Middle East Intifadas - by Stephen Lendman
Initially in Tunisia, popular revolt spread regionally across North Africa and the Middle East, erupting in Algeria, Jordan, Egypt and Yemen. On January 27, Al Jazeera reported revolutionary fervor in Egypt, saying:
"On Thursday, protesters hurled petrol bombs at a fire station in Suez, setting it ablaze. They tried but failed to (torch) a local" Mubarak-controlled National Party office. Near Giza, on Cairo's outskirts, police attacked hundreds of protesters with tear gas, rubber bullets and batons. In Ismailia, the scene repeated, police using similar tactics to disperse crowds. Ahead of expected massive Friday protests, Cairo was uncharacteristically quiet.
On January 28, Al Jazeerah headlined, "Fresh protests erupt in Egypt, saying:
Following Friday prayers, "angry demonstrators demand(ed) an end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency....(d)etermined protesters," vowing to "carry on until their demands are met."
In Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura and Sharqiya, "protesters streamed out of mosques shortly after prayers," chanting anti-Mubarak slogans.
On Thursday night, former IAEA Director General and National Alliance for Change founder Mohamed ElBaradei returned home, saying he's ready to lead "transition" if asked. In a late 2010 Al Masry Al Youm interview, he expressed support for an opposition alliance saying:
"I hope in the next phase we will have a united opposition, the NAC, the Al-Wafd party, the (Muslim) Brotherhood, the Gabha (Democratic Front party) - we need everyone. And of course we need to link the young people with the labor unions and the elite with the young people."
On Friday, he reportedly was "prevented from moving freely by security forces." AP reported water cannons doused him, and supporters who tried shielding him were beaten.
So far, seven are reported dead. Well over 1,200 were arrested, yet protesters aren't deterred.
An international press freedom group said journalists were being beaten and arrested. Al Jazeera reported four French reporters apprehended. An AP photographer was attacked. The London Guardian said ElBaradei was "detained." Earlier on Friday he said Mubarak's regime was on its "last legs."
A CNN crew had its camera smashed. Vodafone said cell phone service was suspended "in selected areas." Internet service was also shut down. In Cairo and other cities, harsh crackdowns continued with tear gas, rubber bullets, some reported live fire, water cannons, sound bombs, beatings and arrests.
London Guardian correspondent Jack Shenker called Cairo a "war zone." WikiLeaks released a cable from US Egyptian ambassador Margaret Scobey saying:
"Torture and police brutality in Egypt are endemic and widespread. The police use brutal methods mostly against common criminals to extract confessions, but also against demonstrators, certain political prisoners and unfortunate bystanders."
Former US Middle East diplomat Aaron David Miller said:
"It's one thing when this happens in Tunisia, a marginal Arab state, but you're now talking about one of the two or three pillars of American security in the region being confronted with the ripple effects of a wave."