Hosni Mubarak



The Egyptian leader ignominiously ousted by a popular revolution.

As President of his country, Hosni Mubarak in 1981 inherited a difficult hand. Saadat bequeathed him an Egypt ostracised by its Arab neighbours for its signing of the 1979 Camp David accords with Israel. Mubarak’s most important task was to return Cairo to the Arab fold, without jeopardising an agreement with Israel that he, as well as Saadat, considered crucial to the country’s security.

Hosni Mubarak swiftly showed a pragmatic side, cherished in the US where he won special favour – as well as a $30bn write-off – when he joined the alliance against Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War.

Well known for his obstinacy and aversion to risk, Hosni Mubarak’s inflexible attitude fueled his people’s wrath. He headed Egypt’s political system that belonged to different era, incapable of responding to the needs or aspirations of its young and increasingly educated population. His authoritarian rule also suppressed legitimate dissent and tolerated corruption. There was repression and political stagnation. Regionally Egypt lost its leadership in diplomacy, culture and education. A nation, which had seen itself as a trendsetter and regional leader lost its confidence. Egyptians saw their country decline and lost hope in the future.

President Mubarak despised for his three decades of Pharaonic rule survived three assassination attempts since he took over in 1981.

Inspired by the success of Tunisia’s Jasmine Revolution, Egyptians rose against Mubarak’s autocratic rule of thirty years. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, young and old, male and female, secular and devout, filled Tahrir Square in the biggest demonstrations Egypt had ever seen. Hosni Mubarak was forced on 11 February 2011 to step down as Egyptian president after eighteen days of unprecedented protests by young activists and at a cost of 800 lives. The dramatic display of “people power” focussed hatred of a corrupt autocracy, and its secret police, the frustrations of a rising middle class and the desperation of the poor. He disappeared into his compound at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikhs. He was to be detained under power that his own security services had once used to silence his opponents.

Hosni Mubarak went on trial in Cairo with his two sons and seven other members of his regime. He was rolled into court on a hospital trolley and held in a cage as the proceedings were broadcast on live television. In June 2012 he was found guilty of complicity in the killing of demonstrators and given a life sentence, triggering scene of jubilation in a country still gripped by revolutionary fervour. Finally, in March 2017 he was acquitted. To many in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak’s release was a travesty, but during the retrial in August 2014 he sat upright on his hospital trolley and declared that history would vindicate him.

Born to a lower middle class rural family in the Nile Delta, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak graduated from Egyptian military academy in 1949. He advanced his flight and bomber training in the Soviet Union. He was appointed chief commander of the air force in 1972 who is credited with rebuilding Egypt’s air power after its near destruction by Israel in 1967. When the country launched its 1973 attack against Israel, he became a national hero after commanding the first air onslaught against the enemy, providing cover as the army crossed the Suez Canal – the first step in regaining the Sinai Peninsula from the Israelis. He was promoted to the post of Air Marshal, vice president from 1975 until President Anwar al-Saadat assassinated.

Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan / Ghulam Mohiuddin

Write a comment