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25
Feb

Obituary: Hosni Mubarak

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 91, has died in a military hospital in Cairo.

The armed forces of Egypt released a statement of mourning for the longtime air force officer and military leader: “The General Command of the Armed Forces mourns one of its sons, and one of the leaders of the glorious October war”. Three days of mourning have been announced.

 

Hosni Mubarak and his Welsh-Egyptian wife meet Pope John Paul II at the private library in the Apostolic Palace in February 2001. Credit_Getty Images
Hosni Mubarak (C) and his Welsh-Egyptian wife Suzanne (L) meet Pope John Paul II (R) at the private library in the Apostolic Palace in February 2001. Credit: Getty Images

 

Dubbed the Pharaoh by his opposition, Mubarak ruled Egypt for 30 years as the country's fourth president. However, political career was not a bed of roses for Hosni Mubarak. While in power, he survived at least six attempts on his life.

 

French first lady Bernadette Chirac (L), Hosni Mubarak (C) and French president Jacques Chirac (R) at the Elysée Palace in Paris, 18 May 1998. Credit_AP
French first lady Bernadette Chirac (L), Hosni Mubarak (C) and French President Jacques Chirac (R) at the Elysée Palace in Paris, 18 May 1998. Credit: AP

 

“Egypt and I shall not be parted until I am buried in her soil”, he said after the Arab Spring uprising, when he was forced to step down on 11 February 2011 as a result of the 18-day revolution. He was arrested two months later after his resignation, spent years in jail and was freed in 2017 after he was cleared of the final murder charges against him. It seems improbable that Mubarak can be ever parted with the history of his homeland and forgotten after his death. In fact, quite on the contrary.

 

PM Margaret Thatcher greets Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at No. 10 Downing Street, London on 14 March 1985. Credit_AP/Reuters
PM Margaret Thatcher greets Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak at No.10 Downing Street, London, 14 March 1985. Credit: AP/Reuters

 

Hosni Mubarak was born on 4 May 1928 in the Nile Delta village of Kafr Musailha. During his childhood, Egypt was supervised by Britain, which controlled the Suez Canal.

 

Hosni Mubarak with Princess Diana during her royal tour of Egypt in 1992. Credit_Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock
Hosni Mubarak (L) with Princess Diana (R) during her royal tour of Egypt in 1992. Credit: Nils Jorgensen/REX/Shutterstock

 

Mubarak entered the country’s air force in 1950 when Egypt was still a monarchy and served as an air force chief of staff between 1967 and 1972. Mubarak was promoted to air marshal after the 1973 Arab-Israel war.

 

Vice president Hosni Mubarak (L) and president Anwar Sadat (R) on 6 October 1981. Credit_Bill Foley/AP
Vice president Hosni Mubarak (L) and president Anwar Sadat (R) on 6 October 1981, few minutes before the assassination of the latter. Credit: Bill Foley/AP

 

In April 1975, a respected commander in the Egyptian Air Force was appointed by President Sadat as his vice president. On 6 October 1981, Mubarak became president following the assassination of Anwar Sadat.

 

Assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat (1918-1981). Credit_Makaram Gad Alkareem/AFP/Getty Images
The assassination of President Anwar al-Sadat (1918-1981) on 6 October 1981. Credit: Makaram Gad Alkareem/AFP/Getty Images

 

The financial support of the American government ensured that Egypt maintained civil relations with Israel. Also, President Mubarak eagerly helped mediate with the Palestinians, indeed playing a crucial role in the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

 

US President George W Bush (third from left) and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (third from right) with the middle east leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh (2003). Credit to Reuters
US President George W Bush (third from left) and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (third from right) with the middle east leaders in Sharm El-Sheikh (2003). Credit: Reuters

 

In 2011, British PM Tony Blair praised him as “immensely courageous and a force for good”. The bare words were useless to help Hosni Mubarak against the Arab Spring.

 

Mubarak (R) meets Tony Blair (L) in his role as Middle East peace envoy, 4 September 2007. Credit to Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images
Mubarak (R) meets Tony Blair (L) in his role as Middle East peace envoy, 4 September 2007. Credit: Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images

 

Being a cunning player in the world political games, Mubarak managed to be on the good side of the United States and the Soviet Union as well as post-Soviet Russia until an experiment in world politics was launched in the name of 'delivering democracy'.

 

King Hussein of Jordan (L), US President Ronald Reagan (C) and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (R) in the White House, 14 February 1984. Credit to Barry Thumma/AP
King Hussein of Jordan (L), US President Ronald Reagan (C) and President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt (R) in the White House, 14 February 1984. Credit: Barry Thumma/AP

 

Egyptian protesters on Tahrir Square in central Cairo and other major Egyptian cities called for “bread, freedom and social justice”. However, revolutions never help in fulfilling the noble goals and dreams. Ever.

 

Protesters on Tahrir Square in Cairo (2011). Credit to REX Features
Protesters on Tahrir Square in Cairo (2011). Credit: REX Features

 

Today many Egyptians notice political similarities between Hosni Mubarak and their leader, the former general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and they wonder whether the Arab Spring was worth all fuss at all. The current president is befriended and embraced by the western leaders with equal if not greater appreciation than the late Mubarak. On 23 January 2020 President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi received the German Semper Opera Ball’s Dresden Medal of St George "in recognition of his efforts in achieving security, stability, and development in Egypt".

 

Hans-Joachim Frey, the founder and the first Chairman of the Semper Opernball in Dresden, hands the medal to President Al-Sisi. Credit to The Daily News Egypt
Hans-Joachim Frey, the founder and the first Chairman of the Semper Opernball in Dresden, hands the medal to President Al-Sisi. Credit: The Daily News Egypt

 

Now with the main player gone, the history of Egypt in the last two decades of the 20th century will be analysed and judged impartially.

 

President Mubarak (L) and German chancellor Angela Merkel (R) in Berlin, 23 April 2008. Credit to Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
President Mubarak (L) and German chancellor Angela Merkel (R) in Berlin, 23 April 2008. Credit: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters

 

“Hosni Mubarak... lived long enough to go from experiencing disgrace to witnessing an even more brutal dictator replace him that has left many in Egypt missing his presidency despite how reviled he once was”, said Timothy E Kaldas of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. When the western great powers finally realise that hungry eastern nations never lose the sharpness of their eyes to see the reality and effectively ignore advertised ideas and visions?!

 

Mubarak sitting in a wheelchair as he stands trial in September 2013 for the killing of 900 anti-government protesters. Credit to Associated Press
Mubarak sitting in a wheelchair as he stands trial in September 2013 for the killing of 900 anti-government protesters. Credit: Associated Press

 

Who knows how long it will take for more of Mubarak's fellow countrymen to agree that it was their fourth president who allowed the Arab Spring happen when he loosened his rule with an iron fist; when he allowed the Islamists to obtain seats as independents in the parliament of Egypt in 2005; when he granted the Egyptian media enough freedom to spread rebellious ideas. Maybe becoming more 'democratic' was the main mistake of President Mubarak that led the country into riots and ended in worsen the economical and unstable political situations. People will suggest, and time shall show.

 

Supporters of former President Mubarak pictured protesting outside Tora prison in 2013. Credit to Reuters
Supporters of former President Mubarak pictured protesting outside Tora prison in 2013. Credit: Reuters

 

When Mubarak was freed from the Maadi military hospital in 2017, small crowds of supporters gathered outside his bedroom window in solidarity. This fact already means more than nothing. How many dictators agreed to face a trial and spent years in jail? Unusual fact in case of Hosni Mubarak, to say the least.

 

Hosni Mubarak (L) and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi (R) in Rome, 9 March 2006. Credit to Max Rossi/Reuters
Hosni Mubarak (L) and Italian PM Silvio Berlusconi (R) in Rome, 9 March 2006. Credit: Max Rossi/Reuters

 

Definitely, Hosni Mubarak was no angel but compared to Augusto Pinochet – a dictator of Chile from 1973 to 1990 – the Pharaoh was rather similar to Lucifer Morningstar from the American television series, played by a Welsh actor Tom Ellis. Who has eyes, will see. Who has ears, will hear.

 

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (R) welcomes President Mubarak (L) in Sirte, east of Tripoli, 23 January 2007. Credit to Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi (R) welcomes President Mubarak (L) in Sirte, east of Tripoli, 23 January 2007. Credit: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty Images

 

And who has brains, will think and realise. “Nobody imagines that we can press a button and freedoms will arrive. Otherwise, it would lead the country to chaos and that would be a danger to people,” Hosni Mubarak once said. It is easy to judge someone but tricky to see a real person behind a stereotype wrapped in a media wallpaper.

 

Hosni Mubarak (R) and US President George Bush Sr (L) arrive at the White House in Washington, after spending the afternoon at a baseball game, 4 April 1989. Credit to Doug Mills/AP
Hosni Mubarak (R) and US President George Bush Sr (L) arrive at the White House in Washington, after spending the afternoon at a baseball game, 4 April 1989. Credit: Doug Mills/AP

 

President Hosni Mubarak (L) and US president Bill Clinton (R) in Washington (1996). Credit to Getty Images
President Hosni Mubarak (L) and US president Bill Clinton (R) in Washington (1996). Credit: Getty Images

 

US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (L) and President Hosni Mubarak (R). Credit to The Unz Review
US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (L) and President Hosni Mubarak (R). Credit: The Unz Review

 

US President George W Bush (L) and Hosni Mubarak (R) in 2008. Credit to EPA
US President George W Bush (L) and Hosni Mubarak (R) in 2008. Credit: EPA

 

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, 4 March 2008. Credit to Xinhua/Reuters
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (L) and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (R) at the Presidential Palace in Cairo, 4 March 2008. Credit: Xinhua/Reuters

 

President Hosni Mubarak (L) and US President Barack Obama (R) in August 2009. Credit to Mark Wilson/Getty Images
President Hosni Mubarak (L) and US President Barack Obama (R) in August 2009. Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

 

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets Hosni Mubarak (R) at a hotel in Washington, 17 August 2009. Credit to Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) meets Hosni Mubarak (R) at a hotel in Washington, 17 August 2009. Credit: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

 

US President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) to the White House, 3 April 2017. Credit to Carlos Barria/Reuters
US President Donald Trump (L) welcomes Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) to the White House, 3 April 2017. Credit: Carlos Barria/Reuters