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Egypt in Crisis; Largest Protest yet Expected Friday

Aired February 10, 2011 - 23:00   ET


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Our extended coverage continues in just a moment. We're going to take a quick break. The sun rising in Cairo, possibly the biggest day of protest yet -- details ahead.


COOPER: And good evening again.

The sun is almost up in Cairo. An old dictator still clings to power, the Mubarak regime still intact at this hour, his vice president and long-time crony now wielding, more official control, but with Mubarak himself refusing to step down. Both dictator and his regime making clear they do not intend to give up real power.

What's also become clear, the peaceful protestors are not willing to give up that small square of freedom they have bought with their blood; that small square of freedom that too many have already died for.

It is 6:00 a.m. in Cairo and the battle lines are clear. Peaceful protestors still in Liberation Square, as you saw, others outside the state television building. Still others at the presidential palace, though their numbers right now are unknown.

Hundreds of thousands who came to Liberation Square expecting to hear their dictator resign were bitterly disappointed. Mubarak handing power to his Vice President, and instead of stepping down, digging in, claiming credit for resisting foreign pressure, claiming his regime was trying to end chaos and help the country's economy, even though he is the one who shut down banks and shut down the Internet and shut down the trains.

The man who has tried to manufacture a crisis so he could be hailed as a hero of stability continues to lie at this hour to his own people. In Liberation Square, those people erupted in anger as their President seemed to dismiss them as children. The insults continued a short time later when Vice President Suleiman went on TV, telling protestors to go home, blaming not the corruption and brutality of his regime for the protests but satellite news stations and agitators and others.

There was rage, but there was not violence -- not violence yet. It's 6:00 a.m. Friday, a day off in the Arab world and the next few hours we could see the biggest protests yet. We're following all the developments tonight all the way through this live to the midnight hour.

A lot to talk about with our panel, correspondents and guests in Cairo and Washington and elsewhere: Stephen Hadley, former national security adviser for President George W. Bush is with us; Professor Fouad Ajami of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies as well as with the Hoover Institution; in Cairo, democracy activist, Khalid Abdalla, he's also an actor, star of the movie "The Kite Runner"; also in Cairo, CNN's Arwa Damon.

Khalid, in -- in the hours ahead what do you plan, what have you heard the other protestors plan? What is the intention?

KHALID ABDALLA, ANTI-MUBARAK PROTESTER (via telephone): They're just gathering I mean, it's there was a (INAUDIBLE) prayer recently, and there's a huge number of people out, I mean, more than I've ever seen at night. And I went over to -- I went over to the state television earlier as well, tonight. And people were camped out there. I mean -- I mean, peacefully. And I mean, I mean as you know, I mean, not -- not the barrier of fear that people have broken which I think is going to mean something in the morning.

I mean just as -- just as it did when we take the -- the people of assembly. I think we're going to -- I mean, in fact, what I hope, let me tell you this is what I hope. This is what I'm going to be calling for. As I say, earlier today we were out demonstrating in the streets of downtown and very quickly our numbers kept escalating and get bigger and bigger.

I'm hoping that -- I'm hoping that it starts -- that it spreads that way. And -- and -- and God knows what next week is going to hold. Certainly more strikes and certainly bigger demonstrations; they just got to get the message and we thought to get to them (INAUDIBLE) as possible.

COOPER: Professor Ajami, what do you see the next few hours or the next few days holding?

FOUAD AJAMI, PROFESSOR, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, I think what I really believe and what I think the story, the next turn, if you will, the next phase is Mubarak is hell-bent on testing the moral discipline of the protestors. He wishes to provoke them into violence, he wishes to bring them into an open fight, and that open fight if it becomes a fight and blood, they are -- they were -- they will be destined to lose.

He wishes to sully the honor of this rebellion. If you just watched him, if you listened to him in Arabic as I did and just attentively, this man is an angry man, deaf to the -- to the cries of his people, blind to the fury all around him, determined to hold onto his official truth -- the official truth that he is the benevolent father and these people are just lost, stray children who don't know what's good for them.

I mean when you went to Cairo and came back, you began focusing on one thing very important, the truthfulness of this issue and the lies of this regime, because the pillars of autocracy are three: terror, plunder, and the manufacture of this false truth. That's what's being played out now.

COOPER: Mr. Hadley, you -- as a national security adviser, you worked in the Bush administration. The Bush administration was quite vocal in its calls for -- for President Mubarak to -- to open up, to -- to move towards democracy. The Obama administration has actually said that they -- they have been making those same pushes but more privately, not kind of a -- a -- a-- a name-and-shame policy.

You've been in the rooms when President Bush was talking to Mubarak about opening up. What was that like? What did you hear?

STEPHEN HADLEY, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, 2005-2009: Well, President Bush early on in his administration said that the U.S. policy of trying to purchase stability at the price of supporting these authoritarian regimes was a bad bargain; that authoritarian regimes are not stable, and they needed to open up and give their people a chance to participate in their future.

And he pushed that very hard on President Mubarak and urged him instead of suppressing these non-Islamist parties, to actually encourage them. So that when the Egyptian people woke up and demand their rights, they would have choices beyond the Muslim Brotherhood.

We actually thought we were making progress before the 2005 presidential election. Omar Suleiman came to the United States, Secretary of State Condi Rice and I went three and a half hours dinner one time walking him through what a more open and free presidential election would look like and in 2005 they had a better presidential election.

There was opposition. President Mubarak campaigned, he made campaign promises, it was a small step but many people thought the really opening had come and it continued through the first two phases of the next parliamentary elections.

And then when candidates associated with the Muslim Brotherhood did well in the third phase of that election, the government really cracked down. And that was really the end of any experimentation by the Mubarak administration with opening up. In retrospect, it looks like a real missed opportunity.

COOPER: And Arwa Damon, that is the narrative that that -- that Mubarak and that Suleiman continue to propagate, that it is either us or chaos. That it's either us and stability or the chaos of the streets. We know that's a false narrative, because we have seen the protestors provide a third way.

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And what the protestors are calling for is a free and fair election. They are calling for an end to a military regime. They want to see politics play out the way that they should in any other country that is going to claim to be a democracy. And they are very adamant about this.

But at the same time, as we do go into Friday, that day that we've been talking about, we're expecting the largest demonstrations ever, there is still this element of fear. Many of the demonstrators we're talking to saying that they fully expect some sort of act of violence to take place. They found Mubarak's speech very provocative, condescending, demeaning, deliberately trying to stir up people, trying to agitate them even further.

What it has done is galvanize the population together. Just a few moments ago, we heard cheers still erupting from Tahrir Square at 6:00 in the morning. I have absolutely no idea where they are getting the stamina from to try to keep this up.

But everybody here are very adamant that the way forward for Egypt has to be a free, fair election, a country that is really free of any element of Mubarak's regime. And they are not going to stand for anything less than that -- Anderson.

COOPER: Khalid, do you think there are still -- is there still a silent majority in Egypt who believes the Mubarak regime when they say they are -- they hold the -- the key to stability, that it is -- the protestors who are -- who are causing chaos?

I know that message no longer has believers in -- in the Square and among the protesters who've seen it with their own eyes. But is there still -- are there still many people in Egypt who believe that regime?

ABDALLA: I don't think so. I don't think so at all. I mean, I don't think that this revolution, these protests would have been possible without a -- without a broad consensus about the Mubarak regime.

And there are, I think, people at the moment who are -- who are possibly are afraid and they remain afraid and may be have been afraid after you know after what Omar Suleiman said and -- and after what Mubarak said.

But I mean, as I think I said before, the rule of this -- the rule of this -- of this protests has always been safety in numbers. It's always been safety in numbers and our numbers keep growing. And when you see lots of people demonstrating, you know, fear is broken for you and you join them.


COOPER: Are you afraid, Khalid?

ABDALLA: I'm not afraid for my personal safety. I'm -- I'm -- I'm afraid -- I'm afraid for the country. I'm afraid for -- you know, I mean, I'm sad. I mean even today, something will happen, even as -- even as you're watching -- even as you're watching satellite channels in Arabic, there was a great sadness, even in the presenter's hearts, and -- and -- and I mean, I say this is actually as well with credit to your show.

I mean, I say all that -- I -- I say all that with -- with you and with your reporters. I mean, and I -- I find it very moving. And -- and actually listening to his speech today, it was almost -- it was almost like he was threatening a return to, you know, what people had lived under, which is not, you know, let's forget the violence and forget the torture and all of those things.

What -- living under his regime meant was that people didn't have -- they -- they didn't have the opportunity to -- to feel like refuge is in their own hands. And that's really what he was threatening to take away from them. And I think people were very much reminded of that feeling. And -- and I think that's even why you know, why -- why reporters on -- on Arab stations was certainly feeling, is this -- is this really who we are?

And -- and knowing that's -- and knowing actually who we're not. And I think that's the opportunity that -- that lies ahead. That's -- that's what we're fighting for here. We're fighting for -- we're fighting for who we know we are. And -- and not, you know, fear is nothing in the face of that. Fear is something we just have to get over.

COOPER: Khalid, just briefly, we've talked to you pretty much every night. And I don't want to be too personal here. But you sound tired and -- and I'm wondering -- I can't imagine how tired you must be and all the protestors must be.

Do you feel you have the strength and do you think your -- your fellow protestors have the strength for what will no doubt be difficult days ahead?

ABDALLA: Oh, yes, absolutely. I mean, I mean, I'm tired because it's -- I'm tired because it's 6:00 in the morning, but I'm not -- I'm not -- I'm not tired in spirit at all. I mean, I'm actually -- you probably wouldn't think this, and apologies to your viewer, but I'm actually lying down and I have -- I have some rolled up bean bags as a pillow and I don't know who I'm sleeping next to.

And that's just -- and that's just -- and that's just the way it's -- and that's just the way it's got to be. I just took the place of someone who eventually woke up and just said I can't sleep and got up and said if you want if you're going to sleep here, sleep here.

So that's -- so that's what I did. I mean, no, any stamina in this -- in this -- and this is extraordinary.

And that was exactly what I saw at the state television building, as well. Which -- which was actually a little bit scary. You know, because it's heavily fortified going over there. There's presidential guard in the inner perimeter --



ABDALLA: -- you know, they're threatening us.

COOPER: Khalid, we'll continue to follow you and continue to check in with you in the hours ahead. I appreciate you being with us. Stephen Hadley, as well, thank you.

Everyone else, stick around. We're going to be checking with you back throughout this hour. Again, we are live all the way through the midnight hour until 7:00 a.m. and then our coverage -- other's coverage will continue on CNN. Critical hours, critical moments happening right now.

Up next, a closer look at the White House reaction to what went on today and what's yet to come in Egypt.



WAEL GHONIM, EGYPTIAN ACTIVIST: I'm telling you, I am ready to die. I have a lot to lose in this life. Kidnap me. Kidnap all my colleagues. Put us in jail. Kill us. Do whatever you want to do. We are getting back our country.


COOPER: We've heard from so many protestors just in the last 24 hours. They are ready to die, ready to die. After 30 years, they've had enough.

We talk about in this country words like freedom and liberty. We toss them around in conversation lightly because we've always experienced them. These are new words being shouted by people in Egypt. People who've never really felt or even been able to live those words.

Joining us again from Washington, Professor Dr. Fouad Ajami, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and also at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; at the State Department, our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty; John King in Washington is with us; also Ivan Watson in Cairo.

Professor Ajami, hearing Khalid who is sleeping this night in the Square, you know, you hear he's tired; it's obviously early in the morning. But -- but there is a strength there that has -- is truly just an extraordinary. And -- and when, I mean, we have witnessed so much with these protestors over the last more than two weeks now. They literally feel and rightly so that they are fighting for their lives.

AJAMI: It's a remarkable story of human endurance and human ability. Remember, the Egyptians have always thought of themselves as a -- as a submissive people. Other observers who came to Egypt, travelers from the dawn of history, Greeks, Arabs, British, et cetera, described the Egyptians as a servile people who accept authority.

Well, the Egyptians are giving us real lessons in moral courage and in physical courage in the face of a terrible man. And the most amazing thing, the most stunning thing about this man at the helm, is he's entered into a test of wills with his own country. He is determined to break them. And when you compare him with other people, when you compare him even with King Farouk, who has overthrown in '52 or the Shah of Iran, who was overthrown in '79, even with Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia these people left. He doesn't want to leave and he in my opinion is really inviting a kind of a blood bath and a -- and a confrontation based on violence.

COOPER: And -- and Ivan, you know, we -- it -- it seems perhaps like a long time ago to viewers watching, but it was just a week ago, eight days ago that these protestors in the Square were being attacked and were literally fighting for their lives, building barricades, taking it from a construction site, taking sheet metal, corrugated tin sheets, using them as shields literally to hide behind while Molotov cocktails and rocks were being thrown at them.

This is a group which is prepared to defend themselves yet again if have -- if they have to and yet they have not gone on the offensive and -- and attacked others violently. It's amazing to me that they've been able to maintain a peaceful protest, even though they have repeatedly come under attack and defended themselves.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. They maybe have gone under attack, aggressive passive resistance, they've moved to other areas, they've occupied the -- the street in front of parliament, they seem to have moved last night towards the TV, the state TV station. They also -- we haven't seen this before, moved all the way up toward the presidential palace.

The numbers have dwindled as we've approached the sunrise, but there were several thousand people there, and that's -- that's miles away from here and through a lot of military check points.

One thing that really struck me, Anderson, when we saw the raging happy street party before Hosni Mubarak's speech, when many people thought that he would step down and we were watching from this balcony, people swinging themselves in circles, clapping to music, right below our balcony, I was really struck that just eight days before hand -- seven days before hand underneath this very same balcony was a first aid station where medics and doctors were stitching up some of these same young people who had head wounds from the Molotov cocktails and stones.

Just to show you how much has changed in such a short period of time and how much could still change in the days and weeks ahead.

COOPER: John and -- and we got an extraordinary view of White House-Egypt regime relations today when it seemed like the White House was very much caught off guard along with everybody else about what was going to actually happen, what Mubarak was going to say.

At this point, do we know how much real communication there is between the -- the White House and the Egyptian regime?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, "JOHN KING USA": Well, there's quite a bit of communication, Anderson. They frankly this morning say that -- again, they're saying this privately, that they were told by what they believed to be ranking and reliable officials in the regime that President Mubarak was going to yield power.

The President of the United States himself said publicly, without saying that, said, "We are witnessing history". And he was going to speak later in the day when they thought President Mubarak would have stepped aside.

So they are shocked at the White House tonight. They are very disappointed at the White House tonight. And we have seen over the course of two weeks, the administration choosing its words carefully. Because this is a 30-plus year relationship, this is, is an important ally in the region. They have tried to nudge Mubarak out without saying you must go publicly.

They're getting close to having to make that choice. They did issue a statement tonight, Anderson, saying you know, the Egyptian government must put forward a credible, concrete, unequivocal path toward genuine democracy and they have not yet seized on that opportunity.

And interesting in the statement, they also flatly, pointedly and on purpose rebutted Mubarak's suggestion that this is all about foreigners. The President of the United States, in his statement saying we have seen young and old, rich and poor, Muslim and Christian join together and earn the respect of the world through their nonviolent calls for a change.

The challenge for the administration and privately, we know Secretary Gates at the Defense Department, Secretary Clinton at the State Department, people inside the White House are saying he has to be more credible, he has to set a timetable and he has to step aside.

The question is, if he is again defiant tomorrow, A, most importantly, what does the army do? It is choosing time for the army. They believe that at the Obama White House. And then B, does the President have to go public and say the United States withdraws support, Mubarak must go.

That would be a giant step to take, because this is for all the uncertainty and all the disappointment, this is a hugely important relationship and the domino effect of doing that in the region could be very unpredictable.

COOPER: Jill, is there a concern in the State Department that other countries, Saudi Arabia, who have obviously huge oil resources, would step in and make up the -- the shortfall that if the U.S. pulled economic aid, which seems unlikely that they would do.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes, in fact, well, John you know, actually to define that, the -- there is no legal trigger at this point. We are told that they have to stop that aid, because you have to have the military taking over in a Democratic country. And that's not what's happening here.

So if the aid continues -- but even if the U.S. were to say we will stop the aid, yes, they are told, or we understand that Saudi Arabia and other countries could come in and make up that gap. COOPER: We're going to have more with everyone ahead. We're taking stock of the last 24 hours in Egypt. Of what happens next, a day that began with almost gaiety, exuberance and anticipation and turned to anger, but never and importantly to point this out, degenerated into violence, not yet.

Will Mubarak's move today result in bloodshed?

Also, more from the -- the Google executive who is on leave from that company. You heard him a moment ago. He says he's ready to die. He's being credited with igniting the revolution in some ways that reached a critical point today. You'll hear more from him, ahead.


COOPER: Looking at a live picture of Liberation Square, early morning scene, people -- some people sleeping still, others slowly getting up, others have been up all night long. It is already -- as you see, they have tents assembled -- there is already an order to it that we have watched develop over the more than two weeks that they have now been occupying that square.

Just after Mubarak spoke today, a protestor in Liberation Square told one of our reporters, "Give me liberty or give me death," invoking Patrick Henry's fighting words in the cusp of the American Revolution. We've heard that over and over again today. Egyptians saying they are willing to die for freedom.

Joining me again: Fouad Ajami, John King and Arwa Damon.

Fouad, one of the things that we heard a lot today from Mubarak and also from his vice president, which we've heard a lot in the last several days is this continued narrative of sort of trying to separate their regime from the protesters and also trying to say that they have actually already answered all the demands of the young protesters. That they have appointed commissions to look into making amendments to the constitutions; they've appointed another commission of jurists (ph) and dignitaries to look at how to actually begin the transition and make those changes to the constitutions.

That might have worked for the protesters two weeks ago, but at this point it rings very hollow and, in fact, no one really believes just changing or tinkering with the constitution is enough at this point.

AJAMI: You know, the last part of this is as though Egyptian is governed by a constitution. It's a lawless country. It's a lawless country. The will of pharaoh governs the life of the land. And there is no constitution. And it's laughable to hear Hosni Mubarak dwell on the technicalities of changing the constitution.

COOPER: And we heard that from all of these Egyptian officials, from the ambassador in Washington -- the Egyptian ambassador -- they all are talking about this constitution as if it's some document that can't possibly be changed or thrown out. This is a constitution which has allowed a dictator to reign and arbitrarily arrest people whenever they want.

AJAMI: Well, Anderson, this man, what he's done is he's broken the judiciary. He's done terrible harm to the bar association. This is a country with a deep legal tradition. The bar association harks back to the late years of the 19th century. The great judges in Egypt had been giants. And under this terrible regime, they're snuffed out of the life of the land.

And this idea, the constitution matters in the republic of Hosni Mubarak and Omar Suleiman and the henchmen around them is extremely, extremely unreliable. It's just a manufactured legend that they have thrown in our face.

COOPER: So when Suleiman today and Mubarak say that well, we've picked great jurists and dignitaries to head up this commission, to look into altering the constitution, they picked cronies of the regime?

AJAMI: Well, the great figures in Egypt have stood aside from this regime because they don't want to be sullied by this regime. And the great figures of intellectual life, Saad Eddin Ibrahim, a great sociologist is here in Madison, New Jersey, because they put him in prison because he dared to question the regime.

And Ayman Nour, we talked about a presidential contest in 2005, a man was sent to prison for the sheer fact that he ran for the presidency against Hosni Mubarak. So the legends of the regime continue. The myths of the regime continue. The lies of the regime continue.

And I think people see through them, but it's the essence of a tyranny that this official truth cannot look outside itself. It doesn't see that it's no longer believed. It doesn't look in the eyes of the other people witnessing all this. And it doesn't recognize that the game is up and that the lies have been exposed.

COOPER: John King, Fouad in the last hour called Suleiman, the vice president, a man of the catacombs who has been dragged into the light. This is the man that the White House frankly has put a lot of faith in, in terms of shepherding the transition to democracy. Is he really their only hope right now?

KING: They are very, very, very, very discouraged, because they have been, in their conversations with him, Anderson, they have been saying, Mr. Vice President, Mr. Suleiman, our long-time friend, you have a chance to put your place in the history books by being a transitional figure to a democracy. Those people on the street do not believe you're the answer, but you have an opportunity to convince them you are a temporary answer.

And to get a little help -- the White House wanted him to be the one to tell his friend, President Mubarak, you need to step aside and then for Vice President Suleiman to be the one to bring in some of those people from the outside and set this process in motion.

From what they have heard today, the defiant tone in both speeches has them now very, very worried that those men have decided to try to run out the clock, to try to blame anyone but themselves for this, which is why, Anderson, more and more in Washington, they believe as they see those pictures getting brighter, as daylight comes to Egypt they believe that the big choice today will not be made by the president or the vice president, it will be made by the army.

And they are hoping at the White House, and they say the private conversations with the military have been reasonable and often encouraging. They are hoping the army makes the best choice today. But I can't say they're terribly confident it will.

COOPER: Arwa, I remember talking to protesters in the beginning of last week in the Square who would say Omar Suleiman is ok, this is somebody who can, you know, be appointed, who can transition to democracy. I'm imagining, and my guess is, they're not saying that anymore given the statements he has made, particularly the statement he made several days ago that essentially is saying Egyptians are not ready for democracy.

DAMON: That's exactly right, Anderson. We heard that over and over again today and we were talking to the demonstrators, asking if they would find him a suitable leader for a transitional period and the majority of them said no for that very reason. They were making the point that if he is making those kinds of a statement before he has the reins of power, what kind of an attitude is he going to adopt when he is, in fact, ruling the country?

He really did not do himself any favors by saying that people found it very condescending, very demeaning and very indicative of the kind of country that he would try to run, which is absolutely not the kind of country that they want to see. His statement really polarizing people against him and making them stick to the argument that they actually want to see the military take full power.

That is what they were saying. Although at the same time there does remain a certain level of wariness about the military, specifically when it comes to questioning exactly where the military's alliances do lie.

A lot of people waiting to see how the army is going to react to these masses that we expect to hit the streets tomorrow; people hoping that the military will maintain its so-called neutral role, but very fearful that they will take action, Anderson.

COOPER: Arwa, we've just been looking at a picture while you've been talking live from the square. And I don't know if you can -- you probably can't see the image we're seeing, but basically we're showing a large number of people kind of running around the circle, in the square. This may be a stupid question, but is that kind of A, is that some sort of exercise, or is it people kind of running around to just mobilize people, get their spirits up, get people up and moving around, do you know?

DAMON: Actually, Anderson, I can't see that.

COOPER: Ok. DAMON: But I have absolutely no idea why they would be doing that unless it is to stay warm, because it is freezing out here. But we have been seeing all sorts of different tactics trying to keep people's moods up.

Before Mubarak spoke, there was actually a Twitter hash tag going around that was saying the reason why Mubarak is late and all sorts of jokes being cracked on that. So maybe it's just another way to keep spirits up and keep people warm.

COOPER: Yes. Very cold at night.

Arwa, appreciate it.

Still ahead, the scene tonight in Liberation Square after a dramatic day swung from jubilation to rage. Our coverage continues of protests.

Plus, the man the protesters call a hero, a title he says he doesn't deserve. Google executive on leave, Wael Ghonim, talks to Ivan Watson ahead about what it was like being detained and why he says he's ready to die for his cause.


COOPER: Well, Wael Ghonim helped mobilize the January 25th demonstrations that really -- the protests that ignited the popular revolution that was heading into its 18th day. He's a Google executive on leave from that company and he has become the reluctant face of the pro-democracy movement.

Ivan Watson talked to him and he said he was ready to die for change in Egypt.


WATSON: Your arrest, do you think it was just a coincidence, a sweep of the streets or do you think you were targeted?

WAEL GHONIM, GOOGLE EXECUTIVE, ANTI-MUBARAK ACTIVIST: No, I was targeted, of course, they wanted me.

WATSON: What was going through your mind at that moment?

GHONIM: I was super scared.

WATSON: You were blindfolded.

GHONIM: Yes. Blindfolded, of course.

WATSON: For the whole time?

Yes. Of course.

Today I was giving the complete power of attorney to my wife. Everything I own, my bank accounts, everything because I'm ready to die. And there are tens of thousands of people there ready to die for our --

WATSON: You gave power of attorney to your wife because you think you may die?

GHONIM: Yes, of course. They gave us a lot of promises about gradual change and so on. But then going back to the interview that Omar Suleiman did a couple of days ago, he said that Egyptians are not ready for democracy now.

WATSON: What did you think of that?

GHONIM: So I think this is actually our real problem with the regime. Just the fact that, you know, you get a few people to decide that they are of a better, you know, of a better position to decide for a nation and then use, you know, media to brainwash people, use the baseball bat to hit those who decide that they want to say no.

WATSON: Do you feel any responsibility?

GHONIM: No, no. I am sorry, but I don't -- I am sorry for their loss. You know, I can't forgive (ph) these people for those, I have to remember them. This could have been me or my brother. And they were killed, they were killed, as if they, you know, if these people died in a war, that's fair and square, you know. You hold the weapon and someone is shooting, you know, and you died; but no, none of them.

And those people who were killed were not, you know, -- they did not like they are -- they did not really look like, you know, they're going to attack anyone. They were just shooting them. They were shooting them -- and a lot of times the people were standing -- the policemen would stand on the bridge and shoot people down.

This is a crime. This president needs to step down because this is a crime. And I'm telling you, I am ready to die. I have a lot to lose in this life. You know, I work or now as an -- I'm on leave of absence. I work in the best company to work for in the world. I had the best wife and I have -- I love my kids.

But I'm willing to lose all of that for my dream to happen. And no one is going to go against our desire -- no one.

And I'm telling this to Omar Suleiman. He is going to watch this. 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. You guys have been ruining this country for 30 years. Enough. Enough. Enough.


COOPER: Ivan, we've heard so many people in the Square saying that fear that has ruled their lives has been defeated.

WATSON: That's right. And what's fascinating about this young man is I've been working in the Middle East for years, Anderson, but I've never quite heard before Egypt, before this revolution, young people committed, almost fanatically committed, to an idea of democracy and bringing change to their country.

They're not -- this man is not just after money, which I often hear or making a good living for themselves. They're committed to this idea of democracy, of improving their own country, not through the use of arms. Not through the use of violence.

This is a fascinating young guy who is married to an American wife. He wanted to make that clear. His inspirations, he said, are Ghandi and Mark Zuckerberg. He's fanatic about Facebook and Twitter and used them to great effect to mobilize this uprising. He also said he was inspired by the film V for Vendetta. Why -- because the protagonist in that film was a faceless, nameless person who was fighting for change and that's the position that Wael Ghonim wanted to have.

COOPER: A modern revolution. Ivan, stay safe.

We'll be right back with Fouad Ajami with some quick thoughts.


COOPER: Nearly 7:00 a.m. Egypt, a new day starting after a night of rumors that gave way to frustration and anger. Hours ago, the crowd at Liberation Square shouting "Get out" during Mubarak's speech. A speech in which many thought he would step down, that is not what happened. The situation seems more tenuous than ever.

Here's a look at some of the most compelling sights and sounds of the last 24 hours.


KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR, "AMERICAN MORNING": New developments out of Cairo this morning. There are thousands marching in the pouring rain in protest of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. The crowd, described as newly energized, and quite loud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People here have been coming up to me, telling me this is the day that Hosni Mubarak leaves. One young protestor just told me he believes this is the day that freedom is born for Egypt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that it's the moment that we've all been waiting for, for too long. We've been waiting for this day where we can enjoy our freedoms, start building our country and deciding our own destiny.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's young people who have been at the forefront; a new generation who want their voices to be heard.

HOSNI MUBARAK, PRESIDENT OF EGYPT (through translator): Egypt is witnessing a critical juncture in its life that would impose at the moment that we put Egypt now as a top priority and leave aside any personal interests. So Egypt is a top priority now. So I thought I would delegate powers to the vice president according to the constitution.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, "THE SITUATION ROOM": We were told he was going to say, you know what? I'm stepping down. He did not say that. He didn't even seem to come close, other than saying he was going to give some new powers to the vice president, Omar Suleiman. Is that what you heard as well, Anderson?

COOPER: Well, what we heard were the same lies that we've heard from him and his regime for more than two weeks now. What we heard is a man who clearly believes that he is Egypt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go to another place. Go to another place. But leave Egypt. Leave Egypt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For the first time, we are free to say yes or no by our own will. And for the first time, we want to say to him, we hate you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Friday, there will be bloodshed. The people won't stay quiet. The people will not accept this. And the military knows this. Mubarak knows this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I will do now? I'm ready to die.

MOHAMED ELBARADEI, OPPOSITION LEADER: People are very angry, mad actually and I fear they will turn violent. I called on the army to save the country from going down the drain.


COOPER: That was the voice of Mohamed ElBaradei. I continue to be honored with the insights of Professor Fouad Ajami with the Hoover Institution and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Just some closing thoughts from you professor?

AJAMI: You know Anderson, I really -- I can best sum it up with the very personal way I think of doing it and it's probably we earned it at this time. There's a friend of mine who was a very dear Egyptian friend of mine, my tutor on Egypt. He led me through the mysteries and the charms of Egypt. He died several years ago.

And in talking to a mutual friend, both of us, we recalled him and we said, it's too bad that this great man, Paschim Bashir (ph), who actually said no to Mubarak when Mubarak was beginning to break the constitution of the country. Well, because in fact he had wanted -- he had pointed out to Mubarak that he shouldn't run for a third term, he should give it up and accept democracy for Egypt. And the recognition, if you will, the sadness that this man hadn't seen this incredibly brilliant day in the life of Egypt; I mean this is a great moment for the Egyptian people.

COOPER: And yet as we heard from a reporter earlier, the last hour, the regime continues to torture, continues to -- with impunity -- detain people, shock people. The fight goes on.

AJAMI: They can't do anything else. They know no other way. This is how they have governed. This is how they will leave.

COOPER: The hours ahead are heavy with anticipation and with potential for pain and sadness and also the potential for extraordinary exuberance and joy. We'll continue to follow it.

Professor, appreciate you being on; we'll see you tomorrow night.

More ahead after a quick break.


COOPER: Let's get a quick update of some of the other stories we're following. Isha Sesay has the "360 News and Business Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, at least five people are dead in a suspected natural gas explosion in Allentown, Pennsylvania including a four-month-old baby. Eight homes were destroyed in the blast.

The second ranking Republican in the senate is stepping down. Jon Kyl of Arizona announced today he won't seek a fourth term in 2012.

The number of Americans filing for first time jobless benefits fell to the lowest level in more than 2 1/2 years. The Labor Department says 383,000 initial claims were filed last week, a decline of 36,000 from the previous week.

And a new storm that passed over the southeast dumping up to six inches of snow in some areas. Tomorrow won't be much better. Hard freeze warnings are in effect for parts of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas for tomorrow morning. Anderson -- back to you.

COOPER: Isha, thanks very much.

Extraordinary developments in the hours ahead; stay tuned to CNN, online, on television, around the clock.

"PIERS MORGAN" starts now.