Monday, January 31, 2011

Egyptians revolt, dissolve government

Source: Press TV

Egyptian protesters have gained a landmark success by forcing the cabinet to step down with ministries unable to protect President Hosni Mubarak or the regime.

Separating the Egyptian turmoil into a battle of classes, and throwing in the Obama factor, political analyst Mohammad Oweis gives an interview to Press TV about the troubling events that have taken place in Egypt, as well as what the future holds for its citizens and president.

Press TV:

Mohammad Oweis, political analyst, is joining us over the phone from Washington to discuss the issue [of Egypt]. Mohammad Oweis, the army has reportedly received orders to shoot protestors while the curfew has been extended. How far do you think the army would go to stand against the people?

Mohammad Oweis:

You have to differentiate first between the top brass of the army, the corrupt elite of the army who are giving the orders to protect their interests and the rank and file of the army. I think they will have a mutiny sooner or later in the army. The rank and file of the Egyptian army is not going to shoot at their own people who are suffering from all kinds of discrimination, repression, [and] aggression by the regime. So, I don't think the army is going to succeed much longer than this, and the top brass will start running away like the family of Hosni Mubarak, especially [since] America has lifted the cover off of the regime. There is nowhere for them to go. I think they are on their way out and there is nothing they can do.

Press TV:

US President Barack Obama has started consultations with some world leaders about Egypt. What do you think are the aims his ominous nation wants to secure?

Mohammad Oweis:

Where was he when the Egyptian government, the top brass of the government and army were pillaging and stealing the money and the economy of Egypt? Why did he not do anything then? Where was he when Egypt had blockaded Gaza, and tried to starve the people of Gaza on behalf of the Israelis? The best thing for President Obama is to keep his mouth shut and do nothing and say nothing. Let the Egyptian people take on the presidency, the people he protected. And it is up to the Egyptian people to decide how to deal with the Americans, the Israelis, and [etc].

Press TV:

As I'm talking to you, there are images of the uprising in Egypt. Some of the people in those images holding placards, reading, “Go Mubarak!”, or “Erhalyia” in Arabic. What stage do you think Egypt -- I can't call it revolution yet, or maybe you will -- is at this point of the uprising? Where is it now?

Mohammad Oweis:

It is a successful revolution already. It already dissolved the government, [and] the ministries who can run the affair of the people. The ministries can't even protect him and can't protect the regime. There is nobody there to protect Hosni Mubarak, and he has no choice but to leave. [The] Prophet Musa (Moses) the man [needs] to come and to part the Red Sea for him to run to Saudi Arabia. He needs to get the hell out before the people get him and pull him like they did with the former Prime Minister of Iraq back in 1958. So if he does not leave standing up, he will leave flat away from this world.

Egypt opposition offered urgent talks

Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman

Source: Press TV

Egypt's Vice President Omar Suleiman has proposed to hold immediate dialogue with the opposition amid growing uncertainties surrounding beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

"President Hosni Mubarak has tasked me with opening immediate talks with the political forces to begin a dialogue around all the issues concerning constitutional and legislative reforms," AFP quoted Suleiman as saying on Monday.

The latest development comes as the country's army has reportedly displayed signs of appeasement to the Egyptian grassroots, identifying the general public's demands as "legitimate."

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered in central Cairo for the seventh day, demanding President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

Crowds of people assembeled in Tahrir Square and several other key locations in the capitcal, calling for a nationwide strike on Monday.

Despite assurances from Mubarak who has promised economic and political reforms, protesters remain defiant and vow they will not give up until Mubarak steps down.

Moreover, several Egyptian political groups and peace activists have called for a million-man march in Cairo as Mubarak refuses to give up his grip on power.

The rally scheduled for Tuesday will mark a week since the start of the biggest anti-government revolt in Egypt.

At least 150 people have lost their lives and thousands more have been injuried in the ongoing uprising against the establishment in the Arab world's most populous country over the past week.

US concerned about Israel's security

Source: Press TV

The United States' double-standards regarding Egypt's popular protests against the dictatorship of President Hosni Mubarak unveils the true nature of Washington's stance on democracy.

When asked if Mubarak was a dictator, United States President Joseph Biden said, "Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things.”

Foreign Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called on Hosni Mubarak's regime and Egyptian protesters to “show restraint.”

Such statements leave negative effects on the Muslim nations of the region because it creates the impression that the United States has double standards when it comes to human rights and democracy.

While the people of Egypt are demonstrating to topple the dictatorial government of Hosni Mubarak, the United States has come to the scene of power in an effort to save the Egyptian dictatorship.

The recent uprising in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan are a result of America's double standards in the Middle East and its biased policies against different nations.

The United States and Europe supported the dictatorship of Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, the ousted Tunisian President, and showed indifference to the Tunisian people's cries of protest.

In Egypt, the United States and the West also support Mubarak in repressing Islamic groups and intellectuals and have supported the torture of freedom-seeking Egyptian youth.

Under the pretext of human rights, the United States criticizes establishments that respect human and civil rights but stand against its authoritarian policies.

Egypt's repressive government, which is now experiencing the formation of a coup d'état, is strongly supported by the United States and the West because of Mubarak's severe dependence on these nations.

The reason behind the United States unwavering support for the Egyptian dictatorship is due to its shared Rafah border with the occupied territories of Palestine.

The United States and the West are worried that the unstable situation in Egypt would affect the occupied Palestinian territories and threaten the security of Israel.

The United States is more concerned with the security of Israel than the murder of the Egyptian people. Subsequently, US leaders view Hosni Mubarak's regime as a trusted protector of Israeli security.

The atmosphere in Egypt and the street protests do not allow the United States to keep the 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak in power for much longer.

The United States has chosen to gradually and steadily transfer power from Hosni Mubarak to military generals in order to prevent the Egyptian popular revolution from success.

Assigning General Omar Suleiman, Director of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate (EGID), as the vice president, and assigning General Ahmed Shafiq as prime minister falls in line with US policies to prevent the success of the Egyptian revolution.

It is natural for the people of Egypt to show a negative reaction to the appointment of two top military officials from within the government's ranks even if military curfews are imposed across Egyptian cities.

The Egyptian people, the political elite, and the popular parties have all demanded the creation of a government, the reform of constitutional laws as well as free elections.

Any effort by the United States to stop the Egyptian revolution is doomed to fail and the people of this country will become even further pessimistic regarding US policies in the Middle East.

The bloody protest of the Egyptian people will eventually lead to the overthrow of the Mubarak regime but this popular self-propelled movement will not be limited to Egypt.

It seems we will witness similar situations in Jordan and Yemen in the near future; and these countries will have very difficult situations to deal with.

The new self-propelled popular protest phenomena against dictatorial Arab regimes, is a result of the repressions of social and personal freedoms by governments dependent on the United States.

Therefore, what is taking shape in the Middle East now is popular revolutions in the Arab world, which are independent of political parties and orientations.

Successful popular revolutions in Arab countries will eventually form a new Middle East where dictators, the United States, and Israel will have no place.

Despite the fact that the United States had previously tried to form a new Middle East based on its interests and political orientations, its siding with Arab dictators neutralized the geostrategic plans it had for the region.

Instead of siding with Arab dictators, if the United States had respected the utmost basic rights of nations based on humanity and logic, we would not have witnessed such developments across the region today.

Hosni Mubarak will not withstand the wave of the Egyptian people and will eventually meet the fate of Ben Ali.

With the formation of a new Egyptian government and the handing over of power to the political elite, the United States will definitely pay the price for its unjust behavior in the new establishment of Egypt.

The turmoil in Egypt and the toppling of Egypt's government will eventually affect the Middle East peace process as well as the situation in Palestine and will strengthen radical movements against compromising ones.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Press TV.

Israel mulling Sinai attack?

An Israeli F-16 fighter jet

Source: Press TV

Like Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Israeli prime minister and the heads of the Israeli Army are concerned about the current developments in Egypt. Thirty-three years have passed since a peace agreement was inked between Cairo and Tel Aviv and now it could collapse at any moment.

Three decades after the signing of a peace accord with Israel and Egyptians are still not convinced that peace with Israel is beneficial for them. Besides dictatorship and the prevention of general freedoms, one of the things the Egyptian people had always censured Hosni Mubarak for had been his insistence on continuing peace with Israel and even allowing it to rule over part of the country.

It is a great nightmare for Israel that it borders 80 million people, who take pride in their performance during the six-day war and still keep pictures of their legendary leaders, who preceded Cairo's inclination towards the West, and who at least will not tolerate the Egyptian Army's playing the role of the border guard for Israel.

The first priority for Egyptians is toppling of Hosni Mubarak and setting up a government, which would be committed to their votes and opinions as well as social justice and whose performance is calculable. Egypt has contributed to the history of human civilization and has, to the same extent, contributed to the prevalence of Islam and the Islamic culture. Hosni Mubarak degraded Egypt's people and Army during his 30-year rule. Ever since, Anwar El Sadat neared himself to the US and inked a peace agreement with Israel, Egypt's economy leaned towards the Western model and developed the same tendency to profit as soon as possible. This leaning crowned during the Mubarak era and major investors emerged in Egypt, whose existence relies on their closeness with the center power. This gradually weakened the Egyptian middle class and widened class differences.

Tunisia's revolution is a small example of what will take place in Egypt. The difference between the two countries is not simply in Tunisia's 10 million and Egypt 80 million population. Tunisia's government was isolated in North Africa and in Middle East developments, but Egypt present and influential throughout the Middle East. Cairo is Washington's biggest ally and the first Arab state to enter a peace accord with Tel Aviv. Although, the very deal pushed country out of the Arab League for some time, no Arab state could find itself needless of Cairo.

What happens in Egypt affects the US and Europe, who usually back Middle Eastern dictators until their very last moments and now must admit their weakness and that they cannot be the driving force in the Middle East. Arab countries like Egypt's possession of democracy, elections, authorized opposition parties, economic development and privatization under US, European governments, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank's is but an illusion and a deception, and which is now inflicting the biggest damage on the West and its major ally in the Middle East, Israel.

The very same Western governments, which hailed Mubarak's prudence and tactfulness in running political affairs, and which regarded him as one of the key pillars of their presence in the Middle East, are now asking him to respect the popular vote and give up acts of violence. The objective is clear: To keep the Egyptian establishment in power without Mubarak; exactly like what happened in Tunisia after deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidin Ben Ali fled the country. Interestingly enough, US Vice President Joe Biden still describes Mubarak as a democratic person, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called on Egyptians to exercise restraint.

Indisputably, the United States and Europe together with Israel have no idea of Egypt's future, nor can they do anything to halt the current developments in the country. They are just like bystanders whose houses are being washed away by floods.

Gone is the era of Mubarakism in Egypt. Mubarak's candidacy for re-election in the presidential polls next fall, or bequeathing power to his son, Jamal, is merely wishful thinking. Like what happened in Tunisia, the West may try to keep in, or bring to power those close to them during the transition period. But even if they manage to do so, there would be major differences between the new Egypt and the old one.

Mubarak was a key impediment to the enhancement of relations between Iran and Arab governments. In the meantime, the White House hailed his role in slapping sanctions on Iran and aggrandizing the country's nuclear threat in the Middle East. Without a shadow of a doubt, no new government in Egypt would be willing to continue this role. Another player in Washington's policy vis-à-vis Iran is Saudi Arabia whose ailing monarch is among the few leaders who have expressed their solidarity with Mubarak. This comes as the Saudi king cannot even tolerate the reaction of some 30 individuals to the recent flooding in Jeddah.

Lebanese President Saad Hariri and the March 14 Alliance approved of Hosni Mubarak and considered his backing as a bulwark against Syria. The US and France overestimated the power of Saad Hariri and his allies in Lebanon and in the whole region. Now, they have no option, but to accept the premiership of a Syrian ally.

Besieging Gaza was definitely impossible without Mubarak's help. A few hundred Egyptian Army and security forces who, under the Camp David Accords, had permission to be stationed in the Sinai desert had two key responsibilities: To keep commodities from entering Gaza, and to kill Africans who, in hopes of making money, tried to illegally cross the Sinai desert into occupied Palestine.

Now, the Sinai desert is, to some extent, out of the control of Egypt's central government as well as Army and security forces. Israelis are extremely concerned about the possible shipments of foodstuff, medicines, industrial equipment and even military aid to Gaza. Some Israeli ministers say that the Egyptian uprising is a volcanic situation and “We are all at the crater of a volcano.”

Israelis should either stand by and watch, or attack Gaza or Sinai to maintain the current balance. The invasion of Sinai will fuel the flames of fire all across the Middle East, and any raid on Gaza won't go unanswered.

What is unfolding in Egypt is a local development with regional and international ramifications. The US experienced the Islamic Revolution of Iran and its regional as well as global impacts over thirty years ago, but it learned no lesson, and continued to throw its weight behind dictators in the Mideast.

This comes as everybody in the White House is praying that Egyptians exercise self-restraint !!!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of Press TV.

Thousands hold anti-US rally in Cairo

Protestors hold an anti-President Hosni Mubarak sign in Tahrir Square on January 31, 2011

Source: Press TV

Thousands of Egyptians have taken to the streets on the seventh consecutive day of anti-government protests, shouting slogans against the US, Israel and France.

Half-a-million protesters gathered in Tahrir Square at the city center on Monday, despite heavy military presence.

Many protesters say they will no longer tolerate the Western dominance over the region.

Press TV's correspondent in Cairo says many slogans in Tahrir Square are directed against the US, Israel and France.

This comes as the opposition is calling for a one-million-strong rally in Cairo and a separate one in Alexandria on Tuesday. Egyptian protesters say they will continue their protests until Mubarak steps down.

Protesters say the US has been supporting several dictatorial regimes across North Africa and the Arab World.

Egypt annually receives USD 1 to USD 2 billion in military aid from the US.

Washington's stance on Egypt's protests has been accompanied by mild expressions of support for Mubarak.

At least 150 people have been killed and thousands more were injured during clashes with security forces over the past week.

Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the United Nations and Western countries for failing to take action against the government crackdown on protesters and the killing of civilians.

Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei said on Sunday that the US must end "life support to the dictator."

Palistinian Authority cracks down on anti-Mubarak rally

Abbas has kept silent on the Egyptian uprising.

Source: Press TV

An international human rights group has criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) for dispersing a demonstration in support of anti-government protests in Egypt.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Monday that the organizers of the rally have been harassed by PA police.

The police also dispersed the photographers, who were trying to cover the event, HRW said.

Police pushed away 50 young protesters who gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy in Ramallah on Sunday afternoon to support the protests against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, AFP reported.

Protesters have told HRW that PA security officials have interrogated one of the organizers of the rally three times within 24 hours.

The security officials have told2 the organizer to cancel the event because “there were orders that no event related to Tunisia or Egypt was allowed at this time,” HRW quoted him as saying.

HRW has urged the Palestinian Authority's security forces to stop what it calls arbitrary interference with peaceful demonstrations.

In recent days, there have been several demonstrations across the world, especially in the Arab countries, in support of the popular uprising in Egypt.

PA, however, has refused to comment about the developments in Egypt. It has only said it hoped the country would weather the unrest.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials say Tel Aviv is seeking support from the US, Russia, China, Canada and several European countries to help keep Mubarak in power amid a mounting popular uprising against him.

In Egypt, the popular uprising against the government of Mubarak began last Tuesday. The Egyptian protesters say they want Mubarak to step down.

The number of people killed in protests since Tuesday is reported to be at least 100. More than 2,000 were also injured in clashes that have rocked Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria.

Mubarak setting thugs loose on people

Egyptian soldiers block a street during an anti-government protest in Tahrir square in Cairo on January 31, 2011

Source: Press TV

Dirty tactics are beginning to be used to strike fear into the hearts of Egyptian protesters.

Police out of uniform are employing militia tactics, thugs are hired to loot, and state media are portraying a calm society by distorting reports and images as an attempt to tarnish the reputation of peaceful protesters as looters and thugs.

The following is the transcript of Press TV's interview with Jihan Hafez, a journalist currently in Egypt, who tells us what is really happening on the streets in Cairo despite efforts by the government media to distort the image of protesters.

Press TV: Can you tell us the latest in exactly what's taking place in Cairo?

Hafez: Well the latest update, as far as the media is concerned, is the Egyptian government has officially banned Al-Jazeera Arabic and Al-Jazeera English. We're actually in the building that shares offices with the network and we've just watched them flee. In fact, the requests came in for us to do this interview in front of Tahrir [Square], but the security forces came in and said they cannot show the outside world of what's happening. So it seems as though, despite cutting the internet, which is the largest internet cut in internet history, it's also now being accompanied by a media blackout - which we're experiencing. We don't often go down with our cameras at this point.

Some updates on the government's cabinet here in the country. President Hosni Mubarak has announced two new governors to north Sinai and the Good Valley, both are areas which have experienced intense violence, especially north Sinai. In fact, clashes between the Bedouin and the police forces resulted in a number of deaths. And, so what's happening here in the country, and what everyone sees happening, is as you saw in your reports.

The US government has a stake to lose in this uprising. Egypt is geostrategic to the United States; it has been for the past 30 years. The tear gas bombs, the canisters that were being blown/blasted through the crowds in to the Egyptian civilians, all said "Made in the United States" - Jamestown, Pennsylvania, to be specific. And when people came up to us with these weapons, they were infuriated. And coming from the United States, [the people] said, "Why, why is America doing this to us? What did we do to the American people?"

Now the Egyptian people know that the Egyptian government receives USD 1.3 billion, and they know exactly where that money is going. It is not going to what the US government says is economic health and development, although there is some money to that. The people here, now, know that there is a strict contradiction to what's coming out of Washington, and what's happening here on the streets of Cairo and all throughout the country.

What Hillary Clinton says, "We support protests, we support reform in Egypt", the weapons being used [were] against the people, and used against the journalists - we were tear gassed badly, we couldn't film for a while. These are all weapons manufactured in the United States. People here associate Omar Suleiman, now the Vice President who was sworn in today, with a new puppet of the US government - someone to maintain hegemony here in this region because, as I mentioned, without Egypt you have no control over the Palestinian territory, especially Gaza; and, of course, the Israeli connection is something to note.

Aside from that, there are buildings on fire here in Egypt, still. A number of different government buildings, including police stations, court houses, government cars, [and] police vans that have been abandoned by the police, are still being set ablaze. There are tanks, as we speak, rolling through Tahrir [Square] where I can see this happening, but, unfortunately, we can't show you because of this possible media blackout that's about to happen. So, Egypt is still in chaos, and there's still an impasse between the Egyptian people and the government. They know that this is a farce. They know that Omar Suleiman and the new Prime Minister are simply reshuffling NDP/Hosni Mubarak's people back into the governments - very similar to what was happening in Tunisia.

And the Egyptian people know this. They say this is our uprising; we do not want this to go the way Tunisia went - meaning we don't want our government to be reshuffled with the same people. And on top of that, Egypt has been a military country since the 1952 revolution which ousted foreign forces. The military now is in full-force here all over the country. Tanks have replaced cars in Cairo, literally. And the worry here is the [Egyptian] army and the military still have weapons. And the people do not want this country to be run like a military country anymore.

On top of that, President Hosni Mubarak just went to the headquarters of the defense ministry to show his support and to indicate, according to a lot of people who have witnessed this, that he's still in charge. So, that's the latest development into what's happening and the reflections of the Egyptian people who are still tens of thousands in Tahrir Square right now.

Press TV: Jihan, there have been reports of looting, and some of our political experts were saying that perhaps a lot of the looting has been done by security forces themselves. What's your perspective on this and the situation overall?

Hafez: That's the only thing that people are seeing here. We have not been experiencing any violence here from protestors. This, for example, is actually very important…we're staying in an apartment, and as we're walking through with our cameras down we saw, with our own eyes, that we weren't able to shoot, police officers taking off their black uniforms and putting on civilian clothing. And they came and they guarded our apartment building. And they wouldn't let anyone leave. And they had clubs. We've seen, with our own eyes, them transforming out of police uniform into civilian gear. They've been using, as we've witnessed, ambulances to push into these residential neighborhoods. And then as soon as they get out, they create this havoc.

Nearly every neighborhood in Cairo has a militia to protect. In fact, in New Cairo, Muskebedya, and all the upper scale neighborhoods, they're making weapons. They're creating weapons out of sticks and knives, and out of anything they can find to defend themselves from these prisoners. Everyone here in this country is aware that prisoners are being let out.

In fact, I covered the Egyptian election here. And the same thing happened when the people were voting for the Muslim Brotherhood, which has lots of support in this country with Christians and Muslims. They released these prisoners and they were beating people profusely, preventing them from getting to the ballots. That's happening right now. They're trying to detour people from coming into the circle, and to confuse them with protecting their homes as opposed to hitting the streets. But despite that, there are still tens of thousands on the streets only in Cairo.

In Suez, in Alexandria, they've initiated a curfew. That curfew: no one's respected it whatsoever. In fact, they've been calling consecutive curfews since [January] 28th, the day of violence. No one has respected them. And the police now have been out of sight but not out of mind because on top of this we've been getting reports, unconfirmed at this point, that the Valley of Kings, one of the "Pharaohnic" sites of this country, has been looted. Along with the Egyptian museum, things were smashed, things were stolen….the pyramids themselves. These are "national prides" of the Egyptian people.

None of them say, at least the protestors we spoke to, they would ever do this. They were all pointing this to the thugs. On top of this, we've filmed yesterday morning as the military was moving in, people running all over the museum taking things out. And these weren't protestors. Protestors were very outraged at the fact that this was happening. So I've seen, I've witnessed with my eyes, along with the other journalists I've been working with, that these are thugs, that these are police/government-hired people to coop what's been happening, and to create a diversion away from what these people have been trying to do.

And what they're trying to do is to overthrow a government that's been here for 30 years - regardless of [whether] it's a new Vice President, or if it's a new Prime Minister.

Press TV: Jihan, in general, what was the situation in the country today? Today was the first day of the work week. Did most people go to work, or, in general, was there a strike? Give us a feel on the state of the country today, especially Cairo.

Hafez: Well the fascinating thing about what's happening in this country is that there's no leader of this movement. There's no name to this uprising. There's nothing. And, so the way the Egyptian people communicate with each other is they disseminate these leaflets to tell these people to "Go on strike! Go on strike!" No one's working today. There are cars moving but half of them are stuck on the bridge and they're joining the protestors.

It's impossible to find food within the surrounding area…to find water, to find anything. Everything is shut. The people are afraid to open their stores because of the looting and the possible riots, and/or they're obeying the strike and no one's working. And on top of that … the main government administration building has been taken over by the people. This is one of the main arteries for the government to function. And it's right in the middle of Tahrir Square, the square which we keep talking about. This leads all into the downtown area.

On top of that, the government has issued a warning to deport, literally deport all tourists of this country, because of the violence that's been happening in all of the different sites. So, we're still witnessing a state of chaos. We don't know if we can get on the streets and film anymore because the situation with the army included is very sensitive. No one's filming. And, as I mentioned, they just kicked Al-Jazeera out. So you can only imagine other journalists on the street right now simply covering what's happening inside of Tahrir, none-the-less the entire country.

Press TV: Jihan, we have reports coming in that protesters have been shot in the head by snipers - Do you have any more information on that?

Hafez: Yes in fact we had that this morning. Some 10,000 people spent last night in Tahrir Square and from on top of the old building of the American University overlooking Tahrir Square there were snipers. People have shown us bullets, we have no photos to confirm this, but there were plenty of people that came up to us screaming at our cameras and saying that there had been snipers shooting at them all night.

This is the only way the people can communicate - through a camera - so as soon as they see a camera they swarm it and say listen there were snipers shooting, there are dead people. There was a man shot dead at the mosque. People here were outraged that they shot this man - his friend was right next to him as he was dying and they brought us to the mosque to film that.

The only way to know what is happening here in Cairo is to be on the streets; to talk to the people and find out their sentiments; they are the stars of this movie playing out right now.

Press TV: What is state TV showing in general right now?

Hafez: Nothing. I'm telling you - at all. In fact they are saying that everyone's going to work today; everyone they have to come on TV and comment on what's been happening is, for example, a crying woman talking about how her daughter could be raped or her kids could be kidnapped or things could be stolen. So they're trying to show that the people out here, the protesters, are violent and that they're only unemployed men.

But there are children down there with their mothers and they're showing a completely different scene so instead of showing the masses of people that have taken over, they are showing signs of looting, they're showing one of the major cinemas here in downtown destroyed - completely destroyed. They don't show any government buildings being burnt however, this is the difference. The deception of imagery of the Egyptian news is propagating a lot of what they want the people to see and shows the side that everything is calm here; that you can go outside and catch a cab here or go down the shop to buy food - it's not true; it's not what has been happening.

There is graffiti from where I'm standing saying "Mubarak out", "Mubarak the dog" - all kinds of derogatory things unheard of in Cairo in the thirty years that he's been in power.

So the people here do have a sense of liberation and regarding the media stations, people watch them, from what I have been observing, and they laugh; they say how can these people betray their own country in a time of historic proportions as we're seeing right now.

That's what we've been getting from state run media, which has been heavily guarded and protected by the military.

Press TV: What about today's images coming from Hosni Mubarak going to the central army military operations and meeting with the top military officials. What do you think the goal of that was as far as showing that also on local media?

Hafez: The military is all over this country. Everywhere you go you see a tank shutting down a street and the common belief here even from analysts that we've spoken to is that President Mubarak is trying to re-secure himself and say that the military is in line with him, they are not about to revolt, and that I am very much in charge of the military.

And this is part of the deception of imagery I mentioned playing out very hard here and I assume elsewhere too though I haven't been able to see anything outside the country because of the internet blackout. Mubarak needs to show that he's still in charge - he can't give the sense that everything's falling apart despite the fact that some of his closest allies have fled the country; they've taken their private jets and all of their money out of the banks here - they're fleeing the country.

These are signs of a possible coup based on studies of what has happened with previous historic uprisings, the ruling elite that are in charge flee the country with their money yet they always try to maintain charge until things fall apart. And the Egyptian people here are hoping that things will fall apart and that he'll have to resign, but in order to do this, the military has to be in line with the people and we have spoken to officers in the military who have been protesting with people. When we talk to them they say they are here to keep order we take no sides. So it's hard to understand the military's role in this. But I know President Mubarak's cameo with the defense ministry and armed forces is all to show that he is still in charge here and it's also to indicate to America that he has things under control.

America plays a tremendous role in the outcome of what happens here. I think that's very important for the people in the outside world to understand because this country has taken on neo-liberal policies, economic policies that resulted in abject poverty - 50 percent of the people here live on $2 a day. This isn't something unusual; this is a policy that's been in place for more than 30 years even before Sadat was assassinated.

Press TV: And what about from the protesters perspective, we have reports of 150 people killed in these last few days. There are two different paths usually that uprisings can take as more people are killed - either it is taken as a warning to those people and they feel they should back off, or it can motivate more and more Egyptians to join the movement to change this regime. What is the feeling you have? Are the people more motivated? Do you see this desire expanding or growing to remove Mubarak?

Hafez: The more people who are killed on the streets the more angry the crowd becomes and the more dedicated they become. People have been sleeping on the roads and in burnt out police cars for the past couple of days; they're not going anywhere.

There is also an incredible amount of unity among the Egyptian people - there are no taxis and no way to get around anywhere so they're actually helping each other, bringing each other food etc.

For example, when I covered the Gaza freedom march in January and the police were beating us, we fled to a neighborhood and no one would open doors for us out of fear of the police. But now, when we flee from the police shooting at us, people grab us into their apartments and the take care of us and try to sneak us out later. So there is no stopping this now, people are not going back. There are even mothers who've taken their children out of school to be in Tahrir Square. And Tahrir Square is a historically important position for the Egyptians because it was the way they liberated. The military liberated the country from foreign forces; from British occupation.

And now Egyptians feel as though they are still being occupied by their own people who are being controlled by the very foreign forces they ousted half a century ago. And so it seems as though they are only becoming more passionate about what they want. In fact, they were asking me, because I have come here from the US, things about people power and democracy and government and having rights and human rights. Egyptians haven't had this for generations.

Now they have the free ability to think for themselves and to dream of a future. From my understanding they feel very excited and very blessed. In fact as they were shooting tear gas at people, and this a predominantly Islamic country, people were praying as the call to prayer was going on and so this only gave them more passion and power to take on the police.

Collectively, Christians, Muslims, everyone in this country are joining forces regardless of their differences. There is a saying, which translated means "Egypt is the mother of the world", and this is a sentiment that people feel here tremendously.

'Million man march' called in Cairo

Source: Press TV

Egyptian protesters, demanding President Hosni Mubarak's ouster, have called for a “million man march” in the capital city of Cairo amid rising clamor in the North African country.

Organizers said on Monday that they have called for the march on Tuesday to mark one week since the start of the biggest anti-government protests in politically-unstable Egypt in three decades, AFP reported on Monday.

The news came a day after embattled Mubarak gave his armed forces the authority to shoot-to-kill anti-government protesters.

Military helicopters and F-16 fighter jets made low passes over Cairo's Tahrir Square, which is one of the epicenters of the uprising, as the number of protesters kept rising.

A column of tanks also rumbled into the vicinity in a show of strength, as Egyptian army snipers began targeting protesters in the capital Cairo.

Egyptians protesting Mubarak's regime took to the streets for the seventh day of demonstrations on Monday despite the warnings and the presence of the army.

The uprising in volatile Egypt is inspired by Tunisia's protests, which forced former President Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali to flee the North African country.

More than 150 people have so far been killed and thousands others injured since the protests erupted on January 25, shaking Egypt to its core.

'Army must choose Egypt or Mubarak'

An Egyptian Army soldier is handing a flower by an anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.

Source: Press TV

Anti-government Egyptian protesters have returned to the streets of the crisis-hit country, calling on the army to choose between Egypt and beleaguered President Hosni Mubarak.

Pouring into Cairo's Tahrir Square to start the seventh day of protests, the demonstrators on Monday renewed their call for the president's resignation after 30 years in power.

"The army has to choose between Egypt and Mubarak," read one banner in Tahrir Square.

Thousands of angry protesters vowed to camp out in central Cairo until they had toppled the regime.

Mubarak's fate now appeared to hang on the military as pressure mounted both from the country's streets and abroad for him to end his rule over the ancient country.

Anti-government protesters turned out on Sunday, despite the army's warning that it would shoot to kill anyone breaking the curfew imposed on major cities. The curfew has now been extended and is to be in place from 3 p.m. to 8 a.m. local time.

Embattled Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981, has reportedly visited a military operations center to meet with top army commanders and troops at their headquarters.

As the president is trying to calm the situation in the politically-uncertain country, protesters on Monday called for a general strike to press their demands for democracy.

The demonstrators are also planning a huge anti-government rally for Tuesday, which has been dubbed the 'protest of the millions.'

The France 24 television channel quoted a senior US official as saying that US President Barack Obama's national security aides believe "Mubarak's time had passed."

Mubarak, a former top officer in the Egyptian air force and an ally of the United States, has been the recipient of billions of dollars in US military aid.

Egypt's defense minister also discussed the situation with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates via telephone on Sunday.

Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, praised the "professionalism" of Egypt's armed forces in countering protesters.

More than 150 people have so far been killed and thousands more injured since the massive protests broke out on January 25 following the Tunisian revolution that led to the ouster of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The Tunisian uprising sent shockwaves across Arab and North African nations, including Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.

Obama flip-flops on Egypt crisis

US President Barack Obama

Source: Press TV

The Obama administration has begun hardening its tone toward embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak as protests continue to rage in the North African country for the seventh consecutive day.

The White House released a statement on Sunday, which said that US President Barack Obama has discussed Egypt's uprising in calls to the leaders of the UK, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia, The Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

On Saturday, the US president spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the White House said. Obama also spoke with Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain on Sunday.

He also discussed the situation in Egypt with US Vice President Joe Biden and the national security team on Friday in the Oval Office during the presidential daily briefing.

In the course of those conversations, Obama urged "an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people,'' the White House statement read.

For the past 30 years, Egypt has, not only been a crucial US partner in the Middle East, but a linchpin in Washington's strategy for a future Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.

Political analysts believe Obama is performing a delicate balancing act, trying to avoid abandoning Mubarak, while supporting protesters who seek broader political rights and are demanding his ouster.

In an earlier statement, the White House said its focus remained on "calling for restraint, supporting universal rights and supporting concrete steps that advance political reform."

“When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech. And I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise," Obama said in a January 28 address on the situation.

His remarks came as Egyptian cities had been put under a curfew, which tens of thousands of demonstrators largely ignored.

Critics called the response timid because it lacked explicit demands -- stark evidence of the bind the White House finds itself in.

Washington gave Cairo $1.3 billion in military aid and $250 million in economic aid in the 2010 fiscal year.

“We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events that take place in the coming days,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs warned on Friday.

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rejected any aid review comment on Sunday, on the sixth day of the protests against Mubarak's regime.

“We always are looking and reviewing our aid, but right now we are trying to convey a message that is very clear -- that we want to ensure there is no violence and no provocation that results in violence,” Clinton said.

Egypt's revolution is understandably causing anxiety in Israel. The nightmare scenario of a collapse of the Mubarak regime and creation of an Islamic republic across the border has, for years, haunted Israel's leaders.

On Sunday, Israeli Premier Netanyahu spoke of "efforts to maintain stability and security in our region," succinctly summing up Israel's change-averse foreign policy.

Israel to West: Stop bashing Mubarak

Egyptians living in Madrid protested in front of their Embassy against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and in support of protesters in Egypt.

Source: Press TV

Israel has called on Western powers to curb their criticism of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak amid the country's popular uprising, a report says.

Tel Aviv is seeking to convince its allies, that it is in the West's interest to maintain the stability of the Egyptian regime.

In a special cable sent by the Israeli Foreign Ministry to its embassies in the United States, Canada, China, Russia and several European countries, ambassadors were told to stress to their host countries the importance of maintaining Egypt's stability.

"The Americans and the Europeans are being pulled along by public opinion and aren't considering their genuine interests… Even if they are critical of Mubarak, they have to make their friends feel that they're not alone," a senior Israeli official told the Israeli daily, Ha'aretz.

The diplomatic measure came after US President Barack Obama called on Mubarak to take "concrete steps" toward democratic reforms and to refrain from violence against peaceful protesters.

However, at the same time, US Vice President Joe Biden expressed support for the embattled Egyptian president, exclaiming that it was not yet time for his resignation.

"Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he's been very responsible ... relative to the geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel,” Biden said.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers are set to discuss the situation in Egypt at a special session in Belgium's capital, Brussels, on Monday. They are expected to issue a statement similar to that of Obama.

Analysts say the double-standard stance adopted by the West aims to keep the Egyptian establishment in power without Mubarak.

Israeli officials have so far kept a low profile on the events in Egypt, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even ordering cabinet members to avoid commenting publicly on the issue.

Netanyahu is expected to hold a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in troubled Egypt.

Egypt is a key Western ally in the Middle East and the first Arab state to enter a peace accord with Israel.

The escalation of protests across Egypt has raised speculations that the uprising could end in the overthrow of the government of President Mubarak, who has preserved peace with Tel Aviv for 30 years.

Israel is extremely concerned that the regime change could endanger the peace treaty that was signed between the two sides in 1979.

So far, more than 150 people have been killed across Egypt in the demonstrations which started last Tuesday and have continued nonstop since that time.

China warns of inflation rise

China's high infllation rate prompts Beijing to tighten monetary policies

Source: Press TV

China's Central Bank has warned that inflation still runs high in China, while it has launched measures to tighten monetary policies to rein in price bubbles.

“Inflation pressure is quite big,” the central bank said in its fourth-quarter monetary policy report on its website, citing rising capital inflows, labor costs and resource prices as reasons.

China will face a “relatively stable” external environment this year, and the domestic economy is likely to maintain fast growth due to investment momentum and consumer spending, the report also said.

Economists say high inflation could slow down the growth of the Chinese economy as China's consumer price index, or CPI increased by 4.6 percent in December, compared with November's 5.1 percent annual pace, which was the fastest in more than two years.

Beijing has launched a series of monetary tightening measures, including two interest rate hikes and a number of bank reserve requirement ratio increases over the last year in attempts to dampen rising consumer prices.

Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan said on Sunday in Japan that China's inflation is "higher than expected" and warned that banks' reserve requirement ratios (RRR) could be tightened further to mop up excessive liquidity in the country.

The central bank will also step up monitoring of the “overall financing size of the society,” which includes bonds and stocks apart from loans for policies.

China's economy is the second largest in the world.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egypt bans al-Jazeera amid uprising

Source: Press TV

Egypt's outgoing information minister Anas al-Fikki has ordered the closure of the Arab satellite channel al-Jazeera amid the ongoing uprising against President Hosni Mubarak in the country.

The official MENA news agency reported on Sunday that the Egyptian government banned the channel for its coverage of anti-government riots.

Al-Fikki has "ordered the closure of all activities by Al Jazeera in the Arab republic of Egypt, and the annulment of its licenses, as well as withdrawing the press cards to all its employees as of (Sunday)," MENA said.

Al Jazeera was still broadcasting when the announcement was made.

The report comes as Egypt is bracing for a sixth day of protests against President Mubarak's rule.

Latest reports say crowds of people are massing in Cairo's central Tahrir Square, as an overnight curfew ended in the capital Cairo and other cities.

The protesters have dismissed Mubarak's appointment of a vice-president and prime minister, calling for Mubarak's ouster.

On Saturday night, thousands of Egyptians defied the curfew and remained on streets.

Meanwhile, thousands on Sunday escaped two prisons, one in north of Cairo and the other in the capital's southwest.

Looters broke into Cairo's famous Egyptian Museum. They ripped off the heads of two mummies and damaged small artifacts before being caught.

Many shops and stores have also been ransacked and residential buildings have been attacked. There are reportedly no signs of police preventing lootings.

The number of people killed in protests since Tuesday is reported to be at least 100. More than 2,000 were also injured in clashes that have rocked Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria

Saudi king vows support for Mubarak

File photo of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah (R)
and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

Source: Press TV

Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah ensures Mohamed Hosni Mubarak of his support amid nationwide protests against the Egyptian president's three-decade-long rule.

In a Saturday telephone conversation with Mubarak, Abdullah Ibn Abdulaziz Al Saud described the popular movements as "tampering with Egypt's security and stability in the name of freedom of expression,” AFP reported.

On Saturday, protesters took to the streets for the fifth-straight day. At least 100 people were reportedly killed during the crackdown by the security forces, which were earlier reinforced by tank battalions and Army soldiers.

The entire cabinet has resigned and a curfew has been extended in three cities of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria.

Talking to Abdullah, however, Mubarak claimed that “the situation is stable” and alleged that the outraged public was seeking “to achieve strange and suspicious objectives.”

Unfazed by the countrywide unease, the Egyptian head of state has promised political and economic reforms, but has not mentioned anything on relaxing his grip on power.

The Saudi king branded the protesters as "intruders" and said, “Saudi Arabia stands with all its power with the government and people of Egypt."

The comments came after a Human Rights Watch report lambasted Riyadh earlier in the week for mistreatment of women, foreign labor and the Kingdom's Shia minority.

Egypt will bring Mubarak to justice

Source: Press TV

During the past few days the world has been witnessing the Egyptian people's ongoing, anti-Mubarak protests and the government's violent response.

In regards to the current events taking place in Egypt and the people's political views, Press TV has interviewed the representative of the Muslim Brotherhood in the UK, Mohamed Ghanem, to further discuss the situation.

Press TV: I'd like to welcome you to the program from London from the Muslim Brotherhood Mr. Mohammad Ghanem. Thank you so much for being with us. Now Mr. Ghanem, let's look at the events that have been taking place over the past few days and also today. Can you see this actually culminating in a victory for the Egyptian people? Or is it possible that Mr. Mubarak had made different changes in his government, he's had his cabinet step down, and he's appointed different individuals, now, will that be enough to pacify the Egyptian people? Or do you think it will ultimately culminate in him stepping down?

Ghanem: This blessed revolution and wise-up by the Egyptian people is for one aim. All is to redeem back the will to decide their own fate which has been stolen from them for quite a long time. In the last 30 years, the time of Mubarak, he has abused the Egyptian people, he has stolen their right to decide their will. His fraud elections, he steels money, he controlled Egypt by the guns of thugs, and the Egyptian people raised up. They will not be satisfied, but to change the system. To bring down this regime, not changing the faces. I've seen today when his deputy changed his side he saluted him. But when he appoints somebody, he's still in power. The Egyptian people have drawn their consent. He has no authority neither to appoint anybody nor to appoint a government. Now he's trying to play tactic in the game. It's wrong. Nobody will accept what he does. The Egyptian people have political institutions. They have political figures. They have everything to establish a new political structure, which they can decide by their own. There is no acceptance but to bring his regime, his family, and his thugs down.

Press TV: Well, Mr. Ghanem how significant do you see people being killed now every day? We were looking at footage just a while ago of them bringing bodies of those dead and people just marching in mass and extremely upset with the situation. How significant is this if Mr. Mubarak continues to crackdown. Will it actually push the people over the top, or do you think that it's possible that they will back down, that they cannot push him out of office? How do you see that playing itself out?

Ghanem: Well, it's significant enough to see and proves how evil this man is, how bad this man is. For the Egyptian people this is a price they pay. I feel very sorry, I send my condolences to the loved ones of the ones who died and the people injured. Now more than a hundred people have died, more than a thousand have been wounded. A thousand have been taken to prison. Their money has been lost. Their wealth has been looted. All this for one evil man and his family. The Egyptian people will never forget that, they will never rest; they will bring him down to justice. And if a man wanted to have a part of this not to salute him but to take him as a prisoner and put him in for the court, to be judged by fair judgment to satisfy the anger in the heart of the Egyptian people.

Press TV: Now Mr. Ghanem, we've been watching amazing footage coming out of Egypt that perhaps just a few days ago, we would have been very surprised to see. Of course Hosni Mubarak always had a very tight grip on the country in his 30 years' of reign. We saw pictures of Mubarak torn up, we saw people taking their shoes off and beating pictures symbolically. Are you surprised at the speed that it seems that this movement, the momentum that it has taken on so fast?

Ghanem: I'm not surprised at all. We all expected that. And he's been warned by all the good people, they warned him that will happen exactly what's happened today. People explained that to him, but he's very evil. He doesn't care; he only cares about himself and his end. That's why he has to see; people have to see him in the court, for justice. He's such an evil man. And now he himself is having a killing spree, among the good people. They have a chance to loot and steel the money. They got all the currency and transferred it out of the country. They will do as much damage and as much destruction as they can. This is their nature. They don't care about the country. They only care about their own interest. But the time has come now for the Egyptian people to have their own say. To redeem their own way back now, the right to decide their own fate. Neither America nor anybody in the world can satisfy the Egyptian people. They're not going to rest, they have sacrificed. People were killed and people wounded, people in prison, wealth has been stolen, for just one corrupted man and his thugs.

Press TV: Mr. Ghanem do you see that many of the western think tanks are basically wondering what went wrong as far as with the model of this region, and basically where do you see this point in time, if the Egyptian people want to be successful in their revolution?

Ghanem: Well, the Egyptian people, will be successful. This uprising, we haven't seen for quite a bit because of the amount and strength of suppression on the people. But now the uprising, they won't rest they sacrificed their own blood. They paid for all this and they have to get the result they want. The relation of the structure between the Americans, the Arabs and Egyptians in particular, the Egyptian people like the Americans and have good relations with the American people. But if the political power tries to dictate the fate of the Egyptian people, we will never accept that. America has to learn, there is enough enmity in the world. Mutual interest should, they should respect the people's right to decide their own fate. We are an old nation; we have a history behind us. We are a great nation. We have political people, we have a political institution. We are a very rich country. We don't need any aid from America. Their aid is not useful to us. It (the uprising) came from Tunisia to Egypt, and God willing it will spread to the Muslim and Arab world. And America has to learn that the American people have to base their relationship with the world on mutual interest, not to dictate the fate for their own interests

Mubarak fall risks Israel gas supply

Israel electric company's power plants and other privately owned facilities are prepared for gas shortages as speculations raise over a regime change in Egypt

Source: Press TV

Speculations about a possible regime change in Egypt have extremely concerned Israel over its gas supplies which could be halted in case of a revolution in the North African country.

According to an article published by Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Achronot, an Islamic revolution in Egypt will create an economic mayhem in Israel.

The article says the recent uprising in Egypt has not yet affected the gas supplies to Israel and a new secular regime is also not expected to harm gas imports.

But in case of an Islamic revolution which would lead to the halt of gas supplies, the reservoir gas in Israel will last only until 2012.

Israel has been preparing for gas shortages, as the protests continue in Egypt to target President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule.

The Egyptian-Israeli gas line passes through northern Sinai, where mass protests are taking place against Mubarak. Egypt supplies around 40% of Israel's gas consumption.

If gas supplies stop, the Israeli market will have to function without natural gas for nearly a year until the Tamar drilling begins in 2014.

Israel plans to drill for gas in the Tamar gas field, which was discovered in the Mediterranean Sea in 2009.

The gas field, however, is a source of dispute between Israel and Lebanon as Beirut says the field is extended into its territory.

Israel to boost security on Egypt border

The Israeli military is set to deploy its forces to the border in case of a revolution in Egypt

Source: Press TV

A senior Israeli commander says the military will have to boost security along the Egyptian border should the uprising lead to a regime change in the North African country.

“If a hostile regime takes over in Egypt, the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) will need to restructure itself and would be pushed to the limit in its ability to deploy adequate resources on the various fronts, The Jerusalem Post quoted the official as speaking on condition of anonymity.

“A change in power could change what happens on the border as well,” the Israeli official went on to say.

Israeli military commanders gathered to discuss possible scenarios that could happen in Egypt in the wake of an uprising against the three-decade rule of President Hosni Mubarak, the report said on Saturday.

The Israeli commanders met at Southern Command headquarters in Beersheba, as well as at the Kirya military headquarters, and the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv.

According to the report, the military is set to restructure its divisions and the air force “to effectively meet the challenge” that it might face in case of a regime change in Egypt.

Mass protests against Mubarak's 30-year rule which started on Tuesday and continued across the country -- despite a government ban on further protests -- have raised speculations of a regime change.

An Israeli minister, however, undermined the uprising on Saturday, saying that Mubarak will “overcome the current wave of demonstrations.”

He argued that the “Arab region” is not currently ready “to go through the democratic process.”

Meanwhile, Arabic newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported that Israel's diplomats and their families left Egypt on Friday. Helicopters evacuated the embassy staff to an Egyptian airbase, where they were flown back to Tel Aviv.

Israel is extremely concerned about a possible regime change in Egypt which could endanger a peace treaty that was signed between the two sides in 1979.

Chants of revolution echo in Britain

Source: Press TV

Thousands of protesters pour into the streets in London and Manchester, again, to shout their anger at the government's policies, with some clashing with police.

The National Union of Students (NUS) and Trade Unions Congress (TUC) joined forces in a protest against the increase in university tuition fees, spending and education cuts, and job losses, with a group chanting "Revolution, revolution", British media reported.

British students and trade unionists broke through police lines in central London and were chased by an enhanced number of police forces to the city center where officers later ''kettled'' a group of angry protesters and arrested six people.

In Manchester, general secretary of the UCU lecturers' union, Sally Hunt addressed the rally, saying that the government was actually at "war with young people" and "betraying" an entire generation.

She attacked the government for raising tuition fees in England to a new upper limit of £9,000 per year and for scrapping education maintenance allowances for college students.

In London, with banners such as "Still angry, still here," protesters sent the message that the campaign against higher fees and university spending cuts had not disappeared.

Saturday's rallies have been the latest in a series of demonstrations and occupations by students.

On the day MPs voted to raise tuition fees, there were angry scenes on the streets of London as thousands of students marched through the capital.

Violent clashes erupted between student protesters and police outside Parliament where police "kettled" them for hours and arrested dozens of people while several others were injured.

A large group of protesters in London left the main venue for the Egyptian embassy on Saturday where they expressed strong solidarity with the Egyptian people in their struggle for freedom and change.

One slogan being brandished in London drew an analogy between international events and the UK, declaring: "Ben Ali, Mubarak… Cameron, you are next."

The protesters were referring to Tunisia where people toppled president Ben Ali's government and to Egypt where people have been coming out in their thousands to demand that president Mubarak relax his grip on power and allow for a fundamental change in the Egyptian society.

Yemeni forces disperse protesters

Government supporters (L) confront anti-government protesters
in Sanaa January 29.

Source: Press TV

Clashes erupt between supporters of the Yemeni president and anti-government demonstrators holding a rally near the Egyptian Embassy in the capital city of Sanaa to show support for the Egyptian uprising.

On Saturday, Yemeni anti-government protesters, most of them journalists and rights activists, also called on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to end his 33-year rule.

A group of government backers along with security forces attacked and dispersed the crowd.

"The people want the regime to fall," the protesters shouted, urging the Yemeni president to resign.

Confronting the crowd, Pro-government bystanders were shouting, "With our blood and souls we defend you, Ali."

Yemen has been the scene of massive protests following the revolution in Tunisia that led to ouster of the Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The uprising also sent shockwaves across Arab and North African nations including Egypt, Yemen and Jordan.

Yemeni security forces also arrested a prominent human rights activist during the Saturday rally.

"The same people that surrounded us today, they are the same people that surrounded our protest on Wednesday and tried to hit some of the protesters. The only guarantee: they will not terrify us, and they will not scare us," activist, Tawakul Karman, told Reuters.

Saturday's protest came two days after tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the capital city Sanaa and several other cities, calling for the resignation of President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

On Wednesday, at least five people were injured and dozens of protesters arrested during violent clashes between security forces in Yemen's southern province of Shabwa.

Tunisia, Egypt fire spreads to Algeria?

An Algerian anti-riot policeman throws a stone at protesters during clashes linked to rising food costs and unemployment in capital Algiers on January 7, 2011

Source: Press TV

More than 10,000 demonstrators have marched in Algeria's northeastern city of Bejaia to protest against spiraling costs and unemployment.

"The protest gathered more than 10,000 people," Said Sadi, Leader of Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD), told AFP on Saturday. RCD had organized the rally.

Mohamed Ikhervane, a lawmaker with the opposition RCD, said the protest was inspired by neighboring Tunisia's revolution which forced Tunisia's former President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of force.

Demonstrators marched peacefully in the city shouting Tunisia-inspired slogans such as: "For a radical change of the regime!," Ikhervane, added.

Police were out in force around the city but protesters dispersed calmly, the RCD lawmaker noted.

Separately, pro-democracy group the Algerian League for the Defense of Human Rights (LADDH) announced a plan to organize a new march in Algiers on February 12.

The group's leader, Mustapha Bouchachi, said the protest had been postponed from the original date of February 9 to enable workers and students to take part.

Earlier in Algeria, January riots that demanded the end of the government and its 19-year state of emergency in Algeria left five dead and more than 800 injured.

At least eight people have set themselves on fire in Algeria in the past two weeks. Officials have attributed some of the cases to mental health issues.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Mubarak appoints vice-president

Protests continue as Egyptian president appoints former spy chief as vice-president as well as a new prime minister.

Protesters in Egypt are calling for "regime change, not cabinet change", our correspondent said [Reuters]

Source: Al Jazeera

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has appointed the country's head of intelligence to the post of vice-president, in a move said to be a reaction to days of anti-government protests in cities across the country.

Omar Suleiman was sworn in on Saturday, the first time Mubarak appointed a vice-president during his 30-year rule. Ahmad Shafiq, a former aviation minister, was also appointed prime minister.

But Al Jazeera's correspondents in Egypt have said that many of those on taking to the streets have demanded a total change of guard, as opposed to a reshuffling of figures in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Tens of thousands of people in the capital Cairo gathered on Saturday, demanding an end to Hosni Mubarak's presidency.

The demonstrations continued in defiance of an extended curfew, where state television reported will be in place from 4pm to 8am local time.

A military presence also remains, and the army warned the crowds in Tahrir Square that if they defy the curfew, they would be in danger.

Al Jazeera's Ayman Mohyeldin, reporting from Cairo, said that soldiers deployed to central Cairo are not intervening in the protests.

"Some of the soldiers here have said that the only way for peace to come to the streets of Cairo is for Mubarak to step down," he said.

Similar crowds were gathering in the cities of Alexandria and Suez, Al Jazeera's correspondents reported.

Reports have also emerged that at least three people have been killed, as protesters attempted to storm the interior ministry in Cairo.

Fears of looting have also risen, and the army on Saturday warned local residents to "protect their property and possessions".

In the city of Alexandria, residents called on the army to protect them against looting, as well as organising their own committees in defence.

Cabinet resigns

The Egyptian cabinet meanwhile have formally resigned in response to the protests, and Ahmed Ezz, a businessman and senior figure in the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP) also resigned from his post as chairman of the Planning and Budget Committee.

Protesters ransacked and burned one of his company's main offices in Mohandiseen, an area of Cairo.

State media reported on Saturday that some protesters held up posters with a cross marked over the face of Ezz, who is chairman of Ezz Steel.

Meanwhile, overnight protests were also held on Friday in cities across the country, in what has been viewed as unprecedented anger on the part of the Egyptian people.

In Alexandria, Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh reported that scores of marchers were calling on Hosni Mubarak to step down.

"They are calling for regime change, not cabinet change," Rageh said.

She said that they were blocking traffic and shouting "Illegitimate, illegitimate!"

The Reuters news agency reported that police had fired live ammunition at protesters, but there is no independent confirmation of that report.

In Suez, Al Jazeera's Jamal ElShayyal reported that 1,000-2,000 protesters had gathered, and that the military was not confronting them.

ElShayyal quoted a military officer as saying that troops would "not fire a single bullet on Egyptians".

The officer also said the only solution to the current unrest was "for Mubarak to leave".

ElShayyal said that 1,700 public workers in Suez had gone on an indefinite strike seeking Mubarak's resignation.

The latest protests reflected popular discontent with Mubarak's midnight address, where he announced that he was dismissing his government but remaining in power.

The several hundred protesters in Tahrir Square demonstrated in full view of the army, which had been deployed in the city to quell the popular unrest sweeping the Middle East's most populous Muslim country since January 25.

They repeatedly shouted that their intentions were peaceful.

According to the Associated Press, the road leading from Tahrir Square to the parliament and cabinet buildings has been blocked by the military.

Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, reporting from Cairo, said the normally bustling city looked more like a warzone early on Saturday morning.

Tanks have been patrolling the streets of the capital since early in the morning, and a statement from the Egyptian armed forces asked citizens to respect the curfew and to avoid congregating in large groups.

An extended curfew has now been ordered by the military, running from 4pm to 8am local time, in Cairo and other major cities.

State television is also reporting that all school and university exams have been postponed.

Rising death toll

Cities across Egypt witnessed unprecedented protests on Friday, with tens of thousands of protesters taking to the streets after noon prayers calling for an end to Mubarak's 30-year rule.

The number of people killed in protests is reported to be in the scores, with at least 23 deaths confirmed in Alexandria, and at least 27 confirmed in Suez, with a further 22 deaths in Cairo.

Al Jazeera's Rageh in Alexandria said that the bodies of 23 protesters had been received at the local morgue, some of them brutally disfigured.

She added that human rights activists had reported that a further 13 bodies were present at the general hospital.

ElShayyal, our correspondent in Suez confirmed 27 bodies were received at the morgue in Suez, while Dan Nolan, our correspondent in Cairo, confirmed that 22 bodies were present at a morgue in Cairo.

More than 1,000 were also wounded in Friday's violent protests, which occurred in Cairo and Suez, in addition to Alexandria.

Dutton, in Cairo, said the number of the people on the streets "increased after president Hosni Mubarak's speech shortly after midnight".

Regarding the situation in the capital on Saturday morning, she said "there is broken glass everywhere ... a lot of the burnt out shells of the police cars have been removed but you are aware that there were hours and hours of skirmishes on the streets of the capital city [last night]".

The ruling NDP headquarters in the capital is still ablaze, more than 12 hours after it was set alight by protesters.

The Egyptian army said it had been able to secure the neighbouring museum of antiquities from the threat of fire and looting, averting the possible loss of thousands of priceless artefacts.

Armoured personnel carriers remain stationed around the British and US embassies, as well as at the state television station.

Some mobile phone networks resumed service in the capital on Saturday, after being shut down by authorities on Friday. Internet services remain cut, and landline usage limited.

Authorities had blocked internet, mobile phone and SMS services in order to disrupt planned demonstrations.

'Mobs' and 'criminals'

Maged Reda Boutros, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party, told Al Jazeera that the political regime in Egypt was "admitting" that it was not meeting the expectations of the people, and that was why the cabinet was resigning.

"It shows a response to the demands of the people," he said.

He alleged that the protests have been taken over by "mobs" from the "lower part of the society", who are now engaged in "burning, looting and shooting".

"Now it has turned from a noble cause to a criminal cause," he said, saying that most of those involved in the protests were criminals.

He said that half of those killed are members of the security forces, who died while acting in self defence.

"People should wait and see what's going to happen. But if they continue doing protests and letting those criminals loose in a large city of 17 million people ... we cannot play with the stability of the country."

Mohamed ElBaradei, a leading opposition figure, told Al Jazeera that protests would continue until the president steps down. He also stressed that the political "system" will have to change in Egypt before the country can move forward.

He termed president Mubarak's speech "disappointing", and called on him to resign. The former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also expressed "disappointment" with the US reaction to the protests, though he did stress that any change would have to come from "inside Egypt".

He said that Mubarak should put in place an interim government that would arrange free and fair elections.

ElBaradei added that he was not aware of his reported house arrest.

Friday's demonstrations involving tens of thousands of people were the biggest and bloodiest in four consecutive days of protests against Mubarak's government.

Mubarak faces fifth 'day of rage'

A protester in Tahrir Square holds a photo showing President Mubarak's face crossed out as another displays a gun cartridge on January 29, 2011 in Cairo

Source: Press TV

The worst unrest in Egypt's history has entered its fifth day with new clashes erupting between police and protesters in several cities across the country.

Incoming reports say at least 100 people have been killed in the crackdown on anti-government protesters. Some 2,000 others have been wounded since the unrest began on Tuesday.

Anti-government protests continue across Egypt despite deployment of army forces and tanks. A curfew has been extended in three cities of Cairo, Suez and Alexandria where protest rallies are underway.

The entire cabinet has now resigned, but President Hosni Mubarak has refused to step down. Instead, he promised economic and political reforms.

Protesters have dismissed the measures as too little too late and demand that the president himself to step down.

Interior Ministry attacked

Reports say at least three people have lost their lives as thousands of protesters tried to storm the interior ministry building in Cairo.

The protesters have also damaged several police vehicles.

Opposition groups calls for transfer of power

Meanwhile, prominent opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei has promised that the street protests will continue even more intensely until Mubarak tenders his resignation.

The main opposition party, the Muslim Brotherhood, has called for a peaceful transfer of power.

World public united behind Egyptian protesters

In addition to that, thousands of people across the world have taken to the streets to express their support for anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Hundreds have gathered outside the Egyptian Embassy in Tokyo, demanding that the Egyptian government stop the crackdown on protesters and President Mubarak to accept increasing calls to step down.

Similar demonstrations have been held in Saudi Arabia, Greece, Germany, France, Turkey and the United States.

The United States supports Mubarak

Meanwhile, US Vice President Joe Biden says the time has not come for the Egyptian president to resign despite mass anti-government protests.

"Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. And he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interest in the region, the Middle East peace efforts; the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing relationship with Israel, "Biden said.

His statement comes as protesters want an end to the decades-long rule of Mubarak.

The prominent Journalist, Omar Nashabi of al-Akhbar weekly has told the Press TV in a recent interview that the US backs dictatorships across the Arab world.

"I think the US is very careful now -- especially after what happened in Tunisia. I think the Americans are really saying something and doing something else."

Azzam Tamimi, an expert on Middle Eastern Affairs, told the Press TV on Saturday that the US and its Western allies have not learned a lesson from the Tunisian revolution.

He predicted a people power revolution in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, Jordan and several other Arab states in the coming weeks.

Egypt unrest death toll surpasses 100

Egyptian protesters run for cover as police open fire on crowds near a central square in Cairo on Saturday

Source: Press TV

At least 100 Egyptian protesters have been killed during clashes with police as the explosion of anger at President Hosni Mubarak continues to rock the North African country.

Medical sources stated on Saturday that over 100 people, including 23 protesters in the port city of Alexandria have lost their lives in streets fighting with police forces across Egypt since the outbreak of anti-government protests, while 13 people were killed and 75 others injured in the flash point city of Suez, along the strategic Suez Canal.

According to medical sources, at least 1,030 protesters have been injured as mass protests remain unabated across the country for a fifth consecutive day.

The worst unrest in Egypt's history appeared to be ceaseless and police have reportedly fired tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters.

The fall-out comes after a curfew from 6 p.m. to 7 a.m. was imposed Friday in Cairo, Suez and Alexandria.

In another development, Mohamed El Baradei, one of Mubarak's fiercest critics and a former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, was detained by Egyptian police after appearing on the streets in the capital Cairo.

ElBaradei has promised that the street protests will continue with even more intensity until Mubarak resigns.

Inspired by the recent popular revolution in Tunisia, which resulted in the historic overthrow of the country's President Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, Egyptians have staged similar anti-government protests since Tuesday, calling on Mubarak to relinquish power after three decades in office.

At least five people were killed in Cairo and two in Mansura, north of the capital on Friday, with many fatalities caused by rubber-coated bullets, medics and witnesses said.

On Friday, Mubarak sacked his cabinet and called for national dialogue in an attempt to staunch the flow of public outcry over poverty, high unemployment rates and rampant corruption.

Meanwhile, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon called for an end to violence in Egypt and urged the government to respect freedom of speech.

Brotherhood, Cairo, calls for, communication cut, coup, demonstrations, Egypt, Egyptians, military attacks, Mubarak step down, Protests, revolt day, Revolution, riots, uprising, World United News

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