CAIRO: Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian leader and the face of stable authority in the Middle East for almost 30 years before being forced out of power in the Arab Spring uprising, died Tuesday, as per state-run television. He was 91 years old.
Mubarak was a faithful US ally, a defense against Islamic militancy and Egypt peacekeeper with Israel. Yet he was also a latter-day pharaoh and an emblem of autocratic misrule to the hundreds of thousands of young Egyptians who gathered for 18 days in massive street protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and elsewhere in 2011.
However, his overthrow sent the country into years of chaos, and formed a power struggle that he had long forbade between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Two and a half years following Mubarak’s ouster, Abdel Fattah el-Sissi led the military overthrow of the first freely elected president of Egypt and held back freedoms that were gained during the 2011 uprising.
According to State TV, Mubarak passed away at a Cairo hospital where he had undergone an unknown surgery. The report stated that he had medical complications but refrained from providing details.
El-Sissi offered condolences and praised Mubarak’s efforts during the 1973 war with Israel. He announced a three-day mourning period starting Wednesday.
“The Presidency mourns with great sorrow the former President of the Republic, Mr. Mohammed Hosni Mubarak,” he said in a statement.
It referred to Mubarak as “one of the leaders and heroes of the glorious October war, as he assumed command of the Air Force during the war that restored dignity and pride to the Arab nation.”
Israel Prime Minister Bejamin Netanyahu expressed sorrow over Mubarak’s passing.
“President Mubarak, a personal friend of mine, was a leader who guided his people to peace and security, to peace with Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Mubarak “spent his life serving his homeland and the issues of righteousness and justice in the world, with the issue of our Palestinian people at the top of them.”