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Mubarak won't seek another term; protesters defiant

Image
© msnbc-tv
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak tells his nation in a prerecorded speech aired on state TV that he won't seek re-election but intends to complete his term.
Embattled President Hosni Mubarak announced Tuesday that he would not run for another term in office, a concession that seemingly failed to appease many Egyptians who marched a million strong to demand that his 30-year-rule end immediately.

Mubarak said he would serve out the last months of his term, which expires in September, and "die on Egyptian soil." He promised not to seek re-election, but that did not calm public fury as clashes erupted between his opponents and supporters.

Many on the streets renewed their calls for the 82-year-old leader to quit now and make way for a transitional unity government. "We will not leave! He will leave!" some chanted in Cairo.

In Washington, President Barack Obama said he spoke with Mubarak after the speech, and the Egyptian leader "recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and a change must take place."

"What is clear and what I indicated tonight to President Mubarak is my belief that an orderly transition must be meaningful, it must be peaceful and it must begin now," Obama said.

Mr. Potato

Mubarak Declines to Run for Re-Election

mubarak
© AFP/Getty Images
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo in December 2010

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Feb. 1 he would not seek another term as president in elections slated for September but that he will complete his current term. In a televised national address, his second since the Egyptian unrest began the previous week, Mubarak said he would use the remainder of his term to oversee the transition of power. He also called on the parliament to amend the Egyptian Constitution's Article 76 (which narrows the pool of potential presidential candidates) and Article 77 (which allows for unlimited presidential terms). It is currently unclear whether these measures will be considered.

The opposition immediately rejected the pronouncement. Each political concession offered during this crisis by the Egyptian political establishment - which until this point had ruled with absolute authority since the 1950s - has only emboldened the opposition. Unrest is thus likely to continue, which means the Egyptian military likely will attempt to force Mubarak to step down before the elections. However, even this will not likely resolve matters, as the need to create a neutral caretaker government until elections can be held will be the basis for further struggles between the regime and the opposition.

Cowboy Hat

The great carbon trading scandal

chemical works

Utility companies and heavy industrial polluters are given permits to emit carbon...
Carbon allowances, Europe's main weapon against climate change, have an impact on every household, yet the scheme is open to fraudsters and profiteers.

Within a few clicks of a computer mouse, stolen goods worth €28m (£24m) had bounced from the Czech Republic to Poland, Estonia and Liechtenstein before disappearing.

Distracting local regulators with a fake bomb scare, thieves behind the heist had made off with 500,000 carbon allowances - intangible products worth around €14 each that are the European Union's main weapon against climate change.

Megaphone

If Egypt falls, Syria must follow

Image
© Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
A protester walks in front of a fire in downtown Cairo January 28, 2011.
When watching the riots in Tunisia and Egypt, the question on everyone's mind is, what outcome will these organic and popular uprisings will produce?

The world may be witnessing a new dawn in the Middle East fostered by enlightenment or a new Egyptian government trailing behind Syria as the latest conquest the Mullahs of Iran can claim is the result of their wise policies.

With Hezbollah's latest dismantlement of a Lebanese government, aided by the complicity of the Assad regime and an Egypt whose future remains uncertain, it is essential for US and European policy makers to view Syria as a clear and present danger rather than the country stabilizing the region. No matter what happens, Egypt is a changed country. If it falls in the "L" column, Syria and Iran will play an essential role in supplying Egypt, as they did to Hezbollah, with the necessary tools to destabilize North Africa. This outcome will place a heavy military burden on Israel, the result of which may engulf the region with intermittent wars for many years to come.

As the world watches images of Egypt erupting, similar images are being reproduced in Syria. We have witnessed today many demonstrations in Damascus, Aleppo, and Qamoshli. With 10,000 IRGC (the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution) personnel residing permanently in Syria, we also witnessed them, mixed with Syrian Army Battalions, deploy in several cities around the country. Yet, the international media, and al-Jazeera especially, have gone dark on Syria.

Bomb

Bolton: If Mubarak Falls In Egypt, Israel Should Bomb Iran

John Bolton
© The Raw Story

Former US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said the ouster of embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak would speed the timetable for an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

"Do you think that the Israelis are going to have to strike - they are going to have to take action?" Fox News Republican opinion host Sean Hannity asked the former ambassador on his radio program Monday.

"As you pointed out, ElBaradei ran cover for the Iranians for all those years that he was with the IAEA. And, I just don't think the Israelis have much longer to wait... they're going to have to act in fairly short order."

"I think that's right," Bolton responded. "I don't think there's much time to act. And I think the fall of a Egyptian government committed to the peace agreement will almost certainly speed that timetable up."

Comment: Israel admits Iran incapable of producing nuclear weapon before 2015

So what's the big hurry, Bolton?


Bad Guys

How much longer can Mubarak cling on?

Mohamed ElBaradei Cairo
© Getty
Mohamed ElBaradei, front left, with a crowd of supporters in Cairo yesterday
The old lady in the red scarf was standing inches from the front of am American-made M1 Abrams tank of the Egyptian Third Army, right on the edge of Tahrir Square. Its soldiers were paratroops, some in red berets, others in helmets, gun barrels pointed across the square, heavy machine guns mounted on the turrets. "If they fire on the Egyptian people, Mubarak is finished," she said. "And if they don't fire on the Egyptian people, Mubarak is finished." Of such wisdom are Egyptians now possessed.

Shortly before dusk, four F-16 Falcons - again, of course, manufactured by President Barack Obama's country - came screaming over the square, echoes bouncing off the shabby grey buildings and the giant Nasserist block, as the eyes of the tens of thousands of people in the square stared upwards. "They are on our side," the cry went up from the crowds. Somehow, I didn't think so. And those tanks, new to the square, 14 in all that arrived with no slogans painted on them, their soldiers sullen and apprehensive, had not come - as the protesters fondly believed - to protect them.

But then, when I talked to an officer on one of the tanks, he burst out with a smile. "We will never fire on our people - even if we are ordered to do so," he shouted over the roar of his engine. Again, I was not so sure. President Hosni Mubarak - or perhaps we should now say "president" in quotation marks - was at the military headquarters, having appointed his new junta of former military and intelligence officers. The rumour went round the square: the old wolf would try to fight on to the end. Others said it didn't matter. "Can he kill 80 million Egyptians?"

Evil Rays

Rights NGO claims that Israeli planes carrying crowd dispersal weapons have arrived in Egypt

Israeli cargo plane

Three Israeli planes landed at Cairo's Mina International Airport on Saturday carrying hazardous equipment for use in dispersing and suppressing large crowds.
The International Network for Rights and Development has claimed that Israeli logistical support has been sent to Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak to help his regime confront demonstrations demanding that he steps down as head of state. According to reports by the non-governmental organisation, three Israeli planes landed at Cairo's Mina International Airport on Saturday carrying hazardous equipment for use in dispersing and suppressing large crowds.

In the statement circulated by the International Network, it was disclosed that Egyptian security forces received the complete cargoes on three Israeli planes which were, it is claimed, carrying an abundant supply of internationally proscribed gas to disperse unwanted crowds. If the reports are accurate, this suggests that the Egyptian regime is preparing for the worse in defence of its position, despite the country sinking into chaos.

Stormtrooper

Mass FBI raids target pro-WikiLeaks 'Operation Payback'

Image
© Unknown
Operation Pay Back Screen Shot.
Following the arrest of five people in Britain in connection with the "Operation Payback" cyber-attacks in support of WikiLeaks, the FBI announced mass raids across the United States in connection with the case.

"FBI agents today executed more than 40 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an ongoing investigation into recent coordinated cyber attacks against major companies and organizations," a bureau press release states.

Though the bureau did not say if any individuals were arrested during the raids, it did confirm a link between the US raids and the arrests in Britain. The bureau said suspects, if charged, could face up to 10 years in prison.

The police actions indicate that governments on both sides of the Atlantic are determined to prevent hacktivists from taking revenge against companies that ceased to do business with WikiLeaks following the release of US State Department cables late last year.

Display

As Egypt goes offline US gets internet 'kill switch' bill ready

As Egypt's government attempts to crackdown on street protests by shutting down internet and mobile phone services, the US is preparing to reintroduce a bill that could be used to shut down the internet.

The legislation, which would grant US President Barack Obama powers to seize control of and even shut down the internet, would soon be reintroduced to a senate committee, Wired.com reported.

It was initially introduced last year but expired with a new Congress.

internet usage graph
© Arbor Networks
A graph showing internet traffic to and from Eqypt.

Cult

The Torture Career of Egypt's New Vice President: Omar Suleiman and the Rendition to Torture Program

Omar Suleiman
© LIFE
Omar Suleiman speaking to world leaders

In response to the mass protests of recent days, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has appointed his first Vice President in his over 30 years rule, intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. When Suleiman was first announced, Al-jazeera commentators were describing him as a "distinguished" and "respected " man. It turns out, however, that he is distinguished for, among other things, his central role in Egyptian torture and in the US rendition-to-torture program. Further, he is "respected" by US officials for his cooperation with their torture plans, among other initiatives.
Katherine Hawkins, an expert on the US's rendition-to-torture program, in an email, has sent some critical texts where Suleiman pops up. Thus, Jane Mayer, in The Dark Side, pointed to Suleiman's role in the rendition program:
Each rendition was authorized at the very top levels of both governments....The long-serving chief of the Egyptian central intelligence agency, Omar Suleiman, negotiated directly with top Agency officials. [Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt] Walker described the Egyptian counterpart, Suleiman, as "very bright, very realistic," adding that he was cognizant that there was a downside to "some of the negative things that the Egyptians engaged in, of torture and so on. But he was not squeamish, by the way" (pp. 113).