0547 GMT: Scott Lucas will now be starting our LiveBlog updates for Friday. I will be back in 10 hours or so.
0513 GMT: A small ray of hope emerges in the form of a twitter user from inside Egypt after the massive internet blackout. Amr El Beleidy, co-founder of touringa.com, tweets from Cairo:
Until now mobinil & vodafone mobile networks working, and data connection on mobinil and noor dsl working #jan25
I have access to twitter and facebook with no problems / no proxies#Jan25
0403 GMT: Another great report on the disconnection of Internet in Egypt takes an in-depth look at how the disruption has been caused:
Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.
One of the very few exceptions to this block has been Noor Group (AS20928), which still has 83 out of 83 live routes to its Egyptian customers, with inbound transit from Telecom Italia as usual. Why was Noor Group apparently unaffected by the countrywide takedown order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange (www.egyptse.com) is still alive at a Noor address.
A graph showing the sudden disconnection from the same website and full information is available here.
0355 GMT: In a new response to continued queries about US's stance regarding Egypt, US Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs P.J. Crowley tweets:
We are closely monitoring the situation in #Egypt. We continue to urge authorities to show restraint and allow peaceful protests to occur.
#SecClinton spoke this afternoon with FM Aboul Gheit of #Egypt. She encouraged restraint and dialogue, and offered U.S. support for reforms.
But will only monitoring do any good? How about asking Hosni Mubarak to allow internet services to resume providing Egyptians with this vital link to the outside world?
0300 GMT: US State Department official P.J. Crowley gave an interview on Al Jazeera a few hours ago where he faced some very tough questions on Egypt. But like the President, the Vice President and the White House spokesperson, he refused to lend any kind of firm US support to the Egyptian protesters demanding democracy.
What astounds me here is whether they think the same protesters won't be watching these interviews. That if and when democracy comes to Egypt, the same people who bled for its arrival will forget how blatantly their dictator was supported by the world's largest democracy. For now, US politicians seem to either think Hosni Mubarak won't fall or that Egyptians are deaf and blind. Here's the full interview:
How bad has the situation been in Suez in the past couple of days? A picture from the Guardian UK gives us a brief glimpse of the violence used against protesters:
0205 GMT: Since the internet was shut down in major parts of Egypt, there have been questions as to the extent of the disruptions. Now, we get a clear idea of how bad it has been.
Below you’ll find a table with the top 10 providers in Egypt. It shows how many Egyptian networks were announced earlier this week and how many are reachable today. As you can see in the table below, right now most autonomous systems (ISP’s) are no longer announcing any, or at the very least, significantly less prefixes.
Prefixes today this week origin AS Provider name 20 775 8452 TE-AS TE-AS 0 774 24863 LINKdotNET-AS 113 676 36992 ETISALAT-MISR 0 217 24835 RAYA-AS 0 102 5536 Internet-Egypt 85 83 20928 NOOR-AS 0 41 36935 Vodafone-EG 23 36 15475 NOL 14 28 8524 eg-auc 0 25 6127 IDSC
See their full report on the situation here.
0147 GMT: Amid the political crisis in Egypt and escalating tensions between protesters and the government, the US government has had a mixed reaction to the democracy protests - some might even say a negative one.
Certainly, Vice President Joe Biden left no room for any harsh criticism of President Mubarak in a interview with PBS stepped short of calling for Mubarak to step down. Watch it here:
0130 GMT: Several sources on Twitter and other social media are claiming that Cairo's city center has been emptied of anti-riot police and other security forces. No independent verification exists as internet has been cut-off across Egypt and very few people remain connected.
0122 GMT: Several sources are confirming that security forces have arrested 350 Muslim Brotherhood members as well as two key leaders, Issam El Eryan and Mohamed Mursi.
No independent confirmation is available.
0029 GMT: The Associated Press confirms that internet has been severely disrupted in Egypt and the elite counter-terrorism force has been deployed. The report adds:
The police counterterrorism force is rarely seen on the streets. Its officers took up positions early Friday in strategic locations in Cairo, including central Tahrir Square, site of the biggest demonstrations earlier this week.
0023 GMT: @Weddady tweets:
URGENT: call in from Egypt SOURCES IN VODAFONE SAY ENTIRE NETWORK WILL BE SHUTDOWN IN 2 HOURS
This comes in the face of reports from other sources that cell phone connections will be cut down in Egypt shortly and won't be restored until Friday evening in an effort by the government to hamper protest organization.
0017 GMT: Multiple sources on social networks are reporting that police in Cairo are pouring gasoline on cars. Reportedly, this is so that tomorrow, they could be easily set on fire and then be blamed on protesters. The police - according to these sources - will then have an easier time arresting protesters on charges of vandalism and rioting.
We cannot independently confirm this.
0010 GMT: There are reports that three rocket-propelled grenades were fired on police stations in Sheikh Zuwayid in the Sinai, but one missed the target and hit a medical center. One managed to hit a police station 2 miles from the town, setting it on fire while the third landed in an empty lot. Not casualties have been reported.
The RPGs were likely fired in retaliation of the death of a protester in the city earlier in the day.
0008 GMT: The US Embassy in Cairo's website is now down. The site cannot be accessed even from outside the country it seems.
0003 GMT: Neal Mann of Sky News tweets:
Reuters: A top official at the state telecoms regulator declines to comment on the internet being down in Egypt.
2355 GMT: The US Defense Department is closely monitoring events in Egypt and the region, according to the department's spokesperson said on Wednesday. This comes at a time when senior Egyptian military officials are expected in Washington D.C. for bilateral talks.
Al Masry Al Youm reports:
“These are...separate, fast-moving situations that the secretary and others here in this department, and...others throughout the government, are monitoring closely as they evolve,” Morrell told Pentagon reporters in a briefing on Wednesday. “Let me remind you, we have a longstanding military-to-military relationship with Egypt.”
Egypt annually receives $1.3 billion from the United States in military aid, second only to Israel. Since 1979, it has received a total of $36 billion.
2345 GMT: Tor Project developer Jacob Applebaum tweets:
I just reached a friend's landline in Cairo - "I want the world to see what is happening to us - This is not fair!"
2325 GMT: Several sources confirm that internet has been shut down in major parts of Egypts. People on twitter and other social media are reporting that many people directly connected from Egypt have fallen off messengers and other devices. Those inside Egypt are telling sources that internet is completely down in Cairo and Alexandria and possibly other places.
Not even Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran resorted to such drastic action. It only goes to show how important a tool internet has become for mass mobilization.
2320 GMT: A report from Sky News tweets that the Egyptian ministry of interior affairs has warned protesters that the government will take 'decisive measures' against further anti-government protests. In light of the media blackout that is slowly being enforced across Egypt, does this mean a blood bath for anyone who wants to protest?
2300 GMT: From available reports, it seems imminent that the Egyptian government will try or already has cut-off SMS, cell phone services and internet - and might even try to cut-off land lines. SMS has already been blocked throughout the country. Cell phone connectivity is proving difficult for many. Internet in many parts of Cairo and possibly even Alexandria has been disconnected.
This comes in the face of growing optimism in Egypt about regime change through peaceful protests and the government's complete inability to exercise control over the population. However, what is worrying is that like the protests in Iran and in Tunisia, would the government increase the amount of violent force it has used in the past few days or continue to enforce the faux sense of security it has bought itself by isolating its own people.
Or, it might be enforcing the black out so it could crush the opposition without the world watching...
2255 GMT: Several others are claiming that internet is possibly being cut-off all over Egypt to hamper planning from tomorrow's protests planned after the Friday prayers. We can confirm that internet is at least completely down in central Cairo.
2251 GMT: Several Egyptian tweeters are reporting that internet is seemingly being cut-off in different parts of Cairo - especially city center.
@BenCNN: Confirm internet down in central Cairo something odd. Twitting on UK blackberry
@Draddee: It's looking the internet is down in large Cairo.
@SarahCarr: They seem to be cutting off the net centrale by centrale. My net not yet affected el7amdellah
2240 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm reports that so far at least 70,000 Egyptians have confirmed through social media sites that they will participate in the nationwide protests planned after Friday prayers tomorrow.
This number is sure to grow as more people sign in after getting home from today's protests.
2235 GMT: Reports that cell phones are about to be cut-off in anticipation of tomorrow's protests are streaming in from different sources.
Adam Makry of Al-Jazeera tweets:
Trusted source tells me phone lines will be cut in egypt, maybe in less than 2 hours
Already having trouble getting a hold of ppl, this is ridiculous. Emergency law at its best...
Ppl in #egypt, do not rely on your mobiles
2135 GMT: The Tunisian government was witness to a quick and major reshuffle today when 12 ministers - most loyal to former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali - were replaced.
These include the minister of defense, finance and interior affairs while the minister of foreign affairs resigned earlier claiming it was in the nation's best interest. Prime Minister Mohammad Ghannouchi, however, remained in his position. The reshuffle on Thursday was a major demand of ongoing protests in Tunisia where after Ben Ali's departure, protesters now want all his allies out of the government too.
While Ghannouchi has promised that his government is a transitional one and will hand over power to an elected one as quickly as possible, many protesters want him out too since he's been an ally of Ben Ali.
2130 GMT: Meanwhile in Suez, the government has managed to disperse another protest.
Eyewitnesses confirm that the neighborhood of Al-Arbe'en - which saw intense clashes last night - has saw its public lighting cut off. Protesters have also torched a fire station, a police station and several other buildings in the past two days. Police have so far arrested between 15-50 protesters, eyewitnesses claim.
2116 GMT: We can now confirm that SMS services have been blocked in Egypt. Earlier reports went unconfirmed for a while, but now several users inside and sources outside Egypt confirmed the story. This is probably going to hamper the protesters' ability to communicate with each other tomorrow.
But since word of protests for tomorrow has likely gotten out to activists through social media, email, word of mouth and SMS, it might end up being a futile move by the Mubarak regime.
2110 GMT: As plans for protests after Friday prayers solidify, would-be protesters now have a complete schedule and plan to follow for the day. Anonymous flyers being distributed in Cairo are instructing protesters on what exactly to carry, which buildings to try and occupy, how to get there and finally, how to deal with security forces.
The leaflets don't seem to have any political messages beyond the immediate goal of ousting President Mubarak. And no hint of the Muslim Brotherhood in them either. The leaflets urge people to pass them around to others through email and/or photo copies - but warn them against distribution through social media.
2045 GMT: I'm putting you in the capable hands of Josh Shahryar to watch developments through the night. We are watching unconfirmed reports of new clashes throughout Egypt and of a possible Government block on SMS services.
Thanks to everyone for joining us today. In the end, this was not a day to catch breath. However, tomorrow may be even more fast-paced.
2040 GMT: Al Arabiya is reported that Egyptian security will not allow any demonstrations on Friday.
2030 GMT: Al Jazeera reports more clashes in the Al Arbaeen section of Suez, with police using tear gas and plastic bullets against protestors.
1910 GMT: The police presence in Suez:
1852 GMT: Masrawy is reporting that Bedouin in the Sinai fired three rocket-propelled grenades at security forces.
1850 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that a reporter from Reuters has been arrested.
1845 GMT: About 300 demonstrators protested earlier today in front of the Hakaniya Court in Manshiya Square in Alexandria
Police cordoned off the protesters, some of whom were lawyers demanding the release of colleagues arrested since Tuesday. Protestors chanted, “Down, down with Mubarak,” and “Mubarak, leave.”
The opposition Wafd Party said security forces arrested some of its members while they were leaving party offices in downtown Alexandria on Thursday.
1805 GMT: Ahram Online summarises the press conference this afternoon (see earlier updates) of Safwat El-Sherif, the Secretary-General of the ruling National Democratic Party. After describing "coordination with the government on how it will address [economic] problems", El-Sherif said: "The street protests began on Tuesday in a civilized and peaceful way and we are as a party believing in all forms of freedom of expression encouraged young people to express their opinions in the way they like but when outlawed groups began to infiltrate protests, we began to see acts of sabotage and disseminating false rumours about the party's leaders and the country."
1800 GMT: Tunisian Foreign Minister Kamel Morjane has resigned.
Morjane has been under sustained pressure to leave the Cabinet because of his ties with and service to the ousted Ben Ali Regime. He was expected to be replaced this week in a reshuffle of Ministers.
1755 GMT: Catching up on news from earlier today in Egypt....
Security forces arrested a 23-year-old woman in Assiut for defiling an image of President Hosni Mubarak in front of the governorate's headquarters.
Suzanne al-Amin, a temporary employee at the University of Assiut, wrote on the image "No for Mubarak" six times. Security sources said she was upset about working for low wages.
1750 GMT: Mohammed ElBaradei, Nobel Prize laureate and head of the National Association for Change, has arrived in Cairo's airport.
ElBaradei has been in Vienna but confirmed earlier today that he would be returning to join protests (see 1413 GMT).
1600 GMT: Another protester has been killed today. Mohamed Atef was shot in the head during demonstrations in the town of Sheikh Zowayed in the Sinai peninsula.
Atef is the fifth protester to die since Tuesday. Officials say two policemen have also been killed.
1535 GMT: The Egyptian stock market fell another 10.5% on Thursday.
The index decreased 6% on Wednesday. Since yesterday afternoon, it has recorded a a loss of 54 billion Egyptian Pounds ($9.2 billion) in trading.
The market was suspended for 45 minutes after it fell 6.2% in the first quarter-hour of trading on Thursday.
The Egyptian Pound, already at a six-year low, is still sliding against the US dollar.
1528 GMT: Al Masry Al Youm has just posted an article with this headline, "Could Suez Be Egypt's Sidi Bouzid?"
Events in Sidi Bouzid in December triggered the Tunisian uprising.
1526 GMT: Government spokesman Magdy Rady has said, "The police are keeping self restraint to the maximum, but when there is an illegitimate way of expression or destruction of property they interfere."
1525 GMT: This weekend's domestic football league games have been cancelled.
1519 GMT: Report from Al Jazeera correspondent in Suez, "Protestors kettled in Al Arbaeen, tear gas & smoke so heavy we can hardly see. Police using Batons, rubber bullets."
And another observer in Suez, this update: "Protesters looting fire station. The surge seems unaffected by tear gas, rubber bullets."
1508 GMT:More than 2,200 scholars, politicians, and activists from more than 20 Arab countries have issued the Casablanca Call:
We...believe that the achievement of democracy and the embodiment of human rights in the Arab world is an absolute necessity and requires a broader engagement of all citizens and political and social forces. We observe, with great concern, the dramatic and alarming backsliding of political reforms in the Arab world, due to several structural obstacles since the beginning of the new century. We hereby appeal to all concerned parties --- governments, civil society institutions, political organizations, trade unions, and the media --- in the belief that the achievement of real and effective reforms is the responsibility of all parties.
1504 GMT: The ruling party NDP's press conference is over. One journalist summarised, "It was like sending a dispatch from a parallel universe."
1500 GMT: A protest is gathering at the Press Syndicate in Cairo.
1445 GMT: Protests in Rafah in South Sinai are continuing after pro-government tribesmen failed to convince protesters to halt, as authorities consider whether to charge their detained relatives.
The total number of detainees is estimated at 420.
In Mahalla, north of Cairo, police have arrested seven activists, including five members of the Democratic Front Party building, but there have large rallies elsewhere in the city. Seucrity forces, including some in armoured vehicles, quashed a demonstration in Tanta.
1425 GMT: 1st-hand from Suez, "Fire department building on fire. Billows of black smoker rising. Firemen jumping out windows."
1421 GMT: Nothing significant from the ruling party NDP's press conference so far: "NDP Secretary General talking all about hopes, ambitions of Egyptian youth. No contrition, no regrets.....All is well, will carry on as before. Reforms will continue."
1420 GMT: The Muslim Brotherhood, the largest political opposition organization in Egypt, has announced it will join Friday’s demonstrations.
Dr Mohammed Morsi of the Brotherhood's Executive Bureau said that the group will participate in a protest after Friday prayers to "achieve popular demands".
A member of the Brotherhood's Guidance Office, Dr. Saad al-Katatni, said it was not necessary for the organisation to take a leading role in the protests, but if the situation requires, its members will maintain a strong street presence.
1416 GMT: Safwat Sharif, the Secretary-General of the ruling National Democratic Party is now speaking at a press conference, defending the party and its achievements."
1415 GMT: Recap from Suez. One police station was burned this morning, and relatives of detainees gathered around a second station. Trouble then escalated, with the reports of clashes involving tear gas, rubber bullets, and water cannon. There are unconfirmed claims of Molotov cocktails and live fire.
Al Jazeera says 300 people have been detained. Al Arabiya's correspondent Ahmad Othman was prevented from entering the city.
1413 GMT: Mohamed ElBaradei, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and head of the National Assocation of Change, has said he is ready to "lead the transition" in Egypt if asked.
ElBaradei, departed Vienna for Cairo to join protests, said "If people, in particularly young people, if they want me to lead the transition I will not let them down." He added, however, "My priority right now is to see a new Egypt and to see a new Egypt through peaceful transition."
1407 GMT: More from CNN's Ben Wedeman, "NDP official tells me situation 'serious'. Says Mubarak doesn't want to repeat [former Tunisian President] Ben Ali's last speech."
1405 GMT: Ben Wedeman of CNN reports from Cairo and the seat of power of the ruling National Democratic Party, "At NDP HQ. Gamal Mubarak [son of the President] in the building but won't speak at presser. NDP ppl NERVOUS."
1400 GMT: Tim Marshall of Britain's Sky News writes from Cairo, "We are on Rameses St. Small demo, Calmer mood than Weds. People waiting for Fri."
However, in Sinai, there is a report of exchange of gunfire between police and cornered protesters in Sheikh Zuweid.
1359 GMT: From Suez, "Rocks fill the air. Protesters charging. Reports of live rounds being used."
has been postponed "because of the conditions experienced by the emergency".
1348 GMT: In Tunisia, more demonstrations and political uncertainty....
The anticipated Cabinet reshuffle has been delayed for a second day in a row. In Sidi Bouzid, the province where the current wave of protests started last month, thousands of people have demonstrated to demand the resignation of the transitional Government, chanting, "No to the theft of revolution, Yes to toppling the Government."
Tunisia's trade union confederation UGTT has supported the protest with the call for a general strike.
In Tunis, thousands have turned up in front of the Central Theatre to demand the Government step down.
1343 GMT: The General Prosecutor has announced that 149 Egyptian protestors will be charged with sedition. Those calling for overthrowing the regime face five years in prison and those who attempt to overthrow the regime using weapons face 25 years.
Lawyers say 166 other people have been released from detention in Cairo.
1340 GMT: Reports continue of clashes in Mammar Square in Ismailia.
1330 GMT: A first-hand report from Suez, "Mostly calm except 4 Arbeen 'hood. Clashes continue, Tear gassing even in mosques. Women, minors arrested. Live ammo used."
Fighting is reportedly centred around a police station. Al Jazeera reporter Ayman Mohyeldin estimates 2000 protesters are involved.
Reuters is reporting tear gas and rubber bullets have been used; Al Jazeera says tear gas, rubber bullets, and cannon. Neither mention live ammunition.
1249 GMT: In Egypt, Cairo is still quiet today. Security forces maintain a heavy presence, although there are fewer in the key point of Tahrir Square.
1242 GMT: Al Jazeera reports"tens of thousands" of demonstrators in Yemen chanting, "The people want regime change!" and demanding the resignation of President Ali Abdallah Saleh.
AFP says "thousands" marched in four different locations in the capital Sanaa with the declaration, "Enough being in power for 30 years."
Yemeni Interior Minister Motahar Rashad al-Masri insisted, "Yemen is not like Tunisia" because it was a "democratic country" and the demonstrations were peaceful.
The marchers chanted, "No to extending (presidential tenure). No to bequeathing (the Presidency to Saleh's son)."
1239 GMT: The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information says the dismissal of the Minister of Interior Habib Al-Adly is a "national demand", since he carries prime responsibility for the crimes of systematic torture in Egypt.
1234 GMT:A report comes in that families of the dead in Suez are afraid to talk because of the possible retaliation from the Government.
1230 GMT: Back from an academic break to find news of clashes between "hundreds" of protesters and police in Ismailia.
0904 GMT: An activist notifies us that 15 year-old Shahd Essam has been arrested in Nasr City near Cairo.
0900 GMT: Trading has been halted on the Egyptian Stock Exchange after the index fell more than 6% in the first 15 minutes this morning.
0835 GMT: Lots of chatter last night and this morning --- well, lots of chatter amongst observers outside Egypt --- as to whether the US Government is distancing itself from President Mubarak.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, shifting from her Tuesday declaration of faith in the "stability" of Cairo's regime, said yesterday, “We believe strongly that the Egyptian government has an important opportunity at this moment in time to implement political, economic and social reforms to respond to the legitimate needs and interests of the Egyptian people.” Analysts have split in their reaction to this: some seeing a genuine US attempt to press for reform and to warn Mubarak not to block protests, some calling this limited because there is no reference to free elections, and others portraying it as the statement of a Washington reviewing its options amidst a changing situation.
Bloomberg has the most intriguing report this morning:
The White House is prepared to step up its criticism of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a key Middle East ally, if his government intensifies its crackdown on protesters, said an administration official.
President Barack Obama privately pressed Mubarak in a telephone call last week to embrace democratic changes, said the official, who requested anonymity....
The message that White House officials want Mubarak to hear is that he should seize the protests as an opportunity to reform state institutions and not use them as a pretext to strengthen his grip on power, the administration officials said yesterday.
0830 GMT: Brian Whitaker posts this acerbic observation:
In the absence of any noteworthy events in Egypt, the semi-official al-Ahram newspaper had to look further afield for its main front-page headline yesterday: "Widespread protests and disturbances in Lebanon".
0825 GMT: Al Jazeera is reporting that protests are continuing outside the Press Syndicate in Cairo.
0820 GMT: In Tunisia, "political sources" are saying that the Ministers of Interior, Defense, and Foreign Affairs will be replaced in the Cabinet reshuffle today.
0815 GMT: Al Jazeera reports that 121 members of the opposition Muslim Brotherhood were arrested in the southern Egyptian city of Assiut on Wednesday.
0754 GMT: In Tunisia, a Government spokesperson says the Cabinet reshuffle will take place today.
0740 GMT: Mohamed ElBaradei posts an editorial in The Daily Beast which appears to be directed more at the US Government than the Egyptian people. He criticises Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Tuesday statement expressing confidence in the "stability" of the Egyptian Government:
What did she mean by stable, and at what price? Is it the stability of 29 years of “emergency” laws, a president with imperial power for 30 years, a parliament that is almost a mockery, a judiciary that is not independent? Is that what you call stability?
Later in the column, ElBaradei, who has been in Vienna, does shift his perspective:
The young people of Egypt have lost patience, and what you’ve seen in the streets these last few days has all been organized by them. I have been out of Egypt because that is the only way I can be heard. I have been totally cut off from the local media when I am there. But I am going back to Cairo, and back onto the streets because, really, there is no choice. You go out there with this massive number of people, and you hope things will not turn ugly, but so far, the regime does not seem to have gotten that message.
0715 GMT: The Guardian of London makes a bold projection, "In a cable written in May 2009 the US ambassador to Cairo, Margaret Scobey, predicted that the ageing president [Hosni Mubarak] would seek a sixth term. That surely must be off the agenda now."
Nour adds that a coroner has determined that the death of a policeman during the protests was from natural causes and not conflict with protestors.
0701 GMT: The Associated Press says at least eight foreign journalists have been among those detained, including an AP cameraman and his assistant. Another AP cameraman suffered a broken cheekbone and will require surgery after a policeman hit him with a stone.
It is unclear how many of the journalists are still detained. The AP crew has now been freed, and another journalist, Jack Shenker of The Guardian, was released and soon put up a dramatic 12-minute audio of his time in the police van (see Wednesday's updates).
The AP does not give a figure on the number of Egyptian journalists who have been seized. Reports on Wednesday said at least eight were detained outside the Press Syndicate, including Mohamed Abdel Quddous, the head of the Freedoms Committee of the syndicate (pictured):
0700 GMT: One of the demonstrations suppressed on Wednesday was in Assiut. Witnesses said riot police set upon about 100 activists, beating them with batons and arresting nearly half of them.
0625 GMT: A note from Tunisia, the recent centre of events which had taken a supporting role over the last 48 hours: smaller protests continued on Wednesday, with at least one met by tear gas. There is no confirmation that the anticipated reshuffle of Cabinet posts, with the removal of key Ministers linked to the ousted Ben Ali regime, took place.
0610 GMT: For those trying to follow events in Egypt, Wednesday was a chaotic experience. Unlike the close of Tuesday, when there was a single, dramatic episode to concentrate the signs of Government and opposition --- the gathering in Tahrir (Liberation) Square in Cairo --- yesterday forced the observer to try and gather information on a series of running battles.
Difficulties were compounded by the restrictions on communications by Egyptian authorities, who blocked Twitter and may have interfered with Facebook as well as disrupting cell phones in an effort to snap links between protesters. And of course the Government put security forces --- thousands of them --- on the streets of the cities.
Yet, for all the uncertainty and confusion of the day, what emerged last night was that the Government had not broken the back of the January 25 movement. While demonstrators in Cairo could not offer the image of a mass rally, as they had 24 hours earlier, the smaller gatherings --- from the Press and Lawyers' Syndicates to the Corniche to Ramses Street --- demonstrated that the Ministry of Interior's threat to arrest anyone who assembled publicly had not been entirely effective.
The authorities were able to stamp out demonstrations in other cities before they could take hold. But in Suez, the situation appears to have been all-out conflict. By afternoon, the report was that 350 had been injured since the start of protests. While only three people had been killed --- a remarkably low figure, given the reports of the intensity of the battle --- by last night there were armoured vehicles on the streets.
This morning has started quietly in comparison. An observer reports "not a single policeman" is in Tahrir Square in Cairo. News from Suez is sparse.
Yet this is probably an expected lull. For demonstrators are already pointing to Friday, the day of prayer, as the time for a mass display of resistance. The call for a Million Person March may be optimistic, but --- despite the Government's efforts --- it is making its way around those who do not see the situation as resolved by concession or by force.