Live blogging the Egypt uprising: Jan. 30
Events in Egypt are moving so fast, with so much information, speculation, and disinformation flying around, that I'm going to take another shot at live blogging. The key takeaway from today (Jan. 30) so far is that the military continues to tolerate protests, and protesters have not in any way been mollified by Hosni Mubarak's shuffling of his cabinet and appointment of his first-ever vice president, Omar Suleiman.
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Dan Murphy is a staff writer for the Monitor's international desk, focused on the Middle East. Murphy, who has reported from Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt, and more than a dozen other countries, writes and edits Backchannels. The focus? War and international relations, leaning toward things Middle East.
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3:00 p.m. EST (10:00 p.m. Cairo) OBAMA MUST SUPPORT MUBARAK, says the Zionist Organization of America, according to an email I just received from a PR firm. The email summarizes the position of Morton Klein, the group's national president, thusly: "The United States must do everything possible to keep Mubarak in power even though he is a dictator – otherwise we risk someone even more radical and extremist taking over. Whoever were to take over would surely be an enemy to both the United States and Israel. Should a group like the Muslim Brotherhood take power, any chance of the peace treaty with Israel and Egypt will surely die." It's a predictable point of view that, of course, amounts to asking the US to defy the will of the Egyptian people. There has been almost no public discussion or interest in Israel from the tens of thousands of Egyptian protesters who have taken to the streets this week. Average Egyptians, like almost all Arabs, have a low opinion of Israel if prompted, but they're focused on reordering their internal affairs. Their complaints focus on low wages, state torture, lack of freedom and so on. Could the Muslim Brotherhood come to power some day? Well, maybe, though that's far from certain and many analysts I respect speculate the group's popularity would fade in an environment where real political movements and parties were tolerated. But even if they rose to parliamentary power, it's hard to see renewing confrontation with Israel – a drain on resources and a distraction from the demands of the Egyptian people – as a first order of business. Statements like this will, of course, feed conspiracy theories that the US and Israel stood in the way of democracy in Egypt, if Mubarak manges somehow to hang on.
2:23 p.m. EST (9:33 p.m. Cairo) HEY, THAT'S AN IDEA... Egyptian State TV has announced an extension for the curfew hours tomorrow and that it will now run between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m. Those keeping score at home will remember that the curfew first started at 5 p.m., and was moved back to 4 p.m. yesterday. The curfew has been roundly ignored so far. I just got off the phone with Kristen Chick in Cairo. (She was still at Tahrir Square still.) She says a few thousand protesters are calm but remain energized and convinced that they're going to drive Mubarak from power. They were also furious at reports of looting and rioting being attributed to the people. "Every time I'd ask about it, they'd say 'No, no, no, it's not the people. It's the police and the interior ministry people. They took off their uniforms, went home and changed their clothes, and then went out and started looting because they want to create chaos and discredit us.' " Meanwhile, Wael Abbas has been uploading some youtube videos of protests from earlier today. Here's one of them: