A military funeral was held on Tuesday for Minister of State for Military Production Mohamed Said Al-Assar who died the previous day at the age of 74. The funeral was led by President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi in his capacity as supreme commander of the Armed Forces.
Just two weeks ago, President Al-Sisi promoted the late minister of state to the rank of “honorary lieutenant-general” and bestowed the Nile sash, the third highest emblem of merit awarded for outstanding services to the state. In addition, one of the main thoroughfares inaugurated by the president to mark the 30 June Revolution was named after Al-Assar as a tribute to his contributions to national development and his military record.
In his personal tribute to the late minister, President Al-Sisi lauded him as a model of dedication and selflessness in the service of the nation. “He spared no effort for its sake. He was in the forefront of Egyptians who rose to the defence of their nation in crucial and critical moments in its history.”
Born on 3 June 1946, Mohamed Said Al-Assar had a long and distinguished career in the Armed Forces. He fought in the War of Attrition that followed the June 1967 War and then in the October 1973 War as an officer in the missile brigade. After serving in several managerial positions in Air Defence Security, he became assistant director of research for the Armament Authority, and subsequently director of the Armament Authority, deputy minister of defence for armament affairs, and technical research and foreign affairs adviser to the minister of defence.
A member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces he rose to prominence in the public eye as a leader when SCAF assumed the management of national affairs following the 25 January 2011 Revolution. In his public addresses he frequently underscored the army’s intent to hand over the reins of government to an elected civil authority.
Following the popular uprising of 30 June 2013 that ousted the Muslim Brotherhood, he played a leading role in the conduct of Egypt’s bilateral relationship with the US. He left a major mark on Egypt’s armaments programme as it moved towards greater diversification in arms supplies, joint production activities, and expansion in domestic military manufactures. His imprint could be seen clearly in Egypt’s first defence exposition, EDEX 2018.
The Ministry of Military Production is also indebted to Lieutenant General Al-Assar for his pioneering efforts in helping it expand civilian manufacturing to complement its defence industry. He contributed to dozens of national projects in infrastructure development, educational services and health. Indeed, when the Covid-19 pandemic struck, his ministry was crucial to manufacturing and distributing essential supplies and other health sector requirements.
After a long career of dedication to the Armed Forces and his country, Lieutenant General Al-Assar will be remembered as a fighter, a statesman, a leader who rose to the challenges of difficult times and who helped steer the development of the Egyptian Armed Forces.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 9 July, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly