Video: Mubarak transfers powers, doesn't step down

  1. Closed captioning of: Mubarak transfers powers, doesn't step down

    >> translator: youth of egypt , and daughters, i am addressing you tonight to the youth of egypt in tahrir square with all of its diversity, i am addressing all of you from the heart. a speech from the father to his sons and daughters , i am telling you that i am very grateful and am so proud of you for being a symbolic generation that is calling for change of the better, that is dreaming for a better future, is making the future. i am telling you, before anything that the blood of the martyrs and the injured will not go in vain and i would like to affirm, i will not hesitate to punish those who are responsible fiercely. i will hold those in charge who have violated the rights of our youth with the hashest punishment stipulated in the law. i'm am telling families of the innocent victims that i have been so much in pain for their pain, for their -- my heartached for your heartache. i am telling you that my response to your demands and your messages and your requests is my commitment that i will never go back on to. i am determined to fulfill what i have promised you in all honesty and i'm determined to execute and carry out what i have promised without going back to the past. this commitment is out of my conviction of you honesty and your movement and that your demands are the demands, legitimate and just demands. any regime could make mistakes in any country but what is more important is to acknowledge these mistakes and reform and correct them in a timely manner, and to hold those responsible for it accountable. i am telling you, as a president of the country, i do not find it -- i don't find it a mistake to listen to you and response to your requests and demands but it is shameful and i will not ignore, or ever accept to hear foreign deictations whatever the source might be or whatever the context it came in. my sons and daughters of egypt , dear fellow citizens, i have announced, without any doubt, that i will not run for the next presidential elections and have said that i have given the country and served the country for 60 years in public service during wartime and during peacetime. i have told you my determination that i will hold steadfast to continue to be take on my responsibility to protect the constitution and rights of people. rights of people until power is transferred to whomever the people chooses in september, the upcoming september, and free and impartial elections that will be safeguarded by the freedom -- the call for freedom. this is the oath that i have taken before god and before you. and i will protect it and keep it until we reach -- we take egypt to the safety and security . i have given you my vision to get out of this current situation, to accomplish what the youth and the people called for. within the respect for the legitimacy and the constitution in a way that will accomplish security and security for our future and the demands of our people and at the same time will guarantee a framework of peaceful transition of power. through a responsible dialog between all factions and society, with all honesty and transparency. i have given you this vision under commitment to take the country out of this current crisis and i will continue to accomplish it and monitor the situation hour by hour. i'm looking forward to the support of all those who are careful about the security and want a secure egypt . with a tangible time, with the harmony of the broad base of all egyptians that will stay watchful to guard egypt . and under the command of its military forces . we have started a national dialog, a constructive one, that concluded the youth who have called for change and also with all the factions of opposition and of society, and this dialog resulted in harmony and preliminary harmony and opinions that has placed us on t the beginning of the road to transfer it to a better future that we have agreed on. we also have agreed on a road map with a timetable. day after day , we will continue the transition of power from now until september. there's national dialog, has met and was formed under a constitutional committee that have looked into the constitution and what was required and looked into what is required and the constitution reforms that is demanded by the people. we will also monitor the executi execution, the honest execution, of what i have promised my people. i was careful that both committees that were formed -- to be formed from egyptians who are honorable and who are independent and impartial and who are well versed in law and constitution . in addition to that, and a reference to the loss of many egyptians during these sad situations that have pained the hearts of all of us and have ached the conscious of all egyptians , i have also requested to expedite investigations and to refer all investigations to the attorney general to take the necessary measures and steps -- decisive steps. i also received the first report yesterday about the required constitutional reforms that was suggested by the constitutional and law experts regarding the legislative reforms that were requested. i am also responding to what the committee have suggested and based on the powers given to me according to the constitution , i have presented today, a request asking the amendment of six constitutional articles which has 76, 77, 88, 93 and 187. in addition to abolishing article number 79 in the constitution with the affirmation and conviction that later on, we can also amend the other articles that were -- that would be suggested by that constitutional committee according to -- according to what it sees right. our priority now is to facility free presidential elections and to step pew late a number of terms in the constitution and to guarantee supervision of the upcoming elections to make sure it will be conducted in a free manner. we -- i have also looked into the provisions and the steps to look into the parliamentary elections , but those who have suggested to abolish article number 179 in the constitution will grant the balance between the constitution and the -- between our security and the threat of terror which will open the door to stopping martial law . as soon as we regain stability and security and as soon as the circumstances -- circumstances assure the stability, our priority now is to regain confidence between citizens among themselves and to regain confidence in the international arena and to regain confidence about the reforms that we have pledged. egypt is going through some difficult times and it is not right to continue in this discourse because it has affected our economy and we have lost day after day and it is in danger -- it is putting egypt through a situation where people who have called for reform will be the first ones to be affected by it. this time is not about me. it's not about hosni mubarak . but the situation right now is about egypt and its present and the future of its citizens. all egyptians are in the same spot now. we have to continue our national dialog that we have started in the spirit of wanting and away from disagreements and fighting. so that we can take egypt to the next step and to regain confidence in our economy and to let people feel secure and to stabilize the egyptian city so people can resume their daily life. i was a young man, a youth , just like all these youth , when i have learned the honor of the military system and to sacrifice for the country. i have spent my entire life defending its land and its sovereignty. i have witnessed and attended wars with all its defeat and victories. i have lived during defeat and victories. during the victory in 1973 , my happiest days were when i lifted the egyptian flag over sanai. i have faced death several times when i was a pilot and elsewhere, i did not submit nor yield to foreign dictations or orders. i have kept the peace. i have worked towards the egyptian stability and security . i have worked to the revival in egypt and to prosperity. i did not seek authority. i trust that the majority, the vast majority of the egyptian people know who is hosni mubarak and it pains me what i have -- what i see today from some of my fellow citizens. anyway, i am completely aware of what we are facing and i am convinced that egypt is going through a historical moment that necessitates we should look into the higher and superior aspirations of the nations over any other goal or interests. i have delegated the vice president some of the powers of the president according to the constitution . i am aware, fully aware, that egypt will overcome the crisis and the resolve of its people will not be deflected. it will stand still again because of the -- it will deflect the errors of the enemies and those who loathe against egypt . we will stand as egyptians and we will prove our power and our resolve to overcome this through national dialog. we will prove that we are not followers or puppets of anybody, nor are we receiving orders or dictation from any entity and no one is making the decision for us except for the egyptian street. we will prove that with the spirit and the resolve of the egyptian people and with the unity and stedfastness of its people and with our resolve and sticking to our glory and pride. these are the main foundations of our civilization that have started over 7,000 years ago. that spirit will live in us as long as the egyptian people -- as long as the egyptian people remain, that spirit will remain in us. it will live amongst all of our peoplers, farmers, intellectuals, workers, it will remain in the hearts of our senior citizens , our women, children, christians and muslims alike and in the hearts and minds of all those who are not born yet. let me say again that i have lived for this nation. i have kept my responsibility and egypt will remain, above all, and above any individuals, egypt will remain until i deliver and surrender its -- it to others. this will be the land of my living and my death. it will remain a dear land to me. i will not leave it or depart it until i am buried in the ground. its people will remain in my heart and it will remain -- its people will remain a pride and lifting up their heads. may god keep egypt secure and may god defend its people and peace be

msnbc.com staff and news service reports

Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak on Thursday said he was not stepping down, although he said he had transferred power to his vice president.

Below is reaction from analysts, economists and officials.

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EGYPT OPPOSITION LEADER MOHAMED ELBARADEI, ON TWITTER: Egypt will explode. Army must save the country now.

FRENCH PRESIDENT NICOLAS SARKOZY: I hope with all my heart for Egypt's nascent democracy that they take time to create the structures and principles that will help them find the path to democracy and not another form of dictatorship, religious dictatorship, like what happened in Iran.

BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY WILLIAM HAGUE, ON BBC TELEVISION: We are studying very closely what the president and vice president of Egypt have said. It is not immediately clear what powers are being handed over and what the full implications are. We think the solution to this has to be owned by the Egyptian people themselves. All we want in the United Kingdom is for them to be able to settle their own differences in a peaceful and democratic way. And that is why we have called from the beginning of this crisis for an urgent but orderly transition to a more broadly based government in Egypt, and in the meantime we look to the Egyptian authorities to protect the right to peaceful protest.

Recent Middle East unrest

BRIAN KATULIS, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT AT CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS IN WASHINGTON AND INFORMAL ADVISER TO WHITE HOUSE: The essential question right now is what happens on the streets and how the military will handle that.

It seems to me the army is sending different signals. Earlier today it was reported that they had senior officials say to demonstrators all of your demands will be fully met. That clearly was not the case if you listen to Mubarak's and Suleiman's speeches. That indicates to me some possibilities for internal divisions.

ROBERT SPRINGBORG, PROFESSOR OF NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS AT THE U.S. NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL: It's an enormously provocative step. There are desperate men, willing to gamble the fate of the nation for their own personal interest. It's a very sad historic moment for Egypt.

The speeches tonight are not intended to bring an end to the crisis in a peaceful way but to inflame the situation so there is justification for the imposition of direct military rule. They are risking not only the coherence of the military but even indeed, and I use this term with advisement here, civil war.

I think it needs to be made perfectly clear (by outside powers) that Mubarak and his regime are forfeiting Egypt's future. Egypt is in an economic crisis. It is going to have to be bailed out and the short answer to what they are doing now is that it will not be bailed out with anything like a military regime in place that is associated with Mubarak, Omar Suleiman and these people who are part of this regime.

Video: Mubarak transfers powers, doesn't step down (on this page)

ANTHONY CORDESMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: The truth is that even the senior military now at the top of the power structure under Mubarak almost certainly have no clear idea of what happens next, and it will be days before anyone knows how well the transition will function, who goes and who stays, and how stable the result really is.

STEPHEN GRAND, MIDDLE EAST EXPERT, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION IN WASHINGTON: It was quite surreal. He's a stubborn old man who refused to see the writing on the wall. I happen to believe the demonstrations will continue, people will continue to push for his ouster and eventually will succeed.

ROSEMARY HOLLIS, PROFESSOR OF MIDDLE EAST POLICY STUDIES, CITY UNVERSITY LONDON: This is simply not enough. A critical turning point was reached in the last two days and I don't see Mubarak can hang on without there being serious trouble now. The demonstrators are very disappointed and there will be violence.

Video: Anger swells in Cairo following Mubarak speech

JOHN SFAKIANAKIS, ECONOMIST, BANQUE SAUDI FRANSI: Markets are going to see this and run away.

It just makes it more confusing and unpredictable than ever before. Unpredictability is the thing foreign investors hate, along with political instability, and this is really the epitome of both of these elements.

I think international investors will brace for the worst, because they will now begin to expect a severe deterioration of the political situation, which means the currency is going get pounded, the stock market will get pounded, and they will leave Egypt en masse.

There seems to be a gap between what society wants and what the president is delivering, and the two together are a destructive mix, and investors would not want to see nor participate in a country that has this.

ALANOUD AL SHAREK, SENIOR FELLOW, REGIONAL POLITICS, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES-MIDDLE EAST: He doesn't seem to understand the magnitude of what is happening in Egypt.

At this point I don't think it will suffice. He still seems to think he is the top patriarch and custodian of the Egyptian people. He doesn't realize that there is a genuine act of resistance taking place.

Video: Mubarak transfers powers, doesn't step down

MATT SMITH, ANALYST, SUMMIT ENERGY, LOUISVILLE, KY: We're putting a premium back on oil prices because of continued uncertainty in Egypt. Many people expected Mubarak to resign and he didn't.

RICHARD ILCZYSZYN, SENIOR MARKET STRATEGIST AT LIND-WALDOCK IN CHICAGO: It was a bit of a surprise for us and the market. Oil markets are going to respond to the upside. It is now a lingering debate. Any instability in the Middle East means higher prices in oil.

BILL O'GRADY, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CONFLUENCE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT, ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI: Oil and equities market are choppy after the non-announcement by President Mubarak. We don't know what to do with this announcement. I think we may be on the cusp of a coup d'etat since the military and the civilians are not on the same page as the government.

The younger military really want to see this guy go and they are allied with the protesters. The older military don't want to give up power just yet and want to play a role in the orderly transition of power. This is playing out a lot like the situation with Anwar Sadat.

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PETER BEUTEL, PRESIDENT, CAMERON HANOVER, NEW CANAAN, CONNECTICUT: His speech did not do anything to assuage those who are in opposition to him. Analysts expect the protests to continue.

The great fear of the oil market is that violence and protests which seem likely to intensify after the speech may be transferred to other parts of the oil rich Middle East."

MOHAMED EL-ERIAN, CO-CHIEF INVESTMENT OFFICER AT PACIFIC INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT CO.: Given the intense disappointment with the speech in Egypt, the country has entered this evening an ominous period of extreme tension and danger that can only be resolved by credible regime change that the majority of Egyptians can buy into."

Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.

Photos: Farewell Friday

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  1. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Feb. 11. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Egyptians set off fireworks as they celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after President Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House in Washington D.C. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Egyptians celebrate in Tahrir Square after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military on Friday. Egypt exploded with joy, tears, and relief after pro-democracy protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak with a momentous march on his palaces and state TV. Mubarak, who until the end seemed unable to grasp the depth of resentment over his three decades of authoritarian rule, finally resigned Friday. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Protesters walk over a barricade after it was taken down to allow free entry to hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. A furious wave of protest finally swept Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak from power, sending a warning to autocrats across the Arab world and beyond. (Yannis Behrakis / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A spokesman for Egypt's higher military council reads a statement titled “Communiqué No. 3” in this video still on Friday. Egypt's higher military council said it would announce measures for a transitional phase after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. (Reuters Tv / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Egyptian celebrates in Cairo after the announcement of President Mubarak's resignation. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. A furious wave of protest finally swept Mubarak from power after 30 years of one-man rule, sparking jubilation in the streets. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. An Egyptian reacts in the street after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, Feb. 11. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Friday. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Egyptian soldiers celebrate with anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square on Friday. Cairo's streets exploded in joy when Mubarak stepped down after three-decades of autocratic rule and handed power to a junta of senior military commanders. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Egyptians celebrate the news of Mubarak's resignation in Tahrir Square on Friday. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Egyptian woman cries as she celebrates the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, Friday night, in Tahrir Square, Cairo. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate minutes after the announcement on television of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday. Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had resigned. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Opposition protesters celebrate Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, in Tahrir Square on Friday. President Mubarak bowed to pressure from the street and resigned, handing power to the army. (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. On Egyptian state television, Al-Masriya, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivers an address announcing that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, in Cairo on Friday. (TV via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo
    Dylan Martinez / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (18) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Farewell Friday
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    Slideshow (61) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 3
  3. Image: Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters
    Amr Nabil / AP
    Slideshow (93) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 2
  4. Image: Mohamed ElBaradei
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    Slideshow (83) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 1
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    Slideshow (17) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - World reacts

Explainer: On the ground in the Middle East

  • Since mid-December, the Arab world has been rocked by popular uprisings that led to the exile of the president of Tunisia and the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The Middle East – and the rest of the world – is watching to see if anger at authoritarian governments spreads and whether the region will be reshaped by the demands of ordinary citizens. Here is a look at the current political situation in countries in the region.

  • Algeria

    Image: Tunisian president Fouad Mebazaa
    FETHI BELAID  /  AFP - Getty Images
    Tunisian president Fouad Mebazaa

    Leader: President Abdelaziz Bouteflika

    Politics on the ground: Algeria is a Republic and multi-party state with a bicameral parliament. But shortly after independence in 1962 the country experienced a coup, and a long series of power plays that undermined the political process and sparked a militant Islamist insurgency. In the 1990s, terrorist violence in Algeria caused more than 150,000 deaths. President Bouteflika took office in 1999, and has been relected twice, albeit through flawed elections. He has vastly improved security in Algeria. But he also changed the constitution to eliminate term limits—a way to hold onto power until death. Political discontent, along with high unemployment and economic stagnation fueled recent unrest. Amid growing protest, Bouteflika vows that the country’s restrictive “state of emergency” dating to 1992 would be lifted in the “very near future.”

  • Bahrain

    Bahrain's King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa
    Khaled Desouki  /  AFP/Getty Images
    King Hamad bin Issa al-Khalifa
    msnbc.com

    Leader: Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, monarch since 1999

    Politics on the ground: Tens of thousands of protesters flood the capital, demonstrating against the monarchy as the king makes another concession — a promise to release some political prisoners. The Khalifa family has ruled since 1783 and Khalifa is set to be followed by his son, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa. The government regularly cracks down on Shiite opposition groups, and youth in Shiite villages often clash with police. (Source: Reuters)

    U.S. interests: The Persian Gulf island nation provides a key naval base for the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. A 1991 agreement also grants U.S. forces access to Bahraini facilities during future crises and the ability to pre-position materials. Bahrain is also an important U.S. listening post for Iran.

    More details:  BBC

  • Egypt

    msnbc.com
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak looks o
    Khaled Desouki  /  AFP/Getty Images
    Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

    Leader: President Hosni Mubarak

    Politics on the ground: Mubarak resigned as president and handed control to the military, bowing down after a historic 18-day wave of pro-democracy demonstrations by hundreds of thousands. Egypt's military rulers swear in a new Cabinet that replaces several Mubarak-era ministers.

    U.S. interests: An important military and security partner, a role that grew out of Egypt’s 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel. The U.S. provides massive military and economic aid. Egypt hosts military exercises and regular visits by the U.S. 6th fleet. It also controls the Suez Canal, a key conduit for military and trade vessels between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

    More informationCouncil on Foreign Relations

  • Iran

    msnbc.com
    Image: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
    Vahid Salemi  /  AP
    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

    Leader: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, re-elected president in 2009

    Politics on the ground: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei saluted an "Islamic liberation movement" in the Arab world and advised Egyptians to unite around their religion and against the West. Khamenei warned them against compromising with any leader who might win Western approval and called on Egypt's army to back the protesters and "focus its eyes on the Zionist enemy" Israel. Ahmadinejad has maintained political control with a crackdown on the opposition, which took to the streets to challenge his 2009 re-election.(Source: Reuters, BBC and AP)

    U.S. interests: Iran is notable for its large size and population, central location in the region and large oil reserves. U.S.-Iran ties have been rocky since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ousted Mohammed Reza Shah Pahlavi, then the strongest U.S. ally in the region. The ensuing hostage crisis — in which U.S. diplomats were held by radical Islamic students -- led to a break in diplomatic relations, which have not been restored. U.S. and many allies maintain economic sanctions on Iran for sponsorship of terrorism, nuclear weapons ambitions and human rights abuses, all accusations that Iran denies. Iran does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, and the tension between Iran and Israel is a threat to regional stability.

    More information:  BBC

  • Iraq

    Image: File photo of Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki speaking during a news conference in Baghdad
    Thaier Al-sudani  /  Reuters
    Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki
    msnbc.com

    Leader: Nuri al-Maliki, prime minister since 2006

    Politics on the ground: Maliki struggled to control a fractious government forged of fragile alliances. But in the last two years he has emerged stronger after sending the army to fight Shiite militias and presiding over a sharp fall in overall violence. Still, Maliki has turned many former allies into foes. He bristled at criticism in 2007 from U.S. lawmakers and has difficult relations with some U.S. military officials in Iraq. He harbors evident hatred of the Saddam regime, which repressed Iraq's Shiite majority and assassinated many of his political colleagues. Many Sunnis fear Maliki has little interest in giving them a fair share of power.
    (Source: Reuters)

    U.S. interests: Eight years after the start of the Iraq war, the United States still has about 50,000 troops in the country assigned to non-combat operations, with plans to remove them by December 2011. U.S. and Iraqi forces have made strides against al-Qaida in Iraq, and the U.S. also has an interest in countering the influence of Iran.

    More information:  Reuters

  • Israel

    msnbc.com
    Image: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
    Pool  /  Reuters
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

    Leader: Benjamin Netayahu, second term as prime minister since 2009

    Politics on the ground: The tumult in Egypt has plunged Israel into dismay, arousing fears that Islamic radicals, backed by Iran, are about to score another victory, as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza — even though the anti-government protesters in Egypt are led by secular activists. Until the picture clears, Netanyahu is unlikely to rush into a deal with the Palestinians that creates even more uncertainty on his doorstep by turning over territory to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (Source: AP)

    U.S. interests: Much of the anti-American feeling in the Mideast stems from the United States’ long-standing “special relationship” with Israel, which receives about $3 billion a year in U.S. assistance. President Obama has said that Arab-Israeli peace is a “vital national security interest” to the United States.

    More information: BBC

  • Jordan

    msnbc.com
    Image: Jordan's King Abdullah speaks at the opening of the first session of the new parliament in Amman
    Ali Jarekji  /  Reuters
    King Abdullah

    Leader: King Abdullah II, monarch since 1999

    Politics on the ground: Jordan's powerful Muslim Brotherhood vowed to resume protests, saying that the government did not keep a promise of speedy reforms. The announcement puts added pressure on Jordan's King Abdullah II to give up some of his sweeping powers, but is not seen as a threat to his rule. Opposition figures have called on the king to surrender the authority to appoint Cabinets and dissolve parliament. (Source: AP)

    U.S. interests: The government of Jordan has been consistently pro-Western with close ties to the United States. Since the 2003 fall of the Iraqi regime, Jordan aided the U.S. effort to restore stability there by allowing the training of more than 50,000 Iraqi police officers in a facility near Amman. In 1994, Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel, and is engaged in talks on a wide range of issues, including water sharing, finance and security.

    More information:  Council on Foreign Relations

  • Kuwait

    TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY OMAR HASAN (FIL
    Yasser Al-zayyat  /  AFP/Getty Images
    Emir Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah
    msnbc.com

    Leader: Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmed al-Jaber al-Sabah, emir since 2006

    Politics on the ground: The ruling family is struggling to keep balance among the Islamist, tribal and liberal members of the National Assembly. Kuwait is home to the region's most outspoken parliament. Recently, the competition between the executive and legislative branches of government has become more pronounced: Five governments have resigned, a sixth underwent a major reshuffle and the dissolution of parliament has become a regular feature of the political scene. However, Kuwaitis, which represent a third of the population, are loyal to the 255-year-old Sabah dynasty.  (Source: Reuters and Jane’s Information Group)

    U.S. interests: The United States went to war in the Gulf in 1991 after Iraq seized Kuwait. The U.S.-Kuwaiti relationship has remained strong since then, and Kuwait was the main staging area for U.S. troops before the start of the Iraq war in 2003. The U.S. maintains troops at Camp Arifjan south of Kuwait City.

    More information:  Jane’s Information Group

  • Lebanon

    msnbc.com
    Image: Arab Thought Foundation FIKR 9 conference in Beirut
    Wael Hamzeh  /  EPA
    President Michel Suleiman

    Leader: Gen. Michel Suleiman, president since May 2008

    Politics on the ground: Lebanon’s political landscape is divided between the Western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition, which receives support from Iran and Syria. The U.S. considers Hezbollah, a Pro-Syrian Shiite political party, to be a terrorist organization. Lebanon has struggled to stay stable, particularly after a 2006 war with Israel. In January, Hezbollah forced the collapse of the government and had its nominee, Najib Mikati, appointed as prime minister to form the next government. (Source: BBC)

    U.S. interests: With the collapse of a coalition government in January, the United States is concerned about the rise of Hezbollah and resurgent Syrian influence.

    More information: Council on Foreign Relations

  • Libya

    Image: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi attends a ceremony marking the birth of the Prophet Mohammed in Tripoli
    Ismail Zitouny  /  Reuters
    Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

    Leader: Moammar Gadhafi (de facto head of state)

    Politics on the ground: Moammar Gadhafi seized power by coup in 1967, supplanting a Western-backed constitutional monarchy, and proclaiming the new Libyan Arab Republic. Although Gadhafi gave up formal leadership titles — the official press refers to him as "Brother Leader and Guide of the Revolution" — he is said to wield almost complete authority, either directly or through manipulation of Libya’s socialist-style committees. The government controls the media and the judiciary and there is no right to a fair public trial. Political parties and trade unions are banned. Freedom of speech, press, assembly, association and religion are restricted. Although oil revenues and a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, the government's mismanagement of the economy has led to high inflation and increased import prices, fueling discontent.

    U.S. interests: Since the 1990s, Libya has been changing from a U.S. adversary on the Mediterranean Basin — subject to international sanctions — to a potential partner in counterterror, nuclear nonproliferation and energy development. After the 9/11 attacks on the United States, the warming trend has accelerated. Gadhafi — who has also been a target for Islamist extremists — rushed to become a partner in the U.S. war on terrorism, and distanced Libya from its own past as a sponsor of such acts of political violence. Libya also renounced its pursuit of nuclear weapons, leading the U.S. to restore diplomatic ties. Libya has nearly 44 billion barrels in proven oil reserves, and probably much more. Since U.S. and U.N. sanctions were lifted, major oil companies from the U.S. and elsewhere have started investing in the sector.

  • Morocco

    Image: Morocco's King Mohammed VI presides a a
    Azzouz Boukalouch  /  AFP - Getty Images
    King Mohammed VI

    Leader: King Mohammed IV

    Politics on the ground: Morocco is a constitutional monarchy with an elected parliament. The monarch holds vast executive powers, including the ability to dissolve parliament at will. Executive power is exercised by the government but more importantly by the king himself. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the two chambers of parliament. The king can also issue decrees that have the force of law. The current monarch, King Mohammed IV, 47, succeeded his father King Hassan, who died in 1999 after 38 years on the throne.

    U.S. Interests: One of the oldest and closest U.S. allies in the region and a moderate Arab state in a strategic location between northern Africa and Europe. Morocco was quick to condemn the Sept. 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States has been a solid ally in counterterror efforts.

  • Oman

    msnbc.com
    Image: Oman's leader Sultan Qaboos bin Said sal
    Mohammed Mahjoub  /  AFP - Getty Images
    Sultan Qaboos bin Said

    Leader: Qaboos bin Said, monarch since 1970

    Politics on the ground: Qaboos has absolute power and appoints the Cabinet. In 1992, Qaboos allowed a parliament called Majlis Shura, whose 84 members are elected by constituents in 61 districts. But the parliament only advises and has no legislative powers. There is concern about succession, as there is no heir apparent. In January, protesters marched in Muscat asking the government to stop corruption and address rising prices. Young Omanis called for political change. (Source: Reuters and The New York Times)

    U.S. interests: Since 1980, the United States has had access to Omani military facilities.

    More details: BBC

  • Palestinian territories

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    Image:
    Muhammed Muheisen  /  AP
    President Mahmoud Abbas

    Leader: Mahmoud Abbas

    Politics on the ground: Tension is high between the two Palestinian factions, Abbas’ Fatah party and the militant Islamic movement Hamas. Abbas is seen as a moderate who has attempted to resurrect peace talks with Israel, while Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, has continued its campaign of anti-Israeli attacks. Israel in turn maintains a land, air and sea blockade of Gaza. (Source: BBC)

    U.S. Interests: The United States has tried several times to broker peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and has provided support to the Palestinian Authority for security and counterterrorism efforts.

    More information: Council on Foreign Relations

  • Qatar

    Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-
    Atta Kenare  /  AFP/Getty Images
    Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa al-Thani
    msnbc.com

    Leader: Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, emir since 1995

    Politics on the ground: Domestic reform has been Sheikh Hamad's most noticeable weak point, and it is too soon to tell if his son, Tamim, heir apparent, will tackle this issue. Parliamentary elections have been continually postponed as the ruling family has refused to give up its monopoly on power. Qatar’s 2005 constitution allows for only a partly elected parliament. The Al-Jazeera satellite TV station is based in Qatar and considered the most free and unfettered broadcast source in the Arab world. In practice, however, it rarely criticizes the ruling  family. (Source: Reuters)

    U.S. interests: The United States uses Al-Udeid Air Base, south of Doha, as headquarters for its air operations in the Middle East.

    More information:U.S. Department of State

  • Saudi Arabia

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    Image: (FILES) A picture taken on December 14,
    Yasser Al-zayyat  /  AFP - Getty Images
    King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz

    Leader: Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, monarch since 2005

    Politics on the ground: The king, convalescing in Morocco, expressed support for Mubarak after the protests began. But Saudi newspapers have toned down the king's support of Mubarak after it became clear his grip on power was looking shaky. The world's largest oil exporter, which plays a pivotal role as banker for the Arab world and steward of Islam's holy sites, is coming under greater scrutiny since granting refuge to Tunisia's ousted ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. (Source: The Associated Press)

    U.S. interests: Saudi Arabia is an ally of the United States, and the U.S. has relied on it as a force for stability in the region. The United States also considers it a partner in the war on terrorism, although Saudi Arabia has been accused of funding militant groups; the nations’ relationship was strained during the investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks. Saudi Arabia is a leading supplier of oil for the United States.

    More details: New York Times

  • Syria

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    Image: Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks to the media after a meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris
    Benoit Tessier  /  Reuters
    President Bashar al-Assad

    Leader: Bashar al-Assad, president since 2000

    Politics on the ground: Syrians are organizing campaigns on Facebook and Twitter that call for a "day of rage" in Damascus on Feb. 4 and 5, taking inspiration from Egypt and Tunisia. Like both nations, Syria suffers from corruption, poverty and unemployment. The nation has seen subsidy cuts for staples like bread and oil. The authoritarian president has resisted calls for political freedoms and jailed critics of his regime. He is seen by many Arabs, however, as one of the few leaders in the region willing to stand up to arch enemy Israel. (Source: AP)

    U.S. interests: Relations with the U.S. remain cool, with American officials concerned about Syrian interference in Lebanon’s affairs, human rights violations and its alleged pursuit of weapons of mass destruction.

    More details: New York Times

  • Tunisia

    Leader: Fouad Mebazaa, interim president

    Politics on the ground: Tunisia is a constitutional republic, with a president serving as chief of state, prime minister as head of government, a bicameral legislature and a court system influenced by French civil law. While Tunisia is formally a democracy with a multiparty system, the secular Constitutional Democratic Rally, or RCD, has controlled the country as one of the most repressive regimes in the Arab World since its independence in 1956.

    The 2009 elections, in which the RCD captured the most seats, were widely regarded as rigged and contributed to the unrest that ultimately forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to give up power and flee the country. The Ministry of Interior officially announced the dissolution of the party on Feb 7. An interim government led by President Fouad Mebazaa is in place.

    U.S. interests: Tunisia is an active military and security partner with the U.S. It is a voice of moderation and realism in the region, and was among the first Arab nations to call for recognition of Israel.

  • United Arab Emirates

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    Image: Gulf Cooperation Council opens its 31st summit in UAE
    Emirates News Agency/handout  /  EPA
    President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan

    Leader: Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nahayan, president since 2004

    Politics on the ground: Sheikh Khalifa, also the ruler of oil-rich Abu Dhabi, seat of the seven-emirate federation, is the second leader of the U.S.-allied Gulf state since it was founded in 1971. There are no organized opposition movements in the UAE, which censors many political Web sites and has cracked down on small attempts to protest this month against fuel subsidy cuts. Analysts and diplomats say Sheikh Khalifa has appeared more frail in public of late. (Source: Reuters)

    More details: New York Times

  • Yemen

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    Image: Yemen's President Saleh reviews an honour guard at the Presidential Palace
    Khaled Abdullah  /  Reuters
    President Ali Abdullah Saleh

    Leader: Ali Abdullah Saleh, president since 1978

    Politics on the ground: Saleh pledged not to seek another term in office in an apparent attempt to defuse protests inspired by Tunisia's revolt and the turmoil in Egypt. The impoverished country is wrestling with rebellion in the north and a secessionist movement in the south. Saleh's move posed questions about stability in a nation seen by the Obama administration as a key ally in its fight against Islamic militants.  (Source: AP, Reuters)

    U.S. interests: Yemen’s government is a U.S. partner in counterterrorism, aiding military, diplomatic and financial actions to thwart terror groups. The U.S. and Yemen are waging a battle with an al-Qaida offshoot group in Yemen, which U.S. officials say has become a serious threat to the U.S.

    More details: New York Times ; BBC

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