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. NuckinFuts

    @Phillip: Notice the similarities with the vigilante groups and the store owners in LA armed to the teeth protecting their property? The anger by the african american community was understandable, but they should have stormed police stations and courthouses if they wanted to send a message. Robbing and burning down your own neighborhood baffles my mind.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  2. ahmed hussein

    To the brave people of Egypt, never give up. Never back down. Hosni Mubarak and his American made fighter jets, helicopters, tanks and tear gas cannot kill all of the people of Egypt.

    If Mubarak orders his military to mow down 10 thousand of you as you march for freedom, another 10 thousand Egyptians will follow to defend freedom. It is now or never. The people will win. Mubarak has the blood of Egypt on his hands every day that he remains in power.

    Mubarak get on the next plane and leave Egypt now to avoid further bloodshed!

    January 31, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  3. coptickid

    I was listening to Mohamed ElBaradei on CNN. He said he will be surprised to find one Egyptian who does not think Mubarak is a ruthless dictator. There are hundreds, thousands who would say this. He may have made some mistakes in not fixing the economic problems as he should have, but he's only human. Now as he tries to fix it though, no one is giving him the chance. Mubarak's loss of power will not affect only Egypt, but it will affect everybody, and could very likely be the beginnings of the next world war if, for example, the peace treaty with Israel is not kept. The safety of Copts is also in danger if someone comes to power who is more supportive of Islamist extremists. Copts are going to lose the few rights they have if this happens, and their lives will be in danger. Chaos will ensue, chaos has already ensued. ElBaredei said that Mubarak has been ruling a dictatorship worse than ever before. He didn't live there his whole life, he was sheltered in another country. My parents lived there, they know. They know that his rule was actually much better than the two before him. It was safer. And now, everything is about to change, but for the worst. ElBaredei does not like the fact that people in Egypt live on a day-to-day basis. Does he not realize that this is the case for so many people in so many other countries, including America? He lives somewhere else and then comes into a country so that he can be president. This is not right. He doesn't even have a chance. The Islamist extremist groups will take over-they have the power and the money. (Some say the Muslim Brotherhood does not have a chance because they only win about 25% of votes, but the Egyptian government hides the real numbers.) If ElBaredei wants a ruthless dictator he needs to look at people like Hitler, Stalin. They were ruthless dictators. Mubarak loves his people, his country, and he is given no credit for this. The situation needs to be looked at from a different perspective, so the big picture can be seen. The effects of these decisions need to be looked at economically. The effects on relations with other countries, and within Egypt itself need to be examined, but the Egyptian people are not doing this. They are shouting "We hate Mubarak!" without knowing the consequences of what they are doing. I pray that the best will come from all of this. I pray that the worst situation will not happen, that peace can be maintained. At this point, all I can do is pray.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    @nuttinF's...he he. True, but they weren't robbing their own stores and setting them on fire, it was their neghbors stores. Without the police, the LA area would burn to the ground in short order. And that's without any special event like we see in Egypt. That's how it is on an average day. Imagine what would happen if the crack-cocaine supply were cut-off all at once. even with police protection the place would be burned down. i'm sure it's like this in most any inner city USA.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MedhiDrBadThrowback

    YoU WerThLiss SwINe PiG FOckERs!!! YoU ShUTT OFFf MiNe TwITTeR Too KeEp Me FROM mINE ARbY NerSE DeBBbOraH! NoW You Go DIE Don't Ask WhY!

    January 31, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  6. banasy

    Meth is the new crack, phillip, haven't you heard?

    Although crack continues to be a very big problem in most inner-city cases, meth is staring to creep in more and more. It's destruction is even more insidious that crack...and it's easier to get, as the core ingredients are all readily available. Sad.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:42 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Carla

    The last thing America needs to do is cut off Egypt. We are their ally and can prove this by assisting them behind the scenes instead of telling them what to do. Yes... there will be change but it will only come when a strong individual rises up and represents the people.. who will be the voice of the people? They are aimlessly marching while their workplaces are being destroyed... where will the next meal come from if there is no job to return to? Get peace back in Egypt so the transition can begin!!! If Al Baradei wants to be remembered for something great, he should encourage his countrymen to go home to their families while peace is restored. He can be a powerful tool for communication if he would offer positive alternatives to his fellow protestors instead of fueling endless agitation. He should work with Mubarak towards change as a voice for the people instead of going on a witch hunt.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Off_Topic_Guy

    Anyone ever notice the song OPP by Naughty By Nature is about bragging that they like sloppy seconds? Talk amongst yourselves.

    January 31, 2011 at 11:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. banasy

    You did give us a topic, and it's off, but I'm not verclempt!

    January 31, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Donald

    Come on CNN ... we're on the brink of one of biggest events in recent Middle East history ... and you are showing RERUNS of 360 & Piers ... we need to air about things LIVE ... not reruns of old news. I understand things are difficult in terms of the communication shut down ... but at least tell that ... now wake up Anderson and get him on the air LIVE not 2 to 4 hours delayed.

    February 1, 2011 at 12:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. a real american

    Mubarak proves by his refusal to step aside that he is unqualified to lead. He only cares about HIMSELF.

    February 1, 2011 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  12. jay!!

    what i want 2 know is how come they never mention Tanta?people do live in different cities and they r goijng through the same things people in alexandria and cairo are goin thru!!what im tryin to say the whole country of egypt has been affected ,not just parts of it and they should also b recognized,i have my husband and my family there and i have my brother in Cairo and i don't know anything of him ,but what i want to say is that our prayers r with u all!!and i mean all!!!

    February 1, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  13. NanoPukka

    I cannot understand CNN TV coverage. I am watching at 11:15 pm on Jan 31 a repeat Anderson Cooper 360. The headline says breaking news; however, it is a repeat. It is already Feb 1 in Cairo and late morning. If CNN were doing live coverage I should see daylight and not night. I should see the attempt to cover the demonstration if not the actual demonstration.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:21 am | Report abuse |
  14. Heaven Sent!!

    I want to let the u.s. government know 2 plz do as much as u can so we don't have 2 keep lookin bad to these people ,bcause we already get alot of bad feedbacks from arabics and it should end,because we do care of whats going on and its about time the u.s show them what we r all about instead of talkin what we r about!!lets show our luv 4 all,bcause we r all brothers and sisters!!

    February 1, 2011 at 2:27 am | Report abuse |
  15. Frank Antonissen

    Do you journalists not feel like you are aiding and abetting a crime? It's seems a bit pompous that suddenly y'all throw everything behind this violent action? 125+ already dead cannot be consider non violent. BUT ..... keep up the good work and maybe you will all get your names in the spotlight. Sorta hope the next uprising is the penguins in Antarctica and y'all can move over there for this quality first class coverage of how one species of the planet is destroying another!

    February 1, 2011 at 3:29 am | Report abuse |
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