12:10 p.m. Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen spoke by phone this morning with his Egyptian counterpart, Lt. Gen. Sami Enan.
"This was their second conversation since Gen. Enan returned to Cairo last week," Mullen's spokesman, Capt. John Kirby, said in a statement. "The general provided an update on recent developments in the wake of President Mubarak's speech. The Chairman thanked him for the continued contact, reiterated his desire to see the situation return to calm and expressed his confidence in the Egyptian military's ability to provide for their country's security, both internally and throughout the Suez Canal area."
12:00 p.m. Al Jazeera's Rania Zabaneh tweets: "All entrances to Cairo's Tahrir Square closed, clashes continue, electricity turned off."
11:49 a.m. Mohammed Ali Sabra, a former director in Mubarak's government, said the West must “respond actively and firmly” to the violence with a clear message to Mubarak: “Step down.”
“This is the only message that we can accept from the leaders of the free world,” he said on Al Jazeera, adding that stubbornness by Mubarak will create “an army of suicide bombers” in the country. Ali Sabra told his wife before leaving to join the protests that he would be ready to die. “If the result will be bloodshed, I accept to die in this bloodshed rather than leave a dictator to continue to remain in office.”
“This is the future of my children,” he said.
11:36 a.m. Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Egypt’s government bonds and its currency bank deposits today as it changes its outlook of the country from stable to negative. The change came from the political tensions, the agency says, and a sense that a weakened regime, eager to retain power, will ease the financial discipline of an already stretched economy. “In Moody's opinion, there is a strong possibility that fiscal policy will be loosened as part of the government's efforts to contain discontent,’’ the agency said.
11:30 a.m. James Rubin, an assistant secretary of State during the Clinton administration, said it’s in the interest of the Mubarak government to have the world worried about the violence in Egypt and the chaos it could cause in the region.
“It’s in their interest for the world to be saying, ‘Look we’ve gone far enough, we’ve got the changes we need,’” Rubin said on CNN. The individuals who are attacking journalists and stirring up the violence today, Rubin said, “are of a certain type—former intelligence and police officers playing out an act on the stage that is the Square that is now being shown to the world.
“Those who support president Mubarak... have an interest in some form of the status quo,” he continued. “They would not like to see Mubarak have to get on a plane and leave the country and have the top layers of his party depart. They very much want to have the world move from a position of pressuring Mubarak to leave to a position of encouraging the military and security forces to establish control.
“I have no doubt that there are Mubarak supporters who are intentionally creating the impression of wide-scale violence in order perhaps in the future near or later... to justify establishing control through the military,” Rubin said. He warned that the worst thing to do in this situation would be to panic. “We don’t want to let the pro-regime supporters push us -- because of a few Molotov cocktails and some very unfortunate injuries -- into supporting or endorsing some reestablishment of control by the army or clearing of this stage.”
11:23 a.m. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, speaks with MSNBC: “President Mubarak’s announcement last night... has not satisfied the Egyptian people. We need to see something happen now so that there is a peaceful transition.” She declined to say if she herself thought Mubarak should step down immediately.
Shaheen said that when she and other senators visited the country in July, they expressed concerns about the repression in the country and stressed the “the importance of free, fair, open elections, loosening the hold and providing human rights for the people of Egypt.”
“Those are the calls we’re hearing [now] that the people want,” she said. “The U.S. will continue to do what we can to support the Egyptian people to move in that direction.”
11:14 a.m. Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, speaks to Al Jazeera: “Above everything,” she said, the situation on the ground needs to be “calmed down.”