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Hosni Mubarak: back in pictures on the reign of the fallen Egyptian Rais

Hosni Mubarak then vice president of Egypt
Hosni Mubarak then vice president of Egypt

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak died on Tuesday at the age of 91 at the Cairo Military Hospital. Back in pictures on the reign of the one who ruled Egypt with an iron fist from 1981 to 2011, before being forced to leave power after 18 days of an unprecedented revolt against his regime.

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, 91, died Tuesday, February 25, at the Galaa military hospital in Cairo. In power from 1981 to 2011, the former raïs who enjoyed a reputation as “moderate” in the Arab world, will be driven from power in favor of the “Nile Revolution”, before being brought to justice, then imprisoned and finally acquitted in 2017. 

Undated photo of Hosni Mubarak, then a young lieutenant in the Egyptian Air Force, taken before the removal of King Farouk in 1952. © AFP

Born on May 4, 1928, in the Nile Delta region, and coming from a modest background, Hosni Mubarak considered from a very young age to devote his life to the army. A graduate of the Air Force Academy in 1950, he was sent to the Soviet Union for various training courses, then appointed to command posts.

In 1972, he was appointed commander of the Egyptian Air Force and played an active role during the Yom Kippur War against Israel. Considered a war hero, he was promoted to general, then parachuted by President Anouar al-Sadat to the Vice-Presidency of the Republic in 1975. A few days after the assassination of Sadat by Islamists during a military ceremony at Cairo, October 6, 1981, Hosni Mubarak, who escaped the shooting that day, was unanimously elected president by the People’s Assembly. At 53, he began a long reign at the top of the state.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivering a speech at the Cairo Police Academy on January 24, 1985.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak delivering a speech at the Cairo Police Academy on January 24, 1985. © Reuters

Re-elected head of the country in 1987, 1993 and 1999, according to the same constitutional process, Hosni Mubarak then won, in 2005, the first direct presidential election ever organized in the country. Targeted by at least six assassination attempts, in particular by the armed Islamist group Jamaa Islamiya, the raïs tightened the security screw several times during its various mandates. Throughout his reign, the issue of electoral fraud, human rights violations and the freedom of action devolved to the security forces, on which he relies to assert his power, will be frequently singled out. At the heart of criticism: the law on the state of emergency, introduced after the assassination of Sadat, and which gives wider powers to the police in matters of arrest and detention, and allows referral to special courts. It will not be lifted until May 2012 by the army.

President Bill Clinton attends, with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, behind him, the signing of the Oslo II agreement by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and PLO president Yasser Arafat (right) , at the White House in Washington, September 28, 1995.
President Bill Clinton attends, with his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, behind him, the signing of the Oslo II agreement by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and PLO President Yasser Arafat (right), at the White House in Washington, September 28, 1995. Luke Frazza, AFP

For three decades in power, the Egyptian president has focused on giving his country a key role on the international stage. Even if, on the regional level, Egypt will not find again until May 1989 its place within the Arab League, which it had lost in 1979 for having signed peace with Israel. Egypt, a moderate Sunni power, however, constitutes a particularly strategic pole and allows Hosni Mubarak to play the mediators in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Libyan guide Muammar Gaddafi (center) leaning on the shoulders of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh (left), before the second Afro-Arab summit in Sirte in October 2010. Or a few months before the start of the Arab Spring which will take away the regimes of the three leaders.
Libyan guide Muammar Gaddafi (center) leaning on the shoulders of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and President of Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh (left), before the second Afro-Arab summit in Sirte in October 2010. Or a few months before the start of the Arab Spring which will take away the regimes of the three leaders. © Asmaa Waguih, Reuters

Hosni Mubarak will also make his country, the pivot between Africa and the Middle East, an essential intermediary in the resolution of continental and regional crises.

Meeting between US President Barack Obama and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, in the Oval office of the White House in Washington, September 1, 2010.
Meeting between US President Barack Obama and his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, September 1, 2010. © Jason Reed, Reuters

But it is above all on the United States, then the main strategic and economic of Egypt and its army, that the Egyptian president will rely on to maintain his international influence. It is in this sense that Hosni Mubarak (here in 2010 with President Barack Obama) will side with Washington against the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War (1990-1991).

French President Jacques Chirac welcomed by his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, October 16, 2002 at the Montazah Palace, upon his arrival in Alexandria.
French President Jacques Chirac welcomed by his Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak, October 16, 2002, at the Montazah Palace, upon his arrival in Alexandria. © Patrick Kovarik, AFP

Received with great fanfare and listened to by the leaders of the main world powers, Hosni Mubarak established himself as an ally of the West, before whom he presented himself as a guarantor of regional stability and a bulwark against terrorism and Islamism. He will be received several times in France, notably by President Jacques Chirac, with whom he weaves personal and friendly ties.

Supporters of the Egyptian president hanging a billboard in Cairo before the May 2005 referendum on changing the electoral system.
Supporters of the Egyptian president hanging a billboard in Cairo before the May 2005 referendum on changing the electoral system. © Cris Bouroncle, AFP

However, inside the country, the power of raïs, which is at the center of a personality cult organized by the power, is disputed. In 2005, faced with the growing discontent of the population and the critics accusing them of having locked Egyptian political life, Hosni Mubarak had the Constitution modified to allow the holding of multiparty elections. A “pluralism” which does not prevent Hosni Mubarak from being re-elected with more than 88% of the vote.

Demonstrators holding posters hostile to President Hosni Mubarak, Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 30, 2011, on the sixth day of mass protests against power.
Protesters holding posters hostile to President Hosni Mubarak, Tahrir Square, Cairo, January 30, 2011, on the sixth day of mass protests against power. © Mohammed Abed, AFP

At the beginning of the 2010s, when anger increased due to social inequalities and corruption scandals, paradoxically, the verdict of the ballot boxes showed no sign of dissatisfaction. The legislative elections held between the end of November and the beginning of December 2010, on the contrary, offer the government a crushing victory. A victory at the cost of accusations of fraud emanating from the influential brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood, officially prohibited but tolerated in fact by Hosni Mubarak, and international critics. On January 25, 2011, mass demonstrations against his power began. 1 February, more than a million demonstrators marched against police violence and the corruption of the “Mubarak system”. A human tide invades Tahrir Square, in Cairo, the epicenter of protest.

Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation on Egyptian state television on February 1, 2011, and promises not to run for president.
Hosni Mubarak addresses the nation on Egyptian state television on February 1, 2011, and promises not to stand for re-election. © Egyptian State TV screenshot, Reuters

While the Egyptians demand the departure of the raïs, who is also suspected of wanting to transmit power to his son Gamal, Hosni Mubarak tries to regain control. While a presidential election is scheduled for September 2011, he announced in a televised speech on 1 st February that he will not seek re-election, promising reforms. “Get out,” said the protesters. Released in turn by Washington, then by the Egyptian army, Hosni Mubarak is forced to leave power after 18 days of mobilization unprecedented in the history of the Arab Republic of Egypt. On February 11, Egyptian state television interrupts its programs to announce the resignation of the head of the

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (center), pictured with his sons Gamal (left) and Alaa (right) behind the bars of a courtroom at the Cairo Police Academy, April 13, 2013 .
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (center), pictured with his sons Gamal (left) and Alaa (right) behind the bars of a courtroom at the Cairo Police Academy, April 13, 2013. © Reuters

Two months after his fall, Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, are taken into custody by the Egyptian justice system as part of an investigation into the use of violence against the demonstrators during the January and February uprising. The repression of the movement has left at least 850 dead. The former Egyptian strongman will then be brought to justice and sentenced, after a long judicial soap opera, to life imprisonment for complicity and conspiracy to kill demonstrators.

Hosni Mubarak testifies during a lawsuit against the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, December 26, 2018. This is the last public appearance of the ancient Rais.
Hosni Mubarak testifies during a lawsuit against the ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, December 26, 2018. This is the last public appearance of the ancient Rais. © Amr Abdallah Dalsh, Reuters

In total, he will remain imprisoned for six years, before being released following the return to power of the army, led by the current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, when the last charges are dropped against him in March 2017. Ironically, his last public appearance took place in December 2018, during a trial against Mohamed Morsi, the former head of state from the Muslim Brotherhood, imprisoned since his overthrow in 2013.

© The Eastern Herald

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