Ailing Mubarak seeks Washington’s backing for his son as successor
According to debkafile‘s Washington and intelligence sources, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s trip to Washington this week, his first in four years, is primarily a farewell visit and a bid to assure his son Gemal Mubarak’s smooth accession to the presidency, rather than in-depth discussions on the Middle East.
With him are foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and intelligence minister Gen. Omar Suleiman, his point man in policies on Israel, the Palestinians and ties with Washington on peacemaking.
From Monday, Aug. 17, they have been sitting down with an impressive array of US administration leaders, starting with Vice President Joe Biden, secretary of state Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser James Jones. Tuesday Mubarak meets President Barack Obama. Before he leaves the US capital, Mubarak, 81, will also see the heads of eight Jewish-American organizations.
His arrival was greeted by news comments such as: When Egypt’s leader meets…with President Obama, US officials may find themselves caught up in the Egypt’s No. 1 guessing game: How much longer can Hosni Mubarak go on? And… who would succeed him as head of the Arab world’s most populous nation.
At the G8 summit in the first week of July he was described as looking “weakened and pale, He was photographed being helped up the stairs.”
On July 26, debkafile disclosed that the real purpose of his trip to Paris two weeks later, in the third week of July, ostensibly for talks with French president Nicolas Sarkozy, was surgery for an unknown ailment in a French military hospital. For this story, click HERE.
Later, our sources reported that the French doctors discharged him the next day after diagnosing his condition as untreatable. He returned to Cairo to devote himself to expediting the handover of rule to his son, Gemal (Jimmy), 45, a former investment banker and deputy head of the ruling National Democratic Party.
The state of the Egyptian president’s health has never been officially revealed and has therefore given rise to wild rumors.
A western source in Cairo expects the transition from Mubarak senior to his son to be a slow and arduous process that could take months. The next presidential election would normally take place in 2011 but Hosni’s state of health could force the vote to be brought forward to next year with Gemal running as the NDP’s candidate.
In his 28 years at the helm, Mubarak has never appointed a vice president or shared his duties with a deputy. Prime minister Ahmed Nazir deals solely with the economy; all diplomatic, military and domestic security policies were and remain the sole province of the president. Since his health began to deteriorate, much important state business has fallen into neglect.
In the last two weeks, our sources report that that the ruling party’s secretary Safwat El-Sherif has summoned party branch secretaries for rallies on Gemal’s behalf in Egypt’s main cities and getting them organized for a snap election.