Expert: Mubarak's Speech was Push for Violence

Mona Eltahawy, who was born in Egypt, is an award-winning columnist and expert on the Middle East. She has been blogging extensively about the uprising.

Katie Couric: "I know you know scores of people, Mona in Tahrir Square. What are they saying? What are you hearing from them?"

Mona Eltahawy: "They're lived it, Katie. They're really disappointed. All day long they heard rumors that [Egyptian President Hosni] Mubarak was about to step down and they wanted to celebrate that but also maintain that they want the entire regime to step down. So when Mubarak came on and said, 'I'm staying but I'm also delegating my vice president,' they said we've got two Mubaraks now, not just one Mubarak. They're angry and very determined and vowing to keep it peaceful and they've now marched on to the TV building where they're calling for more people to come and join them."

Couric: "Meanwhile, it's been so confusing all day long. What do you think is going on behind the scenes? Everyone is trying to figure it out."

Eltahawy: "It's a great question. President Mubarak took 19 minutes to finally give the speech and people were wondering is it because Egyptians are always late like we like to say about ourselves? Or is there some armed struggle going on? No one understands where the armed forces are. Sometimes they seem to protecting people from Mubarak's thugs. Sometimes they seem to be neutral and by being neutral they seem to be taking Mubarak's side. No one really knows where the army stands."

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Couric: What do you think the army will do if hundreds of thousands of people protest [Friday]? Do you think the army will move in?"

Eltahawy: "What I'm hoping as an Egyptian is that a few soldiers [will be] joining the pro-democracy demonstrations in their uniform. I'm hoping the armed forces recognizes this is a time to choose Egypt and not the pride of one man and not the regime that has suffocated the country for 30 years. When they see that determination I'm hoping they say, 'Mubarak, it's time to go. We're taking the young people's side.'"

Couric: "Doesn't the army stand to lose everything if in fact Mubarak leaves the country? I mean, that's a big risk for the army, isn't it?"

Eltahawy: "Mubarak is the army. Omar Suleiman is the army. The entire regime is the army. It's going to be a very difficult choice but I hope they recognize that the future of Egypt is at stake because Mubarak wants to tip these peaceful protesters into violence. [Thursday]'s sadistic speech was a provocation. I hope the armed forces recognizes this is the country we are talking about. They can figure out the government and the transition but ensure peaceful demands are met."

Couric: "Why would he want violence? So he can be the hero by quelling it?"

Eltahawy: "Absolutely. We have seen 17 days of this beautiful, peaceful pro-democracy demonstration saying we want freedom and dignity and enough of dictatorship. [Mubarak] wants to push people so when he cracks down in a bloody way he can say to the international community - because he knows they're all watching - 'See? I had to do it.' This is a turning region. Young people across the Arab world are watching and they're learning, does a peaceful demonstration work or is it only violence? The dictators who basically ruined the Arab world want them to understand only violence works.

"What's happening in Tahrir Square and across Egypt is a beautiful message for young people and the future of the world that I hope the U.S. administration is listening to. This is the time to take the side of peaceful demonstrators who want freedom."

Couric: "Let me ask you about Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who was abducted for 12 days. State-run television in Egypt is announcing that he is telling the protesters to go home. In other words, they're using him. What is the real story behind that?"

Eltahawy: "You know, this is all part of this great big state-run propaganda that for days has tried to portray the pro-democracy demonstrators as foreign agents, agents from the U.S. and Israel. And [Thursday] we heard that in Suleiman's speech. This is a vice president no one in Egypt wants. The U.S. administration must know they don't want Suleiman. He was saying don't listen to satellite channels. This was part of the scheme to discredit the demonstrators. They used [Ghonim] who is incredibly popular, who has become the youth figurehead and made it seem like he's telling people to go home. He was not on Twitter today but his friends wrote he has not asked anyone to go home and just before we came on - just before I came on with you - he was on an Arab satellite channel explaining that he didn't think the demands of the protesters were being met. And he - it's clear didn't tell anyone to go home so it's just more propaganda."

Couric: "Mona, thank you so much for coming by and giving us your insight. It's really valuable."