Chaos Erupts In Cairo In Wake Of Mubarak Speech

The situation in Egypt is going from bad to worse.

After a week of angry anti-government protests, chaos was unleashed today on the streets of Egypt:

CAIRO — Thousands of demonstrators for and against President Hosni Mubarak, some on horses and camels, fought running battles in and around Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Wednesday, despite a call from Egypt’s powerful military for the president’s opponents to “restore normal life.”

The pro-government supporters had arrived in their thousands, but were outnumbered by Mr. Mubarak’s opponents.

Their confrontations, which were descending into rock-throwing clashes, injected a new and perilous element into the eight-day standoff between anti-government protesters and Mr. Mubarak, hours after he offered to step down in September and President Obama urged a faster transition. The fighting was the first since the antigovernment protesters laid claim to Tahrir Square days ago as they pursued their campaign for Mr. Mubarak’s ouster.

On Wednesday, Mr. Mubarak’s supporters arrived in larger numbers than had been seen before. Hours before, antigovernment protesters had been chanting: “We are not going to go; we are not going to go.”

In counterpoint, demonstrators supporting Mr. Mubarak chorused on Wednesday: “He’s not going to go; he’s not going to go.”

Volleys of rocks flew between the two groups and many protesters were led away with bleeding head wounds. The clashes erupted close to the Egyptian Museum housing a huge trove of priceless antiquities.

Plumes of smoke, apparently from tear gas, rose as the rival crowds surged back and forth.

“Where’s the Egyptian army?” anti-government demonstrators chanted.

“They are trying to create chaos,” said a pro-government demonstrator, Mohamed Ahmed, 30. “This is what Mubarak wants.”

The army took no immediate action as the skirmishes intensified, leaving the competing demonstrators to press towards one another. But troops with bayonets fixed to their AK-47 assault rifles fanned out near the museum as antigovernment protesters sought to build makeshift barricades to keep their foes at bay. And eventually, several tanks maneuvered into position between two clashing crowds, and soldiers tried to calm both. Some anti-government protesters used the shelter of the tanks to launch rocks.

“With our blood, with our souls we sacrifice for you, oh Mubarak,” the president’s supporters chanted, waving Egyptian flags. Among the progovernment demonstrators, 18 men on horseback and two on camels charged against their adversaries.

It’s been a surreal scene unfolding this morning, perhaps most of all being the images of “pro-Mubarak forces” storming into Tahir Square on horse and camel back, as depicted in this picture posted on al-Jazeera:

Additionally, al-Jazeera and other news sources have posted pictures of police ID’s taken from the “pro-Mubarak” demonstrators, lending credibility to the theory that this is little more than a police operation designed to break the back of the protest and, of course, inflict bloodshed.

The pro-Mubarak crowd has also apparently turned its violence on journalists covering the protests:

Anderson Cooper and his crew have been attacked by supporters of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, according to CNN.

CNN’s Steve Brusk tweeted that “Anderson said he was punched 10 times in the head as pro-Mubarak mob surrounded him and his crew trying to cover demonstration.”

This is only going to get worse. More to come, I’m sure.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, World Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. G.A.Phillips says:

    Almost as bad as one of them TEA parties or a town halls…….




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  2. Patrick Glenn says:

    G.A. Phillips: I don’t know if I’d say that (anti-Tea Party) SEIU thugs and other professional “progressive” counter-protestors are as violent as the pro-Mubarak thugs, but you do have a point.




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  3. ponce says:

    Isn’t it time for the wingnuts to start blaming Obama for pushing Mubarak too hard?




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  4. Wayne says:

    How about
    “Chaos Erupts in Cairo In Wake Of Obama Speech” ?




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  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    More then likey its group of Beck listeners……




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  6. Muffler says:

    So Mubarak has proven he cannot be trust in front of the whole world.




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  7. Ben Wolf says:

    RagingShaft,

    Care to make anything else up? Surely your aren’t finished spewing your daily dose of bile-laden ignorance.




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  8. MM says:

    In this thread we are reminded that the real victims are conservatives.




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  9. Neil Hudelson says:

    Zelsipoo,

    Actually if Obama was to follow in Carter’s footsteps, he’d need to tell Muba….ah, screw it.




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  10. anjin-san says:

    > woman in opposition walking in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan

    Maybe while she is walking she was come up with a coherent answer to “what newspapers do you read?”




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  11. anjin-san says:

    > > woman in opposition walking in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan

    She must have tripped. Reagan finished his term(s) as a governor. The people entrusted him with the office and he faithfully executed it. The less said about how Palin carried out her duty, the better.




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  12. john personna says:

    I was watching a crowd shot a couple days ago, and i’m like “that’s anderson cooper!”




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