The First 18 Days (January 25th-February 11th 2011)

Summaries of the most popular news story from each of the first 18 days of the Egyptian revolution from Al Jazeera Online and Egyptian 
local new sources.

Tuesday January 25th 2011
Al Jazeera reported that thousands of Egyptian protestors gathered in Cairo and other major Egyptian cities calling for reforms and demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled the country for three decades.  The police responded by spraying the protesters with water cannons and going into the crowds with batons and tear gas in an attempt to clear the demonstrators.  The Egyptian government had warned activists that were attempting to emulate Tunisian pro-democracy protesters that they would be arrested if they followed through with Tuesday’s mass demonstrations, which some titled the “Day of Wrath”.  The rallies were promoted online by groups calling for “a day of revolution against torture, poverty, corruption, and unemployment”.  These protests were seen as surprising to many since protests in Egypt tend to be poorly attended and are often stopped by the police, who prevent marching.

Wednesday January 26th 2011
Thousands of demonstrators were spread throughout downtown Cairo after being dispersed by security forces and more than 500 protestors were arrested in an attempted crackdown by the government on protests.  Egypt’s Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif made a statement saying the government was committed to allowing freedom of expression “by legitimate means.”  The interior ministry issued a statement banning future protests and threatening anyone encouraging them with investigation.  Activists have said that the number of protesters may have reached into the hundreds of thousands.  The demonstrators are calling for Mubarak to leave office before the presidential election scheduled to take place in September in which Mubarak might run for re-election or attempt to hand power to a successor.  The U.S. has called for calm in the region, which is a major beneficiary of American foreign aid.  Many of the demonstrations have been organized using social networking sites including Facebook and Twitter.  However, the government blocked all access to Twitter late Tuesday night.

Thursday January 27th 2011
Demonstrators began planning another major protest for Friday, a day often used for protest in Egypt, and the Muslim Brotherhood – the country’s technically banned but largest opposition movement – said on Thursday for the first time that it would participate.  Little is known about President Mubarak’s whereabouts and there have been conflicting reports regarding whether he was in Cairo or the Sinai Peninsula.  Many people have been critical of this saying that President Mubarak should address the nation in a televised broadcast.  The protests have started to affect the country’s stock exchange, where trading had to be temporarily suspended on Thursday after stocks dropped more than six percent.  While web activists have continued to organize protests, there have been continued reports of blocked Internet access and mobile service interruptions in an apparent government move to thwart protesters from communicating among themselves.  Hillary Clinton released a statement saying “We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.”

Friday January 28th 2011
At around 12:30 A.M. on Friday the Internet in Egypt went out completely as protestors were organizing a new round of demonstrations.  Egypt has done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major Internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the Internet to try and silence dissent.  This outage has set the stage for blowback from the international community and investors.

Saturday January 29th 2011
President Mubarak has dismissed his government and said he will replace it with a new one within the day. The president called for dialogue between the government and Egyptian people and said that he understood that the Egyptian population wanted him to address poverty, employment and democratic reform.  This speech has been seen by many as an attempt to cling to power rather than take concrete steps to solve some of the more pressing problems facing many Egyptians, primarily unemployment and rapidly rising food prices.  Protesters have argued that dismissing the government is not enough for them to stop their revolution and argued that the government’s power is concentrated in the hands of the president.  Mubarak also attempted to defend the security forces’ crackdown on protesters, saying he had given them instructions that the protesters be allowed to express their views.  But, he said, acts of violence and vandalism left the security forces with no choice but to react to restore order.  Even after Mubarak’s speech, protesters continued to defy the night curfews that have been put in place and call for Mubarak’s resignation.

Sunday January 30th 2011
President Mubarak has appointed the country’s head of intelligence, Omar Suleiman, to the post of vice-president.  This was the first time Mubarak appointed a vice-president during his 30-year rule.  Ahmad Shafiq, a former chief of air staff, was also appointed prime minister.  Many of the protestors have demanded a total change of guard, as opposed to a reshuffling of figures in the ruling National Democratic Party.  The protests have resulted in many fatalities and casualties, with at least 23 deaths confirmed in Alexandria, at least 27 confirmed in Suez, and 22 deaths in Cairo.  More than 1,000 were also wounded in Friday’s violent protests.  While some mobile phone networks resumed service over the weekend, Internet services remained cut and landline usage was limited. Maged Reda Boutros, a member of the ruling National Democratic Party, told Al Jazeera that the political regime was “admitting” that it was not meeting the expectations of the people.  He also claimed that the protests have been taken over by “mobs” from the “lower part of the society”, who are now engaged in “burning, looting and shooting.” He followed this by stating that “Now it has turned from a noble cause to a criminal cause” and alleged that most of those involved in the protests were criminals.

Monday January 31st 2011
Organizers have started planning a “Million Man March” to take place on Tuesday starting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.  It is unclear how the police will react to this march, but the Egyptian army has stated that it would not stop them. This was the first explicit confirmation by the army that it would not fire at demonstrators. However, Egyptian authorities have stopped all train traffic in an attempt to limit the number of protesters in the capital.  Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s new vice president, said on Monday that Mubarak had tasked him with opening “immediate” dialogue with the opposition “around all the issues concerning constitutional and legislative reforms.”  Many members of the opposition have rejected the offer of dialogue and say that the pledges by the government are “too little, too late”.  Throughout Egypt people have been panic buying and many stores are running out of basic supplies.  Chaos has been reported at Cairo’s international airport where many foreigners are attempting to be evacuated by their home countries.  Security is said to be deteriorating throughout the country and many prisons and police stations have been attacked in cities like Alexandria and Suez.

Tuesday February 1st 2011
About 1,000,000 people have gathered for the planned “march of a million” in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, which has been the focal point of protests in the capital and served as the meeting area for the march to begin.  Egyptian state television has asked people to stay home, warning of possible violence, in an attempt to discourage people from the protests.  Soldiers at the square formed a human chain around the protesters and checked people as they entered for identity papers and weapons.  The army also blocked all major roads in the city.  The correspondents for Al Jazeera have described a “festival-like” and “communal” atmosphere at the protest, with protesters from all walks of life represented.  There has also been an increase in pockets of pro-government protests and there are fears that a violent clash could erupt if the two sets of protesters meet.  Meanwhile, one of Egypt’s oldest political parties, Wafd, announced on Tuesday that a number of the opposition groups have agreed to form “a national front” to deal with the volatile situation.

Wednesday February 2nd 2011
Internet services were partially restored in Cairo today.  Social networking sites, which have become increasingly important tools for protesters, activists, and organizers, are still inaccessible to users.  The United States had called on Egyptian authorities to restore the service, which was largely ignored.  Around 23 million Egyptians have either regular or occasional access to the Internet, which represents more than a quarter of the population.  Google has responded to the Internet blockade by creating a way to post messages to Twitter by making telephone calls.  People were also able to listen to the messages by calling the phone numbers.  This has helped people with access to the Internet and cell phones to continue to organize and plan demonstrations.

Thursday February 3rd 2011
All news sources, except for Egyptian state media have reported that in the past few days Mubarak supporters have increased their attacks on pro-democracy demonstrators. The government regime’s shock troops have been reported to be using propane gas tanks, Molotov cocktails, tear gas and possibly even live ammunition in their confrontations with the demonstrators.  The role of the army is unclear in the situation, but it has been reported that they have not been protecting the pro-democracy demonstrators.  Many news sources have reported that the pro-Mubarak forces include an element of criminals that have long been employed by the regime to break up demonstrations and intimidate elections.  The pro-Mubarak group has been described as much more socially homogenous than the pro-democracy movement.  In addition to the government forces, there have been reports that government ministries have told public-sector employees that their jobs depend on supporting the regime.

Friday February 4th 2011
Hundreds of thousands of people have gathered at Tahrir Square for what they have termed the “Day of Departure” for Mubarak.  Mass demonstrations commenced after Friday prayers and protesters have said they will march to the city’s main train station and stage a sit-in until Mubarak resigns.  On Thursday, Mubarak spoke with America’s ABC television and said that he wanted to leave office but feared there would be chaos if he did.  In an attempt to calm the situation, Omar Suleiman said that the Muslim Brotherhood and other opposition groups had been invited to meet the new government as part of a national dialogue.  This would have been unthinkable before the protests erupted, which shows the power that the pro-democracy movement has within the country.  The opposition groups refused talks until Mubarak leaves office.  During this time, there have been reports quoting U.S. officials and Arab diplomats that the U.S. administration is discussing with Egyptian officials a proposal for Mubarak to resign immediately and hand over power to a transitional government headed by Omar Suleiman.

Saturday February 5th 2011
After days of fighting off concerted and coordinated attacks by supporters of president Hosni Mubarak, pro-democracy demonstrators in Tahrir Square are consolidating their gains.  After the clashes, the crowd was bolstered by women, children, and a large number of international journalists.  Supplies began to come into the square and protesters set up new pharmacies and a rapid-response medical clinic.  Since children have become caught up in Egypt’s violent unrest, Human Rights Watch said in a statement that it was concerned about the protests putting them in “grave danger”.

Sunday February 6th 2011
The government was attempting to return a sense of normalcy to the city; businesses and banks were set to open on Sunday, and the army was intent on clearing away signs of the demonstrators from the city.  Men went about clearing debris and trash from the streets where protesters had died just nights before.

Monday February 7th 2011
The pro-democracy protesters in Egypt have succeeded in offering a new model for a more engaged Egypt.  The protestors in Tahrir Square have set up their own self-contained community.  While supplies are limited, there are people dispensing food, water, medical supplies and other services.  There is a newspaper that provides the latest updates on the conditions in the square and the politics outside.  One problem for the sense of community is its fragmentation since the protesters have many different political ideals and allegiances and are reluctant to align with each other.  However they are all concerted in their effort to fight for Egyptian nationalism.  Instead of endorsing specific parties or politicians, these demonstrators are instead calling for an inclusive government that listens to the voices of all Egyptians.  This sense of community also extends to the protesters’ handling of foreign journalists.  They are very accommodating to the journalists since they depend on sympathetic coverage and they fear what might happen if the media spotlight currently focused on their protests died out.

Tuesday February 8th 2011
Protesters in Cairo are holding mass demonstrations, with a new wave of optimism following the release of the detained cyber activist, Wael Ghonim, who was responsible for setting up the Facebook page that mobilized the start of the protests and was arrested by government authorities January 28th.  Omar Suleiman, announced that Mubarak would set up a committee that would carry out constitutional and legislative amendments to enable a shift of power.  Beyond Tahrir Square, life started to regain a sense of normalcy in other parts of Cairo as banks and other shops continued to reopen.  Divisions have begun to grow due to the fact that many people support what the protesters are trying to achieve, however, they want a sense of normalcy to return to the city since about 40 percent of the population lives on daily wages, which they have not been able to receive during the protests.

Wednesday February 9th 2011
Protests in Egypt have entered their sixteenth day, following probably the biggest number of pro-democracy demonstrations in Tahrir Square.  Many first-timers have joined the demonstrations feeling that the movement still had momentum in its third week.  Many people believe that the demonstrators are gaining power each day that they continue to hold out.  In a phone conversation with Omar Suleiman, Joe Biden called for increased dialogue between the opposing sides.  He suggested several steps, including an immediate abolition of the country’s emergency laws, which give sweeping powers to the security forces.  He also suggested halting the arrest of journalists and activists, and involving more opposition members in negotiations.  In a public statement reflecting the regime’s impatience and frustration with the mass demonstrations, Suleiman said that the crisis must be ended as soon as possible.  He said that there will be “no ending of the regime” and no immediate departure for Mubarak.

Thursday February 10th 2011
President Hosni Mubarak provoked rage on Egypt’s streets when he held a nationally televised speech in which he said that he would hand powers to his deputy instead of stepping down completely.  He portrayed himself as a patriot overseeing an orderly transition until elections in September and stated that he would transfer some of his powers to Omar Suleiman.  He praised the young people who spearheaded the revolution and offered constitutional changes in addition to the increased responsibilities for Suleiman.

Friday February 11th 2011
Hosni Mubarak has resigned from his post, handing over power to the armed forces.  Omar Suleiman announced in a televised address that the president was “waiving” his office, and had handed over authority to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.  This address led to massive celebrations in Tahrir Square for the demonstrators.

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