Hosni Mubarak, former president swept away by the Arab Spring, dies
A member of a provincial middle class family, he ruled the country more than Nasser and Sadat. Unlike them, he did not die in office. Tried and convicted of killing protesters and dissidents, he was acquitted years later. He led the fight against Islamic extremism, and mended fences with the rest of the Arab world.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to resign as a result of the Arab Spring of 2011, died today at the age of 91 surrounded by his family.
His brother-in-law, General Mounir Thabet, made the announcement, saying that the former president, who had been ill for some time, had been hospitalised at the Galaa military hospital in Cairo where he had recently undergone surgery.
Current Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi has already made arrangements for Mubarak’s funeral.
Born on 4 May 1928 in Kafr El-Meselha, a village in Monufia governorate, into a conservative middle class family. His father was a petty bureaucrat in the Ministry of Justice.
The future strongman entered Egypt’s Military Academy in 1947, switching a couple of years later to the Air Force Academy where he eventually served as an instructor.
He was president for almost 30 years, from October 1981 to February 2011, when he resigned.
After he left office, he was put on trial and had to cope with a series of cardio-vascular issues that weakened his body and mind.
For some analysts, he seemed unable to accept the possibility of ending his days behind bars and see someone else take over during his lifetime.
Unlike his predecessors Nasser and Sadat, he did not die in office, despite leading the country for a longer period of time.
His trial, which began in 2012, ended when the Egyptian Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest appeal court, acquitted him in March 2017 of murder charges in connection with the killing of 850 protesters and at least 239 dissidents during the riots that broke out between 25 January and 11 February 2011 in Tahrir Square.
Mubarak, who insisted that he was innocent of all the charges, was initially convicted and sentenced to life in prison. But his acquittal by the Court also ended applications by the victims' lawyers to reopen the case in a civil court. For the plaintiffs, this was expected, considering Mubarak’s links to current President al-Sisi.
Although he was acquitted of the most serious charges, related to the crackdown during the 2011 unrest, when scores died, he faced additional charges and was found guilty of minor offences related to corruption.
For this reason, the court imposed a travel ban, which initially applied to his entire family. On Saturday however, the court finally acquitted his sons, Alaa and Gamal, of all charges.
Mubarak’s reign saw a tough fight against Islamic extremism. Over these years, a series of deadly attacks were carried out, such as the 1997 Luxor massacre (more than 60 dead) and an alleged attempt on Mubarak’s own life in Addis-Ababa in 1995.
After 2004, Egypt saw more attacks by al-Qaeda, which Egyptian authorities used to justify a harsh crackdown in the Sinai and keep the state of emergency indefinitely.
Coming to power to counter Islamic extremism, Mubarak saw, after his fall, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Morsi win the first free elections. The new “democratic” president wanted to govern with Sharia (Islamic law) .
In foreign policy Mubarak formally kept the peace agreement with Israel, which he visited once for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin in 1995.
He boosted ties with the rest of the Arab world, hosting Yasser Arafat after he was expelled from Lebanon in 1983, and supporting Iraq in the war with Iran, thus paving the way for Egypt’s rapprochement with the Gulf monarchies and re-integration in the Arab League in 1989.