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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid