Egypt in flames: Ruling party’s headquarters burning in Cairo after massive protests; Update: Hillary calls for restraint; Update: U.S. to “review” foreign aid to Egypt; Update: Egyptian authorities holding talks on forming “transitional government”?

posted at 11:48 am on January 28, 2011 by Allahpundit

Things are happening fast so let’s get a thread up. A 6 p.m. curfew has been imposed and, thus far, widely ignored. Tanks are starting to roll as I write this and there are reports on Twitter of “loud explosions” and live ammo being used in downtown Cairo. The Telegraph has a screencap from Al Jazeera showing Mubarak’s party headquarters in the city on fire; other party headquarters have been ransacked in Mansoura and Suez. The State Department says it’s deeply concerned and is calling on Mubarak to enact reforms and allow peaceful protests — although I think we’re past that point by now. Mubarak was supposed to speak at around 11 a.m. but nothing from him yet.

Sad to say, your best bet at the moment is by clicking the image below and watching the live stream from Al Jazeera English. Its agenda is no secret — Hezbollah and Hamas are particular favorites — but they’re on the top of the minute-by-minute news here like no one else. So much so, in fact, that their feed may go down at any moment: Word earlier was that Egyptian police were banging on the door of their Cairo bureau headquarters.

Stand by for updates, needless to say.

Update: ElBaradei is a potential compromise choice between secular dissidents and Islamists to lead Egypt if Mubarak falls since the fundies might not want to be too aggressive with their agenda at first. Better to keep that U.S. aid flowing, no? So naturally he’s under house arrest.

Update: Egyptian police reportedly grabbed CNN’s camera and beat the hell out of a BBC reporter. In Iran, however, the media is as pleased as can be by what’s happening. The end of Mubarak means the end of the cold peace between Egypt and Israel in all likelihood, plus lots of new arms smuggled to Iran’s proxy in Gaza. What’s not to like?

And speaking of cold peace, there are now reports of small protests breaking out … in Jordan.

Update: Via the Right Scoop, a halting call for reform from Hillary. She calls on Mubarak not to use violence, to lift the Internet ban, and to liberalize, but emphasizes that Egypt has long been an important partner in the region. I.e. this ain’t a call for regime change, rather a path to regime preservation.

Says David Shenk at the Atlantic, “Is anyone else ashamed so far by the U.S. response to the protests in Egypt?”

Update: A potentially important moment in Alexandria. Are the cops starting to tilt towards the protesters?

After more than two hours of brutal, pitched battle, of tear-gas canisters and rubber bullets crossing paths with protesters’ paving stones, the seemingly impossible happened.

The two sides shook hands. Riot cops and kheffiyeh-wearing youngsters smiled and shared water bottles as piles of tires still burned. The chairs and bottles stopped raining down from apartment building balconies.

Thousands stood on the six-lane coastal road, the gentle green waves of the Mediterranean at their backs, as they got on their knees and prayed.

That’s just one neighborhood, with “fierce fighting” reported elsewhere in the city, but stay tuned.

Update: More anecdotal reports of the protesters appealing to the army to join them:

[Updated 12:47 p.m. (1947 in Egypt)] Protesters at the Information Ministry in Cairo are chanting, “The people and the army, we are one,” CNN’s Fred Pleitgen reports.

[Updated 12:44 p.m. (1944 in Egypt)] Armored personnel carriers are pulling into Alexandria. Protesters are embracing the military presence, CNN’s Nic Robertson reports.

Update: In case you missed it yesterday, here’s a widely circulated YouTube clip showing how far some cops are willing to go.

Update: Via the NYT’s “Lede” blog, a battle for the bridge.

Update: Scroll down to the 7:46 p.m. entry on Al Jazeera’s liveblog to see what an Internet blackout looks like in graph form. Not surprisingly, Syria’s own Internet blackout is even darker today than it was previously.

Update: If you missed it in Headlines this morning, here’s Bruce Riedel searching very, very hard for a silver lining in the threat of an Islamist takeover. The Muslim Brotherhood? Hey, they’re not so bad!

The Egyptian Brotherhood renounced violence years ago, but its relative moderation has made it the target of extreme vilification by more radical Islamists. Al Qaeda’s leaders, Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, started their political lives affiliated with the Brotherhood but both have denounced it for decades as too soft and a cat’s paw of Mubarak and America.

Egypt’s new opposition leader, former International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei, has formed a loose alliance with the Brotherhood because he knows it is the only opposition group that can mobilize masses of Egyptians, especially the poor. He says he can work with it to change Egypt. Many scholars of political Islam also judge the Brotherhood is the most reasonable face of Islamic politics in the Arab world today.

For a more sober take, read David Ignatius for a reminder that revolutions that start off inspired by liberation often don’t end up that way. Quote: “[F]rom the French and Russian revolutions to the Iranian uprising of 1979, the idealistic but disorganized street protesters usually give way to a manipulative revolutionary elite – the ‘Revolutionary Guard,’ as the Iranians like to call them.” The Brotherhood has the best organized opposition and a potential western-friendly front man in ElBaradei. What could go wrong?

Update: Baaaaad timing.

Update: Time to turn off the money tap?

An Obama administration official says the U.S. will review its $1.5 billion in aid to Egypt based on events unfolding in the country, where the authoritarian government is struggling to extinguish huge and growing street protests…

The decision to review assistance to Egypt is a significant step as the U.S. seeks to balance the desire to maintain stability in the region with a recognition of the unexpected scope and uncertain outcome of the protests.

If they suspend aid until Mubarak ends the crackdown and then the regime falls, what then? If elections are held and the Brotherhood comes to power, we’re not actually going to reinstate the funding — are we?

Update: Idle thought: Even if Mubarak holds on, the Mubarak family dynasty is finished. His son’s been expected for years to take power when dad finally dies/quits, but after today, the military’s not going to want to risk another uprising by retaining the face of inheritable autocracy. Lee Smith suggested an alternative yesterday:

If Gamal [Mubarak] goes, the likely successor will be intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, the man rumored to be the young Mubarak’s chief rival, or alternately, the future power behind Gamal’s throne. Gamal’s problem is that he has no military experience whatsoever, a liability for the prospective head of a regime whose coherence and internal legitimacy is based on nothing other than its symbiotic relationship with the military. Nonetheless, even if Gamal really were to leave for London and even if his father stepped down, or just decided not to run for president later this year, the Mubarak regime would not fall because in reality there is no Mubarak regime as such. Rather, it is a Free Officers regime, one that has lasted almost half a century, or dating back to the 1952 coup that deposed King Farouk.

Can even the Free Officers regime last now, though? Suleiman would have to make some sort of democratic concessions to make governance by an intelligence chief palatable to the public.

Update: Some useful context at the Corner to explain why crowds of protesters are cheering the military. It’s not Egyptian troops who are typically used to suppress dissent, it’s state policemen. The military is evidently admired, and since they’re not used to being deployed against the people, there’s at least a chance that they might flip.

Update: Via Powerline, a bombshell if true. But is it?

Arabic media sources on Friday night reported that Egyptian authorities are holding talks to establish a “transitional government,” following a series of protests against President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

Meanwhile, the head of the Egyptian opposition Wafd party said Egypt needs a period of transitional rule, new parliamentary elections and amendments to the constitution limiting presidential terms, Reuters reported.

Seems awfully early for the regime to be crumbling. The Tunisian protests went on for a month, remember, before Ben Ali took off. Probably this is just a rumor being spread by protesters to shake the police’s faith in the regime. But stay tuned!


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This whole situation is MEDIA DRIVEN. Yes the nation is protesting (and mostly non-violently—six reported dead hundreds injured, unlike Shepard Smith’s thousands). 5 times more U.S. Police officers have been murdered in since the first of the year—-Where’s the outrage???

It looks like the police in Egypt over-reacted, which is why the crowds welcomed the military when they arrived. The video WE ARE ALL WATCHING RIGHT NOW IS ALL FROM YESTERDAY, THAT THE FREAK U.S. MEDIA IS PLAYING IN A LOOP.

This is the one time that it may be good the Egyptians are not seeing the world news cycle feeding the frenzy.

Rovin on January 28, 2011 at 4:46 PM

The whole thing will turn on the soldiers, not the HQ people. If they stay loyal to Mubarack this will settle down, but it is wise to remember Dickens’s words “Frenchmen in uniform joined Frencmen in rags…”

xkaydet65 on January 28, 2011 at 4:47 PM

And Bin Laden calls out to the Egyptians:

“Let my people go…….”

BobMbx on January 28, 2011 at 4:47 PM

Remember folks, when the progressives look at these protests they think, “Wow this could happen here if Sarah Palin isn’t stopped!”

Lily on January 28, 2011 at 4:48 PM

Everything has become such a parallel experience of the god-awful Carter years. I’m overcome with a need to buy a Quiana dress and listen to some disco. Help!

redwhiteblue on January 28, 2011 at 4:53 PM

It’s a good thing we drill for our own oil…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on January 28, 2011 at 4:54 PM

If an “Islamic Republic Of Egypt” comes of this, Obama being the second Carter will be complete.

hadsil on January 28, 2011 at 4:54 PM

Update: Egyptian authorities holding talks on forming “transitional government”?

There it is, the flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, lets hope it doesn’t turn into a freight train.

Speakup on January 28, 2011 at 4:57 PM

It’s pretty clear that Mubarak is toast. The question now is whether the Army can assert itself and quiet the country. If so probably Sueiliman (sp?) will emerge as the new fearless Egyptian leader. That will probably be the best possible outcome at this point.

There is no democratic alternative in Egypt. There is no sub structure for a democratic republic. All this nonsense in the media, even Fox, and from the Obozo administration about democratic reforms is hogwash. Ain’t going to happen.

The only alternative in Egypt to continued Army rule is the Muslim Brotherhood which is/has been the group that has spawned Al Queda. They are the only ones with the organizational infrastructure to engineer a takeover. Their involvement in the rioting started in force today after Mosque services.

If I had to bet I would say they, the Islamists, will be the ones holding power after things finally quiet down.

If this happens it will be a major and wide ranging catastrophe for the US. Oil will and already is going up rapidly. Shutting down the Suez Canal will be a goal of any Islamist Egyptian gov. Then you can expect an abrogation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Isreal and probably shortly thereafter a new mid-east war.

Time to head for the bomb shelter and get the popcorn started. Hope you’re all prepared.

shmendrick on January 28, 2011 at 5:00 PM

Thank God we shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. If the Middle East completely melts down, why, we’ll be running our cars on compost and wind power ‘n’ stuff that much faster! Yay!

It’s one way to starve capitalism. They’re always working on all angles.

Django on January 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Obama’s Diaper Responds:

“Folks, we are in serious issue. If we don’t change my diaper and feed me the next words to speak, then certainly we will devolve into a diaper type moment. Not a sputnik moment… we haven’t gotten that far YET, Because they fed me vegetables from … uh.. you know… that garden out back”?

Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:04 PM

Thank God we shut down drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. If the Middle East completely melts down, why, we’ll be running our cars on compost and wind power ‘n’ stuff that much faster! Yay!

It’s one way to starve capitalism. They’re always working on all angles.

Django on January 28, 2011 at 5:01 PM

Don’t forget the sunlight, as we WTF with our government investment in solar energy research!!!

And you wingnuts were thought it was a bad idea, can’t you accept Obama is just 64 moves ahead of you in 3 dimensional chess. I know you can’t even tell since you think you’re playing checkers.

jarodea on January 28, 2011 at 5:05 PM

There it is, the flicker of light at the end of the tunnel, lets hope it doesn’t turn into a freight train.

Speakup on January 28, 2011 at 4:57 PM

It’s’ gonna be islamic and it’s gonna spread like a bad case of rash. Obama’s in office. They’ve been waiting for it.

We should hand it to them. At least they’re patient (GWB said they would be) and it only took two years. Under the diaper of obama.

Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:07 PM

Elliot Abrams account meshes with Radio France Internationale report that the Egyptians respect for their army is because the military doesn’t normally involve itself in domestic matters. (Theirs is a similar relationship as between Americans and our Military that was set by our US Constitution.)

Mubarak called out the army to secure the streets of Egyptian cities later in the day as protesters defied a state-imposed curfew in three major cities.

Protesters welcomed the first tanks that were deployed with cheers, Radio France Internationale (RFI) correspondent Alexandre Buccianti reports. “There is a feeling that the army is one of the last few pure things in Egypt because it does not intervene in everyday life and does not have a reputation for being corruption,” Buccianti says.”In the past when the army was called to the streets, the situation calmed down quite rapidly. When the army was deployed during the bread riots in 1985 and in 1977, it only took them 48 hours to calm things down. Contrary to the US White House advice, Mubarak authorities have cut Internet and mobile networks.

maverick muse on January 28, 2011 at 5:07 PM

“The people want the end of the regime,” 2000 started shouting once Friday prayers were complete.
A number of police members removed their suits and joined protests against the regime, according to Al Arabiya.
Nobel Peace Laureate Mohamed ElBaradei, who has called for the Egyptian president to quit, joined a peaceful march in Cairo after demonstrators near him clashed with police earlier in the day, witnesses said. “It’s peaceful, it’s peaceful,” some chanted in the later, calm protest with ElBaradei. Some protesters shook hands with police.

“But 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,” reported James Cowie of Renesys, a New Hampshire-based firm which monitors Internet routing data in real-time.

maverick muse on January 28, 2011 at 5:09 PM

Let’s simplify:

The United States of America is leaderless.
The rest of the World ignites.

Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Obama gave himself a coronation speech in Egypt when he took office, and just look now.

maverick muse on January 28, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Under the diaper of obama.

Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:07 PM

…and his bows.

Schadenfreude on January 28, 2011 at 5:11 PM

Let’s simplify:

The United States of America is leaderless.
The rest of the World ignites.

Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

There you go.

davidk on January 28, 2011 at 5:12 PM

Everything has become such a parallel experience of the god-awful Carter years. I’m overcome with a need to buy a Quiana dress and listen to some disco. Help!

redwhiteblue on January 28, 2011 at 4:53 PM

Step away from the boom box. Good…good. Go to the T.V. and turn on FOX Business Channel. Watch Neil Cavuto and guests talk about current world financial situation.

Now, go fill the car with gas while you still can.

Oh, wait. Sorry. I tried. I really did.

Lily on January 28, 2011 at 5:13 PM

The chairs and bottles stopped raining down from apartment building balconies.

And that’s what the dhimmicRATs want us armed with.

And that’s why I cling to my guns.

davidk on January 28, 2011 at 5:15 PM

Mubarak speaking now on Fox.

stefanite on January 28, 2011 at 5:22 PM

live blog at the BBC

US UK embassies surrounded by tanks

nor on January 28, 2011 at 5:23 PM

Doesn’t sound like he’s going anywhere…

stefanite on January 28, 2011 at 5:24 PM

Let’s simplify:
The United States of America is leaderless.
The rest of the World ignites.
Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

Yep.

Lebanon, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan….

Okay, everyone, just remember that if there is a man who comes along and miraculously saves the day, he is not good.

pannw on January 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM

What Egypt needs to calm this whole thing down would be for Barry S. to visit, apologize some more, and bow to a few of his buddies in the Muslim Brotherhood. Then, all would be calm, and Piece would reign.

djtnt on January 28, 2011 at 5:27 PM

OK, I have not read out first 600 responses yet, but do we have a Carter 2.0 moment happening here?

No matter what happens there, I believe we can COUNT on Obama to have the wrong response to all of this, just like when Jimmah Cahtah hid under his desk for 444 days.

karenhasfreedom on January 28, 2011 at 5:30 PM

The posturing and nonsensical calls for no violence and for the Egyptian gov to grant “legitimate” reforms are simply a cover for siding with the Islamists. These idiots in the Obama admin have chosen their propaganda line for this crisis which they helped create. It’s all part of the Soros plan to create chaos to bring about a government crackdown that can usher in the completely marxist government dictatorship they aspire to.

This nonsense of paying lip service to the Egyptian people’s desire for democractic reforms which 0 knows will never happen is simply to blunt any of the legitimate criticism like the kind he received during the aborted Iranian revolt. He wanted that revolt to fail, he wants this revolt to succeed because he knows it will lead NOT to democratic reform but the opposite, an Islamic dictatorship threatening Isreal and the rest of the world.

shmendrick on January 28, 2011 at 5:31 PM

Mr Mubarak’s not going anywhere, hoping his sacking the government will placate the people. He’s trying to distance hims from the crack-down across the country. But within minutes of his appearance on television, protesters were taking to the streets of Cairo chanting “down with Mubarak!”

nor on January 28, 2011 at 5:33 PM

In the late ’70s, Carter visited moderate Iran, & a year later Islamo-fascists turned it into an Israel-hating mullocracy.
Obama visits moderate Egypt, & a year later Islamo-fascists are close to turning it into an Israel-hating mullocracy.

itsnotaboutme on January 28, 2011 at 5:37 PM

Mubarak to Resign.

PappyD61 on January 28, 2011 at 5:39 PM

Egyptian expert now speaking on Fox saying what is really going on is negotiating between Mubarak and the army. Mubarak has dismissed his government. His speech to the nation (after midnight Cairo time) apparantly has not worked. The negotiations with the army will continue. The army will likely demand he step down and a new government be formed. The good news is that the army is secular and our only hope is that they can engineer an outcome that will prevent the country from turning Islamist.

shmendrick on January 28, 2011 at 5:41 PM

We experience the bias of our media every day yet expect this once to get fact from them?

Tunisia is still settling with little apparent change. Yemen is out of view. Jordan has rumors. Lebanon belongs to Hamas. BTW the mullahs in Iran are still worried. Only in Egypt are some numbers of folks in the streets. John Bolton has it right; wait. Act only on fact.

Speaking of fact, anybody know where Egypt gets foreign exchange? Hint: They have some coal and oil but it’s not natural resources.

Caststeel on January 28, 2011 at 5:43 PM

DOTUS working his magic on the Mideast govts now.

PappyD61 on January 28, 2011 at 5:44 PM

Hopefully, this is not Iran.

I haven’t seen the same tendency to charismatic leadership as Iran.

And there is the Internet now. It seems like they will find a way around the black outs soon enough.

According to the Telegraph who is citing wikileaks, of course, we have been aiding and abetting the dissidents in Egypt for a long while. And the Brits are still protecting identities.

I think this might be Mubarak’s last hurrah.

What comes next is likely to be nicer than Iran.

Tourism is so huge in Egypt, if they are totally against Westerners they will cut off their nose to spite their face.

My niece was in Egypt over the holidays and got caught up in the anti-Christian stuff. Pretty scary over there.

petunia on January 28, 2011 at 5:45 PM

shmendrick on January 28, 2011 at 5:41 PM

Thanks. a capella, are you watching?

Caststeel on January 28, 2011 at 5:46 PM

I just read an article on CNN about what’s happening in Egypt. I noticed it was written by Moni Basu. I knew a Moni Basu interested in journalism when I was in college. She was a Marxist. I wouldn’t be shocked if it is her reporting. I just did a one minute check on Facebook, and I’m right. Just another disturbing reminder of who we get our news from.

thuja on January 28, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Lily on January 28, 2011 at 5:13 PM

Thanks for trying! I did go to the gas station – no lines yet.

Let’s simplify:
The United States of America is leaderless.
The rest of the World ignites.
Key West Reader on January 28, 2011 at 5:10 PM

That’s some bumper-stick/slogan stuff there! Truth!

redwhiteblue on January 28, 2011 at 5:49 PM

Eh, it’s in the hands of the security forces now. The Egyptian military has the power to end the riots, only a question of whether it has the will.

Speaking of fact, anybody know where Egypt gets foreign exchange? Hint: They have some coal and oil but it’s not natural resources.

Caststeel on January 28, 2011 at 5:43 PM

Well according to the handy dandy World Factbook, natural gas, electricity, cotton, and tourism.

jarodea on January 28, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Have a look at what The Daily Telegraph is reporting about the US and the opposition. They are saying the US has been supporting the opposition for the last three years.

lexhamfox on January 28, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Iran Part II

Starring:

Mubarak as….The Shah of Iran

Barrack Obama as….Jimmy Carter

Endangered Embassy workers as……Endangered Embassy workers

portlandon on January 28, 2011 at 6:04 PM

My niece was in Egypt over the holidays and got caught up in the anti-Christian stuff. Pretty scary over there.
petunia on January 28, 2011 at 5:45 PM

Wow. I take it she got out safely? Egypt withdrew its ambassador to the Vatican because the Pope had the audacity to tell a group of Middle Eastern diplomants that the Alexandria church bombing on New Years Eve and attacks on Christians in Iraq were “yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it? In the Middle East, Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties toward their country.” Egypt’s foreign minister said that statement was, “an unacceptable interference in its internal affairs”. Saying Christian citizens should be protected by their own government is unacceptable… Scary is right.

pannw on January 28, 2011 at 6:10 PM

Have a look at what The Daily Telegraph is reporting about the US and the opposition. They are saying the US has been supporting the opposition for the last three years.

lexhamfox on January 28, 2011 at 5:54 PM

This is exactly what I was saying before. The only question here is what exactly is meant by “the opposition.” Do they mean the largely non-existant democratic forces or do the mean the real opposition forces ie. the Muslim Brotherhood and their allies.

shmendrick on January 28, 2011 at 6:18 PM

thuja on January 28, 2011 at 5:48 PM

Great.

darwin on January 28, 2011 at 6:18 PM

Been reading some Egyptian recent history

Don’t know how accurate this is but seems good. Hummm, Nassar, Sadat now Mubarek.

Jarodea, you’re mostly accurate. Drop cotton, add Suez and remittances.

Caststeel on January 28, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Hillary put her drink down that long? damn.

johnnyU on January 28, 2011 at 7:04 PM

Don’t know if they got posted here yet, but here’s two decent articles concerning the subject at hand.

http://frontpagemag.com/2011/01/28/what-i-learned-from-irans-failed-revolution/

http://frontpagemag.com/2011/01/28/the-muslim-brotherhood-on-the-march/

I have to say, this is one time I hope Obozo doesn’t fail.

If he screws this up and pull a ‘Carter’ on Egypt, Israel’s boned.

And so are we.

CPT. Charles on January 28, 2011 at 7:17 PM

Caststeel on January 28, 2011 at 6:21 PM

Just going by the World Factbook. I do know Egyptian cotton is famous but I don’t know how much it exports. It’s listed second after essentially natural gas in the exports list. Didn’t realize the Suez canal brought in $6 billion, but yeah can’t believe I forgot that. Forgetting emittances with a 3rd world country is bad on my part.

jarodea on January 28, 2011 at 7:30 PM

Everything has become such a parallel experience of the g**-awful Carter years. I’m overcome with a need to buy a Quiana dress and listen to some disco. Help!

redwhiteblue on January 28, 2011 at 4:53 PM

It is kind of creepy to think about it… imagine if a fundamentalist regime takes power…

scotash on January 29, 2011 at 4:03 AM

Cut all ongoing foreign aid payments. We must not spend money we don’t have.

Dandapani on January 30, 2011 at 9:34 AM

There has never been a successful revolution without the support of the military, police or major part of both. I don’t see the military brass, who has been the support of the corrupt Mubarak regime, turning things over to the mob, or to the Muslim brotherhood who would probably like to behead the generals. I think there will be a lot of bloodshed and destruction until the military finally establishes control.

My guess is that this will not be some Islamic takeover and I would not be surprised if the military promises reforms, blames the Islamic militants and hangs them.

Chessplayer on January 30, 2011 at 1:41 PM

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