EGYPT THIS MORNING – AT 8:04 A.M. ET: An Egyptian leader apologizes for violence, and the Army moves in to quiet things:
Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- Egypt's prime minister apologized Thursday for the violent attacks on protesters yesterday and said the country's president has asked him to investigate the security chaos.
"This is a fatal error, and when investigations reveal who is behind this crime and who allowed it to happen, I promise they will be held accountable and will be punished for what they did," Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq said on state-owned TV.
Meanwhile, the military -- which had largely remained still in the area of Tahrir Square during violent clashes between supporters and foes of President Hosni Mubarak -- took position between the clashing groups Thursday. Rocks flew back and forth in an empty construction area in front of a metal barricade that anti-Mubarak protesters set up overnight.
Shafiq and newly-appointed Vice President Omar Suleiman are meeting with the opposition -- including protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, state media said Thursday.
Some opposition groups have rejected meeting invitations.
Mounir Abdel-Nour, secretary-general of the secular liberal Wafd Party, said Thursday that his party will not participate.
Ayman Nour, leader of the Al-Ghad party, said his group won't be part of the dialogue, either.
And Essam El-Erian of the Muslim Brotherhood said his group was invited, but will not participate in the talks.
COMMENT: That's pretty much where we stand right now. It is very difficult to figure out exactly what's happening inside Egypt.
At the same time, the usual journalistic suspects are pouring in to Egypt – Christiane Amanpour, Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times, Anderson Cooper of CNN. Say goodbye to credibility. Of course this crowd clearly stands with "the people," but there seems to be no clear idea what "the people" actually stand for.
The White House issued a startling statement calling for the inclusion in any new Egyptian government of "non-secular" forces, a code term for the Muslim Brotherhood. Dutifully, some journalists have swung into action, trying to whitewash the Brotherhood, despite its militant fascist and anti-democratic history.
All predictions are off, but we should not assume this will end with anything similar to the U.S. Constitution.
February 3, 2011