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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Egyptian Revolution: Egyptian President Steps Down; Mubarak Quits and Egypt Celebrates; Egypt & Oil Prices; Egypt: From Day of Rage to Departure
Aired February 11, 2011 - 16:03 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's near the top of the hour. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Also, we're watching what's going on, the revolution in Egypt.
CNN's Hala Gorani is with us as well. We're going to get to her in just a moment, but let's listen to the president sending several clear signals just a little while ago to the Egyptians.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The military has served patriotically and responsibly as a caretaker to the state and will now have to ensure a transition that is credible in the eyes of the Egyptian people. That means protecting the rights of Egypt's citizens, lifting the emergency law, revising the constitution and other laws to make this change irreversible, and laying out a clear path to elections that are fair and free.
The United States will continue to be a friend and partner to Egypt. We stand ready to provide whatever assistance is necessary, and asked for, to pursue a credible transition to a democracy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: The president a short time ago there talking about the situation in Egypt, a historic day, the longtime autocratic leader of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, stepping down. It was announced by the vice president, Omar Suleiman, Mubarak transferring power to the military leadership in Egypt. Many Egyptians hoping that this will lead to true democracy in their country.
It is now, four plus seven, five minutes past 11:00 p.m. in Egypt right now.
Nic Robertson is still in Tahrir Square.
What are people around you saying? Are they still -- has the mood sort of lessened a bit? Have people started going home, or is it still party central there in Tahrir Square tonight, Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hala, I have to say it's very hard to hear you down here, but people, if I can say it, are deliriously happy. Everyone is coming up to us and asking us what we think.
I'm going to ask this young lady next to me, Roseanne (ph).
You've been here at the demonstrations? What -- how do you feel today?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today is (INAUDIBLE) day for Egypt. Everyone is finally happy. Everyone is finally free. It's a great feeling for all Egyptians. Finally, we have a chance for change. We have a chance to change. Freedom. Can you see the people? They're all so happy. Everyone is very happy. Everyone -- it's overwhelming.
ROBERTSON: Are you worried about the next few days? Now the army is in control. Are you worried about security?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. The army has (INAUDIBLE) for a very long time. And I don't think everyone -- everyone in the streets, everyone are protecting the streets. Everyone has been there for a couple of days. Everyone is protecting everyone.
ROBERTSON: Roseanne, thanks very much.
I'm going to talk to Mohammed (ph) now.
Mohammed -- everyone is very, very excited down here, and we're just going to talk to Mohammed for a moment.
Mohammed, everyone is very excited. But how did you feel when you first heard that President Mubarak had stepped down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I feel freedom (INAUDIBLE) another chance to be a human man. We are -- (INAUDIBLE) animal (INAUDIBLE) we suffer anything (INAUDIBLE) we know that now we are human, human man. (INAUDIBLE)
ROBERTSON: And what President Obama today has said in his speech is that he will offer assistance to the people of Egypt, if they want it, that he hopes that the process goes peacefully and that he hopes there will be jobs for the young people of Egypt.
What do you want to say to President Obama, to the United States?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say he's a good man, free man, love freedom, stand behind the people of Egypt. And from the people of Egypt, I say to him, thank you. Thank you.
ROBERTSON: Thank you very much, Mohammed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
ROBERTSON: There's a huge number of people down here.
I'm going to talk to (INAUDIBLE) one of my colleagues, one of our friends down here who has been helping us at the health clinic, Mohammed (ph).
Mohammed, you have been working at the health clinic down here on the square. You have been working at the health clinic on the square here. How do you feel? How do you feel (INAUDIBLE) --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the beginning.
ROBERTSON: From the beginning (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) after the violence from the government. And we have been out here from the beginning.
ROBERTSON: And how do you feel now that President Mubarak has stepped down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we make history now. And I think we deserve this separation. We deserve this. And we make this. And we need this.
I think our future needs us. Our country needs us. I think our stolen money must be paid back and (INAUDIBLE) must be (INAUDIBLE) back (INAUDIBLE) by the court, by justice, and by liberty.
ROBERTSON: Mohammed, thank you very much.
ROBERTSON: I don't know if you can still hear me over the crowds here.
GORANI: We're having a bit of -- yes, we're having issues hearing you there, Nic. We are going to get back to you when it's a little bit calmer around you.
But we saw there a little bit of everything among the people Nic spoke with, young people, men, women, representatives really of a movement, a pro-democracy movement or an anti-regime movement, in Egypt that has really achieved its goal today, and that is to depose really the dictator of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak.
And we're hearing from Ivan Watson, our other reporters on the ground, that Cairo has come to life again. When we were there a few weeks -- a few days ago, I should say, these sort of tour boats had stopped crisscrossing the Nile. Now we're hearing that they are all lit up and kind of sailing up and down the Nile in Cairo.
And this is an aerial view, a live picture right on the Corniche. This is right on the Nile with still heavy traffic, lights, streetlights, some spontaneous fireworks, other manifestations and demonstrations of joy and the feeling among the people there that what they have fought long and hard for was worth fighting long and hard for.
It was a, in some cases, very violent, deadly movement, but all in all, relatively speaking, it was -- it was an effort that led in 18 days only to the removal of Hosni Mubarak -- Wolf. BLITZER: An amazing moment, indeed, and I suspect if it remains quiet now -- people are celebrating -- tourism will come back. There will be a robust tourist -- tourism industry in Egypt, which is so critical to the economic welfare of that country, so many beautiful sights and sounds to experience in Egypt. Tourists will be coming in once again from all over the world, we can only hope.
Let's bring in Barbara Starr. She's over at the Pentagon.
Barbara, this U.S.-Egyptian military-to-military relationship is going to be significant, significantly critical right now in determining what's next.
I don't think Barbara -- I don't think Barbara is hearing me, unfortunately.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Wolf, I -- Wolf, I just started to hear you. I'm sorry. We're having a little trouble.
BLITZER: All right, well, let me repeat the question. Talk about the U.S.-Egyptian military connection.
STARR: We want to remind people of is, although there's this very justified celebration across Cairo, some very hard days likely to come ahead for the Egyptian military, which now is running the country.
Let me just refer to one piece of information, which, as you remember, there was a WikiLeaks cable, that big dump of leaked diplomatic cables, and there are some references to the Egyptian military. In a 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable about the current military leadership of Egypt, they refer to Field Marshal Tantawi, who is now the most senior leader, by all accounts. He was a minister of defense on the new leadership council.
They refer to him and saying that there are Egyptian military officers who call him Mubarak's poodle, that he's all about and was all about pleasing President Mubarak, that the minister of defense -- he is the minister of defense, that the chief of defense staff, the top uniformed military, General Anan, also many military officers in Egypt referring to him as incompetent.
The Egyptian military has been struggling for many years, also, with the economy, with a disgruntled enlisted corps, so now the question becomes, can this army leadership council really take charge of the government? Can they ensure stability? Can they move ahead towards elections? Or inside the Egyptian military, is it -- does it have its own unlevel -- level of unrest, if you will, that may be very problematic in the days ahead, Wolf?
BLITZER: Barbara Starr is over at the Pentagon. We will stay in close touch with her. We're also getting reaction from others in Washington, including Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas. He will be joining us live. We will be going back to the streets of Cairo to see what's happening there. All of our reporters are standing by. Hala Gorani is here.
By the way, if you want to tweet Hala or me, at HalaGorani, all one word, at WolfBlitzerCNN, all one word. We're getting tweets like crazy from viewers all over the world. We want to hear from you on Twitter.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
We're continuing our coverage of the uprising Egypt, it's now the revolution in Egypt. Dramatic developments happening today, historic developments. Hosni Mubarak is no longer the president of Egypt. All power has now been handed over to the Egyptian military, which is in charge of this transition period leading towards free and fair elections. How long that transition will take is anyone's guess.
But joining us now is Republican Congressman from Texas Ron Paul. He's joining us now from the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington.
Congressman Paul, thanks very much for joining us. Let's talk about Egypt, a subject you know quite a bit about.
You've said controversial remarks. He said the United States is -- Egypt is the United States' 30-year mistake. What were you referring to?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, we've invested a lot of money in Mubarak, and I don't think it was a good investment. It was stable for awhile, but it was building the resentment and the instability that finally burst out.
So I would say the 30 -- the $70 billion was not worth it and that, unfortunately, many of those dollars ended up in Swiss bank accounts for his family. So I think it was a big mistake, and we really don't have the money to spare. I don't think it does anything for our national security.
BLITZER: So if you had your way, the billion and a half dollars a year that the U.S. provides Egypt in military, mostly military, about 1.3 billion, about another $200 million in economic assistance, if you had your way, all of that would be gone immediately, is that what you're saying?
PAUL: Oh, yes. I think so. I mean, I'm not a believer in foreign aid. And you know, I sort of liked what Eisenhower did in 1956. I was a college student then, had remembered the Korean War, and when the British and the French were attacked by the Egyptians to talk the take the canal and they went to Eisenhower, Eisenhower said I don't want to have anything to do with it.
So I think that was good advice and that's probably the way we should have stayed that way, and we should do a lot less a lot sooner and not waste all this money because it tends to come back and haunt us.
It reminds a little bit about propping up the Shah of Iran. Just look at that problem, and then we ended up with the Ayatollah. So they're not good investments.
I like the founders' advice, you know, be friends with people and trade with people and negotiate and get along with them, but not to get involved in internal affairs and all these treaties and border squabbles. It's not in our best interest.
But it will come to an end, mainly for economic reasons, and that's what happened to the Soviet system. They didn't end because all of a sudden they got wisdom. They ended because, you know, they got bogged down in Afghanistan and they went bankrupt and the whole system fell apart. And we could face a crisis just like that and we will have to pull back.
BLITZER: So what I hear you saying is the United States should simply walk away from Egypt right now and let the Egyptians do what they want, but in terms of maintaining this very tight military-to- military connection, the U.S. should simply leave the Egyptians to the Egyptians.
Is that your attitude?
PAUL: Sure, I think so. I mean, if we had a problem like that, we wouldn't want foreigners in here to sort things out. We would say it's our responsibility. So I think that's the problem, that we've been too much involved. So the sooner we get out of it, the better.
We shouldn't -- I mean, right now I'm sure our State Department, our CIA is looking around for our next guy that we can support because most of them now have expressed, well, we can't really give them democracy, they might elect the wrong person.
See we're all for democracy as long as they pick the right person, and we'd just as soon prefer a dictator that will do our bidding and then we give them a lot of money. I'd like another option rather than either just bombing people or giving them money. I would say friendship and diplomacy is a much better way to go.
I mean, this army was built by us, and the military industrial complex loved it. They made a lot of money off it, but the army was there for all those 30 years was to protect Mubarak. It wasn't for national defense purposes. So that's our army, 450,000 troops that we more or less stocked.
BLITZER: I was just going to say, administration officials going back to Republican administrations, whether Bush or Reagan, or Democratic administrations, the current one or Bill Clinton's administration, they'll argue this military assistance to Egypt is a good investment in the United States cause Egypt was an ally, a strategic partner and cooperated with the U.S. in the war on terror, for example. So this was money well spent. That's the argument we've heard now for 30 years.
PAUL: Oh, yes, but I think our current events prove my point. It wasn't well spent because it ended up in chaos, and we don't know who the next dictator is going to be and it helped contribute to our bankruptcy. So I would say it's not well spent --
BLITZER: Maybe the next --
PAUL: If you have -- if you --
BLITZER: But if the next leader of Egypt, Congressman, is a democratically-elected leader, popular and doing all the right things, it wouldn't necessarily be a dictator. Why do we have to assume the next leader of Egypt is going to be a dictator?
PAUL: Well, I'll tell you what -- that would be great, but I -- I personally believe that the odds of that happening are much better if we're not there picking up and -- picking the individuals to spend our money on it.
So I'm for that, I just don't believe that the best way to do that is to get in there and finance the military. The military, of course, right now is dependent on us, and the military is in charge so we really own the country right now through the military. And the people will not put up with this. Temporarily maybe, but ultimately the people will reject it.
We need to think about these problems in terms of what if another country did that to us. The Democrats and Republicans and Independents would all rebel against that and that is what the American people don't quite understand.
BLITZER: Well, on that point I think you got that point, that Egyptians don't want any outside interference in their domestic affairs. They want to do what they need do and at least today they seem to be on that path, but it's going to be a very, very difficult path.
Congressman, you're at the CPAC, that Conservative Political Action Conference, in Washington. One quick political question before I let you go.
Are you going to seek the Republican presidential nomination this year?
PAUL: I haven't made up my mind, and that's a truthful answer. And I'm sort of glad nobody else has made up their mind either, so I feel like I have a couple more months to sort it all out.
BLITZER: You'll make up your --
PAUL: But thanks for asking.
BLITZER: You'll make your mind up in the next two months?
PAUL: Yes, I would think so. It would necessary in the next several months of some sort. I don't have a timetable.
BLITZER: And do you want to respond to Donald Trump who told that CPAC conference last night, he told your supporters there that you don't have a chance of getting elected. I think I'm paraphrasing what he said, but he was brutally blunt in a Donald Trump kind of way.
PAUL: Yes. You know, some people pointed out that a lot of people said that about my views when I ran for Congress, and I was elected to Congress 11 times and I had the same views and some of my views are very libertarian, challenge the status quo of Republicans. I had a very conservative Bible belt, Republican district and they said there's no way you can win these -- win an election by basing everything on the Constitution, people aren't interested in that anymore. So winning 11 elections would sort of raise a question on whether or not that was an accurate statement.
BLITZER: You've been pretty impressive over the years. And you were pretty impressive, I must say, in the -- in the run for the Republican nomination last time around. Your supporters were probably the most enthusiastic out there, as I can personally testify.
Hey, Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
PAUL: Thank you.
BLITZER: Ron Paul, the Republican Congressman from Texas.
Hala, back to you.
GORANI: All right, thanks, Wolf. Up next, Fareed Zakaria with more on what today means for Egypt. Going forward, What will the future hold for the protesters and the prodemocracy activists?
We'll be right back on CNN.
GORANI: Well, this is a live picture of Tahrir Square. Egyptians there in the square who for the last 18 days have wanted their leader to step down, they have achieved their goals. They are satisfied. It is very much a party atmosphere there in Tahrir Square, as well as in other parts of Cairo. And from what I've been reading in other parts of the world in Egyptian communities abroad, in the United States and Europe as well. A lot of satisfaction from those who have fought, some who have died in fact on the streets of Cairo, and they have achieved that goal of overthrowing their autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak.
Fareed Zakaria joins us live from New York.
It's been five and a half hours since we heard from Vice President Suleiman that Hosni Mubarak was stepping down. Now we can look at this situation a little bit perhaps with a colder head.
What next in the coming days for Egypt, Fareed?
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": I think probably the most important thing that needs to happen is that it becomes very quickly clear that this is a transitional period of military rule.
And what would it take to make that clear? I think you would need the formation of some kind of committee to amend or rewrite the Egyptian constitution. You would need some kind of process which would put in place elections, three months, six months, a year, both for the national assembly and the presidency.
Presumably you would need to have the sequence correctly so that first you have a referendum on a constitution, then you have the election of maybe the national assembly and then you have the election of the president.
But if you don't have fairly clear -- a fairly clear path to this happening, and there is kind of an indefinite period of consultative committees and mulling things over, I think people will lose heart.
And I think that the administration in Washington is quite focused on making sure that now they use their leverage to do precisely that, get on a road map to democracy.
GORANI: What is the risk if the path is not made clear at this stage, do you think, Fareed?
ZAKARIA: The risk for Egyptian democracy that this is the moment where the crowd, where the street, where the people had maximum leverage. They have used it, they have got something, but what they have got to hope is that this didn't end up being a symbolic victory. They need it to be a substantive victory.
The symbolic victory was Mubarak leaving. The substantive victory is that the regime is transformed from what is still a military dictatorship into a liberal secular democracy.
GORANI: Now the military in Egypt is a trusted institution. It's not a democratic engine for change in Egypt. Is there confidence out there among observers that the military has not just the will but the ability to usher true change in Egypt?
ZAKARIA: It's a fantastic question, Hala, because the reality is the military is deeply entrenched in the power structure. It is the power structure. It has enormous benefits that come from being -- being the power structure. The military owns hundreds of factories. Retired generals have the lavish lifestyles. And are they going to give this all up very easily? No. And so the question is, how do you make that happen? I think what you have to do is to give the people, give civil society, some platforms of power.
Right now, they have none. They're out there in Tahrir Square and it's great, but they don't have any platforms or instruments of power. If they get the national assembly and if they get the presidency and they get the constitution in effect, that gives them platforms of power, and that will slowly then erode the military's enormous prerogatives in power.
It's not going to happen overnight, and if you look at the case of Turkey, of Indonesia, you see that while the military receded from their paramount role, it took two decades in the case of both those countries and with a lot of pressure from the European Union, from the United States. So this is -- this is a marathon, and we're just at the beginning.
GORANI: Not a sprint. Regarding Turkey, I mean, is Egypt potentially a country that could model itself on Turkey with a democratic process, with the tutelage -- under the tutelage of the military? I mean, is that something that Egypt can look to as a model, do you think?
ZAKARIA: Well, I think certainly Turkey has been a very successful model, and I think there are elements of it that are going to be similar, but let's remember, the Turkish military really ran the country and ceded power reluctantly over two decades largely because the European Union made clear that there was no way Turkey was even going to be remotely considered for European Union membership as long as the military had this enormous role, and they had specific requests, the most important of which was only acceded to two years ago, which was that, for example, the national security council not be a military-dominated council, but a civilian one dominated one.
That the prime minister chair is not the head of the arm. You know, all those kinds of things, so I would hope that Egypt can start from a slightly more secure place with firm civilian control over the military. The military is going to play a very large role, but in any Democracy, in any modern Democracy, the starting point has got to be that the man or the woman who makes the decisions as to -- ultimate decisions of war and peace is somebody elected by the people and not somebody who rose from the officer corps.
GORANI: All right. Fareed Zakaria, the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS." Thanks very much. Good talking to you as always.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: He's a very, very smart guy. Let's not forget "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" airs every Sunday, Sunday morning here on CNN, 10:00 a.m. Eastern.
Let's go back to Cairo right now. CNN's Frederik Pleitgen is standing by.
Are you still in Tahrir Square, Fred? Is that where you are?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm actually outside of Tahrir Square. I'm on one of the main roads where, as you can see, a lot of people have gathered here. They're very happy. They're riding their cars through the street. I don't know how much of you can see, but if you pan over there a little bit, you can see there's a lot of people on a car over there making a lot of noise. It's a big celebration here. There you go, Wolf. And there's a lot going on. It's a big street party here. What they're saying is Egypt, Egypt. They're very happy. As you can see. Back to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: It looks exciting. We're going to get back to you. We're going to get back to all of our correspondents, Arwa Damon, Ben Wedeman, Ivan Watson, Nic Robertson, we've got a lot of reporters watching what's happening in Egypt right now. We'll take a quick break.
Up next, retired U.S. Army General Mark Kimmitt. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military Affairs under President Bush. We'll discuss what's happening in Egypt in the region with him when we come back.
BLITZER: We're watching what's happening in Tahrir Square. Hundreds of thousands, many millions of people are partying. They're celebrating in Egypt. Mubarak is now the former president of Egypt. He's gone. We believe he's in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea, the southernmost tip of Sinai, but he's not in Cairo. He's handed over authority to the Egyptian military.
Let's bring in retired U.S. Army General Mark Kimmitt. He was Assistant Secretary of State for Political Military affairs under President George W. Bush.
Also, let's remind our viewers that you have had defense contracts in Egypt as executive vice president of Advanced Technology Systems, the company here in Washington, which is a defense contracting firm, and at one point, you were actually in charge of that $1.3 billion a year in military assistance that the United States provides to Egypt, has been providing for decades going back to the Camp David Accords.
You heard Congressman Ron Paul say it's a waste of money. The U.S. just can't afford it but shouldn't even be providing that kind of military assistance to Egypt. Just get out of it. Get out of that business.
GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.): With all due respect to an elected member of Congress, the fact is that the money that has been given to the Egyptian military corresponding to the money that is also given to the Israeli military under the Camp David Accords has been a pretty good investment over the past 30-someodd years. It has maintained peace in the region. It's maintained peace between Egypt and Israel. It's allowed Egypt to modernize their forces.
When you're talking about $10 million a month to run a war in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, 1.3 billion a year for Egypt is a pretty inexpensive price for peace.
BLITZER: I guess Congressman Paul's argument is too front - two- pronged, if you will, the U.S. can't afford it anymore, but two, it propped up a dictator in Egypt for 30 years. KIMMITT: Well, what it has done is allowed the Egyptian military to modernize the stay at pace of the technological revolutions, to help us in countries such as Afghanistan, and, again, it has maintained its strong relationship between Egypt and Israel.
BLITZER: You know the commander in chief of the Egyptian armed forces, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, do you think he's going to do the right thing now? The Egyptian leadership will do the right thing, lead a caretaker provisional government, if you will, towards free and fair elections?
KIMMITT: Well, I do. Up to this point, the military has played a very wise role in this entire process. They have stayed loyal to Egypt, not to the protesters, not to President Mubarak, but to the nation of Egypt. They have every reason in the world to maintain that relationship, to maintain that allegiance to Egypt. They should not be a political force. They should be custodians of this revolution, help the process moving forward.
They should not see this as an opportunity as some have already said for a military coup, but hopefully, they will be as wise and judicious post-revolution as they have been pre-revolution.
BLITZER: Because what, it's been six, seven hours ago, we heard the vice president, Omar Suleiman, say that Mubarak is stepping down. He's no longer the president and handing over all power, all authority to the Egyptian military. Are they ready for this, the Egyptian military? Do they know how to run a country?
KIMMITT: Well, I think, they will certainly understand that the first thing they should do is find a committee, as Fareed Zakaria said, or a person or a political representative to do the political heavy lifting. The military is designed to maintain stability inside of Egypt, defend their borders. They are -- they are a respected organization within Egypt. They want to maintain that respect, not only today but for years to come.
And I think they recognize that to maintain that respect, maintain their honor, they need to be part of the process, that orderly, peaceful transition, as they -- as Egypt transitions from the Mubarak regime to a secular, democratic, pluralistic regime in the future, and they can be a part of it. They can be the custodians, but I don't think they want to be the actual political leaders.
BLITZER: So, you don't see this as a soft military coup as some have called it?
KIMMITT: Well, I don't see it as a soft military coup at all. In fact, I think, the military reluctantly is standing up to their obligations to maintain stability inside of Egypt and will work as hard as they can to make sure that the nation of Egypt moves through this period in a peaceful, democratic, pluralistic way, that orderly transition that we all want to see.
BLITZER: Now, a lot of our viewers know that the U.S. military relationship with Egypt is strong. A lot of Egyptians come here to the United States for training, whether in the air force, the navy or the army or whatever, and that there's a significant U.S. number of trainers in Egypt working with the Egyptian military.
What a lot of them probably don't know or don't remember, there are what, 1,000 American troops in Egypt right now in Sinai, specifically, part of what's called the multi-national force and observer mission in Sinai. They've been there since the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty back in 1979, and they're still there.
KIMMITT: They're still there. They're part of a coalition of forces -- coalition in nations that are supporting the Camp David Accords, about 1,000.
BLITZER: Thousand American troops.
KIMMITT: About 1,000 American troops.
BLITZER: All army.
KIMMITT: 425 in the infantry battalion and the remainder in a support battalion, some aviators, mostly logisticians and command and control for that.
BLITZER: What do they do in Sinai all the time?
KIMMITT: What they do is they monitor the provisions of the Camp David peace accord. They have monitoring responsibilities. They have patrolling responsibilities, peacekeeping responsibilities.
BLITZER: You oversaw them for a while?
KIMMITT: I did not oversee them. a colleague of mine, David Satterfield oversaw them for quite -- is overseeing them now.
BLITZER: And he's based in Rome.
KIMMITT: And he's based in Rome.
BLITZER: He flies into Egypt every now and then to see what's going on. It's a nice cushy job, I think.
KIMMITT: It's a job that has ensured peace in the Sinai for 30- plus years, and we're lucky to have diplomats such as David Satterfield at the head of that organization.
BLITZER: You're a diplomat yourself. Well spoken. It's a tough job though. I mean, if you're an American soldier going to spend what -- how long do they usually spend there, six months at a time, a year at a time?
KIMMITT: A year at a time.
BLITZER: They go to Sinai, but, I mean, I don't know what there's much to do, but take a look at these pictures from Cairo right now, fireworks all over the place. They're celebrating in Egypt. When you see these pictures, and you've been there many times, you've worked with the Egyptian military over the years, general, what goes through your mind?
KIMMITT: A combination of joy and a bit of concern. Clearly, there are some forces inside of Egypt that might want to take advantage of this situation, that may want to create chaos, take advantage of this, not see an orderly and peaceful transition. There are some organization inside of Egypt that would like to see Egypt turn into a theocracy rather than a secular democracy.
That's why while I'm very happy to see the celebration of the Egyptian people, I would also like to see this process move forward in a way that benefits those people in a Democratic way, in a pluralistic way, and not have happened in Egypt as we've seen happened in other countries in the region.
BLITZER: We'd all like to see that. If that happens, that would be excellent. General Kimmitt, thanks very much for coming in.
KIMMITT: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Retired U.S. Army General Mark Kimmitt. Hala, back to you.
GORANI: Thanks, Wolf. Up next, the leadership change in Egypt is having a huge impact on markets and on the price of oil. We'll bring you that after this. Stay with us.
GORANI: All right. So let's go to Poppy Harlow. She's in New York with more on the financial impact that this is all having on oil prices.
Poppy, what can you tell us?
POPPY HARLOW, CNNMONEY.COM: You know, we've been watching oil very closely for the past three weeks as this has just escalated, and what we saw about two weeks ago was that oil prices topped $92 a barrel, and all of that was on the concern about the unrest in Egypt.
I want to tell you today, after news that Mubarak had stepped down, oil prices fell about $1.33, closing above -- just above $85 a barrel. But what we really need to be talking about is, what are the broader implications here? We know where oil is now, but what does this do to the rest of the region that is so critical to the global oil market?
Egypt really isn't that important to the price of our oil. They're not a net exporter of oil. They produce millions of barrels, but they use it within the country. The Suez Canal sees about two percent of the world's oil go through it. So, again, not a huge impact there.
The real concern among oil analysts right now -- I literally just got off the phone with Fadal Gheit. He's an Egyptian oil analyst from Oppenheimer, and he says, "We have seen the people rising and them succeeding in overthrowing their government." If we see any unrest like this, Hala, in Saudi Arabia, that is a huge concern for oil prices, whether it's in Saudi, whether it's in Iran, et cetera.
He says oil, in the long term, could easily top $100 a barrel if we see this spreading. He said if the Saudi regime does not quickly act to give their people more democracy, we will see a big impact on oil.
And one more thing. Another oil analyst just told me, Hala -- he said, "The Saudis are pretty secure, but this has to make them nervous. Very nervous" -- Hala.
GORANI: All right, Poppy. Thanks very much.
Well, Brooke Baldwin and I are going to talk about the last 18 days, 18 days leading up to this history-making revolution.
BALDWIN: Can you believe?
GORANI: I cannot.
BALDWIN: Can you believe? We have the evolution of the revolution right after the break.
GORANI: Well, welcome back, everyone.
Brooke Baldwin and I are going to look at the evolution of the revolution.
And Wolf, it's been great anchoring with you the last -- I want to say five-and-a-half, almost six hours since that announcement was made and history was made in Egypt.
BLITZER: Yes. I'm sure we'll do it again, guys. Thanks very much.
I'm getting ready for two more hours in THE SITUATION ROOM. Michael Holmes will be joining me. So we're going to have a lot more on what's happening in Egypt. We're not going away from this story.
GORANI: All right.
BLITZER: And hi, Brooke.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Excellent job the last five-plus hours. We'll see you in 10 minutes there on THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll give you a quick little reprieve.
But as I finish out with you, Hala, you know, I think it's just worth looking back. You know, today we're calling it a revolution, but 18 days ago it was really organized by Facebook. You know?
BALDWIN: And you were there, and you're part of this piece we're about to show. We've seen everything. We've seen violence and Molotov cocktails, and women and children in makeshift medical units, and everything in between. I mean, and a passive military at the time.
I want you to look back here the last 18 days. This is the evolution of the revolution.
BALDWIN (voice-over): Friday, January 28th, the demonstrators call it a "Day of Rage," and 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 Egypt's economic troubles, including corruption, runaway prices and unemployment. 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 in cabinet.
HOSNI MUBARAK, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I asked 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 gripped by chaos.
Sunday, January 30th, key opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei arrives in Cairo's Tahrir Square, calling on Mubarak to "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 pack 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 later says the men 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, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": I've been hit now like 10 times.
BALDWIN: The violence only worsens Thursday. Journalists, increasingly under attack, detained, stabbed or intimidated.
COOPER: We are coming to you live from Cairo tonight from an undisclosed location. I can't tell you where we are, frankly, for our own safety. There's a lot of journalists now who have kind of gone to ground in Cairo.
BALDWIN: Friday, February 4th, the opposition calls this the "Day of Departure." Hosni Mubarak, though, is showing no signs of leaving immediately. Hundreds of thousands gather again in Cairo. And from Washington, the source of more than $1 billion in annual aid, calls for the violence to end.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we are sending a strong and unequivocal message. Attacks on reporters are unacceptable. Attacks on human rights activists are unacceptable. Attacks on peaceful protesters are unacceptable.
BALDWIN: For a while, the protests appear to run out of steam. The president, unbowing. The protesters, undeterred. A stalemate at Tahrir Square, until the release of the man widely credited with organizing the protests online, Wael Ghonim, a marketing director from Google who, in his spare time, set up a Facebook page to organize the anti-Mubarak campaign.
Security forces had detained Ghonim soon after the January 25th protests began. Upon his release, he electrifies the nation, saying he's prepared to die for the cause.
WAEL GHONIM, Egyptian PROTESTER: You are not going to stop us. Kidnap me, kidnap all my colleagues. Put us in jail, kill us, do whatever you want to do. We are getting back our country.
BALDWIN: Thursday, February 10th, the military tells the crowd in Tahrir their demands would be met. Tens of thousands more flood to the capital. The move, resembling a concert.
Reports from Cairo, backed by officials in Washington, suggest that the president may step down. Late in the evening, Hosni Mubarak announces he is delegating most powers to his vice president, but is not leaving.
The announcement, greeted with boos and jeers and for the demonstrators. The roller-coaster of emotions continues.
Friday, February 11th, the crowds in Tahrir swell. Reports also come in of large gatherings in cities across Egypt.
And then the bombshell announcement read on state TV by his deputy.
OMAR SULEIMAN, FMR. EGYPTIAN VICE PRESIDENT (through translator): President Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of Egypt.
BALDWIN: The deposed president leaves the capital. The affairs of state in the hands of a military council. Questions remain about the transition to democracy, but Wael Ghonim sums up the euphoria and the moment in Egypt in a telephone interview with CNN.
GHONIM: We were all looking for Egypt, and thank God we found her today.
BALDWIN: A revolution that ousted a regime many considered unshakeable, a revolution that reached its climax in a matter of just days.
BALDWIN: And I just think it's amazing that it's been 18 days, you know, from some Facebook page and several organizers, several thousand organizers, to today, day 18. We hear from VP Omar Suleiman saying Hosni Mubarak is no longer in charge.
GORANI: It feels like a very long time, and it feels like months, not weeks, that we've been following this, because these events have been so incredibly history-making. They have changed a country and a region forever. History was truly made today.
BALDWIN: What will stay with you? You were there. We were watching. And during the piece, when you saw that the camels and the horses and the rubber bullets and the water thrown, what image stays with you forever?
GORANI: You know, for years, we've heard from experts and pundits and even some members of the government, what will bring these autocratic governments down will be Islamist movements. In the end, is wasn't an Islamist movement.
It was young people -- Internet-savvy young people who led this. We saw it with our own eyes in the square. And it was a peaceful movement that brought down a dictator in the Arab world. And I truly still am taken aback at how quickly it happened and how absolutely history-making and life-changing it is for that country and the whole region.
BALDWIN: We witnessed history unfolding today, and we continue to do so.
Hala Gorani, my hat is off to you for your tremendous reporting in Egypt --
GORANI: Thank you so much.
BALDWIN: -- and sitting here for five, six hours carrying us through. And, of course, to Wolf Blitzer as well.
GORANI: It was a pleasure.
BALDWIN: He got his break, and now it's time for Wolf once again on THE SITUATION ROOM in Washington -- Wolf.