'This Week' Transcript: Revolution in Egypt

Transcript: Revolution in Egypt

CAIRO, Feb 13, 2011 — -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This morning, witness to a revolution.

A president tells us he will see out his term, but the people tell him he's out of time. They want a nation reborn. Now...

(UNKNOWN): President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president.

(UNKNOWN): (inaudible) [And he's gone. We can do everything.

AMANPOUR: Will democracy take hold in Egypt? What kind?

OBAMA: This is not the end of Egypt's transition; it's the beginning.

AMANPOUR: And what will it mean for the United States and the world? "This Week," "America and the Revolution," starts right now.


AMANPOUR: Good morning, and this week, the world has experienced a massive tectonic shift, people power peacefully overcoming 30 years of repressive rule. Egyptians put their stamp on their future.

And today, the military has been pulling down tents on Tahrir Square, and ordinary citizens this weekend, armed with brooms and trash bags, literally swept out the old to usher in the new.

Egypt's prime minister has said now the priority is to restore security. We'll try to navigate the fallout for the United States and the region. We have exclusive interviews with the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak.

It is still not clear what the future will look like there, but surely those 18 days in Egypt shook the world.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): It was an epic showdown between the people and an authoritarian regime they had chafed under for decades. But on Friday, the people won. Egypt won its freedom from a man who had ruled them for 30 years.

In 18 days, they won the support of the rest of the world, as the irresistible pictures of their struggle played out across the globe, on the Internet and on television. And they won a victory for the revolutionary idea that democracy could now sweep across the Middle East.

Word spread Friday morning that President Mubarak had left Cairo for his vacation home on the Red Sea. And my colleague, Terry Moran, was outside the presidential palace when the crowd there learned that he had also left the presidency.

MORAN: The news hit this crowd like an enormous wave. In an instant, there was ecstasy.

AMANPOUR: Less than a week ago, President Mubarak had told me in this palace that he had resigned himself to leaving the presidency eventually, but said that he couldn't do it anytime soon for fear the country would descend into chaos.

But by the end of this week, on Thursday, the biggest crowds yet had gathered on Tahrir Square, unsatisfied by the concessions the government had already granted. They demanded nothing less than President Mubarak's resignation.

The tension inside the square ratcheted up as a rumor swirled that the army would launch a crackdown.

(UNKNOWN): Believe me. We have half-a-million soldiers in our army that we love and respect. But if they turn on us, we'll turn on them.

AMANPOUR: But then the opposite happened: A promise, a pledge they had been waiting to hear from the lips of one of the country's highest-ranking military officials.

"Tonight," he told them, "all your demands will be met. Everything you have said will come true." The crowd went wild, and they stayed that way all day and all night waiting for Mubarak to tell them that he was leaving. Wael Ghonim, the young Google executive who was jailed for helping to organize the protests online, was overjoyed as he made his way into the square.

GHONIM: It's a dream come true. You know, the dream became true. And, you know, whatever we have been fighting for since the 25th of January is now being realized. And it happened.

AMANPOUR: Back in the United States, President Obama also sounded confident that the end was near.

OBAMA: We are witnessing history unfold. It's a moment of transformation that's taking place because the people of Egypt are calling for change.

AMANPOUR: Testifying on Capitol Hill, the CIA director echoed news reports that Mubarak would announce his resignation.

PANETTA: I got the same information you did, that there's a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down this evening.

AMANPOUR: So late into the night, the crowd in Tahrir Square was already celebrating moments before President Mubarak made that speech to the nation. But afterwards, they were stunned. Mubarak told them that he would transfer constitutional powers to his hand-picked vice president, Omar Suleiman, but he did not say he was leaving yet.

Tahrir Square answered him in a furious roar. "No, leave, leave," they shouted.

(UNKNOWN): We are here until he go!

AMANPOUR: Yet again, the mood had changed. Uncertainty reigned.

(UNKNOWN): It's not tomorrow morning early. It's to be announced that he is out and the -- and the country is -- is clean from him. No one can imagine and no one can say what could happen in this country.

AMANPOUR: But the people stayed peaceful, as they had throughout this, filing back into the square Friday morning, streaming past the tanks, making their way into Tahrir. And it was there that they heard the news that they had been waiting for that changed everything once again.

In a terse message lasting less than one minute, Vice President Suleiman came on state television to tell them that the president had stepped down and handed over control to the military.

"Egypt is free," they cried.

(UNKNOWN): We've been here every single day. And today we brought our son to see this historic moment. He will read about this in books when he grows up.

AMANPOUR: History was being made as the world watched.

OBAMA: The word "Tahrir" means "liberation." It is a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forevermore, it will remind us of the Egyptian people, of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country and, in doing so, changed the world.

AMANPOUR: Today, it's clear that the Egyptian people have changed their world and also themselves, but what that change will look like inside their country and across the Arab world remains an unanswered question.


AMANPOUR: And my colleague, ABC "Nightline" anchor Terry Moran, has been there all this last week, including Friday, when the revolution was won by the people. And he joins us now from Cairo.

Terry, what is the latest?

MORAN: Well, Christiane, the latest is that the government, in the form of military police, are starting slowly but with very determined effort to clear that square. They've got some traffic running through the square now. They're trying to get the remaining protesters out.

And there is a division in that square and in the country right now on how much to trust the military government and how much staying as protesters in the streets in that square will be a guarantee of change here.

What you see in the square, we were just out there a little while ago, are really two groups. There's a hard-core group of protesters who say we aren't going to leave until we see that real change, but there are other groups chanting, "It's time to go home. It's time to go home."

It's not really that tense. There's a little pushing and shoving. But it represents the division that is growing in this country on what comes next, on what the post-Tahrir moment looks like.

AMANPOUR: Exactly. And we're going to be watching for that. So, Terry, thank you so much. And back -- Terry Moran in Cairo.

And back here in Washington, as the Obama administration was keeping a close eye on the revolution in Egypt, the American Conservative Union held its annual CPAC conference. Potential Republican presidential contenders were critical of the president's foreign policy.

One of them, Newt Gingrich, a man who led a revolution of his own in 1994, when Republicans took control of Congress, joins us now. He is a Fox News contributor and co-author, along with his wife, Callista, of a new book on Ronald Reagan called "Rendezvous with Destiny."

Thank you for being with us.

GINGRICH: Good to be with you.

AMANPOUR: First of all, you did criticize President Obama's handling of this crisis in Egypt, and you called it "timid, confused, and amazingly amateurish."

GINGRICH: Well, let me just give you one example. When you appoint a very senior diplomat to be your special ambassador, he makes a statement in Munich about what we're doing, and three hours later, the White House is directly contradicting him, that was a level of...

AMANPOUR: What would you have done?


AMANPOUR: What would you have done specifically in the big picture questions of -- you have an ally for 30 years, and then you have people power on the streets?

GINGRICH: Look, I -- I had lunch with George Shultz, who was Ronald Reagan's secretary of state, at the Reagan Library for the 100th birthday last Sunday.

Secretary Shultz said, when you have a situation like this, where you've had an ally for 30 years, you stay relatively quiet publicly and you say to him privately, "The time has come for you to leave. We are prepared to do what it takes to get you to leave. We'll find a way for you to leave with safety for you and your family. But this is over."

But he said you do it quietly, because every other potential ally in the world is watching you. And if they see you publicly abandon somebody who's been with you for 30 years, they wonder, why should I trust the United States?

But Shultz was quite clear. Just as we had in Poland and in Czechoslovakia and in Hungary, we were -- you know, the Reagan administration was adamantly in favor of freedom. And I think that he -- he said we -- and I think you have to start with the fact that it's the courage of the Egyptian people that made this possible. And we should be reinforcing and strengthening that courage.

AMANPOUR: Let me roll some tape of you with President Mubarak when you were House speaker in 1994, and just look at what you said there.


GINGRICH: Can I just say that we're very, very glad to have President Mubarak here. He is a very, very important ally, friend, and adviser. And many things that we've done, including Desert Shield, would not have been possible without the help of Egypt.


AMANPOUR: So, again, very close ally, and yet you're also full-throated in the defense of democracy.

GINGRICH: You know, it's -- it's the challenge that George W. Bush made in his second inaugural address, which was very complicated. He's saying on the one hand, we are for democracy everywhere, and I think we have to be. That's the American mission in the world. It's why American exceptionalism is ultimately human exceptionalism, because everybody on the planet is endowed by their creator, including, by the way, Chinese, Russian, Iranian, Saudi. I mean, there are a lot -- Venezuelan and Cuban -- I mean, there are a lot of places...


AMANPOUR: So President Obama standing clearly for the protesters by the end of the...

GINGRICH: Is the right thing to do.

AMANPOUR: ... is the right thing to do?

GINGRICH: But, remember, this is an administration which for reasons I don't understand actually cut out the democracy in Egypt funds inside the State Department.

AMANPOUR: OK, well, as you know...

GINGRICH: So I -- but I don't -- I don't think -- our focus shouldn't be on Obama. Our focus ought to be, what can America do now to make sure the military doesn't impose a new dictatorship for another 30 or 40 years? And how do we, on the other hand, make sure that you don't end up with a Muslim Brotherhood staging a coup at some point over a three- or four- or five-year period?

AMANPOUR: OK, so let me ask you. What does the U.S. do now to make sure that the military, which has put out no timeline, neither for lifting the emergency law or road map for democracy, what does the United States, with such close relationships militarily, do right now?

GINGRICH: I think we have to quietly -- we have a -- we have a lot -- one of the great virtues of our military training program is we have a lot of senior officers who were in school with a lot of Egyptian officers. I think they need to be collectively calling their friends and saying, "Look, you don't want to be -- you don't want to own the country, because then you own every problem and you can't solve them. What you want to do -- you don't want to become Burma. I mean, what you want to do is figure out a way to have a transition to a stable civilian government, recognize that over a fairly long period of time the military is going to have less role in the economy," because right now, military's a big part of the Egyptian economy.

AMANPOUR: And if they don't, do you use the very powerful lever of $1.5 billion a year to the military?

GINGRICH: Sure, of course.

AMANPOUR: Do you pull it?

GINGRICH: Yeah, you -- you -- you communicate you may pull part of it. You may -- it may suddenly get a lot slower. You may -- you may not approve certain kind of activities.

But -- but we shouldn't kid ourselves. Egypt has been a staging area for us for a long time now. And Egypt has been vital to Israeli security. And so I think you -- you -- but I think we should be pressuring everywhere -- and I want to repeat -- including China, including Russia, including Cuba. We should be pushing steadily and saying, you know, America stands for freedom.

AMANPOUR: You talked about the Muslim Brotherhood. And, clearly, many people are worried about the future. Now, they've made statements that they're not interested in the presidential position right now. You said under no circumstances should the United States be willing to support a government in Egypt that lifts this ban against the Muslim Brotherhood.

Well, already the Egyptian authorities have de facto, because they've been talking to them. So, "under no circumstances." What does that mean? Pull aid?

GINGRICH: Well, I think -- I think we should -- I think we should be very -- we should try every way we can to ensure -- the two things the Muslim Brotherhood will ultimately want are the Interior Ministry and -- and education.

AMANPOUR: But they haven't said that.

GINGRICH: No, but I'm just saying. If you watch them with Hamas, if you watch them -- everywhere in the region, they understand that if they can get control of the schools -- they're very patient. They have -- they have a 20- or 30-year strategy. So this is not an overnight group.

AMANPOUR: So let me ask you. The logical denouement of democracy is that they may elect people who you don't like. You're not able to control democracy. So how do you thread that needle?

GINGRICH: This is a huge challenge. It's not a question of liking or disliking. I mean, I'm perfectly -- we have lots of governments...


AMANPOUR: No, but, still, how do you try to control democracy...


GINGRICH: Every society has to come to grips with the fact that there are some elements who would create a dictatorship, so you'd have one last vote. It wouldn't be a democracy; it would be one last vote. And whether it is Lenin replacing Kerensky, whether it is Hitler taking over in Germany, whether it is the Ayatollah running Iran, you have to be very cautious about the idea that -- that every -- that you can automatically accept a group if, in fact, you have pretty good reason to believe that their goal is a dictatorship.

It's the challenge -- it's the tragedy of Zimbabwe, where you have a kind -- a government which clearly is totally illegitimate.

AMANPOUR: Very quickly. One of the levers that America does have is democracy-building, but that requires foreign aid.


AMANPOUR: And that's often one of the first things that's cut. Do you think foreign aid in this regard should be bolstered?

GINGRICH: I -- well, first of all, I think you ought to look at how much we're already spending and look at how much...

AMANPOUR: How much do you think?

GINGRICH: We spend, counting -- including aid for health (inaudible) spend something like $35 billion or $40 billion.

AMANPOUR: OK, it's 1 percent of the -- of the -- of the U.S. budget. But my question is, if you really want democracy, would you favor increasing the aid to that?

GINGRICH: Well, and -- and -- and my answer is I first want to look at how we currently spend the aid. I don't think our bureaucracy giving money to their bureaucracy is democracy.

AMANPOUR: No, no, to NGOs that actually build democracy.

GINGRICH: I think -- I think -- I would expect -- I would certainly look at rethinking the current foreign aid program and shifting a great deal more out of government bureaucracies into NGOs and, frankly, into investments. I think a tax credit for countries that are very poor -- I've supported the Africa free trade bill for that reason.

AMANPOUR: And to get back to your future, after CPAC, when will you make your decision? Are you going run for president?

GINGRICH: Well, close to now. I'll probably make a decision by the end of this month about whether or not to set up an exploratory committee, and we're working our way through it.

AMANPOUR: So no decision right now to tell us?

GINGRICH: Not -- not this morning.



AMANPOUR: Thank you very much.

GINGRICH: Glad to be here.

AMANPOUR: Newt Gingrich, thank you for being with us.

And we will also hear about Egypt and U.S. foreign policy from another potential Republican White House contender, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. That's later in the program.

When we return, how will military rule in Egypt give way to civilian democratic rule? And when? Egypt's ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry, right after this.

AMANPOUR: Welcome back to "This Week."

And with the military now in charge of Egypt, what steps are being taken to ensure a transition to democracy? Joining me now is Egypt's ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry, a friend of the program, trying to explain what is happening in Egypt.

First and foremost, who is in charge? Yes, the military, but is Vice President Suleiman still there? Is Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik?

SHOUKRY: The Supreme Military Council is chaired by the minister of defense, Field Marshal Tantawi, so he would be in charge collectively with the council. The council has decided to maintain the current government of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik, the caretaker government, to be -- to be changed at a later stage.

AMANPOUR: So the military now and also Prime Minister Shafik's latest communique is that the prime aim is to restore security, but that seems to be a little bit at odds with what the protesters say, many wanting to stay there until their democratic aspirations are met or at least outlined.

SHOUKRY: Certainly, there's a security void, and it's necessary to restructure the police force, but also the economic conditions must be addressed, as well. So the first priority are security and the economic welfare, but that doesn't preclude that the reform process would not go ahead, as well.

AMANPOUR: Well, then tell me exactly what we expect. When will the emergency law be lifted?

SHOUKRY: In accordance with the fourth communique of the Supreme Military Council, to be lifted as soon as the current conditions of protest have been terminated.

AMANPOUR: But when, next week, next year?

SHOUKRY: They haven't defined yet a specific timetable. I believe that they will do so as conditions stabilize.

AMANPOUR: So that also uncertain, that a key demand of the U.S. and of the protesters. What about a clear roadmap to elections? Will elections happen in September, as President Mubarak had been saying?

SHOUKRY: Well, yesterday, the field marshal had meetings with the minister of justice and with the chief of the supreme court, in an effort to start to formulate the legislative and constitutional reforms that are necessary to hold free and fair elections.

AMANPOUR: Do you think that's in a matter of months for elections or a year or so?

SHOUKRY: There are conflicting opinions within the opposition and the government related to the time span that might be needed.

AMANPOUR: Could it be a year?

SHOUKRY: I've heard -- I've heard some in the opposition speaking about the necessity of a year so as to establish the political environment so as the parties will be able to present their platforms and field their candidates.

AMANPOUR: Without the current -- without President Mubarak as the ally, very pro-Western, pro-United States, had that close relationship with Israel, do you think a new system in Egypt will be as automatically favorable to doing what the U.S. wants, what Israel wants, as the previous one?

SHOUKRY: I think the government of Egypt does what is in its best interest and that of its people. And these issues are institutional issues. The relationships -- U.S.-Egyptian relationships is a deep and...

AMANPOUR: Can the U.S. count on the same kind of support as it had before?

SHOUKRY: Certainly. These -- these issues are driven by mutual interest, by Egyptian interests, and interest remains a close association to the United States.

AMANPOUR: Where is President Mubarak?

SHOUKRY: I have no immediate knowledge of his whereabouts.

AMANPOUR: Is he in Sharm el-Sheikh?

SHOUKRY: I believe he is in Egypt. I have not -- I have no information related to specifically where he might be.

AMANPOUR: But in Egypt?

SHOUKRY: That's my understanding.

AMANPOUR: A lot of concern about Israel's international treaties. Yes, the Egyptian military said it would honor the treaties, but people are still worried. Do you believe in the future the peace treaty with Israel will stand?

SHOUKRY: I do believe so. The treaty has been beneficial to Egypt over the last 30 years or more. We have derived a peace dividend from the treaty. We've been able to establish security and stability in the region. And I believe it is a main element in terms of our foreign policy.

AMANPOUR: Ambassador Shoukry, thank you for joining us.

And coming up next, my exclusive interview with the Israeli defense minister, Ehud Barak, and, of course, our roundtable, so stay with us.