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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS
Seeds of Change: Egyptian Government is Out, Mubarak Remains; Protestors Become More Organized; Phone Services Restored in Egypt; U.S. Administration Remains Vigilant, Watchful of Egypt's Actions as Protests Continue; Social Media's Role in Egyptian Revolution; History Lesson on Mubarak's Rule Over Egypt; Middle East Anxious Over Possible Power Gap If Mubarak Were to Leave Power
Aired January 29, 2011 - 07:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning.
We are watching the seeds of change take root this morning in Egypt. Historic anti-government protests have forced the hand of country's long-time president. We are hearing his government is out, but he is not going anywhere. At least that's what he says.
Tanks and soldiers have replaced police in the streets and squares across Egypt, but that hasn't stopped demonstrators from coming out in force. The chants we heard are for peace.
A sentiment echoed in the halls of the White House. President Obama is keeping a close, yet critical eye on this key U.S. ally.
From CNN Center, this is CNN SATURDAY MORNING. It is Saturday, January 29th. Good morning, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.
And because we are spending so much time on Egypt, and everything about Egypt this morning --
JIM CLANCY, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: I got to be here.
KAYE: -- we've got CNN International anchor Jim Clancy to join us as well.
CLANCY: Glad to be with you, too.
You know, the major developments, thus far, reports that the government has officially resigned. And the thought was, if he did that, would that go far enough? Would it satisfy the demonstrators? We are looking at the streets and the answer seems to be no.
President Mubarak, of course, would be the man to rebuild that government. And he, according to everything he says, wants to stay right on top.
KAYE: And this move hasn't exactly satisfied protesters gathering across the country. We've already seen them this morning. We are hearing about mass demonstrations, once again, in Cairo and Alexandria. As we said, those protesters are calling for peace. But they also want Mubarak out. These protests, of course, are historic.
CLANCY: You know, this is a situation that's being closely watched here in the United States for good reason. Egypt has long been a partner with the United States, a partner on the war on terror and the war on Iraq. It's stood with the U.S. on the world stage, as a model of stability in the volatile Middle East.
KAYE: And it takes us, of course, to the next step. President Mubarak says he's heard the message loud and clear. He's called for the government to resign. But he's not going to anywhere.
Here's President Obama talking about Mubarak's message to Egypt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've also been clear that there must be reform -- political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people. In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time.
When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him, after his speech. I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: You know, as President Mubarak was talking about democracy and a better life for Egyptians, tanks and soldiers moved into key positions in major cities across the country. A senior U.S. government official is telling CNN, Mr. Mubarak believes that he can ride this one out.
KAYE: We have talked a lot about the violent protest in the capital, Cairo, but that's the only place people are gathering. One other hot spot, Alexandria, Egypt. But, today, the scene is a little different there.
CNN senior international correspondent Nic Robertson was actually hit by tear gas there yesterday and he joins us now live from Alexandria.
Nic, what is the scene there today? Calmer?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are still protests going on, but there are peaceful protests, about 5,000 people. And again, we are hearing called for President Mubarak to leave the country. When we ask people if what he said last night was enough, they said absolutely not.
The chanting is "We're out, we're not going back." Meaning, we've come out to the streets and we're not going back until President Mubarak leaves office.
We're also hearing for people out there who are worried about the situation. President Mubarak said that he would change his government. That means there could be a new government. So, maybe we should give that a chance. Those voices in the minority, those voices rather in the minority, but these people who tell us they're afraid of what might happen. They're afraid of the potential for violence.
But there's a couple of things different about the dynamic today. One is there's no complication of the army. The army is out in relatively small numbers and letting the protesters go by. They protestors aren't attacking them as they did with the police. So, there's confrontation there.
And today, the protestors have more organizers, rallying them, giving them direction, leading them in the chants, keeping traffic away from them -- civilian traffic so no one gets hurt. So, there's a different dynamic.
But there's one other thing that I should mention as well. Yesterday, President Obama said that Hosni Mubarak should take away the restrictions on Twitter, on Facebook, et cetera, and restore phone services. Well, the phone services here have been restored.
Here's an interesting text that I received just a few minutes ago. And I'll read it to you because (AUDIO BREAK) something about the situation, the direction it's going in. It says -- and this is from a mobile phone service here in Egypt -- and it says, "We regret mobile coverage in Egypt cut on instruction of the government." Now, that said, this has been restored.
So, even the mobile phone services here point the finger of the blame to the government. And now, the service is restored. It's a very interesting dynamic.
CLANCY: You know, Nic, it's Jim Clancy. Also very interesting is how the U.S. is playing this. You know, they're trying to walk the walk on the streets at the same time they signal, gee, we'd like Mr. Mubarak to stay in here. We'll give him a fatherly advice here.
Are the people in the streets buying that? Have they made any comments at all about how Washington is taking a stand?
ROBERTSON: Yes. They have a lot to say about that. They really like President Obama to come out more strongly in favor of the people. They can see how he's sort riding the situation. They understand the nuance, if you will, of the U.S. position. But they're saying, look, it's very clear to us here that President Mubarak is going. If the president of the United States wants to support the people of Egypt and support the democratic process, he should come out more in favor of the people here.
So, there is a clear message. And the nuance, the U.S. needing President Mubarak as an ally in the Middle East, the U.S. policies here, is lost on the people here. And politically, some groups are opposed to that relationship. So, potentially, that relationship could change.
But the clear message for people is: if you want to be on the side of the new future of Egypt, you need to be on the side of the new future, on the side of people here in the streets. That's the message -- Jim, Randi.
KAYE: All right. Nic Robertson live with us this morning from Alexandria.
CLANCY: Important city, historically, for tourism. You know, I think about 80 percent of everything that's being imported or exported from Egypt goes through Alexandria. So --
KAYE: It's a good thing that we have him there.
CLANCY: It sure is. You can see, it has a lot to do with where the country is going.
KAYE: Washington is, certainly, just as we are, watching the situation in Egypt. President Obama spoke late yesterday with the embattled Egyptian leader, President Hosni Mubarak, but as a result of the turmoil there, the administration is reviewing its aid to Egypt.
Our Dan Lothian tells us the administration has a difficult balancing act.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Randi, President Obama continues to get up to the minute information of what's going on on the ground in Egypt, getting a memo from his national security adviser, meeting with high level members of his national security team. The administration is trying to be very careful not to pick sides in this unrest, but it's a difficult balancing act dealing with this key U.S. partner.
(voice-over): As tensions rise in Egypt, the White House is ramping up its response.
OBAMA: When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech. And I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.
LOTHIAN: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton weighed in, too, voicing concerns over the violence directed at protesters by police and security forces.
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We urge the Egyptian authorities to allow peaceful protests and to reverse the unprecedented steps it has taken to cut off communications.
LOTHIAN: The Obama administration has been pushing President Hosni Mubarak, privately and publicly, to implement reforms, a delicate dance as cables released by WikiLeaks revealed.
In a 2009 dispatch over concerns about human rights abuses, U.S. Ambassador Margaret Scobey is reported to have written, quote, "Mubarak takes this issue personally and it makes him seethe when we raise it particularly in public."
U.S. officials have also resisted calling for regime change.
JON ALTERMAN, CT. FOR STRATEGIC & INTL. STUDIES: I think the administration is going to try to appeal to the best in things and ultimately, will work with whoever is in power in Egypt.
LOTHIAN: Even so, outside the White House, pressure from protesters looking for change.
Egypt has been a key U.S. ally for years, working to bring Israelis and Palestinians together, being a stable partner in the region, and supporting the international effort to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And that's important, but there is a responsibility that is had by the government of Egypt regardless of the role they have played internationally or regionally over the course of any number of years. They also have to address the grievances that have built up for the same number of years within the country of Egypt.
LOTHIAN (on camera): Officials here at the White House are also discussing the assistance the U.S. gives to Egypt, including more than a billion dollar each year. They'll be reviewing over the next few days how the government in Egypt deals with the unrest on the ground and how that might impact the aid -- Randi.
KAYE: Thank you, Dan.
Social media has played a part in the demonstrations. It has been used to rally protestors and to spread information on where, of course, all of these demonstrations are planned.
CLANCY: But, you know, the government pulled the plug. Believe it or not, you can have a revolution on the streets without Twitter and without Facebook, apparently.
Mohammed Jamjoom is monitoring all that. He's at CNN international desk.
Mohammed, some way to measure, you know, social media -- how much of an effect it's having in all this?
MOHAMMED JAMJOOM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, it's really played an integral part getting people in the streets the last few days. There was so much organization being done on sites like Facebook and Twitter before people really started demonstrating. Now, yesterday, everything was cut off. And now, essentially, what you've seen is the Internet is still shut off in Egypt.
Nonetheless, mobile networks are starting to work again. And that's what I wanted to talk to you a little of about right now, because that's the topics that we're seeing, trending as we're monitoring social media out of Egypt. We look at trends map right now. We see one of the key topics on Twitter in Cairo, Vodafone, some of the tweets that are starting to appear because people are tweeting to their mobile phones right now.
This is a user purportedly in Cairo. Vodafone is back again. Gmail is working now. And because mobile networks are intermittently working, people are able to use cell phones to post pictures.
If we look at some of the pictures signs across Cairo with graffiti scrolled down, and this one says, "Down with Mubarak." Actually, this is a theme in all the pictures we have posted here from this person.
Also, another one, down with Mubarak. This one here, again, on one of these armored personnel carriers, graffitied up with down with Mubarak.
And we also see other tweets. This one says, yes, I was on the streets. And there's no presence of traffic police or any sort of police for that matter.
One more here, word on the street, the big demonstration will be at Tahrir Square at 3:00 p.m. local time.
And this is just emphasizing how much motivation there is for people to use, to find ways, to get around the Internet blockage in Egypt right now and find ways to post their messages on Twitter or sites like Facebook so they can continue to demonstrate -- Jim.
KAYE: Yes. And, Mohammed, this is Randi. I guess, you know, people, when it comes to social media, they will find a way. I know yesterday they are trying to find a way to circumvent it and download some apps. But, obviously, if you don't have any Internet service, that's not going to do any good.
But what's interesting I find is that in this day and age, with so much social media, it really is a unique way to voice all of this anger in a situation like this. It's a great outlet for people.
JAMJOOM: Absolutely, Randi. It's extremely unique. And more than that, it's extremely unique for that part of the world.
I mean, you could say that in the Arab world, even though you've seen more and more countries using social media as far as what you saw after elections, you know, in Iran with the protests that were happening there, but you could say that it still is -- the usage of these platforms is still somewhat in their infancy in this part of the world.
But over the past few weeks, especially after what happened in Tunisia, because social media was used in some capacity to organize, the protests that happened there, you've seen social media being utilized very heavily in Egypt and you've seen it being utilized even in places like Yemen. Not to as much of an extent to organize protests there and even --
CLANCY: Mohammed --
JAMJOOM: Yes, Jim?
CLANCY: Let's get a reality check here. The biggest demonstrations in all of this were launched in the day when there wasn't any Internet. There wasn't any Twitter. There wasn't any Facebook.
All right. The social media is a great way to reflect all that, but aren't we kidding ourselves if we say it's directing it? Clearly, it's not.
JAMJOOM: Right, Jim. Clearly, it's not directing it, but it has played a really key part in getting people to try to organize ways for people to get out into the streets. As you said before, the fact that the Internet was shut down all day yesterday and people still went out, shows the anger is there. The ability to go and organize is there, whether or not the Internet is working or not.
The Internet shutdown that happened in Egypt yesterday, we spoke about this yesterday as well, that was unprecedented in the history of the Internet. But the fact that for the four days before that, the Internet was being used so heavily to find ways to circumvent basically what the government was trying to do to quell these protests.
And people were trying so hard to get the word out and to get people organize and tell them where to go shows what a key role it played in just getting the word out that there was so much support in this region and in the country of Egypt to basically get the message that they wanted to -- that they wanted to end to this regime of Mubarak -- Jim.
CLANCY: Mohammed Jamjoom making a good point there, you know, it all led up to it. So, you can't, you know, deny there were some influence for it.
KAYE: Sure, there was a lot of planning there. All right. Thank you, Mohammed.
This just coming into us from Nile TV, the political crisis is having a dramatic impact. The central bank and stock market are closed on Sunday. Will the financial crisis weaken Hosni Mubarak's hold on power? Also, we can confirm for you, for sure, CNN has confirmed that the Egyptian government has resigned.
Our coverage continues right after the break.
KAYE: Welcome back.
We are seeing more antigovernment demonstrations in Egypt again today. Take a look here at these live pictures from the capital of Cairo. Lots of protesters in the streets, once again. The Egyptian government, we can officially tell you, has resigned. But clearly has not stopped the protesters. They want more. They want real change.
CLANCY: You know, you are looking at this. This is Qasr El Nile. This is right in the heart of the capital, the Nile River there in the background. Those boats you see, you can see the tops of them. They are out in the Nile River. That's where a lot of tourists would go, take a boat ride, have dinner out on the Nile.
KAYE: If there are tourists in this, boy, they are getting quite a sight.
CLANCY: Well, you know what -- you actually, look at this and I know there's been travel warnings that have issued. Delta Airlines says it has one flight that's going to be leaving from the Egyptian capital and it's stopping all flights.
But this is not a dangerous situation right now, as we see it here. Things are very, very calm. It's not the clashes, the tear gas, the violence that we saw a day ago.
Let's find out -- let's get some more. We've got our man on the scene there this morning. Fred Pleitgen. He's right in the thick of it there in Cairo.
KAYE: Fred, what are you seeing? We know what we're seeing in terms of the pictures that we have on TV here. But set the scene for us there on the ground.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're seeing part of the scene here, Randi. (AUDIO BREAK) tanks which are only about 50 yards away from where we're standing and there's people around those tanks, clearly chatting with the soldiers. It seems to be quite a friendly atmosphere between the two.
But what you're not seeing, that obviously, a couple of blocks away, there are much more or many more demonstrators in the streets who, of course, are also chanting and calling President Mubarak to step down. We saw them (INAUDIBLE) thousands really in the Tahrir Square, the remarkable thing about that was that they really came out very, very early today. It seems as though, almost as though that we saw whole families going out for a Saturday walk, if you will, and then joining in these protests that are so diverse, the group of people that were in here.
Right now, you can see a small demonstration of the people, also calling for Hosni Mubarak to step down and telling him to go. They want him to go.
This is really something that's very typical here. But you'll have a small group of people, 30, then 40 people. They'll start chanting. Other people will start joining them. They might converge on, you know, somewhere there are some tanks that are up. And then, all of a sudden (AUDIO BREAK), grow of a crowd of several thousand. That's really how these protests start. They don't seem to be centrally organized. There's not one central place that people are converging on. It's just people sort of ad hoc coming together and then it bellows out.
So, it is something we have been seeing all morning, is how these small crowds turned into bigger crowds. And then all of a sudden, you have (AUDIO BREAK) demonstrations, Jim.
CLANCY: You know, it's interesting to watch, Fred, the way -- there's some guys out there that appeared to be -- they almost orchestra directors trying to get the crowds there. You know, they are raising their arms and it would appear that at least one of them has kind of -- I can't tell if it's a satchel or perhaps battery operated megaphone trying to lead the crowd in chants.
And, Fred, let's be honest -- they know where the television cameras are. They know where you are.
PLEITGEN: Well, they certainly do. But, on the other hand, we have to keep in mind that a lot of these people, you know, they haven't been able to completely communicate over the past day and a half. I mean, the Internet was down. It was pretty much impossible.
(AUDIO BREAK) these are the places where we are going to converge. We know that people were trying to go door-to-door to tell other people to join in the protest. But even though they know right now, there are cameras on them, they go Tahrir Square or somewhere else where they're not sure that there will be cameras on them.
Really, it's a very spontaneous thing. And you're absolutely right. Every once in awhile, you have someone (AUDIO BREAK) like megaphone. He'll try and draw a crowd around them. They'll start marching.
What you don't see much though is really sort of big banners that people seem to have made, you know, a while back, you know, that are very high-end or have been made a long time ago. You can see that these protests really are of the moment, sort of ad hoc protests. The signs you see are very small. They're all handwritten. They're not really colored.
And this is really something that looks like a spontaneous demonstration. And it is, of course, far different than we saw here yesterday. Yesterday, the area that you're looking at right now was an absolute battlefield where people were slugging it out with the security forces, with police. Police were using tear gas.
And, now, you have a much different crowd of protesters and, of course, you have the military out here instead of police. And really it seems as though that's emboldened people well to come out here and speak their minds, Jim.
CLANCY: All right. Frederik Pleitgen, senior international correspondent with us there, showing us the streets of Cairo, giving us some perspective -- really appreciate Fred's perspective in all of this.
KAYE: And we will, of course, keep checking back with our correspondents in Egypt all morning long. But before that, who is Hosni Mubarak? We've heard his name many times over the last few days. His government has resigned. But for now, he is still in charge. Why Egyptians say this president must go.
KAYE: Welcome back. Just about half past the hour, looking at pictures there from the streets of Egypt.
And it is now five days since the people of Egypt turned against their government. If these street protests and demonstrations keep playing out so dramatically as you're seeing right there, it could turn into a full-blown revolution against the man who has ruled them for just about 30 years, Hosni Mubarak.
So, who is he and why, after so long, are people protesting now?
Nadia Bilchik is joining me.
Well, we certainly know that he is defiant, at least.
NADIA BILCHIK, CNN EDITORIAL PRODUCER: Yes. And we know he's been in power for 30 years and that he's an astounding 82 years old. Now, how many 82-year-olds do you know -- exactly the age of my father -- I mean, do look so incredible?
KAYE: He certainly does. He certainly doesn't look his age.
BILCHIK: No, he doesn't. So, there he is. But how did he get to be this person?
Let's take a step back. So, he joined the Egyptian air force when he was a young man. He came from a very modest family, joined the Egyptian air force, rises in the ranks there.
And in the 1973 war of Egypt and Israel, he becomes a war hero. He's credited with making the first move. The Israelis call the Yom Kippur war. The Egyptians call it the October war. And he becomes a war hero.
But that was 37 years ago. The generation now, 60 percent under 30 don't care that he was a war hero then.
BILCHIK: So, looking at that and he's really ridden on that for so many years.
KAYE: It doesn't hold up anymore with these young people.
BILCHIK: Exactly. Now, you also say that behind every powerful man there lies a woman.
KAYE: Who we have not heard much about.
BILCHIK: Exactly. Well, in the case of Hosni Mubarak, there is a very powerful woman, Suzanne Mubarak is the power. She is said to be the reason that Gamal is supposedly going to be his successor. They put Gamal forward. Well, we don't know what's going to happen now. But in the next election it was going to be supposedly Gamal, not Mubarak, because his mother has been pushing for him.
But let's look at the kind of person she is. Now, you know, the famous photograph last year with Obama and Mubarak. Do you remember that photograph? There was an Obama-Mubarak photograph --
KAYE: I do.
BILCHIK: -- where Obama was in front of Mubarak. But in the redacted photograph in the Egyptian press, they put Mubarak ahead of Obama.
KAYE: And was that her doing? Looking out for him man?
BILCHIK: Well, not necessarily her doing but it shows his power in the Egyptian press. But had happened was she made a trip to America previously. And she was very concerned that the American press or the Egyptian press, should I say, had not made enough of her activities abroad.
So, she insisted that the Egyptian newspapers do a full-page spread on Miss Suzanne Mubarak visits United States.
BILCHIK: And she sits in on meetings. And although, has no actual power, is very, very powerful.
KAYE: I wonder what she would advise today.
BILCHIK: That's going to be interesting. And where is she? Is she in Switzerland? Is she in Saudi Arabia?
KAYE: Where will it be?
BILCHIK: And one thing is for certain, whoever I've spoken to over the last two days and it will be many, many people. No one can predict what is going to happen to the man they described as the last pharaoh.
KAYE: All right. Nadia, we'll check back with you, for sure, later on this morning.
One country is watching the situation in Egypt very closely and that is Israel. What could happen if one of their strongest regional allies is overthrown?
KAYE: It is 33 minutes past the hour. Welcome back. I'm Randi Kaye, joined this morning by CNN International anchor Jim Clancy.
So glad that you're with us this morning.
CLANCY: That's me.
KAYE: Yes, that is you.
CLANCY: It's fun to be with you this morning. Saturday morning is more fun with you. I watch you all the time on TV, you know?
KAYE: Oh, thank you. We're glad you're here.
Our focus this morning, of course, is Egypt and the call for change coming from the streets of Cairo.
Just this morning, CNN confirming the cabinet of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has officially resigned. These pictures from Egypt's capital, protesters once again in the city's main square. This is near the main government building which was actually set on fire yesterday. Egypt is a linchpin of the Arab world, a democracy in name.
CLANCY: You know, and let's be clear, it was party headquarters for President Hosni Mubarak's political party that were torched and then looted typewriters, computers taken by the protesters. All of this started on Tuesday. Thousands of Egyptians chanting a message they want to remove the 82-year-old President Hosni Mubarak from office.
For many, he is the literally leader they've ever known. He's been in office for 29, going on 30 years.
KAYE: And we have seen this before. Just this month, in fact, not far from Egypt, in Tunisia, the people rose up, demanding the very same kind of change. Their government crumbled. In its place now: new leaders and the promise of real reform.
CLANCY: The whole thing is a situation that's being closely watched here in the United States for very good reasons. Egypt has long been a partner for America. It is seen as a pillar for stability in the Middle East. In the war on terror, during the wars in Iraq, working with the U.S. to try to rein in Iran's nuclear ambitions, standing alongside Washington on the world stage as that model of stability.
KAYE: President Mubarak says that he's heard the message from his people loud and clear while their government has resigned. Mubarak has given no indication that he will step down.
Here's President Obama talking about Mubarak's message to Egypt.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We've also been clear that there must be reform -- political, social and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people. In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time. When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech, and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CLANCY: Now, here's the problem with all that. He made those promises. And I'm going to make some change and the people on the street are saying, gee, you had 30 years to do this. And why should we wait any longer? And they're wondering who's going to be the next leader.
We've heard -- as we heard a few minutes ago, his son, Gamal Mubarak, being groomed. Egyptians saying, look, we know it's in our history to have a pharaoh, but we don't want to become like a royal republic like Libya where it's thought that Muammar Khadafy's son is going to become the next leader.
Like Syria Al-Assad's son did become the new president. They don't want that in Egypt. They want something real and they want some real change in their lives that brings them, you know, better economy, more jobs.
KAYE: Less corruption.
CLANCY: And a real future. The corruption isn't as rampant in Egypt as it is Tunisia. I think that really pushed Tunisia over the edge, and the president especially.
The situation in Egypt is a little bit different. The poverty is grinding. So many people without a future, so many young people with great educations, lucky to get a job driving a taxi. That's the future they envisioned.
KAYE: Well, Israelis are watching anti-government demonstrations in Egypt play out now for a fifth day. Egypt is one of the Jewish state's strongest regional allies.
CNN Jerusalem bureau chief, Kevin Flower, joins us now live.
And, Kevin, we have yet to hear from the Israeli authorities. Are they watching this? Are they plotting something?
KEVIN FLOWER, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF: Well, Randi, the Israeli officials we have spoken to say, yes, we are watching this very closely and that's about all they'll say. But rest assured, they are watching with great concern the events over the last couple days in Egypt.
Now, recall that as you mentioned, Egypt is Israel's most important strategic ally in the region. They have had a peace agreement for 30 years. And it is -- it is a linchpin part of Israel's strategic sort of security in the entire region.
It has two friends in the region, Jordan and Egypt. It's watching this chaos in Egypt. It doesn't know exactly what's going on.
And the government here in Israel does not want to see revolutionary change in Cairo. It doesn't necessarily want to see Hosni Mubarak go. They have had a good working relationship with Hosni Mubarak for 28 years.
And while some have described the peace as a cold peace, it's one that has worked for Israel. It's one in which they have a lot of shared interest. Shared interest in controlling Iran, Iran's influence on Lebanon, Iran's influence in the Gaza strip, vis-a-vis Hamas. A lot of, you know, shared security interest.
So, Israeli military officials, Israeli politicians, are looking at all of this with a great deal of concern about what comes next, what is going to fill the vacuum here. If Hosni Mubarak is going to be leaving, who is going to take his place? Is it going to be the military? Will the Muslim Brotherhood, where Islamist parties gain influence?
That is something people here are extremely concerned about in watching, Randi.
KAYE: Sure, the risk is, whoever does take over, if there is someone else who takes over, what is the risk for Israel in that case, the unknown, the big unknown.
FLOWER: Well, there are a number of risks. One is, Israel has, by and large, for the past 30 years of this peace agreement, has been able to basically with some measure of ease, not have to sort of man- up or have a large military presence on its border with Israel -- with Egypt, rather. So, that is one border that it has not had to be concerned about. So, it's allowed it to focus on other threats. The northern border of Lebanon, Iran, further afield.
Going forward, they don't want to have to sort of stretch their military, to place it on another border. And also, they are looking at the region as a whole. They are looking at Jordan. There have been protests in Jordan for a couple weeks, large protests yesterday, large protests last week.
There are concerns about which way the region is going. Will its friends, Egypt and Jordan, where will they be in a few weeks' time? Will they be the same friendly regimes that have been in place? Again, a lot of these are hypotheticals. You know, Israeli leaders are not expressing these concerns openly, but this is -- this is definitely what's on their minds, Randi.
KAYE: All right. Kevin Flower for us live in Jerusalem this morning -- thank you, Kevin.
CLANCY: People wondering is what's happening in Egypt today, could it mirror what happened in Iran with their revolution so many years ago. We're going to take a closer look at historical similarities and how the changes affected the world. Our coverage continues in two minutes. I promise.
CLANCY: The relationship between Washington and Cairo, very close one indeed, Randi. And Egypt has been not only a stable country in the region, it's huge, 80 million people. It is a pillar of the Middle East in culture, education, religion, so many different areas. This year alone, Washington is going to be giving about $1.3 billion in military aid.
KAYE: Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence tells us the Pentagon was hosting several Egyptian military leaders this week when these protests first erupted. He says Washington has leveraged with Egypt and is closely watching what's happening there.
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Randi, about two dozen of Egypt's highest ranking military officials were right here at the Pentagon when the protests erupted. They were talking to their U.S. counterparts about security assistance but had to rush home to try to deal with the crisis back in Egypt.
(voice-over): While armored vehicles rumbled through Cairo's streets, some of Egypt's top military officials were huddled in, of all places, the Pentagon.
GEN. JAMES CARTWRIGHT, VICE CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: It would be hard to ignore the fact this was going on and it wasn't ignored.
LAWRENCE: The high-ranking officers cut short their previously scheduled meetings with Pentagon officials to rush back to Egypt. But not before U.S. officials urged their Egyptian counterparts to handle the protesters peacefully.
CARTWRIGHT: And the key activity that is important is to exercise restraint and to do so both on our part, but also on the part of our counterparts in the Egyptian military.
LAWRENCE: And the U.S. has some leverage with its ally.
Every other year, up to 10,000 troops trained with Egyptian soldiers, the largest military exercise in the region. The U.S. gives Egypt well over $1 billion a year in assistance. It's outfitted Egypt with fighter jets, Apache helicopters, M-1 tanks and surveillance equipment -- the last thing the Pentagon wants are those weapons in the hostile hands.
KEN POLLACK, SABAN CENTER AT BROOKINGS: In some way, that is one of America's worst nightmares.
LAWRENCE: But Ken Pollack at the Brookings Institution says it's not because the weapons are so sophisticated or will harm the U.S., it's symbolic. POLLACK: Because it will once again be another major American ally whom the United States armed to the teeth suddenly overthrown by a population that he repressed for so long and that the United States ignored.
LAWRENCE: It seems unlikely now. Protesters who fought police actually cheered the Egyptian army. And the militant Muslim Brotherhood is not controlling these protests. But Pollack says 30 years ago, Iran's Islamic revolution started as a middle class revolt.
POLLACK: Revolutions are extremely unpredictable events. And the people who begin the revolution aren't always the people who wind up ending them.
LAWRENCE (on camera): Now, there's more than 600 American troops in Egypt right now and a contingency plan to evacuate the U.S. embassy in Cairo. But the embassy staff has not asked for that, yet. And U.S. military officials tell me the situation has not reached that level just yet -- Randi.
KAYE: And we are staying on top of the crisis in Egypt and the morning's other top stories. That and a check of your forecast coming your way next.
KAYE: Welcome back. Forty-nine minutes past the hour.
Checking the top stories:
Police have released a compelling surveillance video of a deadly shootout at a police precinct in Detroit last Sunday. And we caution: this video is graphic.
KAYE: The gunman did walk in -- as you can see, he started shooting, injuring four officers. He was actually killed, the gunman. The chief of police says the video shows the heroism of his officers.
In Delaware, the medical examiner says blunt force trauma was the cause of death of former Pentagon official John Wheeler. The 66-year- old was found dead New Year's eve in a Newark, Delaware landfill. Police are still trying to determine who killed him.
Actor Charlie Sheen, now back in rehab. A spokesman for the 45- year-old star says Sheen voluntarily entered an undisclosed facility yesterday, a day after he was treated for a hernia. Sheen's hit show "Two and a Half Men" has been placed on production hiatus.
Two days after New York got hit with 19 inches of snow, some snow piles are growing higher. Sanitation trucks are busy with the big job of snow removal. Thursday's monster storm made it the snowiest on record for New York City dating back to 1925. And time for a check of weather with meteorologist Reynolds Wolf.
Not exactly a record, but you really want to be a part of, I guess, huh?
REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That's a dubious one, I would say, especially if you're the guy or lady out there with the shovel or the snow blower. It can be a little bit of a headache, to say the least. But more snow in store for parts of New England and in parts of New York. But the thing is, it's going to be very light, light dusting.
Not the situation, though, for parts of the Great Lakes. In fact, as we zoom in, it is very easy to see on radar. Everything that's white happens to be your snowfall, prevailing wind coming out of the Northwest is going to have that snow begin to pile up in places like Cleveland, even over to Erie, one to three inches of snowfall expected for the day.
However, further out to the west, the situation is going to be a little more, I would say, impressive in terms of snowfall totals. Some places up in the central and northern Rockies make it up to about 20 inches of snowfall.
And over the next 20 seconds, we're going to show what you can expect for the next part of the nation. Southeast, high and dry, plenty of sunshine for you, very mild conditions too. Out of the four corners, basically the same situation.
But the California coast, San Francisco and points northward, expect rain today. But in the highest elevations, your amount of chance of snow will be a possibility.
Very quickly, your temperatures out west, then working your way back to the east, San Francisco, Seattle in the 50s, Salt Lake City, 43; 26 in Minneapolis, 41 in St. Louis, 65 in Atlanta, 34 in New York, and 35 in Boston.
That is a quick snapshot of your forecast, let's kick it back to you, Randi.
KAYE: It's warming up already.
WOLF: Oh, yes.
KAYE: All right. Thanks, Reynolds.
Egypt's government has resigned, but its president is still in charge, just like he has been for almost three decades. We'll take a closer look at Hosni Mubarak -- straight ahead.
KAYE: A lot of the anger in Egypt is directed at President Hosni Mubarak, the country's longtime leader. The 82-year-old has been present in Egypt for nearly 30 years. He took over shortly after the assassination of Anwar Sadat. Sadat was killed shortly after making peaceful inroads with Israel.
Mubarak has been the target of at least two failed assassination attempts, both of them happened in the 1990s.
CLANCY: Egypt's future may be at a tipping point. As they say, it's hard to put the genie back into the bottle. You got the demonstrators on the streets. They don't even know who's next, who steps in, who fills the void if Mubarak goes away.
The answer has an impact on the Palestinians, the Israelis, the entire Middle East, and yes, right here in the U.S.
CNN's Brian Todd takes a look.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the streets, in their Twitter and Facebook messages, the young catalysts of the uprising in Egypt leave no doubt about their objective, to drive out an 82-year-old president who's ruled them with an iron hand for as long as many have been alive. But that presents a problem. Hosni Mubarak's been in power so long, he'd leave a gaping void, which could be exploited by several militant groups he's been crushing for decades.
BRIAN FISHMAN, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: If there's a period of real instability in Egypt. Will that create an opportunity for some of these old brutes to sort of reinvigorate themselves? At this point, there's no sign of that, but I'm sure that's something we need to be aware of.
TODD: Brian Fishman and other experts point to groups that have banned by Mubarak's government, like the Muslim Brotherhood. The Brotherhood lived by the gun long ago, but in recent years has become more moderate, moved away from violence and towards providing social services through Islamic charities. Still, there are other Egyptian opposition figures who favor a more brutal approach.
MARC GINSBERG, FMR. U.S. AMBASSADOR TO MOROCCO: Ayman Al- Zawahiri, the number two in al Qaeda, was an Egyptian. He still has an enormous following in Egypt among very radical Islamic extremists.
TODD: Al-Zawahiri has been gunning for Mubarak for decades, and experts say he may make a public statement during these protests. But he's on the run and his old group, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad has been absorbed into al Qaeda.
Another faction called the Islamic Group has massacred tourists and once came close to assassinating Mubarak.
(on camera): But experts say many of its members are hiding out with al Qaeda in Pakistan and its spiritual leader Umar Abdel Rahman also known at the "Blind Sheikh" is serving a life sentence in the U.S. for his role in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.
(voice-over): These troops are down, experts say, but not necessarily out.
(on camera): You foresee, though, a scenario where militants could rise up and actually take some power or influence? What's that scenario?
FISHMAN: I think the dangerous scenario here where jihadi groups and militant groups might be able to increase their influence in Egypt is if the government crushes these protests violently in a way that doesn't create reform.
TODD (voice-over): Then, says Brian Fishman, al Qaeda and other militant groups might jump in and tell Egyptians that peaceful protests don't work and that violence is the only way to bring the change you want.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
KAYE: History is unfolding in Egypt. Our cameras and correspondents right there in the thick of it.
The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM (sic) starts right after this break.