Skip to main content

Obama eyes unfolding events in Egypt

By the CNN Wire Staff
  • President Barack Obama is requesting daily "multiple briefings" on the unfolding crisis
  • President Obama has not called President Hosni Mubarak, who protesters are demanding to resign
  • Obama will get another update to the presidential daily brief on intelligence matters
  • Vice President Joe Biden said Mubarak should listen to protesters, but said he is no dictator

(CNN) -- President Barack Obama has requested "multiple briefings" on the unfolding crisis in Egypt, where thousands of demonstrators were clashing with security forces, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said Friday.

Obama has not called Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak -- the target of the protesters' anger -- "but there is daily contact between the U.S. and Egyptian governments through various channels, including the embassies and other organizations in which Obama's messages and concerns are relayed," Vietor said.

Obama received information on Egypt from National Security Adviser Tom Donilon on Friday and will get other updates later.

Servers of Egypt's main internet provider were down early Friday, according to multiple services that check whether servers used by specific sites are active.

Servers for the Egyptian government's sites and for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo also appeared to be down. But at least one internet service provider, Noor, was still working.

Protester shot during Egypt clashes
Suez crowds confront riot police
Tear gas in the air in Alexandria
Egypt's communication crackdown

"We are closely monitoring the situation and are aware that communication services, including social media, are being blocked," U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Thursday. "We continue to urge Egyptian authorities to show restraint and allow peaceful protests to occur."

Obama has urged the government and demonstrators to refrain from violence as protests continued.

"It is very important that people have mechanisms in order to express legitimate grievances," he said.

Vice President Joe Biden told PBS NewsHour on Thursday that Mubarak should listen to protesters. He also said the embattled Egyptian president is no dictator.

Still, he said "violence isn't appropriate and people have a right to protest."

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the U.S. administration was "monitoring quite closely the situation in Egypt and continue to do so, obviously, in Tunisia."

The protests in Egypt started after weeks of similar disturbances sparked a revolution in Tunisia and forced then-president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to flee the country.

"This is an important time for the government to demonstrate its responsiveness to the people of Egypt in recognizing those universal rights," Gibbs said.