Former longtime Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak has died at 91-years old at a military hospital in Cairo, his family announced Tuesday. Egyptian state TV also later announced his death. He underwent surgery in late January, after which he remained in intensive care.
He had ruled Egypt for just under three decades, enduring would-be assassins and as a US ally crushing radical Islamist movements and upholding the peace treaty with Israel which had been signed by his assassinated predecessor Anwar Sadat.
For maintaining the Camp David Accords he received billions of dollars in military aid from the United States, cementing Egypt as a key US regional ally behind Israel and second biggest recipient of American military and foreign aid.
Mubarak was arguably the most powerful Arab leader whose rule was swept away by the 2011 Arab Spring protest movement. He was forced to step down days after mass protests in neighboring Tunisia brought down the government there, and as at times violent protests began spreading across Egypt. This led to the brief rule of democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood politician Mohamed Morsi, also overthrown in a military coup led by Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Morsi later died in prison, while most of the charges against Mubarak stemming from the Arab Spring crackdown were later overturned, leading to his release from prison in 2017. In total some 900 protesters were believed killed by security services during the protests under Mubarak's last months in office.
Isn’t it fascinating that Hillary’s gushing, personal praise for Mubarak — which translated into concrete aid of all types: military, economic & diplomatic — was never a 2016 campaign issue?— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 25, 2020
Maybe outrage over dictator-praise is feigned the real issue is whether they’re pro-US? pic.twitter.com/vzWM9Fwj2w
Mubarak had also long been accused of corruption, with constant speculation in the media as to the true level of his wealth, with estimates ranging from a few billion dollars to up to $70 billion.
In 2011 just after he was deposed, ABC News tried to pin down what he had stashed in foreign banks based on intelligence sources:
Newly deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his family have a fortune of $1 billion to $5 billion stashed in foreign banks, according to U.S. intelligence estimates — a significantly lower figure than most recent estimates of the wealth accumulated by Mubarak during his 30 years in power.
Some experts have estimated that the Mubarak family has a net worth as high as $70 billion, while others have reported $40 billion, but U.S. intelligence sources told ABC News that the real number is probably much lower.
After news of Mubarak's passing, US media pundits began debating his legacy, with many mainstream journalists remembering the pro-US strongman fondly.
ABC: “a fortune of $1 billion to $5 billion stashed in foreign banks.”— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) February 25, 2020
Amnesty: “Frequently reported methods included beatings, electric shocks, prolonged suspension by the wrists and ankles in contorted positions, death threats and sexual abuse.”https://t.co/AAbYpoTW9F https://t.co/SK5zxKR40M
However, others took them to task. For example The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald noted past presidential candidates were let off the hook for fawning over their favorite dictators, with Mubarak previously topping the list.
Greenwald asked rhetorically, "Isn’t it fascinating that Hillary’s gushing, personal praise for Mubarak — which translated into concrete aid of all types: military, economic & diplomatic — was never a 2016 campaign issue?"
And futher, he said, "Maybe outrage over dictator-praise is feigned the real issue is whether they’re pro-US?"