Live blogging the Egyptian uprising
Long time observers of Egypt are fast running out of adjectives to describe their feelings about unfolding events. Unprecedented, stunning, transfixing. I lived there from 2003 to 2008 and dearly love the country. I'll be posting short updates here throughout the day (Friday, Jan. 28) on the fast-moving events in Egypt. This is my first go at this kind of thing, so bear with me.
4:16 p.m. EST (11:16 p.m. Cairo) DON'T KILL MANY PEOPLE or we'll take away your money. That, I think, is an apt translation of White House spokesman Robert Gibb's message on Egypt today. His actual words: "We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on the events of the next few days." I presume that threat could also extend to Egypt turning back on the Internet and cell phone service, and perhaps delivering on some of these vague "reforms" that the US keeps saying Egypt needs. At any rate, it's getting on towards midnight in Cairo, so I think this is the last post for my live blogging experiment today. Not sure how useful it was, but I enjoyed it.Skip to next paragraph
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2:47 p.m. EST (9:47 p.m. Cairo) US SAYING IT WILL "REVIEW" aid to Egypt, according to the AP. Well, a "review" can mean many things. By all accounts, the demonstrators are outraged at ongoing US military aid to Egypt – about $1.3 billion last year. Protesters were shown on Al Jazeera holding up "Made in America" tear gas canisters today and saying they saw little distance between the US and the Mubarak regime. I need to find out the specific inventory of weapons that the US provides Egypt. But the key thing to remember is that aid, like money, is fungible. Any equipment the US supplies to Egypt frees up money to be spent elsewhere – like on equipment to control public protests. US military ties with Egypt are longstanding and deep. I'm currently sipping coffee from my "Peace Vector III – Program Management Review, May 1989" coffee cup, that a friend picked up for me in a Boston yard sale last year. Peace Vector III was a US-funded program to improve Egyptian air bases, particularly ones serving US supplied F-16s.
2:40 p.m. EST (9:40 p.m. Cairo) STILL NO WORD from Mubarak, and I think it's safe to say he won't be going on television to speak to Egypt tonight – though it would be fascinating to be proven wrong. The Egyptian strongman is a moody, touchy man, who must certainly feel at the moment that he's being put under pressure by the rabble. Responding to them must seem beneath his dignity. Issandr El Amrani compared him to a water buffalo in a post trying to explain his silence yesterday. "If you only knew Hosni as I do, you'd know he's terribly stubborn. He likes to dig in his heels. He won't be forced into a decision. He is like a gamoosa (water buffalo, as common as cows in Egypt) that just won't be moved off a railroad track. This is his strength and weakness: this stubbornness can be determination (in the 1980s and 1990s, against radical Islamists), but it can also be his Achilles' heel, his inability move quickly to grab opportunities."