Egypt unrest and protests continue as police return to Cairo streets

As Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak swore in a new Cabinet Monday thousands of angry protesters took to the streets for a seventh day demanding that he step down. (Jan. 31)
Monday, January 31, 2011; 11:52 AM

Unrest in Egypt continued into its 7th day as anti-government protests once again faced police on the streets of Cairo. Greg Witte has the latest report on the protests:

Uniformed Egyptian police were back on the streets of this capital city Monday after disappearing over the weekend, as thousands of pro-democracy protesters showed no sign of obeying a midafternoon government-imposed curfew.

The police, who are widely detested here, have been blamed for triggering an almost complete breakdown of law and order in recent days across Egypt, a strategically vital nation at the heart of the Arab world. But with a measure of calm returning to the city Monday, many residents appeared pleased to have officers back on the job.

Still, it was unclear whether the calm would last, as thousands of protesters continued for a seventh day to call for President Hosni Mubarak's resignation.

Police officers, some brandishing rifles, took up positions in key intersections and along main thoroughfares. Security forces detained staff from Al Jazeera's English-language channel, and shut down the station's operations in Cairo.

Karen DeYoung reported on the Obama administration's response:

In telephone calls to Egyptian and regional leaders, President Obama and his top national security advisers tried to reassure them that their countries remain vital U.S. strategic partners, while warning that the political status quo is not sustainable.

Senior administration officials said that the "transition" wording, used by both the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, was carefully chosen to indicate a desire for a representative, interim government to run Egypt until scheduled presidential elections are held in September.

Clinton, who appeared on five morning television shows to convey the message, resisted invitations to call explicitly for President Hosni Mubarak, in power for three decades, to stand down. "Both existing and any new members of any government" need to take "concrete steps toward democratic and economic reform," Clinton said on CNN's "State of the Union."

Janine Zacharia has reported that Cairo airport has become swamped as foreigners attempt to flee the unrest in Egypt:

Toilets overflowed and convenience stores began running out of snacks at Cairo's international airport early Monday as tourists from around the world besieged terminals in a mad scramble to flee Egypt's growing chaos.

The airport was completely overwhelmed by passengers, many of whom showed up without a reservation after failing to get through to airlines because of the government-orchestrated disruption to Internet and cellphone service. Landlines also have failed frequently over the past several days.

With the government blocking the Internet for a fourth day, in a so-far unsuccessful bid to prevent demonstrators from communicating, neither travelers nor hotel concierges could check flight availability. Even if they could, they wouldn't have found much.

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