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. Sidewinder

    I will have 2 of whatever Phil had (minus the triclosan) and also I think some people on here may be loud talkers, which is preferable to close talkers.

    February 1, 2011 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  2. 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 people 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 organized 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 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    @sidewinder...if you take issue with my posts, spit it out. Don't let it sit there stuck in your craw so that it belches personal insults or imputes wrong motive. I think it's called 'playa hayta' somewhere. You one of 'em?

    February 1, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    And what will they make US look like? he he...naw, I'm gonna let this one go.

    February 2, 2011 at 2:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. Philip

    @azrael. Hmmm, I thought Mubarak was a member of the Muslim faith. A renengade member, but a member nonetheless. In my book there are 3 basic types of Muslims. (no, not like sunni, etc.) Type 1: True Muslim. A peaceful individual who enjoys staying home with his family. He will argue philosophy with you, and in a respectful manner. If you invade his families land, he will do as Allah instructs: Drive you from the land and/or kill you. (cont)

    February 2, 2011 at 2:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. Philip (cont)

    Type 2: This is the more common variety. They rarely study the Koran and are "Muslim" in name only. They are into western fashions and disco music, or don't mind if their kids are. They get along fine with the invaders because they are more afraid of them than they are afraid of displeasing Allah. (cont)

    February 2, 2011 at 2:19 am | Report abuse |
  7. Nermo

    Its very funny to see people who speak of democracy but yet they have no respect for Mubarak supporters! isn't democracy about respecting the other opinion regardless of differences, isn't democracy about the right to express yourself in facts and objective manner, more important isn't democracy about the voice of the whole nation of 85 million rather than 1, 2 or even 5?? Let alone foreign influence such as Iran that is clearly pushing for another islamic ruling or certain middle east countries who are so sad in their own mess that it feels real good to see stable egypt become a chaos, just so they do not have to feel so bad about themselves.

    More interesting question, why is political changes in egypt are being marked with religious views ? Islamic or Christian? why? all of a sudden worship is a political tool to control minds rather than a

    t seems to me that 90% of the comments I am reading here, very obvious , foreign voice disguised under the term "democracy" while obvious intention is creating more chaos for their political foreign gains, steering up things.

    Yet I do undertsand the lack of understanding to the naure of Egyptians, kind and respectful, not to be under estimated and understanding very well ways of manipulation.

    Mubarak is and will always be a great leader, he is loved and respected by milions and milions of egyptians, true and heart felt, I speak the voice of a true egyptian, the same voice with all my family and friends , who know the history and understand what this man has done for us.

    I am sad that his term is ending, yet gratefull for him completing his term and mission, to make a smooth transition that does not harm stability , safety and financial situation of the country. If he leaves now, the country would turn into chaos, as i can clearly see that would make many here very happy, but remember egypt is never stupid.

    February 2, 2011 at 2:29 am | Report abuse |
  8. Philip (cont)

    Type 3: "Renegade" Muslims as described in the Koran. These flat-out join forces with the invaders. Examples range from the famous Mubarak to the infamous Bin Laden family, and House of Saud. They too are "Muslim" in name only, and are more concerned with money than Allah. The Koran commands true Muslims to "sieze them and slay them wherever you find them." These Renegades, when found out, are dealt with even more harshly than the invaders. (not unlike how we would deal with a traitor)

    February 2, 2011 at 2:34 am | Report abuse |
  9. WillyLeaks


    February 2, 2011 at 2:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Nermo

    More interesting question, why is political changes in egypt are being marked with religious views ? Islamic or Christian? why? all of a sudden worship is a political tool to control minds rather than a spiritual trip for each individual the freedom to choose?

    is Egypt Christian or Muslim? is America Christian or Muslim? Does Iran represent the real Muslims? is that democracy?

    Me? I am an Egyptian, and I do not see any democracy in these currents, I see chaos, foreign interest , lack of respect and civilization, brain washing , funny enough coming from people who have never even been to Egypt or even speak the language! lol

    February 2, 2011 at 2:40 am | Report abuse |
  11. WillyLeaks

    Mubarak, pls leave home without it ($). Just do it! The citi never sleeps. Dont think local, but global.

    February 2, 2011 at 2:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Nermo

    True, because the new president will not steal and will be perfectly honest , great news , lol

    February 2, 2011 at 2:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Charles Law

    But this isn't fair why are we living for ourselves and not for the people.Please let us all have a second thought.GOD BLESS US ALL.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:12 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hillary Onyeka,NGR

    From my point of view,the September date won't just work.This undemocratical act is common in Africa, me being a Nigerian.The international community should not just come to cover news but to also assist the military to oust him because he has been there for a long time.

    February 2, 2011 at 3:43 am | Report abuse |
  15. Thomas

    Obama, please take care of your own country now.

    I am sure that you can you can do a lot there if you want?
    Remember that you are not president of the world, but in one country only.
    Let other countries do what ever they want whit out any comments, please. Please be quite now.

    Best of luck Egypt 🙂

    February 2, 2011 at 6:27 am | Report abuse |
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