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Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too!

I am blogging today from the So. Cal. Linux Expo [SCALE9x]. I am promoting Anonymous, among other things to the Linux and Free Software communities. While I was here yesterday, someone attending the conference told me what Google did to support the popular uprisings in Iran a few years ago.

He said that at before that time there was basically nothing in the way of computer based Farsi translation but Google had a project in the lab which they rushed into production to support the struggle then rapidly developing in Iran.

"We feel that launching Persian is particularly important now, given ongoing events in Iran" said Google principal scientist Franz Och in a statement on Goolge's Official Blog.

After Wael Ghonim was released from the custody of Mubarak's thugs, he said he would like to return to work at Google if he was not fired. Outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt tweeted back "We're incredibly proud of you, @Ghonim, & of course will welcome you back when you're ready."

Just why founder Larry Page is now stepping in to replace Eric Schmidt as Google CEO is not clear but rumor has it that differences over Google's China policy played a big role. Schmidt opposed the decision by founders Page and Brin to pull out of China over government censorship.

When the revolution developed in Egypt, Google engineers worked over the first weekend after January 25th with Twitter to setup a Speech to Tweet service with 3 international phone numbers that helped Egyptians get the word out in spite of the Internet blockage set up by the Egyptian regime. They are doing the same thing now in Libya. They started that Speech-to-Tweet service shortly after the uprising began against Gaddfi in Libya. As before the service and the phone numbers have been constantly posted on Al Jazeera.

They have also supported a proxy service to help people in Libya get around Gaddfi's Internet shutdown at this critical time.

Apparently Google's Wael Ghonim had initialed a project which greatly improved Google's Arabic translation ability a few months before the current wave of protests in North Africa and the Middle East started in Tunisia. Google's Arabic translation service has played an important role in these uprisings and probably has saved more than a few lives.

On another front, Anonymous has just released Anonymous : Survival Guide for Citizens in a Revolution
Version 1.0

From the introduction:

This Guide is for civilians who feel they are about to be caught up in a violent uprising or revolution to overthrow the oppressive government of their country. Although a revolution in favor of the people is a joyful thing when seen from the outside, it can be a bloody mess for those inside it.

Most of all we suggest:

* Don't panic, stay cool headed.

* Take a break and rest if your body needs to relax, lack of sleep is a major weakening factor.

* Avoid consuming mind altering substances like alcohol and drugs. They will cloud your judgement and ability to think and act rationally. You are also arming the regime with propaganda that the crowd is made up of a bunch of intoxicated rioters. Don't allow your movement to be portrayed in an unfavourable light.

This guide will give you some basic ideas and tips for how you and your friends/neighbors/family can stay safe in the violent turmoil around you. It is not a ready-made recipe, but it contains general
survival tactics and strategies.

Secret U.S. Intelligence source on Middle East revealed !

At the White House Press Briefing yesterday, Friday, 25 February 2011 Press Secretary Jay Carney inadvertently reveals the top secret source of CIA intelligence on North Africa and the Middle East.

This is followed by a plug for my documentary Vietnam: American Holocaust

If you like this you will probably love the documentary I made with Martin Sheen
Vietnam: American Holocaust
You can get it from Amazon or you can get it directly from me.

Libyans are spilling their blood for us all!

The brute force approach to popular uprisings is now being tried in earnest in Libya. In using artillery, aircraft and navy on peaceful protesters Colonel Gaddfi is attempt to break the protest movements with massive violence.

If he is successful, this type of violent response to popular uprising will almost certainly be used elsewhere with all the terrible consequences for humanity. If he fails and is hopefully executed for his war crimes, the reigning powers around the world will favor more peaceful methods of resolving contradictions.

Colonel Gaddfi is not the only head of state that counts human life cheap. What he has been doing this week using large caliber military weapons against unarmed civilians, US Presidents do as a matter of course, week in and week out. This week US air assaults on the Afghan village of Heelgal killed 64 civilians including many children according to Afghan President Karzai. It was hardly noticed because the spot light is on the innocent blood being spilled by Gaddfi this week and because, with an estimated 8 million civilians killed by the US military since the Korean War, US presidents using military power on civilians isn't exactly news.

When Secretary of State Clinton made the rounds on the TV talk shows Sunday morning talking about events in Libya and complaining that it is wrong to turn to violence to solve political problems, most of the world knew they were listening to a hypocrite. The United States has led the world in using massive violence to resolve political problems.

Nor am I implying that the other world leaders are any less squeamish in applying massive violence if it will resolve their political problems. What I am saying is that the abhorrence for Gaddfi's violence that has been displayed by most world leaders, including our own, is mostly for public consumption.

They know that we are facing a world economic crisis of historic proportions. It's root cause is a world economy that has been organized to benefit a select handful at the expense of the majority. This system has insurmountable internal contradiction that can not be solve unless the rich and powerful are dispossessed and the world economy is re-organized to benefit the world.

They are having none of that. They will fight that with their last dying breath. The other day an Indiana Official suggested that peaceful protesters in Wisconsin be shot. They are like Gaddfi on a world scale in that they would sooner bring disaster and suffering for all rather than give up their privilege.

In Tunisia the general of the army refused to use massive violence on the protesters and the revolution succeeded in ousting the dictator. In Egypt the junior officers refused to open fire with their tanks and the revolution succeeded in ousting the dictator. And while all the leaders of the US, UK and EU are now claiming to welcome and even champion these popular democratic movements, it is a sham. That's not why they have supported these dictators all these years.

If massive violence can contain the wave of mass rebellions that now has reached even the state house in Wisconsin, they won't mind the bloodshed. They just haven't had the opportunity yet. Gaddfi gives them that opportunity.

That is why they have so far been so anemic in their response to Gaddfi. They secretly want him to succeed. They are hoping he will succeed and they won't act until it is clear to all [as is quickly becoming the case] that he has failed. You can count on it. If he can put a lid on things, restore the status quo and with it, the oil flow, they may put him back on the pariah list but they will allow him to stand and continue to do business with him.

This is a test and fate or history has selected the Libyan people to take it. But all of us will be drastically affected by the outcome. The unarmed Libyan protesters that have braved machine gun, anti-aircraft and artillery fire to take many of Gaddfi's fortresses around the country are giving their all, their very lives in many cases, to show that even massive violence won't stop the people's movement forward.

If Gaddfi's violence fails Governor Scott will negotiate with the demonstrators in the Wisconsin state house, if it succeeds he will send in the police. If Gaddfi's violence succeeds, many more will die in Yemen and Bahrain and everywhere else that people resist tyranny. If he fails, the powers that be everywhere on the planet will be less likely to follow his lead and try and massive violence approach.

Those brave Libyans who fate chose to brave machine gun fire to win their freedom are braking that machine gun fire for all of us.

The Mubarak Screw Up & the Suleiman Danger

The groups that have been robbing Egypt for the past thirty years represent a circle much broader than their fearless leader Hosni Mubarak. They include a certain section of the very rich in Egypt, high ranking army officers, senior NDP functionaries, the U.S. and European imperialists, and while space does not permit a complete listing of all the beneficiaries of the Mubarak regime, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the Zionists have long been singing "What a friend we have in Cairo."

All of these groups can do very well without Mubarak and if they can carry on as before without Mubarak, that is just fine with them. Mubarak will be gone shortly. I think everybody but Hosni Mubarak knows that. By ceding his presidential powers to Omar Suleiman the way he did today he blew the best chance they had of a "smooth and orderly transition" to more of the same under a different label, namely a Suleiman regime.

That has been the major fall back strategy of all those forces that have backed the Mubarak regime except Mubarak. That's why he made Suleiman his first vice president in 30 years. That's why they have been raising his profile in recent years. Suleiman has been running the police state apparatus for more than two decades. The plan always was for a "smooth and orderly transition" from the Wizard of Oz to the man behind the curtain. What we saw today was a renegade in the Presidential Palace because Mubarak has no fall back strategy that doesn't include Mubarak.

So rather than even making the a show of stepping aside, he has so badly handled the hand over of power to Suleiman that it is clearly perceived by one and all as no regime change at all. Everyone now sees that Mubarak and Suleiman are two peas in a pod and won't buy into a Suleiman regime as even a transitional solution. Mubarak blew it for his side.

What they should have done was have something of a "falling out" between Mubarak and Suleiman. They should have made a show of Suleiman "seizing power" from Mubarak. Mubarak should have made a "show of stepping down." He should have lowered his head and said that he was going to the corner and putting the new guy in charge. That would have been their best chance of making that play work.

But Mubarak is too arrogate for that. Instead he spoke to the nation as though he was the father of errant children. He made it clear that he wasn't going anywhere and Suleiman was his boy. In doing this he accomplished two things. 1.) He made the Suleiman ploy completely untenable and 2.) He angered the anti-government opposition and increased their resolve.

Most people were disappointed when they didn't hear Mubarak resign yesterday. I don't thing they should be. By refusing this self-sacrifice Mubarak only made more likely the complete success of the revolution. In short, he blew it.

However this is also a time of great danger because Mubarak's play has done nothing to ease the situation and he has put a torturer at the hemp. They have already tried to put down the rebellion with three campaigns of massive violence against the people by my count. The first was the police violence between January 25th and the next Friday pray. When that failed them, they withdrew the police, opened up the prisons and sent in the looter and vandals. Once the people had organized effectively to deal with that, they sent the thugs with automatic weapons and Molotov cocktails to Tahrir Square.

They are no doubt planning a fourth and final wave of violence. Thirty years of history show that this is their favored way of meeting the people's demands. They know that this one must be worst that the ones that have come before if it is to have any chance of success. This is Suleiman's style, and that is why he is being given the command at this time. People must prepare for this.

Mubarak is a sly old fox and he purposely planned yesterday's news leaks and rumors to anger and provoke people. He is hoping that in their anger, the opposition will resort to methods which are unsound and will give him the cause to respond with extreme violence.

I hope this doesn't happen. IMHO the protesters should keep building the massive nature of their movement and prepare for a siege. Rather that attacking state television or the parliament building in such a way that it provokes the army, they should be working to split the army. The interests of the army rank and file are the same as the people. When they are won to the revolution, the revolution will succeed!

2011-01-27 Algerians plan big protest rally for February 9

The Algerian opposition is regrouping after thousands of police were deployed on Saturday to suppress several hundred demonstrators. They too are inspired by the Tunisian revolution. With public protests being so strongly suppressed some Algerians have turned to a more drastic demonstration of their opposition to the status quo. At least four people in Algeria have attempted self-immolation, some successfully, since Tunisia freed itself of Ben Ali.

As with Tunisia and Egypt, activist in Algeria have been able to make creative use of the Internet to organize in spite of the governments best efforts to stop them. France24 reports:

And as the Algerian blogosphere is in a fever of excitement, web users are accusing the government of taking measures to censor the Internet. They believe Twitter, Facebook and SMS services have been intermittently blocked over the past few days.

And this was all that was needed for Anonymous to launch an operation against the Algerian government. This cyber activist group that lent its support to Tunisian demonstrators is reportedly behind a series of cyber-attacks that notably blocked the web site of the Interior Ministry.

This is what they said about the rally:

Police broke up an opposition march calling for democracy in the Algerian capital on Saturday, with troops out in force and streets barricaded to prevent protests in the wake of a popular revolt that toppled the president in neighboring Tunisia.

Algeria’s capital awoke to a virtual state of siege on Saturday, with a heavy police presence and many streets blocked in order to prevent protesters from reaching the May 1 Square, where opposition groups planned to stage a pro-democracy march.
The opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) planned to defy a 19-year-old ban against marches in Algiers, despite warnings from the authorities and in the wake of a popular revolt that overthrew neighboring Tunisia's long-time president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali only a week ago.

The pictures below were taken by David Davidson in Algier and posted on 22/01/11 @ 22:08. We found them through the Anonymous OpAlgeria board. You can see the whole collection on his Facebook page here. I copied some to my flickr account so that I could post them here.

In co-ordination with these protests on the ground the hacker group Anonymous has launched Operation Algeria. They have been supporting the struggle on the ground my transmitting and translating materials from the struggle. They have also been getting pictures and video out on the net.

Through OpAlgeria Anonymous has launched DDOS attacks against 'Attaque DoS contre le site Internet du ministère de l'Intérieur algérien' and other government websites. Apparently they have been successful at shutting down some Algerian websites and cracked one. They put there own "Message Presse Anonymous" on an Algerian government website.

Anonymous also issued this video Press Release on Operation Algeria:

The date to watch in Algeria is February 9th, the 19th anniversary of the establishment of the state of emergency. Numerous trade unions and political parties are calling on people to take to the streets on that day.

2011-01-27 Algerians plan big protest rally for February 9

The Algerian opposition is regrouping after thousands of police were deployed on Saturday to suppress several hundred demonstrators. They too are inspired by the Tunisian revolution. With public protests being so strongly suppressed some Algerians have turned to a more drastic demonstration of their opposition to the status quo. At least four people in Algeria have attempted self-immolation, some successfully, since Tunisia freed itself of Ben Ali.

As with Tunisia and Egypt, activist in Algeria have been able to make creative use of the Internet to organize in spite of the governments best efforts to stop them. France24 reports:

And as the Algerian blogosphere is in a fever of excitement, web users are accusing the government of taking measures to censor the Internet. They believe Twitter, Facebook and SMS services have been intermittently blocked over the past few days.

And this was all that was needed for Anonymous to launch an operation against the Algerian government. This cyber activist group that lent its support to Tunisian demonstrators is reportedly behind a series of cyber-attacks that notably blocked the web site of the Interior Ministry.

This is what they said about the rally:

Police broke up an opposition march calling for democracy in the Algerian capital on Saturday, with troops out in force and streets barricaded to prevent protests in the wake of a popular revolt that toppled the president in neighboring Tunisia.

Algeria’s capital awoke to a virtual state of siege on Saturday, with a heavy police presence and many streets blocked in order to prevent protesters from reaching the May 1 Square, where opposition groups planned to stage a pro-democracy march.
The opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) planned to defy a 19-year-old ban against marches in Algiers, despite warnings from the authorities and in the wake of a popular revolt that overthrew neighboring Tunisia's long-time president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali only a week ago.

The pictures below were taken by David Davidson in Algier and posted on 22/01/11 @ 22:08. We found them through the Anonymous OpAlgeria board. You can see the whole collection on his Facebook page here. I copied some to my flickr account so that I could post them here.

In co-ordination with these protests on the ground the hacker group Anonymous has launched Operation Algeria. They have been supporting the struggle on the ground my transmitting and translating materials from the struggle. They have also been getting pictures and video out on the net.

Through OpAlgeria Anonymous has launched DDOS attacks against 'Attaque DoS contre le site Internet du ministère de l'Intérieur algérien' and other government websites. Apparently they have been successful at shutting down some Algerian websites and cracked one. They put there own "Message Presse Anonymous" on an Algerian government website.

Anonymous also issued this video Press Release on Operation Algeria:

The date to watch in Algeria is February 9th, the 19th anniversary of the establishment of the state of emergency. Numerous trade unions and political parties are calling on people to take to the streets on that day.

2011-01-27 Libya is in revolt as Gaddafi worries

Libya's Moamer Gaddafi may have hailed WikiLeaks for exposing US 'hypocrisy' back in December but since the cablegate exposures helped rally the people to throw out Ben Ali in January, he has been singing a different tune. Yesterday Gaddafi "said he feared that the Tunisian revolution which overthrew president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was being exploited by 'foreign interests'" according to France24. In an interview, he told the private Tunisian Nessma TV station “I fear for the Tunisian revolution."

Because Libya has 5.9 million cell phone users but less than 400,000 Internet users, Anonymous OpLibya is adopting strategies that focus more on spreading information via SMS.

Anonymous produced this video to explain the housing crisis in Libya:

Indymedia has this on Libya:

There are reports from Libya that YouTube has been blocked, largely because the videos of protests are being uploaded there. One twitter comment has said "Citizens of Bani Walid in #Libya said they will continue to take the streets until their demands are met". (Videos: Three clips of protest in Libya in Beida, the third-largest city in Libya. Reports of unrest in Zuwara, Zawiya, Tajoorah, Bayda, and Benghazi.

The Guardian printed this Friday:

We Libyans are just as hungry for a just and accountable government as our Tunisian brothers and sisters. The lack of resilient institutions will make our task more difficult. However, a worried Gaddafi was the first Arab leader to give an address on television about the events in Tunisia. He obviously disapproves, but also hopes to quell the protests that have started in some Libyan towns and cities.

This article is from last Sunday and so a little dated but it still has important and rare information about what has been happening in Libya recently:

Protests in several cities in Libya continued for a third day over the late completion of government subsided housing.

Last night hundreds of people broke into vacant houses and took over about 800 vacant units in Bani Walid city (180 kilometres south east from the capital, Tripoli).

We also have this report on the struggle in Libya from an Anonymous source:

2011-01-27 Mubarak blinks as Egyptian protests continue for third day

The latest at 6:00pm pst: As protests build and El Baradei returns, Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party [NDP] says it is open to dialogue but continues the brutal suppression of demonstrators. More protests are expected on Friday and the Internet is all a twitter with the news.

As the Egyptian revolt entered it's third day the number of protester continued to grow into the tens of thousands, numbers completely unprecedented for a country in which such mass demonstrations have been illegal for more than 30 years. The activists who began by calling for economic relief and an end to this State of Emergency first established in 1981 are now demanding a complete change in government and the ouster of president for 30 years Hosni Mubarak.

The police have been attempting to brutality suppress and scatter the protesters, some of which stayed in the streets for a second night. At least six people have been killed since the protests began. In the eastern city of Suez, which was cut off by road, Internet and cell phone access for a period yesterday, protesters torched an Egyptian police post. Al Jazeera writes:

Angry demonstrators in Egypt have torched a police post in the eastern city of Suez, where violence between police and protesters has ratcheted up amid a security crackdown.

Police fled the post before protesters used petrol bombs to set it on fire Thursday morning, witnesses told the Reuters news agency. Police in Suez responded to other demonstrators by firing rubber-coated bullets, water cannons and teargas.

Dozens of protesters gathered in front of a second police post later in the morning, demanding the release of relatives who were detained during a wave of unprecedented protests that authorities have failed to quell since they began on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, activists calling for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak, who has served as Egypt's president for 30 years, clashed with police in the capital, Cairo, in the early hours of Thursday.

Mohamed El Baradei, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog who has announced his support for the revolt and says he is willing to become president, is expected to arrive in Cairo today.

North Africa News from France24

2011-01-27 Tens of thousands rally in Yemen, demand change

There were massive anti-government rallies in Yemen today. Inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, tens of thousands took to the streets of the country's capital, Sanna to demand President Ali Abdullah Saleh's resignation.

According to Al Jazeera:

Opposition members and youth activists are rallying at four different locations in Sanaa on Thursday, chanting for Saleh, who has been in power for 32 years, to step down.

"Enough being in power for [over] 30 years," protesters shouted during the demonstrations.

They also referred to the ouster of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, saying he was "gone in just [over] 20 years".

"No to extending [presidential tenure]. No to bequeathing [the presidency]," they chanted.

An opposition activist said that the staging of the demonstration in four separate parts of the capital was aimed at distracting the security forces.

Saleh's ruling General People's Congress held counter marches that were much smaller but also numbered into the thousands. Yemen is the most impoverished country in the Arabian Peninsula.

North Africa News from France24 27-01-11

2011-01-27 Tunisia protests continue as a warrant is issued for Ben Ali

In Tunisia, foreign minister Kamel Morjane resigns as demonstrations continued there. Although they forced President Ben Ali to flee on January 14th, the activists are demanding a complete break with the corruption of the past and the removal all officials associated with the ruling RCD party of the ousted president. Political sources say that the interior and defense ministers are also expected to be replaced in the widely expected cabinet shuttle. The industry and international co-operation ministers are expected to remain from the old government but neither was a member of the RCD. Still, it is not clear if even this complete purge of the RCD will satisfy the people's demand for change especially now that it is being reported that Mohammed Ghannouchi will remain prime minister. Protesters, who earlier today stormed police barricades in Tunis, the Tunisian capital are demanding a clean sweep.

Tunisia's powerful labor union did call off the general strike planned for Stax, Tunisia's second largest city, on Friday in a move to ease tensions, but it will not join the new government. However, teachers and doctors have already gone out on strike in the town that started it all, Sidi Bouzid.

France24 reported on Tunisia:

Some Tunisians demanded steady rather than abrupt change.

“RCD members need to get out little by little, but now this is a dictatorship of the people where there is anarchy. We must little by little trust each other, we must listen to each other,” said a doctor who gave his name as Labib.
...
Hundreds rallied in the capital Tunis on Tuesday in support of the interim government formed after Ben Ali’s fall, later clashing with protesters who complain that it is dominated by former members of his RCD party.

In the deprived central city of Gefsa, Tunisian soldiers fired in the air to disperse hundreds of demonstrators, the first time the army has intervened since Ben Ali’s departure on Jan. 14, and witnesses said a young man set himself alight.

2011-01-28 Egypt is on fire

It is 8:00pm in Cairo and protesters are still out in the streets defying the curfew that went into effect two hours ago; it bans anyone from the streets until 7 a.m. In Cairo the ruling party headquarters is on fire. Internet, SMS, and cellphone connections are now being interfered with, but earlier we had this from the Guardian's running blog:
4:45pm A downtown police station in Cairo, police cars and gas tanks outside the police station are on fire, which could account for the number of loud explosions being heard, al-Jazeera reports.
It is the fourth day of unprecedented protests by tens of thousands demanding an end to President Mubarak's rule. Mubarak has imposed this curfew in Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez, where all day police and demonstrators have been fighting running battles. Security forces fire rubber bullets, teargas, and water cannon at protesters. That won't be enough because by now the struggle has grown from the major cities to towns and villages. Protesters appealed to the police to join them and at the same time worked to outlast and tire the overwhelmed police.

Now Mubarak has put the Army in charge of security because the police have given up and joined the protesters! By 3:00pm Cairo time OllieGarkey, a blogger at the DailyKos was reporting:
Breaking: Police Siding with Protesters in Egypt. Mubarak regime falling.
At 1:33pm Peter Bouckaert from Human Rights Watch Alexandria reported:
The police have now given up fighting the protesters. The police and protesters are now talking, with protesters bringing water and vinegar (for teargas) to the police. Afternoon prayer has just been called and hundreds are praying in front of the mosque in east Alexandria.
Similar scenes have reportedly been playing out through out Egypt as the beleaguered police accepted water and vinegar from the protesters because because while it was the police that brought the tear gas, they neglected to bring any gas masks.

So now the army is being sent in as the last support for a crumbling regime. Hundreds have been arrested, dozens have been killed and El Baradei is reported to be under house arrest. As night closes in on this forth and most eventful day of the Egyptian Revolution people are preparing to put an end to Mubarak's rule.

This mornings France24 report on events in Egypt and Tunisia

France24 Interview with Amy Hamzawy of Carnegie Middle East Center

2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government

Thousands of people took to the streets today in Jordan demanding that Samir Rifa, the Prime Minister step down. They also demanded the government curb food prices, inflation and unemployment.

For the third consecutive Friday over three thousand activists from the trade unions, the main Islamist opposition group and leftists rallied in the capital.

Al Jazeera reported they were

waving colourful banners reading: "Send the corrupt guys to court".

The crowd denounced Samir Rifai's, the prime minister, and his unpopular policies.

Many shouted: "Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians.''

Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai's ouster.

Members of the Islamic Action Front, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood and Jordan's largest opposition party, swelled the ranks of the demonstrators, massing outside the al-Husseini mosque in Amman and filling the downtown streets with their prayer lines.

The government has already made some concessions to the people as a result of these protests. In the past two weeks Rifai has promised a $550 million package of new subsides for food and fuel. It also includes a pay raise for civil servants and security personnel.

King Adgullah has also promised some reforms, particularly on the controversial election law but he is unlikely to give up his right to choose the prime minister and the cabinet. It would appear that the time when that would be acceptable to people in the Jordan has passed so we can expect this struggle to continue.

2011-01-28 Mubarak refuses to step down

Everything changed forever in Egypt today.

In Cairo, Alexandria, and Suez hundreds of thousands of Egyptians defied a government-imposed curfew to continue their protests, which have grown to involve every section of the country. Many of the police have come over to the side of the people, and the military had to be sent in. The army was welcomed by the protesters.

The headquarters of the ruling NDP party was burnt down in Cairo. The government headquarters was burnt down. Around Egypt more than twenty police stations were set afire. In some places police stations were seized by the people and armories were looted.

Five people have been killed in Cairo; eleven were killed in Suez; 170 have been wounded in Suez and 1,030 in Cairo.

Just after midnight Al Jazeera blogged:

12:07 am - We're seeing a lot of rumors right now. Some reports have indicated that Egyptian government officials and top business have been taking private planes out of the country, but the Cairo airport has denied this. We've even seen rumors about President Mubarak's whereabouts, that he is in the Sinai Peninsula resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, or possibly that he has left the country. In the absence of a statement from Mubarak himself, nobody knows.

Minutes later Mubarak appeared on TV. Al Jazeera described his speech this way:

Mubarak promised to press ahead with social, economic and political reforms.

He appealed directly to the people and said he understood they wanted him to address poverty, employment and democratic reform and pledged progress.

Mubarak urged calm, adding that only because of his own reforms over the years, were people able to protest.

He announced that he was sacking his cabinet but not that he is leaving himself.

The people have a vote in that. Initial reaction on the street to Mubarak's speech is to step up the protests.

2011-01-29 No Internet? No Problem! Anonymous Faxes Egypt

Now that Mubarak is trying to pull the plug on the Internet in Egypt, the hacker activist group Anonymous is going Old-School, dusting off the old fax machines and using them to agitate for change in Egypt.

According to the website Fast Company:

Members of the group are organizing to fax copies of the Egypt-related cables that WikiLeaks released today to schools in Egypt. The hope apparently is that if they can get the faxes into the hands of students, students will distribute them to other protesters. A source told Forbes the goal was to warn them that the police could not be trusted. The WikiLeaks cables, which describe human rights abuses and political arrests, "are just more proof of that," the source said.

In another trip down memory lane in the area of communications technology, some activists in Egypt are digging their modems out of storage as Anonymous plans how to spread the word about a French ISP that is setting up free dial-up Internet access for people in Egypt.

Anonymous has started Operation Egypt, issued this statement and setup this Facebook page.

DEAR CITIZENS OF THE WORLD,

Anonymous can not, and will not stand idly while people are being denied their basic rights and human liberties. Yet, there are still a lot of governments worldwide who fail to even aspire to the standard of freedom that was set by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These governments believe they have the right and privilege to impose upon their own people an 'official' version of 'reality' which isn't in any way tampered by the truths of everyday life under which its citizens are living. Anonymous believes this is an outright crime which can not go unpunished.

The Egyptian people are living under inhumane conditions; being denied their basic rights to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of association, and the free access to information. By imposing censorship upon its own people and condemning these freedoms, the Egyptian government has revealed itself to be criminal, and has made itself an enemy of Anonymous.

To the Egyptian Government: Anonymous challenges all those who are involved in censorship. Anonymous wants you to offer free access to uncensored media in your entire country. When you ignore this message, not only will we attack your government websites, Anonymous will also make sure that the international media sees the horrid reality you impose upon your people. Anonymous will not spare anybody who supports this suppression. It is in the hands of the Egyptian government to end this: continue your repression and you will be subject to civil protest - lend an ear to the claim of freedom from your people and the hostilities will cease.

To the Egyptian people: We stand together and united against this oppression. This struggle is not just for you alone, but for the whole of humankind. Citizens can no longer endure their governments abuse. When forced by the threat of oppression, we will be loud as hell - and when the people roar, it will send shivers down the spines of all those who stifle our freedom and take our precious liberties away.

Anonymous are your brothers and sisters, your sons and daughters, your parents and your friends, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or place of birth. Anonymous is you. You will not be denied your right to free speech, free press, free association and your universal right to freely access information, both in real life and through the internet.

Join us on the IRC - irc.anonops.ru #opEgypt !

Join us in this battle for freedom of information worldwide!

For as Khalil Gibran once said: "Life without Freedom is like a body without a soul, and Freedom without Thought is like a confused spirit... Life, Freedom and Thought are three-in-one, and are everlasting and shall never pass away."

We are Anonymous.
We are Legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.
Expect us.

2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues

It is morning again in Cairo as I post this. The curfew ended at 8:00am and the people of Egypt enter the seventh day of their history making struggle. A famous poem by the early 20th century Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi, "To the Tyrants of the World" [hear it on NPR] has become a rallying cry in both Tunisia and Egypt.

Millions of Egyptians were in violation of the government curfew again last night after a sixth day in which people have taken to the the streets to demand regime change. What started with tens of thousand of demonstrators only a few days ago in three major cities has now developed to the point where the majority of the people of Egypt from virtually all walks of life are demanding the removal of Hosni Mubarak and all his cronies from power.

This morning the Egyptian army is erecting barricades in central Cairo as the government vows to enforce the curfew which it has moved forward three hours to 3:00pm today. Today also the unions are calling for a general strike throughout Egypt and on Tuesday the April 6 Youth Movement has called for a demonstration of a million Egyptians in Cairo.

Juju's message to Mubarak

Al Jazeera reports:

Egyptian protesters have called for a massive demonstration on Tuesday in a bid to force out president Hosni Mubarak from power.

The so-called April 6 Movement said it plans to have more than a million people on the streets of the capital Cairo, as anti-government sentiment reaches a fever pitch.

Mubarak has also ordered Ahmed Shafiq, the new prime minister to preserve subsidies, control inflation and provide more jobs. "I require you to bring back confidence in our economy," Mubarak said in a letter to Shafiq, read on TV on Sunday. This is too little to late. The Egyptian people are no longer demanding that this government hear them. They have had 30 years. They are demanding that this government step down.

After Friday pray, the police stopped trying to suppress the protests and joined them, then the police were completely withdrawn from most areas and the army was sent in. The army is much loved and supported by the people, and so their presence has been welcomed, but the army is only protecting government buildings and important sites like the famous Egyptian Museum which hold thousands of priceless artifacts, including the gold mask of King Tutankhamun. Protesters had organized a human chain around the Museum to protect it from further looting before the army took it over Saturday morning. The museum had also been threaten earlier by the fire that burnt down the NDP party headquarters next door.

The 450,000 strong army has not tried to enforce the curfew and army personnel at many levels have promised they will not fire on the people if ordered. The army has not been patrolling most neighborhoods or most areas of the cities however, and with no police this has left a power vacuum. To make matters worst last night there were mass prison outbreaks and whether it was these criminals, NDP party thugs or members of Mubarak's 350,000 strong security forces, there was trouble on the streets last night. Reports of widespread looting and violence have forced the people to organize for their own security. In virtually every neighborhood last night young men organized militias to patrol their streets and stop anyone up to mischief. In at least one neighborhood when they subdued some looters, they were found to have police papers on them. These vigilantes armed themselves with knives, clubs, bats, even machetes. They set up check points on the streets and questioned everyone driving through to determine their intentions. By morning these neighborhood watch groups had ended most of the violence and looting.

Al Jazeera noted:

Naglaa Mahmoud, a Maadi resident, told the Associated Press that thugs were breaking cars and threatening to get into homes. She said even the ambulance service in the neighborhood had abandoned their offices and accused the regime of planning the chaos by pulling out all of its police forces.

"All this seems to be prearranged. They are punishing us for asking for this change," she said.

"What a shame he [Mubarak] doesn't care for the people or anything. This is a corrupt regime."

The military also urged local residents throughout the country to defend themselves from looters.

The standoff between the people and Mubarak remains however as he has refused to step down in the face of this overwhelming opposition. He named Omar Suleiman, his intelligence chief, the first vice-president Egypt has known in 30 years. Earlier he sacked his cabinet and he is now promising a long list or reforms. None of this is likely to quell the protests or satisfy the people who aren't afraid any more and are demanding nothing less than the removal of Mubarak.

Yesterday the government attempted to shutdown all Internet access. Due to the existence of satellite up-links and satellite phones, this can never be completely successful. And while they were able to bring the level of tweets from Egypt down to a trickle, they brought even more people out on to the streets since without Internet, they had nothing to do. Mubarak also ordered cell phone carriers to stop all service and in a very desperate move today he first halted Al Jazeera's live broadcasts from Egypt and then banned the Arab news organization from Egypt.

Nobel Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, the former UN nuclear watchdog, return to Egypt and has joined the protest. He says he is ready to "lead the transition" if asked. While both the Muslim Brotherhood and the April 6 Youth Movement have expressed support for him, many ordinary Egyptians see him as an outsider returning late to the struggle. While they strongly welcome him, they do not see him as the leader of their movement.

Activists responded to the Internet shut down with a fax based information campaign organized by the hacker group Anonymous. Anonymous activists are also working with a French ISP to provide people in Egypt with free dial-up access. Older activists from the '60's and '70's have also come forward to show the young people how it was done before they had Facebook and Twitter.

While the spirit and moral of the people remains high in this unprecedented popular uprising against 30 years of dictatorship, there were some ominous signs of the government's intentions. For most of the day the crowds in Tahrir Square in the middle of Cairo were buzzed by low flying air force jets and helicopters. While most believe that the army will not fire on people, the air force is where Mubarak made his bones as an officer.

Many governments, including the U.S. are recommending that foreign nationals leave Egypt. The U.S. is also preparing to send Marines to Egypt, ostensibly on a rescue mission. WL Central also learned last night of a US army contingent of 1500 at Ft. Benning, GA, USA that are being prepared for duty in Egypt.

According to Military News:'

The unit will provide an on-demand aviation asset to the Multinational Force and Observers commander to support its mission of supervising the security provisions of the Egypt/ Israel Peace Treaty.

Some fear that mission could be extended to protect the status quo. Earlier today US Secretary of State spoke about Mubarak and the situation in Egypt. She told Fox News:

"For 30 years, the United States, Republican and Democratic administrations, have been urging Mubarak to take certain steps. In fact, we have been urging that a vice president be appointed for decades, and that finally has happened, but there's a long way to go."

Yes, at that rate any significant change will take several centuries. The United States government may be willing to wait that long. Clearly the Egyptian people are not.

2011-02-01 Army Vows Not to Shoot as Protesters make Million Man Marches in Cairo, Alexandria Today [UPDATE: 2]

UPDATE:
9:30pm Cairo - Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak has just given a speech in which he vowed not to run for president in the fall but would not step down until them. He said protests are "manipulated by political forces" in his TV address. Initial reaction from the estimated two million people still protesting in central Cairo is that he has to go now.

6:00pm Cairo - Tweets and news reports we are seeing as the Sun sets in Cairo indicated that the Million Man March has been an overwhelming success. Araby tweets "2 Million in Alexandria. Almost 3 Million in Cairo. Around half a Million Suez. It's happening."

People on Tahrir Square in Cairo where Al Jazeera is reporting 2 million people have gathered are saying that they aren't leaving until Hosni Mubarak does. People are standing shoulder to shoulder in the famed Tahrir Square, the atmosphere is lively but peaceful as protesters wave signs a loft and chant slogans demanding that Mubarak go. Someone even hung an effigy of Mubarak from a street sign. The army has placed barbed wire around Mubarak's residence and they have been checking protesters for weapons as they entered the square but they have done nothing to stop the march.

While the largest protest is taking place in Cairo, the nations capital, large protests also took place in other cities across Egypt including Sinai, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta, el-Mahalla and el-Kubra. A quater million marched in Sinai and over a million in Alexandria.

Gigi Ibrahim, one of the protesters, told Al Jazeera the activists will not be satisfied until Mubarak steps down. "... Every day there are more numbers on the street than the day before. I think the protests are gaining momentum. The people ... will literally not leave until Mubarak steps down," she said.

As the people demanding an end to the 30 year presidency of Hosni Mubark plan an historic Million Man March in Cairo's Tahrir Square today and a second Million Man March in Alexandria, the army pledges not to fire on the protesters. While Mubarak is now belatedly offering to open talks with the opposition and make reform, he has fired his old cabinet and even appointed his first vice-president in 30 years, the people just see these promises as another desperate attempt to stay in power. Now, in the most recent developments, even the army is indicating that it will take the side of the people against Mubarak and without the army he has no chance to maintain his rule.

Today the Egyptian people will demand his resignation with a loud united voice.

Tuesday morning Al Jazeera says:

Protesters in the Egyptian capital have begun gathering for a planned "march of a million", calling for Hosni Mubarak, the embattled Egyptian president, to step down.

Demonstrators began gathering from early on Tuesday morning in Cairo's Tahrir Square, which has been the focal point of protests in the capital and served as the meeting area for the march to begin on the eighth day of an uprising that has so far claimed more than 125 lives.

Another million-strong march is planned in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, as national train services were canceled in an apparent bid to stymie protests.

Army support, without which Mubarak can not stay in power, is unraveling quickly in the face of the people's support for the army and determined opposition to Mubarak. Reuters reports:

"The armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people," it said, though it would stop looters.

"Your armed forces, who are aware of the legitimacy of your demands and are keen to assume their responsibility in protecting the nation and the citizens, affirms that freedom of expression through peaceful means is guaranteed to everybody."

Yesterday Mubarak pulled the plug on the last Internet Service Provider functioning in Egypt. One ISP had been left standing to service the Egyptian stock market after the earlier Internet take down. Now his desperation has reached a new level. The government even shut down train service to try to stop people from getting to Cairo. The protest movement would not be thwarted though. Activist used faxes, cell phones, after service was restored and made use of satellite and dial-up Internet access wherever they was available.

The Egyptian President is now offering a program of sweeping reforms that almost everyone is calling too little too late. His newly appointed vice-president Omar Suleiman appeared on state run TV to say he was beginning a dialogue with all political forces on constitutional and other reforms.

People are no longer interested in anything he has to say. It is too late to promise reform. They will not stop their protests until he is forced from office.

"But all groups, young, old, rich, poor, Christians, Muslims they are all heading [to Tahrir Square]."

Gigi Ibrahim, a political activist who is planning on attending the rally, told Al Jazeera the protesters will not be satisfied until Mubarak steps down.

"I think today there will be great numbers on the street ... every day there are more numbers on the street than the day before. I think the protests are gaining momentum. The people ... will literally not leave until Mubarak steps down," she said.

This will be a historic day for Egypt and the world.

These are our most recent articles on the Egyptian struggle:
2011-01-31 Egypt's Military jockeys to maintain Longstanding Grip on Power
2011-01-31 Cable: Egyptian April 6 activist's democracy goals "highly unrealistic"
2011-01-30 Million Egyptian Protest Planned as Resistance Continues

2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause

Al Jazeera says this about the video piece which they showed for the first time this evening and put on YouTube minutes later, describes how "Tunisian members of Anonymous, the same group of hackers that targeted anti-WikiLeaks sites" are now supporting the struggle in Egypt. The piece features an interview with the Tunisian hacker anon.m. It is less than 2 minutes long:

Social media played a crucial role in organizing the uprising in Tunisia, and now, activists there are focusing their technical skills on helping anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Tunisian hackers say they will attack website belonging to the Egyptian government in solidarity with the pro-democracy activists protesting in Cair, Alexandria and Luxor.

Nazanine Moshir reports from Tunis.

2011-02-06 Tunisia's Revolution Continues

Even though Tunisia's dictator for 23 years, President Zine al-Abdine Ben Ali has been forced to flee the country and is currently a fugitive from an Interpol international arrest warrant with his assets frozen in Tunisia and Europe, the very difficult task of thoroughly rooting out the old regime and building a new Tunisia continues.

While many are still troubled by the fact that long time Ben Ali crony Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi remains the head of government, there haven't been many street protests in recent days. After a major government reshuffle purged it of Ben Ali loyalists, most people seem to have adopted a wait and see attitude and started to get back to normal life.

“I think the pressure that was put on the government has borne its fruit, meaning that we have obtained good concessions,” was the way Kamel Ben Hamida, a resident of Tunis, put it. “It would be more reasonable to stop asking for the government to fall.”

However, in the past week the Tunisian government has been struggling with a wave of counter revolutionary violence that appears to be coming from some members of the government's own security forces. On Monday, youths armed with sticks and knives ran through the streets of Gassrine burning government buildings and terrorizing people according to the state news agency. A group of 2000 attacked the interior ministry. On Tuesday gangs rampaged through schools in the capital Tunis terrorizing the students. In the southern city of Gabes a synagogue was attacked. The police began a strike on Monday which didn't help matters. That was ended on Tuesday when a deal was reached to allow the security forces to form a union.

The army made a visible presence throughout the country to stop the violence and calm the fears of chaos that might create a longing for the old order. In Carthage, the army fired into the air to disperse gangs that raided two schools. Tunisia's new interior minister said on Tuesday that he thought that this violence was part of an organized plot to bring back the old regime:

"These people who came yesterday to the ministry... are the same people who went out today to scare people," Farhat Rajhi told privately-owned Hannibal TV. "There is a conspiracy against state security and there is a conspiracy in the security forces."

Peres Trabeisi, the spokesman for Tunisia's Jewish Community said he didn't know who was behind the attack on the synagogue but,

"I condemn this action and I believe those who did it want to create divisions between Jews and Muslims in Tunisia who have lived for decades in peace,"

The Interior Minister replace 34 senior security officials that he charged were involved in a "conspiracy" to undermine the state. This is seen as the first step in dealing with the network of police agents, security personnel and spies that Ben Ali had built up in two decades of running a police state. Until they are completely rooted out they can be expect to continue to make mischief in an effort to overthrow the revolution and bring back the old regime.

The UN also called for a security overhaul. Bacre Waly Ndiaye, leading an eight-member team sent to Tunisia by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said Tunisia's security forces must be overhauled to stop them from working against the people as they did during the uprising, in which 147 people were killed and 510 people were wounded.

Al Jazeera report on current situation in Tunisa

There was more trouble on Saturday in the northwestern town of El Kef as police fired on an angry crowd of a thousand people who were attacking the police station. The police killed 4 protesters and wounded 17 others. The crowd had turned on police after the police chief “abused” a member of the community, the official Tunisian news agency said.

A local journalist said the police chief slapped a woman during a demonstration and that triggered the violence in which the people attacked the police station with stones and small firebombs according to the interior ministry. Two cars were burned, one a police vehicle. The police first used tear gas, then fired into the air in a vain attempt to dispense the crowd before firing into it the ministry said. It also said the police chief that started the incident was under arrest and said investigators had been sent to El Kef.

Arabic YouTube Video titled TUNIS MUST SEE ! 05.02.2011 THE TRUE OF THE 2 VICTIMS IN POLICE YESTERDAY

A protester was also killed Saturday in the southern town of Kebili when he was hit by a tear gas canister in a clash with security forces. Several other people were hospitalized with injuries. The official TAP news agency said that security forces intervened after protesters attempted to set fire to a national guard post.

Sunday Fahrat Rajhi, the new interior minister, suspended all activities of Ben Ali's old ruling RCD Party according to a statement carried by TAP. Rajhi said he would seek the party's dissolution. Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri said that the move was made for what the government is terming "security reasons", as many "people are blaming RCD members for violence ... and looting".

Clearing out the old regime is not an easy matter. There are some 10,000 civil servants that are RCD members. The new agricultural minister Mokhtar Jalleli told AFP "People were obliged to join the party, to pay to have a job." A wholesale dismissal of that many people would further hurt the already damaged economy. The agriculture ministry accounts for 10% of Tunisian GDP and Jalleli is scrambling to get on top of the situation there. He told AFP:

"We have occupied farms, milk distribution problems: in some departments of the ministry, people are on strike for bonuses promised by Ben Ali," he said.

"In others, they are willing to resume work if their boss, from the RCD is fired...,"

According to economist Adbeljelil Bedoui for stability to return "the State has to take control or nationalize business of the Ben Ali clan." He said they would also have to tackle the black economy, which he estimates at between 10 and 15 percent of the GDP and as much as 40% of the non-farm employment.

The government has already nationalized two banks, the Zitouna and Central Bank of Tunisia, that were facing collapse and linked to the Ben Ali clan.

The European Union agreed to freeze the assets of the former Tunisian president, his wife and their associates on Monday France24 reported. On Tuesday French authorities seized a small aircraft belonging to the Ben Ali family. Ben Ali is estimate to have amassed a $50 billion USD fortune that includes banks, tuna export, hotels, construction, newspapers and pharmaceuticals during his two decade dictatorship.

Tunisia is a former French colony and France is still it's major trading partner and the seven billion USD in trade a year is crucial to the Tunisian economy. Habib Gaida, president of the Franco-Tunisia chamber of commerce, said nearly all French businesses operating in the country had gotten back to business within two days of Ben Ali's fall.

Finally free of the corruption and control of the Ben Ali mob, the mood in the business community is determinedly upbeat. Zied Lahbib, who is number two at the agency promoting foreign investment said "The Ben Ali regime was a lead jacket for the business environment."

Another thing propelling the post-Ben Ali business environment is the return of expats. "Businessmen from the diaspora are already contacting us to return, because they are Tunisians but also because they want to be the first into the markets, most of all in new technology and computer engineering," Lahbib added.

There has been a new freedom of the press since the government restrictions have been lifted. Those rules required running a picture of the ruling family on the front-page everyday for example. Interim PM Ghannouchi has lifted all restrictions on the press and abolished the hated Information Ministry. “Finally the Deliverance” ran the front page headline in the French-language daily Le Quotidien a week ago.

This North African nation is now celebrating three weeks of freedom from the iron fist of a dictator that rule them for more than two decades. They still have many challenges ahead and the forces of counter revolution are by no means spent, but the Tunisian people are now well on the way to consolidating their revolution.

Tunisia - posted by @Gsquare86 from Twitter Feb. 6, 2011

2011-02-08 The New Egyptian Normal: Thousands Demonstrate in Cairo, Alexandria

More Egyptians than ever turned out demand an end to the Mubarak regime today, putting to rest speculation that the protest movement was running out of steam. Thousands of new faces were to be seen among the protesters that turned out for massive Tuesday demonstrations in Cairo, Alexandria and many other Egyptian cities. Many observers said the crowds in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo were even larger than they were for last Friday's protests. And they turned out not only in Liberation Square but in other areas of Cairo and all over Egypt. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians gathered again in Alexandria and thousands protested outside the parliament building a short distance from Tahrir.

Vice President Omar Soleiman warned ominously that his government "can't put up with continued protests" and then added emphatically that there would be no resignation of Mubarak and "no ending of the regime." For three decades the Egyptian people lived in fear of the Mubarak regime and especially the police state apparatus that [EGIS] Egyptian General Intelligence Service Chief Omar Soleiman constructed and then headed. Now the fear is gone. So the struggle between a growing number of Egyptian people and the Mubarak regime settles into a siege on this the 16th continuous day of demonstrations with protesters still holding Liberation Square.

The atmosphere in Liberation Square is again one of celebration. The center of the square has become a tent city were a core group have taken up residency. They have set up medical stations, food distribution, sanitation crews, all of the facilities of a small community. They even held a wedding earlier this week. One slogan that became popular in Liberation Square this week is "We are not Cairo. We are the New Egypt." They have been inventing the new Egypt in that square and the excitement they have generated has helped the movement to grow. Tuesday was another day for the really big crowds to return and they were bigger and more festive than ever. Many new people have joined the movement. In spite of the governments announcement of a 15% pay increase for government worker, many civil servants joined the protests for the first time today.

One of the things being celebrated is the release yesterday after 12 days of detention of Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who's Facebook page inspired the Egyptian protests. Many people saw the interview he did with Al Jazeera after he was released and a lot of the new people said they were inspired by him to come to Tahrir (Liberation) Square today. The centerpiece of the day was his speech to the people there.

Mubarak has promised a lot of reforms since the protests started.

While many see these as hard won concessions of the struggle so far, others see it has the latest Mubarak ploy to subvert the movement and avoid any real change in the status quo. History, both long term and recent, would appear to support that view.

The massive Tuesday, January 25th "Day of Rage" protests against poverty, unemployment, government corruption and the rule of Hosni Mubarak were largely peaceful. In Cairo people went into the streets in large numbers and headed for the NDP headquarters, the foreign ministry and state TV. Peaceful mass demonstrations also took place in Alexandria, Suez and through Egypt. This was unprecedented! This had never happened in Egypt before. Already the spell of fear had been broken. They had to get it back. After a few hours of relative calm, the Mubarak regime responded in it's usual manner, with massive police violence, using clubs, tear gas and water cannons against Egyptians crying "Down with Mubarak." In response to the crackdown, more protests broke out in the Nile delta cities of Mansura and Tanta and in Aswan and Assiut in the south. The movement spread.

This protest movement has been organized and led by the young people of Egypt. The April 6th Youth Movement and “We are all Khaled Said” group put up a Facebook page calling for a protest on January 25th and when that got more than 87 thousand 'likes' it was a signal that things had changed forever. Wael Ghonim, was the administrator of that page. According to this pre-demonstration announcement:

A large number of political parties and forces will participate in the protests, including the Democratic Front, the Labor Party, Al Ghad, the Revolutionary Socialists, the Socialist Renewal Movement, Prospects for Socialism, the Popular Democratic Movement for Democratic Change (Hashd), Al-Kefaya, Youth for Justice and Freedom, the Free Front for Peaceful Change, ElBaradei's campaign, and the National Association for Change.

Two weeks ago this announcement went on to say,

The 2011 demonstration is a huge event organized by the “We are all Khaled Said” group and is supported by other opposition political parties and groups. There are great hopes that this event will change Egypt forever especially after what happened in Tunisia.

The Muslim Brotherhood opposed the January 25th protests and stated very publicly that they would not be participating. That did not stop the Egyptian government from blaming the Muslim Brotherhood for fomenting the unrest a few hours after the protests started. Fear of a Islamic takeover in Egypt has been a cow that the Mubarak regime has milked for years and they weren't going to let the facts stand in the way this time either. As Cablegate memo 06CAIRO2933 noted about Mubarak.

He clearly hopes that his elder statesman value, combined with the implicit threat of the Muslim Brotherhood's rise, will temper foreign pressure for more and faster democratic reforms.

Once the police attacked, the protesters they fought back with everything they could find including rocks and fire bombs. They built barricades in the streets. The protesters were undeterred. They took these blows and adopted tactics that worn down the police, all the while, extending to them the hand of friendship as fellow Egyptians that shared many of the same grievances as the protesters. The cost was high. Thirteen people were killed, hundreds were wounded and thousands were arrested. But by the end of Friday prayer, these tactics were beginning to show signs of success. In Alexandria, the police made peace with the demonstrators and many joined the protest movement. In other cities, many police just went home and changed into civilian clothes.

By the time Mubarak saw the massive turnout for the protest rallies on Friday 28 January, he must have realized that just using the stick wasn't going to work this time and so began to growing list of promises and concessions. He announced that day that he was dismissing his cabinet. The next day, while his party headquarters was burning to the ground, he appointed his first vice president in 30 years, Omar Soleiman, the much feared head of the EGIS and considered by some the most powerful intelligence chief in the middle east. Cablegate memo 09CAIRO874 characterized the relationship between Mubarak and Soleiman this way:

EGIS Chief Omar Soliman and Interior Minister al-Adly keep the domestic beasts at bay, and Mubarak is not one to lose sleep over their tactics

Now those "domestic beasts" were awake and roaring and Soleiman had been promoted to dictator-in-waiting. The regime's other response was to withdraw the police and send in the army.

The army is one of conscripts at the bottom and it is much loved and respected by the people. Mubarak hasn't tried to use the army to directly suppress the people with violence and it is likely that neither he nor anyone else knows exactly how the chips will fall should he attempt to do so. The army has promised not to fire on the people and has played a seemingly neutral role. Using the army to directly put down the rebellion with massive violence was not a option, for a multitude of reasons, including the fact the United States was already getting bad press because some of the weapons used on the people were clearly marked 'made in the US.' Still, Egyptian air force planes and helicopters flew menacingly low over the crowds in Liberation Square for a number of days. People were not scared away. After a while and without comment from the government, the over flights stopped.

The government imposed a curfew. The curfew has been defied ever since. Troops fired shots into the air to disperse the people in Tahrir Square but the people stayed and said Mubarak would have to go. So the new VP and head of state security Soleiman promised a new dialogue on constitutional reforms.

The next tactic the Mubarak regime used to break the rebellion was to disrupt the normal life of Egyptians and blame it on the protests. The banks were closed. the ATM's didn't work. People couldn't get their money. Schools also were closed and so were many businesses. It is unclear why these steps had to be taken because of thousands of people in Tahrir Square but they were, and they were blamed on the protests.

In an effort to cut communications and stem the tide of protests, the regime cut all cell phone service and Internet access to the extent it could. These disruptions were blamed on the rebellion too. Their most formidable tactic in this period may have been allowing massive jail breaks after the police were withdrawn from patrolling cities. This was followed by a lot of looting and mayhem making by criminals and police agents. This was blamed on the protests too, even though some of criminals were revealed to be members of the state security force when they were caught.

The looting and vandalism forced many of the protesters to return to their neighborhoods to defend their homes. It was designed to do this and also create an atmosphere of chaos and a willingness to return to the old order. It didn't work. People returned to their neighborhoods and secured them. They setup road blocks and neighborhood watch committees. All over Cairo, the city was being policed by newly formed citizen's militias. The vandalism and looting came to an end and by Tuesday people felt safe enough to leave their neighborhoods and return to mass protests in Liberation Square and throughout Egypt in unprecedented numbers. The opposition had called for a "Million Man March" on Tuesday. The turnout was overwhelming with an estimated 6 million people marching nationwide. Mubarak when on state TV and announced that he wouldn't run for president again at the end of his term. The resounding response from the square was that his term needed to end now.

Then he sent in the thugs, or rather Soleiman did, because all of the levers of state security are in the hands of this Mubarak loyalist. For two days and nights the violence perpetrated by these pro-Mubarak forces was horrific as they battled to force the protesters from Liberation Square. While the army looked on and failed to intervene, this collection of NDP loyalists, police out of uniform, and paid thugs, used Molotov cocktails, guns, and automatic weapons on the protesters in the square and throughout Egypt. The pro-democracy masses waged pitched battles against these forces and suffered heavy losses, the UN estimates 300 have been killed since the protests began, but they never gave up the square.

The next Friday 4 February, was termed the "Day of Departure" and it revealed to all that Mubarak's and Soleiman's latest terror campaign had been a big failure. The crowds in Liberation Square and throughout Egypt were bigger still. The demand that the regime with so much fresh Egyptian blood on its hands must go was stronger than ever on the eleventh day of protest. The next day, more government concessions were forthcoming. The leadership of the ruling NDP resigned including Gamal Mubarak, the son of Hosni Mubarak and expected successor.

Since his thugs failed to scare people off the streets and break the back of the revolution with terror, Soleiman began talks with a carefully selected group of opposition leaders, including the banned Muslim Brotherhood. Although Soleiman's hatred for the Muslim Brotherhood is well known, he knows that giving the Muslim Brotherhood a prominent place in negotiations will be troubling to many in the west and in Egypt and make them more likely to support the regime's persistence. This angle was played to the hilt by the major media in the United States that can't stop talking about the Muslim Brotherhood but never mentions any of the groups that called the protests in the beginning.

After two weeks the disruptions of normal life caused by the struggle were really starting to wear on people. There was a real feeling that things needed to get back to normal but people didn't want the old normal. Still, they needed to get back to work and to school. Mubarak and company supported these sentiments by re-opening banks and schools. Small business got back to business but the protests continued. A new normal has been settling in. Many Egyptians were saying that the protests needed to end and the media has been giving that opinion a loud voice.

While most Egyptians have been supportive of the struggle, as it moves into its third week, many are starting to question its continuation. They have grown tired of the disruption of normal life and have suffered a loss of income as banks and other businesses have been closed. The protests have already achieved a great deal they argue. President Mubarak has named a vice-president and promised to step down at the end of his term. Vice President Soleiman is talking to some members of the opposition, even the hated Muslim Brotherhood. There have already been some economic concessions made and the regime has promised to ease restrictions on the Internet and press. Now let's give them a chance to implement these reforms and we can get back to some sort of normalcy they plead. This attitude is understandable after all the trauma and hardship people have been through. The UN estimates that over 300 Egyptians have been killed. Thousands more have been wounded, imprisoned or tortured in the past few weeks of rebellion.

History has shown that as long as a tyrant remains in power all the promises made remain an illusion. The testimony of those that have been released from the state's custody about the mistreatment and torture perpetrated on protesters that have been arrested and remain in custody put the lie to the regime's promises of reform. So does the wanton disregard for human life and the welfare of Egypt shown by the regime in the brutal methods it has used in it's attempts to suppress this rebellion. All of this can be taken as a window into the horror that will befall Egypt if these protests should die down and a regime headed by either Mubarak or Soleiman be allowed to consolidate its rule.

That is why the massive turnout and especially all the new faces were so important today. Another massive protest is planned for Friday. The protesters say they will remain in Liberation Square until Mubarak and his cronies are gone. The fear is gone!

2011-02-09 The Google Search for Wael Ghonim

When Google Marketing Executive for Middle East and North Africa [MENA] Wael Ghonim went missing amidst the chaos that was enveloping Cairo in the first week of the uprising in Egypt, Google started a search. So did friends and family.

He took six days off from Google, saying he had to take care of some "personal business." The day before the big January 25th protest he tweeted "Heading to Tahrir square now. Sleeping on the streets of Cairo, trying to feel the pain of millions of my fellow Egyptians. #Jan25"

His last tweet, before he went missing was on Thursday, 27 January. He was helping another Internet user get around Egypt's web censorship:

@Ghonim how can you tweet when its blocked??

He responded:

@SweetOwl proxy servers

At first Google refused to confirm that Wael was missing, In an email, a spokeswomen said "We care deeply about the safety of our employees, but to protect their privacy, we don't comment on them individually."

When Google Marketing Executive for Middle East and North Africa [MENA] Wael Ghonim went missing amidst the chaos that was enveloping Cairo in the first week of the uprising in Egypt, Google started a search. So did friends and family.

He took six days off from Google, saying he had to take care of some "personal business." The day before the big January 25th protest he tweeted "Heading to Tahrir square now. Sleeping on the streets of Cairo, trying to feel the pain of millions of my fellow Egyptians. #Jan25"

His last tweet, before he went missing was on Thursday, 27 January. He was helping another Internet user get around Egypt's web censorship:

@Ghonim how can you tweet when its blocked??

He responded:

@SweetOwl proxy servers

At first Google refused to confirm that Wael was missing, In an email, a spokeswomen said "We care deeply about the safety of our employees, but to protect their privacy, we don't comment on them individually."

2011-02-10 Mubarak Expected to Step Down!

Egypt's Supreme Military Council has had only three public meetings in it's history. The first one was in 1967, the second was in 1973 and the third took place today. In it they announced that they had convened the meeting in response to the current political turmoil and that they would continue to convene such meetings. It is most significant that Mubarak didn't chair the meeting as he normally would have. Instead the meeting was chaired by Defense Minister Mohamed Tantawi. The statement says

"Based on the responsibility of the armed forces and its commitment to protect the people and its keenness to protect the nation... and in support of the legitimate demands of the people [the army] will continue meeting on a continuous basis to examine measures to be taken to protect the nation and its gains and the ambitions of the great Egyptian people,"

Mubarak has stepped down as Commander-in-Chief of the Army!

This meeting took place amidst growing rumors from multiple sources that President Mubarak will step down from the presidency this evening and turn power over to his new Vice President and Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman. Other rumors have the army or taking over.

The government has announce that President Mubarak will make a major speech live to the nation from his palace this evening. This is amidst rumors that he has already fled to the Red Sea.

Stay Tuned! This is a fast moving story that we will be updating often today.

Here are some of the most recent tweets we are receiving at WL Central:

Greg Mitchell: Well, Mubarak live speech will get biggest audience ever for any program worldwide, I would guess...

matthew cassel:Tahrir is absolutely packed, I think if people get any more excited all of central Cairo could explode

RT @AJELive: NDP chief reportedly stopped Mubarak making speech, handing power in #Egypt to VP Suleiman.

DailyNewsEgypt: Armed Forces Council says in first statement it will continue convening, reiterates support of Egyptian people and their demands

Reuters: NBC reporting Mubarak will step down tonight

Reuters FLASH: Senior military officer in Tahrir tells protesters demanding Mubarak leave: "Everything you want will be realized"

The army is meeting has not ended! They Supreme Military Council is on continuing meeting. A former NDP member on AJ thinks this means that Mubarak will turn over power to the military.

This is the latest from Al Jazeera at this hour: [7:50pm Cairo]

Hassam Badrawi, the secretary general of the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP), told the BBC and Channel 4 News on that he expected Mubarak to hand over his powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice-president.

"I think the right thing to do now is to take the action that would satisfy ... protesters," Badrawi told BBC television in a live interview.

Ahmed Shafiq, the country's prime minister, also told the BBC that the president may step down on Thursday evening, and that the situation would be "clarified soon". He told the Reuters news agency, however, that Mubarak remained in control, and that "everything is still in the hands of the president".

However, Anas el-Fekky, Egypt's information minister, denied all reports of Mubarak resigning.

"The president is still in power and he is not stepping down," el-Fekky told Reuters. "The president is not stepping down and everything you heard in the media is a rumor."

10:40am pst US President Obama just called for an "orderly and genuine transition in Egypt." No clue as to what is happening.

2011-02-10 Mubarak is Defiant

Defying the will of the people that have come out in their millions throughout Egypt in premature celebration of President Mubarak's widely rumored resignation.

Mubarak announced in his speech on Egyptian state TV tonight that we would not step down as president as the people have been demanding.

"I will not relent in punishing those responsible for the violence."
"The blood of those killed in the violence will not be wasted."
"I will not bow to outside pressure"
"I will remain in office until elections."

The tyrant remains! They have changed nothing! They have learned nothing!
The anger of the people in the streets is incredible.
The Revolution starts tomorrow! The turn out of Egyptian people this Friday will be awesome!

But what will the army do?

He plans on making reforms and is calling for amendments to six sections of the constitution.

He will remain on as president but transfer his powers to his new vice president and longtime intelligence chief Omar Soleiman.

He repeated many time that he would not bow to outside powers which sound like a direct response to earlier reports that US officials had told him to resign.

Egyptian Vice President Suleiman spoke next on Egyptian state TV at 11:34pm Cairo time.

Suleiman request the help of one and all in restoring normal life.
He commented to an orderly transfer of power under the constitution.
He calls on all his citizens to look forward to the future.
We cannot allow those plotting intimidation ..
"I call on the youth of Egypt. Go back home. Go back to to your work. Let us hold hands and build the new Egypt. do not listen to the foreign satellite TV stations. They will only mislead you."

More, later...

2011-02-11 Mubarak Resign's, The Egyptian People Rejoyce!

This morning the protesters filled Liberation Square as never before, they spilled out into the Parliament building grounds and surrounded the state TV building. Also in Alexandria, Suez, all over Egypt, the people turned out in unprecedented numbers in response to President Hosni Mubarak's defiant speech yesterday in which he refused to resign and instead merely transferred some of his power to his new Vice President and long time intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. The anger of the people yesterday was incredible but they did not turn to violence in their outrage. Instead they built their numbers all night and pushed forward their demand for Mubarak to step down.

Today at about 6:00pm Cairo time, V.P. Omar Suleiman made a short 20 second speech in which he announced that Mubarak had stepped down and the army was taking control of Egypt.

Mubarak Is Gone!

This is a great victory for the people of Egypt and the world. The Egyptian Revolution enters a new phase.

2011-02-12 Algeria Protesters Defy Ban, Demand Change

Pro-democracy protesters defying a ban on demonstrations scuffled with riot police in Algiers, the capital city of Algeria on Saturday. Opposition figures in Algeria told Reuters that about 2000 people protested in the center of Algiers, and 800 people were arrested. Some anti-government activists made it thorough police cordons to make it to May First Square in the center of the city.

There has been a growing protest movement in Algeria against unemployment, rising food prices, lack for freedoms and the twelve year rule of 74 year old President Abdelaziz Botuefilka. Algeria has been under a state of emergency under which demonstrations have been banned since 1992 when the military canceled free elections and sparked a brutal civil war. They have also taken inspiration from the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.

Last week the President announced that he would lift the state of emergency "in the very near future". Protesters are not satisfied with that promise. They are calling for an immediate end to the state of siege and for Bouteflika to step down. Fodil Boumala, a writer and member of the CNCD (National Coordination for Change and Democracy) the umbrella group organizing Saturday’s demonstration, told France24 that the purpose of the march was to achieve “a rupture, the departure of the current government and the establishment of genuine democracy”.

Saturday protesters held signs saying “After Mubarak, it will be Bouteflika” and chanted “Free and democratic Algeria.” This march was organized by a coalition of human rights activists, trade unionists, lawyers and political parties, including the opposition Rally for Culture and Democracy (RCD) party. 64 RCD members were among those arrested, including four senior RCD officials. Earlier Saturday, the RCD headquarters on the main Didouche Mourad Street had been “surrounded by police”. The security forces were so on edge that they charge at and arrested 10 people that were having a spontaneous celebration of Mubarak's downfall outside of RCD Party headquarters RCD leader Said Sadi told the AFP.

Blogger and activist Elias Filali told Al Jazeera that "People are being arrested and are heavily guarded by the police." Filali said the protesters were determined to remain peaceful, but that the police "want the crowd to go violent and then get them portrayed as a violent crowd". The security forces turn Algiers into a "city of blue" with police blocking access to the capital. 35,000 police were deployed according to opposition groups. They even brought in police from other areas.

Hundreds also gathered in the historic Place de la République in Paris Saturday to show solidarity with the protesters in Algeria They called for a "Free and democratic Algeria" and held signs demanding that Bouteflika “Get out!.” From the bed of a truck, people were invited to speak on a megaphone, while others danced and chanted to the music blaring over the PA. Egyptian and Tunisian flags flew along side the emblematic green, white and red flag of Algeria in a proud show of Arab solidarity.

France24 Report on Pro Democracy Protesters in Algeria 2011 -02-12

NEW VIDEO Algerian protesting 12/02/2011

Police clashing with protesters in Algeria uploaded feb12 2011

2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman

Many mysteries remain and questions still go unanswered about what just happen in Egypt last week, particularly with regards to Mubarak and Sulieman. Who even knows where they are and what they're doing now?

It is now well established that Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was suppose to have stepped down when he spoke on state TV, 45 minutes after the announced time, late Thursday evening. That's why NBC News reported the 'scoop' early in the day, why various U.S. government sources were making assurances and even the supreme council of the Egyptian army, and that is where the power really lies anyway, all but proclaimed it.

The fix was in. Mubarak had promised to resign and turn his powers over to his new Vice President Omar Suleiman. Then at the last moment he threw the hook again. This was the third time that he had spoken publicly since the mass protests began on January 25th and it is being said that on each of the previous occasions be had been expected to resign but twice, on Jan. 27th & Feb. 1st, he had failed to do so but this time it was for sure.

He surprised almost everyone. Instead of resigning, he announced that he was staying on as president but giving some of those powers over to Mr. Rendition, Omar Suleiman, he chastised his children, promised punishment, said he would serve out his term and hoped to die in Egypt. The people were outraged!

The next morning Omar Suleiman gave Mubarak's resignation speech for him. It took all of 20 seconds. Hosni Mubarak is now reported to be at home at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea but hasn't been seen or heard from publicly since he was so unceremoniously removed from office. All ministers from his government are forbidden to leave the country. There is talk of criminal proceedings. Suleiman has also been very quiet lately, keeping a very low profile.

Most observers who know anything about Suleiman's history know that a change in leadership from Mubarak to Suleiman is not much change at all. So what's Suleiman up to now? What's his exact position? Is he the Commander-in-Chief of the military? Do they even have a Commander-In-Chief now? We know Mubarak had turned some of his powers over to Suleiman. Nobody seems to know exactly which powers through. What is going on?

In light of these questions the announcement made on Sunday by Egypt's prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, was quite significant. He said "The role of Omar Suleiman will be defined by the Higher Military Council." That is welcome news. IMHO the "role of Omar Suleiman" should be that of cell-mate to Hosni Mubarak.

As to what transpired between Mubarak and Suleiman in those last hours of his presidency, time will certainly tell the tale. Meanwhile we can take as a possible template, the last hours of Tunisian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's presidency.

Thanks to the French publication, Nouvel Observateur , we now have the juicy details. It seems that Mubarak wasn't the first North African dictator to express a wish to die in his country before leaving:

He refused to board the plane. On the tarmac of the airport of Tunis, he resists, wrings his hands he shakes his little black briefcase, his only luggage, trying to turn back toward the black Mercedes he had just come from. He pleads, "Leave me, I do not want to go, I want to die here in my country." [...]

It is Friday, January 14 about 5pm, while resistance is growing in the streets of the capital, Ben Ali is still refusing to leave. Seriate Ali, Ben Ali's feared secret police chief and companion of thirty years is haggard and groaning as he pushes Ben Ali up the stairs of the aircraft that will take him to Saudi Arabia, "God Damn! You will go up!"

None of the soldiers who form a circle around the small group composed of the president, his wife Leila, their son Mohammed, his daughter, Halima, her fiance, the butler Mustafa, and two Filipino domestic employees is offering to help. Leila is exasperated as she bullies the dazed and whinning Ben Ali with the flowery language she loves "Go up Monte, you idiot, all my life, I've had to support your bullshit!" ...

Le Nouvel Observateur reported this week that Seriate Ali and Ben Ali's diabolical wife Leila worked together to get Ben Ali to leave by promising him that it was only temporary and he could return soon. As if!

I don't imagine that he will want to return anytime soon now that Tunisia has put out an Interpol international arrest warrant for him. They just might help him fulfill his desire to die on Tunisian soil.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is a criminal too.

It is good that Hosni Mubarak hasn't left Egypt and they should not let him leave because he has some very serious charges to face. We now know that on the night of January 30th, at one of the most critical junctures for the Egyptian Revolution, that President Mubarak ordered the army tank command to massacre the people in Tahrir Square and the tank commanders refused. As Robert Fisk reported on Friday:

The critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Later we could see some tank commanders in Tahrir Square striping off their uniforms and joining the protesters. The revolution and Tahrir Square had yet to endure the horrific violence that Mubarak's thugs were to unleash on February 2nd and 3rd but already his most powerful tool of violent suppression had abandoned him.

Although the army took a neutral position when Mubarak's thugs came riding horses and camels into the crowds and then ended up my employing Molotov cocktails and machine guns on them, while the army stood by, those thugs didn't have tanks and artillery and Mubarak already knew that they weren't going to be in this fight. So once this thug assault failed to drive pro-democracy activists from the square and the people came back even stronger on the Friday, Mubarak was out of options. His fate was all but sealed.

So soldiers with cell phones stopped the massacre. This is yet another way that new technology has played a surprising role in this new wave of revolutions. A lot of armies, including the U.S. army, allow their people to carry cell phones. Now an army in the field has used cell phones to organize a mutiny. Will they be re-thinking that?

Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

This should give all some insight into the true character of the supreme military council, show that this revolution is not safe in their hands, indicate the importance of the people building strong ties with the lower ranks of the army and most importantly, not letting down their guard or abandoning Liberation Square.

While there are still many questions and problems in the road going forward and the success of the Egyptian Revolution is by no means assured simply because Mubarak has finally been forced from office, the Egyptian people have shown a good account of themselves so far and the future looks bright.

2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and is said to be in a coma or "psychologically devastated". His appointed replacement, Omar Suleiman, is nowhere to be found and the Egyptian army has taken over. There has been wild celebration in the streets of Cairo but there is good reason to think that all is not well and the danger is far from over. Thanks to the reporting of Robert Fisk, we now have the information upon which to arrive at the terrible conclusion of the title. Senior Egyptian army officers, the very ones that are exercising a military dictatorship now, where quite willing only two weeks ago, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Liberation Square.

Reporting in the Independent on Friday, Robert Fisk tells us that Hosni Mubarak had ordered the massacre of the people in Tahrir Square:

the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Fisk's report was raised near the end of 2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman yesterday but we feel it is important enough to bear repeating and elaboration:

Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

That was on Sunday, January 30th. The very next day, the NY Times reported :

Within hours on Monday, the political landscape of the country shifted as decisively as it had at any moment in Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power.

Was this in response to these events of the day before?

It was soldiers with cell phones that stopped the slaughter. It was the low level officers and tank commanders that organized a mutiny and refused to carry out the massacre. We now know that when an army spokesman announced on state TV the day after the refused massacre, that “the armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people.” He was not speaking of the will or morality of the supreme military council, he was speaking of their limitations. He was referring to a power they had attempted to exercise but failed to exercise the night before.

We can now also conclude that that public announcement was directed as much at avoiding a full scale mutiny from below within the army as it was was about reassuring the protesters. It also explains why they made this announcement in spite of the fact, as noted by many commentators at the time, that it clearly would embolden and enlarge the protests. They were in danger of losing control of their army.

We can compare what apparently happened in Egypt to what happened in Tunisia. In Tunisia, when embattled President Ben Ali ordered the army to fire on protesters those orders were never heard over headsets because it was General Rashid Ammar, the chief of staff, later named hero of the revolution, that refused Den Ali's orders.

Even the night of the aborted army assault, some tank commanders in Tahrir Square were reported to be stripping off their uniforms while protesters swarmed over their tanks, and in the report cited above Robert Fisk says:

Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks.

Now the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is consolidating it's control over Egypt. On Sunday it issued " Communique No 5 in which it made the head of the council the head of state, suspended the constitution, dissolved Mubarak's parliament and called for an end to strikes.

It vowed to rewrite the constitution within 10 days and put it to a vote within two months. It has promised to limit it's military rule to 6 months and it has included two young on-line activists, Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salama in the group of opposition leaders it is meeting with. These are hopeful measures.

But it has also failed to lift the state of emergency, failed to release the majority of the protesters it has arrested. It has also been using increasing force to remove pro-democracy activists from Liberation Square and today it made it very clear that it wanted all foreign reporters out of the way. These are the ways of a military dictatorship.

While everyone, including former supporters of the Mubarak regime like U.S. President Obama, is celebrating the victory of the Egyptian revolution, the same top brass that is ruling Egypt today were willing to pass down the orders to slaughter thousands of Egyptians for demanding democracy two weeks ago. Obviously the Egyptian Revolution will never be realized and the Egyptian people will never be safe as long as this senior officers corp controls the army. They must be systematically replaced. New leadership from among the officers who refused such orders must be found. No reprisals can be allowed against the rebellious soldiers. The state of emergency must be lifted and all protesters in custody must be freed. All this must be done while the people are still mobilized and strikes are still going on.

Otherwise the military dictatorship will quietly discipline and replace the mutinous officers and soldiers. They will roll up the networks of activists, clamp down again on free speech and protest and plunge Egypt again into the darkness.

Don't let your guard down! The Rebellion is still in danger.

2011-02-01 Jordan's King Sacks Government as Protests Grow

Jordan's King Abdullah II sacked his cabinet Tuesday after being confronted with the on going protests by thousands of Jordanians over high unemployment and high food prices. Jordan's Royal Palace announced that the Monarchy had accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Samir Rifai, who many blame for rising fuel and food prices and poor economic performance. The King has asked ex-army general Marouf Bakhit to form a new government. Bakhit has been prime minister before and also has been an ambassador to Israel so while this change may be prompted by the demands of the people in the streets, it is not seen as any real change in the status quo.

The Jerusalem Post had this to say about him:

n 2005, Abdullah named Bakhit as his prime minister days after a triple bombing on Amman hotels claimed by the al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Jordanian-born Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

During his 2005-2007 tenure, Bakhit — an ex-army major general and top intelligence adviser — was credited with maintaining security and stability following the attack.

According to Rosemary Hollis, professor of Middle East policy studies at London's City University,

[Bakhit] is a former general and briefly ambassador to Israel who has been prime minister before. He's someone who would be seen as a safe pair of hands, I wouldn't see it as a sign of liberalization. With his previous premiership, he talked the talk of reform but little actually happened.

Inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, protests have spread across Jordan in recent weeks. Demonstrators blame corruption and free-market reforms for making the plight of the poor worst than it already was. Jordan has one of the Arab worlds smallest economies and it is heavily dependent on foreign aid. The King's succession of governments have done nothing to stem a prolonged recession or the rising public debt that has grown to a record $15bn this year.

Every Friday since the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia, the opposition movement has held protest rallies in Amman, Jordan's capital, following Muslim pray. This Friday,

About 3,500 opposition activists from Jordan's main Islamist opposition group, trade unions and leftist organizations gathered in Amman's downtown, waving colorful banners reading: "Send the corrupt guys to court."

The crowd denounced Jordanian Prime Minister Samir Rifai's unpopular policies. Many shouted: "Rifai go away, prices are on fire and so are the Jordanians."

Another 2,500 people also took to the streets in six other cities across the country after the noon prayers. Those protests also called for Rifai's ouster.

King Abdullah has promised to have Bakhit "correct the mistakes of the past." The King also said that economic reform was a "necessity to provide a better life for our people, but we won't be able to attain that without real political reforms, which must increase popular participation in the decision-making."

Regardless of such talk of reform and enlightenment and in spite of changes at the top, the protests in Jordan are expected to grow as this movement for radical change sweeps the region.

See also:
2011-01-28 In Jordan Thousands Demand New Government
2011-01-23 Middle East protest round-up: Yemen, Jordan, Algeria
2011-01-01 Wikileaks in the Jordan Media - Arabic Cable Translations

2011-02-01 Tunisian Islamic Leader Returns as EU Freezes Ousted President's Assets

Rached Ghannouchi, head of the Islamist party Ennahda, returned to Tunisia after 22 years in exile. In a celebration of their newly won freedom, thousands of supporters welcomed him at Tunis Airport on Sunday. Ennahnda has said it intends to take part in Tunisia's post-revolution elections but Ghannouchi told reporters that fears that compare him to the father of Iran's Islamic Revolution were wrong. He said he is much more moderate in his views “Some Western media portray me like (Ayatollah Ruhollah) Khomeini, but that’s not me.”

In an interview he did with the Financial Times three days after Ben Ali fled Tunisia, while Ghannouchi was still in London, he emphasized the broad nature of the Tunisian Revolution:

Who made this revolution? It is the people who made this revolution.This revolution was not made by an angry, out-of-control mob. There are 250, 000 university graduates who are in fact the basis for this revolution. It is not angry, uneducated people. They were the base of this revolution with their creative ways of using the internet and other media. As to the trade unions, it’s true that their leadership has been subservient (to the regime) but the regional union headquarters were the centre of the protests and they led the revolution.

The lawyers also led the main protest marches and these are important bodies which were later joined by the opposition towards the end. There are still important civil society institutions, lawyers, trade unions, political parties, the representative bodies of unemployed graduates and it is them who (could potentially) support the constitutional council.

Ghannouchi seems to be aware that some people in the United States or Europe will falsely equate Islam with terrorism. At the airport he told supporters "We are not terrorists, and we are against terror like everybody else. We oppose Bin Laden. We are for freedom."

Catholic Online said:

The 69-year-old Ghannouchi gave assurances of Ennahada's respect for democracy and women's rights in a newspaper interview after Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia, bowing to street protests that ended his 23-year rule.

"The government used to always say, to frighten people away, that (the Islamists) will take away the rights of women," he said in the interview. "We all recognize, we accept the personal status code and will not cancel it or refuse it."

Democracy in Tunisia means that all parties and all political movements must partcipate and in that spirit most Tunisians welcomed Ghannouchi's return home from his long exile.

EU Now Willing to Stop Theft of Tunisian Assets

On Monday the European Union agreed to freeze Ben Ali's assets, which are reported to be in the neighborhood of $50 billion USD and reported to reside in many neighborhoods in France and other European counties. As reported by France24:

EU foreign ministers agreed Monday to freeze the assets of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his wife and associates. The EU is also expected to look at offering better trade terms to Tunisia to help strengthen its economy.

Ben Ali's European assets include hotels, banks, tuna exports, construction, newspapers and pharmaceuticals. Now that Ben Ali has been thrown out of power, the EU is shocked, shocked to learn that the vast wealth they have been keeping for him is the result of the misappropriation of state funds.

Now that the game is up with Ben Ali, Europe and the United States are seeking ways to established relationships with Tunisia on a new basis. Reuthers reports:

EU ministers meeting in Brussels were also expected to look at ways to offer better trade terms to Tunisia to help strengthen the country's economy.

Since Ben Ali's overthrow, the EU has been trying to create a new relationship with a country with which it developed strong trade and political ties during Ben Ali's 23 years in power.

When Ben Ali fled to France they slammed the door in his face. They wouldn't let him land. Ben Ali had every right to be surprised, the French government of Nicolas Sarkozy had backed him to the hilt till this last minute. As Middle East Online reported:

France's ties with Ben Ali's Tunisia went far beyond "non-interference". In 2008, rights groups criticised Sarkozy for praising the regime "for opening up the democratic space."

When rights groups were already reporting police had shot dead dozens of protesters before Ben Ali fell, Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie suggested France could train the force to better maintain order.

A private French supplier's shipment of new equipment for the Tunisian police, including tear gas grenades of the type that killed a French journalist, was halted at Paris airport only hours before Ben Ali fled.

Now they were singing another tune. "Non-interference and support for freedom and democracy are at the heart of our foreign policy," President Nicolas Sarkozy said through a spokesman as they sent Ben Ali scurrying off to Saudi Arabia where he finally found refuge. This caused one Tunisian to Tweet

“What an irony that a guy who banned veils should end up with the Wahhabis.”

The international financial network maintained it's support for Ben Ali till the last minute also. According to the WSJ a few days after Ben Ali left "Moody's Investor Service Inc. downgraded Tunisia's sovereign rating by one notch Wednesday and changed the country's outlook to negative from stable, citing political instability caused by the toppling of the previous government." This will make it harder and more expensive for the new government to borrow money.

It is the job of Moody's to look out for investors not cuddle new governments some might say. Civil and social instability do make for a negative investment environment, so why didn't Moody's lower Tunisia's bond rating when blood was flowing in the streets and the stock exchange was being denied the Internet by hackers? Why did they lower it only after the thorn has been removed and the wound is starting to heal?

2011-02-03 Algerians plan Feb 12 protest against 19- year-long state of emergency

President Abdelaziz Bouteflika promised through official APS news agency that he would lift the state of emergency which has been in force for the last 19 years in Algeria "in the very near future," Government opponents, who have been inspired by the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt have been pushing for its end. The promise to lift the banned on public demonstrations is seen as a bid stave off unrest.

Opposition groups in Algeria are calling a major protest on February 12 and they have recently made repeal of the emergency powers one of their main demands. As the anti-government forces in Tunisia have given an example, hundreds have been willing to publicly protest the ban on public gatherings in Algeria.

The state of emergency was imposed in 1990 after brutal fighting with Islamic fighters left tens of thousands dead but many people feel that the government's justification for holding such extraordinary powers has long pasted.

According to France24 Bouteflika told a meeting of ministers:

"In order to stop any unfounded speculation on this subject, I ordered the government to immediately draw up appropriate provisions which will allow the state to continue the fight against terrorism until its conclusion, and with the same effectiveness," the agency quoted him as saying.

Bouteflika said protest marches, banned under the state of emergency, would be permitted everywhere except the capital.

"The capital is an exception in this respect for well-known reasons of public order and certainly not in order to prevent any form of expression," he said.

Bouteflika also said the government should adopt new measures to promote job creation, and that Algerian television and radio, which are controlled by the state, should give airtime to all political parties, the official APS news agency reported.

Many rulers throughout North Africa and the Middle East are looking at the recent uprisings of the people in Tunisia and Egypt and taking steps to quiet the opposition in their countries. It remains to be seen if Bouteflika's promise will be kept.

And while the President has promised to lift the ban "in the very near future" the government warned on Wednesday that it would be in effect for the planned protest. The Washington Post reports:

Opposition leaders, human rights groups, unions, students and jobless workers are planning a march Feb. 12 in Algiers, the capital. They want the government to lift the state of emergency that has been in effect since 1992, end its ban on new political parties and generally be more transparent.

But Deputy Prime Minister Nouredine Yazid Zerhouni reminded organizers Wednesday that the march is "officially banned."

"Those who are calling for this march must take responsibility for damage or for things getting out of hand,"
Zerhouni told reporters, adding that the government had no plans to lift its state of emergency

So the stage is set for a revolutionary confrontation between the authoritarian Algeria government and it's freedom loving people on Feburary 12th.

A week ago we wrote of the Algerian opposition in:
2011-01-27 Algerians plan big protest rally for February 9

2011-02-04 Protesters roar back with "Day of Departure" for Mubarak

4:00pm Cairo - In the face of unrelenting violence from Mubarak's thugs, protesters have come roaring back with a massive "Day of Departure" demonstration today as the White house scrambles to work out a deal in which Mubarak would leave immediately. Waving Egyptian flags and chanting the national anthem, protesters in their thousands are filling Tahrir or Liberation Square in Cairo as Friday pray lets out. More than a million people are reported to have flooded into Liberation Square, another million are reported in Alexandria and the numbers are still growing. Thongs of protesters can still be seen crossing the Nile River at the October 6th Bridge into Liberation Square. In the face of all the death, destruction and injury cause by the Mubarak regime in the past few days, the masses remain steadfast in their demand that "Mubarak must go now!"

The peaceful protests that millions of Egyptians have participated in Cairo and other places since January 25th have been marked by violence since the massive Million Man March that turned out an estimated 4 million anti-Mubarak protesters on Tuesday as they were attacked by pro-government thugs. The festive mood that had characterized the rallies from January 25th to February 1st had changed to one of fear and anger as Liberation Square became a battleground and the peaceful protesters camped overnight had to fight off gangs of thugs made up of Mubarak's security forces and NDP hacks. Some of these thugs rode into Tahrir Square Wednesday riding horses and camels, beating protesters with clubs and whips. Later they used rebar, swords, fire bombs and Molotov cocktails, gun fire and even automatic weapons to kill at least 13 people and injure more than 800 more.

They also attempt to clear the field of foreign journalists so that their crimes would not be reported. All across Egypt news people from Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, France24, Al-Arabiya, ABC News, CBS News and many more had their people beaten up by thugs, arrested by government agents and had their equipment either confiscated or damaged. More than 50 attacks on the press were reported in the past couple of days. Earlier, Al Jazeera was told that it could no longer broadcast or report in Egypt. They have managed to continue to broadcast live from Cairo and other places in Egypt but they have had to do so secretly and with inferior equipment. Many of their people have been beaten, arrested or kidnapped, and they have had equipment destroyed, seized or stolen but their live feed has continued to be the major conduit of information on Egypt's revolution for the world.

Reports at this hour from both Cairo and Alexandria are that the pro-Mubarak forces are nowhere to be found. They have all but disappeared. The army seems to have a different attitude too. Late yesterday they repositioned some tanks among the protesters as the new Vice President Omar Suleiman promised that demonstrators would not be fired on today. Today the army has set up check points at every major entrance to Tahrir Square and are carefully checking everyone entering the square for weapons or explosives. In some cases, they are working with protesters to secure the square and check people.

The question on everyone's mind going into today has been "Would the spirit of the Egyptian people hold despite the violence." So much had happened since the big rallies on Tuesday, the turnout for today's rallies was uncertain.

Tuesday was like a celebration in the park for an estimated 2 million anti-Mubarak protesters in and around Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. As the army looked on but checked people entering the square for weapons, the city center started filling up with protesters in the early morning. It was the first time in seven days of protest that many from the various neighborhoods felt able to venture to the square. By Tuesday, neighborhood patrols were in place well enough to secure their homes and possessions against roving bands of criminals and looters. Many more felt it safe to leave home and join the movement.

The numbers swelled as a result and not only in Cairo, but in Alexandria where over a million anti-government protesters turned out, in Suez where a quarter million turned out, Sinai, Mansoura, Damnhour, Arish, Tanta, el-Mahalla and el-Kubra all had mass protests as well.

In Tahrir Square the mood had been festive all day. The chants for Mubarak to leave were loud and the banners were colorful. Many people had gotten their first taste of self-organization only days before in establishing the defenses of their neighborhoods. Now they were here in the center of Cairo inventing the future of Egypt.

More than a million people in the square and yet some people said they had never seen it so litter free. Young people would circulate among the crowds collecting trash with the call "Donations for the NDP, donations for the NDP." Women said they had never felt so respected and free in Egypt. As the number of protesters swelled, some took up the tasks of food preparation and water distribution. They were protesting their tyrannical government and caring for each other, creating the future of their country while they did it. It was a historic and beautiful day. Then it turned ugly.

The Empire Struck Back: Mubarak Sent in the Thugs

Late in the evening Hosni Mubarak made a defiant speech promising to serve out the rest of this Presidential term and to "die on Egyptian soil" Then pro Mubarak forces that had been gathering up moved to violent confrontation with the pro-democracy protesters in Alexandria and Cairo. Mubarak hoped to create a climate of chaos so that fear would drive people off of the streets and back into their homes.

After the January 25th protest the police were first used to suppress the protesters in the usual manner, with intimidation and violence that left at least five people dead and 150 wounded. By the end of Friday pray a week ago it was clear that tactic wasn't working. Some of the police were starting to join the protesters.

The police were withdrawn. The army was sent in to protect selected sites but most neighborhood went without protection. Many criminals escaped from jail. Looting started to be big problem in the neighborhoods. Suddenly protesters out in the streets had to worry about the situation at home. Vandalism and looting was going on in the neighborhoods. Their families weren't safe.

After the criminals somehow got out of jail, the government hoped that the mayhem they were creating would cause the people to assent to the return of the old order. It didn't work. Since January 25th, the Egyptian people have a new sense of empowerment. They set up neighborhood patrols and road blocks. By Tuesday they were able to leave a small force behind to secure each neighborhood while the majority, men, women and children, felt safe to attend the rallies.

The regime's response to the overwhelming success of the Million Man March on Tuesday was to send in the thugs. Mubarak was able to mobilize thousands of his own supports and not all were thugs. Some were genuine Mubarak supporters or NDP Party loyalists and functionaries and not all of those were thugs. Many where there because they were promised 200 lbs and paid 50 up front, many were police or govt security personnel in plain clothes, this became clear from the volume of captured ID's, many oil workers had been told by their bosses to come, and in at least one case a company promised to make it's temp workers permanent if they joined in. Such was the 'organic' nature of the pro-Mubarak forces and explains why it took many days for them to assemble and show themselves.

For two horrific days they made mayhem and murder in Cairo and Alexandria as they went as far as hurdling fire bombs down on protesters and spraying them with machine gun fire. In Cairo, their aim was to drive the anti-Mubarak people out of Liberation Square. The protesters barricaded themselves and fought back with such weapons as they could fabricate or capture and they never left the square. Today, those pro-Mubarak forces seem to have evaporated and the people are having a glorious "Day of Departure" rally that no doubt, will send Mubarak on his way.

A struggle of wills that is incredibly important for the future of all humanity has been won. Mubarak's campaign of terror has failed. Liberation Square held. That battle has been won!

2011-02-04 Tunisian Anonymous activists take on Egyptian cause

Al Jazeera says this about the video piece which they showed for the first time this evening and put on YouTube minutes later, describes how "Tunisian members of Anonymous, the same group of hackers that targeted anti-WikiLeaks sites" are now supporting the struggle in Egypt. The piece features an interview with the Tunisian hacker anon.m. It is less than 2 minutes long:

Social media played a crucial role in organizing the uprising in Tunisia, and now, activists there are focusing their technical skills on helping anti-government protesters in Egypt.

Tunisian hackers say they will attack website belonging to the Egyptian government in solidarity with the pro-democracy activists protesting in Cair, Alexandria and Luxor.

Nazanine Moshir reports from Tunis.

2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman

Many mysteries remain and questions still go unanswered about what just happen in Egypt last week, particularly with regards to Mubarak and Sulieman. Who even knows where they are and what they're doing now?

It is now well established that Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was suppose to have stepped down when he spoke on state TV, 45 minutes after the announced time, late Thursday evening. That's why NBC News reported the 'scoop' early in the day, why various U.S. government sources were making assurances and even the supreme council of the Egyptian army, and that is where the power really lies anyway, all but proclaimed it.

The fix was in. Mubarak had promised to resign and turn his powers over to his new Vice President Omar Suleiman. Then at the last moment he threw the hook again. This was the third time that he had spoken publicly since the mass protests began on January 25th and it is being said that on each of the previous occasions be had been expected to resign but twice, on Jan. 27th & Feb. 1st, he had failed to do so but this time it was for sure.

He surprised almost everyone. Instead of resigning, he announced that he was staying on as president but giving some of those powers over to Mr. Rendition, Omar Suleiman, he chastised his children, promised punishment, said he would serve out his term and hoped to die in Egypt. The people were outraged!

The next morning Omar Suleiman gave Mubarak's resignation speech for him. It took all of 20 seconds. Hosni Mubarak is now reported to be at home at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea but hasn't been seen or heard from publicly since he was so unceremoniously removed from office. All ministers from his government are forbidden to leave the country. There is talk of criminal proceedings. Suleiman has also been very quiet lately, keeping a very low profile.

Most observers who know anything about Suleiman's history know that a change in leadership from Mubarak to Suleiman is not much change at all. So what's Suleiman up to now? What's his exact position? Is he the Commander-in-Chief of the military? Do they even have a Commander-In-Chief now? We know Mubarak had turned some of his powers over to Suleiman. Nobody seems to know exactly which powers through. What is going on?

In light of these questions the announcement made on Sunday by Egypt's prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, was quite significant. He said "The role of Omar Suleiman will be defined by the Higher Military Council." That is welcome news. IMHO the "role of Omar Suleiman" should be that of cell-mate to Hosni Mubarak.

As to what transpired between Mubarak and Suleiman in those last hours of his presidency, time will certainly tell the tale. Meanwhile we can take as a possible template, the last hours of Tunisian Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's presidency.

Thanks to the French publication, Nouvel Observateur , we now have the juicy details. It seems that Mubarak wasn't the first North African dictator to express a wish to die in his country before leaving:

He refused to board the plane. On the tarmac of the airport of Tunis, he resists, wrings his hands he shakes his little black briefcase, his only luggage, trying to turn back toward the black Mercedes he had just come from. He pleads, "Leave me, I do not want to go, I want to die here in my country." [...]

It is Friday, January 14 about 5pm, while resistance is growing in the streets of the capital, Ben Ali is still refusing to leave. Seriate Ali, Ben Ali's feared secret police chief and companion of thirty years is haggard and groaning as he pushes Ben Ali up the stairs of the aircraft that will take him to Saudi Arabia, "God Damn! You will go up!"

None of the soldiers who form a circle around the small group composed of the president, his wife Leila, their son Mohammed, his daughter, Halima, her fiance, the butler Mustafa, and two Filipino domestic employees is offering to help. Leila is exasperated as she bullies the dazed and whinning Ben Ali with the flowery language she loves "Go up Monte, you idiot, all my life, I've had to support your bullshit!" ...

Le Nouvel Observateur reported this week that Seriate Ali and Ben Ali's diabolical wife Leila worked together to get Ben Ali to leave by promising him that it was only temporary and he could return soon. As if!

I don't imagine that he will want to return anytime soon now that Tunisia has put out an Interpol international arrest warrant for him. They just might help him fulfill his desire to die on Tunisian soil.

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak is a criminal too.

It is good that Hosni Mubarak hasn't left Egypt and they should not let him leave because he has some very serious charges to face. We now know that on the night of January 30th, at one of the most critical junctures for the Egyptian Revolution, that President Mubarak ordered the army tank command to massacre the people in Tahrir Square and the tank commanders refused. As Robert Fisk reported on Friday:

The critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Later we could see some tank commanders in Tahrir Square striping off their uniforms and joining the protesters. The revolution and Tahrir Square had yet to endure the horrific violence that Mubarak's thugs were to unleash on February 2nd and 3rd but already his most powerful tool of violent suppression had abandoned him.

Although the army took a neutral position when Mubarak's thugs came riding horses and camels into the crowds and then ended up my employing Molotov cocktails and machine guns on them, while the army stood by, those thugs didn't have tanks and artillery and Mubarak already knew that they weren't going to be in this fight. So once this thug assault failed to drive pro-democracy activists from the square and the people came back even stronger on the Friday, Mubarak was out of options. His fate was all but sealed.

So soldiers with cell phones stopped the massacre. This is yet another way that new technology has played a surprising role in this new wave of revolutions. A lot of armies, including the U.S. army, allow their people to carry cell phones. Now an army in the field has used cell phones to organize a mutiny. Will they be re-thinking that?

Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

This should give all some insight into the true character of the supreme military council, show that this revolution is not safe in their hands, indicate the importance of the people building strong ties with the lower ranks of the army and most importantly, not letting down their guard or abandoning Liberation Square.

While there are still many questions and problems in the road going forward and the success of the Egyptian Revolution is by no means assured simply because Mubarak has finally been forced from office, the Egyptian people have shown a good account of themselves so far and the future looks bright.

2011-02-14 Senior Egyptian army officers ordered massacre

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has resigned and is said to be in a coma or "psychologically devastated". His appointed replacement, Omar Suleiman, is nowhere to be found and the Egyptian army has taken over. There has been wild celebration in the streets of Cairo but there is good reason to think that all is not well and the danger is far from over. Thanks to the reporting of Robert Fisk, we now have the information upon which to arrive at the terrible conclusion of the title. Senior Egyptian army officers, the very ones that are exercising a military dictatorship now, where quite willing only two weeks ago, to carry out a wholesale slaughter of the thousands of protesters in Liberation Square.

Reporting in the Independent on Friday, Robert Fisk tells us that Hosni Mubarak had ordered the massacre of the people in Tahrir Square:

the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

Fisk's report was raised near the end of 2011-02-13 Tales of Tyrants: Ben Ali, Mubarak & Suleiman yesterday but we feel it is important enough to bear repeating and elaboration:

Please note also something else that can be deduced from Robert Fisk's description of these events. Namely that it was the low level officers in the tanks, the ones that got their orders over headsets, that refused to carry out the mass murder in Tahrir Square. Had the top brass refused Mubarak, those orders never would have been heard over headsets.

That was on Sunday, January 30th. The very next day, the NY Times reported :

Within hours on Monday, the political landscape of the country shifted as decisively as it had at any moment in Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power.

Was this in response to these events of the day before?

It was soldiers with cell phones that stopped the slaughter. It was the low level officers and tank commanders that organized a mutiny and refused to carry out the massacre. We now know that when an army spokesman announced on state TV the day after the refused massacre, that “the armed forces will not resort to use of force against our great people.” He was not speaking of the will or morality of the supreme military council, he was speaking of their limitations. He was referring to a power they had attempted to exercise but failed to exercise the night before.

We can now also conclude that that public announcement was directed as much at avoiding a full scale mutiny from below within the army as it was was about reassuring the protesters. It also explains why they made this announcement in spite of the fact, as noted by many commentators at the time, that it clearly would embolden and enlarge the protests. They were in danger of losing control of their army.

We can compare what apparently happened in Egypt to what happened in Tunisia. In Tunisia, when embattled President Ben Ali ordered the army to fire on protesters those orders were never heard over headsets because it was General Rashid Ammar, the chief of staff, later named hero of the revolution, that refused Den Ali's orders.

Even the night of the aborted army assault, some tank commanders in Tahrir Square were reported to be stripping off their uniforms while protesters swarmed over their tanks, and in the report cited above Robert Fisk says:

Last night, a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier's growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks.

Now the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is consolidating it's control over Egypt. On Sunday it issued " Communique No 5 in which it made the head of the council the head of state, suspended the constitution, dissolved Mubarak's parliament and called for an end to strikes.

It vowed to rewrite the constitution within 10 days and put it to a vote within two months. It has promised to limit it's military rule to 6 months and it has included two young on-line activists, Google executive Wael Ghonim and blogger Amr Salama in the group of opposition leaders it is meeting with. These are hopeful measures.

But it has also failed to lift the state of emergency, failed to release the majority of the protesters it has arrested. It has also been using increasing force to remove pro-democracy activists from Liberation Square and today it made it very clear that it wanted all foreign reporters out of the way. These are the ways of a military dictatorship.

While everyone, including former supporters of the Mubarak regime like U.S. President Obama, is celebrating the victory of the Egyptian revolution, the same top brass that is ruling Egypt today were willing to pass down the orders to slaughter thousands of Egyptians for demanding democracy two weeks ago. Obviously the Egyptian Revolution will never be realized and the Egyptian people will never be safe as long as this senior officers corp controls the army. They must be systematically replaced. New leadership from among the officers who refused such orders must be found. No reprisals can be allowed against the rebellious soldiers. The state of emergency must be lifted and all protesters in custody must be freed. All this must be done while the people are still mobilized and strikes are still going on.

Otherwise the military dictatorship will quietly discipline and replace the mutinous officers and soldiers. They will roll up the networks of activists, clamp down again on free speech and protest and plunge Egypt again into the darkness.

Don't let your guard down! The Rebellion is still in danger.

2011-02-24 Arming Gaddfi

The young United States had barely thrown off it's own colonial shackles when in 1805 it flexed its nascent imperial powers against what is now Libya. U.S. Marines captured the Eastern Libyan city of Darnah, raise the U.S. flag over it and forced the ruler in Tripoli to sign a commercial treaty with the U.S. before withdrawing. Since those days, wherever US Marines fight and kill, from Vietnam to Afghanistan, they proudly remember those early battles to put down the Barbary pirates and insure favorable trade relations "on the shores of Tripoli."

Robbed of piracy as an income source the three areas which make up present day Libya, Tripolitania, Fezzan, and Cyrenaica, fell back under the control of the Ottoman Empire which had pretty much ran things there since the middle of the 16th century anyway. Libya rotted as a backwater of "the sick man of Europe" until Italy invaded and united the three areas as its colony in 1911. When Italy lost WWII, it lost its colony. It became the Independent and United Kingdom of Libya in 1951.

It stayed a kingdom until 1969 when a 27 year old army captain Muammar Gaddafi led a military coup d'état, installed himself as dictator and promoted himself to colonel. Military power put Gaddfi in control and he has always shown a keen interest in increasing it plus he has the petrol dollars to buy lots. This has long made him a most favored customer of the international arms industry.

In the beginning Colonel Muammar Gaddfi had gotten much of his weaponry from Russia and the Soviet Bloc. His reputation as a terrorist, his so-called socialism, his pursuit of WMD and the mistaken belief that he really was the "revolutionary" that he pretended to be all made him off limits to western arms merchants. But Gaddfi has shown a tremendous desire for all kinds of expensive violent instruments, and now we can see why, and he had billions in oil money to pay for it, so this was not a status that could be allowed to stand.

So in the first half of the last decade the US, UK and EU insisted that Libya get rid of weapons that were a danger to them, namely it's nuclear weapons program, WMD and ballistic missile programs. These are weapons that most countries want for their national defense precisely because they can be used against an external threat. By 2005 Libya had met the disarmament requirements of the great powers. Since then those powers have been involved in a mad scramble to re-arm Libya with the type of weapons most useful to Gaddfi in suppressing his own people, weapons that are being used with terrible efficiency today.

President George W. Bush ended the US trade embargo against Libya in 2004. President Bush sent Senator Joe Biden on Air Force Two to go and meet with Gaddfi. Of the deal he did with Gaddfi Biden said "The president of the United States asked me to go. He cut a deal with Gadhafi, directly. It was a smart thing to do." Biden called Gaddfi "the most candid guy I ever spoke with."

Access to oil was always the principal reasons these great powers wanted to restore relations with Gaddfi but sale of weapons was also high on the list. In October 2004 EU foreign ministers went even farther than Bush and ended an 18 year restriction on the sale of weapons to Libya.

Bush used the desire of U.S. companies to participate in the destruction of Gaddfi's chemical weapons to get the U.S. into that game. In September 2005 he waived some defense export restrictions on Libya to allow them to do this and also refurbish eight C-130H transport planes that had been purchased by Libya in the 1970's but never delivered. At the time Bush's spokesman claimed that a decision had not been reached to deliver the planes to Libya however they were being refurbished.

Republican congressman from Pennsylvania Curt Weldon became a principal U.S. contact with Gaddfi about this time. He had long considered Saif Gaddfi his friend and says that Gaddfi's offer to give up WMD after the US invaded Iraq came to him through Saif in a London meeting in 2003. He was with Saif Gaddfi in Houston, Texas when Saif made his first trip to the U.S. and had a private meeting with Secretary Rice at the State Department. One day earlier President Bush made the first ever call by a U.S. President to Gaddifi, who had only been running Libya since Nixon was in the White House. Relations with Gaddfi were warming up nicely.

Congressman Curt Weldon became a big Gaddfi booster and led three US Congressional Delegations to Libya. Of these trips he writes:

I led the 1st US Congressional Delegation into Libya in January 2004. My Delegation met with Col Ghadaffi for almost 3 hours resulting in his invitation to me to return in March to speak to the entire Libyan population at the Annual Great Jamahiriya. ( I told Col Ghadaffi that I would return and speak but would bring a good friend with me – Senator Joe Biden. Joe accepted my Invitation and spoke on the second day of the Great Jamahiriya.

On my 3rd trip to Libya Saif and I Co-Chaired the 1st Multi-National Conference in Tripoli sponsored by the Oceans Security Initiative (OSI) which was attended by 300 representatives from over 30 nations. Saif and I had already Co-Chaired an earlier Conference by Satellite feed between our two nations. Libya is a success story for the United States.

I am proud to call Saif Ghadaffi my friend.

His friend now has a lot of blood on his hands. Monday he got on Libyan state run TV, made a rambling 40 minute speech and promised "rivers of blood" would flow with "thousands" of deaths if the uprising did not stop:

"The army now will have a fundamental role in imposing security and bringing normality into the country," he said. "We will destroy all these elements of sedition. We will not give up any inch of the Libyan territory."

This turn to military power by the so-called moderate Saif Gaddfi should come as no surprise to U.S. officials. Wikileaks has made available state department cable 09TRIPOLI960 dated 2009-12-14 from the Tripoli embassy that noted Saif Gaddfi increasing sway in military matters:

Comment: The concerted attention that xxxxxxxxxxxx devoted to military and security issues during recent meetings with Emboffs suggests that Saif is beginning to insert himself into the political-military and security spheres. The discussion of Khamis' requests in particular may indicate that Saif is trying to curry favor with his little brother. Given the fact that the "Khamis Brigade" is considered the best-equipped and most capable of defending the regime, it seems only natural that anyone intent on assuming power would try to align himself with Khamis.

That same cable gives us an example of how they might get around certain bothersome export restrictions:

xxxxxxxxxxxx sought an explanation on the USG refusal of the sale of Little Bird helicopters to the Libyan military, and designated for the "Khamis Brigade." Stating that the Libyan military was still very interested in purchasing the aircraft, he suggested the helicopters have all armament removed so they could be categorized as "non-lethal equipment." DATT informed him that the Libyan military was free to purchase a number of other helicopter systems that the Defense Security Cooperation Agency had already cleared for Libyan military purchase. xxxxxxxxxxxx insisted that the Libyan military wanted to purchase the Little Bird helicopters.

When you've got oil money and powerless citizens you can afford the very best helicopters. This week Gaddfi is using his helicopters in a very lethal manner. They are being used to shoot unarmed Libyan protesters from the air.

After he left congress, Curt Weldon became the center of an FBI probe into alleged conflicts of interest while in office. That didn't stop him from becoming a principal in a private American defense consulting firm that did business with Libya, Defense Solutions. There he helped to broker deals between Libya and Russian and Ukranian weapons suppliers. Paradoxically, it was the "War on Terror" and efforts to rearm Afghanistan and Iraq, which had much Soviet-era weaponry, that created the ambiguities and loopholes that allowed this new arms trade to flourish. In the GWOT Effect of Arms for Dictators, the Center for Defense Information writes.

As a policy of the “global war on terror” (GWOT), it has been the Bush Administration's practice to sell arms to governments who pledge allegiance to the “war on terror” despite often being deemed by the State Department as having questionable human rights records, being undemocratic, and even, having supported terrorism at one point

.
The Libyan people are now paying the very terrible costs of that very profitable policy.

To get the profitable contracts, Defense Solutions boasts an impressive list of advisers such as retired four-star general, White House drug czar and NBC News military analyst Barry R McCaffrey.

No one should expect Barry McCaffrey to be squeamish about selling Gaddfi the tools of mass murder. Especially since he is paid up to $10,000 a month for his advice. While still in uniform, he was the author of the infamous "Highway of Death" that ended the first Gulf War by mowing down tens of thousands who were fleeing Kuwait. From Barry McCaffrey and War Crimes:

Most recently, Seymour Hersh writes in the New Yorker that a two-star general ordered a massacre against a five-mile line of retreating Iraqi soldiers, and did so two days after a ceasefire went into effect. Hundreds of soldiers were murdered, men and boys who posed no threat and didn’t know the war was still on. Many civilians, including children, were also shot. The numbers are still unclear because the corpses were buried quickly by the tank-bulldozers

McCaffrey's job now is to open doors like those of his friend David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq to Defense Solution's offerings. “That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions told the NY Times. General Petraeus has been a big advocate of increased U.S. weapons sales abroad.

Under Bush's policies, relations with Gaddfi improved and companies like Defense Solutions got rich. On 30 July 2006, President Bush removed Libya from the State Department's list of countries sponsoring terrorism and shortly after that full diplomatic representation was restored.

In December 2007 representatives of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and about 19 other U.S. companies made a visit to Libya sponsored by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. Lockheed Martin may be the Pentagon's biggest supplier but they are happy to sell to Gaddfi too. Thomas Jurkowsky, a Lockheed spokesman said about his company's war making capabilities "The opportunities to leverage that expertise in Libya cannot be overlooked." About the trip Christian Today said.

Major U.S. companies are jockeying for tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure and other big projects in oil-rich Libya, as ties between the former foes warm.

In January 2008, the former foes got even closers as Foreign Minister Mohammed Abdel-Rahman Shalgam met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and became the highest ranking Libyan official to visit Washington in 35 years.

"We don't speak anymore about war or confrontation or terrorism," Shalgam said after signing a U.S.-Libyan science and technology cooperation pact. "No, the contrary: Wealth of the people, cooperation, investments, peace and stability."

Apparently human rights wasn't on the agenda either.

Two years ago the U.S. military ended decades of isolation and started building relations with Gaddfi. In January 2009 the Pentagon and Gaddfi's government signed a "non-binding statement of intent" aimed at developing bilateral military ties. A few months later they were already trying to sell Gaddfi the type of equipment he is using now in the violent suppression of his people. From Reuters:

"We will consider Libyan requests for defense equipment that enables them to build capabilities in areas that serve our mutual interest," said Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner of the Army.

As examples, she referred to systems used for border and coastal security as well as "theater airlift," by implication aircraft such as Lockheed Martin Corp's C-130 Hercules that can ferry forces and equipment.

"Theater airlift" would include the capability to fly in mercenaries from Chad to carry out mass murder in Libya. "Coastal security" might include naval capabilities that allow Gaddfi to fire on rebellious coastal towns from ships, as he has been doing, "border security" probably would include small caliber weapons and vehicles that the mercenaries are using once the "theater airlift" got them there. Gaddfi has planes made by Boeing and Lockheed Martin in his fleet. Boeing sold three 737 airliners to the first private Libya airline and began delivering in October 2006. What they would not consider selling to Libya are what might be called "weapons of national defense", the types of weapons that small countries would need to defend against imperial power.

"Initial contacts between the two militaries have been very positive," Hibner goes on to say.

Now that President Obama and Secretary Clinton are complaining that unlike with Egypt or Tunisia, they have no leverage or contact with the Libyan military we have to wonder just when it all went south.

Six months after this "initial contact," Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieringa, head of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency was peddling Humvees to a Libya delegation in his Washington office. Libya was not yet cleared for the sale of lethal weapons. "We've got some modest, non-lethal efforts ... that is progressing at a reasonable pace right now," he said. Wieringa's security cooperation agency brokers government-to-government arms sales with 218 countries or entities. War is big business.

The United States may be the biggest arms merchant in the world but because of the embargo it is a relative new comer to the Libyan arms bazaar. It is scrambling to catch up. The European Union has gotten more of the business. In the two year built up to Gaddfi's massacre EU countries granted €687.6 million worth of Libya arms licenses. Belgium granted €18 million of licenses and Bulgaria €3.7 million. In 2009, the latest year for which we have figures, Malta shipped €79.7 million of small arms to Gaddfi's regime. Now the streets of Tripoli "are littered with the bodies of scores of protesters shot dead by security forces," and Malta is dealing with the blow-back of refugees trying to escape the hell that they so profitably helped to create. Belgian granted €4.4 million in permits for anti-personnel chemicals used to put down rebellions and Italy granted €2.6 million for bomb fuses, including improvised bomb fuses.

Italy was the leader in what is known in the arms industry as "big ticket items." Italy granted €107.7 million of licenses for military aircraft. Gaddfi is now using his military aircraft to slaughter unarmed demonstrators from above. France granted €17.5 million worth and Portugal €14.5 million. Portugal also granted €4.6 million of permits for drones.

In an effort to cover-up the massacre and stifle the opposition. Gaddfi has attempted to cut off all communications between Libya and the outside world including Internet, cell phones and even landlines. Internally he has been jamming the signals of Al Jareeza and other broadcasters. No doubt the €43.2 million in electronic jamming equipment from Germany and €20.7 million from England have been very helpful to him. Now as 10,000 or so EU citizens try to flee to safety, EU officials told EU Observer that their efforts to help them have been hampered by the jamming of mobile phone, Internet and GPS services by Gaddfi.

Knowing that there is big business in small arms, in 2008 Romania okayed the sale of 100,000 of them to Gaddfi, and while the UK did block the sale of 130,000 Kalashnikovs to Libya because they feared they would end up in Sudan.From U.S. state department cable dated 2008-08-18 out of the Tripoli embassy 08TRIPOLI650:

Comment: The fact that York Guns and GOL officials have been vague about the intended end-use of the 130,000 Kalashnikov rifles raises potentially troubling questions about the extent to which Libya is still involved in supplying military materiel to parties involved in the Chad/Sudan conflict. End comment.

The UK is certainly not missing this party. On his most recent trip to the Middle East, UK premiere David Cameron took along Ian King, the CEO of top British arms merchant BAe Systems and other executives from weapons producers Rolls Royce and Thames as part of his delegation.

We can expect to find out a lot more about US, UK and EU complicity with this massacre once Muammar Gaddfi is forced from power. As British journalist Robert Fisk wrote in the UK Independent last week "If what we are witnessing is a true revolution in Libya, then we shall soon be able - unless the Western embassy flunkies get there first for a spot of serious, desperate looting - to rifle through the Tripoli files ... and reveal some secrets which ... [the UK government] would rather we didn't know about."

In the light of these recent atrocities by Gaddfi, the Campaign Against Arms Trade is calling for an arms embargo against Libya. Campaign spokeswoman Sarah Waldron said

"Government ministers claim they wish to support open and democratic societies in the Middle East but at the same time are aiding authoritarian regimes and providing the tools for repression.

They don't just approve the sale of this equipment - they actively promote it.

There should be an immediate arms embargo - but more importantly we should be asking why these exports were ever licensed in the first place."

The US, the UK and the EU have a special responsibility for ending Gaddfi's violence against the Libyan people because it is their oil money that is paying for it. For four decades they took Libya's oil and they gave the money to Gaddfi knowing full well that it was not serving the people who were the true owners of the oil. Then they supplied Gaddfi with the weapons with which to maintain this robbery.

This is not a civil war that is happening in Libya. Very few Libyans will fight for Gaddfi. That is why he has to hire mercenaries. This is a massacre of a largely unarmed people by a small cliche around one madman that has been enabled by great power money for mercenaries and weapons. The true responsibility for this mass murder lies as much with these great powers as it does with the madman.

United States Rep. Curt Weldon (R, PA) shakes hands with Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gadhafi after their meeting in Sirte, Libya March 3, 2004. The Libyan leader said that Libya has turned the page on terror and weapons of mass destruction and seeks better relations with the United States. Other U.S. Congressman L-R: Rep. Sylvestre Reyes (D,TX), Weldon, Gadhafi, Rep. Nick Smith (R, MI), Rep. Solomon Ortiz (D, TX). (UPI Photo/Kenneth R. Timmerman)....Photo 100 - Weldon and Qaddafi: ..From left to right: