Wednesday, 03 September 2014  -  08 Thul-Qedah 1435 H

Ahmad Shafiq … GCC-backed bet for Egyptian presidency

Saudi Gazette
AHMAD Mohamed Shafiq, born November 1941, is a former senior commander in the Egyptian Air Force and politician who served as prime minister of Egypt from January 2011 to March 2011. He succeeded Ahmad Nazif, was replaced by Essam Sharaf under President Mubarak. Observers assess Shafiq to be a leading candidate for the presidency though he has yet to announce formally his candidacy. Foreign observers believe that Shafiq and Suleiman (to be reviewed Sunday) are the two winning cards the military council keeps close-to-vest in the light of current disputes with the Islamist groups over full handover of power to a civilian government.
Throughout the years, Shafiq has maintained good contacts within GCC diplomatic circles. Contrary to Amr Moussa who called for Iran’s involvement in regional politics, Shafiq fully adopts GCC views on the necessity to check Persian advancement in the region, fully supported call for international forces coalition to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, supports global call to impose international checks on the Iranian nuclear program and is an avowed advocate of economic and political sanctions against Iran.
After a career as a fighter pilot, squadron, wing and base commander, Shafiq was the Commander of the Egyptian Air Force from 1996 to 2002, reaching the rank of Air Marshal. Thereafter he served in the government as Minister of Civil Aviation from 2002 to 2011.
He was appointed prime minister by Mubarak on Jan. 29, 2011 after a popular unrest making him the last prime minister to serve as part of Mubarak’s administration. Amidst rapidly changing political situation, he remained in office only for a month, resigning on March 3, 2011.
Early life
Shafiq was born in Cairo in November 1941. After graduating from the Egyptian Air Academy in 1961, he joined the Egyptian Air Force (EAF) at the age of 20. Later in his career, he gained a master’s degree in Military Sciences and a PhD in the National Strategy of Outer-Space.
Military career
As a young officer, Shafiq served as a fighter pilot and was later appointed as fighter air squadron commander. During the War of Attrition (1967–70), Shafiq saw active service as the Multi-Task Airwing Commander. Subsequently he took up a post as an air base commander.
During the 1973 October War, Shafiq was a senior fighter pilot under Mubarak’s command. It is believed that Shafiq shot down two Israeli aircraft during the war on Oct. 14, 1973.
During his 40 years of service in the Egyptian Air Force as a fighter pilot, he flew several types of fighter jets including the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-17, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19, Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 and the Dassault Mirage 2000, he also acted as the wing commander for the Egyptian Air Force acrobatic team. He is also fully qualified on the American-built McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and the General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon.
In 1984 Shafiq was appointed a military attaché in the Egyptian Embassy in Rome. He continued in this role until 1986. During 1988 to 1991, Shafiq served several military senior command positions before being appointed as the Commander of the Air Operations Department.
In September 1991, Shafiq was appointed as the Air Force’s Chief of Staff, holding this position until April 1996, when he became Commander of the Egyptian Air Force. In 2002, he was appointed minister of civil aviation and was succeeded by his chief of staff Air Marshal Magdy Galal Sharawi.
Political career
As a civil aviation minister, Shafiq tackled some of the major problems at the national carrier EgyptAir, upgraded Egyptian airports management and infrastructure and improved relations with domestic and international private operators and international regulatory authorities.
Shafiq undertook an ambitious restructuring plan for EgyptAir and managed to achieve a turnaround in the company’s performance. EgyptAir became a Star Alliance member in 2008.
Shafiq is also considered to have effectively modernized the Egyptian airports, transforming the Cairo International Airport into a regional hub through the inauguration of Terminal 3 in 2008 and bringing its annual capacity to 22 million passengers. Sharm El-Sheikh International Airport reached an annual capacity of 8 million passengers after opening Terminal 2.
In the course of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, Shafiq was named prime minister on Jan. 29. However, his premiership was to be short-lived, lasting just over a month, as he resigned due to pressure from protesters and the opposition. They had objected to Shafiq staying on as PM, having been seen as one of Mubarak’s old guard. Shafiq was believed to have been a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces that took over power after Mubarak’s departure on Feb. 11, 2011. Shafiq was succeeded by Essam Sharaf.
On 10 July, Shafiq made his first public appearance since resigning; he attended the graduation ceremony of the Egyptian Air Force Academy class along with the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
Shafiq is viewed holding a moderate view of the role of Islam in public life, willing to listen to both arguments and is capable of proposing conciliatory stances. His Facebook pages gives plenty of support for his personality such as: “I watched you last night… you are great strong man that I really wish you will (be) the coming president for Egypt. I will support you and make Dua’ for you.”
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