Rocks vs. tear gas outside Egyptian presidential palace
February 1st, 2013
01:12 PM ET

Rocks vs. tear gas outside Egyptian presidential palace

A fire burned at the entrance of Egypt's presidential palace in Cairo on Friday night as protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails battled with security forces firing tear gas and water cannons.

Egypt has been rocked by violence since last week's two-year anniversary of its 2011 revolution. Protesters have been angry over the slow pace of change and recent edicts by President Mohammed Morsy, who imposed a 30-day curfew on areas engulfed by violence.

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Filed under: Egypt • World
August 17th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: Caught in middle, people of Aleppo frantic for peace

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman, who used to live in Aleppo, has spent time over the past two weeks in the city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting. Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo. Read more from CNN inside Syria.

A building had been hit by an artillery round 15 minutes earlier. We're driving to see the damage and notice there isn't a rebel in sight.

But there are a lot of people.

They aren't political. They aren't fighters. But they are terrified.

We meet a man whose fifth-floor apartment had been hit. His living room had completely collapsed.

"I've done nothing to Bashar (al-Assad)," he says, his voice growing agitated. "I've never done anything against him. Why are they doing this to me?"

The man, like many others nearby, are caught in the firefight between government forces and rebels. You get the feeling that these people just want peace.

On the street below, a man approaches us and asks if we're with the regime or the revolution. We tell him neither.

"We're with neither either!" he exclaims. "We're caught in the middle and paying the price as these two sides fight it out."

The damaged homes are just the beginning. One day earlier we had seen a 12-year-old boy with his leg blown off.

Every day when reporting out of Syria, we talk about how many people have been killed each day. But they have names. They have ages. They are somebody's brother, someone's mother, someone's family.

For the living, their houses are shelled, they can't find food, they don’t have a job. All they can do is throw up their hands in exasperation. They don’t like the regime, but it's impossible for them to live under these circumstances. They are the innocent people, stuck in the middle, who will have to live with the consequences. And often they'll be the ones paying the highest price - with their lives. FULL POST

August 16th, 2012
07:18 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: Nobody imagined it would turn into this

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman, who used to live in Aleppo, has spent time over the past two weeks in the city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting. Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo. Read more from CNN inside Syria.

What we saw during our trips in Aleppo were not images of the city I knew: The shelling, the snipers, the destruction. I never imagined this city would be standing in the middle of warfare. Nobody imagined it would turn into this.

Some parts of Aleppo are complete battle zones. Shells and rubble litter the streets. Cars are blown to pieces.

This beautiful city is where we raised my daughter for her first years from 1990 to 1993. When I was at work my wife went everywhere shopping with my daughter and going to markets.

As we drove quite close to the neighborhood where I used to live, one in government control, I took a quick look and noticed it looked mostly the same. I quickly refocused, concerned for our safety. A government checkpoint was coming up on the right. FULL POST

August 8th, 2012
07:10 PM ET

Two days in Aleppo: Snipers, temporary graveyards and stairwell beds

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman spent two days this week in Aleppo, a city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting.

Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo, including his harrowing trip into the city past snipers, street vendors selling their wares as bombs fall, and a lack of enthusiasm for the rebels' battle among many civilians.

The crack of sniper fire welcomed us into a rebel-held part of Aleppo.

Traveling through a back road on Monday, with six people crammed into a small car, we drove through government-controlled territory, bypassing a checkpoint and rolling right past the military intelligence headquarters. Vendors sold tea and coffee by the side of the road, with traffic fairly normal.

Traffic was noticeably less as we approached a rebel-held area, one neighborhood over from the Salaheddine neighborhood where fierce fighting has raged. As the car passed an intersection near a Free Syrian flag, three or four shots rang out, apparently at the vehicle.

No one was hurt, and once the vehicle passed the intersection, rebel fighters nearby shouted for the driver to stop.

“There's a sniper right there. What are you doing?” they said. The sniper apparently was part of the government's forces.

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73 killed, hundreds injured in Egypt soccer riot, official says
February 1st, 2012
02:45 PM ET

73 killed, hundreds injured in Egypt soccer riot, official says

[Updated at 7:29 p.m. ET] Political tensions flared Wednesday after more than 70 people were killed and hundreds more were injured when fans rushed the field and rioted at a soccer game in Egypt.

It was unclear whether intense sports rivalries or political strife caused the clashes in the northeastern city of Port Said.

But hours after the fighting, protesters in Cairo chanted, "Down with military rule" and "Tomorrow we come, we take the military down." And the secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood party blamed Egypt's military for the deaths.

Egypt's interior ministry blamed fans for provoking police.

"There were organized groups in the crowds that purposely provoked the police all through the match and escalated the violence and stormed onto the field after the final whistle," Gen. Marwan Mustapha said. "Our policemen tried to contain them but not engage."

At least 47 people were arrested after the clashes, he said.

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November 22nd, 2011
08:46 AM ET

Clashes erupt in Egypt ahead of 'million man' event

Fresh violence broke out near Cairo's Tahrir Square Tuesday, a day after Egypt's Cabinet offered to resign.

For several hours, protesters hurled stones at police and chanted, calling for the downfall of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, the military-led government which began running the country after protesters ousted former President Hosni Mubarak in February. Demonstrators apparently tried to defend Tahrir Square as they faced off with police on a connecting street.

Egyptian police responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, forcing protesters to retreat briefly before they returned with renewed intensity. Violence also spread to other parts of Egypt.

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The trial of Hosni Mubarak: Revolutionary justice or 'revolutionary crack'?
Police stand guard Monday outside court in Cairo as they watch the televised trial of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
August 15th, 2011
02:36 PM ET

The trial of Hosni Mubarak: Revolutionary justice or 'revolutionary crack'?

“I hope they hang Mubarak today,” my neighbor told me, by way of a morning greeting.

These are strange times in Egypt.

With sporadic breaks, I’ve spent most of the last six months with my head buried deep in the sands of Libya, but now I’m back in Cairo, my home, on the day when deposed President Hosni Mubarak made his second appearance at a trial held in what, not long ago, was the Mubarak Police Academy. Now it’s simply the Police Academy.

Modern Egypt’s longest ruling leader, a man once dubbed “the Pharoah,” is behind bars in the defendant’s cage, where so many of his critics ended up. Lying on a mobile hospital bed in a dark track suit, his once imperial aura had faded, though not his hair dye. In the cage, he looked more bored than bowed and didn’t seem to be paying much attention to the proceedings Monday.

For decades, Mubarak symbolized the monolithic Egyptian state. He was the aloof, visionary leader who, the state-run media was wont to suggest, saw and understood what the common folk could not begin to comprehend, the towering father figure who knew best, and should be obeyed, and, just as importantly, applauded.

For many Egyptians, however, the 83-year-old president was the out-of-touch, arrogant autocrat sitting atop a pyramid of oppression, corruption, cronyism and brutality.

How much real power the aging, ailing Mubarak had in the day-to-day running of the country is not clear. It was widely believed that powerful figures behind the throne, including former Egyptian spy chief (and very briefly vice president) Omar Suleiman and Interior Minister Habib Adli, were calling the shots.

Likewise, many Egyptians believed Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, and son Gamal were also key power brokers. In minutes from his interrogation leaked to Egyptian media, Mubarak is reported to have said, "No one would have paid any attention to me or my orders" if he had demanded an end to the often violent crackdown on anti-regime protesters this year.

The revolution put an end to Mubarak, but little else has been resolved.

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A wake-up call in Libya's Ras Lanuf
A rebel runs during a government airstrike in the area of Ras Lanuf, Libya, on Monday.
March 7th, 2011
08:09 PM ET

A wake-up call in Libya's Ras Lanuf

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman filed this first-person account of the scene in rebel-controlled Ras Lanuf, Libya, as Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's forces prepared to launch an aerial strike against the town Monday.

"Down! Down!" the man at my hotel room door said. It was 4:30 a.m. Monday in Ras Lanuf, and I had hoped to get a decent night's sleep for the first time in weeks. Yet again, my hopes were dashed.

Through the haze of sleep deprivation and exhaustion, I could say nothing. I understood nothing.

The staff of the Fadeel Hotel was going from room to room, telling guests - journalists only - that they had to leave, at once.

I quickly dressed, packed my bag, and went downstairs.

It was still pitch black outside, and the lobby was teeming with still photographers, cameramen, translators, fixers, producers and print and TV reporters, all trying to understand why the urgent need to leave.

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In eastern Libya, citizens buoyant and cautious as they await Gadhafi's move
CNN's Ben Wedeman is reporting from eastern Libya, part of which no longer appeared to be in Moammar Gadhafi's control.
February 21st, 2011
11:49 PM ET

In eastern Libya, citizens buoyant and cautious as they await Gadhafi's move

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman reports from eastern Libya after crossing into that country from Egypt. He is the first Western television correspondent to enter and report from Libya during the current crisis.

"Your passports please," said the young man in civilian clothing toting an AK-47 at the Libyan border.

"For what?" responded our driver, Saleh, a burly, bearded man who had picked us up just moments before. "There is no government. What is the point?" He pulled away with a dismissive laugh.

On the Libyan side, there were no officials, no passport control, no customs.

I've seen this before. In Afghanistan after the route of the Taliban, in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Government authority suddenly evaporates. It's exhilarating on one level; its whiff of chaos disconcerting on another.

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