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Hundreds Of Thousands Of Egyptians Protest Morsi's Rule
Aired July 1, 2013 - 15:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the program. I'm Christiane Amanpour. Egypt is on the brink of a volcano. That scary declaration today from Cairo, as hundreds of thousands of protesters again march across the country demanding that President Morsi step down.
These now are live pictures of Tahrir Square and we now have a direct warning to the president and to the opposition from the army, which has given them 48 hours to resolve their differences and, quote, "meet the people's demands," or the army says, it'll step in.
But what that means exactly is not clear right now. Given the ultimatum, Morsi and his prime minister met with the head of the Armed Forces today. And the military has made it presence known to demonstrators as well, with helicopters flying over the crowds, Egyptian flags dangling below them.
The protests marked the one-year anniversary of Morsi's inauguration as the country's first democratically elected president. It is the third time in three years that people have taken to the streets en masse, first in January 2011 to topple President Mubarak. And then a year later, against the military, which took power after the revolution.
The people's grievances are many, but high on the list is an economy in the dumps and a president perceived to be tacking solely to his base, the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now watching from his swing through the southern part of this continent is President Barack Obama, who weighed in from Tanzania expressing relief that violence has been far less than predicted in Egypt, but calling for political compromise.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Although Mr. Morsi was elected democratically, there's more work to be done to create the conditions in which everybody feels that their voices are heard and that the government is responsive and truly representative.
And so what we've encouraged the government to do is to reach out to the opposition and work through these issues in a political process.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Indeed, we are expecting a statement from the presidency on this matter and we will bring it as soon as we have it.
But meantime, deep divisions remain clear at the Muslim Brotherhood headquarters in Cairo, for instance. Overnight protesters attacked it with bricks and Molotov cocktails, leaving a ransacked, smoking shell today and looters escape with desks, sinks, air conditioners and more.
We'll go straight now to Tahrir Square and our Ben Wedeman.
Ben, how are the people reacting to the military ultimatum?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the people in Tahrir Square are reacting quite positively. In fact, as this speech was being made, or this statement being issued on Egyptian TV, we heard repeated cheers coming from the crowd.
And since that announcement was made, we've had more and more people coming into the square. And as you mention, these helicopters flying overhead with the flags underneath, a very clear signal from the military that they sympathize with the people in the square. At least that's how it's been interpreted here.
So a very enthusiastic response from most of them. Some of them worry that we're really just going to go back to the 12th of February, 2011, when the military was in control and in control for almost a year and a half afterwards. And that period saw frequent clashes. But certainly at the moment, these people here quite happy with this latest development.
AMANPOUR: Well, Ben, my question is why did they think the military's on their side? It called for both the president and the opposition to resolve their differences and also what do you read into the military's declaration?
WEDEMAN: Well, as far as the military goes, many Egyptians look at it as the strongest institution in Egypt, the institution that above politics can impose order, in a sense. And therefore that explains why so many people are enthusiastic.
Now if you look at the statement carefully that was made by the military, it's clear they're losing their confidence in President Morsi. They see that he has huge oppositions in the streets. If you go to the demonstrations, also in Cairo, that are supporting President Morsi, they really are much smaller than what we've got going on behind me.
Now where does it go from here is not altogether clear. The military really has told not just President Morsi but the opposition, you've got to get your act together. A week ago, the military put out a statement saying exactly that.
If you don't come together and deal with Egypt's problems, we may have to step in. Now they have less than 48 hours and it's going to be difficult for both the opposition and President Morsi to deal with their bases and one another to try to meet the army's very clear demand.
AMANPOUR: Of course, the opposition, as you and I know -- and we've covered it for a long time -- is incredibly fragmented and definitely not unified, neither with their message or their different sides.
But what do we expect from the presidency? We're all sitting here waiting for a statement from the presidency. What do you think is going to come out, though? What are your sources telling you?
WEDEMAN: Well, the Muslim Brotherhood has said that they are studying this statement by the army. That might not be what the army wanted to hear from them. But within the movement itself, there's a danger of real split because it's important to keep in mind that the Muslim Brotherhood had a series of electoral victories culminating in President Morsi's election in June of last year.
This is a historic opportunity where the biggest, the best organized and the oldest Islamist movement to take power, to show it can rule. And now it suddenly sees that this potential experiment, this experiment is slipping between their fingers as millions of Egyptians, it seems, have come out in the street in clear rejection of the program, the project of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egyptians are saying this is not us. This is not our identity. This is an identity that, for many of them, is important. It's a Wahabi identity from Saudi Arabia. And many people in the square will tell you we are Egyptians. That is our identity. We are Muslims; we are Christians. But we're Egyptians before anything else, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: You know, Ben, again, you and I were there and along with much of the world we said that what happens in Egypt will, you know, set the tone for the Arab Spring.
Everybody thought that Egypt might be like Turkey, you know, a sort of an Islamist democracy or a democracy with an Islamist flavor. And now, obviously, the deep cynics and the pessimists are probably saying, see, I told you so. Muslim Brotherhood can't run anything.
But what do you think about the complaints from, for instance, the president and others, about the organized opposition from the very beginning, from what we like to call the deep state, the Mubarak era ministers and institutions that still existed, to an extent?
WEDEMAN: Well, there's no question, Christiane, that the job of running Egypt, as the president has got to be today one of the most difficult jobs on Earth. The Muslim Brotherhood for years was persecuted, pursued, jailed, tortured and then sometimes killed by the regimes in power here in Egypt.
They've won an election. They took over the head of state. And they suddenly found that much of the bureaucracy, the police in particular, to a lesser extent the army, the ministries, the local governorates were opposed to them. They were afraid that they would impose their people from the Muslim Brotherhood on every level of the bureaucracy.
So you had a severe pushback from all of these. And the police is a classic example. The police, they were ones; they were the tip of the spear in the war of the Egyptian state against the Muslim Brotherhood.
And what we've seen now is that, for instance, today at the headquarters at the Muslim Brotherhood, while those attacks were taking place, the police reportedly joined the attackers and when the headquarters was trashed, scorched, burned and defaced, then the police came to guard the ruins.
So if you're president of Egypt and you can't trust your police and you're not sure about the army and you know that bureaucracy doesn't like you, you're going to have a very difficult job at running this very complicated country, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: Ben, thanks as always. And of course, we are keeping our eye on this at this really transformational moment for Egypt. And we will bring you the statement that we expect from the presidency as soon as it comes out.
And of course, we're watching a situation in Egypt and throughout the region and there might be one aspect where resurrecting the lost art of shuttle diplomacy is happening and that there is a picture of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on board a helicopter, taking his own iPad photo, it looks like, of the Dome of the Rock, perhaps the most hotly contested bit of real estate on Earth.
He's flying from Jerusalem to Amman, Jordan, and back and forth, trying to get the beleaguered Middle East peace process back on track.
And after a break, in Afghanistan, perhaps taking shuttle diplomacy to a whole new level: can veteran troubleshoorter work his mediator's magic and bring the Taliban to the peace table? We'll have that when we come back.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And now to Afghanistan.
James Dobbins is one of America's great diplomatic troubleshooters. He has served numerous presidents in hot spots from Kosovo to Somalia and many places in between.
And now, he's taking on the mother of all hot spots, as U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, overseeing the delicate but critical negotiations that will determine what's left behind when the U.S. and its Western allies pack up and leave next year.
Dobbins was there at the creation. He helped establish the post-Taliban Afghan government and he saw the flag raised over the reopened U.S. embassy in Kabul -- that was back in December of 2001.
Now 12 years later, the Taliban isn't defeated and the U.S. and Afghan governments must sit with them at the negotiating table, though the effort almost collapsed before it even began. And in the meantime, the Taliban continues to stage spectacular lethal attacks.
So what is the future?
Special Envoy James Dobbins, welcome to the program.
JAMES DOBBINS, SPECIAL ENVOY TO AFGHANISTAN AND PAKISTAN: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: We've tried this for a long time. It's been American policy for a while to try to get some kind of peace negotiation and resolution at the table with the Taliban.
Do you believe that right now you stand a better chance that at any other time?
DOBBINS: I think there's some chance. It's a little hard to calculate. The Taliban are certainly ready to talk to the United States. But we're insisting that they also need to talk to the government of Afghanistan.
After all, there's most of the issues that divide the Taliban from us and, for that matter, from the government of Afghanistan, are internal Afghan issues. And they have to be settled by the Afghans. So we're prepared to foster a negotiation, to participate in a negotiation, to have talks ourselves. The current stumbling block is getting them to also talk to the Afghan government.
AMANPOUR: Well, you say stumbling block, but of course it is the be-all and end-all. The Afghans say they won't do it. The government won't do it unless there is talking with them as well.
But what do you make of -- and is this inevitable that there will be these spectacular lethal attacks at the same time as talks? Or do they have to stop these attacks as a condition for talks?
DOBBINS: Well, if they stop fighting, we wouldn't need talks. I mean, I think that, you know, you don't negotiate with your friends; you negotiate with your enemies. Peace talks don't take place after war. They take place during a war.
AMANPOUR: All right. Well, in that case, you expect a lot more of these attacks.
What about some -- certainly in Afghanistan there are people who are very divided over the wisdom of this track. They say, particularly the Tajik northern alliance or the women or the people who've really seen the benefits of these last 12 years, the infant democratic steps, the education and all of this kind of stuff, they say, are you kidding me?
The Taliban, these people who were like medieval warriors and kept us in the dark? Are they really to be trusted at the bargaining table? Is this really what we're going to be left with?
DOBBINS: Well, I think there is a good deal of skepticism and the skepticism is not unjustified.
On the other hand, all the polling data suggests that there's strong popular support for peace, but not just for peace, for a peace based on some degree of mutual accommodation. So it is certainly true that those who -- who've seen progress over this last 11 years are very loath to give up that progress.
And I think at least some elements of the Taliban understand that they can't simply go back to where they were in 2000, that the country has seen too much progress in terms of electricity, roads, telephones, television, television stations, health clinics and schools. And they're not going to give that up.
AMANPOUR: So how do you convince the people, the interlocutors to actually talk to them in good faith? You know, the first -- I said that the whole thing nearly collapsed before it began, when the Taliban opened their office, you well remember. And they put up their flag and they acted like they were a legitimate player, a legitimate government. And they called it the emirate.
Well, most people think they want to go back to calling it the emirate and that they haven't given up their ideology and I don't know how you deal with people who have consistently lied to the United States. They lied when the Clinton administration was in office. They lied under the Bush administration about their intentions.
How do you hold their feet to the fire and make sure these negotiations happen in the way you want them to?
DOBBINS: Well, first of all, I'm not absolutely sure that negotiations are going to happen. We're still waiting for a clearer response as to whether they're willing to meet with us and meet with the representatives of the government of Afghanistan.
I think a lot of the issues you raise are going to have to be worked through in the course of the negotiation. And commitments are going to have to be tested. I don't expect us to negotiate a peace settlement overnight or, indeed, probably even over the next year.
But we may be able to negotiate some interim steps that reduce the violence and perhaps advance some other causes. And each step will have to be verified and confirmed and executed before you go onto the next step.
AMANPOUR: I do see you playing down expectations. That's obviously smart. But the fact of the matter is --
AMANPOUR: -- the fact of the matter is that the U.S. is left with no other alternative, right? Because you didn't defeat them on the battlefield. The surge didn't force them to accept the new realities in Afghanistan, the constitution or any such thing. And now you're going to have to have some kind of resolution at the bargaining table.
So what happens if you don't get one and you're pulling out anyway?
DOBBINS: Well, it's overstatement to say we're pulling out. We're reducing our forces; we're no longer going to be, at the end of next year, in a combat role vis-a-vis the Taliban. But we will have a significant residual American military and civilian presence.
We'll have a large assistance program, including a military assistance program. We'll have American soldiers who'll be advising and training Afghan units.
So they'll be a fairly significant residual American presence and commitment. Furthermore, you know, we have, over the last 10 years, and particularly over the last 4-5 years, been able to raise and a fairly substantial Afghan indigenous set of security forces, police and military. They've now got more than 350,000 troops.
And we believe that they will be able to sustain themselves, vis-a-vis the Taliban. You're right that the war won't end without some kind of settlement. I think almost all experts agree that the Taliban are not in a position to take over the country and the -- and the Afghans are not in a position to exterminate the Taliban.
The question is not whether it ends by some kind of peace settlement. The question is when.
AMANPOUR: Well, let me say, I'd love to explore what you just talked about. You will have a significant military presence. I know that's your intention. I know everybody wants that. The Afghans who have this, you know, history of feeling abandoned obviously want that.
But you still don't have a SOFA agreement. Everybody hopes something would have been resolved by this spring; it hasn't been. And there seems to be deep divisions in Washington about the size of a force in any event.
So a group of former U.S. officials have called for America, the administration, to very quickly lay out and clarify what is going to be its presence, just to stop people from hedging their bets and to, you know, have a little bit of confidence on the ground.
Do you think that's going to happen? Look, it didn't happen in Iraq. No SOFA. Many people blame the administration for not working at it hard enough.
Will it happen in Afghanistan?
DOBBINS: You know, I think there's a tendency to overlearn the lessons of Iraq. Afghanistan is rather different from Iraq in several respects. First of all, almost everybody in Iraq wanted us to leave. That's not the case in Afghanistan. Most Afghans want us to stay.
Secondly, in Iraq, under George W. Bush, we'd promised to leave. We'd signed an agreement which said we were going to leave on a date certain. So we would have had to reverse that commitment in order to stay.
On the contrary, in Afghanistan, we've said we're going to stay.
Thirdly, the Iraqis could afford their own defense. They had the money and the human capital to afford their own defense. The Afghans don't.
And, finally, when we left Iraq, the civil war was over. And it's not over in Afghanistan.
So I tend to think that the Iraqi experience is not going to be repeated in Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: What is your next step, James Dobbins? What happens tomorrow, next week, in this regard?
DOBBINS: Well, I think we have to remind ourselves what's important. I think negotiations with the Taliban are desirable. It would be good if we can get progress or reduction in violence and some degree of agreement over the next year. But we shouldn't count on it.
A second thing is the military transition, leaving sufficient residual advice and assistance assets to continue to sustain the Afghan Armed Forces while they take the lead in the combat. But the most important thing that's going to happen in Afghanistan, more important than either of those two, is the democratic transition.
It's the first time in Afghanistan's history that one elected president will give way to another elected president as the result of a free and democratic process.
And if that goes smoothly, and if President Karzai is succeeded by a president who's recognized by the population as freely elected and who can -- who has substantial political support across the various sectarian divisions in that country, then I think its future is assured.
AMANPOUR: James Dobbins, thank you very much indeed for joining me, special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
And where democracy is on the edge in Egypt, we will be back with an update on those massive demonstrations in just a moment.
AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program. And we continue to watch the situation developing in Egypt and we turn now to Abdul Mawgoud Dardery. He's a member of the Freedom and Justice Party which is the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing. And he's joining me now by phone from Luxor.
Mr. Dardery, thank you very much indeed for joining me.
Can I ask you first, what do you read from the army's ultimatum?
What do you think they're going to do?
ABDUL MALGUD DARDERY, FJP: Thank you, Christiane, for having me for this.
I feel that from the surface it appears to be positive and optimistic. I think the army is intervening in protecting democracy and the will of the people. And that is what the statement says at the very beginning.
And I feel the army is calling all political forces to come to the table for dialogue due to the lack of trust between the opposition and the presidency and the government. I feel the army is likely to play the role of an honest broker between the political forces for a national dialogue.
Egypt is going through a difficult democratic test (ph) and I expect it to be successful if we all, the position and the ruling party, be able to come to the table and have the national dialogue at least to get solutions for (inaudible).
AMANPOUR: Yes. Right now some people are saying, you know, it's a little late. It's the 11th hour right now, the army made the same ultimatum a week ago, saying you've got seven days to get your act together, or else we're going to, you know, whatever, put our own road map out there.
You're a member of the Freedom and Justice Party. It's the party that Mohammed Morsi led before renouncing his party membership and becoming president. He told me and he told the world that he was going to be president for all.
Do you accept that he has made significant errors, real mistakes in really toeing the Muslim Brotherhood line?
DARDERY: He did make some mistakes and he recognized those mistakes he made. The traditional (inaudible), Christiane, is very difficult. I mean, a country after revolution is officially having two competing systems, the corrupt, old regime that is still in place and a new system that is trying to displace it.
So the transition is very difficult indeed and the mistakes are not by choice, but they are by necessity. Such is the nature of the transition. And the fact that he recognized the mistakes, that means he has the willingness to fix them. In fact, just a few days ago, he proposed the importance of fixing the problems he committed in the past few months, in the past year or so.
AMANPOUR: Well, so, you know, you started by saying you think this is positive, that the army is determined to protect democracy. Well, the people, obviously, also think that it's positive because they think the army's going to help them overthrow the presidency.
So we don't know where this is going. But there have been calls for a national unity government. Do you think the president can do that? Will he do that?
DARDERY: In fact, the president calls for national dialogue many, many times, that difficulty is with the opposition, that exchange of democracy (inaudible), exchange in the previous five elections we had in Egypt since the revolution, and these (inaudible). And that's why they're going to street politics.
The street politics is not (inaudible). It's a means (ph) to achieve democracy. But they're not willing to go towards the democratic (inaudible).
AMANPOUR: All right. But Mr. Dardery --
DARDERY: (Inaudible) the national unity government is a solution maybe a parliament election is also (inaudible) so that the political forces can reach its relationship with the people and move on with the country.
AMANPOUR: OK. Well, that's interesting, the parliament elections that you're talking about. Well, look, both sides blame each other. You've just blamed the opposition. The opposition blames the Morsi presidency. So you think realistically the solution now, this 11th hour, would be what? To try to bring some members of the opposition into the government? To prepare for parliamentary elections?
What needs to happen in the next 24 hours?
DARDERY: It needs the minds to be changed (ph). The president invited all the political parties to participate in the government. And they, many of them, declined. So holding them again to participate will be a step in the right direction. And I (inaudible) parliamentary election because this is the voice of the people.
Living in Egypt, Christiane, now, there is no way allowing the military to rule over the country. And so the only way people will accept is the (inaudible) respecting the democratic rules and living by the democratic rules. So I think a parliamentary election will be a way better (ph) solution than just having a government where there's a lot of mistrust between the political parties in the country.
AMANPOUR: All right. On that note, thank you so much for joining me, Abdul Mawgoud Dardery.
And that is it for tonight's program. We continue to watch this developing situation. And meantime you will always be able to contact us at our website, amanpour.com. Thanks for watching. We leave you with those live pictures from Tahrir Square. And goodbye from New York.