Egypt news live updates: Sixth day of unrest
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The sixth day of protests drew to a close as midnight arrived in Cairo. In Tahrir Square, protesters defiantly sat around campfires, disregarding the curfew set by President Hosni Mubarak. Around the country, people defended their neighborhood with civilian vigilante groups. During the day, Mubarak met with military leaders and his newly appointed vice president. An opposition group formed, with Mohamed ElBaradei as the spokesman. The death toll topped 100 people, though no real figure can be determined, given the confusion in the country.
We'll wrap up again for the night now, but we'll be back tomorrow. Here's a Google map we've made of the locations of reported protests. Let us know if there are any we missed (you can email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org). Thanks and good night.
View Protests in Egypt in a larger map
Liz Sly reports from Baghdad: "Activists on Twitter are furiously tweeting the dates of the next putative uprisings: Sudan on Jan. 30, Yemen on Feb. 3, Syria on Feb. 5 and Algeria on Feb. 12. 'Arab Revolution Timetable,' say the tweets hurtling among the region's new generation of cyberspace revolutionaries."
Ayman Nour, an Egyptian politician and leader of the al-Ghad Party, told Al Jazeera that he and his allies have met and agreed to nominate Mohamed ElBaradei as the representative of the movement against Hosni Mubarak. Nour has been a long-time opponent of Mubarak, challenging him in the 2005 presidential election. Shortly after the election, Nour was jailed for three years on what some saw as trumped up charges. He said that the group would only negotiate with the army, not with Mubarak.
Sultan Al Qassemi, a columnist for the UAE-based newspaper The National, tweeted a series of quotes from Ayman Nour, in which Nour refers to the newly-formed group of opposition leaders as the "People's Popular Parliament."
Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas, who has been subject to harassment and arrest for his documentation of police brutality in Egypt, has posted several new videos on his YouTube account documenting the protests.
Scenes capture Army tanks rolling through Cairo and burnt-out vehicles lining the street leading to the Ministry of the Interior, Mubarak's security apparatus.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo says it is arranging to begin flying Americans out of Egypt on Monday, the Associated Press reports. The announcement Sunday evening comes hours after the embassy issued a travel advisory, urging Americans in Egypt to consider leaving as soon as possible.
#Egypt: We are making arrangements to provide transportation for U.S. citizens to safehaven locations in Europe.
#Egypt: Those wishing to depart via USG chartered transportation should contact us: EgyptEmergencyUSC@state.gov or 1-202-501-4444.
President Obama has called a number of world leaders, including UK Prime Minister David Cameron, to seek input from European and Middle Eastern officials, and has told them that the U.S. is focused on opposing violence and supporting broad democratic rights, the White House said in a statement on Sunday.
BBC reports that a statement from Downing Street reads: "The Prime Minister and President Obama were united in their view that Egypt now needed a comprehensive process of political reform, with an orderly, Egyptian-led transition leading to a government that responded to the grievances of the Egyptian people and to their aspirations for a democratic future."
Egyptian state television news showed President Hosni Mubarak's meeting with top military officials:
Here's some images from earlier on Sunday in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt:
The curfew is now extended an hour. It will be in place from 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. nationwide starting Monday, Egyptian state TV announced. The curfew has gone ignored in many parts of the country.
Citizen patrols have started to roam the streets of Egypt, setting up checkpoints and carrying guns and sticks, to protect against potential looters.
Sharif Kouddous, a Democracy Now! producer, wrote on Twitter that he passed through 14 different checkpoints on his way to his mother's house and that he was advised to where a yellow armband to avoid harassment.
Jeff Stein at the Post's SpyTalk has an in-depth look at the complicated relationship between the CIA and Egypt. He also explains how important the newly appointed vice president Omar Suleiman is to the CIA. Here are a few excerpts:
The Egyptian security services and the CIA have been co-dependents for over six decades, from 1952, when the young agency supported the Free Officers movement that toppled the monarchy, to the twilight partnership against Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that began in earnest in 1995.The CIA's man to see in Cairo was Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian intelligence boss whom Hosni Mubarak nudged from the shadows Saturday to be his vice president.The spy agency will always find a way -- many ways -- to stay at work in Egypt after Mubarak is gone.
Mubarak's government shut down the Internet last Thursday, but that hasn't stopped protesters and observers from finding creative ways of getting online. Internet users have evaded Egypt's cyber crackdown with satellite phones, dial-up connections and remote proxy servers to mask their locations.
On Sunday, a Twitter account invited people to record messages to be converted into Tweets.
By Sunday evening in Cairo, dozens of people had recorded voice messages. Some of them were tests, others were opposition statements or halting dispatches, like this one about the protests in Tahrir Square:
Earlier this week in an interview with CBCNews, scholar and author Ron Deibert said Internet crackdown had spurred people to create an alternative, "essentially autonomous internet." He said:
A lot of people are interested in solidarity with the Egyptian people based on democratic aspirations; others see this is a challenge...You are seeing a self-repairing mechanism where the individuals who make up cyberspace have come together.
Inspired by the events of Tunisia and Egypt, students clashed with police in the streets of Khartoum, the Sudanese capital, on Sunday. The event was organized to coincide with the announcement of the preliminary results of southern Sudan's referendum on secession. The south voted overwhelmingly for independence. In the north, students took to the streets to call for an end to the government. Reuters reports that the police beat and arrested the protesters. Using the hashtag #SudanJan30, Sudanese students are communicating with one another on Twitter and Facebook.
Riot police attacked us. Numbers started to build up. Protesters are spreading into smaller groups in internal streets. #SudanJan30
Security sources told Reuters that the riot police will return to the streets on Monday for regular work. They will not be confronting the protesters. The police absence on the street has led some to believe the government intentionally is sowing chaos on the streets.
Though there were reports that it was difficult to hear ElBaradei speak in Tahrir Square, Al Jazeera reported ElBaradei said:
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.
Here's ElBaradei speaking on CBS earlier Sunday:
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday made his first public comments about the growing unrest in Egypt, saying Israel is closely monitoring events in Cairo.
Our efforts are designed to continue and maintain stability and security in our region. I remind you that the peace between Israel and Egypt has endured for over three decades and our goal is to ensure that these relations continue.
Netanyahu's statement came as the Muslim Brotherhood announced its support for opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, renewing concerns over Mubarak's tenuous hold on power. Aluf Benn, editor-at-large of Israel's daily newspaper Haaretz, notes that Egypt's faltering government leaves Israel "in a state of strategic distress."
Now, with Mubarak struggling over the survival of his government, Israel is left with two strategic allies in the region: Jordan and the Palestinian Authority. These two allies promise to strengthen Israel's Eastern battlefront and are also working to stop terror attacks and slow down Hamas. But Israel's relationship with these two allies is complicated. Joint security exercises are modest and the relationship between the leaders is poor.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that dozens of Israelis, including an unknown number of diplomatic family members, were flown out of the country Saturday.
It's now reported that Mohamed ElBaradei has arrived in Tahrir Square and it is thought he will make a speech, possibly to announce that he will take on a leadership role. Al Jazeera is live streaming footage from the square.
Here are voices from Twitter about the scene in Tahrir Square:
I have a view over Midan Tahrir, it's incredible - tens of thousands chanting.
From Liz Sly in Baghdad:
TV viewers across the Middle East who had been watching the upheaval unfold live on the Arabic service of the Al Jazeera satellite TV station saw their screens go blank early in the afternoon, as the Egyptian government blocked the service from the Nilesat satellite that serves the region. The English version of Al Jazeera remained on air.So Arabic-speaking viewers simply switched to one of the many other TV stations covering the protests live, including the US-funded al-Hurra and the Saudi Arabian Al-Arabiya network.None has been covering the protests with quite so much breadth or passion as Al Jazeera, however - the Saudi funded Al-Arabiya has been accused of airing too many opinions from members of Egypt's ruling party. The decision to suspend Al Jazeera raised fears that the teetering regime was squashing its harshest critic in preparation for the use force to quell the protesters.The Egyptian protests have ignited hopes as well as fears that the spark ignited by Tunisians' overthrow of their dictatorial regime three weeks ago will now spread, irrevocably, across a region that has long yearned for change."This is going to be one big regional wave," said Hilal Khashan, professor of political science at the American University of Beirut. "It is unstoppable."
As events continue to unfold, other countries have begun to strongly recommend that their citizens leave Egypt. The United States issued a travel warning that said, "U.S. citizens currently in Egypt should consider leaving as soon as they can safely do so." However, it has not sent any special flights to evacuate Americans and the only U.S. carrier with direct service to Cairo, Delta Airlines, has suspended its service.
Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and Jordan sent more than 15 flights in total to transport their nationals out of the country, the Associated Press reports. Turkey will evacuate around 750 Turkish citizens Sunday.
The oil giant Shell is preparing to pull international staff and their families out of Egypt on Sunday, Reuters reports and the BBC says that the British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said they are doing everything they can to get British citizens out of the country.
There are no reported problems in the popular tourism area near the Red Sea, but the Associated Press reports that tour companies are offering refunds to clients with trips booked to Egypt.
As Robert Mackey wrote on the New York Times' Lede blog on Friday:
This may seem like a trivial concern, while people are losing their lives on Egypt's streets, but the tourism industry is an important part of the Egyptian economy, so the impact of the unrest on that sector could add to the pressure of Egypt's government.
Al-Jazeera reports that Mohamed ElBaradei is on his way to join protests in Tahrir Square and he is expected to address the crowd.
Opposition figure Mohamed ElBardei spoke to ABC's "This Week," calling on Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to step down immediately. "The concern right now is that Mubarak has to go. Immediately. ...The first step is that he has to go, the second step is a government of national salvation, in coordination with the army."
He believes the army will side with the protesters, saying, "I don't think the army will turn on the people. The army is very much on the peoples side. The army is in an impossible situation."
He also said the U.S. response has been very disappointing to the protesters. "It came here like lead. People expected the U.S. to be on the side of the people....their legitimate needs for democracy, social justice...to let go of a dictator."
He said the U.S. needs "to let go of Mubarak, they need to side with the people, they need to go with a national government of salvation."
He also warned against viewing the Muslim brotherhood as Islamic extremists and, furthermore, that they are not in the majority. "This is what the regime sold to the West and to the U.S. -- that it's either us (the government) and repression, or an Al-Qaeda type (regime)."
From Griff Witte:
Evidence of a possible rift between the army and the police appeared to gain credence when state television announced that Mubarak had met with the nation's military leadership and with newly appointed vice president, Omar Suleiman, who is also the intelligence chief. Significantly, Habib al-Adli the interior minister was not mentioned. The interior ministry is in charge of the riot police. Once the army came onto the scene, the police withdrew from the streets under intense criticism from the protesters. The protesters have also called for Adli to resign.Throughout the day Sunday, rumors ran rampant. At one point just before dusk in Tahrir Square, a report circulated within the crowd that Mubarak had resigned the presidency and fled the country. Almost as one, thousands of people began to jump up and down in triumph, shouting, "He's gone!" Atop tanks, soldiers and protestors embraced.But just as quickly as the news had spread, a second rumor - this one apparently true - emerged: Mubarak was still the president. The crowd quieted.
Here's the video of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on "Meet the Press:"
Reuters reports that the large opposition group, the Muslim Brotherhood, has agreed to support the opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner. "Political groups support ElBaradei to negotiate with the regime," Muslim Brotherhood spokesman Essam el-Eryan told Al Jazeera television.
From Griff Witte in Cairo:
In Tahrir Square, the central plaza that has been the focus of anti-Mubarak sentiment, protestors and soldiers worked together to beat back two Interior Ministry vehicles that attempted to enter the site. A tank commander then scaled his vehicle and announced to the crowd that the Interior Ministry, which operates the nation's police force, had deployed thousands of armed men who were bent on sowing chaos in Egypt.The army, he said, "would stand with the people."The commander, dressed in battle fatigues, was cheered by the crowd and kissed on the cheek by demonstrators, who chanted, "the army and the people are one."
• Despite a curfew that went into effect 45 minutes ago, Tahrir Square is filled with protesters who say they won't leave until Mubarak steps down. The Human Rights Watch said there are about 20,000 protesters.
• Internet services remain cut and SMS services do not seem to be working.
• The military seemed to be embraced by the people on Saturday and Sunday, but fighter jets are buzzing over Cairo and some see it as the military attempting to intimidate the demonstrations. The question remains which way the military will go: if it will clamp down harder on the demonstrators or if it will eventually side with the protesters.
• Authorities said the death toll stands at 62, though that number cannot be independently verified. Hospitals in Alexandria and Cairo are requesting that people come in and donate blood.
• There were reports of jailbreaks in the Cairo area, with hundreds and perhaps thousands of inmates streaming out of prison. Residents also believed this was a ploy by the Mubarak government to create chaos.
• Heavy looting was reported overnight. Government authorities reported that it was protesters run amok, but demonstrators claimed it was police in plainclothes who were sowing anarchy to discredit the protests. Residents armed with clubs and with white armbands patrolled the streets to defend property.
• U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the U.S. wants to see "free and fair" elections in Egypt and that the U.S. would not stop its aid. "We want to see an orderly transition so that no one fills a void... so that there [will] be a well thought-out plan that will bring about a democratic participatory government." This will not sit well with Egyptian protesters who are demanding the White House condemn Mubarak.
Despite the closing of the Cairo bureau, Al Jazeera is still streaming footage from Cairo. In Tahrir Square where thousands have come out in protest and helicopters hang low in the sky, an Al Jazeera reporter said it feels as if everyone is "bracing for something big." In this video, as men patrol their neighborhood, fighter jets can be seen zooming across the sky:
Al Jazeera, the news network that has played a key role in reporting the unrest in Egypt, has had its Cairo bureau shut down by security forces. The network has the largest group of journalists on the ground in Egypt and it has aided Western news outlets by allowing other networks to stream Al Jazeera's live footage from the streets. Al Jazeera also allowed its photography to be used by other news networks under the Creative Commons law, meaning networks did not have to ask permission to use the the network's images, they only had to give credit to Al Jazeera -- adding to the speed in which news outlets could send out information. The news organization released this statement on its bureau's closing:
The Al Jazeera Network strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. The Network received notification from the Egyptian authorities this morning.Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt.An Al Jazeera spokesman said that they would continue their strong coverage regardless:"Al Jazeera sees this as an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting by the network and its journalists. In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people."Al Jazeera assures its audiences in Egypt and across the world that it will continue its in-depth and comprehensive reporting on the events unfolding in Egypt. Al Jazeera journalists have brought unparalleled reporting from the ground from across Egypt in the face of great danger and extraordinary circumstances. Al Jazeera Network is appalled at this latest attack by the Egyptian regime to strike at its freedom to report independently on the unprecedented events in Egypt."
Melissa Bell, Amanda Zamora, James Buck and Ian Saleh
| January 30, 2011; 7:59 AM ET
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