"Battle for the Future of Egypt"
The details of the massacre today in Tahrir Square have emerged and it is a harrowing day.
Just a hours after the embattled Hosny Mubarak promised he would not run in elections again, a very ugly day unfolded.
Mubarak supporters, either paid, brainwashed, or coerced have been pouring to the streets. They are a mix of government employees that were told by the bosses they have to go, some given money to do so, and the ubiquitous multi-purpose thugs.
One particularly interesting group of thugs were camel and horse riders. These are the the same ones you see around the pyramid. The protesters say that one captured rider confessed that they were paid by El Gabri a businessman and member of parliament of Nazlet El Semman, a poor area adjacent to the Pyramids of Giza.
These horse and camel riders charged the protesters with whips and sticks. Some say there were spears too. The protesters managed to get a few horse riders, but not camels.
This soon developed in a group of thugs going into a building overlooking the square, and then throwing stones and whatever objects they can find. There was even furniture being thrown. Then this developed into petrol bombs being thrown from the roof top on the protesters.
This battle is now called Qasr El Nil after the street and bridge name connected to the area.
A make shift hospital has been setup to deal with injuries, and a few ambulances were seen arriving to the scene.
The casualties of that battle were 3 dead, and 600 to 1500 injured.
In the aftermath of this battle, there are news that the new Prime Minister, ex-army officer Ahmed Shafik is appalled at what happened in Tahrir Square on Wednesday, and threatening Mubarak and Suleiman to resign.
Regarding the sudden appearance of "pro-Mubarak" crowds, the BBC reporter Jeremy Bowens said that Wednesday (February 2nd) was the first day he sees them since January 25th. He says it did not appear to be spontaneous, and that some of the signs they carried seem to be professionally made. He says the pro-regime people are fearing the loss of privileges.
Bowens says "the regime has entrenched itself since the 1950s. It will not go quietly".
Unlike Tuesday, the army stood there while the two sides clashed. They did not search protesters for weapons, and even told people to stay at home. Compare that to agreeing with the legitimate demands of the youth a day earlier.
Another news item is a young man called Yasser El-Shimy who was working at the Washington Egyptian Embassy. He resigned to back the protesters.
Some news headlines I saw are:
Mostafa El-Fiki, a senior ruling party official and talking head on TV is saying what happened in Tahrir Square is not planned by Mubarak, but by business people.
Later when it was 4 am Wednesday local time, thugs were attacking the protesters with live ammunition. A haunting phone call from a female 33 year protester was troubling and encouraging. She said she has only known one president all of her life. She read about democracy and saw it in other countries and read about it, but never experienced it.
A friend has a cousin in Tahrir Square. She is in her early 40s with 2 children. She says that Mubarak has gone mad after these actions. She saw at least one dead protester and countless injured.
My mother did not sleep all night, and called me at 6:30 local time. So far, she has been holding up against the propaganda, thanks to independent satellite TV stations.
The internet is back, and there is a split opinion among Egyptians who have been offline for along time, while all this is unfolding. Some of them are fed up with banks closed, work and school disrupted, and all that, and want this over soon, and are for negotiation. Others defending the president for his "achievements", such as the fabled "stability" that he has provided, or managing to keep us out of wars for 30 years. Some feel sorry for him and want to see him go "in dignity". Many still want him to go and support his downfall.
A battle of opinions is raging on Facebook, State TV, and satellite TVs owned by businessmen close to the regime.