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FAREED ZAKARIA GPS

Egypt's Future

Aired May 22, 2011 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, THE GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. To all of you in the United States and around the world, welcome to Tahrir Square in Cairo. This was, of course, the scene of the January 25th's revolution, the heart of the Arab spring, and we're here today to check in on that revolution four months later.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA (voice-over): In just a moment, I'll be speaking with some of the revolutionaries, the young people in the streets who made this all come alive.

(PEOPLE CHANTING)

ZAKARIA: Then we'll tell you the sad, ironic story about Egypt's plummeting economy.

And finally, the two top presidential candidates in Egypt, two former officemates now rivals.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: But let me first give you some of my own thoughts, having spent some time in Cairo and actually listened to President Obama's speech from here in Tahrir Square.

The president's speech was remarkably comprehensive. It described the events that we now call the Arab spring, explained their causes and consequences. He placed the United States squarely behind the democratic wave everywhere, though he didn't specifically mention one country -- Saudi Arabia, the place where America's interests and values most obviously clash.

I don't blame him. Street protests in Saudi Arabia might warm our hearts, but they could easily lead to $250 a barrel oil and a global recession. That's a tough one.

Obama outlined specific policies to help the Arab revolutions get consolidated. All good stuff. And he also talked about the need for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, two states based on 1967 borders, with land swaps that both parties agreed to, and the Palestinian partner that renounced terror -- a blow at Hamas.

In other words, it was a comprehensive, fair, balanced speech. But the most difficult aspect of this Arab revolution is not in understanding it right now. Its causes are clear. The problem is it remains very much unfinished business.

In Egypt, where I stand, a successful people's movement dazzled the world and toppled a military dictatorship from power. But who is running Egypt these months later? A military dictatorship, complete with arbitrary arrests, torture, military trials and tear gas. Will the Egyptian military genuinely devolve power to a democratic structure of authority? Will the military allow genuine economic reform that will disempower them and empower a new generation of Egyptians?

These are the obstacles to Egypt's democratic future right now, and the United States should focus much of its attention on Egypt -- the Arab world's largest state, the heart of Arab culture, the fount of ideas for the region. If Egypt succeeds, it will change the Arab world. If it fails, if this revolution fails, it will send a terrible message throughout the region.

Obama chose the right audience to give his speech, America's Foreign Service, because ultimately it will not be a speech by which Arabs will judge America, but the countless actions of American diplomats over the -- the next few months and years as they struggle to make a break from the past and enter the modern world.

Let's get started.

By every account, Egypt's revolution was genuinely spontaneous. A few groups, until then small, called for protests in Tahrir Square. The protests had, until then, been small, often involving a few thousand people, at most. But, this time, in January of this year, perhaps because of the example of the revolt in Tunisia, many, many more came. And, as more people streamed into Tahrir Square, others saw them, got involved and then came out as well -- and it all started with a few young people.

Precisely because it was so spontaneous, I can't really bring you the leader or leaders of this movement, but I've invited some prominent leaders, activists, who represent many of the groups and the people who were out there on the streets of Egypt for those many days in January, while the world watched with awe and respect.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: And I'm now joined by Waleed Rashed, who is the spokesman for the April 6th Movement, which was one of the key groups that organized some of the protests in Tahrir Square; by Sarah Abdelrahman, who is a classic student activist, and, she adds, a video blogger. Sarah was at the square from day one till the last day.

Noor Nour, also a student activist, a law student who has been very active during the protests as well; and the lawyer to every activist/protester who has been involved in these protests, Ragia Omran, who is a human rights activist and a lawyer.

So let me just begin by asking Sarah a simple question. How has the revolution fared so far? SARAH ABDELRAHMAN, EGYPTIAN ACTIVIST: I believe that the revolution hasn't really happened yet. It's an uprising so far. The gains of the revolution, we haven't really seen.

We are now under military rule. We -- the military is completely abusing their powers in terms of military trials, abusing the protesters and controlling the media. So, to me, we are actually planning another protest on the 27th of May.

ZAKARIA: Noor, when you look at this situation, there are a lot of people who I met in Egypt who say, well, you know, these people that are being too impatient. There's -- there is a path. There was a referendum. There is a process that's been laid out. Why are -- why are the students -- why are the revolutionaries so impatient?

NOOR AYMAN NOUR, EGYPTIAN ACTIVIST: We're in a point of our history where we are rebuilding Egypt. We have -- we are -- we have removed or we're trying to remove the old foundations in order to set new foundations, built on ideas of democracy and justice. And we're trying to steer away from all the negatives in the past that we used to accept, and we stayed silent.

Hence, because we are in this phase of rebuilding Egypt, all the injustices that Egyptians used to accept before the 25th of January, we cannot accept now.

ZAKARIA: Ragia, you probably have a closer sense than anybody of to what extent is the martial law, the arbitrary arrests is still in place. How -- how severe are the injustices, even now?

RAGIA OMRAN, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER: We believe and we know that the fight and the struggle is long. It's going to take time. And despite, right now, the picture doesn't look great. Yes, there are people being arrested and put on military trials -- not just the activists but regular citizens, you know, who break the curfew or are framed for cases of possession of weapons or, you know, anything --

ZAKARIA: The number is 10,000 people on -- on the military (INAUDIBLE) --

OMRAN: Yes. I think it could be a bit less now, but, I mean, it is definitely between 5,000 to 10,000. I think nobody really has the statistics.

I think the pressure and the campaigns done by the local activists, by some international media on these issues, has forced the Supreme Council, military forces, the -- the armed forces to take another look at why are they going to the military trials and to say, OK, maybe we need to take a step back and not put civilians on trial.

ZAKARIA: Sarah, is there a danger that the Egyptian people, they're going to say, you know what? We've had it. We've had enough of these protests. We want a normal life. The economy is doing badly. We don't need another revolution right now.

ABDELRAHMAN: Actually, I think that this is already happening. As I mentioned before, the military is using the media, for -- you know, to get people to think that there's no security in -- in Egypt. And they're -- they're making the people think, by certain media messages, that the economy is going downhill, not because of anything but these protests. And these are -- these protesters and these revolutionaries are the ones responsible for -- if you don't have dinner on the table, it's probably the protesters in Tahrir.

Now, the military is playing a very smart game. They -- I mean, if you spoke to me two weeks ago, I would have said, I love the military, and I would have been very happy with our revolution, you know, very hopeful. But what happened in -- in the past few days is that I realized that the army and the police deliberately ignore hospitals, so ER -- ER -- ERs, they closed. Thugs attack hospitals. They ignore police stations that are being burnt every other day.

But then, they come to peaceful protesters and they start arresting them. They leave the thugs that attack these protesters, but they concentrate on dispersing and cracking down on peaceful protests.

ZAKARIA: Waleed, your -- your movement, the April 6th Movement, was invited in by the military to talk to them. What is your sense? Do you trust these people that they are trying to preside over a transition to democracy?

WALEED RASHED, CO-FOUNDER, APRIL AND YOUTH MOVEMENT: To be honest with you, in politicals (ph), there is not -- nothing called trust or not. That -- you are telling me something, OK, fine. You can say anything very easily. But what about the actions? Nothing.

They -- they keep saying OK, fine. We'll do. We'll do. We'll do. But no actions. You are telling me that OK, fine, there is no military courts on the ground (ph) and they can -- there are some guys are arrested, and put -- put them in jail, and we don't know anything about them, that I think the (INAUDIBLE) about some of them for a few days, we don't know actually what is the location of them. We don't know how -- how -- what the number, actually, of them. So many things are going like that.

Here people are saying, according to Sarah, or what Sarah, she said, here people -- some people are saying in Egypt that army is the red line. Nothing is called red line. The red line must be my freedom, my rights. Yes.

ZAKARIA: What is the demand, if there is a second set of protests? What is the -- I mean, the first protests were so successful because there was a very simple, powerful, evocative demand -- the end of the Mubarak regime, the end of -- you know, Mubarak had to resign.

If you gather on the -- in Tahrir Square again, what will be the demand that people in Egypt and the world can understand?

NOUR: The second set of demonstrations will have specific demands. There are several demands, however, some of the most notable demands are an absolute end to military trials for civilians. If the military is going to rule Egypt, going to rule the civilians, then they abide by the civilian laws. They don't subject us to military laws.

Freedom of the media, without censorship, without control that is inflicted by several different authorities, mainly --

ZAKARIA: Again, there is still censorship in --

NOUR: That's the thing. There is still censorship.

ZAKARIA: Now, let me ask you, will you be there on the 27th?

OMRAN: I will be there like I've been there in every single protest for the last 10 years.

ZAKARIA: You will be there?

NOUR: I will be there.

ZAKARIA: You'll be there?

ABDELRAHMAN: We'll -- we'll all meet there.

ZAKARIA: You will be there?

RASHED: We will be -- we will be before the 27th.

(CROSSTALK)

ABDELRAHMAN: We're going down tomorrow.

ZAKARIA: When we come back with them, I'm going to ask all four of them what they thought of President Obama's speech, what they think of American foreign policy in general, when we come back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NOUR: This is the same regime that supported Mubarak for the last 30 years. This is the same regime that up to this day has not spoken one word about Saudi Arabia, simply because they're worried about whether or not gas prices are going to go up tomorrow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: And we are back with four student activists -- so- called student activists. One -- I've discovered when got to Cairo that most of the people who were called student activists are actually not students. One of them explained to me -- Waleed -- that when they started these -- these pro-democracy marches five or seven years ago, they were students, which is why they're called students. Waleed Rashed, Sarah Abdelrahman, Noor Nour and Ragia Omran.

Noor, let me ask you something, before we get to President Obama. Your father ran for president against Hosni Mubarak and was arrested, beaten up. Does he regard what you have managed to do as a success? When I say "you," I mean your generation.

NOUR: I think everyone in Egypt -- not just my father, but everyone in Egypt, especially the older generations, for a period of time they just looked at the younger generation with -- with admiration. And this is something that the younger generations are not used to in Egypt. We are not used to older generations just thanking us for our efforts and feeling like we did something.

So obviously my father was one of the people who were extremely, extremely, extremely proud of our generation, and he was also -- him, as well as many people from the older generations -- also joined in the revolution in itself.

ZAKARIA: All right. Now, as always, within America, enough about you, now what about what you think of us?

Sarah, what did you think of President Obama's speech?

ABDELRAHMAN: The U.S. foreign policy, I believe, was -- is completely inconsistent when it comes to the region. Also, they decided very last minute to support the people of Egypt during our revolution.

You know, Hillary Clinton would say one thing, and President Obama would say the other, every other day. They did not really decide on what they want to do.

ZAKARIA: Do you think that the general feeling that the United States was too late in supporting the Egyptian revolution?

ABDELRAHMAN: Yes, especially when, you know, we get hit with tear gas, and then we pick it up after, you know, the tear gas is completely taken over -- over our bodies, and we see the mark, "Made in the USA." So that -- that did not really send the message that I think President Obama is always talking about, about American values.

ZAKARIA: I thought President Obama was trying to do was to -- was to present the broad picture and say, look, in general we support all these movements. Of course, there are going to be differences. Of course, there are going to be specific policies.

But he was trying to say the United States is broadly in support of democratic reform everywhere. Did that -- did that not ring true for you?

OMRAN: To tell you the truth, I was not impressed, and I didn't expect to be impressed, like I was not impressed when he came to Cairo and gave the speech.

ZAKARIA: What would impress you? When -- what should -- what should --

OMRAN: I would like to have a consistent U.S. policy that is fair and broad across the Middle East, if we're talking about --

ZAKARIA: But what does that mean?

OMRAN: An American policy towards the Arab countries and Israel to be the same. If you analyze what he said about Israel and what he said about the other countries, completely inconsistent.

ZAKARIA: So, Noor, what did you think?

NOUR: I, like Ragia, was not impressed, was not expecting to be impressed simply because Obama is very good with words. If anything, the U.S. foreign office is very good with words and horrible with actions.

I just -- all I could see was hypocrisy and the continuation of hypocrisy. And it's this --

ZAKARIA: And what is the -- is the hypocrisy all about Israel- Palestine, or is it about -- about the issues of -- relating to -- would you like him to take a stronger stand on Syria, for example?

NOUR: OK, I would like him to take a stronger stand on any case of any atrocities that occur in the region, whether or not by an Arab country or whether or not by Israel, stances must be taken.

However, the problem is when I come to see the United States and their foreign policy, this is the same regime that supported Mubarak for the last 30 years. This is the same regime that up to this day has not spoken one word about Saudi Arabia, simply because they're worried about whether or not gas prices are going to go up tomorrow.

ZAKARIA: You guys are being very hard on Obama. What would you say?

RASHED: You know that I didn't speak. I didn't discuss it with Noor, but really, I have the same comment that to be -- to be honest with you, one have -- he have a very good -- he's very good in speeches, I mean, body language and like that. Fine. I like it so much.

But you can't keep promising me everyday. If you would like to speak about us, you must -- you must speak about us from our position, from our view.

ABDELRAHMAN: I just wanted to add something to what you just said right now about understanding the Arab mentality. I think that the -- you know, our revolution, I don't like the term "Arab spring" because it's not a season. It's -- it's our demands. It's our rights.

And I think that a lesson that we can all learn is that the Obama administration had the wrong idea about -- they were -- I think they were fooled by the Mubarak regime into thinking that Egyptians are -- want Mubarak and that, you know, if Mubarak leaves, then it's going to be the Muslim Brotherhood, and that was the choice that Mubarak was leaving Obama.

Here in Egypt, we separate between the American government and the American foreign policy that we're speaking of now and the American people. And I think that you have probably witnessed that out on the streets. If you say that you're American, you're -- you're going to be welcomed and there's hospitality.

But I think that the Obama administration doesn't really make that difference and didn't make that difference between the Egyptian government and the statistics that they take from the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people.

ZAKARIA: Thank you all very much --

NOUR: Thank you as well.

ZAKARIA: -- for a wonderful conversation.

And we will be back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Welcome back to a special edition of GPS. I'm back in front of Cairo's Tahrir Square, the place where everyone will agree history was made and Egypt's politics took a great step forward. But have Egypt's economics taken a big step backwards?

One of the generals running the country presented a picture of his country's economy that made me think, "What in the World?" He says foreign direct investment is now down to zero. Egypt's foreign reserves are fast getting depleted. Then there's the tourism industry, which employs 2 million people but is sitting idle with the world continuing to shun the Pyramids of Giza and cruises down the Nile.

That's $1 billion of lost revenue every month. Growth has crawled to a standstill.

Meanwhile, tens of thousands of workers, emboldened with a new sense of freedom, are staging strikes to demand better pay. Confronting them would mean work stoppages. Appeasing them will cost money, and the state's coffers aren't exactly overflowing.

Then there's oil. The revolutions of the Middle East has sparked a cycle of pain in the crude markets. Look at three countries that have been hit hardest by people power movements -- Egypt, Tunisia, Syria. They are all oil importers. Egypt then will go from growth in 2010 to shrinking GDPs this year.

Now, look at their neighbors who managed to stave off the wave of protests through a mix of bribery and appeasement -- Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait. They're all net oil exporters, with vast cash reserves. That's why the dichotomy is actually getting worse, because oil importers need to spend more to buy the same amount of gas. Also, to keep political support at home, they need to increase subsidies on things like food -- potatoes, carrots -- because everything costs more, thanks to oil-driven inflation here.

And then there's this. Unlike previous years, the gulf countries, the oil-rich countries, actually want oil prices to be priced higher because they need the cash. They need to support their own spending plans for new cities, to more payouts to suppress dissent. For the first time in history, oil is averaging nearly $100 a barrel for more than a year. Even the Saudis need that cash.

If Egypt's economy doesn't stabilize soon, the IMF will soon come knocking on its door. And what will it demand? Economic reform to promote growth, of course, which means what? A devaluation of Egypt's currency, possibly? The reduction of subsidies? The privatization of industries? Anything to get the fiscal house in order and generate new economic growth.

But the problem is that economic reform is now a tainted idea. In the people's minds here, it's a phrase associated with Gamal Mubarak, Hosni's son, and his businessmen friends. Those policy changes made by Gamal Mubarak in 2004 onwards triggered strong growth in Egypt, though also unequaled growth and charges that it unduly profited friends of the regime.

Over the last decades, however, countries from China to Brazil have found that if you want economic growth, the surest path is reforms that open your economy up to markets and trade. But no Egyptian politician is going to say that today. So the demands of economics will bump up against the demands of politics.

Who will win? Egypt's future might depend on finding a creative solution to this problem.

We will be watching closely, and we will be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

AMR MOUSSA, SECRETARY GENERAL, ARAB LEAGUE: I was not born on the 24th of January. I was ambassador of Egypt, and I was minister in the cabinet, and I was a diplomat.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE WINNER: Unless you know -- you know, under a new constitution, what kind of country you're going to run, I can't apply for a job which I don't have the job description.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: I now want to bring you the two men who seem the most likely frontrunners for the presidency of Egypt -- Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei. Officially, there is no race, no clock and therefore no official contenders for the presidency. But both party organizations, the press and street wisdom point to these two figures as the heavyweights so far. It remains unclear if a third candidate, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, would run. If he -- if he did, that might change the calculus.

Both Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei are towering figures in modern Egypt. Moussa having served as Hosni Mubarak's foreign minister for 10 years was then Secretary General of the Arab League, in fact, still is for another month or so. Mohamed ElBaradei is best known for his work as head of the International Atomic Energy Agency for which he received the Nobel Peace Prize. In that role, he famously confronted the Bush administration, pointing out that he had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was developing a nuclear weapons program. Turned out he was right.

The two of them, Amr Moussa and Mohamed ElBaradei, are friends for 40 years and former colleagues. In fact, they once shared an office at the Egyptian Foreign Ministry as young diplomats. But they are different people with different perspectives.

Let's start with Mohamed ElBaradei, who has been passionate about the need for a real transition to real democracy in Egypt.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Mohamed ElBaradei, thank you so much for joining us again.

ELBARADEI: Thank you very much for having me, Fareed, here in Cairo.

ZAKARIA: Tell me, the light, the world's attention has moved somewhat away from Egypt after the glory days of the revolution. What do things look like now?

ELBARADEI: It's normal that the world moves on. There are always something -- something new. But things are not -- are not the best right now, Fareed. I mean, the security situation, law and order is -- is not in the best shape. People do not feel secure. They are buying guns, you know, to protect themselves.

So there is this sense of angst, which obviously has great impact on the economy, that the economy is busted. That zero -- zero investment, inflation, budget deficit, lack of tourism. And then add -- add to that that there is no really a clear road map, where are we heading? What kind of state or regime, (INAUDIBLE) is it a presidential system? Is it a parliamentary system? When are we going to have a new constitution? When is the parliamentary election? When is the presidential election?

So it's a total -- it's total opaque situation coupled with economic -- economic degradation.

ZAKARIA: So where does this leave Egypt in the sense that you -- you have announced that you will run for the presidency. Can you start a campaign? ELBARADEI: I can't even start a campaign. There is no law which say how you, you know, run a campaign, how you raise funds, for example. There is no deadline. When are you officially can become a candidate? I think they talk about three weeks, you know, through which you can run for president, which is ridiculous, you know? I do not know whether the election is going this year or sometime next year.

And as I mentioned, unless you know, you know, under a new constitution what kind of country you're going to run, I can't apply for a job which I don't have a job description.

ZAKARIA: Do you worry that if the elections were held quickly, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is the most organized political movement in Egypt, would gain perhaps even an unrepresentative share and then would try to write a constitution that -- that had some abridgements on these personal freedoms because it had a particularly strict interpretation of Islamic law?

ELBARADEI: I do worry a lot. And -- see, to have an election as in visage in three months' time, when the new parties, the parties of the youth who just triggered the revolution are just about in -- in the making right now. To give them three months to compete against the Muslim Brotherhood, who have been in place for 80 years, will probably lead to a fair and free election, but not representative election. And having an election in three months would lead to a parliament that does not represent of the different, you know, hues of the Egyptian society, and that will not really be the kind of Egypt people triggered the revolution to achieve.

ZAKARIA: Should the United States be playing a more active role in -- in helping Egypt at this point, or would that be interference?

ELBARADEI: Well, it depends what you talk about. I mean, Egypt needs economic assistance, I mean, need advice on how to -- you know, again, economically, we are -- we have five million people who are unemployed. There will be 7.5, I think, in six months. People are afraid that we will have another revolution which is revolt of the poor. I mean, that revolution was a revolt for human dignity, freedom and other.

So we need a quick infusion of money. The U.S. also and others can -- can show their models of how you build up a -- a full-fledged democracy. You know, that -- as in everywhere, you build a national consensus. You try to ensure that there is a majority rule but also a -- a clear protection of the minority rules. We have now, as you know, quite a lot of violence between Christians and Muslim, which some say should not happen, but it's the result of many -- many factors of 60 years of repression and total chaos.

People now, after the revolution, think revolution means curse. Right now, socially, we are disintegrating, you know, and economically we are not in the best shape. And politically, it's -- it's like a black hole. We do not know where we are heading.

ZAKARIA: Are you hopeful still that -- that Egypt's revolution will be successful and that it will be a model for the Arab world?

ELBARADEI: Well, philosophically, if you look -- if you look, you know, to other revolutions, there is always bumps in the road. I -- I believe -- and I would like to believe that we will go in the right direction, but we'll have to do a lot of work to make sure that we learn from other revolutions. We learn from our own mistakes. But definitely no matter what's going to happen, it will be better than what we have before. We are still poor, but we are free today.

ZAKARIA: Mohamed ElBaradei, thank you very much.

ELBARADEI: Thank you very much.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ZAKARIA: There are people who say you are too associated with the former regime to really represent the future.

MOUSSA: I was the foreign minister of Egypt for 10 years, and the president was Hosni Mubarak. But the fact also remains that there were differences of Egypt. You know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Amr Moussa is a household name in Egypt, foreign minister for 10 years, head of the Arab League for another 10, much admired in the region for championing the Palestinian cause. He has spent decades on the global stage but is leaving his Arab League post at the end of the month to concentrate on his home country.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ZAKARIA: Amr Moussa, thank you so much for joining us.

MOUSSA: Thank you for visiting us.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about yourself. As you know, you are very popular in Egypt, but you are also in some quarters a controversial figure. There are people who say you are too associated with the former regime to really represent the future, that you are, after all, worked for Mubarak, that you were appointed to the Arab League, proposed by Mubarak, and that you have very comfortable relations with him 'til the end.

MOUSSA: Well, yes, of course, I was the foreign minister of Egypt for 10 years, and the president was Hosni Mubarak. But the fact also remains that there were differences of views. You know that. We discussed that before several times.

And therefore I was moved from the cabinet because of the differences of views on certain issues of policy. I believe that ministers or officials in general should be judged by their records, by their achievements, by their performance, because I was not born on the 24th of January. I was ambassador of Egypt and I was minister in the cabinet, and I was a diplomat. I was a citizen, after all.

ZAKARIA: But people say that you went to Tahrir Square and told the students there, the demonstrators there, go back, Mubarak is not going to resign.

MOUSSA: No. This is 50 percent of the truth, 50 percent is that I really went to the Tahrir Square twice. But Tahrir Square with a million people, you cannot tell anybody anything. This huge demonstrations and people are shouting and people are singing. But they -- some campaigns sort of say Amr Moussa was saying this. But nobody was able to say anything with a million demonstrators talking and singing and shouting.

And so, I was not alone. And all of them said this is nonsense. This is some campaign saying something, and I don't think the people, electorate, believe that. They know my positions on serious issues.

ZAKARIA: What is the state of Egypt's revolution?

MOUSSA: As you know, they called the revolution, and the revolution season in the Arab world as the Arab spring. Our spring is full of sandstorms. And therefore, we should expect difficulties, we should expect bumps. But we continue to move.

I don't think the current problems would derail the revolution or derail our quest for and movement towards democracy.

ZAKARIA: Put on your hat as secretary-general of the Arab League. I suppose I don't have to say put on your hat, because that is the job you hold right, still, 'til the end of this month. People have criticized you for having initially supported the Libyan operation, the requested military intervention, and then after the first couple of days, when there was -- you know, when it began, you seemed to back off.

And people in the West said, ah, there goes Amr Moussa flip- flopping.

MOUSSA: Not exactly. Not exactly. I will tell you, we were really angered by the fact that civilian population was bombarded by planes, attacked by rockets. We couldn't take it. Therefore, the Arab League took the first decision ever in punishing a member state, applying sanctions, preventing that state from participating in the meetings of the Arab League on all levels and on all organizations.

ZAKARIA: Do you think it's possible that Gadhafi will agree to go peacefully?

MOUSSA: Well, there are a lot of opinions on that. That he is not that type of man. He will continue to make war until the last soldier, the last dollar, et cetera. And others will say that, no, there is a degree or a point where everybody gets exhausted and he wants it to come to an end.

So between these two, negotiations, if a cease-fire is imposed and if both parties, Libyan parties, agree to sit and negotiate, and if Tripoli accepts that (INAUDIBLE) for the negotiations for a certain period of time, and that a transitional period has to be established, that Libya will not go back to the status quo ante.

ZAKARIA: So you cannot accept a Libya that continues to have Gadhafi as its leader?

MOUSSA: I don't think that it is possible, whether we accept it or not. I don't think this is acceptable. After all this bloodshed and all this confrontation, I don't think Libya can get back to the status quo ante as if nothing happened. That's the logic of things.

ZAKARIA: Can Syria go back to the status quo ante and the Assad family continue?

MOUSSA: You know, I believe that Bashar al-Assad has a chance, if he accelerated the pace, towards reform, and meet what the demonstrators want to have, like freedom, like new elections, like that. Things are doable.

ZAKARIA: But right now he's killing them, far from meeting their aspirations.

MOUSSA: Yes. Right now creating that situation, risks of, again, that you can't move back. Or -- and you can't move forward. That is why the problem is that actually do the reform quickly, quickly. You are racing against time. It is possible. But for a very short window of opportunity.

ZAKARIA: You said that there will be change in every Arab society?

MOUSSA: Oh yes, in every Arab society you will not find the same Egypt that you used to know or the same any country.

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you about a subject you spent many, many years, if not decades on, Arab-Israeli issue. We could do this for a half hour, but let me ask you something very simple. The Israeli position currently is that it is -- they cannot negotiate with a combined Palestinian delegation, because one part of that delegation, Hamas, is dedicated to their destruction, refuses to recognize them. Is that a legitimate argument?

MOUSSA: No. Because they stated before that they cannot negotiate with Abbas because he represents only part of the Palestinians. Now after the conciliation, they cannot negotiate with them because part of them is, as they say, a terrorist organization.

If we -- if they create a third position, you will find the same answer, no, we cannot negotiate with them until they do this or that. No. This is not serious. I believe that the Israeli government, Prime Minister Netanyahu, will have to take into consideration that the Arab world is changing, the order, as they used to coexist with for the last several decades or several years, will be no longer there. They have to seize this opportunity.

ZAKARIA: If you became president of Egypt, would you press for an adoption of the Arab League position which is, broadly speaking, I will characterize as that the Arabs will recognize Israel and end the state of war if there is a Palestinian state roughly on the '67 borders with adjustments as the Palestinians would agree with?

MOUSSA: My position today and tomorrow, and as president, if I am elected president, will be based on the Arab Initiative of which Egypt is party. The Arab Initiative puts the whole thing in a very clear equation, that we are ready to implement our part of the deal. We invite you to implement your part of the deal.

And if this happens, then not only normalization, but for recognition, and not only by the five or six countries around Israel, but by all the Arab countries. This is an offer that the Israelis never took seriously or even considered. Now is the time for them to consider.

ZAKARIA: Amr Moussa, a pleasure to have you.

MOUSSA: Thank you, thank you very much, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: And we will be back.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ZAKARIA: Our GPS challenge question is: What year was this great city of Cairo founded? And by the way, it is a great city. Was it 969 B.C.? 96 B.C.? 96 A.D.? Or 969 A.D.? Keep watching to find out the correct answer. You can go to our Web site cnn.com/gps for more questions and answers. While you're there make sure you check out our blog, "Global Public Square." This week we have great reads on Egypt, on the Arab spring and much more.

My "Book of the Week" was published three years ago, but in a strikingly prescient way, foretold the January revolution here. It's called "Inside Egypt: The Land of the Pharaohs on the Brink of a Revolution." It was written by John R. Bradley, who also wrote a book about Saudi Arabia. The book was banned by the Mubarak regime. Do you need to know more? If you want to understand how Egypt got to this crossroads, read the book.

Now for the "Last Look." After 30 years in power, Hosni Mubarak's face and name were ubiquitous in Egypt. You practically couldn't turn a corner without seeing a portrait of Mubarak or finding yourself on a Mubarak street. There are said to have been almost 10,000 entities in the country, schools, medical centers, villages, farms, buildings, all named after Mubarak.

But many Egyptians hope that they have had their last look at the former dictator and his name. So it is all coming down. This was the president watching over parliament. This is the Mubarak-free parliament today. And this used to be the Mubarak subway station. Look what we found when we went there this week. It has now been named Martyr Station. And this spring cleaning extends to the entire family. Mrs. Mubarak's name has been scrubbed from this hospital that used to honor her.

But cleaning up 30 years of history isn't easy or quick. We found this sign just down the road, that they seemingly forget to remove. It says "Suzanne Mubarak Hospital, 200 meters."

The correct answer to our GPS challenge question is D, the fortified city from which Cairo descends was built in 969 A.D. But the area, of course, has been an important center of civilization and of Egypt for thousands of years since before the days of King Tut.

Next week on GPS, more from my trip to Egypt, including an exclusive interview with one of the top leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. Is an Islamic caliphate in Egypt's future? Tune in.

Thanks to all of your for being part of my special program this week. From Tahrir Square in Cairo, goodbye and I will see you next week.