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Tue, Feb 25, 2020 7:07

Hosni Mubarak dies at 91

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Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s autocratic former president who ruled with an iron fist for three decades before being toppled during the Arab spring protests in 2011, has died aged 91.

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s autocratic former president who ruled with an iron fist for three decades before being toppled during the Arab spring protests in 2011, has died aged 91.

Mubarak became a symbol of thuggish and brutal authority after taking power in 1981 following the assassination of Anwar Sadat. His reign was marked by the emergence of a paranoid and cruel police state supported by a network of sprawling military businesses and corrupt crony businessmen. Many Egyptians see echoes of Mubarak’s style of leadership in their current leader, the former general Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

The former president’s family said he was recently taken to hospital and had entered intensive care following an operation to remove a stomach tumour.

A statement from the office of the Egyptian presidency praised Mubarak’s record as a war hero for the 1973 war against Israel, naming him “one of the leaders and heroes of the glorious October war”.

“He assumed command of the air force during the war that restored dignity and pride to the Arab nation,” it said.

Egypt’s armed forces also 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,” they said.

US administrations had showered him with billions of dollars, viewing him as a bulwark against regional terrorism and a key driver of “cold peace” with Israel. But unemployment and poverty continued to grow, and in 2011 he was toppled in the Arab spring uprisings that began in Tunisia.

Mass protests overtook Tahrir Square in central Cairo and other major Egyptian cities to demand an end to Mubarak’s time in power. His cronyism, corrupt leadership and his security forces’ cruel treatment of the Egyptian populace galvanised a generation to demand change. Protesters called for “bread, freedom and social justice” and an end to military rule.