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Abbas aide comes out against Egypt uprising

Feb. 9, 2011 10:13 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 12, 2011 9:43 A.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A senior aide to President Mahmoud Abbas launched a scathing attack Wednesday against pro-democracy protesters who have demonstrated for weeks against the authoritarian rule of Egypt's Hosni Mubarak.

Tayeb Abdel-Rahim says the protesters have "suspicious allegiances" against the regime and hope to undermine Egypt's "leading role."

"Creative chaos" and "an attempt to create a new Sykes-Picot agreement" were among the labels used by this senior PA official to criticize the Egyptian people for their revolt.

"We look at the picture from a broader perspective," Abdel-Rahim said in a statement. "It is being planned by international and regional forces with the help of local tools."

In Cairo, Egypt's embattled regime warned of a military crackdown as massive protests demanding its overthrow spilled out across the country and deadly unrest flared in the remote south.

Hundreds marched on parliament from the epicenter of the uprising in Tahrir Square the day after the largest protests since the revolt began, as other demonstrations erupted in cities across the country.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit warned the army, until now a respected and mostly neutral force on Cairo's streets, would intervene to protect the country if the protests against President Hosni Mubarak escalated.

"If chaos occurs, the armed forces will intervene to control the country, a step... which would lead to a very dangerous situation," the official MENA news agency said, paraphrasing Abdul Gheit's interview with Arabic-language satellite television channel Al-Arabiya.

His remarks came after newly appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman warned of a possible "coup" in the absence of a peaceful transfer of power.

The protesters however showed no sign of backing down on their demand for Mubarak's overthrow as tens of thousands filled Tahrir Square well into the third week of a revolt that could reshape the Middle East.

Around a thousand marched on parliament to demand its members' resignation, vowing to remain until the legislature -- widely seen as unfairly dominated by the ruling party -- is dissolved.

The night before they had been joined by several hundred thousand supporters for the biggest rallies yet in the two-week-old drive to topple the autocratic president and replace his 30-year-old US-backed regime.
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