tv This Week With Christiane Amanpour ABC February 6, 2011 8:00am-9:00am PST
this morning, we take you inside the uprising in egypt for a special edition of "this week," "live from cairo." we were first inside the palace. we were first to speak with the embattled president, and today more of my exclusive interview with the man who holds the key to egypt's future. we have faced the mobs. our vehicles attacked. did they hurt you? waggy? we have seen the rage and the violence. we have heard the people. now the question everyone is asking, what next for egypt? what will it mean for the united states and for the world? a very special "this week," "crisis in egypt" starts now.
hello again from cairo where it has been an epic week here and across egypt. the joy, the fear, the sheer power of people, the pace off to the president who tells me he knows his time is up. the almighty struggle just to bear witness to get the story out, and today, the start of an unprecedented new political process. actors, we have all the we have all the major players, the massive moments in this electrifying drama. whatever happens next, whatever becomes of this situation, the truth is that nothing will ever be the same in the arab world, and that matters here and it matters to you. it has been the likes of which we have never seen before. [ chanting ] >> this was the week of simmering tension in tahrir square where it boiled over. a change we could sense as early as monday with a new display of force by the egyptian army.
as we approached the square, we saw more tanks, more armored vehicles, more foot soldiers trying to slow the traffic of protesters who have been streaming in for the past week. we spoke to an army captain who doesn't want to go on camera but who told me that his orders are to maintain discipline and to seal the square. at one point we got caught up in the crowd surging forward towards the square, but past the bottleneck the shoving stopped, and the protesters seemed to be in good spirits. >> welcome to cairo. welcome. [ chanting ] >> and it was that optimistic spirit that you felt in the square, flags waving. ♪ >> people singing. >> hosni mubarak change. >> and they definitely wanted to be heard. >> you, mubarak, we will put you to a crushing defeat.
you will be put to a crushing defeat. we never want you. >> if that sounds like a primal scream, that's because it is. these are people who haven't been able to speak their mind for 30 years. and so as night fell on liberation square last monday, protesters camping out in tents were infused with new hope that change was coming, but the days ahead would only bring new challenges and grave dangers. the next morning for the first time, we ran into a crowd of pro-mubarak supporters. afraid of losing everything, the president they've known for 30 years, afraid their country would descend into chaos. i was caught up in their palpable fear practically pinned to the wall. why are you here today? >> we are here to support our president hosni mubarak because we want him to be our president. >> it's a strange mix of
emotions. here mubarak's people embrace the soldiers, and down the road at the entrance to liberation square, anti-mubarak protesters work with the military, as well. volunteers help with security. they check i.d.s as people filed into the square for what organizers hope would grow to a million marchers. why are women and men being separated? >> because this is a personal check and our women no -- >> i get it. >> like in airports. >> i get it. and what are you checking for? >> bombs. >> even though the army is out in force, even though the government tried to stop them by closing down the train station, sealing off some of the roads, this has been nonstop all day. it is certainly the biggest protest that this city has seen since they began a week ago. the mood was jubilant. egyptians for the first time
were able to see life beyond the shadow of president mubarak. do you think he did anything good for egypt? >> yes, i do. he's done a lot of good for egypt. he a tragic figure in a way, you know, honorable, good and well, but then at the end, the concentration of power, his grip on power, his obsession with it is bringing this country down. >> and that night the protesters came a step closer to getting what they wanted when president mubarak announced that he would not run in the next election. a victory but here it still wasn't enough. and by morning it became only too clear that the system would not go down without a fight. it started with a group of pro-mubarak demonstrators shouting angrily "he's not leaving" making their way towards the anti-mubarak protesters assembled in liberation square.
they streamed in on foot along the nile and even floated down it. we were standing on a nearby rooftop watching as their numbers exploded. and suddenly this almost medieval sight, men riding horses and camels galloping in at breakneck speed charging the crowd and cracking their whips. soon this square was a battleground, and it raged on for hours. rocks were hurled from both sides. there were bloody beatings and molotov cocktails tossed into the crowd. some were likely genuine mubarak supporters, but others merely subs sent in as agitators. people began ripping up pavements and turning it into weapons. at least three were killed, and hundreds more were injured. a mosque turned into a field hospital. we went back to the square and quickly found ourselves
surrounded by an angry mob of pro-mubarak supporters. >> we hate america. we hate any americans. okay, go. >> you want us to go. >> yes, i want you to go to from here. >> why? >> because we are hate you. we hate american. >> you hate us? >> yes, i hate you. and i hate you. >> why do you hate us? >> you are not good person. go to any place more, please. go to any place more. you are not with us. you are not with us. >> okay. they kicked in the car doors and broke our windshields as we drove off. they hit the car with their fists over and over again and threw a rock through the front window. the glass is shattered all over our driver. are you okay? did they hurt you? waggy, did they hit you? >> no. >> violence flared that night as firing starting into the crowd. morning brought with it some calm.
inside the barricades, again the protesters are lining up. their own civil defense here prepared for what might happen this afternoon. all over the square, we saw the weary and the wounded. >> cut just above my head. >> their foreheads, noses, faces bandaged and bloodied. reinforcements were pouring in. people came with new supplies, bottled water and bread. blankets, digging in for the long haul. >> this is fruit juice and this is? >> cotton. >> cotton and sutures and surgical gloves. >> it was then that we heard we were going to get our exclusive interview with vice president omar suleiman. on our way there, we were apprehensive. journalists had come under attack all day, and at one point an angry mob surrounded our car. we reached the palace, which is surrounded at this point by
tanks under military escort, and as our cameraman was setting up for our exclusive interview with vice president omar suleiman, i asked if i could see president mubarak. within minutes i was whisked into a reception room to see him. i asked him how he was. he said, "i feel strong." he said "i'm not the kind of person to run," and he said "i will die on egyptian soil." when i asked him about whether he would step down now, he said to me, "you know, christiane, i've been in public service for 62 years and now i'm fed up and i want to retire." he said he didn't care what people were saying about him right now. he said that he cared only about his country, about egypt and that when the time comes, he said he would die in egypt. when we returned to tahrir square the next day, we were surrounded by people who had heard about my meeting with the president and who wanted to ask me about it. i spoke to him yesterday. i saw him at the palace, and i said to him, there are people
who tell me they don't trust you when you say you will step down and he said "i've made my decision." >> what did he say exactly? >> he said that he felt he had met your demands. >> no, he is a liar. he is a big liar. we don't even -- >> now with the white house pushing publicly for a quicker political process to start and help the transition along, these protesters are growing impatient for just that. >> we don't trust him. >> the war on the ground, the struggle has been achieved. we still have not achieved the political battle. >> we need a book called the constitution. if we brought in a person that we don't like, the next time we don't vote him in. >> but there are many egyptians who are just as impatient for these protests which have brought the economy to a screeching halt to end. >> go back to work and go back to our lives.
>> what do you think should happen now? >> we think it should stop. >> something by the government and the concessions they make is enough for now. >> for the first time in the last couple of days we're walking freely on the bridge which has been the site of clashes, of surrounding journalists, of being hostile. today it's peaceful. and with calm restored to the square, the protesters were left to watch and wait. and so today for the first time after this incredible week, things look a bit back to normal. there is traffic. banks have been open for several hours today, and also an unprecedented political process is under way. for the first time in the history of this country, the government has now met with members of the muslim brotherhood and other opposition groups including members of the youth movement, but the muslim brotherhood is banned here, and yet the powerful vice president omar suleiman has now been meeting with them. they've had meetings to which they've said they've organized a
committee to lift the repressive state of emergency that's been in effect for decades and also to lift press restrictions on the state press here, that they will be free and able to work without any censorship. we discussed all of this in my exclusive interview with omar suleiman. you said that you had started dialogue with the opposition party. >> yes. >> including mr. elbaradei? >> no, elbaradei is not one of the opposition. he has his own group which is the brotherhood muslim or have links to muslim brotherhood and muslim brotherhood said they want to meet with me without mr. elbaradei. >> what do you understand by transition must happen now as the united states is saying and many other countries are saying? >> it is the process starting by national dialogue which has started this morning, and we will continue tomorrow and after
tomorrow. we want the young people to know that all your demands, all your hoff positive, and we promise that we will do and we need quiet time to implement these things. >> what is your fear if president mubarak was to say i've had enough? he's told me that he's had enough, 62 years of public service, and he wants to go but not quite yet. what are the concerns? why would he not go now? >> we don't want chaos in our country. if president mubarak would say i'm leaving, now who would take over? in the constitution that means the speaker would take over. i think with this atmosphere, that means that the other people who have their own agenda will make instability in our country.
>> will you present yourself as a candidate for president? >> no, no. according to this constitution, i cannot. i am not from any party. i'm not belonging to any party or to any group, which i cannot be a candidate as for the constitution. >> if it was possible, would you run for president? >> i don't think so. >> why? >> well, i'm too old now. i did a lot for the country, and i have no ambition to be president of this country. when the president asked me to be vice president, i accepted just to help the president in this critical time. >> when you see what's happening on the streets of egypt, of tunisia and now of jordan and yemen and syria, what do you think?
these are young people who want a different world. >> this is the islamic current who push these people. >> you think that? >> yes. >> you don't think it's young people who want their rights, their freedom? >> i don't think that only from the young people. others are pushing them to do that. >> in many parts of the arab world, there's been no democracy. do you not think the young people in today's world connected to the internet, seeing everything that they see, do you not think that it comes from their hearts? >> it's the latest to talk altogether but it's not their idea. it comes from abroad. >> do you believe in democracy? >> for sure. everybody believes in democracy.
>> so when -- >> but when you will do that, when we would -- when the people here will have the culture of democracy. >> we know what the opposition wants. what do you want from the opposition? >> i want from the opposition to understand that in this limited time we can do what president mubarak have said, and we cannot do more, and when new president will come, you will have more time to make any change you want. >> what message do you have for the young people who are still standing and still in that liberation/tahrir square? >> we can say only go home. we cannot do more than that. we cannot push them by force. everybody has to go home. we want to have normal life. we don't want anybody in the streets. go to work. go to a normal life. save the economy of the country. >> mr. vice president, thank you very much for being with us. >> thank you.
>> and so now after these historic talks that have started, will that satisfy the protesters? will they start to go away from the square? we will ask when we come back egypt's ambassador to the united states about what the latest meetings mean and we will also get the view from the white house when our special "this week" "live from cairo" returns.
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this is unprecedented, isn't it? the egyptian government, vice president suleiman meeting with leaders of the muslim brotherhood. >> well, it's certainly a very important development, one that indicates willingness to discuss and continue to get the reform process with all the opposition including the muslim brotherhood. >> so since this political process seems now to be publicly under way, what is the road map? everybody wants to know that. >> the road map continues to be an orderly and meaningful transition to greater democratic reforms meaning the aspirations of the egyptian people in terms of their economic well-being and the continuing to prepare for the transition for the next presidential election. >> what do you understand the united states' position to be now publicly and behind the scenes?
their special envoy, frank wisner, has said that for reform to happen, for the constitution to be amended, the president needs to be at the helm of that process. >> the u.s. administration i think can only be referred -- can only refer you to the statement by president obama, quite an extensive statement last friday in which he indicated on several occasions that this was an egyptian process, that this was an issue that the egyptian people would decide and that the importance was an orderly and meaningful transition of the presidency and the new direction towards greater democratic and economic and social reforms. ambassador wisner is a recognized, very competent and experienced diplomat as was mentioned by everybody associated to the administration, the spokesman of the -- the white house
spokesman, and i'm sure his opinion is highly valued. >> let me ask you, a consensus seems to have come out of the meeting between vice president suleiman, the muslim brotherhood and others that they will form a committee to start talking about amending the constitution, but importantly, that they have agreed to lift the decades-old state of emergency. how significant is that? that, of course, has been responsible for the oppressive political atmosphere and repressive atmosphere here. >> it would be a very significant move. it has been a long-standing demand of most of the opposition and many segments of egyptian society to guarantee that all activity -- all political activity is undertaken under normal law and in the confines of normal judiciary, so it would be a significant step an and indication of confidence that the political process is moving forward.
>> and, lastly, you have seen, the world has seen the appalling images of the crackdown on the reporters and the journalists trying to tell this story. how bad has that been for egypt, and why was that allowed to happen? >> it's a deplorable situation, one that has been condemned by various officials in the egyptian government, it's socially unacceptable, but, unfortunately, the security vacuum and the difficult situation with many different segments and proponents of this demonstration have caused a difficult security environment, and i am confident that this will not be reoccurring. >> and, ambassador, just one last thing, the violence against the protesters, how bad has that been for egypt, and why was that allowed to happen? >> this is a very wide protest movement.
the emotions were high, and the situation was tense, and the capability of the military to handle this sort of situation has -- was not at the outset sufficient. that has been rectified, and now the military has more men on the ground to be able to handle this situation, and as you have noticed during the last two or three days, the demonstrations have been under way under the protection of the military without any incidence of violence. >> ambassador shoukry, thank you for joining us, and certainly the atmosphere has changed completely. it is peaceful on the streets right now. when we return, what is the obama administration doing? we get that view from abc's jake tapper and our very special cairo roundtable when we return. roundtable when we return. dominion of a very few. the largest and most powerful organizations. logistics was our secret weapon. logistics was our black heart.
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welcome back to our special edition live here from cairo. now, everything that's happened here is, of course, being monitored very closely in washington by the u.s. administration. one of the things that came out this week was that president mubarak told me that he never intended or that he would not have his son gamal mubarak succeed him. this is the first time he has said that in public, and, of course, all week and throughout the crisis, the white house has been struggling with the need to have a transition here to heed the will of the people who want democracy and the need to keep stability. jake tapper has all of that from the white house. ♪ >> reporter: as president obama has tried to move away from a longtime u.s. ally/dictator and towards demonstrators in the streets of cairo, he has in the words of one u.s. official seemed to take a new position every 12 hours only to be overtaken by events. the protests began on january 25th, and the administration did
not appear unduly concerned. >> our assessment is that the egyptian government is stable. >> reporter: the president was focused on his annual state of the union address with its domestic focus and not to the rest of the world. >> recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power, it must also be the purpose behind it. >> reporter: but while president obama mentioned democratic movements elsewhere, the one playing out in the streets of perhaps our strongest arab ally was not mentioned directly. >> the united states of america stands with the people of tunisia and supports the democratic aspirations of all people. [ applause ] >> reporter: but who was the united states standing with in egypt? on thursday, pbs asked the vice president if the time had come for mubarak to go. he said, no. >> mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things. i would not refer to him as a dictator. >> reporter: just one day later the situation was spiraling out
of control in egypt. for the first time the white house said that president obama had been doing more than discussing human rights and democratic reforms with mubarak. he'd been confronting him. >> on several occasions directly confronted president mubarak on it and pushed him on the need for political reform. >> reporter: hours later mubarak felt the situation dire enough he needed to fire his cabinet and address the nation. that prompted a presidential response here. >> he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. i just spoke to him after his speech, and i told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words. >> reporter: but in that phone call, sources tell abc news, president obama was surprised to hear mubarak assure him that the government would be able to take care of the situation. white house officials worried mubarak just didn't get it when he filled his cabinet with
familiar allies, intelligence chief omar suleiman became vice president, for instance. as has been said, denial isn't just a river in, well, you know. so the administration decided to do more. new talking points were issued. an orderly transition needed to begin. >> we want to see these reforms and a process of national dialogue begun. >> reporter: and secretly former ambassador to egypt, frank wisner, at the suggestion of secretary of state hillary clinton was dispatched to meet with mubarak in cairo. wisner conveyed a message to mubarak that he should not be on the september ballot and neither should his son gamal. that night mubarak delivered the first part of that message but not the second. the president continued to up the pressure. >> an orderly transition must be meaningful. it must be peaceful, and it must begin now. >> reporter: now? yes, now. >> now started yesterday. >> reporter: the president has long spoken in favor of universal rights. most notably in june 2009 in cairo.
>> i do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things. the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed. there are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere. >> reporter: but did the u.s. have a policy for what to do if those values started to blossom uprooting the foundation of a u.s.-backed dictator such as mubarak? critics have their doubts. either way, president obama is clearly showing mubarak the door and hoping he will walk through it. >> the key question he should be asking himself is how do i leave a legacy behind in which egypt is able to get through this transformative period, and my hope is is that he will end up making the right decision. >> reporter: and the latest example of the administration ratcheting up the rhetoric, christiane, is vice president biden in a phone call with vice
president suleiman said that the egyptian government needed to present a clear time line for the way forward so as to assuage the demonstrators in the street. christiane? >> jake, what you said there about wanting gamal to get out of power, of course, the president now here has accepted the resignation of gamal and the entire ruling party leadership, and you've seen today these talks begin with the muslim brotherhood and other opposition. how do you think that's going to go down? is that what the white house is looking for? >> reporter: the white house's immediate response to the news that gamal had stepped down from the executive board of the party, of the political party there was great, we need more. and then in terms of the meetings with the muslim brotherhood, again, the response is, great, we need more. there is concern by the administration that because of all the repression in egypt for decades, the muslim brotherhood may be right now the leading opposition to mubarak's party, and that's why they want some
time before these elections actually happen so other parties and other ideas can emerge to present a choice so it's not just mubarak's party and versus the muslim brotherhood. christiane? >> jake, thanks so much from the white house and we have some breaking news. the meeting out of what happened today has come up with several proposals including allowing freedom of the internet and text messages, releasing political prisoners, prompting not to harass protesters in the street, setting up constitutional amendment committees and, indeed, meeting a lot of the concessions that the opposition has been demanding. when we come back our very special roundtable from here in cairo with journalists on the front lines covering this story. [ wind howling ] [ technician ] are you busy?
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the arab world is undergoing a series of changes. the arab world, the arab society are looking to the future of young people to have their own dreams and their own drives, their own aspirations. i expect that the arab world within one to two to five years will be totally different. >> that was part of my interview with amr moussa, egyptian diplomat and secretary-general of the arab league. welcome to our special roundtable here in cairo. joining me to talk about all the events of this tumultuous week
anthony shadid of "the new york times," nadia abou el magd, egyptian journalist, david muir, abc news, lamia radi also an egyptian journalist and from the bbc, john simpson. john, you've been covering these for so many years. is it tenable, this standoff, this political stalemate? what do you think will happen? >> he's not moving. he's got the pride and stubbornness of an old man. he wants to go out in his terms. i still think it's a fantastic achievement to have got him to agree not to stand up for the election. i think that's the prime achievement of what we've seen. >> anthony, you've been covering this region for so long. is it a fantastic achievement by the people?
have they won a victory already? >> i think they have won a victory to some extent and the difficulty facing the opposition is can they translate these demands of the street into real political capital and have someone that represents them pushing for an agenda far more sweeping than the resignation of mubarak. >> you have been in the square as we all have this week. what do you think is the message from the end of the week from the people we've been talking to? >> certainly you can read victory on all the faces, young and old. when you hear about the amount of money being spent every day lost in this economy, that's what the egyptian commander, the army commander who went into tahrir square just a short time trying to appeal to the protesters by saying, please, let's save what's left of egypt so it's a question of who is going to blink here. >> something significant has just happened this weekend with gamal mubarak, the presumed heir for so many years. not only did the president tell me he never intended him to run, but now he has resigned from his position near the top of the ruling party. the whole executive council, the leadership of the ruling party, has also resigned. this is more than just cosmetic, isn't it? >> i think it is.
i think the day of these big, grand old dictatorships handed down father to son, all that sort of stuff, that seems to me to be going not just in egypt but in the area. if it hasn't gone, then it ceases to be kind of fashionable, it ceases to be fashionable and nevertheless, whoever takes over, whatever government is formed, they won't be able to forget what's happened here. that will always be something they'll be careful to avoid happening again. >> i think that before and after, that is, before and after the 25th of january, i think like what the youth did surprised everybody. i don't think anybody expected this to happen. >> do you think that, lamia? they've made a stand that can never be reversed? >> honestly, i have never seen egyptians behaving in such a way. for the first time they were regaining their country back. it was like the republic
of tahrir is ours. it is not theirs and by theirs, they meant the regime that has been taking its -- >> i think americans have been fascinated with the muscle that comes with the social networking, the tools that the youth have used. they have used it here in egypt. we all use it back in the state, facebook, twitter. i'm curious if you think now that they know what they can do with these tools, there is no turning back. >> i think the youth knew what they can do. i think the problem is that the regime didn't know. >> can i say though that i really think it's a mistake to present this as the people of egypt coming out against the government. i mean, there's a -- >> a mistake? >> i think that is a mistake because it isn't the people. of egypt. it's certain -- a strong and extremely brave element in the people of egypt, but even though though ugly unpleasant groups of thugs that were coming in were shipped in, they believed what they were saying. >> are you saying that the majority of the country is not wanting change? >> i have no idea what the
proportions are, but what i am absolutely certain of is that there's a very large proportion of people who don't like what's happening and just want to get back to the old ways where you can make a living, you can go to the bank, you can buy food and so on. and they don't like all this noise. >> i'm sorry. i think that it is not that they don't want change, they fear change. we are not used to change. and this is what prime minister shafiq was talking about and what they're counting on. >> we've seen in the past 12 days probably one of the most remarkable popular uprisings in the history of the modern arab world and what it's done in some ways you could make the argument that the revolution already happened. for the first time in a generation egyptians proved they're not going to live by the rules of a government that basically says they can't govern themselves, and i think this is a fundamental transition of politics here. like you pointed out, lamia,
they projected an image that they wanted the rest of the world to see, that they wanted their leaders to see and mubarak as recently as your interview made that point. that he believed egyptians would fall into chaos without him. i think there is a revolutionary aesthetic going on right now to prove that is wrong. >> so many have said egypt has this long, proud culture and civilization of leading the arab world. does this have a domino effect? >> yeah, i think so, definitely. definitely. >> perhaps the change, it's not to look at are we going to see revolutionary change in these countries but rather we're seeing a new style of politics in a lot of these countries. in other words, you can take to the streets to press your demands and thought islamist movements were the only vehicle of change in the arab world. we've seen in egypt and we've seen in tunisia, mass protests in the street can demand changes in the governments that rule them. >> you mentioned islamist movements. david, certainly in the united states right now from the administration to the
punditocraccy, people are concerned because they see iran as their template, and they think, oh, my goodness, this is going to be a fundamentalist revolution, regime. what are the fears? >> i think it's extremism. they look to lebanon, hezbollah and in gaza hamas and on the one hand you have president obama coming here, a short time ago, telling the egyptian people we should push for democracy here in your land telling the mubarak administration that they had to push for this too, and yet now we have the protests in the square. they believe they've been victorious but this huge asterisk what happens if the muslim brotherhood sweeps into power and fills this political vacuum. on the one hand you've allowed the people to speak, but i think there's an american audience that's fearful that you'll also have an extremist regime or presidency that then fills the void. >> the other thing i really believe is like if we really want democracy, we want to control the outcome.
>> well, because is there a fear factor? certainly there were some young people i talked to in the square who says it looks like they tried to hijack our movement. do you think that is a legitimate fear? >> i think there is a legitimate fear. i might not call it fear. it might be fear from a western point of view but not from an egyptian, average egyptian point of view. >> if you want democracy and if you stand by democracy, you have to accept what the people of a country are demanding. >> but, again, clearly the worry is that you can talk about wanting democracy while you're trying to achieve power and shove down democracy after the first elections once you're in power. >> i think it's very unfair to judge somebody who has never been in power. >> if we're going to have a real democratic experiment here, they're going to have to sit at the table. >> this is exactly what people were saying in iran in 1978. i'm not taking a side in this, in any of this. i've just thought that you have to enter these things with open
eyes. you've got to realize what the dangers are, what the possibilities are, and if you want democracy, you've got to walk towards the possibility that something like what happened in iran might perhaps happen here. >> but i don't think honestly -- i don't think that having the muslim brotherhood regime would be the outcome of democracy. it is the outcome of dictatorship, of 30 or maybe 50 years of it. >> what's wrong with the muslim brotherhood saying that they want to sort of play a role in the political game? why is it a crime? >> it's the big bogeyman that frightens everyone in egypt and the region and in the west. >> the brotherhood among the protesters in liberation square is seen as part of the old guard in some ways. i think it got overtaken by events we saw in liberation square, and there's an unarticulated voice out there right now among the protesters and youth and dispossessed that isn't being represented right now and
i think that's a whole other force we have to reckon with as we go forward >> a big prominent commentator leslie gelb has just written that the punditocracy, the talkocracy has been intoxicated by the vision of the protest in the square and is being naive about the political future, that there is no political leadership of this, of this uprising and nor is there a political tradition yet in this country to move towards democracy. >> well, i do think though that of all the countries that have been undergoing this kind of pressure, egypt is one of the few which is capable of actually creating counterweights to the islamic forces and the real democratic parties are possible to come forth here, and one of the things i think is such an achievement of this uprising is that people have shown to
themselves as much as anything else that they've got the guts to come out, and they've got the guts to stand there and take the opposition, and i suspect that egypt will actually get through this period better for it. >> from the american perspective the concern has been the last several days, a couple of weeks now is will egypt continue to be the ally in the war on terror that it has been? will it continue to be a partner with israel as egypt has been, and those are the questions that americans have about the muslim brotherhood. >> omar suleiman told me that for sure egypt has a peace treaty with israel and will continue that peace treaty with israel and obviously under his vision of the future be a strong ally of the west. you think -- i mean, that's a given. >> american officials, the administration at least will be somewhat satisfied with a government that stays largely intact under suleiman if they can marginize president mubarak. now, that's a far cry from what the protesters are demanding.
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welcome back to our roundtable here in cairo with journalist john simpson, lamia radi, david muir, nadia abou el magd and anthony shadid. let's talk about america. is united states the leading light of democracy, human rights all over the world has been the example for the rest of the world and yet here there was so much talk about how they felt america had let them down. why is that? >> i think it's also -- it goes back also to the egyptian culture. we don't have gray areas. it has to be either black or white. it has to be either good or bad. with us or against us. those who have this love/hate relationship between arabs and egyptians towards americans, and they don't -- they're always looking up to the states for
something, but then they really retreat back when they interfere. >> i think america wants stability here more than it wants democracy, and i think people understand that. >> do you think -- >> do people understand it or accept it? i think there is a certain level of cynicism about the united states in this country given decades of support given to an authoritative regime. >> what can we do to seize this opportunity rather than lose it? >> that's a good question. i don't think they're willing to -- i think they are probably more motivated by fear at this point of what will follow rather than a promise of what a truly democratic arab world represents. >> do you think like john says that america still in 2011 after tunisia and after egypt wants stability more than democracy? >> i think we're seeing american policy illustrate that right now in egypt. >> do you think that? >> yes, i believe so. >> talking about the press and all the things people have told us, obviously everybody has seen
how the forces of stability, so to speak, have really attacked us and egyptian journalists all this week. how different do you think this has been from previous attempts at muzzling the press that you've seen? >> it's been pretty bad, and i find it quite hard to forgive the government here for actively encouraging the sense that, you know, foreign journalists -- i mean, it's been said on television more than once, foreign journalists are stirring the whole thing up, that the crowds in the square are stirred up by foreigners, foreigners, foreigners, foreigners. for a country that depends so heavily on foreign tourism, for instance, foreign investment, i think it's a real short-term and foolish thing to do. i just -- >> i think it's the crudest tactics of an age-old regime,
and it's a government that is in some ways reeling from what it's facing in liberation square and will resort to anything that it thinks can bolster its position and this is one tactic of that. i mean, the headline on the government newspaper a few days ago when you had hundreds of thousands in liberation square was i think millions turn out for president mubarak in the streets. just an alternative reality at this point and there's going to be a backlash. >> the week has ended by and large quietly. the harassment of the press seems to have quieted down. the harassment of the protesters seems to have disappeared for a moment. what's your quick prediction for the next few days? >> you know, i think there is under way a, you know, a tug-of-war between revolt and reaction, and i think the government is quickly trying to consolidate its position so it can weather what it thinks -- it can try to weather this popular uprising and i think we'll see something decisive in the next day whether the revolt, the uprising can keep its momentum and keep pressing its demands before the government consolidates its decision.
>> i want to ask you a question. you met president mubarak, and the question everybody wants to know the answer to is how did he look like? was he shaken up? >> to me he seemed resigned to what had happened, and i asked him how he felt about having made that speech that he was not going to stand again, and he said i felt relief, and then he said, you know, i've been in public life for 62 years, i'm tired. i'm fed up. it's time to go. he seemed to me resigned, but for sure he told me i am not going to run away. and i think even elbaradei said today and said publicly that he -- they're not looking for revenge or retribution and they're looking for a dignified out. do you think that's the epitome of the struggle right now? >> i'm sure that is what he wants. i think the real challenge here is to keep the numbers in the square over the next days and weeks to keep up the pressure and -- >> you mean the challenge for the protesters.
>> yes, yes, to keep the numbers there. it's a matter of numbers. and i have to say i think really that all the pressures will be on those people in the square not to turn out tomorrow. come today, and you don't -- not tomorrow, and then i think the pressure will fade, but there have been some real, real gains, some real achievements, and i think those will last. >> with that, thank you all for joining me, and we will be back with much more after a break. ♪
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about ideology or religion. what we saw was about egypt. we saw the flag. we saw the national anthem. this region is so rich in national resources, so rich in human potential, and yet the arab world is the most left behind in the whole world when it comes to democracy. with the rumblings of this movement going throughout the region, there is fear amongst those authoritarian regimes that remain but hope too that if egypt gets this right, the rest of the region might, as well. the future is uncertain, but it has begun. thank you for watching. we'll see you again next week. you can follow us on twitter and facebook, and stay with abc news for all the coverage of this electrifying drama. i'm christiane amanpour. good-bye from cairo. h@