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Ibrahim El-Orabi

Ibrahim El-Orabi Egyptian lieutenant general

Egyptian lieutenant general
Ibrahim El-Orabi
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Egyptian lieutenant general
Was Military personnel Lieutenant general Lieutenant
From Egypt
Type Military
Gender male
Birth 20 May 1931, Gharbia Governorate, Egypt
Death 18 September 2019, Cairo, Egypt (aged 88 years)
Star sign TaurusTaurus
M.V. Frunze Military Academy
Egyptian Military Academy
The details


Ibrahim Abdel Ghafour El Orabi (Arabic: إبراهيم عبد الغفور العرابي‎, [ˈʔɪbrahiːm ʕæbdel ˈɣafuːɾ el ʕoɾæːbi]); 20 May 1931 – 18 September 2019) was an Egyptian Army Lieutenant General and the 13th and former Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces. He was a member of the Free Officers Movement as defined by the Egyptian revolution of 1952, which led to King Farouk abdicated to his son King Ahmed Fouad II, until announced the establishment of the Republic in 1953. He began his military career at the end of the forties and witnessed all Arab-Israeli wars and all the political volatility that passed by Egypt since the 1948 Arab–Israeli War to the Yom Kippur War where he was one of its heroes. He previously served as the 7th Chief of Operations of the Armed Forces. Prior to that, he served as Commander of the Second Field Army, as Commander of the 21st Armored Division, as Commander of the Arab Forces in Iraq, and as Commander of the Egyptian Armoured Corps deployed in the North Yemen Civil War. As the Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces, Orabi was formerly the second highest-ranking military officer in all of the Egyptian Armed Forces. Orabi assumed his former assignment on 16 July 1983. Best known for severe discipline and rigor.

His Birth

Orabi was born in Gharbia in 1931 for a famous family.

A number of his family members are leading men. He is the relative of Ali Zaki El Orabi Pasha, Minister of Public Knowledge and Minister of Transportation and Communications, and Head of the Parliament of Egypt in the period (7 May 1942 – 19 Dec 1944) and (17 June 1950 – 10 Dec 1952) during the reign of King Farouk I of Egypt, and brother of Nabil El Orabi, former Egypt's Ambassador to the Russian Federation, and the relative of Mohamed Orabi, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt.

His Interests

And there during his childhood began to appear his military inclinations when he sees along with his friends British Army convoys coming from Alexandria going near their village on farm roads to escape from the German Air Force and that during the period of the beginning of World War II in the end of the thirties, in this historic juncture formed his character this resulted to his desire to enter the Egyptian Military Academy and has already achieved his wish. For this he was always in advanced standings in the college and then graduated in 1950 and he went to the armored corps training to specialize as an Armor Officer.


He was among the children of his family who received formal education before Egypt know free education, he received a Bachelor of Military Science from the Egyptian Military Academy in 1950, Master of Science from M. V. Frunze Military Academy in Moscow, and a Master of Science from the College of Military commanders and Staff, PhD in Military Science from Nasser Military Academy, Fellow of the Higher War College.

The beginnings of his career

He began service in the Egyptian Cavalry Corps and learn on the hands of great leaders and in this period began the formation of the Free Officers Movement and was with him in the corps of the Free Officers Abdel Fattah Ali Ahmed (Rest In Peace) and was present also Hussein El-Shafei but did not speak with them in politics and through Tharwat Okasha he joined the Free Officers and participated in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

His participation in the revolution of 23 July 1952

23 July night was the date of the move agreed at twelve o'clock at the site of the military technical institute located now in Abbasid and told him Hussein Shafei: Go now to control the intersection in front of the general command of the army. Have not gone two minutes until came El-Damanhori and said to them: Be aware of Heshmat Bek entered the Armored Corps. He was brigadier-general, the commander of the armored brigade and was characterized by a strong character and they were loving and respecting him very much because he was among educated officers and this man if he had been able to enter Corps he would have spoiled everything. Hussein Shafei said: Go out and caught him. He took with him the power that consisted of two carriages and Pickup where soldiers and two armored. During approached of the gate where the road was too narrow not accommodate the passage of two cars stood Heshmat Bek's car and got out of it and he was wearing civilian clothes and came down to him and said to him: If allowed Afendim do not enter the corps and he knew him so he asked him: What is this Orabi? He told him he has orders. In this moment arrived Hussein Shafei and Tharwat Okasha who was carrying a machine gun without safe. The brigadier-general Heshmat looked at him and said : and you also Tharwat and took him with them and he went to the road intersection and controlled it. The 13th battalion has moved from Almaza where began the clash, which happened in front of the Command for ten minutes, which was done by Youssef Seddik. The commands allow officers from the rank of lieutenant colonel to below, and arrest officers from the rank of colonel to higher.

Cavalry Corps Crisis, 1954

After the revolution, the situation has evolved into general cavalry crisis in 1954. He was one of opponents of the action of anti-freedom and democracy pursued by the Revolutionary Command Council for this he was arrested in prison of foreigners in 1954 when he opposed these measures with a group of cavalry armor officers. What is important it happened to him the first arrest and was placed in foreigners prison at Egypt Station Square on the orders of President Gamal Abdel Nasser and they were more than twenty cavalry officers and after a week in prison they took them to investigation by Zakaria Mohieddin who did not find anything against him, and came out of prison he went to corps and resigned and told him go to Major General Ali Gamaleddin who was brigadier-general at that time and was a very respectable figures and intellectuals educated, and was commander of the armored forces at that time and gave him his resignation. He asked him: Why? He said to him: I can not imagine that an officer kept in prison and placed him guard like criminals, and then can continue in the armed forces. However, they brought him back to the armed forces.

His participation in the War of 1956

In the Suez Crisis he did not have leading role because he was in the Alay Al Centurion (Centurion Tank Regiment) (Arabic: الآلاي السنتوريون‎),which was commanded by Lt. Col. Abdel Moneim Wassel at that time, a man of excellent skill although he was originally a cavalry but was first degree in armor tactic and was teaching tactic armor, and of course what happened in 1956 was a shock to all of them and their position was in west of Cairo and then moved to Suez Canal and entered the Sinai Peninsula and then returned to Cairo.

M.V. Frunze Military Academy Mission in Moscow

Then, in the early 1956 he was a Major and they summoned him in the General Command and told him you are a candidate for the mission at M.V. Frunze Military Academy in Moscow. After returning from the mission the war in Yemen has begun.

North Yemen Civil War

When he was in his unit and doing the process for 4 tanks to travel to Yemen Surprised by the signal coming from the phone through the battalion and that he must take a plane tomorrow to travel to Yemen because Field Marshal Abdel Hakim Amer requested him by name. In the next day he went to Almaza airport where he found a Russian Antonov An-124 Ruslan. He boarded and arrived in Yemen and found Marshal there and said to him: Number of tanks will start growing here so we want an armor officer in the Command to assume Multi tanks and was in these days major. In Yemen despite what is said about Yemen but opened their eyes to many things including: How the State of limited possibilities to manage a war on distance of several thousand miles in very strange land in the middle of very strange people. It is true that they were involved because they were ignorant of the nature of the theater there but the outcome of Yemen despite the drawbacks many have provided them with many positives in certain things. After a year in Yemen he asked the Field Marshal to go back to Egypt and said, things have become stable.

Appointed to the Field Marshal's Office

When he returned, he went for an interview with Shams Badran in the Ministry of War and gave him a report on his mission in Iraq and asked him where he will work now said to him: will work with us in the Ministry of War and went to the ministry noted that there are signs of change, and news about the existence of corruption and talk about Ali Shafiq, Field Marshal's secretary and found that Tantawi was appointed as secretary of the Field Marshal instead of Ali Shafiq, and him and Salah Abdel Halim were appointed to the Field Marshal's Office and Ezzedine from Artillery was appointed as Director of Field Marshal's Office, and then came the appointment of Shams Badran minister of defense and their whole job was with him until the war 67.

His participation in the 1967 war

The Six-Day War took place and he was briefing specific missions such as fighting recommendations and there was a crowd seen but internal problems in forces he did not see them because his mission was not more than two hours and then return directly as he was not going to inspect troops but informed the Field Marshal in those crowd days visit he was visiting the Melis Airport they portrayed him things are excellent or as we colloquially say made him the sea tahina. There was an error tackled him there was a given estimate about the occurrence of an attack by the Israelis from the valley in south named Thieves valley. He said to them, this could happen and told them that he is a reconnaissance officer and served in these areas and knows no way major forces can be attacked from there. They did not listen to his words and stood all against him and the result was that they stirred 14th Brigade from Arish to there and left the area opened without armored forces. The other mistake was when the decision was taken to close the Gulf of Aqaba where Abdel Moneim Khalil was responsible for paratroopers in Sharm El-Sheikh he went to him and said to him: read to me this decision and found him with incomprehensible details and told him: Do you understand something? He said to him: Not. He said to him: And I also do not understand. He said: Now I want to understand shall I close the strait or not? There was a lack of understanding and messing up and it happened what happened. He also states that he was in the first day of the war in a plane with the Prime Minister of Iraq and they were going to pass on the front and Hussein El Shafei was in another plane and the plane was hit from attacking Israeli aircraft over Fayed base and made an emergency landing and called the command from Fayed airport and told them that the airport was hit and they said to him bring pilot with you and come to Cairo so he took some pilots and returned to Cairo. In the General Command he found a concert without an organizer no one understands something and conflicting in information and the decisions. He went to Field Marshal and said: Hey, if allowed Afendim I am a fighter officer and I would love to go to fight and said to him: Do you want this? He said to him: Yes. He said to him: There is a parachutes battalion take it to Aljfjafah to defend it. This was a speech on 5 June night in dawn arrived to the parachutes battalion and took her and went to Ismailia and there told them awaited in place under the trees until he goes to the headquarters of the Eastern Command to see what the real situation is and in the command they said to him Aljfjafah fell into the hands of the Israelis forces and all forces came back from Sinai. He asked them where to go and they said: Go and explore the position because communications are conflicting so he took the road to El-Qantarah el-Sharqiyya and met in the way Ibrahim El Rifai God's mercy and he knew the situation and when he returned the Israelis were in his back and when he arrived at Ismailia they told him take order from Eastern Command and there was Abdul Mohsen Mortagy, Mohamed Fawzi and Salah Mohsen. He said to them that there is with him a parachutes battalion. They said to him: Defended Fardan sector. It was Friday morning and told him catch Fardan point until the point of Ismailia own coasts and went to. There was in that time a ceasefire he found Coast Guard booth and had a phone in it and was connected to all the commanders in Ismailia and then found the parachutes officer coming to tell him: Oh Afendim Israelis are inspecting Fardan bridge and there is a boat they are unloading for water and it seems they are going to cross the channel. He said to him shoot although there are a cease-fire. There was with them rocket-propelled grenade (often abbreviated RPG) and four shots and smote and sank the boat. There did not pass few minutes until all Israeli troops in the Eastern Bank hitthem and contacted him a major general of the Eastern Command and told him why Orabi clash? There is a cease-fire and said to him that he does not take orders from the radio and Jews are inspecting the bridge and crossing is very possible, how to wait? He said to him stop shooting, he said to him: The Israelis are the ones who shoot now and have been under fire from morning till night and next day they told him we will reorganize forces come and to return to Cairo and he returned to Cairo.

Second Arrest

Upon their return they met Field Marshal Amer Secretary Colonel Tantawi and told them just go to take your orders from Gen. Mohamed Fawzi (general) because Field Marshal Amer resigned and went to Mohamed Fawzi in headquarters in Nasr City and said to them, you will be working with me and they stayed at Mohammed Fawzi doing nothing. In One day, attended them, Major General Mustafa El-Gamal and accompanied them to Military Academy where they think they will be appointed in combat positions and they went and they were surprised that he had been arrested in Military Academy. This has affected himself very much. They have been arrested for nine months without any accusation as they learned they were arrested because they are Shams Badran class. In one day he told his colleagues that he would send telegraph for the president and already sent telegraphs for the president and passed several days and did not receive response until a fellow came who was working at Moscow procurement office and was knowing our ambassador in Moscow Mohammed Murad Ghaleb as well as Sami Sharaf and the president. They asked him to speak with the president about them and the result was a big joke when they knew later when he told President Nasser about them he amusingly said: Are they still prisoners!! He asked Sami Sharaf to drive them out, but Sami Sharaf did not drive them out on the contrary to the president's orders and after his release from detention he worked as a contractor with one of his relatives.

Back to the front

One day came to him an official call. He went to the officers affairs and met with Major General Saad Salim who said to him, there are instructions for him to return to the service. He said to him, sorry, and while speaking with him entered the office Major General Abdel-Moneim Khalil who had served with him in Yemen and whom he knew. He asked him what are you doing here? He said to him: They sent him and they want him to return to the army and he refused. He said to him, wait for me until I pray 'Asr (afternoon). He then returned and said to him, I'll tell you a story then you can make your decision and then said: We were in a meeting with President Anwar Sadat and we were talking about tanks and he asked us: "Where is Orabi?" We told him Orabi on pension. He said: Orabi to be back to the Army. When Major General Abdel-Moneim Khalil told him this dialogue, he was influenced by the words of President Sadat. He said to Major General Saad Salim: Yes I will return to service.

He went to the Second Army (Egypt) in end 1968, and there he was distributed on training branch where there was Russian experts who said that this officer has studied at us, understand us and must work with us in the second field army operantions. He kept with them for a period on the exercises of transit. Then he was promoted to assume the position of vice president of operations division of the second army field and then suddenly has been hired the leader of the 21st Armored Division, and began to equip for the war and then came the war and took part in it.

His participation in the war in October 1973

The 21st Armored Division, which he was leading was working as a strategic reserve for the second field army as one of the main forces on the development axis of middle road. Indeed, the 21st Armored Division led by Brigadier General Ibrahim El Orabi at that time crossed the channel and developed the attack in the east Sinai. The offensive began on 14 October and indeed, the division fulfills its duties but faced a desperate Israeli defense. It was clear that Israel has benefited from American reconnaissance sorties over the front and supported the troops with supplies and new weapons that the U.S. and its impact appeared evident in the battlefield. Israeli forces were waiting for the 21st Armored Division and took place on the land of Sinai battles with tanks, Israeli and international references said it was one of the largest battles in the armor history.

President Anwar Sadat numerous visits to Ismaïlia

In July 1980, Orabi received his most prestigious command as the commander of the Second Army (Egypt). As commander of the Second Field Army, he participated in several meetings of President Anwar Sadat during his numerous visits to the city of Ismaïlia, Second Field Army headquarters.

Upgrade associated with Marshal Ahmed Badawi plane crash

He then returned to the operations authority after the incident of Field Marshal Ahmed Badawi plane crash, where he was appointed chief of operations of the armed forces in 1981, and then assistant minister of defense in 1982.

The circumstances of his appointment in the position of Chief of Staff

Starting from 1983 that Mubarak had to work hard to reduce the influence of Field Marshal Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala within the army. Therefore, in the autumn of 1983 he did extensive changes in the army without consulting Abu Ghazala and relieved a large number of officers loyal to him personally in the major and influential centers in order to send a signal to everyone who has been doubted his authority over the army.

And here came the conflict between Mubarak and Abu Ghazala about choosing the Chief of Staff. Abu Ghazala has resisted Mubarak's attempts to choose the chief of staff against his whim and succeeded in doing so, but did not succeed to come to the position of one of his loyalists. The first Chief of Staff of the Mubarak era was the Lieutenant General Abd Rab el-Nabi Hafez, who was popular but he was dismissed because of the rumors surrounding him.

Mubarak has appointed Lieutenant General Ibrahim El-Orabi in the position of Chief of Staff and although "Orabi" was a friend of Abu Ghazala, but he was not loyal to him in addition to the military doctrine, unlike Abu Ghazala belong to the Soviets.

Personal life

General Orabi is married to his family relative sweetheart, Leila. They have three children: Khadija, Khaled, and Tarek. The sons have served in the Egyptian General Intelligence. Tarek remains on active duty. Ibrahim and Leila have nine grandchildren.

Military education

  • 1950 Bachelor of Military Science degree, Egyptian Military Academy, Heliopolis, Cairo
  • 1961 Master of Military Art and Science degree, M.V. Frunze Military Academy, Moscow, Soviet Union
  • 1972 Ph.D. of Military Science, Joint Command and Staff College, Cairo, Egypt
  • 1977 Fellowship of the Higher War College, Nasser's Military Sciences Academy, Egypt

Dates of rank

Rank Date


In 1950, Orabi began his service in the Armored Corps, then he joined the Free Officers Movement and participated in the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

From 1963 to 1967, Orabi served as Commander of the Arab Forces in Iraq and Commander of the Armored Corps in Yemen war and then was appointed to the Field Marshal's Office.

In end 1968, Orabi was distributed on training branch, then he was promoted to assume the position of vice president of operations of the Second Field Army, and then suddenly he was appointed Commander of the 21st Armored Division.

From 1977 to 1981, Orabi was promoted to the rank of major general and was appointed assistant commander of the second field army. He next served in the second field army where he was assigned to Chief of Staff, and then as Commander of the Second Field Army.

On 4 March 1981, General Orabi was nominated by President Anwar Sadat to serve as Chief of Operations of the Armed Forces. He was next appointed Assistant Minister of Defense in 1982.

President Hosni Mubarak nominated Orabi to be the Chief of the General Staff on 16 July 1983, and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. He has been confirmed by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces. He took over from Army General Abd Rab El Naby Hafez on 16 July 1983. He serves with Gen. Salah Abd El Halim, former Commander of the Second Field Army, who has become the next Chief of Operations of the Armed Forces.

In 1987, Orabi became chairman of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) until 1995, when he retired.

Military participations

  • Suez Crisis
  • North Yemen Civil War
  • Six-Day War
  • War of Attrition
  • Yom Kippur War

Awards and decorations

Orabi is the recipient of the following awards:

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 23 Jun 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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