Jan 28, 2011

Egypt Erupts

By far the biggest news of the day is the situation in Egypt which is one of massive civil unrest with relatively little violence. Though 10s of thousands are protesting the government of Hosni Mubarak, media reports 857 wounded and 3 dead there among the protesters.

This is not a civil war - it is a revolution. Whether the Egyptian government has the power to quash these revolutions is unclear. Tweets on #Egypt and #Jan25 suggest that many of the riot police and military personnel sent out to stop the protesters have taken off their uniforms. Make no mistake, Hosni Mubarak has ruled Egypt for three decades and has effectively distinguished all opposition in the past. Acts of violence have happened and continue to happen.

The protesters have broken through several attempts to blockade them away to public squares. Government buildings have been set ablaze. All of this information has leaked out of an Egypt that has been largely cut-off from the outside world. Access to social networks was lost overnight in Egypt and then the population there found that most of their internet and mobile phone access had been severed by the government.

Today, the Egyptian government has imposed a curfew on the Egyptian people that has been universally disobeyed by the protesters. The government announced that president Mubarak would make a statement to the country in the evening, but so far he has not appeared or made any statement.

The question on my mind is what the US government will do about it - do they stand by the first Arab nation to recognize and make peace with Israel, a key ally who has received billions of dollars of US aid, or do they stand by the pro-democratic protesters against an admittedly authoritarian dictatorship?

Does the Obama Administration make the decision based on foreign policy concerns or our political ideals? So far their only statements have been lukewarm at best.

The best places to monitor information coming across about Egypt are on Twitter (#Egypt #Jan25) and Al Jazeera English.

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Keep it civil and pg-13, please.