Fighter Jets Deployed Over Cairo as Demands for Hosni Mubarak's Ouster Spread


Egypt's embattled president, facing pressure both domestically and from abroad, was shown by Arabic television channels visiting the center of the Egyptian armed forces. This was Mubarak's first public appearance since his speech on Friday night in which he promised economic and social reforms but which had little effect of appeasing the angry crowds.

Demonstrators, angry and frustrated at the country's dire economic situation, high food prices, rising unemployment and decades of corruption and poverty, are demanding an end to Mubarak's 30-year rule that they charge has been filled with corruption.

Amid the escalating violence, a number of countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq, have sent charter planes and private jets to pull their citizens out of the country.

The situation in Egypt is particularly alarming to the United States. Egypt is one of United States' closest allies in the Middle East. It is only one of two Arab countries that recognizes Israel and has helped broker key peace deals. Mubarak's government has also been a close U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, and any instability in the region could be gravely dangerous to U.S. interests in the region.

The United States advised its citizens in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible, and allowed the authorized departure of all non-essential personnel and families who want to leave. The State Department will charter one or two charter flights a day, and is expecting to evacuate 600 individuals that include non-essential embassy staff and family members.

The flights will go to Europe although the destination is not yet known.

Egypt Protests Escalate

The U.S. embassy in Cairo is one of the country's biggest in the Arab world. There are 380 officials operating out of the embassy in Cairo and there are 760 dependents.

There are roughly 50,000 American citizens registered with the U.S. embassy as being in Egypt. The actual number may in fact be higher.

Egypt is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid, receiving $1.5 billion yearly. Clinton said today there hasn't been any discussion as of yet about cutting off aid. Instead, that the administration's main focus is to convey to the Egyptian government there is no violence or provocation that results in violence and that a national dialogue with civil society must be initiated.

The U.S. government has stepped up pressure on Mubarak, 82, but it's walking a fine line in dealing with a president who has served as one of United States' closest ally in the Arab world.

The United States also faces the challenge of addressing angry Egyptian residents, who say that for all the calls of democracy, the U.S. has done little to promote it in the region.

Today, Clinton firmly countered that view, arguing that the country has for decades urged Mubarak both publicly and privately to implement meaningful reforms.

Mubarak appointed a vice president Saturday for the first time in his presidency. But Clinton said Omar Suleiman's swearing-in is only the first step toward reforms.

"There has been for 30 years a both public and private dialogue with the Egyptian government, sometimes more public, sometimes more private, but all with the same message, from Republican and Democratic administrations, that there needs to be reform," Clinton said on "This Week."

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