Answers to basic “what” questions about Egypt

What are the demands of the protesters? What do the protests look like? What has the U.S. response been?

Topics: Egyptian Protests, Africa, Middle East,

Answers to basic "what" questions about EgyptPeople walk past a burned police station in Cairo, Egypt, Monday Jan. 31, 2011. Police and garbage collectors appeared on the streets of Cairo Monday morning and subway stations reopened after soldiers and neighborhood watch groups kept the peace in many districts overnight.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)(Credit: AP)

Seized by the past week’s explosive unrest, the situation in Egypt grows increasingly complicated. Here are some answers to questions about what’s going on — from the nature of the demonstrations to the underlying motivations of the parties involved.

What are the demands of the Egyptian protesters?

  • The primary goal of the thousands of angry demonstrators is the termination of President Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian rule. (CNN)
  • Protesters also want a more equitable Egypt — a country that ranks 137 worldwide for per capita income — after years of a regime that “forestalled” economic reforms. (Wall Street Journal)

What do the protests look like?

  • Protests fluctuated in terms of scope and violence over the past week, while images of conflict between demonstrators and both riot police and military — not to mention an AP video of a protester shot — have stoked intense international interest. (The Guardian)
  • Reports of violence only emboldened protesters, as thousands more peaceful demonstrators have poured into the streets in the past few days. (NPR)
  • To expedite the end goal of Mubarak’s resignation, opposition groups are calling for general strike by all Egyptians. (CBC)

What has the United States’ response to the protests been like?



  • The Obama administration approached the situation with caution, torn between its interest in a democratic Egypt and its strategic relationship with the Egyptian government. (PBS, Atlantic Sentinel)  
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton repeatedly stated the Mubarak government needs to institute reforms, while asking all Egyptians to refrain from violence. (Bloomberg)
  • The State Department warned any Americans in Egypt or planning to travel there that the country isn’t safe and urging immediate evacuation. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The administration is reportedly preparing itself for a post-Mubarak Egypt quietly. (LA Times)

 

Peter Finocchiaro is a senior editor at Salon. Follow him on Twitter @PLFino.

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