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. Philip

    @baklu...hogwash. Israel sides with whomever their protector (the US gov.) sides with. Have you heard Israel complaining about Mubarek? No! They have been sending him aid (bribes) just like our own government. (and just like they helped arm Saddam Hussein AFTER he had commited atrocities agains his own people. (don't take my word on "Teicher Affidavit" and read the sworn testimony of the highest ranking US GOV. official to ever come clean about how Israel helped arm the madman)

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

      THe US has lost its standings moral that it preaches. It is show time and please stop talking about human rights

      February 1, 2011 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  2. Caissy

    Hopefully the egyptian people will triumph over the unworthy Mubarak.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:20 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sammy

    I've bn watching the news live on 4 different networks, CNN, ALJAZEERA, ALARABIA, EGYPT STATE TV. . I can tell you the protesters are now numbered in millions in the capital cairo, half a million in Alexandria, over 250,000 in other major cities. All with the same demand "Mubarak leave the country now". I think it's time for President OBAMA to pick up the phone and call mubarak and tell him" IT'S TIME TO LEAVE NOW".

    February 1, 2011 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe The Politician

      Sammy .... Sammy ... Obama is a fine upright Christian man who wouldn't have any influence on the outside world. Plus, Obama has other things to worry about, like force Americans to buy insurance or be put to death, or maybe, censor and filter the internet so the safe people of the USA can't see what is really happening on the outside world. AND, Obama has to work on his NWO speech that happens after his term as president in the USA.

      February 1, 2011 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • promixcuous

      That's not Obama's job. Egyptians are responsible for their own destiny, as they are now realizing.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Fuller

      Why do Republicans think that President Obama should be out there solving every single problem in the world?

      February 1, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    @mistyy...well said!!! and true. Finally someone else has posted how it really is. Well done mistyy, and i look fwd. to more of your posts. (warm and friendly smiling and mistyy)

    February 1, 2011 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    @Joe the Politician...the NWO isn't some future event. It has been in place for a long time. International borders have fallen for profit already. They are loosely maintained only to keep us people apart. Investigate the B.I.S. (the Bank for International Settlements...that's what they call themselves nowadays) and see how one single foreign bank directs the affairs of all the worlds central banks, including those located here in the US. then you will know why both (D) and (R) administrations have ALWAYS refused to either audit the Fed/central banks themselves, or allow a public audit of any kind. The NWO rules our financial system now, and will tear down our borders after the governments who support them disarm their citizens, and allow greedy corporations to bleed them dry so they can't afford to revolt and still feed their families.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe The Politician

      Philip, You are correct!

      February 1, 2011 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. zORAn

    I really appreciate these happenings and the most comments, but I would really like to know – what if Mubarak does not step out ?!?

    February 1, 2011 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  7. Linda C

    "kromba...A moment of truth, US must choose between Dictator Mubarak and the Egyptian people and America's core idea of democracy . Let him go, Cut life support before it is too late."
    This is true! It is time for our government, who sends billions of dollars of aid each year to Egypt, to step up and lend a hand! In light of everything that is going on over there right now, could we PLEASE relax the restrictions on F4 visas and make it easier on the Coptic Christians, who are suffering religious persecution, to come to their families and friends in America who are MORE THAN WILLING to provide for them!

    February 1, 2011 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  8. Scott

    To all of the Egyptian citizens reading: Please do NOT give up this fight for humanity. Do not merely acquiesce to Mubarak's quasi-change in government leaders. They will put on a smile, pay unemployment for lost time during this past week, smile for the cameras after everything ends peacefully, and feign reform – but when the smoke clears and everyone has forgotten about this a year or 2 down the road, the real bloodbath will begin. Torture and abuse beyond question for what almost happened to his regime. Once a murderous, intolerant dictator – always a murderous, intolerant dictator.

    You need to remain steadfast in your course. I won't lie, it will probably need to come to physical removal of Mubarak in the form of a military coup, which means fighting and blood. But if you keep the protests strong, and it becomes an even worse event of human suffering, hunger, destruction, etc – you will prevail. The military SERVES THE PEOPLE, not the GOVERNMENT. The atrocities and human suffering will only go so far, and then they will remove Mubarak personally via a military coup, and you will have won the day. It may take another week or 2, but I guarantee you if you don't stay strong throughout this, it will get much worse down the road.

    It may be tempting to go back to "normal life" so that you can eat and sleep properly, take care of you children, etc. But remember why you want revolution – ie: the corruption, atrocities, abuse, torture, and more. Stay strong, and you will prevail. Even though our sorry government will not support you, we the AMERICAN PEOPLE do...

    February 1, 2011 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Linda C

      Bravo! You put into words exactly how most of us American's are feeling! Be strong and brave our Egyptian Friends! Mubark your reign of terror is over! YOUR own people DEMAND you step down... do the right thing, for once, for them.... just DO IT! Don't be the cause of more lost lives and force the people to physically remove you from office! For once, put the PEOPLE and their needs first!

      February 1, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. JPP


    February 1, 2011 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  10. Milroy Peter

    Egypt's longtime President Hosni Mubarak's son Gamal, seen as his likely successor, has reportedly fled to Britain, along with his family following a Tunisia-inspired protest. The 48-year-old younger Mubarak boarded from an airport in western Cairo a private jet bound for London with his wife and daughter, and nearly 100 pieces of luggage, the US-based Arabic website Akhbar al-Arab reported.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  11. J Roycroft

    I just hope the people of Egypt get the leadership they want and deserve.

    February 1, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. Milroy Peter

    As the first regional media, Arabic-language 'Akhbar Al Arab' is now reporting that President Mubarak "has left Egypt on a private jet headed for London."

    February 1, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Milroy Peter

    this is still uncofirmed he was supposed to give speech but he never showed up for the talk few hours ago

    February 1, 2011 at 11:50 am | Report abuse |
  14. rusty

    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 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  15. jpm

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Is in no position to demand jack shi@. It is up to the Egyptian people whether they want to stand by it, that is what a democracy is what the people want.
    I don't think the Egyptians should elect an extremists and trade one tyrant using police compared to another tyrant using religion but its their choice.

    From a christian American.

    February 1, 2011 at 12:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • promixcuous

      Netanyahu has a responsibility to keep his country safe.

      February 1, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
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