Saturday, January 06, 2007

Will Junior Become President?

"Speculation about President Hosni Mubarak's younger son's political ambitions -- ongoing for the last four years -- peaked last week with the publication of an interview with veteran journalist Mohamed Hassanein Heikal in the independent Al-Dostour. Heikal said that informed sources told him of a plan to catalyse Gamal's "inheritance" of the presidency from his father sometime this year. According to Heikal -- a close confidante of former president Gamal Abdel-Nasser and an analyst whose political observations continue to resonate -- Mubarak wants to ensure that the son is in power during the father's lifetime. "This is why efforts are being intensified," Heikal said. "

Some commenters argue that Husni Mubarak will die with his boots on, and they point to his recent promise to serve Egypt until his last breath as proof. If so, the transfer of power will be impossible to insure because once the elder Mubarak is gone, all bets will be off. Others argue that the arrangements are being ratcheted into place, for which they point to the constitutional amendments that are underway. In either case, one of the black boxes is the army, and my view is that army reticence about Gamal has at least slowed down the process. Many people do have the sense that that the succession has proven much more difficult to engineer than was imagined at the onset and some go so far as to say that the quest has run into serious trouble.

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