Egypt's Hosni Mubarak Names Vice President, Chaos Descends in Cairo


In a remarkable scene this afternoon, one armored personal carrier or tank after the next cut through large crowds on Tahrir Square, each of them carrying 20 to 30 joyous, chanting protesters on top.

People took pictures in front of tanks, on the tanks and with the soldiers. One tank was even spray painted "Down with Mubarak."

On the other hand, though, the lack of security forces in parts of the city of 18 million have left a vacuum that was filled with looters and vandals.

The Supreme Council of Journalism was torched this evening, and a fire near the Egyptian Museum continued to burn with no help on the way.

Protesters stormed the Egyptian Museum in downtown Cairo earlier today, damaging hundreds of precious artifacts and historical documents even as tanks and a human chain guarded the famed building. The army and Egypt's elite commando unit were called in to secure the historic building from looters.

Al Jazeera reported that demonstrators, chanting their condemnation of Suleiman, stormed houses across Cairo as law and order broke down. The news station also reported that hospitals were attacked by thugs and prisoners were released from several police stations.

An ABC News' fixer was accosted by thugs Friday night, and looters roamed through an ABC News' photographer's neighborhood.

Some reports showed police fighting a pitched battle with protestors at the Interior Ministry in Cairo. Ministry employees told Al Jazeera they left their posts amid fear for their lives.

The key, experts say, will be whether the army opens fire on protesters, a move that could trigger even a bigger uprising and cut off U.S. aid to Egypt. On Friday, administration officials said the United States was reconsidering its aid to Egypt in light of the current protests, and urged Mubarak's government to open up communications and allow people to protest peacefully.

An Egyptian security official told The Associated Press that at least 62 people have been killed in this week's violence, and that at least 750 policemen and 1,500 protesters have been wounded in clashes.

The Central Bank of Egypt has announced it will be closed for the next week, effectively halting all cash transactions in and out of Egypt. In the absence of law and order, Egyptians say they are worried that they will not be able to get any cash and buy food in the next few days.

Protesters say that Suleiman's appointment is not enough and that they want to see an end to Mubarak's nearly 30-year rule.

Suleiman, 74, has led major foreign policy issues in Egypt such as the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, according to The Associated Press. For an intelligence chief, Suleiman enjoyed unusually high level access within successive U.S. administrations. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her predecessor, Condoleezza Rice, who usually only meet with foreign ministers, would meet with Suleiman one-on-one when he visited Washington on his own.

A cable leaked by Wikileaks in 2007 showed that Mubarak's son, Gamal -- who has reportedly escaped to London with his family -- viewed Suleiman as a threat to his own presidential ambitions. Another Bush-era cable from the same year showed that while Suleiman was loyal to Mubarak, he "detests" the idea of a Gamal Mubarak presidency.

United States Concerned About Egypt Uprising

The ripples of the uprising in Egypt are being felt across the world, especially in the United States.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
  • |
  • 3
  • |
  • 4
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...