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Live from Cairo (5)

Report: Plan tomorrow is for a "march of millions" from Tahrir Square to Mubarak's home in Heliopolis.

3:25PM BREAKING, Reuters: Egypt V-P Omar Suleiman says asked to start dialogue with all political parties: State TV

Guardian:

New Egyptian vice president Omar Suleiman appears on Nile TV, and announces: "I have been asked by the president to contact all the political parties regarding constitutional reform."

Suleiman then said the government will "fight corruption and unemployment" and go ahead with elections "in contested districts in Egypt in the coming weeks" – although it's unclear what that means.

Time for a new thread!

* * *

[Anch: Anchor; Rep: Reporter; Int: Interviewee; Mub: Mubarak; MB: Muslim Brotherhood; ElB: ElBaradei; E: Egypt, Egyptians; TS: Tahrir Square] Time stamps are EST.

* * *

3:26PM Int: Five years ago, this statement would have been enough. Not now. Anch: They don't want the regime tweaked, they want it removed. Int: Absolutely. This statement is the first of two key things last hour. The second is the military statement. It is not news that the military will not shoot, but what's new is the key word is "legitimate," meaning they have taken two, three more steps toward the people's movement. Anch: Military derives legitimacy from the people [and not other way round. Wonderful to see "sovereignty" worked out in real time. --lambert]

Anch: How communicate these messages? Int, a blogger [!!]: Is an Internet blockage, we use phone calls, offline and off air, we are activists, we have our own network on the ground. I am not trying to claim in any way organized by a faction or group. Anch: Who comes up with these plans? Int: There is a helicopter, please repeat. Anch: Who comes up with the plans? Int: There are ongoing discussions between organizers and activists but widely discussed and there is general consenus [Ha. Worthy of Gibbs --lambert]. Anch: A very fluid situation.

Int, Basheer Nari: Ultimately there will need to be clear defined leadership. [This is absolutely a continuing theme at AJ, as they continually pushed the really rather poorly organized, though honest and good guy, ElB. It's very "creative class," even imperial. "Who can we negotiate with?" --lambert] They are moving toward a committee to speak for the protesters. Anch: Regime? Int: Regime and safeguard state, and regime chance and undermine state. Up to the army. Arch: Mub options to confront protesters? Int: He has no options. [The state controlled civil society at three levels.] Discourse, security, and the military. Discourse bankrupt. Regime resorted to security, and failed. Only functioning arm of the state is the army. And now the army has is moving towards the people and their aspirations. Not sure what is left to this guy.

Anch: Thugs? Int, Omar Ashour, analyst: Maturity of the youth made that gambit fail. Vigilante countered this, intervention by honorable officers of the army was swift. If he tried to do the same thing, I don't think will succeed. I hope the police rise to the occasion. Arch: Consensus after Mub? Int: Democracy. Anybody should be able to become a candidate, democratic govt, who takes into transitional stage [heard ElB mentioned, but not endorsed[ 60 to 90 days, then elections with international monitoring.

Anch: Isn't it time for Mub to listen and step down? Mohamed Ragrab DP int: Instructed VP to initiate a broad discussion and find common ground. All are aware of the gravity of the situation. Anch: Who has responded to the offer for dialog? Int: Proposal was made a few minutes ago, cannot determine opposition will respond quickly. Anch: Any mediation? Int: No adversity between Pres and opposition. We look at them as nationally respected opposition and they will need us to reach agreement. There is no enmity between us and the opposition. [Alrighty then. --lambert]

Haw, I scooped Izvestia! MR SUBLIMINAL Lambert is a god among live bloggers! Lambert rules! [Welcome, Naked Capitalism readers!MR SUBLIMINAL I'll never live this down... The latest is here. --lambert] Robert Mackey:

4:04PM [Monday:] If Egypt's opposition protesters are going to succeed in putting forward Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Peace Prize winner, as a potential alternative to President Hosni Mubarak, they are going to have to come up with a better communications strategy.

[W]hile many Times readers may know that Mr. ElBaradei addressed the protest rally in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday night, reporters on the scene noted that very few members of the crowd there last night were actually able to hear what he had to say, for the lack of a platform and a microphone.

Corrente, 12:41PM EST Sunday, yesterday HA HA HA live blogging the AJ feed:

... Seeing tanks around the square, people holding signs, ElB voice from megaphone, huge scrum of cameras and cells. [From media savvy standpoint, this is awful. Couldn't somebody have gotten ElB a box to stand on? Or, heck, a tank! Yeah, Barcalounger stuff. But remember Yeltsin... --lambert]

1:43PM Audio reports from AJ feed at feeds at 12:39 PM and 12:04PM (that can't be linked to, grr). This is the best reporting from TS I've been able to find. No word on ElB fainting, so that's most likely disinformation. As a speech, not impressive; nothing to stand on, nothing to hear; crowd not galvanized.

So, if you want stale news, then read Izvestia! If you want real coverage, read a live blog. [NOTE: AJ and Guardian are great, but they didn't draw this conclusion in real time either. --lambert]

Anch: How are people organizing themselves in the square? Int: We call it "imaginative resistance" [I had cut away from this; the interviewee was referring to the self-organization in the square; feeding each other, cleaning, and so forth].

Int, female protester in TS: It isn't only ideological, it is personal. We cannot imagine what he will do to us if he does not all. Anch: Sul statement? Int: Not at all. We want him out. Anch: How communicate with other protesters? Int: In the Square? Phones, chants. Rumor phones will go out. This is what they would do, they are scared to death [phone beep]. It would make sense that they cut us out. People being very very cooperative, buying food for those who do not have money. I have never seen Egyptians more civilized [This breaks my heart. --lambert] We start by picking up papers, and everybody around you starts picking up paper. Anch: Hope check in tomorrow for March.

Int: They know what they don't want, but they don't know what they do want. [I think this is more "creative class" bullshit. In fact, they do know what they want. --lambert]

4:47PM Steve Clemons Int from DC: O has spoken to Mub on the phone. O insisted that the E people should determine their own future. See more and more people in E see us acquiescing in Sul, Mub incrementalism, and if the military feels their future is in jeopardy US will have more leverage ... [I give. I don't this guy was come to a period yet. Just a long series of commas, and I don't think the sentence was even grammatical. --lambert]

~5:00PM [Lost part of post where a neighborhood watch chairman in a rich suburb heard pro-Mub chants on the other side of the Nile, and estimated the crowd at about 1000. Plus a shot of them from state TV -- they played to the cameras, unlike the protesters. This is worrisome if the design is to have them clash with the march tomorrow. --lambert]

5:13PM Int from DC Robert Maley: Rhetoric shift from possibility of transition to what comes after the transition. Anch: People skeptical of the US. Int: US is going to have to live with the ghosts of relationships past. US should not try to comment every day, because they will always be a step behind. Anch: Did the admin ever have a Plan B? Int: Many plans, no doubt. Int: The irony is that Mub regime has been close to US, which has cost them credibility and legitimacy. Part of why people are rising up.

5:16PM Anch: March from TS past state TV north to the Presidential Palace. Tanks stationed along the route.

5:17PM Int, human rights watch: Walking back through neighborhood, patrols from neighborhood in full force. TS is happy, but neighborhoods feel insecure. Anch: Confrontations tomorrow? Int: TS people see Army as protectors and supporters of the legitimate demands of the E people. Though all are aware situation precarious if situation turns to violence. Anch: Pro-Mub groups? Int: We heard from "across the river" [from TS, i.e., TS is on one side of the river, and the Presidential Palace is on the other, so which bridge will they cross? --lambert] Military checkpoints can control confrontation.

5:24PM Int: Pro-Mub protesters in front of state TV, looking through binoculars, and the number 300 maximum. Friend spoke to TS, and reassured by Army commander that the pro-Mub groups would not be let in to TS. Anch: First time seen pro-Mub groups? Int: Absolutely. We discussed on the watch, we think they're hired, probably NDP. [Awesome. In some ways, Mub arresting the reporters was the best thing that ever happened to this story, because now AJ is really working the phones. --lambert]

5:19PM [I need to take a break. --lambert]

7:41PM Economic and financial implications: 8% of world trade goes through Suez. Potential for oil shock. That has "the markets" nervous. For Egypt, capital flight and bank runs are feared.

7:43PM Vultures are gathering. Celebrity news anchors Katie Couric of NBC and Brian Williams of NBC are en route to Cairo. CNN's Anderson Cooper is already there.

[AJ says "Million Man March." Guardian says "march of millions." Not sure what the accurate translation might be (especially given that the AJ usage is a US trope).

McClatchy on food prices (not sure about the causes, but the price rise is clear enough).

8:08PM Sources have confirmed to CNN that cell phones will go down tomorrow. [Imagine! Nobody was able to communicate before the cell phone or the internet! Carving stone tablets is so slow! --lambert] Has had the opposite effect, when the communications were cut, it impelled more people to go down into the street to find out what was going on. Way too late.

Google does something non-evil.

8:27PM Tourist: "We heard gunfire, and we saw tanks. Especially as an American, we'd never seen that." [Alrighty, then. --lambert Quote fixed.]

8:30PM [AJ now runs a potted history of the Mubarak regime. Signal, anyone? --lambert]

9:20PM Interesting article on the E military from Stratfor. It points to the danger of a coup by the Junior Officers (not the generals) who are more likely to be Islamist.

9:37PM Int, econ prof UMinn: Tourism a huge money earner. Is hit every few years, and always comes back. Next season will be fine. Can the govt stomach the short run costs? Highest reserves E has ever have, but capital flight. Like Indonesia 97-98, but Indonesia recovered. Anch: The canal? Int: So far, traffic not disrupted. [which Islamist loons might well have done. --lambert] Also a pipeline by the canal carries oil to Europe. Anch: How much priority for govt to safeguard canal? Int: Army can control the flow of the canal.

9:40PM Israel (Lordy) allows E troops to move into Sharm El Sheik.

9:57PM AJ weather report. Dallas, 2 F. Turn up the furnace, freeze a Texan.

* * *

To be fair, women are greatly outnumbered by men in TS. But they are present, and not in onesies and twosies.

* * *

10:00PM Anch top of the hour (5AM Cairo): The march of a million people ("Million Man" locution has gone away ;-) Cabinet shuffle. AJ rep Tom Ackerman: All through the night, thousands in TS. "We were sleeping over. We don't leave unless he leaves." March to Mub's home in Helioplois "and take it over." Blogger. State TV concentrates on tanks and helicopters.

10:07PM Protester In: Expect phones to be shut down. SMS shut down. Trains shut down. People saying will leave house early. Streets still very empty. Expect a huge turnout. Army caught between a rock and a hard place. Have said won't use violence. Much more control, Army has said "We are in control."The other side is that the Army is the most powerful institution in E and he has appointed Army men. Army does not want one of its men to be humiliated. They will not stand for one of them men to be undig... It's going to be very interesting. Anch: Dangerous and even fatal for army to deploy since they can fraternize? Int: Don't know. Generals still very loyal to Mub. Don't see how E army, trained to fight external forces, think will do utmost best to keep this under control.

Portrait of a B-School not gettting it; and to think I thought Wharton was filled with smart guys:

Howard Pack, Wharton professor of business and public policy, is co-author of a book entitled, The Arab Economies in a Changing World, written with Marcus Noland, a senior fellow at The Peterson Institute for International Economics [gag. spew]. In a blog written today, Pack and Noland suggest that “the immediate response to the revolutions sweeping the Middle East is to blame poverty, unemployment, and rising food prices…. Yet per capita economic growth in the high population nations such as Egypt [is] comparable to many other middle income countries, poverty [is] not high by international standards such as the percentage of population living on less than two dollars a day, and progress in indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality, and years of education has been quite remarkable, especially in Egypt. Tunisia’s standard of living and other indicators are even better.”

It's not the per capita. It's the distribution. Stupid fucks.

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Comments

Submitted by Hugh on

Thanks for the coverage. I would be doubtful about Suleiman if he was in charge of Egypt's intelligence services. Remember we rendered people to Egypt to be tortured by them. I expect Suleiman was up to his eyeballs in that. It looks like Mubarak is still in negotiate, throw them a few crumbs now, subvert them later mode. Failing to negotiate a graceful exit now means the odds are he will have an ungraceful exit later. Dictators never know when the party's over and it's time to leave.

BTW Krugman had an idiot "I love Ben Bernanke" piece up today on commodity prices. He completely missed the point. The reason we are seeing all of this commodity price inflation is because of Wall Street speculation. We tend to think that the banksters' depredations affect just us but in fact their effects are worldwide.