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Mubarak’s resignation: Behind the scenes

Mubarak’s resignation: Behind the scenes
The victorious protests, organized largely over social media and watched live on television by millions around the world, altered Egyptian politics fundamentally, but not without cost. (AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2020

Mubarak’s resignation: Behind the scenes

Mubarak’s resignation: Behind the scenes

It remains to be seen whether this turning point changed Egypt’s history for the better

Summary

On Feb. 11, 2011, Hosni Mubarak, the former air force officer who succeeded the assassinated Anwar Sadat as Egypt’s president in 1981 and held on to power for three decades, finally resigned in the face of mass popular protests against his regime’s brutality and corruption.

As Arab News reported the following day, “fireworks burst over Tahrir Square and Egypt exploded with joy and tears of relief” at the fall of a man “who until the end seemed unable to grasp the depth of resentment over his three decades of rule.”

The victorious protests, organized largely over social media and watched live on television by millions around the world, altered Egyptian politics fundamentally, but not without cost. Over the 18 days of what became known as the Jan. 25 Revolution, at least 846 people lost their lives and thousands more were injured.

In history, there are certain major events that should stop us and make us think for a long while. We must contemplate them to understand what happened, learn from them, avoid making the same mistakes, and emphasize what we found to be correct. One such day was Feb. 11, 2011, the day the late Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down.

On that day, I was responsible for managing the state media within the Mubarak government. I was not part of the regime in its political sense, but I was a professional employed by the state and had a role to play. I also had many friends in Tahrir Square demonstrating for what they believed in.

This date has gone down in the history of Egypt, and the conditions in which we live today have resulted from it. It was a real turning point in the country’s history, but whether it was for the worse or for the better, only history can decide. What is important is that change has occurred.

I will always remember this day very clearly. In the morning, the streets were filled with angry demonstrators, who were frustrated by Mubarak’s speech the night before. In that speech, Mubarak delegated power to his then-vice president, Omar Suleiman. I knew it would end on that day, but I did not know how.

In the morning, I received a phone call from a leading military figure, who told me that they would shortly need to release news about Mubarak’s intention to leave. I immediately called some media networks to tell them the news. Some reported it, while others avoided doing so. At midday, the president boarded a helicopter that would take him from the presidential palace to El-Nouzha Airport, east of Cairo. From there, he took a presidential plane to his residence in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Key Dates


  • 1

    Demonstrations triggered by police brutality break out across Egypt, with protesters on the “Day of Revolt” calling for Hosni Mubarak’s resignation.

    Timeline Image Jan. 25, 2011


  • 2

    In a televised speech that incites more protests, Mubarak says he won’t resign but “will use the remaining months of my term in office to fill the people's demands.”


  • 3

    Mubarak again refuses to resign, proposing instead only to delegate some powers to vice president Omar Suleiman.

    Timeline Image Feb. 10, 2011


  • 4

    Suleiman announces Mubarak’s resignation and transfer of power to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

    Timeline Image Feb. 11, 2011


  • 5

    Mubarak is ordered to face trial, accused of the murder of peaceful protesters.


  • 6

    Conservative Islamist and Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi is elected president.


  • 7

    The trial begins of Mubarak, his two sons and others charged with corruption and the premeditated murder of protesters.

    Timeline Image Aug. 3, 2011


  • 8

    Mubarak is sentenced to life for not halting killings of protesters.


  • 9

    An appeal court overturns his life sentence and orders a retrial.


  • 10

    The court orders Mubarak’s release after two years in prison; he is placed under house arrest.


  • 11

    Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, the former head of Egypt’s armed forces, is elected president with a landslide win.


  • 12

    Mubarak is sentenced to three years, and his sons to four, after being found guilty of embezzlement.


  • 13

    The highest appeal court clears Mubarak of conspiring to kill protesters.


  • 14

    Mubarak, now 88, is freed after having spent six years in custody.


  • 15

    Mubarak dies, aged 91, in Cairo. On El-Sisi’s orders he is buried with full military honors.

    Timeline Image Feb. 25, 2020

This was the first time since the crisis began that Mubarak was alone without his wife, children or even his advisers. As soon as he arrived at his residence, at about 1.30 p.m., he called Defense Minister Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. It was a short telephone conversation, during which Mubarak said: “Hussein, I have decided to delegate full responsibility to you and the army. You are now in power.” Tantawi replied: “No, Mr. President, we will find another way. This was not what we wanted.” Mubarak said: “No, this is my decision. Speak to Omar Suleiman and make arrangements to announce this news to the public.”

Minutes later, I received a phone call from one of my army sources informing me that Suleiman was in a meeting with the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. They were preparing an official statement to inform the nation of Mubarak’s resignation. The president wanted it to be a short statement, so Suleiman and Tantawi sat down to write it together. They decided Suleiman should read the statement, rather than a member of the army, so that it did not give the impression the president had been ousted by a military coup.

“The country has erupted in joy. The traffic has stopped. People are out of their cars, kissing and embracing, screaming, laughing and crying. Egypt is jubilant.”

Somayya Jabarti on Arab News’ front page, Feb. 12, 2011

About an hour after that, the army’s spokesperson, Ismail Atman, arrived at my office. After I greeted him, he opened his coat and pulled out something from the inside pocket, saying: “I have the statement.” He added: “I will wait here with the tape until I receive orders to broadcast it. They are still waiting for (Mubarak’s sons) Gamal, Alaa and their families to leave.”




A page from the Arab News archive showing the news on Feb. 12, 2011.

It was strange. We were — literally — sitting on the biggest story in the world that day. We had to sit and chat indifferently, waiting for the next stage. We waited, and Atman phoned the council every few minutes. It was not long before he received news that Gamal and Alaa had arrived at the airport and were waiting for their mother, Suzanne. When she finally arrived at the airport, Atman received instructions to broadcast the announcement, so the two of us headed to the studio, which was two floors below my office.

It was strange. We were — literally — sitting on the biggest story in the world that day.

Abdellatif El-Menawy

Despite the fact the walk there took less than a minute, it felt like it took forever. We entered the control room, put the tape in the machine and pressed the play button. The film was 37 seconds long. Emotions began to overwhelm us. The statement was simple: “In the name of Allah the Merciful… Citizens, in these difficult circumstances the country is going through, President Mohammed Hosni Mubarak has decided to step down as president of the republic and tasked the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces with managing the affairs of the country. God bless.”

When the statement was broadcast, the country was in a state of clamor and excitement. But, during the years since that day, this clamor may have turned into questions, which everyone continues to ask each other.

  • Dr. Abdellatif El-Menawy, a columnist for Arab News, was responsible for managing the state media in Egypt on the day Mubarak stepped down. Twitter: @ALMenawy

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks
Updated 9 min 17 sec ago

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks

US contractor leaves Iraq base over rocket attacks
  • At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor have been wounded
  • Baghdad sent its national security adviser to Balad base last week to try to reassure the American firm

SAMARRA: US contractor Lockheed Martin has withdrawn its staff from an Iraq base where it had been maintaining the Iraqi army’s F-16 fighter jets, military sources said, after a spate of rocket attacks.
At least five attacks have targeted the Balad air base, where other US companies including Sallyport are also present, since the start of the year.
At least three foreign subcontractors and one Iraqi subcontractor have been wounded.
The attacks are rarely claimed, and when they are it is by obscure groups that experts say are a facade for Iran-backed Iraqi factions.
“On Monday morning, 72 Lockheed Martin technicians left,” a high-ranking Iraqi military official told AFP, while a second confirmed the move.
“The technical team in charge of maintenance of the F-16s left the Balad base for Irbil,” the capital of Iraq’s Kurdistan region, the first source added, requesting anonymity.
Baghdad had sent its national security adviser Qassim Al-Araji to the Balad base last week to try to reassure the American firm, days after the latest salvo.
Tahsin Al-Khafaji, spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, said Lockheed Martin would “continue to advise the Iraqi air force, even remotely,” citing contractual obligations.
The United States has provided Iraq with 34 F-16s, all stationed at Balad. It has also trained Iraqi pilots, while American contractors have been in charge of the fleet’s upkeep.
Irbil was long considered safer than the rest of Iraq, but the situation has changed recently and Washington has deployed a C-RAM rocket defense system as well as Patriot missiles there, as it has done in Baghdad to protect its troops and diplomats.
In mid-April, pro-Iran fighters sent an explosives-packed drone crashing into Irbil airport in the first reported use of such a weapon against a base housing US troops in Iraq.
The Pentagon has warned that attacks against the US-led coalition rose in the first three months of this year.
“In Iraq, Iran-aligned militias increased their attacks targeting coalition positions and assets this quarter, prompting a temporary departure of US contractors supporting Iraq’s F-16 program,” it said in a report to Congress released earlier this month.


Iraq’s president meets Saudi deputy defense minister in Baghdad

Iraq’s president meets Saudi deputy defense minister in Baghdad
Updated 21 min 4 sec ago

Iraq’s president meets Saudi deputy defense minister in Baghdad

Iraq’s president meets Saudi deputy defense minister in Baghdad

Iraq’s President Barham Salih receives Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman in the capital, Baghdad, Al Arabiya reported on Tuesday.

Developing...


France says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal

France says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal
Updated 37 min 52 sec ago

France says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal

France says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal

France’s foreign ministry says a great deal still needs to be done to revive Iran nuclear deal in very short timeframe.

More to follow ...


’It’s all a lie’: hesitancy hampers vaccine drive in war-scarred Syrian area

’It’s all a lie’: hesitancy hampers vaccine drive in war-scarred Syrian area
Updated 45 min 51 sec ago

’It’s all a lie’: hesitancy hampers vaccine drive in war-scarred Syrian area

’It’s all a lie’: hesitancy hampers vaccine drive in war-scarred Syrian area
  • Consignment of 54,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Idlib at April’s end, the first batch for opposition-held Syrian territory
  • The challenge in Idlib goes beyond doubts about vaccines as some question whether the virus itself is a threat

IDLIB: In northwest Syria, where health care is rudimentary and those displaced by war are packed into squalid camps, the arrival of vaccines to fight COVID-19 should have been cause for relief.
Instead, a UN-backed vaccination campaign has met with suspicion and mistrust by an exhausted population, who feel betrayed by their government and abandoned by the international community after a decade of conflict that ruined their lives.
“It’s all a lie, even if the dose is for free I wouldn’t take it,” said Jassem Al-Ali, who fled his home in the south of Idlib province and now lives in Teh camp, one of many in a region controlled by opponents of the Damascus government.
Youssef Ramadan, another camp resident who lived under bombardment for years, echoed the doubts. “Will we be like sheep who trust the herder until they are slaughtered?” he asked.
A consignment of 54,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in Idlib at the end of April, the first batch for opposition-held Syrian territory, delivered through the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX. Inoculations started on May 1.
“There is a large amount of hesitancy and what made it worse is everything in the media continuously about AstraZeneca and blood clots,” Yasser Naguib, a doctor who heads a local vaccine team working in opposition-held areas, told Reuters.
Similar concerns about the coronavirus vaccine have slowed the rollout in Europe and elsewhere amid worries about rare cases of blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca shot.
Most governments have said benefits far outweigh the risks, although some have restricted it to certain age groups. But the challenge in Idlib goes beyond doubts about vaccines. Some question whether the virus itself is a threat.
“If there really was coronavirus in Idlib you would hear about tens of thousands of people getting it,” said 25-year-old Somar Youssef, who fled his home in Idlib’s rural Maara region.
Naguib said it was challenging to convince people fasting during Ramadan to take a shot when they can’t take oral medication for any side effects, such as a fever. Eid Al-Fitr, marking the end of the Muslim month, starts this week.
“We are optimistic that after Eid it will be better,” he said, adding that a 55-strong team was working to raise awareness about virus risks and vaccine benefits.
At the same time as doses from COVAX landed in Idlib, 200,000 shots arrived in Damascus, part of the World Health Organization campaign to inoculate about 20 percent of Syria’s population, or 5 million people across the nation, this year.
Officials have not given any indication about take up in government-held areas, where Damascus also aims to use vaccines from Russia, the government’s military ally, and China.
In Idlib, Naguib said 6,070 people out of around 40,000 health care and humanitarian workers on a priority list had been vaccinated by May 9. But even some health care workers are wary.
A Reuters witness saw just seven out of 30 medical workers receiving vaccines on the first day of a campaign at one Idlib medical center. Initially, only three had volunteered.
“As a director of the kidney dialysis unit, I was the first one to get the vaccine and I wanted to encourage the rest, who were scared because of all the rumors about it,” said Taher Abdelbaki, a doctor at another clinic, the Ibn Sina medical center.
By the end of 2021, two more COVAX vaccine batches are expected to arrive in Idlib to inoculate about 850,000 people in a region of about 3.5 million people, a target that leaves the region’s vaccination teams with much work to do.
“We will not be their lab rats here in the north,” said Abdelsalam Youssef, a community leader in Teh camp.


Joshua set to fight Fury in Saudi Arabia in August, says promoter Eddie Hearn

The all-British fight between Anthony Joshua (L) and Tyson Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title will take place in Saudi Arabia, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. (AFP/File Photos)
The all-British fight between Anthony Joshua (L) and Tyson Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title will take place in Saudi Arabia, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. (AFP/File Photos)
Updated 44 min 16 sec ago

Joshua set to fight Fury in Saudi Arabia in August, says promoter Eddie Hearn

The all-British fight between Anthony Joshua (L) and Tyson Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title will take place in Saudi Arabia, according to promoter Eddie Hearn. (AFP/File Photos)
  • Hearn, who represents Joshua, said the fight is likely to take place on Aug. 7 or Aug. 14

LONDON: The all-British fight between Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury for the undisputed world heavyweight title will take place in Saudi Arabia, promoter Eddie Hearn said on Tuesday.

Hearn, who represents Joshua, said the fight is likely to take place on Aug. 7 or Aug. 14. He said Aug. 14 is his preferred date because the Olympic Games in Tokyo will have finished, making the Joshua-Fury fight a bigger “global spectacle.”

“It’s a very bad secret that the fight is happening in Saudi Arabia,” Hearn told British broadcaster Sky Sports. “To be honest with you, I don’t mind giving you that information.”

Fury’s US promoter, Bob Arum, has previously said Saudi Arabia would be the location of the fight.

Hearn has yet to respond to AP requests to confirm the details of the fight.

READ MORE

On a rainy night in Diriyah in 2019, Anthony Joshua regained his world heavyweight titles after a unanimous points decision from the judges over Andy Ruiz Jr in an epic night of boxing in Saudi Arabia. Read how it happened here.

It would be Joshua’s second fight in the kingdom. He reclaimed his WBA, IBF and WBO belts from Andy Ruiz there in December 2019.

Joshua’s only fight since saw him retain his titles by knocking out Kubrat Pulev in December.

Fury hasn’t fought since beating Deontay Wilder in February last year to capture the WBC title.

Fury and Joshua have called each other out over Twitter over the last 24 hours, both urging the other to finalize terms for the fight.

Hearn said the “deal is done” but there was frustration on both sides that the fight had not been officially announced.

“From our perspective and AJ’s perspective, we’re ready to go,” he said. “From Tyson Fury’s perspective, they’ve got a couple of lawyers across it from their point.

“We have to nail this,” Hearn added, “and I’m not going to stop until I nail it, and everyone has just got to move forward collectively. We’re ready to go from our side. We’re not far away from their side and it is inevitable.”