Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Cop on the Banks of the Nile

by Foud Ajami

Wall Street Journal
July 26, 2010

He was there on the reviewing stand on Oct. 6, 1981, when the assassins struck down his flamboyant predecessor, Anwar Sadat. Few thought that Hosni Mubarak, an unassuming military officer, would survive the tumult of Egypt's politics. The country was on the boil, the assassins who took Sadat's life had been brazen beyond imagination. They had stormed the reviewing stand on the eighth anniversary of the October War of 1973. Lt. Khalid Islambouli, the leader of this band of assassins, told Mr. Mubarak to get out of the way for they had come only after "that dog."

Mr. Mubarak was spared that day, and still, three decades later, he rules. Rumors of poor health swirl around him, and the Egypt he has dominated for so long is a crowded, broken country. "I shot the Pharaoh," Lt. Islambouli said, without doubt or remorse. He and his band of plotters had no coherent plan for the seizure of power. They would kill the defiant ruler, for them an apostate, make an example of him, and hope that his successors would heed his fate.