Mubarak's Rise to Power (02:31)
Egypt's political system is based on personalized power and military rule. Hosni Mubarak became president after Anwar Sadat's 1981 assassination, and focused on restoring political and social stability.
Releasing Political Prisoners (02:35)
Mubarak freed dissidents that had opposed Sadat's peace treaty with Israel, but continued negotiations and began rebuilding bridges with the Arab World. Interior minister Abu Basha advocated political unity.
Mainstreaming Islamic Politics (02:40)
Mubarak was an army officer, but allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to run for parliament under the liberal Wafd Party— an improbable coalition. Prime Minister Fouad Mohieddin worried they would get a large vote, but they won 14% of seats.
Supporting Jihadist Organizations (02:26)
The Muslim Brotherhood was unable to pass legislation; young members left the party. Mubarak urged them to go to Afghanistan— ridding Egypt of agitators and supporting the U.S. against the Soviet Union.
Arming the Mujahideen (01:42)
Mubarak resisted official involvement in Afghanistan, but Egypt depended on the U.S. The U.S. wanted to avoid open Cold War confrontation; Charlie Wilson convinced Egypt to send Soviet stockpiles to the jihadists.
Abu Ghazala's Growing Power (03:24)
General Abu Ghazala facilitated American-Egyptian military cooperation and rivaled Mubarak in popularity. In 1986, he took initiative and repressed the Central Security riots without Mubarak's orders.
Privatizing the Public Sector (02:33)
When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, Egyptian troops joined the U.S. In return, the U.S. canceled Egypt's foreign debt— requiring state enterprises to come under private ownership. Many factories were converted to luxury apartments; production stalled.
Military Enterprises (02:59)
Privatization consolidated power and money, without benefiting working classes. New business tycoons competed with army projects that had special privileges. These included jurisdiction over desert land and freedom from government oversight. Mubarak juggled both interests.
Muslim Brotherhood Social Services (03:07)
Most Egyptians lived below the poverty line. As Mubarak cut subsidies and public spending, the Islamist organization opened hospitals. After a 1992 earthquake, they distributed emergency supplies and set up shelter. The government was slow to respond, exposing corruption.
War on Afghan Returnees (02:47)
After an assassination attempt on Prime Minister Atef Sedki, the government sought to block jihadists from entering the country. Interior minister Zaki Badr ordered security forces to assassinate Islamists, escalating violence and terrorist attacks on foreign tourists.
Turning Against the Ikhwan (02:32)
Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya condemned the Luxor Massacre in 1997, leading to a terrorist ceasefire. The Muslim Brotherhood had gained political ground; Mubarak began arresting members, claiming they planned to establish an Islamic state in Egypt.
Islam Becomes the Enemy (02:55)
After 9/11, the U.S. turned to Mubarak for support. The Egyptian government began gathering intelligence for American counter-terrorism efforts, including secretly participating in the extraordinary rendition policy and torturing suspects.
Abu Omar's Story (02:45)
Under the extraordinary rendition policy, hundreds of Islamists were detained without trial in the hunt for Al-Qaeda. An Egyptian preacher residing in Italy was transferred to Egypt and tortured for two years. Under the umbrella of fighting terrorism, Mubarak was exempt from justice.
Succession Questions (04:06)
Mubarak groomed his son Gamal for presidency. The military was against this idea, but the U.S. supported it. Gamal planned to liberalize Egypt politically and economically and tried to form a party to compete with the ruling NDP, but was advised to reform from within.
"New Thinking" Policy (03:05)
Gamal Mubarak championed internet and media freedom and advocated ending the patronage system. The NDP's old guard balked at reform but in 2004, businessmen joined parliament. The army felt sidelined and wanted a military officer to succeed leadership, rather than creating a Mubarak dynasty.
"Enough" Campaign (02:06)
With failing health, Hosni Mubarak delegated tasks to Gamal. As 2005 parliamentary and presidential elections approached, civil society demonstrated against family succession.
Footage of central security forces suppressing protests circulated the internet. Mubarak made a constitutional amendment allowing multiple presidential candidates. Ayman Nour's campaign and arrest highlighted regime corruption. Mubarak was reelected to a 5th term.
Egyptian Political Deals (02:10)
Anti-regime protests intensified before the 2005 elections. To relieve tension, Mubarak conceded space to the Muslim Brotherhood. Parliamentary seats were secretly agreed upon in advance; the Brotherhood got 88 seats and promoted moderate ideas.
Torture and Corruption (02:27)
The Bush administration believed the Egyptian regime's repression bred extremism. Internet freedom and smart phone footage exposed human rights abuses. Hear how corrupt deals appeared legitimate on paper.
Salam Ferry Tragedy (02:07)
In February 2006, a passenger vessel sank between Saudi Arabia and Egypt, killing 1,033. The incident exposed corruption; owner Mamdouh Ismail was on the ferry regulation committee. He fled the country and was acquitted in 2009.
Egyptian Uprising (04:31)
Mubarak ran for a sixth term in 2010; the regime won 100% of parliamentary seats. When Khaled Said was killed for resisting arrest, citizens protested police brutality. On January 15, 2011, thousands marched on Tahrir Square, calling for an end to the regime.
Credits: Egypt's Modern Pharaohs: Mubarak (00:58)
Credits: Egypt's Modern Pharaohs: Mubarak
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