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Facebook revolutions - update from Cairo

Date and Time: 
Friday, March 11, 2011 - 12:00 - 12:30

Live chat: What's next for the Arab spring?

The transcript of the chat is below:

12:01 GlobalPost Hi everyone, welcome to another GlobalPost web chat
12:02 GlobalPost Today we welcome Jon Jensen, GlobalPost correspondent for North Africa, who is based in Cairo.
12:02 GlobalPost Jon will be talking to us today about developments in the region and how the revolution is faring in Egypt
12:02 GlobalPost which today marks one month since former president Hosni Mubarak was toppled from power
12:03 GlobalPost Jon, how are you?
12:03 Jon_Jensen Cairo is cold right now, but just great. Thanks for having me.
12:03 GlobalPost So
12:03 GlobalPost What is going on in Tahrir Square these days?
12:03 Jon_Jensen Tahrir Square was packed today
12:03 Jon_Jensen with perhaps tens of thousands of people..
12:04 Jon_Jensen hoping to keep pressure on Egypt's interim government
12:04 Jon_Jensen But otherwise, the square was cleared of all protesters earlier this week.
12:04 GlobalPost You wrote today that the revolution hadn’t ended yet. What do you mean by that? Is the old regime still around?
12:05 Jon_Jensen Mubarak is out as of one month...
12:05 Jon_Jensen but his former party, the National Democratic Party, is still alive and well...
12:05 Jon_Jensen the revolution in Egypt, though, is still going...
12:05 Jon_Jensen many Egyptians are not happy with the progress of reform in the country...
12:06 Jon_Jensen and there is still much anger over Mubarak's state security service...
12:06 Jon_Jensen Many believe that Mubarak's state security remnants are still working behind the scenes...
12:06 Jon_Jensen to subvert any of the revolutionary gains made in the past few weeks.
12:07 GlobalPost What kind of things do the Egyptians say the security forces are doing?
12:07 GlobalPost to cause instability?
12:07 Jon_Jensen Well, this was an unusually violent week of unrest in Egypt...
12:07 Jon_Jensen 13 people were killed in sectarian clashes earlier this week...
12:08 Jon_Jensen A Coptic Christian church was burned down earlier this month...
12:08 Jon_Jensen and as I mentioned, Tahrir Square was cleared after clashes erupted there.
12:08 Jon_Jensen The clashes involved hundreds of people hurling bricks at each other...
12:08 Jon_Jensen and the army eventually cleared the square entirely (quite violently too)...
12:09 Jon_Jensen many in Egypt believe that there are forces at work behind the scenes to orchestrate all this chaos...
12:09 Jon_Jensen because afterall, it has been unusually violent in the past few days.
12:09 GlobalPost And the police are back on the streets right, right? How are the people reacting to that?
12:10 Jon_Jensen The police are back on the streets - yes. Egyptians seem to accept them for now because of all the chaos.
12:10 Jon_Jensen But in the long run, there are still many problems with the security services here.
12:10 Jon_Jensen For most Egyptians, the image of security officials...
12:10 Jon_Jensen is one of corruption and torture.
12:11 GlobalPost So do you think there is the possibility that forces connected to Mubarak could once again be in power? What has been happening their politically since Mubarak left?
12:12 Jon_Jensen Politically, it seems unlikely that Mubarak's NDP party will gain traction in the future...
12:12 Jon_Jensen Though, new party officials are trying to rebrand the NDP to involve more youth...
12:12 Jon_Jensen They are also changing the colors of the logo, etc...
12:12 Jon_Jensen In just over a week, Egyptians will vote in a countrywide referendum...
12:13 Jon_Jensen on new amendments to the old constitution...
12:13 Jon_Jensen The changes mainly cover who can run for president and how long the president can stay in power...
12:13 Jon_Jensen (2 term limit of 4 years per term)
12:13 Jon_Jensen Also, opposition and independents will be able to run...
12:13 Jon_Jensen Big, sweeping changes at stake here...
12:14 Jon_Jensen Still, many feel that the amendments are not enough.
12:14 Jon_Jensen Some opposition would like to see the constitution rewritten altogether.
12:14 GlobalPost Interesting
12:14 GlobalPost And presidential elections are still planned for September, right? Has anyone of interest thrown their hat into the ring?
12:15 Jon_Jensen The military, which took power with Mubarak's ouster one month ago, said they would like to hand the government over...
12:15 Jon_Jensen within 6 months.
12:15 Jon_Jensen So we could see elections for both parliament and the presidency even sooner.
12:15 Jon_Jensen So far, the likely candidates...
12:15 Jon_Jensen would be the former head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa...
12:16 Jon_Jensen and Mohamed ElBaradei, Egypt's famous pro-reform activist
12:16 Jon_Jensen they have both indicated that they would like to run if and when the door for nominations opens.
12:16 GlobalPost Is there any sign that tourism is beginning to pick up again? Is Cairo safe for foreigners to return you think? Has the country’s economy gotten back on course?
12:17 Jon_Jensen Egypt's stock market is still closed - which is not a great sign
12:17 Jon_Jensen The market lost around $12 billion over the course of two days in late January...
12:18 Jon_Jensen the last time it was open.
12:18 Jon_Jensen Stores are open around Cairo and Egypt...
12:18 Jon_Jensen Tourist sites like the Pyramids are open...
12:18 Jon_Jensen and desperate for visitors.
12:18 Jon_Jensen So far, it seems that tourists have not returned in big numbers yet
12:18 Jon_Jensen I was in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh this weekend, a popular beach city in the Sinia
12:18 Jon_Jensen Sinai, sorry
12:18 Jon_Jensen And it was pretty dead. Very abnormal for this time of year...
12:19 Jon_Jensen Tourism is big business for Egypt, and unless it gets back on track - the economy will be greatly affected.
12:19 Jon_Jensen The country should be safe at this point for foreigners to return though...
12:19 GlobalPost Egypt’s revolution was surprisingly peaceful. Libya’s is going down a very different road.
12:20 GlobalPost The rebels appear to be on the defensive. Where do they stand now? Is Gaddafi winning this battle?
12:20 Jon_Jensen Libya is going down a much different road. What started as an uprising is now clearly a violent revolt against Gaddafi.
12:20 Jon_Jensen This week Gaddafi has pushed back hard against the rebels - on two fronts
12:21 Jon_Jensen Earlier this week, the rebels in the east were confident they could push to Tripoli, the capital, through Surt - Gaddafi's hometown
12:21 Jon_Jensen But the counter-offensive has been pretty rough for the rebels - they are untrained
12:21 Jon_Jensen and have few arms
12:22 Jon_Jensen Gaddafi is fighting back with clear superiority in the air, sea and ground
12:22 GlobalPost Can this still be called an uprising? Or is it better described as a civil war?
12:22 Jon_Jensen It's clearly in the early stages of civil war, if not already there
12:23 GlobalPost How are journalists covering this conflict? Is it more difficult than covering Egypt or elsewhere in the region?
12:23 Jon_Jensen Egypt was rough for journalists over a few days, but extremely easy in comparison...
12:23 Jon_Jensen In the eastern part of Libya - accessed through Egypt's land border - it is easy enough to get in
12:24 Jon_Jensen and the rebels have been very willing to share their stories, from the reports I'm seeing
12:24 Jon_Jensen in Gaddafi-controlled areas, it's a much different story
12:24 Jon_Jensen Tripoli still requires a difficult-to-obtain visa for journos
12:24 Jon_Jensen And once there, I'm hearing reports of a government very unwilling to permit
12:25 Jon_Jensen free access for journalists to go out and report the story
12:25 Jon_Jensen Reporters for the BBC Arabic service...
12:25 Jon_Jensen were badly tortured this month
12:25 Jon_Jensen Several reporters in Gaddafi's territory have also gone missing
12:26 Jon_Jensen Libya is certainly no Tahrir Square.
12:26 GlobalPost Let’s look at the country that some say started it all — Tunisia. How are reforms progressing there since Ben Ali’s departure?
12:26 Jon_Jensen Yes, interesting to remember Tunisia is where it all started in late December when
12:27 Jon_Jensen a fruit vendor lit himself on fire in central Tunisia...
12:27 Jon_Jensen The country seems to be moving forward with political reforms...
12:27 Jon_Jensen en route to elections later this summer.
12:27 Jon_Jensen Former officials from the interior ministry have had arrest warrants issued...
12:28 Jon_Jensen And Ben Ali (former president who left in January)'s former RCD party has been dismantled.
12:29 GlobalPost Okay, well we’ll have to end on that note. Thanks so much Jon. We’ll continue to look out for your reports as these stories continue to emerge
12:29 Jon_Jensen My pleasure.
12:29 GlobalPost And thanks everyone for joining us today.
12:29 GlobalPost Take care!