News / Africa

Mubarak Had Been Egypt's Symbol of Stability For Years

For decades, Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak had been a symbol of stability in the Middle East, but an iron ruler at home.  

Mubarak, 84, held power for nearly 30 years, and like many Arab leaders of his time, placed friends and family in positions of power. He appeared to be grooming his son, Gamal, to succeed him until 18 days of protests in early 2011 drove Mubarak from power.

It was an almost unthinkable political end to the man who was the only president many Egyptians knew.

The son of a justice ministry official, Mr. Mubarak attended Egyptian military academies and became a pilot and later the director of Egypt's Air Academy. After the Six Day War with Israel in 1967, Mr. Mubarak was responsible for rebuilding Egypt's air force.

President Anwar Sadat named Mubarak his vice president in 1975, giving Mubarak access to foreign policy decisions including the 1978 Camp David accords with Israel.

Mubarak Follows Sadat

Mubarak succeeded Sadat following his assassination in 1981.

With huge financial incentives from the United States, Mubarak remained committed to the Camp David treaty, despite misgivings about dealing with Israel. He also mended relations with Arab nations that had shunned Egypt for its overtures to Israel.

To keep the peace at home, Mubarak instituted emergency laws to protect the country's stability and security. The "emergency" lasted for decades.

And that security came at a price, with rights groups and opponents claiming widespread torture.

When Islamic extremists killed Egyptians and foreign tourists, Mr. Mubarak cracked down.  But in doing so, he also marginalized moderate Islamists, alienating their supporters. Many accused him of corruption.

Growing Discontent

Some say it was the grooming of his son Gamal as his likely successor that proved the final straw. His critics say that act may have triggered the decline in public opinion that ultimately forced Mr. Mubarak out of office.

Despite his promises not to run for re-election, Egyptians in 2011 demanded more radical change in the wake of the Arab Spring movement that swept the region.

Amid violent protests, a defiant Mr. Mubarak resigned from office on February 11, 2011.

Mubarak and his family fled to his Red Sea resort home.

In April 2011, Mubarak and his two sons were detained for an investigation of corruption charges and their role in violent reprisals against demonstrators.

As his trial began in August, Mubarak was brought to court on a stretcher to face charges of economic corruption and illegal killing of protesters. He pled innocent. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

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