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Revolution in Egypt

Aired February 11, 2011 - 19:00   ET


JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening from Washington to our viewers across the United States and around the world this evening. I'm John King joined in Atlanta for a very business hour ahead by my colleague Michael Holmes of CNN International.

Tonight joyous celebrations in Cairo and across Egypt. The 30- year Mubarak chapter is over. Its final hour sealed by a youthful revolution whose chants now ripple across the Arab world.




KING: Egypt's unpredictable next chapter begins with a military government and more than a little uncertainty. Will promises of democratic reforms be kept? Will Islamist fundamentalists somehow find an opening? Is Egypt's peace with Israel at risk? And will this Internet inspired demand for freedom that filled Tahrir Square these past 10 days spread now in a region more known for dictators than democracy.


BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The word Tahrir means liberation. There's a word that speaks to that something in our souls that cries out for freedom. And forever more it will remind us of the Egyptian people, of what they did, of the things that they stood for, and how they changed their country and in doing so, changed the world.


KING: At the moment, celebration is Egypt's immediate priority and CNN's Arwa Damon is live early morning Saturday now Cairo time in the thick of it -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. It is although the crowd here has thinned out, the partying and celebrations are still going fairly strong. But despite all of the euphoria here, there is, of course, great concern about what is going to be happening next, a lot of debate about whether or not the demonstrators should stay or leave. I'm joined now by Ahmed. First of all, tell us how are you feeling tonight? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm feeling very happy for the changes that have happened. We came here for the removal of the regime. And the removal of the head of corruption Hosni Mubarak (INAUDIBLE) so I'm very, very happy. And this is a historical day in Egypt. I'm so very happy.

DAMON: And what happens tomorrow? Are people going to stay? Are they going to leave?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I already spoke to some people and this -- I think the great majority will leave and some others will stay because they don't trust the changes has been already done.

DAMON: And that is something that we have been hearing for quite some time now from the crowd here, playing around in front of our cameras. But when it boils down to that trust deficit that exists, there are those numbers within the demonstrators who do not yet fully trust the military. They even have skepticism as to whether or not the president himself has actually stepped down -- John.

KING: And Arwa, I hope you can hear me because that is the question. You're almost -- it's almost sad to ask the question tonight because you want to be part of this historic celebration. But when it comes to that trust deficit, how do these protesters plan to organize so they can keep pressure, keep focus and keep negotiations going with the military government to make sure months from now we're watching elections?

DAMON: Well John, that's a great question. I think that's one that this group of protesters is actually trying to resolve right now, bearing in mind that there is no clear leadership at this point. And those negotiations that are going on at the higher level do not involve the type of people that are out here tonight. But we are hearing from most demonstrators they want to leave. The others saying they're going to stay because they don't quite trust the military or the government just yet -- John.

KING: Arwa Damon in the middle of it all, fabulous reporting. Arwa, soak that up and enjoy that scene. Most of those Egyptians can wait a day or two before they worry about the big challenges ahead. Arwa thank you.

And Michael Holmes, as you watch these pictures unfold and you see the celebration in the square, you know, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, said today Egypt will never be the same. We don't know exactly what it will be and I guess you're tempted to want to answer that question tonight, but the other temptation is to just soak this in.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: That is a great point, John. Yes, enjoy the party. But could there be a hangover? Yes, what will Egypt post all of this be six months, a year from now? Ben Wedeman has been living in Egypt 15 years or more on and off and joins us now, been covering this up front as well.

It is a good question. And I'm not going to put you in the position of looking into a crystal ball my friend, but this could go a number of ways, couldn't it?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm sorry. Could you repeat the question?

HOLMES: This could go a number of ways. This is really act one in a continuing play, is it not?

WEDEMAN: This is unknown territory for Egypt. The last time the military took control of the country was 1952. And much has changed. They are supposed to chart a new way to democracy. But Egypt has not experienced real democracy or even partial democracy since before 1952 when the military overthrew King Farouk and abolished the monarchy. They're going to have to somehow sort out a new constitution.

They're going to have to abolish the old parliament which was elected under very fraudulent conditions in which the old ruling party won 97 percent of the seats. There's so much that needs to be done. And certainly it's going to take well over six months, well over a year probably to sort things out. But as we saw in the last few days, the military was very reluctant to take over. It really took over because the situation got so out of control and President Mubarak was so discredited among the ordinary population that they've been shoved into a role that they're not altogether comfortable with -- John -- Michael.

HOLMES: And of course, the senior members of the military, they are very much all the government as well. There's a risk, perhaps, of putting a new face on an old guard. How quickly is the military going -- this council going to have to come out with some sort of transparent road map to make the people on the street believe that they are serious?

WEDEMAN: Well, when President Obama said Egypt will never be the same again, he was right because what we've seen is the Egyptians have suddenly found or rediscovered their political energy. And, therefore, if the military does not come up with the goods acceptable enough to a majority of people, we could see a return to these massive street demonstrations, sit-ins in Tahrir Square surrounding the state TV and information ministry. So the government is dealing -- or the military is dealing with a whole new environment where the people realize that they're very powerful.

HOLMES: Indeed. Ben thanks very much -- Ben Wedeman our Cairo bureau chief overseeing all of this from the bureau there -- John.

KING: And Michael, let's just use the map here to show people some of the images of this remarkable day. Ben is talking about history in a country he knows so well. This is a satellite image. If we come in close here, this is Tahrir or Liberation Square. If you come in close, it's a bit grainy because it is taken from space. You can see the massive crowds. This is taken today in Tahrir Square.

Crowds gathering to celebrate the demise of the Mubarak regime. Let me go over as well -- we've talked a lot in recent days about the state TV headquarters. We can come over here and look at some of the images from this dramatic day. I'll hit them here and play them out. Again, you see a tank right in the middle of this picture. This is the propaganda machine of the state.

And you see the crowds gathering there this morning, waiting in anticipation. Then, of course, finally finding out their president was president no more. Egypt has not had a former president before. Another big place we've watched in recent days was the Mubarak presidential palace, about five, six miles away from Tahrir Square, heavily guarded in recent days, but again, we saw demonstrations. This is this morning as the crowd found out their president was stepping down.




KING: And one of the questions at this hour, what next for Hosni Mubarak? And I want to take you now across Egypt to Sharm- el-Sheikh. He has a retreat here and Michael, you know this area well. I've been there a half dozen times over the years for big Middle East summits. And you see it here. It's a resort area along the Red Sea. You see some hotels and the pools and the like.

Hosni Mubarak has a complex in Sharm el-Sheikh. I want to show you some pictures. These were taken during one of my trips there for U.S. diplomacy and the Middle East peace summits and you see the beautiful cliffs into the Red Sea. It's a diving resort. Hosni Mubarak loves it there, spent much time there even during his presidency.

The question now though Michael is many Egyptians wonder (A) will he really keep his promise and stay in Egypt? And number two you've been doing some work on this. Who are the leaders of this new military government and will they keep their promise to move democracy?

HOLMES: Exactly. Yes, we'll look at that and you're right, Sharm el-Sheikh beautiful place. It's not a bad place to retire to. Now well let's talk about some of these men who are leading this military council that is going to run Cairo, Egypt for the next few months or could be many months depending on how this unfolds constitutionally and otherwise.

Let's talk first about Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi because he's sort of the man at the head of this. He's no young man. He's 75, part of the old guard. He is the commander in chief of the armed forces. He is the minister of defense as well. He has served in three wars over the years. And he's been in touch with Secretary Gates during the course of this crisis.

You know, during -- before Mubarak stepped down too, he was promoted to deputy prime minister, so he's been very much part of what has been going on. Now the other man that we want to have a look at is Lieutenant General Sami Hafez Enan. Now he's in his early 60's, chief of staff of the Egyptian armed forces. He served in two wars against Israel. He has been in touch with Admiral McMullen during the crisis.

Interestingly enough he spent a lot of time, John, training with the U.S. military over the years. And in fact he was in Washington holding talks when the whole protest started to break out.

KING: And those relationships, Michael, are now critical. And the United States says those are perhaps actually more trusting and deep relationships, personal relationships, bonds between the military commanders than they had with President Mubarak 20 years ago --

HOLMES: Got to be put to the test.

KING: -- with then General Tantawi's troops in the desert of Saudi Arabia before the first Gulf War, they were next to the Syrians just before the ground offensive, spent a little time with them up in the desert -- it's a memory from a long time ago.

When we come back, that's just what we'll address -- what next. We've got some of the smartest minds available to us. How will Egypt move from military government post-Mubarak to, we hope, democracy? Stay with us.


KING: Little after 2:00 in the morning Saturday Cairo time. Look at that crowd in Tahrir or Liberation Square, still celebrating. President Mubarak is president no more, a lot of questions about what come next, but on this night or this morning in Egypt, a celebration.

As we watch history unfold, in addition to our remarkable correspondents in Egypt, we've been fortunate in this hour to keep in frequent touch with several young Americans and Egyptians in the middle of it all. Among them, 26-year-old Sherief Gaber, he was despondent when we spoke last night, ecstatic when we connected a short time ago.


SHERIEF GABER, EGYPTIAN-AMERICAN GRADUATE STUDENT: (INAUDIBLE) is just absolutely amazing. I've never seen anything like this in my whole life. I've been walking around (INAUDIBLE) streets downtown as I'm doing right now. It's just like Egypt won the World Cup and (INAUDIBLE) imagine it all over again. I mean people are exhilarated right now. They're chanting, they're cheering. They're waving flags. I've never seen anything like this in my life. I'm just so happy (INAUDIBLE).

KING: And where exactly are you right now?

GABER: I'm -- I've been downtown near Tahrir Square (INAUDIBLE) fireworks right now and as (INAUDIBLE) fireworks it is absolutely amazing.


KING: Well let's continue our discussion about what next. Nicholas Burns a former U.S. under secretary of state for political affairs joins us along with David Gergen, CNN senior political analyst and former presidential adviser and Robert Kagan of the Brookings Institution. And Michael Holmes of course is still with us from Atlanta.

David, I want to just ask you first, you've been in the White House in consequential times. In some ways the United States has no control over this. You just sit and watch, wow, but you heard the president of the United States today saying we will help you if you want it.

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think the president's been very inspired by this. This, you know, very much in accord and consistent with his whole philosophy as he quoted Martin Luther King again today about the arc of history bends towards justice. But at the same time, I think if you're in the White House today, you have to be very careful to not take too much credit for this.

The credit does not belong to us in the United States. The credit belongs to those young people out in the streets of Cairo who were so brave. And we have been -- I think we can help now in this process. I hope we will. I'm sure we will try. But this ought to be a night when we really celebrate those young people in the streets.

KING: Michael?

HOLMES: Yes. I was going to jump in there and ask Robert a question. Robert, of course, there is still so much that needs to be done. This is really a situation of no guarantees. But when we broaden this out, we also have to have a conversation about the region. This has now been successful to this point. You got to look at Yemen which is a very fragile place at the moment. What's going to happen in Jordan? I mean the regional implications can't be ignored.

ROBERT KAGAN, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Well, and the various rulers of those regimes are not ignoring it either. The Jordanian king has taken steps to try to liberalize now. Algeria has lifted the state of emergency. Everyone in the region, some of those Gulf States are throwing around a lot of money to keep people happy. But I think we are seeing the beginning of real ferment in the Arab world and it's going in a positive direction so far.

KING: And Nic Burns, I was speaking earlier today to the Egyptian ambassador to the United States. He's in a difficult spot right now. His government just changed while he's here in Washington. But listen to this question I put to him.


KING: Do you think the military went to the president and said, sir, look at those people in the street?

SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: I think this is an occasion where we must give credit to where credit is due. And this is a popular revolution, one that has demonstrated its ability to express its opinion, to advocate peacefully and has been able by its consistency and by the legitimacy of its demands to bring about change in Egypt, change that all Egyptians are proud of.


KING: Let me ask Nic Burns -- you're a diplomat also. Let me try it with you. Do you think the military went to President Mubarak and said sir look at all those people in the streets?

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE: I suspect so and I agree with David Gergen, John. I think people power produced this victory for the Egyptian people, but Egyptian Republic, but the military has a huge assist. I think as we transition from last evening into this morning, there was a recipe for disaster unfolding.

With all the unhappiness of a President Mubarak's ambiguous speech last night, people weren't going to accept that. And I imagine the Egyptian military had to make a fateful decision and that is to encourage President Mubarak to exit from the scene. And now they have the power and the transition begins in just a few hours as day breaks in Cairo.

And the key question I have in my mind is what kind of transition will the military allow a democratic open process or will they jealously guard some power in the interest of stability? I don't think they've answered that question yet.

HOLMES: David Gergen, whatever government emerges from all of this, it's going to be vastly different from the one it leaves behind. But possibly the most nervous country in the region is going to be Israel. They obviously fear very much that border with Gaza. Even Mohamed ElBaradei, who is not of the Muslim Brotherhood, has very much said that he thinks the siege of Gaza needs to be lifted. Israel is not going to like that.

GERGEN: I think the Israelis are clearly very, very nervous. And I think they've wisely kept their mouths shut during much of this. The Netanyahu government put the word out. We don't want a lot of chatter here. But as they look down the road and look at the Muslim Brotherhood, there are a lot of polls that suggests that it represents maybe 20 percent or what could be an electorate, maybe 15 percent, somewhere in that range.

And if you have ElBaradei and his forces on top of that with Gaza, you could see a fairly strong constituency for a very different Egyptian foreign policy which is, of course, exactly what Hillary Clinton was trying to warn about. I think the pivotal player right now for the United States is Bob Gates. He's been a terrific secretary of defense. His relationships are going to be really important for us in the months ahead.

KING: And David, you mentioned the Muslim Brotherhood and I talked to their lead spokesman earlier today and he said they will not fill the candidate for president in the next elections, but they do hope to have a significant voice in the new parliament. And as we all know here in the United States the administration has said they should be part of the dialogue. Some on the right have hammered the Obama administration for saying that. Listen to this.


KING: There are people here who say the Muslim Brotherhood is an Islamic fundamentalist radical organization that wants jihad. What would you say to them?

ESSAM EL-ERIAN, SPOKESMAN, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: That they're wrong, absolutely wrong. Muslim Brotherhood are moderate, nonviolent organization (INAUDIBLE) and have good relation with all Egyptians, with Christians, Muslims and acquired all -- also allied with the political sections. We are joined all (INAUDIBLE) seeking democratic and this is right description of Muslim Brotherhood, right definition.


KING: Kagan, do you buy that?

KAGAN: I think there are a lot of different factions in the Muslim Brotherhood and some of them are very worrying. And it's very important that we get this aspect of it right, too. And there were things we can do to forestall the Muslim Brotherhood making a huge gain here. First of all, the majority of the Egyptian people do not want to live in an Islamic state.

They've made that very clear. The Muslim Brotherhood only enjoys roughly 15 percent of support. Second of all, the army, the army held together. It will be a major and important institution as a check. And I think what we need to do now and this is something the U.S. government can do, is pour democracy assistance into Egypt, something that we haven't been doing in the past to strengthen secular liberal non-Islamist groups so that they can compete effectively in the political system in Egypt going forward.

GERGEN: Without seeming like a manipulator, that's going to be -- there's going to be this real fear of American manipulation now.

KING: So how do you do that, Nic Burns? That's been your job in the past. How do you do that from the State Department help without being accused of interfering?

BURNS: I think you can do it the way President Obama has been acting over the last couple of weeks. He hasn't been in the center of the ring. He let the Egyptians play this out but we're using our influence behind the scenes. I think Bob's right, there's a lot that American universities and think tanks and NGOs can do to help nurture a civil society and help nurture this debate between political and secular and religious parties, left and right, Egyptian politics so that they can develop a national conversation towards an election. We could be part of that. But they're in the control of that, the Egyptian people as they should.

KING: Nic Burns, David Gergen, Bob Kagan, appreciate your insights on this historic and very important day. When we come back more on the global impact -- will there be a domino effect? CNN's Fareed Zakaria joins us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: For some perspective on this historic and fascinating day and a glimpse around the corner, let's check in with CNN's Fareed Zakaria. Fareed, the question is, as we celebrate history, what next? And I want you to listen to a piece of a conversation -- I had a fascinating conversation with Michael Hayden, the former CIA director and a retired general, of course. He was talking about the times he had been in the room with Hosni Mubarak talking about the importance of democracy and human rights.


GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: He didn't understand what we were telling him. I think that's the way Mubarak looked at us when we were talking to him about these things. That we were actually slipping into this, you know, kind of admiral, but fundamentally simplistic American view of things and we know better. And that's kind of the attitude that he had.


KING: If that's the kind of attitude Hosni Mubarak had, my question on this day is what about the new military rulers of Egypt who are most likely in the room when those conversations take place. Do we have any reason to believe they are different, that they will actually embrace democracy?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN'S FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: No. Fundamentally, John, it's a very good question and the answer is no. In fact, you could make the case that the military are actually even less inclined to do that. The Egyptian military owns hundreds and hundreds of economic entities, factories, freighting companies and things like that. And they have now for -- to begin with, got rid of all the businessmen whom they didn't like by and large. And now I'm sure what they're trying to figure out is how much reform do they have to do and how much can they preserve their power?

KING: And that's a very different calculation of being the guardians of this transition to full and open multi-party democracy.

ZAKARIA: Well, I think they recognize -- they must recognize that the writing on the wall is inevitable. They have to allow elections. They have to allow either serious amendments to the constitution or a new constitution itself. But the interesting question is how much will they try to put in protections for their power and privileges?

KING: And as we look at some of the history you just talked about, let's look at Iran for a moment. This is an important day in Iranian history and I'm wondering if you see a potential domino effect knowing that the Iranian opposition movement plans a demonstration on Monday. We also know some of those opposition leaders have been arrested, that the Internet has been choked off in Iran. But listen to the Obama administration trying to send a message to Iran here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let your people speak. Release your people from jail. Let them have a voice.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think if the government of Iran was as confident as they would have you believe in the statements that they put out, they would have nothing to fear with the peaceful demonstration like those that you've seen in Cairo and throughout Egypt. They're not that confident. They're scared.


KING: Will Egypt impact Iran?

ZAKARIA: There's no question Egypt is going to have a huge impact. Egypt is the heart and soul of the Arab world. Iran is not an Arab country. But it is on the outskirts of the Arab world. Egypt has always been a great exporter of culture. And so trends that begin in Egypt always spread. Now it's worth pointing out, Iran's system is a little more complicated.

It is not a simple, brutal dictatorship. The ruling regime does have some support of every survey we've ever seen, every anecdotal piece of evidence, so -- and there are many ways of manipulating things, patronage, power, but I do think that this will be -- this will have an impact. It will energize the opposition. And the Iranian regime must be wondering what do they do in response to this? And I think they must see the writing on the wall which is that it can be a clamp down. It will have to be something more sophisticated than that.

KING: And we've all heard Wael Ghonim, the Google executive in Egypt say this is the Internet revolution. That he's going to write a book "Revolution 2.0". What about further around the world in China? We know that China blocked access on the Internet to some searches during the crisis and the uprising in Egypt today. The foreign ministry there put out a statement saying it was talking about the developments in Egypt and it stressed social stability and normal order. What about China?

ZAKARIA: That's the trillion dollar question. I think that in the Chinese case there are some features that may make it different. The first is there has been enormous economic progress in China, so the average Chinese has seen his income quadruple in the last 20 years. China has been able to move fast on the economy. It has also opened up in a kind of social way that people often don't realize. You can work wherever you want in China. You can move where you want. I mean there is a lot of social freedom that didn't exist. But the political freedoms have lagged far behind.

And I know there are people in China in the Communist Party who believe that this gap between the economic level of development and the political level of development has to be bridged and it has to be bridged by greater political freedom. So far, these people have lost the argument.

KING: Fareed Zakaria, thank you for your help.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure as always, John.

KING: And as we watch these live pictures, remember, it's 2:30 in the morning Tahrir Square or Liberation Square in Cairo, Saturday morning there. The celebration continues. And Michael Holmes, I wanted to talk to Fareed because he has such a great grasp of the world. Do you think these young people who have brought about unprecedented and stunning revolution in the Middle East, in a country viewed as the stable country in the Middle East, do you think they have any idea how people around the world are watching and many of those watching are a little worried?

HOLMES: Yeah. I think they have -- I think they do know everyone is watching and they're pleased with what they've been able to achieve. I think there is also among many people an element of concern about where this goes from now. Whether they're going to be happy with what they're being offered. Whether this military council is going to do what it says it does. What will the transition look like? Will they truly allow the emergence of a pluralistic representative, sort of civilian government? There is so much that is right about what we're seeing on our screens, there in those live pictures. But there is room to think about what could go wrong as well.

KING: And what would go wrong as well. You almost don't want to ask those questions on this night. It is part of our job to look around the corner and obviously there are key questions. Are these military leaders truly committed to democracy, or will they at least feel the pressure to commit to democracy, and will these young people in the weeks and months ahead when the system needs a kick, will they be ready to do this again?

HOLMES: Yeah. Indeed. And will they be -- will the military be willing to give up its pretty cozy position in Egyptian society, economically, politically and otherwise. They live a very nice life. Are they going to be willing to give all of that up for civilian government, and true democracy? I guess we'll talk more about that after the break, John.


KING: Live pictures there Tahrir or Liberation square, Cairo, Egypt. The celebration into the early morning hours on Saturday. Welcome back. If you are just joining us, here's what you need to right know about revolution, the revolution in Egypt.

It is just after 2:35 in the morning. As you see, Tahrir Square in Cairo remains packed. As Egyptians celebrate the end of President Hosni Mubarak's near 30-year grip on power. Mubarak fled to the Red Sea resort town of Sharm Al-Sheik after resigning earlier this morning. Egypt's military now controls the country.

President Obama says the people of Egypt have inspired us and have changed the world. He pledged today the United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. Let's go back live to the drama in the streets of Cairo. Our Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson, in the thick of it- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: John, this has to be one of the world's largest street parties right now. We're seeing families coming down with their young children. Babes in arms, being lofted above the crowd so even they can see what is going on. Songs are being sung. A real feeling of euphoria. Everyone here has got something to say. And (AUDIO GAP)

KING: We lost Nic's shot. We'll get back and try to reconnect with Nic. Also joining us, someone who spent time on Tahrir Square, on good days and not so good days, Anderson Cooper, the anchor of "AC 360".

Anderson, as you watch this unfold, you were there for the peaceful demonstrations. You were also there when those demonstrators were being beat and you, yourself, came under attack. It is an amazing day to just watch.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, AC 360: It is extraordinary. And something I want to pick up on what Nic just said about how everybody has a story to tell there, and wants to talk. It also relates to what you were asking right before the break about whether the people there realize this is being watched around the world. I think the protesters there have had an extraordinary self awareness over the last 18 days about the role of television in all of this, and about the world watching.

You know, they -- if you have been in Egypt over the years as many of us have reporting, it was always a very difficult place to report. If you pointed a camera at someone not only the state would stop you unless you had proper credentials and were being escorted around by a government minder, but people were very reticent to talk. In Liberation Square over the last 18 days, people would come up to you, and beg to be put on camera. It was as if that square was the one place in their lives, and the first time in their lives, they had the ability to actually speak their mind. They were literally stopping you, please, please, put me on camera. I want to tell you what I think about Mubarak. I want to tell the world what I think.

And they were very aware and very aware of the details and the nuances not just of their position but of other countries' positions, of the United States' position, of the Obama administration's position. It was an extraordinarily self-aware movement in that square when you were down there. And I think we're seeing that now tonight certainly, even more people who weren't in the square perhaps over the last 18 days, who want to a taste of that freedom for the first time.

HOLMES: You know, Anderson, Michael Holmes here. I want to ask you, we talked a lot over the last few hours about what these people are going to expect now from the military, how transparent this transition is going to look like, the pace of it and all the like. But at one point when we get to the elections, whenever they are held, there has got to be opposition. Did you get any sense, and are you getting any sense now, that that opposition which was so fractured, and was virtually nonexistent under Mubarak, because he crushed it, did you get a sense of any coalescing, any coming together? Are they going to be a viable if and when there is an election?

COOPER: Look, Mubarak effectively eliminated democratic institutions in the country over the last 30 years. That is part of the way he maintained power. That's why the Muslim Brotherhood is pretty much the only organization that still has some sort of reach in the streets, though not as much as many people outside may think.

But, no, there were opposition figures who would appear in the square. And you would see them being hoisted on people's shoulders and marched around the square by their supporters. But this wasn't a movement led by any particular opposition group or figures, or certainly any political group. Yes, they kind of glommed on to it over the time. But there aren't real legitimate opposition figures, who have strong national followings in Egypt. It's going to take time to build those. And I talked to Mohammed ElBaradei, earlier, who is certainly somebody who is tossing his hat in the ring and has expressed interest, and returned to the country I think about two weeks ago, after being away for nearly 30 years of his career.

But what they will say is we need at least a year in order to build up democratic institutions, in order to build up parties, in order to get people used to the idea of being able to express themselves and support parties. They do not want -- at least ElBaradei does not want an election 60 days from now. A lot of people look at the Hamas example, they say, look, that's what happened in Gaza. And that's how they ended up with Hamas because there weren't other institutions.

KING: I think, Anderson, that's a huge challenge here. Because Mr. ElBaradei, for all his distinguished service as a diplomat, he is not very well known in his own country because he was out of the country for so long. Wael Ghonim, the Google executive, says he is going back to his great job. I guess my question tonight, it's probably somewhat skeptical one is will the military three or four months from now say there is nobody out here who the people love. We can run this out?

COOPER: Yeah. That's a very good question. There is not a history of democracy in Egypt. The military has called the shots for a long time. All the people have ruled Egypt, Nasser, Sadat, Mubarak, they all come from the military. So, yeah, there's a lot of questions about what happens next. A lot of concern. I mean there is a lot of people who were concerned to see that military official reading out a statement today. They were hardened by the fact that he saluted what they call the martyrs of this revolution, the young people mostly young people who have died, Human Rights Watch says more than 300 who have died in the last 18 days. You saw that military figure saluting them. That is something you never heard from Mubarak or Suleiman. But will they be willing to give up power, not put their own strong man in? Will they allow democratic institutions to grow? It remains to be seen, John. KING: Anderson Cooper, thanks. Remember folks, 10:00 in the East Coast and around the world "AC 360" will have much more on history being made in Egypt tonight. When we come back the fascinating perspective of the United States former intelligence chief, Former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells us what he'll be looking for in Egypt and around the world.


KING: Live pictures, history in the making there in Cairo, Egypt. Crowds still in Tahrir Square hours after their president resigned. He went to his resort in Sharm El Sheik. The question now is what next? As you look at this map, anything flashing in the Middle East and North Africa, the flashing, that means there have been some protests in recent weeks. Egypt, of course, right in the center. We also know there are future protests planned, planned in Syria tomorrow, on Saturday. We'll keep an eye on that one. Planned in Iran, an important one, on Monday. We will track all these developments. The question is, will this spread? Will there be a domino effect? A fascinating conversation and a place to begin the conversation with the former director of Central Intelligence Michael Hayden.


KING (on camera): General, let me start with this. If you were in your old job, as the director of Central Intelligence, or working in the White House, in the intelligence community in the situation room, when this happens, President Mubarak steps aside. What you are worried about?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FMR. CIA DIRECTOR: You are worried about the reaction of several, for want of a better word, audiences to that step. I mean there is an important thing to remember, John, Egypt's not North Korea. And in North Korea, the North Korean state is an expression of the personality of Kim Jong-il. So if Kim Jong-il leaves, wow, things are going to be different. That is not the case here. In many ways President Mubarak has been the face of an Egyptian state controlled, by elements in Egyptian society, certain elements in the business class, the arms forces, and so on. So his leaving would be an important thing. But in terms of what's happening in Tahrir Square, where this is and the broad trajectory of Egyptian history, this may not be the climactic moment that we view it to be right now.

KING: And does history, and your understanding of the region lead you to believe we will transition toward free and fair elections, some form of democracy, maybe not the form we have in the United States, but some form of relatively open free and fair democracy, or do your instincts say more likelihood is another military dictatorship emerging after a military government?

HAYDEN: It is quite possible that that could evolve into an Egyptian government that is more responsive, more transparent, more responsive to the Egyptian people. Trading in, perhaps, stability which at times looked a lot like stagnation, for opportunity, which carries with it the danger of chaos. And so this is something that transition is going to have to be very carefully managed. I think the key point is going to be who ultimately is going to be responsible for this transition?

KING: And I assume you think that will be the military.

HAYDEN: The military has a broad role to play. It remains to be seen how active they might be. They might be quite content. In fact I think it will be a preferred position to be in the background. Again in their own way setting the limits, with regard to the evolution.

But I think if they are looking after their own best interest, there will be an evolution.

KING: Inside Egypt, what is the likelihood in your view of a more radical, a more Islamist government emerging? You heard people talk about if Mubarak steps aside, you know, Muslim Brotherhood will seize power. Is that possible?

HAYDEN: Of course it's possible. Is it likely? I wouldn't say that it is likely. But it is a danger. Look, history tells us, when you go into situations like this, when societies enter into these kinds of circumstances, the trend line is for the center of the political discussion to move in a more radical direction.

KING: What about a domino affect? We know there have been other demonstrations in the region. We have had change in Tunisia. But will this have a domino affect in Jordan, in Yemen, in Saudi Arabia, what about in Iran?

HAYDEN: It clearly has had affects. We have already seen that. But these are different. Each of these are different societies. King Abdullah in Saudi Arabia, for example, is well regarded by his people. For that matter is King Abdullah in both Jordan and Saudi Arabia, both kings, highly regarded. In the Gulf, an accelerant of this process in Egypt has not just been political, but economic. Those economic dire straits don't exist in the Gulf States. So I think you can separate this, yes, there will be affects. But I'm not willing to predict there's an automatic domino affect.

KING: Is it an example of technology, driving a lot of these things, social networking, the Internet, we have seen Iran, in recent days, and certainly back after the elections, when they had the uprising, trying to tighten the fist on information flow, arresting people.

HAYDEN: Absolutely. There is not question about it. And everyone is now trying to cope-let me give you a thought that makes this transition in Egypt perhaps more difficult than it would otherwise be.

In our history, we would expect, when you get hundreds of thousands of people in an organized demonstration in Tahrir Square, that that's a product of months if not years of preparation, of quiet cells organizing, or leadership developing, of leaders emerging, of platforms being constructed. That didn't happen here. This was a product of Facebook and Twitter. What actually happened is we have skipped over the organizing step. So now one of the real questions we have is who are those folks? Who's leading them? What do they want, and who does the Egyptian government talk to? None of that is clear.

KING: This is the most volatile neighborhood in the world. What does Osama bin Laden make of this? What does Al Awlaki, in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula think of this?

HAYDEN: They certainly take some celebration that someone who's been a longtime friend of the United States is going through these kinds of circumstances. I think that would be heartening to them. But when they step back and look at this strategically, this isn't the creation of the caliphate, although we talked earlier there may be some dangers of this moving in the direction of the Muslim Brotherhood, that's not foreordained. In fact, one of the things that perhaps would be the most damaging to their vision of the future of the Arab or the Islamic world is a more pluralistic, more participatory government to evolve in Egypt.

KING: So how does the United States adapt to that? Is the era of putting stability, security, oil, economics ahead of democracy, human rights, is it over completely? Is there some middle ground the United States needs to get to?

HAYDEN: John, these are always tough choices. Good people from both parties in multiple administrations over the years have had to make these serious kinds of tradeoffs. You asked me about Mubarak leaving. What does it mean for a variety of things in the Middle East. The first thing is it is hard to imagine an Egyptian government that would be more supportive of peace with Israel, more supportive of our objectives with regard to the Palestinians, more supportive of our worldview with regard to Al Qaeda than the Mubarak government has been. Now, on balance, if this is movement in the direction of democracy, this is a good thing long-term. But in the short-term, at a minimum, the Egyptian government is going to be distracted from those kinds of common goals.

KING: General Hayden, thanks for your time.

HAYDEN: John, thank you.

KING: You heard General Hayden there making the point that he believes economic distress in Egypt contributed to this evolution. As things spread throughout the region let's take a little bit of a look here. Egypt, the average annual income, just over $2,000 a year. That would mean Yemen would be one place to watch as the protests spread. Saudi Arabia, though, a little more affluent; Kuwait, even much more affluent than that, the thinking being those regimes perhaps more stable. Down here, maybe not so much.

When we come back, in a moment, Michael Holmes rejoins me. We discuss just how did this happen? And what does it mean that Hosni Mubarak is gone.

As we go to break, look at this scene outside the Egyptian embassy, here in Washington, D.C., a celebration. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look at these scenes of euphoria and celebration.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just moments ago, the news came out, Hosni Mubarak is stepping down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't want him!


HOLMES: These scenes as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak steps down, much to the joy of his people. His departure guaranteeing nothing, it's unreasonable to fear that things could still go wrong. But either way, Egyptians have overthrown a tyrant, with true people power. It is just extraordinary. Just entering the 19th day, the biggest Arab country in the region, it's just extraordinary that it happened so fast, John.

KING: Remarkable. And thank the lord with relatively little violence. Obviously, some killed and many injured. But all in all, if we go back to the beginning, Michael, January 25 was the day of wrath. As you know, thousands of protesters came into Tahrir Square, Liberation Square, that was the beginning of it all, protesting they asked Mubarak to go. On January 27, ElBaradei returned, the Internet was shut down. The government began to sense there was a problem. By January 29, Mubarak refused to leave.

And that fired up the protestors even more as you could see in the crowds, February 1, of course, the millions march, hundreds of thousands into the street. Mubarak felt that pressure, said he would not run for re-election. Then of course, pro-Mubarak clashes, the journalists beaten and arrested. That was a dark day in this revolution. Then we move through the pressure points, in the end, days of departures, thousands in Tahrir Square. And we got to last night, the crowds angry after he refused to go. And then, of course, this historic day, Mubarak resigns, you see the scenes in the square there.

This, Michael, has been an Egyptian leader for five U.S. presidents, from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. He is gone, history in Egypt. We continue our coverage with PARKER SPITZER right now.