Egypts ousted president Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

Egypts ousted former president Hosni Mubarak has died at the age of 91, state television said on Tuesday, weeks after undergoing surgery.


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The former Egyptian strongman was under house arrest since he was ousted on February 11, 2011 after three decades in power. Mubarak suffered from health problems following his ouster and arrest, and his medical state was the cause of several often contradictory reports. Earlier this week, his son, Alaa Mubarak tweeted that his father was still in an intensive care unit, weeks after undergoing surgery.

Until the day he stepped down, Mubarak kept an absolute grip on power with routine security crackdowns and human rights violations against opposition members, particularly the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

The last years of his presidential term were marked by growing opposition to his rule among Egyptians. In 30 years, conditions for Egypts working class failed to improve; in 2010, 44 percent of the population lived on less than two dollars a day. Accusations of fraud in the November 2010 legislative election further damaged Mubaraks public image.

By early 2011, Mubarak was unable to withstand 18 days of unprecedented protests in the Arab nation, during which hundreds of thousands of Egyptians took to the streets in the capital, Cairo, calling for his departure. Despite the violent crackdown on the demonstration, the protesters took over Cairos Tahrir Square – which became the centre of the anti-regime movement – until Mubarak stepped down.

A rapid political rise

Mubarak had studied to be a fighter pilot and after earning his degree in 1950, he rose through the military ranks until he was named Egypts Air Forces commander in 1972. Under his leadership, the air force contributed significantly to the countrys early victories over Israel during the Kippur War in 1973. Mubarak was promoted to general shortly thereafter.

Mubarak was eyeing a diplomatic post as his next professional step when then president Anwar el Sadat decided otherwise, naming him vice president in 1975. “Mubarak was the ideal right-hand man: disciplined, hardworking, loyal, and without great ambition or charisma,” journalist Hicham Kassem wrote for French daily newspaper Le Monde in 2005. “Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who met him around that time, thought he had a minor staff job because he was so low-profile.”

For six years, Mubarak accompanied Sadat to meetings with foreign heads of state, both Arab and Western. Often, when Sadat was away, it was Mubarak who presided over cabinet meetings. One week after Sadat was assassinated by radical Islamists in 1981, Mubarak became president. He was 53 years old.

Giving Egypt a diplomatic voice

In terms of diplomacy, Mubarak was considered by many to be an accomplished head of state, as he was able to increase Egypts presence on the international stage. “One of Mubaraks fundamental manoeuvres was succeeding in rallying Arab countries to the Americans in 1990 during the first Gulf war,” said Jean-Noel Ferrié, a political scientist and author of a book on Egypt. “It was a masterful move.”

Though Egypt did not recover the status of leader of the Arab world that it enjoyed under Gamal Abdel Nasser (who was president from 1952 to 1970), under Mubarak it nevertheless regained a role as a key player in the region. Most notably, Egypt began playing a crucial role in issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; Mubarak took on the role of mediator in indirect negotiations between the two sides as of 2005.

But the trust that Arab countries once placed in Mubarak ultimately faded. During Israels raid of the Gaza Strip between December 27, 2008, and January 18, 2009, Egypt refused to completely open the Rafah Crossing, which lies along the Egypt-Gaza border. Some 1,400 Palestinians were killed during the operation. “Mubarak continued Sadats policies of deferring to the US and Israel,” noted Ferrié. “Today, Egypt no longer has the aura it had before. On the regional stage, it has let Iran and Turkey take its place.”

Moving towards authoritarian rule

At the beginning of his term, Mubaraks domestic policies seemed to be more flexible than those of his predecessor. He notably ordered the release of 1,500 members of the Muslim Brotherhood who had been imprisoned under Sadat. The move backfired when the Islamic organisation, Read More – Source

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