What looked like a localized rebellion against a corrupt and greedy dictator in Tunisia has spread with rapidity to the less corrupt but still dictatorial government in Egypt tonight. The streets have been full of protests and violence, with calls for President Mubarak to step down. One aspect of this that has been interesting to note is the shut down of the internet in Egypt. The world wide web, which was a spark in Iraq and a definite aid in Tunisia has been muted in Egypt. Here's a pretty good article on that, with a h/t to Drudge. Note the chart showing the amount of internet traffic in and out of Egypt by date. The cut off means no Facebook, no blogs and no Twitter. BlackBerry service (and its encrypted email) has been suspended. Egypt's internet community is muted. They have been able to get some service going old school as this article describes.
The United States' position in this conflict is difficult. Egypt has long been regarded as an ally of the US in the middle east, a bulwark against radical governments. The US has also been in favor of creating more democratic governments--governments that are elected by the people, representing them, and not repressing opposition. Yet, the work of the people in rebellion can set up a country to become like Iran, a radical and repressive government that is a hazard to the entire world.
We will have to wait and watch carefully what happens. There was stuff in the Wikileaks material that indicated that America was involved in cultivating leadership that would overthrow Mubarak--that certainly is interesting.
And to go back to the internet thing, remember that an "Internet Kill Switch" was considered by the United States government at one point. Check this archival news story out for details.
Matt Drudge's site, by the way, is an excellent assembly of news stories on the Egypt situation.