Air Marshal Ahmed Shafiq is the former commander of the Egyptian Air Force. He was a fighter pilot and was responsible for the major overhaul of EgyptAir making it now a strong viable carrier.
Born in Cairo in 1941, Shafiq gained notoriety as a fighter pilot, and is a veteran of 4 wars; the Yemen War (1962 – 1970), the Six-Day War (1967), the War of Attrition (1967 – 1970), and the Yom Kippur War (1973).
During the Yom Kippur War with Israel, his commander was Mubarak. During the famous Mansoura Battle over the Sinai Desert, he gained fame by downing 2 Israeli jets.
Shafiq has served in several top military command roles, most notably Chief of Staff and Commander for the Air Force.
Appointed president by Mubarak to appease protesters, he was replaced after a few weeks. Disliked by revolutionaries of all political persuasions, who regard him as a holdover from the last regime. Although he was disqualified from standing last month, his candidacy was reinstated on appeal. He has suggested that he is the military’s favoured choice.
Context is important in a political process that seems increasingly flawed and lacking in independence. Egypt’s military controls large parts of the economy, despite its promise to withdraw. It influences the state media. A large part of the judiciary and key institutions in the transition process, including the electoral commission, are suspected of being unduly influenced by the generals.
The reality is that the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) is a dominant, unspoken presence not only in Egypt’s presidential elections but in its new political system. All parties are forced to negotiate the generals’ continuing presence – and, increasingly, they are judged by how they do that.