News / Middle East

    Hosni Mubarak Brought Stability to Egypt, At a Price

    Egyp't President Hosni Mubarak speaking on television (file photo)
    Egyp't President Hosni Mubarak speaking on television (file photo)

    Multimedia

    Jane Friedman

    After a speech Thursday in which President Hosni Mubarak said he would stay as President, anti-government demonstrators ramped up their protests, surrounding government buildings in Cairo and elsewhere.  On Friday, tension continued to mount. In the evening Cairo time, Vice President Omar Suleiman delivered the news the protesters had been waiting for.  Suleiman announced President Mubarak had stepped down.

    Hosni Mubarak's presidency was born during one of the most terrifying events in Egypt's history:  the assassination of then President Anwar Sadat, at a military parade in 1981.  Mr. Hosni Mubarak was vice president and escaped unscathed.  The assassins were Islamic extremists in the army.

    "I was in the stands when Sadat was assassinated, watched Mubarak get out from a pile of chairs, shake the dirt off his hat and was totally stunned by what had just happened," recalled David Ottaway who was Washington Post Bureau Chief in Cairo at the time.

    Mr. Mubarak was sworn in as president eight days later. Ottaway describes him as stubborn and says he never really seemed interested in building a relationship with foreign media.

    "He was always taciturn," said Ottaway.  "His answers were somewhat cryptic and you quite didn't know what he meant when he spoke. He offered no real vision other than stability for his country."

    Fast forward 30 years.   For most of those years Egypt was stable.  Cairo played an important role in maintaining an Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty that was unpopular with Egyptians and other Arab countries.  

    Egypt was eventually accepted back in the Arab fold.  The Mubarak government worked to advance the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.  It was a close ally of the United States.  

    But many say stability came at a high price.  Prominent voices were imprisoned for criticizing Mr. Mubarak.  Despite heavy security, the president was the target of several assassination attempts.  

    In the most recent parliamentary elections, the president's National Democratic Party crushed the opposition amid credible allegations of voter intimidation and vote rigging.  Leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the most popular opposition movement, faced constant arrest and extended detentions.  

    Recently, Mr. Mubarak's apparent grooming of his son Gamal as his successor drew resentment from average Egyptians. And economic reforms widened the gap between rich and poor, according to Ottaway, now at the Woodrow Wilson Center.   

    "Economically, the reforms they began in 2004 produced tremendous results because the GDP of Egypt more than doubled in four years between 2004 and 2008," Ottaway noted.  "So the economy was booming, but the people at the bottom were not benefitting from the economic boom. That's the background to the turmoil taking place now."

    Then came Tunisia, and the revolt there.  Egyptians wondered why they couldn't do the same.

    The protests began January 25 and expanded across the country, igniting labor protests and strikes.  Mr. Mubarak's naming Omar Suleiman as vice president failed to calm the protesters.  Entrenched in Tahrir Square, they demanded he resign.  On February 11, he stepped down.

    NEW: Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora