Mubarak stepping down?

UPDATE: At 11:00 pm, five hours after schedule, Egyptian President Husni Mubarak made his third pre-recorded speech to the nation. However, he did not step down, as had been expected. In one brief sentence that almost passed without notice, he delegated powers to the Vice President he appointed two weeks ago, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. An, he said he had just proposed amending several articles [76, 77, 88, 93, 189] of the Egyptian constitution, and the annulment of another article [179] which, he said, would “clear the way to abolishing the Emergency Law”, once the security situation was ensured. Mubarak also said he would not be separated from the soil until he was buried beneath it.

Earlier this week, Egyptian human rights activist Hossam Baghat [founder and executive director of the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights] said, in an interview on Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now! radio program on 7 February: “Look, the consensus amongst everyone is right now that the solution can only begin with [Egypt’s President Husni] Mubarak stepping down. Now, there are some differences, technical differences, about, you know, whether he should resign fully, immediately, or whether he should step aside by delegating all of his powers to the vice president, like he did when he was hospitalized in 2004 and later in 2010, and then, in a couple of weeks, resign once we have ensured that we the provisions that are necessary for a meaningful presidential election. I am of the view that if Mubarak is to resign immediately, then it is 100 percent certain that Omar Suleiman will be elected within 60 days as president for a full presidential term of six years. That is not a prospect that would satisfy me as an advocate for democracy and human rights and someone who wants to see a real end to three decades of Mubarak rule. And Omar Suleiman’s succession will unfortunately be a continuation, in my view, of the Mubarak regime and the violations perpetrated under Mubarak. So I am of the view that Mubarak must immediately step down by delegating all of his authorities to his vice president, that we need within a couple of weeks to put to a public referendum some amendments of the constitutional provisions to make sure that we can have free and fair presidential elections”.

The full radio program is posted Continue reading Mubarak stepping down?

Funerals for Friday's dead in Egypt pause protests — momentarily

Funerals will be held today [Saturday] for what now looks like scores of dead, killed in protests against the Egyptian government in cities throughout the country on Friday.

The numbers of known casualties is growing exponentially, as hospitals and morgues release bodies to their families for burial.

The numbers are appalling.

The public warnings given yesterday by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, then by the White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs — and then by U.S. President Barak Obama himself, following the broadcast of a late-night speech by Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak — make it very clear, at least, that the U.S. will not tolerate any more.

Once the numbers of dead become quite clear, it may well be that the U.S. will already have had to cut away from any further support for Mubarak’s rule.

As’ad AbuKhalil posted this on his Angry Arab blog, late last night (he’s in California): According to a “source wants to stay anonymous but I cant evaluate the credibility of the source: ‘A source from within the Presidential Guard has claimed to my friends in Cairo that the army intends to end the protests on Sunday, by any means necessary even if it meant violence and bloodshed. Junta goons are causing chaos in Cairo to claim an unstable situation which will extend until Saturday. Then under the guise of bringing back order, they will “crush them with any amount of force needed!”. The sources are unsure of the American role but believe the Americans will go with it’.” This is published here.

No way the Americans will go with it — despite the clueless fumbling of the Obama Administration in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and in the days of the Tunisia protests, there is no way, no way at all that they will go along with the number of deaths of protesters in Egypt — who, everybody in the world could see, were unarmed demonstrators — that are being reported today.

BikyaMasr newspaper is reporting here that “According to Al Jazeera English, the army has called on Egyptians not to gather in public, a sign some say could result in widespread violence and mass deaths if the military chooses to enforce such rules … The official death toll continues to mount and has been reported to be at least 60 people across the country, in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. Rumors of widespread protests to begin at 3 pm Cairo time have also been reported”.

UPDATE: The internet is not yet back up in Egypt, two days after it was shut down (see below). BikyaMasr, an English-language paper published in Cairo, said at 2 pm on Saturday, via an exchange of Direct Messages on Twitter, that full internet service has indeed not yet been restored. They indicated they are able to publish online because their reporters are calling in stories to people outside, who are posting for them…

BikyaMasr published a report yesterday on how the media is being targetted in Egypt, here. Journalists have been targetted individually, physically, and their equipment has been confiscated or damaged — in addition to the shut-down of communications services nationwide.

On Friday, the U.S. administration — including Obama himself — went very, very strong only on the supression of the internet and social media and more traditional means of communication as well, calling for the immediate restoration of these services, which the American officials said were human rights linked to the freedom of opinion and expression.

An interesting account, “Egypt leaves the Internet” by James Cowie, was posted on the blog on January 27, 2011, and has been updated. This post reports that “in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air … This is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow. The Egyptian government’s actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map … This has never happened before …
One of the very few exceptions to this block has been Noor Group (AS20928), which still has 83 out of 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers, with inbound transit from Telecom Italia as usual. Why was Noor Group apparently unaffected by the countrywide takedown order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange ( is still alive at a Noor address. Its DNS A records indicate that it’s normally reachable at 4 different IP addresses, only one of which belongs to Noor. Internet transit path diversity is a sign of good planning by the Stock Exchange IT staff, and it appears to have paid off in this case. Did the Egyptian government leave Noor standing so that the markets could open next week?
Update (17:30 UTC Friday): The Internet routing situation for Egypt continues to be bleak, with an estimated 93% of Egyptian networks currently unreachable. Renesys saw no significant improvements or changes in Egyptian international Internet routing overnight. We have examined the takedown event more closely, looking at the sequence in which Egyptian service providers removed themselves from the Internet … Our new observation is that this was not an instantaneous event on the front end; each service provider approached the task of shutting down its part of the Egyptian Internet separately.
* Telecom Egypt (AS8452), the national incumbent, starts the process at 22:12:43.
* Raya joins in a minute later, at 22:13:26.
* Link Egypt (AS24863) begins taking themselves down 4 minutes later, at 22:17:10.
* Etisalat Misr (AS32992) goes two minutes later, at 22:19:02
* Internet Egypt (AS5536) goes six minutes later, at 22:25:10.
First impressions: this sequencing looks like people getting phone calls, one at a time, telling them to take themselves off the air. Not an automated system that takes all providers down at once; instead, the incumbent leads and other providers follow meekly one by one until Egypt is silenced”… This can be read in full here.

Journalists at work – covering the Olmert-Mubarak summit in Sharm as-Sheikh

Here are glimpses of the press at work — covering the summit meeting today in Sharm as-Sheikh between Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Egyptian President Husni Mubarak:

Amira Oron of Israeli Foreign Ministry - photo by Marian Houk

Amira Oron being interviewed for tv - photo by Marian Houk

Mark Regev photo by Marian Houk

Ahmad Fayed photo by Marian Houk

Live shot - Egyptian TV - photo by Marian Houk

Egyptian President Mubarak arrives in Sharm as-Sheikh to meet Israeli PM Olmert

Here are shots taken from our airport bus as we were waiting to go into the terminal at Sharm as-Sheikh.  We were trying to cover the summit meeting between Egyptian President Husni Mubarak, who is shown arriving in his Egypt Air jet taxing around the runway to a concrete reinforced protocol bunker.

Egypt Air jet carring Mubarak taxis after landing at Sharm as-Sheikh airport

Egypt Air jet carring President Mubarak taxis around israeli military transport plane

Convoy of cars which greeted Egypt Air jet bringing President Mubarak to Sharm as-Sheikn

The Egyptian flag flys at concrete-reinforced protocol bunker after President Mubarak enters