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THE SITUATION ROOM
Egypt Military Power Grab?; Region Celebrates Egypt Victory; U.S. Turns Up Heat on Iran; Egypt Revolution: What's Next?; Egypt Honors "Martyrs of Tahrir"
Aired February 12, 2011 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now in Egypt, some protesters are staying put in Cairo's main square, refusing to leave until the country is under civilian leadership instead of military rule.
Also, the celebration is giving way to uncertainty. Egypt's new military leaders say they're committed to democracy, but they're also urging people to respect the hated police force that attacked and arrested many of those demonstrators.
Also this hour, the clean-up after the revolution. Egyptians are trying to move forward now that President Hosni Mubarak is gone.
Other longtime rulers in the region are watching and worrying that they could fall next.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM
The people of Egypt are ending their first full day of freedom from the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak. Some still are holding vigil in Tahrir Square, not satisfied with Egypt's new military caretakers, or the new promises they made today.
The revolution took 18 days, but the evolution of Egypt will take so much longer. We at CNN will be watching it every step of the way. Let's go to Cairo. Our Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson is standing by with the latest.
Where do we stand right now, Nic? What is going on?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's still carnival party atmosphere in Tahrir Square, but there's a confusion about it as well. While we were down there watching the people come in and celebrate, young families bringing their young children in, really recognizing that this is a moment in history, that they want their children to share, to remember, to feel the atmosphere, feel the atmosphere of it.
Confusion because there were large groups walking away from the protests singing and chanting everyone should leave now, everyone should leave now. Signaling that they believe they should recognize what the army is saying and let the army continue, as it said it will, with a transition to civilian rule but on the time frame of letting this current government run through to the elections. Those protestors who want to remain there, who are now celebrating, but have threatened to remain on in the coming days say they want this transition to civilian rule to happen very, very quickly. The army has said that their legitimate demands will be met. That this is what's happening. But it really is at the moment still a celebration. But you can see that confusion in all of this beginning to bubble up here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Is there a clear sense that the military is in charge, that the old political leadership effectively is gone? Is that what I'm hearing, I'm sensing, Nic?
ROBERTSON: I think the lack of voices that we're hearing other than from the military at the moment is a clear indication of that. There was a moment in Tahrir Square today when the army wanted to clear away some burnt-out military police vehicles. They went to move them. They were part of barricades. And some of the demonstrators went to stop them. They didn't want that to happen. The army called in additional soldiers to come in with sort of riot gear on. It got tense for a few minutes. A couple of people were led away.
We understand them be released later. But it gave an indication that the army isn't going to stand idly by, that they are going to sort of keep this under control and head in the direction they want to go in. So at the moment they're very much in control.
But also you get the sense that they are letting this party play itself out to a degree. Let everyone come and have their moment, come and have some fun, but perhaps try and regain some order, as the numbers draw down, Wolf.
BLITZER: A significant statement from the military leadership, one welcome here in Washington, that they would honor -- Egypt would honor all of its international treaty obligations, including the peace treaty with Israel. That was certainty welcome news in Israel. What are they saying in Cairo about that?
ROBERTSON: Well, certainly it's recognized in Washington that many of the military chiefs here have spent time training and doing programs in the -- military programs inside the United States. So there's certainly a thorough understanding of the military here.
What they're saying will happen here and the indications that they are giving is that Israel -- rather, Egypt is going to recognize all its -- all its obligations as international treaties and nobody should expect any changes to come overnight. How that will look perhaps in six or eight months' time, if there is a new democratically elected, political representation in this country, that may be something different. But the military is really offering internationally, as well as internally, continuity at the moment, Wolf.
BLITZER: That's welcome news here in Washington. Thanks very much, Nic Robertson joining us from Cairo.
We'll get back to the streets of Cairo shortly. But let's stay in Washington right now. Joining us the Egyptian Ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry.
Mr. Ambassador, thanks very much for coming in.
SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Congratulations to all of the people of Egypt for what's going on.
Let me just nail down, when they say that all treaty obligations, international commitments will be honored, that means including the peace treaty with Israel, right?
SHOUKRY: Most definitely, yes,.
BLITZER: So that will continue business as usual with the Israelis, whatever that means.
SHOUKRY: Of course, Egypt is a country of institutions and it honors its commitments, its legal obligations that have been honored, and will continue to be honored.
BLITZER: Let's talk about who is in charge right now. How does that work? The military is in charge. The General Tantawi, the defense minister, is he in change right now , of the country?
SHOUKRY: He is in charge by virtue of his chairmanship of the Supreme Military Council. Today's communique indicated that the council had decided to maintain the existing government as a caretaker government, to govern the normal affairs of state.
BLITZER: So what about the Vice President Omar Suleiman? What's his job?
SHOUKRY: I'm not aware of whether Mr. Suleiman has retained any position under the new structure. He was vice president, to a resigning president, and I think his status, to me at least at this moment, is unclear.
BLITZER: And is he still the head of -- you don't even know if he's the head of the foreign intelligence services of Egypt?
SHOUKRY: No. He relinquished that position when he was appointed vice president and a new person was appointed.
BLITZER: So it's unclear what if any job he has. You still report to the foreign minister I assume?
SHOUKRY: That's correct.
BLITZER: Is there a new foreign minister, is there an old foreign minister? Mr. Gheit was the foreign minister. Is he still the foreign minister?
SHOUKRY: Mr. Gheit continues to be the foreign minister. As I mentioned, the council has decided to maintain the current government as a caretaker government, until it appoints a new government. So the current ministers will continue to operate and function.
BLITZER: I guess the question is how does all this affect an Egyptian ambassador to the United States, this tumultuous change that occurred in your country within 18 days? What's been the impact on you?
SHOUKRY: Well, we've of course followed every minute, every second of what's been going on with a great deal of concern, and pride to see the Egyptian people undertaking this protest movement in the way that they have, peacefully, indicating their desires, their aspirations and this outcome, I think, is one that all the Egyptians are proud of. As for myself, our service is a political service. We have no political affiliations and we serve the people of Egypt. I serve the people of Egypt and I serve at the pleasure of the current government.
BLITZER: You're a career diplomat?
SHOUKRY: Yes, I am.
BLITZER: Presumably you'll stay, you'll serve whoever the new foreign minister of Egypt is. I guess the main point right now is you're happy that this revolution succeeded. Is that fair to say that?
SHOUKRY: All Egyptians I think have indicated their happiness that the Egyptian people have indicated what their desires and aspirations are. And it is the people who will define the form of government that they accept.
BLITZER: Are you confident that the military rulers right now -- in fact, there are military rulers -- will eventually lead the way to democracy, free and fair elections?
SHOUKRY: Certainly the street has spoken. The population has spoken. And they have spoken loud and clear. And the military in their second communique and in their fourth communique have made every indication that they are leading the country in accordance with a reform program that will return the rule and authority to a civilian and freely elected government.
BLITZER: The former president of Egypt -- I never thought I'd be saying that. The former President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak, he's reported to have had a phone conversation with a former Israeli ambassador in Cairo, the day before he stepped down saying the United States, the Obama administration was naive, they didn't understand who was behind these demonstrators, the Muslim Brotherhood, or Iran, or Hamas and that the U.S. would regret its support for the demonstrators. I want you to react to that.
SHOUKRY: I have no particular knowledge of that conversation. I believe the American/Egyptian relationship is a deep and lasting one, one that both parties have extracted immense interest and benefits from. And I presume that these relations will continue to flourish.
BLITZER: I guess the question is, do you agree with Mubarak, assuming the reports are accurate. Do you agree with former President Mubarak that the U.S. is naive about the Muslim Brotherhood. SHOUKRY: I believe all factions in Egypt, all political factions in Egypt are going to partake in developing the way forward and will do so under the supervision of this youth revolution that was widely supported, and will take their lead from the electorate and from the people, who will put them in office.
BLITZER: As you know, there's a lot of speculation how much money the Mubarak family amassed over the years, anything from $2 billion or $3 billion, to $70 billion. I have no idea how much money they amassed. But we know the Swiss government froze all the bank accounts associated with the Mubarak family. Have you received any instructions here in the United States to go after Mubarak money in private American banks?
SHOUKRY: We have received no instructions in that regard.
BLITZER: Do you know if he's amassed is a lot of money here in the United States?
SHOUKRY: I have no idea whatsoever.
BLITZER: Tell me something you are free to say today that you have weren't free to say a few days ago, because there's a new freedom in Egypt right now. Give me an example of the freedom that you now have.
SHOUKRY: I'm free to express the position of my government without any form of restriction. I did that previously and I do that today.
BLITZER: You're free to criticize the Mubarak government?
SHOUKRY: I am not in a position to criticize. I'm in a position to transmit the instructions of my government.
BLITZER: Describe the U.S./Egyptian relationship right now, because you deal with State Department officials, national security council officials. Describe that U.S./Egyptian connection.
SHOUKRY: It's a very deep and close connection. There's a high level of cooperation, coordination. There is a parallelism of interests related to regional and international--
BLITZER: How will it be affected by this revolution?
SHOUKRY: From everything that has been issued in terms of the president's statements and all that, there is a recognition of the value of this revolution, of the value of Egypt's direction in the future, and it is our hope it will strengthen this relationship.
BLITZER: So you're pretty happy right now?
BLITZER: I am confident that the U.S./Egyptian relationship will continue to serve the interests of both countries.
BLITZER: And you're happy what happened in Egypt?
SHOUKRY: Every Egyptian is proud that the Egyptians have taken their future into their own hands and been able to forge it in a peaceful and mature manner.
BLITZER: Good luck to all the people of Egypt. Thank you, Mr. Ambassador. You've been very helpful to us over these past 18 days. I remember when you called in to clarify exactly what was going on because that night Mubarak spoke out, and he didn't step down, we were all confused what was happening. But the next day we heard the Vice President Suleiman give a one little sentence line Mubarak is stepping down and that was it. Did you ever think that would happen in your lifetime?
SHOUKRY: It's remarkable development, one which is a matter of pride for Egypt, and one which I'm sure will set Egypt on a road of great development.
BLITZER: Ambassador Shoukry, good luck.
SHOUKRY: Thank you.
BLITZER: We're going back to Cairo in a moment. There are important developments happening there and also important developments happening in Washington. The Obama administration beginning to put some heat on Iran, saying there should be similar demonstrations in Tehran that occurred in Cairo. What's going on? We'll tell you when we come back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so excited. I'm so proud to be an Arab today. For the people of Egypt who wanted freedom, who wanted to be better, who wanted to have a better life, have a good education, and just be free people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: An iReport from Queens, New York, where people are joining in the celebration of Egypt's revolution. President Obama warmly welcoming today's pledge by Egypt's military rulers to carry out democratic transition and to honor Egypt's international commitments, including its peace treaty with Israel.
Let's go back to Cairo. CNN's Fionnuala Sweeney is standing by.
You were recently in Jerusalem. You know the Israelis are very happy to hear that the new regime in Egypt, the military-led government there, is going to honor that peace treaty with Israel. U.S. Officials very happy. Give us more reaction to what's going on.
FIONNUALA SWEENEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, essentially, the foreign minister of Israel Avigdor Lieberman, said earlier in the day that as far as the Israeli government was concerned, Wolf, what went on in Egypt was an internal matter. They were only concerned about regional security. And as you mentioned, the head of the Egyptian military is saying earlier in the day in a statement that the country would honor its international agreements, thereby allowing it a respite in the region.
BLITZER: Fionnuala, about other reaction coming in from around the world?
SWEENEY: Well, there's been plenty of reaction from within Israel as well. So, for example, not only was I in Jerusalem, Wolf. I was down in the Sinai. That's where Israel was very, very concerned because 800 Egyptian troops, with Israel's agreement, were deployed there at the beginning of the uprising. There is fear there could be instability there. A lot of the border is open. But Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier today that he welcomed the statements by the chief of the Egyptian military, but I think a lot of eyes focused on Mideast peace process once again, as well as Iran.
The Palestinian Authority, today, announcing elections that were overdue, they are due to be held in September. Hamas saying that they wouldn't take part. So, obviously, that is still an ongoing issue and remains to be seen whether what's taking place on the streets below me here will manifest themselves on the Palestinian streets.
And of course we're looking at Jordan. The Jordan authorities today, the king saying it was really the failure of Israelis and Palestinians to get a peace process on the table and signed that could lead to even more strife. But of course Jordan itself has its own problems. Recently appointing a new prime minister, and yet finding yesterday that there were demonstrations on the streets. Some 400 demonstrators, left wing, calling for the prime minister to be fired, and also the Muslim Brotherhood demonstrating on the streets of Jordan, saying as well that what they wanted to see was support for the people of Egypt.
But what really Israel is concerned about, Wolf, is the extremist element here in Egypt. As they see it, the Muslim Brotherhood, who have again said they are really not interested in power as far as they're concerned. They're interested in democracy but I'm not sure if that is enough to quiet Israeli nerves. But at the moment, very happy with the statement from the new Egyptian authorities in this country. That is, essentially, the army that that will honor the Camp David accords, at least all the international treaties.
BLITZER: Yes, we just heard a reaffirmation of that from Egypt's ambassador to the United States, Sameh Shoukry, he was just here.
We'll be speaking later this hour with the Nasser Judeh, the foreign minister of Jordan. We'll get some reaction from him as well.
Fionnuala Sweeney, thanks very much.
Let's bring in the Egyptian journalist, the Arab Affairs Analyst Mona Eltahawy, she is joining us once again.
Mona, the protests in Tunisia led to a revolution there. In Egypt led to a revolution there. Today we are seeing in Algeria, some major demonstrations going on. What's going on in the region?
MONA ELTAHAWY, ARAB AFFAIRS ANALYST: It sounds to me, Wolf, like everyone is catching freedom fever. I've been Tweeting about this and comparing to a rally, like some kind of rally race, where the baton started in Tunisia and handed it to Egypt, and now Egypt is kind of going, OK, who wants it next, guys?
As you said, Algeria, we saw protests in Algeria today and interestingly the Algerian authorities shut down Facebook and they did the Internet -- I think it was Facebook, mostly. But if you'll remember, Hosni Mubarak also tried to quell "unrest"-- quote/unquote-- in Egypt by shutting down the Internet. I just don't think that these dictators are getting it. That it's not about shutting down Facebook and the Internet, it is about listening to your people. I think that's what the freedom fever is.
BLITZER: We're showing our viewers some pictures, still photos of some of the signs and some of the protests in Algeria today.
What about Jordan? Is King Abdullah, is he vulnerable there?
ELTAHAWY: I think the entire region is vulnerable. We have to approach monarchies is a bit different than we do republics, just because of the structure of societies there. There he's vulnerable, too. He saw protests during Egypt's uprising calling for the government to be fired, basically, and we just heard Fionnuala talk about the Muslim Brotherhood there in Jordan. I think every country in the region has basically just kind of sat back and watched in amazement.
Now every dictator is obviously watching in fear. But every Arab I know is so excited by what happened because basically what we're seeing happen in one month, we saw two Arab dictators toppled. And Arabs are sitting back and thinking wow, we can do this. We can get rid of these guys who have been suffocating our countries for decades upon decades. That's not something you can quell.
We hear of some governments - like, Bahrain, for example, promised to give, I don't know, a raise or something, and others are promising all kinds of money. It's not about giving monetary incentives to stop a revolution, surely it is about listening to your people and their desire for freedom.
BLITZER: Is Bashir Al Assad in Syria threatened right now?
ELTAHAWY : There is this timetable for revolution, that has been circling, circulating around Twitter and Facebook, where every country is getting its own hash tag and date. Protests are planned in Syria. Protests are planned in Libya. So countries you don't normally hear of having these kind of popular uprisings, or public dissent, and that usually crush down quite harshly. Obviously Syria and Libya are very different from Egypt, but what is the saying is that people are watching and thinking we can do it, too.
Again, they are on Facebook, the Libyan authorities shut down pages that were inviting people basically to this revolution. So I think everyone is vulnerable. And we'll see all these dictators try to take these measures. But once you catch freedom fever, it's hard to go back. BLITZER: ARE you confident that this is going to work in Egypt?
ELTAHAWY: I'm very confident it's going to work because I think hearing all the discussions so far about the armed forces, the military, will they step aside? I think what happened in Egypt is as the armed forces were in the streets in Cairo, they saw the determination in Egyptians' eyes. Egyptians have awakened to this amazing political empowerment, and the military knows that Egyptians will continue to rise up against anyone who tries to impose a regime on them. I think that's what's changed in Egypt. It's changed for young people, it has changed for women and the way Muslims and Christians get along. So much has changed and that keeps me optimistic.
BLITZER: Mona Eltahawy. I follow her on Twitter. At Mona Eltahawy, let me spell it for our viewers here in the United States and around the world, @M-O-N-AE-L-T-A-H-A-W-Y. She's very active on Twitter it is a very good place to do.
Thanks very much, Mona.
ELTAHAWY: Thanks, Wolf. Thanks for that plug.
BLITZER: When we come back we'll take a closer look at the military leaders in Egypt. Who are they? What are their motives? And what will they be doing? Much more of our special coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM when we come back.
BLITZER: Egypt's military is in charge right now. But there's a real possibility the country's next president could come from the military, as well. CNN's Brian Todd has been working this story for us. He has more on the scenario, the key players.
What are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Doing some digging into this, Wolf, over the past couple of days. We spoke to an expert on the Egyptian military. His name is Andrew McGregor, of the Jamestown Foundation. He's written a book on the Egyptian military.
We spoke as the events were unfolding in Cairo on Thursday and Friday. His take on all this is that the Egyptian military has now succeeded in consolidating its power and won't give it up any time soon.
What he sees happening now, the military moving forward as the key player in this transition, at least until the scheduled elections in September. Then he sees something like what happened when Mubarak became president, that a key leader of this non-coup, a military man, will resign from the military, run as a civilian. And likely win an election as head of the National Democratic Party, but will always be backed by the military. Translation, meet the new boss maybe not too different from the old boss, Wolf.
BLITZER: Who are we looking at potentially as the new boss of Egypt? TODD: We've been looking into some of the possibilities. We'll line it up here. What about Omar Suleiman? Could he emerge? He is near the top of the military intelligence structure, but right now we're not even sure if he's the vice president anymore. We have not heard anything from him, not seen anything, not heard about him since Friday.
He's 74 years old. And while he's trusted, he's also feared by most Egyptians because he's head of the intelligence service. He's also probably too closely tied with Mubarak to be a viable candidate, according to Andrew McGregor.
Then there is Field Marshall Mohammad Hussein Tantawi, the top military leader; he is right now at the head of that military council, which is leading the government. He is, in essence, the most powerful man in Egypt, at the moment. Tantawi went to Tahrir Square during the uprising to check on the army, to meet with protesters. That was seen as a savvy move, but Andrew McGregor says Tantawi is more of the old guard. He's 75 years old. A Mubarak loyalists. We've seen the Wikileaks cables where he's called Mubarak's poodle. Also been open criticism of his competence in the job. He was trained by the old Soviet military. So, McGregor does not see him necessarily as the next president.
Who to watch out for? Take a look at the picture we're going to show you. This man, Lieutenant General Sami Enan, chief of staff of the armed forces. Slightly younger at about 63 years old. Not as much baggage as the older guys. Enan, also went to Tahrir Square and spoke to protesters on Thursday. Andrew McGregor said he's a very likely candidate for president.
He's part of the generation of Egyptian officers who were trained by the U.S. military. He's got a good relationship with U.S. officials. McGregor says that is crucial for Egypt to keep that U.S. military and other aid coming in.
BLITZER: Enan, by the way, was at the Pentagon.
TODD: He was.
BLITZER: When this revolution started now 19 days ago when he rushed back home, but a very good relationship with the U.S. military.
So the bottom line question is after the scheduled elections in September -- we don't know if they'll take place, but there is supposed to be elections in September -- will there be a pluralistic, free democratic Egypt, or not?
TODD: That's going to be key. September is key here, Wolf. Andrew McGregor says the military-he sees them still in power beyond September. And possibly even for the next couple of years, behind the front of that National Democratic Party, Mubarak's Party, with a former military man as president. He says right now the opposition just is not substantive enough yet.
There's no clear leader as an alternative and remember the military is much more entrenched in Egypt than many Westerners think. It's got significant control in the economy. It's involved in the manufacturing sector, the food industry. It is a partner in running several corporations. McGregor says there is not way to loosen that grip anytime soon, Wolf. They are entrenched in the Egyptian economy, the Egyptian military.
BLITZER: All right, we'll see what happens. It's going to be fascinating over these coming weeks and months. Brian, thanks very much.
We're going to take a quick break. When we come back, we'll speak with Jordan's foreign minister, Nasser Judeh. He's standing by. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think this is a lesson for every Arab leader who thinks that he's going to stay in power. If the leaders don't do what's best for their people, they're going to be next. So I hope this is a lesson for every single Arab leader. I hope you're watching and you learn your lesson.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: An I-Report from outside the Egyptian embassy in Amman, Jordan. Let's go to Amman right now. The Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh is joining us.
Thanks very much, Minister, for joining us. A quick question, do you agree that what has happened in Egypt is good for the entire region?
NASSER JUDEH, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (via telephone): Hi, Wolf. Good to hear you. And like we spoke when I was in Washington a couple of weeks ago, I'm not going to presume to speak on internal Egyptian affairs, but I think what we have seen is people power in Egypt.
There was a serious call for change. President Mubarak responded to that. I think what we have seen in terms of the dynamics is an historic moment and certainly what we hope for now is continued stability for Egypt.
Egypt is a pillar of regional security and I think that what we have to watch out now for is the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ensuring that the transition period leads Egypt into a new era that ensures Egypt's continued growth in the region.
BLITZER: As you know the White House issued a statement today saying that President Obama had a phone conversation with King Abdullah of Jordan. The president emphasized, according to the White House statement, the conviction that democracy will bring more, not less stability to the region. Is King Abdullah in full agreement with President Obama on that?
JUDEH: This is not the first phone call between his majesty and the president. They continue their consultation not just now but at all times. As you know, we have historic and close relations.
And, yes, indeed we in Jordan have been very, very stalwart in our political and economic program and as initiated by his majesty, the democratization process is well on track and his majesty is committed to that.
So the consultation continues. We just had our parliamentary elections here. We will have municipal elections hopefully sometime this year. So, yes, democracy is very much the order of the day.
BLITZLER: As you know, there were numerous reports over these past 18, 19 days, that King Abdullah of Jordan was encouraging President Obama not to supposedly pull the rug out from under the feet of President Mubarak in Egypt. Are those reports true?
JUDEH: I'm not privy to the details of his majesty's conversations with the president. I know they consult over time as I know that President Obama consults with many, many region leaders. All I want to say, again, and to re-emphasize that Egypt is a country that is extremely important in terms of the stability of this region and I think what we are seeing now is indeed historic, but at the same time what we have seen from the military, from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is quite reassuring.
I heard statement number four, which assured people that they would be leading Egypt into civilian rule being restored where democracy will be established. So I think that this is important for all of us to be a part of. I think that once again, Egypt playing a central and pivotal role in this region is something that one has to bear in mind.
BLITZER: I know they were happy in Israel, happy here in Washington when the military rulers of Egypt today announced they would honor all of their international commitments including treaties and peace treaty with Israel. What's the reaction from Jordan to that?
JUDEH: Well, again we're extremely assured. We have a peace treaty with Israel in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. It is important as you know. We still believe even at this particular moment in time that this historic juncture that -- at least is key to resolving many other challenges that we all face in this region. And the establishment of the independent Palestinian state to live side by side with Israel is still the goal we all seek.
BLITZER: Finally, you mentioned this earlier when we spoke in Washington a couple of weeks ago. You were confident that the problems that developed in Egypt would not plague the government in Jordan. Are you still confident about that?
JUDEH: Very much so. Wolf, there is no denial -- there is no burying one's head in the sand here. There's a lot of dynamics taking place in our part of the world. We certainly saw what happened in Tunisia. We certainly saw what happened in Egypt. I know that the trend, particularly when it comes to reporting on the international media, is to say this is an effect.
But I think one has to bear in mind that you just can't apply it across the board. Jordan is Jordan. Egypt is Egypt. Tunisia is Tunisia. I'm watching all the media outlets and I'm seeing the comparisons and I'm seeing the expectations. And one would confidently say that here in Jordan, we had demonstrations, as we have every year when it comes to economic issues and government's adopting policies that are unpopular.
But in Jordan we enjoy freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And we have economic hardship but we still have economic stability and political stability and political reform that is initiated by his majesty, the king, by the government. We're OK.
BLITZER: All right. We're OK. Those are the words from Nasser Judeh, the Jordanian foreign minister. Minister, thanks very much for joining us.
JUDEH: Thank you very much, Wolf. All the best.
All right, we'll take a quick break. When we come back, there are new developments here in Washington involving Iran. The Obama administration increasingly speaking out, saying the demonstrations that occurred in Cairo should similarly be taking place in Tehran. What's going on? David Gergen is standing by live.
BLITZER: The United States is invoking the revolution in Egypt to put new pressure on the hard-line government of Iran. Let's talk about this and more with our senior political analyst David Gergen.
On Friday, Joe Biden, the vice president, Robert Gibbs now the former White House press secretary and today, Tom Donilan, the National Security adviser to the president. They issued very tough statements saying what happened in Egypt, the Iranian government should let demonstrators flourish there too. It seems like it's a new strategy by the Obama administration to go after Iran.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They've had a strategy all along to undermine if they could this government. They really believe it's a repressive government.
BLITZER: But when the demonstrations occurred in 2009 in Iran they were very cautious. You didn't hear a lot of bluster statements coming out, but you're hearing a lot now.
GERGEN: Yes, and what we have is there's a lot of talking around about demonstrations on Monday and organizers are trying to get a big -- get that up and moving. One Facebook area apparently has some 30,000 Iranians who have pledged that they would come out on the streets on Monday. Very interestingly, this young man in Egypt, the man from Google wore a green wrist bands showing solidarity. I think Tom Donilan issued this very statement.
BLITZER: Well, let me read it to you because they put it out. The White House statement today from the National Security adviser by announcing that they will not allow opposition protests the Iranian government has declared illegal for Iranians what it claimed noble for the Egyptians.
We call on the government of Iran to allow the Iranian people the universal right to peacefully assemble, demonstrate and communicate that's being exercised in Cairo because the Iranian regime praised demonstrators in Cairo, but won't allow similar demonstration to take place in Tehran.
GERGEN: All politics is local. The United States has long believed is that this younger generation in Iran was the great hope for the long-term future for the U.S./Iranian relationship, but they're stepping up the pressure on both centrifuges.
We've heard about sabotaging the centrifuges working with Israel and they're stepping up pressure now on the regime through the demonstrations. They see this moment. They're seizing this moment. I think that what I see they're writing -- it's going to ride a hurricane here.
But it's also interesting to me, Wolf, that they're calling attention to Iran, but not to Yemen where they were -- the Yemen government really cracked down on demonstrators today. Yemen we're not quite so sure we want a democracy in Yemen --
BLITZER: Yemen, they have the issue of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula group. The U.S. is very nervous about that.
GERGEN: Very nervous about that so they want to put the pressure on Iran. They want to put the pressure on Syria but not so much -- the White House is moving in very aggressive ways in this and other stories about the president himself.
BLITZER: It was interesting. There's a story that just moved on the "New York Times" web site about differences between the president, he was supposedly furious with his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and -- for the way they were dealing with some of the sensitive moments of the Egyptian revolution.
GERGEN: There's been an intentional leak coming out. It must have come from the White House. They make it clear, by the way, he wasn't angry at her what she said, but not happy with the content of what she said --
BLITZER: Not happy with the statement from Frank Wizner.
GERGEN: Very unhappy with Frank Wizner, but not happy with actually what Hillary Clinton said and that the president called John Kerry, the senator, before he went on the Sunday talk show to say, I want you to counter what my only secretary of state has said along with Frank Wizner.
This is the first time I think we've seen this kind of riff between the Obama White House and the Clinton State Department. I can tell you. While they were careful, there will be a lot of unhappiness at the State Department about this story.
BLITZER: The point being that when Wizner came back, a former U.S. ambassador to Egypt, he told a group in Munich, well, Mubarak has to stay through September for stability. And it looked like Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, sort of ratified that.
Then they put out John Kerry on the Sunday morning talk show saying they don't speak -- Wizner doesn't speak for the Obama administration.
GERGEN: Right, but clear what this "New York Times" leak is trying to do is make it clear that all along the president was with the protesters and he's not happy it got spun into being a caution -- remember we all interpreted Hillary Clinton's statement as being let's slow this down a little bit, we need orderly transition and seemed to be in response to other nations in the region saying don't push Mubarak out too fast.
BLITZER: They weren't happy with Hillary Clinton initial statement that Egypt was stable. They weren't happy with Joe Biden's statement that Mubarak was not a dictator. All of that moved very quickly and there's a lot of little friction going on.
GERGEN: From the State Department's point of view it's going to be you try to make Obama look good, but made our boss look bad. We're not appreciative of that. Thank you.
BLITZER: David, as usual thanks very much.
GERGEN: OK, thank you. BLITZER: David Gergen, our senior political analyst. Good stuff going on here in Washington as well. When I say good stuff, a little intrigue.
All right, we're going to go back to the streets of Cairo in one moment. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: The Egyptians are trying to adjust to the new normal. That includes tidying up Tahrir Square where tens of thousands of people had been camped out for over two weeks. Some are still there.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen has been in the middle of all this. He's joining us now. I know you spent a lot of time walking around that liberation square today. Give us a little flavour, Fred, of what's going on?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, one of the really amazing things about this revolution is this is the first on that I've seen where the people have actually cleaned up after themselves after it went down. They say that that is really part of the revolution.
I saw them today not only brushing the sidewalks, using shovels to take away the gravel, a lot of the rocks, of course, that were used in these street battles that happened over the past two weeks. A lot of Egyptians told me who were out there. They say this is very important to them to show that now that they've taken back their country, that they want to make it a nicer and more beautiful place.
There was one man I saw who was sweeping the streets who told me, this is where the new Egypt is being rebuild. So certainly that's an important part of all of this. At the same time, Wolf, I was just down on the square a couple of minutes ago and there seems to be someone of a rift among the people who are still down there.
Some think that the protesters should go home now and should give the military a time to try and bring some sort of civilian rule back on track. And there are others who want to stay entrenched in Tahrir Square. I spoke to some of the people who are organizing all of these sort of Facebook links and Facebook messages to get people out here in the first place four weeks ago.
They said they felt that some people who are here had become somewhat cozy on the Square and now wanted to sort of fight on and carry on the revolution while others seem want to go home and get on with their lives, Wolf.
BLITZER: What about right now? Are they still partying a little bit or is that over?
PLEITGEN: No, no. They're still tidying. I mean, there are still people out there who are sweeping. There are still people out there who are sort of forming human chains around the people who are sweeping. There are folks with shovels out there who are still tidying up. There's a massive amount of sort of bags. They look like the kind of bags you would put leaves in with fall with massive amounts of trash in them.
There are trucks that are still being taken away that were, you know, got in between the two front lines as the pro and anti-Mubarak protesters were squaring off and were then destroyed. That clean-up is still very much going on. The other interesting thing that's happening is that the military is trying to get traffic through the square going again. I see cars going through Tahrir Square. It hasn't happened in a long time, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good luck to all those folks over there. Fred, thanks for all your terrific reporting. Fred Pleitgen in Cairo.
We'll take another quick break. When we come back, some amazing photographs of the revolution in Egypt.
BLITZER: Egyptians are honoring those killed in the revolutions. CNN's Ivan Watson has more.
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you may be able to hear from the honking and the cheering that the post-Mubarak party here in Cairo is well into its second night. Meanwhile, in Cairo's now famous Tahrir Square, activists were hard at work trying to bring life back to normal there and also setting up a monument in honor of some of those who died for Egypt's revolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON (voice-over): Hundreds of volunteers descended on Tahrir Square today, not armed with stones or Molotov cocktails, but with brooms.
(on camera): The goal in mind, to restore order here after 2-1/2 weeks of a sit-in that sometimes turned bloody.
(voice-over): And they started erecting a monument to people who paid the ultimate sacrifice here during this standoff against a dictatorship. This is a monument as to what are being described as the martyrs of Tahrir Square.
(on camera): We've seen scenes of extreme emotion here, people chanting "God is great." People singing the Egyptian national anthem. During 18 historic days, some people died trying to protect what became a symbol of resistance to a dictatorship in which has become the Egyptian revolution here in Tahrir "Liberation" Square.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WATSON: And, Wolf, very interesting to see the military asserting itself in Tahrir Square. They mounted what could be described as a sneak attack. Dozens of soldiers moving in quickly, swiftly to tear down the barricades that have helped enclose and defend that area, despite the objections of some of the die-hard activists who insisted they should not tear those barriers down until all of their demands had been met.
The soldiers were also tearing down tents as well with the taset implicity of at least some of the activists who said the time for barricades and sleep-ins is over, now it's time to start rebuilding this country. Wolf --
BLITZER: Ivan Watson, thanks very much. That's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next right here on CNN.