LIVE BLOG: Latest Updates From Egypt [UPDATED 5:26PM EST]

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With the news in Egypt changing very frequently, YWN will be bringing our readership the very latest news updates in this live blog, bring run by veteran YWN reporter Dov Gordon, and assisted by our team of reporters.

The latest updates will be published first, with earlier reports below them. Just refresh your page for the latest info.

(NOTE: The time of the latest update is in the headline)

UPDATE 5:26PM EST: Egypt’s last working internet service provider, Noor Group, is now down, according to the BBC.

UPDATE 5:00PM EST: Vice-President Omar Suleiman tells state TV that Mr Mubarak has asked him to open “immediate contacts with all political factions in order to start a dialogue around all issues at hand with regards to constitutional and legislative reforms”. Suleiman also said that the new Egyptian government’s priority will be combating unemployment, poverty and corruption, according to the Reuters news agency. It will also strike a balance between wages and prices, he promises.

UPDATE 4:16PM EST: Some 1,200 American citizens have been evacuated on nine flights on Monday, and at least six more flights are planned for Tuesday, the state department’s PJ Crowley says.

UPDATE 12:14PM EST: Opposition groups continue to call for a “million man march” and a general strike on Tuesday to commemorate one week since the protest movement began. Meanwhile, the military has reiterated that it will not attempt to hurt protesters.

As 250,000 gathered around Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Monday, President Mubarak asked his new prime minister, Ahmad Shafiq, to start talks with the opposition. It has yet to be seen whether the broad coalition of Egyptian opposition groups – students, web activists, leftists, liberals, and Islamists –  will manage to come together.

UPDATE 9:51AM EST: Israeli officials tell the Associated Press that they have agreed to allow the Egyptian army to move two additional battalions, or about 800 troops, into the Sinai peninsula for the first time since the 1979 peace agreement between the two countries. The soldiers are being sent to the area around the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh, where there are thousands of foreign tourists, the officials add.

UPDATE 8:34AM EST: Police in Cairo detained six journalists for Al-Jazeera, the Arabic-language news network, and confiscated their equipment, a network official confirmed to CNN Monday.

UPDATE 1:34AM EST: Two El-Al planes containing 400 Israelis arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport from Cairo on Monday morning, Channel 10 reported. The Israelis waited in the Cairo airport for over 16 hours, before their flight was able to depart.

ALL UPDATES BELOW ARE FROM SUNDAY DAY 6

UPDATE 6:42PM EST: The US Embassy in Cairo said it was arranging to begin flying Americans out of Egypt on Monday. The announcement Sunday evening came hours after the embassy advised US citizens in Egypt to consider leaving as soon as possible. The statement said the State Department was making arrangements to provide those who want to leave with flights to “safehaven locations in Europe.”

UPDATE 6:40PM EST: Former President Jimmy Carter, who brokered a peace accord between Israel and Egypt in 1978, on Sunday called the political unrest and rioting in Egypt earth-shaking and said that President Hosni Mubarak probably will have to step down.

Carter told a Sunday school class that he teaches that the unrest is “the most profound situation in the Middle East” since he left office in 1981. He said he thinks the unrest will ease in the next week, but his “guess is Mubarak will have to leave.”

UPDATE 3:20PM EST: More details on Mr Obama’s calls. A White House statement says: “On Saturday, 29 January, the president spoke to Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey, Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel, and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Today, he spoke to Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom. During his calls, the president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

Details are now emerging of UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s conversation with President Obama, and with King Abdullah of Jordan. “The Prime Minister and President Obama were united in their view that Egypt now needed a comprehensive process of political reform, with an orderly, Egyptian-led transition leading to a government that responded to the grievances of the Egyptian people and to their aspirations for a democratic future,” Downing Street said in a statement.

UPDATE 2:07PM EST: BBC Arabic reports that dozens of judges joined the protesters in Tahrir Square on Sunday. One of them, Hosam Makawi, accused the police of corruption and of destroying incriminating evidence.

UPDATE 2:05PM EST: In an interview with CNN, Eli Shaked, Israel’s ambassador to Egypt from 2003 to 2005, predicted that if Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s regime falls, a new Islamist regime, hostile to Israel and western nations, will replace it.

“There will be no democracy in Egypt,” Shaked said. “If there will be democratic elections in Egypt in the summer or in the very near future (they) will be the first and last democratic elections in Egypt.”

UPDATE 1:51PM EST: The street revolt in Egypt has thrown the Israeli government and military into turmoil, with top officials closeted in round-the-clock strategy sessions aimed at rethinking their most significant regional relationship.

Israel’s military planning relies on peace with Egypt; nearly half the natural gas it uses is imported from Egypt; and the principle of trading conquered land for diplomatic ties began with its 1979 peace treaty with Egypt. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has met with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt more than with any other foreign leader, exceptPresident Obama. If Mr. Mubarak were driven from power, the effect on Israel could be profound. Read the rest of this at NY Times.

UPDATE 12:16PM EST: ElBaradei is addressing the protesters: “You have taken back your rights and what we have begun cannot go back…We have one main demand — the end of the regime and the beginning of a new stage, a new Egypt…I bow to the people of Egypt in respect. I ask of you patience, change is coming in the next few days…”

UPDATE 12:01PM EST: Opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei arrived at Cairo’s Tahrir Square Sunday evening, as crowds swelled by the thousands over two hours into a government-imposed curfew. ElBaradei was expected to make a formal announcement related to earlier news that he would represent the opposition in negotiations to form a unity government, according to the report.

UPDATE 11:44AM EST: The IDF Spokesperson released a statement saying that the IDF is preparing for various scenarios.

UPDATE 11:16AM EST: Wael Ghonim, head of Google Middle East, has been missing in Egypt since last week. His last two posts on his Twitter page are: “We want #Facebook #Twitter & SMS back. Blocking free speech is a crime.”

And the last one: “Very worried as it seems that government is planning a war crime tomorrow against people. We are all ready to die.”

UPDATE 11:08AM EST: Reports state that Mohamed ElBaradei is on the way to join protesters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

UPDATE 10:49AM EST: Al Jazeera is showing footage of a Palestinian terrorist who escaped a jail in Cairo on Saturday – and is already back inside Gaza. He told Al Jazeera that he made his way back to Gaza through an underground smuggling tunnel.

UPDATE 9:50AM EST: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has not gone far enough in promising meaningful reforms, but cautioned that it was necessary to achieve an orderly transition of power.
“I don’t think anyone is satisfied,” Clinton said on “Fox News Sunday,” noting that the U.S. had been urging Mubarak to take reform-minded steps for the last three decades.
“We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy,” said Clinton. “At the same time, we want to see an orderly transition.”
Asked if Mubarak stepping down would leave a dangerous power void in the country, Clinton responded: “We want to see an orderly transition so there can be no void.”
Clinton also defended the administration’s handling of the conflict, saying that the White House has been sending a consistent message that it backs reform in the autocratic state.

UPDATE 9:44AM EST: If anyone has any questions about what type of ‘democracy’ will be coming to Egypt, just see this latest update via Reuters:  Egyptian opposition forces have agreed to support opposition figure Mohamed El Baradei to negotiate with the government, a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood said on Sunday.

“Political groups support El Baradei to negotiate with the regime,” Essam el-Eryan told Al Jazeera television.

UPDATE 9:27AM EST: At least two Egyptian fighter jets flew low over Cairo on Sunday afternoon, according to eyewitnesses quoted by Al-Jazeera and Reuters. The news agencies also quoted witnesses as saying that extra Egyptian army trucks had arrived at Cairo’s Tahrir Square. There were reports of up to 20,000 protesters chanting slogans against Mubarak in the square, the main gathering point for protesters since anti-government demonstrations began Tuesday.

UPDATE 8:28AM EST: The Egyptian authorities are revoking the Al Jazeera Network’s licence to broadcast from the country, and will be shutting down its bureau office in Cairo, state television has said.

“The information minister ordered … suspension of operations of Al Jazeera, cancelling of its licences and withdrawing accreditation to all its staff as of today,” a statement on the official Mena news agency said on Sunday.

In a statement, Al Jazeera said it strongly denounces and condemns the closure of its bureau in Cairo by the Egyptian government. The network received notification from the Egyptian authorities on Sunday morning.

“Al Jazeera has received widespread global acclaim for their coverage on the ground across the length and breadth of Egypt,” the statement said. An Al Jazeera spokesman said that the company would continue its strong coverage regardless.

UPDATE 8:23AM EST: The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt announced on Sunday that it rejects the new appointments made by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to resolve the riots that erupted in the country.

UPDATE 7:49AM EST: The U.S. Embassy in Cairo will assist U.S. citizens who want to leave Egypt, said embassy spokeswoman Elizabeth Colton. She said flights will depart from Cairo on Monday. Turkey has already sent two planes to Egypt to begin evacuating its citizens.

Turkey will send two planes to Egypt on Sunday to begin evacuation of its citizens, the country’s semi-official Anatolia news agency said.

ALL UPDATES BELOW ARE FROM SATURDAY- DAY 5

UPDATE 8:32PM EST: Following a statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that the United States will be reviewing its aid to Egypt following its response to ongoing protests, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D – Queens and Brooklyn) released this statement: “I have said as far back as 2004 that we need to reconsider our military aid to Egypt, an ‘ally’ that continually fails to live up to its obligations. Whether it’s Egypt’s failure to clamp down on arms smuggling to Gaza or its crackdown on protestors this week, we need to take a serious look at whether they are deserving of further assistance.”

“At a time when some members of Congress are calling for an end to aid to Israel, which is our greatest ally in the region, we need to remember who our real friends are.”

“Before we send another dollar to arm Egypt, we should ensure that they live up to their responsibility to listen to the grievances of their citizens.”

UPDATE 8:19PM EST: Residents in Sharm el-Sheikh are saying that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is hiding in his winter residence in the city, as violent protests against his rule continue. According to a report by The Telegraph, the driveway to the residence is guarded by armed police.

UPDATE 7:34PM EST: NYC – The Alliance of Egyptian Americans held a rally Saturday outside the United Nations. Many say they’re proud to see their countrymen stand up for their freedoms. Similar protests were held Friday in Astoria, Queens and outside the Egyptian consulate in Manhattan.

In Washington, protestors filled the streets Saturday in front of the Egyptian embassy where they demanded Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak step down.

UPDATE 7:16PM EST: Would-be looters broke into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum, ripping the heads off two mummies and damaging about 10 small artifacts before being caught and detained by army soldiers, Egypt’s antiquities chief said.

Zahi Hawass said the vandals did not manage to steal any of the museum’s antiquities, and that the prized collection was now safe and under military guard. Fears that looters could target other ancient treasures at sites across the country prompted the military to dispatch armored personnel carriers and troops to the Pyramids of Giza, the temple city of Luxor and other key archaeological monuments.

UPDATE 6:50PM EST:Nile TV reports that approximately 1,000 prisoners have escaped from the “Fayoum Prison”, located about an hour from Cairo. The inmates are “on the streets causing chaos and families are scared.” Reuters reports that one of the inmates shot a senior police official dead.

UPDATE 6:49PM EST: Israeli politician Benjamin Ben Eliezer says Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak recently told him “this is not Beirut and not Tunis.” In an interview with Israeli TV on Saturday, Eliezer said that Mubarak suggested that Egyptian authorities knew what was going on and had prepared the army in advance.

In Alexandria, the scene at hospitals was chaotic, CNN’s Nic Robertson said in a message on Twitter. The facilities were short-staffed and injured protesters said they were not being treated quickly enough.

UPDATE 6:40PM EST: Chicago – Hundreds of protesters rallied along North Michigan Avenue today, waving Egyptian flags, shouting slogans in Arabic and calling for the immediate removal of President Hosni Mubarak. The protest in Chicago was among several rallies in U.S. cities that expressed sympathy for the uprising in Egypt that has entered its fifth day, with at least 74 people there reportedly killed in violent clashes with police.

UPDATE 6:39PM EST: Vodafone has issued a statement regarding its mobile phone coverage being cut in Egypt during the protests. “Vodafone restored voice services to our customers in Egypt this morning, as soon as we were able,” says the statement. “We would like to make it clear that the authorities in Egypt have the technical capability to close our network, and if they had done so it would have taken much longer to restore services to our customers.”

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


5 COMMENTS

  1. Why are the updates so scarce? Yeshiva World, please keep us updated!! We appreciate greatly your service. Please post any and all new updates on this major crises. Thanks in advance,

  2. thank you for the up to date updates noone does it like yeshiva world

    everyone talks about democracy but this could be a coup for the brotherhood and a democratic uprising of sharia and a break with israel

    this could be a exercise to bring back sharia

  3. “During his calls, the president reiterated his focus on opposing violence and calling for restraint; supporting universal rights, including the right to peaceful assembly, association, and speech; and supporting an orderly transition to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.”
    Who are you kidding besides the libs who voted for you?
    Egypt is about to become another Iran and all you can do is criticize Mubarack? The time now is to stop the anarchy. Overthrowing the gov. will put the radicals into power. Those who don’t learn from history, are condemmed to repeat it! Who told the Shah to step down, if not the US? See my post in the YWN’s CR.

  4. This uprising is confusing to many people.

    I think many Americans are sympathizing with those protesting against Mubarak feeling that he represents dictatorship while the protestors represent a move toward democracy.

    Make no mistake (as “Health” said, above) Mubarak, like the Shah in Iran, is definitely no tzadik, BUT he is also definitely the lesser of the evils. While Egypt is no friend of Israel, and it has been a “cold” peace with them, at best, – there still have been no wars with Egypt for the last 35 years. The leaders of this uprising are pals with Hezbollah and Iran, and are VERY far from wanting democracy.

    The fact that anti-Semite Jimmy Carter wants Mubarak to step down, should tell us that the U.S. should support Mubarak.