Uprising in Egypt; Update: Mubarak, Barack speak/spin; video added; White House releases leadership photo
They’re calling it “Angry Friday.” Protesters in Egypt may have been cut off from the Internet, but information will always find a way to free itself. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is presiding over a violent crackdown against opponents who have joined a region-wide revolt against autocracy:
As night fell and the government announced a curfew, protesters showed no signs of letting up in Cairo and other Egyptian cities on Friday as tens of thousands intensified their campaign to oust President Hosni Mubarak, pouring from mosques after noon prayers and clashing with police who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons.
The curfew went into effect at 6 p.m. security officials said, and CNN said that President Mubarak was expected to deliver a televised address.
The protests came after weeks of turmoil across the Arab world that toppled one leader in Tunisia and encouraged protesters to overcome deep-rooted fears of their autocratic leaders and take to the streets. But Egypt is a special case — a heavyweight in Middle East diplomacy, in part because of its peace treaty with Israel, and a key ally of the United States. The country, often the fulcrum on which currents in the region turn, also has one of the largest and most sophisticated security forces in the Middle East.
In what protesters called a “day of wrath,” a crowd of at least 10,000 people moved east from Cairo’s Mohandeseen neighborhood, trying to reach the central Tahrir Square that has been an epicenter of protest. The demonstrations were on a scale far beyond anything in the memory of most residents.
Video of the brutal shooting murder of one peaceful protester:
Via Allahpundit: The Egyptian ruling party’s headquarters are in Cairo after massive protests . He adds: “In Iran, however, the media is as pleased as can be by what’s happening. The end of Mubarak means the end of the cold peace between Egypt and Israel in all likelihood, plus lots of new arms smuggled to Iran’s proxy in Gaza. What’s not to like? And speaking of cold peace, there are now reports of small protests breaking out … in Jordan.”
Defying the Internet blackout, information-seekers in Egypt have found a way to circumvent the ban, via WaPo:
Despite the blackout on most Internet servers, there are still people able to access the web. PC World reports that Noor Data Networks, a provider used by the Egyptian Stock Exchange, is unaffected. Some users are subverting the ban by using dial-up access that reroutes them through other countries. Others are relying on virtual private networks, or VPNs, that mask the location of Internet access. CNN links to Kristian Johansson’s Facebook page where she has uploaded photographs of the riots, supposedly through a VPN.
Update: Mubarak addressed the nation around midnight, Egyptian time, and announced plans to have everyone under him resign.
Obama delivered his own do-as-I-say remarks, calling on Mubarak to listen to his nation’s people, keep his promises, and enact reforms.
Here’s spinmeister David Axelrod patting his boss on the back for more post-achievement achievement — Axelrod: President Obama Has “On Several Occasions Directly Confronted” Mubarak on Human Rights for the Past 2 Years “To Get Ahead of This”.
Lori Ziganto retorts: “Obama: ‘Governments must listen to their people’ – or call them racist tea baggers. Either one.”
The White House: “All Governments Must Maintain Power through Consent, Not Coercion”.
We’ll remember that.
Fresh on Flickr, the LEADERSHIP photo-op:
At least he kept his foot off the desk this time.
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in the Oval Office, Jan. 28, 2011. Vice President Joe Biden listens at left, and the President’s National Security team confer in the background. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
This official White House photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, promotions that in any way suggests approval or endorsement of the President, the First Family, or the White House.
GOP Rep. Thaddeus McCotter illuminates the underlying concerns about events in Egypt:
hough many will be tempted to superficially interpret the Egyptian demonstrations as an uprising for populist democracy, they must recall how such similar initial views of the 1979 Iranian Revolution were belied by the mullahs’ radical jackbooted murderers, who remain bent upon grasping regional hegemony and nuclear weaponry.
In this crisis, the American people deserve candor and action from President Obama, and President Hosni Mubarak and General Tantwai.
This is not a nostalgic “anti-colonial uprising” from within, of all places, the land of Nassar. Right now, freedom’s radicalized enemies are subverting Egypt and other our allies.
Inexcusably, this crisis has been hastened and exacerbated by the U.S. Administration’s refusal to whole-heartedly embrace Iran’s truly democratic 2009 Green Revolution. Make no mistake: strategically and cynically, freedom’s radicalized enemy is exploiting a real religion to undermine liberty and true reform just as Soviet communism posed as a secular creed to obtain the same illegitimate ends.
If we fail to meet today’s enemy on the same determined, principled terms, we will too late awake in a nightmare world. But, if today’s enemy is steadfastly met and bested, liberty and the rule of law will be unleashed for millions throughout the world.
This is the crisis; such are the stakes; and I stand ready to assist President Obama in the pursuit of of a policy that defends our invaluable ally; and advances Eyptians’ inalienable, peaceful aspirations.
Ambassador John Bolton on the stakes:
I think what’s clearly happened today [in Egypt] is that the Muslim Brotherhood, the radical Islamist party in Egypt has called its supporters into the street. I don’t think it was present on the first two or three days.
I think after the Friday prayers the Brotherhood brought its people out. That’s why the protests are even more extensive today. That constitutes no doubt about it a direct threat to the military government, and I think the failure of the other security forces to bring the demonstrations under control also now explains the presence of the military.
Let me be clear here, this is not just the Mubarak-family government. The military has ruled Egypt since Gamal Nasser and they over through King Farook.
It’s the military that is the real government and they are not going to go peacefully.
I think the question is whether and to what extent the Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamists have infiltrated the leadership. If the military holds firm it’s entirely possible, although bloody, that the government can hold onto power. That doesn’t necessarily mean Mubarak will be in power, but the military will be, and I think that is why this contrast makes it so important for people to understand, this is not a choice between the Mubarak government on one hand, and sweetness and light, Jeffersonian democracy on the other.
I don’t think we have evidence yet that these demonstrations are necessarily about democracy. You know the old saying, “one person, one vote, one time.” The Muslim Brotherhood doesn’t care about democracy, if they get into power you’re not going to have free and fair elections either.
And I think there is substantial reason, for example, to worry the minority Coptic Christian population, about 10% of the population will be very worried if the Muslim Brotherhood came to power.
Let’s be clear what the stakes are for the United States. We have an authoritarian regime in power that has been our ally. We don’t know at this point what the real alternatives are.
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