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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12:57 p.m. EST (7:57 p.m. Cairo) THE ARABIST LENDS CREDENCE to the commonly stated belief in Cairo that the regime has deliberately sought to encourage chaos and looting yesterday as a way to discredit protesters and scare average Egyptians from joining the protests. Issandr Al Amrani is one of the best analysts of Egyptian politics I know of and is generally cautious and measured in his assessments. He writes: "There is a discourse of army vs. police that is emerging. I don't fully buy it – the police was pulled out to create this situation of chaos, and it's very probable that agent [sic] provocateurs are operating among the looters, although of course there [are] also real criminal gangs and neighborhoods toughs operating too. For me, Omar Suleiman being appointed VP means that he's in charge. This means the old regime is trying to salvage the situation. Chafiq's appointment as PM also confirms a military in charge. These people are part of the way Egypt was run for decades and are responsible for the current situation. I suspect more and more people, especially among the activists, are realizing this." He's reporting intermittent internet access, but you should keep on eye on his blog for always interesting updates when they come.Skip to next paragraph
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12:45 p.m. EST (7:45 p.m. Cairo) DESPERATE SPINNING by regime figures from multiple directions. Parliament Speaker Fathi Sorour appeared on state TV saying: "The former government has failed to meet the demands of the parliament." Mr. Surour is, if I understand it, the constitutional successor to Mubarak in an interim situation – but don't expect it to play out that way. There have been ten cabinets answering to Mubarak since he took power in 1981, and none of them have delivered on the greater freedom that many Egyptians say they yearn for. The last parliamentary election in November was so fraudulent that it ended up returning 95 percent of the seats to the ruling National Democratic Party. The parliament in Egypt is set up to serve Mubarak, not as a check on his power or formulator of policy. Meanwhile, Egypt's Ambassador to the US Sameh Shoukry tells ABC, "The process of reform is an ongoing one, and the people in the streets have indicated a desire for speedier reforms -- which I'm sure is the direction that Egypt will take within the institutions that are still in operation that are recognizant to the word that is coming from the streets." No. The people on the streets are saying that the long promises of "reform" are no longer trusted and they want total change.
12:32 p.m. EST (7:32 p.m. Cairo) ELBARADEI has begun speaking to the demonstrators at Tahrir Square. AJE livestreaming.
12:27 p.m. EST (7:27 p.m. Cairo). MOHAMED ELBARADEI arrived in Tahrir Square, say reporters on the ground. No signs that he will address the crowd yet (or that a public address system has been set up that would make that possible). I just filed a piece arguing that this could be a pivotal moment from the democracy protesters. But now I'm second-guessing myself. (There are unconfirmed rumors on Twitter that he left already.) ElBaradei is trying to emerge as the man to lead a transitional government towards elections – and is getting the backing of the Muslim Brotherhood and secular democracy activists to do so. Meanwhile, Omar Suleiman, the intelligence chief who people have been talking about as a possible successor to Mubarak for a decade, remains the front runner to be the transitional man if Mubarak steps down or is pushed.