January 31st, 2011
10:48 PM ET

Egypt targets communications ahead of Tuesday protests

Read full coverage of the unrest in Egypt updated continually by CNN reporters worldwide. Send your photos and video to iReport and see CNN in Arabic here.

[Update 4:22 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 9:22 p.m. ET Monday] Opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday that U.S. President Barack Obama needs to review his policy on Egypt.
"You need to start building confidence with the people and not with the people who are smothering the people," he said, addressing the president.

[Update 4:08 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 9:08 p.m. ET Monday] Google said on its blog late Monday night that it had set up a "speak-to-tweet" service to help people in Egypt stay connected. The service allows people without an internet connection to leave a voice-mail message, which will automatically be turned into a tweet.

[Update 3:11 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 8:11 p.m. ET Monday] CNN's Fareed Zakaria, host of “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” discusses the chances that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will step down and the possibility that unrest will spread to nearby nations.

[Update 1:24 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 6:24 p.m. ET Monday] Egypt's roiling political unrest is causing the United States to fine-tune a foreign policy equation that for 30 years has valued strategic partnership with President Hosni Mubarak over democratic ideals, experts tell CNN's Tom Cohen. Even hawkish conservatives generally opposed to Obama administration policies have backed the U.S. response, citing the over-arching need to prevent an unpredictable power vacuum if Mubarak were to be quickly forced out of power.

[Update 1:12 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 6:12 p.m. ET Monday] Egypt's information ministry told CNN Tuesday that the Noor Group, an Internet service provider, has been shut down. The move essentially takes the country offline.

Minnutes earlier, Egypt's information ministry that mobile phone networks will be shut down in Egypt during the next few hours ahead of demonstrators' planned "march of millions."

[Update 1:10 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 6:10 p.m. ET Monday] CNN's Arwa Damon reports on armed children helping to guard their Cairo neighborhoods, people standing in long lines for bread amid fears of a food shortage, a few people expressing support for Mubarak, and hostility toward journalists.

[Update 12:41 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 5:41 p.m. ET Monday] Mobile phone networks will be shut down in Egypt during the next few hours ahead of demonstrators' planned "march of millions," Egypt's information ministry told CNN Tuesday.

Protesters who were gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square said Monday that they were organizing a "million man march" around Cairo for Tuesday. Egyptian security forces have been laying down concrete barriers in front of strategic locations in central Cairo in preparation for the event. Demonstrators also told CNN on Monday that they were organizing a similar march in Alexandria for Tuesday.

[Update 12:31 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 5:31 p.m. ET Monday] A Google executive is missing in Egypt, having not contacted anyone since Friday morning - three days after major protests in Egypt began - CNNMoney reports. Wael Ghonim, Google's head of marketing for Middle East and North Africa, had traveled to Cairo for a conference, according to a tech entrepreneur who knows Ghonim.

[Update 12:19 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 5:19 p.m. ET Monday] A few hundred demonstrators have gathered in front of Egypt's mission to the United Nations in New York, wielding signs and chanting pro-democracy and political slogans about the unfolding events in Egypt, according to CNN correspondent Allan Chernoff. The protesters chanted "Free, free Egypt. Down, down Mubarak," he said.

[Update 11:51 p.m. Cairo, 4:51 p.m. ET] The U.S. men's national soccer team says it has canceled its Feb. 9 friendly match with Egypt in Cairo because of the political instability in Egypt.

[Update 11:36 p.m. Cairo, 4:36 p.m. ET] Talks between opposition parties and Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman are already under way, Suleiman's office said. Earlier, Suleiman said on state television that President Hosni Mubarak asked him to start working on "constitutional reform and legislation" in collaboration with the various political parties.

Suleiman, the longtime intelligence chief Mubarak picked as his vice president over the weekend, said a reform package should be drawn up "expeditiously" in conjunction with the country's parliament.

"The other parties will also have a role to play, which will lead to real political reform," Suleiman said.

[Update 11:16 p.m. Cairo, 4:16 p.m. ET] Amre Moussa, head of the Arab League, called Monday for a peaceful transition in Egypt, "from an era to the other," the AFP news agency reported. Moussa is a veteran diplomat who was Mubarak's foreign minister until 2001.

[Update 10:44 p.m. Cairo, 3:44 p.m. ET] Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman said on state television that President Hosni Mubarak has asked him to start working on "constitutional reform and legislation" in collaboration with the various political parties.

[Update 10:22 p.m. Cairo, 3:22 p.m. ET] Former Deputy CIA Director John McLaughlin said newly appointed Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman is "a very sophisticated and skilled intelligence officer, who is well regarded in the U.S. and around the region." McLaughlin told CNN that Suleiman had been "helpful in many arenas," including the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"I'm sure the Israelis regard him as a good and trusted interlocutor. He is basically your main go-to guy in Egypt," he said.

McLaughlin further said it's hard to say how Suleiman will handle the current turmoil, but "I think he'll take on board what's going on and have few illusions about the situation." He doubts Suleiman will do anything to stoke tensions.

"Many undoubtedly view him as old school, old regime and will not give him the benefit of the doubt for that reason. I do think it's a mixed picture," McLaughlin said.

As for the big picture, McLaughlin said, "The best way out is probably for someone in the government camp to call for and set up a constitutional revision process, with broad participation, aimed at holding elections in the fall that everyone would regard as fair."

[Update 9:38 p.m. Cairo, 2:38 p.m. ET] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has ordered the nation's rail system shut down indefinitely, a move that will help prevent protesters from joining mass rallies planned for Tuesday, CNN's Ben Wedeman reports.

[Update 9:30 p.m. Cairo, 2:30 p.m. ET] The "orderly transition" in Egypt called for by the United States "means change, and what we've advocated from the very beginning is that the way Egypt looks and operates must change," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

[Update 9:16 p.m. Cairo, 2:16 p.m. ET] Egypt's government should engage in "meaningful negotiations with a broad section of civil society, including opposition groups," and hold "free and fair elections" in September, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday.

[Update 9:08 p.m. Cairo, 2:08 p.m. ET] More than 500 Americans have been evacuated from Egypt aboard five flights, the U.S. State Department said Monday. The government said it hopes to evacuate another 500 people before the end of the day.

[Update 8:48 p.m. Cairo, 1:48 p.m. ET] Egypt's armed forces are aware of the "legitimate demands of the honest citizens," and will not use violence against the people, a spokesman said on Egyptian state television.

-[Update 8:38 p.m. Cairo, 1:38 p.m. ET] A team of heavily armed Marine Corps security personnel have been sent to the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to provide additional security for the facility, defense officials tell CNN. The small team of Marines, about a dozen according to one of the officials, are part of a Fleet Antiterrorism Security Team (FAST). The Marines are inside the embassy perimeter. Egyptian military and security forces continue to provide security outside the embassy, the officials said.

[Update 8:32 p.m. Cairo, 1:32 p.m. ET] Opposition movements in Syria are calling for mass protests on Saturday against the rule of President Bashar Al-Assad.

[Update 7:19 p.m. Cairo, 12:19 p.m. ET] Some Egyptologists and archaeologists fear some of the nation's priceless treasures may fall victim to looters or vandals amid the uprising.

Egypt is "the greatest open-air museum in the world," said Peter Der Manuelian, the Philip J. King professor of Egyptology at Harvard University. He said he and his colleagues are "trying to stay on top of (the situation) as best we can," given spotty internet service in Egypt.

Friday night, a group of "criminals" entered the Cairo Museum using a fire department staircase, Zahi Hawass, secretary-general of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, told CNN early Sunday.

[Update 6:46 p.m. Cairo, 11:46 a.m. ET] The U.S. State Department told Americans on Monday that they should bring food, water and other necessities - including patience - to the airport if they hope to catch a flight.

"People should be prepared for a very long wait," said Janice Jacobs, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for consular affairs.

Watch CNN's Arwa Damon's report on Egypt's food crisis

– A worker at the South African Embassy in Cairo tells the Cape Times newspaper that he saw protesters killed Saturday night. "I watched them die. At the time it was like watching a movie, but it was live and real," the worker is quoted as saying.

[Update 6:27 p.m. Cairo, 11:27 a.m. ET] CNN's Nic Robertson (#NicRobertsonCNN) sent these tweets from Alexandria within the past 10 minutes:

  • A 10-year-old American-Egyptian boy tells us he wants Egypt to be like US - "democratic."
  • Protesters in #Alexandria tell us they trust Army SOLDIERS but fear the OFFICERS are #Mubarak loyalists.
  • People on street tell us they no longer trust #Egyptian state media, says lying to them.
  • Several thousand people joined in prayer as sun set in Martyr Square,#Alexandria, one of many demos defying curfew.

[Update 6:02 p.m. Cairo, 11:02 a.m. ET] The U.S. State Department says more than 2,400 Americans have sought its help in evacuating Egypt.

[Update 5:51 p.m. Cairo, 10:51 a.m. ET] Egypt Air, Egypt's national airline carrier, has cancelled flights from 5 p.m.  local time (10 a.m. ET) on Tuesday to 10 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) on Wednesday, state television said.

[Update 4:55 p.m. Cairo, 9:55 a.m. ET] Egyptian security forces have been laying down concrete barriers in front of strategic locations in central Cairo in preparation for a “million man” march planned for Tuesday.

[Update 4:37 p.m. Cairo, 9:37 a.m. ET] Israeli President Shimon Peres praised his Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, on Monday for promoting the peace process in the Middle East, the Jerusalem Post reports.

"We still have great respect for Mubarak," Peres is quoted as saying, noting that while the Egyptian president didn't do everything right "he worked to keep peace in the Middle East." Peres warned against a "fanatic religious oligarchy" taking over in Egypt.

– Thousands of Egyptians - taking to the streets across the country for a seventh straight day - defied a mid-afternoon government curfew Monday, despite a bulked-up and proactive military deployment scattered around the restive nation.

[Update 4:02 p.m. Cairo, 9:02 a.m. ET] Six journalists for the Al-Jazeera news network who were detained earlier Monday have been released, but their equipment has not been returned, the network said on its website.

[Update 3:48 p.m. Cairo, 8:48 a.m. ET] Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak was shown on state-run Nile TV swearing in new Cabinet members Monday: Gen. Mahmoud Wagdy as interior minister, Samir Radwan as minister of finance and Ahmed Hosni Farid as minister of health.

[Update 3:15 p.m. Cairo, 8:15 a.m. ET] A total of 219 Americans have departed Egypt on two flights, according to the U.S. State Department.

[Update 2:49 p.m. Cairo, 7:49 a.m. ET] 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.

– Nearly 2,100 escaped prisoners in Egypt have been arrested by security forces, state-run Nile TV reported on Monday.

[Update 2:04 p.m. Cairo, 7:04 a.m. ET] Protesters gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square said Monday that they were organizing a "million man march" around Cairo for Tuesday.

– Demonstrators also told CNN that they are organizing a "million manmarch" in Alexandria, but cannot confirm when they will start.

– Tony Blair, Middle East peace envoy and former British prime minister, told Sky News Monday that the developments in Egypt have "vast implications for the state of Israel, the Palestinians and the state of the peace process." He also said there aren't just two elements – a government that has long been in power and a movement for democracy – in the situation. "There are three elements, because there is also a very strong Islamist movement in Egypt through the Muslim Brotherhood ... I think that the people of Egypt will not elect a Muslim Brotherhood government."

– The Canadian government will begin evacuating its citizens from Egypt as early as Monday using chartered flights bound for Europe, according to the country's foreign affairs minister.

– Following a request from the Thai government, Thai Airways International is preparing for a flight to Cairo to bring back stranded citizens, according to a statement from the company.

– Two flights carrying Israelis from Egypt to Israel landed Monday morning, according to an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman. Another flight wasscheduled to land Monday evening.

– State-run Nile TV reported that police forces were scheduled to startdeploying and resume their duties throughout Egypt on Monday. Police clashed violently with protesters last week and have been virtually absent from the streets since Saturday.

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Filed under: Egypt • Protest
soundoff (206 Responses)
  1. Rudi Merom

    Don't create chaos as this will be the enemy's victory. Thanks from TheDimensionMachine.com

    January 31, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. njreader

    One of the photographs, which are all dramatic and worth the proverbial thousand words, really came as a shock. It was of a crowd scene, at the perimeter of which was a bearded man holding a baby. A baby! Maybe six or eight months old! Wish that man had left the baby with mother or grandmother or an aunt.

    I wanted to take that baby out of the photograph and hold her myself.

    It is easier for me to understand going to war, shooting enemies, exploding bridges, etc. etc. than to understand actually carrying a baby into a revolutionary crowd. Just can't comprehend this.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Cool

    Muslims in Iran are NOT the same as Muslims in Egypt. IT IS NOT AT ALL
    if u know what is the difference between "Shia" and "Sunni" u will understand SOME .... NOT EVERYTHING

    Egyptian ppl should choose their leader. No matter who!!! simply coz its their own right
    Free Egypt ...

    January 31, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Rudi Merom

    Mobarac was good for egypt but 30 years is to much for anyone in power...he could not let go...thans from. http://www.TheDimensionMachine.com the book that got it all...

    January 31, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. misty

    The “gradual change” that Hilary is suggesting means that America/Zionists will have enough time to bribe and bring another spy like Mubarak. While they can control people in a gradual process, they cannot control a sudden upraise of masses such as the current one that will bring a real leader that represents people’s interests and not America’s/Zionist. I hope that people of Egypt will not accept anything less than a revolution in leadership, and unconditional removal of Mubarak and all his bribed accomplices. Any other direction will play into America’s/Zionist plan of bribing another leader and tricking Egypt into a gradual change that America/Zionists can control in their favor.

    I cannot understand why people of Egypt cannot find Mubarak and remove him physically, like Romanians did to president Chaushesku decades ago. Also, why not enter the national TV and just say to the whole nation that he is no longer president. This guy is America's/Zionist spy who did everything they wanted him to do, and he did all opposite to what Egyptian people wanted. He deserves nothing less than a humiliating physical removal.

    America/Zionists have paid Mubarak for decades to suppress any democratic movement. Even today when you read America’s/Zionist self-called experts they say they would like to see a democratic change as long as people do not choose this movement or that movement that is not in America’s/Zionist interest. America’s/Zionist hypocrisy is just disgusting. Do not you hypocrites understand that you cannot place conditions on democracy based on America’s criminal and Zionist land occupation goals. Whatever the people choose that’s what they will have!!! And you know very well that all Egyptians are against the Zionist regime, and against Americans as long as the U.S. supports the Zionist regime.

    January 31, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar

    GT66, Yes, I believe that certain individuals in our gov't can be dangerous for a journalist in the name of security or self-interest, but it is certainly not the norm. @Nancy do you just make up these figures or do you actually have at least a secondary source??

    January 31, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GT66

    UH oh... They are slowly closing down outside lines. That can't be good. I hope they (the Egyptian people) are careful and prepared for what's next. It also sounds like our saber rattlers in the government are ready to "assist" in protecting Mubarek over the will of the people (big surprise.)

    January 31, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Grateful

    I am teacher that was working in Cairo. I am on my way back home to the US now but many Americans are being encouraged, by employers to "wait it out." As my employer told me "the media is blowing things out of proportion and this will blow over soon" I realized I had to make decisions for myself. Many of my coworkers chose to stay and my prayers are with them. I certainly hope it does but I really am disappointed by any employer that would ask employees to stay in a country that our State Dept. is telling to evacuate. I am not sure I realized how much fear I was living in until I left. Each night our neighborhood was being guarded by neighborhood men from looters. We were running lower on food and not sure when and where it would be safe to purchase food. ATMs were down and we were running low on money. This is a very serious situation and I would advise anyone that has family in Cairo that can leave, to please urge your family members to return home at least until things take a more positive turn. Even the airport was a frightening situation and this is my experience not hype.

    January 31, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Grateful

    P.S. Thank you CNN for providing great on the spot information to those in Egypt. For those of us not in Old Cairo, your news provided us great information as to how things were progressiong. Bravo!

    January 31, 2011 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    Quite a show being put on by our leaders who portray the uprising as a demand for American style freedoms when it's really about Muslim citizens being sick of being led by what the Koran calls a "Renegade". (one who sides with rather than resisits the infidels, foreigners who do not believe and as the Koran clearly states, are "cursed" by Allah) Their religion requires them to be faithful to Allah, not the US.

    January 31, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  11. AOK

    Prepare yourselves....the USA is not far off from something along these lines from happening.

    The drain has been pulled in the bathtub and we're all caught in the swirl whether you realize it or not.

    January 31, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  12. wagga

    Give him some travel choices:
    In the next 24 hours, he gets a 4-engined jet with a range of 8000 miles.
    Next day a 2-engined jet with a 4000 mile range.
    Day after a single-engined 4-seater with a 500 mile range.
    Friday we'll make available a flea-bitten, cantankerous donkey bound for the Sudan.

    January 31, 2011 at 7:37 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    ...Just as those calling themselves Christians are required by their bible to "obey God as ruler rather than men." Both the Muslim and Christian communities have been taken over by phonies who claim to be one thing, yet are proved to be something else by their own conduct. And it's not as if I'm the only one who has noticed: "I love Christ, yet I despise Christians. For they do not live as Jesus lived"–Mohandus Ghandi

    January 31, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. raven

    well i consider myself lucky to be American. I feel lucky to feel free to criticise my government without fear of bein lynched for it. Its not a perfect system but Im grateful Im allowed to say so .

    January 31, 2011 at 7:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. ahmed hussein

    America always seems to be on the side of dictators, who are propped up by a U.S. financed and trained military. It is too bad that America's democracy is dependant on the political and economice subjugation of other people and other countries.

    The people of Egypt are demanding that the dictator Hosni Mubarak step down from power now. Not tomorrow, not
    the next day, but NOW! What part of NOW does America not understand? September is out of the question, unless you are delusional and blinded by the controlling arrogrance, and military might of America. America is on
    the decline and as she tries to preserve her stength and power,she becomes less releant in a world where the
    third world is emerging, and controlling their resources and land from the offrspring of the world's most notorious colonial empire, Britain. America, as Britain's offspring, carries on Britain's colonial mischief by attempting to control the resources and people in countries, that want their freedom from political, economic and military interference of America.

    Mubarak prooves how ugly America is. The ugly American!

    January 31, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
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