Return to Transcripts main page


Journalists Targeted in Egypt; Chaos in Cairo

Aired February 3, 2011 - 22:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone.

We are coming to you live from Cairo tonight from an undisclosed location. I can't tell you where we are, frankly for our own safety. There's a lot of journalists now who have kind of gone to ground here in Cairo. And that's the situation we're facing. Journalists don't like to become the story, but, unfortunately, they have been made the story here over the last 24 hours.

Systematically, we have seen journalists attacked, we have seen cameras taken down. We would like to be showing you instead of this picture, this strange image of us sitting on the floor of an undisclosed lighting in dim lighting, we would like to be showing you pictures, live pictures, of what's happening in Liberation Square right now, but we can't do that because our cameras have systematically been taken down through threats, through intimidation, through actual physical attacks.

There are no live cameras that we can get access to right now. We do have eyes on what is happening in Liberation Square, and we will talk to our correspondents who are bearing witness to what is happening.

We think the world still needs to know. We want the world to know. And the people in that square and many of the people in Egypt, despite what some of these thugs who are in the streets, despite their intimidation, there are many people in Egypt that want you to know what is happening to this great country.

There is a lot to tell you about what is happening tonight. I don't mind telling you I am a little bit scared, because we frankly don't really know what the next few hours will hold. And I think there's a lot of people who are scared tonight in Egypt. I think there are people in that square who are frightened for their lives, and understandably so, because this is the second night of a full-on assault on them and they have been defending themselves for their lives.

I think there are people who are scared even in the crowd of pro- Mubarak protesters who have been throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails and who are pulling people out of vehicles today and threatening people with sticks and beating people. There's a lot of fear they have about the future of this country, about what -- where their livelihoods have gone, where this country is going, and what happens next. There's a lot of fear in Washington tonight, and John King will tell you about what the White House is thinking and trying to do here in Egypt. And there's probably a lot of fear even in the palaces and the government offices here in Egypt about what happens next and how they can keep control of this country.

So there's a lot to talk about in the hour ahead. And, again, we're going to try to give you as up-to-date information about exactly what is happening right now on the streets right now of Cairo. But we apologize for this -- for the quality of this broadcast. There's frankly nothing we can really do about it.

I want to show you some of what we have seen today, the last 24 hours since we came to you from a location which frankly we can no longer get to. The location we were in last night is no longer safe for us to be at. We're at a different location.

Here's what we saw today.


COOPER (voice-over): Day 10 of protests in Cairo, day two of raging violence with no end in sight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's many, many people who were wounded in these bad clashes that happened during the night. A doctor who is working here, volunteering here told us that many people were shot and that they were treating gunshot wounds that they say come from pro- Mubarak protesters.

COOPER: Since Liberation Square was attacked by pro-Mubarak demonstrators, at least eight have died. More than 800 have been injured, according to the Egyptian Health Ministry. Opposition forces battled Mubarak loyalists throughout the day for control of the heart of this conflict, Liberation Square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The opposition has expanded the territory under their control. They have managed to -- their numbers have swelled dramatically with far more reinforcements, and the clashes continue.

COOPER: The Egyptian military, which has stood by and watched this violence escalate, today briefly got involved, firing warning shots in the air to keep back opposition forces.

We also saw images of chaos at the hands of Egyptian civilian authorities. This police van near Liberation Square sped through the streets, mowing down protesters without stopping. It's unclear how badly those people were injured.

And as demonstrators hurled rocks at armored vehicles, a fire truck approached without slowing down. Onlookers were saying they killed him in Arabic, but the condition of the man was unknown.

Reporters and human rights workers also under siege today, scores of Western and Arab journalists rounded up by authorities and attacked by Mubarak supporters in the streets, like this AP photographer. U.S. officials were quick to respond.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We condemn in the strongest terms attacks on reporters covering the ongoing situation in Egypt. This is a violation of international norms that guarantee freedom of the press, and it is unacceptable under any circumstances.

COOPER: But it's not clear how much influence the U.S. really has on this spiraling situation. Six miles from Liberation Square, the embattled Egyptian president was protected by armed troops, tanks and barbed wire in his presidential palace. In an interview with ABC's Christiane Amanpour, Mubarak was defiant at calls from the U.S. for him to step down quickly. This is what he told Christiane Amanpour.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR": "I am not the kind of person to run," and he said, "I will die on Egyptian soil."

When I asked him about whether he would step down now, he said to me, "You know, Christiane, I have been in public service for 62 years, and now I'm fed up and I want to retire. But if I resign now," he said, "there will be chaos."

COOPER: With the attacks on reporters continuing, it becomes harder and harder to see what is actually happening in the streets around Liberation Square. Day 11 of this crisis now is dawning. A so-called Friday of departure march was planned by opposition forces to end at Mubarak's palace.

After battling so hard and so long, it's not clear if they really will leave Liberation Square. It's not clear if they will try to make it to the presidential palace. And it's not clear what Egypt's military will do to stop them.


COOPER: And I'm joined by CNN's Hala Gorani, who is with me in this undisclosed location, also joined via Skype Christopher Dickey, Mideast editor for "Newsweek" and also with The Daily Beast. He's been a longtime -- I'm sorry -- "Newsweek" and The Daily Beast. He's been a longtime reporter in this region. I'm also joined by our Ivan Watson, who joins me from another undisclosed location.

Ivan, what are you seeing now? What is the latest that you have been able to ascertain about what's happening in the square?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, kind of still status quo, some minor clashes between the pro-Mubarak forces and the opposition forces. They're still dug in now more than ever. We're still hearing the voices on the loudspeakers exhorting the opposition demonstrators to stay strong, stay fast, and be on alert, and periodic cheering coming from them.

But otherwise, it's shortly before dawn down there. One interesting thing, Anderson, we did see a number of troop carriers moving around within the last few hours carrying a new kind of personnel. They were black armored looked like kind of riot police with black helmets, at least a half-dozen of these troop carriers, full of these new kinds of troops operating in the area around the square. We don't know what those men are going to be doing in the hours ahead.

COOPER: Hala Gorani, what do you make of what you have seen today?

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's very troubling because journalists are really deliberately being targeted. We were deliberately targeted today. And what's very disconcerting is that this is usually what happens before something more ominous, more dangerous.

So, when you see this happening, when journalists are attacked and therefore those who attacked them want them silenced, that could be because it's a precursor to something more severe and potentially more violent. So, that would be my concern today, based on the events of the day.

COOPER: And a big demonstration has been called by the anti- Mubarak forces. It's been called for several days now, even before this violence began. It remains to be seen exactly what is going to happen with that.

I want to go to Christopher Dickey, who is with "Newsweek" and also with The Daily Beast.

Christopher, what do you make of what you have witnessed over the last 24 hours?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, "NEWSWEEK": Well, I think the shutdown is coming.

I know that the protesters would like this to be the day of departure, as they call it. I don't think that's going to happen. I think if anybody departs, I think there are going to be an awful lot of protesters that are going to be forced out of the square. It looks as if this is the moment that the government has chosen to try and move in, maybe even within the next few hours or even minutes to try and clean out Tahrir Square and retake control of the center of the city.

COOPER: And if that happens, Christopher, what then?

DICKEY: Well, what then? I think probably we will have a lot of international uproar. I think that there will be some unrest in the rest of the city.

But I think that probably President Mubarak will be able to hold on for a while. The question is what will be the state of the country that he holds on to? You have a situation where, in order to set this up, the government has been essentially tacitly, if not actively, supporting people who have wreaked incredible violence in the square and in the city and in the country over the last few days and have targeted foreigners, not just journalists.

There's a sense, I think, among a lot of foreigners that just being from another country is enough to get you beat up. You have had a mass exodus, thousands and thousands of Britons and Americans and other nationalities leaving the country. And this is a country that depends on tourism for a lot of its resources and a lot of its income.

You know that the hotels in this city, apart from journalists, are just about entirely empty. And they're not going to fill up again any time soon. It's a country that depends on enormous foreign direct investment. Are people going to invest in this country now under these circumstances?

But all that said, I think that President Mubarak is going to try to hold on. And I don't think there's any force in this country that's capable of taking him out of office.

COOPER: Ivan Watson, the vice president, Suleiman, the newly appointed vice president, the first time Hosni Mubarak has actually had a vice president, went on state-controlled television today, essentially said he had reached out to groups like the Muslim Brotherhood for a dialogue, but said that the protesters had to leave the square, also blaming satellite news channel as being somehow foreign agents influencing events on the ground.

What did you make of his comments?

WATSON: Well, he definitely softened his tone to some degree vis-a-vis the protesters and the demonstrators. He said -- he thanked the youth actually of Egypt, saying that they had been the light that had ignited this spark, requiring the government to start to make some reforms.

But then he said, but, OK, that's done now. Now you guys have to stop this strike, as he called it, because it's killing our economy. A million tourists have fled the country, for example, he said, in the last nine days.

But while trying to reach out, and also saying that he was willing to negotiate, he wanted to open dialogue with the opposition, he was blaming what he called foreign conspiracies for the problems on the ground here, which sends a message to the supporters and the employees of the regime that it's OK to target the foreigners.

He also complained about foreign allies and trends that he said were issuing dictates to Egypt, instead of friendly advice, so a lot of -- casting a lot of blame on foreign powers and foreign media as well, and really sending a mixed message.

And we have talked to some of the opposition leaders. They say, OK, we were willing to negotiate with this government, but after the attack on the demonstrators in Tahrir Square who had demonstrated peacefully for days, we are not willing to negotiate with this government.

One demonstrator right in that square that I talked to tonight, Anderson, he said that: You know, the government is starting to -- trying to make little concessions. For example, it's offered to investigate a number of former high-ranking officials in the government and in the ruling National Democratic Party. But it's not meeting the one concession that we are all demanding, and that is the immediate removal of Hosni Mubarak. And only after that can we start to talk about a new round of parliamentary elections or starting to make amendments to the Constitution.

So the demonstrators, who are fighting for their lives out there, and bleeding and dying as a result are saying they're issuing maximalist demands before they can sit down at the table with this government.

COOPER: We're going to have more with Ivan and Hala throughout this hour of live coverage from Cairo.

Christopher Dickey, thank you so much from "Newsweek" and Daily Beast for being with us tonight. Stay safe, Christopher. We will continue to check in with you.

Our coverage continues, some of the most dramatic things that we have seen in the last 24 hours. We will also talk to Jill Dougherty at the State Department about the evacuations of Americans from here, about details on that ahead. Stay tuned.


COOPER: And welcome back. Again, we're coming to you -- and, again, I apologize for the quality of the video and the transmission of these pictures to you. We're coming to you from an undisclosed location in Cairo. It's simply not safe to be, A., outside with the camera right now or to give away our location. We will explain why in just a moment when we talk to our State Department correspondent.

But I just want to give you a sense of what started to happen about 24 hours ago, actually more than 24 -- about 36 hours ago, when we started to see these pro-Mubarak mobs coming to the area around Liberation Square, and attacking, setting upon journalists who were just out trying to do their job. Hala was pushed around.

Here's some of what we experienced, my team experienced, when we stepped outside yesterday.


COOPER: Hey, calm down. Calm down.


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


COOPER: That was an incident which occurred more than 24 hours ago. Hala and I both were in a vehicle today that was attacked, had a window, the window by my side broken after several rocks were thrown. But everybody is fine and we feel we're in a safe location now. I think we feel pretty good about the location we're in now.

I want to talk to Jill Dougherty, State Department correspondent.

Jill, you have gotten information about what the State Department -- who the State Department believes is actually behind these attacks and targeting of journalists. Who is it?


Well, behind the scenes, on background, senior State Department officials are actually pointing the finger at the Ministry of Interior. They say that they have information that shows that there was some type of connection between the Ministry of the Interior and those attacks.

Now, in the briefing on camera here at the State Department today , P.J. Crowley, the spokesperson, wouldn't go that far, but he did say it's coordinated by elements close to the government or the ruling party.

He said they could not say how far up in the chain of command that went. But he also said that it was a coordinated effort to shut down coverage of what you have been seeing directly and the viewers have been seeing on the streets of Cairo. And also he said it could be connected to trying to definitely stop some coverage of what is expected to happen tomorrow at that big demonstration.

And also, Anderson, sorry, one more thing.

COOPER: Jill, what -- what -- go ahead.

DOUGHERTY: We did speak with the Egyptian government, with the Egyptian ambassador, and he said that the government is not connected with this, that it actually condemns it. But he did say that there is a security vacuum, as he put it.

COOPER: And, again, we're trying to report on all sides of this, trying to get as many different perspectives as possible. So, we would like to hear from the Egyptian government. Again, we have made efforts to interview pro-Mubarak demonstrators in the streets and have been beaten up for those efforts.

And, nevertheless, we would continue to do that if that was actually possible from a security standpoint. I just want to get that out there, because I don't want anyone watching this in Egypt to think that we're only trying to present one side. We're trying to present all sides here, but it's being made very, very difficult by this effort to intimidate and attack journalists and others.

I want to bring in Fouad Ajami, a professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced -- oh, actually. I'm sorry.

Jill -- sorry. Let me ask you one more question, Jill. What do you know about evacuations of Americans? Yesterday, the State Department around this time had put out a tweet saying, we urge Americans after curfew is lifted at 7:00 p.m., if they want to evacuate and take the charter flights from the U.S. government to go directly to the airport.

It's probably not safe at this point to go to the airport. What is the American government saying about Americans who want to leave?

DOUGHERTY: Well, the question is, how many really do want to, Anderson? Because 3,000 initially said that they wanted help from the State Department in getting out on these charter flights. They have taken out 2,300. And so you would roughly there are like 700, maybe 1,000, who still are left. But that is not necessarily true, because there actually are commercial flights that are operating.

And so the State Department believes that perhaps some of those people got out on their own. And I should also add that the State Department is saying, the consular service is saying that some Americans actually were injured. We don't have numbers on those. But they are being helped both in Cairo and when they get to the locations that they're going to, usually in Europe.

COOPER: Well, Jill, let me just -- there are plenty of Americans, I'm sure, who -- that number of 2,300 who said they wanted to leave, that was before violence started to break out. Those numbers were released on Monday or Tuesday. It's a completely -- the world has changed here. The situation on the ground has changed.

I know for a fact there are Americans who want to leave who are scared about going to the airport. If -- if the State Department doesn't have an answer for it now, perhaps you could ask them tomorrow what they would advise, or are they trying to set up anything for -- maybe a place where American civilians could go to and maybe get a convoy or an escort to the airport?

Because I think there's a lot -- I think for a lot of American civilians on the ground here, the situation has changed. So maybe we will try to get an update on that tomorrow.

Do to want bring in Dr. Fouad Ajami, professor at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, also our own John King in Washington, who has been reporting this story like nobody else from that angle, as well as Hala Gorani.

Joe, if you could just go to -- widen out a little bit.

Professor Ajami, we talked to you last night. What do you make of what you have seen over the last 24 hours?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EASTERN STUDIES, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, Anderson, last night was when the story really turned. I think you were in them middle of it.

Last night, it got dark. Last night, we entered the dark phase. Last night, we saw really naked the cruelty of the regime and the determination of the man at the helm of the regime to stay in power. Last night we were being signaled, if you will, that maybe this man is ready for a kind of Egyptian variant of Tiananmen Square, that he's not going to be pushed around.

And last night we saw the arguments of the regime laid clear, laid bear, one, that foreign conspiracies are trying to undermine Egypt. And there is this Egyptian strain, if you will. There's a kind of strain of Egyptian nationalism which always feel that Egypt is a victim of the outside world. So that's prop one for Hosni Mubarak.

Prop two, of course, is the fear of chaos, that he is the one, he is the guardian, he is the sentry who stands between Egypt and chaos. So we were, you were there for us, and we were watching it as it turned. It became a very different story last night. It was no longer a matter of civil disobedience. It was a matter of a fight for the country. This really is what it is. It's a fight for Egypt.

COOPER: And if that is the case, what do the next -- what does the next day portend, what does the next hold, do you believe?

AJAMI: Well, I don't know, Anderson. It's very hard. I think here's one thing that's clear.

In fact, the crowd is pushing. These good, decent people who went out to reclaim their country, who brought their children with them -- and you have been -- you've seen them. I mean, you have been reporting about them.

So these people are pushing Hosni Mubarak. Hosni Mubarak has the advantage in one way. He's hunkered down. He simply just has to say he's not ready to go. And he has put the army in a very, very difficult situation. He's given them a choice. Do they fight for him or do they let him go? And I think this is what happened last night.

It really is a different story. Last night signaled a different phase. It became a civil war, a civil war in all but name between the regime and its people.

COOPER: John King, what are you hearing from the White House?

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Anderson, there's a grave frustration, to Dr. Ajami's point, that they are worried this looks, looks, what they have seen today looks to them like a precursor to something like Tiananmen Square. They hope they are wrong and they say in their conversations with Egyptian officials they are told that the military promises to protect the people and to protect stability.

They're being told those things. Unfortunately they can't see what we can't see in the United States, the images that would back them up because of the blackout and the crackdown on journalists. Look, we first talked about this on Tuesday night. The administration wants President Mubarak to go. They want him to go within days, not weeks or months.

And they want him to cede power to his vice president and to have the backing of the military. Now, the Egyptian government, including that vice president that they're negotiating, today said no and today said they don't like the outside interference, and some of the Egyptians have also raised constitutional questions, saying that the vice president can't succeed the president under the Egyptian constitution.

However, the nudges continue. The administration knows it can't dictate this, Anderson. But Secretary Clinton talked to the vice president, Suleiman, last night. It was Vice President Biden in the United States who talked to him today saying think about the long-term impact of what you're doing on the history of your country and the region you live in.

And we know and we have talked about this throughout the week, we're a U.S.-based network, so we talked about what President Obama is doing. We know Prime Minister Cameron is delivering a very similar message from the U.K. to the Egyptian government and we know both Prime Minister Cameron, President Obama and others have asked the Jordanians, the Saudis and others in the neighborhood to tell their friend President Mubarak his time is up and what he's doing is not only -- not only dismantling his history, his legacy and the stability of Egypt, but it also could have a potential dangerous ramification in the region.

So far, though, we have no indication, Anderson, that the Saudis, that the Jordanians, the other influential voices, we don't know what they're saying. Obviously it's much harder to find out what their governments are doing behind the scenes, but we do know the United States government, with its friends around the world, are saying you need to go, Mr. President, and you need to go soon.

COOPER: Hala, again, tomorrow -- or I should say today, Friday, it's already early Friday morning here, it's about 5:00.

GORANI: Five-thirty.


COOPER: Five-thirty.

There is supposed to be this massive anti-Mubarak demonstration that's been planned for days. They were talking about marching on the presidential palace. That seems hard to imagine at this point.

GORANI: Well, there was talk of that a few days ago. It didn't happen.

But I just want to pick up on a point the Fouad Ajami made that is very important, and that is the role of the military. So far, as you know, they have stayed on the sidelines. Right now we're seeing sort of bands of thugs that target individuals, maybe police officers detain journalists for 24 hours, 48 hours. We have had some injuries that have been bad.

But it has remained sort of low-key. If the military intervenes, either for one side or the other, that's when it's going to determine where this all goes. That is really the entity that will determine the future in the coming days of where this story evolves. And that's what we're going to have to look out for tomorrow especially, I think.

COOPER: We have got to take a quick break. Our coverage continues.

We're going to talk to -- a remarkable thing happened today. There's state-run television here, government-controlled television. One of the main anchors actually resigned and is making a very strong statement about censorship inside Egypt. We will talk to her. And also someone from Human Rights Watch, who they have come under attack, that organization, we will talk to her as well.

We will be right back.


COOPER: And welcome back to our continuing coverage, live from Cairo. Again, we're coming to you from an undisclosed location tonight. For security reasons, we don't want to tell you where it is. We've been -- it's been a difficult day, let's just say that, for reporters on the ground.

An extraordinary thing happened today. State TV -- there's a state-run television channel which has a news program. It's called Nile TV. And one of their main anchors resigned, saying she no longer wanted to be part of this disinformation, essentially. She joins us now. Her name is Shahira Amin.

And also joining me is Heba Morayef with an organization, Human Rights Watch, which has also come under great pressure here.

Shahira, why did you -- why did you give up your job as an anchor?

SHAHIRA AMIN, FORMER NILE TV ANCHOR (via phone): Anderson, I've been with state television since 1989, and I worked with Nile TV since the very beginning.

I've been very fortunate, because the freedom ceiling at Nile TV is slightly higher than on the other Arabic channels, because we have a different target audience. Nile TV broadcasts are in English and French, so the message is directed at the more elitist, or the educated members of society, not the illiterates.

And as you know, in Egypt, where approximately 35 percent of the population is illiterate, television is one of the main sources of information.

Now, I felt that, you know, I had done sensitive stories before, controversial -- what they call controversial stories. And I've been reprimanded on several occasions by state security for "tarnishing the country's image," quote unquote.

Now, this time, there were very strict instructions that we had to follow the rules and never cross the so-called red line. And that meant that we focus on the pro-Mubarak rallies. Also, we had to read press releases from the interior ministry, which were at times questionable.

For instance, on the first day, the protests were being blamed on the Muslim Brotherhood, although it was really the young activists and the Internet users who had actually organized the protests, the 6th of April Movement, and we are all Khaled Said's group, named after the young man who was brutally beaten and killed by police in Alexandria.

So I felt very uneasy about all of this.

COOPER: Shahira, what's...

AMIN: Sorry?

COOPER: I'm sorry. What you've done is not an easy thing to do. Are you fearful of repercussions?

AMIN: I wasn't really thinking of that. All I was thinking about were the anti-regime protestors in Tahrir Square who were demonstrating peacefully, and they were making very legitimate demands, Anderson. They're calling for freedom. They're calling for social justice.

And as you know, the underlying causes of these protests are the rampant poverty and corruption, the high unemployment, the high prices of food and basic commodities. And I think that these are very legitimate demands.

And so, you know, I felt that just before these protests, there was so much apathy in Egypt, and I thought that Egypt was like a mountain that would never budge. These young activists have proven me wrong. This is a reawakening for Egyptians, and they've made us all very proud. They've done something that my generation couldn't do.

So here are the youth putting their lives on the line for the future of this country. And I just couldn't betray them by being part of the propaganda machine of the regime.

COOPER: Shakira, let me just jump in because -- I'm sorry. Sorry for the satellite delay. It's difficult. I'm sorry. I'm not trying to interrupt you.

Heba Morayef is also with us from Human Rights Watch.

What's happened to you, to your organization?

HEBA MORAYEF, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Well, I think what we saw yesterday is in addition to journalists, human rights workers of ours were coming under attack. A group of Egyptian human rights activists, together with my colleagues, Daniel Williams from Human Rights Watch, and two researchers from Amnesty International were -- (AUDIO GAP).

... supporting protestors in Egypt. They compiled lists of people arrested and provided with legal aid. And a lot of places where a lot of these young activists have gone when they've rebelled over the past few years, and especially this time around since Tuesday.

So it's not surprising that the military police chose to target them. They went upstairs. They told everyone to lie on the ground with their faces to the ground and then searched the place and then, you know, discovered that there were also international -- (AUDIO GAP)

... how the discussion went. This is where accusations about U.N. and international organizations, why did you come to this country? Get out of this country. You're the one ruining it. Thirty years of progress, and they've just been broke down by people who are trying to destroy the country. And -- AUDIO GAP) -- my colleague and I...

COOPER: I'm sorry. We're having -- we're having trouble with your transmission. So we're going to have to try -- we're having trouble with the transmission. We're going to have to try to come back to you. Heba Morayef, I appreciate it.

And Shahira Amin, again, I appreciate you coming on and telling us about this huge step that you have taken, resigning from your job at Nile TV, the state-run television here.

When we come back, more about what is happening on the ground now and what we anticipate seeing over the next -- over the next 12 hours. We'll be right back.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the same time the protestors are continuing to dig in. They're reinforcing their barricade, and they're digging up more and more of these pavement stones. These are the projectiles that were used in the battles last night.

And it was really the weapon of choice as the two sides were pelting each other. And they keep digging these up and fortifying their positions.


COOPER: That view was taken by our correspondent who was in Liberation Square this morning, Thursday morning in Liberation Square, was able to go in from a way that wasn't surrounded by pro-Mubarak protestors and was able to broadcast and report on the defensive efforts, frankly, by the anti-Mubarak protestors, who continue to hold the square at this hour on what is now Friday morning closing in on 6 a.m.

We can already hear the call to prayers, a sign that this city is now slowly awakening. Again, though, for many of these protestors it will have been yet another second sleepless night that they have had as they continue to maintain the barricades that they have -- have made for themselves over the last two days since this fighting erupted.

It's hard to believe it was only two nights ago when we started -- or two days ago when we started to see this.

I want to go to John King in Washington just to give you -- it's hard, I know, when you're watch thing around the world or in the United States to get a sense of kind of the geography of it all. So we wanted John to kind of give us an overview -- give you an overview of where everything is.

John, take it away.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: And Anderson, because of that crackdown, because you can't and our colleagues can't get out there and show us live pictures or any taped pictures, we want to do just that: give people a little perspective.

This, of course, the Nile River here. This central Cairo, Liberation or Tahrir Square right here, where most of this has all played out.

I want to go back in time a little bit. Obviously, we're waiting to see what happens here tomorrow. The big rally is planned.

Let's go back through time a little bit. Anderson, I remember we were talking earlier in the week. This is on Wednesday when the demonstrations were starting to come in en masse to the square here. And we saw a remarkable sight right here on one of these bridges as the crowds were coming in. You see those two vans. Those are police vans trying to stop the crowds coming in. As you can see, overwhelmed and unsuccessful. These crowds flooding across the bridge right here as they come in.

Now, where were those crowds going? They were coming across the bridge, and they were going up here into the square where early on everything was quite peaceful. What we saw was what we thought were the early days of a peaceful revolution.

You see smiling faces here. You see some signs saying "Mubarak Out," some in English, some in Arabic. Again, remarkably peaceful in the early days, but then we do know in the past 72 hours, things have taken quite a dangerous turn.

Our first startling glimpse of that was daytime Wednesday. Again, Liberation Square right here, just off on the way over toward the Egyptian Museum. You had mostly pro-democracy, anti-Mubarak demonstrators gathering, talking. But then some pro-Mubarak people came into the crowd. There started to be some tussling. And then there was this.

You can see this here as I pause it for a second. Horses coming in, some with sticks and whips, coming in and literally just beating the people who have been standing, gathering peacefully there in the town. That was our first startling sign that things had taken a turn for the worse and that the police were not stopping what was happening.

Later that day -- and some of this image is quite disturbing -- an Egyptian from Germany, who was home to see some relatives, he gathered with some friends over here. They were gathering on this side of town. They wanted to make their way over to the square. But you see the army was stationed here, some pro-Mubarak people stationed here. Watch as this plays out. This is video taken from the top of the bridge. You can see the vantage of it.

I'm going to stop this for one second for a reason. No. 1, you see this is a green interior police van right there, bruising somebody, striking somebody gently here. It's about to come through, and this could be disturbing. If you want to turn away, what you're about to see might here bother you at home.

The van comes through, speeds up -- speeds up, strikes a bunch of people. You can see the bodies strewn in the street. I will stop that there. Obviously, right there, a clear sign the interior ministry plowing throw.

And then later that night, of course, Anderson, here -- we talked about this last night on the program. I have to get this to stop to do it. The Molotov cocktails and the scene in the square. You were talking about people grabbing the corrugated steel to protect themselves. You can see some of that as this plays out. The Molotov cocktails back and forth. This was a disheartening sign that things had taken a dramatic turn for the worse.

And we also learned today, of course, that ABC and Christiane Amanpour had an interview with President Mubarak out of his palace. That's about six miles away from where most of this has played out. Let me take you out there using Google Earth technology.

About six miles out, you see the presidential palace compound out here. That is where that interview took place. She went to see the vice president, also got to see President Mubarak. You heard his defiant tone and the government's defiant tone.

And Anderson, as I go back into the main site of all this, Liberation Square, that is the big question for tomorrow: does that defiant tone take hold? Does this message that it's caused by the foreigners, will that continue from the government?

And if there is a farewell Friday rally right here and the numbers are large, as you've been talking with Hala and others all night long, what will the police and, more importantly, what will the military do -- Anderson.

COOPER: Hey, John, if you could on that map, and I don't know if technically you can, could you just show where the Egyptian Museum is? Because for viewers who have been watching this closely over the last 48 hours or so, that's the scene of some of the most vicious battling back and forth that we've been seeing. And we kept referencing it. So if you could on the Google map, kind of just zero in on that area. Because that's really been the front line for these battles back and forth.

KING: Absolutely. I have it right up here on the screen and so everyone can understand at home. Here's Liberation Square right here. You see the main bridges in and the main roadway here. Here's the Egyptian Museum. And as Anderson noted, this is where the pro-Mubarak mobs have been gathering over here. The army has sort of been gathering right in here, essentially protecting this alleyway through here. This is the Egyptian Museum. And as Anderson noted, we've had clashes here in the thruway to Liberation Square but also over on this side of the museum, as well. And for context, you see the ruling party headquarters here. You see hotels all around here and again, Liberation Square here. Crowds coming in over the bridges.

But Egyptian Museum, Anderson, right here, just along the edge of the Nile River, just to the left looking at the map from Liberation Square -- Anderson.

COOPER: And I can tell you that the anti-Mubarak forces have actually taken that entire area, John, in front of the museum. And they've actually even gone a little bit north of that. So their barricades, the last -- last we saw, were actually to the -- a little bit to the -- like half a block to the north of the -- the north side of the Egyptian Museum.

And they have actually even gotten this morning onto one of the overpasses going onto the bridge. And that's when Egyptian police started firing tear gas -- or excuse me, started firing shots in the air to push them back. But they now occupy an area in front of -- to the left of the Egyptian Museum. So it's been quite a dramatic ebb and flow of the crowd over the last 48 hours or so.

John, thank you.

Joined again by Professor Fouad Ajami from Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Also Christopher Dickey from "Newsweek" and also from the Daily Beast who knows this area extraordinarily well. Hala Gorani is with me, as well, from CNN, and John King is also staying us with.

Dr. Ajami, I mean, this is such -- we -- you and I were e-mailing about this a little bit. No matter what side of this conflict you are on, this is just sad. I mean, this is just heartbreakingly sad for Egypt and its people.

DR. FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: You know -- you know, Anderson, last night after we finished the broadcast and you led us through that turmoil and we witnessed and depicted that tipping point in this confrontation. A friend of mine sent a note. I'm not going to explain the context of the note, but it just said, "We did not know we had so much left in our hearts left to be broken."

This is a heartbreaking experience. The city you're in, by the way, in Arabic, it's called Al-Qahira, the city victorious. And that city has known so much grief and so much heartbreak. And they had that precious moment, that precious moment in Tahrir, in Liberation Square, and they wanted to have a civil revolution. They wanted to have the beginning of a politics of normalcy.

And this lasted for a few days, and then our hearts were broken, and we witnessed this turn to blood and this turn to violence. And this is what -- this is what the grief of that night we witnessed last night. And this is where this revolt now ends up. It ends up in a way that Hosni Mubarak, in a manner he truly understands, a language of violence. And he wants to sully the honor, to sully the honor of these people in this square. That's what the game is all about.

COOPER: Christopher Dickey, you've spent a lot of time in this city and this region. What are the ripple effects of this? I mean, not only in the hours and day ahead, but in the days and the weeks and months ahead? Do we know at this point?

CHRISTOPHER DICKEY, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Well, I think, Anderson, when -- your introduction to the program was extremely good when you talk about the fear that exists in this country.

And one of the things that's ironic here is that President Mubarak is presenting himself as the only person who can take away the fear from a population of 80 million people.

You know, there may be tens of thousands in Tahrir Square, but if you travel around the rest of the city, which I've done, it's a tomb. There's nobody out. This is a city that's normally tremendously crowded and dense with people, and they're wonderful people, the Egyptians. They're wonderfully generous and forgiving. And they are hiding away in their houses right now.

They're being told that the only person that can take away the fear is Hosni Mubarak. And ironically, he's also the person who's most responsible for that fear, because as you've said, and as we all know, the protestors who are in the square are not the source of the violence. They're fighting back now, and it's very ugly.

And in the months and years to come, it's likely that people will look at this, and at the martyrs, no doubt, of Tahrir Square and use that as a source of violence and unrest and terrorism.

But for the time being, I think people in this country will say, "Thank you, President Mubarak, for bringing peace." And the long-term effects will be very negative, extremely negative. But the short-term effects will probably be that Egyptians will try to get back to their daily lives. I think it will be very difficult, but they'll try.

COOPER: And Fouad, to see this violence, this brutality, this rawness, which is -- I mean, it just is sickening, again, no matter what side you're on in this. It is just a sickening display of raw brutality. To see it happening in front of the Egyptian Museum, this extraordinary warehouse of this extraordinary culture that we are in right now, I mean, we are seeing the worst in Egypt.

And yet this is a country -- I mean, I've vacationed here. I've been here -- for years and years I've come here. You know, this is an extraordinary country and an extraordinary people. The world is getting the worst possible perception of it right now.

AJAMI: You know, Anderson, there is an image I shall never forget of this -- of this crisis of 2011 in Egypt, the fight for Egypt. The fight for the soul of Egypt. It's the picture -- it's an image of a 7-year-old, I think, little girl on a skateboard with an Egyptian flag, waving the Egyptian flag on a skateboard. And this is the image. This is one image of the hope that attended this revolution.

And then there is an aged man. Here is a country where the average age, the median age in Egypt is 22. And the ruler, the despot, the pharaoh is 82. And what you see is the gap between the old order, the old autocracy, the military with the whip, and the interior ministry, and the goons of the interior ministry, 1.7 million of them report to the ministry of interior. And then these people who went out to invent a new Egypt, and whether they will win or not, we don't know. I think it's going to be a very good hard fight.

Our hearts were broken in the summer of 2009 when the Iranians went out to confront the regime, and they lost. The goons won, the goons won. And whether the goon will win in Egypt remains to be seen. And Egypt, as Christopher would know so well, is that crystal ball in which other Arabs see their future and their condition.

COOPER: We have to take a quick break. We'll have more with Hala and Fouad Ajami. Appreciate you being with us, Fouad.

Christopher Dickey, as well. Again, stay safe.

Ivan Watson, as well.

We'll be right back. Our coverage continues. We'll be right back.


COOPER: Welcome back to our continuing coverage. Let's go to -- let's get a quick check of some other headlines with this "360 News & Business Bulletin" with Isha Sesay -- Isha.


As a winter storm bears down on the Gulf Coast, Oklahoma is reeling from a massive storm earlier this week. State police have responded to more than 100 accidents while many government offices, schools and businesses remain closed.

Las Vegas police have made an arrest in December's brazen robbery of the Bellagio casino where a gunman wearing a motorcycle helmet stole more than $1 million in casino chips. Police have charged 29- year-old Anthony Carleo. He's also a suspect in a second casino heist.

And fashion designer Kenneth Cole issued an apology today. That's because this morning he posted this tweet: "Millions are in uproar in Cairo. Rumor is they heard our new spring collection is now available online."

Users of Twitter reacted negatively, and Cole said that he never intended to make light of the situation in Egypt. But Anderson, nobody, or I should say very few people laughing in light of today's actions and events.

Anderson, back to you.

COOPER: Isha, thanks for that update.

You want to say something on what Professor Ajami was saying?

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because he was talking about the fight for Egypt. But I fundamentally believe this is the fight for the Middle East. He talked about Egypt being a crystal ball in which all in the Arab world see their own future. And I really believe that.

What ends up happening here, if democracy or a form of democracy in the shorter term takes hold in this country, it will change the region.

COOPER: We don't know where we will be broadcasting from tomorrow night. We don't know, frankly, if we can broadcast from here tomorrow night. We certainly hope so.

Thank you for watching. We will continue to follow, no matter what happens in the hours ahead. CNN will be here and continue to follow what is happening. We'll be right back. Our coverage continues.