In the second part of his leaked memoirs, published in serial form in the Egyptian daily newspaper Rose al-Youssef, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak focuses on the people who had the largest influence on his life and with whom he established the closest ties, both personally and politically and inside and outside Egypt.
Mubarak tells the story of his marriage to Suzanne Thabet, later known as Suzanne Mubarak, who he knew through her brother Mounir Thabet. Mubarak says he liked her “calm beauty” and the fact that she was the daughter of a British mother and an upper Egyptian father.
Suzanne, writes Mubarak, was a very jealous woman and drained him financially as she would make him buy many things on installments because she had wanted to feel equal to his colleagues’ wives. To be able to secure the expenses they needed, Suzanne had to work as a teacher on a small salary.
But their problems were not just financial. Suzanne, Mubarak explains, would get bored because his job required his absence from the house 21 days a month. They fought a lot and many times he was on the verge of divorcing her. It was her pregnancy with his oldest son Alaa, he adds, that made him decide to stay in the marriage.
Suzanne also was not on good terms with his family and used to ignore his mother and was not keen on visiting her in his hometown in the Delta governorate of Monufia.
Mubarak drops a bombshell when he reveals that late Parliament Speaker Refaat al-Mahgoub was assassinated by the State Security Bureau for his constant criticism of the interior minister and his demands that the bureau’s powers be curtailed.
Mubarak explains that he did not put State Security officers involved in the assassination on trial because there wasn’t enough evidence against them and because he did not want anything to threaten national stability.
In his memoirs, Mubarak defends fugitive business tycoon Hussein Salem and absorves him of one of the main charges leveled against him: bribery in return for monopolizing the export of natural gas to Israel.
Mubarak admits that he is the one responsible for the natural gas deal with Israel and not Salem. He also gives credit to Salem, who owns several resorts in the Red Sea city of Sharm el-Sheikh, for putting the Sinai Peninsula on the world’s tourism map.
Mubarak also examines his relationship with late defense minister Mohammed Abdul Halim Abu Ghazala who, he says, remained his friend even after he left the ministry and whose advice he always sought until his death in 2008.
Omar Suleiman, former head of intelligence and vice president for a brief period following the January 25 protests, was the closest to Mubarak and the only one who could argue with him in public.
The memoirs reveal the special relationship Mubarak had with former Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Binyamin Ben-Eliezer who he paid a monthly salary of $25,000 from the presidency budget. Only Chief of Presidential Staff Zakaria Azmi, Mubarak adds, knew about this.
According to Mubarak, there was nothing wrong with maintaining a close relationship with Ben-Eliezer since many Arab heads of state used to hire Israeli and Jewish political advisors.
He cited the example of late Moroccan King Hassan II who had a Jewish senior advisor, André Azoulay, who has remained in the same position since his son the incumbent King Mohamed VI came to power.
Mubarak also comments on his relationship with several U.S. presidents and especially praises Ronald Reagan who, he says, played a major role in stabilizing Egypt after the assassination of the late president Anwar Sadat in 1981 and Mubarak’s ascension to power in 1982.
Mubarak adds that his relationship with U.S. presidents that succeeded Reagan was not as strong. As for current president Barrack Obama, Mubarak states that he holds him accountable for what happened to him and his family after the January 25 revolution.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)