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Hannity

Sen. McCain Reacts to Mubarak's Exit Plan, Growing Unrest in Mideast

This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," February 1, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

SEAN HANNITY, HOST: And brand new tonight, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak says, he will not run for a new term in office in September but he refuses to step down any sooner. This amid enduring protests from the hundreds of thousands marching in the streets of Egypt demanding the longtime dictator stand down by Friday. But in the speech delivered earlier today, Mubarak insisted his decision had absolutely nothing to do with the events of this past week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT HOSNI MUBARAK (through a translator): I tell you very honestly and regardless of the current circumstance, that I did not intend to run for a new presidential term. I am completely keen on concluding my work for the nation in a fashion that guarantees passing the responsibility and the flag in a safe Egypt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now his halfway concession came after President Obama pulled his support of Mubarak and urged him not to run again. Now President Obama responded to the news earlier tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: After his speech tonight, I spoke directly to President Mubarak. He recognizes that the status quo is not sustainable and that a change must take place.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HANNITY: Now, meanwhile, the fear of civil unrest continues to spread across the region, and has clearly shaken up the king of Jordan enough to take extreme measures. Today, the Middle East monarch gave into public pressure and cleaned house by firing his government and appointing a new prime minister, effective immediately. His top priorities will be to provide fast economic reform and to quote, "increase popular participation in the decision-making process."

But do any of these drastic changes, they do go far enough? Here with reaction tonight is Arizona Senator John McCain, he is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and member of the committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.

Senator, welcome back, thanks for being with us.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-ARIZ.: Thank you, Sean, interesting times.

HANNITY: Well, interesting and extraordinarily dangerous. I listened very closely to the president's remarks tonight. And as he was praising the demonstrators, and showing his support for the demonstrators, he didn't -- and talking about full participation even of opposition parties, the thing that struck me most about this, is does he not realize that if the Muslim Brotherhood -- which is now creating a coalition with ElBaradei -- get in power, that could mean another Iranian style theocracy?

MCCAIN: Well, first of all, ElBaradei is not a friend of the United States. Second of all, he could be a figurehead for the Muslim Brotherhood since he has no real following in Egypt. He has lived most of his life outside of Egypt.

Second thing is, the Muslim Brotherhood we ought to recognize is an organization that wants Sharia law, is tied up with Hamas, has been by any definition a radical Islamic organization. Although, they may be portraying themselves as somewhat different.

And finally, now we have to make sure that a new election is free, fair, open, honest and that radical Islamic candidates or platforms are exposed for what they are. This is a very tough time ahead.

HANNITY: Well, my biggest concern senator is the Islamic Brotherhood and ElBaradei who you point out is not a friend of the U.S. But their motto has been from the beginning and remains today, their objective Allah is our objective, the prophet is our leader, the Koran is our law, Jihad is our way, and dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope, that is their current motto. And I don't think they got involved, then they were fomenting this, so it might have been a democratic uprising from the start, but they're now fomenting, what if they get in power?

MCCAIN: I think they are taking advantage of it. We're going to have to rely on the only respected institution, and that's the army in Egypt to do everything possible to make sure that order is restored over time, that there is a fair, open process. The people of Egypt are very cultured, very cultivated, very sophisticated. As you know this is the center of culture in history in the Middle East. So, our efforts have to be bent to making sure that this election like the Iranian one is not hijacked by Islamic extremists, and that is going to be a very tough job.

And by the way, I'm pleased the president has learned a lot since the demonstrators in Tehran were saying Obama, Obama are you with us or you with them? And he said, he didn't want to disturb his negotiations with the Iranian Islamic republic. A very, very big mistake back then. So he's learned a lot.

HANNITY: I would agree with you. But I think the president had an opportunity here to stand up against Islamic extremism. Going into his speech tonight, Senator, he knew that the Muslim Brotherhood had publicly now called for war with Israel. The Muslim Brotherhood has now blamed the United States of America. Egyptian protesters, we know have been saying we hate Israel, we hate the United States of America. There was a Pew poll that came out just in 2010 where literally, 17 percent of Egyptians tying with Turkey and Pakistan for the most negative view of the United States.

Now, one other piece of history, when the president spoke in Cairo, apparently the new republican reported at that time, that he had invited members of the Muslim Brotherhood to go see his speech. It seems to me that I don't sense that the president has an awareness of just how dangerous this group can be.

MCCAIN: Well, I hope he addresses that issue and does as quickly as possible. The reality on the ground is, Mubarak is exiting. And he is going to be gone from the scene, one way or another. The army is an institution that is respected all over Egypt. They are -- have had close relations with the United States, particularly the United States military and they are going to carry a great responsibility. I believe that success or failure of Egypt reverting or moving into a radical position is directly related to how the army is able to control things and make sure they have free, open, fair elections, and an open and free society.

HANNITY: You know, if we were to come up with an analogy, I was thinking about this today when you look at Tunisia, and Lebanon and the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt and Jordan and all that is happening here. You know, it seems to me that if the 20th century, the communist party represented its very existence a threat to democracy and individual liberty and women's rights and freedom of religion, it seems to me that Islamic extremism is the 21st century threat that type of totalitarian rule posed in the last century.

MCCAIN: I agree. And I also think as long as we are dependent on oil for the health of our economy, it is going to be very vital. And I'm glad you mentioned Lebanon, Lebanon is the miner's canary in the Middle East. The government has just been hijacked by Hezbollah, a terrorist organization with thousands of rockets aimed at Israel from Southern Lebanon. This is as I said, one of the most tense, difficult, dangerous times in our history.

HANNITY: You mentioned Hezbollah, Lebanon, we've got Hamas with the Palestinians and their election. You've got the Muslim Brotherhood with ties to both radical organizations. Now their influence is in not only fomenting what we've been watching in Egypt but similarly in Jordan. What do you think about what the king is doing in Jordan?

MCCAIN: I worry about the population disparity in Jordan as you know, 65 percent Palestinian and he is a Hashemite, he is a popular leader. He has been a tremendous ally in his whole effort to preserve Israel's security and to help us in so many ways in the region that I can't even go into them. But, it is in danger too. The king of Saudi Arabia must be very, very nervous tonight.

But, our effort, as I'm being repetitious again, the people do want freedom. They want democracy. They want the same -- they have the same human yearnings that we do. What we have to do is play the role and help those elements with an Egyptian society and that society that give people the kind of government they want. People in Iran don't like the government that has been hijacked by the ayatollahs. And we have to -- our mission is to make sure that these countries aren't hijacked by radical Islamic extremists.

HANNITY: Would the president not have a role then, Senator, in taking a position in principle, moral authority, to tell the world that an Islamic fundamentalist state is unacceptable? And that they should reject these terrorist organizations. Because I didn't hear that from him today and I've not heard that from him throughout this crisis.

MCCAIN: If not saying that it is unacceptable say that they can never achieve their goals and aims of the people that are in the streets today and various countries, if they are subject to the rule of ayatollahs such as the people of Iran are. And I think he has to make that message very loud and very clear. And we are a beacon of hope to all of these people. And we have shown again the universality of the yearning for human rights and freedom and we have to make sure they are not hijacked.

HANNITY: All right. Senator, thank you for being with us on this busy news night. I appreciate you being here.

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