The Demise of a Controversial Leader

Sonia Harim

By Sonia Harim

Hosni Mubarack, 91 in the picture, during one of his last public appearances. Credits: Il Fatto Quotidiano

This 25th February marked a bittersweet lap for Egyptians. Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak passed away without being held accountable for his actions during the Arab Spring in Egypt, back in 2011.

Egypt is one of the Middle East’s pillars, and as such, has often undergone critical events in order to keep itself stable – while the society has often been the victim of this condition.

In these last decade, the MENA (Middle East, Northern Africa) region saw most of its decades-long rulers fall: Gaddafi, Mubarak, Bouteflika and Al-Bashir, for example. Even though there are those who rebel against tyranny, there are some who need to identify the president as what’s familiar, a strong-man savior, and are willing to indulge his corruption and oppression.

Why did this happen, in the first place?

The origin of the known fierce Middle Eastern nationalism could be, for most of the countries, the Ba’ath movement and its evolution from pan-Arabism and its socialist chore. Those were movements for the people, after monarchies or foreign rule had kept them stuck. Then, the leaders came. Who would have thought that Hafez Al-Assad, the father of Bashar Al-Assad, could be considered a hero after he established a totalitarian regime under the Ba’ath’s control? 

Those leaders, that were originally for the people and from the people, ended up becoming a paternal figure,  that was doing what was “best” for its citizens: like what was said about Hafez Al-Assad “his wisdom was beyond the comprehension of the average citizen”. That is one of the reasons why leaders in the Arab world tried to remain in power in spite of revolutions and their people suffering from economic and political corruption. That’s the reason why so many people in the Arab world remain with the head down: most for fear, and some because the government, the regime, the system, may be something way bigger than them, that cannot be modified.

Since the Arab Spring began, the estimated deaths have been over 61,000. There are some that still defend the dictators that hardened their co-citizens’ lives, because they need a “leader”, they need “order”, or because they benefit from it. And that’s exactly what some new leaders in the Middle East do: they have to stay in power, at whatever price, because that’s what’s good for the people. The nationalist flag still makes some fall into the trap. It’s just a card game, where people just watch and pay the price while the leaders mostly get away with their crimes, peacefully.  


Recommended readings

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/arab-spring-protesters-reflect-hosni-mubarak-legacy-200226101640185.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/world/middleeast/mubarak-legacy-egypt.html

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