Former Egyptian dictator and Western ally Hosni Mubarak dies

The former long-serving Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has died in Cairo at the age of 91 in a military hospital.

Mubarak, a key Western ally, spent three decades in office before a popular uprising swept Egypt in 2011 and ousted him from power.

He underwent surgery in late January and his son, Alaa, said on Sunday that the former president remained in intensive care.

Egypt’s presidency said in a statement that it mourned Mubarak’s death as a “military leader and war hero” and offered its condolences to his family.

The former air force officer will be buried in a military funeral but the timing is still unclear, a military source told Reuters news agency.

Born in 1928, Mubarak entered the air force as a teenager and went on to play a key role in the 1973 Arab-Israeli war. In fact, Mubarak became a national hero with reports that the Egyptian air force dealt a substantial blow to Israeli forces in Sinai during the war.

He became president less than a decade later following the assassination of President Anwar Sadat.

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Throughout his rule Mubarak was a stalwart United States ally, a bulwark against armed “Islamist” groups, and guardian of Egypt’s peace with Israel.

But despite the billions of dollars in military aid Egypt received from the U.S. during his time in office, unemployment, poverty and corruption continued to grow. Discontent boiled over in January 2011 and Mubarak was forced to step down.

Just over a year after Mubarak’s overthrow, Mohamed Morsi, an Muslim Brotherhood politician, won Egypt’s first democratic presidential election. But the new president lasted less than a year in office – amid mass protests, he was ousted in a military coup led by Gen Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

In 2012, Mubarak was sentenced to life imprisonment over the deaths of some of the 900 protesters who were killed by security forces during the uprising a year earlier. Both he and his two sons were also convicted of corruption.

But the more serious charges against Mubarak were later overturned and he was released in 2017. The acquittal stunned many Egyptians, thousands of whom poured into central Cairo to show their anger against the court.

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