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. Philip

    "corporate" fascist regime rather. (b4 the kindly schoolmarms grade my spelling) he he

    January 31, 2011 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jeff Frank

    After each country is done removing their citizens through their own respective embassies. Mubarak will only have himself, as his own worst enemy. Sad..food running out. No 900 chick numbers for the president to call (cell phones out). Worst of all no Facebook or CNN blogging (no internet). I feel real bad for the Sphinx. It's already got it's nose chopped off despite its' face.

    January 31, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ahmed hussein

    r"he President who lost America"

    Whoever made that paternalistic comment says a lot about his mentality.

    Egypt was never America's to lose. America does not own Egypt. How can America lose what she never owned to
    start with?

    Contrary to the mentality, which could conjure such a notion, America does not own other countries or other people. Such an idea of owning and losing another country is obnoxiously paternalistic.

    America owns her dictator Hosni Mubarak, not Egypt or the people of Egypt.

    January 31, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Letta

    I think that the portests in Eygpt are getting way to violent . They should setttle this in a more peace way , otherwise the "leader of Eygpt' will have to stay , because no one is going to want to run a crazy country .

    January 31, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ahmed hussein

    "The President who lost America"

    Whoever made that paternalistic comment says a lot about his mentality.

    Egypt was never America's to lose. America does not own Egypt. How can America lose what she never owned to
    start with?

    Contrary to the mentality, which could conjure such a notion, America does not own other countries or other people. Such an idea of owning and losing another country is obnoxiously paternalistic.

    America owns her dictator Hosni Mubarak, not Egypt nor the people of Egypt.

    January 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    I think it's nose fell off when people there started using crocodile dung for birth control. (really, they did. the acid in the dung kills sperm. An old German Catholic head nun was visiting there, and brought this idea back to Germany. The younger nuns where being impregnated by the priest's, so she made-up some crocodile birth control salve to put an end to it.)

    January 31, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    Yeah, people in Egypt should handle this like we handled the Rodney King incident.

    January 31, 2011 at 10:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • johnessj

      black people in america only know how to be violent within its color line, they are to scare to face outside colors . example, the tea party {whites} want to reinstall the pages of slave history and not one black group is challenging the tea party idealism as it stand. the tea party has high reaches within the u.s goverment, a developement that not all republican adhere to, some republican dislike the advance stages the tea party have become in the political chess game. at the same token, some blue blood democrats see it as a good deed that the tea party moment is on going as it has been.

      February 1, 2011 at 2:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    @Philip, that's what I thought!

    January 31, 2011 at 10:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Cesar...what's what you thought. Please expain. (I did)

    January 31, 2011 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. NuckinFuts

    Totally the sign of an open and free society. Well there's always snail mail and carrier pigeons. I saw Glenn Beck ranting about the Muslim Brotherhood today. From what I can tell they are a very small minority in Egyptian government (20%), yet Beck was fixated on them as was Hannity. I always like when they ignore the problems in their own religions (Mormon+Catholic) and call for other religions to keep their baddies in check. One good thing about Beck is he always clears up my constipation without drugs.

    January 31, 2011 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
  11. NuckinFuts

    @Ahmed: Don't get all worked up. There are many people who blog stupid stuff all the time online. Make fun of them and belittle their lack of critical thinking skills. Your blood pressure will thank you.

    January 31, 2011 at 10:46 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    I was living in Newport Beach, CA when the Rodney King riots broke out. What started out as simple protests escalated to mob violence in just a few hours. The peaceful protestors returned to their homes as directed, while the crazies started fires (some 28 businesses were set ablaze) and looted stores. The police became overwhelmed by nightfall, and a curfew was ordered, and ignored. So the National guard was called upon, not because of the protests, but because people were taking advantage of the police being busy to loot and rob like crazy. and not just in Compton (south central LA)...even clear down in Orange County. I remember ashes from fires falling like snow at my office accross the street from Nike Town @19th and Newport blvd. This from one single incident involving police brutality. Imagine if it were about governmental abuse in general, and was nationwide like in Egypt. (I don't know how your home cities handled this incident...please do tell)

    January 31, 2011 at 10:47 pm | Report abuse |
  13. NuckinFuts

    @Observer: Most people in America feel the way you do believe it or not. Unfortunately the only ones that vote in this country are mostly old people who choose sides with whomever they feel won't steal their medicine. Their only source of information is TV News which obviously has an agenda and credibility issues. Most voters are independents, but are not adequately represented in the government or media. Everything is polarized for a reason and that reason is divide and conquer, or get a book deal. Snake oil salesmen every last one of them.

    January 31, 2011 at 10:53 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cesar

    @Philip, no you didn't: "Anyone who loves what America has become is sick in the mind." Explanation: "It's hard to sum up...Corporate fascist regime." I don't know how the entire federal gov't is such. Can you explain. I will concede with a short real explanation. You don't B/S. So I will hear you out.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Philip

    @ahmed...keep in mind that there will be more American citizens murdered, robbed, rayped, and stores looted this week than in all of Egypt's riots. We live with this sort of thing on a daily basis. It's just not reported here. CNN gives us hourly updates of your violence, but only mentions ours when it involves a personality or is full of intrigue. NEVER daily updates about how many American's were murdered by feloow American's. NEVER!

    January 31, 2011 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
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