Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, 85, dies; Ruled Egypt after the fall of Mubarak

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the Egyptian general who took over the country when Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign amid the 2011 Arab Sprin...


Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the Egyptian general who took over the country when Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign amid the 2011 Arab Spring uprising, died on Tuesday. He was 85 years old.

His death was announced by the Egyptian presidency. Marshal Tantawi, who had been ill for several months, died in a Cairo hospital, according to a person close to his family.

Marshal Tantawi, Minister of Defense of Mr. Mubarak for twenty years, was chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which took power after Mr. Mubarak’s ouster. Known for his unconditional loyalty to the former president, he oversaw a crackdown on pro-democracy protesters that continued under Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current Egyptian president. General el-Sisi’s government has since revoked many of the freedoms acquired in 2011.

Marshal Tantawi’s death came 19 months after Mr. Mubarak’s death in a military hospital in Cairo.

Mohamed Hussein Tantawi Soliman was born in Cairo on October 31, 1935.

He fought in the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the wars of 1967 and 1973 with Israel. He became defense minister in 1991, two years after Mr. Mubarak deposed Marshal Abdul-Halim Abu Ghazalah, apparently due to his growing popularity.

Marshal Tantawi ruled Egypt for 17 months, from February 11, 2011, when Mubarak resigned, until the election of Mohammed Morsi in June 2012.

After a short honeymoon, relations grew increasingly hostile between the ruling generals and the pro-democracy movement that led the 18-day uprising against Mubarak.

In one of the most violent incidents, in October 2011, armored military vehicles crushed protesters participating in a sit-in outside the headquarters of state television, killing several people. It marked the start of a fierce campaign to crush dissent, resulting in the deaths of dozens at the hands of the security forces in street skirmishes and the arrest of hundreds, many of them civil society leaders.

Youth groups that organized the uprising against Mubarak accused Marshal Tantawi of using the same violent tactics as his predecessor. The dismay at the police brutality had been a rallying cry of the uprising of 2011. But under Marshal Tantawi, the army grew in strength.

Ill-treatment of government detainees continued, many of them arrested on trumped-up charges. More than 10,000 civilians have been sentenced by military courts.

Marshal Tantawi and the army’s Supreme Council had lukewarm support from the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s most powerful Islamist group, before a standoff between the army and the group reached its peak in 2012.

The Muslim Brotherhood has long been oppressed under Mr. Mubarak. The group won the elections held after its fall. They first won a majority in parliament, and then Mr. Morsi won the 2012 presidential elections, becoming the first civilian to hold the post.

But a court dissolved the Muslim Brotherhood-led parliament, and the generals gave themselves legislative and budgetary authority and control over the process of drafting a new constitution. They also put severe limits on the president’s authority just days before Mr. Morsi, who had been a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was sworn in as president in June 2012.

Only two months later, Mr. Morsi took advantage of an attack by militants on troops in the Sinai Peninsula to topple Marshal Tantawi, as well as Chief of Staff Sami Enan. He appointed General el-Sisi, then chief of military intelligence, to the post of Minister of Defense. General el-Sisi will ultimately oversee Mr. Morsi’s removal from power amid new street protests.

Marshal Tantawi is survived by his wife and two sons.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, 85, dies; Ruled Egypt after the fall of Mubarak
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, 85, dies; Ruled Egypt after the fall of Mubarak
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