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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Protesters Call for "March of Million"; Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei
Aired January 31, 2011 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: We are live in Cairo where it is 5:00 a.m. on this the 8th day of the uprising in Cairo. What this day holds nobody can tell. And this may be a make or break day for the Mubarak regime. They are calling it a "Million-Man March". That is scheduled -- it is scheduled to start in some four hours from now.
How many people will actually show up? We don't know. Where they will go, we're not sure what will happen, we simply can't tell. The Mubarak regime is certainly trying to make it as difficult as possible for the protesters to gather, shutting off train service. The last Internet provider ISP has shut down as well. And we anticipate the cell phone service will be cut shortly.
The Egyptian military has promised not to harm protesters, but as we saw today in Liberation Square, this situation can turn violent very, very quickly.
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COOPER: From terror to triumph we still don't know exactly what occurred in that situation that caused the military troops to fire in the air. In the end the crowd was chanting "The people and the military are one."
But take a look at the fear on the face of that Egyptian soldier holding his gun at the protesters ready to shoot. Others finally shot in the air. That is the look of fear, and we -- you rarely get to see that so clearly in the face of one soldier here.
The military obviously playing a crucial role and what -- how they react to this protest today may be a turning point, maybe a critical juncture. We'll talk to Ben Wedeman and others about that and what they anticipate.
But I want to tell you a few of the other updates. As we said, cell phone service is likely to be cut here. American civilians are trying to be -- are trying to evacuate as much as possible. As many as thousands of -- a thousands of Americans were evacuated on Monday in special U.S. government charters, that they have to reimburse the U.S. government for. They were sent to -- to sites in Europe. And from there it's up to them to -- to -- to book their onward travel.
U.S. Marines -- a special contingent of U.S. Marines is coming to the United States embassy to secure the embassy here in Cairo; non- essential diplomatic personnel, their families are also being evacuated here. It is a very tense situation on this the 8th day.
The U.S. now has named a special envoy, a former ambassador to Cairo, a retired State Department official who will be meeting with the Mubarak regime. But what that regime decides to do frankly, at this point, is anybody's guess.
I want to show you a little bit of what we saw today in the hours that we spent in Liberation Square. Take a look.
COOPER (voice-over): Tense moments today near Liberation Square. Soldiers fire into the air to keep protesters at bay. The threat of violence is constant, but nothing so far has stopped the daily demonstrations for change.
(on camera): It's about 4:00 in the afternoon. The curfew began an hour ago. But still more and more people are arriving here in Liberation Square. They're incredibly enthusiastic, even though it's the 7th day of protests. They are determined to keep this going.
They're chanting saying they're not going to leave this square until -- until Mubarak leaves.
(voice-over): Young and old, they seem to come from all walks of life, all with the same message for Mubarak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that he's -- he's got to learn the message. I mean, I don't know what kind of language do we have to say it to him in, but he's got to learn that people don't want him. They have seen what the police forces can do in his name and they will not accept him anymore.
COOPER: Overhead a military helicopter circles constantly, a reminder that Mubarak's government is still in place.
(on camera): It's difficult to get a sense of how large the crowd really is here in Liberation Square. But it does -- you get a feel for it when you actually try to move through. It's -- it's actually incredibly crowded. People are just packed wall to wall.
There is no central leadership or anything. There's sort of different groups chanting different slogans, all of them, of course, anti- Mubarak.
(voice-over): Hour after hour, the chanting continues, many are tired but they refuse to leave.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to see freedom here. This is just the basic -- basic needs for a -- for any human being. You know, a shelter to live in, you know food, education, medicine. COOPER: That's what people are wanting here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. But the whole world is afraid that this government is going to turn into the harbor for terrorists. No, this is actually not. We hate terrorists as much as the whole world.
COOPER: This isn't about fundamentalism?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no way, no way. No, no. The people actually -- they are under poverty level they live in Egypt right now. And it is -- this is the time -- this is the time for some kind of change to happen. Otherwise, we're never going to be able to change. No way.
COOPER: The Islamist group, the Muslim Brotherhood has begun to take part in the protests, but no one group here is calling the shots.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need just democracy. We have no problem with Israel. We have peace -- peace agreement. We respect it. Mubarak tries to let the people think that the Muslim Brother will control the country and will start to be -- making a war. Actually that is not true. We --
COOPER: So if Mubarak leaves you don't think the Muslim Brotherhood would take over?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to allow them. We're not going to allow them.
(voice-over): Tomorrow a massive protest has been called, the pressure keeps building. The protesters hope something soon has got to give.
COOPER: Some of the people on the scenes we saw today in Liberation Square. And as we said, it's just four hours until this massive protest is planned.
I'm joined now by Ben Wedeman and Ivan Watson here in Cairo. And also in Alexandria, I'm joined by Nic Robertson who's there. Ben, what are you anticipating was going to happen today?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, of course the job of anticipating has become very risky here, because this whole protest movement has just sort of popped up in the last week, so it's very difficult to say.
But we know that people are walking to Cairo from the Nile Delta. We know that despite the fact the government has cut the Internet, you can't send SMS's, BlackBerrys don't work. And in -- within moments we expect the cell phone system to go down. We know that word has passed just by word of mouth, throughout the entire country. So I think we can anticipate a huge demonstration. A million, it could be more, it could be slightly less. But this will be probably the biggest demonstration we've seen in Cairo yet.
COOPER: Are you nervous about it?
WEDEMAN: Of course I'm nervous. I'm nervous, because I have a family here. And we've seen that since this has begun, the security situation in -- in Cairo has deteriorated dramatically. This is one of the safest cities on earth under normal circumstances.
But at the moment we see the police, even though they're back in small numbers, just disappeared. They were pulled out of the country -- out of the city in the morning of Saturday. And basically, security is now in the hands of the army in some areas. But for the most part in Cairo, it's the job of people in the neighborhood going out with baseball bats, shotguns, whatever they can find because the worry is that this current political uproar is just sending this country down the drain economically. The infrastructure isn't working. People are scared.
COOPER: Now you -- we -- we've heard from demonstrators that they plan to actually go to the residence of President Mubarak. Is -- is that likely?
WEDEMAN: I know that between the Tahrir Square and the Ipihadia (ph) Palace on the eastern edge of this city, there are around 20 army checkpoints. It's going to be very difficult for them to go, unless simply the army steps aside and says you can go. Otherwise it could be very difficult.
We've heard that one of the targets of the demonstrations is state TV just up the block from here. There you have it surrounded by tanks. They've now put barriers on the roads. So there is a real anticipation that they could move towards some of these strategic sites.
COOPER: Ivan, you were out at the pyramids today, which are close to Giza, I believe which are -- are very close to the city. I just want to show some of that video that you saw.
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IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Crews have been deployed around the city, and the tanks are even parked here at one of the ancient wonders of the world the Great Pyramids of Giza.
(voice-over): An army officer insisted the pyramids are still open for tourists, but the soldiers wouldn't let us come any closer.
(on camera): This is part of what has Egyptians so scared right now, a number of hotels and cabarets and casinos like this that were torched and looted in the first days of the protests.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: It does seem, Ivan, in -- it seems to me that the Egyptian military have kind of clamped down today, in terms of making it more difficult for protesters to get access and journalists to get access. Was that your experience?
WATSON: Yes, they look like they have taken a more -- you could -- could say aggressive posture. And what was really striking is we heard some reports that hey, the -- the police were supposed to be back out on the streets. I saw a handful of traffic cops, really.
And instead, what was really striking, was seeing just how much the military had fanned out throughout the city, in force, all the way up until Giza and especially in front of everything from telecommunications buildings, the cell phone buildings to -- to parliament and -- and important, you know, intersections as well apparently trying to fill in some of that law and order vacuum that Ben was just talking about.
COOPER: Nic Robertson, you are in Alexandria, which is to the north of where we are in Cairo. There is a march planned there as well. What are you anticipating, what are you hearing about what's going to happen?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They say there will be a million people here, they say they're going to focus on gathering in the Martyr Square (ph), the Martyr Square is also where the main rail station is here. So they already know that if the rail networks are hit and trains can't run they're may -- they're going to lose people there.
And they know they're going to have a difficult -- they're going to have difficulty organizing if the cell phones aren't working. So they've been through that on Friday, and they say that they're going to push ahead regardless. It's hard to imagine that they will get a million people in this city.
But they know that this is a day where they need to really push up the momentum. And -- and they, unlike Cairo, perhaps, have fewer choices of -- of sort of buildings, government buildings that they can really target that might make a difference in toppling President Mubarak.
But -- but regardless, they're going to gather, they say and -- and keep pushing and keep the men from going (ph). Some people say well, it might be done by Friday and other people are kind of less optimistic about it, they say this may take a whole lot longer -- Anderson.
COOPER: Ben how will -- I mean, how much longer can this go on for without something breaking one way or the other?
WEDEMAN: It really can't go on much longer, because the economy's at a standstill. The stock market's been closed now for two days. Last week it just went through the floor, it crashed. Banks aren't working, universities, schools, the railroad system isn't working, the Internet. I mean, basically, this country has come to a screeching halt. And the feeling is that people within the regime around Mubarak are going to have to calculate that eventually the costs of this shutdown are going to get so high that when they do take over, if they do take over from Mubarak, they're going to be dealing with a massive mess in this country.
So we're really teetering on the brink of chaos in this country.
COOPER: We were talking before we went on the air and you made some really interesting points about how people live here; that a vast majority of people are living one day to the next. They're -- they're working one day in order to earn money for their families that night to eat. And because they are not working and banks are closed, people just don't have money.
WEDEMAN: And basically 40 percent of the population lives on less than $2 a day. And what they -- what you earn in the day, you feed your country in the evening -- I mean you're family in the evening. And so this explains why there has been so much looting, so much ransacking of stores and what-not because people live such a day-to- day existence.
COOPER: We're going to have a lot more with Ben Wedeman, and Ivan Watson, Nic Robertson as well throughout this hour, the best correspondents in the region. We're going to continue to draw on their expertise.
We're also going to show you the latest on American civilians trying to get out of this country, as I said, more than a thousand evacuated by U.S. charters today. The airport is a -- is a disaster zone right now in terms of trying to get out. It is very difficult for people. We'll also talk to two Americans who are stranded here right now and hoping to get out in the days ahead.
We'll be right back.
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COOPER: It's easy to find a number of businesses which have been looted in downtown Cairo. This is a Samsung customer service center. This one got broken into on Friday night. There's been a large group of people came, broke in, tried to take whatever they could.
Since then we've seen these civilian militias, these local neighborhood groups which have popped up on just about every street corner, particularly after curfew, they armed themselves with guns in some cases. But more often than not with knives and clubs and sticks to try to -- not only to protect their homes, but also protect businesses on that street.
(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: In a moment we're going to talk to two young Americans who have been living here for several months. And are looking to get out or trying to get out in the next couple of days. We'll tell you about how difficult that is for them.
But first, I just want to tell you there are some 50,000 Americans who live and work in Egypt though, the exact number of who are in the country at this point nobody really knows unless they've registered with the State Department, which most have not. Some 2,400 or so Americans have asked the U.S. State Department -- 2,600, excuse me -- have asked the U.S. State Department for aid in getting out of the country.
Starting today, the American government started flying out voluntary evacuations, families of -- of diplomats, but also tourists and others who are Americans who are living here who wanted to get out. They've flown out about 900 or so on Monday. They hope to fly out another thousand or so on this day, Tuesday. It's already Tuesday morning here.
I want to check in with Jill Dougherty who has the latest on the evacuation. Jill what's the scene?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well you know, Anderson, really they are using everything that they possibly can to get the word out. That's the main thing, because of course communications are basically down.
They do have a good Web site; the State Department's Web site has a lot of information if you can get Internet coverage. They're also using you know, radio, TV, social media, e-mail, whatever -- whatever is possible.
And interestingly, they're also encouraging people who have relatives who might be outside of the country, outside of Egypt to contact if possible their relatives and help them out and give them some information.
One thing that they do point out is, the airport apparently does not have a curfew, but the city does. So they are saying, you know, if there's a curfew in place then Americans shouldn't be going across the city to the airport -- Anderson.
COOPER: And at this point also, they're -- they're now going to be sending U.S. Marines to -- to basically secure the U.S. Embassy here in Cairo as well, correct?
DOUGHERTY: Yes, they've -- they've sent a team that's going in there. They're pretty heavily armed and they'll be you know, beefing up what you normally get at the embassy. And then also, Anderson, in terms of beefing up, they're also beefing up the evacuation for Americans, because there are pockets of Americans throughout the country that might need some help.
And so this is what P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesperson told us today about that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
P.J. CROWLEY, SPOKESMAN, STATE DEPARTMENT: Tomorrow we expect to begin to add other destinations. We might have two flights tomorrow going to Frankfurt, but as we also have begun to do -- do surveys around the country. We will, as soon as we can have flights go into Aswan and Luxor in -- in the next day or two, as we've identified pockets of American citizens in those locations as well.
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DOUGHERTY: Yes, so they are using charter flights, they actually used a Canadian plane today. U.S. military plane, and eventually they're hoping, as you said, tomorrow they're going to be starting out and trying to do at least as well as they did today in getting people out.
COOPER: I appreciate that report. We'll continue to follow that.
I want to introduce you to Jessie Sobrino and Tom Traylor, two Americans who have been living here. You guys have been here what, for five or six months?
TOM TRAYLOR, AMERICAN STUCK IN CAIRO: Five months.
JESSICA SOBRINO, AMERICAN STUCK IN CAIRO: Yes.
COOPER: So at what point did you decide it's time to get out?
TRAYLOR: For me that decision was made -- you know, normally I'm pretty comfortable walking around the city just about anywhere. But in the last few days as I've been out and people have kind of identified me as an American, and there -- they've -- as an -- as an American they've been saying, that you know, we're pretty upset about your -- your country's position on supporting Mubarak. And the minute that they started being hostile towards me that was like ok, I need to find somewhere else to go.
COOPER: Do you feel -- feel that as well?
SOBRINO: I do. For me actually the turning point was about a day before him. Just because I'm female I couldn't go roaming the streets as much as Tom had the opportunity to.
So the anti-American friends made me really experience to the same extent, that's the organization that I work for, I write reports mostly for the upper class businessmen. And given the economy my job's really --
COOPER: And you live in a neighborhood, how -- how is the security there? I mean, there's no police around? So is there one of those neighborhood watches?
TRAYLOR: Well, you know we are very fortunate because we live in Zamalek, that the building we live in, because there are so many Egyptian families outside of our building at any one time, there could be like 20 to 50 armed men protecting our building. So we're very fortunate in that respect.
I can imagine like being in some other neighborhood without having that and -- and it could be, you know, even with that -- still that presence, we still hear gunfire like every night.
COOPER: There's no doubt there's a lot of folks at the U.S. State Department working very hard, they're probably understaffed trying to get people out. But we're hearing a lot of frustration from Americans who aren't able to contact the U.S. State Department. They put out a statement the other day saying, well contact our Web site. But obviously there's no Internet service here.
How -- how -- what's your experience been? Have they -- have you called them?
SOBRINO: I mean I registered upon arriving here at the end of August. And then one of the roommates that we're staying with called and said, here are the individual are here, here's our home phone lines, and cell phones have been in and out. We haven't had any direct contact.
And everything we've heard about the State Department has been through the media and not directly from an embassy representative. The most -- the most helpful advice we've gotten are from friends who are working for the embassy, but not directly from them.
COOPER: So are you planning to take a commercial -- because commercial flight are still going but a lot of commercial flights have been canceled or delayed and the airport scene is just a nightmare.
I met someone when I flew in, on I guess it was on Sunday, who had been there for 48 hours and still no word. How are you going to try to get out?
TRAYLOR: Well, fortunately for us, because we have a place to live, we're able to contact our families, and we're having them get tickets for us. And because we have a place to live, we can kind of hang out for a little bit you know, try to get past the rush of all the tourists getting out.
All of the foreign tourists are getting out as well. So we're able to contact our families, they are getting tickets for us, and then we're just kind of waiting it out in Zamalek until -- you know, hopefully by the time we leave on Friday and Saturday, it will be a little bit calmer there.
COOPER: So you think Saturday you have a flight out?
TRAYLOR: As far as I know right now, on Saturday I have a flight out. Now, whether it happens, as we're hearing from our friends that are at the airport right now that you -- you know, you could have a flight and the flight could be delayed for 24 or 48 hours. So --
COOPER: So your friends are stuck at the airport?
SOBRINO: My grandmother was there for 36 hours. She actually came to visit me on Thursday and ended up being stuck there for an extended period of time.
COOPER: You're grandmother picked the worst time to visit you. I'm sure your grandmother loves you very much but --
SOBRINO: She made it to London, though, so that's good. And my flight's going out to Paris on Friday afternoon hopefully and we're going to try and get there about 24 hours in advance.
COOPER: What -- what do you want people in the United States to know about what's happening here from your perspective?
TRAYLOR: I say from my perspective, that the first thing I'd like people to know, is that for the most part the protesters that I've encountered, and I've been out a lot during the day, you know these are individuals who just want their freedom.
And a very telling sight for me is that there's a point where I was in -- I was observing one of the protests last Tuesday. And myself and a couple of other foreigners were maybe a little too close to the front and as people started to run away from the police, some Egyptian men saw us and they surrounded us to protect us from the crowd leader.
And I -- I felt most of the time, like that -- that is how the protesters are reacting you know, this is all about them wanting freedom. And so they've been very, very gracious to me as a foreigner.
COOPER: Are you concerned about what may happen today in the hours ahead?
TRAYLOR: Oh yes, absolutely. I mean, you know, we're hearing from the friends that we have that this is going to be like -- this is going to be a very, very large day. And so you know, this is a day for me that I'm going to be inside.
COOPER: Jessie and Tom, I want to thank you for being with us. I know it's even a risk coming here. So we do appreciate that, and wish you the best of luck in getting out.
TRAYLOR: Thank you.
SOBRINO: Thank you.
COOPER: Thank you very much.
When we come back, we're going to have the conversation I had with Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei today. A former IAEA official, a Nobel Peace Laureate who is here, returned here on Thursday. We'll talk to him about what he sees the next step being.
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COOPER (on camera): There's a much heavier presence of the Egyptian soldiers on the streets in Cairo. And they're having a little bit of a heavier hand today. They're blocking off certain traffic routes, and they're blocking off certain exits and entrances to the Square.
So it's harder and harder to get to the Square. A lot of people say that they are trying to give a show of force or give a sense that they're -- they're in control of the situation.
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COOPER: One of the things that President Hosni Mubarak has done officially and effectively over the last 30 years he's been in power is, never really allowing significant opposition forces to grow in this country.
So if he is removed from power or steps down from power, there's a real question about who would move in to fill that vacuum? Would it be the military? Would some other political figure arise? Would the Muslim Brotherhood take on a greater role?
And, frankly, no one knows the answers to those questions, but one name that's become more well-known in the last couple days is Mohamed ElBaradei, who was the former head of the IAEA. That's may be where you have heard his name, if you'd heard it all.
But he's lived most of the last three decades outside of Egypt. Even though he's Egyptian, he's lived outside of Egypt. So he doesn't really have a huge popular base of support in this country.
He only returned to this country on Thursday, but his name and -- it has become more well-known, he's taken on more of a prominent role in the last several days. And there's talk -- he has said that he's had talks with the opposition figures and with the protest organizers to try to talk about forming some sort of government of national unity, if and when President Mubarak does leave.
I talked to Mohamed ElBaradei earlier on Monday.
COOPER: What is happening today? What are you doing today?
MOHAMED ELBARADEI, OPPOSITION LEADER: Well, what I'm trying to do today is see the way forward, Anderson, when clearly people are going to continue to demonstrate. There is a large demonstration planned for tomorrow. It might be even bigger Friday if things does not move.
I think the number one priority for the people and industry, everywhere right now is for Mr. Mubarak to get a dignified exit.
COOPER: There is concern in some quarters (ph) in the United States about what comes after Mubarak. What do you say to try to alleviate people's concerns? ELBARADEI: I think that there's friction, frankly in some quarters in the U.S. One, if democracy were to come here, they might automatically be hostile to (INAUDIBLE) and that's not true at all. You know, we -- peace between democracies is much more durable than peace between dictators.
COOPER: How controlled are things right now, in terms of every day knowing what's going to happen?
ELBARADEI: Nobody knows. I mean, that is also --
COOPER: You don't even know?
ELBARADEI: I don't even know. I mean as you can see, Mubarak is keeping mum (ph). Nobody knows what he's thinking, why is he staying? As I mentioned yesterday, I think it was Fareed Zakaria, who has an (INAUDIBLE) with this. He now for, the sake of the country, should just go.
And nobody knows what is -- what the new government is going to look like. People are not accepting just shuffling of people because it's -- the demand for change is quite different from what -- you know, cosmetic changes. They need a drastic shift.
COOPER: Secretary Clinton talked about -- calling for a transition to democracy which they say they've been calling for, for 30 years.
ELBARADEI: Yes. But if you call for 30 years and you've seen the outcome, things getting from bad to worse, don't you think there's something wrong? And don't you think that people then will not believe that you believe in your basic values, freedom, democracy, rule of law? You really have to be -- I mean you cannot change things in Egypt, but you have to stand up and make it loud and clear that you are not in fear of a dictator.
Mubarak has been supportive of the peace process. Mubarak has been helpful in many regional issues, but they have no reason to believe that a democracy here will not be as supportive of stability. It would be durable stability.
COOPER: When you heard that Vice President Biden said he didn't consider Mubarak a dictator, what did you think?
ELBARADEI: Did he say that?
COOPER: Yes. This was days ago.
ELBARADEI: I know Joe Biden, I'll ask him to come here for a day and let us talk. I'll take him out a day in the street and talk to the people. If he finds one single Egyptian saying that Mubarak is not a ruthless dictator, I'll be surprised.
COOPER: And your message to President Obama is what?
ELBARADEI: My message to President Obama -- I have lots of respect for him, I worked with him in the last year at the IAIA, and I have much admiration for him. But I tell him, you need to review your policy, you need to let go of Mubarak, you need to be -- you shouldn't be behind the curb. You need to start building confidence with the people and not with the people who are smothering the people.
COOPER: Are you concerned that the protesters won't be able to maintain, you know, their energy; that they won't continue to come out every day?
ELBARADEI: I don't think so. I think they're determined. I have been talking to some of the leaders today. I mean, I think they are not going to let go until they see the back of Mubarak frankly. The earlier he would do that the better, you know, for the country. I -- my fear, Anderson, is that we would have more violence if that was to happen.
COOPER: Do you fear a crackdown by Mubarak?
ELBARADEI: I don't see. I think if they do that that would be a bloody country. People now, as you have seen, they have been empowered. I mean they have been beaten. They are not going to stop short of change of regime, change of Mubarak.
COOPER: If there is a transitional government, would you run for President?
ELBARADEI: This is not -- and again, Anderson, this is not my priority at all. At my -- at this stage, all I want to see is Egypt modern, moderate, democratic. And I would be -- I would have achieved the last mission of my life, if you like. I always said if people want me to run, I would not let them down. But that's not my priority.
COOPER: Can you predict what's going to happen? I mean, do you have a sense of if Mubarak leaves, when he might do that?
ELBARADEI: I think within the next two weeks things have to be clear. I think within the next two weeks if things are not clear, I am afraid that things will escalate. There's no, as I said, there's no going down.
COOPER: Thanks again.
ELBARADEI: Thanks a lot.
COOPER: Thank you.
COOPER: I'm joined now by Robin Wright, senior fellow at the Institute for Peace; also by John King, host of "JOHN KING, USA".
John, what are you hearing out of the White House in terms of how they are viewing the situation here?
JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Well, on a lot of points, they actually agree with Mr. ElBaradei in that interview. They think the next two weeks are critical. They also think, Anderson, the next 24 hours could be critical.
The administration wants him to leave. They're not saying that quite publicly; but privately, they want him to leave. They're conveying that message.
They don't want him to leave in a vacuum, however. They want him to work with his current newly-constituted government. Work with Mr. ElBaradei and other people in the protest community to form some sort of an interim relationship that would then allow a period of time for democratic institution building and democratic elections.
But they do believe since -- they believe, number one, Mr. Mubarak is resisting that advice and digging in, and they think tomorrow could be critical. If there are huge numbers of peoples in the streets, how does the army react? And does the army then go to the President and say, Mr. Mubarak, you need to go? That could be the key moment.
COOPER: And Robin Wright, in terms of a transition to democracy, it is made all the more difficult because as I said, President Mubarak has not allowed there to be democratic institutions in this country; has not allowed there to be real legitimate opposition groups.
ROBIN WRIGHT, SENIOR FELLOW, U.S. INSTITUTE OF PEACE: And that's such a great deal of uncertainty. And for the Obama administration, that also makes life more difficult. It's an issue of trying to also create a sense of transition beyond Egypt, in the region generally.
You have very nervous allies whether it's from Saudi Arabia or Israel concerned about what Egypt's transition might look like and what it might lead to. And what impact it would have, because Egypt, as you know, has been always the intellectual center -- the political trendsetter in the region.
And so there's a lot to think about when it comes to who are the players? And there are so few out there. There's a kind of hysteria in Washington about the Muslim Brotherhood, which has so far managed in any election to get no more than 20 percent. It does have a solid 20 percent, but it is not considered, I think among Egyptians, as the obvious alternative.
That's one of the problems. ElBaradei is new. The Muslim Brotherhood does not have the kind of significant support. So who are the players? All the political parties that have been tolerated over the years have been very small and insignificant in terms of providing the leadership.
This is why Egypt is so interesting right now. It's something entirely different.
COOPER: It is very interesting Robin; and John to Robin's last point, John, when you're out with the protesters, they make -- I mean, they bend over backwards to try to explain to me and all of us that the Muslim Brotherhood is only playing a small role in this. And that it is young people who are really the ones in the forefront of these demonstrations. It's not the Muslim Brotherhood. It's not Mohamed ElBaradei. It is young people. And even today we were videotaping people praying during one the demonstrations. We had a number of people come up and say you make sure you understand these are just prayers. This is not a sign that we are all Islamists and that this is some sort of fundamentalist demonstration.
How real is that fear in the White House, John?
KING: Well, number one, the administration agrees with the assessment you just gave and the assessment Robin just gave. The Muslim Brotherhood is maybe 25 percent, maybe 30 percent if there is an election tomorrow. What they do fear though, is because there are no other democratic institutions, no other political parties have been allowed to form and grow, that if you did this tomorrow, if you did this in two weeks, then what would happen?
Who would step into that vacuum: maybe some radical elements of the Muslim Brotherhood; maybe some other radical onus (ph); maybe Iran would try to interfere; outside forces would try to interfere. Without any democratic institutions beyond President Mubarak, that is the administration's fear, which is why they hope, Anderson, that President Mubarak will get the message, turn to his Vice President and his military chief and negotiate a transitional government that brings in Mr. ElBaradei, brings in some other people from the demonstrations and then has a several month cooling off period where you organize elections.
That's what they want. They don't believe at this moment President Mubarak has gotten that message. They're trying.
The President of the United States has called him. The prime minister of the U.K. has called him. Prime Minister Merkel has called him. However, what they would like, but they know they can't get is for King Abdullah from Saudi Arabia or King Abdullah in Jordan to deliver that message. But it's the domino effect Robin just spoke about, that they don't believe the leaders who know him best, who he trusts most would deliver the "you need to go" message because of the domino effect it would have on them.
COOPER: Do we know where Mubarak would try to go and live? Would he try to live in the United States?
KING: That's a great question. Robin knows a bit more about the region than I do. Most people think he would not come to the United States. Would he go to London, where his family is? Would he go elsewhere in the Middle East? If that happened, that is a giant if. Make no mistake, if the United States could help privately negotiate a departure for him, they would be happy to do so.
COOPER: Robin Wright, I appreciate you being with us. These are heady days here and difficult hours ahead. We're going to continue to follow it; John King as well.
We're going to have more live from Cairo. We also just want to give you an update on the massive storm that is hitting the Midwest and also the plans to be heading east. We'll have that and more from Cairo in just a minute. Stay with us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Even though there's not a large organization controlling these demonstrations, there are people trying to do the best they can. Trying to police order, trying to keep things orderly, make sure this doesn't erupt into violence. There are even people who are handing out food, they're handing out dates like these to the crowd because people spend so much time here they get hungry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And that sense of policing the crowds, self-policing is going to be critical in the hours ahead as we anticipate a massive demonstration here in Cairo, also one called for Alexandria. And again these could be critical hours in the few hours ahead.
We're coming up on the 6:00 hour here. The demonstration is anticipated to begin around 9:00. The rallying point is just a few blocks from where I'm standing in Liberation Square. We're going to have complete coverage.
Let's check in though with Isha Sesay who has a "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.
ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks Anderson.
A federal judge in Florida has ruled President Obama's health care reform law is unconstitutional. The judge ruled that Congress overstepped its authority in passing the law, because it contains a provision requiring most Americans to buy health insurance by 2014. The Justice Department says it will appeal the ruling.
A California man has been charged with making terrorist threats after allegedly targeting a mosque in Michigan called the Islamic Center of America. Roger Stockholm was arrested in the mosque parking lot allegedly with a large amount of fireworks in his car. He's being held on bond.
Oil prices are spiking amid concerns about the situation in Egypt. The price settled at just over $92 per barrel today, the highest close since October 2008.
And a massive winter storm is heading toward the United States with more than 20 states expected to get at least some of it. Meteorologist Chad Myers joins us now with the very latest. Chad, just how bad is it?
CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Well, it's going to get worse. It's just starting, but it will be all the way -- these warnings all the way from Boston, all the way back down to El Paso, Texas. And if you're in this, this is the zone of snow. There will be just a slight area of ice below that, south of that, about 50 miles. Some spots could pick up an inch of ice. That will bring down power lines, trees, and the like. That's what this is. That pink area there, that's the icing going on.
Here comes the snow, Oklahoma City tonight, Tulsa, back up through Springfield and into St. Louis, then Chicago and then finally in to Detroit. It is a big storm. It continues to be a big storm as we move in. But the good news is, it's a fast storm. This storm will take 36 hours to go from Texas to Massachusetts. If it would be 50 hours or 100 hours the snow would be much deeper.
I'm assuming and expecting that we're going to see 10 to 20 inches to be the max everywhere here in this dark purple. But there may be some spots higher than that. The problem is not going to be so much the snow, sure obviously 15 inches of snow is a lot. But if you're south of this line, south of Scranton, south of Pittsburgh, all the way back down even into Louisville and Columbus, Ohio and Indianapolis, that's the line of ice that could even be more problem than the snow -- Isha.
SESAY: Oh dear, weather woes for a lot of people. Chad Myers, we appreciate it.
SESAY: Anderson, let me send it back to you in Cairo.
COOPER: Snow? It sounds a world away, Isha, from where we are right now. We are -- as I said, we're about three hours away from this demonstration. I can tell you, I already hear protesters off in the distance, people chanting off in the distance after morning prayers. It's going to be a very interesting day here to say the least -- potentially a dangerous day, but potentially also a critical day for the future of this country.
I hope you stay with our coverage. We'll also be on the air of course tomorrow night live from Cairo as well with all the developments on Tuesday.
When we come back, though our coverage continues; I want to show you some of the most remarkable moments that we have witnessed over the last 48 hours over this weekend. We'll be right back.
COOPER: Just been checking my Blackberry. It looks like cell phone service is still on here in Cairo, though we have been told to anticipate a shutoff of cell phone service. All Internet connections now are down. The last ISP server went down a short time ago. Also the train service has been cut to Cairo.
All efforts by the government to make -- to lessen the impact of this large demonstration, which is anticipated to start in just a few hours; I can already hear some protesters coming from one area heading toward Liberation Square to join up with a larger group. That's the staging point just a few blocks in that direction.
Again, we're going to continue to cover it, be up all day and into tomorrow night to bring you the latest information.
We want to take a look back at some of the most dramatic moments that we saw today, Monday here, and also some of the most dramatic moments we saw over the weekend.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The game is over. Get (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out. What the hell do you want?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say go to hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mubarak must go to hell.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mubarak coward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have two choices. The first choice -- Mubarak leaves. The second choice -- we die here. We have no choice.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Doctors in a makeshift hospital set up in a small mosque treat the wounded from the clashes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mubarak must go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want freedom.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hate this person. He's a little (ph) person.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: How do you get the President out of the country? Because at the moment he sees the demonstration --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By revolution.
ROBERTSON: By revolution?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, by revolution.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hate Mubarak. We hate Mubarak.
ROBERTSON: This is what we're seeing that we haven't seen before as well. Look, "Foreign governments, stop hypocrisy, stand for Egyptians and freedom."
IVAN WATSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This has been an unmistakable show of military force. Fighter jets flying low over Cairo's Tahrir Square, Liberation Square which has been a symbol of defiance.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body of a young man killed in clashes with Interior Ministry is carried through Tahrir Square.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's another important side of this story. This country's economy, its infrastructure has come to a screeching halt. WATSON: Soldiers have been deployed all around the city. And the tanks are even parked here at one of the ancient wonders of the world, the Great Pyramids of Giza.
ROBERTSON: Tracer fire flying in the air. The demonstrators say that's the army firing to warn them to stay away. These people wouldn't be out on the streets if the government was in control. At the moment, much of the attention is on this, Tahrir Square, the heart of the protest movement.
COOPER: Are you scared to be here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not scared. There's like millions here so what am I scared of?
COOPER: They're calling for freedom and change and justice. Those are the words you hear a lot. And they're saying that their demands haven't changed, they want Mubarak out.
ElBaradei is like over there with the crowd. Everybody wants to get a look at him. Wants to hear anything he might have to say. What is your message to President Mubarak?
ELBARADEI: He should leave tonight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now this protest movement, they say they're willing to stay out here for as long as it takes until Hosni Mubarak steps down. So certainly there is no indication that the movement is in any way waning, and it seems to be getting stronger by the day.
COOPER: We'll have more from Cairo in a moment.
COOPER: All of our correspondents and camera crews and producers and engineers here are working literally around the clock day after day to bring you the best coverage we can. Stay with CNN online and on television for the latest coverage from Egypt.
Join us again on 360 tomorrow night at 10:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll see you then.