UPDATED: Tahrir Square Burns as VP Suleiman Gives Speech Filled with 'Threats'

StreamAl Jazeera live here.

UPDATE:Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman has just given an interview on Egyptian television dropping all sorts of propaganda, including saying Mubarak wants to implement reform but can't because of a lack of 'time,' and accusing the protests of being 'infiltrated' by foreign agendas. 'I blame some sister countries which have unfriendly TV stations which incite the youth. Egypt won't accept foreign meddling,' he said, which Al-Jazeera interpreted as a swipe against it. Both pundits and activists interviewed on that station after his speech have decried his statements as 'coded lies' and 'full of threats' and 'a standard dictator speech.' Robert Baer on why Suleiman was appointed VP: 'Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak appointed his intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as Vice President not because Suleiman had any sway with the Egyptian street but rather because the new Veep knows the military better than anyone.'

(Baer, it should be noted, is the former CIA operative/Middle East expert who once said of terrorism suspects, 'If you want them to be tortured, you send them to Syria. If you want someone to disappear—never to see them again—you send them to Egypt.')

The protests are getting worse and worse, as the military continues to 'separate' the pro-democracy protesters from Mubarak's dispatched thugs. Just an hour ago, Al-Jazeera reported that people were 'hurling petrol bombs down at the crowds below' in Tahrir Square. 'It's difficult to determine who is who and which supporters belong to which group. We were also hearing a string of gunshots and seeing flares fired into the air - we assume by the military.'

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has released an internal memo saying that it's concerned for its missing/detained journalists in Egypt,

And yesterday, Vodafone was forced by the Egyptian government to send pro-Mubarak to its subscribers, with no control over the content of its message. The company, which is based in the UK, released a statement condemning the practice:

Statement - Vodafone Egypt Thursday 3 February 2011

Under the emergency powers provisions of the Telecoms Act, the Egyptian authorities can instruct the mobile networks of Mobinil, Etisalat and Vodafone to send messages to the people of Egypt. They have used this since the start of the protests. These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content.

Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable. We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.

All day yesterday, Mubarak's thug flunkies provoked violence in the streets of Cairo, creating chaos with gunshots and molotov cocktails that Al-Jazeera described as 'medieval.' The fighting went through the night. But at around 11:50 PM, according to Al-Jazeera's liveblog, a group of pro-democracy protesters gained ground and shoved out the sudden influx of violent Mubarak supporters:

The pro-Mubarak crowd suddenly retreated, and the pro-democracy protesters advanced a moveable wall of metal shields to a new front line much further up.

A side battle erupted down a street behind the pro-Mubarak lines, with rock throwing and molotov cocktails.

An armored personnel carrier opened fire into the air, shooting red tracers up over Cairo, in an apparent effort to disperse/frighten the pro-Mubarak crowd, who contracted again.

The pro-democracy protesters are now advancing their line of staggered metal shields farther and farther and seem to have gained decisive momentum.

As of now, pro-democracy protesters have overtaken the 6th of October bridge; the military had blocked it by tanks in order to prevent more violence, but they have driven off.

Meanwhile, the state continues its suppression of journalists and has moved on to human rights activists. Forces have ordered all journalists -- who continue to be attacked on the ground in Cairo -- to leave Tahir Square, including their hotels. Employees at human rights groups Hisham Mubarak and the Egyptian center for social and economic rights have been detained or arrested, according to the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information.

Go here for live blog updates from Al Jazeera.

AlterNet / By Julianne Escobedo Shepherd

Posted at February 3, 2011, 3:24am

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