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Egypt Uprising

Aired February 5, 2011 - 18:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR, EGYPT UPRISING (voice over): The lingering question that defies a simple answer tonight: Will Egypt's Hosni Mubarak hang on or give up? And those defying him on the streets, will they stay put or give up? Ahead this hour, the very latest developments on the uprising in Egypt.

Also to come, a closer look at Egypt's military machine. The potential power broker in this crisis. America's long support for less than democratic regimes, the political cost. Brutality in the open, journalists caught in the cross fire. And the Egypt we once knew, can its battered image ever be repaired?

(On camera): Good evening, I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Welcome to the CNN special EGYPT UPRISING. We welcome our viewers United States and around the world.

We'd like to give you the very late latest. A large crowd massed in Tahrir Square again today. But unlike recent violence we've seen, this protest remained calm. A heavy military presence kept the peace though an army spokesman said the soldiers aren't taking sides.

Perhaps a calming influence came from Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party. That is because President Hosni Mubarak's son, Gamal, once the presumptive heir, resigned his party post. That takes him out of consideration to replace his father. This, as the vice president held talks with opposition leaders, and also by phone with U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.

In the Egyptian Sinai town El Arish somebody set fire today to a natural gas pipeline that supplies Jordan. The government blames sabotage and had to shut down the pipeline. Repairs will take at least a week.

Protesters in Cairo formed a human chain this morning, stopping tanks heading toward Tahrir Square. Now, that city square has been the center of anti-Mubarak protests for nearly two weeks now. The tanks stopped without a confrontation.

Our CNN'S Ivan Watson has been in Cairo all day; he joins us to tell us what is happening on the ground today.

Ivan, set the scene for us, the mood.

IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did have this for the first time really a confrontation, Suzanne, between the military, which claims that it is a neutral player in this crisis, and the demonstrators, who have held so steadfast and bled, actually, to hold on to this crucial piece of territory in the center of Cairo.

What we saw for the first time were dozens, scores of demonstrators lining up outside the barricades that they have erected surrounding Tahrir Square, and forming a human chain to stop Egyptian military tanks from moving in.

MALVEAUX: Were they successful, Ivan?

WATSON: They also stopped several dozen soldiers. They were successful. And they are there. It's now after midnight. It's 1:00 a.m. And they are still lined up in the damp, in the cold here, sitting in front of those barricades with little campfires in front of them to keep warm.

Now, an army general did go in and perform a tour of what is effectively an opposition enclave. People were coming up to him and embracing him, kissing him. Then he got on stage and tried to address the crowd. And at one point, he said, you have to put your country's security ahead of these demands of yours. And the crowd did not like what he had to say.

He then said, I don't understand what it is you want. And they chanted this response, Suzanne. They said, "leave, leave, leave. He leaves, then we leave." Of course meaning the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Then the army general got down off the stage and left the square, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Who is actually down there now? Is it women? Is it children? Are there families down there? Give us a sense of whether or not these are really protesters, hooligans or just the Egyptian folks coming out.

WATSON: It's an eclectic mix and it depends on the time of day. There are hard core activists there, thousands of them, they are mostly men. There are a number of women. There are Islamists there. There are young Egyptian more secular types. And many of these men are proudly walking around wearing the badges-the bandages, that they have gotten after days and nights of battling with the pro-Mubarak demonstrators. And they're proudly wearing them. And they are sleeping on the street. They're sleeping on the sidewalks, and filthy, but they have set up a camp-like situation there.

There are stations where they can recharge their cell phones. They're using subway stations there; the underpasses rotating through for bathrooms. And they have first aid stations as well where a constant stream of wounded people are coming through when the clashes erupt on the barricades.

MALVEAUX: Ivan Watson, thank you so much. Please be safe.

Egypt's government is defending its handling of the situation right now. Our CNN's Hala Gorani just talked with a high ranking member of the ruling party and joins us live from Cairo.

Hala, give us a sense of what he said. HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR, CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Suzanne. This comes on the day that there were mass resignations from the ruling party, the NDP, with the son of President Hosni Mubarak resigning his post. I had an opportunity to speak with the foreign minister for Egypt, Ahmed Aboul Gheit. It's been asked a lot. Is Egypt the next Tunisia? Is Egypt the Arab autocracy that will lose its leader next? That will see its leader fleeing, forced, by street demonstrations, to leave the country? I asked Ahmed Aboul Gheit, that question and this is what he told me, Suzanne.


GORANI: You called the chance of a Tunisian-style uprising in Egypt--

AHMED ABOUL GHEIT, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: Absolutely and I still maintain that.

GORANI: -- and you called it nonsense.

GHEIT: I still maintain that position. Our president will not flee.

GORANI: So what is happening?

But the uprising is similar. The people want the same thing.

GHEIT: OK. But the president would never flee and the organs of power, of society will not disappear. The Egyptian army is in the streets. And it will defend the state of Egypt; Egypt, the state, the oldest state on Earth.


GORANI: I asked him why the military a few days ago, Suzanne, stood by while attacks were taking place against journalists and foreigners in general. He told me that it would have been impossible at that time to add more troops in Tahrir Square.

But then over the last 24 hours or so, we saw an increased military presence and a lot more calm in Tahrir Square. And definitely much fewer attacks on journalists, although we have seen some harassment, definitely on our colleagues from Al Jazeera for instance, in the last 24 hours. But the level of violence has substantially decreased, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: We certainly hope it remains that way. Thank you so much, Hala Gorani.

Well, it was about a month ago that Egypt was bringing in the new year much the same as it had the last three decades. The same president, same ruling class, bolstered by the same Western support. It was just 30 days later those pillars of control are crumbling, fast, under the weight of this popular uprising. Our CNN's Brooke Baldwin takes a look back at these key moments as they unfolded.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Friday, January 28th, the demonstrators call it a day of rage. Soon after Friday prayers, anti- government protesters in the thousands flood the streets of Egypt's biggest cities. The army, deployed to keep the peace for the first time in a generation. The crowds, finding a way of mobilizing even though Internet service was cut and mobile phones severely curtailed. The target of their anger, President Hosni Mubarak in power for 30 years, blaming him for economic troubles including corruption, runaway prices, and unemployment.

They set fire to the ruling party headquarters, the violence dying down when the army eventually took over the streets from police. Crowds greeting the soldiers with hugs. The epicenter of the protests, Egypt's Tahrir, or Liberation Square, in the heart of Cairo.

Then after midnight in the early hours of Saturday, January 29th, President Mubarak goes on national television somberly acknowledging the protesters' concerns. He announces a new government including reinstating the position of vice president, as well as naming a new prime minister and cabinet.

HOSNI MUBARAK, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): I ask the government to resign today.

BALDWIN: In Tahrir Square, the protesters say the speech has done little. Mubarak, they shout, must step down. Amid reports of looting and rioting, authorities call a curfew in the major cities. Local neighborhood groups band together to keep out looters; this country of 80 million ripped by chaos.

In Washington, President Obama convenes a meeting of his national security team. The U.S. is one of Egypt's closest allies and a source of more than $1 billion in annual aid. Sunday January 30th, key opposition figure, Mohamed ElBaradei, arrives in Cairo's Tahrir Square calling on Mubarak to, quote, "leave today and save the country."

Tuesday, February 1st, anti-Mubarak protesters call a March of Millions. Ahead of the march, the president says in a televised speech, he will not seek re-election.

MUBARAK (through translator): I have spent enough time in the service of the country and its people.

BALDWIN: But tens of thousands of demonstrators packed shoulder to shoulder in Tahrir Square to denounce the speech. Still, there is support for Mubarak too, especially from those who believe the chaos is destroying Egypt.

Then a surreal scene in Tahrir Square as dozens of men riding horses and camels charge into the crowd, beating anti-Mubarak demonstrators. The government says later they were employed in the tourism trade and were upset with the demonstrations. Then days of clashes, Molotov cocktails thrown, and journalists, including our own Anderson Cooper coming under assault.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I've been hit now, like ten times.

BALDWIN: The violence worsens Thursday. The journalists increasingly under attack, detained, stabbed or intimidated. Friday February 4th, the opposition calls this a day of departure. Hosni Mubarak though is showing no signs of leaving immediately. Hundreds of thousands gather again in Cairo. And from Washington, calls for the violence to end.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We continue to be crystal clear that we oppose violence as a response to this crisis. In recent days we've seen violence and harassment erupt on the streets of Egypt that violates human rights, universal values, and international norms. So we are sending a strong and unequivocal message: Attacks on reporters are unacceptable.

(On camera): More than a week of violence that has shaken a nation and sent shock waves throughout the entire Middle East. That saga is still unfolding as we speak and the repercussions will be felt worldwide. Brooke Baldwin, CNN, Atlanta.


MALVEAUX: Well, many voices, but one message. Mubarak must go. We'll look at who they are and who's leading them, or not leading, in Egypt's opposition.

And the Egyptian army plays a critical role during a protests and any potential power transition, but it walks a thin line between its countrymen and its president.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm out here because everything they have done, and said that they're going to do -- and by they, I mean the government -- was definitely not enough. We're here until the president goes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth of the matter is they're trying to wrap themselves in the flag of economic stability. And they can't deliver economic stability. It will continue to be unstable for as long as they're here. If they really want to stabilize the situation, they need to abdicate their throne and go.


MALVEAUX: As you can see, Egyptians speaking out as millions protest in Egypt around the world. One very key element is missing. And that is solidarity. The opposition is fragmented, but it agrees on one thing. Mubarak has to go. But there's no clear leader pulling them together. My colleague Fred Pleitgen takes a look at the different elements in this movement.


FRED PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Roaring speeches and cheering crowds. Change is in the air in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Abu Elezz Harari is a leftist politician with a large following, but says he's not willing to step up and lead anti-government protesters.

ABU ELEZZ HARARI, EGYPTIAN OPPOSITION POLITICIAN (through translator): We have not chosen a leader yet. There is a group that represents the people that can lead in the transitional period, and then the people will choose a president and a government.

PLEITGEN: Former IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei is part of the group and so is Amir Mousa, the head of the Arab League. But many of those who have battling on the front lines for over a week don't want anyone representing them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is our revolution. This belongs on our shoulders. It's grown up on our shoulders. It belongs to the people, the youngest people. This is our revolution, not belong to them. Understand me or not?

PLEITGEN (on camera): Yes, but what about Mohamed ElBaradei, Amir Mousa?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We didn't choose any president yet. We want Mubarak to move out.

PLEITGEN: The protesters here have sacrificed a lot and they've achieved a lot. However, Hosni Mubarak still remains in power and the opposition has yet to offer an alternative.

(Voice over): The conservative Islamic Muslim Brotherhood is the largest opposition movement in Egypt. But although their members are taking a leading role in the protests, they say they will not put up a presidential candidate.

MOHAMMED BELTAGY, MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD: Our society activities, but no presidential candidate.

PLEITGEN: No presidential candidate?

BELTAGY: No, no, no.

PLEITGEN (voice over): Several leaders of the established opposition parties have been negotiating with Omar Suleiman, the newly appointed Egyptian vice president. One of those who took part says the talks are in a stalemate.

MUNIR FAKHRI, WAFD PARTY LEADER: As long as the protesters are not ready to lower the level of their demands, very bluntly, their demands is that President Mubarak quits. And as long as the regime refuses to take steps towards meeting at least part of those demands, I think it's very difficult to reach a compromise.

PLEITGEN: Without a leading figure in the anti-government movement, many fear Egypt could remain in a state of paralysis for months. Protesters entrenched in Tahrir Square, Hosni Mubarak clinging to power, and a nation on the brink of chaos. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Cairo, Egypt. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: It's no accident of history that the Egyptian army is physically and politically right in the middle of the protests in Tahrir Square. President Mubarak needs the army to survive, if only for a little while. The demonstrators hope to win the army over to their side. Here is CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): With cheers they were greeted as heroes. On January 28th President Hosni Mubarak sent the Egyptian army into the streets of Cairo after a day-long battle between anti-government protesters and the police. The protest movement pinned its hopes on the military to help oust Mubarak and the Obama administration is looking to the army to ease the president out of power. Such hopes may be unrealistic, says veteran Egypt analyst Max Rodenbeck.

MAX RODENBECK, EGYPT ANALYST: Ultimately he's the commander in chief in Egypt, on the ground. And for a military that hasn't played a direct political role for a very long time, it's extremely difficult for them to take the step a little further, and actually come out and start calling the shots seriously on the ground in Egypt.

WEDEMAN: It's difficult to say where the army ends and the government begins. The new cabinet is composed of many former generals. Most of Egypt's provincial governors are ex-soldiers. Since the overthrow of the monarchy in 1952, Egypt has been ruled by a series of generals in civilian clothing. So far the generals show no willingness to depose one of their own and then share power with the opposition.

RODENBECK: Given, as you say, it's 60 years basically of a civilian- faced military regime, it's hard to see them suddenly getting all friendly with some of these opposition figures such as Mohamed ElBaradei, for example.

WEDEMAN: And far from being a monolithic force, the army is plagued by rifts and resentment against the top brass. Wikileaks' cables paint an unflattering picture of the Egyptian army, describing it as in decline. The cables quote midlevel officers as calling the defense minister Mohamed Temtelli (ph), Mubarak's poodle. And they paint a picture of widespread unhappiness within the ranks with some officers complaining those who are to competent are often dismissed. The result is a military divided and indecisive, which may be exactly what Mubarak wants says analyst Hisham Qasim.

HISHAM QASIM, ANALYST: He's left things in the way where it's going to be very risky for a single person to move against him. It's going to have to be consensus. He's been in power for long. These people are loyal to him. So I think they'll put up with him to the end, to the point where they think this can't go on.

WEDEMAN: The army, hailed as potential saviors by so many Egyptians, may indeed eventually bring a change at the top, but only at the top. Ben Wedeman, CNN, Cairo.


MALVEAUX: Well, the revolution is not just happening in Egypt's capital. It has spread across the entire country. This is Alexandria, Egypt it is about 100 miles northwest of Cairo on the Mediterranean Sea. Two protests were held today there. Our CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson is on the ground.

Nic, tell us a little about what it's been like there today.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: A quieter day in terms of protests; fewer protesters getting out onto the streets. What we're hearing, though, from those protesters is concern about what the government is doing. They say they stick with their demand that not only President Mubarak needs to step down, but his whole regime needs to say that they're going.

The reason they're saying that is because they believe that what they're hearing from the government at the moment is mere political chicanery, to try to maneuver through this crisis and remain as much intact. They believe the sort of concessions that the government is making so far -- i.e., a new government, change of ministers, some resignations -- is really all about buying time, and trying to divide the opposition, divide the popular revolt against President Mubarak.

MALVEAUX: And tell us about-

ROBERTSON: And the effort here is so that some protesters --

MALVEAUX: Go ahead. Tell us about the military. I understand that the military really has been holding back specifically in Alexandria.

ROBERTSON: You can say that they have. They've been guarding the government buildings. The protesters haven't been going after those buildings. They've been guarding one of their large barracks just outside the center here. We've seen them in the past few days increase their presence on the streets, actually run some of the checkpoints on the streets. We've seen in the past tanks parked to the side of the road. The army just watches local vigilante groups checking traffic. Now the army is actually involved the traffic as well. They have been-certainly, where we've run into difficulties here, they've been very kind and helpful to journalists. That's been our experience and the experience of other journalists here the last couple of days, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Nic Robertson, thank you so much, out of Alexandria, Egypt.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Cordoned off not just by the military but by an army of volunteers. Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo appears to be a well fortified site. Searches are stringent, of course--



MALVEAUX: Well, the relative calm that returned to downtown Cairo today may play into President Hosni Mubarak's hands. Some say that he's trying to wait out the protesters, hoping the government will erode. So who are the people left to carry on this struggle? Here's our own CNN's Arwa Damon.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Cordoned off not just by the military but by an army of volunteers. Tahrir Square in the heart of Cairo, appears to be a well-fortified site. Searches are stringent and thorough bylines of people forming human barricades. Piles of rocks to be used as ammunition are never far away as the anti-Mubarak demonstrators stand ready for the next battle.

(On camera): This gentleman is just one of the many walking wounded at the demonstration ground but just as determined that he is not going to leave, no matter how hard it is to live out here.

(Voice over): This was once a busy intersection. Now it's packed with people determined to stay for what this square is called, Tahrir, Liberation.

"It's not that hard to survive because we want our freedom and our rights," Sana explains, who only (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

As for food, some buy from a handful of vendors but most rely on handouts. Ahmad Abdul Nadi is providing bread and cheese to fill empty stomachs here.

AHMED ABDUL NADI: I am a teacher, teaching English in secondary school.

DAMON (on camera): And now you're giving food to people?

NADI: We are helping. Helping all these people.

DAMON (voice over): Before all this began Emad Mokhtar was a driver. Now he shuttles food into the square. On this day, he managed to find small bean sandwiches. Even this is a dangerous task.

"I have to buy it in another neighborhood," he tells us. "And then I came by metro. But there are gangs on the road."

"Yesterday I just had a piece of bread for dinner because the gang stopped the food from coming in," Sa'id says. Showing us the stab wound he received in the fighting last week.

No more fast food, but fast medical fix for the injured in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This is just one of makeshift clinics for these diehard demonstrators.

OMAR: No, no, no, I will not go home.

DAMON (on camera): Why?

OMAR: Until I get my rights.

DAMON: Even if you have to die here?

OMAR: Even if we die.

DAMON (voice over): Isam Abdul Aziz isn't budging either.

"Local media is saying that we're traitors," he tells us. "That foreign powers are paying us, and that we're eating Kentucky Fried Chicken."

It doesn't really look like it. The KFC rumor has become something of a running joke here. The mood, despite people's exhaustion is quite festive.

"All Egyptians are smart. Mubarak is Egyptian. He's smart. And he's very good at plotting," Isam points out. "We're playing a game now, of biting the fingers. Whomever is in the most pain is going to leave first. So we're staying here until his pain is unbearable."

The demonstrators have dug in saying that the violence over the next few days is driving them even further away from any notion of reconciliation with the Mubarak regime. They say they are determined to hold this ground and never surrender.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Cairo.

MALVEAUX: Well, the crisis in Egypt highlights the U.S. role in Middle East politics. We're going to take a look at America's complicated relations with authoritarian leaders in the region.

Also, a look at journalists coming under attack and becoming the story.

And it all comes down to this, freedom. That's what protesters say they want and you'll hear it from them in their own words.


MALVEAUX: Good evening and welcome back to this CNN special "Egypt Uprising." I'm Suzanne Malveaux. We'd like to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Let's reset the latest developments on Egypt.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): The key question tonight, will President Hosni Mubarak stay or step down? And if he stays, how long? One important question has been answered. His son, Gamal will not succeed him. He guaranteed that today by resigning his high level post in the ruling National Democratic Party.

At a meeting of security officials in Germany today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed the transition to a new government. Now, she said the region, quote, "is being battered by a perfect storm of powerful trends. Leaders can hold back the tide for a little while but not for long," she said.


MALVEAUX: People in the United States are showing their support for the people of Egypt.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): People gathered outside the White House and in New York City. The United States has strongly supported the Mubarak government since he took office nearly three decades ago. One reason this crisis has been difficult for the Obama administration to navigate.

The assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat ushered in a new era of U.S. relations with Egypt. Radical Muslims threatened by Egypt's peace with Israel took out Sadat. The U.S. desperate to protect Israel and eager to keep its most important Arab ally embraced Egypt's new leader Hosni Mubarak.

That was October 1981. The U.S. has held on to Mubarak as a critical friend ever since despite his ought autocratic rule and documented human rights abuses. Egypt's alliance with Israel is at the heart of the U.S.'s alliance with Mubarak.

The Egyptian leader has steadfastly supported numerous attempts by several American presidents to establish peace between the Israelis and Palestinians.

PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK, EGYPT: The exercise of the right to self determination cannot be denied to the Palestinian people.

MALVEAUX: Mubarak also gave President George H.W. Bush the troops he need for the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Mubarak's cooperation with the U.S. in taking on terrorists including al Qaeda has often made Egypt a target of their rage.

In 1997 radical killed dozens of tourists in Luxor and struck again in 2005 in the resort Sharm El Sheikh slaughtering 88 people. Mubarak has tried to moderate Hamas and keep radical Islamic groups at bay ruling with an iron fist.

His cooperation with President George W. Bush's war on terror became even more crucial after the September 11th attacks. Oil also plays a critical role. While Egypt is neither a major oil producer nor a consumer, the Suez Canal, which have cuts through the country, is a vital waterway that keeps oil from the Arab region flowing to the west.


MALVEAUX: Let's take a closer look at the relationship between the United States and Egypt. We have an esteemed panel of guests. I want to start senior political analyst David Gergen. He served as an adviser for four American presidents. Attorney Alan Dershowitz, he's also the author of the book "The Trials of Zion." And Mona Eltahawy, she is an Egyptian columnist. She was born and raised in Egypt and also a good friend of mine. Thank you for joining us all of you here.

Obviously, a very tense time in Cairo, in Egypt, in the Middle East. David, I want to start off with you because every trip that I've taken in the Middle East with the U.S. president and even my trip with the former first lady Laura Bush. The questions how can the U.S. support such a brutally repressive Egyptian regime.

Today, you've got the U.S. special envoy for Egypt Frank Wizner who says Mubarak must be in power, stay in office to steer these changes. How much longer is the U.S. going to still protect this guy Mubarak and why?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think they're only protecting him now through the transition and that transition may be shorter rather than longer. Look, Suzanne, overall, I think the president -- President Obama deserve high marks for the way he's handled this. I wouldn't disagree with some minor aspects.

But overall we're much better shape than say 72 hours ago. We pulled back from a brink of potential civil war in that country. The government is now in the form of vice president is talking to the aspects or representatives of the opposition. The army has clearly said we're not going to interfere.

And we also have a situation where the United States, I think wisely, has now been working with western European friends especially the British and the Germans. And today all supporters stood firmly together for an orderly transition, one that leads to a democracy but one that also ensures we don't have chaos on the way there.

MALVEAUX: And I want to bring in Mona here because, Mona, obviously, the Egyptian people - I mean, you know, even my experience there, they are very friendly to Americans, but always against U.S. policy, foreign policy.

There seems to be people saying that there is a hypocrisy here. How to do the Egyptian people feel about the way the Obama administration is handling this? Does President Obama need to do more?

MONA ELTAHAWY, COLUMNIST, AL ARAB NEWSPAPER: Absolutely, Suzanne, because, you know, we were both at university right next to Tahrir Square so you know what a central place that is in Cairo and how important and how much it makes me ecstatic to see this push for freedom in my hometown.

I think Egyptians are incredibly disappointed that the U.S. administration has taken this long to understand that what's happening in Egypt isn't just putting or serving notice to dictatorship that your time is over. It's also serving a very strong notice to U.S. administrations and allies generally around the world that this hypocritical foreign policy that sacrificed our freedom and dignity for stability and a good ally in Mubarak is over. I think the entire world has to sit back and reckon with that.

MALVEAUX: Mr. Dershowitz, obviously you have one of Israel's greatest Arab ally Egypt now headless. Is Israel now in trouble?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD LAW SCHOOL PROFESSOR: Well, Israel certainly is concerned about this and the United States has to make sure it understands that it only has one permanent reliable ally in the Middle East and that's democratic Israel.

You know, Egypt first was under the thumb of the Soviet Union then it was under the thumb of dictators. Soon it will probably be dominated by Muslim Brotherhood. They won't emerge quickly. They'll be the kingmakers first and then in maybe a Turkish type style they'll assert their authority, but they will never be a reliable friend of the United States.

They'll always be a fair weather friend and the United States must understand that it can't sacrifice its greatest friend, its permanent friend Israel in order to try to satisfy a fair weather friend. And so I think what President Obama has to do is he has to send a stern message to Egypt and to Jordan and all the other countries in the area our support for Israel is a constant, it will never vary.

If you want to be our friend, you can't be breaking treaties with Israel. You must maintain the peace. That is a very important part of what has to happen now over the next months as we worry that the Muslim Brotherhood will have increasing power.

MALVEAUX: David, very quickly here --

ELTAHAWY: Suzanne, can I answer that?

MALVEAUX: Yes, please.

ELTAHAWY: You know, it's interesting to hear Alan used the word democracy because that's exactly what Egypt is working on right now. These millions of Egyptians who have been on the streets for the past 12 days want to be democratic.

So it's very hypocritical to describe Israel as a democracy and be alarmist about what's happening in Egypt because surely you and everyone in Israel should be happy that your neighbor wants to be a democracy and democratic neighbors are happy.

DERSHOWITZ: If it's a real democracy, not a Hamas-type democracy.

ELTAHAWY: You know, you can't label democracy. Democracy is the people choosing the government they want and what you're doing is being alarmist. This is not about Muslim Brotherhood. This is about Egyptians determining their future without anyone else's interference.

MALVEAUX: David, you want to respond --

DERSHOWITZ: The people chose Adolf Hitler in 1932 by democratic means and the people would probably have chosen Mahmoud Ahmadinejad by democratic means. So democracy has to be both structural that is elections, but also functional. If you elect people who then take away all the rights and make women wear Burqas and deny people the right of --

ELTAHAWY: Wait, wait, wait. Who said -- this is utter nonsense. This has nothing to do with the Muslim Brotherhood and burqas. You're talking nonsense.

DERSHOWITZ: You're just wrong. You're just wrong. Of course, it has everything to do with the Muslim Brotherhood.

MALVEAUX: David, please weigh in if you will.

GERGEN: Suzanne, I just -- I think this illustrates better than anything I could the tight rope that President Obama is walking and I think he's walking it well. And to my good friend Alan Dershowitz clearly we need to remain firm friends with Israel.

But it's also true that Israel would be best served if the United States has more than one friend in a region and if we do have friends among the Arab leadership and with democratic Arab countries long term.

I think the president has been wise to say our principles support the people in the streets, but the way we get there has to be an orderly transition so we do not have chaos and do not have radicals that take over that government.

MALVEAUX: I think we're going to have to leave it there. I appreciate all of you coming on this panel. Obviously, David Gergen, Alan Dershowitz and Mona Eltahawy. Appreciate your point of view.

Well, it is a country in crisis. The world is watching every move and an effort to control the message. Ahead we look at journalists under fire while covering the protests.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, this is a little chaotic. I have someone -


MALVEAUX: Welcome back. As startling images poured out of Egypt this week, some of the journalists capturing those images came under fire and it raises the issue of a free press at a critical time of an entire nation. My colleague Randi Kaye looks at the apparent attempt to control the media and its message.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Journalists rushed to cover the uprising in Egypt and bring the story to people around the world. But they were quickly silenced.

On Wednesday, CNN's Anderson Cooper and his team were attacked in Tahrir Square while covering the protest.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Been hit now like ten times.

KAYE: That same day, CNN international correspondent Hala Gorani was also roughed up covering the story. A stranger escorted her to safety.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a little chaotic. I have someone helping me out here.

KAYE: On Thursday, when Anderson Cooper ventured out again to capture the protests, his car window was smashed. He tweeted. Vehicle I was in attacked. My window smashed. All OK.

COOPER (via telephone): We were all OK. We screamed to the driver go, go, go, go, go and were able to get out of there. The car was pretty badly damaged, but again that was a minor incident compared to what had happened to numerous journalists today.

KAYE: Anderson had to broadcast his nightly program "AC 360" from an undisclosed location Thursday due to safety concerns.

COOPER: I can't tell you where we are frankly for our own safety.

KAYE: And it wasn't just CNN. Reporter Laura Logan from CBS was marched back to her hotel at gun point and ABC producer and cameraman were carjacked at a checkpoint and driven to a compound where they said men threatened to behead them.

A Fox News Channel correspondent and producer attacked so severely, they were hospitalized. All it seemed a coordinated effort to instil fear, destroy camera equipment and stop the story from spreading. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took notice.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We condemn in the strongest terms attacks on reporters covering the ongoing situation in Egypt.

KAYE: Who is to blame for the attacks on the press?

JILL DOUGHERTY, FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Senior State Department officials say that they have information that shows that there was some time of connection between the ministry of the interior and those attacks.

KAYE: But the Egyptian ambassador told CNN the government condemned the attacks and was not behind them. Still, in a televised address, Vice President Omar Suleiman singled out international TV reporters.

OMAR SULEIMAN, EGYPTIAN VICE PRESIDENT (through translator): I actually blame certain friendly nations who have television channels. They're not friendly at all.

KAYE: Meanwhile, on Friday, the attacks continued. The Arabic network Al Jazeera reported its office in Cairo had been attacked by, quote, "a gang of thugs." The office and all the equipment inside burned.

The Al Jazeera's network's office had been closed days earlier after it posted video of anti-Mubarak protesters. The only media free to product is state-run Nile TV, a pro-Mubarak network. Early on Nile TV called the protests, quote, "riots" and accused protesters of violating the security of the country.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL ASSIGNMENT EDITOR: Since the beginning, they've been covering the protests, but they have mainly been focusing on pro-Mubarak rallies rather than anti-Mubarak rallies.

KAYE: Nile TV has since backed off a bit, telling the protesters to go home, that their message has been heard. Still, their coverage apparently too slanted even for a Nile TV anchorwoman who walked off the job this week in protest.

SHAHIRA AMIN, FORMER NILE TV ANCHOR (via telephone): I don't want to be part of the propaganda machine of this regime. I'm on the side of the people.

KAYE: The people and the protesters who want their story told by journalists who now find it too dangerous to do their job. Randi Kaye, CNN, Atlanta.


MALVEAUX: Our Hala Gorani, she is still in Egypt. She joins us live from the capital of Cairo. Hala, obviously you were in the middle of a lot of that mayhem and chaos and even one of the targets there. Do you feel safe? Do you feel that you are still being targeted?

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I feel safe. I felt relatively safe even during those times when we were deliberately attacked. It has gotten a lot better. There is definitely an effort coming from the highest levels not to attack journalists. It really made the government look extremely bad.

We're seeing much more of a military presence right now in the streets of Cairo. Of course, we had some -- as you can see there from the images -- instances where it was just a little bit scary. There was a feeling that there was some incitement coming also from higher levels to go after journalists.

But right now, the situation is definitely better. But that said, you mentioned the Al Jazeera there. Randi Kaye mentioned the Al Jazeera incident today. It is still something that we take very seriously, whether or not we show the big TV cameras in public, whether or not we go out and identify ourselves as journalists. It's still something we're very careful with, but the situation has improved, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, good news, thank you very much, Hala. Please be safe.


UNIDENTIFEID FEMALE: We only want social justice and a change.


MALVEAUX: Well, that is it in its simplest terms. There are days of protests, anger, violence, all in the name of freedom. You're going to hear from the people in Tahrir Square in their own words up next.


MALVEAUX: Well, Egypt is one of the world's most revered ancient civilizations. Its image has been one of irreplaceable link to the past, but the ancient and the modern have dramatically collided. A modern uprising played out against the backdrop of antiquity, changing Egypt's image dramatically.

Treasures were guarded as chaos spilled into the streets. In the end, the people in Tahrir Square and those who support them around the world want something very simple yet at times, so elusive -- freedom.

They hope to live the words of a Greek historian who once said, the secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage. And as we've come to the end of this Egypt uprising special, we hear from Egyptians in their own words about what they hope to gain.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The chant continues to be the same. We want it out, we want it gone, Mubarak has to go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want Mubarak to get out, get out, Mubarak! Get out of Egypt! We want need you. We don't want you here in Egypt. Get out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Leave Egypt, Mubarak. We've reached the downfall of Egypt. We've hit rock bottom. So honestly, leave. Get the hell out of here and leave.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One message to the American government -- let the move to protect the secular system -- we are the ones who did that. We only want social justice and a change. If the move is too late, it will be taken over from us. Let them do something. He can't stay.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now I have a hope. I think that my voice is really important and my voice is going to be heard after today.