Great NY Times write up about the Egypt uprising, Dual Uprisings Show Potent New Threats to Arab States:
According to American officials, senior members of the government in Saudi Arabia argued that the United States should back Mr. Mubarak even if he used force against the demonstrators. By Feb. 1, when Mr. Mubarak broadcast a speech pledging that he would not run again and that elections would be held in September, Mr. Obama concluded that the Egyptian president still had not gotten the message.Interesting insight into Egyptian military actions:
Within an hour, Mr. Obama called Mr. Mubarak again in the toughest, and last, of their conversations. “He said if this transition process drags out for months, the protests will, too,” one of Mr. Obama’s aides said.
Mr. Mubarak told Mr. Obama that the protests would be over in a few days.
Mr. Obama ended the call, the official said, with these words: “I respect my elders. And you have been in politics for a very long time, Mr. President. But there are moments in history when just because things were the same way in the past doesn’t mean they will be that way in the future.”
The next day, heedless of Mr. Obama’s admonitions, Mr. Mubarak launched another attack against the protesters, many of whom had by then spent five nights camped out in Tahrir Square. By about 2:30 p.m., thousands of burly men loyal to Mr. Mubarak and armed with rocks, clubs and, eventually, improvised explosives had come crashing into the square.
Soldiers of the Egyptian military, evidently under orders to stay neutral, stood watching from behind the iron gates of the Egyptian Museum as the war of stone missiles and improvised bombs continued for 14 hours until about four in the morning.Read more.
Then, unable to break the protesters’ discipline or determination, the Mubarak forces resorted to guns, shooting 45 and killing 2, according to witnesses and doctors interviewed early that morning. The soldiers — perhaps following orders to prevent excessive bloodshed, perhaps acting on their own — finally intervened. They fired their machine guns into the ground and into the air, several witnesses said, scattering the Mubarak forces and leaving the protesters in unmolested control of the square, and by extension, the streets.
Once the military demonstrated it was unwilling to fire on its own citizens, the balance of power shifted. American officials urged the army to preserve its bond with the Egyptian people by sending top officers into the square to reassure the protesters, a step that further isolated Mr. Mubarak.