Egyptian uprising - updates and discussion

Egyptian uprising - updates and discussion

Live updates and discussion from the Egyptian uprising which began on 25 January 2011.

From the Egyptian Chronicles blog...

http://egyptianchronicles.blogspot.com/2011/01/jan25-is-getting-serious.html

Quote:
The January 25th protest is getting serious attention more and more. More Facebook pages and groups are calling for the #25 Jan and more political groups are going to participate in the huge event "They are about 17 groups".Many are praying that it be the start of a new thing in Egypt. Now if you are interested in following the protest on twitter to know its updates then follow this hash tag (#Jan25)

Surprisingly “Salafist movement for reform” aka “HAFS” has announced that it will participate in the event , this is the first time a Salafist movement participates in something like this considering the Salafist believes and teachings. I have my fear and my suspicion which I will keep it to myself. I know that this particular movement  has its political believes still ....

The Mahalla workers will participate too , you may remember how they made their own day on the 6th April from couple of years ago.

Another huge surprise or even change in this protest is its location in Cairo and Giza, it is no longer Down town or Nile corniche but rather at the famous Gamaat Al Doul street in Mohendessin , the heart of the middle class in Giza !! The other places are : Cairo university in Giza , Dawaran Shubra and Dawaran Al Mataria in Cairo.

The NDP will participate too , of course in pro-regime protests of love …etc. May be this will be a showdown between the regime and the opposition , the real opposition in Egypt on who has got the word in the street. There are rumors that the MOI will launch its thugs to create chaos and violence , all what I know for sure is  that the police will not enjoy their holiday because they will have to work.  Personally I think the regime will let that day pass peacefully in order not to push the people in to another degree of anger , the world is now watching the Arab countries post-Tunisian revolution in an anticipation.

The Egyptians in London are going to protest next Sunday January 23, 2011 at 1 PM in front of the Egyptian embassy in London , if you are there and interested in joining them then here is the Egyptian embassy address : 26 South Street, Westminster, London W1K 1DW. There will be also insh Allah a protest in Bologna , Italy. It will be held on the 23rd of January at 12 PM at Piazza del Nettuno. Also on Sunday there will be a protest held at 1 PM  in front of the Egyptian mission to the UN HQ in New York at at 304 East 44th Street.  Now it will not be the last capital in the world that will witness a protest in front of the Egyptian embassy or mission on that coming Sunday because there will be a protest in our embassy in Madrid at 1 PM too.

Our  great Tunisian brothers are going to protest in solidarity with the Egyptian people in front of the Egyptian embassy next January 25, 2011. Also our dear Jordanian brothers are going to protest inn front of the Egyptian embassy next January 25 ,2011. Our brothers in Yemen sent a solidarity email to the admin of “We are all Khaled Said” page.

Just like El General in Tunisia the Egyptian rap singers and bands are making songs for the #Jan25 just  like this one by rapper Ahmed Rock.There are lots of video clips on YouTube made by activists to encourage the people to participate in the protest of #Jan25.

Posted By

Mark.
Jan 23 2011 13:13

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ocelot
Jan 26 2011 16:05

The Guardian reporter in Cairo got nicked last night, but managed to conceal his dictaphone (they make em small these days) and managed to record some story and interviews in the back of the police truck. Check out the audio at the link.

Guardian: Egypt protests: 'We ran a gauntlet of officers beating us with sticks'

Quote:
[...after being arrested by plainclothes cops...]
We were being dragged towards a security building on the edge of the square, two streets away from my apartment, and as I approached the doorway of the building other security officers took flying kicks and punches at me. I spotted a high-ranking uniformed officer and shouted at him that I was a British journalist. He responded by walking over and punching me twice, saying in Arabic, "Fuck you and fuck Britain".

Other protesters and I were thrown through the doorway, where we had to run a gauntlet of officers beating us with sticks. Inside we were pushed against the wall; our mobiles and wallets were removed. Officers walked up and down ordering us to face the wall and not look back, as more and more protesters were brought in behind us. Anyone who turned round was instantly hit. After approximately an hour we were dragged out again one by one.

Outside we were loaded on to one of the green central security trucks that had been ubiquitous throughout the streets that day. The steps up to the vehicle were short and narrow, and the doorway into the pitch-black holding area inside the truck barely wide enough to fit a single person – my head was smashed against the metal door frame by a policeman as I entered. Inside, dozens of protesters were already packed in and crouched in the darkness – the trucks have barely any windows, just a handful of thick metal grates through which it is impossible to see anything. There were 44 of us inside the tiny space.

With barely room to move, the temperature rose quickly and several people fainted. Many of the protesters were nursing severe wounds, visible by occasional flashes of streetlight that came through the grates.

I realised I still had my dictaphone and started making recordings, describing what was happening and interviewing those around me. The truck drove east at top speed, towards the outskirts of the city – whenever it slowed or veered round a corner we were all sent flying. One protester, a diabetic, had slipped into a coma and was clearly in a grave medical condition; despite banging the side of the truck and shouting through the grates, we couldn't get the drivers to stop.

We eventually pulled up outside a government security headquarters on the desert fringes of the city. After a long delay a policeman unlocked the door to try to extract a specific prisoner called "Nour" – a young activist who is the son of Ayman Nour, a prominent dissident. As one we charged at the doorway, sending him flying and spilling out on the street. The unconscious protester was carried out and cars flagged down to take him to hospital. The rest of us had to find a way of making our own way back to city.

Valeriano Orobó...
Jan 26 2011 16:50
Ed wrote:
Khawaga wrote:
I will wait to see what happens with this one. It looks like yet another rich kid internet fantasist's version of politics.

Shame in your face, Khawaga! The class struggle surprises revolutionaries once again! wink

no1 wrote:
Riot cops chased by protesters:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uc000YDVY5o

Amazing.

It really is. I hope the algerians bros and sis start too rocking their casbah soon:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yx-277MRYuM&feature=related

Khawaga
Jan 26 2011 18:51
Ed wrote:
Shame in your face, Khawaga! The class struggle surprises revolutionaries once again! wink

I can say that I am very happy to eat my words wink

Samotnaf
Jan 26 2011 19:33
Quote:
I am very happy to eat my words

You'll have to take them with a pinch of salt next time...

Komar
Jan 26 2011 19:37

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2011/01/white-house-declines-to-say-if-us-still-supports-egypts-mubarak.html

Quote:
Asked Wednesday whether the U.S. still supports Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated that Egypt remains “a strong ally” and stressed the importance of universal rights for the people of Egypt.

Pictures from today

http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/01/26/5925075-thousands-protest-against-president-hosni-mubarak-in-egypt

Komar
Jan 26 2011 21:34

updates from today

Quote:
9.23pm: Two people have died in Cairo, the Associated Press news agency is reporting, as violence continues tonight, where night has fallen. AP says:

Security officials say one protester and one policeman have been killed in an anti-government protest in central Cairo, bringing to six the number of people killed in two days of demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak's regime.

The policeman and the protester were killed by rocks thrown by both sides in a clash in a poor neighborhood in the center of the capital.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information to journalists.

7.41pm: Peter Beaumont reports from Cairo, where demonstrators are playing "cat and mouse" with police.

Riot police and plain clothes officers armed with staves and bars broke up a demonstration outside one of Cairo's biggest tourist hotels, the Ramses Hilton, on the banks of the river Nile.

Tonight groups of demonstrators and police are still playing a violent game of cat and mouse through the city centre's streets – with protesters quickly re-grouping after being broken up.

The sound of police sirens and detonating tear gas canisters could be heard across the city, in the biggest protests against the regime of 82-year-old president Hosni Mubarak in three decades.

Protests took place across Egypt, with gatherings broken up by police outside a number of locations in the capital, including Cairo's supreme court, Nasser metro station and on Ramses Street.

Police continued to round up scores of people, including photographers and reporters covering the demonstrations. The latest clashes occurred on a day when officials announced that 860 people had been rounded up following mass protests against Mubarak on Tuesday, when at least four people died.

The crackdown by authorities brought harsh words from European leaders, who expressed concern and said the events underlined the need for democratisation and respect for human and civil rights.

Mark.
Jan 26 2011 21:55

From the BBC:

Video: Fresh protests in Egyptian Cities

In pictures: Egypt protests

Who are the opposition movements and what are their demands?

Egypt protests: Your stories

Mohammed Abdul Fatah, Alexandria wrote:

I've just got home now after being detained for seven hours in an underground cell.

I was detained along with 63 others. Only a handful of protesters have been released.

We were detained following the protests earlier in the day. A big crowd was heading to a street where the Alexandria governor was situated and where people wanted to stage a sit-in. There were 10,000 to 15,000 people there.

But then the security forces fired tear gas at the protesters, dispersing us. Sixty protesters, including me, managed to get inside the entrance of one of the buildings. We were suffocated by the tear gas and one asthma sufferer collapsed. The police arrested all of us in the building.

The police started beating us randomly. Cursing us. Slapping our faces. I kept telling them that I was a journalist but they didn't care about this at all.

I was severely beaten and my glasses were broken. The police took my bag, my laptop and my camera. However, I got my possessions back when I was released.

During the march the protesters were chanting against President Mubarak - calling for him to leave power. Many of the chants were inspired by the Tunisia uprising. People started chanting: "Tunisia, Tunisia, Tunisia." But then they were overwhelmed by the chant: "Egypt, Egypt, Egypt."

No-one told us what we were accused of while we were in prison. The police took our national ID cards, they took our names and our work permits. They took everything.

Of course, under those circumstances we were fearful and under psychological pressure.

The protests will continue. There are invitations on Facebook to stage other sit-ins and the momentum will be very hard to stop.

Zakaria Mohyeldin, Cairo wrote:

I joined the protest in Tahrir Square on Tuesday, staying until 1930. I felt thrilled, exhilarated and extremely enthused the whole time. I met people I know there who have never protested before.

Masses of people kept arriving every 30 minutes or so. Just as things were quietening down a group of about 1,000 to 2,000 would arrive lifting everyone's spirits.

Random unprovoked attacks by the police were very common throughout the day. When we first arrived at the square we were quiet, some prayed and others rested after the long march. The police immediately started spraying us with water cannon from an armoured vehicle.

The way the crowd reacted to police violence was extremely effective. When the police rushed the crowd, the crowd outran them - only to regroup and return.

There was such a sense of determination - a friend of mine picked up a tear gas canister and threw it back at the police.

I saw an agile young man lithely climb on top to take control of the cannon and guide it away from the protesters on to the vehicle.

A young police officer dressed in civilian clothing immediately climbed out the back of the vehicle on top to remove the man. In the ensuing struggle they both fell off the vehicle to their sides. I don't know if they were hurt but they looked like they could very well have been brothers.

I plan to join protests again today after work and I know many others who want to as well. Tuesday was not just a day of anger but hopefully the beginning of the end.

We need to make a change. My country is suffering - our literacy rate is one of the lowest in the world. Our president has been in power for over 30 years and is over 80 years old.

Some worry what will happen if he goes. They worry about anarchy or the rise of the Muslim brotherhood. I am not worried about that. I am protesting for hope.

Mark.
Jan 26 2011 22:16

From Egyptian Chronicles (follow the link for videos from Suez):

Suez is a war zone again

Zeinobia wrote:

The Suez city is like a war zone currently, the updates coming from the city currently describing very violent clashes between the locals and the police forces. The people of Suez are extremely angry for the murder of three locals “Mustafa Reda, Soliman Saber and Gharib Abdel Aziz Abdel Latif” yesterday during the #Jan25 Anger Day protest…

According to the latest numbers from yesterday there were 130 injured in the general hospitals. There was a curfew imposed yesterday yet clashes exploded especially at Al Arbin square earlier today when the police refused to let the people organize a funeral for one of the victims that were killed yesterday.

The Al Arbin is witnessing some sort of war, the police reportedly is using live ammunition and the citizens are using rocks and Molotov bottles. Just today another citizen of Suez is reportedly killed by the live ammunition of the security forces according to Masrawy.com and 90 are injured according to Al Shorouk News.

The citizens have reportedly set the Arbin police station and NDP HQ on fire, attacked physically the head of Suez Security directorate along other 3 police generals and are currently encircling the city’s morgue. The police as I hinted is using live ammunition and started to target houses and shops using tear gas grenades.

Again the people of Suez are suffering from terrible economic conditions as the factories owners there started to use cheap Asian labor instead of them creating a huge unemployment problem in the city. We are speaking about thousands without a job in a city. Suez has very strong history when it comes to fight, the IDF tried to invade the city several times and failed. Also many of the families in the Arbin quarter have roots in Upper Egypt, they do not give their rights easily.

Another thing, an important fact we all should know the army was not and has not been deployed there, the third army of Egypt is already stationed there and yes up till it is neutral and another important fact you all must know the police and CSF wear uniforms close to the army’s uniforms outside Cairo.

Updates

• The clashes are going from bad to worse. 

• There are thugs in the city who seized the opportunity and started looting in the city. 

• The clashes and violence are spreading throughout the city from place to another. 

• Protesters are reportedly encircling Al Anasri police station…

Mark.
Jan 26 2011 22:26

Also from Egyptian Chronicles:

January 25: reactions

Zeinobia wrote:

We did not expect that January 25 anger day would be like that in any possible way, neither did the Egyptians nor the world that was not only amazed but is on its nerves currently anticipating what is going to happen in the land of the pharaohs.

The first expected reaction was economically the Egyptian pound has fallen to its lowest levels since 6 years against the U.S dollar after the protest. The Egyptian stock exchange has hit rock bottom. Now I expect the Economy and investment ministers will go and tell us that these protests are nasty foreign plot to destroy the Egyptian economy which is fine and solid … blah blah blah. The stock exchange experts are demanding the government to close the stock exchange to avoid any losses. Already last week when the Suicide wave took the Egyptian street, many foreign investors have pulled their money from the market. “We are speaking about billions of dollars”

The second expected reaction was these rumors that do not want to stop any sooner or even later. As I hinted yesterday there was that rumor that Suzanne Mubarak, her sons and their families have reached London and were seen by Egyptians working at Heathrow airport. Later that night we had this rumor that Egyptian businessmen tycoon Ahmed Ezz has fled the country. Today the Cairo international airport officials have denied these rumors insisting that those high ranking officials have not left the country. They did not name those high ranking official though. It is possible that Gamal Mubarak and Ahmed Ezz have traveled to Switzerland to attend the current world economic forum there.

(…)

Since yesterday the Tunisians were retweeting our tweets to deliver the world the Egyptian day of anger.

The people of the world, the real free people of the world also support us, I can’t count how many tweets, comments and emails I received from around the globe that support our struggle to democracy and better. Famous Anonymous  Hacking group has launched operation Egypt to attack the regime’s websites. “I hope they start hacking the NDP tycoons and NDP newspapers as well, also I love the Egyptian Jack Fawkes face”

The public reaction in Egypt, the people’s reaction is what matters actually in our case. As far as I could tell most people support and admire what happened yesterday but they are still scared, yes that wall of fear began to collapse. Most of my non politicalized friends have followed and shared videos and news of the protest on FB before its block with lots of admiration. Women cheered for protesters in their windows and balconies, the drivers honked their cars in their supports.

Mark.
Jan 26 2011 22:59

liveblog

Quote:
2235 GMT: Mona Eltahawy claims that at least two people have been killed in tensions between protesters and police in Suez. No independent confirmation exists so far.

In the meantime, the Egyptian Association for Change (EACUSA) claims that all cell phone networks in the city are not working.

2230 GMT: Reports from Facebook by the Egyptian Association for Change suggest that police are using live ammunition in the coastal town of Suez. The short tweet-report does not confirm whether police are shooting directly at protesters or merely trying to scare them by firing in the air.

2210 GMT: There are reports that, after the news hours ago that Twitter could be accessed, both Twitter and Facebook are being interrupted again.

2140 GMT: Mahmoud Saad, the host of the popular TV show Masr El-Naharda (Egypt Today) has announced that he will no longer appear starting tonight after he came under pressure from top government officials to report “untruths” about the protests, describing demonstrators as rioters “destroying the country".

2125 GMT: Clashes are now reported in front of the Foreign Ministry.

2120 GMT: An Egyptian official says one protester and one policeman were killed in Cairo tonight.

2118 GMT: Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossam Zaki on CNN tonight: "Some people want to introduce chaos on the streets....Many countries around the world use tear gas when the situation cannot be controlled....We do not accept dictates from any other nation in the world."

2114 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm says more than 8000 protesters were involved in a "massive protest" this afternoon in Suez.

Even before tonight's escalation of violence, there were clashes: the website says one of its photographers is in hospital after being shot with a rubber bullet.

2110 GMT: Reports are circulating that Twitter has been unblocked in Egypt.

2015 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm reports that security forces thwarted protests in Damietta and in the Nile Delta cities of Tanta and Mahalla. Prematurely, in light of tonight's developments, the website also says protesters were dispersed in Suez.

1955 GMT: Egyptian security sources are circulating that protesters in Suez have set fire to a Government building. There are also claims that the demonstrators tried to set alight the local headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party.

Another report claims protesters stormed and looted a food co-operative saying, "This is our money, these are our goods."

1915 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting "hundreds" of protesters camping outside the Press Syndicate in Cairo. It also says Molotov cocktails have been thrown at police vans.

1910 GMT: An Associated Press Television News cameraman and his assistant are still in detention after they were seized early Wednesday while they were filming clashes between security forces and protesters in Cairo.

Another AP photographer had his right cheekbone broken and will need surgery after a policeman charged him and hurled a stone at him while he was taking pictures of protests late Tuesday.

(…)

1600 GMT: Report that 2000 Bedouins protested in front of a police station in the Sinai, demanding the impeachment of the Minister of Interior and release of detainees.

1555 GMT: From Adam Makary of Al Jazeera: "Hit with tear gas again on Galaa St. Almost 1000 protesting. Guess Jan. 25 won't be ending anytime soon, police up against determined protesters."

1525 GMT: Eight people, including two foreign journalists, were arrested at Cairo University today. The journalists were released, but five people are still held.

A demonstration at the university was cancelled because of the heavy security presence.

1525 GMT: Reports come in of protesters trying to storm a police station in Sheikh Zwayed in the Sanai and police responding with tear gas.

1519 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm, from medical sources, is reporting 350 injuries in Suez alone. Twenty of the wounded are security forces…

Mark.
Jan 26 2011 23:30

Video from Al Jazeera earlier this afternoon

The video seems to play down today's protests, possibly because the report was made before they really got going. Al Jazeera has come under criticism for its coverage though.

Mark.
Jan 26 2011 23:57

Video: 'Egyptian Revolution Jan 25th 2011 - take what is yours!'

Videos from today's protests

From the liveblog:

Quote:
2327 GMT: Al Arbeen Police Headquarters in Suez has been set on fire. The video below shows the scene of the protest and the burning building: 
Mark.
Jan 27 2011 00:45
Mark.
Jan 27 2011 00:56

Updates on Suez

Zeinobia wrote:

The clashes are moving to the suburbs of the city, there is reportedly a huge cloud of tear gas grenades.

The mobile phone networks are reportedly not working , the internet is reportedly cut from down town.

Landlines are reportedly down in the city according to Al Jazeera reporter.

The last thing we have heard from Suez that not less than 5000 citizens are having a sit in at the Geish street.

Those who are destroying and stealing are unsurprisingly the thugs of the police !!

liveblog wrote:

0005 GMT: The situation in Suez has become further tense. Reports coming in from Egypt suggest that the city has effectively been cut-off from the rest of the country. Landlines, cell phones and internet are down. People continue to protest in the city and there have been sporadic reports of clashes, injuries and at least 2 deaths which cannot be confirmed yet.

We await further news for now.

0002 GMT: RNN reports that 5,000 protesters are holding a sit-in in El-Geish Street in Suez.

Guardian live updates wrote:

12.36am: A confusing picture coming out of Suez. Reports that the police headquarters and a chemical factory having been set on fire, with some suggesting the army has moved into the city to quell protesters, however some tweets disputing this:

@theydontneedme_ The army is not any where near the action in #suez like some say. #jan25

@mShady Vodafone mobile network is back in #Suez #Jan25 #25Jan

However @theydontneedme has tweeted saying she has been at home for an hour, so things could have changed. @mShady's tweet – alerted to me by @Oxenstierna_IRL, monitoring events from Scotland – is backed up by others from Egypt saying Vodafone was the only network to remain working throughout the telephone block.

12.09am: The We are all Khaled Said opposition protest group is updating its Facebook page constantly. Here's its latest post on Suez.

Urgent News: Suez is completely cut off. Police has been evacuated. Protesters there are very angry. The army is being brought in according to reports. Some sad speculations say that a massive crackdown will take place in Suez on protesters which could end up with a REAL Massacre. Suez now is Egypt's Sidi Bouzid.

12.01am: Alarming reports are coming in from Suez, where protests continued today. Three protesters were killed in the city yesterday.

Reports say all landlines, mobile phone networks and web access has been cut off

RedEd
Jan 27 2011 03:59

I hate to put a downer on things, but I've yet to see any significant class aspects to any of the Middle Eastern movements so far. I hope I'm wrong about this, but these seem like liberal political movements that may well aid the smooth functioning of capital in the countries concerned. I doubt that the national bourgeoisies are going to cry too much if less corrupt, less nepotistic, more parliamentarian governments replace the dictatorships. Anyone heard of any work place seizures, mass strikes, land expropriations, etc.?

rooieravotr
Jan 27 2011 04:23

I saw this: "Another report claims protesters stormed and looted a food co-operative saying, "This is our money, these are our goods."", on EA Worldview Liveblog, possibly somewhere in the quoted parts above. That seems like a bit of class aspect coming into the picture.

The fact that there was big street action in Mahallah on 25th January is also significant: that was the center of militant strike action in 2006. In fact, one of the opposition groups is named after the day of that workers' revolt: April 6th.

Class aspects are not very open, visible, explicit - yet; but they are there.

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 11:15
RedEd wrote:
I hate to put a downer on things, but I've yet to see any significant class aspects to any of the Middle Eastern movements so far. I hope I'm wrong about this, but these seem like liberal political movements that may well aid the smooth functioning of capital in the countries concerned. I doubt that the national bourgeoisies are going to cry too much if less corrupt, less nepotistic, more parliamentarian governments replace the dictatorships. Anyone heard of any work place seizures, mass strikes, land expropriations, etc.?

Here are some extracts from an article I've posted on the Tunisia thread. I'm not sure how much faith I'd put in the article as a whole but I think the bits below are uncontroversial.

The IMT wrote:

The regional structures of the UGTT had called for general strikes in Sfax, El Kef, Sidi Bouzid, Jendouba, Kairouan, Siliana, Gabés, Nabeul and others…

On Tuesday we saw the first attempts of the counter-revolution to regroup. Gangs of thugs and militias from the RCD attacked union offices in Gafsa, Kasserine (West) Béjà (North), Monastir et Mehdia (Centre). In the mining region of Gafsa a gang of men armed with sticks, knives and chains, attacked the offices of the regional union and injured a number of trade unionists present…

It is in this context that the regional strikes are taking place today, Wednesday 26, and they could be crucial to force the downfall of the government. In the statement calling for the strike, the regional UGTT in Sfax made clear what were the aims of the movement:

Quote:
After examining the general situation in the country and the latest political and social developments on light of our people’s revolution, and what is being plotted against it by internal and external conspiracies aimed to circumvent its objectives and gains, we decided to start a general strike on Wednesday, January 26, 2011 in defense of the demands of our people to overthrow the government of the former regime and to dissolve the Constitutional Democratic Rally.

Also very significant is the fact that the regional trade union structures and the revolutionary committees are increasingly taking over tasks of the administration of public and economic life…

The demonstration in Sfax, the country’s second largest city and the most important industrial centre was huge, of historic proportions. Some reports talked of 100,000 demonstrators, and even the bourgeois media put the figure at “over 50,000”…

This is how a business magazine described the situation:

Quote:
The Tunisian revolution has entered like a storm in the companies and public institutions. Directors are being chased away in parking lots and workers collectives are moving into self-management mode.

The article continues:

Quote:
Tunisian workers, in companies and public institutions have brought the revolution to their workplaces ... directors and managers of public companies have had to run seeking refuge, followed by a crowd of vindictive workers ... the hope of the government and the businessmen is that the movement will limit itself to those corrupt functionaries linked to the Ben Ali – Trabelsi clan. But it is not certain that this will be the case.

It's probably true that the demands being made are much less radical than the means being used.

ocelot
Jan 27 2011 11:13
RedEd wrote:
I hate to put a downer on things, but I've yet to see any significant class aspects to any of the Middle Eastern movements so far. I hope I'm wrong about this, but these seem like liberal political movements that may well aid the smooth functioning of capital in the countries concerned. I doubt that the national bourgeoisies are going to cry too much if less corrupt, less nepotistic, more parliamentarian governments replace the dictatorships. Anyone heard of any work place seizures, mass strikes, land expropriations, etc.?

Uncle Charlie sez:

Quote:
Communism is for us not a state of affairs which is to be established, an ideal to which reality [will] have to adjust itself. We call communism the real movement which abolishes the present state of things. The conditions of this movement result from the premises now in existence.

The German Ideology

Second. Read the detail of what's on the Sidi Bouzid thread - you will find accounts, precisely, of mass strikes, work place seizures and the setting up of self-governing councils in towns from which police, army and RCD placemen have withdrawn. If you haven't seen, it's because your eyes are closed.

I wouldn't say that capital is "functioning smoothly" today in Sidi Bouzid (general strike) or Suez (all out war, by the sounds).

But, as I previously outlined on the Sidi Bouzid thread, this sectarian dogmatist method of "backwards apriorism" - that is an apriori categorisation of an unfolding revolutionary process by its assumed future result/defeat - is both invalid and objectively counter-revolutionary. If any existing living revolutionary process is judged, by the light of your infallible crystal ball, to be essentially bourgeois, then we are motivated from the outset to want to see it's defeat as soon as possible so we can get the alienated pleasure of saying "i told you so".

More fundamentally, you fail entirely to grasp the nature of revolution or the dialectic of power. Capital is a social relation of command and compulsion. It simply cannot function (smoothly or otherwise) without a working structure of "power-over" power (english is such a shit language for politics...). In the current historical conjuncture (and we can argue about how far back the beginning of this goes) it is not practically possible to overthrow an existing autocratic or dictatorial regime without the mobilisation of the working class.

Beyond a certain stage then, the problem of social change, from the perspective of the bourgeoisie, becomes a problem of couunter-revolution - how to get the genie back into the bottle? How to reassert the established power of a new state order and crush the mobilisation of an insurgent working class so as to rob it of its autonomy and agency and transform it back into a chained force whose power-to is once again engaged in the valorisation of capital.

But to take the other side, the problem of social change from a proletarian point of view is precisely how to oppose the process of the recomposition of state and capitalist class power, to defend embryonic initiatives of self-organisation and governance, the process of radicalisation of perspectives and the transformation of the street slogan of "bread and freedom" into a living revolutionary programme. </rant>

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 12:01

Police post in city of Suez burnt down as angry protests continue to erupt (Al Jazeera)

Quote:
Angry demonstrators in Egypt have torched a police post in the eastern city of Suez as unrest continues to spill over onto the streets of several cities despite a security crackdown. 

Witnesses told the Reuters news agency that police fled the post before the protesters burned it using petrol bombs on Thursday morning.

Dozens more gathered in front of a second police post later in the morning demanding the release of their relatives who were detained in unprecedented protests that authorities have failed to quell since Tuesday.
Meanwhile, activists trying to oust Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, clashed with police in the capital, Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday.

While the situation was a bit calmer by late Thursday morning, the protests are likely to gather momentum with the arrival of Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former head of the UN nuclear watchdog and a potential presidential rival to Mubarak…

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 12:11

Egypt: exaggeration or denial? (al-bab.com)

Mubarak's radio silence

Arabist wrote:

To date, apart from Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki's phoned-in appearances on CNN and al-Jazeera to explain that a) the protests are being exaggerated by the media and b) they prove that Egypt is democratic, I have not seen any reaction by the Egyptian government to the biggest protests in decades.

The explanation is simple: Mubarak does not want to stoop to responding to these protests.

If you only knew Hosni as I do, you'd know he's terribly stubborn. He likes to dig in his heels. He won't be forced into a decision. He is a like a gamoosa (water buffalo, as common as cows in Egypt) that just won't be moved off a railroad track. This is his strength and weakness: this stubbornness can be determination (in the 1980s and 1990s, against radical Islamists), but it can also be his Achilles' heel, his inability move quickly to grab opportunities.

Hosni Mubarak could have defused this situation a long time ago — made sure it never happened. He could have ensured that parliamentary elections were fairer and freer and allowed some political plurality that did not threaten him. He could have dismissed Interior Minister Habib al-Adly a long time ago and given orders that police had to stop torturing everyone it dealt with. He could have shown flexibility and political deftness, engaging and cajoling those in the legal opposition who could have been relays to channel popular sentiments rather than pathetic has-beens. But Hosni Mubarak has grown used to being the alpha and omega, he is sui generis, his hand cannot be forced.

Well, immovable object, meet unstoppable force.

He will not address the youth that are taking to the streets and risking their lives to make the point that they are sick and tired of his reign. Even if he speaks, it will be to a different audience, and his speeches will not convince. "Je vous ai compris" said Ben Ali in his last speech — mais il n'avait rien compris! Likewise the government, represented by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif, may announce grand new measures like new social spending and maybe some political concessions. Nazif could even lose his job (perversely more likely than al-Adly). At most, this will only buy a little time.

The complete inability of anyone in the Egyptian government to address these issues is telling of the dysfunction of the state in the late Mubarak era. Ministers cannot take initiative and do anything, because the president is the one who decides. The president cannot decide, his advisors can only cook up something for the ministers to say. Paralysis reigns, because there cannot be a coordinated response in a regime that is fundamentally fragmented, engaged in turf wars, and whose head has been drained of vitality. This is the crisis of governance in today's Egypt: the various parts of the body act independently according to pre-ordained patterns and individual interests, but cannot coordinate.

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 12:21

liveblog

Quote:
0900 GMT: Trading has been halted on the Egyptian Stock Exchange after the index fell more than 6% in the first 15 minutes this morning.

0825 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that protests are continuing outside the Press Syndicate in Cairo.

0705 GMT: Prominent activist Ayman Nour, the head of the al-Ghad Party, has posted on Twitter: "Following prayers on Friday, an uprising for change will launch from all mosques & churches."

yesterday's liveblog wrote:

2331 GMT: Egyptian protesters have set up a new Facebook page to coordinate protests after Friday prayers. 
The page's main message reads: 

We will go out to rallies in all mosques and churches of Egypt's to the public squares and sit until we receive our rights that have been usurped. Egypt's Muslims and Christians alike will emerge to fight corruption and unemployment, injustice and lack of freedom. 

It adds that a list of mosques and churches will be released on Thursday. 

0610 GMT: For those trying to follow events in Egypt, Wednesday was a chaotic experience. Unlike the close of Tuesday, when there was a single, dramatic episode to concentrate the signs of Government and opposition --- the gathering in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo --- yesterday forced the observer to try and gather information on a series of running battles.

Difficulties were compounded by the restrictions on communications by Egyptian authorities, who blocked Twitter and may have interfered with Facebook as well as disrupting cell phones in an effort to snap links between protesters. And of course the Government put security forces --- thousands of them --- on the streets of the cities.

Yet, for all the uncertainty and confusion of the day, what emerged last night was that the Government had not broken the back of the January 25 movement. While demonstrators in Cairo could not offer the image of a mass rally, as they had 24 hours earlier, the smaller gatherings --- from the Press and Lawyers' Syndicates to the Corniche to Ramses Street --- demonstrated that the Ministry of Interior's threat to arrest anyone who assembled publicly had not been entirely effective.

The authorities were able to stamp out demonstrations in other cities before they could take hold. But in Suez, the situation appears to have been all-out conflict. By afternoon, the report was that 350 had been injured since the start of protests. While only three people had been killed --- a remarkably low figure, given the reports of the intensity of the battle --- by last night there were armoured vehicles on the streets.

This morning has started quietly in comparison. An observer reports "not a single policeman" is in Tahrir Square in Cairo. News from Suez is sparse.

Yet this is probably an expected lull. For demonstrators are already pointing to Friday, the day of prayer, as the time for a mass display of resistance. The call for a Million Person March may be optimistic, but --- despite the Government's efforts --- it is making its way around those who do not see the situation as resolved by concession or by force.

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 12:29

Guardian live updates

Quote:
12.19pm: A Reuters report on the clashes in Ismailia:

Around 600 protesters clashed with police in demonstrations across the Egyptian eastern city of Ismailia on today, witnesses said. They said the police dispersed the crowds using tear gas. Demonstrations demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, in power since 1981, have raged since Tuesday in several Egyptian cities, with the biggest clashes in Cairo and Suez.

12.12pm: Clashes reported in Ismailia, via Twitter

@emosweet

Rubber bullets & extreme bruitality against us in lsmailia #egypt #jan25

And a new demonstration in Alexandria

@Farrah3m

Surprising new protest in Mansheyya square in alexandria #alex #jan25 #egypt

(…)

10.44am: The Egyptian stock exchange has fallen further, down 9.93% to 5,728.49 points. Ahmed Hanafi, a broker with Guthour Trading, told the Associated Press:

It's clear today that the inability to control the situation in the streets yesterday is panicking investors. The drop we saw yesterday is being repeated. At this rate, it's going to continue to fall hard.

(…)

10.01am: People appear to be under curfew in Suez.

From Twitter:

@theydontneedme_

i'm stuck at home and can't go anywhere.. i need live confirmed and trusted updates from the city. #suez #jan25

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 13:06

On Egypt's second day of protests, Cairo in a state of chaos

Quote:
Downtown Cairo looked like a war zone Wednesday.

‪‪Police in both plain clothes and formal security uniforms were present by the thousands. Riot police were seen sleeping on, and manning,  the 6 October and 15 May bridges  - the main ones connecting main streets of the city -- since last night. Hundreds of people gathered in several streets downtown chanting "People want the regime down",‬ "Copts and Muslims don't want this regime", and, "Bread, freedom, human integrity."  They were chased and beaten fiercely, many of them also dragged off by force - by thugs and state security agents.‬

‪"They beat people and shoot them as if we are in Gaza," cried one protester, Soha, a woman in her twenties. "They even beat women."‬

Opposite the lawyers' and journalists' syndicates, gun shots bellowed through the air and both fire and smoke were seen. Reporters witnessed two lawyers nabbed from in front of their syndicate. They were brutally beaten and forcefully pushed into a micro pick-up truck. Colleagues ran to the truck, and pulled them by force through the vans large windows, yelling that what the police were doing was against the law. Crowds of protesters in the streets cheered in delight. 

"We want the police to let us demonstrate peacefully, but they are beating, arresting, kidnapping people and firing at them as if this has worked for them in the past 30 years," Mamdouh Ismail, a member of the board of the lawyers' syndicate told Ahram Online.

In same downtown area, police fired bullets - allegedly rubber, although some have said live ammunition - at people, and they were beating protesters with sticks. They also beat down anyone on the street who crossed their paths, trying to ferociously prevent anyone with intention from joining the protests. In many cases, the violence struck even those who were coincidentally passing by Ahram Online reporters witnessed similar events throughout the city Wednesday afternoon and late into the evening.

Ahram Online reporter also saw  police men in plain clothes, burning car tires and garbage., and preventing protesters from putting it off. Police men prevented young people from extinguishing the fire.

"This is our country, we won't burn it down, the government is hiring thugs to burn cars and throw stones," Sana Abdallah, a protester in her 20s told Ahram Online. "We love our country, that's why we want to change this unjust system."

Back at the lawyers' and journalists' syndicates protesters were cordoned off, not allowed in or out of the protests from noon until posting time. The slogans remained the same "People want the regime down." Lawyer Sameh Sami, who said he hasdn't slept for the past two days, refuses to move from in front of the syndicate saying, "I have been quiet for the past seven years, nothing has happened. Th government has to know we want them out. If there was a proper parliament they would have taken this government down. But this parliament is forged."

State security had also blocked off 26thof July Street in downtown to stop demonstrators marching from the area of Attaba into Tahrir, where all rioters had convened yesterday afternoon and late into the night.

The barricades brought traffic to a halt. 

At the time this article was posted, hundreds of people were demonstrating in Boulac. The cracking sounds of tear gas grenades and gun shots continued to shake the city, echoing through the air. In Talaat Harb Square, also downtown, thugs had run amok. There too, reports of ferocious beatings, arrests, and an air thick with tear gas were coming in.

Despite the Interior Ministry's statement following yesterday's protests that any demonstrators venturing out on Wednesday would be detained, the protests ensued. As this article was posted, the streets of downtown were filled with smoke, and Tahrir Square had been blackened. Protesters seem determined, unwiling to yield, calling for activists and civilians alike to keep coming out onto the streets - in the coming days, but in particular on Friday, just after the midday prayers.

"Egypt is not a big country, with a stable regime that can not be shaken ever by thousands of protesters," said Habib El-Adly, interior minister. 

 In the meantime, the country's people remain at ill ease, wondering what the government has planned. Rumours of curfews circulated, but to-date it has been denied by official sources. "

ocelot
Jan 27 2011 13:38

I suspect the second to last para in the above is actually supposed to read "Egypt is a big country...". i.e. we're not Tunisia because, er... Tunisia is small and Egypt is big (so there!).

But of course there are differences between the two countries, apart from size, and one of them is the difference in state control of the media. Al Ahram (The Pyramids) is the largest newspaper in Egypt and the paper of record, analogous to the New York Times or The Times (London). It is also majority owned by the state. However one of the differences with Tunisia is that the Mubarak regime has allowed a relatively loose rein on the press, to allow critical voices to blow off steam, to act as a sort of "ventilation system", as one commentator put it. All the while, while maintaining absolute control of the streets via brutal zero-tolerance policing.

The contradictions between that "dual-action" model at times like these, however, do become more glaring as the following article from the (english) Ahram Online, demonstrates (NB there is no guarantee that this article would make it to the printed Arabic version on the streets of Cairo, but still...)

Reporter's first hand account of Egypt police brutality

Quote:
Ahram Online reporter Lina Wardani was arrested, beaten and dragged away in a shielded pickup truck by police last night. She gives a first person account of her experience. Lina El-Wardani , Thursday 27 Jan 2011
---
Last night at around 9 pm, I was out on the streets of Boulak, in Downtown Cairo covering the ongoing protests. Around 300 people were marching towards Tahrir Square chanting the now popular slogan "People Want the Regime Down", which has been ongoing since Tuesday.

The demonstrators, who were mostly young people not affiliated with any political party, were walking peacefully down the corniche (save for their chanting) when suddenly a group of police thugs stopped them, started firing tear gas grenades, and began fiercely beating down on everyone, chasing them as they tried to get away. People tried to flee up the bridge, but they were followed, and I saw them grab a colleague journalist and poet Mohammed Kheir. They started beating his face, seeming to focus on his eyes, and dragged him all along the corniche.

In one swoop they then dragged film maker Hala Galal, her husband Samy Hossam the script writer, and myself. They slapped Hala on the face, and almost broke her knee in the process of dragging her to a hired microbus. Samy Hossam was beaten, and his shirt was torn as they dragged him to the van too.

With me, they grabbed my hair, beat me in the back, on my leg and then my face. They dragged me to the microbus too. Throughout it all, they sprayed us with tear gas, or something like that -- it had a pungent smell and it made it very hard for us to breath.

The microbus left instantly and kept roaming side dark streets in down town, while the two police thugs kept insulting and threatening us and calling us bad names: "We will show you", they said, "Because of you we haven't slept for two days,". "You bastards...."

They took our mobile phones and ID cards, but I managed to hide mine and text my colleagues at the Ahram who immediately called the Interior Ministry.

At a point the microbus slowed down and I could see that it had parked in front of the back door of the ruling National Deomcratic Party's head quarters. It seemed like they were waiting for orders as to what to do with us. Eventually the bus moved, and went to Tahrir Square, which had been taken over by police last night, and there we were transferred - one by one - to the big blue van that carries prisoners. At that point, a police man came and said, "No women, Take the men and leave the women".

Samy and Mohamed were taken to the truck, along with around 50 people. We could see a lot of these vans lined up in Tahrir, waiting for orders to move.

Out of the prisoner's state security truck we could see smoke coming through the metal barred window holes, and could hear the men screaming, "We can't breath inside, we will suffocate and die". Their female relatives were screaming and crying outside, "Let them go, they have done nothing."

Eventually, with a lot of phone calls from colleagues, we were all released. Mohamed was taken to hospital to be treated for injuries, Samy's mobile was stolen.

"This makes it personal, now I want the regime down even more," Hala said on the way home

Mike Harman
Jan 27 2011 13:52
RedEd wrote:
Anyone heard of any work place seizures, mass strikes, land expropriations, etc.?

There was the mass squatting in Jordan a few days ago over the delayed housing projects.

In Tunisia there were reports of an insurance company where the workers forced the boss out bare footed, some of the initial looting appears to have been quite communal as well. I think some civil servants were also sacking their bosses - of course this is also being reported as people 'cleansing' workplaces of people connected to the old regime, but i'm sure there are other grievances involved even if that's the main reason.

It's hard to tell how widespread any of this has been in Tunisia and elsewhere - that may be because it's not happening to any great extent, it might also be that these kinds of things are not being reported.

The mainstream media has no interest in reporting actual class struggle, and it seems likely that the people on twitter and facebook are more likely to be the from the liberal pro-democracy crowd who may also not be all that interested in class struggle.

But we also know that there were big strikes in Mahalla in Egypt in 2008 (see http://libcom.org/tags/egypt), and I think a large strike in a mining region of Tunisia last year as well.

So while there's a danger in getting overexcited, there's also a danger in allowing the media, and the 'citizen journalists' to gloss over any class content and impose a purely liberal narrative on things. Probably it's a bit of both when it comes down to it.

I'd say the parallel nature of the protests, and the fact there's been things happening on a relatively large scale in Europe as well the past year or two makes this feel like it's potentially more significant than most of the events of the past 20-30 years, if not a lot longer than that.

Devrim
Jan 27 2011 13:53
ocelot wrote:
But of course there are differences between the two countries, apart from size, and one of them is the difference in state control of the media. Al Ahram (The Pyramids) is the largest newspaper in Egypt and the paper of record, analogous to the New York Times or The Times (London). It is also majority owned by the state. However one of the differences with Tunisia is that the Mubarak regime has allowed a relatively loose rein on the press, to allow critical voices to blow off steam, to act as a sort of "ventilation system", as one commentator put it. All the while, while maintaining absolute control of the streets via brutal zero-tolerance policing.

The contradictions between that "dual-action" model at times like these, however, do become more glaring as the following article from the (english) Ahram Online, demonstrates (NB there is no guarantee that this article would make it to the printed Arabic version on the streets of Cairo, but still...)

I am not 100% sure of this, but I was always under the impression that at the English weekly there had been some sort of journalists buy-out, and it was an independent company, no longer connected to the parent. The tone is certainly very different from the daily.

Devrim

Samotnaf
Jan 27 2011 14:13

Totally agree with ocelot's well-put response (post 50) to RedEd's

Quote:
I hate to put a downer on things, but I've yet to see any significant class aspects to any of the Middle Eastern movements so far.

(post 47).
Looting of supermarkets and burning of police stations in Egypt are clearly not something that

Quote:
seem like liberal political movements

Plus in Tunisia there are some signs of the dispossessed seizing public space and there seem to be some elements of dual power situations. Sure, we should be on the look out for problems, but I don't think the world rulers' desire that "everything must change so that nothing changes" is going to have as smooth a ride as they'd wish. It's getting more and more interesting by the hour.

Mark.
Jan 27 2011 14:16

Updates on the Egyptian Chronicles blog

Zeinobia wrote:

There is a news that there is some kind of labor protest in Helwan governorate, Helwan district has got many factories and labor population that has been suffering from long time.