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. Jake Albright

    The Egyptian masses are very gullible and so are the millions of people following the Egyptian protests. Wikileaks warned of an espionage in progress by Hillary Clinton and noone believed him. Now the Egyptians are being woodwinked into supporting a protest coincidentally with El Baradei (who failed the Iraq weapons test and still got a Nobel prize for letting US invade Iraq) as the heir apparent (from the "Americn Blues"). An election is due later this year where everyone can express their "views/anger" than this immature democratic process which has so far cost the economy billions and will mean more job losses in the future. If only the Arabs countries had a stronger brotherhood, then this would be a good time to rally together and expose this silly attempt to cause a storm in a tea cup. If this doesnt happen Clinton will continue with her game. Watch out!

    February 1, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      Wow, you're dumb.

      February 1, 2011 at 9:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      Wow is right. I guess he thinks Palin can do a better

      February 1, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. paula ferreira

    i hope the situacion on egypt get solved very quickly, and the peace comeback to the people again.
    for things come back to normal again. in politics affairs iam not expert, but is not my country i should i know what is better or not....of course the demands of the egyptian people are very lega lbut i think this got to stop the economy gonna suffer a lot , and rthe conections have to be online again cause in my case iam suffering a lot cause my fiance is there and we almost dont have contact!!!!!! i dont know how much time this situacion will last!!!!! i will stand all this!!!!!!

    February 1, 2011 at 9:29 am | Report abuse |
  3. Peaches44

    Does anyone kno if the Nubian people are participating in these crys for freedom?

    February 1, 2011 at 9:32 am | Report abuse |
  4. Abeer Ahmed

    America and the rest of the so called free world, are watching as we, the Egyptians, very clearly and peacefully ask for our voice to be heard. We only want what our freedom and dignity back. The fear of a radical islamic Egypt is unfounded. Goverments need to understand that we are not going to stop until he is out and not be replaced by another puppet. Practice what you preach. They have the abilty to do the right thing and prevent any further blood shed

    February 1, 2011 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Linda

      We are all on your side. Good luck looks like it's coming soon.

      February 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Usman

    Apparently the Muslims are being fooled by world leaders again. Mohamed Albaradi the person they are fighting for is even worse than Mubarak. All these leaders King Abdullah, Mubarak, Al Baradey, Jordanian King and Palestinian Authority are traitors of the Muslim nation. If this million march is towards Israel all problems will be resolved.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:34 am | Report abuse |
    • baklu


      Apart from the western media, people of Egypt are not supporting ElBaradei, they are against Mubarak and EL Bardei.

      February 1, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
    • lincoln


      You're an idiot! The Egyptian people are oppressed, poor, unemployed, and without a voice. It has nothing whatsoever to do with Israel - it has to do with a corrupt leader. There are corrupt leaders around the word, independent of religion, race, nationality. The quicker you start focusing on fixing Egypt and stop obsessing with a scapegoat, the faster the Egyptian people will get a better life.

      February 1, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  6. Wake UP, America!

    Looking at what is happening in Tunisia and Jordan, this appears to have nothing to do with Mubarak except that he's a puppet for what is perceived to be the enemy. I would guess that the visit by President Obama to Egypt was probably the last straw for the extremists. This is not "peaceful protest," but a region-wide, calculated revolution. If I had to bet, Egypt and the other countries around Israel will soon be satellites of Iran.

    Sadly we Americans seem to be playing right along with this. The headlines are about Mubarak and how corrupt he is, and the anti-semetic bloggers are working absolutely overtime with their rhetoric on just about every American news outlet.

    Within a few short weeks, it is quite possible that we will be facing an Axis of Evil that is far worse than what we saw in Germany during WWII. It will have nuclear capabilities, and will totally surround Israel. I almost cannot imagine the rest.

    So if it makes you feel better to suck down your double-decaf latte and believe that this is all about some idiot dictator taking away Facebook, watch out: the use of social networking may take on a whole new meaning very, very soon.

    If you don't understand what is happening right now, then I hope you do before it's too late.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:37 am | Report abuse |
    • baklu

      so it ok to suppress people because they could be anti semitic in belief?!

      what is the difference between what you say and the one you advocate against?

      February 1, 2011 at 9:47 am | Report abuse |
    • JT

      Well I'm sure glad you don't have to bet, because you might want to be a little more informed before doing so.

      Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Jordan, Iraq = Sunni Arabs
      Iran = Shia Persians

      The very last thing those states would become is a puppet for a country that has a different religious and ethnic make-up.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    @Wake up America...ummm, this is truly more than a peaceful protest, as you mentioned. But I don't follow your "axis of evil" slant. These people in Egypt are sick up and fed with a puppet, Mubaraek, being in cahoots with the very ones that the Koran commands them to "dive them out" (Sura 2:191) They want US to stop meddling in their affairs. And c'mon, admit it. You and I would both get a little radical if some foreign government installed a puppet in the White House, would we not?

    February 1, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    The mubarak backers are mostly Coptic christians they dont want to let him go in fear of the country being controlled by the muslim brotherhood. I know this well i am coptic myself and i've lived there, mubarak is a terrible president he didn't care for copts who are the real Egyptians before this country was taken over by Islam crusaders but if the brotherhood gets in control they'll slaughter all of us. lets hope for the best.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:49 am | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Odd nobody here in these blogs complained about Mubarek until a week ago.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Philip

    Oopsy!..."dive" them out. he he...more coffee missy! "But if they[fellow Muslims] turn Renegade[take bribes from and side with the unbelievers] sieze them and slay them wherever you find them."–the Koran, Sura 4:89 Mubarek is a Renegade Muslim. (duh)

    February 1, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  11. Tony

    America if you think this has nothing to do with Islamist extremist then you are truly foolish. LOOK THE ENEMY OF ISLAM IS AMERICA AND ISRAEL DONT BE SO NAIVE. WAKE UPPP.

    February 1, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    "If the government is guilty of criminal acts is it not the duty of the people to restrain it and punish if it were a lawless individual?" –Cicero (Mubarek violates the law's of his own God, Allah as recorded in the Koran, and the people are doing their civic duty. They aren't demanding freedoms like those "enjoyed" here. They are demanding Mubarek's ouster, because he has turned his back on their God and sided with their philosophical enemies. And they would remain simply philosophical enemies if you didn't invade their lands for greedy profit. If you do, they become your blood enemies, and will "slay" you upon your arrival.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
    • JT

      How come none of the protestors I've seen interviewed share this belief? Are they hiding the reason why they are protesting? It makes no sense what-so-ever for them to lie about why they are protesting... why would they need to lie? It's not like lying will get them the support of others, nobody is going to support them but the egyptian people themselves.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  13. How

    It looks like the momentum is growing and change is inevitable. The protest is growing larger and larger and is still very peaceful. Egyptian people are using their head. Bravo. Obama administration must show strong support for the Egyptian people. Otherwise, U.S. will still be viewed as enemy, but this time as enemy against the peaceful Egyptians who want nothing but better life. One more democratic country, one less safe harbor for terrorists.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:10 am | Report abuse |
  14. Linda

    According to Al Jazeera and Egyptian State TV a group of people have broken into a store that sells military clothing. The soldiers at Cairo's Ramses Hilton hotel that were putting on newly issued flak jackets straight out of their boxes on Tuesday morning were probably some of these people.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  15. mistyy

    The “gradual change” that Hilary is suggesting means that America/Zionists will have enough time to bribe and bring another spy like Mubarak. While they can control people in a gradual process, they cannot control a sudden upraise of masses such as the current one that will bring a real leader that represents people’s interests and not America’s/Zionist. I hope that people of Egypt will not accept anything less than a revolution in leadership, and unconditional removal of Mubarak and all his bribed accomplices. Any other direction will play into America’s/Zionist plan of bribing another leader and tricking Egypt into a gradual change that America/Zionists can control in their favor.

    America/Zionists have paid Mubarak for decades to suppress any democratic movement. Even today when you read America’s/Zionist self-called experts they say they would like to see a democratic change as long as people do not choose this movement or that movement that is not in America’s/Zionist interest. America’s/Zionist hypocrisy is just disgusting. Do not you hypocrites understand that you cannot place conditions on democracy based on America’s criminal and Zionist land occupation goals. Whatever the people choose that’s what they will have!!! And you know very well that all Egyptians are against the Zionist regime, and against Americans as long as the U.S. supports the Zionist regime.

    I cannot understand why people of Egypt cannot find Mubarak and remove him physically, like Romanians did to president Chaushesku decades ago. Also, why not enter the national TV and just say to the whole nation that he is no longer president. This guy is America's/Zionist spy who did everything they wanted him to do, and he did all opposite to what Egyptian people wanted. He deserves nothing less than a humiliating physical removal.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Mohamed O

      Right on the money!

      February 1, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • promixcuous

      If Islamic countries didn't produce people with such a death wish, Western nations wouldn't need to bribe leaders to keep Islamofascists in check.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
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