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Mubarak, Muhammad Husni Sa'id

MUBARAK, MUHAMMAD HUSNI SA'ID

MUBARAK, MUHAMMAD HUSNI SA'ID (1928– ), third president of *Egypt, following Abdul *Nasser and Anwar *Sadat. A successful career officer in the Egyptian air force and its commander (since 1972), he was appointed vice president of Egypt (1975) and vice chairman of the National Democratic Party (1978). Eight days after Sadat's assassination (on October 6, 1981), Mubarak was elected as chairman of the National Democratic Party and president of Egypt – confirmed by a countrywide referendum. He was re-elected by referenda in 1987, 1993, and 1999 and then by popular vote on September 7, 2005, for a fifth term, defeating (with more than 75% of the votes) nine other candidates for the presidency. This was a sign of democratic processes being gradually introduced into Egypt. Meanwhile, until this unusual development, President Mubarak, using the authoritarian system of government inherited from his predecessors, promised to cure some of the worst ills facing the country, but with moderate success only. Corruption continued to affect the bureaucracy. The economy improved in the early 1990s with the help of massive U.S. aid (rewarding Egypt for supporting the U.S. with 40,000 troops in the 1991 Gulf War), but 16% of its 77 million population (in 2005) lived below the poverty line and unemployment was still very high (reaching 25% of the labor force, according to unofficial data). Mubarak also contended with the specter of Islamic fundamentalism and limited its political activities in Egypt; for example, the Muslim Brethren were not allowed to set up a political party, while Mubarak's spokesmen accused them and their fellow-travelers of supporting terrorism, thus delegitimizing them.

Mubarak and his regime have not displayed enmity to the tiny Jewish community (about 200 souls in 2005, residing in *Cairo and *Alexandria), but they have not prevented or condemned the publication of books and articles or the propagation of films accusing the Jews in Egypt and elsewhere of blood-libels, plots, and intrigues. Similar accusations against the State of Israel abound in the press and are supported by the elites, chiefly the unions of writers, lawyers, and others. As for Mubarak's government, it insisted on maintaining a "cold peace" with Israel, calling back its ambassador from Tel Aviv and openly siding with the Palestinians in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, there were signs, also, of a mild rapprochement in 2004–5, probably conditioned by Israel's disengagement from the *Gaza Strip and Mubarak's wish to score points with the U.S.: a bilateral gas deal (lucrative for Egypt) was signed with Israel and, in September 2005, 750 Egyptian border guards started patrolling, at Israel's request, the Philadelphi Road between Sinai (which is part of Egypt) and the Gaza Strip. Still, some thorny issues remained to be solved.

bibliography:

L.C. Harris (ed.), Egypt: Internal Challenges and Regional Stability (1988); A. McDermot, Egypt from Nasser to Mubarak: A Flawed Revolution (1988); R. Springborg, Mubarak's Egypt: Fragmentation of Political Order (1989); Charles Tripp and Roger Owen (eds.), Egypt under Mubarak (1989); R.W. Baker, Sadat and After (1990); M.M. Ahmad, Hiwār maʿa al-Ra'īs (1991); A. al-ʿAzīm Ramadān, al-Sirāʿ al-ijtimāʿi f ī 'asr Mubārak (1993); M.A. Hai, Economic Reform in Egypt (1993); N.A. Fattah, Veiled Violence: Islamic Fundamentalism in Egyptian Politics in 1990s (1994); M. Kharbouch (ed.), al-Tatawwur al-siyāsī fi Misr 1982–1992 (1994); M. Khalifa, Socioeconomic Aspects of the Economic Reform Policies in Egypt (1996); M. Zaki, Egyptian Business Elites (1999); E. Kienle, A Grand Delusion: Democracy and Economic Reform in Egypt (2001); N. El-Mikawy and H. Handoussa (eds.), Institutional Reforms and Economic Development in Egypt (2002); H. al-Awadi, In Pursuit of Legitimacy: The Muslim Brothers and Mubarak 1982–2000 (2004).

[Jacob M. Landau (2nd ed.)]

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