'This Week' Transcript: 2011 Year in Review


After the Tunisian ruler Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country, Egypt, leader of the Arab world, was next to erupt. The people took to Tahrir or Liberation Square by the thousands, and we were in the middle of it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You, Mubarak, we wait for -- to your -- to a crashing defeat, whatever you do. You will be put to a crushing defeat.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): And suddenly this almost medieval site, men riding horses and camels, galloping in at breakneck speeds, charging the crowd and cracking their whips.

Soon this square was a battleground. We went back to the square and quickly found ourselves surrounded by an angry mob of pro-Mubarak supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hate America, we hate any country more. OK? Go to any place more.

AMANPOUR: You want us to go?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I want you go to from here.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): They kicked in the car doors and broke our windshields as we drove off.

AMANPOUR: They hit the car with their fists over and over again, and threw a rock through the front window. The glass has shattered all over our driver.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Violence flared that night as firing started into the crowd. Morning brought with it some calm.

AMANPOUR: Inside the barricades, again the protesters are lining up their own civil defense here, prepared for what might happen this afternoon.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): All over the square, we saw the weary and the wounded...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Speaking foreign language)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): ... their foreheads, noses, faces bandaged and bloodied. Reinforcements were pouring in. People came with new supplies.

In a remarkable 18 days, they forced out one of the region's enduring leaders, a great ally of the United States and Israel, Hosni Mubarak. I was the only journalist to see and talk to Mubarak during those last days in office, and I'll never forget him telling me that he was tired, fed up and would step down.

AMANPOUR: "If I resign now," he said, "there will be chaos, and I'm afraid the Muslim Brotherhood will take over."

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Libya's Moammar Gadhafi was next in line for the wrath of his people. Unlike Mubarak, who knew the game was up, Gadhafi was in total denial.

AMANPOUR: How are you? It's good to meet you. I'm Christiane Amanpour, ABC.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): I spoke to him in an exclusive interview in February.

GADHAFI: They love me, all my people with me. They love me all.

AMANPOUR: But if they do love you...

GADHAFI: They will die to protect me and my people.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Instead, they lynched him the moment they got their hands on him after NATO helped the insurgency with air support.

Across North Africa and to the heart of the Middle East, dominoes fell all the way to Syria, where the foreign press is banned, and more than 5,000 Syrians have been killed, according to the United Nations. The president, Bashar Assad, had the gall to claim that he was not to blame for the bloodshed, that he wasn't in control. He said that in an exclusive interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.

BARBARA WALTERS, ANCHOR, ABC NEWS: Do you think that your forces cracked down too hard?

SYRIAN PRESIDENT BASHAR AL-ASSAD: They are not my forces. They are -- really, they're forces, belong to the government.

WALTERS: OK, but...


AL-ASSAD: I don't own them. I'm president. I don't own the country. So they are not my forces.

WALTERS: No, but you have to...

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