UPDATE – 10:30 AM EST – AJE live eporter saw one youth protester grabbed by mubarak thugs, dragged him to right in front of military and brutally beat him. She believes his life was only saved by more fighting distracting the thugs. The military did nothing.
The protesters remain in control of the center of the square.
CNN Anderson Cooper has just seen another Molotov cocktail thrown by pro-Mubarak sources.
AJE live – reporting pro-government forces trying to drive a military vehicle into the square. The clashes are on the approach roads to the square.
Ben Wedeman of CNN tweeted earlier:
bencnn As my colleague Fred reports, they are employees of National Petroleum Company ordered to demonstrate for Mubarak #Jan25 #Egypt
We are all Khaled Said asks ” I wonder where did Mubarak’s thugs g…ot guns & horses from? Aren’t they normal citizens like us as National TV say?”
UPDATE – 10:15 AM EST – CNN now showing live scenes from the square –“ ProMubarak forces turn violent” attacked from multiple directions, carrying knives and machetes, Ivan Watson reports seeing serious injuries below his vantage point. Anti-Mubarak protesters are building barricades to try to protect themselves from the “regime supporters” but they are surrounded. CNN International reporting pro-Mubarak thugs tossing molotov cocktails at the protesters.
mitchellreports El baradei live on Al Jaz asking US and EU to help – calling on army to stop chaos
ElBaradei “What is happening now is a crime against Egypt”
CNN’s Anderson Cooper describes army as sitting on the sidelines and not intervening.
CNN’s Ivan Watson reporting that the protesters have been able to beat back the thugs from his location.
The military has visibly retreated from certain areas, especially around the American University in Cairo campus and the part of Tahrir Square leading into AbdelMoneim Riad Square and Ramses Street.
Youth leaders of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations are calling on all of those who were in Tahrir Square yesterday to make their way to Tahrir Square now “to save the revolution from the thugs.”
They believe that the army intentionally retreated from certain areas to allow a certain degree of leeway for pro-Mubarak protests.
“They must come, that is the only way we can avoid a bloody battle,” one of the organizers of the anti-Mubarak demonstrations said. “They want it to be a battle between civilians and we don’t want to be that. We want people to appear so we can have the same safety in numbers that we had before.”
UPDATE – 10:00 AM EST – What we’re seeing is a concerted effort by Mubarak thugs to put down the uprising with attacks not just at the square but against press offices:
Al Masry Al Youm, independent Egyptian daily is evacuating offices “after reports that the independent daily Al-Shourouk’s headquarter in Mohandessin is being targeted by thugs.”
Even though their own crews have been attacked in the square, CNN is covering “troubled teachers” in the US. #epic fail
If ANYONE has any doubt, please don’t. I can definitely confirm that protesters have arrested some of the government thugs and they all have Police IDs. (Omana2 shorta we Mokhbereen). They were told they have to carry Police IDs in case the army arrests them so that they can be let go afterwards. They attack journalists more than protesters.
Tear gas is being fired into the crowd – believed to be coming from the army. It seems to be concentrated at the main point of clash. The army had previously called for everyone to clear the streets and return to normalcy. Warning shots being heard.
There are reports that the military initially removed their position blocking one entrance to the square allowing the thugs to enter.
UPDATE – 9:30 AM EST – Pro-Mubarak thugs attacking square on horseback and on foot. Al Jazeera reports at least 100 wounded, targeted attacks on any visible media by the thugs.
UPDATE: 9:10 AM EST – Thousands of “pro-Mubarak” thugs have decended on Tahrir Square and are attacking the protesters, gunfire has been heard – Al Jazerre-English live at video link following. The situation is not clear but it looks like Mubarak has decided to try to take control of the Square in this way – and so far the military is not able or perhaps willing to stop them.
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While protesters continue to stay in Tahrir Square and promise to stay until Mubarak goes, President Obama continues to try to have it both ways and Tony Blair is running from interview to interview trying to drum up fear of an “Islamic” takeover of Egypt and proclaiming Mubarak “immensely courageous and a force for good” in an interview with Piers Morgan on CNN.
“I don’t think the west should be the slightest bit embarrassed about the fact that it’s been working with Mubarak over the peace process but at the same time it’s been urging change in Egypt,” he said.
One comment the Guardian did not report but which was particularly striking was a response to Morgan’s questioning why the UK and US went to war on Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein but did not insist that Mubarak go. Blair – with a look of outrage said: “Mubarak is no Saddam!”
Robert Fisk, certainly the best western reporter on the Middle East, may not have heard Blair’s nonsense from the streets of Cairo but his latest column is an ideal response:
And then there was the absence of the “Islamism” that haunts the darkest corners of the West, encouraged – as usual – by America and Israel. As my mobile phone vibrated again and again, it was the same old story. Every radio anchor, every announcer, every newsroom wanted to know if the Muslim Brotherhood was behind this epic demonstration. Would the Brotherhood take over Egypt? I told the truth. It was rubbish. Why, they might get only 20 per cent at an election, 145,000 members out of a population of 80 million.
A crowd of English-speaking Egyptians crowded round me during one of the imperishable interviews and collapsed in laughter so loud that I had to bring the broadcast to an end.
Fisk goes on to discuss Obama’s response:
Amazingly, there was little evidence of hostility towards America although, given the verbal antics of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton these past eight days, there might have well been. One almost felt sorry for Obama. Had he rallied to the kind of democracy he preached here in Cairo six months after his investiture, had he called for the departure of this third-rate dictator a few days ago, the crowds would have been carrying US as well as Egyptian flags, and Washington would have done the impossible: it would have transformed the now familiar hatred of America (Afghanistan, Iraq, the “war on terror”, etc) into the more benign relationship which the US enjoyed in the balmy 1920s and 1930s and, indeed, despite its support for the creation of Israel, into the warmth that existed between Arab and American into the 1960s.
But no. All this was squandered in just seven days of weakness and cowardice in Washington – a gutlessness so at odds with the courage of the millions of Egyptians who tried to do what we in the West always demanded of them: to turn their dust-bowl dictatorships into democracies. They supported democracy. We supported “stability”, “moderation”, “restraint”, “firm” leadership (Saddam Hussein-lite) soft “reform” and obedient Muslims.
And so Wednesday morning arrives in Tahrir Square. The protests will go on – and there’s some worry as Mubarak thugs are making an appearance:
We are all Khaled Said Welcome to Mubarak’s transitions period: Moments after Mubarak finished his speech. Hundreds of government thugs carrying knives & weapons are attacking protesters in Cairo, alexandria and Portsaid so far. A man of his word he is.
And the Al Jazeera liveblog points to this from twitter:
6:31am Tweet by Jeremy Scahill, the author Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army:
Private Security Firms are in Egypt evacuating businessmen. Among them: Control Risks, International SOS & Diligence
“El sha’ab yureed eskat el nezam”!
(“the people want to collapse the [current] system”).