Crisis in Egypt: New Elections Announced for Coming Weeks


Blaming the Doha, Qatar-based Al Jazeera network for fueling the uprising, authorities today temporarily detained six of the network's reporters and confiscated their equipment. The network was taken off the airwaves Sunday.

Egyptian authorities also cancelled all train services to Cairo in an obvious attempt at preventing more people from reaching the country's capital.

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. Egypt is also home to the Suez Canal, and any instability in the region could be gravely dangerous to U.S. interests in the region.

In the most firm language employed by U.S. administration officials so far, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Sunday called for an "orderly transition" with lasting effects and said the Egyptian government must respect the rights of people to demonstrate peacefully. However, she stopped short of pointing fingers at Mubarak.

"And by that I mean real democracy, not a democracy for six months or a year and then evolving into, essentially, a military dictatorship," Clinton told ABC News on Sunday.

The White House wants Mubarak to immediately begin a dialogue with the civil society, fully restore modes of communication like cell phone services and the internet and lift the emergency law, which has been in place since 1967 and gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties.

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

The U.S. "must tell him (Mubarak) frankly to go," said Ayman, an Egyptian journalist. "Go at once. The United States should choose between the Egyptian people and Mubarak. Mubarak will leave, today or tomorrow. But the Egyptian people will stay forever. They must be with us, frankly."

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 United States evacuated about more than 1,200 Americans from Egypt today on various flights to Cyprus, Athens, and Istanbul. They plan to move another 1,000 on Tuesday. There are 50,000 Americans throughout Egypt.

The State Department has so far received requests to help evacuate 2,600 Americans, majority of whom are in Cairo. But requests have also come from other cities including Alexandria, Luxor, and Aswan.

There will be at least six more flights on Tuesday, expected to evacuate another 1,000 Americans. There may also be flights from Aswan and Luxor in the next day or two, State Department officials said.

Americans trying to make it to the airport in Cairo faced several roadblocks set up by armed civilians protecting their homes and other blocks set up by the army. Others camped out in airport terminals hoping to jump on the next flight out of the country.

"We've talked about hiring drivers we know, buying us food and just to drive it out to us," one American told ABC News.

In the United States, anxious parents of students studying in Egypt waited for word from their children.

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