Tags: Egypt Watch

30 Years of Rule Ends in 30 Seconds


The cut of Omar Suleiman’s speech:


The Words


More translated chants from the protesters: “The people have brought down the regime! The people have brought down the regime!”

To clarify, many news agencies were so overwhelmed by the news of the resignation itself that they didn’t say how it was communicated. It’s simple: a few minutes ago, Vice President Omar Suleiman appeared on State TV for a scheduled speech. He said, “President Hosni Mubarak has waived the office of president, and has asked the armed forces to take charge of the country’s affairs.” It was an exceedingly terse speech. I will try to have a full transcription soon.


“We won! We won!”


Those are the chants echoing from Tahrir Square right now.

Mubarak Resigns


… for real this time.  He has transfered power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. Tahrir square has erupted.

Follow it as it unfolds on Egypt Watch.

BREAKING: Mubarak Transfers Power to Supreme Council of Armed Forces




For real this time: Both DailyNewsEgypt and Al Aribya are reporting. More soon.

Badrawi Resigns


The head of the ruling National Democratic Party has resigned. MSNBC reports:


Hossam Badrawi, the new general secretary of President Hosni Mubarak’s ruling National Democratic Party, has resigned, Reuters reports, quoting an interview on al-Hayat TV.

“It’s a resignation from the position and from the party,” Badrawi said in the interview. “The formation of new parties in a new manner that reflects new thinking is better for society now at this stage.”

Badrawi was appointed as secretary-general Saturday in a purge of unpopular figures in Mubarak’s party.

If you recognize his name, it’s probably because he was the guy who said, just yesterday, that he expected Mubarak to step down in his speech. He was the sole source for the whole media frenzy about Mubarak’s imminent departure. Peculiar, to say the least…

“A Positive First Step”


A U.S. official calls Mubarak’s flight from Cairo to a seaside resort a “positive first step” toward reform. Some have characterized this as meaning that Mubarak has effectively given up power, without symbolically stepping down.

Protesters Take on State TV


The WSJ has the story:


A massive crowd of angry protesters converged on Egypt’s state television building, as the opposition moved again to expand their presence beyond Tahrir Square.

Associated PressAn army soldier sits on a armored vehicle as antigovernment protesters hold their shoes in the air during a protest in front of the state television building.


The building sits just north of the square along the Nile and is a much more sensitive target than the central square or even the parliament, which protesters took over midweek.

The Maspero TV building, named after the French Egyptologist Gaston Maspero, has been the hub of state propaganda since 1960. Protesters hope that if they can succeed in shutting it down via a constant sit-in outside the building, as they have shut down Tahrir Square and the area around the parliament, they could knock the state’s main national television stations off air, depriving the government of its most effective line of communication to Egyptians.

“If they take this building, if it drops to the masses, it will be a big symbolic victory for the revolution,” said Osama Ghazali Harb, leader of the opposition National Democratic Front and editor of the prestigious International Policies journal.

Reflecting its sensitivity, the building was heavily defended. The Nileside street in front of TV building was cut off at both ends by tanks and barriers topped with metal slabs and razor wire. Behind that barrier was a razor-wire fence. Behind that, a dozen armored personnel carriers and a tank. On the first floor up from the street, there were soldiers and machine-gun nests.

The forces manning those positions appeared to be a mix of army, airborne and republican guard troops.

The military assemblage, in turn, was surrounded by swelling crowded waving flags and raising their fists in the air to chant, “Down Mubarak down.” Others yelled, “Where are the journalists? Here are the liars.”

Earlier today, Al Jazeera reported that the station had one of its anchors say, during the broadcast, “Sorry we can’t bring you more guests. Nobody can get in or out of the building.”

Three Weeks Since the Day of Rage


And the protesters show little sign of tiring…

Feeding the Protests


An Al Jazeera correspondent just described a scene which could be indicative. Soldiers guarding the presidential palace are handing water bottles and snacks through the fence to keep protesters hydrated and fed for the long day of protesting ahead of them.

Last Night


Protesters in Tahrir Square react to the fact that Mubarak was not, as they had expected, leaving:


While You Were Sleeping


Here’s what’s happened in Egypt.

1. Mubarak has left Cairo. He flew with his family to the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. 

2. The Supreme Council of the military once again convened and this time issued a statement guaranteeing free and fair elections. Some have interpreted this as meaning that the military has effectively taken control in Egypt.

3. Today’s protests are enormous, and have extended outside Tahrir Square. Protesters are reportedly marching on the presidential palace now. They are calling today “Farewell Friday.”

4. The labor element of the protests has expanded. Striking workers have effectively shut down public transportation in Egypt now.

White House Statement


In response to today’s events, nothing new:


The Egyptian people have been told that there was a transition of authority, but it is not yet clear that this transition is immediate, meaningful or sufficient. Too many Egyptians remain unconvinced that the government is serious about a genuine transition to democracy, and it is the responsibility of the government to speak clearly to the Egyptian people and the world. The Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete and unequivocal path toward genuine democracy, and they have not yet seized that opportunity. 

As we have said from the beginning of this unrest, the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. But the United States has also been clear that we stand for a set of core principles. We believe that the universal rights of the Egyptian people must be respected, and their aspirations must be met. We believe that this transition must immediately demonstrate irreversible political change, and a negotiated path to democracy. To that end, we believe that the emergency law should be lifted. We believe that meaningful negotiations with the broad opposition and Egyptian civil society should address the key questions confronting Egypt’s future: protecting the fundamental rights of all citizens; revising the Constitution and other laws to demonstrate irreversible change; and jointly developing a clear roadmap to elections that are free and fair.

We therefore urge the Egyptian government to move swiftly to explain the changes that have been made, and to spell out in clear and unambiguous language the step by step process that will lead to democracy and the representative government that the Egyptian people seek.  Going forward, it will be essential that the universal rights of the Egyptian people be respected. There must be restraint by all parties. Violence must be forsaken. It is imperative that the government not respond to the aspirations of their people with repression or brutality. The voices of the Egyptian people must be heard.

The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people. Those who have exercised their right to peaceful assembly represent the greatness of the Egyptian people, and are broadly representative of Egyptian society. We have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together, and earn the respect of the world through their non-violent calls for change. In that effort, young people have been at the forefront, and a new generation has emerged. They have made it clear that Egypt must reflect their hopes, fulfill their highest aspirations, and tap their boundless potential. In these difficult times, I know that the Egyptian people will persevere, and they must know that they will continue to have a friend in the United States of America.

ElBaredei Calls for Military Invention


Suleiman: “Go Back Home. Go to Your Work.”


Vice President Omar Suleiman followed President Mubarak on State TV with another speech. Here’s my transcription:

After being delegated by the president to safeguard the interests of Egypt, to restore peace and security to the Egyptian public, to restore the way of life, I request one and all to contribute to this goal. And I have no doubt the Egyptian people are capable of safeguarding their interests. We have opened the door to dialog, and a roadmap has been drawn to meet the majority of the demands.

Within this context I reiterate: I am committed to carrying out whatever is necessary to ensure that peaceful transition of power, in accordance with the stipulations of the constitution, in relation to the national dialog, and the agreements to be reached at a later stage, all in order to safeguard the revolution of the youth, to work toward restoring confidence among us, and to respect the constitution and the law, and to realize the demands of the people through conscientious dialog. Through this perspective I call on all the citizens to look forward to the future, and by our hands we can make this future bright, rife with freedom and democracy. You are a people of heroes. We cannot be drive to the perils of chaos and we cannot allow those perpetrating and plotting intimidation. Let’s join hands and let’s march forward in a path that will guarantee the demands and aspirations o the youth, toward a peaceful life where love of the homeland is a top priority.

I call on the youth of Egypt — go back home. Go back to your work. The country needs your hands. Let’s join hands, to build, and develop creatively. Do not listen to the satellite TV stations, whose main purpose is to fuel sedition and tarnish the image of the people. Only listen to your own conscience, your common sense, and your awareness of the perils hovering around us. We have started work, relying on God and our state institutions, namely the armed forces that safeguarded the constitution, and guarded the property and security of the people. The clock is ticking for work. Let’s march forward by the grace of God… We will work in the spirit of a team and the resolve of the Egypt that cannot be dented.

I have taken the oath before God and you to work with all the power I have. God says in the holy scriptures, “You work and God will see your deeds, and may peace be upon you all.”

The protests tomorrow are going to be enormous, raucous, and possibly violent.

Mubarak’s Speech, Transcribed



In the name of Allah, the merciful, the compassionate, dear fellow citizens, my sons, the youth of Egypt, and daughters, I am addressing you tonight to the youth of Egypt in Tahrir Square, with all of its diversity.

I am addressing all of you from the heart, a speech from the father to his sons and daughters. I am telling you that I am very grateful and am so proud of you for being a symbolic generation that is calling for change to the better, that is dreaming for a better future, and is making the future.

I am telling you before anything, that the blood of the martyrs and the injured will not go in vain. And I would like to affirm, I will not hesitate to punish those who are responsible fiercely. I will hold those in charge who have violated the rights of our youth with the harshest punishment stipulated in the law.

I am telling families of the innocent victims that I have been so much in pain for their pain, and my heart ached for your heartache.

I am telling you that my response to your demands and your messages and your requests is my commitment that I will never go back on to. I am determined to fulfill what I have promised you in all honesty, and I’m determined to execute and carry out what I have promised without going back to the past.

This commitment is out of my conviction of your honesty and your movement and that your demands are the demands – legitimate and just demands. Any regime could make mistakes in any country, but what is more important is to acknowledge these mistakes and reform and correct them in a timely manner, and to hold those responsible for it accountable.

I am telling you, as a president of the country, I do not find it a mistake to listen to you and to respond to your requests and demands. But it is shameful and I will not, nor will ever accept to hear foreign dictations, whatever the source might be or whatever the context it came in.

My sons and daughters, the youth of Egypt, dear fellow citizens, I have announced, without any doubt, that I will not run for the next presidential elections and have said that I have given the country and served the country for 60 years in public service, during wartime and during peacetime.

I have told you my determination that I will hold steadfast to continue to take on my responsibility to protect the constitution and the rights of people until power is transferred to whomever the people choose during September, the upcoming September, and free and impartial elections that will be safeguarded by the freedom – the call for freedom.

This is the oath that I have taken before God and before you. And I will protect it and keep it until we reach – we take Egypt to the safety and security.

I have given you my vision to get out of this current situation, to accomplish what the youth and the people called for, within the respect for the legitimacy and the constitution in a way that will accomplish security, and security for our future and the demands of our people, and at the same time will guarantee a framework of peaceful transition of power.

Through a responsible dialogue between all factions in the society, with all honesty and transparency, I have given you this vision under commitment to take the country out of this current crisis, and I will continue to accomplish it. And I’m monitoring the situation hour by hour.

I’m looking forward to the support of all those who are careful about the security and want a secure Egypt, within a tangible time, with the harmony of the broad base of all Egyptians that will stay watchful to guard Egypt and under the command of its military forces.

We have started a national dialogue, a constructive one, that included the youth who have called for change and reform, and also with all the factions of opposition and of society. And this dialogue resulted in harmony, and preliminary harmony in opinions that has placed us on the beginning of the road to transfer to a better future that we have agreed on.

We also have agreed on a road map – a road map with a timetable. Day after day, we will continue the transition of power from now until September. This national dialogue has — has met and was formed under a constitutional committee that have looked into the constitution and what was required – and looked into what is required, and the constitution reforms that is demanded [inaudible].

We will also monitor the execution – the honest execution of what I have promised my people. I was careful that both committees that were formed – to be formed from Egyptians who are honorable and who are independent and impartial, and who are well-versed in law and constitution.

In addition to that, in reference to the loss of many Egyptians during these sad situations that have pained the hearts of all of us and have ached the conscience of all Egyptians. I have also requested to expedite investigations and to refer all investigations to the attorney general to take the necessary measures and steps – decisive steps.

I also received the first reports yesterday about the required constitutional reform – reforms that was suggested by the constitutional and law experts regarding the legislative reforms that were requested. I am also responding to what the committee has suggested. And based on the powers given to me according to the constitution, I have presented today a request asking the amendment of six constitutional articles, which is 76, 77, 88, 93 and 187, in addition to abolishing article number 79 in the constitution, with the affirmation and conviction that later on we can also amend the other articles that would be suggested by that constitutional committee, according to what it sees right.

Our priority now is to facilitate free election – free presidential elections and to stipulate a number of terms in the constitution and to guarantee a supervision of the upcoming elections to make sure it will be conducted in a free manner.

We – I have also looked into the provisions and the steps to look into the parliamentary elections, but those who have suggested to abolish article number 179 in the constitution will guarantee the balance between the constitution and between our security and the threat of terror, which will open the door to stopping the martial law, as soon as we regain stability and security and as soon as these circumstances — circumstances assure the stability.

Our priority now is to regain confidence between citizens among themselves and to regain confidence in the international arena and to regain confidence about the reforms that we have pledged.

Egypt is going through some difficult times, and it is not right to continue in this discourse because it has affected our economy and we have lost day after day, and it is in danger — it is putting Egypt through a situation where people who have called for reform will be the first ones to be affected by it.

This time is not about me. It’s not about Hosni Mubarak. But the situation now is about Egypt and its present and the future of its citizens.

All Egyptians are in the same spot now, and we have to continue our national dialogue that we have started in the spirit of one team and away from disagreements and fighting so that we can take Egypt to the next step and to regain confidence in our economy and to let people feel secure and to stabilize the Egyptian street so that people can resume their daily life.

I was a young man, a youth just like all these youth, when I have learned the honor of the military system and to sacrifice for the country. I have spent my entire life defending its land and its sovereignty. I have witnessed and attended its wars with all its defeats and victories. I have lived during defeat and victory.

During the victory in 1973, my happiest days were when I lifted the Egyptian flag over Sinai. I have faced death several times when I was a pilot. I also faced it in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and elsewhere. I did not submit nor yield to foreign dictations or others. I have kept the peace. I worked towards the Egyptian stability and security. I have worked to the revival in Egypt and the prosperity.

I did not seek authority. I trust that the majority — the vast majority of the Egyptian people know who is Hosni Mubarak, and it pains me to what I have — what I see today from some of my fellow citizens. And anyway, I am completely aware of the — what we are facing and I am convinced that Egypt is going through a historical — a historical moment that necessitates we should look into the higher and superior aspirations of the nation over any other goal or interest.

I have delegated to the vice president some of the power – the powers of the president according to the constitution. I am aware, fully aware, that Egypt will overcome the crisis and the resolve of its people will not be deflected and will [inaudible] again because of the – and will deflect the arrows of the enemies and those who [inaudible] against Egypt.

We will stand as Egyptians and we will prove our power and our resolve to overcome this through national dialogue. We will prove that we are not followers or puppets of anybody, nor we are receiving orders or dictations from anybody — any entity, and no one is making the decision for us except for the [inaudible] of the Egyptian [inaudible].

We will prove that with the spirit and the resolve of the Egyptian people, and with the unity and steadfastness of its people and with our resolve and to our glory and pride.

These are the main foundations of our civilization that have started over 7,000 years ago. That spirit will live in us as long as the Egyptian people – as long as the Egyptian people remain, that spirit will remain in us.

It will live amongst all of our people, farmers, intellectuals, workers. It will remain in the hearts of our senior citizens, our women, our children, Christians and Muslims alike, and in the hearts and minds of all those who are not born yet.

Let me say again that I have lived for this nation. I have kept my responsibilities. And Egypt will remain, above all, and above any individuals — Egypt will remain until I deliver and surrender its — it to others. This will be the land of my living and my death. It will remain a dear land to me. I will not leave it nor depart it until I am buried in the ground. Its people will remain in my heart, and it will remain — its people will remain upright and lifting up their heads.

May God keep Egypt secure and may God defend its people. And peace be upon you.

Mubarak Disappoints: Will Not Step Down; Delegates Powers to VP


After a day of online media working themselves into a delirious expectation of Mubarak’s immanent resignation based off of two small and somewhat ambiguous statements from an NDP official, Mubarak today did what he has already done several times — during a long-delayed speech he testified to his love for Egypt, promised to die in Egypt, discussed constitutional arcana, and claimed that he had already met the demands of the youth. Only at the end did he say he sees the need to delegate his powers to the Vice President. Transcript or video speech forthcoming.

The mood in Tahrir square has shifted from elation to fury.

Mubarak to Speak in 30 minutes; State Media Changes Course


Al Jazeera is now reporting that Mubarak will deliver his speech at 3:00 pm EST.

They just streamed images from the State TV station. Curiously, their cameras zoomed in on the protesters in Tahrir Square, showing the same stirring images of Al Jazeera. That looks like an editorial policy change from the past several weeks of State TV portraying the protesters as isolated and dangerous rabble-rousers.

A Note of Skepticism


I don’t doubt that what is happening in Cairo right now is hugely significant, or that there is a serious possibility that Mubarak will step down tonight, but I want to add two dissents and an addendum to the general media narrative I’ve seen.

1. All of the reports that Mubarak will step down tonight, and even CIA director Leon Panetta’s statement of the probability of a Mubarak departure, are based on precisely two statements from one NDP leader (Hossam Badrawy), statements which themselves are slightly ambiguous (see below). But the media ran away with them. Something prompted Badrawy to say what he did — but that something could be an internal factional dispute, dissolution in the presidential palace, intentional disinformation, or even a misunderstanding. I think it is probable that his report is accurate, and Mubarak will announce his stepping down. But that probability is below 100% and well below what the media would lead us to believe.

2. Even if Mubarak does step down, unless some ingenious plan to hand all power to the military is concocted, he will be deferring to Vice President Omar Suleiman. That will be a change more symbolic than real, and may not alter very much. Suleiman, like Mubarak, has a reputation for being anti-democratic, engaging in human-rights abuses, and being allied with the United States and Israel. The protesters simply will not be satisfied with a transfer of power to him, and it may not even do much to change the U.S.’s policy and stance toward the situation an Egypt.

3. The really key factor here appears to be the military: Their gnomic statements this morning (“all your demands will be realized”) combined with their increased presence on the streets and these surprising announcements from within the presidential palace, indicate that they are doing something important behind the scenes. But it’s impossible to tell, just yet, what that thing is.


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