6:58 PM: OK, here’s the short version:
- Obama is not throwing Mubarek under the bus…yet.
- However, he made it clear that any attack on peaceful protestors might herald the end of American support.
- That said, Obama appeared to suggest that if Mubarek is serious about reform he will have U.S. support.
6:33 PM: Obama is speaking:
Our first concern is preventing I want to be very clear in calling upon Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters. The people of Egypt have rights that are universal.
Also calls on Egypt to reverse the action to shut off the Internet and cell phones and social networks.
Protesters also have responsibility to conduct themselves peacefully.
Moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The US has close partnership with Egypt, and we’ve cooperated on many issues, including working together to promote a more peaceful region. But US has also been clear there must be reform. Absence of reform has allowed for grievances to build up.
“Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away.”
Obama spoke to Mubarek after his speech and told him he has responsibility to stand behind his statements w/ actions.
Governments have a responsibility to respond to its citizens.
Egyptian people will determine their own future. United States is committed to working with the Egyptian government AND the Egyptian people will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people to achieve it.
6:19 PM ET: President Obama will be making his first live statement on Egypt in the next 10 minutes Fox News just reported. Developing…
5:25 PM ET: OK, here’s what just happened:
- President Mubarak is NOT resigning.
- But he is dismissing his government, which includes his cabinet.
- How he picks his next government, or whether or not he has the chance to, is unknown.
- Protests continue across the country.
The nature of Egypt’s government allows the President to dismiss his cabinet. He could pick a new team, he could hold a new election, but all of that is irrelevant of the public doesn’t get behind its president.
With the public now moving on the Information Ministry, chanting “It’s a sham it’s a sham,” that remains very much in doubt.
It’s the army’s turn, really, to decide whether it intends to follow its President’s command.
5:17 PM ET: Mubarak is now speaking:
Mubarak has asked for the government to resign, will appoint a new government.
He’s defending the rights of his people to speak, to have their grievances heard. Mubarak says there’s “little line between freedom and chaos,” says he’s on the side of the freedom of his people but also for their security.
He says the that looting and violence will not be allowed. Pledges to fix economy and Egyptian society. Says he is on the side of the Egyptian poor. “The economy is not to be kept only for the economists.”
5:11 PM ET: Egyptian parliamentary speaker says matters in “safe hands” of Mubarak. Fair to say that that’s not the confirmation of Mubarak’s departure some suspected.
4:42 PM ET: We’re waiting for an announcement from the speaker of Egypt’s parliament. Meant to be happening shortly.
With private jets leaving the country, under heavy security, the big question is: Where is Hosni Mubarak?
4:25 PM ET:
And, in other news: Massive down move in the market today check out the details here >
4:15 PM ET: Wealthy Egyptians have started to flee via private jet, according to Al Jazeera.
3:55 PM ET
In other news beyond the press conference:
Reuters reports the Egyptian Army has secured both the U.S. and UK missions in Cairo.
Also, protesters have welcomed the army singing “Long live Egypt.”
The Egyptian army has secured the Egyptian museum, home to many of the country’s greatest historical treasures.
3:50 PM ET:
In conclusion: The U.S. is distancing itself from the the Egyptian regime, but unwilling to commit further.
“The people of Egypt should have full access to social networking sites,” and have their issues addressed by the Egyptian government.
“I don’t think I could be clearer, or the people of Egypt could be clearer.”
Grievances of Egyptian people have reached a “boiling point,” says Gibbs.
Gibbs says the Pentagon and State Department are in touch with their counterparts in Egypt.
When asked about the Muslim Brotherhood’s involvement in the protest, Gibbs says he has no clear information on political group involvement. Says grievances are “not monolithic,” suggesting these are broad concerns and there is a broad range of protesters. “We are not in touch with the Muslim Brotherhood,” Gibbs says.
Gibbs mentions ElBaradei, Obama’s relationship with him.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian army has secured the Egyptian museum, home to many of the country’s greatest historical treasures.
Early characterizations of this press conference indicate that it includes several steps by President Obama to distance the U.S. from Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
- The lack of communication between Obama and Mubarak
- The lack of attempt to communicate
- And the review of U.S. government aid policy to Egypt
(It doesn’t look like President Obama will be speaking at this press conference.)
Gibbs is calling this an opportunity for Egypt’s government to address the concerns of the Egyptian people.
“This will be solved by the Egyptian people,” Gibbs says.
Reiterates the fact that U.S. government will be reviewing its aid to Egypt.
Gibbs continues to sound administration’s calls for allowing internet communications and for an end to use of force against protesters.
President Obama has NOT spoken to President Mubarak. “We’re monitoring a very fluid situation,” says Gibbs. “This is not about picking a person.” Says administration is disturbed by images it has seen today.
Gibbs is describing today’s “situation room” meetings on the situation in Egypt. Direct discussions with U.S. ambassador to Egypt.
3:07 PM ET: Getting you up to speed prior to the White House press briefing, here’s what’s happened today:
- Protests began after Friday prayers across Egypt
- Those protests overwhelmed government security forces, the army eventually called in
- Hundreds were injured by police attacks in the protests
- President Mubarak was to make a speech earlier today, that has yet to occur
- The ruling party’s political office is burning
3:06 PM ET: The U.S. government intends to review its $1.5 billion aid portfolio to Egypt, according to the AP.
2:53 PM ET: Head of Egypt’s opposition party calls for a transitional government, according to Reuters.
2:52 PM ET: White House news conference at 3:00 PM ET.
2:50 PM ET: Protesters have formed a human chain around the Egyptian Museum to protest it from looting, according to Al Jazeera.
2:24 PM ET: Reuters reporting the army has dispersed protesters who were outside the state TV offices in Cairo.
2:21 PM ET: Delta Airlines just announced only one more flight will leave the country, tomorrow.
2:16 PM ET: The U.S. State Department has delayed its press briefing because it’s waiting for President Mubarak to speak, according to CNN International.
THE LATEST 2:10 PM ET: Fires continue to burn in downtown Cairo, with the ruling political party’s building in flames. It is also being looted. An army convoy is heading to the state television building, no word on why, other than to defend it from the protesters. Those army troops are being cheered, however, by the protesters.
Some of Egypt’s top military leadership is busy with meetings in Washington D.C. today.
2:00 PM ET: A Minister in Israel’s government says, “We believe that Egypt is going to overcome the current wave of demonstrations,” according to Time.
The minister does say Israel may find a partner in a more democratic Egypt.
But he says he’s, “not sure the time is right for the Arab region to go through the democratic process.”
1:55 PM ET: Flames from the National Democratic Party headquarters are blowing towards the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, according to Al Jazeera.
1:53 PM ET: Looting has begun in Cairo, with Al Jazeera reporting looting at the political headquarters of President Mubarak.
1:47 PM ET: Reports suggest protesters are cheering the presidential guard’s progress to the TV headquarters (via The Guardian).
Also, all Egyptian Air flights out of Cairo have been halted (via Fox News).
1:32 PM ET: Al Jazeera reports that the president’s guard is heading to the government TV buildings to protect them.
1:28 PM ET: Some Egyptian Senior Military leaders may not be in Cairo right now. That’s because they’re in Washington attending the annual U.S.-Egypt Military Cooperation Committee meetings.
Some of Egypt’s most senior military officials were inside the Pentagon Friday, even as Egyptian Army vehicles rolled through the streets of Cairo.
They’re attending the annual U.S.-Egypt Military Cooperation Committee meetings to discuss military training, security assistance and defence industrial cooperation.
All four heads of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines were scheduled to meet with the Egyptian officials. The sessions are being hosted by Alexander Vershbow, the U.S. assistant secretary of defence for International Security Affairs.
Worried about Suez? Check out this quick guide to the 7 oil choke points that are crucial to the world economy >
1:15 PM ET: President Barack Obama just met with his national security team and Vice President Joe Biden on what’s going on Egypt, according to the AP. No new comments as of yet.
THE LATEST 1:05 PM ET: Another hour, and protests continue in defiance of the government’s curfew. President Hosni Mubarak has still yet to speak to the public. His party’s headquarters is in flames. The government television headquarters in under attack.
12:55 PM ET: Al Jazeera English is reporting UNCONFIRMED REPORTS that the army and police are now fighting.
12:52 PM ET: For some coverage of the investment impact, check on this view on the impact on key oil choke point the Suez Canal >
And on an oil company heavily exposed to Egypt, check out this piece >
12:50 PM ET: The Egyptian government just extended the curfew to the entirety of Egypt, according to The Guardian.
12:45 PM ET: Al Jazeera just showed a hysterical split screen of Al Jazeera TV, and State TV, and what each is showing. Check it out here >
12: 30 PM ET: It has now been roughly two hours, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has not addressed his people.
12:15 PM ET: Military troops have arrived in Alexandria. They have been welcomed to Alexandria by the public, according to Al Jazeera.
12:10 PM ET: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton just spoke. She is urged the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests, and refrain from using violence. She is backing President Obama’s previous statements on the need for reform in Egypt. “The Egyptian government needs to engage immediately with the Egyptian people in…reforms.”
THE LATEST 12:06 PM ET: Protests continue on Cairo’s streets well after the government’s curfew. The headquarters of the National Democratic Party, the party of President Hosni Mubarak, is burning. The Radio and Television building is being bombarded with what Al Jazeera describes as “Molotov cocktails.”
President Mubarak, who was meant to speak more than an hour ago, still has not addressed his people.
The Army has been brought into the capital of Cairo in order to assist the police in quelling protests. Whether or not they are supporting the government still, or are starting to back the protesters is still in some doubt.
In the background, the NASDAQ is now down over 2.7%. More on why it might be a flash crash here >
11:58 AM ET: AL Jazeera reporting continued shooting, fires, use of tear gas. Police are “not very visibly present.”
11:40 AM ET: rumours again that President Hosni Mubarak’s family has fled to London (CNN via Twitter). No confirmation of that yet.
11:34 AM ET: Large explosions, buildings burning, plumes of smoke in the air in Cairo. National Democratic Party building still in flames. No word on Mubarak’s speech.
This from the Al Jazeera live video feed:
11:27 AM ET: Al Jazeera reporting the ruling party’s headquarters in Cairo is on fire, Reuters confirms.
11:17 AM ET: Deutsche Bank are holding a live conference call on what the protests in Egypt mean for investors. Follow it live here >
11:16 AM ET: To give you a little context, here’s an image from CNN International of the armoured convoy of Egyptian troops about to meet protesters.
11:06 AM ET: The curfew is now in effect, but protests continue.
Here’s a shot of an armoured vehicle being burnt, from Al Jazeera.
11:05 AM ET: Egyptian security forces are massing along the Kornish, the road along the Nile. They appear to be preparing to confront protesters, but we can’t confirm that.
THE LATEST 10:50 AM ET: Protests continue throughout Egypt right now, including in the capital city of Cairo. Clashes have turned violent between police and protesters. The government says that there will be a curfew in the key cities of Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria starting at 11:00 AM ET. Right now, that looks unlikely to come off.
President Hosni Mubarak is set to speak to the country at or around 11:00 AM ET.
Police are demanding Al Jazeera to stop broadcasting, and are outside their door.
Check out the guide the protesters were distributing prior to today’s events >
Check out this intense video of the situation in Cairo from CNN International:
10:42 AM ET: More powerful images from Cairo, this one of protesters praying while being wet by a water cannon wielded by the police, via Olly Wainwright.
10:37 AM ET: This is a shot of protesters having tear gas fired at them outside the Cairo Hilton.
10:35 AM ET: The 6PM Cairo time curfew applies to Cairo, Suez, and Alexandria. Again, that’s in 25 minutes.
10:32 AM ET: Security forces have entered the Al Jazeera building in Cairo, Al Jazeera report.
10:30 AM ET: Mubarak will give a speech to the nation in 15 minutes.
10:29 AM ET: Curfew announced by government, 6PM to 7AM in Cairo. That’s in 31 minutes.
10:17 AM ET: Protesters are cheering in support of the Army’s arrival, according to Al Jazeera (via The Guardian).
The photo, from Al Jazeera:
10:12 AM ET: The Army is now mobilized on the streets of Cairo, according to CNN International.
9:45 AM ET: Mohamed ElBaradei, opposition leader, and former IAEA chief, is now under house arrest.
Right now, hundreds of thousands of protesters have taken to Egypt’s streets to protest the presidency of Hosni Mubarak.
Egypt shares several similarities with Tunisia, where riots over unemployment, food prices, and regime corruption resulted in a revolution earlier this month.
President Mubarak has ruled for nearly 30 years. The country has been in a state of emergency since 1967, which gives its government the power to censor its public, detain without reason, and violate constitutional rights. So the presidency, and all manifestations of its power, notably the country’s police force, have free reign. The police are known for their brutal conduct.
For an example of that brutality, here’s a video of a protester being shot in the head by police forces (via the Guardian); WARNING EXTREMELY GRAPHIC:
The government has effectively shut down online communication in the country. There are reports the government also is limiting cell phone usage, including text messaging, in a bid to disrupt protest organisers.
Egypt is currently experiencing high levels of food price inflation, with prices rising 17.1% year-over-year in December, and 17.2% year-over-year in November. The reported 2010 unemployment rate in Egypt is 9.4%, but it is likely much higher.
This is some video of what the protests look like today, from the AP (via the Guardian):
The potential political outcomes of the protest movement are varied. There is a clear potential leader back in the country in former IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who has pledged his willingness to lead an interim government.
The Muslim Brotherhood is likely the largest political force in the country, and will have a key part to play in what happens next.
There are no guarantees the government does fall. The U.S. has been non-committal on how it would like this movement to play out. Egypt’s police and military force are far stronger and more committed than those in Tunisia were.
But the size of the movement, its range throughout the country, and general, cross-religious and class support, seem to suggest there will be some sort of dramatic change in the way Egypt is governed as a result.
The financial implications of the current instability loom large. Lots of European and American companies trade with Egypt, though it isn’t exactly a key partner. Suez, and the canal that is a key global choke point for oil shipments, could come into play, particularly if the city of Suez falls to protesters first.
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