OTR Interviews

Former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt: Mubarak Behind Protest Attacks on Journalists

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 3, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: So why doesn't President Mubarak just leave? He claims he wants to step down but he can't, and adds, If I resign today, there will be further chaos. President Mubarak tells ABC News's Christiane Amanpour he's very unhappy about the violent protests rocking the country and that he does not want to see Egyptians fighting each other.

Our next guest has met President Mubarak personally over a dozen times. Ned Walker, former United States ambassador to Egypt, joins us now. Welcome, Ambassador.


VAN SUSTEREN: You hear these horrible stories. Journalists believe that the pro-Mubarak groups are going after them. Your thought...

WALKER: No doubt about it.

VAN SUSTEREN: No doubt about it.

WALKER: No about it. This is the same group of people that have fixed elections, that have gone out and engaged in thuggery when you come to the voting booths, and so on. No, it's -- it's orchestrated.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is this at the direction of President Mubarak?

WALKER: I don't see how it can happen without President Mubarak. But if he thinks that this is going to change -- you know, he is -- he's ruining himself and his country in the eyes of the world.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that comment to Christiane that he was worried that if he left, his country would descend into further chaos, I sort of thought, sarcastically, Better open the window.

WALKER: Well, let me ask you...

VAN SUSTEREN: I mean -- I mean, I don't know how -- what is further chaos?

WALKER: Yes, exactly. How can you get further chaos than you've already got. This is not right.

VAN SUSTEREN: Why do they hate him?

WALKER: You know, they really don't hate him. They hate what he stands for. And the fact is that Mubarak for 30 years has led Egypt. He took it from a very dangerous position when Sadat was assassinated. He built up the country. He's done a great deal of good things. He's lost touch. He's lost touch with the people. He's lost touch with his country in the last five to 10 years. The man is aging. He's got...

VAN SUSTEREN: But lost touch in what way? I mean, like, we constantly -- I mean, we have turnovers because we have terms for our presidents.


VAN SUSTEREN: So I mean -- I mean, like, lost touch in what way? How does it manifest itself?

WALKER: He doesn't understand his people anymore. I mean, anybody that could look out there and suggest that he was still in charge or that he had any chance of being in charge in the future and look at what's going on in the streets would understand, Hey, this isn't going to work.

VAN SUSTEREN: But this is anger. This isn't, like, you know, We don't like the guy. He's out of touch and doesn't get us.

WALKER: That's because he stayed too long. I mean, there is a time - - there's a natural term limit, if you will, for a leader. And Mubarak extended it way beyond the real.

VAN SUSTEREN: Is he likely to go?


VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, it seems like he's -- so -- so what's going to happen? I mean, he looks like he's dug his heels in. If he hasn't gone by now...

WALKER: This is a military man. He loves his country, but he is stubborn as hell. And he told me once that he's a bomber pilot. He goes to his target, he drops his bombs, he comes home. He's not a fighter pilot. He has no flexibility. He has got his idea fixed.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, The New York Times is reporting tonight that the White House and Egypt is discussing a plan for Mubarak's exit. And one of the plans is for a transitional government, where the vice president is to...

WALKER: Right.

VAN SUSTEREN: ... is to be in charge of transitional government. Looking at Egyptian constitution -- correct me if I'm right or wrong -- the Egyptian constitution says if it's a temporary disability on the part of the president, he can appoint the vice president. If, however, it is permanent, which I assume if Mubarak's going to go, it's going to be permanent, it doesn't go to the vice president, does it.

WALKER: No. No, it goes to the speaker of the parliament, Fathi Sorour.

VAN SUSTEREN: So are we on the -- so is the United States on the wrong track trying to put the vice president in?

WALKER: No because the man who can actually do something is Omar Suleiman. The man who cannot do something is Fathi Sorour.

VAN SUSTEREN: But wouldn't some of the people who are sort of the malcontents -- or better -- I can't think of a better word to describe someone who's unhappy, but a malcontent say, OK, now the United States has violated our constitution and put in someone they like...

WALKER: Well...

VAN SUSTEREN: ... and now it's the United States that's running our country?

WALKER: Yes, I think you can figure out ways to do this so that he takes a medical leave or something, he's temporarily incapacitated, all sorts of ways you can figure this out. The problem is, he's not going to agree. I don't -- you know, this is a great plan, but you've got to have Mubarak agree to it. And I'm not sure that that's going to happen. The man is stubborn.

VAN SUSTEREN: So what's the ultimate, they go in and they pull him out?

WALKER: They pull him out. The military goes to him like they did before and they say, Boss, it's over. You gotta go.

VAN SUSTEREN: That's -- that's what happened in Honduras with Zelaya, and that didn't go over well.

WALKER: Well, sometimes it doesn't go over well.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir.

WALKER: You bet.