Live from Cairo (18)
BREAKING 4:26PM Sul is going to give a speech soon. UPDATE Shorter Sul: Youth, go home!
BREAKING 4:12PM Shorter Mub: Not going anywhere. Crowd: [throws shoes in air], chants "He must go! He must go!" No reaction from Washington. Here's the moment when Mub lost the crowd:
At one point Mubarak made a reference to being a young man and understanding the young men of Egypt – basically the people who are here – and at that moment the whole square erupted in anger. At that point, the whole square exploded in anger. The way that Mubarak is comparing himself to the people on the ground infuriated them.
Yep. That was when Mub said he'd risked his life many times. That is exactly what the young Egyptians in the square are doing right now!
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BREAKING 2:28PM Mub speech in ~30 minutes. Now not clear whether the speech will be live or not. 3:30PM Speech now thirty minutes late. Reuters: Mub to hand power to Sul, may cancel emergency law, but he himself will not stand aside. Speech now 40 minutes late.
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aditi_malhotra_ RT @ckrewson: What a fantastic Twitter hashtag - #reasonsmubarakislate. My fave: Changing Facebook relationship status to "It's Complicated."
+1000! Let's hope we still have our sense of humor at evening's end...
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BREAKING 10:10AM AJ Anch: AP, the Senior Army commander from Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) says to the protesters that "all of their demand will be met." AJ sources confirm. No official word. 10:47AM NBC says Mub to step down. 10:56AM Reuters, decision tonight. Lots of excitement and motion at the elite level, for sure! Still no official word. 11:03AM "Tonight" from many sources. 11:05AM Semi-official Al Ahram says NDP Secretary General will ask Mub to step down in favor of Sul; there are Constitutional complexities, however, that affect the timing of elections, and could also permit transfer of power to military. 11:12AM No troop movements in TS. 11:16AM Conflicting reports on Mub's status, but convergence on that his absence from the SCAF, and that the Defense Minister chaired the meeting, means that he's no longer at the head of the chain of command, and therefore a goner. 11:18AM Reuters, State TV reports that Mub will speak tonight. Nobody knows whether live or recorded. Presidential fleet of planes and helicopters not mobilized. 12:30PM Mub speech will be live, says AJ. In other words, Mub has not left [Not good news. --lambert] 12:57PM Obama: "We're going to have to wait and see what's going on." Maybe a presser soon. Correction: No presser. Obama hijacks youth imagery for 2012 in campaign-style speech. Nothing new or concrete.
Crawler: Military and NDP officials say Mub will meet protesters demands.
SUMMARY New demands emerge from TS for entire govt to step down and a year-long period of transition while a new Constitution is written. Supreme Council of the Armed Forces now in session. Mub was not at the meeting. 10:29AM They issued a statement that's totally ambiguous but highly significant, to which the TS crowds reacted positively.
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AJ had a cameraperson embedded with the April 6 Movement (A6M) from January 25 on, and they just ran the documentary, "Seeds of Change". And you know how I like gardening metaphors! Key takeaways: 1. A6M started in a textile strike in 2006. 2. A6M also sought to learn from success, and looked to Srdja Popovic of Serbia's OTPOR for guidance. 3. Popovic shared that non-violence was key. 4. I can't help seeing AJ's airing of this show at this time as a media riposte to Sul's musings on coups and "dark bats". Perhaps they'll be better able to defend the gains of the movement in the light, rather than the shadows. [Note that alert commenter Richard Kline at Yves places got to this first, 2010-02-03. --lambert, 2010-02-17].
So, the leaderless movement in TS includes, if it is not driven by, a rather unassuming and yet extremely media-savvy set of twenty- and thirty-something activists. (I refuse to use the word "youth," because that implies a lack of maturity. In fact, the Egyptian movement has been stunningly, staggeringly mature.)
Some caveats: With Otpor, we enter a hall of mirrors on funding from US intelligence and ambiguous objectives -- although it's hard to see undermining Milosevic as anything other than a win for humanity. For now, I prefer to think of Popovic sharing information on tactics and strategy with A6M as a delicious example of blowback -- exactly like arming the Afghani mujaheddin with Stingers, and then reaping a religious whirlwind. Here, however, we armed Popovic in Serbia with non-violent tactics, and are reaping a secular whirlwind in Egypt. None of the realism I introduce here should take away one iota of your awe from the achievements of the Egyptian movement. Everyone who overcomes fear is a hero, not just "facilitators" like A6M -- no matter how much the purveyors of narratives (definitely including AJ, here) would like the story hook of the "youthful leader" for their stories, along with an ending, whether happy or tragic. And we hear, over and over again, that losing the fear was a key moment for all the movement participants.*
Anyhow, I got so absorbed by the show that I forgot that I should live blog a transcript until it was far too late. So, I did some screen dumps to jog my memory, which I'll caption, also from memory -- which doesn't include people's names, rather appropriate in this case!
Popovic gave two reasons for NV. The first (IIRC) was what violence does to the person who engages in it. The second was that "whenever some idiot throw a rock, that becomes the story." (Reminds me of a Serbian proverb: "A fool throws a stone into the sea, and a hundred wise men cannot pull it out.")
Planning for TS. Note "another group" in the screen subtitle; A6M is not the only group involved.
They've got a good brand, though!
Putting in a satellite dish after the Internet and cellphone cutoffs.
Preparations against tear gas.
As the documentary went on, A6M members started showing up wounded.
The tactical response to the wave of looting from Mub's thugs.
Group portrait in the office (A6M was pretty overground). Not, at least, entirely male (and when three were arrested, one was a woman)
Another group shot.
Tactical discussion; IIRC, A6M was with ElB in TS. None of this struck me as top-down; rather, it was committee work, thrashing things out.
More ElB tactical discussion.
More tactical discussion.
Reaction to Mub's speech (on TV in background).
Thugs attack the protesters. A great image of polarization, literal, metaphorical, historical, sociological.
Security forces trash the A6M office.
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thewa7sh "Protesters start building toilets" @norashalaby one result of the meeting with student engineers to come up urban planning this morning.
One can't help but be reminded of the 9/11 hijackers, many of whom had post-graduate training, and at least one of whom was an engineer. TS is much more constructive!
* * *
Obviously, I'm in "Can't tell the players without a score card" mode. It's not easy to tell the real players from the fake ones, or effective opposition from ineffective opposition. (I imagine that many Egyptians think that we hold free and fair elections, and that both parties are different!). So I need to post on that, soon.
NOTE * This reminds me very much of the beneficial effects of coming out of the closet. We might remind ourselves that gay liberation was one of the very few truly successful... left? Populist? Party of humanity? movements of our generation.
10:10AM Rep, Jackie: TS crowd now demands entire demand step down, with a one-year transition period with a temporary Constititution a Council of Presidents. Then in a year, Parliamentary and Presidential elections. Via "organizers in the square." Anch: Military in difficult position. A divided military between those who want to impose order by force and those not. Originally military loved by the crowd, and promised not to use force. Now Sul has said this can't go on, and anything more than what has been offered is a coup. Cracks in the chain of command now? Anch: Port Said? Int: Incident several days ago, 5 months govt promised housing and didn't, so yesterday protests grew, govt buildings set on fire, including the main security building. Anch: Friday mood for next march? Int, Jackie: Mood is one of defiance. Many more here today. People recieve SMS for 20 million demonstration, and told where else they can meet if they can't get to TS. Organizers hopeful since others are joining. Anch: AP says Senior Army command that all of their demand will be met. Int: Then Mub will go, that's always been their first demand with no disagreement from anyone.
10:12AM AJ tweets in semi-confirmation:
evanchill Reports saying Mubarak may delegate powers to Suleiman, would likely be followed by a symbolic departure, possibly to Sharm el-Sheikh
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evanchill The New York Times sure knows how to cover a press conference. Friedman, Shadid, Kirkpatrick and Farrell all at the journo syndicat
BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!!! The bigfoots never change!
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10:12AM Egyptian officer: Awaiting orders that will "make the people happy."
10:25AM State TV Supreme Council convened. Military statement read. Several times, it seems. WTF???
Statement #1 Meet regularly and the armed forces to continue to monitor the situation.
Crawler: Mub not at the meeting, Defense Minister conducted. [And we all know what happens to people who aren't at the meeting.... --lambert]
Anch: Resolved to keep meeting to study. WTF with this statement? Rep, Evan: Interesting but ambigious. Two things: 1. SCAF to meet regularly, were they not doing that? 2. What does "safeguard people and asserts" mean? Significant, because statements trickling out have always come at significant junctures, like military asking people to guard streets, say they will not use force, etc. Play out over next few hours. Anch: Mub not at the meeting. Significant? Rep: Yes. What is the meaning of this message? [Future lies ahead...]
10:30AM Rep, TS: People assumed Sul statement [the "bats" and so forth] meant a coup, so they interpret the statement to mean, "no coup." Cheers and chanting. Various speakers on various stages throughout TS. Chant: "The Army and the people are one." [Anch says, bring this up, so we can hear."] Anch: Lots of rumor, nothing is confirmed. Reuters told protesters in TS that: "Everything you want will be realized."
10:34AM Rep, Evan: No unexpected activity at the airports. Rep, Jackie: Watching a giant screen at the side of the square [broadcasting what??? --lambert]
10:37AM Anch: What does this mean? Nowara, National Council for Change [ElB's thing], int: Means Mub step down, people have made the revolution, Army [missed it, safeguard] [I want to see the official statements. --lambert] Anch: People accept Army takeover 'til Sept? Int: We were in deadlock, speak for myself, think that the power equation between the people and the state has changed, so I don't fear the army will hold onto power. Army should come out with a roadmap and a timetable with elections.
10:41AM Energy already up in the TS, people planning to stay in TS, not to miss anything, but a lot of rumors.
10:42AM Rep, Alexandria: Cafes, very quick to notice absence of Mub from the meeting. Euphoria. They feel they are in touching distance.
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Here's a summary of the Egyptian opposition from Foreign Policy. As a Versailles publication, the focus is "How can we find a local to negotiate with" so IMNHSO it overstates the role of ElB, but here is what they say on A6M:
For the last two years the April 6 Movement has organized demonstrations in support of workers’ rights and is now calling for increasing Egypt’s minimum wage. In 2008, it supported Egypt’s first major labor strikes in decades, in the industrial town of Mahalla, on the Nile Delta
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The Supreme Council of Egyptian Armed Forces has met to discuss the ongoing protests against the government of Hosni Mubarak, the president.
Hassan al-Roweni, an Egyptian army commander, told protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday that "Everything you want will be realised". Protesters have demanded that Hosni Mubarak stand down as president.
Hassam Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party, told the BBC and Channel 4 News on Thursday that he expected Mubarak to hand over his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president.
Ahmed Shafiq, the country's prime minister, told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be "clarified soon".
In a statement telvised on state television, the army said it had convened the meeting of the supreme council in response to the current political turmoil, and that it would continue to convene such meetings.
"Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation... and in support of the legitimate demands of the people," the army "will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people," the statement said.
The meeting was chaired by Mohamed Tantawi, the defence minister, rather than Mubarak, who, as president, would normally have headed the meeting.
The army's statement was met with a roar of approval from protesters in Tahrir Square, our correspondent reported
10:50AM The NBC reports:
Update at 10:45 a.m. ET: NBC says Mubarak will make a statement this evening and step down. A statement by the armed forces on Egyptian state TV says the military convened the supreme council of the armed forces "to safeguard people and protect their interest." Al-Jazeera TV notes that Mubarak was not shown attending that meeting. [That is, I think, the key point. --lambert]
In its statement, the military says it the council will remain in session indefinitely during the crisis. It says the decision was made in response to "legitimate" popular demands. [Didn't get "indefinitely" from the AJ translation I heard. --lambert]
Update at 10:37 a.m. ET: NBC's Richard Engel says two independent sources have confirmed that Mubarak will step down. [The TS crowd is not reacting as if they had heard this, however. --lambert] In addition, the armed forces supreme council has convened to begin the orderly transition of power ["convened to begin" not exactly what I heard translated, however. --lambert], NBC says.
Update at 10:28 a.m. ET: NBC reports that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down tonight and that vice president Omar Suleiman will take over as president.
[Great news if confirmed, but I'd most definitely rely on AJ for the Egyptian nuance. See the AJ reporter's comment above about the people in the cafe noticing that Mub wasn't at the meeting leading to euphoria; the E people, like us, saturated in state media, would have picked up on that instantly. The NBC cites that, but doesn't interpret it. --lambert]
10:59AM Anch: CIA station chief says Mub to step down. [CNN crawler: Strong likelihood Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down today, CIA director Leon Panetta tells Congress.]
11:05AM Rep: Semi-official Al Ahram says NDP Secretary General will ask Mub to step down in favor of Sul; there are Constitutional complexities, however, that affect the timing of elections, and could also permit transfer of power to military. But the protesters are not very happy with Sul [and why would they be? --lambert]
11:15AM Anch: Reuters, Mub to leave for Sharm el-Sheik. [Reuters: No signs of this at SeS, like extra military presence.]
11:15AM Anch: Army? Int: Army trying to manage the transition? Or trying to run the country? This is what to watch for. We don't know!
11:19AM Anch: Conflicting reports NDP saying "hope" step down; PM saying "has not stepped." Reuters PM: "Everything is in the hands of the President." Anch: What do you think? Int, retired Army General, translated: If Mub not at meeting, clear sign he's out. Also, clear the people's demands to be met, Army to supervise. There is no difference between the council and Sul. Anch: But some, like P.M., say Mub still President? Int: Council is managing the crisis, not the revolution. To state Pres in office, to me, is insensible [??]. The armed forces are in command. SCAF convened on many conventions before, since at least January 25. SCAF in public not just an indication but a confirmation that the Army has authority. No dispute between SCAF and Sul.
Even if Mubarak steps down, will it be enough for the protesters? This is a common them on the Twittersphere: #Egyptians do not want another government from the NDP or from the military. They want a government from #Tahrir Square.
11:26AM Anch: White House. Situation fluid, no further comment. State TV evacuated.
11:32AM, Reuters: State TV is now reporting that Mubarak will speak to the nation tonight from his palace in Cairo. [So that would explain why they evaculated their offices? --lambert] Rep, Evan: From the palace in the Cairo burbs, don't know if recorded or live. Anch: Step down? Rep: Every time he has addressed the nation, has affected the course of the nation. Expect substational and significant. Anch: Staff leaving the building? [Ha ha, spotted that --lambert] Rep: Has been the most guarded building since the crisis. Come under heavy criticism. Senior presenters and officials have actually stepped down from it! Constantly portrayed protesters as creating instability and manipulated by foreigners. Rumors that TS will march on the building, but unconfirmed.
11:36AM Anch: Welcome. What now, why now? Int, Masloom, retired general, translated: SCAF should be led by the pres and "in light of current circumstances" [!!] is chaired by the Def minister. ... Consensus that Mub should step down, hand power to the Army and Sul. Feel pain that businessmen have been dividing the cake amount themselves. E needs a radical change at all levels and all ways. E should restore its stature and role, and internatioanlly. This is a revolution. Anch: What kind of role will Army play in interim period? Int: Speculation. Some assume Sul take power, and cabinet. Others say all power remain in the hands of others. Speculation. The Army might set up a political committee. A scenario under the protection and sponsorship of the Armed Forces. The people will elect a President and members of both Houses.
11:43AM Anch, recap: Mub address nation. NDP head says: Surprised Mub Pres tomorrow. Shafiq: All normal, in hands of Pres. CIA: Mub stand down, slight retraction, he was referencing press reports, not intel [!!!]. "Quite a lot of conjecture."
11:44AM Anch: SCAF has only held three open sessions, third today (first 1967). Rep: Now, convene regularly, of great significance in terms of its role [as yet not known]. No doubt about it, heads of armed forces convene today without Mub is significant. Key point whether statement recorded or live. If live, unprecedented, and would mean Mub is still in palace, physically. Multiple sources that the presidential fleet of planes and helocopters has not been mobilized.
12:00PM Int, Hamdi, National Association for Change: Mub family packed bags, but Mub may hand over powers, stay in Sharm- el-Sheik, and maintain a ceremonial position. The SCAF statement means that Mub is no longer in power, and that the demands of the people must be met quickly. Scenes of strikes and civil disobedience yesterday, paralyzed the state. Sul's statement yesterday ("bats") viewed as "unsatisfactory." Rumors of "bloodbath," [context Army doesn't want]. All these Constitutional arguments make no sense. The will of the people has prevailed. Mub's address will be the last word, based on agreement between the military and Mub. However, amid joy in TS be cautious and wait for the statement. But have confidence that we have covered so much, address likely to be as expected. Anch: What is ElB do next? Int: NSC is not the party of ElB. A few months before, ElB not the leader. Recently, view him as a figure of change. There are others. We reject any negotiation with the power unless the demands of the people are met.
12:05PM Int, Kefiya: People waiting. We want a civil state. We didn't get rid of Mub to be ruled by the Army. Anch: Terrible phone line! [cuts away]
[Nothing from A6M, but I'm guessing they are very busy --lambert]
12:07PM Rep, jackie: People are celebrating even though this is anticipatory. Anch: Want to preempt Friday March, so why all this today? Rep: Well, one quarter of E's population is in the streets...
12:31PM Anch: TS OK with Sul taking over? Will people accept? He's old regime? Int in TS: TS not willing to negotiate with Sull, he is a symbol too. Anch: But according to Constitution, it's Sul. Int: [Jeebus, figure out the window-dressing, for pity's sake]. I don't see how this huge mass of people can gather again, if we go home. So all our demands will be met. Anch: What do you see? Int: Dancing, but also groups worried about the army. Complete lack of trust in regime. Why are things happening in this way and now?
State tv reporting Mubarak speech will be LIVE from Pres Palace.
12:40PM Anch: Power transfer to who? Rep: Sul is ancien regime, like Mub. If military, needs to assure that this a transition. Problem is that all who have governed E since Farouk's overthrow have been children of the military. Can E make a clean break from the military history and move to civilian leadership. That is what the protesters want. We don't have the answer. Military is influential and lucrative. Self-sufficient. Operates business... Bakeries! Very tied into ruling establishment. 180-degrees in a different direction counter-intuitive to their interests. Will the military succumb to all the pressures? Military assume power, then put in a civilian leader that curbs it's own power?
12:43PM Anch: Mil push Mub? Int, oppo leader, translated: Tomorrow plans big impact. 150,000 head to palace. Lawyers march. Strikes in factories and industrial centers. Believe a division in the mlitary, especial Sul and Tantawi (SCAF) and balance tipped to Tantawi. Believe that people's demands to be answers. In addition, some come to TS and say all demands be answered. All waiting for the answer on transition, dialog, clear the picture of the coming transitional period. Anch: Army assume control not Sul, you comfortable? Int: Comfortable in all events, the only institution standing by the people was the armed forces. Now we should wait for coming statement from the Supreme Council [thought we had that]. Anch: Opp cooperate in coming elections? Int: A council, including Tatawi and professionals, pave the way for a transitional period, unity govt, maybe a technocrat. Six months, then elections. [Not clear to me whether these are all ideas rather than commitments. --lambert]
Asked about the Egyptian developments, President Obama said, "We're going to have to wait and see what's going on."
Update 7:24 p.m. in Cairo, 12:24 p.m. ET] The "crowd in Tahrir Square just chanted 'civil, civil, not military!'" CNN's Ivan Watson reported in a Twitter message. That comes amid reports that President Hosni Mubarak may hand over power to the military.
1:00PM Rep, Evan: No political parties have credibility, hence advocacy of transitional councils. Challenges, military not trained for police function, maintain order in the streets? [So why not fund the neighborhood guards, which the Army helped train? Helps with aggregate demand! --lambert]
1:18PM Rep, Evan: Criminal court lets prosecution of businessmen for corruption go ahead. E of all walks of life are starting to condemn corruption, never brought to justice. This is now actually being reflected on state TV. [Corruption, and the impacted anger that it brings, was very, very big in Thailand as well. --lambert]
OBAMA: Hello Marquette! Thank you so much! It is wonderful to be here in the Upper Peninsula with so many Yoopers...
[AJ anch, thank gawd, cuts away from the bullshit. Jeebus, Ø sounds energized; must be glad he threw some more poor people under the bus. It was so weird to hear the cheesy and mechanical and provincial "Hail to Chief" after the sounds of the square. --lambert]
OBAMA: Watching Egypt very closely. Witnessing history unfold. People of Egypt are calling for change. It's young people who've been at the forefront. Young people, your generation. Support an orderly and genuine transition to democracy. We live in an interconnected world. What happens in the world has an impact on each one of us. I've come here because in the 21st century. Not just in the big cities were change is happening but in towns like this, where our economic future will be won.
[Watching Obama the smoothie hijack the imagery and connect the events in Egypt to the OFA makes me want to throw up, and not just a little in my mouth, either. Ditto the idea that change happens at the margins in small towns, too. Sounds like he's been reading Corrente... Plus he's working the vacuous "win the future" riff, too. And it's only 2011! And see comment on Washington Post's alert below. --lambert]
Anch: Nothing new. Rep, Evan: Waiting for cue from Egypt. Getting info from intel and military; E senior officers in contact with ours. In a couple hours we'll know.
Anch: Washington, nothing new? Rep, DC: A lot people think US mil and intel know everything, but I can tell you before first Mub accouncement, my sources in Pentagon said he wasn't going anywhere. They don't know what to believe until they see what happens.
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Wael Ghonim, nice guy but also figurehead. McClatchy:
Wael Ghonim, the Egyptian Google executive whose release from secret detention earlier this week inspired protesters, said on Twitter: "Mission accomplished. [Not only nice, but irony-free. --lambert] Thanks to all the brave young Egyptians."
But that comment was immediately met with skepticism from pro-democracy activists, who said that it was too soon to declare victory. A few minutes later, Ghonim had removed the comment.
Very interesting. Who communicated with him? A6M?
* * *
Breaking News Alert: Obama: U.S. supports 'orderly . . . transition to democracy in Egypt'
President Obama said during a speech in Michigan that the United States "will continue to do everything we can to support the orderly and genuine transition to democracy in Egypt.
[Of course, concretely that means nothing; Pravda didn't get the story. This is the story: Just as, to anybody saturated in Egyptian political culture, Mub not chairing the meeting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces breaks the chain of command and means that Mub is toast, so, to somebody saturated in US political culture, Obama stealing the rhetorical clothes of the Egyptian opposition for 2012 (above) means that Mub is toast. --lambert]
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2:27PM State TV shifts editorial policy, shows the same feed on TS that AJ is showing:
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Kefaya [enough] -- founded in 2004 to protest Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s candidacy for yet another term -- wants the government to amend the constitution to liberalize the political system. Led by the leftist activist George Ishak, the former head of the country’s union of Catholic schools, it has blossomed into a coalition that includes leftists, liberals, and Islamists. It serves as an umbrella movement for protests against Mubarak’s continued rule and in favor of an independent judiciary.
Interesting. Clearly not as media-savvy as A6M. Interesting on the independent judiciary, also a driver of protest in Pakistan. I wonder if they organized the march of the lawyers on the palace?
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2:43PM Israeli National News calls their shot via FOX:
A senior Egyptian official told Fox News that authority was transferred to the Egyptian Supreme Council of Armed Forces, comprised of the Minister of Defense, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and the country’s military chief of staff, chief of operations and commanders of the army, navy, air force and air defense.
The source added that the transfer of power would take place “outside of the Constitutional framework” since under normal circumstances, power would be transferred from the president to the speaker of the house, and elections would be held in 60 days. Due to the circumstances, the military council will “not be governing under the Constitution or any legislation,” the source told Fox. “So they will have to define the format under which they are taking power.”
It would be nice if Mub clarified that shortly.
* * *
More on A6M from the Robert Dreyfuss in the Guardian:
At the core of the revolt is the April 6 Youth Movement, which runs a veritable war room in downtown Cairo, issuing leaflets, internet missives and guidances to the crowds filling Tahrir Square. The group takes its name from April 6, 2008, when Egyptian authorities cracked down brutally to suppress a strike among textile workers in the gritty industrial town of El Mahalla El Kobra. Despite vigorous efforts by the authorities to suppress and sabotage April 6 and We Are All Khaled Said's internet presence, both groups have reached out beyond Egypt's college-educated youth to the unemployed and underemployed, hewing to a strictly secular and pro-reform message. April 6 organiser Ahmed Maher, along with many of his confreres, mode common cause with the more grizzled activists who made up the hardy band of pro-democracy advocates in Egypt, including two dissident groups, Kefaya ("Enough!") and El Ghad ("Tomorrow"), both set up in 2004, and Maher even used El Ghad's offices to get started.
This is from February 2, and I blush to have missed it. (OTOH, given the ineffectuality of the opposition, there would have been no way to assess any of it.) I find it interesting that all the opp groups except A6M have been interviewed on AJ today, and I'm guessing that's because A6M is... busy.
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3:06PM Anch: Your gut take? Rep, Evan: A very long process of self-discovery for Egypt. People in power have been in power for decades. Worst case, Mub remains defiant and adopts strong tactics. Could be dangerous. Anch: Still waiting. Chants.
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A very interesting article from The National (United Arab Emirates) on the opposition from January 28, after the protests were well underway, but before any of the leading cohorts had emerged.
3:13PM Anch cuts away to state TV, which is now running what look like promotional brochures from the Ministry of Commerce. Now that's over, there's a news reader....
3:22PM [What's the holdup? Pallets of cash too big for the plane? Did the Minister of Information jam the tape? --lambert]
* * *
I like looking for "agency" in the official language, so I like this commentary at AJ:
The realist terminology of the 'domino effect' does not capture the agency that Arabs are today assuming to unseat Arab hegemons, from Cairo to Sana'a.
This agency is unshackling itself from a threefold dynamic: the fear of the Arab police state; Orientalist constructions demoting Arab agency; and Euro-American democratisation theorists' obsession with structure, culture and top-down institution-building.
Similarly, this agency stumbles upon the structures of a world order driven by self-interest and impervious to the dreams of millions of Arabs to be free.
A precedent has been set in Tunisia, and Egypt is on the move. Whilst the challenges are awesome, the seeds for planting democratic dreams have begun by the display of people's power in Tunisia.
As AJ's Evan said above: A process of self-discovery.
* * *
Al Arabiya [state press] says Mubarak will say he will transfer powers to Vice President Suleiman according to the constitution
That's not going to fly in TS. #reasonsmubarakislate.
MUB: Speak as father to children. My response to your demands a commitment that cannot be waived. Adamant to fulfill all promises. Totally keen on implement all promises with no step backwards. Your demands are lawful and legit. Mistakes are likely in any state. Must admit mistakes and hold people accountable. No embarrassment in listening to youth of my homeland. I cannot and will not accept orders from outside no matter what the source or justification. My fellow countrymen and citizens. Announced in plain words that I will not run in the coming elections. Satisfied with what I have offered to the nation for over 60 years. Announced will adhere to dispositions, and remain adamant to continue to shoulder my responsibility until authority and power is handed over to the people in Sept coming in fair and free elections with guarantee of transparency. Oath taken before god and the nation. I have laid down a vision to exit the current crisis and realize demands of youth and citizens without undermining the Constitution and ensure stability of our society and materialization of their demands. Laid down framework for peaceful transition of power. I laid down this vision committed to my resp to take the country from these harsh movements looking forward to the backing of every person keen on people's interests to ensure the proper implementation safeguarded by the armed forces. Have started a national dialog has yielded agreement in stances and views. Should continue marching on this path on a specific timetable. This goes day by day til Sept next. This national dialog converges on formation of Constitutional committee to consider amendment needs, a steering committee to insure implementation of my promises. Keen on the formation of these two committees, to be comprised of jurists and legal professionals. In addition to the victims who have fallen in the tragic events, I handed down my orders to refer cases to chief prosecutors. Yesterday received first report on Constitution changes from a committee of jurists, and I, in response to the report of the committee, by virtue of the powers, article 189, proposed the amendment of 6 articles: 76, 77, 88, 93, and 189, in addition to the annulment of 179, confirm I am prepared at a later stage to amend further as required. These top priority amendments at streamlining elections to ensure fair and transparent. Also gives judiciary exclusive jurisdiction to rule on legitimacy of Parl election. 179: Balance between protecting nation and civil rights, to clear the way for scrapping the emergency law.
Priority now is to restore confidence. Change started can never be reversed. E is moving through hard times. Our economy has suffered loss. Will end up with the youth calling for hope and change [!!] first victims. Not my personality, Hosni Mubarak. All E lying in the same trench, continue dialog in friendly atmosphere without enmity. Stability and peace to our citizens. I have been a youth just like you when I learned military [honor] Chants [Erhal???] Lived through war and occupation. I have faced death on many occasions. I worked for peace and the sovereignty of E. Never sought popularity. I am sure many of the people are aware of who Mub is. Feel pain from what I hear from some of my countrymen. Firm, E a defining interest, all required to put interests of all first.
Delegate powers of Pres to VP. E will accept this exit. E will be back on its feet. We will not allow others to gloat over us. We will prove we are not a satellite state. We take our own decisions. We will prove all this by the unity of the people, by adherence to the values of E. This spirit will live on so long as [repeats....] the educated, the youth, Muslims, Christians... I will not separate from the soil until I am buried under. May God save Egypt.
~4:10PM AJ "WTF" discussion. Signals from military, press, even officials, all wrong. Why?
4:15PM Anch: State TV does not show angry reaction.
4:18PM Thomas, int in Doha: Question was what Mub will do. Now the question is, what will the people do. Anch: How can he misread the strength of feeling? Could this backfire? Int: It's not just fluid, now it's volcanic! Anch: Possibly the Army is responsible for some of this, when they came out and said the things they said? Int: What will the Army do if people get more angry?
4:24PM Anch: As if a switch were flipped. Jubilation from anger. Int: A moment of complete silence. Did not listen even to the end of the speech. Look at TS, an atmosphere of gloom. Look at speech: Not take orders from anyone. Here seen as the streets (and not DC, which just adapted to the ground). Using the same old rhetoric. Anch: Interesting how state TV in now showing distant crowds. Int: Interesting how they will market this to the people who do not have internet or TV.
4:30PM Anch: Got all the wires here, complete silence from Washington. Int: Blowing tumbleweeds. Anch: Some TS crowd heading to Ministry of Information
CNN reports that some demonstrators have begun leaving Tahrir Square in the direction of the presidential palace.
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After being delegated by the Pres to safeguard the stability and security of E, to restore the normal way of life, request one and all to contribute to achieving this goal, and have no doubt the E people can. Opened door to dialog, road map laid down to materialize demands. Door is still open for dialog: Committed to ensure the peaceful transition of power in adherence to Constitution. Proclaim adherence to all promises. To safeguard the revolution of the youth and its gains. To restore confidence. Realize demands of people through dialog. Call on all citizens to look forward to the future. By our hands can make the future bright. You are a people of heroes. We cannot be driven to chaos. Cannot allow plotting and intimidation. Join hands and march forward. Aspirations of youth where love of homeland top priority. Call on youth of E. GO BACK HOME. The country needs your hands. Do not listen to the satellite TV stations whose main purpose is to sow sedition. [The last time this was said, journalists were attacked. --lambert] Only listen to your own conscience. Have started work relying on God and our state institutions, the armed forces that safeguard the country and the youth. The clock is ticking. Let's march forward by the grace of god. We will work in the spirit of a team and the resolve of the E. Have taken oath to work for the homeland.
* * *
Anch: Have a saying in UK, "Light the blue touch paper and stand back!" (metaphor for a fireworks fuse).
[OK. Any news of troop movements? --lambert]
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4:50PM Anch: Both Washington and Israel say nothing. "Silence is golden."
4:54PM Anch: Crowd, dwindling? Rep: Ask people how feel? Speech deceptive, dishonorable, increase resolve. Standing with young people with Sul speech. Couldn't believe what they were hearing, the same old rhetoric. "Why should we believe them?" What about chaos? They respond: Only time there is chaos is when govt steps in. [True, that. --lambert] Anch: Army? Rep: Army always holds the key, not just now. Could be anger against the army. [Did the Army deke the protesters today? --lambert] Certainly after tonight, the divide between the govt and people wider than it's ever been, and wider between army and people too.
4:57PM Anch: Like flipping a switch. Jubilation, silence, anger, shoes. People in Alexandria headed off to a military base. Expecting a big demonstration tomorrow.
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In retrospect, there were the leaks and statements and state TV maneuvers. Those were words. The actions that AJ reported were: (1) Presidential fleet of airplanes was not activated, and (2) speech would be live, which meant that Mub was physically present. There was also the non-presence of A6M. And I was over-clever in my analysis of Obama. Damn.
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5:05PM AJ Live blog:
We're off to the presidential palace. We're going as millions of martyrs?
5:08PM Int, retired intel general, Mahmood Zahir: Thought communique #2 would be Mub step down for medical reasons, but after Mub and Sul.... I believe both of them were "burned." This is a mistake, I cannot interpret this at all. Great tension, a provocative speech, insulting to the people. 4 million are in the streets! Hope that statement #2 will heal a legislative loophole...
Ewen MacAskill reports on the humiliation the White House has received from Mubarak, after Barack Obama's speech and various US officials briefing that he was stepping down tonight:
The Obama administration was embarassingly wrong-footed Thursday when the Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak confounded expectations by refusing to leave office.
Mubarak's speech came only hours after Barack Obama and the director of the CIA, Leon Panetta, appeared to give credence to the rumours that the Egyptian president was heading for the exit.
The Obama administration has been putting pressure on Mubarak since last week to stand down straightaway but Mubarak, in a televised address Thursday, said he would not bow down to international pressure, a direct snub to the US president.
Mubarak's response provides a graphic illustration of America's slow decline from its status as the world's sole superpower, unable to decisively influence events in Egypt in spite of that country being one of the biggest recipients of US military aid.
[Which is actually a good thing! --lambert]
This is not what the [US] administration was told President Mubarak was going to do," reports CNN political correspondent John King.