• October 24, 2007

Egypt’s Mubarak too weak to travel; son Gamal being groomed

Egypt’s Mubarak too weak to travel; son Gamal being groomed

The condition of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has undergone a sharp decline.
Western intelligence sources said Mubarak, 79, collapsed last week before a scheduled visit to Saudi Arabia. Mubarak failed to attend the summit and has since been under close medical supervision.

“His condition is not life-threatening, but he is very weak,” an intelligence source said.

“The old man has become more aware than ever of his mortality,” another intelligence source said. “We can expect Gamal to assume a higher profile over the next few weeks.”
Mubarak, president since 1981, has long been threatened by ill health. In September 2007, Mubarak canceled a scheduled tour of a Cairo factory amid rumors that his health had deteriorated, Middle East Newsline reported. At one point, Egyptian opposition sources asserted that Mubarak had died.

The sources said Mubarak, who has not appeared in public for months, has been deemed to weak to travel. They said the president’s physicians ruled out a flight to Germany for medical tests this week.

The sources said Mubarak’s deteriorating condition has accelerated efforts to groom his son, Gamal, for succession. The 43-year-old Gamal has been appointed the No. 2 figure in Egypt’s ruling National Democratic Party and has undertaken sensitive diplomatic missions for his father in Europe and the United States.

Mubarak has ordered a crackdown on the Islamic and Western-supported opposition to facilitate the succession of his son. The Bush administration has criticized the crackdown, and Congress was examining legislation that would slash $200 million of the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid unless Cairo improved his human rights record and halted weapons smuggling from the Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.

Egypt has insisted that it was arresting weapons smugglers and closing tunnels that connect Sinai to the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian government report relayed to Congress said Israeli soldiers were cooperating with Egyptian smugglers who relay weapons and explosives to the Hamas regime.