A Digest of DEBKAfile Round-the-Clock Exclusives in the Weeks Ending Feb. 3, 2011

Jan. 28, 2011 Briefs
• White House spokesman Gibbs: Obama has not spoken with Mubarak. The situation must be solved by the Egyptian people. The government must address its legitimate grievances with reforms. Security forces and army must exercise restraint.
• US to review aid to Egypt in view of unfolding events.
• Mubarak deploys army on streets, imposes nationwide curfew until 0700 Saturday. Reports he will soon address the nation.
• Cairo HQ of his ruling National Democratic Party set on fire. Tanks seen on streets of Suez and youths climbing over them.
• Violent clashes in Cairo, Alexandria, Ismailia and El Arish, Sinai.
• Eight killed in suicide bombing of Kabul market frequented by foreigners.
• Eight senior Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood officials placed under arrest in an effort to curb its members' participation in anti-government demos.
• The Brotherhood ordered followers to take to the streets after Friday prayers. Egypt shuts down telephone services in some towns, cuts country off from the Internet.

Mubarak hangs on to power as Obama dictates terms. But for how long?

28 Jan. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in his first public appearance in four days of violent protests against his rule after midnight Friday, Jan. 28, said he would not resign. He had sacked the cabinet, would form a new Saturday and promised democratic reforms. President Obama then called him to tell him he must deliver on reforms and abjure violence. Mubarak's speech showed he had succumbed to US terms for his survival and defied the protesters demands for his resignation.
As he spoke, dozens of army tanks massed in Cairo's central Tahrir Square. President Barack Obama then confirmed at the White House that he called the Egyptian for the first time since the crisis erupted last Tuesday.

Military takeover in Egypt aired as army holds fire against curfew violators

28 Jan. The possibility of the military taking control of the regime on the back of the popular uprising to end Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule was actively discussed Friday night, Jan. 28, after security forces failed to control anti-government riots for four days. Protesters in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez ignored the nationwide curfew imposed until 0700 Saturday and the soldiers who were called in to enforce it held their fire. Protesters overturning and burning security forces vehicles welcomed the military APCs.

Jan. 29, 2011 Briefs
• Israel evacuates citizens from Egypt on emergency flights. They include diplomats' families. Embassy staff remains.
• Mubarak appoints intelligence chief Gen. Omar Suleiman Deputy President, aviation minister Ahmed Shafiq PM. His wife and two sons and families reportedly arrived in London.
• Thousands protesters defy extended curfew and stand by demand for Mubarak to quit. They angrily called on army to oust him and said soldiers and people are one.
• Tanks surround the central Cairo square but soldiers not confronting the protesters.
• Vandals damaged two mummies and other artifacts in national museum before army intervened.
• Dozens killed in Egyptian security forces live ammo crackdown against protesters in Cairo, Alexandria, Giza, Suez, Ismailia and Damanhur Saturday.
• Mobile phone lines partly restored, outgoing flights resumed.
• Muslim Brotherhood led anti-government demos in Jordan.
• Suicide bomber on bicycle murders dep. governor of Kahndahar in attack on his convoy.
• Iran hangs Iranian-Dutch woman Sahra Bahrami, 46, who took part in 2009 anti-government demos in Tehran.

Israel silently watches the unfolding of two new fronts

29 Jan. Egypt, one of the only two Arab states to sign peace with Israel, is wobbling dangerously on the brink of revolutionary change. This week, Israel was dismayed to find itself looking at three latently hostile fronts about to spring up around its borders: After Lebanon dropped into the Iranian orbit, Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has gained altitude, and Hamas, its Palestinian offshoot in Gaza, is making hay, puffing itself up as an important new Middle East player.
In the five days of the Egyptian upheaval from Tuesday, Jan. 25, it should be noted –
1. Not a single protester or slogan-bearer summoned up the Israeli-Palestinian dispute as a factor in the most revolutionary transformations to overtake the region's countries in half a century. The Palestinians issue was totally absent from street demonstrations and Iran's takeover of Lebanon – giving the lie to the decades-long claim by Western decision- and opinion-makers that the Israel-Palestinian conflict was the root-cause of instability in the Arab and Muslim worlds and if it were not settled, those worlds would turn against the West. The Palestinians were plainly far from the minds of this week's Arab demonstrators.
2. The force most energized by the popular uprising in Egypt week was the extremist Hamas, the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood – bad news for the Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah.

Jan. 30, 2011 Briefs
• Two Egyptian Air Force fighter jets and helicopters in repeated low passes over Tahrir Square.
• Interior Minister Habib al-Adli evacuated under heavy security amid exchange of fire.
• Defense Minister Field Marshall Tantawi visits sensitive government sites with military convoy.
• Neighborhoods get together to defend homes against looters as police disappear from streets.
• South Sudanese celebrate 98.83 percent vote for separation from Sudan.
• Egyptian stock exchange stays closed.
• Muslim Brotherhood prisoners escape Cairo prison after guards abandoned posts.
• Egypt shuts down Al Jazeera bureaus countrywide over its coverage.
• Netanyahu briefs cabinet on his overnight conversations with Obama and Clinton on Egyptian crisis.
• Thousands of Islamic extremists and criminals escape prisons around Cairo.
• More than 100 killed, 2000 wounded in clashes with police and security services.
• Prison breakout in El Arish, Sinai, releases top smugglers to the Gaza Strip.

Egypt crisis in standoff: Mubarak stands fast

30 Jan. The popular uprising against the Egyptian regime reached a standoff at the end of its sixth day, Sunday night, Jan. 30: President Hosni Mubarak made it clear to the armed forces chiefs whom he met at military headquarters that he has no intention of bowing to the massive popular demand to resign, or heed US and international calls for an "orderly transition of power."
All ten anti-regime groups have not produced a leader able to challenge him.
The new Vice President Gen. Omar Suleiman appears to be behind the steps ordered Sunday, such as sending Air Force fighter jets to swoop over Tahrir Square and building up a military presence in the main towns. None has broken the back of the uprising.

Jan 31, 2011 Briefs
• All internet providers down in Egypt.
• Vice President Suleiman says Mubarak has asked him to start a dialogue for "constitutional change".
• Nine flights evacuated 1,200 US citizens from Egypt; six more Tuesday.
• Army says it will not use force against protesters and considers people's demands legitimate.
• Egyptian turmoil sends oil prices up to $100 the barrel.
• Netanyahu: Israel fears that what happened in Iran could happen in Egypt.
• Egyptian police arrest 6 Al Jazeera correspondents.
• German chancellor arrives in Israel Monday with 10 ministers for joint session with Israeli cabinet.
• Earlier, riot police withdrawn after soldiers fired in the air to protect them from protesters' fury.
• Assad promises Syrian people reforms. He says his situation is better than Mubarak's because he opposes US policies and confronts Israel.
• Tunisian Muslim leader returns home from 20 years of exile says: "I am no Khomenei".
• Blair warns that the inevitable change in Egypt if not properly managed could be exploited by the strong Muslim movement and taken in the wrong direction. So Mubarak needs to engage in a process of "managed change".

Netanyahu tries to play Egyptian military card

31 Jan. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, Jan 31 he feared Egypt could end up with a radical Islamic regime as in Iran that would go against the region's interests for peace and stability. He also made the gesture of allowing the first Egyptian military troops to enter Sinai since the military since the 1979 peace treaty.
Hamas hit back Monday night by shooting two long-range Grad rockets against the towns of Netivot and Ofakim, damaging a building and leaving a number of shock victims.
For helping the dying regime, Hamas' parent, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, punished Israel from the Gaza Strip.
Netanyahu's first reactions to events in Egypt did not represent a far-sighted assessment of the fast-moving Egyptian epic but resistance to change. His words were widely interpreted as support for President Hosni Murakak, for three decades faithful defender of peace with Israel, rather than a reference to the tidal changes overtaking Egypt and potentially other authoritarian regimes in the Middle East.

Stuxnet returns to attack Bushehr reactor

31 Jan. Iran's atomic energy chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Jan. 29 that the Bushehr nuclear power plant would be connected to the national grid on April 9. He "forgot" about Tehran's promise to fully activate its first nuclear reactor Tuesday, Jan. 25. debkafile's sources reveal that, Iran's hand was held back at the last minute by Russia's nuclear chief who Sergei Kiriyenko. He warned Stuxnet was back and activating the reactor could trigger a nuclear catastrophe costing millions of lives.

Egyptian troops hunt Hamas gunmen fighting to control N. Sinai

31 Jan. Egyptian reinforcements reached northern Sinai Monday, Jan. 31 to hunt down Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip battling Egyptian forces for control of the territory. Two were captured. debkafile's military sources report that the gunmen of Hamas's armed wing, Ezz e-Din al Qassam opened a second, Palestinian, front against the Mubarak regime on orders from Hamas' parent organization, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, confirmed by its bosses in Damascus. The Muslim Brotherhood is therefore more aggressively involved in the uprising than it would appear.
Officials in Gaza City confirmed Sunday, that Hamas's most notorious smuggling experts, including Muhammad Shaar, had broken out of El Arish jail and reached Gaza City.
The Multinational Force & Observers (MFO), most of whose members are Americans and Canadians, are on maximum alert at their northern Sinai base as they wait for US military transports to evacuate them to US bases in Europe.
This force was deployed in Sinai in 1981 for peacekeeping responsibilities and the supervision of the security provisions of the 1979 Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Feb. 1, 2011 Briefs
• At least 4 million protesters took part in March of Millions across Egypt to force Mubarak to resign. There were some calls to hang him.
• Jordan's king fires government for failing to quell days of demonstrations. Marouf Bakhtit entrusted top head new cabinet committed to "genuine political reform".
• Netanyahu calls a special security conference on Egypt at an IDF base Tuesday.
• Prime minister cancels Galant appointment as next Israeli Chief of Staff. AG Weinstein informed him that his appointment as next Chief of Staff is indefensible on legal grounds.
At the same time, it is up to the government to decide if security, political and professional grounds outweigh legal arguments.
• Defense minister Barak opposes AG ruling but will respect it. Israeli owes much to this valiant soldier who is the best man to lead the army at this time.
• Dep. C-of-S Maj. Gen. Yair Nave to serve as 60-day stopgap until new commander selected.
• Three Grad missiles from Gaza explode overnight at Netivot, Ofakim and Eshkol District.

Obama and Egyptian army chiefs tell Mubarak to go now

1 Feb. As four million protesters marched across Egypt, Tuesday, Feb. 1, President Barak Obama told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to quit now and leave Egypt. Mubarak got the same message from the heads of the Egyptian army, who may or not have been in tune with Washington.
The Egyptian army chiefs have three optional plans for bridging the transitional period up until general and presidential elections.
1. A council of officers consisting of 3-5 generals will assume presidential powers and govern the country for the interim, or;
2. The new Vice President, the former Intelligence Minister Gen. Omar Suleiman, will be appointed president; or;
3. Chief of Staff Gen. Sami Enan will take his place in the presidential office.

"Free Egypt" regimes planned alongside March of Millions

1 Feb. Certain opposition groups, backed by retired army and security forces officers, are planning to take over a key Nile Delta city, proclaim it liberated territory and establish a "Free Egypt" government, debkafile's Middle East sources report. The masses flooding central Cairo for the March of Millions are staging their biggest protest demonstration in eight days. But the opposition leaders planning a Free Egypt movement are in dialogue with army chiefs on a separate anti-governmental track.

Feb. 2, 2001 Briefs
• Bloody violence escalates in Cairo between pro- and anti-Mubarak activists in Tahrir Square despite Egyptian TV orders to leave. Tear gas fired in standoff between camps. Dozens of petrol bombs and rocks littered the ground.
• Army tanks in square stay out of it.
• White House spokesman Gibbs signals the US wants Mubarak out now.
• Barak: Mubarak era is over. This is a profound change for which Israel will need to regroup in the long term.
• Israel Air Force struck Hamas smuggling tunnels Wednesday night.
• Muslim Brotherhood rejects Mubarak's plan to stay out his mandate till September.
• Amid raging protests, Yemeni president Salah says he will not seek extension after 2013.
• In 2009, Egyptian VP Suleiman urged the US not to negotiate with Iran. In contrast, ElBaradei, now opposition leader, called for engaging the Tehran regime. Suleiman was talking to top US soldier Mullen while serving as intelligence minister, according to WikiLeaks. Iran "is very active in Egypt" paying Hamas $25 m a month, he said.
• "The Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions are modeled on Iran's Islamic Revolution," says Brig. Rahim-Safavi, Ayatollah Khamenei's military adviser.

Two Middle East figures demolished in one day

2 Feb. Skillful choreography, not just spontaneous popular dissent, brought Hosni Mubarak's 30 years as president to an end Tuesday night, Feb. 2. In fact, the hands of the United States, Britain and the Egyptian army heads were plain to see at every stage. The axing of Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant as Israel's next chief of staff – on the same day – was contrived too, just two weeks after the government approved his appointment. Maj. Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi has been building momentum to challenge Binyamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak as a future political leader after he takes off his uniform on Feb. 14.

Obama to Egyptian Army: Remove Mubarak now, start transition

2 Feb. Wednesday, Feb. 2, President Barack Obama delivered an ultimatum to Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman and the army and security chiefs: Remove Mubarak in the coming hours or else US aid to Egypt will be cut off, debkafile reports exclusively from Washington. The White House said: "Transition must begin now." The first violent collision between pro- and anti-Mubarak activists in Cairo left 30 dead, 2000 injured, and threatens more civil bloodshed. The last Israelis were evacuated from Egypt, including news correspondents.

Feb. 3, 2011 Briefs
• Mubarak to NBC: I want to leave office but fear chaos if I resign. I don't care what people say, I care about my country.
• In a TV broadcast, Egyptian Vice President Suleiman said "foreign elements" try telling us what to do. When they fail, they incite the street against the regime. He said the street violence is the result of a conspiracy. We have to investigate what has happened. The military have a new role to protect people from thugs and outlaws.
debkafile: Suleiman appealed to national sentiments to calm the street. He also sought to deflect popular grievances and charges of army inaction.
• Gunfire heard in Cairo late Thursday amid spreading fires and looting.
• At least 10 killed in second day of clashes between Mubarak loyalists and protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square Thursday. Firefights and looting erupt again.
• Thousands of pro and anti-Mubarak activists streamed into Cairo for a final showdown.
• The army does not appear to be taking sides except for setting up a buffer between them in the Cairo square.
• VP Suleiman suspends dialogue with opposition until demonstrations disperse.
• UK, France, Germany Italy and Spain express utmost concern about deteriorating situation in Egypt and condemn violence.
• Unofficial casualty figures from Wednesday's clashes are 30 dead, 2000 injured.
• Israel's Dep. C-of-S Maj. Gen. Yair Nave is cleared to stand in for the chief of staff for 60 days until the government appoints a new candidate. The Supreme Court Thursday rejected petitions against his appointment.

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