The Mubarak regime sent two F-16 fighter jets and helicopters in repeated low-flying passes over the thousands of protesters massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square Sunday, Jan. 30, the sixth day of the anti-government protest. This latest, most dramatic attempt to break up the anti-government protest only added to the rage of the crowd who refused to disperse and called for Mubarak and his new Vice President, Gen. Omar Suleiman to go right now.
At the entrance to the square, protesters blocked the path of a dozen battle tanks attempting to assert control over central Cairo by sitting and lying down in front of them. The result was a standoff. The army has thrown up barricades around the square and imposed restrictions on movements, but has not used violence against the protesters.
It is not clear if sending the fighter jets to intimidate the protesters was decided with the army generals when Mubarak visited them at army headquarters earlier Sunday or a unilateral decision by the Air Force chiefs, who remain loyal to the president, himself a former air force chief and pilot.
The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a change of tone from her last statement 48 hours ago, called for an "orderly transition to democratic rule in Egypt." She also denied there had been any discussion of the cut-off of aid to the embattled country.
Around the city, neighborhoods have got together to protect their homes and property against looters and criminal gangs roaming the streets. The police have melted away and the vast city is in chaos. Disruptions and protests continue in other Egyptian cities.