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State Department issues travel alert for Egypt

The State Department came out with a one-month travel alert for Egypt on Friday afternoon, the latest sign that the Obama administration is coming around to the realization that the crisis there is not abating any time soon. "Violent demonstrations on January 28 took place in several areas of Cairo and other parts of the ...

The State Department came out with a one-month travel alert for Egypt on Friday afternoon, the latest sign that the Obama administration is coming around to the realization that the crisis there is not abating any time soon.

The State Department came out with a one-month travel alert for Egypt on Friday afternoon, the latest sign that the Obama administration is coming around to the realization that the crisis there is not abating any time soon.

"Violent demonstrations on January 28 took place in several areas of Cairo and other parts of the country, disrupting road travel between city centers and airports.  Disruptions in communications included the interruption of internet and mobile telephone service.  Given this situation, the Department of State urges U.S. citizens to defer non-essential travel to Egypt at this time and advises U.S. citizens currently in Egypt to defer non-essential movement and to exercise caution," the travel alert reads.

The State Department is urging Americans in Egypt to say inside their homes, not to join the demonstrations, and not to try to go to the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

"Security forces may block off the area around the U.S. Embassy during demonstrations, and U.S. citizens should not attempt to come to the U.S. Embassy or the Tahrir Square area at such times," reads the alert.

Meanwhile, the State Department cancelled its daily briefing today as the crisis in Egypt continued to unfold. Egyptian military chief of staff Lt. Gen. Sami Enan left Washington on Friday early to return to Cairo following previously scheduled defense talks at the Pentagon.

The White House confirmed on Friday that its security assistance to the Egyptian government and military was now under review, but still sought to refrain from siding with either the government or the protesters.

"First and foremost, this is a situation that will be solved by the people in Egypt," said spokesman Robert Gibbs. "We will be reviewing our assistance posture based on events in the coming days."

If you are an American in Cairo in need of help, you can call American Citizen Services Unit at 2797-2301 during business hours or 2797-3300 during evening and weekend hours. They are also responding to messages at consularcairoacs@state.gov. As always, State is encouraging expats to enroll in the Smart Travelers Enrollment Program (STEP) at the following website: https://travelregistration.state.gov.

If you are looking for information on friends or family in Egypt, you can call 1-888-407-4747 in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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