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. Sam from CT

    Mubarak, listen up. The people there have spoken. They will remove you so take the easy way out. I personally want you to step down because for some reason, you're belligerence is costing me more at the gas pump.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Abdel ElSawabi

    ElBaradei, doesn’t represent Egyptian nor he has any support (may 1 to 2%) of the Egyptian. Mr. Mubarak is a war hero and he does have the support to September. I’m Egyptian, and I do support change and happy with young Egyptian, but now we have to give Mr. Mubarak chance.

    February 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Eer

    Sam from CT U dont get it ..... it will cost ou more when he will step down

    February 1, 2011 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      just drop a bomb on the country and be done with it.

      February 2, 2011 at 9:20 am | Report abuse |
  4. Sam from CT

    I get it more than you know. His step down will ease tensions, restart Egypt's economy, restore Wall Street confidence in the region, and pressure OPEc to trade barrels of crude at lower prices. After all, the U.S. Is working behind the scenes to put someone in place that serves our interets too.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sam from CT

    I get it more than you know. His step down will ease tensions, restart Egypt's economy, restore Wall Street confidence in the region, and pressure OPEc to trade barrels of crude at lower prices. After all, the U.S. Is working behind the scenes to put someone in place that serves our interests too.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:00 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mohamad H

    Everybody please remember these days and you will regret when Moslem Brotherhood takes over. They will use El Baradei and other politicians after few months you will have an Islamic Republic worse than Iran.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  7. ahmed hussein

    Hosni Mubarak"s defiance and intransigence, despite the demands of the Egyptin people for him to step down and leave the country leaves the people with only one alternative.
    ,
    The Egyptian people must storm the Egyptian palace and drag Mubarak out of the palace, and if necessary give him his death wish on Egyptian soil. Otherwise, place Mubarak on a plane to some European capital where he can spend all of the billions of dollars that he and his family members have stolen from the Egyptian Treasury.

    People of Egypt, Mubarak has laid down the gauntlet. The battle becomes bloody after Mubarak's speech of defiance. Mubarak just does not get it. The people of Egypt demand that Mubarak step down now and leave the country immediately. Egypt is not big enough for Mubarak and the rest of the Egyptian people who demand that Mubarak go.
    Avod more bloodshed, Mubarak. Leave now.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. ahmed hussein

    Hosni Mubarak"s defiance and intransigence, despite the demands of the Egyptin people for him to step down and leave the country, leaves the people with only one alternative.
    ,
    The Egyptian people must storm the Egyptian palace and drag Mubarak out of the palace, and if necessary give him his death wish on Egyptian soil. Otherwise, place Mubarak on a plane to some European capital where he can spend all of the billions of dollars that he and his family members have stolen from the Egyptian Treasury.

    People of Egypt, Mubarak has laid down the gauntlet. The battle becomes bloody after Mubarak's speech of defiance. Mubarak just does not get it. The people of Egypt demand that Mubarak step down now and leave the country immediately. Egypt is not big enough for Mubarak and the rest of the Egyptian people who demand that Mubarak go.
    Avoid more bloodshed, Mubarak. Leave now.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • concerned citizen

      the egyptians have displayed their ability to handle their own problems. theyve respected the government thus far by protesting peacefully. the leaders decision to stay for a few more months shows complete disregard for his peoples (the same people that he is supposed to be protecting) wishes. i cant fathom his train of thought when the majority of his people want him out. These people have been exposed to the world through the internet and media and are finally at the breaking point. they are ready for a democracy and ready for their voices to be heard. this world is evolving constantly and noones happy with decisions being made for them anymore. i believe they will turn violent to get him out of office and once hes gone a new egypt will rise. the same egypt that gave us amazing, seemingly impossible examples of architecture (pyramids) hopefully this will grease the wheels for the whole middle east to see what can happen when you fight the negative forces in the world. "the people that are trying to make this world a bad place arent taking a day off, how can i?" – bob marley.

      February 1, 2011 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. pokeronthery

    How can a country that build pyramids be stupid enough to stand one leader for 30 years.
    Mummyfy this guy please even if he is still breathing!

    February 1, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  10. David Sunday

    I want the U.S President to drop food to the protesters who have been out for days! Why don't the U.S. help the people with democracy like we did in Baghdad? We want people around the world to be Free then, lets help them.

    February 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • me

      Because he should be feeding the people here.

      February 2, 2011 at 8:55 am | Report abuse |
    • TheTruth

      Ya... it gets a little old saving the would.. when you're country don'y know what the hell thereb doing.

      February 2, 2011 at 9:17 am | Report abuse |
  11. ahmed hussein

    America always seems to be on the side of dictators, who are propped up by a U.S. financed and trained military. It is too bad that America's democracy is dependant on the political and economice subjugation of other people and other countries.

    The people of Egypt are demanding that the dictator Hosni Mubarak step down from power now. Not tomorrow, not
    the next day, but NOW! What part of NOW does America not understand? What part of NOW does Mubarak not understand? September is out of the question, unless you are delusional and blinded by the controlling arrogrance, and military might of America. America is on the decline and as she tries to preserve her stength and power,she becomes less relevant in a world where the third world is emerging, and controlling their resources and land from the offrspring of the world's most notorious colonial empire, Britain. America, as Britain's offspring, carries on Britain's colonial mischief by attempting to control the resources and people in countries, that want their freedom from political, economic and military interference of America.

    Mubarak proves how ugly America is. The ugly American!

    February 1, 2011 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    Odd how very few of you ever mentioned Mubarek before it was all over tv. I see very very few personal opinions being posted. What I see is people posting opinions that some talking head gave them. Call 'em like I see 'em. (I see Mubaarek as I always have: a greedy man who is "Muslim" in name only. A Renegade Muslim who has turned his back on his own God and his own people in favor of foreign wealth for himself. He is a puppet. Nobody respects a puppet, especially the puppet's own people.)

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

      Enjoy the sadistic tyrant that will take his place if the Muslim faith is allowed to lead...... They will make Mubarak look like a flower girl

      February 1, 2011 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. ahmed hussein

    To the brave people of Egypt, never give up. Never back down. Hosni Mubarak and his American made fighter jets, helicopters, tanks and tear gas cannot kill all of the people of Egypt. Mubarak's speech of defiance means you the peolple of Egypt must take your struggle for freedom and democracy to the next level. You must now march from the square to Mubarak's palace and remove him. Mubarak's military will try and stop you with their guns and tanks.

    If Mubarak orders his military to mow down 10 thousand of you as you march for freedom, another 10 thousand Egyptians will follow to defend freedom. Stay orgaqnized into groups of 10 thousand. It is now or never. The people will win. Mubarak has the blood of Egypt on his hands every day that he remains in power.

    Mubarak get on the next plane and leave Egypt NOW to avoid further bloodshed!

    February 1, 2011 at 8:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Ajit

    Truly historic events in Egypt. Destabilising but inevitable. I wish and pray for a smooth transition to a sustainable form of government in that region.

    I had written a blog "the power of many" over a week ago without imagining such an event. Connectivity has built aspirations of the youth of Egypt for more... Like or fear it – we have to deal with it.

    http://ajitmahadevan.blogspot.com/2011/01/power-of-many.html

    February 1, 2011 at 9:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Anonymous

    Doesn't anyone care that the Internet and cell phones are cut off in Egypt??? If the Egyptian government is really willing and trying to change, then how come they are isolating the country and depriving people from some of their basic rights that nowadays are almost as essential as food and shelter! How come there's no worldwide pressure on this government to act upon what it says it intends to do giving people their rights and building up an atmosphere of democracy? Egyptian people have the RIGHT to communicate freely when and how they want!

    February 1, 2011 at 9:19 pm | Report abuse |
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