Mubarak's long-time defence minister Tantawi dies at 85

He was Egypt's de facto ruler for 17 months after Hosni Mubarak stepped down in 2011

Former Egyptian defence minister Mohammed Hussein Tantawi died on Tuesday. He was 85.

Field Marshal Tantawi served under the late president Hosni Mubarak for 20 years before he became Egypt’s de facto ruler when Mubarak was forced out by a popular uprising in 2011.

He remained at the helm for nearly 17 months before he handed power to Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was elected president in June 2012.

Morsi sacked Tantawi in August 2012, replacing him at the defence ministry with Abdel Fattah El Sisi, then the head of military intelligence. Mr El Sisi led the military’s removal of Morsi in July 2013 amid a wave of street protests against his divisive rule. He was elected president a year later.

Tantawi fought in Egypt’s 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the 1967-1970 so-called war of attrition against Israel, and in the 1973 war, when Egyptian troops stormed the Suez Canal to liberate the Sinai Peninsula from Israeli occupation.

“He was a leader and a statesman who took over at the nation’s helm at a very difficult time during which he faced with wisdom and professionalism the dangers that surrounded Egypt,” the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.

“President Abdel Fattah El Sisi offers his condolences to the nation on a man who had heroic qualities,” it added.

Egypt will now see a nationwide three-day state of mourning. President El Sisi led mourners when a military funeral was held for the late field marshal outside a suburban mosque named after him in east Cairo.

Updated: September 21st 2021, 2:23 PM