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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Filed under: Egypt • Protest
soundoff (247 Responses)
  1. Nermo

    IThis is the decision of Egyptians through democratic elections, not through 1 million demonstartion, or foreign interests.

    February 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Eric M

    Have they decided what they are going to do after Mubarak?
    http://blog.ericmerten.com/2011/01/30/protesting-good-but-what-comes-next/

    February 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Amgad

    Strong man even when he is leaving...a real leader...well done Mr. President and may God bless your steps till September......

    February 1, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Anastacio V. Esic

    This longtime president Mubarak of Egypt should step down as demanded, in order for other leaders of this country to give them the chance to run thier country accordingly. He has been serving too long, so he should give a chance to other leaders. But what is very hard for him is to let go of his power and accountabilities. But he should also be held accountable for his wrongdoings.

    February 1, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  5. K.Shabman

    Mubarak still doesn't get it – the people want him OUT! The people do not trust him and he is foolish to think that he can stay until the end of his term. These people are not stupid or gullible which is what Mubarak seems to think if he believes they will let him stay. My concern is that violent action will be taken to force him out. The people have spoken!

    February 1, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rustyn

    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 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Ghada

    He is such a liar,Every word he said in his speech was a LIE...
    Not a word about how he pulled the police off the street to create the chaos!!!!
    He wants to stay another 6 months to punish the egyptians for asking him to step down.

    February 1, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Ghada, you are absolutely right. I can't believe how these people are creating their own virtual reality despite of all what is going on around them. I was listening to live stream of the Egyptian TV and these people are in the lala land, lies upon lies coming out of their mouse. I don't know if they are brain washed or getting payed to be stupid.
      the sad reality is there's no going back. if these people in the Tahrir sq. backed down, the government will HUNT them down for this not to happen again. I think he said something similar during his speech.

      February 1, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  8. know your holy books

    You Muslim peoples! Read your Koran and know you are are to be a peaceful people. You are to repel, not go along with foreign invaders who wish to steal your natural resources as your family starves. Americans! You call yourselves "Christians", know that your bible commands you to love your enemies, not invade their lands and plunder their resources. Love them without loving what they do or what they believe. Christians are to NOT murder and to "turn the other cheek" if insulted. If your family is attacked, you protect them with your life./ Our political and religious leaders lie to us and are exposed by our holy books' teachings. Without these holy books, all we would have is heresay. Study these books and know what God requires of you. Pray for his insight rather than the ideas of men. Men who would have us kill each other in the name of God as they rob us behind our backs.// You who go along with these men rather than God, be warned: Your days are numbered. All who disobey, will be dealt with, BY GOD.

    February 1, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • sam

      Here goes the guilt trip!!

      February 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    🙂

    February 1, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  10. sam

    The difference between a war hero and a war criminal is the victory aspect. If this people stopped protesting and went home they will be remember as the criminals who where shaking the government. If they stayed, they history will remember them as the hero who stop firm for what they believed in.

    February 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rissy

    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 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jim Brieske

      rissy. There needs to be an orderly period of transition to Presidential Elections and the winner taking office. I believe Mubarek should leave now and the Vice President assume a temporary president position for the main purpose of organizing and holding a President election in seven months.
      Once Mubarek announces immediate departure the Vice President assumes the presidency and announces his intention of holding a fair democratic President election in 7 months. He has requested international oversight.
      The protestors leader holds a huge rally afterward, announcing Victory in removing Mubarek who was the head of the snake which was the regime. Now the protestors must choose candidates and decide what they want Egypt to become. It is alot of responsibility and no small task.
      The hard part is just starting because it's Egypt. It would be wonderful to see the transition from Pharoahs to a Democracy where everyone has one equal vote.
      jim
      Oh and President Obama is now doing a great job as our president. I'm hoping he now realizes he has a say in everything because we have everyone here.

      February 1, 2011 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tawfik Aboellail

      Did any one notice that he is wearing the same suit he was wearing when he gave the first speech. Was this speech prepared in advance or he did not change his clothes since the first speech?

      February 1, 2011 at 10:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Clearly, there's no pleasing some people

      February 1, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • azrael

      rissy sounds an awful lot like a paranoid conspiracy theorist

      February 1, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rana

    Those who make peaceful revolution impossible , make violent revolution inevitable. " – JFK
    The people said thier words in such a civilized way but apparantly to deaf ears. There is a funny video circulating around facebook between arabs in the middle east, its in english and its super funny. its how the US treats us. Here is the link :
    http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/video/video.php?v=10150102390915630&oid=166141300088507&comments

    February 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Steve O'Leary

    Is it really true Mubarak has US$ 40 Billion and his wife anothe $3.5 billion?

    IS this where the US aid payments went? The reason 40% of Egypt's population lives on $2 /day?

    February 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Barb

      Yes he needs to go ASAP but has any thought been given to how he can be stopped from taking all this money when he leaves the country.

      February 1, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • rltjs

      I don't know how true that is. Take away three figures, no doubt remainder must be half ill-gotten.

      February 2, 2011 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
    • TheTruth

      He can come here and we take his money and send him back to get killed. Just like we did to that other president.

      February 2, 2011 at 9:24 am | Report abuse |
  14. 25yanayer.com

    Dear World, open your eyes, ears, and hearts. The spirit of Egypt is calling!

    Dear Egypt, don't give up and keep the faith! The world is watching and your voice is heard!

    Sorry! Your message cannot be delivered. Egypt appears to be offline, would you like some gas?

    February 1, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Nancy in CA

    As an Egyptian American, I urge our government to chair an international effort to freeze all assets of Mubarak, his sons, his wife, his business friends (temporarily), and Ahmad Ezz *immediately*.

    Let his factions in Egypt know and understand that Mubarak can NOT finance the defiance to the will of a decent, honorable population that has been held hostage and nearly enslaved for 30 years.

    This is a huge opportunity for the US and for the values we stand for to win the hearts and the minds of the Middle East.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
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