Haass: Mubarak Can't Wait Until Sept. Elections

Couric/Haas Interview

CBS News Evening News anchor Katie Couric interviewed Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011.

Katie Couric: Richard Haass is president of the Council on Foreign Relations. Richard, a member of parliament went on Al Jazeera today and admitted business associates close to the regime did, in fact, pay some of these pro-Mubarak protesters to hit the streets. Does that surprise you?

Richard Haass: No, the purpose of this may have been to intimidate the people in the streets, may have been to create a real sense of crisis to force the Army's hand. Throughout much of Mr. Mubarak's 30 years of rule, he tried to portray himself as the person who stood between Egypt and chaos or between Egypt and an Islamic alternative. So the sort of violence we've seen today, while some of it may have been spontaneous, the idea that some of it may have been orchestrated by the President and his supporters, should not come as any surprise.

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Katie Couric: Can [president] Hosni Mubarak survive until the September elections? Or will something have to give, given this violence today?

Richard Haass: I don't believe he can survive until the elections. I think the situation would continue to get worse. And I think the Army will not let it get that far. And the Army will step in. Hosni Mubarak also has to be careful here. The potential for mob rule, the potential for things to deteriorate - so the crowds turn on him personally - is considerable. I actually feel that people are playing with fire. Egypt today started to move exactly in the direction none of us wanted to see.

Katie Couric: When do you think the Army will step up?

Richard Haass: A few more days like today where the situation begins to spiral out of control and the Army essentially either continues to look feckless and weak in the face of the crowds or is forced to use violent means against the demonstrators. I don't believe that's an acceptable choice for this Army. So I think sooner rather than later, this phase of things needs to come to an end. And I truly hope that the U.S. government is privately communicating this message to the leadership of the Army and to the Vice President.

Katie Couric: Richard Haass. Richard, thank you so much.