Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is Egypt's defense minister and chairman of the military council that took power on Feb. 11, 2011, after weeks of unrest directed at President Hosni Mubarak. He is currently the country’s de facto leader.
The handover capped a two-week period in which the country's powerful armed forces had sought to finesse a growing crisis, trying not to alienate a restive public while delaying as long as possible a break with Mr. Mubarak, who had put all of the military's top leaders into their positions, including Mr. Tantawi.
The military then consolidated its control over what it has called a democratic transition from nearly three decades of authoritarian rule, dissolving the feeble Parliament, suspending the Constitution and calling for new elections.
The initial euphoria with which Egyptians greeted the military takeover has cooled considerably, especially among those who had been most active in the protests. In April, tens of thousands of angry demonstrators turned out in Tahrir Square here for one of the largest demonstrations since the former president, Hosni Mubarak, stepped down on Feb. 11. The protest was being called the “Friday of Warning.”
The military has seen its standing as defender of the revolution called into question by actions that reflect the authoritarian tactics of the past rather than a blueprint for a democratic future, many said. The military’s critics say that it is either unwilling or incapable of ushering in an era of true democratic reform, an end to corruption and the abolition of abusive police practices.
For the first time, Mr. Tantawi personally and publicly became the focus of the crowd’s ire as speakers called him a dictator and demanded that he resign.
It is Field Marshal Tantawi, perhaps more than any other single person, who is now driving events in Egypt, and he has a long-established record of support for Mr. Mubarak’s priorities, chiefly an emphasis on Mr. Mubarak’s watchword of “stability,” according to government documents and people who say they have worked with him. Before he visited the United States in 2008, the American Embassy in Cairo sent a cable to Washington describing him as “aged and change-resistant,” while also “charming and courtly.”
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK; MONA EL-NAGGAR CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. Long-suppressed sectarian animosities have burst out with increasing ferocity since the end of former President Hosni Mubarak’s police state. May 9, 2011
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK; MONA EL-NAGGAR CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. Egypt is planning to open the blockaded border with Gaza and normalizing relations with two of Israel and the West’s Islamist foes, Hamas and Iran. April 29, 2011
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and LIAM STACK; MONA EL-NAGGAR CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. Prosecutors said on Wednesday they had detained former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons for 15 days to face questioning about corruption and the use of violence against protesters. April 14, 2011
By NEIL MACFARQUHAR; LARA EL GIBALY and LIAM STACK CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. Disenchantment with the military was the focus of many speeches and chants in Tahrir Square on Friday, where protesters lamented the lingering aspects of the old regime. April 2, 2011
By ELISABETH BUMILLER; NEIL MACFARQUHAR CONTRIBUTED REPORTING FROM CAIRO. Lt. Gen. Sami Hafez Enan has become a crucial link for the United States as it navigates the rocky course ahead with Egypt. March 11, 2011
By SHARON OTTERMAN; LIAM STACK CONTRIBUTED REPORTING FROM CAIRO, and J. DAVID GOODMAN FROM NEW YORK. Egypt’s leaders took high-profile steps to reassure Egyptians and signal to foreign leaders that the move to full civilian rule would be rapid. February 22, 2011
By ANTHONY SHADID; KAREEM FAHIM CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. Joining others across Egypt pressing demands for better wages and conditions in protests that have sent the economy reeling, hundreds of workers went on strike Thursday along the Suez Canal. February 18, 2011
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and KAREEM FAHIM; MONA EL-NAGGAR and DAWLAT MAGDY CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. The eight-member body, which is made up of jurists, includes a Coptic Christian and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. February 16, 2011
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK; DAWLAT MAGDY, MONA EL-NAGGAR and LIAM STACK CONTRIBUTED REPORTING. The Egyptian military moved to clear the last protesters from Tahrir Square on Monday, news reports said, as the armed forces consolidated their control over what it has called a democratic transition. February 15, 2011