Live Blogging from San Diego: Is Egyptian dictator Mubarak about to resign?

by on February 10, 2011 · 0 comments

in American Empire, Civil Rights, History, World News

Liberation or Tahrir Square, Feb. 10, 2011.

8:44 pm PST It is Friday, Feb. 11th, in Egypt and massive demonstrations are expected in Cairo and elsewhere. They are planned for after the noon prayers. Noon in Cairo is 2 a.m. here on the West Coast.  But perhaps we’ll catch a glimpse of what’s happening in the Revolution before that late hour.

Tahrir Square in Cairo, tonight, Feb. 10, 2011. (Live screen capture.)

8:17 pm PST Thousands of protesters have moved overnight into the sensitive presidential palace, in the upscale neighbouhood of Heliopolis in central Cairo.

In addition to Tahrir Square, pro-democracy protests have already blocked access to the parliament building near the Liberation Square.

8:14 pm PST It’s now after 6 am in Cairo. We will be checking in to several news sources over the next few  hours, as Friday, Feb. 11th, promises the most massive demonstration in Cairo yet, as angry Egyptians show their response to Mubarak’s “non-resignation” speech from last night.

6:20 pm PST About 200 protesters outside the State TV and Radio building are bringing out blankets in a show that they will be “sitting-in” in front of the building. It’s 4:20 in the morning in Cairo.  Tanks and security people stand between the protesters and the building – which represents a state press that the people believe are propaganda tools for the dictatorship.

6:17 pm NBC reporter Richard Engel says that a White House official told him that the Egyptian military really believes that Mubarak will go.

6:12 pm PST Maddow has completed her interview of Amb. Shoukry. When asked how Mubarak will avenge the blood spilled over the last several weeks – which he promised he would do tonight – when the protesters and most of the rest of the world hold Mubarak responsible for the deaths and injuries, the ambassador just mumbled and repeated what Mubarak had pledged without answering the question.

6:04 pm PST Egyptian Ambassador to the US Sameh Shoukry is a on the Rachel Maddow Show, and says there is no split between the military and the vice president Soleiman. The reason Mubarak is still president, he says, despite transferring “all powers” to the vice president, is to guarantee the peaceful transfer of power. [Who is more crazy, Mubarak or Glen Beck?]

5:51pm PST There are reports that over the last couple of weeks the Army arrested many people, and tortured some.  That they targeted journalists and activists. The role of the Army will be in the spotlight as Friday rolls out.

5:50 pm PST Glen Beck says the Egyptian protests are the beginning of a world-wide Islamic take-over of the world. (Now, don’t call him crazy!)

5:45 pm PST Robert Fisk, The Independent, writes:

To the horror of Egyptians and the world, President Hosni Mubarak – haggard and apparently disoriented – appeared on state television last night to refuse every demand of his opponents by staying in power for at least another five months. The Egyptian army, which had already initiated a virtual coup d’état, was nonplussed by the President’s speech which had been widely advertised – by both his friends and his enemies – as a farewell address after 30 years of dictatorship. The vast crowds in Tahrir Square were almost insane with anger and resentment.

5:35 pm PST The BBC is ending its daily live blogging.

5:32 pm PST Looking at Obama’s latest statement, it’s clear that the White House was caught off guard by Mubarak’s refusal to step down. And it probably reflects a split within the administration. This latest statement is Obama’s strongest in favor of the protesters.

5:30 pm Lily Khalil in Cairo tweets:

“The fact that people are following me (us) from all over the world means that the world is interested in #Egypt and cheering on for a new day.'”

5:25 pm PST Al Jazeera Arabic reports roughly 10,000 protesters are surrounding the state TV building in Cairo. The protesters are planning to spend the night there.

5:21 pm PST MSNBC talking head Lawrence O’Donnell just reminded us that CIA Director Leon Panetta told a Congressional committee this morning that Mubarak would be stepping down today – and obviously got it totally wrong. What intelligence was he basing his statement on?

5:11 pm PST [Approx 4:48pm pst] CNN says there are 1,000-2,000 protesters who have reached the presidential palace, an extremely sensitive site which nobody has marched to thus far. We’re hearing that they are settling in for the night. That means there could be consistent, camped-out protests at Tahrir, parliament, and the presidential palace.

5:05pm PST – President Obama has made another statement:

“The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity.

Obama urged “the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek”.

“The future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the US has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy.”

Mr Obama calls on the Egyptian government to lift the emergency law, to begin “meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society”, which should protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, revise the constitution, and develop a “clear roadmap” to free and fair elections.Mr Obama calls on the Egyptian government to lift the emergency law, to begin “meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society”, which should protect the fundamental rights of all citizens, revise the constitution, and develop a “clear roadmap” to free and fair elections.

“There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.”

4:46 pm PST Pro-democracy protesters call for 20 million Egyptians to march tomorrow after Friday prayers.

4:36 pm PST Showing your shoe is an extreme insult.

Angry protesters on Tahrir square listening to Mubarak’s speech, show their shoes.

4:32 pm PST Less than an hour ago this from msnbc:

NBC News’ Chuck Todd reports that White House officials say President Barack Obama found Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s speech “extremely dispiriting.”

After making upbeat remarks earlier in the day at a speech in Michigan, in which he said the world was watching “history unfold,” Obama is now expected only to issue a written statement this evening.

“We’ve got to work this carefully,” a U.S. official told Todd. “We’ve got to get this just right.”

Noting ambiguity arising from differing translations of Mubarak’s remarks — which left it unclear just how much power Mubarak had turned over to Vice President Omar Suleiman — Todd said officials at the White House “want to believe that Suleiman is in charge” but can’t be 100 percent of that.

4:26 pm Rawya Rageh in Cairo tweets: “One #Tahrir square protester was in tears and screamed after Mubarak speech: ‘If we’d been talking to a wall, it would have understood us’

4:22 pm PST Dina Amr Helmy in Cairo writes:

“I cannot believe this. There are no words good enough to describe this situation. I am in shock, we were all waiting for the sun to shine but now all I see is more people getting killed and everyone expressing their frustration. If we can’t call for our rights in this country, then how can change happen?”

4:20 pm PST Marc Lynch from the establishment Foreign Policy says, in “Responding to the Worst Speech Ever“:

Obama doesn’t have a lot of great options right now. Its policy of steadily mounting private and public pressure to force Mubarak to leave, and for his successor to begin a meaningful transition to real democratic change, seems to have almost worked. But for now seems to have foundered on Mubarak’s obstinance. The administration, which is conferring even as I wrote this, can’t be silent in the face of Mubarak and Suleiman’s disastrous decision. It needs to continue to pound on its message that it demands that a real transition begin immediately, and to do whatever it can to make that happen now… even if its leverage remains limited. It should express its sharp disappointment with what it heard today, and continue to push the military to avoid using violence in the tense hours to come. Mubarak’s speech today, with its frequent references to foreign pressure, poses a direct challenge to Obama (and also suggests how much pressure he was in fact receiving). Those who are suggesting that Obama wanted Mubarak to stay are nuts. Now it’s time to double down on the push for an orderly transition to real democracy before it’s too late — and that is now.

4:15 pm PST Political activist Gigi Ibrahim, in Tahrir Square, tells BBC World News America:

“The people were chanting against Mubarak and against Omar Suleiman. They were chanting for him to leave and to step down even before the speech was done. Mubarak has said nothing that was new or meaningful. People don’t want to see any kind of person that was installed by Mubarak. Omar Suleiman is as illegitimate as Hosni Mubarak in the eyes of the people in the square.”

4:13 pm PST Rachel Maddow just said on Hard Ball that Communique #2 from the Egyptian military will tell us who is in control in Egypt.

4:06 p.m. An angry crowd has gathered in front of the Egyptian State TV building in Cairo. Protesters are chanting against the regime and calling for Mubarak to resign

Angry crowd has gathered in front of the Egyptian State TV building. 2am in Cairo, Feb 11, 2011.

4:o2 pm Al-Arabiya TV reports the Egyptian army may issue a second statement tonight. Earlier, the army announced its higher council would “remain in continuous session” without Mr Mubarak to “discuss what measures and arrangements could be taken to safeguard the homeland”.

4:00 pm PST MSNBC Reporter says the crowds are still in Liberation Sq and are angry, looking toward tomorrow to vent this anger.  Things are peaceful. It’s 2 am in Cairo.

3:47 pm PST Yasser Seif in Cairo tweets: “Around 2,000 protesters are marching from #Tahrir towards the presidential palace in Heliopolis.” [It’s 1:47 a.m. in Cairo.]

3:26 pm PST The White House: President Obama’s meeting with his National Security team is over. No additional statement from Obama is expected today/ tonight (it’s 6:30pm in DC)

3:24 pm A spokesman for the Egyptian embassy in Washington – Karim Hagag – tells the BBC Vice-President Omar Suleiman is now the “de facto” president of Egypt. He said he could confirm that the Egyptian ambassador in Washington had said in an interview with CNN that Mr Mubarak had transferred the powers of the presidency to his vice-president. Mr Mubarak, the spokesman said, remained the “de jure” president, meaning Mr Suleiman is now the “de facto” president.

3:22 pm PST – Thousands of protesters have camped outside a military base in Alexandria – the 2nd largest city in Egypt – and are calling upon the Army to intervene.

3:20 pm The BBC’s Paul Adams in Tahrir Square says the army seems more nervous than it had been before: “People are talking about the possibility of marches tomorrow, of going to the presidential palace, and that they know that could be a gauntlet to the army. But a number of people were insisting that the army remained neutral, even though there was a slight suspicion they were lied to earlier in the day when they were told ‘tonight you will get all your demands ‘. They still believe the army is neutral.”

3:12 pm PST There must be a lot of confusion everywhere in Egypt tonight. The people are confused, the Army is confused, members of the ruling party NDP must be confused. Why? Because during the day of Feb. 10th in Cairo, both high ranking Army and high ranking party spokesmen declared on state TV that the military would stand by the protesters and that Mubarak would step down. Then the turnaround by Mukarak himself in a speech that angered a joyous huge crowd in Liberation Square.  There’s also apparently a lot of confusion in the White House.

All kinds of questions abound. Is there a big split in the Army? Is Egypt on the verge of civil war? What will happen Friday as there are expectations of the most massive demonstration yet in Cairo. The “new” leader, VP Suleiman has asked/ threatened the protesters to go home and go back to work. He has said his main concern is preventing “chaos” and is taking a hard line about the protests ending.

3:10 pm In front of the State TV and Radio building in downtown Cairo, people are still gathering.

3:05 pm ElBaradei – one of the opposition leaders – says Mubarak is gambling with nation’s future, pushing country toward civil war.

3:03 pm PST Ismail Zakaria, a 45-year-old teacher protesting in Cairo, tells Reuters: “The speech was unprecedented in its stubbornness and foolishness. Tomorrow I am heading to the palace in protest. Until Mubarak falls, there is no turning back.”

3:02 pm It’s just after 1 am in Cairo. Tahrir protesters call for nationwide civil disobedience in response to Mubarak’s speech.

2:51 pm PST The role of the Army is a great issue right now.  Someone in Tahrir Sq tweets: Protesters chant ‘Where is the army, where is the army’ – a call for officers to stage a coup?

2:49 pm PST [After a short break, we continue:] According to reports, large groups are leaving the Tahrir/Liberation Square, chanting “Tomorrow, tomorrow!”, while other groups have massed in front of the Parliament and State TV building.  Expectations are that tomorrow will see the largest crowds ever, and many question what will the Army do.  Meanwhile, for thousands the night is not over. It’s nearly 1 a.m. in Cairo.

2:oo pm PST [Editor:] It is now midnight in Cairo. The crowds are still massing in Liberation Square, still demanding that Mubarak leave, and are not appearing to accept his appointed man, Suleiman, the new VP. Suleiman appears as out of touch with what is going on as Mubarak, begging the protesters to go home and go back to work.

The crowds in Egypt are very angry and disappointed. They thought today was going to be their victory day. Some speculate that there is a power struggle going on both within the Army and within the NDP – the main ruling party. Both the Army and the NPD over the past 24 hours made announcements that Mubarak was going to leave tonight.

1:59 pm The crowd is marching on the Palace and State Television building.

1:49 pm First reaction from the US – White House spokesman Robert Gibbs says President Obama will meet his national security team at the White House on Thursday.

1:47pm PST Mamoun Mandy tells the BBC:

“This is the first time I’ve been convinced that the people around Mubarak gave him a distorted image of what has been going on on the ground. On the ground, you’d never remotely think that speech was acceptable. It was written from a pre-25 January world which has no connection with what’s going on on the ground. I am so worried about the future of this city. Mubarak’s regime has only a few hours to decide: is it Mubarak or Egypt? If they do not accept the demands of the people, I think we are in for something really ugly tonight.”

1:44pm – Are Washington and Tel Aviv to blame for Mubarak staying on?

There are great fears that tomorrow – which is not that far away – will witness huge demonstrations and more violence.

1:42pm It’s doubtful anyone in Tahrir Square heard Mr Suleiman’s speech – the noise of chants and horns is deafening.

1:35pm PST – Vice president Suleiman is speaking on Egyptian State TV. He says ‘change has begun,’ and is concerned about “chaos.”  He implored the protesters to go home, go to their jobs.

1:30pm PST Journalist Lina Wardani tells the BBC:

“Thousands of angry Egyptians are moving now towards the presidential palace. I think things will change tonight or tomorrow morning. I don’t expect these angry masses to go home or wait until tomorrow. These people are not going to go home. It’s not only Tahrir, it’s all the streets to downtown. People are chanting ‘down with the regime’.”

1:24 pm MSNBC is reporting that protesters are marching in Cairo to the Presidential Palace – where Mubarak supposedly just spoke from.

1:22 pm – An Egyptian reporter just said the atmosphere here has gone from “fluid” to “volcanic.”  One of the big questions is how will the Army handle tomorrow’s gigantic demonstration that is now planned in earnest.

1:21pm PST Lina Wardani, a journalist from al-Ahram newspaper who is in Tahrir Square, tells the BBC:

“There is extreme disappointment in Tahrir tonight. This was not the speech the nation was waiting for and was certainly not the speech the protesters in Tahrir were waiting for. Right now there seems to be confusion. There are a lot of people walking out of the square very disappointed, you have more people saying they are leaving right now but just getting a good night’s sleep before they come back tomorrow for another very long, very large protest .”

1:16 pm PST – Thousands in Alexandria are marching toward a military base. Could they be trying to appeal to the Army or are they driving toward a confrontation?  One of the chants was: “Come on Army, what is your position? Freedom is in your hands!”

1:11pm PST – The celebratory mood in Liberation Square has changed to one of extreme anger. Mubarak did say he was passing some power to the vice president. This does not meet the main demand of protesters over the last 3 weeks.

1:03 pm PST – People in Tahrir Square are very angry. They’re chanting: “He must leave!”

12:59 pm – Mubarak is not going. The crowd is chanting. Demonstrators are waving their shoes at Mubarak.

12:50 Mubarak has been speaking; it does not appear he will step down.

12:43 pm #reasonmubarakislate is the top trending hashtag on Twitter – people around the world are waiting for his address.

12:42pm PST Egyptian State TV says Mubarak’s address is only moments away.

12:39 pm PST – An Arab news wire report via Reuters News says that Mubarak will apologize for mistakes, lift the emergency law, but will not announce he will step down.

12:26 pm Nada Hesham, from Cairo, writes: “Everyone is waiting in anticipation. Rumours flying around everywhere, fact is we don’t know what Mubarak will say? we don’t know if what he says will be enough. We can only hope that he finally listened to us, the people of Egypt. We are optimistic… very optimistic and we are proud to be Egyptians.”

12:24 pm PST The whole world is waiting for Mubarak to address us. We are all Egyptians today. If Mubarak does not announce that he is leaving, Egyptians will go crazy.

12:22 pm PST – This is the largest crowd ever yet in Tahrir or Liberation Square.

12:11 pm PST Mubarak expected to make speech imminently. Interior minister says he will not be standing down

12:09 pm Ahmed, a demonstrator in Tahrir Square, tell BBC World Service: “I am still feeling that I am in a dream. I never even dreamt that I would see this day when millions of Egyptians are taking to the streets and asking for their freedom and their rights. This is a moment of our history that we will all remember and that we will be proud of.”

12:08 pm PST – The atmosphere in Liberation Square has reached a “fever-pitched”.

12:06 pm PST – Well, Mubarak has yet to appear on Egyptian State TV.

11:59 am There has been a significant change in editorial tone of Egypt’s state TV in the past few hours – no longer hiding protests, but showing the masses gathered in Tahrir Square. Presenter and guest openly criticising former ministers – by name – accusing them of corruption, greed and misuse of power

11:56 a.m. Activist Gigi Ibrahim tweets: “Tahrir square is on fire, every inch of cement is covered with people chanting ‘Leave “Invalid” Mubarak’.”

11:46 a.m. PST – Mubarak is expected to address Egyptians in less than 15 minutes.

11:42 a.m. Who is Omar Suleiman? Have a look at this profile of the former top intelligence chief and now Egypt’s first ever vice president since Hosni Mubarak came to power in 1981.

11:38 a.m. PST – We have been relying on Al Jazeera live video streams and its up-to-the -minute live blogging, as well as the BBC (British Broadcasting Channel).

11:36 a.m. PST – The main news from Egypt is that the Army announced earlier today that it is taking control to safeguard the nation, and that Mubarak should step aside.  Mubarak is expected to address Egypt at noon our time (PST).

11:29 a.m. PST – Egyptian State TV is now for the first time showing the exact same images of what is happening in Tahrir Square as Al Jazeera news.  This is very significant as the State media has dismissed the protesters over these past 2 1/2 weeks.

11:27 a.m. PST – Some activists in Liberation Square are concerned that the army has staged a coup, and that it is not acceptable to replace Mubarak with a council of generals.

11:26 a.m. The BBC’s Paul Adams in Cairo describes the atmosphere in Tahrir Square: “It’s a bit like a rock concert before the band comes on stage.”

11:21 a.m. PST To recap:  Here is a run-down of what has happened today in Egypt – all times are Egyptian time – 10 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time:

6:37pm: White House says situation in Egypt is ‘fluid’.

6:36pm: State TV reports Mubarak will address the country tonight.

6:23pm: Egypt’s prime minister says Mubarak “is still president, and no decisions taken has changed that”.

6:21pm: Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Cairo, says the million-man march planned for tomorrow has already begun – Tahrir Square is absolutely packed.

6:19pm: Al-Arabiya reports Mubarak is on his way to the red sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh with chief of staff. No immediate confirmation.

6:15pm: NDP chief reportedly stopped Mubarak making speech, handing power to VP Suleiman.

6:05pm: Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Cairo, says roads to Cairo airport are reportedly being closed.

6:00pm: The CIA chief reportedly says there is a “strong likelihood” Mubarak will step down tonight.

5:39pm: Huge chant, Tahrir Square seemingly in unison, shouting: “The army and the people in one hand – the army and the people are united.”

5:35pm: Ayman Mohyeldin, Al Jazeera’s correspondent, reports: “Now, for the first time, we are getting the sense that senior military officers are discussing ‘national issues’, which is a very significant development indeed.”

5:30pm: “Ambiguous” statement from military confirms its “commitment and responsibility to safeguard the people and to protect the interests of the nation, and its duty to protect the riches and assets of the people and of Egypt”. Mentioned the demands of the people are “lawful and legitimate”. Understood the military council met separately from Mubarak.

5:23pm: NDP Secretary General Hossam Badrawi says he expects Mubarak to respond to the demands of the people tonight. An official statement from the military is imminent.

5:20pm: A senior military commander is reported to have told protesters that all their demands will be met, but no official confirmation is yet available

5:15pm: Al Jazeera’s Hoda Abdel-Hamid, reporting from Cairo, confirmed the new demands of those in Tahrir Square include the entire administration to resign – not just President Mubarak. They want a one-year transitional period before full parliamentary elections – during which a three-person presidential council should run the country while a panel of experts write a new, permanent constitution – taking advice from opposition groups and senior, high-profile Egyptians, including the Muslim Brotherhood.

5:09pm: The Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces is meeting to study its position toward the ongoing crisis.

11:17 a.m. Mubarak is expected to address Egypt at 8:00pm their time – Noon here on the West Coast.

11:15 a.m. PST – Egyptian activists remind everyone that 350 people have been killed during this Revolution, and that they will not be forgotten, and that those responsible for this killing of innocents will also not be forgotten.

11:12 a.m. has linked to the Al Jazeera channel across their entire site.

11:05 a.m. Hundreds of thousands in Cairo and Alexandria are singing, chanting, whistling, all in anticipation of Mubarak stepping down.  He is supposed to address the nation within the hour.

Reporters are saying they have never seen such energy in “Liberation Square” (Tahrir Sq.) as right now. They feel they are on the brink of having their main demand of Mubarak leaving granted.  One demonstrator said: “We are at the gates of victory.”

10:49 a.m. PST Here is what President Obama just said about Egypt while in Michigan:

What’s absolutely clear is that we are witnessing history unfold. The people of Egypt are calling for change. People representing all ages and all walks of life – but it is young people who are at the forefront – a new generation, your generation, who want their voices to be heard – and we want those young people to know the United States of America will support an orderly transition to democracy.

10:46 am – Cairo protesters say they would feel more comfortable with the army temporarily taking over rather than Vice President Omar Suleiman. “For many people he is just a mirror image of the present regime,” said one protester.

Today in Egypt, Thursday, the 17th day of the protests in Tahrir Square, has been a day of mass strikes and walkouts across Egypt. Doctors joined bus drivers, lawyers and textile workers on the streets to demand change.

10:44 am – Thousands have gathered also in Alexandria in northern Egypt.  Demonstrators in that city are planning on having a “farewell Friday” tomorrow.

10:40 am. President Obama has spoken about Egypt but really nothing new was said. He did say, “WE are witnessing history unfolding,” that “it’s a moment of transition.”  Obama assured Egyptians that the US would stand by and do everything in its power to safeguard democracy and an orderly transition.  He also said, while speaking to a large group of Michigan students, that the change in Egypt is coming about because of “young people like you.”

10:35 a.m. – It’s 8:35 pm in Egypt.  Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey tweets: “There isn’t an empty inch in Tahrir.”

10:30 a.m. PST: The Egyptian military has said it has stepped in “to safeguard the country.”

10:29 am President Hosni Mubarak is expected to address the country in the next few hours, with many of the tens of thousands of people in Tahrir Square anticipating this will be the moment he will resign after weeks of protests.

10:25 a.m. Al Jaseera says that Egypt’s ruling party, the NDP, has told the news media that Mubarak will meet the demands of the protesters – who are in their 17th day of protest.

10:23 a.m. President Obama is about to make a statement about the “fluid situation” in Egypt.

10:20 am San Diego (PST) Reports from Cairo are saying that thousands of Egyptians rally in Tahrir Square – “charged with electricity” in anticipation of the dictator Hosni Mubarak about to step down.  The military has reportedly told Mubarak that it is “time to go.”

People in Tahrir Square are “dancing in the streets”.

The “million-person march” for Friday, February 11th, has already begun.

This could be an historic moment and night (it’s night in Cairo) for Egypt – and the world.  Mubarak is supposed to be speaking soon.

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