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Revolution in Egypt: Egypt's Military Takes Control Crowds Chant 'Egypt is Free'; Obama: 'Egyptians Changed the World'; Mubarak Rule Ends; Egypt's Military in Charge

Aired February 11, 2011 - 17:00   ET


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

WOLF BLITZER, HOST: It's just after midnight in Egypt. We're still seeing huge, huge crowds of people in the streets of Cairo -- hundreds of thousands of people celebrating the end of 30 years -- the 30 year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. He's now the ex-president of Egypt.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm joined now by CNN International's core -- anchor Michael Holmes. He's joining us from the CNN Center.

We're going to get to Michael in just a moment.

But first, an 18-day uprising becomes a full-fledged revolution. The Egyptian Army now in control of the country, hours after Mubarak finally gave in to the protesters' demands for him to quit.

Take a look at the moment when the Egyptians learned that Mubarak was leaving and they declared that their nation is free.


BLITZER: Hosni Mubarak now believed in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm el Sheikh, on the Red Sea. We're told Swiss banks have now frozen the ex-president's assets and his family's assets. There's still a lot of questions about what's next for the Egyptian people, the Egyptian government and the promised elections.

But as President Obama put it just a little while ago, Egypt, he said, will never be the same -- Michael, this is a dramatic moment, history unfolding, all of us -- all of us have been watching. And to think about it Michael, it took 18 days -- only 18 days for Mubarak to go and for the people of Egypt to achieve this -- this moment toward democracy and freedom.


Who would have imagined that this could have happened, Wolf?

And, of course, Mubarak's departure guarantees nothing. And the days and weeks and months ahead are going to be what really tells us whether this is going to be a move toward genuine free, fair, open democracy. We're still waiting to hear from the military, how they're going to handle things. So very important.

Now, of course, that is where it's all been happening, what you're looking at there, Tahrir Square. That's where that joy erupted a few hours ago. And that's where Arwa Damon has been throughout -- Arwa, I -- I envy you enormously being there. It must have been an extraordinary few hours.


HOLMES: Arwa, are you hearing me?



DAMON: I'm not entirely sure if you can hear me. It's pretty loud out here and fairly crowded, as well, as these celebrations do continue. People here are hardly able to believe what they have, in fact, accomplished. Everyone around me wants to say something. So let's give them a chance to speak their mind. And I'll be translating along the way, as well.

She's saying that she's very proud to have been a part of the youth that brought this all about, this revolution of 25th January. Like so many people, hardly able to believe that it happened.

The significance of this for her, of course, as we have been hearing throughout, is that the youth were able to win back Egypt's freedom and bring down Hosni Mubarak.

Sir, what is your feeling tonight?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, my feelings exceed expectations -- all expectations. Today is a great day, the beginning of a new life in Egypt. I'd like to say something. We are a great nation and a great civilization. Thank you.

DAMON: And a lot of people, of course, looking forward are worried about the economy. They're worried about the government forming.

What's the most important thing for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today -- today, I don't worry -- worry about anything today. Today, my culture is beginning Inshallah, to -- to exceed expectations. And we are -- I would like my -- our economy to begin in a new era.

DAMON: Thank you very much.


DAMON: He's saying that he, too, cannot express the depth and scope of his feelings, but that this is the best day for the Egyptian people. (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)

DAMON: He was saying that the way events played out today were really a big surprise for all of the Egyptian people. We're hearing chants right now of, "Egypt is free." He was also saying that they were expecting this to drag out a lot longer, maybe another two weeks, maybe another month.

But as we have seen, this has, in fact, happened. This movement that was started on Facebook and Twitter, that then took on a life of its own, that many people said really was galvanized by all of the loss of life, the demonstrators determined that those would not be in vain.

HOLMES: Arwa, thanks very much.

I'm not going to compete with the noise of that crowd, but we will get back with you in the hours ahead -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very exciting. And we're going to get back, as -- as you say, we're going to get back to those crowds. We're not going to leave them for very long.

But I want to stay in Cairo.

Joining us now on the phone is the Egyptian actor and protester, Khalid Abdalla.

He was one of the stars in -- of the major motion picture, "Kite Runner".

We've been speaking over the past few days.

Khalid, give us your reaction to what we saw and heard in Egypt today.

KHALID ABADALLA, EGYPTIAN ACTOR AND ACTIVIST: It was a -- it was an absolutely extraordinary moment. And it was and it was a complete shock. And, I mean, I can't tell you the difference in the feeling between yesterday night and yesterday -- and this afternoon into this evening.

I mean, the streets, as you've seen obviously are entirely packed with jubilant people, people who feel empowered, people who feel like their destiny is now in their hands. And I think the most beautiful thing that I just keep seeing over and over again is children chanting. I mean everyone is chanting, but particularly the children are chanting, you know, hold your health -- hold your head high, you're an Egyptian.

It's a -- it's a -- it's a really beautiful sight and exactly, you know, as everyone said, I -- I was not expecting it to happen today. And I -- just as soon as it -- as soon as -- as soon as the news came.

And it was all -- it was 12 seconds. I mean he -- the guy was on screen for 12 seconds. I just started running. I just started running and people were chanting that they were going to build their own country.

It's a really, really peaceful day for all of those. And I just have to say, very quickly, I mean, a thank you to everyone who has stood in solidarity with us. You have told our true story and you have helped us along our way.

BLITZER: I think -- who do you give the most credit to, Khalid?

Eighteen days from the beginning until the end and Mubarak is gone.

Who would have thought?

But who do -- who do you give the most credit to?

ABDALLA: Well, I mean certainly the people who went out on the first day have a lot of credit. And -- and, you know, they -- they started something. They started something, which is, you know, which has taken us here. And obviously, you know, they're the people -- the organizers, through Facebook and Twitter and the social media. But, actually, strangely enough, I think, in some ways, the most important day was -- was actually the day following. It was the Wednesday, on -- on the 26th, because even those of us who were shocked by the demonstrations on -- on the Tuesday, the 25th, never thought that there was going to be -- that it would keep going. And just that little push. And it was only a few thousand people that went out the next day -- just that little push made everyone think that they really could go through it.

And the other people who -- who, you know, who -- who we absolutely have to thank for this are the citizens. And the citizens started something -- started something peaceful. And the Egyptians have -- have held, you know, have held that mantle high. And, you know, I have high hopes for this in relation to the rest of the Arab world and, indeed, other countries.

HOLMES: Khalid, it's Michael Holmes here.

Just diving in, I'm -- obviously, this is a night for celebration. And -- and so it should be for Egyptians, those people there in the square.

But I'm curious what they will next be looking for, to make sure that all of this is, indeed, genuine and what they want.

ABDALLA: Well, I mean, obviously, everyone is waiting to see how the -- you know, how the army behaves and whether it keeps its word and all of those things. But I don't think anyone is afraid of the army. On the contrary, I think, you know, the army knows that it has to respond to the -- to the wishes of the people. And undoubtedly, they must have had a part in Mr. Mubarak's decision to leave.

The army, I think, is at the service of the people. The people are not afraid to stand up for their demands. So they don't have any fear anymore. And they -- and they lived in fear for 30 years.

Everyone knows that there's a difficult time ahead. No one has any -- you know, no one has any false illusions that the fact that suddenly everything is solved. You know, Egypt has a lot of problems.

But people have their dignity back. And no matter how hard times are, when you have your dignity, you can get through it and you can keep dreaming. So it's a better thing.

BLITZER: It's an amazing story.

We're going to stay in close touch with you. Congratulations, Khalid Abdalla.

He was the star of the film, "Kite Runner." He's an Egyptian actor. He was a protester. And now that revolution has been achieved in Egypt.

We're staying on top of this story. Look at these crowds. It's now well past -- 10 after midnight in Cairo. These people are not leaving. They're still on the streets. They're going to be celebrating, I suspect, all through the night. And our coverage from Egypt will continue right after this.


HOLMES: Live pictures from Cairo's Tahrir Square, scene of jubilation for the last few hours after news that the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, indeed stepped down as president of Egypt after 30 years, often brutal years for many people, in power.

I'm Michael Holmes in Atlanta. Wolf Blitzer is in Washington, D.C., and Fred Pleitgen, one of our many journalists on the spot there in Cairo.

You know, Fred, I've got to actually say during the break you and I were talking, and I was in Berlin in 1989 when the wall opened up that night, and were you saying it is similar to that in terms of the atmosphere that you've been experiencing there. That is extraordinary.

FREDRICK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's absolutely extraordinary. I have to say, as a German looking down on the scene before me, it really is almost exactly the same. You know the (INAUDIBLE), the hope that the people have.

I talked to one man who is here with his daughter, with his young daughter, who was telling me he did all of this for his daughter. He didn't care whether or not he would survive, whether or not something would happen to him. He said the freedom and the future of his children were the most important to him.

And that certainly is the way a lot of people here feel. And that certainly is something that really makes this feel exactly the way that 1989 felt in Germany, especially for people who are German, like myself. So I can certainly relate to a lot of what the people down there are feeling, are thinking.

Ad I can tell you, I just came down -- I just came back from that highway overpass that you're seeing right there right now, which is sort of another scene where people are just celebrating. People are getting out of their cars. People are clapping to the folks sitting in the cars, and it's an absolute scene of jubilation.

I also have a feeling, Michael, that a lot of people are coming here now or sort of making a pilgrimage here, if you will, people who might not have actually been to Tahrir Square, who maybe were never were part of the protests, but have a lot of sympathy for the protesters, and now people like that are coming out here as well.

It's a huge scene. There's massive traffic and it's just a very, very cheerful situation down there with a lot of young people, but also people who are in their 40s and 50s who say they never thought they would have seen a day like this, Michael.

HOLMES: Obviously, a very, very festive evening ahead there or morning now. It's after midnight, of course.

As you saw the day dawn, and you've been pretty much like everyone there reporting for us around the clock, as day dawned, did you get any sense that this might happen?

PLEITGEN: No, you know, I think -- I think a lot of people didn't. I think most people didn't.

You know, yesterday we had that big day and that was down on the square when Hosni Mubarak was holding that speech yesterday, and everybody thought it was going to happen then and then, of course, it didn't, and everyone was very disappointed.

And today, this announcement by Omar Suleiman, it really was quite low key in the beginning. All we got was an e-mail saying that there would be announcement by the president's office. No one really paid any attention to it, or I should say they only paid a little bit of attention to it. No one really put any sort of significance to it until that announcement finally came.

And I was actually on the air waiting for a live shot when all of a sudden I heard these cheers from Tahrir Square and that's when the announcement came through that, in fact, Hosni Mubarak had stepped down. And I don't believe most people were expecting it. Certainly, from the anger that I felt there yesterday, Michael.

Fred, great reporting. We'll get back to you a little later -- Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Michael, thank you. And thanks to Fred as well.

Let's stay in Cairo. Roger Cohen is a columnist for "The New York Times," he's joining us now on the phone.

Roger, where were you when you heard that the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, was about to become the former president of Egypt?

ROGER COHEN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" (via telephone): Hi, Wolf.

I was actually back on (INAUDIBLE) at "The Times" bureau because I was having to file something and somebody shouted come here, come here and I ran out, and there's Suleiman who bears an uncanny resemblance to an undertaker on TV.

And you know, we'd seen these long endless 17 minutes last night with Mubarak and in a flash it was over. And the Egyptian manager of the office was practically fainting. I said what did he say? He just said Mubarak has resigned and he's handed authority to the army.

And that was it. It was over. It was done.

BLITZER: It was amazing. Is it your information at "The Times" as it is ours that Mubarak is in Sharm el-Sheikh, the resort town in the southern part of Sinai? Is that the information that you guys have?

COHEN: Yes, that's the information we have. Obviously, there's been no way to independently confirm that, but that seems to be the case. He has a villa down there, as you know, Wolf, and it appears that that's where he's been taken, but there are no actual, obviously, images of him there or anything that independently confirms it.

BLITZER: Now the vice president, Omar Suleiman, made the dramatic announcement. As you say, it took just a few seconds, one or two sentences, Mubarak is stepping down.

I'm still confused, though, cause he said all power was being handed over to the High Council of the Military. What does that mean as far as Omar Suleiman, the vice president, is concerned? What kind of power does he have?

COHEN: Well, I think as far as Omar Suleiman is concerned, his period of power ran less than 24 hours, and that's just my impression. Power was handed to Suleiman, and then he came on TV for 30 seconds to say power had been handed to the highest office of the military. So my understanding of that is that Suleiman is if not out of the picture, moving out of the picture.

And the problem with Suleiman, of course, was always how credible would any transition to democracy be with him guiding it? There's really been -- he's been Mubarak's alter ego, so how independent of Mubarak could he ever have been?

And this was the issue throughout these 18 days. There were all kinds of demands from the protesters in terms of freedom and democracy, but there was never any credibility given from them to a process that would be led by Mubarak.

And that's why when for a moment the United States seemed to waiver and during the Munich conference and I'll say that perhaps indeed that this be orderly it be better that Mubarak guide it, no, that was never accepted here. And President Obama came through very loud and clear and strong at the last one. I thought his statement today was extremely moving.

BLITZER: Roger Cohen of "The New York Times," thanks very much. We'll stay in close touch with you as well. This is only just the beginning of a new Egypt. Now President Hosni Mubarak is out of power.

Michael, it's a dramatic moment in the history of Egypt.

HOLMES: It absolutely is, Wolf. You know, it's obvious the next questions -- and there are many, there are many next questions. What is this new military ruling committee council going to do? What is this transition going to look like? Will those people in the streets there have other demands on their list?

We're going to look into all of that stuff as we continue our coverage. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: The celebrations continuing. It's approaching 12:30 after midnight in Cairo right now. The folks are thrilled that Mubarak is now the former president of Egypt. He stepped down earlier in the day.

And as they are celebrating, we're watching all of this unfold. CNN's Ivan Watson has been reporting from the streets of Cairo.


IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Normally, it would be pretty frustrating to be stuck in Cairo traffic, but tonight it's a party. Look at the scene!


WATSON: People are out and cars and have brought their families out. They're are waving flags as well. They're kids are out as well.


WATSON: How are you doing?

And that's the word we're hearing a lot here, "mabrouk" congratulations. One man said, we did it.


BLITZER: Ivan Watson reporting.

President Obama says Egypt will never be the same. We're going to the White House to get the U.S. reaction when we come back.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. HOLMES: And I'm Michael Holmes at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

Want to bring you up to date on this bringing news now. Take a look at live pictures there from Cairo's Tahrir Square where massive crowds of triumphant Egyptians are celebrating a truly historic revolution, just 18 days in the making.


HOLMES: And that was the moment when thousands of protesters learned for the first time that their president, Hosni Mubarak, was stepping down after 30 years of authoritarian, at times brutal rule.

The dramatic development being praised by countries right around the world. U.S. President Barack Obama declaring just a short time ago, quote, "The people of Egypt have spoken, and their voices have been heard."

BLITZER: Amazing developments. President Obama says Egypt will never be the same.

Let's go to the White House, our correspondent Dan Lothian is standing by.

The president came out and spoke, and he was effusive in his praise for the people of Egypt.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and that's because the White House really sees this as a pivotal moment, not only for Egypt but also for all the other countries across the Middle East.

They really welcome the departure of Mr. Mubarak, especially after yesterday when there was so much confusion. The White House, just like many of us, were getting reports that that would have happened yesterday, that in fact did not happen and Robert Gibbs saying today that they were quite surprised by those results.

But this morning, President Obama was having a meeting inside the Oval Office when someone hand him a note, told him of the announcement. He later met for about an hour with his national security team. White House aides saying this is a significant step forward.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: By stepping down, President Mubarak responded to the Egyptian peoples' hunger for change. But this is not the end of Egypt's transition, it's a beginning. I'm sure there will be difficult days ahead, and many questions remain unanswered.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LOTHIAN: Now, I asked Robert Gibbs if the White House was concerned about what would happen between now and when the people of Egypt voted in September, and his answer was "I don't think we have to fear democracy." But privately here, there are some concerns about what the power structure will be during that period of time.

And Wolf, one other note. You might have noticed that not only Robert Gibbs, but also Vice President Biden had some strong words for Iran. Clearly, part of the talking points here, part of this new strategy to try to empower the people of Iran so that they can hold their own government accountable.

BLITZER: Yes. They both said, especially Gibbs -- he said the government in Iran is scared of its own people right now. That's why they are cracking down.

Dan Lothian at the White House.

A lot of regimes, I suspect, Michael, in the region are looking at what's going on, first in Tunisia, and now in Egypt, and they are wondering what's next.

HOLMES: Yes, exactly. Countries like Yemen, countries like Jordan, and also perhaps slightly nervous, Israel as well.

I want to go to Ben Wedeman, our Cairo bureau chief, and lived in the region for 15 years or more off and on.

Ben, of course, the celebrations, the happiness, the joy is one thing, but the military, who are now going to be running the show for at least a little while, they have always been, if you like, the backbone of the government in many ways. I'm curious what they are going to have to do now, what they are going to have to make this transition look like to keep those in the streets from coming out again.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CAIRO BUREAU CHIEF: Well, what the military is going to have to do, Michael, is run the country. And this is no easy country to run.

At least 84 million people. You have massive problems of unemployment, economic underdevelopment. And, of course, you know, the army is the army. It deals with a whole different set of problems.

So, immediately, they are going to have to grapple with that. And they are going to have to grapple with all the challenges of a transformation from what was essentially a one-party dictatorship to what all these people in the streets down there are demanding, which is a free and open democracy.

You've had no real party structures beyond the ruling party here for decades, not just going back to the beginning of President Mubarak's rule in 1981, we're talking back in 1952, when the monarchy was overthrown. So all of that is going to pose quite a challenge. And let's not forget, these are military men. In the military, democracy is not a big thing. So they are going to be learning, along with the people of Egypt, on how to make this very delicate and difficult transformation from a dictatorship to what everybody hopes will be a democracy -- Michael.

HOLMES: And Ben, very briefly, if you can, what is the army going to have to do in terms of putting out a roadmap that's going to placate people who may fear that this is putting an old face -- a new face on an old autocracy?

WEDEMAN: Well, they are going to have to come up with some sort of roadmap toward a democratic system. They are going to have to deal with the fact that the current parliament is widely considered to be fraudulent.

There were parliamentary elections here in late November, early December, and I saw, you know, first hand just what a joke they were. They were rigged. They were fraudulent. There was vote-buying.

So they are going to have to abolish the current parliament and put into place some sort of body that will deal with coming up with a new constitution, a constitution that doesn't give the sort of absolute powers to the president that President Mubarak made so ample use of. So all of these nuts and bolts have made creating a democracy mean they're going to have to bring in the opposition parties, the opposition trends like the Muslim Brotherhood, which is technically illegal, and try to figure identity how to put together, from scratch, a democratic system that will not be easy -- Michael.

HOLMES: No. It's only just beginning in many ways.

Great analysis as always, Ben -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All of our reporters, I must say, have been doing an outstanding job reporting what's going on. Ben Wedeman is really on top of the situation. Fred Pleitgen, we heard; Ivan Watson; Arwa Damon, all of them. Nic Robertson is now back. We're going to check in with them.

We're not leaving the streets of Cairo. We're watching history unfold right now.

Much more of our coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM after this.


HOLMES: Once again, live pictures from Tahrir Square. The encampment is still there. How much longer remains to be seen after Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, stepped down today. And that made a lot of people in Cairo and elsewhere in Egypt pretty happy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The fireworks, we saw the dancing, we saw the singing, lots of smiles. Hosni Mubarak no longer president of Egypt. The power now has gone to the Egyptian military.

So here's the question: What do we know about the Egyptian military that now is in charge of running a country of more than 80 million people?

Let's bring in CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, there's a long history of U.S. military relations with the Egyptian military.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, over the last 18 days, that's what we keep hearing, Egypt getting billions in U.S. military aid. The defense secretary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for days now, calling their counterparts in Egypt, applauding the Egyptian army for showing restraint, talking about this last 30 years of a deep relationship between the two. But that is not to say that trouble might not be brewing, that this glow may dim.

One of the pieces of information we dug up was a WikiLeaks cable, that site that leaked all those thousands of diplomatic cables, one from 2008 that talks about Field Marshal Tantawi, still in office, the chief of defense staff, the senior military man in Egypt. And just let me read you a little bit of what this State Department diplomatic cable says.

It said -- the person who writes it talked about having talked to military sources in Cairo. And it says that -- that his source says -- "One can hear mid-level officers at MOD, Ministry of Defense Clubs, around Cairo openly expressing disdain for Tantawi. These officers refer to Tantawi as 'Mubarak's poodle," he said, "and complained that the incompetent defense minister reached his position only because of his unwavering loyalty to Mubarak, and he's running the military into the ground."

Make no mistake, there are a lot of disgruntled officers and soldiers in the Egyptian army. They were on the verge, many of them, of joining the protester movement. So now the pressure is on.

Can these men, now running Egypt, running Egypt's military, do both? Can they be an effective transitional government, and can they look after Egypt's security? -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And we know that Robert Gates, the defense secretary, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, had multiple conversations with their Egyptian counterparts over the past several days.

Barbara, thanks very much.

We're going back to Cairo in just a moment. There are developments unfolding on the streets of Cairo, Tahrir Square.

Stay with us. Our coverage continues right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Live pictures from Tahrir Square in Cairo right now.

They are partying throughout the night. They are so happy that Mubarak is no longer the president of Egypt. He stepped down earlier in the day, handing over power to the Egyptian military, getting ready for free and fair elections.

How long that transition takes, anyone's guess right now. But no doubt that Tahrir Square has been transformed by these amazing scenes that we've been seeing all day.

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. He's got a closer look at these various locations in Egypt.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. And, you know, with these images, it's hard to imagine Tahrir Square under normal circumstances. We're going to bring that home for you.

This is Cairo, as you know. We're going to kind of zoom into a satellite picture of Tahrir Square here that we got, and first show you the overview of what Tahrir Square looks like on a normal day.

You see the normal traffic patterns.

BLITZER: That was before all the demonstrations.

TODD: That's right. That's before all of this.

Now take a look at this. We got an overlay here. This is from Digital Globe.

Look at this. This is Tahrir Square today, a satellite photograph. Unbelievable difference. Look at the starkness.

We'll go back. Tahrir square on a normal day. Tahrir Square today, and these massive demonstrations, this historic day. You see the tent city, you see the wall-to-wall people, a real transformation.

Some of the images, of course, that we got are just astounding of people celebrating in the streets this really historic, transitional day. That's from earlier, just a couple of hours ago. And again, this is the satellite image of that.

Now, what we have to show you is a couple of other flash points in the city, Wolf. And we're going to try to stop this map here and get to that.

We can go to the TV station. And let's see, we can kind of put it up here. There it is.

OK. The TV station, it's just a couple of blocks away from Tahrir Square right here. And --

BLITZER: This is the state-run TV. TODD: That's right, the state-run TV station with some incredible images from there, too. Again, you know, wall-to-wall people in these sections of town. Seemingly, you can't pack them in any further than this, but that's the scene that we saw.

And then we're going to go to the presidential palace really quickly here and show you a -- this is about six miles away from Tahrir Square -- and show you a digital image, a satellite photo, of what that's like.

BLITZER: About 10 kilometers.

TODD: That's right. Zooming in on the satellite photo of the presidential palace. And again, the scene of some great demonstrations here and some really historic footage. Again --

BLITZER: This was earlier today when --

TODD: Right. Thousands of people packing --

BLITZER: -- people thought Mubarak was there.

TODD: That's right. And, you know, seemingly, you can't pack anyone else in here. And again, just -- you know, they have not seen scenes like this ever in this area of town.

So let's go to that, and then we'll go to Sharm el-Sheikh, Wolf. You have some experience with that.

BLITZER: Well, Sharm el-Sheikh is -- we believe that's where Mubarak is now. He's got a villa there in Sharm el-Sheikh. It's the southernmost tip of Sinai on the Red Sea.

TODD: He's only 235 miles away from Cairo if he's here, the scene of many summits. This is a picture of kind of an overview of the city here, a beautiful city on the Red Sea. They've had many summits here, some of which you've attended, Wolf.

This is Mubarak a couple of years ago with Ehud Barak, the Israeli defense minister; Omar Suleiman; and Tantawi, the top military official. Another summit here, this is him with Netanyahu, Hillary Clinton, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader. And this -- you remember this attack in 2005.

BLITZER: The terrorist attack.

TODD: A major story, right? It killed 85 people.

So a lot of news made there over the years. A beautiful city.

And you remember going here. It's just a stunning place.

BLITZER: Yes. It's a beautiful place. Great scuba diving, if you will.

TODD: That's right. BLITZER: It's a great resort, nice hotels, so I recommend it highly. If you want to visit Egypt. , Sharm el-Sheikh is a nice place.

We don't know for sure that he's there, Mubarak, but we believe he's there.

Let's go back to Michael.

Michael, you ever cover any of those summits in Sharm el-Sheikh.

HOLMES: Not the summits, but plenty of time in Cairo over the years, Wolf, absolutely, as I think we all have.

And someone else who is Fionnuala Sweeney, CNN international anchor and correspondent. She's been in the region for some time. We're going to talk to her on the other side of this break.


BLITZER: These are dramatic pictures happening in Egypt right now, Tahrir Square, where thousands -- tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands -- of people are still celebrating as we approach 1:00 a.m. in Cairo right now.

All around the world people have been reacting to the departure of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

Michael Holmes, as we watch what's going on, we see people reacting in very festive ways. Look at this in Egypt with the flowers. And people are celebrating, I think, throughout most of the Arab world, the Muslim world -- indeed, the entire world. People have been so impressed by what these people in Egypt have done.

This is Jordan right now.

Take a look at Qatar. A young boy waves a flag that reads, "I love Egypt. I love Qatar."

Right here in the United States, families in an Egyptian neighborhood in New York are celebrating with each other.

Great pictures from around the world.

Michael, let's go back to you.

HOLMES: Yes. And around the neighborhood, too.

Let's talk about that a little bit with Fionnuala Sweeney.

Fionnuala, in the last days and couple of weeks, you've been in the Gulf states, you've been in Israel. You know, it may have been an autocratic regime, but it was an autocratic regime Israel could do business with.

Nervousness there? FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.

And Israelis have been watching with deep concern what's been taking place here in Egypt. And they'll be watching tonight events in Cairo with a great deal of anticipation and, to a degree, concern.

Now, for a long time, Israel has boasted that it is the only truly democratic country in the region. And while we heard from Ari Shavit (ph) earlier in the day, who gave an interview to CNN -- he's the former head of Shin Bet -- saying that Omar Suleiman was a man that Israel could do business with, the longer-term fear for Israel -- and this is something, Michael, that's going to play out over the next weeks and months -- is the prospect of free and fair elections in Egypt, and will they bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power?

Now, we know about 20 percent of the people of Egypt support -- actually support the Muslim Brotherhood. And so the fear there for Israel is that they get into power, that that could cause them problems.

The Muslim Brotherhood has said recently in the last couple of days that it's only interested in democracy and not power. But I don't think that that is actually going to make Israel sit back and say, OK, we can relax now.

Tonight, in Gaza, there were demonstrations by people in Gaza celebrating what's taking place in Egypt. This was capitalized upon quite quickly by Hamas, of course, who control Gaza. And they issued a statement saying essentially that as far as they were concerned, they welcomed what had happened in Egypt this weekend, and immediately called on authorities to open the Rafah border with Egypt to allow free access and entry for Palestinians into Egypt and returning back into Gaza.

And so I think this is a situation, Michael, we're just going to have to watch and see how it plays out over the next few weeks and months. A lot of focus is going to be on the military government. What does it do?

A lot of the focus here, among the people in Egypt, will be, is this more than regime change? Is this more than just the head of an organization, a government that has ruled this country for 30 years, or is it simply a departure, meaning that, actually, the regime remains the same?

Further to the east, though, you have Iran. Ahmadinejad, the president of the Iran, celebrating the 32nd anniversary of the Islamic Republic Revolution, saying that what was taking place in Egypt -- and this was before Hosni Mubarak stepped down -- this was earlier in the day -- saying that this would mean, these protests here, would mean that Israel and America would no longer have any influence in the Middle East.

Back to you, Michael.

HOLMES: A very tough neighborhood and some very nervous neighbors.

Fionnuala Sweeney there on the spot in Cairo.

We're going to take a short break. Wolf Blitzer and I will be right back after that.