OTR Interviews

What's Next for Post-Mubarak Egypt?

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," February 11, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Egypt's ambassador to the United States is also celebrating the fall of the Mubarak regime. Ambassador Sameh Shoukry says he credits the youth of his country for this historic change in power. Now, the Egyptian ambassador "On the Record."

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VAN SUSTEREN: Three weeks ago, if we were talking, would you have ever predicted this?

SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S.: It was unpredictable. It's a movement that was instigated by the youth utilizing modern technology, being able to stay in contact, to have a message, and to apply themselves in a peaceful manner. And this has been a remarkable development that the whole population of Egypt was eager to participate in.

VAN SUSTEREN: What happened within the last 24 hours?

SHOUKRY: I believe that it was a last effort to try to initiate a reform process within a constitutional framework, within a legislative framework of various laws. It was indicated that it would be undertaken under the guarantee of the military. But that did not satisfy the protesters, who continued to demonstrate in the street. And by morning, the president really recognized that the popular movement was not willing to support whatever was being offered and thereby decided to resign.

VAN SUSTEREN: Our countries have been great friends for a number of years, and I'm curious, you know, whether or not the relationship with the United States, whether the protesters, the people on the streets, the youth movement -- and maybe you don't know this -- how they think about the United States tonight.

SHOUKRY: From what I see from many of the comments on television, they have a real appreciation, admiration to the United States. They indicate that they sought and received a great deal of recognition of their universal rights and their demands for reform. And I believe that this is something that has been a strong aspect of our relationship. There are at the popular level a great many Egyptians who value the relationship, who understand its mutual benefit.

VAN SUSTEREN: Who's in charge tonight?

SHOUKRY: The supreme military council has -- authority has been transmitted to it, and it is in charge.

VAN SUSTEREN: So is that a group of, you know, four, five, six? There's no single person in charge?

SHOUKRY: It is a council chaired by the minister of defense, the -- and it's comprised of the chief of staff and the chief of operations and the chiefs of the branches of the military, with hierarchical participation from the generals of the army.

VAN SUSTEREN: Now, Israel and your country have had a peace treaty for, you know, decades. And Israel is on edge, worried about what's going to happen in particular in Egypt. Should -- is there a chance that your country will pull out of that peace treaty or pull back on it?

SHOUKRY: Egypt prides itself on being a country with a long history of institutions. Its institutions are solid, and it is always true to its commitments. This is a legal commitment that Egypt has undertaken, and one which I expect will be honored.

VAN SUSTEREN: Sharia law -- do you expect that there'll be more Sharia law as part of the governing of Egypt? And is Sharia law compatible with democracy?

SHOUKRY: Egypt has a long history of being a secular nation. It is a compilation of a diverse group of people. It is multi-ethnic. It is multi-cultural. It is multi -- there are several religions, a major Christian segment of the population. And I believe that the concentration in the last years on citizenship, on a secular state and the necessity of preserving a civilian state is going to be paramount in the vast majority of the Egyptian electorate.

VAN SUSTEREN: You know, there are many people who are concerned in this country that Egypt -- and now that -- you'll have an election and the Egyptian people will pick who they want to lead them. There are two directions to go. One is in a direction more like Iran, which is not something that the United States looks with great favor on. And then there's the other direction, which would be much more agreeable to the United States and one that we don't worry about. Is there a chance that the Egyptians will go to the polls and pick someone, pick a -- pick a leader much like you see or government much like you see in Iran?

SHOUKRY: In our case, I believe there is always a third alternative, and that is government to govern Egypt, to govern Egyptians. There will be an Egyptian formula that will be the result of free and fair elections, one that will draw on the history of Egypt, on its development, on the nature of its people, and one which we hope will create a better environment for all Egyptians.

VAN SUSTEREN: In terms of who's -- the multi-cultural, multi-citizenship that the Egyptian government is going to -- is going to be, as you suggest, the Muslim Brotherhood -- or director of national intelligence said yesterday -- and of course, he got rebuked by many people for saying it -- said that the Muslim Brotherhood was largely secular. Is the Muslim Brotherhood a secular or a religious organization?

SHOUKRY: I believe the Muslim Brotherhood has an ideology which is closely associated to the religion, the Islamic religion. It has not been operating as a political entity. So we I think have to wait and see what their political platform will be to ascertain what their direction will be. It remains to be seen.

VAN SUSTEREN: Well, government does get involved in foreign policy, so I'm trying to see what directions or -- you predict or think that Israel -- not Israel -- what direction Egypt would be going in terms of foreign policy because this is a momentous occasion. This is huge. This is a big change in the world. All eyes are on Egypt. Everyone's wondering, you know, which way it's likely to go. And you're so intimately involved and so we're trying to figure out where you think this is going.

SHOUKRY: Well, it's highly speculative. All I can say again is that I presume that when Egypt does set on a free and fair elections, when it is able to instill all of the reforms in place, it will rely on its experience and its history, its culture, its -- the nature of its people to compile the government that represents it and represents its aspirations.

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