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Sunday, September 11

US officials save guards at Israel's Cairo embassy from mobs; meanwhile Egypt's authorities tell their side of the story. Rise of Piñata Journalism.

Whereupon propaganda outlets Xinhua and Al Ahram, battered by opposing forces, struggle to report the news from Egypt......

The following report is from Xinhua, China's official press agency, which is being pressured by its CCP bosses to become a world-class news source while presenting the party line and at the same time appeasing China's increasingly restive upper-income readers, who want 'real' news:
U.S. officials involved in rescue of Israeli embassy guards in Egypt: media

["Media" meaning culled from unidentified news reports outside China. Side note to Mu Xuequan: You know, I too hate collecting links and taking the time to identify every news report that I quote to my readers; in fact I don't know anyone who enjoys the tedious, time-consuming chore. Tell your bosses to suck it up if they want Xinhua taken seriously as a news source outside China.]

JERUSALEM, Sept. 11 (Xinhua) -- More than 100 U.S. officials were involved in pressing Egypt to order the rescue operation of six security guards at the Israeli embassy in Cairo that had come under attack over the weekend, Israeli media revealed Sunday.

As hundreds of Egyptian rioters swarmed through the embassy building, the six men barricaded themselves inside a safe room sealed with a steel door and reinforced glass. At some point, they had fired warning shots in the air with their pistols in a bid to deter some demonstrators who had tried to break down the door.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accompanied by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yoram Cohen, had overseen the frantic attempts to secure the rescue of the six guards from a situation room at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.

Reports said that around midnight Friday Netanyahu decided to call U.S. President Barack Obama to ask for his personal involvement after all attempts to reach the head of Egypt's Supreme Military Council and the de facto head of state, Gen. Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, had failed.

The source said that in the hours that preceded the arrival of Egyptian commandos at the scene, "Obama spoke with Gen. Tantawi and was in constant contact with (his national security advisor Tom) Donilon and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton."

Donilon and Clinton reportedly coordinated the efforts of more than 100 U.S. officials who were scrambled to press the Egyptians to rescue the Israelis, among them senior officials in Washington and the U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv and Cairo.

The Egyptian commandos who ultimately arrived at the embassy were able to get to the Israelis after firing live ammunition and tear gas at the demonstrators.

The Israelis were dressed in keffiyehs and traditional Arab dress to conceal their identities, placed inside armored personnel carriers and rushed to Cairo's airport, where they boarded a private jet dispatched by the Israeli Air Force.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
The following report is from Al Ahram, for generations Egypt's more-or-less state-run press outlet, which did a volte-face during the 'peaceful' protests that brought down the Mubarak regime so that its editors and reporters wouldn't be strung up by mobs chanting, 'The People demand change!'

(Actually, signs of an about-face were emerging at Al Ahram even before the Tahrir Square protests, when it began sharply criticizing the National Democratic Party under Gamal Mubarak's leadership. This gave early warning that the country's military rulers were very angry with Gamal Mubarak and the Gamalists in his father's government.)

Today, while trying to stay on the good side of The People, the paper also strives to appease the country's military leaders. This buffeting from conflicting forces is adding to what might be termed the Piñata style of journalism.(1)
Egypt and Israel after the embassy

Egypt told Israel to allow its ambassador to take a holiday, but it didn't. Then the embassy was attacked, say officials

Dina Ezzat
11 September 2011

"For Israel, good relations, even in the context of the so called 'cold peace', are a very serious matter; it is much more important than relations with Turkey or the situation in Syria, and for us in Egypt keeping peaceful relations with Israel is essential and there is no doubt about it," said an Egyptian diplomat who asked for his name to be withheld.

He added that the US, the guarantor of the Egypt-Israel peace, is also "very serious about avoiding any rupture in relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv, especially now with so many anti-Israeli sentiments being expressed all over the region".

The tension, however, is not to be underestimated. Israel, according to Western diplomats in Cairo, is complaining a lot about the vibes of animosity that are being increasingly voiced against its limited presence in Cairo.

The consecutive angry demonstrations in front of the Israeli Embassy in Giza, to protest the killing of six Egyptian border guards last month by the Israeli army, who violated Egyptian territorial sovereignty, and the taking down of the Israeli flag twice in less than four weeks is making the government of Binyamin Netanyahu very uncomfortable.

"The Israelis tell us they know that the Egyptian authorities are committed to peace with Israel, but they are not sure how far the public anger could go, and how much it would influence the decisions of the authorities towards Israel," the same diplomat added.

According to identical accounts offered by Egyptian officials and foreign diplomats in Cairo, Egypt had asked Israel before the developments of last Friday to keep the Israeli ambassador in Tel Aviv and to reduce the volume of its staff to the minimum, but Netanyahu insisted on sending the ambassador back only a few days before the latest protest.

"We are not expelling him, but we thought a long holiday for the Israeli ambassador in Egypt would be useful for all of us now; unfortunately, Israel thought otherwise and when anger erupted on Friday evening they had to solicit the intervention of the Americans who sent a plane to carry him and the rest of the staff out of Egypt," said one official.

Today, there is a tacit agreement between Egypt and Israel that the long holiday for the ambassador is in place and there are guarantees offered by Cairo to both Washington and Tel Aviv that stepped up security measures will be in place to prevent another attack on the embassy.

Meanwhile, Egypt is insisting that Israel should proceed faster with its investigation in the killing of Egyptian border guards – despite Israeli hesitation and complaints about the attack on its embassy.

"We are telling the Israelis that the authorities have to tell the public that it did not turn a blind eye to the killing of Egyptian soldiers," the same official added.
1) For more on the present relations between Egypt's military and the nation's news media, see Egypt's Military Criticized for Move to Rein In Media (September 9, Wall Sreet Journal), which reported on the decision by Egypt's interim ruling military council to freeze licenses for new satellite-news channels in order to control what it called the nation's "unruly" news media. The decision, announced late on September 7, two days before planned massive street protests that included the attack on Israel's embassy, "added to a growing list of complaints by politicians and activists that the military leading the nation's transition is retreating to the authoritarian methods of the former regime."

"Retreating?" That's an odd way of describing the situation. But then the Wall Street Journal never got the memo that Mubarak was removed by a military-backed coup. The military showed leniency during the protests that brought down Mubarak only to the extent that this suited its purpose of ejecting the Gamalists; otherwise, there has been no change in what has been a military dictatorship since the overthrow of Egypt's monarchy.

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