World Leaders Increase Pressure on Egypt for Reforms

World leaders call for reforms as countries prepare to evacuate expatriates.

January 30, 2011, 11:45 PM

Jan. 31, 2011— -- Leaders around the world are calling for immediate economic and social reforms in Egypt as countries prepare to transport expatriates out of the area today.

On Sunday, the United States stepped up pressure on Mubarak's fledgling government, urging reforms and throwing its full support behind "peaceful protesters" demanding change.

"We are trying to convey a message that is very clear, that we want to ensure there is no violence and no provocation that results in violence and that we want to see these reforms and a process of national dialogue begun so that the people of Egypt can see their legitimate grievances addressed," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on "This Week with Christiane Amanpour," in the most forecful language she has used thus far.

For Complete Coverage of the Crisis in Egypt, Featuring Exclusive Reporting From Christiane Amanpour, Click Here

Echoing similar sentiments at the African Union's regular summit, French President Nicholas Sarkozy told the Associated Press, "It is with friendship and respect that France will be on the side of Tunisians and Egyptians in such a crucial period."

Meanwhile, State Department officials said charter flights were heading to Cairo to evacuate Americans who wish to leave the country.

Assistant Secretary of State Janice Jacobs told the Associated Press that the first flights were expected to arrive early today and "will take several flights over the coming days to handle the number of Americans."

Fighter jets swooped over Cairo's downtown square where demonstrators gathered for a sixth day in a row on Sunday, chanting for change and calling for the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Thousands of protesters descended over Cairo's "Tahrir" (independence) Square, chanting "We won't leave until you leave," and "We will not stop," defying a government curfew that was imposed for the third day in a row to no effect. Mubarak asked his new prime minister to establish a new government that would address people's demands, but protesters say it's their president who they want to see ousted.

The crisis in Egypt has left dozens dead and hundreds injured. The military beefed up its presence Sunday, deploying convoys of tanks and Armored Personnel Vehicles to Tahrir Square and setting up checkpoints to contain the crowds.

The military reportedly arrested prisoners that had escaped from Cairo's jails but there were conflicting reports from the region regarding their role in containing disruptions. They were not seemingly enforcing the curfew in place, and Al Jazeera English reported that an army leader told crowds in Tahrir Square Sunday that they wouldn't go against their wishes.

The military was deployed Friday at the height of this week's tension, and unlike the police, it has mostly been welcomed by the public.

Amid violent clashes, Egyptian police -- especially in Cairo -- virtually disappeared from the streets late Friday, leaving a huge vacuum in security that was filled by looters and vandals.

Across Egypt, buildings were set on fire and clashes continued between anti-government protesters and the police.

Egyptians woke up Sunday with several government buildings still smoldering and thousands of anti-government protesters remaining camped out in the main square.

Law and order broke down completely as gangs of looters and vandals stormed government buildings, stealing electronic equipment and office supplies, broke precious artifacts in the Egyptian Museum and attempted to rob luxury homes.

Gangs attacked at least four jails across Egypt before dawn, helping free hundreds of Muslim militants and thousands of other inmates as security forces disappeared. Cairo residents boarded up homes and vigilante groups have sprung up, arming themselves with guns and bats to protect their neighborhoods.

Some police forces could be seen returning today to Cairo's neighborhoods, where fearful residents remain huddled in their homes.

Egypt's embattled president, facing pressure both domestically and from abroad, was shown by Arabic television channels visiting the center of the Egyptian armed forces. This was Mubarak's first public appearance since his speech on Friday night in which he promised economic and social reforms but which had little effect of appeasing the angry crowds.

Demonstrators, angry and frustrated at the country's dire economic situation, high food prices, rising unemployment and decades of corruption and poverty, are demanding an end to Mubarak's 30-year rule that they charge has been filled with corruption.

Amid the escalating violence, a number of countries, including Israel, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iraq, have sent charter planes and private jets to pull their citizens out of the country.

The situation in Egypt is particularly alarming to the United States. Egypt is one of United States' closest allies in the Middle East. It is only one of two Arab countries that recognizes Israel and has helped broker key peace deals. Mubarak's government has also been a close U.S. ally in the fight against terrorism, and any instability in the region could be gravely dangerous to U.S. interests in the region.

The United States advised its citizens in Egypt to consider leaving the country as soon as possible, and allowed the authorized departure of all non-essential personnel and families who want to leave. The State Department will charter one or two charter flights a day, and is expecting to evacuate 600 individuals that include non-essential embassy staff and family members.

The flights will go to Europe although the destination is not yet known.

Egypt Protests Escalate

The U.S. embassy in Cairo is one of the country's biggest in the Arab world. There are 380 officials operating out of the embassy in Cairo and there are 760 dependents.

There are roughly 50,000 American citizens registered with the U.S. embassy as being in Egypt. The actual number may in fact be higher.

Egypt is the second-largest recipient of U.S. aid, receiving $1.5 billion yearly. Clinton said Sunday there hasn't been any discussion as of yet about cutting off aid. Instead, that the administration's main focus is to convey to the Egyptian government there is no violence or provocation that results in violence and that a national dialogue with civil society must be initiated.

The U.S. government has stepped up pressure on Mubarak, 82, but it's walking a fine line in dealing with a president who has served as one of United States' closest ally in the Arab world.

The United States also faces the challenge of addressing angry Egyptian residents, who say that for all the calls of democracy, the U.S. has done little to promote it in the region.

On Sunday, Clinton firmly countered that view, arguing that the country has for decades urged Mubarak both publicly and privately to implement meaningful reforms.

Mubarak appointed a vice president Saturday for the first time in his presidency. But Clinton said Omar Suleiman's swearing-in is only the first step toward reforms.

"There has been for 30 years a both public and private dialogue with the Egyptian government, sometimes more public, sometimes more private, but all with the same message, from Republican and Democratic administrations, that there needs to be reform," Clinton said on "This Week."

"One of the items on that long list was appointing a vice president. that has happened. But that is the beginning, the bare beginning of what needs to happen, which is a process that leads to the kind of concrete steps to achieve democratic and economic reform that we've been urging and that President Mubarak himself discussed in his speech the other day," she added.

The White House wants Mubarak to immediately begin a dialogue with the civil society, fully restore modes of communication like cell phone services and the internet and lift the emergency law -- which has been in place since 1967 and gives the government far-reaching powers at the expense of judicial review and civil liberties.

Al Jazeera's Arabic-language station said Sunday it was ordered to shut down its bureau in Cairo and was taken off the air in Egypt.

A senior administration official told ABC News' Jake Tapper that Mubarak needs to commence at once with democratic, economic and social reforms.

"We felt the U.S. push for democracy in the region had become -- rightly or wrongly, fairly or not -- associated with U.S. attempts to dictate political outcomes in countries," the official said. "We wanted to change the conversation to support for a universal set of rights," and not be seen as pushing for any specific desired outcome.

This is the reason why, the official said, the United States has not asked Mubarak to step down; the United States shouldn't pick the leaders of other countries, the Egyptian people should.

Mubarak named Suleiman, his intelligence chief, the country's vice president in what some say is a sign that Mubarak is paving the way for a successor. He also named Dr. Ahmed Shafeeq, minister of aviation and ex-leader of the Egyptian Air force, as new prime minister in charge of forming the new cabinet.

Suleiman, 74, has led major foreign policy issues in Egypt such as the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, according to The Associated Press. For an intelligence chief, Suleiman enjoyed unusually high level access within successive U.S. administrations. Clinton usually only meets with foreign ministers, but would meet with Suleiman one-on-one when he visited Washington on his own.

But anti-government activists in Egypt say Suleiman's appointment and U.S. rhetoric alone won't be enough to quell the crowds.

"To ask a dictator to implement democratic measures after 30 years is an oxymoron," Mohamed ElBaradei, former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency who returned to the country on Thursday to join protests, said on "This Week." "Everybody must understand that it will not end until Mubarak leaves today."

Protests have spread through Arab countries in recent weeks, starting with street demonstrations in Tunisia which forced its long-time president Ben Ali to flee. Since then, protests have erupted in Jordan, Egypt and Yemen, all U.S. allies.

ABC News' Kirit Radia and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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