Study Guide: In depth history of Egypt and Mubarak

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  • Since 1979, Egypt has been the second-largest recipient, after Israel, of U.S. foreign assistance
  • The U.S. has given nearly $67 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt over the last 3 decades


OBAMA Youtube town hall SOT, Jan 27

  • Egypt has been an ally of ours on a lot of critical issues. They made peace with Israel. President Mubarak has been very helpful on a range of tough issues in the Middle East. But I've always said to him that making sure that they are moving forward on reform -- political reform, economic reform -- is absolutely critical to the long-term well-being of Egypt.


  • Mubarak has been an ally of ours in a number of things and he's been very responsible on, relative to geopolitical interests in the region: Middle East peace efforts, the actions Egypt has taken relative to normalizing the relationship with Israel. And I think that it would be -- I would not refer to him as a dictator.


  • JIM LEHRER: Some people are suggesting that we may be seeing the beginning of a kind of domino effect, similar to what happened after the Cold War in Eastern Europe. Poland came first, then Hungary, East Germany. We have got Tunisia, as you say, maybe Egypt, who knows. Do you smell the same thing coming?
  • JOE BIDEN: No, I don't.


  • "The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years will be the one to implement democracy…This is really a farce. I mean, people here could be poor, but they're intelligent.”

HILLARY CLINTON (Fox News sunday)

  • "We have been very clear that we want to see a transition to democracy. And we want to see the kind of steps taken that will bring that about. We also want to see an orderly transition,"

Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami Quote

  • "All these protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Yemen are inspired by Iran's Islamic revolution and these countries are de facto rocked by the aftershock of the Iranian revolution." <>

Aluf Benn, Haaretz Newspaper Editor Quote

  • Jimmy Carter will go down in American history as "the president who lost Iran," which during his term went from being a major strategic ally of the United States to being the revolutionary Islamic Republic. Barack Obama will be remembered as the president who "lost" Turkey, Lebanon and Egypt, and during whose tenure America's alliances in the Middle East crumbled. <>

Pres Jimmy Carter Quote

  • “This is the most profound situation in the Middle East since I left office.” Mubarak -- the man at the center of this storm -- was vice president at the time the peace accord was signed and became president in 1981 when Sadat was assassinated. Carter, 86, called Sadat’s assassination “one of the worst days of my life.” <>


  • Algeria: Thousands have participated in protests over economic problems
  • Egypt: Largest anti-regime protests in at least several decades
  • Palestinian territories: Authorities weakened by massive leak of internal documents
  • Lebanon: Iranian-supported Hezbollah coalition unseated a Western-backed government
  • Jordan: Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets in recent weeks
  • Tunisia : The political turmoil in Egypt follows a month of demonstrations in Tunisia that culminated in the January 14, 2011 ouster of longtime authoritarian president Zine el Abedine Ben Ali and inspired protests in other Arab states
  • Yemen: Large Protests have demanded the resignation of the long-serving and U.S.-backed president. On January 26, 2011, tens of thousands of people demonstrated against the government of President Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for nearly thirty-two years



  • 1963 - 1979, the Shah spent billions of oil dollars on military weapons. The real price of military strength was the loss of popular support. Unable to sustain economic progress and unwilling to expand democratic freedoms, the Shah's regime collapsed in revolution. On January 16, 1979, the Shah fled Iran, never to return.

  • On January 16 1979, the Shah left Iran. Shapour Bakhtiar as his new prime minister with the help of Supreme Army Councils couldn't control the situation in the country anymore. Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Iran on February 1. Ten days later Bakhtiar went into hiding, eventually to find exile in Paris. Processes against the supporters of the Shah started, and hundreds were executed.  On April 1, after a landslide victory in a national referendum in which only one choice was offered (Islamic Republic: Yes or No), Ayatollah Khomeini declared an Islamic republic with a new Constitution <> reflecting his ideals of Islamic government.
  • <>
  • (KT McFarland) Once demonstrations started Carter quickly pulled the rug out from under the Shah. The Shah fell and a liberal pro-democracy became the government, but Carter sat on his hands and did not rush to assist them.  Tragic mistake because that government was quickly and brutally pushed aside by the ayatollahs, US embassy was seized and hostages taken and radical Islam was established in what was once our strongest ally in the region.
  • (Joel Rosenberg) The Shah had his many flaws, no question about it. But Carter’s actions helped trigger the Islamic Revolution and led to the rise of the Ayatollah Khomeini, the loss of an American ally, and the rise of a terror-exporting country that has gained in lethality ever since. We dare not make the same mistakes with Egypt.


  • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak overhauled his government on Monday to try to defuse a popular uprising against his 30-year rule but angry protesters rejected the changes and said he must surrender power.
  • The anger is driven largely by economic frustrations. Egypt has seen a dramatic rise in the cost of living in recent years. While the government has offered food subsidies to help people handle rising prices, many are struggling.

  • Washington has long seen Mubarak as a bulwark in the Middle East, first against communism then against militant Islam.
  • 250,000 protesters, 120 deaths since Jan 24 rioting began. A coalition of opposition groups called for a million people to take to Cairo's streets Tuesday (Feb 1) to demand the removal of President Hosni Mubarak,
  • That frustration was already on record in a report by Clinton's ambassador to Egypt, Margaret Scobey, to Gen. David Petraeus in late 2008 before his meeting with Mubarak. Petraeus was then chief of the U.S. military's Central Command."Mubarak now makes scant public pretense of advancing a vision for democratic change. An ongoing challenge remains balancing our security interests with our democracy promotion efforts <>



  • began his reign in 1941, succeeding his father, Reza Khan, to the throne.
  • In a 1953 power struggle with his prime minister, the Shah gained American support to prevent nationalization of Iran's oil industry. In return for assuring the U.S. a steady supply of oil, the Shah received economic and military aid from eight American presidents.
  • Early 1960s, the Shah announced social and economic reforms but refused to grant broad political freedom. Iranian nationalists condemned his U.S. supported regime and his "westernizing" of Iran.
  • 1963 rioting: Among those arrested and exiled was a popular religious nationalist and bitter foe of the United States, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
  • 1963 -1979, the Shah spent billions of oil dollars on military weapons. Unable to sustain economic progress and unwilling to expand democratic freedoms, the Shah's regime collapsed in revolution.
  • January 16, 1979, the Shah fled Iran, never to return.
  • Came to America for cancer treatment in October 1979


  • Mubarak, 82, was thrust into office when Islamists gunned down his predecessor Anwar Sadat at a military parade in 1981.
  • Mubarak won the first multi-candidate presidential election in 2005 although the outcome was never in doubt and his main rival came a distant second. Rights groups and observers said the election was marred by irregularities.
  • He has not said whether he will run for a sixth six-year term in 2011. Officials have indicated he probably will if he can, although questions about his health after surgery in Germany in March make this a constant subject of debate. If he does not run, many Egyptians believe he may try to hand power to his 47-year-old son Gamal. Both Mubaraks deny such a plan.

((Reuters: Facts about Egypt's President Mubarak; 25 January 2011))



1979 Overthrow of the Shah

In 1941 Shah Mohammed Reza took power and Iran became firmly aligned with the West. Over the next 30 years, there was a buildup of resistance to Reza and his regime of modernization. The economy was worsening and the opposition was staging massive demonstrations. Central to these demonstrations were groups of Islamist students. The Shah fled the country in January 1979. In February 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile and was proclaimed Emam (leader) and a fundamentalist theocracy was installed


  • (AP) A leading Brotherhood figure, Saad el-Katatni, said Sunday that the group was talking to other opposition to form a committee to direct the protest movement. ElBaradei would be a member of the committee, but not necessarily its leader unless the members elect him, el-Katatni said.
  • (AP) "The membership saw that it was the regular Egyptians going into the street and facing the battles, the Brotherhood felt like it couldn't miss the opportunity," said Alexandria journalist Ahmed Aly, who closely follows the group.
  • With the assassination of Sadat in 1981 by a smaller radical Islamist group, the Brotherhood charted a more mainstream course, and in 1987 won many government seats in an "Islamic Alliance" with other parties. Although it remains officially banned, the Brotherhood actively participates, with success, in Egypt’s parliamentary elections, running candidates as "independents" under the slogan "Islam is the Solution."
  • the Brotherhood joined the political Left in opposing Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel, believing the normalization of relations with Israel to be a betrayal of Islam.



  • The exiled Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran in February 1979 and whipped popular discontent into rabid anti-Americanism.
  • October 1979, Ayatollah incited Iranian militants to attack the U.S.
  • On November 4, 1979 the American Embassy in Tehran was overrun and its employees taken captive. The hostage crisis had begun. Of the 66 who were taken hostage, 13 were released on Nov. 19 and 20, 1979; one was released on July 11, 1980, and the remaining 52 were released on Jan. 20, 1981.
  • Khamenei was one of the founders of the Islamic Republican Party, which dominated the Majlis (the national legislature) after the 1979 revolution. He was appointed to the Council of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and between 1979 and 1981 he was a member of the Majlis, serving as deputy minister of defense, commander of the Revolutionary Guard, and representative on the Supreme Council of Defense. He also served several times as general secretary of the Islamic Republic Party.


  • Dr. Mohamed El Baradei is the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) El Baradei was appointed to the office effective December 1, 1997
  • El Baradei was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1942
  • Jan 27: Pro-democracy leader Mohamed ElBaradei returns to Egypt amid a third straight day of demonstrations
  • Mohammed el-Beltagui, a key Brotherhood leader and former Parliament member, said an alliance of the protest's more youthful leaders and older opposition figures had met again in an attempt to assemble a more unified front with a joint committee <>

  • Ayman Nour, an Egyptian politician and leader of the al-Ghad Party, told Al Jazeera that he and his allies have met and agreed to nominate Mohamed ElBaradei as the representative of the movement against Hosni Mubarak.



  • The U.S. president had given lofty and elegant speeches defending democracy and human rights, assuring the people of the Middle East that the United States supported their democratic demands…When the leader tried to use the force of his military to calm the situation, the United States issued ambiguous statements, indicating support for the leader’s desire to establish law and order on the one hand while at the same time insisting that the march of democracy must continue, and that the use of force could not be a solution to the country’s problems <>

  • PRES CARTER: 'I fully expect the Shah to maintain power in Iran and for the present problems in Iran to be resolved. The predictions of doom and disaster that came from some sources have certainly not been realized at all." (12/12/1978 One month before the Shah fled Iran)


  • White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said Egypt remains "a close ally," while stressing the importance of universal rights for the Egyptian people
  • Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement urging restraint and asking the Egyptian government to allow peaceful protests instead of cracking down
  • ElBaradei criticized Clinton and others yesterday, writing that Egypt is confronting "social disintegration, economic stagnation, political repression, and we do not hear anything from you, the Americans, or for that matter from the Europeans


  • A: But both the leader and his American supporters were caught off-guard by the size of the demonstrations. American officials began trying to walk a dangerous tight-rope: offering support for the beleaguered leader but also establishing ties and credibility with the opposition. <>


  • Hillary Clinton: There are many, many steps along the journey that has been started by the Egyptian people themselves," she said. "We wish to support that."
  • Obama yesterday called British Prime Minister David Cameron <> after having phoned Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu <> and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia a day earlier.  In their first public discussion of the protests, Israeli leaders spoke cautiously. "Israel and Egypt have been at peace for more than three decades, and our objective is to ensure that these ties be preserved," Netanyahu said. <>
  • For over a century, Egypt, like Iran, has been a bellwether state for the entire region. The arrival of freedom to Egypt would therefore put the Iranian mullahs on the defensive.
  • President Obama must use all of his persuasive power to demand that Hosni Mubarak immediately declare that he will not seek reelection. The Egyptian dictator must be persuaded to appoint a caretaker government that will handle the daily affairs of the state, headed by a moderate member of the opposition like Mohammed ElBaradei. This might be the last chance to arrange an orderly transition to democracy, one wherein anti-democratic forces in any guise—religious, military, secular, or theocratic—cannot derail the democratic process.

President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak

Detailed background

4 May 1928: born into an upper middle class family, received a military education in Egypt and the Soviet Union.

1950:  Joined the air force

1969:  became air force chief of staff

1972: commander-in-chief with the rank of air marshal

1981: “elected” or took cover president on 13 October a week after Sadat was assassinated

2005: won Egypt’s first ever multi-candidate presidential election.  Elected to his 5th 6-year term as president

((Amended the constitution in 2005 to allow competitive, multi-candidate elections for the first time in Egypt's history))

Egypt’s economic stats:

  • Two thirds of the population is under 30, and that age group accounts for 90 percent of the jobless
  • About 40% of Egypt's population lives on less than $2 a day

(Source: Egypt unrest enters third day, ElBaradei to return, Reuters, 26 January 2011)

  • Despite the relatively high levels of economic growth over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor
  • Approximately 30% of the population is illiterate
  • 2010 est. unemployment rate: 9.7%
  • 20 percent of the population is below the poverty line (2005)
  • 2010 est. inflation rate in consumer prices: 12.8 percent

(Source: The CIA World Factbook - Egypt - <> )

  • Some analysts have unemployment as high as 25 percent
  • Poverty afflicts nearly 40 percent of Egypt's 80 million people

(Source: Fitch downgrades Egypt outlook to negative as violence and protests mount . 28 January 2011, Associated Press Newswires)

U.S. AID to Egypt:

  • Since 1979, Egypt has been the second-largest recipient, after Israel, of U.S. foreign assistance.
  • The United States has provided Egypt with an annual average of $2 billion in economic and military foreign assistance since 1979.
  • The U.S. has given nearly $67 billion in economic and military aid to Egypt over the last 3 decades ($70bn since 1948)

Egypt Under Mubarak

* Mubarak has kept the country under emergency rule for the last 30 years, allowing sweeping powers for the President.

* The Emergency Law restricts many basic rights, empowering the government to tap telephones, intercept mail, search persons and places without warrants, and indefinitely detain suspects without charge if they are deemed a threat to national security.

* Corruption remains pervasive at all levels of government. Egypt was ranked 111 out of 180 countries surveyed in Transparency International's 2009 Corruption Perceptions Index.

* Egypt is not an electoral democracy. The political system is designed to ensure solid majorities for the ruling NDP at all levels of government.

* The rise of Mubarak's 47-year-old ex-banker son (Gamal) within the ranks of the ruling party, however, has become a symbol of his abuse of power.


Fixing Elections

* During parliamentary elections in November and December 2005 there were attacks on opposition voters by security forces and pro government thugs.

* In 2005, Mubarak agreed to a multi-candidate presidential election. He then made his challenger, the secular Ayman Nour, pay with trumped-up charges of fraud and four years in jail.  He is Egypt's best known opposition figure and was released in 2009 after spending 3 years in jail on charges of election fraud.

*Three rounds of parliamentary elections in November and December 2005. Voter turnout was low, and attacks on opposition voters by security forces and pro government thugs abounded. Judges criticized the government for failing to prevent voter intimidation and refused to certify the election results, prompting the authorities to suppress judicial independence in 2006.

* In March 2007, a set of 34 constitutional amendments were submitted to a national vote. The Judges' Club accused the government of ballot stuffing and vote buying. Upper house elections held that June were similarly marred by irregularities, and the Muslim Brotherhood was prevented from winning any seats after authorities detained potential candidates and found spurious reasons to prevent several candidates from registering.

* In 2008 municipal elections, the Brotherhood was again shut out in a similar manner, and the government's ongoing crackdown on the group led to lengthy prison terms for many senior members.

* Ahead of the 2008 municipal elections, the authorities arrested hundreds of would-be candidates and prevented thousands of others from registering.


CENSORSHIP:  Suppressing Freedom of the Press

* Freedom of the press is restricted in law and in practice.

* The state dominates the broadcast media and exercises influence over all privately owned publications through its monopoly on printing and distribution.

* The three leading daily newspapers are state controlled, and their editors are appointed by the president.

* Foreign publications and Egyptian publications registered abroad are subject to direct government censorship. Foreign journalists are sometimes harassed or expelled.

* In October 2009, authorities at Cairo airport prevented Swedish freelance reporter and blogger Per Bjorklund, who often reported on Egypt's labor movement, from entering the country. Several privately owned Egyptian satellite television stations have been established, but their programming is subject to state influence.

* Films, plays, and books are subject to censorship, especially for content deemed contrary to Islam or harmful to the country's reputation. A number of books and movies have been banned on the advice of the country's senior clerics.

Suppressing Freedom of Assembly

* Freedoms of assembly and association are heavily restricted.

* Organizers of public demonstrations must receive advance approval from the Interior Ministry, which is rarely granted.

* Arrested political activists are often tried under the Emergency Law. The 2007 constitutional amendments essentially enshrined many controversial aspects of the Emergency Law, such as the presidents authority to transfer civilians suspected of terrorism to military courts.

* Since military judges are appointed by the executive branch to renewable two-year terms, these tribunals lack independence. Verdicts are based on little more than the testimony of security officers and informers, and are reviewed only by a body of military judges and the president.

* Constitutional amendments passed in 2007 banned religion-based political parties, ensuring the continued suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood.


2009 Human Rights Report: Egypt

* The government's respect for human rights remained poor, and serious abuses continued in many areas.

* The government limited citizens' right to change their government and continued a state of emergency that has been in place almost continuously since 1967.

* Security forces used unwarranted lethal force and tortured and abused prisoners and detainees, in most cases with impunity.

* Prison and detention center conditions were poor.

* Security forces arbitrarily arrested and detained individuals, in some cases for political purposes, and kept them in prolonged pretrial detention.

* The executive branch exercised control over and pressured the judiciary.

* The government's respect for freedoms of association and religion remained poor during the year, and the government continued to restrict nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The government partially restricted freedom of expression.


Mona Thabe

During the year human rights groups and the media documented cases of abuse and harassment of journalists and bloggers who reported on controversial topics. According to multiple NGO sources, police tortured Mona Thabet twice, first on January 19 at a police station in the Shubra neighborhood of Cairo after she filed a complaint regarding the alleged police torture of her husband, and again on February 13 at her home in the same neighborhood. The alleged torture included beating, shaving her head, burning with cigarettes, and cutting. At year's end the government had closed its investigation, citing lack of evidence.

(Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <>)

Amnesty has a photo: <>


Rami Ibrahim

In May 2008, according to multiple NGO sources, police officers in Mansoura tortured by beating and electric shocks 17-year-old Rami Ibrahim to force his confession to the rape and murder of a four-year-old child. On April 25, Mansoura Juvenile Court convicted Ibrahim and sentenced him to 15 years in prison; however, on December 30, an appeals court acquitted Ibrahim.

(Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <>)

Photo here: <>


Magda Adly, and Mona Hamed

On March 28, Damanhur Criminal Court sentenced police corporal Ahmed Antar Ibrahim to six years' imprisonment for his April 2008 assault inside a courthouse in Kafr Al Dawwar on the director of the Al Nadim Center for the Psychological Rehabilitation of Torture Victims and antitorture activist, Magda Adly, and her colleague, Mona Hamed

(Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <>) <>


Alaa Al-Gamal

On July 10 and 11, according to NGO sources, police broke into the home of Alaa Al-Gamal, a journalist from the independent weekly newspaper Sawt Al-Uma who had written articles critical of the government.

(Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <>)


Ibrahim El Sayed Metwally

In March 2008, according to the Al Nadim Center and the Association for Human Rights Legal Aid (AHRLA), police chief of investigations Ali Kedr and officers Hossam Abdel Moneim and Mahmoud Al Deeb of the Menia Al Nasr Police Station allegedly raided the home of private citizen Ibrahim El Sayed Metwally because of a debt he owed. The officers severely beat and verbally abused Metwally's mother and siblings. Metwally's sister claimed the officers detained her, beat her with a stick, and threatened to strip her.

(Source: State Department, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, March 11, 2010, <>)

Countless corporations — from Delta Air Lines, Coca-Cola, and Porsche to UPS and LinkedIn — are calling out the Georgia voting laws, calling them "restrictive," "racist," and "discriminative." Meanwhile, words like "stakeholder" and "equitable" are starting to show up in their arguments.

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(Content Warning: Disturbing content)

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