Egypt crisis: Obama says transition 'must begin now'
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in an appearance Egyptian state TV Tuesday night, said he won't seek re-election in September.
February 1st, 2011
09:45 PM ET

Egypt crisis: Obama says transition 'must begin now'

    Read full coverage of the unrest in Egypt updated continually by CNN reporters worldwide. Send your photos and video to iReport and see CNN in Arabic here. See also this strong roundup of timely, insightful views on the wave of upheaval in the Arab world.

    [Update 5:13 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 10:13 p.m. ET Tuesday] In Alexandria on Tuesday, protesters clashed with supporters of Mubarak, leaving 12 people injured, said Qutb Hassanein, a member of an opposition group. The military was called in to restore calm.

    [Update 3:09 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 8:09 p.m. ET Tuesday] Here is a collection of reactions to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's Tuesday night speech, in which he said he would not run for re-election.

    [Update 2:53 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 7:53 p.m. ET Tuesday] Video of Obama's speech:

    [Update 1:50 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 6:50 p.m. ET Tuesday] U.S. President Barack Obama said he spoke with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak after Mubarak's speech, and that Mubarak "recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place."

    Obama said that while it is not the role of any outside country to determine Egypt's leaders, he indicated to Mubarak that it is clear that an orderly transition should be meaningful and peaceful and "must begin now."

    Obama said the process must include a broad spectrum of voices and opposition parties and free and fair elections, and it should lead to a government that is responsive to the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

    [Update 1:33 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 6:33 p.m. ET Tuesday] U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with embattled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak by phone Tuesday for roughly 30 minutes, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said.

    Obama is expected to give a statement soon on the situation in Egypt, the White House says.

    [Update 1:14 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 6:14 p.m. ET Tuesday] Egyptian opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei, the former chief of the U.N. atomic agency, criticized President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he would continue the rest of his term but not seek re-election, calling it an "act of deception."

    "It's a person who doesn't want to let go, a dictator who doesn’t want to listen to the clear voice of the people," ElBaradei told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

    "Whoever gave him that advice gave him absolutely the wrong advice. He just has to let go. Not only is (he) going - at best - to be a lame duck president, he's going to be a dead man walking," ElBaradei said.

    [Update 12:55 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 5:55 p.m. ET Tuesday] Amre Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, told CNN Tuesday that Mubarak's offer to not seek re-election and to work for a transfer of power was new and should be considered carefully. Moussa is a veteran diplomat who was Mubarak's foreign minister until 2001.

    Earlier, Moussa told Al Arabiya TV that if he is asked to play a role during any Egyptian political transition, he "will carry out my duties to serve the people of Egypt."

    [Update 12:48 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 5:48 p.m. ET Tuesday] Here is the text of President Hosni Mubarak's Tuesday evening address in which he said he would not run for re-election.

    [Update 12:35 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 5:35 p.m. ET Tuesday] U.S. President Barack Obama will make a statement within the hour on the situation in Egypt, the White House says.

    [Update 12:05 a.m. Wednesday in Cairo, 5:05 p.m. ET Tuesday] Chants continue from thousands of protesters on Cairo's Tahrir Square. Following President Hosni Mubarak's announcement, earlier in the night, that he wouldn't seek re-election in September, thousands erupted in chants of "Down with Mubarak" and "the people want the president to be judged." Some waved shoes in the air - a deep insult in the Arab world.

    [Update 11:47 p.m. Cairo, 4:47 p.m. ET] With President Hosni Mubarak's announcement that he would not run for re-election in September, protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square, where thousands have gathered for days to call for his ouster, erupted in angry shouts. Several of them have said they will continue to demand Mubarak's immediate resignation.

    "This is not enough," Mahmoud Safi, a lawyer taking part in the Cairo demonstrations, told CNN after reports of Mubarak's impending announcement emerged. "We have one request. We want him to leave our country now, immediately, not tomorrow."

    In his speech aired on state television Tuesday night, Mubarak said he will wrap up nearly 30 years as Egypt's president in September and hand over power "in a constitutional way."

    Earlier, sources told CNN that a U.S. envoy sent by President Barack Obama urged Mubarak to announce he wouldn't run for re-election later.

    [Update 11:05 p.m. Cairo, 4:05 p.m. ET] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said on state television Tuesday night that he will not seek another term in the next elections, which currently are scheduled for September.

    According to an English translation of his speech, Mubarak said that "with all honesty and without looking at this particular situation ... I was not intent on standing for the next elections because I have spent enough time in serving Egypt."

    [Update 10:37 p.m. Cairo, 3:37 p.m. ET] The U.S. State Department says about 1,600 Americans have been evacuated in flights from Egypt since Monday, and more than 60 others are expected to be flown out before the day is over.

    Earlier Tuesday, the State Department ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. government personnel and family members from Egypt. The State Department says other U.S. citizens should consider leaving Egypt as soon as they can safely do so because of ongoing political and social unrest, and the department still is making arrangements to provide charter air transportation from Cairo's airport to locations in Europe for U.S. citizens and eligible dependents who wish to leave. Other countries including the United Kingdom, China, India, Thailand and Australia were attempting to get stranded citizens out of Egypt.

    [Update 9:38 p.m. Cairo, 2:38 p.m. ET] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has decided not to seek re-election, according to a senior U.S. official involved in the Obama administration's deliberations on Egypt. The official cited "reliable contacts in Cairo" for the news. The New York Times reported Obama pushed Mubarak into the decision via a message delivered by former Ambassador Frank Wisner, who paid a personal visit to Mubarak on Tuesday.

    [Update 9:14 Cairo, 2:14 ET] Delta Air Lines spokesman Kent Landers confirms it has started extra flights into Europe from Cairo. Since this weekend Delta has been partnering with KLM and Air France to fly passengers into Europe. On Tuesday the airline began 200-seat flights from Cairo to Athens. On Wednesday, Delta will add more than 200 seats from Cairo to Rome.

    [Update 8:38 p.m. Cairo, 1:38 p.m. ET] Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak will address the nation Tuesday night, Reuters reports. Mubarak will say he will not seek another term as president, according to the Al Arabiya network.

    [Update 8:11 p.m. Cairo, 1:11 p.m. ET] President Obama is calling Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and his other top national security advisers to the White House this afternoon for a meeting on Egypt, a senior U.S. official said. Officials say the protest movement in Egypt is in the midst of a decisive moment.

    [Update 7:04 p.m. Cairo, 12:04 p.m. ET] U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke Tuesday with Egypt's defense minister, Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said.

    [Update 6:46 p.m. Cairo, 11:46 a.m. ET] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the international community must demand that any Egyptian government maintain its peace treaty with Israel.

    [Update 6:19 p.m. Cairo, 11:19 a.m. ET] A senior U.S. State Department official confirmed that Margaret Scobey, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, met Tuesday with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei. The official said Scobey is also meeting with members of other political movements and her conversation with ElBaradei doesn't mean the United States favors him.

    [Update 5:47 p.m. Cairo, 10:47 a.m. ET] The U.K. Foreign Office has confirmed that on Wednesday it will send a Boeing 757 to fetch Britons out of Egypt. Those taking the charter flight will have to pay about $500, the Foreign Office said.

    [Update 5:11 p.m. Cairo, 10:11 a.m. ET] Margaret Scobey, the U.S. ambassador to Egypt, met on Tuesday with opposition leader Mohamed ElBaradei, the Al Arabiya news network reported.

    [Update 5:01 p.m. Cairo, 10:01 a.m. ET] Google and Twitter have worked out a way for people to issue messages without internet access:

    [Update 4:55 p.m. Cairo, 9:55 a.m. ET] Egyptian Finance Minister Samir Radwan said: "Unemployment will increase due to this destruction and because economic life has been halted for more than a week now. We have also taken a decision that everyone who works and has been out of work because of these events will receive unemployment compensation. This is the quick solution which the Finance Ministry saw as its duty to offer to the Egyptian people."

    [Update 4:47 p.m. Cairo, 9:47 a.m. ET] Egypt's army issued a statement thanking "all the citizens and the youth for working with their armed forces to protect public and private property." It also warned that civilians found wearing military uniforms will be prosecuted.

    [Update 4:40 p.m. Cairo, 9:40 a.m. ET] Israeli President Shimon Peres warns Egypt not to follow the path of Gaza in pursuing democracy, according to a report in the Jerusalem Post. The Islamic resistance group Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department, won parliamentary elections in Gaza in 2006.

    "Democracy cannot start and end in elections only," the Post quotes Peres as saying. "True democracy begins on the day after the elections, in granting human rights and concern for citizens' welfare. If a religious extremist dictatorship rises the day after democratic elections, what are democratic elections worth?"

    [Update 4:37 p.m. Cairo, 9:37 a.m. ET] Tweets within past 45 minutes from CNN's Nic Robertson in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria:

    [Update 4:12 p.m. Cairo, 9:12 a.m. ET] Standard & Poor's ratings agency on Tuesday lowered Egypt's debt rating.

    [Update 3:59 p.m. Cairo, 8:59 a.m. ET] The U.S. Department of State has ordered the departure of all non-emergency American government personnel and their families from Egypt, State spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Tuesday.

    [Update 3:30 p.m. Cairo, 8:30 a.m. ET] Twitter user Abdulla al Kaabi tweeted: "#Mubarak should probably turn the Internet back on so he can book a trip on Expedia."

    [Update 3 p.m. Cairo, 8 a.m. ET] Jordan's King Abdullah II has appointed Maarouf Al Bakhit as the country's new prime minister, a move that comes after several protests calling for political reform in Jordan. The king asked Al Bakhit to form a new government that will be charged with "taking practical, swift, and tangible steps to launch a real political reform process, in line with the King's vision of comprehensive reform, modernization and development," the country's official Petra news agency reported.

    [Update 2:46 p.m. Cairo, 7:46 a.m. ET] The Egyptian crisis has sent oil prices to a 2-year high above $92 a barrel, up 5.5% in two trading sessions, due to concern the turmoil could spread to Middle East nations that are bigger crude producers. But some traders believe the run-up is an overreaction, with the major Gulf oil states protected from such conflict. Egypt is not an oil exporter, and only about 1.8 million barrels a day move through the Suez Canal, which it controls. That's just 2% of the world's oil supply. The price retreated 81 cents to $91.38 a barrel in Tuesday trading.

    [Update 2:23 p.m. Cairo, 7:23 ET] The Obama administration has sent former U.S. Ambassador Frank Wisner to Egypt to meet with officials there, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor told CNN.

    [Update 2:18 p.m. Cairo, 7:18 a.m. ET] Amre Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, told Al Arabiya TV that if he is asked to play a role during any Egyptian political transition, "I will carry out my duties to serve the people of Egypt."

    [Update 1:04 p.m. Cairo, 6:04 a.m. ET] British carrier BMI says it has organized an extra flight to help British nationals get back to the United Kingdom from Egypt. The flight is expected to depart from Cairo Tuesday afternoon with 124 passengers.

    The U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights praised protesters in Egypt and said she was alarmed by a rise in casualties during unrest in the country.

    Soldiers at Cairo's Ramses Hilton hotel were putting on newly issued flak jackets - straight out of their boxes - on Tuesday morning. When asked why they were putting on the new equipment, one soldier shrugged his shoulders and pointed to the crowd walking outside.

    [Update 12:40 p.m. Cairo, 5:40 a.m. ET] Anti-government protesters have said they are planning a "march of millions" in the city Tuesday. Protesters had packed Cairo's Tahrir Square by noon  (5 a.m. ET), standing shoulder to shoulder as large groups still streamed into the area.

    [Update 11:16 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 4:16 a.m. ET Tuesday] "No to the traitors," chanted a pro-Mubarak group as it headed toward the rally site.  It will be "a very dramatic and perhaps even a decisive day," said Nicholas Burns, a professor of diplomacy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and a former U.S. undersecretary of state. "If the military cracks down on peaceful demonstrators on the streets of Alexandria or Cairo, that will be a decisive factor," he said.

    The military said Monday evening it would not open fire on peaceful protesters.

    [Update 10:43 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 3:43 a.m. ET Tuesday] Protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square set up their own checkpoints Tuesday to keep weapons out of the area.

    Inside the square, the atmosphere was peaceful. People brought food and beverages to share. Parents stood in the streets alongside children, saying they were there because of their kids.  

    [Update 8:14 a.m. Tuesday in Cairo, 1:14 a.m. ET Tuesday] Protesters chanting "Down with Mubarak" were gathered on one side of  Cairo's Tahrir Square Tuesday morning. On the other side of the square was a group of people listening to patriotic music.

    Soldiers at a security checkpoint said demonstrators supporting President  Hosni Mubarak were also in the square, which has been a focal point of the anti-government protests that started a week ago.  Anti-government protesters have said they are planning a "march of millions" in the city Tuesday.

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soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. concerned citizen

    obama has handled this problem perfectly. he has put his two cents in because this decision will effect EVERYONE IN THE WORLD. i cant stress how important this egyptian movement is. they need to set a standard for the entire middle east that anything but democracy isnt good enough. people need to choose their leaders (peacefully) and if those leaders continue to disregard their peoples wishes then it is the peoples duty to vote in better leaders. their are good people out there that understand the importance of good leadership, and hopefully these people will run for president in rome (first democracy) they saw the importance of good leadership. it was concidered a mans duty and privilage to serve his state. they understood that it was their job to represent the people of their nation and value their wishes, not an oppurtunity to implement their ideas or to satisfy some sick need for power of money. times are changing and so are people, but this whole world has amazing potential and there are people put on this world to test our strength. we cannot let these people win.
    "the people that are trying to make this world a bad place arent taking a day off, how can i?" – bob marley.

    February 2, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sidewinder

    @ Phil
    I liked your posts....that's why I said I'd have what you're having, silly. Lmao
    I love me some phil. If I would have taken issue with anything or disagreed with what you posted...well then I would have posted my counter points. Truth be told, sometimes the comments are more interesting to read than the story. 🙂

    February 2, 2011 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. CommentatorandPoet

    Let me see if I understand this correctly. Obama went against the will of the people, and shoved health care up our noses. Last year he insulted our own Supreme Court. Trillions of our dollars have feel into the hole of decent by his henchmen, and now he is directing the outcome of leadership in another country! Is there no end to the self-centered stupidity of this man?

    February 2, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      what dont you get...if he doesnt leave now, only violence will follow. the egyptian people have showed they can protest peacefully and organized. the only thing they have left to do is take the capital by force which will kill thousands of people...over a mans stubborness and inability to give up power? obama is suggesting trying to take the most peaceful and violent-free way possible. i might add that he did so on a private phone line in his own words talking to the leader. this was meant in no way as a form of disrespect or arrogance. this approach (the peaceful approach) should be the only way, but the president is making to much moneyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy! therefor he wont leave and will be taken by force. but obama is in no way self-centered in this action. he is defending the same rights that founded the country he now governs. even if you disagree with some of his decisions dont ever say that a man trying to make peace is self centered or stupid.
      "light up the darkness" – bob marley

      February 2, 2011 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeffree

      Is that not stupid,by abandoning your country out for another country robbish sake.

      February 5, 2011 at 1:44 am | Report abuse |
  4. TTS

    Looks like we will be thinking of a new for. policy for the middle east that isnt Made in USA

    February 2, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    @sidewinder...oh! I'm sorry. I was having a bad hair day and was already kinda irritated. Please forgive my snotty remark. I don't usually do that ya know. 🙂

    February 2, 2011 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Henry Ajayi

    I fear the ongoing uprising in Egypt is an Apocaliptic warning of an immenent catastrophy. Presd Mubarak and the egyptians should exercise restrain and learn from the old testament to avoid their own ruin.

    February 2, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sino gentel

    Now, it is the proper time for Mubarak to leave Egypt peacefully ! Otherwise, he probably will be hanged ! If I am M , i will leave the upheaval country immediately with a bag of dollars or a certificate of deposit in Switzerland ! Come on , poor Mubarak , don't hesitate any time ! Now , the last freedom is calling for you !

    February 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    "Peace" is a vaneer, a thin coating that if peelded back, reveals. Like a thin blue line(our police force), pull it back and see the reality. It's not hard to imagine what depths we would sink to if not for the police.// "True Peace" they will say as a different varnish is applied over the same old wood.// summary: even peace is forced upon us, in spite of ourselves.

    February 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      i agree that a strong police force is very important in an government.but i disagree that it hinders our freedom. one of the theories of the evolution of government called the "social contract theory" states that people are willing to give up some of their freedom to protect their lives and other freedoms. for example....i give up my right to drive 90 mphs down a road hoping that my government will take care of the people that speed.

      February 2, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  9. jabari

    i agree with you phillp. we should help them because we had made a peace treaty with them in 1981. if they get a new leader, then he might rip up the peace treaty with the us. we are also helping him because we buy oil witht them so the cars could runnig and so they could be driving on the road

    February 2, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. steve

    well Obama know Egyptian revolution is not plying & for record 70% of Arab is not religious just prying don't make them tears & most of them want live democracy & freedom just like west people so here the thing we being treaded bad by are government to satisfy Israel piece
    in the end of the day by sported them u just created an enemies

    February 2, 2011 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jerome Clark

    The time must come where we must fight egypt and make a new term for peace and order needs to be demonstrated

    February 2, 2011 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    @concerned citizen...very good analogy. Now, try applying it to tailgaters. A recent 3yr. government study of traffic deaths along the I-25 corridor between Denver and Pueblo in Colorado found that 70% of all the traffic fatalities were due to people following too closely. Yet, even though I know literally hundreds of folks that got speeding tickets and even some who got DUI's over the years, I've never heard anyone say they got a ticket for tailgating. We have DUI checkpoints, but no tailgater checkpoints. Mothers against drunk-drivers, but not one mommy complains about those who kill the most: tailgaters. Where does this fit into your theory?

    February 2, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      if you remember your driving lessons, youll see that the people in charge of determining the safety law for drivers have determined about 1 car length for every 10mph...they have set up some system against it but its one of those things that cant be monitored...similar to texting while driving. people can be pulled over for doing it, but its hard to legally label someone as a tailgater

      February 2, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip

    Exactly. The government cannot save us from ourselves. They can't force me to not tailgate nor do they want to. (it's a simple equation that could be programmed into radar guns officers use. The first entry would be the speed of the leading vehicle, then enter elapsed time before tailgating vehicle trips the gun and also speed of the tailgater. But speeding tickets and DUIs pay divedends in court fines....while taigating ticket's only dividend would be lives saved. Most traffic deaths are the result of tailgating, not DUIs or speeding. So money, not protecting life, is the obvious concern of the government. (like sending cheaper unarmored humvees onto the battlefield or allowing cattlemen to drug their cattle to make them, and us, fatter/less healthy. this vile practice was illegal until 1994, made legal for profit)

    February 2, 2011 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    @concerned citizen...i gotta get going. really enjoyed this discussion and will check back in the morning. I've read many of your posts here on CNN, and really enjoy them! see ya later.

    February 2, 2011 at 11:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dan

    Isn't it amazing our president would turn his back on an ally of the United States like the Leader of Egypt and support a group of Thousnds of RADICAL MUSLIM PROTESTORS out of a population of over 20 Million Egyptians - with
    the real possibility of Radical Muslims taking over that country –do you think President Barack Hussein Obama who was raised as a Muslim may be more interested in what will help the worldwide Muslim effort to expand Muslim Influence is what is best and not what is best for The United States of America

    February 3, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      hes not supporting radical out of control protestors....hes supporting people in a governement that is clearly imposing the will of its leader onto the country, not for the better of the country, but for his gain and wellfare. in the declaration of independance it says one of the duties of the people is to overthrow a government that they feel isnt making decisions for the people. they have showed their disapproval peacefully and organized. that didnt work. they are they are acting out their God given right to take back what is rightfully theirs...their futures and their childrens futures.

      February 3, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
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