pent-up frustrations that are being displayed on
the streets. My main hope right now is that violence is not the answer
in solving these problems in Egypt, so the government has to be
careful about not resorting to violence, and the people on the streets
have to be careful about not resorting to violence.

And I think that it is very important that people have mechanisms in
order to express legitimate grievances. As I said in my State of the
Union speech, there are certain core values that we believe in as
Americans that we believe are universal -- freedom of speech, freedom
of expression, people being able to use social networking or any other
mechanisms to communicate with each other and express their
concerns. And that, I think, is -- is no less true in the Arab world
that it is here in the United States.


I think that's pretty neutral, honestly.

Remember what he said in Egypt two years ago:

I know -- I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere. (Applause.)
Now, there is no straight line to realize this promise. But this much is clear: Governments that protect these rights are ultimately more stable, successful and secure. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. America respects the right of all peaceful and law-abiding voices to be heard around the world, even if we disagree with them. And we will welcome all elected, peaceful governments -- provided they govern with respect for all their people.
This last point is important because there are some who advocate for democracy only when they're out of power; once in power, they are ruthless in suppressing the rights of others. (Applause.) So no matter where it takes hold, government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who would hold power: You must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy.


Those are not the words of a man who wants to support Mubarak to the bitter end. He's in a tough spot, surely, but I honestly don't think whatever happens in Egypt will be necessarily be anti-American because of anything he's said.
posted by empath at 7:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is there a way to see the Al-jazeera stream on a Mac? It's calling for Real Player, which I can't get to work.

I'm not using real player -- update flash, maybe?
posted by empath at 7:03 AM on January 28, 2011


Regarding amateur radio, and Earth-Moon bounce aside, hopefully the longest serving deployed squadron in the U.S. Air Force won't be doing the location work for the Egyptian government: the 763rd Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron and the Boeing RC-135 Rivet Joint (large photo). I was browsing this yesterday, so apologies for the tangent.
posted by HLD at 7:03 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


sugarfish, I'm watching this on my mac - it prompts me to install real player but the actual stream is flash.
posted by Mizu at 7:04 AM on January 28, 2011


Before we twist history around too much let's remember that Israel only took the Sinai after a war was waged against them - they used it as a physical buffer against the people who waged war against them so they would not be invaded again.

Speaking of twisting history, you somehow forget that Israel (with France and Britain) had already attempted to seize the Sinai and the Suez canal once before that.

In that area of the world (as in many others), finding a "legitimate" motive for territorial expansion is just a matter of searching long enough in the archives. So, better stay away from that, if you don't mind...
posted by Skeptic at 7:07 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Amazing.

The Army looks like it's joining the protestors in Cairo???
posted by empath at 7:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


The military, or at least a military armored vehicle, has just arrived in Cairo on the Al Jazeera feed. The protestors are cheering them, suggesting that they believe the Army may be taking their side.
posted by condour75 at 7:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks, guys. It's working now.
posted by sugarfish at 7:10 AM on January 28, 2011


ElBaradei Under House Arrest: Egyptian security officials said Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei is under house arrest, as tens of thousands of Egyptian antigovernment protesters clashed with police in Cairo.
posted by kliuless at 7:11 AM on January 28, 2011


1509 GMT: Al Arabiya claims that Syrian authorities have suspended all Internet services.
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on January 28, 2011


Wow, wow, wow ... I'm watching that too, empath!
posted by Surfurrus at 7:12 AM on January 28, 2011


The Al Jazeera feed just showed an army armored vehicle surrounded by protesters near a Hilton hotel in Cairo (I think), and there was clearly solidarity between the soldiers and the protesters. The protesters were jumping on the vehicle and cheering, and the soldiers were passive, occasionally waving at the crowd. The Al Jazeera announcer stated that the crowd had earlier been shouting, "Where is the army? Bring in the army to save us!" or something to that effect.

No idea if this indicates a wider movement toward unity between the army and the protesters, but if so, I think Mubarak better think of announcing free elections real soon.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2011


If Mubarak falls, plenty of other Arab autocrats will be heading for the exits next. Now the question is whether this is going to be the Arab world's 1989 or 1848.
posted by Skeptic at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Way behind on this thread, but I think it's bad fucking ass that people are throwing the tear gas canisters back and/or dumping water on them.
posted by NoMich at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2011


"This is an indication of a barbaric regime," Mr. ElBaradei said. "They are doomed."

He added: "By doing this they are insuring their destruction is at hand, I have been calling for a peaceful transition now, I think this opportunity is closing."
posted by empath at 7:15 AM on January 28, 2011


I can imagine that Iran is going to erupt again if Mubarak goes down. They are showing that it can be done.

I hope they know the American people, at least support them, even if our government doesn't.
posted by empath at 7:17 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


One thing I'm noticing, with the Al-Jazeera feed and with the video from yesterday with the "Tiannemen Square" moment -- it looks like the protesters are overwhelmingly male. Is this common?
posted by sugarfish at 7:17 AM on January 28, 2011


How firm is Mubarak's hold on the army? On Al Jazeera right now they're talking about the possibility of the army intervening on behalf of the people against the government police forces.
posted by codacorolla at 7:17 AM on January 28, 2011


How firm is Mubarak's hold on the army?

I imagine that the Army, being closely tied to and dependent on the US, isn't particularly tied to Mubarak. He's not the leader of a charismatic cult of personality. If they are hearing from the Americans that we support ElBaradei, then they'll probably switch sides.
posted by empath at 7:19 AM on January 28, 2011


empath: "Those are not the words of a man who wants to support Mubarak to the bitter end. He's in a tough spot, surely, but I honestly don't think whatever happens in Egypt will be necessarily be anti-American because of anything he's said."

I guess I'm conflating Obama's words with the words of some the people in his administration (Biden, Clinton etc). Words aside, I think the weapons will do more than enough talking for them even if it isn't something they would want to say.
posted by charred husk at 7:21 AM on January 28, 2011



One thing I'm noticing, with the Al-Jazeera feed and with the video from yesterday with the "Tiannemen Square" moment -- it looks like the protesters are overwhelmingly male. Is this common?
sugarfish

Actually, most of the earlier shots showed many women - of all ages. In fact I saw a link on twitter that talked about how much they are involved in the organizing of the protest. (will look for it)
posted by Surfurrus at 7:21 AM on January 28, 2011


The US largely supports the Army and not the police. And I think the wikileaks showing that we were complaining about police brutality will speak well of our intentions.
posted by empath at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2011


And if the army comes in a saves the day I'll just shut the fuck up and bow out.
posted by charred husk at 7:22 AM on January 28, 2011


holy shit, they just set a cop on fire.
posted by empath at 7:23 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And at least a few officers might look at the number of protesters and decide to not start a massacre.
posted by vrakatar at 7:24 AM on January 28, 2011




One thing I'm noticing, with the Al-Jazeera feed and with the video from yesterday with the "Tiannemen Square" moment -- it looks like the protesters are overwhelmingly male. Is this common?

The earlier protests seem to have had a lot more women. As it gets more violent, the women and old men are leaving and it's just young men. Which is pretty common, I think. As I was watching the hotel coverage a few minutes ago I noticed quite a few women sitting around. Then the tear gas cannisters started coming in, and the last video I saw was all men.
posted by Dojie at 7:24 AM on January 28, 2011


There's much movement on the Twitter for people to start contributing to the Tor cloud. While I like Tor, and have nothing against it; with the BGP routes down...the cloud isn't going to do any good, is it?
posted by dejah420 at 7:25 AM on January 28, 2011


I just heard a reporter on NPR who'd been on the scene earlier -- she said there were people driving around in cars picking up those who appeared to be struggling under the effects of tear gas, and giving them a chance to pull themselves together. While she was recovering from a tear gas attack she'd been picked up by just such a young man, who told her that his lungs weren't strong enough to withstand tear gas himself, so he was contributing by picking up stranded protesters.
posted by crackingdes at 7:26 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


1520 GMT: Al Jazeera and AFP are reporting that protestors have set Alexandria City Hall on fire.
posted by empath at 7:26 AM on January 28, 2011


Re Obama and Mubarak: Guardian has Wikileaks cables, says 'show close relationship' of the two.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:27 AM on January 28, 2011




holy shit, they just set a cop on fire.


Just the top of the vehicle, dude dropped a Molotov or gas bomb or something right on it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:27 AM on January 28, 2011


A curfew was just announced, which probably means we'll see lots of shootings overnight. Damn.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:28 AM on January 28, 2011


from msn: "Reuters and Al-Jazeera reported that the police had abandoned central areas of Suez, after they were unable to disperse the protesters. At least eight police trucks were left behind, Reuters said."
posted by vrakatar at 7:28 AM on January 28, 2011


Curfew declared for 6pm (in half an hour)? What does that even mean? How will they enforce such a thing?
posted by Mizu at 7:29 AM on January 28, 2011


> What does that even mean? How will they enforce such a thing?

With live ammunition.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:29 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


How will they enforce such a thing?

With bullets, mainly.
posted by Skeptic at 7:30 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guardian says Al Jazeera says protestors in control of most streets in Alexandria. (It's not a big town; but still....)
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:30 AM on January 28, 2011


So AlJazeera is now in the police zone. Will they be able to stay on air??
posted by Surfurrus at 7:31 AM on January 28, 2011


Burhanistan On one hand I'm happy that I'm not the only one to have immediately had that reaction. On the other hand...
posted by Skeptic at 7:31 AM on January 28, 2011


Al jazeera is about to be shut down.
posted by empath at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2011


Maghrib prayer.

Security forces about to shut down Al Jazeera?
posted by NoMich at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2011


State security entering the building where Al Jazeera and other media is broadcasting from. Directly outside protesters stopping for prayer, holy shit.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2011


State Security is in Al-Jazeera's building in Cairo.
posted by sugarfish at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2011


shit
posted by Surfurrus at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2011


It was... guys, it was a hypothetical question, mostly because I didn't want to read the answer.
Would that they suddenly find the country has run out of bullets.
posted by Mizu at 7:32 AM on January 28, 2011


Let my people tweet!
posted by fatllama at 7:34 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


It sounds like the security forces were chasing some protesters into the hotel. That's probably the only reason they entered the hotel.

I am, of course, amazed that the government hasn't yet shut down this Al Jazeera operation.
posted by NoMich at 7:39 AM on January 28, 2011


State security entering the building where Al Jazeera and other media is broadcasting from. Directly outside protesters stopping for prayer, holy shit.

Protesters are reportedly in the building now as well, and they clearly outnumber the few dozen riot police Al Jazeera showed on the bridge. Things are calm for prayer now (which is surreal), but it looks as though protesters could take the bridge, and potentially the Cairo Hilton where Al Jazeera is, when things pick up again.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:39 AM on January 28, 2011


July 30, 2009 cable from Cairo Embassy, classified Secret:

NDP insider and former minister Dr. Ali El Deen Hilal Dessouki dismissed public and media speculation about succession. He said Egyptian military and security services would ensure a smooth transfer of power, even to a civilian.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:40 AM on January 28, 2011


> Let my people tweet!

People are being killed and upheaval is underway. Are dismissive jokes about communication infrastructures being shut down necessary at this point?
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 AM on January 28, 2011


I am, of course, amazed that the government hasn't yet shut down this Al Jazeera operation.

I'm sure they would if they could, but Al Jazeera probably has a satellite uplink on the roof.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:41 AM on January 28, 2011


They would close Al Jazeera if they could read one of the many emails from their embassys and agents warning them to do so. I believe delivery is pending for those emails, for some reason.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:43 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


How long does evening prayer last? It seems to have calmed things down on both sides at the moment.
posted by codacorolla at 7:43 AM on January 28, 2011


September 23, 2007 cable from Cairo Embassy, classified Confidential:

At the end of the day, and the end of their reigns, Sadat faced and Mubarak faces similar situations. But Mubarak seems to have managed the dilemma better in at least one key area: he has systematically and "legally" eliminated virtually all political opposition, leaving only the MB standing, having foresworn violence and politically emasculated. Mubarak's internal security apparatus, an estimated 1.4 million strong, is at least twice the size it was under Sadat. Its ubiquitous presence and monopoly of the legitimate use of armed power makes any kind of violent change of leader unlikely.

You've got to love the use of "legitmate" there.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


FWIW, I read the "let my people tweet" statement as dark, wry humor, and got a much-needed laugh out of it in a time of stress. You can read it as flippant or dismissive, but I didn't take it that way.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:48 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


> How long does evening prayer last?

It depends on the person leading the prayer--they could opt to recite a long passage from the Quran or shorter passages. Then, there is usually time afterwards spent in individual prayer.

But the canonical prayer usually lasts about 10 minutes. The passions seem to get quelled for some time after as well.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:49 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera appears to have been shut down.
posted by RedEmma at 7:50 AM on January 28, 2011


Shit, the police are on their way to the Al Jazeera offices now. Shit.
posted by NoMich at 7:50 AM on January 28, 2011


Guardian: Egyptian state TV says Mubarak has asked the army to take charge of security alongside the police. Looks like that is how he intends to impose the curfew, due to start in about 15 minutes.
posted by Infinite Jest at 7:51 AM on January 28, 2011


I hope it isn't indicating what I'm thinking, but that police line looks awfully like it is ready for a Roman legion locked push and the cameras are just being turned off before the 1800 curfew.
posted by jaduncan at 7:52 AM on January 28, 2011


Al-Jazeera had to move their cameras away from the action. Disgusting. The Al-Jazeera reporter in Cairo must be fucking terrified, but you can't tell from his voice.
posted by sugarfish at 7:53 AM on January 28, 2011


It absolutely amazes me that it's possible to shut down even wireless networks but I guess they need towers and those can be disabled. Actually amaze is incorrect. Fucking terrifies me is more accurate.

it absolutely amazes me that young, allegedly tech-savvy people don't know that wireless networks are just radio transmitters and receivers. fucking terrifies me actually.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon



sorry - it was late and i was on my phone and that didn't exactly come out like i intended.

i AM aware that wireless is radio transmitters and receivers (hence mentioning towers), and that the wireless signals all end up coming from a line that's connected a router/transmitter somewhere. it's just the very IDEA that a government can just kill it is amazing and terrifying. it's the sort of thing that most of take for granted until we can't get a signal and start waving our device about trying to get more bars.

i just hope the organizers of various protest groups have thought out other means of communication.
posted by sio42 at 7:54 AM on January 28, 2011


That's why you turn off the cameras. No witnesses to the atrocities that are coming.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:54 AM on January 28, 2011


Disgusting on the part of the police, I mean, not Al-Jazeera.
posted by sugarfish at 7:54 AM on January 28, 2011


Last post from AJ liveblog:

"5:50 pm - Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin is watching protesters gathered on the street outside our bureau, chanting that they want to live in "dignity and peace." Meanwhile, we hear police are approaching the front door of our office."
posted by Think_Long at 7:54 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Al Jazeera appears to have been shut down.

The reported for the English channel are still on the air, though they expect police to arrive at their room at any time.

http://www.livestation.com/channels/3-al_jazeera_english
posted by aught at 7:54 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


besides not being tech-savvy, i apparently cannot proofread.
posted by sio42 at 7:55 AM on January 28, 2011


I hope AJ point that camera down again if they hear screams.
posted by jaduncan at 7:55 AM on January 28, 2011


There's the army again.
posted by empath at 7:56 AM on January 28, 2011


Great. APCs.
posted by jaduncan at 7:56 AM on January 28, 2011


Main anchor woman really needs to stop talking over the dude in Cairo. Just let the sounds speak for themselves...
posted by Mizu at 7:57 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Army tanks just rolled by on the highway near the AJ English office on the live feed.
posted by codacorolla at 7:57 AM on January 28, 2011


The army has now been ordered by Mubarak to move in and provide back-up to the police forces in enforcing the curfew.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 7:58 AM on January 28, 2011


Army vehicles are all over now, being deployed to help police enforce the curfew when it goes into effect. But how cooperative will they be, I wonder?
posted by Marla Singer at 7:59 AM on January 28, 2011


I'm not convined those columns of light tanks and troop carrying trucks are there to support the protesters.
posted by vbfg at 8:00 AM on January 28, 2011


Army personnel vehicle (i.e. a big truck) also rolled and attacked with molotov cocktails.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:01 AM on January 28, 2011


Why is everyone saying that the revolution will spread to Iran? Iran is MUCH more stable than most all other middle eastern countries, and few people in Iran would want to overthrow the theocracy, because for all of the evils the theocracy commits, it at least makes sure that the US and other foreign powers stay the hell out of Iran. Most people in Iran don't want a revolution. They already had one, and it completed its objectives.
posted by Philipschall at 8:01 AM on January 28, 2011


Don't fault the ALJazeera reporters for anything ... they are being challenged, hassled and threatened. You can hear the police in the background. And they are hanging in there. Damn, this is unbelivable.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Another army armored vehicle in peaceful solidarity with protesters now. A protester cheering on top, and a soldier hanging out the door and waving. Yes!
posted by Marla Singer at 8:04 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


September 23, 2008 cable from Cairo Embassy, classified Secret:

A senior Cairo University political science professor... described the mid-level officer corps as generally disgruntled, and said that one can hear mid-level officers at MOD clubs around Cairo openly expressing disdain for [Defense Minister] Tantawi. These officers refer to Tantawi as "Mubarak's poodle," he said, and complain that "this incompetent Defense Minister" who reached his position only because of unwavering loyalty to Mubarak is "running the military into the ground." He opined that a culture of blind obedience pervades the MOD where the sole criteria for promotion is loyalty, and that the MOD leadership does not hesitate to fire officers it perceives as being "too competent" and who therefore potentially pose a threat to the regime.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:05 AM on January 28, 2011


"Don't fault the ALJazeera reporters for anything ... they are being challenged, hassled and threatened. You can hear the police in the background. And they are hanging in there. Damn, this is unbelivable."

They got a lot of the best of the BBC's ME team to set it up. These days, it appears to be somewhat better than the BBC.
posted by jaduncan at 8:06 AM on January 28, 2011


Another army armored vehicle in peaceful solidarity with protesters now. A protester cheering on top, and a soldier hanging out the door and waving. Yes!

The fulcrum here will be the link between the military leadership and the junior officers. Unlike Ben Ali, Mubarak is a former military man and can probably count on his generals. Anybody below colonel or 40...not so much.
posted by Skeptic at 8:07 AM on January 28, 2011


Brave, brave people.
posted by angrycat at 8:10 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mubarak is about to make a statement.

Also, this al-jazeera feed is fucking amazing.

It's easy to forget what a "real" news organization does. No attempts to package and sell the crisis. No logos or cute names. It's a continual raw feed of what's happening with intelligent analysis overlaid. It's news, reported by journalists, commented on by analysts who know what the fuck they're talking about.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:11 AM on January 28, 2011 [53 favorites]


I'm surprised the revolution is still being televised.
posted by amuseDetachment at 8:12 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Mubarak is going to give a speech. He'll offer some concessions, but he's not going to call for open elections. And it will not be enough.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:13 AM on January 28, 2011


CNN has a live webcam feed of the same bridge as the Al-jazeera feed but from a different angle. Lots and lots of troop trucks massing.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:13 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]



thanks for the second feed link, i couldn't get thru on the other one, kept timing out.

wow.
posted by sio42 at 8:13 AM on January 28, 2011


I'm not having any troubles with streaming via Al Jazeera iOS app. I'm sure there's similar for Android if someone can link it.
posted by nathan_teske at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Finally able to watch Al Jazeera, thank you Lord_Pall for the link.

This is riveting. And despite my anxiety and concern for the safety of the protesters, it is truly stunning to observe in real life the strength & might of a people united in anger.
posted by crackingdes at 8:18 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's easy to forget what a "real" news organization does.

Seriously, a side-by-side comparison with our stuff is a humiliating experience.
posted by Joe Beese at 8:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [15 favorites]


Woah, NDP HQ is on fire.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:21 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ruling party's HQ building now on fire.
posted by NoMich at 8:21 AM on January 28, 2011


Fire officially in the National Democratic Party headquarters. Wow.
posted by sugarfish at 8:21 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera is now reporting that the NDP Party (Mubarak's ruling party) headquarters building is on fire.
posted by aught at 8:22 AM on January 28, 2011


NDP Headquarters is on fire. The same building where the senior leadership of the regime met yesterday.

Mubarak had better be promising his resignation. They can't cover up a missing headquarters tomorrow.
posted by notion at 8:22 AM on January 28, 2011


The ruling party's HQ building now on fire.

If true, that's usually a big clue for the ruler to start packing his bags...
posted by Skeptic at 8:24 AM on January 28, 2011


If Mubarak has a hand to play, he's rapidly running out of time to play it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:26 AM on January 28, 2011


Sigh, my apolitical niece is chatting me on FB "What's it all about?" ... she is terrified of this idea that we could also lose the internet; she begins studying what is going on in Egypt ... watching live feed ... opening up to a new world ... the youth of the world.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:27 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sounds of heavy gunfire coming from the cairo livefeed.
posted by Lord_Pall at 8:29 AM on January 28, 2011


Live ammo being used on protesters. I guess this is Mubarak's play. Game over, asshole.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:30 AM on January 28, 2011


The Al-Jareeza feed is incredible. I'm not getting video right now - just audio, and it's frequently crashing the Flash plugin.
posted by odinsdream at 8:30 AM on January 28, 2011


Jesus, it sounds like a warzone. I mean, I guess in a way it is. Feeling very naive and ridiculous from my safe little house.
posted by sugarfish at 8:31 AM on January 28, 2011


are you sure it's live ammo?
posted by empath at 8:31 AM on January 28, 2011


I don't think there is confirmation of live ammo being used.
posted by ChrisHartley at 8:32 AM on January 28, 2011


I don't think there is confirmation of live ammo being used.

Yeah, they're shooting bullets made out of muffins and pillows.
posted by fuq at 8:34 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I have a feeling the presidential speech isn't coming anytime soon.
posted by geoff. at 8:34 AM on January 28, 2011


Live ammo being used on protesters.

Shit.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:35 AM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, they're shooting bullets made out of muffins and pillows.

They were shooting rubber bullets earlier.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:36 AM on January 28, 2011


I have a feeling the presidential speech isn't coming anytime soon.

No, it just sounds a lot like gunfire.
posted by Skeptic at 8:36 AM on January 28, 2011


Hide, Obama, hide!
posted by CautionToTheWind at 8:36 AM on January 28, 2011


They have been firing rubber bullets and tear gas all day. Sounded the same.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:37 AM on January 28, 2011


Sounded the same.

Wrong.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:38 AM on January 28, 2011


No this sounds different. This doesn't sound like a protest, it sounds like a war zone.
posted by arcolz at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2011


> Hide, Obama, hide!

Jesus. Can we stop with these bullshit attempts at jokes?
posted by Burhanistan at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


commentator on AJ feed says they have been told it's live ammo. they aren't confirming but pretty sure it is.
posted by sio42 at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2011


I wonder about the effect of turning off the internet and mobile networks - rather than quelling dissent, it might have encouraged people to go all out, in a 'this is the end' kind of way. Imagine getting your communication channels cut off, and then stepping outside and seeing the crowds.
posted by memebake at 8:40 AM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Al Jazeera anchor just reported unconfirmed news that police HQ is also on fire.
posted by gompa at 8:40 AM on January 28, 2011


AJ feed also says some of the bigger explosion sounds could be car gas tanks caught on fire. Either way, incredibly dangerous. This Ayman Mohyeldin and the crew are serious hardasses.
posted by Mizu at 8:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




And the rumor is that Mubarak is preparing to speak.
posted by koeselitz at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2011


"They have been firing rubber bullets and tear gas all day. Sounded the same."

Not quite, actually. The rubber bullets are more of a thowp (larger calibre, slow speed), the real bullets are more of a pop/bang.
posted by jaduncan at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2011


Memebake makes an incisive point. I remember many times when the power went out, whether in an apartment complex, dorm or neighborhood, suddenly everyone walks outside and begins talking to their neighbors, trying to get news. The lack of internet connection just might bring people out into the streets.
posted by crackingdes at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


White House: Let thy people tweet.
posted by vbfg at 8:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some of the "bang" sounds heard during daylight hours were attributed to stun grenades; there's a chance it could still be more of the same. I haven't heard anything so far that sounds like automatic weapons fire.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:43 AM on January 28, 2011


I think it's time for the UN (and Obama for that matter) to stop playing wishy washy "stop the violence" BS. It's time to step up and call for Mubarek to step aside. It's time to seize the moment.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:43 AM on January 28, 2011


I wonder about the effect of turning off the internet and mobile networks - rather than quelling dissent, it might have encouraged people to go all out,

Yeah, it's like the government said "Protests eh? Fine, we'll get serious about this shit!" and then the protesters were all like "Ok, we'll get serious too."
posted by fuq at 8:43 AM on January 28, 2011


Ayman Mohyeldin on wikipedia, if you, like me, had never heard of him before. Hardass, indeed.
posted by sugarfish at 8:44 AM on January 28, 2011


White House: Let thy people tweet.

Now that's pretty lame.
posted by fatllama at 8:44 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I haven't heard anything so far that sounds like automatic weapons fir

Sorry for the double comment, but what I've been hearing are pretty obvious semi-automatic rifle reports. Just my ex-U.S. military opinion, take it FWIW.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:44 AM on January 28, 2011


I wonder about the effect of turning off the internet and mobile networks - rather than quelling dissent, it might have encouraged people to go all out,

If you want to see how much organizing potential social networks have, shut them all down at once, after they've been buzzing for days.
posted by condour75 at 8:46 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder also if the sounds are different at night. There is less traffic and other interfering noise. I don't doubt there is live ammo, just wouldn't say these sounds are very different from the day's.
posted by Surfurrus at 8:46 AM on January 28, 2011


Incredible al-Jazeera coverage, and great comments here. Thanks for posting the thread.

> Most people in Iran don't want a revolution. They already had one, and it completed its objectives.

Have you been paying attention to Iran at all the last couple of years?
posted by languagehat at 8:46 AM on January 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


Thank you for all these updates. I keep getting interrupted and have missed a few minutes of live feed.
posted by KathyK at 8:48 AM on January 28, 2011


From The Guardian: A downtown police station in Cairo, police cars and gas tanks outside the police station are on fire, which could account for the number of loud explosions being heard, al-Jazeera reports

Could be ammunition goin' up, which would explain why I hear what sounds like rifle reports.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:48 AM on January 28, 2011


Guardian: A downtown police station in Cairo, police cars and gas tanks outside the police station are on fire, which could account for the number of loud explosions being heard, al-Jazeera reports.

(Notwithstanding IvoShandor's comment)
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011


"Sorry for the double comment, but what I've been hearing are pretty obvious semi-automatic rifle reports. Just my ex-U.S. military opinion, take it FWIW."

Yes, I'm ex-British Army and agree. The shots sound a bit deeper than most Western weapons but they would; the ammunition is 7.62 rather than the smaller NATO rounds.
posted by jaduncan at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Al Jazeera reporters pointing out that the NDP headquarters is next door to the National Antiquities museum that contains some of the country's most precious ancient artifacts. (Noting that no one is doing anything yet to put out the fire.)
posted by aught at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Oops, I spent too long on preview).
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011


I think we'll have to go on the opinion of the reporter on the scene as to whether or not it's gunfire. We're hearing a highly compressed audio that is difficult to discern.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Last night I heard a girl on Canadian radio, Egyptian but educated abroad, and she said that they knew the internet shutdown was coming, and she had gotten an overseas phone for herself, and as many as she could for her friends.

I'm not certain if the overseas phones will continue working, but that, plus satellites, plus ham radios gives me hope that the Egyptian government cannot hide whatever they are planning to do to the protesters.
posted by Leta at 8:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


And, people can still use devices to record things - they just have to get the physical data somewhere where it can be uploaded later.
posted by Mizu at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Joe Biden: No. I think the time has come for President Mubarak to begin to move in the direction that to be more responsive to some of the needs of people out there.

Give Me Liberty, Or Give Me . . . Slightly Less Tyranny. In, You Know, A Relatively Orderly Fashion That Doesn't Disrupt International Commodity And Exchange Markets In Any Serious Way. Economic Reforms Or Something. What Is They're After? Bread? Cake? Whatever. Some Of That.
posted by gompa at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [23 favorites]


reporter just said he's heard some gunfire in his lifetime and he feels this is pretty heavy gunfire.

they also just made a mention of the national museum being next to the buildings on fire, containing lots of important artifacts.

the images of people lining up to pray is absoluetly stunning and nearly has me in tears.
posted by sio42 at 8:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Al Jazeera: Fires in downtown Cairo could spread to National Museum

I can only think of V for Vendetta. is country needs more than a building right now. It needs hope.

It needs more than antiquities as well. These are just symbols. They mean nothing in the face of oppression. Or little, anyway.

Also, reporter at Al-Jazeera who has "been around gunfire" claims that the loud reports we're hearing are definitely "heavy gunfire".
posted by IvoShandor at 8:53 AM on January 28, 2011


Now the question is whether this is going to be the Arab world's 1989 or 1848.

i'm thinking 1789 or 1917 - a revolution that will have untold consequences for the world at large

there's just no telling how this is going to play out, but even if the current protests are suppressed, radical change is coming - and the more violent the suppression, the more radical the opposition will become
posted by pyramid termite at 8:54 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


And, people can still use devices to record things - they just have to get the physical data somewhere where it can be uploaded later.

Yeah, unless they leave the internet turned off forever, there's going to be plenty of amateur footage getting out eventually.
posted by memebake at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2011


the images of people lining up to pray is absoluetly stunning and nearly has me in tears.

I was about to say this. The image of thousands of livid, passionate, angry protesters suddenly stopping in peace and silence to honour their beliefs is unexpectedly powerful for me.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


The image of a mass of people kneeling on the street for the final evening prayer under roiling black smoke with the repeating sound of gunfire in the background gave me goosebumps. I am just amazed.
posted by Babblesort at 8:55 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Teargas canisters were lobbed directly at quiet, peaceful, prostrated protesters. They stood up, prayers over, grabbed the burning-hot canisters with their bare hands, and threw them back. Protest chants have begun anew.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 8:57 AM on January 28, 2011 [23 favorites]


> 1917 - a revolution that will have untold consequences for the world at large

The real revolution of 1917 (as opposed to the Bolshevik coup eight months later) was able to succeed because the military went over to the side of the protesters. That's what's going to have to happen here.
posted by languagehat at 8:57 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's gunfire. Period.
posted by IvoShandor at 8:58 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera reporters pointing out that the NDP headquarters is next door to the National Antiquities museum that contains some of the country's most precious ancient artifacts.

Having been there, I would re-state that slightly to say "many of the world's most precious ancient artifacts". It is quite incredible.

Also, there's an earlier Guardian photo of police cars burning outside a mosque in Alexandria, which if memory serves is quite close to the Library of Alexandria, another amazing building, both for its architecture and its content.
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:00 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think it's time for the UN (and Obama for that matter) to stop playing wishy washy "stop the violence" BS. It's time to step up and call for Mubarek to step aside.

The one thing I've praised Obama for is sitting out (publicly, at least) the Iran uprising. However one viewed the moral imperatives or practical realities, there was no way - given our history there - that our involvement could have avoided making a bad situation worse.

But arguments about what he should do in aid of this uprising are moot. The Powers That Be - of which Obama is only one of the players, and not the most powerful - do not want it to succeed. The uncertainty it would introduce is bad for profits.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:01 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I want to think that most of those shots are intentionally aimed over head and there will be minimal casualties. But the night is just starting.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:01 AM on January 28, 2011


There are troops in the carrier being swarmed on the CNN feed right now.
posted by ChrisHartley at 9:02 AM on January 28, 2011


Man, it seems like it just went into overdrive.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:02 AM on January 28, 2011


Or, what gompa said.

[Unfortunately, I've hit my favorites limit for the day.]
posted by Joe Beese at 9:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


But arguments about what he should do in aid of this uprising are moot. The Powers That Be - of which Obama is only one of the players, and not the most powerful - do not want it to succeed. The uncertainty it would introduce is bad for profits.

You know I realize this Joe but it's not going to make me feel differently. This isn't Iran. This is different. It is. And regardless of geopolitical realities, this is a time for the UN and Obama to step up. Otherwise the lip service we pay democracy and freedom is the moot point. Fuck this. I'm so sick of this shit man. Go Egypt! Beat Army! Or something.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:03 AM on January 28, 2011


Ham radio is worth having. It's the same stuff as ran the comms of WWII, that let POWs listen to news, kept agents in touch with home, and did all the mainstream military work too. A little knowledge gives you a huge range of options, and with a bit of preparation and care you don't need mains electricity or vast amounts of kit.

I've got a backpack with a bunch of gear in it that I take out on hikes sometimes. Can talk all over the world, use satellites, data, slow-scan TV. You could, too.
posted by Devonian at 9:05 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Seeing the protesters pray was amazing and had me in tears as well.

I hope the National Museum remains untouched. Tourism is big for Egypt and it's a beautiful building.
posted by zix at 9:05 AM on January 28, 2011


Otherwise the lip service we pay democracy and freedom is the moot point.

I've got no argument with that.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:06 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm sitting in my office with a coffee and I suppose I should do some work, but how can I?. Profound sense of watching history.
posted by jokeefe at 9:06 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


"The one thing I've praised Obama for is sitting out (publicly, at least) the Iran uprising. However one viewed the moral imperatives or practical realities, there was no way - given our history there - that our involvement could have avoided making a bad situation worse."

Joe:
a) This is another regime with a long history of US backing;
b) even considering that, this isn't about Obama. Please don't make this that.
posted by jaduncan at 9:06 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The real revolution of 1917 (as opposed to the Bolshevik coup eight months later) was able to succeed because the military went over to the side of the protesters.

and if they hadn't? - i believe that an even more bloody revolution would have happened down the road

of course, i wonder too what kind of "bolsheviks" might eventually be able to effect a coup in this situation and what their goals might be, especially when it comes to relations with israel and the western world

the best scenario is that the government steps down quickly
posted by pyramid termite at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2011


The real revolution of 1917 (as opposed to the Bolshevik coup eight months later) was able to succeed because the military went over to the side of the protesters. That's what's going to have to happen here.

I think that even if the military continues to support Mubarak the revolution (can we call it the 2011 Revolution yet?) will have achieved it's major goal: the unmasking of the Mubarak goverment as a corrupt, illegitimate dictatorship which must use violence against it's own people to maintain power.

We always knew that, of course, but now the goverment has publicly admitted it by opening fire upon it's own people during their evening prayers. The Egyptian goverment has, esentially, lost. They may win the battle and crush the protestors, but they've still lost. The Egyptian people will never again be under any illusions as to the true nature of their state.

Win or loose, this is going to Change Things. Maybe for the better, maybe for the worse, but nothing in Egypt (and the wider Arab world) will be the same after this.

People talk about the "failed" revolutions of 1848, but they forget that 1848 set the stage for 1871, which in turn set the stage for 1914 and 1939. An omnious precident, perhaps, but an interesting turn of events for a civilization such as ours that is supposedly living "at the end of history".
posted by Avenger at 9:07 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


this is a time for the UN and Obama to step up

I hate to speak hastily from the heart and be all naïve about this, but we're at the point where Western leaders who do not step up immediately to support freedom of speech and of assembly in Egypt must be seen as unrepentantly complicit in the maintenance of this obviously unjust regime.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


this isn't about Obama

I never said it was.

But defending him against criticisms made by other commenters isn't something I get to do very often.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm glad this thread is here for the communal sense of historic change.
posted by angrycat at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Clinton talking now...
posted by jokeefe at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2011


Clinton is basically regurgitating her address from yesterday.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2011


The US is doing exactly what it should: calling for peace and the rights for assembly

We can just go around willy-nilly advocating the overthrow of governments that don't meet our standards. It would put the US in an untennable position. All that can be done is to work with current governments while gently pushing for democracy.

Having the worlds largest military superpower tell another country to change its leadership is not wise IMHO.
posted by rosswald at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hells yes! Clinton calling for sane measures.
posted by Mizu at 9:09 AM on January 28, 2011


Hillary is calling for an end to the violence, so this whole thing should be wrapped up pretty soon.
posted by orme at 9:10 AM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


I've got no argument with that.

I know you don't. I have an idea of what you believe, and I feel like your thinking and my thinking are probably pretty close on this. And I know it's idealistic. And I know it doesn't fit in the framework of U.S. foreign policy. But this is about people. Not what's best for the U.S., and I'm just so tired of that being a reason that we don't support the oppressed. We spend thousands of lives, American and otherwise, on nonsensical military operations. For once, we could at least step up and say something that is right. Just because it's the right thing to say, The UNs statement has pissed me off more than anything our govt has done here, but still.

Anyway, Hillary is now saying much the same thing the UN has been saying. "Protesters should also refrain from violence"

WTF?

It isn't the protesters that are hurling lead into crowds. Fuck this man, just fuck this.

I'm behind these protesters all the way, regardless of how the outcome effects the U.S.

Damn it man.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


Secretary of State Clinton speaking now, calling for Egyptian government to refrain from violence, noting the legitimacy of the protesters' grievances, and urging them to restore the country's communications with the world. Urging "imperative for reform."
posted by aught at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2011


Another thing (as pyramid termite points out above): The 1917 Russian revolution was a long time coming and was probably unavoidable. The czarist state would have had to undergo major, fundamental changes if it was going to survive at all in the 20th century, or face a bloody revolution. There was no way that a czarist autocrat would have survived in Russia much beyond the early 20th century. Russian society was too brittle and the world was moving too quickly for that to be possible.

Mubarak's days (and hopefully the days of Arab autocrats themselves) are similary numbered.
posted by Avenger at 9:11 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh wait, spoke too soon. Egypt, seriously, you couldn't have a revolution during PST daylight hours? Making me fill in the Clinton blanks with positivity when there's not much there due to sleep deprivation...
posted by Mizu at 9:12 AM on January 28, 2011


I'm behind these protesters all the way, regardless of how the outcome effects the U.S.

Heartily seconded.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:12 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


"We support the universal rights of the Egyptian people."

Hillary to Mubarak: See ya, wouldn't want to be ya'.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:12 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Obama cannot step up, because he has no spine.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:13 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It gets my motor running when Hillary plays "good cop".
posted by tapesonthefloor at 9:14 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been coming back to the computer all morning and am still just in awe. Every once in a while, I have to remind myself that this is actually happening.
posted by honeydew at 9:14 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's nice, tapesonthefloor, I'm sure we were all wondering. Oy.

The Al Jazeera stream is amazing. True journalism, analysis, calmly bearing witness and explaining events.
posted by jokeefe at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Summary of Hillary Clinton's press conference (broadcast on Al Jazeera): "Violence solves nothing, people!" OK, so we'll be withdrawing all our troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and places they're not supposed to be like Pakistan and Yemen asap, right Hillary?
posted by Marla Singer at 9:15 AM on January 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


that al jazeera flash crashes every single browser on my system, argh
posted by mwhybark at 9:17 AM on January 28, 2011


Me too. Apparently Livestation.com is also airing it, but it keeps timing out on me.
posted by proj at 9:18 AM on January 28, 2011


OK, so we'll be withdrawing all our troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and places they're not supposed to be like Pakistan and Yemen asap, right Hillary?

Noted for emphasis.
posted by ColdChef at 9:18 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Al Jazeera's Alexandria reporter said that military armored vehicles are moving in place, giving protestors thumbs up, protestors are cheering.
posted by condour75 at 9:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Could be a ruse to get them into tactical positions. I really hope not, though.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:21 AM on January 28, 2011


Obama cannot step up, because he has no spine.

No, this is a complex diplomatic situation where a thin line must be walked to ensure that US interests are best protected while democracy is advanced and whichever eventual victor emerges, the U.S. keeps a stable ally in an important geographical location.

To blindly support one side or another would be to act as a poor president.
posted by Han Tzu at 9:23 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


To blindly support one side or another would be to act as a poor president.

Right, because standing up for human rights, political rights and civil liberties is so unamerican Fuckin' hippies.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:24 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Han Tzu, it was exactly the mentality of overlooking fundamental values like truth and human rights, in favour of short term stratetegic positioning, that created all these problems!
posted by CautionToTheWind at 9:24 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Guardian ME expert parses Clinton as follows:

"It looks to me as if Clinton is angling for a negotiated departure by Mubarak, accompanied by an increase in political freedom. I think the US is aiming to structure the solution in a way that would protect its key interests: the peace treaty with Israel, the Suez canal, and co-operation against terrorism."
posted by Infinite Jest at 9:26 AM on January 28, 2011


Only the American government can be trusted with spreading democracy with violence, at least according to the American government.

Take up the White Man's burden--
The savage wars of peace--
Fill full the mouth of Famine
And bid the sickness cease;
And when your goal is nearest
The end for others sought,
Watch sloth and heathen Folly
Bring all your hopes to nought.

posted by notion at 9:26 AM on January 28, 2011


OK, so we'll be withdrawing all our troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and places they're not supposed to be like Pakistan and Yemen asap, right Hillary?

Seriously. You know, on the one hand, it'd be nice if our government officials would actually speak up for the right side of something. But on the other hand, maybe it'd also be nice if they just kept their fucking hypocrite mouths shut for a change.
posted by equalpants at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


At the moment, the US reaction is predictably cautious, but I don't really care.

Personally, I would give large amounts of money to know what was said in the Friday sermons just before this happened. I'll bet it was damned interesting.
posted by koeselitz at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera's Alexandria reporter said that military armored vehicles are moving in place, giving protestors thumbs up, protestors are cheering.

I think there may have been a military coup, and the gunfire in Cairo was between the Army and interior police/soldiers at the information ministry.
posted by ennui.bz at 9:27 AM on January 28, 2011


To blindly support one side or another would be to act as a poor president.

Supporting fundamental human rights without exception is not blindness. It's vision.
posted by notion at 9:28 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Marc Lynch, Foreign Policy:
Mubarak's regime has been wounded at its core, and even if he survives in the short run the regime will have to make major internal changes to regain any semblance of normality. An Egyptian regime which spends the next years in a state of military lockdown will hardly be a useful ally. ...

Accepting Mubarak's fierce gambit now would put an end to any claim the United States has of promoting democracy and reform for a generation, and alienating the rising youth generation on which the administration has placed so much emphasis. It would also make Cairo the graveyard of Obama's Cairo speech and efforts to rebuild relations with the Muslims of the world. The United States will be better positioned to push such changes in the right direction if it maintains a strong and principled position today -- regardless of whether Mubarak or someone else ends up in control. The cautious strategy right now is the same as the principled one, whether Mubarak falls or if he survives.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:28 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Reports of deaths coming in now...
posted by Burhanistan at 9:29 AM on January 28, 2011


Today likely began with Mubarek negotiating with Obama for support. It will likely end with Mubarak pleading for an extraction team to stop taking their damned time.

Also, people of Egypt, may you succeed in your plight.
posted by clearly at 9:29 AM on January 28, 2011


the CNN webcam has been frozen for awhile.

also, has anyone found an android app that lets audio if not video stream?

i have to leave the house at some point unfortunately.
posted by sio42 at 9:30 AM on January 28, 2011


> Personally, I would give large amounts of money to know what was said in the Friday sermons just before this happened.

Most of the major mosques were ordered closed today. That's not to say the smaller neighborhood mosques didn't have charged sermons, though.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:30 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


mwhybark, it crashes my firefox and safari, too. Try this mirror: http://www.justin.tv/latd?#/w/806464832/2
posted by raztaj at 9:32 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think there may have been a military coup, and the gunfire in Cairo was between the Army and interior police/soldiers at the information ministry.

Interesting thought. But is it anything other than that? Have you heard something along these lines? I'm sure MeFites would be interested.
posted by IvoShandor at 9:32 AM on January 28, 2011


[Al-Jazeera's] English-language network is, today, mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the world-changing events currently happening in Egypt. The American networks barely qualify as an interesting supplement.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:33 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


I turned CNN on earlier today to see if they were running footage of it and they were covering "a suspicious package at Cowboys Stadium."
posted by proj at 9:34 AM on January 28, 2011


runs fine inside vista/vmware, who knows.
posted by mwhybark at 9:34 AM on January 28, 2011


You can "support fundamental human rights without exception" and "stand up for civil liberties" without, say, completely throwing your support over for one side. The Secretary of State is making a statement (which will probably be ignored, or completely unheard) that violence is not the answer and that change and reform are good. It looks measured policy that takes into account real world complexities while promoting 'fundamental human rights'.

What would you have Obama do? Throw all his support in with the protestors? What if they lose, then, and Egypt becomes hostile to American interests? Does that help America in any way?

And, of course, the other side is that if the protestors overthrow Mubarak, if America is seen as being too supportive of the regime, then whatever new power that comes to be may be less than kind.

Yes, human rights are certainly a good thing. But just as Obama is intelligent enough not to carelessly and meaninglessly ostracize China, I think it's intelligent for him, not spineless, to be measured in his response on the Egyptian situation.
posted by Han Tzu at 9:35 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am mesmerized and planning to join a supporting protest after Friday prayers end.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2011



Interesting thought. But is it anything other than that? Have you heard something along these lines? I'm sure MeFites would be interested.


just watching al jazeera: they report *no* police presence on the streets of cairo. it sounds like the mubarack government has fallen. where is he?
posted by ennui.bz at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2011


Burhanistan: “Most of the major mosques were ordered closed today. That's not to say the smaller neighborhood mosques didn't have charged sermons, though.”

Ah. Al-Jazeera was interviewing a fellow from the Muslim Brotherhood in a rural area who said the protests started "just after Friday sermons," but that's interesting to know.
posted by koeselitz at 9:36 AM on January 28, 2011


Twitter, so take it with a grain of salt: "Sheikh Karadawy": What is happening now in Egypt is what Islam orders us to do when the ruler doesn't follow the orders of Allah
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:37 AM on January 28, 2011


The difference between the al jazeera feed and the State news camera is astounding.
posted by dejah420 at 9:37 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mubarak's silence is deafening here.
posted by proj at 9:38 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, this is a complex diplomatic situation where a thin line must be walked to ensure that US interests are best protected while democracy is advanced and whichever eventual victor emerges, the U.S. keeps a stable ally in an important geographical location.

.... words right out of the 'domino theory' that was used to justify the Vietnam War ... not to mention the Bushese (still alive and used) to justify the Iraq war ...

... probably could go back further, but just too disgusted ...
posted by Surfurrus at 9:40 AM on January 28, 2011


Whatever happens with Mubarack tonight, I reckon the Egyptian protesters have definitely done enough to persuade some further countries to give this a go.
posted by memebake at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2011


Where is that convoy of troop carriers headed (live now)?
posted by Burhanistan at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2011


Boutros Boutros-Ghali being interviewed on the BBC just now is giving it a pretty grotesque pro-regime bleat--"Problem of looting... Inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood, who want to be like Hamas... Most people happy with current regime..."

Yuck.

This link may not work outside the UK. After 6pm GMT, I think it should go to a 'listen again', though I could be wrong.

Hmm, Reuters just reporting that the curfew has been extended to all cities.

Also, (phew!) BBC now interviewing someone from the Quilliam Foundation who is taking Boutros-Ghali's claims apart--"A typical defence tactic that will be used by the President in his upcoming speech... None of these young people want the Muslim Brotherhood in power."
posted by lapsangsouchong at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2011


Shit, tanks on the streets of Cairo - I hope the military here has the same response as in Alexandria.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


woman on AJ feed saying people coming out of tank and shaking hands with people in streets of Alexandria.
posted by sio42 at 9:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




It looked like there were soldiers waving flags in each of those tanks.
posted by proj at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2011


Just saw on AJ a convoy of military vehicles, with soldiers standing and waving flags in response to protesters on the street. Speechless.
posted by jokeefe at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2011



.... words right out of the 'domino theory' that was used to justify the Vietnam War ... not to mention the Bushese (still alive and used) to justify the Iraq war ...

... probably could go back further, but just too disgusted ...


I certainly disagree with the Iraq war; I don't think this line of reasoning justifies that at all. According to what you write though, is international diplomacy simply a matter of saying 'human rights good, boo dictators'?
posted by Han Tzu at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera needs to be part of basic cable, dammit. This needs to happen yesterday.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:43 AM on January 28, 2011 [22 favorites]


holy shit look at those tanks rolling in. is that it? has there been a coup?
posted by angrycat at 9:44 AM on January 28, 2011


do you see the pictures from cairo? the soldiers inside seemed to be waving back to the guy waving the white flag!
posted by sio42 at 9:44 AM on January 28, 2011


Unconfirmed reports that the army is fighting the police.
posted by elizardbits at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, it's looking more like some kind of military coup is going down.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2011


Reports of army engaging with the police. Looks like a coup in action to me.
posted by jokeefe at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2011


where is he?

Remember back in high school when you had that big term paper, and you put off doing it for weeks until finally, one class before you have to hand it in you're scrambling to put a bunch of shit down on paper?

That's Mubarak.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2011


sorry - that was the egyptian flag but i couldn't tell till i went full screen.
posted by sio42 at 9:45 AM on January 28, 2011


Suez police firing towards military and protestors - but it may not be the police in control of the station.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2011


It's starting to look like Mubarak will be lucky if he isn't on a meathook by daylight.
posted by Babblesort at 9:46 AM on January 28, 2011


Boutros Boutros-Ghali being interviewed on the BBC just now is giving it a pretty grotesque pro-regime bleat

He says Mubarak is "beloved" of the Egyptians. [French-language link]

The Angry Arab notes that this means Boutros-Ghali is "officially senile".
posted by Joe Beese at 9:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


A politico friend once told me that in these situations, the Army often refuse to fire on their own citizens, whereas the Police end up being the last pillar to prop up a despised leader. He put it down to a difference in psychology between Army and Police. I haven't combed through the relevant history to check if this holds true, but I'll put it out here as something to ponder.
posted by memebake at 9:48 AM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


If a coup is in fact developing -- is there a faction of the army that might be taking control? Or is it simply grassroots mutiny?
posted by crackingdes at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2011




A mob initially referred to as "protestors" is now being referred to as "the people."

This warms my heart.
posted by clearly at 9:49 AM on January 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


By the way the protesters are responding the military, and the military reciprocity of warm greetings; I'm willing to bet that a military coup is happening.
posted by dejah420 at 9:50 AM on January 28, 2011


Military coups have not been friendly to democracy in Egypt's history, it's worth noting.
posted by proj at 9:51 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am certainly no expert on Egypt, but I find it fascinating how easily many jump on the "yeah, more power to the people" argument here, when there is a good chance that this is just one group of currently undeserved people trying to gain power so they can be in power and oppress another group of people.

Of course, the liberal, slightly anti-authoritarian bones in me would love to cheer for revolution as well, but whenever I hear people complain that the US should support "democracy", I am reminded of the fact that democracy on its own only means that a majority of people get to decide how to make the rules, potentially at the cost of the minorities. And while I don't want to Godwin this thread (and don't want to oversimplify), that Austrian guy with the funny beard actually gained power by completely democratic means.

In the case of Egypt, in my view, there are quite a few scary outcomes this can lead to, and very few positive outcomes. What value would democracy have there, if the existing government is overthrown with minimal violence, "free, democratic" elections are being held, the Muslim Brotherhood wins, and Sharia law starts penetrating the constitution. Are we then saying "well, sorry women of Egypt, but these new leaders were elected democratically, so you should be perfectly happy...?"
posted by CaffeineFree at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


> Military coups have not been friendly to democracy in Egypt's history, it's worth noting.

Yeah, even with Mubarak out of the way there's no guarantee of any positive change. People should guard against euphoria blindness.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Indeed, many of the places we are seeing clashes in are named for events of the Free Officer's Revolution.
posted by proj at 9:54 AM on January 28, 2011


... is international diplomacy simply a matter of saying 'human rights good, boo dictators'?

No, the way it is used, it is not. THAT is (part of) the problem.

When did 'diplomacy' become a dirty word?
posted by Surfurrus at 9:55 AM on January 28, 2011


but I find it fascinating how easily many jump on the "yeah, more power to the people" argument here, when there is a good chance that this is just one group of currently undeserved people trying to gain power so they can be in power and oppress another group of people.

But if there's any chance that things are going to get better, I'm all in on "more power to the people".
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2011


I certainly disagree with the Iraq war; I don't think this line of reasoning justifies that at all. According to what you write though, is international diplomacy simply a matter of saying 'human rights good, boo dictators'?

Wait, wait, wait... do you want the United States to cheer dictators? What the hell?

Look, we don't need any more Kissingers formulating policies to accept the death of millions and deprivation of fundamental rights for tens of millions of people in exchange for temporary and unsustainable stability. The suppression of public will can only survive in places like North Korea.

If you want a world full of North Koreas, I hope you are alone in that opinion.
posted by notion at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


proj: "Military coups have not been friendly to democracy in Egypt's history, it's worth noting"

I think, with few exceptions, that statement could be missing the word "Egypt", and still be a true statement. But I'm watching the Egyptian people waving flags and cheering the military troop carriers, none the less.
posted by dejah420 at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


And, of course, the other side is that if the protestors overthrow Mubarak, if America is seen as being too supportive of the regime, then whatever new power that comes to be may be less than kind.

See: Iran, 1970's. (I suspect that privately the name Jimmy Carter is being repeated a lot around the White House this week.)
posted by oneswellfoop at 9:56 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


CaffeineFree: “In the case of Egypt, in my view, there are quite a few scary outcomes this can lead to, and very few positive outcomes. What value would democracy have there, if the existing government is overthrown with minimal violence, "free, democratic" elections are being held, the Muslim Brotherhood wins, and Sharia law starts penetrating the constitution. Are we then saying ‘well, sorry women of Egypt, but these new leaders were elected democratically, so you should be perfectly happy...?’”

No. You don't know what's been going on in the Islamic world in the past few years.

Here, I should note that the most popular successor to Mubarak is Mohamed Elbaradei, who is not known for his hardline conservatism. I think a regime under his presidency would actually be a fine thing for democracy. And I concur with the experts on Al Jazeera (who are much more learned than I) that he might be the most likely to take power at the end of all this.
posted by koeselitz at 9:57 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


What value would democracy have there, if the existing government is overthrown with minimal violence, "free, democratic" elections are being held, the Muslim Brotherhood wins, and Sharia law starts penetrating the constitution. Are we then saying "well, sorry women of Egypt, but these new leaders were elected democratically, so you should be perfectly happy...?"

I agree, we should never support change if it can't be perfect immediately.
posted by empath at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


How much support do the Muslim Brotherhood have out there? My (brief) reading of Egypt is that its fairly secular, and integrated into the world (via tourism, etc) in a way that would prevent any swing to hardline Islamic government.
posted by memebake at 9:59 AM on January 28, 2011


Public opinion data puts the average Egyptian as highly religious.
posted by proj at 10:00 AM on January 28, 2011


"Highly religious" and "supportive of the Muslim Brotherhood" are very, very different things, it should be noted. Some might even say contradictory things.
posted by koeselitz at 10:01 AM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Here, I should note that the most popular successor to Mubarak is Mohamed Elbaradei, who is not known for his hardline conservatism.

He's an Ivy League college professor.
posted by empath at 10:02 AM on January 28, 2011


Seconding koeselitz. This is not an uneducated tribal area. Egypt is a largely secular society in comparison to the rest of the Middle East, just as Iraq was before 2003. The only thing that can send it spiraling downward would be a total breakdown of security.
posted by notion at 10:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whoah, the Arabist is back online.
posted by NoMich at 10:02 AM on January 28, 2011


[Please make a basic effort not to start fights in here.]
posted by cortex at 10:02 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


How much support do the Muslim Brotherhood have out there?

From what I understand, this completely took them by surprise.
posted by empath at 10:02 AM on January 28, 2011


What value would democracy have there, if the existing government is overthrown with minimal violence, "free, democratic" elections are being held, the Muslim Brotherhood wins, and Sharia law starts penetrating the constitution. Are we then saying "well, sorry women of Egypt, but these new leaders were elected democratically, so you should be perfectly happy...?"

So, let me get this straight: we don't the people of Egypt are responsible enough for democracy because they are Islamic? Or is it just because they're brown people?

That is a TREMENDOUS grar-y deraill, fuq.

I just don't like the tacit racism in people's skepticism about the benefits of democracy in Egypt.
posted by fuq at 10:03 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]



[Please make a basic effort not to start fights in here.]


[tosses rock at Cortex]
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:03 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


In the case of Egypt, in my view, there are quite a few scary outcomes this can lead to, and very few positive outcomes.

actually, i think the scariest outcome is that if there is real regime change in Egypt with corresponding change of the balance of power wrt to Israel, then you might be looking at another Arab-Israeli war. Not that the Egyptians would attack Israel but that the balance of power is already unstable and would become unsustainable. I would guess it would be most likely started by something like an Israeli attack on Hezbollah/Lebanon.
posted by ennui.bz at 10:04 AM on January 28, 2011


[my bunx. I'll drop it]
posted by fuq at 10:05 AM on January 28, 2011


"The most depressing and even frightening part of the tepid US response to the protests across the region is the lack of appreciation of what kind of gift the US, and West more broadly, are being handed by these movements. Their very existence is bringing unprecedented levels of hope and productive activism to a region and as such constitutes a direct rebuttal to the power and prestige of al-Qaeda.

Instead of embracing the push for real democratic change, however, surface reforms that would preserve the system intact are all that's recommended. Instead of declaring loud and clear a support for a real democracy agenda, the president speaks only of "disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies" and "tak[ing] the fight to al-Qaeda and their allies", as he declared in his State of the Union address.

Obama doesn't seem to understand that the US doesn't need to "take the fight" to al-Qaeda, or even fire a single shot, to score its greatest victory in the "war on terror"..."

Mark LeVine of UC Irvine, on Aljazeera English

Which is, I suppose, a reply to the "Oh but the Muslim Brotherhood might take over!" line of argument. To those who are making that argument: I take your [over-stated] point, but you are parrotting the same line that Boutros-Ghali just parrotted on behalf of the regime--"If it's not me, with my dyed hair and facelifts, my kleptocracy, my brutal security forces, my 30 years in power, my permanent state of emergency... then it will be MUSLIMS!"
posted by lapsangsouchong at 10:07 AM on January 28, 2011 [26 favorites]


"How much support do the Muslim Brotherhood have out there? My (brief) reading of Egypt is that its fairly secular, and integrated into the world (via tourism, etc) in a way that would prevent any swing to hardline Islamic government."

Yeah. It's religious in the Turkish rather than the Saudi style.
posted by jaduncan at 10:07 AM on January 28, 2011




You would think Metafilter would understand the danger of religious conservatives with political power.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:11 AM on January 28, 2011


furiousxgeorge: “You would think Metafilter would understand the danger of religious conservatives with political power.”

You're right, furiousxgeorge. There's no hope here. We may as well pack up and forget about it. The people of Egypt are too religious to be self-determining and democratic.

Those protesters, the ones that kneeled in a square filled with gunfire and shouting in order to pray, with more bravery than I'll ever know – how misled they are.

Fuck.
posted by koeselitz at 10:13 AM on January 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


Sorry, I have to go with fuq here. Just look at what's happening across the Arab world right now.

1) Western occupation of Iraq.
2) Western occupation of Afganistan.
3) Western backed dictatorships in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Yemen.

When Western troops are dropping bombs and firing their M-16s, there is virtually no discussion of the merits of their actions. When unarmed protests erupt for democracy, people openly wonder if it's a good idea.

And this dude on Al Jazeera right now... "Egypt are our friends... but we also have our principles."

Newsflash: you cannot "also" have principles.
posted by notion at 10:14 AM on January 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Here, I should note that the most popular successor to Mubarak is Mohamed Elbaradei, who is not known for his hardline conservatism

Elbaradei is reportedly under house arrest following his statements on the current government's prospects.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 10:14 AM on January 28, 2011


Oof. The US sounds painfully misguided and foolish right now. Platitude after platitude. The Al-Jazeera reporter sounds as frustrated as I am.
posted by ChuraChura at 10:14 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, that is PRECISELY what I said and meant Koeselitz.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:15 AM on January 28, 2011


furiousxgeorge: “You would think Metafilter would understand the danger of religious conservatives with political power.”

I volunteered for Obama. But if 5 years from now he declares himself dictator for life, I'll gladly take to the streets.
posted by crackingdes at 10:15 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


ColdChef: there's a reason he can't pronounce those words in Arabic.
posted by notion at 10:15 AM on January 28, 2011


It's way too early to say that we'll see some kind of hardline authoritarian Ayatollah-esque leadership coming in to fill the power vacuum if Mubarak is ousted.

I don't think he will go for awhile, myself.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This hour's anchor on Al Jazeera is terribad compared to the past six hours.
posted by amuseDetachment at 10:18 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


"It's way too early to say that we'll see some kind of hardline authoritarian Ayatollah-esque leadership coming in to fill the power vacuum if Mubarak is ousted."

It's almost impossible to imagine due to the fact it's Turkey Mk2. The army almost certainly wouldn't allow the state to become theocratic in Egypt.
posted by jaduncan at 10:19 AM on January 28, 2011


The Muslim Brotherhood made a statement a while back basically saying they were staying out of this.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:19 AM on January 28, 2011


furiousxgeorge: “Yes, that is PRECISELY what I said and meant Koeselitz.”

I'm sorry; this is a heady time, so I might have misunderstood. What did you mean? You were drawing a parallel between Bush and Palin on the one hand and "religious conservatives" in Egypt on the other. I guess I'm confused about whom you were drawing the parallel to. I'd still like to know. What did you mean?
posted by koeselitz at 10:19 AM on January 28, 2011


“You would think Metafilter would understand the danger of religious conservatives with political power.”

You would think Metafilter would know the difference between Islam, Muslims and "religious conservatives".
posted by Surfurrus at 10:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


What did you mean?

That dangerous religious conservatives can do well in Democratic systems and it is a real concern for Egypt.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:21 AM on January 28, 2011


When Western troops are dropping bombs and firing their M-16s, there is virtually no discussion of the merits of their actions.

Are you new here?
posted by Jahaza at 10:23 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth, the AIS receivers along the canal and at Port Said are still somehow transmitting data (I just checked). We do have our own bird, but as I understand it, that's only for bluewater tracking.

Not sure how that's relevant; maybe another potential way to get data out?
posted by digitalprimate at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2011


I just don't like the tacit racism in people's skepticism about the benefits of democracy in Egypt.

[Please make a basic effort not to start fights in here.]

Sorry, that was my fault. Reading my comments over a second time, I probably should have worded my argument more carefully. I suppose, in my inner dialogue, some of the questions I am trying to answer for myself are: "How would democracy in Egypt likely look like? And what's the likelihood of that occurring in the first place, given the historic, political and economic realities of the region?"
posted by CaffeineFree at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been to Cairo. Its huge. If you count the outskirts, it has about 18 million inhabitants. Its pretty much the largest urban area in Africa, and the 11th largest in the world. Al-Jazeera reports 'tens of thousands' of protesters. Lets say 50,000, then out of the population of Cairo thats still only 1 person in 360 out on the streets protesting. I'm pointing this out for two reasons: (a) In the right conditions, those protester numbers could potentially swell to hundreds of thousands, and then we're really talking ... and ... (b) if we aren't reaching those numbers so far, is it possible that we (and Al-Jazeera) are 'wishing' this into something bigger than it really is?

I mean, about (b), I hope not. But I'm wondering.
posted by memebake at 10:26 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Data point: US combat troops carry the M4, not the older M16.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2011


That dangerous religious conservatives can do well in Democratic systems and it is a real concern for Egypt.

For Egypt yes, but what about for us? Saving democracy for our little brown brothers by cancelling democracy every time they don't elect the right people doesn't quite work see: Algeria, Gaza/Palestine, Lebanon.

“You would think Metafilter would understand the danger of religious conservatives with political power.”

Which is why when George Bush was elected and launched a "holy war" we advocated for a foreign military to sponsor a coup in the US?
posted by ennui.bz at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2011


Another cable, from March 2009... said. "President Mubarak and military leaders view our military assistance programme as the cornerstone of our mil-mil relationship and consider the $1.3 billion in annual [foreign military finance] as 'untouchable compensation' for making and maintaining peace with Israel.

Nice little client state you have there. It would be a shame if anything happened to it...
posted by Joe Beese at 10:27 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guys, what I said I said is all I said.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:28 AM on January 28, 2011


That dangerous religious conservatives can do well in Democratic systems and it is a real concern for Egypt.

Perhaps you are in agreement: dangerous fundamentalism is bad for democracy, but that doesn't mean that Egyptians don't deserve the choice.
posted by notion at 10:30 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's fine, furiousxgeorge. Sorry for making more of it than it was. What has happened continues to happen, and that's more important than petty squabbles here.
posted by koeselitz at 10:30 AM on January 28, 2011


ah, into the overnights looks like. time to do something else for a bit.
posted by mwhybark at 10:31 AM on January 28, 2011





Perhaps you are in agreement: dangerous fundamentalism is bad for democracy, but that doesn't mean that Egyptians don't deserve the choice.


Correct.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:32 AM on January 28, 2011


Are you new here?

MetaFilter is about as liberal (or reality-based, if you prefer) as it gets in the United States. You certainly didn't hear anything like that from any major media about Afghanistan, and not until years after the Iraq War dragged on.
posted by notion at 10:34 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Arabiya is reporting that Syria has now disconnected from the Internet.

Jesus!
posted by odinsdream at 10:35 AM on January 28, 2011


curious as to why npr hasn't mentioned the army/police face off yet
posted by angrycat at 10:36 AM on January 28, 2011


I wish the west had more real news channels. We need AJ as much as anyone.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:36 AM on January 28, 2011


Guessing it has to do with being extra careful about delivering only confirmed info after they got mixed up in reporting Gabrielle Giffords' death.
posted by proj at 10:37 AM on January 28, 2011


BGPMon has another post on how the Internet shutdown was achieved.
posted by mkb at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Al Arabiya is reporting that Syria has now disconnected from the Internet.

Per the comments on the Mashable article, including comments from folks in Syria having no problems getting online, it sounds like this has been debunked.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2011


curious as to why npr hasn't mentioned the army/police face off yet

Not getting any clear read on this from Al-Jazeera and the Guardian. A minute ago Al-Jazeera said the army was protecting the state-tv station from the protesters. But they also show pictures of protesters cheering the tanks as they roll in.
posted by memebake at 10:38 AM on January 28, 2011


memebake: I heard an estimate earlier on Al Jazeera of the number of protesters in Cairo being 50,000, and I actually wondered if it was an underestimate. I mean, they've mentioned that streets all over the city are teeming with people, but 50,000 is only about a baseball stadium full. But I have no idea.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:39 AM on January 28, 2011


>memebake, sensible question. We'll see what happens.

However, it's worth mentioning that in a country that has an enormous and well-funded security state, an intimidated (and largely pauperized) population, a state of emergency that has lasted without interruption for thirty years and for much of the decades before that, having tens of thousands of people out on the streets already counts as 'big'. Having them disregard a now country-wide curfew is even bigger.

Also, as you said, Cairo is huge--and there are protests in (it seems) many other cities and towns as well. There are only so many journalists out there, and they're naturally congregating around the landmarks. It's impossible to know right now how many people are out on the streets, since the only people who are in a position to make an educated guess are the Egyptian security forces.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 10:39 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't think the report on Syria is true. No problem accessing Syrian government sites or the US Embassy in Damascus. This was not the case in Egypt.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2011


"U.S President Obama is said to have a received a 40-page briefing on Egypt protests"
Right-click on thread, Print.
posted by memebake at 10:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I hope that disconnecting the populace from the internet becomes forever recognized as the hallmark of a despotic and illegitimate regime.
posted by mullingitover at 10:42 AM on January 28, 2011 [31 favorites]


One thing that no one has mentioned yet when looking for parallels is the 1997 ousting of Indonesia's Suharto after days of protest in Jakarta. That may be more what might be in store if Mubarak steps down: a fledgling democracy that is definitely pro-Islam, but not Taliban scary.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:43 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh that's rich. The school where I am blocks Al Arabiya.

So I guess that goes to show that the flow of information in the US is just hunky dory. Never mind if you're a teenager in Duluth.
posted by RedEmma at 10:44 AM on January 28, 2011


Marla Singer: “memebake: I heard an estimate earlier on Al Jazeera of the number of protesters in Cairo being 50,000, and I actually wondered if it was an underestimate. I mean, they've mentioned that streets all over the city are teeming with people, but 50,000 is only about a baseball stadium full. But I have no idea.”

I heard that estimate, too, but it wasn't for Cairo. It was for a more rural area – wish I'd caught which. Cairo almost certainly has many more protesters than that.
posted by koeselitz at 10:46 AM on January 28, 2011


Uh, that link is to Al Arabiya's twitter page, and twitter is pretty understandably blocked by the school I work at as well. Things are crazy enough without adding hyperbole and misinformation into the mix - I had no problems pulling up both the AJ and CNN feeds on the Promethean Board for my class.
posted by absalom at 10:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hope that disconnecting the populace from the internet becomes forever recognized as the hallmark of a despotic and illegitimate regime.

it's been the hallmark of Comcast for years.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 10:47 AM on January 28, 2011 [20 favorites]


mullingitover: "I hope that disconnecting the populace from the internet becomes forever recognized as the hallmark of a despotic and illegitimate regime."

Recently, Bob Jones University and SurfClear have released a unique web filtering system that is more conservative than the average Internet filter.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 10:50 AM on January 28, 2011


Oh, another point for those who are scared of, or perhaps scare-mongering about, the Muslim Brotherhood.

An Egyptian friend of mine was out on the streets yesterday and was planning to be out there again today. She attended the American University in Cairo. She is entirely secular. At the age of 13, when her mother (like many Egyptian women then and since) decided to start wearing the veil, she refused to follow suit. She is hardly a poster-girl for the Muslim Brothers.

Here's a blog post she wrote yesterday.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


I heard that estimate, too, but it wasn't for Cairo. It was for a more rural area – wish I'd caught which. Cairo almost certainly has many more protesters than that.

Oh, OK. I was actually away from the computer at the time, grabbing a cup of coffee, so I was probably mistaken.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:52 AM on January 28, 2011




re: protester numbers: thanks for your thoughts.

Al-Jazeera keeps using 'tens of thousands' to describe the size of the protests. I guess without press helicopters (and they definitely aint got none of those) its hard to get any estimate on the numbers. Perhaps they're sticking with 'tens of thousands' because thats all they can see from the top of their building.
posted by memebake at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2011


If I had Al-Jazeera on my television, I might actually watch TV news again. I had forgotten how not-terrible it could be.
posted by sugarfish at 10:58 AM on January 28, 2011


In my mind, there is a big difference between a single election/overthrow-of -a-dictator and Democracy. Whats most important is democratic institutions, and the real chance for a 2nd election to follow the first. I don't know which way Egypt would go, or even if Murbarak will fall, but Murbarak's falling isn't synonmous with Democracy (though it obviously raises the chances).

I hope it works out best for Democracy and human safety.
posted by rosswald at 11:00 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Curfew? Shit shit shit. Partner and his family are in Egypt right now, supposed to be making their way to Cairo as I write, flying back to Australia Sat arvo Cairo time. :( :( :(
posted by divabat at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just read we are financing both sides, the pro democracy orgs to the tune of 135m in the last two years--which pissed off Mubarak. Source wikileaks cables.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:08 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hope that disconnecting the populace from the internet becomes forever recognized as the hallmark of a despotic and illegitimate regime.

Two things: One, I suspect it had as much or more to do with cell phones being shut down. I actually know a significant number of people (in the US) with no computer, but they all have cell phones - and from what I understand, cell phones are far more common than computers worldwide.

Two, the internet can still be censored outright or split into payment tiers, and as long as it still sort of works, people don't seem to mind. Witness China's extreme censorship, or the lack of general interest in net neutrality among US residents.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Al J is really showing up the American press. I remember a time when CNN didn't suck so bad. Or did I just not know better back then?
posted by vibrotronica at 11:09 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, do they hace the TV station? Just got texted that.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:10 AM on January 28, 2011


If I had Al-Jazeera on my television, I might actually watch TV news again. I had forgotten how not-terrible it could be.

You can watch Al Jazeera English on Link TV (Dish Network channel 9410, the same channel that shows Democracy Now.)
posted by homunculus at 11:11 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


In my mind, there is a big difference between a single election/overthrow-of -a-dictator and Democracy.

Agreed that a future democratic government is far from assured at this point, but this does seem to be a truly populist uprising, and so far they seem to have a lot of momentum, which in and of itself is an amazing thing.
posted by snofoam at 11:13 AM on January 28, 2011


I hope the National Museum remains untouched. Tourism is big for Egypt and it's a beautiful building.

I hope a cruicial part of human history remains untouched. Egypt is one of the world's oldest continuous civilisations.

To blindly support one side or another would be to act as a poor president.

The US already pours billions a year into propping up Mubarak. Tut-tutting protestors is supporting one side. The wrong one.

What would you have Obama do? Throw all his support in with the protestors?

Signal to the Army and security interests that continued support for Egypt is contingent on meaningful moves to reform. Mubarak would off to whereever it is dictators hole up these days with however many billions he's looted before the day was out.

What if they lose, then, and Egypt becomes hostile to American interests? Does that help America in any way?

Oh, you're one of those people. Fuck your national interests.

But if the US government and its cheerleaders of brutality had brains to go with their spines, they'd remember that unconditional support for the Shah was a key factor in radicalising the Iranian revolution from one whose aim was to throw out a vile dictator to one that established an Islamic republic. The longer the US supports Mubarak - and that's what it's doing - the more likely that the endgame in Egypt will be Iran rather than Turkey.

that Austrian guy with the funny beard actually gained power by completely democratic means.

You know, if you're going to pontificate upon history, it would help to not sound entirely ignorant of it.

Reports that a BBC reporter has been seized and tortured, then released. Egypt state TV spins. While Hilary and Biden offer tacit support clothed in claims of neutrality, Egyptians get the message about who Obama really supports.

Hope that the army are with the protesters, not against them.

(Good luck for those with family and friends in Egypt right now.)

Al J is really showing up the American press.

It has been for years. They've creamed off many of the best UK and US correspondants around the world for the best part of a decade, because they like getting to do real reporting; there's a reason the Frost/Pratchett interview I saw most recently was on Al-J.
posted by rodgerd at 11:17 AM on January 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


Oh no. Seeing (unconfirmed) twitter reports of looting at Nat'l Museum of Antiquities, which is right next to the burning (definitely confirmed) ND party building. People, put that fire out!
posted by tingting at 11:18 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The State Department has released this:
In recent days, we expressed our hopes that all parties in Egypt, but especially the Mubarak administration, would act with restraint and show full respect for the peaceful expression of political opinion. We are saddened at the loss of life. We wish to express our solidarity with the Egyptian people and look forward to working with all democratic forces in Egypt to ensure the full exercise of democratic rights. The Egyptian military commendably refused to fire on peaceful demonstrators, and the media valiantly kept the Egyptian public informed."
Actually, that was our statement on the failed Venezuelan coup in 2002 (with the Dictator and State switched out). But when you're looking for real statement of support for Egyptian democracy, it should read something like that.
posted by notion at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


To be more clear, Link TV shows a half-hour broadcast of Al Jazeera every weeknight at 7:00 PM, but right now they've interrupted their regular programing and are carrying Al Jazeera English's feed, so you can watch it on TV now if you get Link TV.
posted by homunculus at 11:19 AM on January 28, 2011


divabat: “Curfew? Shit shit shit. Partner and his family are in Egypt right now, supposed to be making their way to Cairo as I write, flying back to Australia Sat arvo Cairo time. :( :( :(”

My thoughts and prayers are with your partner and his family, divabat. I hope they're okay. Please keep us posted.
posted by koeselitz at 11:20 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


[T]he extraordinary scenes from Egypt [are] filling America's TV screens – even if the early morning bulletins were more interested in Charlie Sheen's hernia.

The exception has been Fox News, where coverage has been more muted. "You probably don't give a lot of time thinking about Egypt," a Fox News presenter suggested about an hour ago, before explaining that "groups linked to al-Qaida" were in danger of taking over the government in Cairo.


Guardian Live Blog, 19:04
Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!
posted by Grangousier at 11:21 AM on January 28, 2011


From the Guardian's live coverage:
The main US cable news networks had given Egypt minimal coverage so far this week, partly because of the time difference but also because of the president's state of the union address on Tuesday night absorbing so much energy.

That has all changed today, with the the extraordinary scenes from Egypt filling America's TV screens – even if the early morning bulletins were more interested in Charlie Sheen's hernia.

The exception has been Fox News, where coverage has been more muted. "You probably don't give a lot of time thinking about Egypt," a Fox News presenter suggested about an hour ago, before explaining that "groups linked to al-Qaida" were in danger of taking over the government in Cairo.
So far I haven't had much to say about the protests (beyond "holy shit wow!") but I will say this: Fuck you Fox News, fuck yyyyyyyoooooouuuuuu...
posted by Kattullus at 11:22 AM on January 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


I know it's terrible of me, but I'm more worried about the contents of that marvelous and astounding museum than the protesters. Then again, I'm still upset about the Taliban blowing up the Bamyan buddhas.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2011


Actually, that was our statement on the failed Venezuelan coup in 2002 (with the Dictator and State switched out).

I understand your intent but I think posting apparent quotes that actually aren't is a really foolish thing to do in a fast moving discussion of political upheaval.
posted by Babblesort at 11:24 AM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


From the Guardian:
7.15pm GMT: The White House has just announced that it is postponing its planned press conference on the situation in Egypt. There's some speculation that may be because Obama himself wants to make a statement personally, but in any case it has been postponed for the time being.
Wonder if they're getting new info...
posted by proj at 11:26 AM on January 28, 2011


I wouldn't rely on the Guardian to report accurately on the content of Fox News broadcasts.
posted by Jahaza at 11:28 AM on January 28, 2011


Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, says he's "not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process." Can someone who understands the Middle East better explain this hesitance? I thought Israel would be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a democratic neighbour.
posted by diogenetic at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2011


Thanks, Babblesort... mods, kill it if you wish. I don't want to spread disinformation. I do think it's interesting that the legitimacy of a democracy has little influence on the opinion of the State Department.
posted by notion at 11:29 AM on January 28, 2011


I know it's terrible of me, but I'm more worried about the contents of that marvelous and astounding museum than the protesters. Then again, I'm still upset about the Taliban blowing up the Bamyan buddhas.

I'm ephemeral. I will be forgotten in a couple of generations. My death would be a tragedy for me and those around me, but nothing more. The loss of the works of our civilisations is a tragedy that eclipses the death of any one person.

I wouldn't rely on the Guardian to report accurately on the content of Fox News broadcasts.

Clearly defending the honour of Fox News is the most important part of this story Jahaza.
posted by rodgerd at 11:33 AM on January 28, 2011


Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, says he's "not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process." Can someone who understands the Middle East better explain this hesitance? I thought Israel would be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a democratic neighbour.
posted by diogenetic at 11:29 AM on January 28 [+] [!]


Netanyahu is essentially concerned that the democratic process in the region will a) produce Islamist states, b) undermine the patron-client relationships that these states have with the US and, by proxy, with Israel, and c) that popular support for war with Israel will come out of democracies. He is also using the "democratic process" as shorthand for popular insurrection that may embolden Palestinians to rise up against Israeli occupation.
posted by proj at 11:34 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


diogenetic: Israel largely doesn't care about democracy. They care about survival. From what I gather, there's a hawkish old guard which fears any instability and prefers US backed dictatorships and occupation of Palestine, and a movement of younger Israelis who believe that democracy should be available to all people, including Palestinians.

Basically, Netanyahu believes in the realpolitik of violent repression for everyone else, just as the United States does.
posted by notion at 11:36 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Routing around censorship: Ham radio, good old dial-up.
posted by rodgerd at 11:37 AM on January 28, 2011


This is not what a revolution of religious bigots would look like.
posted by rodgerd at 11:38 AM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


rodgerd: But if the US government and its cheerleaders of brutality had brains to go with their spines,...

Please don't hijack this moment to dump 22-line axe grinding comments, K? Thx muchly
posted by msalt at 11:39 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


And it gets more interesting... From the Guardian again:
7.35pm GMT: There is a White House briefing on Egypt promised shortly, but the Associated Press has this bombshell – that the Obama administration is using US aid to Egypt as leverage over the Mubarak regime:

An Obama administration official says the US will review its $1.5bn in aid to Egypt based on events unfolding in the country, where the authoritarian government is struggling to extinguish huge and growing street protests.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the situation. Egypt has been a key US ally in the volatile region. US officials are now increasing calls on President Hosni Mubarak, the target of the protesters, to respond with restraint and reverse steps taken to cut off the protesters' ability to communicate.

The decision to review assistance to Egypt is a significant step as the US seeks to balance the desire to maintain stability in the region with a recognition of the unexpected scope and uncertain outcome of the protests.
posted by proj at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Please don't hijack this moment

A comment direct to the history of revolutionary movements and US support of dictators in the Middle East and North Africa is neither a hijack nor axe-grinding.
posted by rodgerd at 11:41 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, says he's "not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process."

And I say Benjamin Netanyahu can go fuck himself.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


7.35pm GMT: There is a White House briefing on Egypt promised shortly, but the Associated Press has this bombshell – that the Obama administration is using US aid to Egypt as leverage over the Mubarak regime:

That will be fantastic if it happens.
posted by rodgerd at 11:43 AM on January 28, 2011


There's still a chance for the USG to do the right thing. I hope we get to see the 2006 edition of Obama, if only for one day.
posted by notion at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2011


That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.

ah the Cairo speech. so sweet the sound our great orator mouths.
posted by Shit Parade at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


divabat: According to Wikileaks' twitter feed, activists are sending mass faxes into Egypt. I hit Google news for info, and came up eventually with this list of fax numbers for hotels in Egypt, and for Cairo University. If you have no other way to communicate, you might try sending a fax. Best wishes to your partner and family.
posted by Marla Singer at 11:44 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I thought Israel would be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a democratic neighbour.

The Egyptians in power currently have tried very, very hard to perpetuate the idea that a democratic Egypt means Muslim Brotherhood or at least an Islamic state. They have a point, when Europe left the shackles of monarchies they pretty readily leaped to populist movements (Communism and Fascism) which did not bode well for Jews or minorities and saw the rise of nationalism that tried to unite countries into a single, large super-power.

If you look at Israel's neighbors and you figure that a bunch of democratic Arab states, with rising nationalism even without the factor of Islam, will look at Israel and see it as a country full of recent immigrants and decidedly very un-Arabic. Given Israel's relationship with its neighbors, in particular Egypt, it is easy to see how this would happen.

Of course the Middle East now is not 19th c Europe. There is no reason to believe that democracy is going to lead to rah-rah populism that lead to the Monroe doctrine, the unification of German states, etc. Sure it is a possibility, but it is the one of many. Obviously, Soviet states exited fairly peacefully and African states just became mired in internal conflicts after the loss of colonialism. I think this is more likely to happen, as we forget that Europe had a very, very long history of militarism and being in a state of conflict for a very long time. You really don't have this in the Middle East. Instead, you have a collection of states that were cobbled together after WWI. You don't see Egyptians rising up to unite all of Egypt, but instead to kick out a corrupt ruler.

Finally the Middle East isn't just coming out of feudalism. There's not a large, rural class of peasants who go to bed hungry after laboring in the field all day. You have large urban areas, with a lot of nothing in between. There are significant population and demographic differences that just won't let you translate European revolutions with what is going on now.
posted by geoff. at 11:45 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, says he's "not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process."

And I say Benjamin Netanyahu can go fuck himself.


To be fair, TIME is reporting that this quote did not come fron Netanyahu, but a minister in his government. That said, that guy can go fuck himself.
posted by ofthestrait at 11:47 AM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera now saying to interesting things: protesters formed a human shield around the Egyptian Museum to defend it from looters; Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is a possible successor to Mubarak; White House briefing imminent.
posted by aught at 11:49 AM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Reports from al-Jazeera that protestors are forming a human chain around the Cairo museum to protect it.
posted by rodgerd at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


to -> three (whew)
posted by aught at 11:50 AM on January 28, 2011


For those responding to diogenetic's Yahoo/Time story on Israel's reaction:

Your expression of Netanyahu's position may be accurate, but note that the entire article is quoting an unnamed minister in Netanyahu's administration, not Netanyahu himself. It appears to be less official than from the head of state.
posted by BlackPebble at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Marla Singer: Thank you, I have sent a fax to their Cairo hotel, hoping for a positive response.
posted by divabat at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Al Jazeera just reported as many as 150k people were protesting at one place. So the 50k number is certainly not Cairo, nor all of Egypt.
posted by gofargogo at 11:53 AM on January 28, 2011


Protest pictures; some graphic.
posted by rodgerd at 11:53 AM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


(missed ofthestrait on preview. sorry!)
posted by BlackPebble at 11:53 AM on January 28, 2011


rodgerd: "Reports from al-Jazeera that protestors are forming a human chain around the Cairo museum to protect it"

Between this, the way Egyptians came together after the bombing of a Christian church and the great stories my fiance had about her travels there, I hereby declare Egyptians to be the awsomest people on Earth.
posted by charred husk at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is not what a revolution of religious bigots would look like.
posted by rodgerd at 2:38 PM on January 28 [1 favorite +] [!]

in case twitter is blocked where you are this is what rodgerd linked to:

"Egyptian Christians said they will guard the Muslims from the police while they on Friday Pray." Amazing solidarity.
edsetiadi


dusty in here again. allergies something something.
posted by sio42 at 11:54 AM on January 28, 2011 [22 favorites]


Candidate for iconic picture: protester kisses a riot cop
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2011 [37 favorites]


Clearly defending the honour of Fox News is the most important part of this story Jahaza.

Hoist by your own petard rogerd. If the story is so important that my defending Fox News somehow impedes it, your comment is just as much a distraction.
posted by Jahaza at 11:56 AM on January 28, 2011


Have there been any updates on Elbaradei? Last I heard he was under house arrest.
posted by sugarfish at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2011


That photograph is beautiful. Thank you CunningLinguist.
posted by notion at 11:58 AM on January 28, 2011


Summary of Hillary Clinton's press conference (broadcast on Al Jazeera): "Violence solves nothing, people!" OK, so we'll be withdrawing all our troops from Iraq, Afghanistan, and places they're not supposed to be like Pakistan and Yemen asap, right Hillary?

How will withdrawing our soldiers lead to a decrease in violence. Right now we've decreased troops in Iraq and violence has risen. Same thing happened in Somalia.
posted by humanfont at 11:59 AM on January 28, 2011


Reports from al-Jazeera that protestors are forming a human chain around the Cairo museum to protect it

BBC:

Marsia Bealby from Lichfield writes: "I am deeply concerned about the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and its immense archaeological treasure, since apparently there is a fire nearby." We are trying to stand up reports some protesters have formed a human chain outside the museum to protect its artefacts.

I started crying when I read this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


CNN's Ben Wedeman, who is in Cairo, claims that protests have died down because the military and police have retreated, and there is no more government to protest. Waiting for the White House briefing.
posted by msali at 12:00 PM on January 28, 2011


WH Press Briefing about to start on CNN.com.
posted by proj at 12:01 PM on January 28, 2011


Almost everyone is seated which is usually a good sign for time frame.
posted by proj at 12:03 PM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera says protesters have form a human shield around the museum to prevent looting. No details yet. They reported earlier that a fire truck had showed up.

The Guardian says Egyptian state television has started showing footage of protests.
posted by nangar at 12:03 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Link has gone back to their regular programming. Bleh. Disregard what I said above.
posted by homunculus at 12:05 PM on January 28, 2011


rodgerd: A comment direct to the history of revolutionary movements and US support of dictators in the Middle East and North Africa is neither a hijack nor axe-grinding.

OFFS. Call it what you will. This is a fast moving, live-blogging type thread. Please save your history lectures and ideology for another day.
posted by msalt at 12:08 PM on January 28, 2011


Mubarak may be headed to TV station.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:09 PM on January 28, 2011


"Al Jazeera Arabic reports that thousands of youth protesters have assembled to try to protect the national museum in Cairo."
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:09 PM on January 28, 2011


According to Twitter: @evanchill Al Jazeera Arabic reports that thousands of youth protesters have assembled to try to protect the national museum in Cairo. #jan25

The live AJ stream keeps freezing up on me, but @AJEnglish is tweeting regularly.
posted by catlet at 12:10 PM on January 28, 2011


Gibbs, boo.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:11 PM on January 28, 2011


What's that thing on Gibbs' upper lip?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:11 PM on January 28, 2011


Please save your history lectures and ideology for another day.

I'm sorry context and knowledge offend you.
posted by rodgerd at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2011


Cut it out, you two.
posted by cortex at 12:12 PM on January 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


Gibbs looks on EDGE.
posted by proj at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2011


Gibbs looks on EDGE.

This is last really big day he'll have in this job.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:14 PM on January 28, 2011


How will withdrawing our soldiers lead to a decrease in violence. Right now we've decreased troops in Iraq and violence has risen. Same thing happened in Somalia.

How about we don't unleash violence in the first place? There was a heck of a lot less violence, before we violently invaded Iraq. So first we invade, destroy all native security infrastructure and then go "whelp, there is no security, we can't leave now". Fuck that shit, and I can't believe I got trolled into responding to this idiocy.
posted by VikingSword at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Seems like they sent Gibbs in front of the press corps without answers to any of the questions that were sure to be asked first.
posted by Babblesort at 12:16 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


What's that thing on Gibbs' upper lip?

prevaricatus melanocytes. it keeps growing for some reason.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2011


i really like that AJ is keeping GIbbs as a talking head and having images/video on the other 2/3 of the screen.
posted by sio42 at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2011


The cognitive dissonance between whatever's going on in Gibb's head and the words coming from his mouth is just painful to watch
posted by crayz at 12:17 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Reviewing our assistance posture based on events in the coming days"

Translation: Hosni, find a way to vent some pressure before the pot explodes. We pay for results.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2011


VikingSword, we had to destroy the village country to save it.
posted by Justinian at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


White House spokesperson is a thankless job.
posted by proj at 12:18 PM on January 28, 2011


Shorter Gibbs: 'We are monitoring the situation.' I can smell his flop-sweat from here.

Aaaaand al-Jazeera cuts away.
posted by sugarfish at 12:19 PM on January 28, 2011


He is clearly very certain that the situation is fast paced and that it is being monitored.
posted by Babblesort at 12:21 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Gibbs looks on EDGE.

"We are monitoring a fluid situation..."
"We are monitoring a dynamic situation..."
"We will review our position based on..."

I have no why I expected anything resembling a stance from the White House.

"President Obama has not spoken to President Mubarak."
posted by clearly at 12:21 PM on January 28, 2011


He really has nothing to say. I haven't heard so many "Uh's" since high school.
posted by Shit Parade at 12:21 PM on January 28, 2011


Listen, I'm not going to say that the administration response is correct or whatever, but when everyone is watching your every word for some crazy nuanced signal of a diplomatic position and questions are being asked in real time, you do your best to stick to your memorized message. If you deviate and do it wrong, you are de facto engaging in foreign policy.
posted by proj at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


You guys, don't listen to what he's saying. Listen to what he's not saying.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


i really like that AJ is keeping GIbbs as a talking head and having images/video on the other 2/3 of the screen.

Earlier, when Hillary was obviously not saying anything meaningful, they cut her off and went to a British AJ anchor: "Yea. Rooooight. That was uh, Hillary Clinton..."
posted by clearly at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2011


Man. It squicks me out that facebook (and to a lesser extent twitter) are tools of revolution. I guess the neck beard in me wished there was a decentralized, non-corporarte/advertising based social network system in place.
posted by gofargogo at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


At least they're having robust meetings. A host of robust meetings.
posted by odinsdream at 12:24 PM on January 28, 2011


What's that thing on Gibbs' upper lip?

Looks like a bad (and likely painful) cold sore to me. He's had it for at least a few days, from clips I've seen on evening news this week. But Abreva is so expensive even the White House might have trouble buying some out of petty cash.
posted by aught at 12:25 PM on January 28, 2011


They cut off Hillary because she moved on to talk about Colombia or something.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:27 PM on January 28, 2011


"Reviewing our assistance posture based on events in the coming days"

Isn't that politico-speech for "we're going to be reconsidering our foreign aid to Egypt," which was discussed as a good way to put pressure on Mubarak to step down peacefully back here?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:27 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Has anyone seen Murbarak in the last 24 hours?
posted by gofargogo at 12:29 PM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, it's obvious that at this point the US can't have a strong position. The information simply isn't there. I am pretty satisfied with the strong, unequivocal call by the US for reform, regardless of how the power shifts or does not. And the rather-blunt-for-politics-so-early threat of reconsidering aid.

I think Mubarak is over, but even if he manages to scramble out of it, he is going to be under heavy, heavy pressure. I was worried by the US reaction. I knew I couldn't hope for heroics, but this mollifies me.
posted by gilrain at 12:31 PM on January 28, 2011


Vodaphone didn't turn off the internet by itself. What the fuck is wrong with these people? Aren't they paid to research shit? How can they not have basic information about this?
posted by odinsdream at 12:32 PM on January 28, 2011


I don't think Washington wants Mubarak to step down. I think Washington wants him to loosen his iron fist just enough to keep from being overthrown.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


Isn't that politico-speech for "we're going to be reconsidering our foreign aid to Egypt," which was discussed as a good way to put pressure on Mubarak to step down peacefully back here?

Yes. I'm sure it seemed like an amazing idea until someone in the Obama administration started talking about it, then it totally became a strategy of the imperial overlords and inherently suspect.
posted by aught at 12:33 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


They may not want him to step down, but it seems fairly clear now that they aren't going to help him stand back up in opposition to the people. It's in their hands, one way or another... no intervention seems appropriate. And some tacit support of their grievances, at least, see again threats of withdrawing aid if reform isn't achieved.

That's about as strong as we could hope for.
posted by gilrain at 12:34 PM on January 28, 2011


Washington is basically whispering "Hey! Psst, Mubarak! Stop making us look like dicks!" through gritted teeth.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:38 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ah, that's a good one. "That's all I would talk about publicly, anyway." Cue a huge line to get source quotes following the briefing.
posted by proj at 12:42 PM on January 28, 2011


Mubarak hasn't been seen; it's reported "the family" left for London last night.
posted by thinkpiece at 12:42 PM on January 28, 2011


Dip not thy toe into the pool of generalization, Bob.
posted by cortex at 12:43 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"This pool isn't very deep, but it's quite wide."
posted by proj at 12:43 PM on January 28, 2011


Another first-hand account of the January 25 protests, by Yasmine El Rashidi, a Cairo-based writer and journalist.

William Pfaff discusses the current political situation in Tunisia.
posted by russilwvong at 12:44 PM on January 28, 2011


The old man (Mubarak) is 82 -- he isn't going to stand much longer anyway. It is way too far in the game to find another dictator successor (the son fled) ... this is the end.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:44 PM on January 28, 2011


Suspect Mubarak is busy perusing brochures for the Idi Amin Memorial Retirement home in Riyadh.
posted by Abiezer at 12:45 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I bet Davos is fascinating right now.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:46 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting context from the Guardian, take what you will from it:
8.43pm GMT: While Robert Gibbs is saying as little as possible ("this is a fluid situation") in a baroque manner, al-Jazeera reports that "intense gunfire heard near key govt buildings in the Egyptian capital".

Very unusually, Gibbs is taking questions from foreign journalists. That almost never happens at a White House press briefing.
posted by proj at 12:48 PM on January 28, 2011


Gibbs: "We believe in a basket of freedoms..."
posted by odinsdream at 12:51 PM on January 28, 2011


AJ saying 11 dead and 150 injured in Suez, tweets calling for blood donors.
posted by Abiezer at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2011


I know this is a fast-paced liveblogging type thread, so feel free to skip this comment.

I am stunned that this is happening now for the third time (Iran, Tunisia, and now Egypt), and most governments don't get what is happening or why these demonstrations are suddenly so effective when in generations past they were not. The mating of social networking technology with masses of the dispossessed is giving rise to what Gilles Deleuze called a "war machine", but don't be put off by that phrase. A war machine is a spontaneously emerging, flowing, evolving social force that deactivates the powers of State from within it's own geographic borders in response to prolonged marginalization of a group of people by the State:

"Either the State has at its disposal a violence that is not channeled through war; either it uses police officers and jailers in place of warriors...preventing all combat or, the State acquires an army, but in a way that presupposes a juridical integration of war and the organization of a military function. As for the war machine in itself, it seems to be irreducible to the State apparatus, to be outside its sovereignty and prior to its law: it comes from elsewhere...

...The State has no war machine of its own; it can only appropriate one in the form of a military institution, one that will continually cause it problems.

The law of the State is not the law of All or Nothing (State societies or counter-State societies) but that of interior and exterior. The State is sovereignty. But sovereignty only reigns over what it is capable of internalizing, of appropriating locally. Not only is there no universal State, but the outside of States cannot be reduced to "foreign policy," that is, to a set of relations among States. The outside appears simultaneously in two directions... but also the local mechanisms of bands, margins, minorities, which continue to affirm the rights of segmentary societies in opposition to the organs of State power...

But the war machine's form of exteriority is such that it exists only in its own metamorphoses; it exists in an industrial innovation as well as in a technological invention, in a commercial circuit as well as in a religious creation, in all flows and currents that only secondarily allow themselves to be appropriated by the State.

[E]ach time there is an operation against the State: insubordination, rioting, guerrilla warfare, or revolution as act, it can be said that a war machine has revived, that a new nomadic potential has appeared, accompanied by the reconstitution of a smooth space or a manner of being in space as though it were smooth (Virilio discusses the importance of the riot or revolutionary theme of "holding the street"). It is in this sense that the response of the State against all that threatens to move beyond it is to striate space...when a State does not succeed in striating its interior or neighboring space, the flows traversing that State necessarily adopt the stance of a war machine directed against it, deployed in a hostile or rebellious smooth space"


-assorted excerpts from A Thousand Plateaus, "Treatise on Nomadology--The War Machine", emphasis mine.

In my eyes this book is a vital text for decoding what has happened, and what will happen, in the 21st century.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:52 PM on January 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


"We are monitoring a fluid situation [in President Hosni Mubarak's pants]."
posted by lapsangsouchong at 12:53 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Tanks in Cairo on the move again. Unclear where they are going.
posted by CunningLinguist at 12:54 PM on January 28, 2011


The pool of generalization is a fluid that is being watched by a robust host.
posted by cortex at 12:55 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Those are armored personnel carriers, not tanks. The distinction in this case is mainly that they are filled with men with automatic weapons.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:55 PM on January 28, 2011


In my eyes this book is a vital text for decoding what has happened

OK. So, how can I decode the book?
posted by msalt at 12:55 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


the Idi Amin Memorial Retirement home in Riyadh

I've always wondered about this...

What does Saudi Arabia get out of these arrangements? Or do they just have a soft spot for despots who are down on their luck?
posted by Joe Beese at 12:56 PM on January 28, 2011


cortex: Any idea as to how much site bandwidth goes up during threads like this one? I, for one, am constantly reloading for updates.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:57 PM on January 28, 2011


Damn, just saw a clip of a police van running a protester down. Shit.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:58 PM on January 28, 2011


pb or Matt would be able to answer that, I don't really look directly at the analytics stuff. I wouldn't be surprised if there's a significant bump but how significant I can't say.
posted by cortex at 12:59 PM on January 28, 2011


Probably a lot, but since MeFi is practically all text I doubt it would ever be a major issue.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:59 PM on January 28, 2011


Those are armored personnel carriers, not tanks

Indeed. This is powerful force being shuttled into place in advance of a major move. My belief is that soldiers were advised beforehand to appear friendly and to not antagonize protesters. In the timeless words of Chief Wiggum, "this is going to get worse before it gets better."

I hope I'm wrong.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 1:00 PM on January 28, 2011


Reading the wikileak on police brutality:
Some middle-class Egyptians did not report thefts from their apartment blocks because they knew the police would immediately go and torture "all of the doormen", the cable added. It cited one source who said the police would use routinely electric shocks against suspected criminals, and would beat up human rights lawyers who enter police stations to defend their clients. Women detainees allegedly faced sexual abuse. Demoralised officers felt solving crimes justified brutal interrogation methods, with some believing that Islamic law also sanctioned torture, the cable said.
One can see why the protestors might call on the army to protect them from the cops, as has been reported.
posted by rodgerd at 1:00 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There was definitely at least one tank in that line as well.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:01 PM on January 28, 2011


Burhanistan, about those armored personnel carriers - about 90 minutes ago on AJ, someone noted that those vehicles were likely part of the Presidential Guard. The speaker made it clear that the Guard was part of neither the army nor the police. Not sure whether that's the same situation now (AJ keeps crashing) but it sounded like there were three separate armed forces moving through Cairo's streets.
posted by catlet at 1:01 PM on January 28, 2011


Jazeera footage of protesters swarming onto the army vehicles is extraordinary
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:02 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




three separate armed forces moving through Cairo's streets.

4 if you count the protesters themselves. They've proven themselves to be pretty fucking hard.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


what are some of the things people are chanting for those of us who don't speak arabic? i may have missed it when a reporter translated.

they keep showing the people in suez pushing the black line of riot cops back and they are clearly shouting in unison but i have no idea what.

sometimes i can make out mubarek but that's it.
posted by sio42 at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2011




Jazeera footage of protesters swarming onto the army vehicles is extraordinary

It's worth noting that (in the shots just showing on AJ English) the protesters climbing onto the tanks are kissing and shaking the hands of the soldiers, not attacking them. The text crawl on the site says the Army has not declared support either for Mubarak or the protesters, but those shots did not show a confrontation at least.
posted by aught at 1:05 PM on January 28, 2011


> sometimes i can make out mubarek but that's it.

From the little conversational Arabic I know, it's mostly something like "Mubarak must go".
posted by Burhanistan at 1:06 PM on January 28, 2011


4 if you count the protesters themselves

All we need now are the Eagles, then we'll have a real battle.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 1:06 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


MeTa.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2011


The AJ anchor probably should quit repeating that the NDP HQ was razed to the ground over live footage of flames coming out of its second floor.

Reports of members of the country's elite are fleeing the country.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:07 PM on January 28, 2011


i hope some of the looting at the NDP HQ is incriminating documents of some sort, either paper or electronic.
posted by sio42 at 1:08 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


sio42: One of the things we can probably be thankful for in the event of a transition is that the bureaucratic tradition is very, very strong in Egypt. I would not be surprised if some Stasi-esque records are unearthed, thus creating work for a generation of graduate students.
posted by proj at 1:09 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It squicks me out that facebook (and to a lesser extent twitter) are tools of revolution. I guess the neck beard in me wished there was a decentralized, non-corporarte/advertising based social network system in place.

That's kinda ridiculous, given the fact that the government of Egypt shut down the means of communication in and out of its country today. A corporation can at least shove its multinational nose out there and resist political pressure if it wants to.

There will never be some sort of non-profit/non-political/non-advertising/altruistic huge scale social network run by Bruce Wayne and his infinite dollars without any interest in what it becomes.

The tools of any revolution, whether they speeches, rocks, bottles or 140 character blurbs, will never be without imperfection.
posted by dflemingecon at 1:11 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


what are some of the things people are chanting for those of us who don't speak arabic?

Earlier today, during the AJ English footage of the protests on the 6th of October Bridge in front of the Hilton hotel, the crowds were chanting pretty standard things like "Down, down with Mubarak" and "God is Great." It was actually sort of a curious thing to hear the woman who was translating discreetly whispering (well, not quite discreetly enough, I guess, because she was still faintly audible) the the translations to the reporter. I was sort of surprised, also, because I thought the AJ-E reporters were all bilingual in Arabic and English, but maybe there are differences in Egyptian Arabic that made it difficult for them to understand the crowd?
posted by aught at 1:12 PM on January 28, 2011




those vehicles were likely part of the Presidential Guard. The speaker made it clear that the Guard was part of neither the army nor the police.

A convoy shuttling Mubarak out of the country? /optimism
posted by msalt at 1:13 PM on January 28, 2011


It's nonsensical to talk about being "fluent in Arabic" as Arabic is diglossic. There is a classical form (الفصحى), a colloquial form that varies within and between countries (العامية) and a Modern Standard (MSA) that is a variant of the classical form. Many people can read, write, and speak MSA but may not speak or understand the colloquial form. There are high costs in learning a colloquial variant and, depending on which you learn, you may not be able to understand the dialect in another country.
posted by proj at 1:15 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Burhanistan: “Those are armored personnel carriers, not tanks”

tapesonthefloor: “Indeed. This is powerful force being shuttled into place in advance of a major move. My belief is that soldiers were advised beforehand to appear friendly and to not antagonize protesters. In the timeless words of Chief Wiggum, "this is going to get worse before it gets better." I hope I'm wrong.”

I don't know how much credence to give to anything, of course, but a fellow who runs an Arab news agency based in London was speaking on Al-Jazeera a little while ago and saying we shouldn't even call those the "Egyptian army." His claim was that they're so poorly-paid and alienated from Mubarak himself that their sympathies are likely with the protesters, and not with him. His argument was that the only armed force that can be counted on by Mubarak is his personal police force, the force responsible for the beatings we'd been hearing about before everything really blew up. And his verdict was that this is flatly over.

Again, I don't know anything about the true facts, but that was an interesting perspective, to say the least.
posted by koeselitz at 1:16 PM on January 28, 2011


defleminecon: Yes. I realize it's kinda ridiculous, but my emotional reaction is the same.
posted by gofargogo at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2011


> Internet traffic to and from egypt

Also a couple of interesting graphs at renesys.com -- prefixes withdrawn, and networks not reachable by provider.
posted by jfuller at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2011


divabat: What I hear from my family in Cairo is that downtown is bad but not apocolyptic, brother's wife's mother lives three stories up and is unconcerned so long as she doesn't need to leave her apartment. No-one they know without a landline has been able to get through, but it's not because of an infrastructure-destroying event. It's like an entire nation forgot to pay the bill for their mobile.

On the upside, my brother and his wife and kids live on the outskirts of Cairo. There's no cars on the roads so the kids can play in the streets in front of their apartment for the first time ever.
posted by stet at 1:18 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]




Woah woah guy on Al Jazeera, comparing Mubarak to a Nazi? Now this whole thing just looks uncivil.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:23 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Internet traffic to and from egypt

I'm starting to wonder if any of the telecom companies will have the nerve to throw the switch back on, now that things have gone against the authorities who told them to unplug.
posted by aught at 1:23 PM on January 28, 2011


Rumours seem to be getting stronger that Mubarak has left:
Egypt25Jan: #jan25 #egypt News coming in about Mubarak fleeing with his family on a private jet from Almazah Airport
posted by Abiezer at 1:25 PM on January 28, 2011


furiousxgeorge: Woah woah guy on Al Jazeera, comparing Mubarak to a Nazi? Now this whole thing just looks uncivil.

Yeah, that's Fox News's job!
posted by mkultra at 1:26 PM on January 28, 2011


His claim was that they're so poorly-paid and alienated from Mubarak himself that their sympathies are likely with the protesters, and not with him.

A friend who lived in Egypt for a year and who has young friends still there got word that there was warning gunfire from riot police in the direction of army vehicles that were approaching. That may be an isolated incident and may be unrelated to any direct orders, but it's interesting to say the least.
posted by dflemingecon at 1:26 PM on January 28, 2011


Two pro-west governments overturned in Africa in the space of a month? What comes in to fill them? I have to assume that the state department is sweating bullets right now.
posted by codacorolla at 1:28 PM on January 28, 2011



I'm starting to wonder if any of the telecom companies will have the nerve to throw the switch back on, now that things have gone against the authorities who told them to unplug.
posted by aught at 4:23 PM on January 28


I thought that the ISP serving the stock exchange was still up? I wonder if that's so govt cronies can loot the treasury and wire the money out of the country.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:29 PM on January 28, 2011


from dustyasymptotes link to slogan translations...


• شرطة مصر يا شرطة مصر انتو بقيتوا كلاب القصر
“Police of Egypt, oh police of Egypt, you’ve become the dogs of the castle”
posted by sio42 at 1:29 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, and what's the deal with Syria? Who's next in the region?
posted by dunkadunc at 1:30 PM on January 28, 2011


Two pro-west governments overturned in Africa in the space of a month? What comes in to fill them? I have to assume that the state department is sweating bullets right now.

They should be sweating bullets. You cant tacitly (or openly) support corrupt dictatorships around the world and expect the subjects of those dictatorships to be okay with it.

Blowback is a bitch.
posted by Avenger at 1:31 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Who's next in the region?

Jordon?
posted by bonehead at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2011


discussion on AJ right now is very interesting.
about role of tech in revolutions, how stuff was getting out, reliability/veracity of info.
posted by sio42 at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2011




Jordan is an oasis of stability compared to the rest.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on January 28, 2011


التلفزيون المصري: رئيس مجلس الشعب يقول إن امرا مهما سيتم إعلانه في غضون وقت قصير

This is on Aljazeera's Arabic site news ticker: "Egyptian TV: the speaker of parliament says an important matter will be announced shortly."

Hmmm.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:35 PM on January 28, 2011


Why is everyone saying that the revolution will spread to Iran? Iran is MUCH more stable than most all other middle eastern countries, and few people in Iran would want to overthrow the theocracy, because for all of the evils the theocracy commits, it at least makes sure that the US and other foreign powers stay the hell out of Iran. Most people in Iran don't want a revolution. They already had one, and it completed its objectives.
Uh, were you paying attention in 2009?

But yeah shutting down the Internet and phone service is probably the worst way to keep people off the streets. They'll have nowhere else to go.

The idea that we should be 'neutral' in this doesn't make that much sense. Simply publicly withdrawing support for Mubarak could have a profound effect.
We always knew that, of course, but now the goverment has publicly admitted it by opening fire upon it's own people during their evening prayers. The Egyptian goverment has, esentially, lost. They may win the battle and crush the protestors, but they've still lost. The Egyptian people will never again be under any illusions as to the true nature of their state.
I don't think they were under any illusions. But now they'll know the government isn't as powerful as they thought, and that by acting together they can really fuck things up.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, says he's "not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process." Can someone who understands the Middle East better explain this hesitance? I thought Israel would be more enthusiastic about the prospect of a democratic neighbour.
Lol. Egypt under Mubarak has been a pretty good ally of Israel, against the will of the people (i.e. assisting the blockade of Gaza), so a democratic Egypt would be less support of Israel then it currently is, probably.
posted by delmoi at 1:36 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Basically I'm curious whether or not fundamentalist theocracies will take up the space left by what seemed to be (mostly irreligious) kleptocracies, like what happened in Iran. That seems maybe as bad as the previous system, at least to my western point of view.
posted by codacorolla at 1:37 PM on January 28, 2011


I would be very surprised if Syria is next - the structure of the country is very different.
here's hoping both Egypt & Tunisia's revolution will actually end well - this is just the beginning
posted by motdiem2 at 1:38 PM on January 28, 2011


Incidentally, the Aljazeera Arabic site is automatically going through to the mobile version, though I'm accessing it on a laptop. Presumably they're having bandwidth issues...
posted by lapsangsouchong at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2011


"Basically I'm curious whether or not fundamentalist theocracies will take up the space left by what seemed to be (mostly irreligious) kleptocracies, like what happened in Iran. That seems maybe as bad as the previous system, at least to my western point of view."

The Iranian revolution was a lot more religiously lead, and the infrastructure of the priests was more fully developed. The army in Egypt is also secular, so surely Turkey Mk2. It's not that people are demanding theocracy.
posted by jaduncan at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


who controls the army? is it one guy who makes decisions or do they have a pentagon-like structure or what?
posted by angrycat at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2011


His argument was that the only armed force that can be counted on by Mubarak is his personal police force, the force responsible for the beatings we'd been hearing about before everything really blew up. And his verdict was that this is flatly over.

In whose favor? I'm not following his reasoning.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:40 PM on January 28, 2011


Grangousier: "
"You probably don't give a lot of time thinking about Egypt," a Fox News presenter suggested about an hour ago, before explaining that "groups linked to al-Qaida" were in danger of taking over the government in Cairo."
Guardian Live Blog, 19:04

I'd like to say that I'm concerned that groups with links to Kevin Bacon Charlie Sheen's hernia might take power.
posted by symbioid at 1:40 PM on January 28, 2011


damn you poorly edited comment *shakesfistatself*
posted by symbioid at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2011


alright, that was definitely a tank in the rerun of the earlier footage of the APCs.
posted by mwhybark at 1:41 PM on January 28, 2011


Say what you will about the troop loyalty levels, but Egypt has a lot of hardware.
posted by Burhanistan at 1:43 PM on January 28, 2011


"who controls the army? is it one guy who makes decisions or do they have a pentagon-like structure or what?"

Chiefs of staff, fully backed up by a military administrative centre (as one would expect). Army nominally in charge of all three services, but they are a bit fractious. One wouldn't expect the Air Force and Navy to matter much in this situation though.

The bigger split is the interior and defence ministry.
posted by jaduncan at 1:44 PM on January 28, 2011


Thousands protest in Jordan
posted by Avenger at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2011


Basically I'm curious whether or not fundamentalist theocracies will take up the space left by what seemed to be (mostly irreligious) kleptocracies, like what happened in Iran. That seems maybe as bad as the previous system, at least to my western point of view.

If you want a fundamentalist Islamic regime in the middle east, all you have to do is invade. It would be the same in the United States: once there is some external force that is vastly superior to your own, and you are completely denied your free will and security, religion is often the first comfort people turn to. This has been happening since the Israelites prophesied the destruction of Babylon.

Egypt has a long history in the civilized world, has a fairly literate population, and is just as terrified of sectarian violence as any other middle eastern nation. They will not turn to militant Islamism unless they aren't given a choice.

Hezbollah, Hamas, the Iraqi resistance, and the Taliban all arose out of the pressure cooker of foreign invasion, imposed poverty, and a total loss of security. As our president once quipped, I think we can understand (even if we don't agree) why they would cling to their guns and their holy books. But the longer we fund dictatorships to rule with impunity, the better and better violent fundamentalism will look to that country's youth.
posted by notion at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2011 [19 favorites]


have there been reports of looting other than at the NDP HQ?

i haven't anything about it, but i'm only keeping an eye on this thread and AJ while i attempt to do homework.

if there's not much looting going on, that is yet another remarkable thing to add to the wonders of the egyptian people (christians protecting muslims, muslims praying earlier while be fired upon with tear gas, protection of the museum)
posted by sio42 at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


a lot of hardware

The last quality manufacturing still done in America.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:50 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Who's next in the region?

Yemen?
posted by marxchivist at 1:52 PM on January 28, 2011


Twitter says Israeli TV reporting that Mubarak has left the country on a private jet.
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:52 PM on January 28, 2011




Twitter says Israeli TV reporting that Mubarak has left the country on a private jet.

For good or for his own immediate safety?
posted by Sticherbeast at 1:54 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's also an uprising in Yemen.

Citizens in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia are protesting against poor service during a catastrophic flood that occurred there.
posted by symbioid at 1:55 PM on January 28, 2011


AJ is talking to Jim McDermott right now
posted by sio42 at 1:57 PM on January 28, 2011


I think it's significant that when the military was called in to back up the police and enforce the curfew, they basically didn't. It's now the middle of the night there, and curfew - what curfew? The army is driving their big scary vehicles around while the protesters climb aboard or hang on for a ride. This is a huge change from how things were six hours ago when the protesters were being attacked by the police - who have all but disappeared, incidentally. I'm daring to hope for the best.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:04 PM on January 28, 2011


AJ was just showing scenes of protesters in Alexandria coming to the aid of the military personnel that were torn from their vehicles by the angry crowds, protecting them from the mob, giving them water. Can you imagine standing your ground and pleading clemency in front of an angry mob? Fucking stirring. Show us how it's done, Egypt.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 2:08 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I've been glued to Al Jazeera on television all day. Absolutely fascinating.

Also interesting to see Kuwait buying off its own people.
posted by knapah at 2:08 PM on January 28, 2011


From @mohamed (Mohamed Nanabhay, head of online for Al Jazeera English):
"We're about to release some of todays @AJEnglish Egypt footage under a Creative Commons license. Check cc.aljazeera.net later tonight"

And from The Onion:
"Hosni Mubarak Reaches Out To Twitter Followers For Ideas On How To Keep Regime Intact"
posted by Asparagirl at 2:09 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


apparently the speaker of the Egyptian Parliament is going to make an announcement soon.

This is amazing.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:09 PM on January 28, 2011


sio42: "if there's not much looting going on, that is yet another remarkable thing to add to the wonders of the egyptian people (christians protecting muslims, muslims praying earlier while be fired upon with tear gas, protection of the museum)"

This reminds me that a few weeks ago, there was a group of Muslims who encircled a group of praying Christians in support/protection due to an earlier attack upon Christians from extremists.
posted by symbioid at 2:12 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak on AJ right now!
posted by delmoi at 2:17 PM on January 28, 2011


Mubarak seems to have no intention of stepping aside.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:18 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarek looking haggard on Al Jazeera. Ass covering.
posted by maudlin at 2:18 PM on January 28, 2011


"These protests couldn't have happened without the great space for freedom of expression..."

Hmm...
posted by knapah at 2:19 PM on January 28, 2011


Rioting is a sign that Egyptians have buttloads of freedoms. QED.
posted by cortex at 2:19 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought Mubarak stepping down now would be too easy. Sadly.
posted by immlass at 2:19 PM on January 28, 2011


Honestly, he looks pretty good for 82.
posted by CunningLinguist at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2011


Mubarak says he regrets the violence on both sides. No. You don't get to send riot police out with rubber-coated steel bullets and tear gas and then say that. You don't have them open fire on their own people.
posted by cmyk at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


"These demonstrations would not have taken place without freedoms"? Cheek.
posted by maudlin at 2:20 PM on January 28, 2011


I'm daring to hope for the best.

Me, too.

As one pundit noted on NPR, Tunisia, Egypt, and a lot of other countries that have recently seen these kinds of populist uprisings all seem to be characterized by massive and growing income divides--essentially, they're nations with no middle class or a rapidly shrinking middle class that seem to think police force is a suitable stand-in for economic justice. Maybe the powers that be abroad, and here at home, will finally get the message.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:21 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


To not appear on TV while declaring a nationwide curfew would make him look weak.


I find the suddeness of his appearance fascinating
posted by banal evil at 2:21 PM on January 28, 2011


Honestly, he looks pretty good for 82.

Plastic surgery. Despots are always vain.
posted by mr_roboto at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow, this Mubarak speech is typical Statist, exculpatory PR bullshit. Christ.
posted by symbioid at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2011


This is starting to look pretty good.

And I think the kind of subtle pressure that the Obama administration is rumored to have been putting on Mubarak is exactly the right thing to have done. By using our support of Egypt as a bargaining chip with the old regime we can continue to use it with the new one, but because we didn't take overt action to topple the old regime, the new one doesn't have reason to distrust us.

Here's hoping we can open immediate relations with whoever is in power tomorrow.
posted by valkyryn at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak on AJ right now!


Also streaming at BBC.com.
posted by modernnomad at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2011


Shutting down the internet and cell phones = freedom. Uh huh.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mubarak keeps leading up to statements where it sounds like he's about to step down, like his talk of vesting the power of the constitution in the people, except that at the last moment he always fakes out with a non-sequitor about reforms.
posted by klangklangston at 2:23 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's talking about their great social programmes and plans.... not sure this sounds like someone who is about to step down.
posted by modernnomad at 2:24 PM on January 28, 2011


I think he just threw gasoline on the fire.
posted by empath at 2:25 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I GAVE YOU THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE
posted by cortex at 2:25 PM on January 28, 2011 [23 favorites]


the synopsis line under him on AJ just said something like he's "attached to the suffering of the egyptian people".

uh, yes, exactly. that's why they are the streets, dude.
posted by sio42 at 2:25 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I GAVE YOU THE BEST YEARS OF MY LIFE

LOL
posted by Ironmouth at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2011


Damn. So he didn't just say "uncle"? (Can't watch the feed right now, so I really appreciate this thread.) Well, the choice may be out of his hands anyway, if the military is aligned against him.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2011


He's leaning hard on promises about taking care of the poor. Hrm.
posted by koeselitz at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2011


where is he speaking from?
posted by sio42 at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2011


the key is what he says for tomorrow.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:26 PM on January 28, 2011


He's in Egypt, right? He didn't bail out with the other elites?
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:27 PM on January 28, 2011


WHOA - He just said he's stepping down!
posted by koeselitz at 2:27 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


BINGO, he said it, he said it!
posted by zix at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


> where is he speaking from?

I'm thinking a remote bunker with a studio backdrop.

He just said he's going to have a new government tomorrow, but he'll still be running the show?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


That was surprising.
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


WHOA - He just said he's stepping down!

Sounded more like he said he was firing the government, and appointing new ones.
posted by knapah at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


ZING!
posted by Marla Singer at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


He's telling the guv to step down today, new gov tomorrow, but it's not clear at all that that that is meant to include him. Hoom.
posted by cortex at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


apparently dissolving parliament.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


I'm confused. What did he just say?
posted by empath at 2:28 PM on January 28, 2011


Wow. wonder how long he will remain in power after *firing the entire government*?? wtf.
posted by crackingdes at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


Al Jazeera - "I'm not going anywhere, new government tomorrow."

Last roll of the dice?
posted by knapah at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


So did he just say "tomorrow I'll have more details about how we're going to deal with this?"

Oddly reminds me of that episode of the Office where Michael faces the shareholders and in the face of their revolt he says "ok, we'll be back in a bit with a plan.. a 45 point plan!"
posted by modernnomad at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


Shorter Mubarak: "No, YOU go first."
posted by maudlin at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


No, he's not going anywhere, but he's asking "the government" to step down, and he'll reform a new government tomorrow.
posted by klangklangston at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


I think he just roundly scolded everyone and told them to go home.

Does he have any idea what is going on over there?
posted by cmyk at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Like, "folks, I heard you loud and clear, this government is a sham! Let's get rid of it, together! Man, those guys, they sucked!"
posted by cortex at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011 [18 favorites]


I don't think he's stepping down.

He did play both sides. Dunno what will happen. Trying to ride the storm. Not sure it will work. If you make yourself the only ruler, when things go wrong, you are the focus.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


It looks like he's still in charge, but he's firing everyone else.
posted by gofargogo at 2:29 PM on January 28, 2011


He said he is firing the government, basically. He is not stepping down.
posted by rollbiz at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2011


Maybe there was a bit of shaky translation.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2011


The Al Jazeera English live video feed keeps crashing on me, not sure if the problem is on their end or mine.

I'm working right now so I only need audio, not video -- does anyone know of an online radio station that's rebroadcasting their audio? Or another good online source for continuous live radio coverage? I assumed that the BBC would be covering but the first few stations I tried weren't.
posted by Jacqueline at 2:30 PM on January 28, 2011


It sounded to me like the emperor has dissolved the senate and the last remnants of the old republic have been swept away.
posted by cmfletcher at 2:31 PM on January 28, 2011 [16 favorites]


Dodgy move from my perspective unless he's very confident of the support of the military. He just fired the Minister of Defence, the Minister of the Interior etc. If they still have any power and can command the police / troops, he's going to be in some trouble.
posted by knapah at 2:31 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


stet: ack, they're on their way to cairo now, so on the road! hopefully they'll be able to get in touch one way or another.

the "you have freedoms to protest!!" line is very oddly familiar (hey, malaysia).
posted by divabat at 2:31 PM on January 28, 2011


via Twitter: @AJElive: Mubarak: I have ordered the government to step down and I will name a new government tomorrow
posted by catlet at 2:31 PM on January 28, 2011


Mubarak is the state. He's just firing his employees.
posted by Avenger at 2:31 PM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, it sounds like he's not stepping down. He spent a lot of time trying to act as though he identifies with the protesters, and then he seems to have put this off on the government, blaming them.
posted by koeselitz at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2011


It looks like he's still in charge, but he's firing everyone else.

The buck stops everywhere else!
posted by mr_roboto at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


AJ commentator is pointing this out for the sham it is: claims the parliament has no real power, while the president has control. Accurate assessment, or did I misunderstand?
posted by maudlin at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


looks pretty good for 82

You know how in The Lord of the Rings, the evil of the Ring gives Gollum "unnatural long life"?

There's something about political power that works the same way.

Look at Dick Cheney.
posted by Joe Beese at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


(Oh and I would prefer to listen to live coverage that is focused on broadcasts from reporters within the country, not just Western pundits pontificating from the safety of their offices in London, DC, New York, etc.)
posted by Jacqueline at 2:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Al Jazeera now pointing out that Ministers of Defence and Interior are likely to be in the new Cabinet, thus calming that potential storm.
posted by knapah at 2:33 PM on January 28, 2011


This would mean Minister of Defense and Interior Minister fired. Wonder what will happen tomorrow. Will they turn the internet back on?
posted by Ironmouth at 2:33 PM on January 28, 2011


> Look at Dick Cheney.

I don't know...old Dick is looking a bit gaunt now.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:34 PM on January 28, 2011


looks pretty good for 82

You know how in The Lord of the Rings, the evil of the Ring gives Gollum "unnatural long life"?

There's something about political power that works the same way.

Look at Dick Chene


Think its just hair dye, actually.

Cheney has lost a lot of weight. Even creepier now.

Never forget a 2-hour convo with the ABC White House correspondent. Described Cheney as a "madman."
posted by Ironmouth at 2:35 PM on January 28, 2011


Tomorrow the protesters should do some sort of all-black, silent protest shit unless opened fire upon.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:36 PM on January 28, 2011


old Dick is looking a bit gaunt now

Did you notice how Bilbo looked after he gave up the Ring?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:37 PM on January 28, 2011 [13 favorites]


Looks like the US Government will cut 1.5 billion in aid if he opens up on the protesters. that's a big club.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:38 PM on January 28, 2011


-- does anyone know of an online radio station that's rebroadcasting their audio?

the BBC is streaming live coverage too
posted by rubyrudy at 2:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know it's the National Post (which is right up there with FOX?), but, supposedly one of the instigators of the protests had American training

(seems pretty stupid/typical conspiracy mongering, to me, but eh... interesting if true).
posted by symbioid at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2011


Looks like the US Government will cut 1.5 billion in aid if he opens up on the protesters. that's a big club.

Cite?
posted by rollbiz at 2:40 PM on January 28, 2011


Egypt has a long history in the civilized world

That has to be the understatement of a lifetime.
posted by Bonzai at 2:41 PM on January 28, 2011 [26 favorites]


Cite?

Here's one from earlier in this thread.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:43 PM on January 28, 2011


Looks like the US Government will cut 1.5 billion in aid if he opens up on the protesters. that's a big club.

Cite?


Dude on Al Jazeera.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:45 PM on January 28, 2011


From AJ's streaming coverage, after Mubarak's speech the protesters on the street started shouting "Down down with Mubarak".
posted by antinomia at 2:45 PM on January 28, 2011


I know it's the National Post (which is right up there with FOX?), but, supposedly one of the instigators of the protests had American training


It's not even from the National Post -- that article is just a word for word reprint of a Daily Telegraph (UK) story.
posted by modernnomad at 2:46 PM on January 28, 2011


There's an AskMe on Middle East streaming coverage.

Otherwise, the video stream from AJ uses Flash 10, if that helps.
posted by ZeusHumms at 2:46 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


(seems pretty stupid/typical conspiracy mongering, to me, but eh... interesting if true).

I don't think so. This is following the Open Society model of the Color Revolutions. The flyer that was distributed is basically straight from the same manual they used in eastern europe.
posted by empath at 2:47 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just want to say thanks to everyone updating this thread; I am following this entirely through your live updates here.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's pretty hilarious how Mubarak was all like, "Yeah, I know, the government totally sucks! I'm with you protesters! It's the incredibly weak parliament and cabinet who's to blame! Those guys are dicks!"
posted by klangklangston at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2011


Does Mubarak really expect "Meet the new boss (me!), same as the old boss (me!)" to fly? Al Jazeera showed one group of protesters break out in renewed chants of "Down with Mubarak!" although I have no idea how widespread that might be. If he doesn't turn the cell phones back on pronto, I wouldn't be surprised to see the people turn to a new target.
posted by Marla Singer at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2011


I know it's the National Post (which is right up there with FOX?), but, supposedly one of the instigators of the protests had American training


It's not even from the National Post -- that article is just a word for word reprint of a Daily Telegraph (UK) story.


We have apparently given 135 million to pro-democracy groups over the last 2 years. So, like terrorism, we are again financing both sides.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:49 PM on January 28, 2011


Yep, very 'the king's bad advisers must go!'
posted by Abiezer at 2:50 PM on January 28, 2011


I suppose Mubarak is hoping that this will break the momentum of the uprising while getting Washington off his back?
posted by Joe Beese at 2:50 PM on January 28, 2011


Eerily similar speech given by the Shah before he fled Iran . Via twitter oxfordgirl & tehranbureau
posted by tingting at 2:51 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


I suppose Mubarak is hoping that this will break the momentum of the uprising while getting Washington off his back?

I think that is exactly what he's trying to do. Wonder what his plan is for tomorrow. That's where it is all going to get figured out. If nobody shows up, its over. If everyone shows up, its all beginning.
posted by Ironmouth at 2:54 PM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, Hosni could be buying time to set up his family, protect his wealth, and get a good deal somewhere.
posted by vrakatar at 2:54 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak attempts to shoop self to head of protests?
posted by progosk at 2:55 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hah, Al Jazeera just said he doesn't really have another throw of the dice if the people don't buy this. Good to know I'm ahead of the game!
posted by knapah at 2:56 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


No, he's saying he'll replace his cabinet.
posted by delmoi at 2:57 PM on January 28, 2011


I have not seen the video but is there any indication if it was live or not?
posted by proj at 2:58 PM on January 28, 2011


The Al Jazeera anchor quoting Mubarak's speech verbatim while showing video of the police firing tear gas at protesters was a brilliantly poignant moment.
posted by auto-correct at 2:58 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think Mubarak's putting too much stock in the 19th-century view that Egyptians were too lazy and diverse to be ruled by anyone but a strongman (a philosophy Nassar embraced). I wish I could find my Mideast Development poli-sci books because they were full of hilarious shit like that, always with an arch, "these views no longer reflect political science consensus" or some such. Said laid into them in Orientalism too.
posted by klangklangston at 2:59 PM on January 28, 2011


No, he's saying he'll replace his cabinet.
Er, I was replying to koeselitz
posted by delmoi at 3:01 PM on January 28, 2011


Can you even imagine a US television reporter asking, "Well what exactly was that supposed to mean?" and calling out a politician's latest speech or press conference as being basically nonsense? Yet that's what Al Jazeera just did, not only after Mubarak's speech, but earlier after both White House press conferences. Why can't we have journalists like that?
posted by Marla Singer at 3:01 PM on January 28, 2011 [30 favorites]


The tools of any revolution, whether they speeches, rocks, bottles or 140 character blurbs, will never be without imperfection.
Rocks aren't perfect, but it would still be terrible for a revolution to depend on a supply of them shipped from overseas.
posted by cdward at 3:02 PM on January 28, 2011


Wow. The AJ anchors and interviewees are *really* laying into that speech.
posted by jaduncan at 3:05 PM on January 28, 2011


Wow, the woman on Al Jazeera right now (from New York) is not mincing words.
posted by rollbiz at 3:05 PM on January 28, 2011


because of this thread I'm watching Al Jazeera and not whatever crap that TV would foist on me
posted by desjardins at 3:08 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The woman anchoring the show now seems not quite ready for the moment.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:08 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


The woman anchoring the show now seems not quite ready for the moment.

She also seems to be angling for that Everyone in the streets=Muslim Brotherhood fallacy.
posted by rollbiz at 3:10 PM on January 28, 2011


Tanks have taken control of Tahir Square, apparently. Don't like this.
posted by Abiezer at 3:14 PM on January 28, 2011


The woman anchoring the show now seems not quite ready for the moment.

She came off kind of dismissive of the Egyptian woman in NY, as if she felt the woman's passion was uncalled for or inappropriate, or something. Don't like her.
posted by zarah at 3:16 PM on January 28, 2011


I fear this is going to end badly for all concerned. I'm praying for a free and democratic Egypt, but I'm expecting the Muslim Brotherhood hardliners to prevail. Just as the same as the Mullahs in 1979 in Iran and the Reds in Moscow in 1917. I need a Stella.
posted by humanfont at 3:18 PM on January 28, 2011


It's fuck all like Iran - where's the charismatic religious leader in exile waiting to return?
posted by Abiezer at 3:19 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


One thing that's very, very important to remember. In 20th century revolutions, the ultimate power holders are very rarely the primary opposition during the initial upheaval. This is why we had so many countries in the 20th century that underwent so-called democratic revolutions and ended up equally undemocratic or less democratic than prior to the revolution. The manner of transition is hugely important.
posted by proj at 3:20 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


I wonder if Qatar will fall as well. It is Al Jazeeras patron.
posted by humanfont at 3:21 PM on January 28, 2011


It's fuck all like Iran - where's the charismatic religious leader in exile waiting to return?

Here.

Am I doing it wrong?
posted by Orange Pamplemousse at 3:21 PM on January 28, 2011


Can you even imagine a US television reporter asking, "Well what exactly was that supposed to mean?" and calling out a politician's latest speech or press conference as being basically nonsense? Yet that's what Al Jazeera just did, not only after Mubarak's speech, but earlier after both White House press conferences. Why can't we have journalists like that?

Does anyone else remember, oh say 7 years ago, when Al Jazeera was a nonjournalistic al queda sympathizing bunch of muslims?

If the spread of the internet has played a part in opening the eyes of the Arab world and hastening the downfall of these archaic regimes, I can't help but feel some western populaces and countries aren't so far removed from the same phenomena
posted by crayz at 3:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is anyone else getting that occasional repeat on the occasional repeat on the Al Jazeera feed?
posted by tapesonthefloor at 3:22 PM on January 28, 2011


He's my guess as the eventual 'winner', but he's a pro-West liberal, no?
posted by Abiezer at 3:22 PM on January 28, 2011


It's fuck all like Iran - where's the charismatic religious leader in exile waiting to return?
Yeah, it seems like would be Mohamed Elbaradei, who is a Nobel Laureate. But we don't really know who will end up in control.
posted by delmoi at 3:23 PM on January 28, 2011


The mentioned possible prime minister, Rachid Mohamed Rachid.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:24 PM on January 28, 2011


Yeah, it seems like would be Mohamed Elbaradei, who is a Nobel Laureate. But we don't really know who will end up in control.

Don't think he is a religious leader, however. He's a technocrat.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:25 PM on January 28, 2011


Obama will be speaking soon.
posted by delmoi at 3:28 PM on January 28, 2011


Obama up shortly it sounds like.
posted by cortex at 3:28 PM on January 28, 2011


Is the BBC feed on a break right now? I only see a message saying coverage will return soon.
posted by cell divide at 3:28 PM on January 28, 2011


Never mind, it's back now. Sorry.
posted by cell divide at 3:30 PM on January 28, 2011


Love how the AJ anchor just cold cuts John Kerry off when he starts with the rambling platitudes.
posted by auto-correct at 3:30 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why can't we have journalists like that?

To be fair, we do. But they only become journalists when they see someone really off the reservation, and of the opposite party. Fox grills Democrats, MSNBC and CNN grill Republicans... Anderson Cooper seems to step up the most, but then again, I don't watch much TV.

But, on the whole for the breadth of coverage when I do watch, American media is toothless, dumb, and they seem to prefer celebrity gossip to actual news.
posted by notion at 3:31 PM on January 28, 2011


Cook was just on PBS. Perhaps a revamped 'Egyptian Revolutionary Command Council' might pop up.
posted by clavdivs at 3:32 PM on January 28, 2011


Is it just me or is Kerry trying to sell us on the idea that Mubarak remaining in power need not mean a defeat for reform?
posted by Joe Beese at 3:33 PM on January 28, 2011


Obama calling for the Egyptians to restore the internet.
posted by delmoi at 3:34 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it just me or is Obama tacitly endorsing Mubarak?
posted by auto-correct at 3:35 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek."

I'll remember this for the next surge. grumble grumble
posted by notion at 3:35 PM on January 28, 2011 [10 favorites]


"Meaningful dialgoue"

Uh huh.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2011


Indeed. The US is still supporting Mubarak.
posted by tapesonthefloor at 3:36 PM on January 28, 2011


Pretty weak stuff. Was hoping to see some balls from Obama there.
posted by auto-correct at 3:38 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Will the protesters challenge the military?
posted by kuatto at 3:38 PM on January 28, 2011


The CIA doesn't want to lose Egypt as a place to disappear people.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Disappointing.
posted by empath at 3:40 PM on January 28, 2011


No mention of the claimed threat to remove aid if Egypt don't play ball, I notice.
posted by jaduncan at 3:40 PM on January 28, 2011


Well, that's the textbook US response to this kind of thing. Or should I say, more of the same.
posted by knapah at 3:40 PM on January 28, 2011


That seemed entirely staged. It was not an accident that Mubarak spoke, and Obama spoke right after despite the time difference.
posted by notion at 3:41 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of course Mubarak said what he said. He's in de Nile.



sorry! someone had to do it!
posted by Asparagirl at 3:41 PM on January 28, 2011 [14 favorites]


Yep, vacillating. You can't work with the Egyptian government to advance the aspiration of the Egyptian people if what they want if for that government to go.
posted by Abiezer at 3:42 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Disgusting. These people are not shouting in the streets for vague "reforms", and behaving as if they are is an insult. They want Mubarak out, and that is their right.
posted by vorfeed at 3:43 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


If the AJ guy went on CNN and gave that explanation that the Egyptians hate the US for giving Mubarak the power to tyrannize them, I suspect the producers would physically attack him on air.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:44 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Does anyone else remember, oh say 7 years ago, when Al Jazeera was a nonjournalistic al queda sympathizing bunch of muslims?

Eh? Maybe in your neck of the woods. Seems to me AJ had real (and big name) journalists from the get-go.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:49 PM on January 28, 2011


I mean, I don't really blame Obama and Clinton for their talking points. I get that if he goes all in against Mubarak and the revolution doesn't stick, then the US gov interests in the middle east are fucked.

I just kind of wish Obama could just say "fuck it, this matters". I really, really hate to compare Obama to Reagan like this but, but "Mr Gorbachev, please work towards reforms and respect your citizens' rights" doesn't really have the same ring to it.
posted by auto-correct at 3:49 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really, really hate to compare Obama to Reagan

The apt comparison here is to Carter.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 3:50 PM on January 28, 2011


We can't ignore Israel in all this. I have Jewish friends telling me that Israel is in a state of panic right now.
posted by empath at 3:51 PM on January 28, 2011


"Mr Gorbachev, please work towards reforms and respect your citizens' rights"

In fairness to Obama, Egypt isn't a long-standing enemy of the U.S. It was a lot easier for Reagan to take that confrontational a line against Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.
posted by fatbird at 3:52 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


This New Yorker piece is worth reading in full:
The future of the Mubarak family’s grip on Egypt now appears to be a matter for the Egyptian Army to decide. ...

... the generals could decide, as other Arab generals in their position have before, to level their guns in defense of the status quo. The People’s Liberation Army did that at Tiananmen Square, of course. ... The students and the urban workers who had persuaded themselves that they were near victory were also stunned by the Army’s indiscriminate, decisive violence. They seemed to expect until the last hours that the military would stand with them. We can hope, at least, for something better in Egypt during the days ahead. Its Army officers have lived in a much wider world than the P.L.A.’s commanders had known. Many of Egypt’s generals have probably learned by now to think for themselves. They may not be democrats, but they will not likely wish to act merely as bodyguards for a despot.
posted by Joe Beese at 3:52 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Five fresh fish, i took that comment as AJ was perceived to be nonjournalistic, al queda sympathizing etc...I know it was spun that way, and discussed that way by many in my (very liberal) neck of the woods. Unfair and untrue, but that's how some people saw it then.
posted by gofargogo at 3:55 PM on January 28, 2011


It was a lot easier for Reagan to take that confrontational a line against Gorbachev and the Soviet Union.

Yeah, I agree, and probably a bad comparison on my part. Just wished he'd said something with meaning.
posted by auto-correct at 3:56 PM on January 28, 2011


I really wish there was a better way for people around the world to talk to each other regularly without going through the media. I'd love to hear what average Egyptians are thinking right now (and Jordanians and Yemeni's, etc).

A few have been posting on Reddit recently, but I wish there were a way to keep an ongoing conversation going. The more friends that everyone has in other countries, the less likely war is going to happen again. It's one thing to bomb 'abdul in baghdad', and quite another to bomb 'abdul, my twitter follower'.

Iran says they need nuclear weapons to protect themselves from us? No, they just need facebook.
posted by empath at 3:57 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I really wish there was a better way for people around the world to talk to each other regularly without going through the media. I'd love to hear what average Egyptians are thinking right now (and Jordanians and Yemeni's, etc)."

There is. The Egyptians made sure it was cut off.
posted by jaduncan at 3:59 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Unconfirmed reports on Twitter say that Israeli TV news is saying that Mubarak is in actually in Switzerland right now, which means the speech was either pre-taped in Egypt or taped in Switzerland for broadcast. Surely there's some way for the media to find out the origin of the feed?
posted by Asparagirl at 4:01 PM on January 28, 2011


I have Jewish friends telling me that Israel is in a state of panic right now.

When you brought this up, I realized that I had gone all day without thinking about how today's events will affect Israel.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:01 PM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


I mean, I don't really blame Obama and Clinton for their talking points. I get that if he goes all in against Mubarak and the revolution doesn't stick, then the US gov interests in the middle east are fucked.

Really now. That $1.5 billion in annual aid wouldn't buy us any continuing influence if Mubarak stays in power?
posted by crayz at 4:06 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


jebus, they are putting fig leafs on the Sphinx here.
posted by clavdivs at 4:10 PM on January 28, 2011


Joe Beese: "I have Jewish friends telling me that Israel is in a state of panic right now.

When you brought this up, I realized that I had gone all day without thinking about how today's events will affect Israel
"

The funny thing is, I only thought about this in context with Israel when it came to what it meant to the US. Funny that.
posted by symbioid at 4:10 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


The countries do share a border, and have engaged in war before. Perhaps you guys would have more fun with another mis-attributed quote so you can really get the hate rolling.
posted by rosswald at 4:21 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


John Kerry, disappointing me immensely as my senior senator, yet again...
posted by rollbiz at 4:26 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


That $1.5 billion in annual aid wouldn't buy us any continuing influence if Mubarak stays in power?

There are degrees of influence, and degrees of trust that such an influential relationship will continue.
posted by fatbird at 4:26 PM on January 28, 2011


MSNBC: Mobile phone service and internet service have reportedly been restored in Egypt.
posted by orthogonality at 4:31 PM on January 28, 2011


I can get to the web site of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Supposedly that was impossible before.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:34 PM on January 28, 2011


That seemed entirely staged. It was not an accident that Mubarak spoke, and Obama spoke right after despite the time difference.

That's doesn't require a conspiracy, just common sense. Obama had a statement scheduled, then delayed it when word came out that Mubarak was going to speak. It would be stupid to make a big statement before he knew what Mubarak was going to say.
posted by msalt at 4:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hosni Mubarak: "The countries do share a border, and have engaged in war before. Perhaps you guys would have more fun with another mis-attributed quote so you can really get the hate rolling"*

;)

(and you can thank my** "mefiquote" greasemonkey script, combined w/a non-attributed quote in my quote for my "misquote")

No, but seriously, of course they do, and that had that nasty little war in 1967 which led to things kinda changing the landscape in 1967, and which is WHY the whole Israel issue and US support of Egypt as one of the few allies of Israel in the Middle East does come up. If you read hate into it, well that's your issue, not mine. I was merely talking about the context of how/when Israel came into it for me. I am not, after all, an Israeli citizen, but an American citizen, which means (despite me wishing for considering myself a "world citizen") the impact I analyze it as, is one who is dealing with the current US policy in the Middle East, which, as I said, goes towards one of the key figures in the region... and if you think that I'm trying to say the US is eeeeeeeeevil or Israel is Nazi Germany, think again. I disagree with a lot of Israeli policies, but that's not what this thread is about. It's about Egypt, and the power structure, and potential ramifications of that change. Which, as an American means that the political calculations have to do with the delicate balance in the alignment of Middle East alliances.

But hey, thanks for thinking I'm just another anti-zionist who hate all Jews or whatever it is that was running through your head.

*Original quote by rosswald, not Hosni Mubarak.
**My in the sense that I have it installed, not My in the sense of creation -- that would be, IIRC, Plutor's baby.
posted by symbioid at 4:39 PM on January 28, 2011


Heh. While former 'bassador Bolton raised a fair point (Hamas), I love that Jazeera's willing to call bullshit on him, and that their very first analyst immediately starts talking about Bolton's hypocrisy.
posted by klangklangston at 4:41 PM on January 28, 2011


MSNBC: Mobile phone service and internet service have reportedly been restored in Egypt

---

Egypt's government must return Internet access to the country by Monday or perhaps suffer massive economic damage, as banks and other economic institutions return to work without the ability to conduct commerce. ... Not only would it impact government holdings, but it's sure to hit those investors, businesses and middle-class citizens who may support the status quo of the Mubarak administration.
posted by Joe Beese at 4:44 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Five fresh fish, i took that comment as AJ was perceived to be nonjournalistic, al queda sympathizing etc...I know it was spun that way, and discussed that way by many in my (very liberal) neck of the woods. Unfair and untrue, but that's how some people saw it then.

A lot of us had our eyes opened in 2004 when Control Room came out. I know I did.
posted by marsha56 at 4:46 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"But hey, thanks for thinking I'm just another anti-zionist who hate all Jews or whatever it is that was running through your head."

Not what I said, and not what I meant. Thanks though.
posted by rosswald at 4:46 PM on January 28, 2011


Six words - Don't you think he looks tired?
posted by warbaby at 4:54 PM on January 28, 2011 [7 favorites]


cmyk: "I think he just roundly scolded everyone and told them to go home. Does he have any idea what is going on over there?"

cortex: "Like, "folks, I heard you loud and clear, this government is a sham! Let's get rid of it, together! Man, those guys, they sucked!""

Hosni Mubarak: the Eric Cartman of Middle Eastern dictators.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:55 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


This thread is fantastic. I haven't been able to get in front of a tv, but reading the comments in here is so informative.
posted by cashman at 5:00 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's 3am in Cairo, and people are still out in the streets.
posted by dejah420 at 5:03 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


rosswald: ""But hey, thanks for thinking I'm just another anti-zionist who hate all Jews or whatever it is that was running through your head."

Not what I said, and not what I meant. Thanks though
"

Apologies for reading into your comment about getting "the hate rolling" then, especially when in conjunction with the very touchy topic if Israel. I just wanted to make sure that my stance wasn't misunderstood. That said, enough of the derail. Misunderstandings and all that!
posted by symbioid at 5:03 PM on January 28, 2011


Did they just say on AJ that the protesters are now turning towards the US and British embassies? I was momentarily distracted.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:04 PM on January 28, 2011


My heart is struck and still by the dignity of the Egyptian people. I keep thinking of Yeats:

"Too long a sacrifice
Can make a stone of the heart.
O when may it suffice?
That is Heaven's part, our part
To murmur name upon name,
As a mother names her child
When sleep at last has come
On limbs that had run wild.
What is it but nightfall?
No, no, not night but death;
Was it needless death after all?
For England may keep faith
For all that is done and said.
We know their dream; enough
To know they dreamed and are dead;
And what if excess of love
Bewildered them till they died?
I write it out in a verse -
MacDonagh and MacBride
And Connolly and Pearse
Now and in time to be,
Wherever green is worn,
Are changed, changed utterly:
A terrible beauty is born."

1916 of course, was not enough; and what came after was bitter as much as as it was triumph. A sloppy sort of glory, and there's yet much to hope for that Egypt's may turn out better. I hope it shall. But the similarity, it seems to me in this: The shock of seeing such strength in everyday people, and the shock of the knowledge that from this moment, everything must change. Luck and hope to you, Egypt.
posted by Diablevert at 5:04 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


And how come I haven't seen Fire in Cairo linked yet!
posted by symbioid at 5:05 PM on January 28, 2011


It just occurred to me that I haven't heard the phrase "the Arab street" at all.
posted by nevercalm at 5:05 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Been popping in and out all day, so I keep missing things. Do we know what happened to the AJ broadcasters/reporters in Cairo? Last I heard the police were searching through the building but hadn't got to them yet.
posted by cmyk at 5:14 PM on January 28, 2011


January 15, 2009 cable from Cairo Embassy, classified Confidential:
Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders. ...

Another contact at a human rights NGO told us that her friends do not report thefts from their apartments because they do not want to subject “all the doormen” in the vicinity to police beatings. She told us that the police’s use of force has pervaded Egyptian culture to the extent that one popular television soap opera recently featured a police detective hero who beats up suspects to collect evidence.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:18 PM on January 28, 2011


Nice little photoessay on Egypt's political bloggers.
posted by Joe Beese at 5:27 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mohammad Badi'e leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. Very conservative, but has expressed a commitment to non-violence and democracy. CV and other details courtesy of AFP. He is the first leader of that group to be elected after a previous leader voluntarily stepped down.

Official English translation of his acceptance speech.
posted by humanfont at 5:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


"God, I love anonymous"

Anonymous 2006: Habbo Hotel raids.

Anonymous 2011: Mass-faxing Wikileaks cables to Egypt so its oppressed citizens can still be informed despite their tyrannical government cutting off their internet communications with the outside world.

Aw, they're so grown-up and mature now! :)
posted by Jacqueline at 5:37 PM on January 28, 2011 [8 favorites]


Re-tweets From the Guardian Liveblog, from CNN's Ben Wedeman:
Teenager showed me teargas canister "made in USA". Saw the same thing in Tunisia. Time to reconsider US exports?

One man said he graduated from college 4 years ago, hasn't worked a day since. Has been in streets since Tuesday protesting.


These attach nicely to two observations: Widespread unemployment makes for a ready class of protesters. Alternately, if people are so discouraged in their current work (due to, say massive and insurmountable wealth disparities), they'll be much more ready to skip out on existing jobs to march.

Secondly, it's worth noting that Iran's religious revolution was largely a response to the sheer excess of the US supported regime of the Shah, who used the US backing to maintain conspicuous and truly over-the-top decadence amongst a people who were struggling to eat, and furthermore made brutal use of US-manufactured weapons to keep his people in line. There was a strong pro-democracy, technocratic contingent in Iran at the time of the revolution, which had been quite active during the nationalization of the oil industry in the 50's... But in the end, the fundamentalists won out. A big part of this, I think, was that the US had so thoroughly subverted the process in the 1950's, which really made it hard to take seriously people who wanted a Western-style liberal democracy. People looked and saw that it was the West building the weapons, doing all of the oppressing, and wondered how that could be a viable model for their society.

(In fact, the wikipedia page on the Iranian revolution is probably worth a read.)

It's going to be fascinating to see how this plays out, whether the today's Egyptians carry the same level of cynicism towards Western-style government as the Iranians in the 80's... And one wonders if they'll look to Iran, and reject the oppressiveness of one-leader religious rule.
posted by kaibutsu at 5:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do we know what happened to the AJ broadcasters/reporters in Cairo? Last I heard the police were searching through the building but hadn't got to them yet.

You didn't miss anything; there wasn't any explicit reporting about it (that I'm aware of). Here's the way it appeared to happen, to me: State security did reach Al Jazeera at one point, right around twilight (and prayer time) in Cairo, and they interfered for a while with Al Jazeera's reporting, although they didn't shut it down entirely - they just prevented them from getting certain camera shots. Protesters reportedly followed close behind state security into the building, but to what effect is unclear.

Prayer time ended and dusk fell quickly, at which time the military rolled out onto the streets, with the announcement that a curfew was being imposed and that the military would be backing up police to enforce it. However, the protesters welcomed the military, there was no real effort to enforce the curfew; police forces seemed to quietly disappear and Al Jazeera's Cairo team began filming freely again. There was never any mention (that I'm aware of) of State security leaving the hotel, but it appears that they did.
posted by Marla Singer at 5:44 PM on January 28, 2011


The interview on Al Jazeera right now is phenomenal. Does anyone know if it's prerecorded? I'm looking for a link...
posted by notion at 5:47 PM on January 28, 2011


It seems like it was prerecorded; one of the panelists (if we're watching the same thing) referred to the Friday protests in the future. I think. The first episode on the Inside Story page is the episode from Jan. 26. The one that just finished is probably from the 27th.
posted by scdjpowell at 6:03 PM on January 28, 2011


notion: "The interview on Al Jazeera right now is phenomenal. Does anyone know if it's prerecorded? I'm looking for a link.."

I was noticing the same thing. The interviewees were talking about how they had totally lost faith in the ability of the Mubarak government to provide a lawful society.

They sounded very much like my wife's parents when they remember they way they felt about the Cuban revolutionary moment. They had lost faith in the pre-Castro regime and hoped that the revolution would bring positive change. In hindsight, it did *not* work out in the manner that they had hoped, although I got a wife and beloved family out of the deal.
posted by mwhybark at 6:04 PM on January 28, 2011


It was not an accident that Mubarak spoke, and Obama spoke right after despite the time difference.

Hope and change, baby. Hope. And. Change.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:05 PM on January 28, 2011


Great, I shut the AJ feed off because I got tired of hearing the same recaps over and over, so I missed this phenomenal interview. I hope you find a link.
posted by Marla Singer at 6:07 PM on January 28, 2011


- W A L K - LIKE AN EGYPTIAN
(via)
posted by Rhaomi at 6:17 PM on January 28, 2011 [17 favorites]


Anonymous has also reported around 40 raids of their members today over their DOS attacks on credit card companies over Wikileaks.
posted by klangklangston at 6:19 PM on January 28, 2011


The interview on Al Jazeera right now is phenomenal. Does anyone know if it's prerecorded? I'm looking for a link...

Al Jazeera has a YouTube channel.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:19 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


i get why people want Obama to get all stern on Egypt, but here's something to consider that I heard somewhere on NPR -- one good reason to not get fire and brimstone right now is that keeping the channels open might help stabilize any ending of his regime -- i.e., we put him up with some sweet housing a la Marcos.
posted by angrycat at 6:26 PM on January 28, 2011


one good reason to not get fire and brimstone right now is that keeping the channels open might help stabilize any ending of his regime

Is any brimstone necessary?

Just get word to the generals that the $1,300,000,000 annual payments can go up or they can go way, way down.

They'll take it from there.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:38 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Take it easy folks, your Vice President says Mubarek isn't a dictator
posted by wallstreet1929 at 6:51 PM on January 28, 2011


Two hours until sunrise in Cairo. I hope the day is as peaceful and successful for those seeking a more just society.
posted by gofargogo at 6:52 PM on January 28, 2011


Take it easy folks, your Vice President says Mubarek isn't a dictator

Eh, getting angry at Biden for saying something stupid is like getting angry at a puppy for piddling in the house.
posted by Joe Beese at 6:59 PM on January 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


The best thing the Obama administration could do right now is to say none-too-subtly that the $1.5 billion in annual aid will continue no matter who's in charge after this.
posted by fatbird at 7:05 PM on January 28, 2011


wallstreet1929: "Take it easy folks, your Vice President says Mubarek isn't a dictator"

Every time I see Joe Biden's face, I puke a little in my mouth.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:06 PM on January 28, 2011


Everytime someone uses the phrase "throw up a little in my mouth" or "puke a little in my mouth", I projectile vomit gallons of vile, half-digested swill. And then I reminisce about 2006.
posted by msalt at 7:13 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yet another one of those wonderful protester kissing a riot cop photos.
posted by gman at 7:14 PM on January 28, 2011 [6 favorites]


Fingers crossed.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:16 PM on January 28, 2011


damn. you know, I don't even know if i'd have the stones to kiss a riot cop. To say nothing of braving fists, tear gas, etc
posted by angrycat at 7:19 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh. Every time I decide to give up on helping anon, they end up doing something fucking noble again.

Working on psyops is just too damn fun.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 7:22 PM on January 28, 2011


Joe Biden is the voice of what THEY really beleive not Obama and Clinton necessarily but the power elite behind the scenes. None of them want to recognize that Mubarak is a bad guy. Misguided and old school like some immigrant father, but not really evil. I mean here is a guy who came to power when his boss was killed right in front of him. He backed us a critical moments and helped the peace process. Same thing happened with the Shah. Carter was quietly pushing him to reform, but toasting him as a pillar of stability. No one thought the Shah would fall and afterwards when he fell, the Embassy thing was just supposed to be youth blowing off steam. A short crisis before the inevitable march to forgiveness of the USA and a triumph of democracy. We ignored the reality of the brutality of the security services until it was too late.
posted by humanfont at 7:28 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


So where does Mubarak go, if he chooses to flee? France? Turkey? Detroit? I don't think the UK would take him. The Swiss may be his only option.
posted by vrakatar at 7:30 PM on January 28, 2011


Well, Libya may be an option, for now.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:32 PM on January 28, 2011


Are you kidding?

Biden and his ilk know exactly how bad Mubarak is. They just don't give a shit as long as he's strategically helpful and doesn't make them look too bad.
posted by dunkadunc at 7:32 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's hardly surprising that the US leadership would value realpolitik international issues over internal human rights.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:49 PM on January 28, 2011


What I've been really happy about thus far (and I doubt the right wing media is mentioning - because it's not as "interesting" as protests with burning U.S. flags) is that the protests aren't anti-U.S. or anti-Israel, they're pro-democracy.
posted by gman at 7:58 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Biden and his ilk know exactly how bad Mubarak is. They just don't give a shit as long as he's strategically helpful and doesn't make them look too bad.

"Of course he's a sonofabitch. But he's our sonofabitch."
posted by scody at 7:59 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




the protests aren't anti-U.S. or anti-Israel, they're pro-democracy.

Yes, but it's getting to the point where being pro-democracy means being anti-US and anti-Israel by default. We are --->this<--- close to being the Soviet Union Evil Empire of the 21st century -- at least as far as the Muslim world is concerned.

Hell we've already invaded Afghanistan so why not?
posted by Avenger at 8:11 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


Avenger, I'm not sure if you're engaging in hyperbole or what, but do you know what the USSR was, at least in the bad old days (meaning Stalinist Russia).

Because, if you think we're equivalent societies, damn, dude. That's deeply cynical.
posted by angrycat at 8:22 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mubarak dismisses government...

"We don't care if the government resigns, we want him to resign," Khaled, a 22-year-old demonstrator, said, in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria.
posted by -t at 8:24 PM on January 28, 2011


I hope this starts a worldwide trend of kissing riot cops.
posted by desjardins at 8:24 PM on January 28, 2011 [11 favorites]


It's hardly surprising that the US leadership would value realpolitik international issues over internal human rights.

The realpolitik of the North African and Middle Eastern scene has been that the longer the US supports brutal dictators against their own people, the greater the chance that the people will become radicalized in favour of extremist responses. That's exactly what happened in Iran - opposition to the Shah didn't start out as explicitly religious, but it became that way as people became more and more desperate for change.

Another thought that occurred to me is this: Nasser wasn't exactly Mr Cuddly, but at least he dumped a decent amount of the aid he blackmailed out of his cold war sponsors into developing Egypt in ways that tended to benefit ordinary people (electricity projects and so on). Mubarak seems to be more your classic kleptocracy.
posted by rodgerd at 8:31 PM on January 28, 2011


We will not be silenced, whether you're a Christian or a Muslim,

whether you're an atheist, you will demand your god damned rights,

and we will have our rights, one way or the other! We will never

be silenced!

posted by empath at 8:36 PM on January 28, 2011 [5 favorites]


Indeed. The US is still supporting Mubarak.

Okay, without any editorial, I didn't see the president's statements, so someone who did, please clue me in. Is the above comment from upthread literally true? Did the President make a statement saying the US stands behind the Mubarak administration, or words to that effect? Please no reading between the lines (I know how to do that for myself), just facts. Is there a transcript of the President's statement anywhere out there?
posted by saulgoodman at 8:54 PM on January 28, 2011


Working on psyops is just too damn fun.posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:22 PM on January 28 [!]

A benchmark of good work is keeping the flower shops open.
Do you know what it took to get those tanks on the streets, the silly water cannon was one thing but tanks.
posted by clavdivs at 8:56 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman
The President said "Hosni, baby, your on your own here"
posted by clavdivs at 8:58 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protestors.

The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they've taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.

At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.

Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region. But we've also been clear that there must be reform -- political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time. When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What's needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

Now, ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. And I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want -- a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive. Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization.

The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future. And we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people -- all quarters -- to achieve it.

Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the United States; that's true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it's certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.

When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected President, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.

Surely there will be difficult days to come. But the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

Thank you very much.
posted by empath at 8:58 PM on January 28, 2011 [12 favorites]


Ach, thank goodness. Now, there are a lot of things I can forgive anybody stuck with the ungodly, thankless task of governing a mess like contemporary America, but an immediate statement of unconditional support for Mubarak would have been a deal-breaker for me.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:05 PM on January 28, 2011


The crowd included Christian men with keyrings of the cross swinging from their pockets and young men dressed in fast-food restaurant uniforms.

There is a poem in that line somewhere.
posted by vrakatar at 9:13 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mubarak still not on meathook, still not in helicopter, that is a shame but there is still time.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:15 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]




always bet both sides and none.
he who controls the gold?
posted by clavdivs at 9:19 PM on January 28, 2011


Anonymous should take credit where it's due, not where it isn't.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:19 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]


Anonymous should take credit where it's due, not where it isn't.

I don't think they're trying to take credit for this. I lurked a few IRC channels earlier and everybody just wants to know if there is anything they can do to help. PSYOPS is always going to be braggy, that's just part of the game.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:22 PM on January 28, 2011


I hope this starts a worldwide trend of kissing riot cops.


I hope it starts a world wide trend of riot cops NOT waling on protesters who have legitimate grievances against a tyranical government
posted by Redhush at 9:25 PM on January 28, 2011 [4 favorites]


I hope it starts a world wide trend of riot cops NOT waling on protesters who have legitimate grievances against a tyranical government

That would be nice.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:28 PM on January 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mubarak still not on meathook, still not in helicopter, that is a shame but there is still time.

I would just like to take this opportunity to point out that I totally called it.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:15 PM on January 28, 2011 [3 favorites]




It's now 8:30 am in Egypt, though worth noting is that Egyptians aren't exactly known for being early risers. But this is a big day--will protesters return to the streets or will they wait for word on Mubarak's 'new' government? Will internet come back?

The NY Times has a good op-ed up now about Egypt.

And, really, is Mubarak even in Egypt anymore? Let's hope he's fled.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:29 PM on January 28, 2011


It's now 8:30 am in Egypt, though worth noting is that Egyptians aren't exactly known for being early risers. But this is a big day--will protesters return to the streets or will they wait for word on Mubarak's 'new' government? Will internet come back?

They will be on the streets. Internet may come back.

And, really, is Mubarak even in Egypt anymore? Let's hope he's fled.

Most people don't think that he is. I'm going to stay awake a bit longer to see how this pans out.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:38 PM on January 28, 2011


Go Army!
posted by KokuRyu at 10:40 PM on January 28, 2011


Given what we know about how they cut off internet and SMS and phones, would it be pretty easy to restore it? I suspect the phones and SMS would be easy--that'd be a matter of calling Vodafone and other Egyptian mobile companies. But what about the internet?
posted by bluedaisy at 10:42 PM on January 28, 2011


If we're speculating on Mubarak's whereabouts, I'd say he's on one of the central command bases, and one that's provisioned for emergency government relocation.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:44 PM on January 28, 2011


I hope Mubarak has fled to London, or New York. But I've done more than hope. I've written it into a new palindrome:

O, Hosni Mubarak - Arab, um, in Soho?
posted by msalt at 10:45 PM on January 28, 2011 [44 favorites]


> But what about the internet?

Basically, just re-enable the routers.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:45 PM on January 28, 2011


No way he'd go to the US. I just don't see it.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:47 PM on January 28, 2011


Of course Mubarak is not in the US. The US may spend fortunes propping up dictators, but aside from Marcos I can't recall any other ousted dictator being allowed asylum here.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:51 PM on January 28, 2011


I wonder why Al Jazeera stopped updating their live blog at 6:38 am?
posted by taz at 10:52 PM on January 28, 2011


Go Army!

Be cautious about this sentiment. Appearing friendly to the protestors has allowed the army to secure a lot of crucial points and map out exactly where they congregate. If they're planning a crackdown today, they'll be in a very advantageous position.
posted by fatbird at 10:52 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder why Al Jazeera stopped updating their live blog at 6:38 am?

They're asleep. (Not entirely joking.)

Also, some interesting news about Al Jazeera in Cairo (via the NY Times):

Al Jazeera kept up its coverage despite serious obstacles. The broadcaster’s separate live channel was removed from its satellite platform by the Egyptian government on Friday morning, its Cairo bureau had its telephones cut and its main news channel also faced signal interference, according to a statement released by the station. The director of the live channel issued an appeal to the Egyptian government to allow it to broadcast freely.
posted by bluedaisy at 10:56 PM on January 28, 2011


The live blog is still updating...just not on any set interval. There's now a curious picture of a burnt-out APC. Did the protesters clash with the army overnight?
posted by Burhanistan at 11:02 PM on January 28, 2011


Burhanistan, I don't think so. Last I heard the army and protesters were sharing food in Tahrir Square. And I've been watching Twitter feeds and various other sources for the last few hours.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:05 PM on January 28, 2011


that'd be a matter of calling Vodafone and other Egyptian mobile companies

I've been seeing that one of the local comms companies stayed up in defiance of the order for a while. I hope they win a lot of business from Vodafone...
posted by rodgerd at 11:07 PM on January 28, 2011


Hmm, yeah maybe that APC was used to push a burning barricade or vehicle out of the way since it only looks a bit singed.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:09 PM on January 28, 2011


maybe that APC was used to push a burning barricade or vehicle out of the way since it only looks a bit singed.

Is that new footage? I thought that was from much earlier, say just after dark in Cairo, so Friday morning in the US. I can't keep up.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:13 PM on January 28, 2011


It's just pictured below the 6:48 entry on Al Jazeera's liveblog, with no caption.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:14 PM on January 28, 2011


I mean, that's definitely not one of the riot police vans we saw burning earlier.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:15 PM on January 28, 2011


Hmm. It's not even clear if that's Alex or Cairo or Suez.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:17 PM on January 28, 2011


Huge balls on Al-Jazeera, and the BBC have managed to keep some reporting happening. It appears US networks no longer send reporters anywhere unless they're part of a US millitary unit.
posted by rodgerd at 11:39 PM on January 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mostly true, except CNN has Ben Waldemen in Cairo and Nic Roberston in Alex.
posted by bluedaisy at 11:44 PM on January 28, 2011




But is it completely wrong to ask, well, what would happen if Egypt fell apart? could the geopolitical realities outweigh our desire for other people to enjoy the rights that we have?

Haven't read the thread yet but this early comment is so in line with something I read yesterday from William Burroughs (speaking in 1976), I felt compelled to share it:

"Nobody's busting into your apartment at three in the morning, are they? Well, then don't worry about what they're doing in South Korea and places like that. It's like the standard of living. Are you content to achieve your higher standard of living at the expense of people all over the world who've got a lower standard of living? Most Americans would say yes. Now we ask the question, are you content to enjoy your political freedom at the expense of people who are less free? I think they would also say yes."

from "With William Burroughs -- A Report From the Bunker"

Now I've got some reading to do
posted by philip-random at 12:15 AM on January 29, 2011 [16 favorites]




Re philip-random's post just above: there the idea from William James and Dostoevsky that Le Guin used as a starting point in her short story, "The ones who walked away from Omelas."

"Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creature -- that baby beating its breast with its fist, for instance -- and to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? (Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov, New York: Vintage, 1950, translated by Constance Garnett, page 291)"

Apologies if this has already been quoted in a very large thread.
posted by goofyfoot at 1:47 AM on January 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


coup de fil
posted by clavdivs at 1:57 AM on January 29, 2011


The one Egyptian mobile number I have (no idea which provider) was ringing, though no one was picking up. Would it ring if the mobile connections were still cut off?
posted by divabat at 2:01 AM on January 29, 2011


Mubarak was able to cut off Internet for 24 hours. It looks like the Army and the Policeare still loyal. He spoke with Obama did he also call Hu in China. Are the Saudis going to throw him a lifeline just to make Egypt the firewall. I said in a prior thread I have heard on pretty good authority that Mubarak believes the Shahs mistake was not being decisive against the protesters.
posted by humanfont at 2:18 AM on January 29, 2011


I didn't catch exactly what was said but Al Jazeera mentioned a senior military figure having said anonymously (to Al Jazeera or some other media?) that he considers the only solution to be for Mubarak to resign.
posted by Anything at 2:35 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spotted a comment over on Reddit that, without internet or communications, the country should really be called Gypt.
posted by Malor at 2:37 AM on January 29, 2011 [15 favorites]


(Slight derails)

I'm very struck by the fact that I'm watching this on Al Jazeera on the internet on my TV - when things like this happen I notice the way that technological and communication development has incremented since the last time, the time before that and so forth (when I was a child it was days-old 16mm film flown in from the country in question, often the same piece of film from one day to the next).

Very impressed by Al Jazeera - behind the curve, but this is the first time I've watched it over a long period. Are all the people with English accents BBC-trained? The reporting seems very BBC in style. The woman currently presenting does the BBC-news "Well..." wonderfully (she quoted Mubarak's speech totally straight, then left a pause, then said "Well..." then carried on, allowing the viewers to fill in the pause themselves. That "Well...' carries a lot more scepticism than words could). Perhaps newsreaders on other channels do it, but I've not noticed. That said, I wish the BBC could lambast the government as uncompromisingly as the woman currently on Al Jazeera did.

And there was a camera swoop across the studio, and it was a real, huge studio - on all the other channels, it's green screen.

It seems like a very positive force. I know it's bankrolled by Qatar (?) but the dedication to finding stuff and showing it rather than just endless editorialising and conjecture. Is the middle-east channel the same?
/derail

Interesting that the representative of the ruling party uses the same anti-protester lies and prevarications (Criminals! Looters! How dare they attack our valiant security forces!) as the Tories.

It all kicks off again in 15 minutes.
posted by Grangousier at 2:46 AM on January 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


AJ: live ammo on protesters in Alexandria
posted by Anything at 3:01 AM on January 29, 2011


Also, is this the first time that one would go first to a local news organisation (even if only nominally local) for information rather than that from one's own country? For example, I certainly wouldn't have gone to ABC or CNN for news on Katrina, rather than the BBC. Perhaps I'm just feeling smug and comfortable because they've mostly got English accents.
posted by Grangousier at 3:13 AM on January 29, 2011


A very worrisome post was made over on the Angry Arab. I'm hoping it's just BS disinformation/psyops, but it's worrisome all the same:
The source wants to stay anonymous but I cant evaluate the credibility of the source: "A source from within the Presidential Guard has claimed to my friends in Cairo that the army intends to end the protests on Sunday, by any means necessary even if it meant violence and bloodshed. Junta goons are causing chaos in Cairo to claim an unstable situation which will extend until Saturday. Then under the guise of bringing back order, they will "crush them with any amount of force needed!". The sources are unsure of the American role but believe the Americans will go with it."
I really hope this is wrong. I hope memebake's friend was right about there being a psychological difference between the police and the military, and that the military will refuse to fire on their own citizens.

If Mubarak were to name El Baradei head of his new cabinet and then take a back seat from here on out, to essentially step down without stepping down, maybe there could be a peaceful resolution to all of this.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:17 AM on January 29, 2011


Al Jazeera mentioned civilians protecting businesses from looters in Suez.
posted by Anything at 3:21 AM on January 29, 2011


Supposedly there are no police on the streets of Cairo, only soldiers. Is the military going to enforce the curfew (from 4pm onwards)? The soldiers seem to have been very friendly with protesters from everything I've seen so far.
posted by Anything at 3:30 AM on January 29, 2011


Massive protests taking place again now. One Al Jazeera reporter made an interesting comment: he noted that these protests are all technically illegal, since the protesters don't have permits. I snorted at the absurdity of that, then realized that permits are required to protest here, too, in spite of our Constitutional guarantee of freedom of assembly.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:36 AM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Did I just see the 'LIVE CAIRO' tag on the corner of the AJ screen being moved out of the way to show an old-timey horse-drawn buggy among the cars and the crowd.
posted by Anything at 3:45 AM on January 29, 2011


Al Jazeera mentioned civilians protecting businesses from looters in Suez.

Actually that was probably Alexandria.
posted by Anything at 4:01 AM on January 29, 2011


There's now a curious picture of a burnt-out APC. Did the protesters clash with the army overnight?

Here is another picture (via the BBC) of a burnt out APC beside a tank, but no clear sign of why it is burnt out. It would be good if someone could translate any of the graffiti scratched into the scorch marks on the side.
posted by knapah at 4:02 AM on January 29, 2011


Rawya Rageh on AJ: in Alexandria all uniformed police has disappeared from the streets, even traffic ops, so people are directing traffic themselves, and apprehending looters.
Also, reports of long queue at an ATM machine, presumably withdrawing money for
posted by progosk at 4:03 AM on January 29, 2011


AJ is also reporting 95 dead in these protests, and possibly as high as 108. The correspondent on right now is saying some of those may be attributed to looters and vandals being killed in addition to protesters.
posted by gc at 4:05 AM on January 29, 2011


And that would have been Rawya Rageh, same as progosk's post.
posted by gc at 4:06 AM on January 29, 2011


There's also some speculation that half the reported dead are actually police.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:11 AM on January 29, 2011


There's also some speculation that half the reported dead are actually police.

Although I've only heard that claim from a single ruling party representative.
posted by Anything at 4:15 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ayman Mohyeldin on AJ now: no Interior Ministry-dependent security forces on the streets in Cairo either, only the Army, very non-confrontationally.
posted by progosk at 4:17 AM on January 29, 2011


No police presence in Alexandria either, reportedly.
posted by Anything at 4:42 AM on January 29, 2011


Blogger (missed his name) on AJ: in terms of which single force has been instrumental in lending their identity to the protest, rather than any political group, the most important have been the football fan associations, the so-called "ultras".
Also: rather than the specific concern with who will be the next leader (ElBaradei or others), a first concrete objective/demand is for an interim national unity government who can bring the country to hold real elections, with a view to a lengthy process of "re-invention" of a free Egypt.
posted by progosk at 5:00 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, I missed most of the final comment by the AJ correspondent about 'no more vandalism'. Did someone catch what she said, specifically?
posted by Anything at 5:05 AM on January 29, 2011


(better phrased: instrumental in coalesceing the protesters)
posted by progosk at 5:07 AM on January 29, 2011


A middle-aged man holding a "Israel to head for death" sign in Cairo. Was someone arguing with him?
posted by Anything at 5:07 AM on January 29, 2011


There was a short scene from Alexandria (I think) which I felt was quite heartening. There was a tank in the middle of a sea of protesters. Soldiers were up on the tank and a civilian clambered up on the tank and stood on top of it, beaming with happiness. One of the soldiers went and spoke to him, motioning him off the tank. I think the conversation went something like this.

Civilian: I'M ON A TANK!
Soldier: Please step down from off the tank, sir.
Civilian: I'M ON A TANK!
Soldier: Please, sir, remove yourself from the tank.
Civilian: I'M ON A TANK!
Soldier: Sir, get off the tank.
Civilian: I'M ON A TANK!
Soldier: Get off my tank!
Civilian: I'M ON A TANK!
Soldier: GET OFF MY GODDAMN TANK!
Civilian: I'M ON A TANK!

...and so on.
posted by Kattullus at 5:08 AM on January 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Tomorrow is the 39th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry, where 14 civilians were shot by British Paratroopers. When the Army arrived in Northern Ireland in 1969, they were initially welcomed.

The proximity of that anniversary is making me feel rather uneasy (not because of any causal link, just an emotional one).
posted by knapah at 5:19 AM on January 29, 2011


The protesters have taken to directing traffic, since all of the police officers have disappeared. AJ just showed some civilians directing cars away from high protest zones.

All this talk about if the regime will shoot the protesters en masse is making me really nervous, though.
posted by gc at 5:21 AM on January 29, 2011


I don't put much stock in rumors that the army is being friendly as a ploy to get into position. You don't send a bunch of soldiers out to be friendly, wave to the protesters, mingle, and then crush them the next day. Unlike the police, soldiers are trained to have a very patriotic bond to their country and their fellow citizens. Those people are not the people they have been trained to attack. If you want Egyptian soldiers to fire upon other Egyptians, then you must keep the soldiers very separated from their targets; isolated from the people until the moment of battle. If the soldiers are out among the crowd smiling and waving and sharing meals, then you cannot expect them to fire their weapons on those same people later that day.
posted by ryanrs at 5:24 AM on January 29, 2011 [18 favorites]


Leftist coalition calling for/organising a general strike. Asked how they are organising it, given that internet and mobiel phones are down, the representative quipped: Egyptian workers and employees do not use/need the internet and phones for this.
posted by progosk at 5:28 AM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wonder if AJ's interpretation of what was going on with the traffic and the military vehicles is correct? They're saying that the civilians are telling the military where to go.
posted by Anything at 5:34 AM on January 29, 2011


The protesters are now routing the military around the 8th of December bridge, and the military seems game to go along with it.

Sorry, I love it when people do this. By which I mean take control of a city to make sure it functions in absence of authority.
posted by gc at 5:35 AM on January 29, 2011


AJ live feed: is that huge crowd gathering purposely right under the AJ cameras?
posted by progosk at 5:39 AM on January 29, 2011


To answer myself: they're specifically addressing the camera, holding signs (also in English: "The People Have Spoken"), and chanting to camera. Fascinating...
posted by progosk at 5:46 AM on January 29, 2011


A song for my peeps in Egypt.

Umm Kulthum: Al Awela Fel Gharam (To Start With Love). (1944, SLYT)

I hope Hosni Mubarak has not left Cairo. That man has tortured and murdered thousands of people to stay in power. I will not be saddened to see him publicly executed.
posted by spitbull at 5:48 AM on January 29, 2011


I'd be much more worried if the army had massed their forces outside the city or in the desert, then moved in to take position in the early morning.

In regards to the psychology of police and the army, you have to consider the "us vs. them" dynamic. Police are trained to be suspicious of ordinary Egyptians. Day-to-day police work fosters a cynicism and contempt for their countrymen. The police are used to seeing ordinary Egyptians as the "bad guys".

The army, on the other hand, must be trained to love their country and their people. There cannot be any cynicism about it. Your average 18-year-old infantryman must really, really, believe it. Otherwise he is not going to charge up the hill and attack the machine gun nest. The army must lay on the patriotism very thick to convince its soldiers to give up their lives. The police do not receive the same conditioning.
posted by ryanrs at 6:02 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some curfew.
posted by Anything at 6:05 AM on January 29, 2011


Hey, how did President Obama get himself into the middle of a Cairo demonstration to cheer on the protests while riding on some guy's shoulders? (via Andrew Sullivan)
posted by spitbull at 6:16 AM on January 29, 2011


Just waking up here. I so, so hope that the protestors continue to push on today. Things seem to be off to a slower start but this is a critical moment. Mubarak has had all night to coordinate his response today.
posted by proj at 6:21 AM on January 29, 2011


> Biden and his ilk know exactly how bad Mubarak is.

No they don't. I know what you mean, but they don't think of it as "bad" in the way you and I do. If they did, they wouldn't be where they are today.
posted by languagehat at 6:28 AM on January 29, 2011




> That man has tortured and murdered thousands of people to stay in power. I will not be saddened to see him publicly executed.

That would give you and a bunch of Egyptians a moment of nasty glee at the price of setting a terrible example. Look how wonderfully Romania has flourished since they murdered Ceauşescu. (To quote Wikipedia: "he and his wife were executed following a televised and hastily organised two-hour court session. One of the executioners later said: 'it wasn’t a trial, it was a political assassination in the middle of a revolution.'")
posted by languagehat at 6:31 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


The video I mentioned last night is up. It features activist Gigi Ibrahim, actor Amr Waked, activist Wael Khalil and Tunisian student and activist Fida Al Hammami.

It's so amazing I really think it deserves an FPP, but I will leave that for someone else to decide.

"The great demand on the street on Tuesday and on all the past days were three demands: bread, freedom, and human dignity." -Wael Khalil

"The Egyptian citizen is not safe in this regime. My brother walks the street. He gets kidnapped. With no sign why. With no phone call to anyone. For 48 hours no one knows where he is. You ask anyone, they will not tell you... I live in a country where I can be taken from the street without any prior order. If I am taken from the street, my parents will never know where I am. This is Mubarak's regime. This is what America supports. This is going to an end very soon." -Amr Waked

"I think the American people have a lot to do as well, because this is their tax money that's going towards a dictatorship like Mubarak. And I have a lot of American friends, they support me, they support a lot of activists and they have really shown through solidarity, through the social networks, or even through phone calls that they want a free Egypt and they want Egyptians to live a humane life. So, who is really backstabbing us all?" -Gigi Ibrahim
posted by notion at 6:33 AM on January 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


At least three protestors killed trying to enter interior ministry? By interior ministry forces or by the military?
posted by Anything at 6:40 AM on January 29, 2011


Just in case anyone is not aware, the Interior Ministry holds special significance as they oversee the mukhabarat -- the secret/state police that are tasked with spying on the citizenry.
posted by proj at 6:43 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm still struggling to understand how this started. I understand the relevance of Khalid Saeed's murder... but that was back in June. And I understand that this was inspired by the events in Tunisia... But how did the protests actually start? Doesn't there usually have to be some sort of event right then that symbolizes all the injustices in the system and gets people so upset they go out in the streets to express their anger? Is it really the case that, seeing Tunisia, thousands upon thousands of Egyptians just realized, "Hey, now we can finally do this too"?
posted by meese at 6:48 AM on January 29, 2011


No they don't. I know what you mean, but they don't think of it as "bad" in the way you and I do. If they did, they wouldn't be where they are today.
languagehat: read some of the wikileaks cables released yesterday. They very clearly lay out the problems, and it turns out that the U.S. was actually secretly working with pro-democracy groups trying to undermine Mubarak. Now, it may well be that the U.S. only wanted Egypt to be "more democratic" only to make it more stable and to prevent an Iran style backlash. But they were definitely aware of the problem and actually working towards solving it.

But beyond that, why assume that if they believed Mubarak was bad they wouldn't support him? Cynicism is a sufficient explanation.
posted by delmoi at 6:52 AM on January 29, 2011


But how did the protests actually start?

They created a facebook event.
posted by delmoi at 6:53 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Al Jazeera just saying that shots being heard fired in the prison

And apparently the national mint seems to be under attack by a group protesters, I guess someone has figured out how to make a profit once all this is over...
posted by xqwzts at 6:58 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is it really the case that, seeing Tunisia, thousands upon thousands of Egyptians just realized, "Hey, now we can finally do this too"?

From Gigi's Twitter feed: "I want to thank every Tunisian for liberating Egypt as well."

They created a facebook event.

Yes, they did. And then they attended it.
posted by notion at 7:01 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Interesting lesson too. If you turn off all communication and internet to quell a protest, you will make it "worse".

Because everyone goes outside to see what's going on.
posted by Lord_Pall at 7:03 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow.
posted by meese at 7:06 AM on January 29, 2011


A few photos on the ground of the protests, and some signs with translations. On Flickr, by Ramy Raoof
posted by raztaj at 7:10 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sandmonkey is an Egyptian blogger now tweeting live from the streets.
posted by warbaby at 7:21 AM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Muslim Brotherhood just said they aren't going to run a candidate for president.
posted by empath at 7:21 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can anyone recommend a well-curated Twitter list? I can't see the forest for the trees. (Someone should build an app to find quality/popular Twitter lists for a topic.)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:25 AM on January 29, 2011


Is it really the case that, seeing Tunisia, thousands upon thousands of Egyptians just realized, "Hey, now we can finally do this too"?

The elections were scheduled for October and thats when everyone expected things to blow up if Mubarak re-elects himself or has his son elected.

The events in Tunis gave the people hope and I suppose the idea was to take advantage of the momentum while it was still there. Jan 25 is National Police Day and that was chosen as a fitting day to protest.

Things just rolled on from there.
posted by xqwzts at 7:26 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder if Saudi Arabia could fall?
posted by empath at 7:32 AM on January 29, 2011


via Twitter: @AJEnglish Omar Suleiman is now Vice President of #Egypt. Live coverage: http://aje.me/ajelive #hosni mubarak #jan25 #egypt
posted by catlet at 7:35 AM on January 29, 2011


AJFilter: Former general Omar Suleiman, the director of Egypt's intelligence service, sworn in as Vice-President, a figure that apparently did not exist previously.
posted by progosk at 7:37 AM on January 29, 2011


AJ now: new attempts to storm the Ministry of the Interior confirmed...
posted by progosk at 7:38 AM on January 29, 2011


Telegraph profile of Omar Suleiman.
posted by progosk at 7:41 AM on January 29, 2011


AJE grilling a member of the ruling party now is really a thing of beauty.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:48 AM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Absurd Boutros Ghali being interviewed on AJ now...
posted by progosk at 7:49 AM on January 29, 2011


So, the tweets and uploaded photos — are these being conveyed via cellphone to people on the outside to post? Egyptian internet access has not been reestablished, right?
posted by taz at 7:49 AM on January 29, 2011


sorry, not Ghali, but a Boutros member of ruling party, alleging that looting mobs are leading the protesters. Striking cognitive dissonance caused by pictures of peaceful crowds currently in Cairo streets. AJ host firmly, blankly disagreeing with and belying the politician.
posted by progosk at 7:53 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I have read that some of the more esoteric connections have not been cut... and there are some people with satphone data options, so as long as they have power, they are able to broadcast and receive. Everyone who is communicating basically has said they can't say how they are reaching the net, lest the government plug the hole.
posted by notion at 7:55 AM on January 29, 2011


For those worried about the museum:
5:13am The Egyptian army secured Cairo's famed antiquities museum early on Saturday, protecting thousands of priceless artifacts, including the gold mask of King Tutankhamun, from looters.

6:04am Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, reporting from Cairo, says the National Museum in the capital has not been damaged by the fire that destroyed the neighboring office of the National Democratic Party last night.

[via Al Jazeera live-blog]
posted by ryanrs at 7:57 AM on January 29, 2011


"Mubarak is an elected official! He's been elected! How dare this mob try to disrupt our democracy!" That guy was a hoot.
posted by meese at 7:57 AM on January 29, 2011


I wonder if Saudi Arabia could fall?

Does Saudi Arabia even have disaffected youth? I've always pictured a handful of indolent Saudis floating upon a vast sea of oil money and foreign workers.
posted by ryanrs at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


AJ: 8 prisoners killed in clashes with prison guards after attempts to break out, in Cairo.

Also, Ahmad Shafiq, former aviation minister, named new prime minister.
posted by progosk at 8:01 AM on January 29, 2011


Omar Suleiman, director of intelligence? Wow. Somewhere in an alternate universe circa 1989, Gorbachev appointed the head of the KGB as his successor and everything worked out... just peachy.
posted by Marla Singer at 8:02 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


BBC confirming that Mubarak's sons are now in London.
posted by proj at 8:03 AM on January 29, 2011


Wow, Mubarak is just shuffling people around the administration. I can't say that I'm shocked, but...wow.
posted by rollbiz at 8:05 AM on January 29, 2011


>Go Army!

Be cautious about this sentiment. Appearing friendly to the protestors has allowed the army to secure a lot of crucial points and map out exactly where they congregate. If they're planning a crackdown today, they'll be in a very advantageous position.


Probably what I should have said was "meet the new boss, same as the old boss."

Until countries like Egypt and Tunisia and Pakistan and Iran (all with more than 50% of the population under 30 years old) start being able to create jobs (which would require economic growth rates similar to those of China over the past 15 years), nothing is going to change.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:07 AM on January 29, 2011


The fact that there are still hundreds is thousands of people still on the streets is awe inspiring.
posted by dejah420 at 8:08 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


US State Department spokesmen on Twitter:
The #Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President #Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action.
posted by proj at 8:10 AM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


In reaction to the Egyptian government crackdown on the Internet, the French non-profit ISP French Data Network set up a dial-up Internet access. This way, anyone in Egypt who has access to a analog phone line and can call France is able to connect to the network using the following number: +33 1 72 89 01 50 (login: toto, password: toto). (via)
posted by jeffburdges at 8:14 AM on January 29, 2011


Ramy Raoof tweeting that those attacking shops and destroying cars are working with the police...
posted by raztaj at 8:15 AM on January 29, 2011


Sandmonkey tweets: street war in action. On nuzha street with 200 people protecting the streets from drive-by shooters. It's same all over Cairo #Jan25

(this will not end well...?)
posted by progosk at 8:24 AM on January 29, 2011


Until countries like Egypt and Tunisia and Pakistan and Iran (all with more than 50% of the population under 30 years old) start being able to create jobs (which would require economic growth rates similar to those of China over the past 15 years), nothing is going to change.

Dust off the old Nasser United Arab Republic. Roll over the border to Libya cross the red sea and take Saudi and Kuwait in the name of pan Arabism. Blame Tehran for your internal troubles. It's the model of Napoleon. Maybe the west just sits it out this time tired of fighting in the sandbox (so long as the oil flows who cares). You arnt unemployed when you are in the army.
posted by humanfont at 8:30 AM on January 29, 2011


Hilarious. Mubarak is changing every element except the one that matters.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:35 AM on January 29, 2011


Al Jazeera reports Israel has pulled its diplomats. I think that's reasonable enough, given the circumstances. But if the Israelis have any sense at all, they'll keep their mouths shut for the time being.
posted by ryanrs at 8:35 AM on January 29, 2011


> languagehat: read some of the wikileaks cables released yesterday. They very clearly lay out the problems, and it turns out that the U.S. was actually secretly working with pro-democracy groups trying to undermine Mubarak. Now, it may well be that the U.S. only wanted Egypt to be "more democratic" only to make it more stable and to prevent an Iran style backlash. But they were definitely aware of the problem and actually working towards solving it.

But beyond that, why assume that if they believed Mubarak was bad they wouldn't support him? Cynicism is a sufficient explanation.


I don't think you're quite getting what I'm saying. Of course they don't think Mubarak is a great leader or a fine, upstanding person, and it makes sense that they've been secretly working with pro-democracy groups, if only to cover their ass. That's not what I'm talking about. I'm saying that the visceral disgust you and I and most people here feel when thinking of brutal thugs like Mubarak is not felt by people in power. There are at least two reasons for this: 1) Just as surgeons have to become inured to the sight of blood, politicians have to become inured to thugs in power; it's a professional necessity. 2) More importantly (for me as an anarchist), they are all essentially thugs in power; it's just a matter of degree. American politicians, with the cushion of a historically quiescent body politic, bought off by (rapidly decreasing, of course) widespread quasi-middle-class comforts and at least a minimal safety net, can allow themselves the luxury of sneering at low-class foreign dictators who are always calling out the security forces on their own people, but deep down they know that if push came to shove, if their own position of sweet, sweet power and privilege was in any way threatened, they wouldn't hesitate to call out the troops themselves, and they would justify it in exactly the same way (need for order, danger of disruption, radical menace, etc.). So no, they don't really think Mubarak is bad; he's just making a bad job of what they do so much more suavely.
posted by languagehat at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2011 [39 favorites]


There could be last ditch efforts this weekend by Mubarak to try to stay in power. False flag operations and provocateurs are common tactics of crumbling regimes.
posted by notion at 8:36 AM on January 29, 2011


Al-Jazeera showing damage at the National Museum. Absolutely heartbreaking.
posted by rollbiz at 8:42 AM on January 29, 2011


Sherif Boraie on AJ now: sadly Cairo has turned into a madhouse; on the periphery there is a lot of looting, lot of teargas, we don't know who they are; there is no police presence...

Mona Souef, activist: Army is standing by passively, even during violence resulting in deaths in front of Ministry of Interior. Looting attempts at Cairo museum prevented [pictures of damage in museum being shown in parallel... armed security forces patrolling the museum's corridors... very disturbingly juxtaposition]. Live ammo injuries in many areas in CAiro yesterday.
posted by progosk at 8:43 AM on January 29, 2011


BBC World Service says no police anywhere near the burning party HQ which is still on fire. If the police have dissolved into out-of-uniform armed bands of looters and drive-by shooters, then the army will have to take complete control of civil order. If this is what is happening, the last prop of Mubarak is gone. It's not clear that this is really what is going on, but the reports are widespread about the collapse of the police.

The army can join the people because with universal military service, the army is the people. The police, on the other hand, are the interface between the ruling elites and crime.
posted by warbaby at 8:44 AM on January 29, 2011


Oh man, one of the cases containing delicate funeral boats was just trashed. Fucking hell.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:46 AM on January 29, 2011


Eyewitness report from Cairo: Thieves, possibly escaped from prison, took weapons from abandoned police stations, and are running free, looting and threatening; no police, and no military either, so populace are only self-protected, trying to defend buildings. Shopping centres have been emptied by now, they are now turning to private residences.
posted by progosk at 8:50 AM on January 29, 2011


Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle Eastern politics and international relations at the London School of Economics: This is the Arab world's Berlin moment. The authoritarian wall has fallen – and that's regardless of whether Mubarak survives or not. It goes beyond Mubarak. The barrier of fear has been removed. It is really the beginning of the end of the status quo in the region. (The Guardian)
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:56 AM on January 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


progosk: "Rawya Rageh on AJ: in Alexandria all uniformed police has disappeared from the streets, even traffic ops, so people are directing traffic themselves, and apprehending looters.
Also, reports of long queue at an ATM machine, presumably withdrawing money fo
"

Fuck the police - we'll do it ourselves! THAT is fucking democracy!
posted by symbioid at 8:56 AM on January 29, 2011


"Cairo children's cancer hospital requesting protection from looters"
posted by xqwzts at 8:59 AM on January 29, 2011


report from Suez on AJ: Army's passivity is starting to cause friction with protesters, especially since looters are becoming rampant, due to complete absence of police.
posted by progosk at 9:03 AM on January 29, 2011


proj: "US State Department spokesmen on Twitter:
The #Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President #Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action."
And your words, too, Mr. State Dept. must be followed by action.
posted by symbioid at 9:06 AM on January 29, 2011


If the army takes on the looters it will look like they are shooting protestors, it's just too much confusion for this to turn out otherwise. Mubarak has to step down so the innocent people can get off the streets and order can be restored.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:07 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


4.25pm: Army vehicles have been deployed to protect residents in wealthy compounds in Cairo suburbs, Reuters reports. Witnesses say the action was taken after they heard gunshots and accounts of looting.

Army vehicles have also been deployed to protect five-star hotels, according to the news agency.


Some things are transcend nations and ideologies.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:09 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Does Saudi Arabia even have disaffected youth? I've always pictured a handful of indolent Saudis floating upon a vast sea of oil money and foreign workers.


Saudi Arabia is not the UAE, it has a huge population, 38% of which is under 15. Poverty does exist.
posted by xqwzts at 9:10 AM on January 29, 2011


Omar Suleiman, director of intelligence? Wow. Somewhere in an alternate universe circa 1989, Gorbachev appointed the head of the KGB as his successor and everything worked out... just peachy.

What? You don't trust this guy?
posted by Joe Beese at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Mubarak is burning down the house on the way out the door.
posted by vibrotronica at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, one of the cases containing delicate funeral boats was just trashed. Fucking hell.

While I have no interest in mindless destruction, if the cost of giving tens of millions of Egyptians a better future is property destruction and the loss of some artifacts, or even all of them, it will be well worth it.

Let's keep in mind that so far the Egyptian protestors have done a much better job protecting that museum than the US military in protecting Baghdad's artifacts.
posted by notion at 9:12 AM on January 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Saudi Arabia is not the UAE, it has a huge population, 38% of which is under 15.

More than half of Egyptians have never known an Egypt not ruled by Hosni Mubarak.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:15 AM on January 29, 2011


Mubarak is not an idiot. I'm very afraid that he will purposefully create instability in order to force the protestors back to defend their homes. If the security deteriorates enough, he can offer to send the police and military back out to restore order. It's a risk only for the future of Egypt, and the future stability of the Middle East.

I hope there are some wonks in the State Department who at least care about that.
posted by notion at 9:20 AM on January 29, 2011


Some things are transcend nations and ideologies.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:09 AM on January 29 [1 favorite +] [!]


Tourism is absolutely massive in Egypt and if foreigners stop coming to see the country, the present economy will look absolutely rosy.
posted by proj at 9:22 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Updates from my brother as of three hours ago. Still calm outside of downtown. Residents are patrolling the neighborhood and my brother was able to stop at his office and purchase groceries, so that's good. The airport is open but they speculate it could get sketchy as Mubarak et al flee the country.

Which is basically what everyone else has said but there you have it. Except for the speculation that the airport could become sketchy as the regime flees. That had not occurred to me.
posted by stet at 9:24 AM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


In my comic book fueled imagination.

Right now a panicked Israeli Cabinet is gathered at Sharon's bedside screaming, Arik Oorah to have him to wake up and give council. Omar Sharif is riding with an army of 10,000 Bedouin out of Sinai to liberate Suez and then onto Cairo. Mummies walk from the Valley of the Kings to grab Mubarak and drag him into a long prepared sarcophagus. He silt held back at Aswan yearns to flood the upper Nile and bring vitality to the dry dusty land. The bushes in St. Katharines monastery burn and the voice of God is heard to let the people of Egypt go. A top the Mountain a still small voice announcers the return of Elijah. The ghost of Hussien leads prayers at the Grand Mosque. Cleopatra's boat is sailing up the Nile. And the light of Ra shines down upon the great pyramid, the earth quakes. Dr. Zahi Hawass rides the Great Sphynx to defend the nations treasures and antiquities.

Will we see the plagues return, the Nile turn to blood? As the fires burn will we hear a mourning song from Um Kalthoum.
posted by humanfont at 9:25 AM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Paraphrasing AJ: the civilian patrol of their own neighborhoods, setting up roadblocks to check cars and people coming into their areas, is beginning to resemble what happened in Tunisia.
posted by notion at 9:28 AM on January 29, 2011


And the light of Ra shines down upon the great pyramid, the earth quakes.

Right, like a Goa'uld slave state is gonna be a step up.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:30 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Mubarak names a Vice President for the first time

An old Egyptian joke (from before today). Nasser feared overthrow, so he searched for a man of less talent than he to serve as his vice president. After many years he found Sadat. Sadat became president and followed the old president's custom and search many years for a man of less talents than he to be his Vice President. After many years he found Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak has been searching for 30 years, but so far he has yet to find a vice president.
posted by humanfont at 9:34 AM on January 29, 2011 [36 favorites]


AJ is saying the police are looting.
posted by empath at 9:37 AM on January 29, 2011


AJ is saying the police are looting.
Read same thing from various sources - it's plain-clothes special police and agents provocateur on the rampage by and large.
posted by Abiezer at 9:42 AM on January 29, 2011


if the cost of giving tens of millions of Egyptians a better future is property destruction and the loss of some artifacts, or even all of them, it will be well worth it.

If the Egyptian Museum is looted, it will go like the Baghdad Museum looting-- black-market antiquities dealers will be richer, some artifacts will be sold to the kinds of creeps who buy antiquities on the black market, and some will be destroyed forever. I can't even think of a single American site whose destruction would be so catastrophic to our national heritage, sense of history, and, yes, tourism. There's no way in hell that the destruction of the Egyptian Museum could actually help the cause of the protesters, and from the earlier civilian attempts to protect the museum, it seems like the majority of Egyptians know that. As a human being, I sincerely hope that Egypt has a brighter, richer, more open future, and as a historian I am terrified about the museum and its contents.
posted by oinopaponton at 9:43 AM on January 29, 2011 [11 favorites]


[just to note: what a singular feeling, to literally be watching history being made.]

Very eloquent interview with ElBaradei right now on AJ.
posted by progosk at 9:46 AM on January 29, 2011


(actually, it's a rebroadcast, I believe, not sure who's doing the interviewing.)
posted by progosk at 9:47 AM on January 29, 2011


Did anybody else see the soldier with the megaphone telling people that he'd take off his uniform and join them if they cleared off the streets for the night?

What was up with that?
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 9:48 AM on January 29, 2011


(AJ-Arabic, it was.)
posted by progosk at 9:49 AM on January 29, 2011


Did anybody else see the soldier with the megaphone telling people that he'd take off his uniform and join them if they cleared off the streets for the night?

What was up with that?


He was arguing that he supports the uprising, but that it is difficult in the heat of the moment to discern protesters from looters, so that the protesters should clear the streets at night in order that the Army can easily identify and stop the looters. (Who we are hearing may be plainclothes policemen.)
posted by manguero at 9:51 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


thsmchnekllsfascists, I took that as a sincere plea by a soldier sympathetic to the protest, that he is with them, but that there would be no way for the army to secure the city from the looters if protesters remained everywhere. It sounds like the situation is just looking too confusing, and the army is in the tightest spot.
posted by progosk at 9:52 AM on January 29, 2011


List of protesters demands/intentions, from activist Ramy Raoof.
posted by progosk at 9:58 AM on January 29, 2011




There's no way in hell that the destruction of the Egyptian Museum could actually help the cause of the protesters, and from the earlier civilian attempts to protect the museum, it seems like the majority of Egyptians know that. As a human being, I sincerely hope that Egypt has a brighter, richer, more open future, and as a historian I am terrified about the museum and its contents.

I agree. This is not a minor point. Egypt's antiquities are responsible for startling revenues in the form of tourism, internationally funded research projects, international museum loans, and the like. This isn't just an objects vs. people debate - Egypt's material cultural heritage is an important basis for the country's economic future. I hope that it can be protected to the extent possible. I've seen intense pride I've experienced on the part of Egyptian scholars and hope that this is shared widely among the populace.
posted by Miko at 10:02 AM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sharif Kouddous is tweeting from downtown Cairo, he's apparently a democracy now producer, so it should be legit. I'm not sure how, though.
That's not what I'm talking about. I'm saying that the visceral disgust you and I and most people here feel when thinking of brutal thugs like Mubarak is not felt by people in power.
Well, you're talking about how they feel not what they think, there's quite a difference.

Anyway, what I meant was that they have access to the same information we do and probably drew the same conclusions, I don't know what emotional value judgments they came too about those conclusions. That said I'm not sure I really think all politicians are 'sociopathic'. Certainly some are (John Bolton). But there are other ways to avoid cognitive dissonance. Simply not thinking about it one way, believing that you're doing net good is another way, and will do a lot of mental gymnastics to avoid confronting what they're really doing. Being stupid is another possibility.
Tourism is absolutely massive in Egypt and if foreigners stop coming to see the country, the present economy will look absolutely rosy.
They're not blowing up the pyramids.
posted by delmoi at 10:03 AM on January 29, 2011


People don't come only to see the pyramids. They are not unimportant but the artifacts are no longer in the pyramids. People come to see the funerary artifacts, which are in museums.
posted by Miko at 10:05 AM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure how, though.

There are mobile satellite downlink units that journalists use. That's probably how. Too bad there aren't a few more of those out there, but most outlets don't seem to want to send journalists in.
posted by Miko at 10:08 AM on January 29, 2011


They're not blowing up the pyramids.

You're so quick to snark that you're missing the point. The original comment was about how the five-star hotels are being guarded and someone snarked about that and I made the point that tourism is important. If people don't feel safe in their hotels, they won't visit. I know you have a quick-posting style, but seriously, no one intimated they're blowing up the pyramids.
posted by proj at 10:11 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Even in the best of times, The Museum of Egyptian Antiquities is the most poorly kept museum of that calibre that I've ever seen. Makes me wanna cry every time.
posted by gman at 10:12 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


gman -- Have you been to the national museum in Naples? There were literally windows open there the last time I was there with rain blowing in.
posted by proj at 10:13 AM on January 29, 2011


AJ is saying the police are looting.
Read same thing from various sources - it's plain-clothes special police and agents provocateur on the rampage by and large.


Which, unfortunately, is pretty much what the anonymous source quoted by the Angry Arab said was the regime's plan - and the rest of the plan is for the military to be "forced" to crack down on these agents provocateur.
posted by Marla Singer at 10:13 AM on January 29, 2011


if foreigners stop coming to see the country, the present economy will look absolutely rosy

That's a very good point. [I'm thinking of Mother Beese's visit there last year.]

But I think its importance rests less on what people go to see than how fearful they are they they'll be killed going to see it. Unless there's reason to suspect that rich tourists will be targeted, it would make much more sense to station the army outside the museums than the 5-start hotels.

Either way, the wealthy suburbs are not a priority.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:13 AM on January 29, 2011


AP by way of the Guardian:
Residents reported gangs of youths, some on motorbikes, roaming the streets, looting supermarkets, shopping malls and shops
I'm a layman when it comes to Egyptian affairs, but when I think of young men on motorcycles causing mayhem during a popular uprising I am reminded of the Basij. This is an honest question and I have no idea whether it is warranted, but is there any chance these are just NDP-aligned thugs?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:17 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Of what use are the artifacts in Egypt if there are no free Egyptians?
posted by notion at 10:17 AM on January 29, 2011


Of what use are the artifacts in Egypt if there are no free Egyptians?

Even if the worst-case scenario, their use is rebuilding an economy, providing jobs, feeding people, and curing illness so they can live another day to continue pressing for freedom.
posted by Miko at 10:19 AM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Another point about the Antiquaries Museum - they're building/planning to build a new one, out in Giza (near the Pyramids). This would presumably provide jobs for the people of Giza City, and help the local economy - and it sure as hell needs it. So those objects are going to provide a very real benefit for the locals, a benefit that will be diminished if the money has to go on repairing damage to the artefacts/current museum.
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:22 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


So the police forces, who are emerging as the clear bad guy in all of this, why are they still doing this? Executing the orders of a leader who is clearly on the way out, not even in the country any more? Are their identities generally known? Aren't they going to face reprisals when the dust settles? Are they not Egyptian, too?
posted by danny the boy at 10:23 AM on January 29, 2011


If people don't feel safe in their hotels, they won't visit.

Well fine, fuck it. Call the whole thing off. We can't forget our priorities here
posted by crayz at 10:23 AM on January 29, 2011


Of what use are the artifacts in Egypt if there are no free Egyptians?

If you don't believe in the importance of shared cultural heritage, then "only" the lucrative tourism draw. But the human race at large would be measurably poorer without this collection. Two mummies have already been destroyed. If, as has been suggested, the looters are agents provocateur or plainclothes policemen, then this looting is actually hurting the protesters' cause. Please don't make it a dusty old antiques vs. living breathing humans debate; it's much more complicated than that.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:25 AM on January 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


20% of the foreign dollars taken in by the Egyptian economy come from tourism
. Egypt is the #1 tourist destination on the African continent and the 23rd most popular destination worldwide. Tourism is the #1 foreign currency earner and produces $11% of the country's GDP. Approximately 12% of the Egyptian workforce is employed in the tourism sector.


I'm certainly sympathetic with the idea that in a hypothetical human-object standoff, the human should certainly be the one to survive. However, when uprisings destroy cultural heritage, the impact over the long term can be as detrimental as burning farms or tearing apart factories. The people will need a way to make money, regardless of what political structure the next regime, whatever it is, will implement.
posted by Miko at 10:27 AM on January 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


Of what use are the artifacts in Egypt if there are no free Egyptians?

Use? Well, I guess you can look at them.

But value — the preservation of historical objects is, to many people, a goal in and of itself, as they provide a bridge for modern and future people to the world of the past, and tell us something about the development of civilizations and cultures.

This has no bearing on peoples' right of self-determination, of course, but yeah, I'd say there is good reason to keep old-timey stuff around regardless of anything going on around it.

Because what's the alternative? Smash them, return to the sociopolitical status quo and be the same oppressed people but now without historical artifacts? I imagine you wouldn't think that were to be preferred.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:27 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


"7:38pm Ayman Mohyeldin reports that eyewitnesses have said "party thugs" associated with the Egyptian regime's Central Security Services - in plainclothes but bearing government-issued weapons - have been looting in Cairo. Ayman says the reports started off as isolated accounts but are now growing in number." - AJ live blog
posted by Abiezer at 10:30 AM on January 29, 2011


Well fine, fuck it. Call the whole thing off. We can't forget our priorities here
posted by crayz at 10:23 AM on January 29 [+] [!]


Stop trying to set up strawmen false dichotomies in what is otherwise a very informative and nuanced discussion.
posted by proj at 10:32 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


So the police forces, who are emerging as the clear bad guy in all of this, why are they still doing this?

I'm guessing that they're the ones with the most to lose if the current regime goes down, better thought of as gangbangers with badges (ie: legal thugs) than what most North Americans imagine a police force to be.

Again I'm reminded of how pernicious the pro-cop propaganda is that most of us are raised on (those tens of thousands of hours of TV cop shows we've seen by the time we're adults). Not saying all cops are bad. They're not. But give a man the power of arrest and you're contributing toward his potential corruption. This is something most of the world instantly understands but not, it seems, the bulk of us here in good ole North America.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


So the police forces, who are emerging as the clear bad guy in all of this, why are they still doing this? Executing the orders of a leader who is clearly on the way out, not even in the country any more? Are their identities generally known? Aren't they going to face reprisals when the dust settles? Are they not Egyptian, too?
posted by danny the boy at 10:23 AM on January 29 [+] [!]


Well there is the obvious reason that they are trying to sow chaos as ordered, but the less obvious reason that, if the regime falls, they will be the losers and they are trying to "get theirs" while they can. The police are very poor as well.
posted by proj at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the economic argument is only one aspect of value, as oinopaponton wisely said. Human history is rife with incidents in which peoples were separated from their own history and disempowered by having their tangible heritage, text and object, destroyed, sold, or hidden. It happened to the ancient Maya, it happens in China, it happened to Native Americans. In the long term, the quality of a people's existence is informed and supported by the knowledge and protection of its past. People are their stories. That seems less important in moments of violence, but the very cultural power of these artifacts (in addition to their market value) is precisely the reason people target them in times of political stress. Because they are important.
posted by Miko at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


With respect, the Egyptian people are willing to die, and have died, to earn their freedom. I do not accept the premise that human life is worth less than any material object. To further pretend that the only national asset they have are museums, and to pretend that Egypt hasn't been looted before for the better part of it's history is just slightly over the top.

Again, I hope no more damage is done to their historical artifacts. This is obviously a false dichotomy, but if there is a choice between living under a murderous dictatorship and keeping their museums intact, I believe the choice is clear.
posted by notion at 10:34 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


So the police forces, who are emerging as the clear bad guy in all of this, why are they still doing this? Executing the orders of a leader who is clearly on the way out, not even in the country any more? Are their identities generally known? Aren't they going to face reprisals when the dust settles? Are they not Egyptian, too?

They're torturers and murderers already, they might as well be thieves.
posted by empath at 10:35 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


As a human being, I sincerely hope that Egypt has a brighter, richer, more open future, and as a historian I am terrified about the museum and its contents.

I wonder what effect all of this will have on the repatriation of artefacts, both Egyptian and generally. It would make for an easy excuse for Western museums to hold onto their loot on the basis that the artefacts are safer there than in their country of origin.

Not that this is important at the present moment.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:35 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stop trying to set up strawmen false dichotomies in what is otherwise a very informative and nuanced discussion.

I don't understand what this argument is about. No one is in favor of destroying millenia-old cultural heritage. To the extent that it's happening, what are you suggesting be done about it? If a discussion of people wresting control of their own destinies from a decades-long dictatorship turns into a discussion of the collateral damage that causes, it begins to seem like some are suggesting the damage outweighs the benefits

This is a revolution, not afternoon tea. Can we document the downsides without obsessing over them?
posted by crayz at 10:37 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Al Jazeera is saying that the reports of museum looting are only coming from the one source of state tv, and has not been confirmed. Until it is confirmed, it should be treated as suspect information.
posted by Capt. Renault at 10:39 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


We're just discussing why it might be important to protect the tourism industry. Your own read is that "it begins to seem like some are suggesting the damage outweighs the benefits" though no one has suggested that but you. If you don't like what we're talking about, talk about something else without snarking.
posted by proj at 10:39 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


UNCONFIRMED RUMOR: Stratfor is saying that the Gaza blockaed has been dropped and Hamas is flowing into Egypt.
posted by empath at 10:41 AM on January 29, 2011


A reasonable guess is the upper levels of the military are trying to sort out who's in with Mubarak and who's with the people. At the highest levels, they will be trying to keep the old regime. In the streets, well, that's another story.

But ultimately, it's going to be the military that decides, not Mubarak and the security police.
posted by warbaby at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2011


if there is a choice between living under a murderous dictatorship and keeping their museums intact, I believe the choice is clear.

There's no such choice. The destruction of artifacts is not necessary to the securing of freedom.

With respect, the Egyptian people are willing to die, and have died, to earn their freedom.

Isn't that an argument that, if asked, they might not say their cultural heritage is worth less than their lives?

To further pretend that the only national asset they have are museums, and to pretend that Egypt hasn't been looted before for the better part of it's history is just slightly over the top.

Nobody's pretending that it's the only national asset. Given the 11% of GDP figure, it is as important an economic sector as manufacturing is in the US, and twice as productive as retail sales are in the US, but it's not the largest contributer, it's only in the top four. Still, that's big. Also, nobody's asserting that human life is worth "more" or "less" than anything else in your abstract formulation. You're setting up straw men in a situation in which there is not a choice and in which we have no ability to impact events anyway.

It's reasonable to mourn damage to irreplaceable cultural heritage just as it is to mourn damage to life. They are not mutually exclusive and there are serious implications to both. There's no reason to condemn the expression of this view.
posted by Miko at 10:45 AM on January 29, 2011 [16 favorites]


With respect, the Egyptian people are willing to die, and have died, to earn their freedom. I do not accept the premise that human life is worth less than any material object. To further pretend that the only national asset they have are museums, and to pretend that Egypt hasn't been looted before for the better part of it's history is just slightly over the top.

I don't see anyone making those statements (though this is clearly a fast-moving thread and I may have missed them). Obviously people are far more important, but destruction or looting of these artefacts is an additional tragedy.
posted by Infinite Jest at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Of what use are the artifacts in Egypt if there are no free Egyptians?

Of what use is freedom if getting it results in being enslaved by poverty rather than government?

I don't understand what this argument is about. No one is in favor of destroying millenia-old cultural heritage. To the extent that it's happening, what are you suggesting be done about it?

Protect it. Form a human ring around the museum, or let the army devote some small portion of its resources to securing it. You're constructing a false dilemma, crayz: obtain freedom while letting the museum burn, or protect the status quo along with the museum.

So far the Egyptians have done a pretty good job of pushing hard for democratic change without burning down the whole country and everything valuable in it. It's not counter-revolutionary to observe that there's a tomorrow after the revolution.
posted by fatbird at 10:48 AM on January 29, 2011


UNCONFIRMED RUMOR: Stratfor is saying that the Gaza blockaed has been dropped and Hamas is flowing into Egypt.

That would be... bad.
posted by rodgerd at 10:48 AM on January 29, 2011


Al Jazeera is saying that the reports of museum looting are only coming from the one source of state tv, and has not been confirmed. Until it is confirmed, it should be treated as suspect information.

That doesn't grok with the pictures/video Al Jazeera has been showing from the museum interior with protective glass broken and artifacts strewn on the floor.

They also show armed military personnel patrolling within the museum and say the looting occurred before the army got get there...
posted by xqwzts at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2011


My latest update is that the army have taken over in a good way. Soldiers are being posted in residential areas. My relatives are feeling "secure and optimistic." And, apparently, international phone calls are going through.
posted by stet at 10:49 AM on January 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


That would be... bad

Assuming it's true, i think it would mean a bunch of weapons flowing to protesters in egypt and a bunch of money and food flowing towards Gaza.
posted by empath at 10:50 AM on January 29, 2011




I was just wondering the same thing furiousxgeorge. Anyone care to enlighten me on Stratfor? Background, bias, funding sources?
posted by gofargogo at 10:59 AM on January 29, 2011


empath: I'd be more worried about Hamas trying to hijack the revolution to more millitant/Islamist ends, or trying to seize control of border towns and cities, leading to the sort of mess/invasion pretexts you see in Lebanon's south.
posted by rodgerd at 10:59 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stratfor are a "global intelligence" company that prepare intelligence briefings for companies. I wouldn't say they are a straight-forward ideological outfit but they tend to hew towards Council on Foreign Affairs-style insights on geopolitics. They also have publish a lot of unconfirmed reports.
posted by proj at 11:00 AM on January 29, 2011


Hamas is having a hard enough time governing Gaza to try and export a revolution.
posted by proj at 11:00 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stratfor has a very mixed record. So treat it as just another unconfirmed rumor. If true, it will start showing up on other sources with confirming details.
posted by warbaby at 11:03 AM on January 29, 2011


i don't think they'd try exporting a revolution - i do think they'd be very interested in importing whatever they can get their hands on
posted by pyramid termite at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


empath: I'd be more worried about Hamas trying to hijack the revolution to more millitant/Islamist ends, or trying to seize control of border towns and cities, leading to the sort of mess/invasion pretexts you see in Lebanon's south.

If anyone was going to do that the Muslim Brotherhood would have done it days ago. Hamas is tiny compared to MB and inconsequential in Egypt.
posted by xqwzts at 11:04 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's no such choice. The destruction of artifacts is not necessary to the securing of freedom.

To clarify, I'm not saying that. I'm saying that if the revolution puts the museums in additional danger, it's well worth it.

It's reasonable to mourn damage to irreplaceable cultural heritage just as it is to mourn damage to life. They are not mutually exclusive and there are serious implications to both. There's no reason to condemn the expression of this view.

I'm often guilty of getting this argument stuck sideways in my head. From the West's history of destroying democracies to preserve profit, I always get more than a little sensitive when I feel like a similar argument is being made.

On preview: according to AJ, the damage was caused two or three people entered through the top of the museum. Compare that to the damage in Baghdad.
posted by notion at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2011




I never trust Stratfor. Their reports invariably have a ideological spin and, it seems to me, almost always turn out later to have been wrong. In fact, I was just listening to Al Jazeera English report about 30 minutes ago that Hamas has instructed West Bank Palestinians to stay away from the border with Egypt and had strengthened patrols on their side. And the Muslim Brotherhood isn't playing a big role in this thing, it's more populist and generalized than them from what I'm reading and hearing. OTOH, it does look like the Egyptian security forces are creating a looting panic on the ground, setting the stage for a "justified" military crackdown.
posted by Auden at 11:07 AM on January 29, 2011


The West Bank doesn't share a border with Egypt.
posted by proj at 11:08 AM on January 29, 2011


(I meant Gaza, what a dumb mistake to type. duh...)
posted by Auden at 11:11 AM on January 29, 2011


That doesn't grok with the pictures/video Al Jazeera has been showing from the museum interior with protective glass broken and artifacts strewn on the floor.

They're showing that on the stream right now. It was a different story earlier. Apologies for the confusion.
posted by Capt. Renault at 11:12 AM on January 29, 2011


Can someone verify that the Al Jazeera magazine (HQ in Saudi Arabia; aljazeera.com) is not the same as Al Jazeera TV/radio (HQ Qatar; aljazeera.net? This morning, the magazine was claiming that Mubarak was going to be taken in by Israel after Saudi Arabia rejected him.
posted by catlet at 11:15 AM on January 29, 2011


It's not the same.
posted by proj at 11:17 AM on January 29, 2011


> This is obviously a false dichotomy

Then why do you keep insisting on it? You seem determined to come across as someone who thinks culture is worthless.
posted by languagehat at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


That's what I thought. I spent some time looking through the site and felt like I was reading someone's official party line. Thanks for the confirmation.
posted by catlet at 11:22 AM on January 29, 2011


if the revolution puts the museums in additional danger, it's well worth it.

I think that's utterly dependent on the outcome of this revolutions. Not all revolutions are "well worth it."

Compare that to the damage in Baghdad.

The damage done in Baghdad will never be fully undone. It's a tragedy of its own kind and its repercussions will be felt for centuries at the least. I'd like to see similar, future tragedies prevented. In this revolution, there is still the opportunity for those involved to prevent it. I hope that they do. Is this still controversial for you?
posted by Miko at 11:23 AM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Then why do you keep insisting on it? You seem determined to come across as someone who thinks culture is worthless.

It's precisely the opposite. Objects are not culture without people to enjoy the works of their ancestors and the freedom to create new art. People are required to form a culture. Antiquities are important, but they are not necessary.
posted by notion at 11:26 AM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think a fair amount of tourism in Egypt isn't just to see artifacts but also to do things like go to beachfront casinos, take cruise boats up the Nile, and the like.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:33 AM on January 29, 2011


What a dumb derail.

Whether or not the museum gets destroyed has nothing to do with the revolution. It's just assholes taking advantage of chaos.
posted by empath at 11:34 AM on January 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


Lots of goodies here.
posted by vrakatar at 11:34 AM on January 29, 2011


It's precisely the opposite. Objects are not culture without people to enjoy the works of their ancestors and the freedom to create new art. People are required to form a culture.

Who has proposed doing away with people?
posted by Miko at 11:38 AM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I sure hope the library at Alexandria has sprinklers these days.
posted by CunningLinguist at 11:45 AM on January 29, 2011


The interview on AJ with Maajid Nawaz is very interesting. If I caught it correctly, he's spoken with a close associate of the appointed vice president, who said the VP is committed to a transition to democracy.
posted by Anything at 11:47 AM on January 29, 2011


Egyptian Unrest Map. The map incorporates recent social media feeds related to the unrest. Full page version.
posted by NoMich at 11:48 AM on January 29, 2011


Re Muslim Brotherhood -- inspiring tweet from Sharif Kouddous a few hours ago: "Muslim Brotherhood chanting Allah Akbar. Crowd stopped them chanting louder: Muslim, Christian, we're all Egyptian."
posted by scody at 11:53 AM on January 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


The only part that I disagree with is this statement:

I think that's utterly dependent on the outcome of this revolutions. Not all revolutions are "well worth it."

The only option besides democratic action is totalitarianism of one form or another. I believe the Egyptian protests are clearly democratic. In our transitions from the monarchies and theocracies of the past, there has been tremendous progress towards open governments and truer freedom for minorities, women, and even the LGBT community. Yes, it's also led to awful results like Stalin's USSR, but if you examine the post WWII world it is largely fairer and more free and peaceful than at any other time in history.

To say the revolutions of the past, even the ones that ended in horrifying tragedy, were not "well worth it" I think ignores the amazing progress realized in the last ten years. For the first time in history in 2003, the whole world protested a war before it even began. For the first time in world history there are true democracies emerging in North Africa and the Middle East. And there are people who have never met in person expressing solidarity with each other in the pursuit of fundamental human rights, irregardless of their race, religion, and nationality. I submit again that damage to Egyptian culture caused by a continued slide into a repressed feudal society is far worse than any damage to their historical artifacts, even if the revolution fails.
posted by notion at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2011


Why didn't we (USA) do this to Bush & co? Props to Egyptians for both solidarity and common sense. /still bitter.
posted by HyperBlue at 12:04 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't disagree with your historical argument about democracy, in general, though there are important exceptions to this worldwide march toward democracy that you perceive in recent decades. I'm merely suggesting that damage to historical artifacts is not a minor bourgeois concern, but a serious one, and that such damage is not a necessary part of any revolutionary activity, though it is frequently the outcome of political struggle of all kinds.
posted by Miko at 12:06 PM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


People, the Museum has been secure for a day at least, secured by the army. Relax.
posted by delmoi at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why didn't we (USA) do this to Bush & co? Props to Egyptians for both solidarity and common sense. /still bitter.

Because we could vote them out.
posted by delmoi at 12:14 PM on January 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


And our lives are materially no where close to as bad.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:15 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


What about the gift shop?! Is the gift shop protected?
posted by geoff. at 12:16 PM on January 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


Just got a phone call from a friend in the Mohadeseen area:

The men in the neighbourhood have barricaded the [narrow] road and put checkpoints. They're under sporadic attacks from drive-bys and cars trying to ram their way through... seem to be dealing with them rather heavy-handidly. Says one of the cars they stopped had plainsclothes policemen in it and "stolen stuff". Says there is no military presence in the area.

They plan on staying in the street for the rest of the night, but have no idea how long they can last if this goes on beyond tomorrow. [in the sense of exhaustion and if the attacks become more organized]
posted by xqwzts at 12:23 PM on January 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


This sort of false flag vandalism and robbery is one of the most disgusting things I know.
posted by Anything at 12:31 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


To say the revolutions of the past, even the ones that ended in horrifying tragedy, were not "well worth it" I think ignores the amazing progress realized in the last ten years. For the first time in history in 2003, the whole world protested a war before it even began.

For all the good it did.... [/bitter forever]
posted by jokeefe at 12:53 PM on January 29, 2011 [13 favorites]


The museum is still at risk. As per AJ, there's a big fire in a neighboring building.
posted by angrycat at 1:01 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


AJ just has an on the street interview with an English speaking Egyptian manning a roadblock with people from the neighborhood, complaining about the chaos. Seems to care a lot more about protecting his home than the politics.

They stop each car and see if they are people from the neighborhood and not troublemakers. They have bats and a few guns.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:10 PM on January 29, 2011


interesting comment by another participant in the local neighborhood-watch groups on AJ: looters do not do drive-by shootings, which is what they were dealing with, so these are provocateurs at work; and: the solidarity shown by members of each neighborhood is proving to be a strong bonding experience, giving them very practical sense of further unity and great pride in effectively securing their own country.
posted by progosk at 1:24 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


there's a big fire in a neighboring building

That was 24+ hours ago. I imagine it's largely finished burning by now.
posted by ryanrs at 1:32 PM on January 29, 2011


(the current AJ anchor is noticeably superficial/unengaged in what she is presenting; it's a distinct difference in tone and demeanor that sets her apart from the general tone of their livestream channel. Is it just me, or does she come across as though she has learned her mannerisms from US cable news? Admittedly: nothing I would have noticed had I not been watching this stuff all day...)
posted by progosk at 1:34 PM on January 29, 2011


no. the earlier building was the official party building (?) and this is a new building: the something something council building. it's really burning

also, AJ is talking about how the new top three cabinet (?) members have strong military ties. In addition, people are getting pissed because the army is not protecting neighborhoods. folks are making do with neighborhood militias
posted by angrycat at 1:35 PM on January 29, 2011


ryanrs, there's now a fire in the Press Club building that's just behind the one that was burning yesterday.
posted by progosk at 1:36 PM on January 29, 2011


has been searching for 30 years, but so far he has yet to find a vice president.


Rule number 16#: Do not appoint the Intelligence people to succeed you.

Omar Suleiman
-15th Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate
Incumbent

-Vice President of Egypt
Incumbent
January 29, 2011


The Museum is being used as a hostage. It is a bargining tool and buyer of time. (and a nice collection)
posted by clavdivs at 1:39 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting side note: China appears to be aggressively managing mentions of Egypt, limiting media coverage and blocking search of "Egypt" in their Twitter-like service.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:42 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how the events have been reported in Iran.
posted by Anything at 1:47 PM on January 29, 2011


"Museum" is the problem here. Think of it as patrimony. Imagine the Smithsonian or the Library of Congress being looted. It's not just economic value, it's cultural value, a symbol of what people fight for, and for some, a spiritually important link to the past (certainly true for many Native American claims on cultural patrimony in museums).

In this case, the cultural links are actually rather tenuous, however. The ancient Egypt on display in that museum for tourist consumption is still a 19th century orientalist fiction turned toward a 20th century post-colonial nationalist purpose, and has about as much to do with the cultural life of contemporary Arab-dominated Egypt as fish have to do with asteroids. (Not that there isn't a more recent and utterly brilliant Arab cultural legacy in the arts, sciences, and governance, being squandered for the last few generations in favor of a cynical and economically desperate embrace of narrow fundamentalism that must not be allowed to erase the historical accomplishments of Islam and its Arab missionaries.) In many ways, Egyptian antiquity has been claimed (by the West for the most part) as the common cultural patrimony of mankind, in fact, or of civilization, of which the Egyptians are now the guardians. And they've done an admirable job at guardianship as a modern nation state, in part because of the economic value of heritage tourism, in part by taking symbolic pride in possessing a distant past of such importance to the world.
posted by spitbull at 1:48 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Why didn't we (USA) do this to Bush & co? Props to Egyptians for both solidarity and common sense. /still bitter.

Because we could vote them out.
posted by delmoi at 2:14 PM on 1/29


Assuming you truly believe "we" voted them in to begin with, that is.
posted by HyperBlue at 1:48 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Egypt's corrupt and anti-citizen police force is going to be a huge challenge. Especially now they've gone plainclothes.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:52 PM on January 29, 2011


AJ is interviewing tourists right now. There was an American couple who decided to check out some of the sites today "We went to the citadel today and it was fine!" and a British couple got turned away from some pyramid.
posted by delmoi at 1:56 PM on January 29, 2011


Interesting side note
Yep, there's still stories up on the main portals but they're not being updated as promptly as earlier or those about Tunisia during the uprising there. Comments are pretty much all closed from what I've seen, and they were indeed being used to make subtle and not-so-subtle comparisons to the domestic situation, as well as express support for the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt.
posted by Abiezer at 1:59 PM on January 29, 2011


How so? They have lost their political power, supporting infrastructure, and internal organization. Small bands of them are fucking shit up in the neighborhoods, but that's not a viable platform to take over a nation.
posted by ryanrs at 2:01 PM on January 29, 2011


above was re: corrupt and anti-citizen police force
posted by ryanrs at 2:02 PM on January 29, 2011


Mubarak is going to have to say something soon, or the army will. I'd love to know what is being said on state radio, or any local stations that might still be broadcasting. Or pirate stations. I have a strange love for AM radio.
posted by vrakatar at 2:05 PM on January 29, 2011




(ack - this AJ lady is excruciating!)
posted by progosk at 2:11 PM on January 29, 2011




five fresh fish: "Egypt's corrupt and anti-citizen police force is going to be a huge challenge. Especially now they've gone plainclothes."

Honestly, I have no idea if this has been posted up-thread, but here's raw footage of what appears to be the military preventing clashes between the police and the protesters.
posted by gman at 2:22 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


via desjardins excellent link, via Mona Eltahawy: Cairo residents form human chain to protect the national museum.

"Once more: Mubarak regime thugs are looting and causing mayhem. Egyptian revolutionaries want to fix their country, not destroy it. Egyptians love our antiquities and we want them back from Europe - Nefertiti bust. We treasure them, not destroy them. Mubarak regime neglected the #Egyptian Museum. He's been responsible. His regime left it under dust and mess."
posted by scody at 2:29 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


AJ: 19 private planes from Egypt have just arrived in Dubai...
posted by progosk at 2:33 PM on January 29, 2011


argh - serves me right for giving any credit to this vacuous anchor - that's actually apparently 19 businessmen, not planes...
posted by progosk at 2:36 PM on January 29, 2011


progosk -- I almost posted that, too. She's looking for a story, and her analyst that's with her brushed it off when he learned it was just business men. "Yes, they are pro-regime, so they probably wanted to get out."
posted by gc at 2:37 PM on January 29, 2011


oinopaponton: "Two mummies have already been destroyed. If, as has been suggested, the looters are agents provocateur or plainclothes policemen, then this looting is actually hurting the protesters' cause."

Yeah, what kind of a "looters" ransack a museum in order to destroy a couple mummies when there's a plethora of gold which they could literally pocket?
posted by gman at 2:38 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


AJ: 19 private planes from Egypt have just arrived in Dubai...

If true... this is what the beginning of the end looks like.
posted by jokeefe at 2:41 PM on January 29, 2011


via Mona Eltahawy

I'm pretty sure it was Eltahawy who was giving that ass-kicking interview on AJ around 6 PM Eastern time yesterday.
posted by maudlin at 2:41 PM on January 29, 2011


And it's not apparently true. Nevermind.
posted by jokeefe at 2:42 PM on January 29, 2011


She's looking for a story

More than that, she seems permanently unable to get over the fact that OMG I'm a newsanchor on TV, whatdoIsaynext!!?

posted by progosk at 2:43 PM on January 29, 2011


What the fuck is he waiting for? He's 82, does he think he's going to rule another 20 years? JUST FLEE YOU OLD RATBAG.
posted by vrakatar at 2:44 PM on January 29, 2011 [12 favorites]


People out again in Algeria and saw reports that Morocco is redeploying troops from Sahara to cities.
posted by Abiezer at 2:45 PM on January 29, 2011


Why didn't we (USA) do this to Bush & co? Props to Egyptians for both solidarity and common sense. /still bitter.


Lets not forget, we didn't have the solidarity that the Egyptians do. Plenty of heavily armed americans were more than satisfied with gbush's asinine foreign "policy"
posted by Redhush at 2:48 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the WaPo twitter feed:

and what's with all these baseball bats in egypt, who the hell plays baseball in egypt? must be a cia conspiracy #Jan25

He's joking. He goes by alaa.
posted by vrakatar at 2:56 PM on January 29, 2011


JUST FLEE YOU OLD RATBAG.

See, that's what I don't get. I assume that despots have a Plan B worked out for decades -- Swiss bank accounts, a friendly country to go to, and a jet to get you there. Sure, that life of exile isn't as great as the gig you have going now, but it's still pretty sweet. All the luxury and none of the responsibility.

But there's something in this guy that says I can still turn this around. I can still fix this. And for what? Ten years? Extra statues of himself in the main square? Job security for his kid?

At some point, when there's that much heat on you, you say "enh, I've had a good run", leave your cronies to fend for themselves, and fly off into the sunset to your new life of champagne breakfasts and Swedish massages and stories of the good ol' days.
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:57 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Spotted a cricket bat at another citizen checkpoint, so MI6 are up to no good as well.
posted by Abiezer at 2:58 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


It's hard to watch this interview with Waseem Wagdi, an Egyptian in London, without tearing up a bit.
posted by Kattullus at 2:58 PM on January 29, 2011 [14 favorites]


As well as worrying about friends in Egypt, and hoping for the future of the country, I've been absolutely devastated to see the destruction in the Egyptian Museum. As an Egyptologist, I've been able to identify a number of the objects shown damaged on Al Jazeera tv, including a number of statues from the tomb of Tutankhamun, others over 4000 years old. If people are interested (sorry for the self-reference), I've compiled some images showing the artefacts involved on my blog. I've been frantically looking them up, as if by being able to identify the artefacts, I might be able to restore them to their former existence. But I can't do that.

At least in terms of the wooden models of daily life, there is consolation in the fact that many of them were actually found in a highly damaged state and managed to be put back together. But what is stolen may never be recovered, and sometimes destruction can be absolute, not only of objects as something for tourists to look at, but as a source of knowledge for future generations. I'm currently working on my PhD and I was surprised when I couldn't figure out the current location of a few of the models I'm investigating for my thesis. Then I found out that they don't have a location anymore. They were originally housed in the museum at Liverpool, and during the war they were destroyed in the bombing. Now all I have to work with is a couple of insufficient photos for some of them, others are gone with no trace left whatsoever.

People often think that once something's been found and put in a museum, that's it's purposed fulfilled. Someone must have recorded it, studied it at some point, right? Wrong. There are so many artefacts, discovered in such a short space of time, that many of them have barely been looked at. Even the treasures of Tutankhamun, which I expect people will assume are some of the best known artefacts from Egypt, many of them have not yet been published at all. Perhaps this event will shock Egyptologists out of their complacency, not wanting to study Tut objects as being too 'populist', or preferring to rush off to find the next big discovery rather than studying what we already have.

What is especially frightening is that the records at the museum in Cairo are not the greatest and they could potentially not even be able to fully identify what has been lost.

The loss will affect the Egyptian people immensely- both financially and psychologically. The tourism industry is a vital component of the economy, but the people there are also very proud of their heritage. But this goes beyond Egypt, beyond any of us… if these precious objects are gone, the knowledge that they hold is gone for all future generations.
posted by Kirjava at 3:05 PM on January 29, 2011 [53 favorites]


Thanks, Kattullus.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:05 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why didn't we (USA) do this to Bush & co? Props to Egyptians for both solidarity and common sense. /still bitter.

As much as I hate Bush and consider the results of the 2000 and 2004 elections to be fraudulent, it's sort of foolish to ask why Egypt (which has 35+% youth unemployment and has been under the same blatantly tyrannical regime for thirty years) erupted and we didn't.

Check back when we, too, have nothing left to lose.
posted by vorfeed at 3:07 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


But there's something in this guy that says I can still turn this around. I can still fix this. And for what? Ten years? Extra statues of himself in the main square? Job security for his kid?

I think the psychology of the despot is often broader than mere kleptocrat. In Mubarak's case, and many others, there is a patriotism at work and an internalization of the Great Man theory of history, such that they are the Necessary Man to save the country from whatever ills assail it. "History will vindicate me!" "Après moi, le déluge." &c.
posted by dhartung at 3:20 PM on January 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Bush would not have lasted three decades if he tried.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:23 PM on January 29, 2011


"Hawass said now that the Egyptian Museum's collection is secure from thieves, the greatest threat to the collection inside is posed by the torched ruling party headquarters building next door."
posted by clavdivs at 3:23 PM on January 29, 2011


If, as has been suggested, the looters are agents provocateur or plainclothes policemen, then this looting is actually hurting the protesters' cause.

Wait, what? Is this a typo? Because if the looters are agents provocateur or plainclothes policemen, then that should hurt Mubarak, not the protesters - as long as everyone is aware of the fact. And it looks like it's becoming pretty well known. I read somewhere (no link, sorry) that some of these impromptu neighborhood watches had managed to capture some of the looters and drive-by shooters and they found state security ID on them.

the motherfuckers
posted by Marla Singer at 3:27 PM on January 29, 2011


I think the psychology of the despot is often broader than mere kleptocrat.

Indeed.

- Why are you doing it? How much better can you eat? What could you buy that you can't already afford?

- The future, Mr. Gittes! The future!

posted by Joe Beese at 3:28 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]




Wait, what? Is this a typo? Because if the looters are agents provocateur or plainclothes policemen, then that should hurt Mubarak, not the protesters - as long as everyone is aware of the fact.

It actually doesn't matter who is doing it. What matters is what the people believe. And right now, they won't believe anything the regime says.
posted by empath at 3:38 PM on January 29, 2011


Secret audio leaked from Mubarak's HQ
posted by Marla Singer at 3:39 PM on January 29, 2011


Where is the Mubarak Downfall video?
posted by empath at 3:42 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


What matters is what the people believe. And right now, they won't believe anything the regime says.

Yes, and that's a good thing. Naturally, the regime is going to claim that the looters are rank-and-file Egyptians, not plainclothes policemen, and it's good for the people to see through that and recognize that the looters are actually Mubarak's goons.
posted by Marla Singer at 3:49 PM on January 29, 2011


See, that's what I don't get. I assume that despots have a Plan B worked out for decades -- Swiss bank accounts, a friendly country to go to, and a jet to get you there. Sure, that life of exile isn't as great as the gig you have going now, but it's still pretty sweet. All the luxury and none of the responsibility.

But there's something in this guy that says I can still turn this around. I can still fix this. And for what? Ten years? Extra statues of himself in the main square? Job security for his kid?


Mubarak doesn't see himself as the villain. He's like Nixon.
posted by humanfont at 3:49 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, what? Is this a typo? Because if the looters are agents provocateur or plainclothes policemen, then that should hurt Mubarak, not the protesters - as long as everyone is aware of the fact.

Right, if the consensus is that this was done at Mubarak's orders. When I wrote my comment, the agent provocateur vandalism was just an unsubstantiated rumor in US-available news outlets, and it looked like the destruction could have been pinned on the protesters, in which case the violence against the museum could have been a successful tool used to delegitimize the protesters. Not a typo.
posted by oinopaponton at 3:51 PM on January 29, 2011


Where is the Mubarak Downfall video?

In the making, I hope.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:00 PM on January 29, 2011


oinopaponton: Fair enough, our sources differ. From what I've gathered, it's fairly well known among the Egyptian populace that Mubarak's men are pulling all kinds of shenanigans, and I would expect that they know better than to believe that the Museum damage was done by their own people. YMMV.
posted by Marla Singer at 4:05 PM on January 29, 2011


Fascinatingly, the phrase GAME OVER [MUBARAK] is becoming emblematic of the protests:
[1 2 3 4]

Called, of course, by our own eponysterical Civil_Disobedient
posted by dhartung at 4:07 PM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


I've seen the 'Mubark' spelling quite a few times. Is it a legitimate transliteration, mockery or just a spelling error?
posted by Anything at 4:15 PM on January 29, 2011


I've seen the 'Mubark' spelling quite a few times. Is it a legitimate transliteration, mockery or just a spelling error?

Probably just a different transliteration. I know folks who transliterate their own name differently at different times.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:19 PM on January 29, 2011


It's a legitimate transliteration but not the standard one. His name is مبارك, so there is a long alif after the baa but not after the ra. So, if you're not transliterating short vowels, you could do Mubark. Of course, then you'd actually want to do Mbark to be consistent, but you see where that's going.
posted by proj at 4:31 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previously
posted by empath at 4:40 PM on January 29, 2011


GAME OVER

INSERT NEW PRESIDENT TO CONTINUE
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:42 PM on January 29, 2011 [19 favorites]


Where is the Mubarak Downfall video?

It wouldn't be funny; the whole lulz of the Downfall videos lies in the contrast between the terribly serious and the banal. A Downfall video about Muburak would just look like a documentary outtake.
posted by jokeefe at 4:47 PM on January 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


Wow, the interviewee on AJ right now--he's saying things that no one in the media does, but everyone knows.
posted by manguero at 4:47 PM on January 29, 2011


Anybody know what the politics in Qatar are like (the home of Al Jazeera)?
posted by empath at 4:48 PM on January 29, 2011


More reports re agents provocateurs: Eyewitnesses Say State Sponsoring Vandalism
Ayman Nour, opposition leader and head of the Ghad Party, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that his fellow party members have caught several thugs who work for the Interior Ministry. After capturing them in downtown Cairo and Heliopolis, Nour's followers found ministry of interior IDs on them, Nour said.

“The regime is trying to project the worst image possible to make it clear to people that they have only one of two alternatives: either the existing order or chaos,” he said.
posted by scody at 4:49 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


manguero, what's he saying? (short version)
posted by LobsterMitten at 4:50 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Anybody know what the politics in Qatar are like (the home of Al Jazeera)?

There are less than 1 million Qataris, and they are exceedingly well off. There really isn't much in the way of politics there other than a mostly benevolent dictatorship.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:52 PM on January 29, 2011


> manguero, what's he saying? (short version)

Basically, the US is the biggest terrorist in the world.
posted by Burhanistan at 4:53 PM on January 29, 2011


manguero, what's he saying? (short version)

Sorry. In addition to what Burhanistan said, he also said that the U.S. is not concerned with Egypt's sovereignty, only with alliance to Israel, which he called a "terrorist state." He warned that the Egyptian people will not necessarily support a new government supportive of the U.S., contrary to what an earlier interviewee (a US citizen protesting in LA) said.
posted by manguero at 5:00 PM on January 29, 2011


there's a big fire in a neighboring building

That was 24+ hours ago. I imagine it's largely finished burning by now.


I believe that a different building was burned, maybe the Supreme Press building.

Also from an AJ article on looting in Cairo is this:
Zahi Hawass, the Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said the would-be looters only managed to vandalise two mummies, ripping their heads off. They also cleared out the museum gift shop.

He said the museum's prized King Tutankhamun exhibit, which includes the boy pharaoh's gold death mask, had not been damaged and was safe.

However, the museum's contents could still be damaged by the potential collapse of a neighbouring building gutted by fire, Hawass said.
posted by ZeusHumms at 5:01 PM on January 29, 2011


Anything: "I've seen the 'Mubark' spelling quite a few times. Is it a legitimate transliteration, mockery or just a spelling error"

"What is the sound of one dog barking?"

"Mu...bark"
posted by symbioid at 5:03 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Robert Fisk is reporting from Cairo.
Indeed, Obama's own response – about the need for reforms and an end to such violence – was an exact copy of all the lies Mubarak has been using to defend his regime for three decades. It was deeply amusing to Egyptians that Obama – in Cairo itself, after his election – had urged Arabs to grasp freedom and democracy. These aspirations disappeared entirely when he gave his tacit if uncomfortable support to the Egyptian president on Friday. The problem is the usual one: the lines of power and the lines of morality in Washington fail to intersect when US presidents have to deal with the Middle East. Moral leadership in America ceases to exist when the Arab and Israeli worlds have to be confronted.
posted by gman at 5:21 PM on January 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


As usual, the United States will stand on the right side of history once it's become history
posted by crayz at 5:40 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are less than 1 million Qataris, and they are exceedingly well off. There really isn't much in the way of politics there other than a mostly benevolent dictatorship.

That's only 40% of the population though. There are lots of guest workers and servants. Their lives are a bit different. Also people tend to want to run their own stuff after a while. No one likes being governed by corrupt despots
posted by humanfont at 5:46 PM on January 29, 2011


The guest workers are from all over though, and not all of them are poor or servants. I can see rioting but not the unity for a revolution.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 5:52 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why is America So Afraid?
I'm as thrilled as anyone by what I see in the Cairo streets, but when I turn on American television I see only grim faces. Robert Gibbs looked frightened during his delayed press briefing yesterday afternoon; he didn't know what to say. Obama's comments last night were equivocal and opaque: I'm with Mubarak, for now. This is his 9/11 -- the day Arabs blindsided a president.

I thought this is what he wanted for the Arab world: democracy! But the market dropped, and the cable shows are filled with mistrust of the Arab street. Our talking heads can't stop talking about the Islamists. [...]We are seeing a dictator dissolve before our eyes. These are the events we cherished in history books; let us embrace the Egyptian movement.

Why is America so afraid?

Because we are seeing a giant leap in Arab power, in which the people of the largest Arab nation demand that they be allowed to fulfill their potential. This change portends a huge shift in the balance of power in the region. For the U.S. has played only a negative role in the Egyptian advance, supplying the teargas, and it seems inevitable that Egypt will cease to be a client state to the U.S. And thereby threaten the order of the last 30 years.
posted by scody at 6:01 PM on January 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Everything I need to know about RedState.com was summed up by their threads on the Egyptian situation, which boiled down to "OMG, the Islamofascists are taking over, this is Iran all over again" and "Mubarak has a legal right to maintain public order by controlling rioters". I wish I were joking.
posted by jokeefe at 6:09 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


America is afraid because we're heading into a multi-polar world.

We'll lose our dominance of world politics, but on the other hand, we'll save a lot of money on defense spending, if we don't have to protect the whole world from, uh.. whatever we're protecting them from.

Everyone keeps talking about a new caliphate as if it would be a terrible thing for the world. The Ottoman Empire ruled that whole region for centuries and all it did was bring civilization back to Europe. There's no reason that an arab bloc would have to be dictatorial, just because the Ottoman empire was. It could very well take the form of something like the European Union.
posted by empath at 6:13 PM on January 29, 2011


There's no reason that an arab bloc would have to be dictatorial, just because the Ottoman empire was. It could very well take the form of something like the European Union.

I don't think the past 30 years of Middle East history are on your side on this one.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:17 PM on January 29, 2011


Egypt is not Somalia. Radical Islamists will make their move but they do not have broad support. There is/was a strong, well-educated middle class that would probably not want to live in a stone age theocracy. If the people have anything to say about it, the new Egypt will be informed but not dominated by Islam.
posted by vrakatar at 6:25 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I imagine there is a huge difference between dying in office and being thrown out by your own people.
posted by rosswald at 6:35 PM on January 29, 2011


jokeefe: "Everything I need to know about RedState.com was summed up by their threads on the Egyptian situation, which boiled down to "OMG, the Islamofascists are taking over, this is Iran all over again" and "Mubarak has a legal right to maintain public order by controlling rioters". I wish I were joking."

Or FreeRepublic, where Obama was simultaneously a dithering weakling incapable of responding to a crisis and a Machiavellian mastermind single-handedly engineering an Islamic fundamentalist state.
posted by Rhaomi at 6:59 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Radical Islamists will make their move but they do not have broad support.

Broad support isn't always necessary.

There is/was a strong, well-educated middle class that would probably not want to live in a stone age theocracy.

Probably or definitely? It makes a difference.

If the people have anything to say about it, the new Egypt will be informed but not dominated by Islam.

If...
posted by Jahaza at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jon Jensen reporting from Cairo - raw feed: Showdown with police in Cairo
Updates: @jonjensen
posted by madamjujujive at 7:04 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't think the past 30 years of Middle East history are on your side on this one.

And what about the past 1000 years of European history? One empire and kingdom and dictatorship after another, for centuries.
posted by empath at 7:05 PM on January 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


Or FreeRepublic, where Obama was simultaneously a dithering weakling incapable of responding to a crisis and a Machiavellian mastermind single-handedly engineering an Islamic fundamentalist state.

Gateway Pundit and Pamela Gellar are similarly idiotic. It's actually an interesting split on the right-wing about this. Hardcore neo-conservatives are pro-Mubarak because he was a loyal ally of Israel. Hardcore Christianists like Free Republic just really hate Muslims.

The economic conservatives and a big chunk of tea partiers, on the other hand, seem to be on the right side of history, here. The comments sections on conservative bulletin boards are full of delicious rage right now.

As wishy-washy and moderate as Obama has been on this, I can't even imagine how McCain-Palin would have responded.

I don't even want to think about it.
posted by empath at 7:13 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


On the left wing, the only split seems to be between people who are pro-revolution, and people who are anti-revolution because of fears for Israel, but feel guilty about it.
posted by empath at 7:14 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Who said America is afraid, we planned this didnt we, no. ok, an extra 1.3 billion a year for us then and eygpt can just raise the ticket prices at the museum, if there is one left.
posted by clavdivs at 7:18 PM on January 29, 2011


"Obama's own response – about the need for reforms and an end to such violence – was an exact copy of all the lies Mubarak has been using to defend his regime for three decades. It was deeply amusing to Egyptians that Obama – in Cairo itself, after his election – had urged Arabs to grasp freedom and democracy." Robert Fisk is now reporting for the Independent.
posted by warbaby at 7:21 PM on January 29, 2011


curse you gman...
posted by warbaby at 7:23 PM on January 29, 2011


> manguero, what's he saying? (short version)

Basically, the US is the biggest terrorist in the world.

Welp, you can't really argue with that.
posted by Marla Singer at 7:26 PM on January 29, 2011


The Ottoman Empire ruled that whole region for centuries and all it did was bring civilization back to Europe.

Yes, but the Ottoman Empire was Islamic the way the British Empire was Christian. A new caliphate would be serious about religion.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:44 PM on January 29, 2011


biggest terrorist
Paul Bunyan with a stachel charge and soda machine strapped to his belt loop.
posted by clavdivs at 7:49 PM on January 29, 2011


Yes, but the Ottoman Empire was Islamic the way the British Empire was Christian. A new caliphate would be serious about religion.
OBVIOUSLY. You just can't trust those muslins.
posted by delmoi at 7:53 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


> Yes, but the Ottoman Empire was Islamic the way the British Empire was Christian. A new caliphate would be serious about religion.

This statement is not very sensible.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:01 PM on January 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


There seems to be a lot of interesting breaking news on this twitter account, including a reference to this statement from US Asst Secretary of State P J Crowley:
The Egyptian government can't reshuffle the deck and then stand pat. President Mubarak's words pledging reform must be followed by action.
This is not the sort of wholehearted endorsement that Mubarak was probably hoping for.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:07 PM on January 29, 2011


So that story on Gdańsk was great. I loved when I visited there, wish I had had more time.

Apparently Sunday is the first day of the work week, AJ just came back to live coverage.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:03 PM on January 29, 2011


The America-bashing here is pretty predictable and trite. Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?
posted by msalt at 9:04 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Part of American exceptionalism is, in theory, holding ourselves to a higher standard.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:06 PM on January 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


Well, like many Americans, I think American exceptionalism is a bunch of crap.
posted by msalt at 9:16 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are good parts, like the higher standard.

Curfew set to be lifted at 8 am local time in Egypt, 1 am EST.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:19 PM on January 29, 2011


America is afraid because we're heading into a multi-polar world.
We'll lose our dominance of world politics, but on the other hand, we'll save a lot of money on defense spending, if we don't have to protect the whole world from, uh.. whatever we're protecting them from.


Ah ha ha ha ha ha you are kidding with this part yes?
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:19 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The America-bashing here is pretty predictable and trite. Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?

Yes, ours is a problem endemic to all major powers.
posted by manguero at 9:20 PM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Curfew set to be lifted at 8 am local time in Egypt, 1 am EST.

Bit meaningless, this gesture, isn't it?

Does anyone know where Mubarak actually is?
posted by fatbird at 9:20 PM on January 29, 2011


I do like that other nations don't seem to invade other countries to support Democracy!
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:21 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]



Bit meaningless, this gesture, isn't it?


People apparently are taking it a bit more seriously, the army pleaded with them to clear the streets so they could handle the looters.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 9:22 PM on January 29, 2011


Checking that jonjensen twitter feed reminds me that a Muslim city is especially well-equipped for decentralized crisis response - he says the local mosque is doing neighborhood announcements over their loudspeaker, eg telling neighborhood residents to go to place x to help with defending the neighborhood.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:30 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


(change "Muslim city" to "city with a lot of neighborhood mosques" if that's more precise.)
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:32 PM on January 29, 2011


The America-bashing here is pretty predictable and trite. Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?

Rea life isn't graded on a curve. Part of being the Greatest Country on Earth is having a higher standard than totalitarians and the French.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:49 PM on January 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?

Actually, China's a very interesting example. The government's treatment of its own citizens is vile, yet as far as their influence abroad goes, since the Korean war, compared to the US their methods of achieving influence* have been almost entirely via aid and trade.

You don't get to be a major power by being nice. Of course. And in the unlikely event that we New Zealanders achieve world domination (probably after the climate change disaster has rooted everywhere else) we'll probably unleash terrors you've never dreamed of as the lust for empire drives us mad.

But I feel it's still worth pointing out from time to time that the US shares this characteristic of major powers to a reasonable degree.

*I'll stipulate it's largely not a beneficial influence in the countries where it's exerted.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 9:59 PM on January 29, 2011


There is/was a strong, well-educated middle class that would probably not want to live in a stone age theocracy.

Sounds like Persia.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:59 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The America-bashing here is pretty predictable and trite. Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?

Just had a long talk with my ex-brother-in-law who's a high end mining guy currently working out of Africa (Sierra Leone to be specific). He's also done a lot of work in the far north of Canada (Inuit First Nations land). For what it's worth, he had grudging respect for how the Chinese companies dealt with the various indigenous peoples in these areas and none at all for the Americans. As for Canadians, well we didn't stack up so hot either.
posted by philip-random at 10:04 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Radical Islamists will make their move but they do not have broad support.

Broad support isn't always necessary.

There is/was a strong, well-educated middle class that would probably not want to live in a stone age theocracy.

Probably or definitely? It makes a difference.

If the people have anything to say about it, the new Egypt will be informed but not dominated by Islam.

If...
posted by Jahaza at 10:04 PM on January 29 [+] [!]


Are you in favor of reinstating the totalitarian, ant-democratic, anti-Liberty dictator Hosni Mubarak. Are you in favor of letting the People decide their own fate, even if it's opposed to your own interests, or are you in favor of allowing a tyrant to terrorize his own population for his own monetary gain because it supports your country's short term interests?

Are you in favor of liberty, or in favor of liberty only for white Christian Americans?
posted by dirigibleman at 10:07 PM on January 29, 2011


Such issues will be explored soon enough. In the meantime, we demand that all normal communications be restored to the people of Egypt by January 29th, 12:00 midnight, Eastern Standard Time. That we have occasion to make such a demand in the first place should be enough to convince all good men that the world needs revolution. That we have made it in full view of all men should be enough to convince them that we now have the means to back it up - not just against this regime, but against any and all parties that continue to prop it up even after it has conceded that the truth is its enemy.

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not Forgive.
We do not Forget.


Fresh psyops press release. not sure how it's going to take in the larger anon community, but I hope that the kids take this to heart and swing our way.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:08 PM on January 29, 2011


Americans vote for their OWN president based on the lesser of two evils, of course they are able to rationalize away someone else's president.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:10 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, China's a very interesting example. The government's treatment of its own citizens is vile, yet as far as their influence abroad goes, since the Korean war, compared to the US their methods of achieving influence* have been almost entirely via aid and trade.

Aside from invading Tibet (1959, continuing) and Vietnam (1979), you mean?. China's influence in North Korea hasn't really been that admirable either. And of course they have undermined pretty much every principled attempt to put pressure on evil regimes (e.g. Sudan/Janjaweed) in order to make money.

I would put American way ahead of China by any standard of human rights, at home or abroad. Honestly is there a single example of China promoting human rights abroad, anywhere, ever?
posted by msalt at 10:13 PM on January 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Are you in favor of liberty, or in favor of liberty only for white Christian Americans?

In fairness, when America profits, it's not just white Christians who profit. That's what makes the whole thing so diabolical. To quote one of my favorite movies:

"Shit - we're all in it together."
posted by philip-random at 10:13 PM on January 29, 2011


Does anyone know where Mubarak actually is?

Where ever he is, he's probably not amused at SNL making fun of him on last night's Weekend Update.
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:15 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


msalt: I'll yield on Tibet, point out the absence of troops in Vietnam, and giggle quietly at "of course they have undermined pretty much every principled attempt to put pressure on evil regimes (e.g. Sudan/Janjaweed) in order to make money."
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:18 PM on January 29, 2011


Oh, man. I got a good cry on this morning (morning here now, and in Egypt): Waseem Wagdi, Egyptian protester. Egyptian Embassy, London. 29.1.11
posted by taz at 10:21 PM on January 29, 2011 [7 favorites]


joe's spleen: I'll yield on Tibet, point out the absence of troops in Vietnam, and giggle quietly at "of course they have undermined pretty much every principled attempt to put pressure on evil regimes (e.g. Sudan/Janjaweed) in order to make money."

China was wise enough to remove their invading troops from Vietnam quickly, but they certain did invade. I don't get your giggles, though. I may well have forgotten an occasion where China stood up for human rights somewhere -- please remind me if so. You will concede that the U.S. has, on occasion, made actual stands for human rights, yes?
posted by msalt at 10:27 PM on January 29, 2011


Honestly is there a single example of China promoting human rights abroad, anywhere, ever?

I'm pretty sure the Chinese argument for invading Tibet is that the Dalai Lama and the rest of the Tibetan elite were despots crushing the peasantry under their heel. The Chinese simply came in to liberate the poor, oppressed peasants, educate them and provide them with plenty of Han settlers to dilute their oppressive traditional culture. (Note that I'm not adopting the Chinese position. I'm just stating it in what I believe to be roughly their terms.)

Interestingly, China seems to describe the Sino-Vietnamese war as the "Counterattack against Vietnam in Self-Defense" (Vietnam had just invaded Cambodia), while the Vietnamese describe it as the "War against Chinese expansionism."
posted by b1tr0t at 10:29 PM on January 29, 2011


I predict that nothing Anonymous does will make any difference on anything at all.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:30 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Off topic: China has done lots of dirty under the table things over the years, like supporting Maoist guerrilla movements in Nepal and India. All the great powers have skeletons in their closets.

On topic: Hooray for Egypt! It's sad that so many have died, but its thrilling to see the beginning of what could be a real democratic revolution. And the second one in a month! Shades of the 90s come again.

Here's hoping the pressure keeps building on Muburak until he's forced to step down.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:36 PM on January 29, 2011


I would put American way ahead of China by any standard of human rights, at home or abroad. Honestly is there a single example of China promoting human rights abroad, anywhere, ever?

At home, sure, but then we're grading on a curve again.

Abroad? We're not better. Vietnam was us supporting a corrupt, despotic regime that happened to be opposed to the Soviets. Egypt is us supporting a corrupt, despotic regime that was opposed to the Soviets Islamists. Pakistan was us supporting a corrupt, desoptic regime that was opposed to the Soviets Islamists. Iraq (pre-1990) was us supporting a corrupt, despotic regime that was opposed to the Soviets Islamists. Iran was us supporting a corrupt, despotic regime that was opposed to the Soviets. Chile was us supporting a corrupt, despotic coup over the democratically-elected government that wasn't sufficiently pro-American*. Venezuela 2002 was us supporting a coup against the democratically-elected government that wasn't sufficiently pro-American*. Torture camps in Guantanamo, Egypt, and elsewhere, predator drones killing innocent civilians by the thousands. China wishes they had the military might to project the misery and suffering we have inflicted over the last half a century.


*Pro-American generally meaning pro-American oil company or fruit corporation
posted by dirigibleman at 10:44 PM on January 29, 2011 [8 favorites]


Honestly is there a single example of China promoting human rights abroad, anywhere, ever?
They helped feed a lot of poor people in the global south through infrastructure projects, sent many technicians, medical workers and other experts to poor nations and educated hundreds of persons from those countries in those skills while not having much money themselves.
They provided a lot of materiel to support the Vietnamese during their conflict with the US despite knowing full well the former were in a Soviet camp that was hostile. Trained a fair few of the guerillas who helped defeat the armies of apartheid in Angola too.
Of course this wasn't done under the rubric of 'human rights' but socialist internationalism. How cynical it was is an exercise for the reader, but for my money there's several cases where the likeliest explanation is that at some level they simply subscribed to those values.
posted by Abiezer at 10:44 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


b1trot - point taken, though even taking China's word for why they invaded Tibet (which I certainly don't) puts them in the same boat as America's invasion of Iraq, and I assume we all agree that was horrible. In case it's not clear, I'm pretty solidly against invading other countries except in the most extreme circumstances, and am very skeptical of human rights justifications for doing so.

That said, there are some -- Rwanda, maybe, perhaps Sudan, Germany in WW2. I still wrestle with Kosovo; feels like it was done for the right reasons, and with relatively little collateral damage. But I'm not 100% convinced it was justified.
posted by msalt at 10:51 PM on January 29, 2011


So in addition to Egypt, Al Jazeera has taught me about drug law in Singapore (RAGE INDUCING) and abortion law in Thailand. I may have to keep watching after this crisis is over.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:58 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks Taz. That was good. It reminds me this once was a country started (theoretically) by the common folk rising up to refuse to take any more shit. As one meaningless voice, my vote is to support whatever the Egyptian people want to decide their own future to be. My national interests be damned. So sick of seeing my nation crumble beneath the weight of illegitimate empire, sick of the rot at our own core projected onto others with righteous rage at our duplicity. Sad that the new boss IS just like the old boss after hopes raised so high. Lead on, Egypt. Remind us how it's done. It's sucks how blinding and soul destroying complaceny is. Maybe when our infrastructere caves in from neglect, and basic survival is in doubt, then we too might get out from the flat screen god, pull together and find some better priorities. Maybe a common enemy is the only thing that can cause cooperation.
posted by Redhush at 11:02 PM on January 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jon Jensen (in Cairo) tweets:
Woke up to this SMS from Vodafone: "Egypt's army urges faithful Egyptian men to stand up against traitors & criminals & protect our people, our honor, and our beloved Egypt." This to prevent looters.

So the army called up Vodafone and told them to mass SMS everyone. The army's idea, or from the higher ups? "Stand up against traitors" can be read either in a pro-protester sense (stand against the secret police) or anti-protester sense (stand against the protesters). Seems like the pro-protester sense is the more natural reading, but maybe I'm just seeing what I want to see?
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:18 PM on January 29, 2011


I get the sense the army, either on orders not to make a bigger PR disaster for Mubarak or all on their own, are doing their best not to harm the protesters in any way. They are honestly trying to just take on the looters and maintain order.

They are telling people to protect their neighborhoods and stay off the streets at night, but are leaving protests alone.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:25 PM on January 29, 2011


I still wrestle with Kosovo

Don't even go near the can of worms that is the former Yugoslavia.

Germany in WW2

I'm not at all certain that human rights were a significant motivation for the US entering the second world war. It seems a lot more like power politics and it was just dumb luck that we came out on the right moral side of the war.

In case it's not clear, I'm pretty solidly against invading other countries except in the most extreme circumstances, and am very skeptical of human rights justifications for doing so.

I'm inclined to agree, with the reservation that a counter-invasion such as the US entry into the second world war may move the world into a better state.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:27 PM on January 29, 2011


Stratfor is an interesting source to follow. They typically outline their assumptions and walk through the path to their conclusion. Certainly they have their biases, but those biases seem pretty clear to me.

The Stratfor claim that I find most intriguing is that the conflict isn't democratic protesters vs. authoritarian Mubarak but actually Mubarak's wish that his son inherit his power vs. the military wanting to place another one of their own on the seat of power when Mubarak retires or kicks the bucket. In this scenario, the entire civil unrest is a deeply orchestrated sham designed to convince the US and Europe that the new guy is supported by the people. I'm not sure I'm cynical enough to buy into that, but it is a fascinating conspiracy theory.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:36 PM on January 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


This means stand up to who ever fires upon you (armed forces)
classic tactic. scatter your secret police, use regular police as a thin blue line and have the army as back up. If the TBL falls, you have the army. Interspersing all three elements is key. If these break down, the army will step in and decide who leds, most likely until elections.
posted by clavdivs at 11:36 PM on January 29, 2011


Al Jazeera detailing Olbermann situation...Oh my, wonder if he sent in a job application. :P
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:45 PM on January 29, 2011


Man Al Jazeera is fascinating. I'm so used to American news, where you have the "meat" (politics usually), with a bunch of crime and human interest type stories that I frankly don't care much about. So far from what I've watched on AJ though, everything is interesting. It's as if they are reporting on important goings-on worldwide in an informed way. You might call it news.
posted by manguero at 11:56 PM on January 29, 2011 [10 favorites]


b1tr0t, there was a similar insider-conspiracy angle in a Pakistani source:

An uprising spurting from within the centre of power clearly indicates that a powerful faction from within the leadership is either guiding or managing the outbreak. It isn’t a revolution but a war of succession. In all probability, a powerful faction very close to the centre of power disagrees with Hosni Mubarak’s plans of gifting the presidency to Gamal and the entire upheaval is being stage managed to bring about the desired result.

I also thought this was a remarkable insight: Interestingly, protesters were all [sic] without guns.

China. I'm not sure why we just had that whole China debate, but surely everyone realizes that China does not have a global military presence, and thus they must -- as a second-tier superpower -- necessarily focus on what is called soft power, like agricultural aid. It does seem benign, but of course a Chinese naval base would be something altogether more alarming (even if they had a navy that could use it). So they do the benign thing. The US, on the other hand, while thinking highly of itself as a soft-power dealer, has a pretty ugly hard-power history, a lot of it connected with the Middle East and that sticky, gummy stuff in the ground.

Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy.

msalt, your naivete is appalling, unless my sarcasm meter is broken. Tell me, on which will we be judged -- by what we say, or what we do? What have we done for Egyptian democracy and human rights during Mubarak's regime? Details, please. I can tell you for certain that the Egyptian people know exactly where we stand. That UN veto, for example, has been exercised on behalf of Israel more times than for any other issue. We support democracy when and where our dominant national interest allows us to, or where it indeed furthers our national interest. It's principled, all right -- the US comes first, the other country gets democracy if it will help us and a dictator if it won't. Really, now, you don't want me to start listing dictators.
posted by dhartung at 11:58 PM on January 29, 2011 [9 favorites]


AJ and Twitter are reporting a stronger military presence today with roadblocks (to keep traffic away from Tahrir Square?). There seems to be a tenser atmosphere between the troops and protesters. More demonstrations are still expected regardless.
posted by manguero at 12:04 AM on January 30, 2011


manguero: "Man Al Jazeera is fascinating. I'm so used to American news, where you have the "meat" (politics usually), with a bunch of crime and human interest type stories that I frankly don't care much about. So far from what I've watched on AJ though, everything is interesting. It's as if they are reporting on important goings-on worldwide in an informed way. You might call it news"

And the "meat" of politics in US news is utter shite, for the most part.
posted by symbioid at 12:05 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


but actually Mubarak's wish that his son inherit his power vs. the military wanting to place another one of their own on the seat of power when Mubarak retires or kicks the bucket. In this scenario, the entire civil unrest is a deeply orchestrated sham designed to convince the US and Europe that the new guy is supported by the people.

Based on the current evidence, Mubarak's supporters are behaving far worse than the military. So sham or not, I know who I'd vote for.
posted by philip-random at 12:13 AM on January 30, 2011


AJ: Egypt military entering Sharm El-Sheikh to maintain order because police can't handle it. Forbidden by treaty with Israel, must have been approved by them. Twitter rumors Mubarak is there.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:20 AM on January 30, 2011


Good: found wall of streaming tweets on various relevant search terms.

Bad: there's a rumor that Al Jazeera's licence is revoked and their Cairo office is being shut down.
posted by ZeusHumms at 12:56 AM on January 30, 2011


dhartung: I may be naive, but I'm still waiting for someone to name a major power with a better record. What seems odd to me is the large number of people here criticizing America for its foreign interventions and also complaining that the U.S. is not doing enough to help the protestors.

Reminds me of all the Republicans who say that Obama is expanding the government's role dangerously, and why hasn't he solved unemployment yet?
posted by msalt at 1:03 AM on January 30, 2011


People are saying that if you are going to be interventionist you should do it in the right way for the right reasons.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:06 AM on January 30, 2011


Here's an interesting article on CNN: Experts: Egypt's fate rests in hands of popular, powerful military

According to the article, every Egyptian male between the ages of 18 and 30 has to serve one to three years in the military. So there may be a hard limit on how much violence the rank and file soldiers are willing to employ against the demonstrators, since they are themselves members of society on temporary duty, and not career army. If the upper levels of the officer corps did do something to set all this off, they're playing a dangerous game, and may not be able to stop the demonstrations without risking a rebellion in the military itself.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:07 AM on January 30, 2011


Al Jazeera shut down in Egypt.
posted by telstar at 1:12 AM on January 30, 2011


People are saying that if you are going to be interventionist you should do it in the right way for the right reasons.

What would that look like in this situation? What should Obama and his administration be doing that they're not? Serious question -- I know a lot of people are not happy with their statements so far, but how far should they go? Call for open elections? Immediately withdraw all aid until Mubarak is gone? Send in the troops?
posted by one_bean at 1:16 AM on January 30, 2011


In my personal opinion, it is time to call for Mubarak to step down considering the country is being reduced to chaos and he has not done anything but shuffle the deck, which the state department expressly tweeted is not enough.

His leadership has clearly failed.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:33 AM on January 30, 2011


Oh God, I can't watch this Singapore story again, turning off AJ now.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:35 AM on January 30, 2011


Sod the wittering about Islamists under the bed, here's a view on who one of the main driving forces behind the protests are:
Alaa Abd El Fattah, a prominent Egyptian blogger who was interviewed on Al Jazeera today, made the interesting observation that the uprising’s most effective organizational strength comes from a quarter that has been ignored by most of the media: soccer fans known as ultras.

“The ultras — the football fan associations — have played a more significant role than any political group on the ground at this moment,” Alaa said. “Maybe we should get the ultras to rule the country,” he joked.
The beautiful game!
posted by Abiezer at 1:48 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


AJ live-blog is down. (Their producer Evan Hill and reporter Dan Nolan tweet.)
posted by progosk at 2:11 AM on January 30, 2011


Evan Hill just tweeted: Al Jazeera is still broadcasting live despite apparent shutdown order. No one knows who would enforce it.
Their live-stream is still up. (The live-blog was previously here.)
posted by progosk at 2:20 AM on January 30, 2011


I'm still waiting for someone to name a major power with a better record.

Just out of curiosity, would you be referring to the U.S.'s record in Iran or Indonesia or East Timor or Chile or Iraq or Argentina or Nicaragua or Paraguay or Cuba or Haiti or Panama or El Salvador or Saudi Arabia or Zaire?

It's an incomplete list, but perhaps you can start there.
posted by scody at 2:35 AM on January 30, 2011 [10 favorites]


other AJ tweeters: Ayman Mohyeldin (in Cairo) and Rawya Rageh (in Alexandria yesterday)
posted by progosk at 2:36 AM on January 30, 2011




I'm concerned about Mohamed ElBaradei -- haven't heard anything about him since Friday, when it was reported he was under "house arrest."

So I wrote this palindrome in his honor. Apparently, Ed is calling on Egyptians to protest ElBaradei's detention, despite the controversy over the Danish cartoons of the prophet Mohammed.

"Despite Dane, resist if sad ElBaradei rots. Storied Arab led, as fits. I serenade," tips Ed.
posted by msalt at 3:10 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


AJ's Evan Hill tweets: Al Jazeera English is now off the air in Egypt. TV is picking up no signal.

In parallel, AJ is has a reporter from Suez describing a controlled but tense situation, with off-the-record remarks from army officials that the one line they draw is if they are ordered to shoot on the protesters they will refuse to do so.
posted by progosk at 3:15 AM on January 30, 2011


Just out of curiosity, would you be referring to the U.S.'s record in Iran or Indonesia or East Timor or Chile or Iraq or Argentina or Nicaragua or Paraguay or Cuba or Haiti or Panama or El Salvador or Saudi Arabia or Zaire?

I'm sorry, I read through your comment carefully and just couldn't find your answer to my question. What did you say was the major power with a better record?
posted by msalt at 3:17 AM on January 30, 2011


I'm concerned about Mohamed El Baradei

He is fine, heard a long interview with him yesterday on AJ. Arrest rumors were false.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:20 AM on January 30, 2011


According to Ayman M, live on the phone to AJ, there are again crowds in Tahrir Square this morning (3 to 5 thousand), and the solidarity between people and army was reaffirmed when the army stepped in to order a suspicious fire-truck (= possible water cannon) back away from the square, helping the people who had blocked it first. Live rounds were fired into the air by the army to keep teh situation from getting out of hand; after the truck tracked back an left, the crowds broke into elated cheers for the army.
posted by progosk at 3:21 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who have a better record are not major powers, since people with good records mind their own business.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:24 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]




though AJ CAiro bureau has been shut down after visit by "plain-clothes government security" (via reporter Dan Nolan's latest tweets), their live-stream is currently showing live pictures from a calm Tahrir square full of people.
posted by progosk at 4:27 AM on January 30, 2011


And what about the past 1000 years of European history? One empire and kingdom and dictatorship after another, for centuries.

No doubt. Your point?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:55 AM on January 30, 2011


Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureau
Network's licences cancelled and accreditation of staff in Cairo withdrawn by order of information minister. Guardian still live blogging.
posted by adamvasco at 5:14 AM on January 30, 2011


Security forces (not army) entered the office and demanded filming permits and press IDs. Aljazeera live blog
posted by adamvasco at 5:17 AM on January 30, 2011


An 8 Year old Saudi girls' thoughts on Mubarak and the current protests.
posted by gman at 5:20 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently M1A1 tanks are being deployed to Tahrir Square for the first time. These are serious destruction machines, not APCs. Looks like Mubarak may be trying to close the press down before the serious crackdown begins. Important moments for the protesters.
posted by proj at 5:24 AM on January 30, 2011


From BBC:
1.21pm: "At first we trusted the army, but we don't trust them any more," protester Mohamed Ali tells Peter Beaumont as a new tank unit moves into Tahrir Square.
posted by proj at 5:26 AM on January 30, 2011


Sorry, that was from the Guardian. Too many tabs.
posted by proj at 5:26 AM on January 30, 2011


dhartung: I may be naive, but I'm still waiting for someone to name a major power with a better record. What seems odd to me is the large number of people here criticizing America for its foreign interventions and also complaining that the U.S. is not doing enough to help the protestors.

No one would be criticizing America for it's open support of democracy if they were doing that. The fact is that in Egypt, for 30 years, we have chosen corruption, dictatorship, kidnapping, and murder of the the Egyptian people. To the tune of tens of billions of dollars. To put that in perspective, we give Egypt three times the amount we give the UN every year. So, we've already been interfering for 30 years, and all of the sudden we have respect for Egyptian sovereignty?

This is one of the reasons America is losing its last shreds of credibility. If this pan Arab nationalism is successful, it won't be forgotten that we didn't welcome the development of democracy, and only cared enough to pay it lip service.

Reminds me of all the Republicans who say that Obama is expanding the government's role dangerously, and why hasn't he solved unemployment yet?

Trying to bring up unemployment is not the same thing as arming a dictatorship. And in this instance, we are not giving money to the people with the signs begging for their freedom. We are giving teargas, guns, and tanks to the other side. The good intent is not for the people of Egypt, but for the cynical geopolitical equations that are good for business and good for American hegemony.
posted by notion at 5:51 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


US position: Bush and Obama both pushed Egypt to repeal its emergency law and hold free elections. Obama threatened to hold back aid bring the Internet was restored and demanded people be given their right to peaceably assemble.

Chinese Position: blocked access to the word Egypt on Internet search sites, blocked media coverage.

Yet somehow America is the villain in your mind.
posted by humanfont at 5:54 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great compilation video of street action in Cairo (I don't think this has been posted...).

Fighter jets and helicopters are buzzing Tahrir Square now... only a couple minutes before curfew now. I'm very frightened about what will happen tonight.
posted by taz at 5:57 AM on January 30, 2011


Fighter jets + tank + media shutoff = A completely new kind of night ahead, I think.
posted by proj at 5:59 AM on January 30, 2011


Low jet fly-overs in Cairo (via Evan Hill)... also "By many accounts, some kind of confrontation seems likely tonight, probably in Tahrir Square".

Officialdom seems stalled, but latest army moves are sounding ominous. Current completest source is Guardian liveblog mentioned by adamvasco.
posted by progosk at 5:59 AM on January 30, 2011


AJ is reporting that the air force is flying over the crowd with jet fighters and helicopters. Every time they buzz the square, the protestors shout "Get out. Get out." A protestor: "They break the sound barrer above the people, but the people are not scared."

If the USG doesn't support these people today, American values will finally mean absolutely fuck all.
posted by notion at 6:01 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


US position: Bush and Obama both pushed Egypt to repeal its emergency law and hold free elections. Obama threatened to hold back aid bring the Internet was restored and demanded people be given their right to peaceably assemble.

Chinese Position: blocked access to the word Egypt on Internet search sites, blocked media coverage.

Yet somehow America is the villain in your mind.


They may have 'pushed', but didn't actually DO anything. They've had the ability to withdraw aid in their hands for decades, yet they haven't. Instead the US has colluded in sending terrorist suspects to Egypt for torture.

Just because China is shit doesn't mean America is great. Wooo, we're better than an authoritarian regime! WOOO!

The US is the world's preeminent democracy, a glorious shining beacon of freedom to the world (ahem), and yet... it supports dictators when it serves US strategic interests. At least China aren't hypocrites.

I don't give a fuck whether the US or China is worst, let's just say the international community could do better.
posted by knapah at 6:02 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tahrir Square is trending on twitter. The sounds from AJ's live camera are like a combo superbowl/air show, but in arabic with extra tanks. They're chanting "get out, get out".
posted by Mizu at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2011


humanfont, that is absolute horseshit.

US response to democratic movements in Egypt for thirty fucking years: pay Mubarak's regime tens of billions of dollars to kidnap and kill Egyptians to maintain control. Oh, and pay some empty lip service to these words "democracy" and "human rights" to cover their ass when their puppet looks weak.

Chinese response to democratic revolution in Egypt: block the news so no Chinese are inspired by Egyptian bravery.

The Chinese government may not be a democracy, but they have far more legitimacy in China than we have in Egypt.
posted by notion at 6:05 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


US position: Bush and Obama both pushed Egypt to repeal its emergency law and hold free elections. Obama threatened to hold back aid bring the Internet was restored and demanded people be given their right to peaceably assemble.

Chinese Position: blocked access to the word Egypt on Internet search sites, blocked media coverage.


I wasn't aware the Chinese were funding the Mubarak regime to the tune of $1.2 billion per year. The Chinese might not be doing anything [positive] about it, but they aren't directly responsible for it either.
posted by xqwzts at 6:10 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Report from Tahrir Square that for the last five minutes or so the jets have stopped buzzing crowd.
posted by marsha56 at 6:18 AM on January 30, 2011


Chinese response to democratic revolution in Egypt: block the news so no Chinese are inspired by Egyptian bravery.

FAUX news response to democratic revolution in Egypt: distort the news so Americans don't get inspired by Egyptian bravery.
posted by Surfurrus at 6:40 AM on January 30, 2011


A Presidential helicopter is flying low over Tahrir Square and circling the crowd. It came around at least twice.

People now lying down on the ground and trying to spell something to the helicopter should it come back again.

These badass protesters aren't intimidated at all.
posted by raztaj at 6:45 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


There seems to be a shift in US position -- the US now calling for a "peaceful transition" and 'free and fair elections as an outcome of current events.'
posted by proj at 6:47 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Guardian quotes someone from Human Rights Watch in Tahrir Sq, says the crowd are cheering the jets. People chanting "we will not leave until he leaves" and "long live the crescent together with the cross."

But more importantly, five groups have backed calls for "national salvation govt". "Sensational political developments in Cairo, with reports that five opposition movements, including the key Muslim Brotherhood, have mandated Mohammed ElBaradei to negotiate over the formation of a temporary "national salvation government."
posted by Infinite Jest at 6:48 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Witness tells Al JAzeera: one army commander appeased protesters in Tahrir Square that army would not turn against them"
posted by taz at 6:49 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Via AJ: Report of someone within the army saying "we will not go against the people."
posted by raztaj at 6:49 AM on January 30, 2011


I've got a bad feeling in my stomach about what's going to happen in that square.
posted by angrycat at 7:10 AM on January 30, 2011


Walk Like an Egyptian” poster.
posted by joeclark at 7:11 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Infinite Jest's link is fascinating - Muslim Brotherhood taking a coalition stance, supporting El Baradei.
Osama Ghazlai Harb of the National Democrsatic Front told BBC Arabic that this would be a transitional administration that would oversee the cancellation of the emergency laws and the release of all political prisoners.

The powerful Muslim Brotherhood, which has kept a low profile so far, said it was backing the demand along with other four groups.
Wonder who the other three groups are - I hope this serves as a strong countermove to support what is happening in Tahrir Square.

I want Al Jazeera option on my cable. They give me Fox for free - I'd pay hugely to get AJ.
posted by catlet at 7:13 AM on January 30, 2011


Also from the Guardian blog: "Mohammed ElBaradei is planning to join the protest this afternoon, his wife just told the Guardian's Jack Shenker."
posted by catlet at 7:15 AM on January 30, 2011


The next update said that he's not going to join the protests after all.
posted by proj at 7:18 AM on January 30, 2011


I'd like to know what's going through the fighter pilots' minds.
posted by Anything at 7:19 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Brookings Institute: - Don't Fear Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (who have a breaking news page).
posted by adamvasco at 7:20 AM on January 30, 2011


I want Al Jazeera option on my cable. They give me Fox for free - I'd pay hugely to get AJ.

Seriously. Before now, I didn't really know much about AJ, and what I did hear about it was in the Bush-era context of fearing/hating anything that could even possibly be associated with Muslims. But its coverage has been fantastic. And I have not once yet felt like anyone on it has tried to prove themselves right by yelling louder.

When Obama gave his comments about the situation, and they then discussed it, I felt this refreshing, invigorating wave come over me... It took me a while to realize what caused this: an entire discuss about Obama and US policy without any mentions of 2012 elections, Sarah Palin, or approval polls.

They've got a really tough job right now, and, for many of their reporters, it is also a very dangerous job. But they're doing it, and they're doing it admirably.
posted by meese at 7:22 AM on January 30, 2011 [13 favorites]


um what, what? Mother Jones is saying: "But perhaps most important is the news (via Al Hurra, the US-backed Arab satellite channel/Al Jazeera rival) that the Army has arrested Habib Al Adly, the widely despised Interior Minister. (scroll all the way to the bottom)

I'm not seeing this elsewhere... ???????
posted by taz at 7:22 AM on January 30, 2011




Re: China - a consequence with China's overall aid to African countries is that Taiwan has lost diplomatic ties with Senegal, Chad and Malawi. I don't believe that was China's main goal but it's a convenient side "benefit".
posted by zix at 7:26 AM on January 30, 2011


> The America-bashing here is pretty predictable and trite. Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?

I don't understand your point. Because other powers are just as bad, we shouldn't criticize our own government? You prefer an attitude of cynical detachment?
posted by languagehat at 7:27 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'd like to know what's going through the fighter pilots' minds.

This is why solidarity and strength in numbers works so well, even in regimes like this. If it was just a few hundred, the pilot could dismiss orders to fire as, "Yeah, these troublemakers will get what's coming to them."

Since the crowds are so huge, even if he is against any change in the regime, he's got to be thinking: "I wonder if my brother is down there. I wonder if my friends are down there." And thanks to the loss of communications nationwide, it's probably very difficult to find that out.

I don't think the uncertainty introduced by eliminating mobile and internet access has been successful at all, from a Machiavellian point of view. If Mubarak is ousted, I hope the lesson is learned throughout the world is that cutting communication may quicken the revolution. That way, future revolutions can be more peaceful and rely more on sustained pressure.

I really think this revolution will set many benchmarks on how future reforms are handled. Egypt one of the most populous and culturally vital nations in the world, let alone in the Middle East, so the results there will overshadow Tunisia.
posted by notion at 7:30 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


From taz's link:

There were stories yesterday of a serious split between the civilian leadership in the Government and the military over whether to use live fire. And today it is notable that some have said el Adly was the Minister preparing the order to shoot.

Wow, if true, this is wonderful news.

Note: If not clear, Adly is the Interior Minister who has reportedly been arrested by the military.
posted by marsha56 at 7:33 AM on January 30, 2011


The images of the prayer (last one of the day?) are absolutely stunning.
posted by notion at 7:35 AM on January 30, 2011


Women of Egypt Facebook album.
posted by Dojie at 7:40 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Interesting thought on Op Ed News Egypt secures the Western border of Gaza. Israel will not be able to stop traffic there should Mubarak fall.
posted by adamvasco at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2011


thx, (arsenio). I like the sound of this tweet: "Jazeera: Army guards #Tahrir Square, let protesters go onto tanks and write "Mubarak Down" onto them"
posted by taz at 7:42 AM on January 30, 2011


ElBaradei changes his mind again. Joining the protest now.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:45 AM on January 30, 2011




I don't understand your point. Because other powers are just as bad, we shouldn't criticize our own government? You prefer an attitude of cynical detachment?
Q: [People] often attack you as a political commentator for focusing your criticism against the activities of the United States, and not so much against the old Soviet Union, or Vietnam, or Cuba. . . I'd like to know what you think about that kind of criticism?

A: . . . I focus my efforts against the terror and violence of my own state for really two main reasons. First of all, in my case the actions of my state happen to make up the main component of international violence in the world. But much more importantly than that, it's because American actions are the things that I can do something about. So even if the United States were causing only a tiny fraction of the repression and violence in the world. . . that tiny fraction would still be what I'm responsible for, and what I should focus my efforts against.

. . . Again, it's a very simple ethical point: you are responsible for the predictable consequences of your actions; you're not responsible for the predictable consequences of somebody else's actions.
I'll leave out who said that, because the idea is far more important than the messenger.
posted by notion at 7:47 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


Downer alert: there's updated conjecture in Kirjava's blog post that the two damaged mummies are Yuya and Tjuyu.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:50 AM on January 30, 2011


PS: I know it seems like I'm grinding an axe, but similarly, I think a serious discussion about democracy in the Ukraine requires discussing the influence of Russia.
posted by notion at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2011


Al Jazeera was just showing footage from Cairo. Huge crowd, chanting. I'm in tears, worried about what's going to happen tonight in Egypt.
posted by dejah420 at 7:59 AM on January 30, 2011


And the "meat" of politics in US news is utter shite, for the most part.
posted by symbioid a


They get it from Taco Bell.
posted by spitbull at 8:01 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


AlArabiya_Eng Elbaradei going to Cairo's Tahrir square to speak to protesters:#alarabiya #egypt #cairo #jan25 #jan28 #Internet
posted by madamjujujive at 8:02 AM on January 30, 2011


AJ also just said "to protect our reporters, we're not saying where they are...." and then went on with a called in report. Still showing live footage of the square.
posted by dejah420 at 8:02 AM on January 30, 2011


Al Jazeera and Reuters are reporting that Elbaradei is heading to Tahrir Square to join protesters.
posted by marsha56 at 8:03 AM on January 30, 2011


"Al Jazeera reports that there are massive protests in Alexandria, Mahalla, Mansoura, Suez, and Ismailia in addition to Cairo.

The channel confirms information that opposition groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the 6 April Movement, have endorsed Mohamed ElBaradei to lead the challenge to the Government. Its correspondent says ElBaradei will be joining the Tahrir Square protest within 30 minutes."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:09 AM on January 30, 2011


I am so scared for all of these people right now, but especially ElBaradei. It's like watching a powder keg.
posted by sugarfish at 8:10 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


NYT says "President Obama’s [Saturday] decision to stop short, at least for now, of calling for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation was driven by the administration’s concern that it could lose all leverage over the Egyptian president, and because it feared creating a power vacuum inside the country, according to administration officials involved in the debate."

This policy of steering for the middle ground is less risky in the very short term, but incredibly dangerous if a breakdown in command spreads from the security police to the military.

Obama's signals can only be read as encouraging Mubarak to retain power. The buzzing by air force jets is a sign the air force is still supporting Mubarak (as he was a top air force commander) and that the military is at least symbolically escalating pressure against the protesters. Evidently, the top leadership in the Army is still standing by Mubarak. These are bad signs and point to a crisis in which the critical issue will be if army units in the streets will follow orders to attack the protesters. It is becoming evident that the upper levels of the military are trying to retain Mubarak in power.

The constitutional route appears to be the speaker of parliament is the next in line should the president be unable to serve. I have not been able to find any discussion of this being considered by the national leadership.
posted by warbaby at 8:13 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Could the one-by-one loss of communication with AJE correspondents be any more ominous? Yikes.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:15 AM on January 30, 2011


US response to democratic movements in Egypt for thirty fucking years: pay Mubarak's regime tens of billions of dollars to kidnap and kill Egyptians to maintain control. Oh, and pay some empty lip service to these words "democracy" and "human rights" to cover their ass when their puppet looks weak.

We did not spend billions to kidnap and kill. We spent billions in compliance with our obligations under the Camp David accords. Mubarak's governmen has been an ally, not a puppet. We've done more than lip service, but there's are practical limits on what we can do. We need Suez open. We don't want another Egyptian-Israeli war. We needed help in Sudan, Libya and Chad. Egypt holds many cards, we hold very few. So we make the least shitty deal.
posted by humanfont at 8:19 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


ELBaradei is reportedly bringing his family with him to the square, where he will speak
posted by angrycat at 8:20 AM on January 30, 2011


Obama's signals can only be read as encouraging Mubarak to retain power.

Your concept of 'only' is strange. There are many reports that American policy makers have communicated directly and clearly to the current Egyptian government that no violence must be used against protesters. Also, the interpretation of the Americans' response of yesterday is already dated - every day does and should include a change in perspective and approach.

As of now it appears that Mubarak is not even remotely in control anymore. The two factions who will battle (hopefully not violently, but battle nonetheless) for control seem to be those represented by Suleiman and ElBaradei. The entrenched power and military establishment versus the entirety of the opposition forces in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood but all other groups, as well. Best case scenario, in my very limited understanding of the situation, is a joining of forces, the military and the opposition, perhaps symbolically kicking Mubarak out. What is needed more than a new leader is a strong government (even if not truly "democratic") that quickly establishes a political system, a national constitution, and sets a date for elections.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:22 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nick Baumann tweets: Follow @arabist who is in a building with a great view over Tahrir Square in Cairo.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:24 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


11:27 a.m. EST / 7:27 p.m. Cairo Mohamed ElBaraei has arrived in Tahrir Square and is expected to make a statement to the crowd soon. Al Jazeera reports that ElBaradei's statement will include a plea for the military to align itself with the protest movement.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 8:28 AM on January 30, 2011


AJ correspondent reporting breakdown in food supply to Cairo.
posted by catlet at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2011


Msalt, I hear what you're saying (I think) and should probably stay out of it, but maybe since everything we touch turns to shit, maybe it's time to stop touching things
posted by Redhush at 8:29 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


How would one go about compiling a list of businesses linked to Mubarak, the NDP, the central security forces and others in order to begin organizing boycotts if the repression continues?
posted by Anything at 8:31 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak and his apparatus control large swaths of the Egyptian economy, with some estimates being that the army control up to 50% of the domestic economy. Due to secrecy, however, we don't really know.
posted by proj at 8:36 AM on January 30, 2011


CBC's "Sunday Edition" had an excellent interview with Rashid Kalidi this morning. Prof. Kalidi wouldn't/couldn't predict how this would end, but made it clear that the regime is dying -- but whether that happens tonight or in another few years is unknown. American investment in this regime is, then, futile in the long run. The U.S. needs to foster a state which has a relationship to its neighbours as Turkey does -- clearly independent, and occasionally problematically so, but ultimately peaceful.

The only way for the Mubarak government to survive these protests is by killing lots of people, which makes the question if it can find enough people to fire on the crowds. Given the sheer sizes of the population, the army and the police, this is entirely possible, he said.

Podcast is hopefully up soon. Well worth a listen.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:42 AM on January 30, 2011


We did not spend billions to kidnap and kill.

So did the kidnapping and killing cost extra or did Mubarak throw it in on the house to sweeten the deal?
posted by Grangousier at 8:45 AM on January 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


Multiple Twitter reports that El Baradei has support of all opposition groups, incl Muslim Brotherhood; supposedly he will appeal to the military; reports say he has no mic, but media will be given priority access

Some rumors that he has been designated as interim president:
@muiz RT by @TheAtlantic: BREAKING: all opposition parties delegate Mohamed ElBaradei as Interim President - heading to Tahrir Sq now

I have an Egypt Twitter list compiled from various journalists and their contacts, if anyone is interested. It's pretty fast moving right now.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:55 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've been following this thread and Al Jazeera English with fascination the last couple days. The U.S. vs China Who is More Evil debate, not so much.
posted by marxchivist at 9:01 AM on January 30, 2011 [18 favorites]


What is needed more than a new leader is a strong government (even if not truly "democratic") ...

There's something about Americans saying that what an Islamic people need is a strong, even if not quite "democratic", government that gives me an "uh oh" feeling.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:03 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for operating in good faith, Joe, and leaving off the rest of the sentence. Great contribution to the thread.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:05 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


To further expand on my point. It would be impossible to have a true democracy in Egypt tomorrow, or in the next week, or the next month. How do you hold elections in a country without an established government? It would be impossible. Who are you electing? Representatives? Ministers? Governors? Mayors? For what district? What are the districts? To claim that the alternative is dictatorship or democracy is silly. What is needed is a trusted interim government - and of course that won't be an elected government. It must also be strong and able to provide security to citizens. But what the interim government must immediately do is establish a political system, a constitution, and begin the process of establishing a way for Egyptians to elect their political leaders.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:09 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


Languagehat: I don't understand your point. Because other powers are just as bad, we shouldn't criticize our own government? You prefer an attitude of cynical detachment?

I'm sorry to fuel a derail at such a critical moment, but, no. I am finding it hypocritical for people to say "America does so much crap around the world, and why haven't they fixed this yet?"

Being the world's policeman inevitably forces you into all sorts of realpolitik decisions, some which probably really did save many lives by backing dictators, many which pretend to do that but serve venal interests to no good end. I prefer an attitude of humble minding-our-own-goddamn business, plus as much advocacy of peace, democracy and human rights as we think we can afford (but without waving bombs and troops around while we do it.)

Or, as redhush said, maybe since everything we touch turns to shit, maybe it's time to stop touching things. Exactly!!
posted by msalt at 9:11 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good point, marxchivist, and a few others. You're right. I will leave the axe alone for the rest of this thread and focus on the news.

Democracy Now correspondant Sharif Abdel Kouddous has a page up and is on twitter.
At one point, a rumor spread through Tahrir Square that Mubarak had fled the country. A massive cheer rippled through the crowd. People began jumping up and down in joy. One man wept uncontrollably. When it turned out not to be true, the cheers quickly ended but it provided a brief glimpse of the sheer raw desire for Mubarak’s ouster. Reports now indicate that Mubarak’s two sons and his wife, Suzanne, have fled Egypt, as have some of his closest business cronies. Many people believe that is a sign that Hosni will not be far behind.
posted by notion at 9:13 AM on January 30, 2011




Great news about ElBaradei, thanks! That's what makes this thread so valuable. Also, see? Palindromes are very powerful.
posted by msalt at 9:15 AM on January 30, 2011


humanfont: "US position: Bush and Obama both pushed Egypt to repeal its emergency law and hold free elections. Obama threatened to hold back aid bring the Internet was restored and demanded people be given their right to peaceably assemble.

Chinese Position: blocked access to the word Egypt on Internet search sites, blocked media coverage.

Yet somehow America is the villain in your mind
"

You guys keep making it sound like it's a zero sum game. They can BOTH be bad guys. No-one is saying China is some great bringer of Democracy.
posted by symbioid at 9:17 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


spitbull: "And the "meat" of politics in US news is utter shite, for the most part.
posted by symbioid a


They get it from Taco Bell
"

Tread lightly my friend, this ex-Bell employee still has fond memories of his days of glory there.
posted by symbioid at 9:18 AM on January 30, 2011


languagehat: "> The America-bashing here is pretty predictable and trite. Remind me which major power (say, which country with a UN veto) has a more principled stand supporting democracy. France? Russia? Perhaps you like China's approach better?

I don't understand your point. Because other powers are just as bad, we shouldn't criticize our own government? You prefer an attitude of cynical detachment
"

I believe it's less "cynical detachment" and more "delusional idealism". If you're already "right" (apparently a very binary yes/no is how this all works) how can you be "more right"?
posted by symbioid at 9:26 AM on January 30, 2011




(props to notion for starting this fpp off with 6 paragraphs of context, even though it probably would have been a popular thread without it.)
posted by memebake at 9:29 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


People saying Baradei fainted or something and went home. People standing up and leaving disappointed. #Egypt

Strange.


Might just be a rumour. Al Jazeera has recent footage of him adressing the crowd with a megaphone. There'll be lots of people at the back who didn't hear or see him though, and are trying to guess whats going on, maybe?
posted by memebake at 9:35 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


nolanjazeera Don't worry jazeera is used to being shut down by govt's. We'll find a way to get this out to you #Egypt #Jan25 48 minutes ago
posted by M Edward at 9:38 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


What memebake said -- I'm watching ElBaradei right now on AJ's live feed
http://english.aljazeera.net/watch_now/
posted by msalt at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2011


Al Jazeera has recent footage of him adressing the crowd with a megaphone.

It seems to be a very short clip that they're looping. I wonder why they don't have more of his speech.
posted by zerbinetta at 9:39 AM on January 30, 2011


El Baradei has been speaking to the crowds in Tahrir, but with TV and radio still off, only the people standing in earshot can hear what is being said.

Feels strange to be sat on the outside, immersed in information that ordinary Egyptians are being denied. Really hits home the critical importance of maintaining a free press and free access to information. Without that, we too would be limited to ear-shot range and rumour.
posted by Acey at 9:41 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently, people are calling on social media for protests in Syria on #feb05. This Facebook page looks related, take it with a grain of salt for now as I can't read Arabic and I can't machine-translate it somehow.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:42 AM on January 30, 2011


Sidenote: When I go to Twitter and search, say #jan25 or #Tahrir Square, why aren't the tweets in reverse chronological order? I can't find a setting to make it so. I'm getting
1 hour ago
2 hours ago
25 minutes ago
4 hours ago
17 minutes ago
etc.
posted by msalt at 9:42 AM on January 30, 2011


NYT:

A possible successor — and a sign of how closely the military is intertwined with the ruling party — is Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief and a former general, who was sworn in as the new vice president. Mr. Suleiman is considered Mr. Mubarak’s closest confidant and a hard-liner, although Obama administration officials say they consider him someone they can work with. In meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, they say, he has shown substance and an ability to deliver on promises.
posted by Joe Beese at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2011


BBC Arabic: Martin Indyk former US Ambassador to Israel & Brookings VP says that it seems the US government is leaning to ElBaradei.

Would be interesting and make sense, if true. Points to a secular interim government that could hopefully appease both the military and opposition groups. If able to set up the process to democracy, would be wonderful for the people of Egypt. Curious to hear what kind of government others would like to see instead. I am but an American who wishes the best for the Egyptians, so take my comments with a grain of salt and snark away.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2011


Yeah, it is a short clip that AJ are showing, doesn't look like he said much. Although he does seem to be in the middle of a chaotic hunded-photographer moshpit, which might explain the brevity.
posted by memebake at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2011


You can see how handy a balcony and a PA system would be in this situation.
posted by memebake at 9:44 AM on January 30, 2011


Rumors that ElBaradei felt ill and left early seem to be true: 1735 GMT: An Al Jazeera reporter says Mohamed ElBaradei was not feeling well and had to leave Tahrir Square without giving a speech beyond his brief statement to an audience around him.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:47 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


msalt, I'm guessing you're getting "Top Tweets" at the top, that is recent tweets with lots of retweets. Below those are recent tweets in reverse-chronological order. Just a guess, but that is how Twitter search works for me, for popular queries at least.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:48 AM on January 30, 2011


Rumors that ElBaradei felt ill and left early seem to be true: 1735 GMT: An Al Jazeera reporter says Mohamed ElBaradei was not feeling well and had to leave Tahrir Square without giving a speech beyond his brief statement to an audience around him.

Was this AJ's first hand information or were they quoting Sharif Kouddos or someone else?
posted by Anything at 9:52 AM on January 30, 2011


BTW I probably owe the Metafilter server a nice cold beer by now.
posted by Anything at 9:58 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Rumors that ElBaradei felt ill and left early seem to be true

Huh, well thats a shame if its true. Might be the least well timed sickie ever.
posted by memebake at 9:59 AM on January 30, 2011


Certainly doesn't do a lot for an image of a strong opposition leader.
posted by proj at 10:00 AM on January 30, 2011


Re ElBaradei's speech, if you go to AJ's Live Blog, the most recent post to mention him was about an hour ago. (Below) No mention of illness, leaving. Live video report just now quoted him as saying "This regime must end, today", nothing about illness.

6:59pm ElBaradei is addressing the protesters with bold remarks:

You have taken back your rights and what we have begun cannot go back...We have one main demand -- the end of the regime and the beginning of a new stage, a new Egypt...I bow to the people of Egypt in respect. I ask of you patience, change is coming in the next few days...

posted by msalt at 10:03 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's been fairly continuous burning cars, buildings, and tear-gas in the area. I imagine it isn't easy on an anyone's lungs. Especially an elderly academic.
posted by Babblesort at 10:06 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I'll leave out who said that, because the idea is far more important than the messenger."

Please, if you are going to quote someone, then quote them. In any discussion (but especially a fast moving discussion like this one), I think we should all be as clear as possible. It just helps when trying to have a good faith discussion. No biggie tho :)
posted by rosswald at 10:09 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Asthma is also a HUGE problem in Egypt (though of course, I have not seen El B's medical record)
posted by rosswald at 10:14 AM on January 30, 2011


I don't see it mentioned yet, but the Egyptology blog has frequent updates on the museum and antiquities looting. Also this news via a archaeology listserv:

"Verified by Mohammad Megahed: Immense damages to Abusir and Saqqara, all magazines and tombs which were sealed were entered last night. Only Imhotep Museum and adjacent central magazines protected by the military. In Abusir all tombs opened. large gangs digging day and night everywhere"

The damage is *vast*.

It seems that some of the storage magazines at South Saqqara and Abusir have been looted-hard to say how much was taken and the extent of the robbing. SCA representatives are only today able to check on the museums/storage magazines, but early reports suggest major looting. If you all could please contact anyone who can help and put them on "high alert" for Old Kingdom remains and Egyptian antiquities in general, and please spread the word to law enforcement officials worldwide. Egyptian looters (who may be encouraged by outside Egypt entities) may try to use the general confusion to get things out of the country.

posted by Rumple at 10:14 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


rosswald: Please, if you are going to quote someone, then quote them.

I second notion's reasons for leaving the name off - it just would have been a distraction from the point he was trying to make. But, if you want a spoiler: Vg jnf pubzfxl, boivbhfyl.
posted by memebake at 10:18 AM on January 30, 2011


Salon:

Why is America so afraid? Because we are seeing a giant leap in Arab power, in which the people of the largest Arab nation demand that they be allowed to fulfill their potential. This change portends a huge shift in the balance of power in the region. ... Whatever government replaces the current one in Egypt, it will not serve American interests, which have been largely defined by Israel... The danger to America and Israel is that the Egyptian revolution will destroy this false choice of secular dictator-or-crazy Islamists by showing that Arabs are smart articulate people who can handle real democracy if they get to make it themselves.
posted by Joe Beese at 10:24 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


> I am finding it hypocritical for people to say "America does so much crap around the world, and why haven't they fixed this yet?"

Is anybody saying this?

I prefer an attitude of humble minding-our-own-goddamn business, plus as much advocacy of peace, democracy and human rights as we think we can afford (but without waving bombs and troops around while we do it.)

So do I.

> Please, if you are going to quote someone, then quote them. In any discussion (but especially a fast moving discussion like this one), I think we should all be as clear as possible.

It was Chomsky, and I think the decision to omit the name was the right one, because Chomsky is a tremendously polarizing person and the point should be the idea, not who said it. What was "unclear" about the comment as it stood?
posted by languagehat at 10:26 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


From today's protests in Tahrir Sq -- the Egyptian military seems pretty ok with anti-Mubarak graffiti on their tanks. I so hope they don't turn on their people, from this sweetness; according to the photographer, the little girl was shouting "Freedom! Freedom!"
posted by raztaj at 10:28 AM on January 30, 2011


Not trying to derail, but we are all here trying to have a conversation. If I wanted to reply directly to notion's comment, having the name of the quote (to give it context) would be important (at least for me crafting my response). I get yalls reasoning, but it smacks of paternalism to me. If you can't attach the name to the quote, then find another quote.

Also, its nice like Chomsky hasn't comeup nine times in this and the other thread.
posted by rosswald at 10:30 AM on January 30, 2011


not like
posted by rosswald at 10:30 AM on January 30, 2011


Take it to Meta, quit derailing the thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:40 AM on January 30, 2011 [7 favorites]


The New Yorker:
... since 1993 Suleiman has headed the feared Egyptian general intelligence service. In that capacity, he was the C.I.A.’s point man in Egypt for renditions—the covert program in which the C.I.A. snatched terror suspects from around the world and returned them to Egypt and elsewhere for interrogation, often under brutal circumstances.

... Edward S. Walker, Jr., a former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt, described Suleiman as “very bright, very realistic,” adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to “some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way.”
posted by Joe Beese at 10:43 AM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


If ElBaradei did get ill and leave, and Al-Jazeera and the other reporters are holding off from mentioning it because its a bit of a downer, then thats a bad sign.
posted by memebake at 10:43 AM on January 30, 2011


BBC reporting that the police have redeployed in Cairo. Guardian saying that a tank has joined a protest in Alexandria.
posted by proj at 10:46 AM on January 30, 2011


I'm sorry, I read through your comment carefully and just couldn't find your answer to my question. What did you say was the major power with a better record?

msalt, I mentioned my ex-brother-in-law's comments earlier (concerning how he's seen the Chinese go about their mining business in distant lands, and how, to his mind they behaved better than Americans, and Canadians). So, currently, in two places at least, in pursuit of external affairs, it seems that the Chinese have the better record.

Historically, I think you're right. Of all the major empires (and wannabe empires) that we've seen, America, for all its transgressions, is probably the most benevolent. But right now, maybe not.

Also worth noting, the William Burroughs quote I dropped a while back. It seems that maybe America's approach is to treat its own people comparatively well while making a mess of things abroad, while China chooses an opposite approach. Does this make one better or worse than the other, or just different?
posted by philip-random at 10:48 AM on January 30, 2011


I don't get what the appeal of being a dictator is, honestly. Why not just resign and take your money and retire? Why be evil?
posted by empath at 10:51 AM on January 30, 2011


languagehat: Is anybody saying this? ["America does so much crap around the world, and why haven't they fixed this yet?"]

Yes, repeatedly.
knapah, 4 hours ago: "They may have 'pushed' [Egypt to lift emergency rule], but didn't actually DO anything."
Warbaby, 2 hours ago: Obama's signals ["steering for the middle ground] can only be read as encouraging Mubarak to retain power."
dhartung, at midnight: Tell me, on which will we be judged -- by what we say, or what we do? What have we done for Egyptian democracy and human rights during Mubarak's regime? Details, please.
etc. etc.
posted by msalt at 10:53 AM on January 30, 2011


I don't get what the appeal of being a dictator is, honestly.

I think it has to be the power. You'll notice that any dictator sets up their entire family (in many cases widely extended family) and friends with positions of influence, power and wealth. That has to be a hard thing to give up.
posted by davey_darling at 10:55 AM on January 30, 2011


Not to mention it's never clear if you'll be tried or killed when you leave. The idea that you can wait it out is a powerful one.
posted by proj at 10:56 AM on January 30, 2011


phillip-random: interesting points. well-taken. It's an interesting discussion (I used to live in China) but I don't want to keep derailing. Memail? Maybe another thread?
posted by msalt at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2011


Good roundtable discussion at Foreign Policy. Consensus is Mubarak's toast and the US is very much behind the curve on events.

ElBaradei made it clear that the Mubarak regime is not going to be allowed to dictate the transition. Furthermore, some opposition members, specifically one from the Muslim Brotherhood, have explicitly called for the complete exclusion of the NDP from any national unity government.

This suggests the resolution will not be a negotiated gradual transition, but will be a complete rupture. When and how this will happen is not at all clear, nor is a more orderly transition impossible, just not possible if the only players are the Mubarak regime and the disenfranchised opposition. A constitutional transition is difficult to imagine, since the NDP totally controls the legal government.
posted by warbaby at 11:00 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm quite curious as to what is going on with El Baradei behind the scenes. Earlier his wife told the Guardian he would be speaking in Tahrir Square, then retracted that, saying he would not be speaking, and then finally said that he would again.

I wonder if anyone is pressurising him behind the scenes to take a more central role in this than he is perhaps comfortable with.
posted by knapah at 11:04 AM on January 30, 2011


ElBaradei urges US to abandon Mubarak
posted by msalt at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2011


msalt, I mentioned my ex-brother-in-law's comments earlier (concerning how he's seen the Chinese go about their mining business in distant lands, and how, to his mind they behaved better than Americans, and Canadians). So, currently, in two places at least, in pursuit of external affairs, it seems that the Chinese have the better record.

Citing an ex-brother in laws anecdotal observations is not very convincing. Take a look at Myanmar and consider if the Chinese mining companies are doing a good job there.
posted by humanfont at 11:07 AM on January 30, 2011


Can we move the discussion of which countries are the most evil to another tread, and reserve this for news of events on the ground in Egypt? The China/America/etc. discussion is really a side discussion.
posted by antinomia at 11:13 AM on January 30, 2011 [16 favorites]


Seriously. Take this shit elsewhere.
posted by proj at 11:13 AM on January 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


humanfront, I take your point and don't personally have a strong opinion one way or the other as to which is the better empire; just felt that some doubt as to America's "betterness" is not necessarily a bad thing.

Beyond this, I'm with msalt. This thread is not the place to pursue this potentially loaded conversation.
posted by philip-random at 11:14 AM on January 30, 2011


on preview - I apologize. The Egyptian people are my faves right now.
posted by philip-random at 11:15 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The latest I've heard is that the embassy is arranging charter flights for us citizens and residents. My brother's friend at Egypt air says that the airport and the flight he and his family have booked for tomorrow should be fine, insh'allah.
posted by stet at 11:15 AM on January 30, 2011


Via Twitter, so I can't verify provenance, but it is funny: Which one is Egypt again?
posted by cmyk at 11:16 AM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


This Mubarak apologist is unbelievable, "millions supports the President" Anchor, "So where are they then?" "They don't need to protest, they support the President".

Sounds like the anti-Iraq war marches aftermath. "One million people marched in London against this war" Govt: "Well, 59 million didn't, hah!"
posted by knapah at 11:17 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


When discussing the role of "the military" in Egypt, one should consider that it isn't a monolith. Right now, what we probably have is a number of individual commanders mostly hedging their bets and trying their utmost to prevent the sort of violent confrontation between protesters and government which would force them to choose sides in what could easily turn into a civil war. They know that, if ordered to shoot against the protesters, the conscripts may easily turn their guns against their COs, and they also know that, if they join the insurrection, they may run against a loyalist barracks next door. So they're probably procrastinating, asking the protectors to keep their calm, while dropping subtle hints to Mubarak to fuck off, or else...
Add to this the fact that the communications shutdown is affecting everybody, loyalists and neutrals just as much as the protesters, and you have a recipe for unpredictable chaos...
posted by Skeptic at 11:25 AM on January 30, 2011 [5 favorites]


New images from the chaos in Alexandria on AJ live feed.
posted by dejah420 at 11:28 AM on January 30, 2011


This Mubarak apologist is unbelievable, "millions supports the President" Anchor, "So where are they then?" "They don't need to protest, they support the President".

Sounds like the anti-Iraq war marches aftermath. "One million people marched in London against this war" Govt: "Well, 59 million didn't, hah!"


Or Nixon's "silent majority."
posted by nevercalm at 11:30 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]




Hillary Clinton via NYT: calls for orderly transition. Stopped short of asking President Hosni Mubarak to resign, but laid the groundwork for his departure.
posted by msalt at 11:43 AM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Inifnite Jest already posted the fact that the Guardian is going through the latest batch of Egypt-related Wikileaks cables, of which one posting of particular note is that the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten has also released several cables, but...man, some of the content is really, really repugnant on the part of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), and I wanted to quote some choice extracts.

09CAIRO1468, "NDP INSIDER: MILITARY WILL ENSURE TRANSFER OF POWER", 30th July 2009:
Widespread politically-motivated unrest, he said, was not likely because it was not part of the "Egyptian mentality." Threats to daily survival, not politics, were the only thing to bring Egyptians to the streets en masse. [NDP insider and former minister Dr. Ali El Deen Hilal] Dessouki said the NDP focus on economic reform would continue up to the elections and after any transition of power. He added that Egypt was moving towards democracy, but that a transition from a "pharoanic" political system would take a long time.
That quote just...really gets me going. What a patronising prick.

10CAIRO213, "SUBJECT: ACTIVIST URGES U.S DIPLOMATIC APPROACH TO THE GOE ON TORTURE", 17th February 2010:
5. (C) According to XXXXXXXXXXXX, the worst police torture takes place during murder investigations. He said that his brother-in-law who is a police officer in the Delta Governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh described "unrelenting pressure" from superiors to solve murder cases by any means necessary. XXXXXXXXXXX said human rights lawyers and XXXXXXXXXXXX have told him that to conduct murder investigations, police will round up 40 to 50 suspects from a neighborhood and hang them by their arms from the ceiling for weeks until someone confesses.


I don't want to keep copy/pasting cables interspersed with outrage, I'm sure everyone else is capable of reading about the utter moral bankruptcy of the Egyptian NDP and its repressive appendages. I certainly hope there's no "gradual transition" as the US State Department is hoping for; tear all of them out. Hosni Mubarak is just the tin-pot dictator at the top of an equally corrupt party.
posted by asymptotic at 11:54 AM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Stopped short of asking President Hosni Mubarak to resign, but laid the groundwork for his departure.

Which is, you know, pretty much exactly what America (or any other country) should do. This is Egypt's moment. Don't get in their way. Do allow it to happen in as positive a manner as possible.
posted by philip-random at 11:55 AM on January 30, 2011


Hillary Clinton via NYT: calls for orderly transition. Stopped short of asking President Hosni Mubarak to resign, but laid the groundwork for his departure.

William Easterly:

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced today a new US government position on Egypt, calling for a ‘transition to a democratic regime.’ This was also the old US government position on Egypt.

posted by Joe Beese at 11:59 AM on January 30, 2011


The arabist has an amazing flickr stream.
posted by dejah420 at 12:09 PM on January 30, 2011


Syrian journalist Danny Ramadan in Cairo posting some great photos on his twitter stream.
posted by taz at 12:12 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tweets of global support for Egypt and Egyptians flooding in to Mona Eltahawy; many like this one "The People of USA are with the People of #Egypt #Jan25. Pay no mind to US govt/media."
posted by taz at 12:27 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The military fly-by with jets could be a two fold message. The air force has not been discussed (here) and will take a quiet yet decisive roll in these events. Jets drown out noise and scare but they also serve as a symbol to those in power who wish to grind away the military in needless civil war. They also can serve a rallying cry. The presidential helicopter was flying? Could be bait for heavy weapons. IMO the Egyptian people have thought a lot of this protest through. They CANNOT incur the wraith of the army and having the military “fold in “ with the protest will not happen. Mubarak must know he cannot regain his leadership without some sort of plan that includes mass repression. It will not stand. This is a waiting game. Infrastructure, supply line disruption., fatigue will all play for the military. The Prisoner escape was the thing that bothered me. IMO, this will play out in 72 hours. If Hosni gets freaked out and wants to stay, he might rush a few brigades to the Suez.
The best case is have him address the people and bow out.
posted by clavdivs at 12:40 PM on January 30, 2011


Via Twitter, so I can't verify provenance, but it is funny: Which one is Egypt again?

cmyk, MediaMatters wrote about that FoxNews map with Egypt in the wrong place in July 2009.
posted by mediareport at 12:45 PM on January 30, 2011


NY Times: A possible successor — and a sign of how closely the military is intertwined with the ruling party — is Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief and a former general, who was sworn in as the new vice president. Mr. Suleiman is considered Mr. Mubarak’s closest confidant and a hard-liner, although Obama administration officials say they consider him someone they can work with. In meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, they say, he has shown substance and an ability to deliver on promises.

Sharif Kouddous: Omar Suleiman ran #Egypt's US-backed torture program. He is unacceptable. [...] Chanting against Omar Suleiman and Ahmed Shafik calling them collaborators with US.

Ah, realpolitik.
posted by scody at 12:46 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


(and by that of course I meant it's the US engaging in its usual realpolitik, not the protesters. "The Egyptians want someone new in charge? Fine. What about the head of the torture program? He's always played ball with us!")
posted by scody at 12:58 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


(and by that of course I meant it's the US engaging in its usual realpolitik, not the protesters. "The Egyptians want someone new in charge? Fine. What about the head of the torture program? He's always played ball with us!")

Diplomacy: taking the "real" out of "realpolitik" at least since Caius Varus.
posted by Skeptic at 1:20 PM on January 30, 2011


I'm guessing you're getting "Top Tweets" at the top, that is recent tweets with lots of retweets. Below those are recent tweets in reverse-chronological order. Just a guess, but that is how Twitter search works for me, for popular queries at least.

No, I know about that. And Al Jazeera presumably is paying for their top listing.
This is randomness further down. It looks like, hmm, 60-70% are reverse chron but many from hours or even days ago are inserted among them. I though Twitter was simply reverse-chron by nature. Anyone else see this? Is there some setting I can tweak?
posted by msalt at 1:34 PM on January 30, 2011


The NYT's Nick Kristof is tweeting from Tahrir


Sample: "Fabulous, giddy mood at Tahrir. Love the campfires. But 1 troubling thought: Tiananmen was the same before the shooting."
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:35 PM on January 30, 2011


yes, Varus was a friend of Caeser, so was his son.
posted by clavdivs at 1:44 PM on January 30, 2011


Also from Nick Kristoff: "Interviewed many folks at Tahrir. They see US as still supporting Mubarak. They plead for US to remove that support."
posted by scody at 1:45 PM on January 30, 2011


Maybe we can help the Egyptians by pressing our politicians to call for Mubarek's resignation.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:50 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Egyptian people are fighting, not only to end the 30-year reign of dictator Mubarak, but for democracy. So far, our government has continued its de facto support for the Mubarak regime by paying lip service to the need for "reform" at the same time that it lauds Mubarak as an ally and source of "stability" in the Middle East. President Obama and his spokespeople have carefully avoided the fundamental issue. The Egyptian people are not asking their government to reform itself. They are demanding an end to the entire autocratic and kleptocratic regime they have endured for even longer than Mubarak’s rule. [emphasis mine] They want democracy.

...So far, President Obama has spoken out for free expression in Egypt and has called for restraint by both sides – as though an unarmed populace, demanding democracy, were the physical or moral equivalent of a brutal state security apparatus. But our president has remained silent about the demonstrators’ goal: a democratic Egypt. In his June 2009 Cairo speech, when nothing was immediately at stake, President Obama uttered eloquent words of support for democracy. If he spoke out forcefully in support of the Egyptian people, as he did for the Tunisian people in his State of the Union address, he could tip events in a direction that would earn America the gratitude of the Egyptian people.

This would go far to undoing the damage to America’s standing in the Arab and Muslim world created by the catastrophically wrong-headed foreign policies of the George W. Bush era. It would also do more to undermine al-Qaeda’s international campaign of hatred and terrorism than has been achieved by two wars and over a trillion dollars in military spending.
Personally, I don't know if it would actually go far in undoing the damage, but at least it would be one step in the right fucking direction.
posted by scody at 1:53 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


(I have started a MetaTalk for all of the USA vs China vs Democracy ideas. I wish I could participate more substantially, but I have work to finish... the gist is to keep this thread about Egypt now, and not about American foreign policy then, especially when it's not in Egypt.)
posted by notion at 1:55 PM on January 30, 2011 [4 favorites]


We did not spend billions to kidnap and kill. We spent billions in compliance with our obligations under the Camp David accords.

I can't believe this point has not been made more often and as forcefully. We aren't throwing money at Egypt for no reason or because Mubarak is "our dictator" in the way that we've done at times in the past. The USA negotated and signed "side-letters" of agreement with both Israel and Egypt in order to bring relative peace to a region which had seen war after war after war between Israel and her neighbors. One of the things the US agreed to in order to secure that agreement was yearly aid to both Israel and Egypt.

You know what evil dictator-backing scumbag signed this for the USA? Was it Bush? Nixon? No, it was that well-known friend of tyranny and Metafilter favorite, Jimmy Carter. The money we pay to Egypt is a result of a treaty witnessed and agreed to by Jimmy Carter in order to stop recurring wars in the region. There were a bunch of Nobel Peace Prizes associated with this agreement, and it was widely hailed as a triumph.

Perhaps the Camp David Accords have outlived their usefulness. Maybe peace would be maintained in the absence of the aid Jimmy Carter agreed to. I'm not sure. But that's a reasonable discussion. But the sheer fuckin' ignorance being spouted in this thread about the USA's aid to Egypt is astounding.
posted by Justinian at 2:00 PM on January 30, 2011 [18 favorites]


msalt, tweets out of order are most likely "retweets" (using the Official Retweet Button) which appear in the order they were retweeted, but still have the original timestamp attached. Which is why I don't usually use the Official Retweet button myself.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2011


Justinian: The Camp David Accords were signed before Mubarak took power. Sadat may have been worse then Mubarak, but you can't say that somehow our agreement was with Mubarak directly, initially. But, we've continued to support him for years.

Of course, could we have gotten out of those agreements, or used them as leverage to get better civil rights in the country? Did we go over and above what was required in order to keep things copacetic with Mubarak? Who knows.

But realistically, having these cozy relationships with dictators is a recipe for disaster, since local populations will hate us.
posted by delmoi at 2:09 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Perhaps the Camp David Accords have outlived their usefulness.
They certainly long outlived the Egyptian ruler who signed them, Anwar Sadat. And the legitimacy of succession on the Egyptian side is somewhat less than on the constitutionally-democratic Israeli side. But then, I suspect America's believers in "realpolitik" don't like democracy that much, seeing how it can cause changes in leadership we have no control over while keeping our obligations intact, and may even point to Israel as a troublesome example.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:11 PM on January 30, 2011


Agreed enough on US and Egyptian relations. We can't change the past the only thing that matters is what we do going forward. On a separate sidebar. Will the Egyptian and Tunisian protests spread back to Europe. Greece, Italy, Ireland France and the UK. I believe there is an emerging global middle class student. These students cross national boundaries and talk over facebook and twitter. Everywhere these students are under preessure from austerity programs and cutbacks. They are unemployed and angry. Are we about to seer something like 89 when the wall fell and every communist regime and many others simply collapsed? What of the United States. Is this the year of the tea party counter revolution?
posted by humanfont at 2:12 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that any future moanings by MeFites about the inanity of twitter shall have this thread rubbed in their faces
posted by danny the boy at 2:13 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mubarak has ordered his new PM to control inflation, keep subsidies and cut prices.

So, hey everybody, if that doesn't happen, you know who to blame. We cool now?
posted by Capt. Renault at 2:19 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


It occurs to me that any future moanings by MeFites about the inanity of twitter shall have this thread rubbed in their faces

how dare you expect us to learn from things. this is the internets.
posted by elizardbits at 2:24 PM on January 30, 2011


I believe there is an emerging global middle class student. These students cross national boundaries and talk over facebook and twitter. Everywhere these students are under pressure from austerity programs and cutbacks. They are unemployed and angry.

humanfront, I think you are right about this.
posted by Leta at 2:28 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Maybe we can help the Egyptians by pressing our politicians to call for Mubarek's resignation.

Actually, this is in fact an excellent opportunity for some Track II foreign policy, where members of Congress make noises in support of a democratic transition, while not actually stepping on administration requirements for careful and incremental nudges to policy.

The money we pay to Egypt is a result of a treaty

Actually, I don't believe the accords or the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty specify any aid at all. It is, however, widely understood that US aid was a quid pro quo here.

Anyway, waxing poetic about the nobility of this effort sort of falls flat when you consider that for all the peace it bought Israel, the Egyptian people paid the price of living under a subsidized despot. That's the point where foreign policy Realism (realpolitik) starts to resemble ends-justifying-the-means morality. Sure, we created the perfect Socialist state, the kulaks were just in the way, right? If we get blowback for this, no matter how good our intentions were, and no matter how well this served our interests at the time, we damned well deserve it. We are, in fact, completely concerned this very moment at what the public will of the Egyptian people is going to be toward the Accords and Treaty, which are the lynchpin of most of our foreign policy in the region. Guess what? They don't care that we did it for Israel. It is, in fact, a bug rather than a feature. That billion dollars we shovel their way every year -- ten dollars from every household in America -- they don't see it; it goes to the security state that tortured their cousin, and flows into the kleptocracy that keeps 1/3 of the adult male population jobless. Finally, adding injury to insult, the other side of that aid coin goes to a regime viewed by the Arab public as criminal and an even greater human rights violator in the occupied territories.

Do you really, honestly, think you can look an Egyptian-on-the-street in the eye and tell them, "Gosh, it was the right thing to do at the time"? That's like going to the father of the daughter you ran over in the road and telling him "It's a sweet little machine and I got a great deal on it. What can I say?"

The realpolitik of this moment demands that we recognize the grievances of the Egyptian people and start asking them to not be mad at us for what we've done, because, well, not for any of the hypocritical bullshit that they'll spit on the ground when we start with it, but because maybe now a civilian-run democratic government can start spending some of that US money on improving the lot of the average Egyptian. Somehow, we've got to get their democratic interests aligned with ours, by open and transparent bribery if possible.

I can't imagine starting over in the region from scratch. Can you?
posted by dhartung at 2:32 PM on January 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


I believe there is an emerging global middle class student.

Middle class students have protests, not revolutions.

The student demonstrations in the UK and France are a reaction to cuts by the democratic governments of those countries. Those cuts are indication of the students' weakness, not strength.

Are we about to seer something like 89 when the wall fell and every communist regime and many others simply collapsed?

You mean by angry students in "Greece, Italy, Ireland France and the UK?" Uh, no.

What of the United States. Is this the year of the tea party counter revolution?

I'm not even sure what this means.
posted by ryanrs at 2:43 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sorry if I missed this upthread: Libya issues state of emergency.
posted by scody at 2:55 PM on January 30, 2011


Is this the year of the tea party counter revolution?

That reminds me, have the Tea Party or Sarah Palin got anything to say about this extremely complicated geopolitical issue with a half-century of history behind it and a direct bearing on the freedom and security of millions of people?
posted by memebake at 2:59 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe there is an emerging global middle class student. These students cross national boundaries and talk over facebook and twitter. Everywhere these students are under pressure from austerity programs and cutbacks. They are unemployed and angry.

Whoa there, Nelly. In no ways is the current situation in Egypt like that. These people are attempting a full-scale revolution, a total change of not only the people in government, but the nature of the government itself. Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, and the UK are all democracies. They have mechanisms in place, and however imperfect they may be, a revolution would not make them better. There are protests about student rates, but that's to convince the powers that be to shift policy. The are not trying to remove the powers that be directly.

If there's any "It could spread!" possibility, it's much more likely in the other despotic regimes where the whole population (not just middle class students) is unhappy: Yemen, Jordan, Syria, etc. China would be a long shot, of course, but even they are frightened about it spreading (and thus are keeping information about Egypt locked down).

So, no, student protests about rates and governmental policy are a far cry away from an honest-to-God revolution.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 3:03 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


It occurs to me that any future moanings by MeFites about the inanity of twitter shall have this thread rubbed in their faces

They're only following following the lead of America's Most Trusted Pseudo-Journalist.
posted by oneswellfoop at 3:07 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Saying that the Camp David accords were signed with Sadat, not Mubarak, seems a bit nit-picky since Sadat was assassinated for joining our peace efforts and signing that accord. We'd have been pretty big assholes to renege based on that excuse.
posted by msalt at 3:07 PM on January 30, 2011


That reminds me, have the Tea Party or Sarah Palin got anything to say about this extremely complicated geopolitical issue with a half-century of history behind it and a direct bearing on the freedom and security of millions of people?

Those lovers of liberty at Christwire are pondering that very question:
On message boards, social networking sites and the web pages of leftwing groups across the nation, young Americans are voicing interest in similar riots taking place on our very soil. Socialists, liberals and eco-terrorists are fully behind the violence in Egypt. Their talk of a coup d’etat in the U.S. is dangerous, possibly treasonous, and threatens our greatest traditions of moral primacy.

This dilemma does have a silver lining, however. It offers Sarah Palin an incredible opportunity. Stung after the events in Tucson, where leftwing activists tried to blame her for the acts of a mentally disturbed occultist, she could rise to the occasion and show off her credentials on the international stage. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been slow to discuss what is happening in Egypt. In truth, they are playing a sickening balancing act of recalcitrant diplomacy, ultimately toying with the safety and future of the United States in ways they do not seem to appreciate.

Governor Palin needs to speak out publicly and forcibly for an American-led invasion to protect our interests in North Africa. As the largest recipient of foreign aid next to Israel, the United States has a tremendous investment in keeping Egypt stable and relatively terrorist-free.
Of course, this presumes that Palin and the Tea Party aren't getting geography lessons from Fox.
posted by scody at 3:13 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Other Egypt-related Wikileaks cables have been mentioned, but two more, summarizing Feb 2010 meetings between John Kerry and the Prime Minister and Amir of Qatar, are worth a look. They present Qatar's view that the position of Egypt in the Palestinian/Israeli negotiations isn't essential at all, and that in fact Egypt "has no end game" and only wants to keep negotiations alive as long as possible to keep the US interested in Mubarak:

According to [the prime minister], Egypt -- the broker -- has a vested interest in dragging out the talks for as long as possible. Egypt "has no end game; serving as broker of the talks is Egypt's only business interest with the U.S." HBJ likened the situation to a physician who has only one patient to treat in the hospital. If that is your only business, "the physician is going to keep the patient alive but in the hospital for as long as possible."

...Returning to his theme that "peace brokers" act in their own self-interest, HBJ observed that President Mubarak of Egypt is thinking about how his son can take his place and how to stave off the growing strength of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian government, said HBJ, has jailed 10,000 Muslim Brotherhood members without bringing court cases against them. The Egyptian "people blame America" now for their plight. The shift in mood on the ground is "mostly because of Mubarak and his close ties" to the United States. His only utility to the U.S. is brokering peace between Palestinians and Israelis, so he has no interest in taking himself out of the one game he has, underscored HBJ...


And from the meeting with the Amir:

The Egyptians have not delivered, said Senator Kerry. The Amir said the Egyptians' goal is to stay in the game and maintain their relationship with the U.S., which is built around brokering Middle East peace, for as long as possible.

Can't know how much in the cables is spin or Qatar jockeying for position, but it's still interesting stuff.
posted by mediareport at 3:16 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


scody, that Fox map is a year and a half old.
posted by mediareport at 3:17 PM on January 30, 2011


> We'd have been pretty big assholes to renege based on that excuse.

And we would be pretty big assholes to continue supporting Mubarak based on that excuse.
posted by languagehat at 3:19 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I realize that. My point was to retain its utility as a punchline, given the relationship between Fox, Palin, and her rather well-known grasp (or lack thereof) of geography.
posted by scody at 3:21 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Governor Palin needs to speak out publicly and forcibly for an American-led invasion to protect our interests in North Africa.

No desert until you clean your plate.
posted by Capt. Renault at 3:22 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks scody ... I .... I think I wish I hadn't asked now.
posted by memebake at 3:25 PM on January 30, 2011


I think I wish I hadn't asked now.

I don't know whether it's likely to cheer you up or make you feel worse to know that the author of that brilliant foreign relations think piece bills himself as "an Investigative Journalist, Motivational Children's Party Entertainer and Antique Soda Bottle Collector all in one special, blessed package!"

posted by scody at 3:31 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mindblowing idiocy from scody's link:
Do we truly need another 84 million enemies of Christianity? Sarah Palin can head off this possibility in Egypt if she moves swiftly.

Ah yes, because invading Middle Eastern countries normally goes so well...
posted by knapah at 3:34 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


And we would be pretty big assholes to continue supporting Mubarak based on that excuse.

Not so clear cut to me. If we make a peace deal with a nation, and a vicious dictator assumes power but abides by our deal, are we justified in saying "No, you violated unrelated human rights standards, so we're not bound by the deal any more?"

Since the U.S. government alternates between arguably very different parties every 8 years or so, I'm not sure we want to establish this precedent. I hated Bush's torture policies as much as anyone. I sure wouldn't have wanted our various peace treaties to be disavowed because of that. Peace is a pretty big human rights issue to, with the now blowing people up and such.
posted by msalt at 3:35 PM on January 30, 2011


Christwire is a satirical site.
posted by BeerFilter at 3:37 PM on January 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


arggh! NOT blowing people up and such
posted by msalt at 3:38 PM on January 30, 2011


Christwire is a satirical site.

HAH! They're eerily good, then. Consider me with some blessed egg on my face, also.
posted by scody at 3:40 PM on January 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


If we make a peace deal with a nation, and a vicious dictator assumes power but abides by our deal, are we justified in saying [..]

That's beside the point. The real question was, "Do we want to maintain peace between Egypt and Israel Y/N?"
posted by ryanrs at 3:40 PM on January 30, 2011


Christwire is a satirical site.

Hah, sign of good satire is believability. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that stuff from some sections of the US far right.

Satire 1, me 0.
posted by knapah at 3:41 PM on January 30, 2011


The real question was, "Do we want to maintain peace between Egypt and Israel Y/N?"

Is there debate on this point?
posted by msalt at 3:42 PM on January 30, 2011


Christwire is a satirical site.

The sad thing is when satire is indiscernible from sincerity.
posted by manguero at 3:45 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why the hell are people talking about these treaties as if they're personal obligations of the dudes holding the pens? Those men aren't party to the treaty. They sign on behalf of their respective countries.
posted by ryanrs at 3:46 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


http://www.accuracy.org/an-open-letter-to-president-barack-obama/
posted by dejah420 at 3:49 PM on January 30, 2011 [2 favorites]



Someone is having fun. These are adjacent headlines in Slate right now:

# Change Is Good
The stability we have embraced and encouraged in the Arab world isn't really stability—it's repression
Anne Applebaum | Jan. 30, 2011

# "Ukraine Has Never Had a More Stable Situation Than It Has Today"
An interview with President Viktor Yanukovych.

Lally Weymouth | Jan. 28, 2011
posted by Joe in Australia at 3:56 PM on January 30, 2011 [