'This Week' Transcript: Revolution in Egypt

Transcript: Revolution in Egypt

ByABC News
February 13, 2011, 4:00 AM

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.