Updated: Egypt revokes Al Jazeera's broadcast license...
By Ernest A. Canning on 1/29/2011, 11:22am PT  

Guest blogged by Ernest A. Canning

"The Egyptians have risen up. They’re not going home until their demands are realized….until justice and democracy is restored," says the highly respected Dr. Mohamed ElBaradai, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) over Al Jazeera English. "The state of Egypt is in a state of collapse."

ElBaradai, who returned to the country earlier this week, "called upon the Egyptian army to take the side of the people," and called upon Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to immediately step down.

What is unfolding on the streets of Egypt may well be confirmation of one of the core observations presented by Howard Zinn, who died one year ago this week...

End near for Mubarak regime?

As tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Cairo in violation of a state-imposed curfew to demand the "end to Hosni Mubarak's 30-year presidency," and police and state security forces have disappeared from the streets, al Jazeera reported that there may be shifts in the Egyptian military towards the demonstrators, though they cautioned that pro-demonstrator statements by soldiers on the streets may not be shared by military leaders.

At least three people were reportedly killed as protesters attempted to storm the interior ministry in Cairo. Rare antiquities at the Egyptian National Museum were destroyed. The military called upon citizens to help resist looters. Al Jazeera English reported that some citizens allegedly captured thugs on motorcycles engaged in vandalism and looting who had central security services IDs and weapons. They compared this to similar recent events in Tunisia where security forces, taking advantage of the chaotic power vacuum, engaged in looting.

The video below points to the likelihood that Mubarak no longer manages the levers of real power that are now in the hands of the people; that his rearrangement of his cabinet is all too reminiscent to shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic.

Does Egypt give hope to peoples suffering under the tyranny of an ostensibly democratic but increasingly authoritarian corporate security state?

In A Power Governments Cannot Suppress the late Howard Zinn observed:

It is easy to be overwhelmed or intimidated by the realization that the war makers have enormous power. But some historical perspective can be useful, because it tells us that at certain points in history governments find that all their power is futile against the power of an aroused citizenry.

There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies, however vast their wealth, however they control images and information, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens...When the citizens begin to suspect they have been deceived and withdraw their support, government loses its legitimacy and its power.

We have seen this happen in recent decades all around the globe. Awaking one morning to see a million angry people in the streets of the capital city, the leaders of a country begin packing their bags and calling for a helicopter.

Something to think about as slick U.S. politicians in both parties strive to meet the insatiable greed of the privileged few whose fortunes are tied to Wall Street, the military-industrial complex and a multinational corporate Empire at the expense of the democratic and economic aspirations and needs of the multitude of ordinary American citizens.

UPDATE 2:30 P.M. PST: The latest reports from al Jazeera reflect some ominous developments, including the distinct potential that, what has become widespread looting by "thugs" on motorcycles may be an organized effort by security forces wearing civilian clothes. This has prompted a number of civilian watch committees.

One wonders whether the use of security forces in civilian clothes is intended to provide a plausible denial in light of the Obama administration's warnings against a violent suppression of the civilian uprising.

One Cairo resident told al Jazeera that the soldiers explained that they could not protect the streets, because they haven't been ordered to do so; that their only orders were to protect the interior ministry. He said that the interior ministry is "shooting people in the streets" and "we are all in fear."

A physician eyewitness claims at least ten people have been killed in relation to the attempt to storm the interior ministry.

* * *

UPDATE 01/30/11 On Friday, in "Egypt's 'Internet Kill Switch', Democracy via WikiLeaks & Terror 'Made in the U.S.A.", Brad Friedman covered the authoritarian decision of the Hosni Mubarak regime to shut down the internet. He also furnished a link to the outstanding coverage of events available live at Al Jazeera English.

Today, the Mubarak regime announced that it had revoked Al Jazeera's license to broadcast from Egypt.

Al Jazeera, which noted it had "received widespread global acclaim for its coverage," denounced the closure as "an act designed to stifle and repress the freedom of reporting...In this time of deep turmoil and unrest in Egyptian society it is imperative that voices from all sides be heard; the closing of our bureau by the Egyptian government is aimed at censoring and silencing the voices of the Egyptian people."

UPDATE 1/31/11 (From Brad): To offer some additional context to Ernie's update above, these tweets come from Evan Hill (@evanchill), an Online Producer for Al Jazeera English who is now on the ground in Cairo. AJ English's streaming coverage has been the definitive source for living streaming coverage from Egypt since the first hints of the uprising.

These encouraging selected tweets from @evanchill were made following the Egypt government's shut down of AJ's Cairo bureau (all times Pacific Time)...

Sunday, January 30, 2011 2:15 AM:

Yes, Al Jazeera is still broadcasting live despite apparent shutdown order. No one knows who would enforce it. #jan25

Sunday, January 30, 2011 2:22 AM:

The team is working on a plan if the shutdown does occur. For obvious reasons, won't be tweeting the details here. #jan25

Sunday, January 30, 2011 11:56 AM:

Online in Cairo using satellite internet. We now have multiple web producers on the ground and can start bringing you news, 24/7. #jan25

Sunday January 30, 2011 12:03 PM:

I've been joined by colleague (and fellow Northwestern alum) @glcarlstrom in Egypt. We will be reporting/producing online for you. #jan25

Monday, January 31, 2011 05:08 AM:

Six members of AJE team detained, equipment confiscated. We are still out here with access. Latest audio report http://ow.ly/3NcCu #jan25

Monday, January 31, 2011 06:28 AM:

RT @nolanjazeera We're okay, they held us for 3 hours, we've been released, took cameras, laptops and phones #Egypt #Jan25

* * *

Previous coverage of Egypt at The BRAD BLOG...

• "Egypt's 'Internet Kill Switch', Democracy via WikiLeaks & Terror 'Made in U.S.A.'"

Recent video of events in Egypt...

* * *

Ernest A. Canning has been an active member of the California state bar since 1977. Mr. Canning has received both undergraduate and graduate degrees in political science as well as a juris doctor. He is also a Vietnam vet (4th Infantry, Central Highlands 1968).