As the verdict was read out, sentencing Hosni Mubarak to life in prison, an earthquake shook the ground not too far from the Sinai resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where the former president preferred to while away his days during his last decade in power.
A verdict that has seemingly appeased nobody has shrouded Egypt’s future in even more uncertainty at a delicate time on the brink of handover from overt military rule to an elected president. For while Mubarak and his interior minister Habib el-Adly got life, his sons and Adly’s aides were completely exonerated.
The streets of Egypt are brewing with discontent in response to a “politicised” verdict: protests in Cairo, Alexandria and Suez are already at full pelt and will increase as the searing summer sun winds down. Egypt is currently in the midst of a presidential election runoff slated for mid-June between Mubarak’s prime minister during the revolution, Ahmed Shafik, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. The two candidates that made it to the second round have been roundly criticised as the two options the majority did not want. Read more…
Like many a dictator, Hosni Mubarak had an obsession with being remembered in the annals of history, and during his staid and miserable reign he tried ever so diligently to latch onto something that would stand the vaunted test of time.
Abdel-Nasser had the 1952 coup, Arab nationalism and the nationalization of the Suez Canal; Sadat had the 1973 war and the subsequent peace process, along with the Nobel prize. Hosni struggled to find something on the same level. Even his self-titled moniker Batal el Harb wal Salam (Hero of War and Peace) came off the coattails of his predecessor.
So what did Hosni have during his tenure as President? There was no war against Egypt, no national crisis through which his leadership would shine; all he had to boast about were conferences and infrastructure projects (his reign was often jokingly referred to as the age of tunnels and bridges).
I remember a bizarre advertisement during one of his farcical reelection campaigns which compared the number of phone lines in Egypt when he assumed power in 1981 to the then current number, along with other comparisons which I have thankfully forgotten (possibly something like number of sewage pipes). As if these things wouldn’t have happened if not for his direct supervision and vigilance; as they seemingly were not just a natural result of the advancement of time and would have happened anyway.
It always cracked me up, the impression that was promoted that these things only seemed to happen because of Hosni’s endeavors, like he personally got down in the trenches and soldered cables together. Indeed, it seemed the sun rose each day thanks to his fortitude and benevolence, an idea that the folks at Al Ahram would not have batted an eyelid over publishing on their front page. Read more…