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. Enzo

    Everything will be fine now. Obama, Hillary and their team of top middle east foreign policy experts are meeting. I'm confident that given their tremendous experience they will be able to handle this almost had you. These clowns are clueless and will probably screw this up worse than Obamacare. Jimmy Carter will look like a genius next to these idiots.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Fuller

      You know what's really worse? Right-wing RepubLOLican trolls who want to turn every news story into one about their mental fixation on President Obama. You ran your candidate in 2008. You lost. Get over it. Based on what you people have to offer, I think you'll lose again in 2012.

      February 1, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cesar

    Sorry Nermo, he's stepping down in September. He will not seek re-election, face it 82 is kind off old to run a country.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amgad

      I agree with you Cesar, but let the man leave with dignity and respect not like this...he served the country for 30 years and fought a war

      February 1, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  3. juloon

    I'm puzzled. Where did the coverage of the Egyptian protests go? I've been watching CNN for several days now to keep myself updated. To-day; however. The main thrust was an attack on a young boy, and the weather across the country. Not to forget B. Bush and her stance on gay marriage. Where was the coverage of the million man march in Cairo? anything happening in Alexandria? I assumed Mubarak was still around, because I hadn't heard otherwise. Very rarely there was a brief reference to what had been the lead story for 7/8 days , but no real info. Why has CNN so abruptly stopped coverage?? Surely Mubarak doesn't control CNN too? Oh well, thank heavens for BBC.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. worker235

    Tiananmen all over again

    February 1, 2011 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    Mubarek has been exposed as a renegade Muslim leader who has been taking bribes from those whom his own God, Allah, has cursed. Let's just hope that we never figure our own leaders are serving corporate profit rather than the God they claim to serve.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Amgad

    To everyone in Egypt, who oppose President Mubarak, please take a step back and look what this man has done for your country, keeping it safe and out of war, providing jobs, putting Egypt on the world map respected and graceful. You are missing the picture, do you understand how much Egypt has grown in population in the past 30 years. Do you understand what it takes to run a country that big, look at the history and learn what Mubarak has done for his country, fighting war on everyone's behalf, keeping it safe with no blood shared for 30 years so everyone can move forward. It would have been very easy for President Mubarak to leave but remember he cares, he is keeping this country safe when everything has fallen apart. People take a step back and understand, this is Egypt which is 7000 years old, History which is being destroyed in front of everyone's eyes. shame on those who make Egypt look small while it taught the world civilization. And for Iran, mind your own business and sort your problem away from Egypt. Egyptians NEVER want to live like you and certainly don't want to see another Iran in the Middle East... from an Egyptian that loves his country and President. May the force of god be with you in these hard times,,,,

    February 1, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    Mubarek is a renegade. A turncoat. A bebedict arnold if you will. True Muslims have no need for such a man who shames his own God Allah and takes sides with the infidels whom have no business meddling in Egypt's nor any other Muslim nations affairs when his own holy book, the Koran, forbids this. The ONLY reason foreign empires have EVER invaded Muslim nations was for conquering them, and installing a puppet who allows natural resources to be plundered. period.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:35 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    Any Muslim who sides with American puppets is also a "Renegade" as identifiedin the Koran.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jack Fuller

      You know nothing about the Koran, so stop talking out of your behind.

      February 1, 2011 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    Yes, Mubarek and Karzai(Afghanistan's puppet) are cronies of the unbelievrs. Obviously.

    February 1, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nermo

      Is your name actually "Philip" ? saint name from the bible?

      February 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Karyn, Indiana

    CNN: Can you please update the Cairo Airport situation? Also, are there organizations available to help those trying to leave Egypt?

    February 1, 2011 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Karyn, Indiana

    No one can get out of Egypt, and we can't get out of the US due to the winter storm!... Bad to worse!

    February 1, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Nermo

    Mubarak Cornie or unbeliever !!! may be , dont really care...and you are??

    I am an egyptian, born , grow up and lived all 32 years in Egypt , and my parents and grand parents and great grand parents, and we have not seen a better leader to make peace, who took my country after english occupation and israel war, built roads, telecommunications, universties and set up infra structure progressing far far away from any other country in the middle east, in just 30 years. We are no lebanon or Tunis, we are strong children of 7000 years civilization, one of the oldest history on the planet.
    Yes he is 82 and leaving but with dignity, our praise and gratfull appreciation, because we have believes , values and strong grounds, not like that. 1 or 2 million do not speak for 85 million egyptians and they sure do not speak for me.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amgad

      Well said! and I very much agree with Nermo...

      February 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. W. Mounir

    Yes for Democracy and for the change, but no for destruction and religious descrimination. I am all for President Mubarak's resignation, but pray that the power would not be in the hands of the Moslem Brotherhood. I am Egyptian American, that happened to be Christian. I love and respect all people of any religon as my Christianity teaches me, especially my Moslem brothers and sisters in Egypt and any where in the world. Thanks and may God Keep Egypt safe and Bless us all.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amgad

      I am also a Christian Egyptian living abroad..and I agree with you 'no to discrimination' but to be fair..Mubarak is the only president that gave us voice and space to you said may God be with us all and bless us all in these difficult times the country and the president is facing

      February 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Nermo

    Great Thanks to Mubarak, the oldest and strongest peace maker in the Middle East, Generations and generations are and will be gratefull to you for living in peace. Thank you Mubarak and thank you again.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jerry

      How much did Mubarak pay you to post this?

      February 1, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Paula Santangelo

    Mubarek won't run again?? He should be a man, who supposedly loves his country and resign for the good of the Egyptian people. Shame on him!

    February 1, 2011 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Amgad

      I think Paula that he will not run again, but how would you feel if after 30 years of service you are treated like this...put your self in his place and think how he feels now after all this life of great one said there was no abuse, but a new one will come and will also give the president some dignity in his last days..the man is 82 years old shame on anyone that would treat an elderly this way specially after serving his country to the best he can for 30 years...the opinion of a few does not reflect the opinion of a nation

      February 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
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