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Unrest Escalates in Egypt

Aired February 2, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. Tonight, we are live in Cairo.

This is not exactly how we had planned to bring you tonight's program, but the situation changes here minute by minute in Cairo, especially today. Given what we have seen today, this is just yet another development. Just in the last few minutes, we have heard heavy fire in Liberation Square. We have got video that was taken just a short time ago, heavy-caliber fire heard in the square. We will talk to our Ivan Watson, who is there, in just a moment.

But I just want to tell you we are broadcasting from a location that we thought was pretty safe, up until about half-an-hour ago. Then, after that heavy fire, we got a report that pro-Mubarak forces have left the area around Liberation Square, and have now fanned out in some other neighborhoods.

And the security situation, where we are, has changed somewhat in the last 30 minutes or so. We have been advised to actually turn off our lights, get down on the floor and try to barricade ourselves in the area that we're in.

So that's what -- that's why we're doing this program like this tonight. It's not going to look very good over the next hour, but I hope you bear with us, because what has happened today in Egypt on these streets has been nothing short of extraordinary.

The entire situation has changed here in the last 12 hours. People have died who did not need to die and people will die tonight who do not need to die. And there were many people wounded today. And we don't have actual numbers for you.

But what we have seen has been nothing short of a pitched battle for the future of this country on the streets of this country, outside the Egyptian Museum and inside and all around Liberation Square.

We have so many dramatic developments to tell you about. And I'm joined by Ben Wedeman and Hala Gorani, who are here with me.

But, first, I want to take you to Liberation Square, to our Ivan Watson, who has been there all day long and continues to report all night long.

Ivan, what's the latest? What was that tracer fire we heard, that heavy-caliber fire we heard? IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I did see one or two rounds of tracer fire from my vantage point, Anderson, but I think what has been more disturbing are the single shots that have been going off from quite close by, and then periodically seeing wounded men being carried away, one of those men seen with what really appeared to be a gunshot wound to the stomach.

You have been watching from your vantage point the violence, much of it involving petrol bombs or stones being hurled back and forth, machetes, clubs. But this does seem to be an escalation in the use of force here.

And they have been calling in ambulances from the southern end of the square to carry away some of these fresh wounded, as we're hearing gunshots before the sun has even come up over the Egyptian capital, Anderson.

COOPER: Ivan, to your knowledge, are these gunshots directly into people in Liberation Square? Because we have heard gunshots all throughout the day that seem to be troops firing in the air, although we could never really tell. Do you know, are people being shot in Liberation Square directly?

WATSON: These gunshots have been much closer. They have been much closer.

And I'm seeing one young man being carried away. It does not -- I can't tell how these people have been hurt. There's one man who unmistakably looked like he had been hit by a gunshot. If you can hear this yelling in the background, it appears to be a prisoner who is being attacked by the mob of opposition activists and beaten as he's taken away to some kind of holding area that the opposition militants have set up.

He's being beaten with sticks at one end of the square, and we have seen that repeatedly throughout the day. There's a loudspeaker here that...

COOPER: How many wounded do you see, Ivan?

WATSON: ... leaders have been using to mobilize people, Anderson. And we have heard them saying jihad, jihad, prepare for your martyrdom soon.

I think these people are ready to fight to the death here to protect this area.

COOPER: I want to bring in -- Ivan, stay with us.

I want to bring in Ben Wedeman and Hala Gorani.

Ben, you have lived here. You live here. You know this place. What did you see today?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we saw was this just massive confrontation and what appears to be essentially a state-sponsored effort to rout the pro democracy demonstrators of Tahrir Square.

COOPER: You have no doubt this was state-sponsored?

WEDEMAN: It's been going on for 15 hours. Imagine in Times Square if you had two gangs fighting together for 15 hours and the government didn't intervene. There's no other explanation.

This is a country when 50 demonstrators come out on the streets under normal times, you will have 500 riot police around them. This has been going on for 15 hours, and the army stands by, and these men are allowed to come and go. And I have seen them walking up and down the (INAUDIBLE) outside on their way to Tahrir, on their way back from Tahrir.

There's been a constant refreshment of the troops -- troops -- excuse me, of the pro-government people in this square.

COOPER: We can't hear it where we are, but, Ivan, I understand there's more gunfire right now in the square?

WATSON: That's right. We just heard a couple more rounds go off.

COOPER: Hala, one of the things -- you were out there in the crowd today. You got roughed up in the crowd, as did we. And we are going to show you some of the most dramatic video coming up a little bit later on.

But I think one of the most disturbing things certainly from my perspective -- and I'm wondering from yours -- watching the Egyptian troops just standing by. These are troops which have controlled access to this square for days now.

They had been searching anti-Mubarak demonstrators as they went into the square over the last several days. I didn't see any troops patting down pro-Mubarak demonstrators. And they clearly had weapons with them. And they started launching Molotov cocktail.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And what was interesting is that you really have to rely on just ordinary people, sort of the kindness of strangers to protect you. And that's what happened to me.

One of the demonstrators, when he saw me approached by sort of a group of men, and I was obviously being threatened, and I think there was a look on my face that indicated that I was scared, he kind of protected me.

But, yes, I noticed that as well. The military is clearly standing on the sidelines of all of this. And, as has been indicated, this kind of gunfire in any city where there is law and order would not be able to go on for more than a few minutes.

COOPER: If you're just joining us again, I just want to apologize for the way we are presenting our program tonight. And I just want to explain. Again, the security situation here is changing by the minute in neighborhoods. We have been told in the last 30 minutes that the situation has changed in this neighborhood, that suddenly there are pro-Mubarak supporters who are wandering around in this neighborhood, that some have left from Liberation Square.

We have been told to get down on the floor, to turn off the lights. We had an entire broadcast planned with real lights and everything. But we chucked that. We decided to just heed the security advice and just broadcast anyway.

So, I hope you bear with us over this next hour. This is a fast- moving situation. This is a deadly situation. And, as I said, people have died tonight who did not need to. And from what we're hearing from Ivan Watson, there are still people suffering tonight in Liberation Square, wounded. We don't know the numbers. We don't know how many.

Their official death toll is, what, four now, Ben?

WEDEMAN: I think it's at three at this point.

COOPER: And in terms of wounded, we have heard figures of anywhere from -- I heard of upwards of 600.

GORANI: Six-hundred plus, yes.


COOPER: What's going to happen tomorrow? Because still the Egyptian military, as far as we know, have not moved in, in any way to separate these two sides.

WEDEMAN: No, but it appears that the pro-Mubarak people have pulled back to some extent. But we could expect a repetition of what we saw today.

COOPER: There's nothing to stop it?

WEDEMAN: No, nothing at all. Nobody is stopping it.

COOPER: And we're just hearing more gunfire.

Ivan Watson, you are -- you are in the square in the area where the anti-Mubarak supporters have been for this entire period and have been fighting today to maintain their position in the square. They are clearly still there. They are in relative control of that square. Tell us, how many wounded have you actually seen today? How are they being cared for?

WATSON: I have seen scores of wounded, Anderson. And in the first hours of this battle, when the fighting was being carried out, mostly with stones being hurled back and forth, we saw, you know, every minute or so somebody being brought back bleeding from the head, a lot of head wounds. There were makeshift triage centers, stations on the sidewalks. Below the balcony where I am is one location where medics in -- in lab coats have literally been stitching people under the -- on the sidewalk, under the street lamps here.

And ambulances have been coming in periodically as well, carting off some of the wounded. I would assume that just the wounded alone are in the hundreds as a result of the day's battle, truly a bloody, bloody day. And -- and what is amazing is that the opposition activists have been able to hold on to this territory in the center of Cairo in the face of a very serious onslaught.

They have held their ground, and they have been digging in, setting up barricades, and are determined to fight. And many of these men who are going to the front lines are already walking wounded with bandages on their heads, some of them with slings, and carrying makeshift weapons, clubs. They have ripped apart the barriers in the streets here and the -- and the aluminum siding that walls off a -- a construction site here.

And they have been using those as shields and to build barricades to fortify themselves with a man speaking over a loudspeaker giving battlefield directions, telling the crowd where to go, where to defend the entry points into the square. It's -- it's truly a remarkable drama and a violent one that's been unfolding here.

COOPER: Ivan, just very briefly, are the anti-Mubarak protesters able to replenish their food supplies, their water? Are they able to get more protesters into the square to support them, or are they hemmed in on all sides?

WATSON: I believe they're hemmed in on all sides.

And my -- I'm limited because we have been holed up in a building here really since about more than 12 hours now, not feeling safe to go out, having barely gotten into this slightly safer place in the square.



WATSON: But I don't think there's any room for reinforcements to come in to support these people. They are surrounded and unable to leave.

COOPER: And, certainly, the pro-Mubarak people in the morning will have no problem getting reinforcements, unless the Egyptian military steps in.

I'm understanding there is now a tweet from the U.S. State Department. I'm going to read it to you as I'm being told it in my ear.

Go ahead.

"All remaining U.S. citizens must depart Egypt."

Is that correct?

"All remaining -- all remaining U.S. citizens who wish to depart Egypt on a U.S. government flight should report to the airport immediately. Further delay is not advisable."

The U.S. government, the U.S. State Department is advising all Americans who wish to leave Egypt on these government flights that they have been offering since Monday should report to the airport immediately. Further delay, they say, is not advisable.

That's the latest information from the U.S. State Department. Again, we are going to be broadcasting all through this hour. The security situation is fast-evolving.

We are hunkered down here, hardly any lights. We're on the floor.

We will take a quick break and we're going to bring you back with some of the most dramatic images from this very difficult and deadly day.



COOPER: The pro-Mubarak forces are rushing forward. In terms of weapons, they have knives, there are clubs. There's a big roar now from the crowd. Oh, look at this.

This is really bad. This is going to get ugly. The pro-Mubarak forces now are just absolutely rushing forward. Anti-Mubarak forces are rushing back to try to link up it looks like back in Liberation Square.


COOPER: And, again, if you're just joining us, we are in a -- a very difficult, fast-moving situation. We're in an area where we're told there have been now pro-Mubarak supporters on the move. We have been told to turn off the lights in the location we're in, to get down on the floor, to not be near any windows.

So, that's why we're broadcasting from -- in this very unusual way.

I'm joined by Hala Gorani, as well a Ben Wedeman. Also joining us is Ivan Watson, who is in Liberation Square. Also joining us in Washington is John King and Professor Fouad Ajami from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Ben, who are these -- these pro-Mubarak supporters, protesters? Because many people who are the anti-Mubarak supporters say that these people are being paid, these people are being told to go and demonstrate or, in some cases, secret police. WEDEMAN: Anderson, first of all, some of them are sincere in their -- their concern about the situation, the deteriorating security and whatnot.

But others are clearly probably plainclothes policemen. Others are party members. And I can tell you that I have seen many times this sort of dynamic of the sort of the so-called pro-government people going into demonstrations.

Back in 2005, when there was a surge of democracy, pro-democracy activism here, there were demonstrations where these men would show up with the police and they would be plainclothed. They were called in Arabic (SPEAKING ARABIC) "20 pounds," because they were paid 20 pounds and a pill of Viagra. That was their pay to go out and beat the crap out of people, including dragging women who were among the protesters out of the crowd, into back-alleys and sexually molesting them basically to teach these people a lesson not to do that again. Don't protest against the government again.

COOPER: I'm told right now an ambulance has entered the square.

Ivan, I don't know if you can see that ambulance, but our viewers are seeing it in live pictures. Can you talk us through what's happening right now in the square?

WATSON: Yes, this is one of two ambulances that are side by side that we're filming from our vantage point, Anderson.

And ambulances have been rotating through here pretty much nonstop throughout the night, carrying away the wounded. And I would just assume that there have been fresh casualties, and that's why they have been called in here.

There are two more ambulances on their way from the south end of the square right now, and, at some points, we hear over the loudspeakers urgent calls for more ambulances as well. So this has kind of been the way the night has proceeded.

What has changed is the sporadic gunfire over the course of the last hour, really, and what appear to have been a number of gunshot wounds, which we had not seen certainly in the first 12 hours -- the first 12 hours of this battle for Tahrir Square.

COOPER: Ivan, your -- you and your photographer, Joe Duran, have just brought some extraordinary images. And Joe has risked an awful lot today to bring us some of those images. So, I just want to thank you for your reporting.

Are you scared? Ivan, can you hear me?

WATSON: Yes, sorry, the ambulances, the sirens were kind of drowning you out a little bit.


COOPER: Are you scared? WATSON: There are thousands of people in here, Anderson. I hazard an estimate of perhaps more than 10,000.

You were here on Tuesday, when it was the so-called million man march. There was a sea of humanity here. It was peaceful. It was relatively organized. We were welcomed here as journalists to film. Everybody wanted their photos taken. They wanted to give interviews. They were very enthusiastic.

And many of them said, hey, this is a revolution. And I'm sure our colleague Ben Wedeman might agree that I think what we saw unfold on Wednesday, with the violence and the pro-Mubarak supporters, is the beginning of a counter-revolution.

COOPER: Hala, you were out there today on the ground. What do you make of it? You have seen a lot.

GORANI: You know, I have covered, as Ben as, maybe not as long as he has, the Arab world for many, many years.

And what struck me is that a crushing majority of the people out there have never known another leader. These autocratic, dictatorial leaders have been in power for a generation.

If this produces a change in leadership in this country, which is the most populous country in the Arab world, and the beating heart in many ways politically and culturally of this region, it cannot fail to have an impact on the rest of the region, this so crucial strategic -- strategically crucial region for the rest of the world.

That's what struck me, seeing the faces of 18-, 19-, 20-year- olds, regardless of what side they were on, determine the future of an entire region on this planet, that really matters, politically, militarily, strategically, to all of us.

COOPER: When we come back, we're going to also talk with Fouad Ajami and John King and we're also going to show you some of what happened on the streets today.

Hala was roughed up. My team was attacked. We're going to -- oh, we're getting some new pictures, I'm told.

Ivan, what's happening now in the square? I can't see these pictures. What are we seeing?


WATSON: We have got another pair of...


COOPER: ... somebody wounded being carried down the street.


WATSON: ... ambulances, rather, and you're seeing pictures of another wounded man, his head bandaged, who was being brought out, and fresh ambulances coming in.

People are getting wounded right now. People are getting hurt. I'm not exactly sure how from this vantage point. We have correspondents and colleagues in hotels overlooking the other side of the square, Anderson. Perhaps they can glean what is going on from that side, from that vantage point -- Anderson.

COOPER: Ivan, does it seem like the wounded people are coming from the area around the Egyptian Museum?

WATSON: Yes. They do seem to be coming from that direction. There are one or two side streets over there as well.


WATSON: But, no, they definitely are coming from the direction of those barricades where we saw Molotov cocktails...


WATSON: ... and we saw fires breaking out from your end earlier in the evening.

COOPER: Right.

For our viewers who have been watching throughout the day, the area around the Egyptian Museum has been the scene of some of the most fierce, pitched battles. And that is the area that was won back, if you will, if I can use that term, by the anti-Mubarak supporters late in the evening.

And they literally now have a barricade erected and that they are manning and have manned man and will likely continue to until they can no longer do that. And that is the scene of some of the most fierce fighting that we have seen.

We are going to be right back again with Fouad Ajami, John King. And are also going to show you some of the things that happened, that we saw happening to people on the streets today and what happened to us. We will be right back.



WATSON: We're seeing serious injuries coming through again and again and again, mostly head injuries. We have seen people wrapping sweatshirts and jackets around their heads to protect themselves from the flying stones.

Underneath the balcony I'm standing on right now, there is a makeshift triage center with at least eight bleeding men and women treating them.


COOPER: That the scene from Ivan Watson, some of his remarkable reporting, along with photograph Joe Duran and producer Tommy Evans.

In the scene right now in the square, as we have been showing you, some ambulances have arrived. More people continue either to be wounded or wounded or being taken from the front lines near the Egyptian hospital to -- back into the square. There are protesters still holding the square.

There are still, we're told, pro-Mubarak demonstrators either there or in the area, although we had heard -- we had heard that they had dispersed lately. We haven't gotten an update on the security situation that we are in, but we are maintaining the situation of us being on the floor and having turned off the lights in our location, trying to make it as secure as possible.

We have also set up a barricade that we can use to barricade the door, if necessary.

I want to show you some of what happened to our team, to my team on the streets outside the Egyptian Museum today as we were on our way to report. And we're showing you this not because what happened to us is particularly interesting or particularly important, because it's not in the big picture, but it is representative of what happened to a lot of reporters today, our Hala Gorani and others as well.

And it shows you just how quickly a crowd can turn and how quickly a situation that seems fine can turn deadly and violent. Here's what we saw earlier today.


COOPER (voice-over): My cameraman, Neil Hallsworth, and my producer, MaryAnne Fox, and I were heading toward Liberation Square in order to report on both sides of the protests.

In order to get there, we had to pass through a crowd of pro- Mubarak protesters.

(on camera): So, it looks like the pro-Mubarak crowd has sort of gathered around the Egyptian Museum, which is at the -- one of the entrances to Liberation Square.

The military has this entire area cordoned off, so they wanted to keep the two sides separate, they would be able to. But at this point it looks like the military is just kind of standing by watching what's happening. You can see them behind me.

(voice-over): I was shooting this video on my flip camera, so as not to attract too much attention. Suddenly, a man jumped out of the crowd and tried to grab Neil's camera. That's when all hell broke loose. People started throwing punches, pushing us around, screaming at us.

We immediately decided to turn around and try to get to a safe location. Several Egyptian men helped us, but still the crowd followed, throwing punches. That man there had a knife in his hand.

(on camera): Hey. Hey.


COOPER: Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Whoa.

(voice-over): We didn't want to run because we didn't want to the crowd to get emboldened, thinking we were scared, and chase us.

COOPER: COOPER: Hey, calm down. Calm down.


COOPER: Hey, hey, calm down. Calm down.

(voice-over): New people kept joining in, trying to punch us.

We only had about a block left to go when another guy came up and punched me in the head.


COOPER: I've been hit now like ten times. The Egyptian soldiers -- the Egyptian soldiers are doing nothing.


COOPER (voice-over): Finally, we reached a safe location.


COOPER (on camera): Where's Leah? Where's Leah?

(voice-over) All we were trying to do today was report on both sides of this conflict. All we wanted to do.


COOPER: That's what -- that's what happened to our team earlier today.

I want to give you an amended warning. The U.S. State Department has now put out an amended warning to their tweet which I read you just a few moments ago. It says, "U.S. citizens wishing to depart Egypt on U.S. government flights should proceed to airport as soon as possible after the morning end of curfew." The previous statement didn't say after the morning end of the curfew, but it's obviously going to advise the curfew ends in the morning at 7 a.m.

So, again, U.S. citizens wishing to depart Egypt on U.S. government flights should proceed to the airport as soon as possible after the morning end of curfew.

Again, I'm joined here in our location by Hala Gorani and Ben Wedeman. Also, Ivan Watson is in the square. I'm also joined by John King and Professor Fouad Ajami with the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Fouad, as you watched this, as I've no doubt you did, on television today, what -- what was in your mind?

FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: It's so difficult to watch this, because I think this was predicted. We talked about it before. We witnessed the revolution. We witnessed civil disobedience basically, but that's not a game that Mubarak understands. He understands a fight, a cruel fight. And that's what he really wants. I think this man now is going -- sullying his honor as he goes out.

But I also don't think maybe he has a couple of arrows in his quiver. One is to present this revolt against him as an American- inspired movement. He's played that game before. The game of anti- Americanism has always been just the underside of the Mubarak game.

The second thing is he wishes to incite violence in the country. So he will be the kind of man who would both be the arsonist who was setting the fire and then the fireman who's putting out the fire.

He's presented himself, if you will, as this tough guy who's not going to leave his country. He's not going to be like Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia. And this is the -- this is the part (ph) -- it's a dilemma for the Egyptian people, and it's a dilemma by extension for American foreign policy, as this repression, if you will, appears to be intensifying.

COOPER: So Fouad, you have no doubt that these pro-Mubarak demonstrators who showed up, that a certain percentage of them were -- were there because the state wanted them to be there and/or paid them and/or motivated them to go?

AJAMI: Well, Anderson, I'm guided by the same instinct as Ben Wedeman, the great reporter who's working with you. This is it. I mean, this is what -- we've seen this play before.

You will remember, and maybe our viewers will -- may recall that just before the end came for Saddam Hussein, he opened his prisons and let loose the criminals on the society in order to dramatize the need for a strong man. This is borrowed from the book of Saddam.

This is -- this is the underside of Hosni Mubarak. He has built a state of repression and a state of terror. He had hid it from us, and now we can see it. This is a very cruel man, and the fight is on. And I think for him, it's about bravado. The message has gone out that he will not flee. He wants to die on the soil of Egypt, et cetera, et cetera.

And his understanding of politics is primitive. He only understands, as he put it in a speech to the Egyptian people, it's either stability, his kind of stability, or chaos. There is nothing in between, and there is nothing other than his whip and his base of power.

COOPER: John King, as you watch from Washington, what do you hear from the White House as they watch this? JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: They are watching, Anderson, what you are living, which is the nightmare scenario that they had prayed and hoped and tried through diplomacy to keep from happening. And they are worried tonight in a number of ways.

No. 1, they are worried, as the professor just said, that Mubarak has decided to make a defiant stand, despite the evidence that his people have turned against him in great numbers.

They are worried that the longer this goes on, the more radicalized it becomes, and the everyday citizens, of course, for their own safety, retreat from the streets. But those who stay are more radical and they continue to fight. That concerns them deeply.

And they are concerned tonight, Anderson. We know Secretary of State Clinton spoke to the new Egyptian vice president. We know Secretary Gates spoke to his counterpart in the defense ministry. We know Admiral Mullen, the highest-ranking military officer in the United States, spoke to his counterpart, as well.

Their biggest and most immediate concern at the moment is, as Ben noted, that the army may not be participating in the violence, but that the army is letting this happen. Because they believe that is the pivotal institution, the one institution that has had, for years and decades, the respect of the Egyptian people.

They are worried that it has made a choice to side with Mubarak. And I am told the urgent appeals from top U.S. officials, including the secretary of defense, are straight to the army establishment, saying, "You cannot let this happen to your country. You must tell President Mubarak he needs to go. And you need to know that, if this continues, you are not only risking the diplomatic support of the United States, you're going to lose President Obama and the United States Congress, as well, and you will lose the multibillion-dollar aid package you get."

And that is essentially their last lever. Shame has not worked. Diplomacy has not worked. There is now a "you will lose your vital, critical military assistance from the United States if you do not convince your president to stand down."

COOPER: It was -- pending off what Dr. Ajami said, on the streets today hurled at us -- me at least, and I'm sure you guys, as well -- were, you know, clearly anti-American statements that suddenly we, the United States was viewed as agents against Mubarak.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that is typical of how the Mubarak regime deals with its challenges. When it's got a problem, it will point to the Americans or the Israelis, and this touches a very raw nerve in Egypt. There's a strong sense of national pride.

So when Egyptians hear foreign interference, their back goes up, and they become very defensive.

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You really felt that they were sort of playing the American interference card, all these banners, "No to America. No to the USA. No to Israel." Those two usually go together in Arab street, for instance, whenever there's discontent. And also blaming the Muslim Brotherhood.

But all of you who have reported on these protests have seen firsthand this is a street-level nationalist movement. And the fear was, by many, even in the western world, that what would end up toppling these autocratic governments would be the Islamists, hasn't really materialized, if you look at Tunisia and if you look at Egypt today.

COOPER: Dr. Ajami, what do you anticipate? I mean, if Mubarak is playing from Saddam's playbook, what do you anticipate as dawn breaks here and a new day starts?

AJAMI: I think the fight is now to the finish. And I think perhaps Mubarak now believes he can win this fight.

Mubarak can't win a kind of civil disobedience. But this is not the world he understands. If he's determined -- if he's determined to win, and -- he will need the army and he will need to take on this upheaval.

And I think he must think at some level that time is on his side, that the enthusiasm will fade, that people will fear. And he has that appeal, if you will, he had that strong appeal to the fear of chaos. It's either a pharaoh or chaos. And this is the game he is playing.

He does not know any other game. He has no understanding of power sharing. He has no understanding of ideas of reform. He has been appealed to by a new American president. We have been trying to sweet-talk the man. We sent Frank Wisner, an ambassador he knows, an envoy he knows and trusts and likes and is used to.

But I think this is -- for him this is just simply a great conspiracy. And I generally believe this dictatorship has its own pathology. This man doesn't really believe his people want him to go. He thinks these are a bunch of rabble rousers or kids or an American crowd, people who are somehow tempted by Facebook and Twitter and deluded by the Americans.

So this is kind of the appeal to nativism and the appeal to the fear of chaos. This is his game.

COOPER: And it was raw, and it was brutal and deadly for too many on the streets of Cairo today.

Dr. Ajami, I appreciate it.

John King, as well.

We'll be right back after a short break.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Now we're seeing even more Molotov cocktails. Over the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) protestors are trying to regroup. And they are throwing Molotov cocktails very close to the barrier of (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

We've been watching this now for 11 hours, and I can tell you the first Molotov cocktails we saw being thrown were absolutely being thrown by pro-Mubarak protestors toward the anti-Mubarak protestors.


COOPER: That from earlier today, the scene -- describing the scene in front of the Egyptian Museum, where some of the most pitched battles took place.

Again, if you're just joining us, we are in a fast-moving security situation, and that's why we're broadcasting with hardly any lights. We've been advised for our protection to turn off our lights, to get on the floor, to get away from the windows. And that's why we're broadcasting from this rather unglamorous location. So I apologize, but I hope you stick with us.

We're also going to broadcasting -- we decided to go another hour live, to the midnight hour on the East Coast, given the gravity of the situation and what's happening here. We want to keep as many people informed as possible. Viewers not just in the United States but watching around the world right now.

I'm joined by Hala Gorani, Ben Wedeman. Ivan Watson is also with us. He is in the square tonight, as are -- and Fouad Ajami, professor at Johns Hopkins, is with us, as well as John King in Washington.

I want to show you some of Ben Wedeman's reporting from earlier today, some of the triage areas that kind of sprung up to take care of the wounded. This was long before any ambulances began to show up. Let's take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... our freedom. That's (ph) Hosni Mubarak. That's what he do. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) We will die for our freedom!

WEDEMAN: Every few minutes, somebody comes in with a great big gash on his head from a rock.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're a journalist, right?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who do you work with?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A newspaper in Spain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just want to say that these are the same thugs that are used by the National Democratic Party, the ruling party, that are usually used in rigging all the elections. So they are known. They take 50 pounds in order to come down and beat up people.



COOPER: Those images shot by our remarkable photojournalist, Mary Rogers (ph).

Ben, what -- how quickly did those sort of triage areas pop up?

WEDEMAN: They popped up after the first day of clashes on the 25th of January. And they basically continued. It continues. It's a mosque, not even a real hospital or a clinic.

And for a while it was treating people who were just sort of had colds and were overexposed from sleeping in the square. But, of course, today it was right back into the blood and gore. I mean, it was a real mess there, and they were trying to deal with it, but those doctors are completely volunteers. There's no facilities actually there. It's just their skills that are at work.

COOPER: Just to our viewers, obviously some of those images are incredibly disturbing. But we think it's important for you to see the reality of the situation here. This is no game. This is -- this is life and death for too many people here.

I'm joined right now by a young American who's living in Cairo, a man named Hunter Moore, who actually helped treat some people, I understand, in the square today.

Hunter, what was it you ended up doing today, and how did you find yourself to be in the situation?

HUNTER MOORE, AMERICAN TEACHER LIVING IN CAIRO: I went down to the square today with a couple friends just to kind of see what was going on. We were anticipating a day like yesterday, which was largely peaceful.

And I just got caught up treating some minor cuts and bruises from people that were throwing rocks down by the museum. And then people saw that I was treating people and rushed me to this sort of makeshift hospital that they had set up off of -- about a block off of Tahrir.

COOPER: And how long did you stay there and what kind of wounds did you see?

MOORE: I was there for, I don't know, five or six hours. Most of the wounds that I saw were head wounds from rocks. There were a couple burns. Many breaks, as well. Broken ankles, broken legs, broken arms. And we were making splints out of cardboard boxes and just doing our best to -- to attend to people's medical needs with the resources that we had. COOPER: How was this? I mean, have you seen things like this before? What did you think witnessing all this?

MOORE: No, I mean, I hadn't seen anything like this before. To be honest, I wasn't thinking a whole lot about what was going on. I was just doing my best to treat as many people as possible.

COOPER: How were you able to get out?

MOORE: We left about an hour after the sun went down, maybe -- maybe an hour and a half. And we ended up walking down Asarlangi (ph) Street, which is just to the left of Mugama (ph).

And we went through several different checkpoints, three different military checkpoints, which were a lot more intense, as they have been the past few days, being patted down. They were searching through our things, but they let us through, no problem.

COOPER: Were there pro-Mubarak demonstrators at the place where you exited?

MOORE: Yes. Yes, there were. They were down Asarlangi (ph), but they were kind of grouped together, and there wasn't any violence down Asarlangi (ph). But if you -- we tried to get out towards the Asarneo (ph) Bridge that goes over the Nile from Liberation Square, and as we were walking down that street, which is Tahrir Street, there was a lot of -- I mean, there was a cloud of rocks from the skies from the other side of the checkpoint that had been there the past few days, from the pro-Mubarak, anti-government protestors. So we realized that we couldn't go that way, and we just looked for another route.

COOPER: Are you going to try to get out of Cairo now?

MOORE: Not yet, not yet. I'm going to stay for a little bit longer and see if I can't help, and hopefully the violence will subside a little bit. It doesn't seem like it's going to any time soon. But I'm going to keep trying to help when I can.

COOPER: Well, Hunter Moore, be careful. Be very, very careful. I appreciate you talking to us. Thank you very much. We'll continue to check in with you tomorrow.

I'm told that we're getting some new live pictures from inside the square right now, Liberation Square. I can't really see what the images are of. Our Ivan Watson is there.

Ivan, what are you seeing now? What is -- obviously, there are still -- it seems the front line is still drawn by the Egyptian Museum, and you still have these two sides opposing. And as dawn breaks, the pro-Mubarak supporters are clearly going to be able to grow in number.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Well, the ambulances have continued to come in and out, taking away wounded. We started to see some of the opposition activists lining up to conduct prayers here in the street. And that has been a common theme really throughout this time.

And one of the most amazing things, when the clashes first began, Anderson, when you had the two camps facing off of each other with perhaps 25 feet in between them as they were hurling stones as each other, amidst that fighting, you'd have men on their knees praying, sometimes right in the middle of that contested area, the no man's land, as rocks were hurled back and forth over them. I've never quite seen anything like that.

And some very brave people, when that fighting first broke out, actually were able to walk in the middle and bring the two sides to calm. And stop the fighting. Both the pro- and anti-Mubarak groups came together, side by side, hundreds of them. It was remarkable. It looked like a cease-fire.

And then out of the blue came this column of people on horseback and camelback, charging from the pro-government side into the opposition side, flogging people. And from then on, it has been non- stop violence here for more than 12 hours.

COOPER: And so that's interesting, that moment, when those -- kind of the surreal moment when the riders on the horseback and camel, who we understand work at the Giza Pyramids nearby, who are allegedly upset about the lack of tourist trade because of these protests, that was kind of the spark which reignited things?

WATSON: Absolutely, there's no question about it. And because they were all standing side by side. Maybe something else could have sparked it.

Right now -- I don't know if you can see this -- we're seeing hundreds of the activists kind of all migrating across to the eastern side of the square, and periodically, they are told, basically, by some leader speaking over the loudspeaker system to go defend different sides of the square, which I estimate might be, you know, a square mile in total, with thousands of these activists spread out across it.

COOPER: And how are they defending? I mean, I know they've had these metal barricades now set up, but what kind of weapons do the anti-Mubarak protestors have? Because they've been searched when they go into that square over the last many days by not only Egyptian military troops, but more importantly, by anti-Mubarak protestors, who have been searching protestors as they come in, checking I.D.s, bodily searching them through multiple layers. We've all been searched as we've gone into that square. What kind of weapons then did they have?

WATSON: Sticks. You know, pieces of metal. They've been digging up the street, and they had a whole system where teens would carry buckets of stones to use at the front lines in the battles, where they really dug up a lot of the roads here that you and I were walking on yesterday -- sorry, the day before. AND -- But nothing more formal than that.

When the petrol bombs first started flying, they started coming from the pro-regime side. And it took several hours before people on this side, I guess, figured out how to make them. And then they started firing back with those. But I have not seen a single firearm carried by the activists on this side of the barricade.

COOPER: We've got to take a short break. Our coverage continues. And just a reminder: we are going live all the way through to the midnight hour, given the events here that are still occurring in real time as we speak. We'll be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back, continuing coverage. I want to bring in John King in Washington.

John, you're just getting some more reaction now from administration officials. What are you hearing?

KING: Anderson, I've been in touch with a few national security officials involved in the Egypt deliberations as they watch these events unfold into the morning hours now in Cairo, obviously late at night in Washington. I want to read you something from one official they just sent me. Then I'll back it up from another source. Excuse me for looking down to read it off the BlackBerry here.

This official saying as he watches this unfolds, "This could turn really ugly. The next 24-48 hours are critical. Will the military continue to act responsibly or will it fracture? Will Mubarak get it that the writing is on the wall and that he has to transition out quicker? Not sure anyone has the answers." Now that's from one official.

The second official I've been in contact with tonight said they are still voicing hope in the administration that the military will see the reality and pressure Mubarak to step down, but Anderson, while they are encouraged there's no talk or no pictures of the military being directly involved in the violence, allowing it to occur, this official said, quote, "could fairly be interpreted as a choice and a troubling choice."

And the official going on to hope that in the day ahead, the next day ahead, that the military sees the situation on the ground and realizes that it has a choice to make, whether to stand with President Mubarak now or to preserve its traditional role as a trusted institution in the society.

And again, I can tell you, at the highest level of the United States government, from the Pentagon, the White House and the State Department, that is the message they are conveying to the new vice president and to the heads of the military, that you need to make a choice between the here and now and your loyalty to President Mubarak and your position long-term in your society.