Mubarak, Muhammad Hosni Said

Mubarak, the fourth president of Egypt, was born in Minufiya, a governorate of Egypt, on 4 May 1928. Upon completion of high school, he joined the EgyptianMilitaryAcademy, where he received his Bachelor Degree in Military Sciences in 1949. In 1950, he joined the Air Force Academy at Bilbeis, and earned his Bachelor in Aviation Sciences. He was then assigned to the bombers squadrons. He is married to Suzanne Thabet, and they have two sons – Alaa and Gamal.

Part of his pilot’s training he received at the Soviet pilot training school in Frunze (now Bishkek) in Kyrgyzstan and from then on his career moved up the command chain. He was a pilot, instructor, squadron leader, and base commander. In 1964 he became the head of the Egyptian Military Delegation to the USSR, and was appointed as the Commander of the Western Air Force Base at Cairo West Airfield. He served as an instructor at the AirAcademy, and commanded Egypt’s bomber force during the Yemen civil war in the sixties. He was then appointed director of the AirAcademy in 1967, and was given the task of rebuilding the air force, which was destroyed by the Israelis in the Six Day War of June 1967.

After serving in various military posts – Director of the Air Force Academy and Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Air Force, he was appointed chief commander of the Egyptian Air Force and Deputy Minister of war in 1972. Mubarak was credited with great achievements at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War (also known as the October War) war with Israel in October 1973. Following this and the 10th Ramadan War, he was promoted to the rank of Air Marshal.

In April 1975 he was appointed Vice-President of Egypt, and in 1978, he was became the Vice-Chairman of the National Democratic Party (NDP). In this capacity he controlled Egyptian intelligence services, and was involved in the planning of Egypt’s Middle East and Arab policy. Apart from this, he became the chief mediator in the dispute between Morocco, Mauritania, and Algeria regarding the future of the Western Sahara. As the Deputy of President Sadat, he gained valuable experience in foreign affairs especially as it included many trips to other countries, including Syria, Iraq, the United States, and China. It pointed and paved the way to the crucial talks leading to the 1978 Camp David Accords – i.e. agreements signed by Egypt and Israel that ended years of conflict. Following President Sadat’s assassination in 1981, this experience made it easier for him to become an effective leader of his country.  He took over the Presidency on 14 October 1981, and was the Chairman of the National Democratic Party.

In the elections of April 1987 his National Democratic party maintained overwhelming control of the Egyptian legislature despite continued Muslim opposition to the government’s policy on Israel. After recording 97 percent of the popular vote in an October referendum, he began his second term as president.  Mubarak was later re-elected by majority votes in 1993, and 1999 – three consecutive terms. On becoming President he resumed diplomatic relations with other Arab states and Egypt regained status. Egypt was readmitted into the Arab League in 1989, and soon Mubarak was elected chairman of the Organization of African Unity (now African Union). He kept most of his predecessor’s foreign and domestic policies, which included the Camp David treaty as well as Sadat’s close ties to the USA and Russia.

All the way through the 1980s he revitalized the Egyptian economy. He increased the production of affordable housing, clothing, medicine, and furniture. He also saw to it that his officials toed the line. He even fired ministers at the first indication of wrongdoing, and members of parliament were fined for uncalled for absences. His country’s significant dependence on aid from the USA aid as well as its desire for U.S. pressure on Israel for a Palestinian settlement, was sustained under Mubarak. After the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he deployed forty-five thousand Egyptian troops as part of the multinational force in defence of Saudi Arabia. His tough stance won international admiration, and his party won a sweeping legislative victory in November. Plots to assassinate Mubarak had surfaced in 1992, 1993, and 1995, subsequent to two policemen, which were killed in another attack against the president.

Since he took office, Mubarak has and been the driving force behind development throughout the Mid-east. More important, he has been pivotal in regional peacekeeping efforts. In 2000 he became the first Egyptian head of state since 1952 to visit Lebanon. He also continued his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. During meetings with foreign prominent political figures he urged them end the violence for the benefit of the entire region. Late in 2001 he ordered hundreds of Islamic militants to stand trial in Egyptian courts for participating in terrorist activities.

A restriction in the Egyptian Constitution provided that no one runs against the President in an election. Following increased domestic and international pressure for democratic reform in Egypt he requested his parliament to amend the constitution. During February 2005 the amended constitutional made provision for parties to directly run against the incumbent president. He was nontheless re-elected.

There came a downward change regarding Mubarak’s popularity, which led to a dramatic drop in support. It happened when news broke that his son, Alaa, was favoured in government tenders and the privatization process. Rumours were compounded when second son, Gamal, began to rise within the National Democratic Party. Due to Gamal’s progress and influence, rumours about him being prepared for the presidency became common, but the rumours were denied by Mubarak.

Mubarak is very active in international politics. He spoke out against the 2003 war on Iraq, and he inter alia served as Chairman of the G-15, Chairman of the Arab Summit, and Chairman of the Organization of African Unity “OAU. In some instances he served for more than one term.