Hosni Mubarak Meets Economic Team as Protests Enter Day 12

In this image from Egyptian state television aired Tuesday evening Feb 1 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes what has been billed as an important speech. Mubarak has faced a week of public and international pressure to step down from the role he has held for 30 years, culminating in a day when a quarter-million people turned in the largest protest yet to demand his ouster. (AP Photo/Egyptian state television via APTN)


Feb 5 (KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — Thousands of demonstrators are in Cairo’s Tahrir Square for a 12th day of protests against Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

Early Saturday, gunfire rang out in the packed square, but there were no reports of casualties.

Egyptian state media report Mr. Mubarak met Saturday with his economic team, including several members of his new Cabinet, to discuss the crisis, which is costing the country an estimated $310 million a day.

On Friday, tens of thousands of anti-government protesters crammed into Tahrir Square for what they called the “day of departure” for Mr. Mubarak, who has vowed to finish his term in office.

Arab League chief Amr Moussa joined the demonstrators in the square Friday.  The long-time Egyptian political figure has said he may consider running for president.  Egyptian Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi also visited the square Friday.  

Also Friday, there were reports of clashes and shots fired into the air as military forces prevented a group of Mubarak supporters from entering Tahrir Square.  Those demonstrators rallied elsewhere in Cairo for what they called a “Day of Loyalty.”

Thousands of anti-government protesters also massed in Alexandria Friday for peaceful rallies.  A VOA correspondent says one group of anti-Mubarak demonstrators gathered in the central part of town Friday while a second group rallied at a mosque.  Thousands of people also rallied in Suez, Ismailia and other cities.

On Wednesday, a violent clash erupted in Tahrir Square between government opponents and supporters.

President Mubarak said earlier this week that he will not seek reelection when his term ends.  In a Thursday interview with the U.S. broadcaster ABC,  he said he would like to leave office now, but fears Egypt would sink deeper into chaos if he did.   

Mr. Mubarak blamed the Muslim Brotherhood – Egypt’s largest and best organized opposition group – for the violence in the capital over the past few days.  Protesters say Mr. Mubarak’s supporters sparked the violence by attacking anti-government demonstrators on Wednesday.

An Egyptian journalist died Friday from gunshot wounds suffered a week ago.  Ahmed Mohammed Mahmoud was taking photographs of fighting between protesters and security forces from the balcony of his home when he was shot.  He is the first journalist to die in the crisis.

At least eight people have died and nearly 900 have been injured in the most recent two days of fighting around Tahrir Square.  (*)



Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Dmitry Medvedev had a telephone conversation with Hosni Mubarak

FILE : Dmitry Medvedev and Hosni Mubarak at a joint news conference on the results of bilateral talks ( June 25, 2009 )

Feb 3 (KATAKAMI.COM) — The Russian President expressed his wish and hope that the current difficult period in the life of the friendly Egypt will soon be resolved through a peaceful and legal settlement of existing problems.

The Russian leader noted the importance of guaranteeing the security of the Russian Embassy in Cairo and the Russian citizens who are currently in Egypt, and expressed his gratitude for the measures that have already been taken by the Egyptian leadership in this regard.  (*)


Hosni Mubarak says he won't quit early

In this image from Egyptian state television aired Tuesday evening Feb 1 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes what has been billed as an important speech. Mubarak has faced a week of public and international pressure to step down from the role he has held for 30 years, culminating in a day when a quarter-million people turned in the largest protest yet to demand his ouster. (AP Photo/Egyptian state television via APTN)

CAIRO, Feb 4 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – President Hosni Mubarak ruled out resigning immediately to end a violent confrontation over his 30-year-rule, arguing this would bring chaos to Egypt, but the New York Times said the Obama administration was in talks with Egyptian officials for him to quit now.

Speaking in an interview with ABC Thursday, after bloodshed in Cairo that killed 10 people, the 82-year-old leader said he believed his country still needed him.

“If I resign today, there will be chaos,” he said. Asked to comment on calls for him to resign, he said: “I don’t care what people say about me. Right now I care about my country.”

The New York Times said Friday the administration of President Barack Obama was discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately.

Under the proposal, Mubarak would turn power over to a transitional government headed by Vice President Omar Suleiman with the support of the Egyptian military, the newspaper said, citing administration officials and Arab diplomats.

Facing an unprecedented challenge to his rule from Egyptians angered by political repression, Mubarak has promised to stand down in September, appointed his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as vice-president, and offered talks on reforms.

But that has failed to satisfy protesters who are hoping to rally thousands of Egyptians Friday for a fresh demonstration to try to force Mubarak to quit now.

With the confrontation turning increasingly violent — protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square were attacked by Mubarak supporters Wednesday — the United States has increased pressure on Mubarak to begin the transition of power now.

Protesters in Tahrir (Liberation) Square — which has become the hub of pro-democracy demonstrations — were hoping to be joined by thousands more for a big demonstration they are calling the “Friday of Departure.”

Organizers called on people to march from wherever they were toward the square, the state television building and the parliament building — all within around a mile of one another in the heart of the city.

The U.S. State Department said it expected confrontation in what would be the 11th day of protests.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Washington believed elements close to the government or Mubarak’s ruling party were responsible for the violence which erupted on Wednesday. The Interior Ministry has denied it ordered its agents or officers to attack anti-Mubarak protesters.


In a move to try to calm the disorder, Vice President Omar Suleiman said Thursday the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most organized opposition movement, had been invited to meet with the new government as part of a national dialogue with all parties.

An offer to talk to the banned group would have been unthinkable before protests erupted on January 25, indicating progress made by the reformist movement since then. However, the opposition has refused talks until Mubarak goes.

The United States, which supplies the Egyptian army — Mubarak’s power base — with about $1.3 billion in aid annually — is struggling to find a solution to the crisis which does not exacerbate instability in the Arab world’s most populous nation.

The White House said Thursday Washington was discussing with Egyptians a “variety of different ways” of moving toward a peaceful transition in Egypt.

Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said President Barack Obama has said now is the time to begin “a peaceful, orderly and meaningful transition, with credible, inclusive negotiations.”

The New York Times said the U.S. proposal called for a transitional government to invite members from a broad range of opposition groups, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood, to begin work to open up the country’s electoral system in an effort to bring about free and fair elections in September.

Egypt, which signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, has been a key U.S. ally in the Middle East. Mubarak had also justified his use of emergency rule as needed to curb Islamist militancy in a country where al Qaeda had its ideological roots.

Mubarak described Obama as a very good man, but when asked by ABC if he felt that the United States had betrayed him, he said he told the U.S. president: “You don’t understand the Egyptian culture and what would happen if I step down now.”

An estimated 150 people have died in the protests, which were inspired by events in Tunisia, where its leader Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee last month.

Oil prices have climbed on fears the unrest could spread to affect oil giant Saudi Arabia or interfere with oil supplies from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean through the Suez Canal.  (*)

Israel urges West: Make sure new Egypt regime honors peace deal


FILE : (L-R) President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, US President Barack Obama, President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority and King Abdullah II of Jordan walk to the East Room to make statements on the peace process on September 1, 2010 at the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo by TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants international community to make clear that new leadership must meet a series of conditions similar to those posed by Hamas in order to gain recognition of legitimacy.

Feb 02, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked U.S. President Barack Obama and a number of other Western leaders in recent days to make it clear to any new Egyptian regime that it must abide fully by the peace agreement with Israel.

Senior Israeli officials said that Netanyahu would like the international community to make it clear to any new Egyptian leadership that will emerge that it must meet a series of conditions in return for receiving legitimacy in the eyes of the West – similar to those posed to Hamas following the Islamist movement’s victory in Palestinian elections. The Mideast Quartet had demanded, and still requires, that in return for recognition, Hamas relinquish terrorism, recognize Israel and accept as binding previous negotiated agreements between the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel.

Although Netanyahu is not drawing a comparison between Hamas rule and a new Egyptian government, he would like to see, along with demands for democracy and respect for human rights, that the international community set as a condition that any new government in Cairo abide by the international agreements to which the Mubarak regime had signed, according to officials.

“The matter was made clear to the Americans and many other countries,” a senior official in Jerusalem said. “We are not opposed to democracy in Egypt but it is important for us to preserve the peace agreement.”

The Prime Minister’s Bureau issued a special statement yesterday to clarify the Israeli position on the situation in Egypt.

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s interest is to preserve the peace with Egypt,” the message read. “Israel believes that the international community must require any Egyptian government to preserve the peace agreement with Israel.”


PM Netanyahu to World: Make Sure Egypt Doesn't Abandon Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Feb 02, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM) — In talks with diplomatic officials Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu noted that Israel’s interest is maintaining the peace with Egypt, a Government Press Office statement said. Israel believes that the international community must insist that any Egyptian government maintain the peace treaty with Israel, the government statement added.
“Israel is a democracy and supports the advance of liberal and democratic values in the Middle East. The advancement of those values is good for peace.

“But if extremist forces are allowed to exploit democratic processes to come to power to advance anti-democratic goals – as has happened in Iran and elsewhere – the outcome will be bad for peace and bad for democracy.”

Netanyahu has been careful not to make statements about the Egypt situation until now and sternly instructed his ministers to refrain from commenting when the demonstrations and rioting there broke out. The statement to diplomats reflects Israel’s concern that the apparent overthrow of the regime of Hosni Mubarak could lead to the installation of a more Islamist government. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt has vowed to annul the 1979 peace treaty with Egypt if elected.

Egyptian President Mubarak announced on Tuesday that he will not be seeking another term as president. He said, however, that he does not intend on stepping down before the scheduled presidential elections in September.   (*)

(Source : IsraelNationalNews.com)

Full Text of President Hosni Mubarak's speech after mass protest

In this image from Egyptian state television aired Tuesday evening Feb 1 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes what has been billed as an important speech. Mubarak has faced a week of public and international pressure to step down from the role he has held for 30 years, culminating in a day when a quarter-million people turned in the largest protest yet to demand his ouster. (AP Photo/Egyptian state television via APTN)

CAIRO Feb 1 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – Following is the text of a televised speech delivered by President Hosni Mubarak on Tuesday after a million Egyptians took to the streets demanding he leave office:

“I talk to you during critical times that are testing Egypt and its people which could sweep them into the unknown. The country is passing through difficult times and tough experiences which began with noble youths and citizens who practise their rights to peaceful demonstrations and protests, expressing their concerns and aspirations but they were quickly exploited by those who sought to spread chaos and violence, confrontation and to violate the constitutional legitimacy and to attack it.

“Those protests were transformed from a noble and civilised phenomenon of practising freedom of expression to unfortunate clashes, mobilised and controlled by political forces that wanted to escalate and worsen the situation. They targeted the nation’s security and stability through acts of provocation theft and looting and setting fires and blocking roads and attacking vital installations and public and private properties and storming some diplomatic missions.

“We are living together painful days and the most painful thing is the fear that affected the huge majority of Egyptians and caused concern and anxiety over what tomorrow could bring them and their families and the future of their country.

“The events of the last few days require us all as a people and as a leadership to chose between chaos and stability and to set in front of us new circumstances and a new Egyptian reality which our people and armed forces must work with wisely and in the interest of Egypt and its citizens.

“Dear bothers and citizens, I took the initiative of forming a new government with new priorities and duties that respond to the demand of our youth and their mission. I entrusted the vice president with the task of holding dialogue with all the political forces and factions about all the issues that have been raised concerning political and democratic reform and the constitutional and legislative amendments required to realise these legitimate demands and to restore law and order but there are some political forces who have refused this call to dialogue, sticking to their particular agendas without concern for the current delicate circumstances of Egypt and its people.

“In light of this refusal to the call for dialogue and this is a call which remains standing, I direct my speech today directly to the people, its Muslims and Christians, old and young, peasants and workers, and all Egyptian men and women in the countryside and city over the whole country.

“I have never, ever been seeking power and the people know the difficult circumstances that I shouldered my responsibility and what I offered this country in war and peace, just as I am a man from the armed forces and it is not in my nature to betray the trust or give up my responsibilities and duties.

“My primary responsibility now is security and independence of the nation to ensure a peaceful transfer of power in circumstances that protect Egypt and the Egyptians and allow handing over responsibility to whoever the people choose in the coming presidential election.

“I say in all honesty and regardless of the current situation that I did not intend to nominate myself for a new presidential term. I have spent enough years of my life in the service of Egypt and its people.

“I am now absolutely determined to finish my work for the nation in a way that ensures handing over its safe-keeping and banner … preserving its legitimacy and respecting the constitution.

“I will work in the remaining months of my term to take the steps to ensure a peaceful transfer of power.

“According to my constitutional powers, I call on parliament in both its houses to discuss amending article 76 and 77 of the constitution concerning the conditions on running for presidency of the republic and it sets specific a period for the presidential term. In order for the current parliament in both houses to be able to discuss these constitutional amendments and the legislative amendments linked to it for laws that complement the constitution and to ensure the participation of all the political forces in these discussions, I demand parliament to adhere to the word of the judiciary and its verdicts concerning the latest cases which have been legally challenged.

“I will entrust the new government to perform in ways that will achieve the legitimate rights of the people and that its performance should express the people and their aspirations of political, social and economic reform and to allow job opportunities and combating poverty, realising social justice.

“In this context, I charge the police apparatus to carry out its duty in serving the people, protecting the citizens with integrity and honour with complete respect for their rights, freedom and dignity.

“I also demand the judicial and supervisory authorities to take immediately the necessary measures to continue pursuing outlaws and to investigate those who caused the security disarray and those who undertook acts of theft, looting and setting fires and terrorising citizens.

“This is my pledge to the people during the last remaining months of my current term:

“I ask God to help me to honour this pledge to complete my vocation to Egypt and its people in what satisfies God, the nation and its people.

“Dear citizens, Egypt will emerge from these current circumstances stronger, more confident and unified and stable. And our people will emerge with more awareness of how to achieve reconciliation and be more determined not to undermine its future and destiny.

“Hosni Mubarak who speaks to you today is proud of the long years he spent in the service of Egypt and its people. This dear nation is my country, it is the country of all Egyptians, here I have lived and fought for its sake and I defended its land, its sovereignty and interests and on this land I will die and history will judge me and others for our merits and faults.

“The nation remains. Visitors come and go but ancient Egypt will remain eternal, its banner and safekeeping will pass from one generation to the next. It is up to us to ensure this in pride and dignity.”  (*)

Mubarak says will step down, won't leave Egypt

In this image from Egyptian state television aired Tuesday evening Feb 1 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes what has been billed as an important speech. Mubarak has faced a week of public and international pressure to step down from the role he has held for 30 years, culminating in a day when a quarter-million people turned in the largest protest yet to demand his ouster. (AP Photo/Egyptian state television via APTN)

CAIRO, Feb 02 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on Tuesday he would not leave Egypt although he would step down from the presidency at the end of his term, due to end when the country holds a presidential election in September. “The Hosni Mubarak who speaks to you today is proud of his achievements over the years in serving Egypt and its people,” he said in an address broadcast on state television.

“This is my country. This is where I lived, I fought and defended its land, sovereignty and interests, and I will die on its soil,” he said.

He also said pledged to implement a series of reforms, including calling on the judiciary to combat corruption, one of the complaints of protesters who have pushed him to announce an end to his presidency later this year.  (*)

Hosni Mubarak Says He Will Not Resign Egyptian Presidency

In this image from Egyptian state television aired Tuesday evening Feb 1 2011, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak makes what has been billed as an important speech.

Feb 02 (KATAKAMI.COM / VOA) — Announcing an end to a near 30-year reign in power, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak told the nation late Tuesday that he will not run for office in September.

The recorded statement on state television came after tens of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets nationwide in a peaceful demonstration demanding that Mr. Mubarak resign.

His decision, however, is not likely to quell demands from Egyptian protesters who want to see him leave office right away.

Before the speech, demonstrators chanted demands that Mr. Mubarak leave office by week’s end.

In Cairo, several hundred thousand people poured into Tahrir Square – a focal point of the peaceful protests.

Tens of thousands of people also joined rallies in Suez, Mansoura and the northern port city of Alexandria.

Protesters in the capital carried signs saying “Bye, bye Mubarak” and chanted “Take him with you” as helicopters flew overhead.  Effigies of Mr. Mubarak hung from traffic lights.

Foreign media reports quote protest leaders as calling for Mr. Mubarak to leave by Friday.

Military forces are stationed throughout Cairo, but did not interfere with the rally crowds.  The army announced earlier it recognizes the “legitimate demands” of the Egyptian people, and pledged not to fire on protesters.

Secular, liberal opposition activist Mohamed ElBaradei told Al Arabiya television Tuesday that Mr. Mubarak should leave by Friday in order for Egyptians to start a “new phase.”

Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition agreed to have ElBaradei act as a lead spokesman for the country’s opposition groups.

An unprecedented Internet cutoff remains in place in Egypt Tuesday.  But Google announced it has created a way for Twitter  users to post to the micro-blogging site by dialing a phone number and leaving a voicemail.

At least 140 people died during protest violence last week.  Mr. Mubarak on Monday replaced the widely reviled interior minister Habib Adly, who oversees the police and plainclothes domestic security forces.  (*)

Egyptian President Mubarak to speak

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO, Feb 02 (KATAKAMI / AP)  – President Hosni Mubarak will make an “important speech” at the end of a day when a quarter-million people turned out Tuesday in the largest protest yet to demand his ouster. A visiting envoy of President Barack Obama told Mubarak that his ally the United States sees his presidency at an end, an administration official said.

Protesters in Cairo’s main Tahrir Square sat by the thousands on the ground in front of a giant TV hung up between lampposts, waiting for Mubarak’s late-night address. “Oh God, Oh God, let tonight be his night,” many chanted. The throngs who have been protesting day after day say they will accept nothing short of Mubarak’s immediate departure.

Obama’s message was delivered to Mubarak by Frank Wisner, a respected former U.S. ambassador to Egypt who is a friend of the Egyptian president, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the ongoing diplomacy. Wisner made clear that it was the U.S “view that his tenure as president is coming to close,” he said.

Tuesday’s address, which state TV announced was imminent Tuesday evening, will be Mubarak’s second since the biggest challenge to his nearly 30-year-rule began eight days ago. In the first, early Saturday, he named a vice-president for the first time, sacked his Cabinet and promised reforms.

The gesture landed with a thud, rejected by protesters and the United States as insufficient. It seemed to only fuel the determination of the protesters.

More than a quarter-million people flooded Cairo’s main square Tuesday in a jubilant array of young and old, urban poor and middle class professionals, mounting by far the largest protest yet in a week of unrelenting demands for Mubarak to leave.

The crowds — determined but peaceful — filled Tahrir, or Liberation, Square and spilled into nearby streets, among them people defying a government transportation shutdown to make their way from rural provinces. Protesters jammed in shoulder-to-shoulder, with schoolteachers, farmers, unemployed university graduates, women in conservative headscarves and women in high heels, men in suits and working-class men in scuffed shoes.

They sang nationalist songs, danced, beat drums and chanted the anti-Mubarak slogan “Leave! Leave! Leave!” as military helicopters buzzed overhead. Organizers said the aim was to intensify marches to get the president out of power by Friday, and similar demonstrations erupted in at least five other cities around Egypt.

Soldiers at checkpoints set up at the entrances of the square did nothing to stop the crowds from entering. The military promised on state TV Monday night that it would not fire on protesters answering a call for a million to demonstrate, a sign that army support for Mubarak may be unraveling.

“This is the end for him. It’s time,” said Musab Galal, a 23-year-old unemployed university graduate who came by minibus with his friends from the Nile Delta city of Menoufiya, 40 miles north of Cairo.

Mubarak, 82, would be the second Arab leader pushed from office by a popular uprising in the history of the modern Middle East, following the ouster last month of the president of Tunisia — another North African nation.

The U.S. ambassador in Cairo, Margaret Scobey, spoke by telephone Tuesday with Nobel Peace laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, one of the most prominent leaders of the opposition, the embassy said. The pro-democracy advocate has taken a key role with other opposition groups in formulating the movement’s demands for Mubarak to step down and allow a transitional government paving the way for free elections. There was no immediate word on what they discussed.

The movement to drive Mubarak out has been built on the work of online activists and fueled by deep frustration with an autocratic regime blamed for ignoring the needs of the poor and allowing corruption and official abuse to run rampant. After years of tight state control, protesters emboldened by the Tunisia unrest took to the streets on Jan. 25 and mounted a once-unimaginable series of protests across this nation of 80 million.

The repercussions were being felt around the Mideast, as other authoritarian governments fearing popular discontent pre-emptively tried to burnish their democratic image.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II fired his government Tuesday in the face of smaller street protests, named an ex-prime minister to form a new Cabinet and ordered him to launch political reforms. The Palestinian Cabinet in the West Bank said it would hold long-promised municipal elections “as soon as possible.”

With Mubarak’s hold on power weakening, the world was forced to plan for the end of a regime that has maintained three decades of peace with Israel and a bulwark against Islamic militants. But under the stability was a barely hidden crumbling of society, mounting criticism of the regime’s human rights record and a widening gap between rich and poor, with 40 percent of the population living under or just above the poverty line set by the World Bank at $2 a day.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya television, ElBaradei rejected an offer late Monday by Vice President Omar Suleiman for a dialogue on enacting constitutional reforms. He said there could be no negotiations until Mubarak leaves.

Mostafa al-Naggar, a protest organizer and an ElBaradei supporter, said the newly installed government contacted him before dawn to ask him to bring other youth representatives for a dialogue with the government.

Al-Naggar said he declined the invitation, refusing any dialogue until Mubarak steps down. “This Cabinet is illegitimate. If there is any dialogue, it will be with the only institution we are proud of, which is the military,” he said.

State TV on Tuesday ran a statement by the new prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, pleading with the public to “give a chance” to his government. Small pro-Mubarak protests popped up in some parts of central Cairo on Tuesday, covered heavily on state TV. They gathered carrying Egyptian flags and Mubarak posters, calling for an end of the Tahrir Square gathering.

The United States ordered non-essential U.S. government personnel and their families to leave Egypt. They join a wave of people rushing to flee the country — over 18,000 overwhelmed Cairo’s international airport and threw it into chaos. EgyptAir staff scuffled with frantic passengers, food supplies were dwindling and some policemen even demanded substantial bribes before allowing foreigners to board their planes.

Normally bustling, Cairo’s streets outside Tahrir Square had a fraction of their normal weekday traffic. Banks, schools and the stock market in Cairo were closed for the third working day, making cash tight. Bread prices spiraled. An unprecedented shutdown of the Internet was in its fifth day.

The official death toll from the crisis stood at 97, with thousands injured, though reports from witnesses across the country indicated the actual toll was far higher.

But perhaps most startling was how peaceful the protests have been in recent days, after the military replaced the police around Tahrir Square and made no move to try to suppress the demonstrations. No clashes between the military and protesters have been reported since Friday night, after pitched street battles with the police throughout the day Friday.

Egypt’s military leadership has reassured the U.S. that they do not intend to crack down on demonstrators, but instead they are allowing the protesters to “wear themselves out,” according to a former U.S. official in contact with several top Egyptian army officers. The Egyptians use a colloquial saying to describe their strategy: A boiling pot with a tight lid will blow up the kitchen, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.

Troops alongside Soviet-era and newer U.S.-made Abrams tanks stood guard at roads leading into Tahrir Square, a plaza overlooked by the headquarters of the Arab League, the campus of the American University in Cairo, the famed Egyptian Museum and the Mugammma, an enormous building housing departments of the notoriously corrupt and inefficient bureaucracy.

Protester volunteers wearing tags reading “the People’s Security” circulated through the crowds in the square, saying they were watching for government infiltrators who might try to instigate violence. Organizers said the protest would remain in the square and not attempt to march to the presidential palace to avoid frictions with the military.

Two effigies of Mubarak dangled from traffic lights. On their chests was written: “We want to put the murderous president on trial.”

Their faces were scrawled with the Star of David, an allusion to many protesters’ feeling that Mubarak is a friend of Israel, still seen by most Egyptians as their country’s archenemy more than 30 years after the two nations signed a peace treaty.

Every protester had their own story of why they came — with a shared theme of frustration with a life pinned in by corruption, low wages, crushed opportunities and abuse by authorities.

Sahar Ahmad, a 41-year-old school teacher and mother of one, said she has taught for 22 years and still only makes about $70 a month.

“There are 120 students in my classroom. That’s more than any teacher can handle,” said Ahmad. “Change would mean a better education system I can teach in and one that guarantees my students a good life after school. If there is democracy in my country, then I can ask for democracy in my own home.”

Tamer Adly, a driver of one of the thousands of minibuses that ferry commuters around Cairo, said he was sick of the daily humiliation he felt from police who demand free rides and send him on petty errands, reflecting the widespread public anger at police high-handedness.

“They would force me to share my breakfast with them … force me to go fetch them a newspaper. This country should not just be about one person,” the 30-year-old lamented, referring to Mubarak.

Among the older protesters, there was also a sense of amazement after three decades of unquestioned control by Mubarak’s security forces over the streets.

“We could never say no to Mubarak when we were young, but our young people today proved that they can say no, and I’m here to support them,” said Yusra Mahmoud, a 46-year-old school principal who said she had been sleeping in the square alongside other protesters for the past two nights.

Tens of thousands rallied in the cities of Alexandria, Suez and Mansoura, north of Cairo, as well as in the southern province of Assiut and the southern city of Luxor.

Authorities shut down all roads and public transportation to Cairo and in and out of other main cities, security officials said. Train services nationwide were suspended for a second day and all bus services between cities were halted.

Still, many from the provinces managed to make it to the square. Hamada Massoud, a 32-year-old a lawyer, said he and 50 others came in cars and minibuses from the impoverished province of Beni Sweif south of Cairo.

“Cairo today is all of Egypt,” he said. “I want my son to have a better life and not suffer as much as I did … I want to feel like I chose my president.”

The various protesters have little in common beyond the demand that Mubarak go.

A range of groups are involved, with sometimes conflicting agendas — including students, online activists, grass-roots organizers, old-school opposition politicians and the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood.

Perhaps the most significant tensions among them are between young secular activists and the Muslim Brotherhood, which wants to form a state governed by Islamic law. The more secular are deeply suspicious the Brotherhood aims to co-opt what they contend is a spontaneous, popular movement. American officials have suggested they have similar fears.  (*)

U.S. urges Egypt's Mubarak do more; envoy in Cairo

FILE : U.S. President Barack Obama meets with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak at the White House in Washington in this August 18, 2009 file photo. Obama on Sunday urged an "orderly transition" to democracy in Egypt, stopping short of calling on Mubarak to step down but signaling that his days may be numbered. REUTERS/Jim Young/Files


Feb 01 (KATAKAMI / Reuters) – The United States urged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Monday to do more than name a new government in response to mass protests and sent an envoy to Cairo to reinforce the message.

Former U.S. ambassador to Egypt Frank Wisner was on the ground in Cairo as U.S. officials sought to bring pressure on Mubarak without openly calling on him to step down.

Officials said the Egyptian government needs a path to a credible presidential election in September as part of an “orderly transition.” Also needed are a lifting of emergency law and negotiations with a broad cross-section of Egyptians, including opposition groups, they said.

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Wisner “has the opportunity to gain a perspective on what they’re thinking and what their ideas are in terms of process that we’ve clearly called for.”

Still walking a diplomatic tightrope, the White House insisted President Barack Obama was not calling on Mubarak to step down after a week of street protests against him and said it was up to the Egyptian people to decide their own future.

Still, the United States has started to think about the long-term implications of the protests and scenarios for what might come next, according to an analyst who was present at a White House meeting on the subject.

Obama has voiced concerns to aides that any U.S. effort to insert itself into the situation could backfire.

After a weekend in which Mubarak named a new vice president but still clung to power, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “This is not about appointments, it’s about actions.”

“Obviously there is more work to be done. … The way Egypt looks and operates must change,” Gibbs said.

The White House said Vice President Joe Biden called King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa of Bahrain on Monday and reiterated the strong U.S. focus on opposing violence and support for human rights, free speech and an orderly transition to a government responsive to the Egyptian people’s Aspirations.

As the crisis led to an surge in crude oil prices, a U.S. lawmaker called on the White House to set aside its delicate balancing act and call on Mubarak to step down.

“While initially it may have been prudent for the Obama administration to walk that rhetorical tight rope to keep the confidence of regional leaders, that moment has surely passed,” said Democratic Representative Gary Ackerman.

Brian Katulis, a Middle East expert at the Center for American Progress who attended a meeting with White House national security aides and outside analysts on Monday, said the administration was thinking about what will happen next.

“They were very focused on … some of the longer term consequences, not only in Egypt but also the consequences this may have on the region,” he said.

The problem for U.S. policymakers is: who would replace Mubarak, a stalwart ally for 30 years? They fear the possibility of radical Muslims taking over in a country of paramount strategic importance to Washington.

Stephen Grand, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, said U.S. officials “seem to have in mind a managed transition that avoids the creation of a vacuum that extremist elements might exploit.”

“This could mean the creation of a caretaker government that oversees the rewriting of the constitution and the holding of free and fair elections,” he said.

The crisis is taking its toll on oil markets.

Brent crude oil futures surged to $101 a barrel, a 28-month high, as anxieties rose that protests in Egypt could spark instability across the Middle East and disrupt oil shipments through the Suez Canal.

U.S. stocks rose as investors focused on the expanding U.S. economy and rising earnings, satisfied the situation in Egypt would not escalate into widespread violence or turmoil. The broad Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed up 0.77 percent, at 1,286.12.

Senator Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the U.S. Senate’s energy panel, warned on Monday that the escalating protests in Egypt could affect U.S. access to affordable energy supplies.

Egypt’s Suez Canal allows the transport of crude oil and liquefied natural gas bound for the U.S. and other countries.

National security aides at the White House were monitoring the effect the unrest and uncertainty in Egypt may have on oil and financial markets. Gibbs said no disruptions had been reported in the Suez Canal.  (*)



Hosni Mubarak names members of new government

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

CAIRO, Jan. 31 (KATAKAMI.COM / Xinhua) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak named new interior and finance ministers on Monday as one of the steps to form a new government after he ordered the previous government to resign.

Mahmoud Wagdi was appointed the interior minister to replace Habib al-Adly, Egyptian TV reported.

Mubarak appointed Aviation Minister Ahmed Shafik who was also a former Air Force commander, as prime minister after the previous cabinet led by Mohamed Nazif resigned on Saturday.

Mubarak on Sunday tasked Shafik to form a cabinet that can meet people’s demands and alleviate economic burdens on the public with introducing democratic reforms.  (*)

Egypt's Mubarak meets commanders: reports

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / Reuters) – Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited a military headquarters and met top commanders, state media reported, showing the leader chairing a meeting as protesters who have rocked the country demanded he quit.

State television showed Mubarak meeting newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman, Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Chief of Staff Sami al-Anan and other commanders.

The official state news agency said Mubarak was reviewing the armed forces headquarters in charge of security operations.  (*)

David Cameron's 'grave concern' over Egypt violence

FILE : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak attends the opening session of the Arab League Second Economic Forum, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh January 19, 2011. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / BREAKINGNEWS.IE) — British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke to President Hosni Mubarak tonight to express his “grave concern” about violence against anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Mr Cameron urged the embattled leader to “take bold steps to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy” rather than attempt to repress dissent, according to Downing Street.

In a joint statement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Cameron added: “The Egyptian people have legitimate grievances and a longing for a just and better future.

“We urge President Mubarak to embark on a process of transformation which should be reflected in a broad-based government and in free and fair elections.”

Mr Cameron made his intervention in a telephone call this evening, as tens of thousands of protesters were still on the streets demanding reforms and an end to Mr Mubarak’s three-decade rule.

More than 50 people are said to have died during five days of clashes with police, and thousands more have been injured.

Mr Mubarak tried to ease the crisis yesterday by sacking his cabinet and appointing a moderate new deputy.

But the UK and US – previously strong allies of the regime – have failed to give their backing.

America has suggested it could withdraw Egypt’s multibillion-dollar aid package if civil liberties are not respected.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has this evening spoken to President Mubarak and expressed his grave concern about the ongoing events, particularly violence on the streets.

“He emphasised that violent repression of peaceful protest was wrong and counter-productive.

“The Prime Minister urged the President to take bold steps to accelerate political reform and build democratic legitimacy, which should be reflected by an inclusive government with the credibility to carry this agenda forward.”

The joint statement from Mr Cameron, Mr Sarkozy and Mrs Merkel voiced “deep concern” about the events.

“We recognise the moderating role President Mubarak has played over many years in the Middle East. We now urge him to show the same moderation in addressing the current situation in Egypt,” it said.

“We call on President Mubarak to avoid at all costs the use of violence against unarmed civilians, and on the demonstrators to exercise their rights peacefully.

“It is essential that the further political, economic and social reforms President Mubarak has promised are implemented fully and quickly and meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

“There must be full respect for human rights and democratic freedoms, including freedom of expression and communication, including use of telephones and the internet, and the right of peaceful assembly.”   (*)

Saudi King supports Hosni Mubarak, Mahmoud Abbas makes a phone call

FILE : Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah speaks in his plane before his arrival in Casablanca January 22, 2011. King Abdullah, Saudi Arabia's elderly and ailing ruler, arrived in Morocco on Saturday to convalesce after spending almost two months in New York for medical treatment, the official Saudi Press Agency reported. Picture taken January 22, 2011. (Photo : Getty Images )

RIYADH, Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / GULF TODAY.AE) —  Saudi King Abdullah has expressed his support for President Hosni Mubarak and slammed those “tampering” with Egypt’s security and stability, state news agency SPA reported on Saturday.

The Saudi ruler, in Morocco recovering from back surgery performed in the United States, telephoned Mubarak early Saturday, the report said.

During the conversation, Abdullah condemned “intruders” he said were “tampering with Egypt’s security and stability …in the name of freedom of expression.”

Saudi Arabia, he added, “stands with all its means with the government and people of Egypt.” SPA said Mubarak had responded by assuring King Abdullah that “the situation is stable (in Egypt) … and what the world has seen is nothing more than an attempt by some … suspicious groups which do not want stability and security for Egyptians.”

Mubarak, known for his close ties with the Saudi king, had added, “Egypt and its people are determined to stop those trying to use the freedom given (to Egyptians) to achieve suspicious agendas,” SPA said.

Earlier this month, Saudi Arabia granted asylum to Tunisian strongman Zine El Abidine Ben Ali after he was toppled in what has been dubbed “The Jasmine Revolution.”

Saudi foreign ministry spokesman Osama Nogali said the decision to give shelter to Ben Ali was so as to try to “help defuse the crisis and prevent the bloodshed of the Tunisian people.”

Saudi Arabia has kept a total blackout on Ben Ali’s activities since he landed in the Red Sea port city of Jeddah early on January 15 with six members of his family.

The kingdom has sheltered other exiled leaders in the past, including former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

FILE : From right to left, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak meets with Palestinian authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh at the Presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 24, 2011. Talks come within the framework of efforts aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Mubarak on Saturday and expressed his hopes that the country would safely weather its current unrest.

“President Mahmoud Abbas called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and affirmed his solidarity with Egypt and his commitment to its security and stability,” said a statement released by Abbas’s office.

It added: “He wished that God bless Egypt and its people who have always stood with the Palestinian people.”

Egypt, which shares a border with the Gaza Strip has historically played a leading role in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and has also tried to broker reconciliation between Abbas’s Fatah movement and its bitter rival Hamas, which rules Gaza.

Meanwhile a senior Kuwaiti official said Kuwait is bringing citizens and residents home from Egypt on free flights.

Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs Roudhan Al Roudhan said “Kuwaiti citizens and residents are being brought back home on free flights in light of the current security troubles in Egypt,” state news agency KUNA reported.  (*)

Egypt's intelligence chief appointed vice-president; Mubarak's family leaves for London

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, listens as Omar Suleiman, swears the oath as Vice President of Egypt, Saturday Jan. 29. 2011. Photo by: AP

Omar Suleiman is first vice-president in 30 years; embattled Mubarak also names Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister and army chief Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan as defense minister in bid to stem growing popular protests.

Jan 30 (KATAKAMI.COM / HAARETZ) — Embattled Egyptian President Mubarak appointed on Saturday a former air force commander and aviation minister, Ahmed Shafiq, as the new prime minister, in efforts to stem popular rage against his autocratic regime. The move ensures that men with military links are in the top three political jobs.

Shafiq’s appointment followed announcement earlier on Saturday that Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief with military experience, would be vice president and in prime position for the top job if Mubarak does not run for president again in September.

Mubarak also named Egypt’s military chief Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Anan as the new defense minister.

Mubarak, 82, was also a former air force chief.

The Egyptian cabinet formally resigned on Saturday, at the command of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, following five days of violent anti-government protests. Mubarak addressed the country on Saturday for the fist time since the riots began, saying that he had no intention to resign.

Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Ala, arrived in London late Saturday as the clashes in their home country continued.  The Egyptian president’s wife left Egypt later on Saturday and is also expected to arrive in London, Al Jazeera reported.

The popular protests in Egypt, which continue unabated, have left at least 55 reported dead and over 2,000 wounded. Some sources are saying that the death toll could be as high as 100 once confusion on the streets clears up.

The protests are the most serious challenge to Mubarak’s 30-year authoritarian rule. The embattled president defended the security forces’ crackdown on protesters, but said that he will press ahead with social, economic and political reforms in the country.

Suleiman is the first vice-president of Egypt to be appointed since Mubarak first took power almost thirty years ago. Mubarak himself occupied the position of vice-president under the former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, and took the reigns of power after Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest opposition movement in Egypt called for Mubarak to relinquish power in a peaceful manner, AFP has reported. The Muslim Brotherhood is officially banned from running for elections for parliament, though some movement members candidate for parliament as independents.

The government’s attempts to suppress demonstrations appeared to be swiftly eroding support from the United States- suddenly forced to choose between its most important Arab ally and a democratic uprising demanding his ouster. Washington threatened to reduce a $1.5 billion program of foreign aid if Mubarak escalated the use of force.

Al-Jazeera news reported that Egyptian pro-democracy leader, Mohamed ElBaradei called on Mubarak to step down and set a framework for transition of power as the only way to end street unrests that have rocked Egypt.

The former head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog told Al Jazeera in a phone interview that Mubarak’s speech on Friday, in which he said he would form a new government, was “disappointing” for Egyptians.

Countries across the world have weighed in on the crisis in Egypt and have expressed their views on how Mubarak should handle the situation. Iran voiced support for the protesters, calling the mass demonstrations a “wave of Islamic awakening.”

“The protests of the Muslim people of Egypt is a move towards gaining justice and realizing their national and religious will,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah expressed support for Mubarak on Saturday, the official Saudi Press Agency said.

“No Arab or Muslim can tolerate any meddling in the security and stability of Arab and Muslim Egypt by those who infiltrated the people in the name of freedom of expression, exploiting it to inject their destructive hatred,” SPA quoted King Abdullah as saying.

United States President Barack Obama called on Mubarak on Friday to expand rights within the country.

“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,” Obama said he told the longtime leader in a phone call from the White House.

Before Obama spoke, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs announced the administration might cut the $1.5 billion in annual foreign aid sent to Egypt, depending on Mubarak’s response to the demonstrations.

Obama also repeated demands by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for Egypt’s government to restore access to the internet and social media sites, cut by the authorities in an apparent attempt to limit the flow of information about the protests demanding an end to Mubarak’s rule.

Obama noted the United States and Egypt have a close partnership, a reference to Mubarak’s support over the years for peace with Israel.

But he said, “We’ve also been clear that there must be reform, political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.” He added that the demonstrators had a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. He continued, “Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms they seek.”

In what appeared to be an effort to distance the bloc from Mubarak’s regime, EU President Herman Van Rompuy said on Saturday that the EU is urging Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak to end the crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators and release all political prisoner.

The European Union was deeply troubled by the spiral of violence in Egypt, Van Rompuy said, and he hoped Mubarak’s promises of reform will translate into concrete action. the EU has traditionally had close relations with the Egyptian government as part of its partnerships with countries on the eastern and southern rims of the Mediterranean.

Egypt has also been one of the United States’ closest allies in the region since President Anwar Sadat made peace with Israel in 1979 after talks at Camp David.

Mubarak kept that deal after Sadat’s 1981 assassination and has been a close partner of every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, helping Washington exert its will on issues that range from suppressing Islamist violence to counterbalancing the rise of Iran’s anti-American Shiite theocracy.

Mubarak has not said yet whether he will stand for another six-year term as president in elections this year. He has never appointed a deputy and is thought to be grooming his son Gamal to succeed him despite popular opposition.  (*)

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