UPDATED: Mubarak Resigns, Egypt Explodes with Joy
Watch Al Jazeera, streaming live from Cairo,here.
UPDATE 1:26 PM EST: The Supreme Council is speaking on Egyptian State TV. 'While we are all aware the gravity of this matter in the face of the demands of our great nation, nationwide to implement radical change, the Supreme Council is examining this matter... in order to materialize the aspiration of our great nation. We will later hand down resolutions and statement defining the actions... emphasizing that there is no alternative but legitimacy to the people....' Mubarak is honored as well as the 'martyrs' who gave their lives for the democracy.
UPDATE 1:00 PM EST: President Obama was initially scheduled to make a statement at 1:30 PM EST, but that has been pushed back. Bahrain and Qatar have expressed support for the Egyptian people. Bahrain foreign minister Khalid al Khalifa has said, 'Egypt takes the Arab world into a new era .. Let's make it a better one.'
Vice President Biden: This is 'a pivotal moment in history' and that 'we have said from the beginning, that future of Egypt will be determined by Egyptian people.' Nice words, but uh... remember this one? Wha gwaan?
UPDATE 12:22 AM EST: Al Jazeera has posted profiles of those heading up the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, to which Mubarak ceded his power. Several have a long history with the military, including Suleiman. The names to know.
UPDATE 11:24 AM EST: ElBaradai: "This is the greatest day of my life. The country has been liberated."
UPDATE 11:05 AM EST: CONFIRMED! Omar Suleiman has just made a short announcement. 'President Hosni Mubarak has waived the office of president.' The Egyptian people have exploded with jubilation. The powers have been transferred to the military -- a contentious animal to be sure -- but for now, we celebrate. Turn on Al Jazeera live now!
Watch the speech:
UPDATE 10:02 AM EST: Al-Jazeera confirms that Mubarak has fled to Sharm el-Sheikh, a swanky resort city situated upon the Red Sea. State TV has announced that the Egyptian presidency is preparing to make an "urgent and important" statement, as military helicopters descend on the Palace in Cairo.
Mubarak's outright refusal to step down yesterday shocked not only the Egyptian protesters who have been living in the streets for weeks, but governments around the world. Even the White House was stunned -- particularly after it was learned that CIA Director Leon Panetta, whose testimony that Mubarak's resignation was imminent fueled global speculation, had based his report on things he heard in the media. Central Intelligence!
Today is what Egyptians are calling 'Farewell Friday' -- the last straw and a final push to unseat their delusional dictator. As of this afternoon, Egypt time, millions of protesters had surrounded Mubarak's palace in Cairo, with smaller groups circling the state TV station, amid reports that Mubarak and his family had fled the city. According to Al-Jazeera, military leaders met this morning to discuss their next plan, and later announced that they would lift the 30-year-old emergency law if the protesters went home. That doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon, and it's clear why --- Egyptians know that even if Mubarak hits the road, the dictatorship was and is run by the military. Mubarak's just the clothes on the emperor, being stripped away.
Gradually, though, it looks as though the military is turning over. Al-Jazeera:
Meanwhile on Friday, an Egyptian army officer who has joined the protesters said 15 other middle-ranking officers had also gone over to the demonstrators.
"The armed forces' solidarity movement with the people has begun," Major Ahmed Ali Shouman told Reuters news agency. "Our goals and the people's are one."
Shouman said the officers would address the crowd after Friday midday prayers.
The army, sent onto the streets after police withdrew following their failure to crush protesters on January 28, has promised not to fire on demonstrators.
Leaders across the globe are reacting to Mubarak's defiant speech yesterday, condemning his tactics as unclear and unfair to democracy. Obama scolded him more sternly than ever before, but unfortunately stopped short of saying he should step down. French President Sarkozy, British Foreign Minister William Hague, and German Foreign Minster Guido Westerwille all echoed the sentiment, preaching democracy but refusing to outright call for his resignation. But there may be a sea change on the horizon... Today, Danish Prime Minister Lars Rasmussen, specifically, called for Mubarak's resignation -- the first leader in the EU to do so. K
Keep AlterNet dialed for updates as the story develops.