Once a seemingly permanent fixture of Middle Eastern politics, the strongman was brought down in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

For decades, few figures were as prominent on the Middle Eastern stage as Hosni Mubarak.

Until his rule abruptly ended in February 2011, the former air force general seemed untouchable as the president of Egypt. For years preceding his demise, plans were reportedly in the works for his son Gamal to take over the country, effectively making him the patriarch of a dynasty.

Born in Munifiya in 1928, Mubarak’s choice of career would set him on the path to Egypt’s top job.

After joining the airforce, Mubarak trained as a pilot, eventually taking command of Egypt’s air force during the 1973 Arab-Israeli war.

Despite the eventual defeat, Mubarak’s fighters’ performance impressed the military high command and the officer was duly appointed Air Chief Marshal.

His induction into government followed soon after when then-President Anwar Sadat appointed him vice president.

During the latter years of Sadat’s reign, Egypt underwent a dramatic shift in its foreign policy. 

The Egyptian president signed a peace deal with Israel in 1979, thereby politically isolating the country from the rest of the Arab world.

It’s a decision that cost Sadat his life in 1981, clearing the way for Mubarak to take the reins of power.

With Sadat gone, the former air force general set about establishing his own legacy defined by his style of pragmatism.

His first major foreign policy commitment was to back Saddam Hussein’s war against Iran with the deployment of military advisors and the supply of arms.

That relationship proved short-lived, however, as Mubarak joined the international coalition to expel Iraqi forces from Kuwait after Hussein’s invasion of the state.

The decision cemented Mubarak and Egypt’s role as a major US ally with Cairo serving as a major mediator in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

With that position came billions in American aid and support for the Egyptian military.

Domestic woes

Success on the international arena did not result in success at home though, as the January 2011 uprising demonstrated.

Mubarak was able to hold on to power for so long only due to the repressive tactics of his security forces.

Opposition groups, whether they were liberals, such as Ayman Nour, or religious, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, were subject to state persecution and rigged elections.

The weight of running such a repressive society could only be borne for so long and the eventual collapse came after a wave of protests took hold in countries across the Middle East.

After massive crowds set up camp in the heart of Egypt’s capital and Egypt’s security forces were unable to chase them away with deadly violence, Egypt’s military finally made its move, forcing Mubarak to step down on February 11.


After his fall, Mubarak was put on trial for charges related to the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution and for corruption during his reign.

In June 2012, he received a life sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters but he would not remain in prison for long. By January of the next year, his conviction was overturned, remaining in custody until renewed charges were tried.

In July 2013, Egypt’s first democratically elected President Mohamed Morsi was overthrown in a counter-revolutionary coup and the following month Mubarak was released from detention.

After several years of legal back and forth over the 2011 killings, Mubarak was finally released in 2017.

His final years were spent in obscurity but with much of the state he helped mould, intact.

Source: TRT World