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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


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Government and PoliticsHosni Mubarak, who reigned supreme over Egypt for 30 years, died

Hosni Mubarak, who reigned supreme over Egypt for 30 years, died

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak died on Tuesday at the age of 91 at the Cairo Military Hospital, his family and Egyptian state television said. Back on the rise, reign, and fall of the man who was, for 30 years years, the face of power in Egypt.

Former Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak, 91, died Tuesday, February 25, at the Galaa military hospital in Cairo. The ancient raïs reigned supreme over Egypt for three decades before being overthrown in favor of the “Nile Revolution”, the popular uprising of 2011 suppressed in blood. He was then imprisoned for six years, sentenced to life imprisonment for complicity and conspiracy to kill demonstrators.

After the army led by the current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, returned to power, Hosni Mubarak was released when the last charges were dropped against him in March 2017. A release that brought to an end the prosecutions against him and the long judicial soap opera that forced him to spend most of his six years in detention in the military hospital in Cairo.

Until his fall in 2011, two-thirds of the Egyptians had only known him as the head of the country.

A meteoric rise

Hosni Mubarak was not destined for such a career, however. Before assuming the highest office in the Egyptian state in 1981, he rather planned to devote his life to the army.

Brilliantly graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1950, the young Hosni climbed the military ranks until being appointed commander of the Egyptian Air Force in 1972. Under his orders, the Egyptian pilots inflicted heavy losses on Israel during the Yom Kippur War, in 1973. Considered a war hero, Hosni Mubarak was promoted to general.

Two years later, Anouar al-Sadat, then head of state, made him his vice-president. “Mubarak was the second ideal: a disciplined, hardworking, loyal man, without ambition or charisma, reports in 2005 the political scientist Hicham Kassem to the daily Le Monde. The American secretary of state Henry Kissinger, who met him at that time, believed that “it belonged to the ‘little staff’ as it was erased.”

In six years, the “erased” man listens, watches, learn. President Sadat regularly mandates him to foreign, Arab and Western heads of state. In the absence of the President, he is also often responsible for directing the Council of Ministers. When Sadat was assassinated in 1981, Hosni Mubarak was broken into the practices of power … A week later, he was elected to the presidency. He is then 53 years old.

Mubarak restores a diplomatic voice to Egypt

As soon as he takes office, the new president strives to give his country a key role on the international scene. “One of Hosni Mubarak’s fundamental successes was to rally the Arab countries to the Americans in 1990, during the first Gulf War. A masterstroke,” according to Jean-Noël Ferrie, political scientist, author of “L ‘ Egypt between democracy and Islamism: the Mubarak system at the time of succession “.

Without regaining the leadership it enjoyed under Nasser, president between 1952 and 1970, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt has replaced itself at the heart of the strategic challenges of the Middle East. The country is becoming, in particular, an essential mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.But the trust that the Arab countries have placed in it ends up withering, especially after the Israeli military operation against the Gaza Strip, between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009. During the raids, Egypt refuses to open entirely its border with the bombed Palestinian enclave. “Hosni Mubarak continued Sadat’s policy: that of turning to the United States and Israel,” analyzes Jean-Noël Ferrie.

Internal authoritarian drifts

Internally, at the start of his mandate, Hosni Mubarak seems to want to soften the policy of his predecessor. For example, he released 1,500 members of the Islamist Brotherhood of the Muslim Brotherhood. But this relative tolerance fizzled out. From 1984, the organization tolerated but not recognized, acquired a political base by allying itself with the Wafd party and won four seats in Parliament. Hosni Mubarak tightens the screw. Between 1990 and 1997, the repression against the Muslim Brotherhood reached its climax: 68 Islamists were executed and 15,000 were locked up in Egyptian jails.

To silence the dissonant voices, the rais relies on a formidable police apparatus and on a political system dominated by its formation, the National Democratic Party (PND). The only candidate in the presidential elections of 1987, 1993 and 1999, he won them each time with more than 95% of the vote. In 2005, however, faced with the growing discontent of the population, he had the Constitution amended to allow the holding of multi-party elections. Front pluralism: during the consultation organized that year, the authorities carefully selected the candidates. And, not surprisingly, Hosni Mubarak was re-elected with over 88% of the vote. 

“The Nile Revolution”

The last years of the reign of the Egyptian president were marked by a growing protest among the population, which led to the protest movement which led to his fall, on February 11, 2011. Triggered 18 days earlier, the revolt saw hundreds of thousands of people take to the streets of Cairo to protest against their living conditions and demand the departure of the old rais. Released in turn by the American ally, then by the Egyptian army, Hosni Mubarak throws in the towel.

As fast as it is spontaneous, the revolution fed on the economic and social difficulties endured by the Egyptians. In 2010, 44% of the country’s population still lived on less than 2 euros per day. After having silenced the opposition, Hosni Mubarak had arranged to be reappointed hands down before being suspected of wanting to transmit power to his son Gamal. In vain.

Since his dismissal, Hosni Mubarak’s fragile health has been the subject of incessant speculation and contradictory information, reporting, in turn, acute depression, cancer, heart attacks or respiratory problems. He had been regularly hospitalized and admitted to intensive care since his departure from power.

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Qamar Munawer
Qamar Munawer
Associate Editor at The Eastern Herald. Ar. Qamar Munawer is currently at Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg in Germany.

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