tv BBC World News PBS February 10, 2011 6:00pm-6:30pm PST
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>> and now, "bbc world news." >> in cairo, mubarak refuses to step down as egypt's president, but hands defective power to his deputy. >> i have expressed plans to get out of this crisis, and also to implement and put forward a framework of agreed for a peaceful transfer of power. >> anti-mubarak protesters say this is not enough, and insist he must go without delay. president move -- president obama says this is not meaningful. >> welcome to bbc news.
president mubarak of egypt has defied expectations by insisting he will not step down now, despite mass demonstrations against his rule. tens of thousands of protesters have gathered in tahrir square. it soon became clear that after 17 days of demonstrations, he was determined to stay on. the protestors expectation turned to gary. mr. mubarak said he would pass some power to his vice president, omar suleiman. >> the crowd in tahrir square grew steadily. by the time the president spoke, there were hundreds of thousands, waiting and hoping that mubarak was about to leave office. but it was not going to be that simple.
>> i speak to you from the heart, as a father to my children. all those who spill the blood of protestors will be punished. >> he promised some powers would be transferred to the vice president, bush reiterated he would stay on until elections in september. >> from the morning, it was clear protests were spreading beyond the square. doctors and medical staff him out of hospitals. strikes across the country, in the capital and far from cairo, were a decisive factor. these were civil servants who walked out of the communications minister. -- communication ministry. journalists at the official newspaper issued a special supplement. it said the revolution has freed us from fear, and said the current parliament came from a rig the election. -- a read the -- a rigged
election. >> we cannot go on this way. we have to change editorial policy. otherwise we will fail as a newspaper. by the way, we have been threatened by the masses, who will continue to -- who will burn this newspaper if we continue the same way. >> president mubarak conferred with the vice president. there were glimpses of what appears to have been a day of jockeying for power at the top. the army high command met. afterwards, it issued what it called communique number one, saying it would preserve the nation and the aspirations of the people. as word spread that the president could be going, thousands of egyptians crossed the bridge over the nile that leads to tahrir square. this has become a very well- trodden route.
the regime was hoping the protesters would exhaust themselves. the president's opponents have had the numbers and the energy. this week, the demonstrations have been the biggest yet. in the square, as they waited for the president's announcement, the sense of expectation group. >> today is the day of victory, the day of freedom. finally. it is a great, great day. the egyptians are whole again. >> most people in the square assumed the president was going and started their parties. one rumor said he was already in a flight out of the country. but some closed their minds to wishful thinking. >> i hope it is a big day. i am waiting. i am not going home until i know what happens. if nothing happens, i am confident tomorrow will be a very big day. >> the question is whether his decision to transfer powers
would be enough for the protesters and for the army, and whether the crowds in the city and across egypt will allow mr. mubarak to stay on as president in name only. jeremy bowen, bbc news, cairo. >> after listening to the speech, president barack obama said the egyptian government had yet to put forward a credible, concrete path to democracy. let us get more from washington with our correspondent andrew north. disappointment from the white house? >> absolutely. the earlier in the day, we heard president obama making a speech out in michigan and appearing to expect great news, exciting news from cairo. his whole tone that seemed to be that he expected president mubarak to step down. that is also what we heard from people like the cia chief here, who was expecting president
mubarak to go. but it was a completely different script that president mubarak was reading from. the white house appeared to have been caught off guard. it said nothing to buy time. then, this strong statement came out of the white house. he says, with quite a skeptical tone, the egyptian people had been told there was a transition of authority, but it is not clear this transition is immediate, meaningful, or sufficient. egyptians remain unconvinced the government is serious about a transition to democracy. he calls on the egyptian government to seize the opportunity. he says the have to spell out in clear and unambiguous language a step by step process that will lead to democracy. these a the kind of words we have not heard from the white house yet. it has been criticized at times for being too soft on president mubarak, the u.s. longtime ally. now it appears to be aligning
with protesters in tahrir square. >> president mubarak is vowing not to bow to international pressure. his words were very strong and clear during his speech when it came to that suspect -- to that subject. >> a clear message that he would not be told by outsiders, including his longtime ally. he did not mention the u.s. by name, but it was clear who he meant. given that, it is hard to see exactly what the white house can do beyond this strong statement. of course, they have the lever of the $1.50 billion of aid they give to egypt every year. no one expects them to use that nuclear option of withdrawing that. there are very few other ways in which it can exert pressure, if president mubarak insists on staying. >> andrew north, our correspondent from washington.
a protester has joined the protest in front of the state television station, where president mubarak gave his speech earlier today in cairo. he joins me on the line. thank you for joining me. i imagine you are disappointed. what is the mood among protesters at the state television center? >> after the speech by president mubarak followed by the speech from omar suleiman, people were very upset by that speech. there is a big gap between the speeches and people's real demands. we demand mubarak step down immediately. people also believe the regime ran out of peaceful options and is now only using violence like what happened last week in cairo. the first reaction by the people in tahrir square is to expand
their demonstration. the went to the front of the tv and radio headquarters. the main reason for including this location is it is believed that through this location, all the rumors spread by the government came out. all pro-mubarak media is related to lies by the government to spread false information. that is why these people came here. >> what kind of mood can we expect tomorrow from protesters? >> within a few hours, i think it is going to be similar to what happened earlier, when demonstrations and markers went up in different neighborhoods in cairo, marching toward different squares including tahrir square, and in different cities like alexandria, especially after demonstrations like workers at factories and a wide range of
people joined the demonstration. i think tomorrow will be a very strong day, a good reaction by people against president mubarak and omar suleiman. >> thank you for talking to me. i am joined by a former lecturer in middle east politics at london metropolitan university. the protestors have moved to the state television building. there are still some at tahrir square. the mood is one of disappointment and fury. is that when to make a difference? >> the demonstrations have gone on for 18 days. that are especially strong on fridays. tomorrow is friday. i think the main player in this one is the army. the latest demonstrators went to the presidential palace. otherwise, mubarak will stay until september. >> after the first few days, the
army has stood back. >> at the presidential palace, they have not allowed anyone. all around the presidential palace is an army. all of the streets approaching it are closed. where the doors are closed, like at the state television, the army thinks [unintelligible] even with international pressure, mubarak said he would not about. the arab countries and saudi arabia -- the king of saudi arabia talked with president obama not to put more pressure on mubarak, because the arab countries want to look after each other. with the -- without the army, i think the demonstrators will do nothing.
barack obama said there needed to be in a meaningful path to democracy the action taken by the state, changing the constitution immediately and dissolving parliament -- if this happens in the next few days, i think mubarak going or staying is not a big factor in this region. >> a complicated discussion to have. thank you very much for joining me. you are watching bbc news. the reactions to president mubarak pit speech was seen on the streets of cairo. it could be seen online as well. social media has played a crucial role in the ongoing unrest, and people have been sending the messages to the bbc. >> in some ways, this has been the facebook revolution. social media did not bring the
opera isn't out, but help speed up the process. the reaction has been almost instant. the mills have been flooding into the bbc, many expressing anger. one said, "there are no words good enough to describe the situation. i am in shock. we are all waiting for the sunshine. all i see is for people getting killed." sarah says, "mubarak is stubborn. one man is killing a country, but our will to see change is greater." mohammed says, "i am in front of the national tv building, protesting. it seems mubarak does not understand the language we speak. leave means leave." mohamed elbaradei has become one of the leaders of the opposition. he used twitter to give his response to the speech. he said egypt will explode and the army must save the country, a sentiment echoed by others on
line. one said, "the army will never expert -- never accept this." "bravo, mubarak, another 3 million in tahrir square." another says, "let us not use the respect we have gained by turning violent. kill them with peace." what happens next remains uncertain. mobile phones, facebook, and twitter means it will not go unseen. >> you are watching bbc news. the headlines this hour. not yet meaningful or sufficient. that is the white house verdict on president hosni mubarak's announcement he will not step down immediately, despite massive demonstrations. he says he will stay in office
until elections in september. protesters in tahrir square say he should go now. joining me now from washington is niall gardener, a director at the heritage foundation. what the make of the relationship between washington, considering the comments we have heard, and egypt, considering president mubarak's insistence he will not about to international pressure. >> it looks like influence is practically nonexistent following mubarak's surprise announcement that he will cling on to power. barack obama issued a strong statement this evening which calls upon mubarak to lift the emergency rules in place, which have been used to suppress the egyptian people. this is a far stronger statement by the white house than the ones we have seen in the last few days or so. i think the stakes are being dramatically raised.
patience is clearly running out in washington. we could be looking at a major confrontation between cairo and the obama administration in the coming days. >> president mubarak has made clear he is not bowing to international pressure. what would the conversation entail? $1.5 billion of aid has already been on the table. >> we could see a far stronger condemnation from washington. so far, the obama administration has been careful with its language. we have seen the administration shifting from day to day, with regards to its position. we are seeing a hardening of the u.s. position today. frankly, the white house was taken completely by surprise over this development. large numbers of americans are watching on tv. they were taken by surprise by mubarak announcement. you are going to see the united
states adopting a far tougher stance, perhaps together with great britain and the european union. the pressure is going to be raised significantly on mubarak now to step aside. i do think you are going to see the rapidly deteriorating relationship between cairo and washington, on a political level, although you are going to continue to see close ties between the u.s. military and the egyptian army. certainly, the u.s. side is urging the egyptian military against using force against the protesters, who no doubt will be turning out in growing numbers on the streets of cairo and other egyptian cities. >> we have heard president barack obama wanting a smooth transition. is president mubarak needed for stability in the region? >> i think there are significant
fears, not only israel, but also here in the united states, with regard to a transition that is too rapid, in the sense that this would allow the muslim brotherhood, the best organized opposition movement in egypt, to score significant political points. there is fear in cairo. but mubarak is seen as damaged goods. his international reputation has dropped immeasurably in the last few days. if he resorts to further use of force against protesters, i think washington will have no other choice but to call for mubarak to step aside publicly. in the background, there is a fear that a too rapid transition in terms of a handover of political power in
cairo will lead to perhaps undesirable consequences. >> thank you very much for speaking to us. the international community is watching developments in cairo very closely. israel is deeply worried about the prospect that mubarak could be forced to step down. a less friendly government could emerge. kevin connolly has been following developments in jerusalem. >> know where is the unfolding crisis in egypt watched more anxiously. nowhere is it commented on more sparingly than in neighboring israel. israeli policy toward this region, toured egypt, has been bound up for more than 30 years now with a peace treaty. israel has grown used to seeing mubarak as the living embodiment of that treaty, and its guarantor. if he goes, there is huge anxiety here about what will
come next. everyone in israel knows the peace treaty is unpopular with the egyptian street. the future regime, under more democratic pressures, might want to amend or repudiated. it is for that reason that israel says as little as it can in public about what sort of outcome at once. it wants manage change, of course. it accepts that change is coming in egypt. it did have a stake in the way things work, the of decrepit nature of the old regime toward foreign policy. there is little israel can do to influence or create the outcome it once. the cannot comment on individual contenders for the future of the egyptian presidency. an endorsement from jerusalem would be the kiss of death. israel waits and watches in silence, like the rest of the world. but here is one interesting point. while you're waiting and
watching mubarak's appearance on egyptian television, an israeli channel playing in the bbc office carried an interview with an israeli politician who knows mr. mubarak. well speculation swirled around the world about what he was going to do, it turned out the politician had spoken him -- spoken to him today and found he was in no mood to quit. it was an interesting reminder how close the two regimes have been in recent years, how well many people in israel no egyptian society. it makes it more interesting that there is so little public comment from jerusalem on an issue of such vital interest to this country, the region, and the wider world. >> earlier, i spoke to a member of the center for american progress. he said the white house was disappointed with the speech.
>> the head of the cia expected mubarak to resign. i guess all of the signs they got were that he was going to give this speech and said he was stepping down. obviously, they are disappointed. one good thing that happened in the speech is mubarak said, "i am not going to about to foreign pressure." at least that sends a signal to the egyptian people that the american government are pushing him to go out. >> how much patience to you think the white house has? >> it is up to the army, as your previous guests have said. i think the army is going to have to see if i can bring this situation under control. they are not going to use violence against their own people. if it looks like they can, i think they are the ones who will force the bark out. the other thing i think happened today is omar suleiman put himself in a position -- he is not good to be part of a transition government. whatever credibility he had, he
lost with that speech. >> talk about egypt's role in the region. it is being relied upon heavily by the international community. whichever transition of power, if it happens -- cannot will still be relied upon? >> i think it can, if it is done correctly. there is a transition under way. mubarak has said he is not going to run. he has given a lot of his powers to omar suleiman. he has repealed some of the onerous parts of the constitution with regards to elections and freedom. you have a transition, whether it is good to be smooth or not. i think that is the key issue. i think when it occurs you will see some changes in policy, but by and large, the people pushing this do not want to change the policy toward israel. they do not want to see egypt become a haven for al qaeda, or any of the extreme things people are talking about. >> we have heard comments today from the white house.
it pretty adamant line, pretty vocal disappointment being a expressed. has this set the tone for the white house over the next few days? >> i think it has. after going back and forth about whether egypt was stable and what should happen, i think the administration has finally decided mubarak has got to go. we need a democratic egypt. we are willing to live with the consequences of what ever the people in egypt want. >> a former lecturer from london metropolitan university is with the again. interesting observations about egypt's role in the international community. >> there was disappointment from the american white house expressed. i think this is american propaganda. barack obama can say the
government should take steps and be in transition. he did not say mubarak should go. he tried to show [unintelligible] address to show support for the demonstrators at the same time as trying to maintain interest in egypt, especially with regard to israel, and the unfunded danger from the muslim brotherhood. americans are trying to show the demonstrators, "we are with you." at the same time, it is basically nothing from america. >> it is great to talk to you about this ongoing situation president hosni mubarak of egypt has defied expectations by insisting he will not step down, despite mass demonstrations against his rule. we will be following the story.
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