Nightly News | February 11, 2011
>>> like him or not, police state or not, hosni mubarak was a u.s. ally for 30 years, roughly the last five u.s. presidents . and now for the u.s., the question of what egypt will become and how to deal with it. more on that from white house correspondent savannah guthrie in washington. hey, savannah, good evening.
>> reporter: good evening, brian, you said it. mubarak was so central to u.s. policy in the middle east some said the administration was unprepared for a post- mubarak era, but that beara is now here, ready or not. the two presidents in cairo in 2009 .
>> i'm very much looking forward in the months and years to come to continue to consult with the president.
>> reporter: for years hosni mubarak was the bedrock of american policy in the middle east . u.s. presidents came and went. he didn't. as they celebrated in queens , new york , little egypt today, across washington a collective question. what now? u.s. officials' biggest worry, chaos, a power vacuum that could allow extremists to flood across the border.
>> the problem will lie if the egyptian revolution gets hijacked and taken over by a much more radical element.
>> reporter: u.s. officials are counting on the egyptian military to hold the country together until elections can be held. but remembering the 2006 vote in gaza that brought radical group hamas to power, u.s. officials worry about moving too fast. moderate political factions were never allowed to flourish under mubarak 's iron fist .
>> there's much work to be done. this is the beginning of that process, not the end of it.
>> reporter: the u.s. also must now reassure allies. israel worries a new radical regime could throw out the 1979 peace agreement . egypt sits amidst a region cull of autocratic leaders wondering what's next for them. the u.s. hopes the egypt example will encourage them to make democratic reforms, not crack down harder. and perhaps sensing an opportunity, the administration today made a point to encourage iran's protest movement.
>> let your people speak. release your people from jail. let them have a voice.
>> reporter: some arab allies have expressed anger with the administration for not standing more firmly behind a long-time ally. the president will be spending time on the phone doing more diplomacy in the coming days and weeks, brian.
>> savannah guthrie in our d.c.