Israel Resource Review 4th July, 2006



The authoritative Middle East News Line in Jerusalem reports that Egyyptian President Hosni Mubarak was expected to relay power to his son within a year.

Egyptian opposition sources said Mubarak, 78, has been spending less time in his presidential duties amid declining health. The sources said Mubarak's son, Gamal, was managing most of Egypt's domestic activities as well as learning to handle security and diplomatic issues.

"The matter [the rule of the elder Mubarak] will not go on for more than a year," Muslim Brotherhood deputy secretary-general Mohammed Habib said. "Perhaps less than a year."

Habib said he expected the elder Mubarak to increase restrictions on democracy, free speech as well as arrest up to thousands of Islamic and other opponents of the regime. He said this would enable Gamal, 46, to become the new ruler of Egypt.

Gamal, regarded as the de facto leader of the ruling National Democratic Party. has maintained that he does not seek the presidency. But over the last year, Gamal has represented his father in major domestic and foreign policy tasks.

In May, Gamal traveled to the United States and met President George Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney. The unannounced visit, later acknowledged by both Cairo and Washington, was meant to discuss U.S.-Egyptian relations.

The opposition sources said the United States approves Mubarak's effort to relay power to his son. Egypt has been the second largest beneficiary of U.S. military aid, and over the last month, the Bush administration rejected several attempts in Congress to reduce the assistance until Cairo gurantees civil liberties and democracy.

"The government, or the regime, is trying to send a message to the Brotherhood so that they reduce their activities, tone down their statements," Habib said. "This requires more restrictions, persecution, jailing, perhaps military tribunals, so that the atmosphere is prepared and the stage is set for the inheritance of power scenario."

Most recently, Mubarak has also been challenged by secular dissidents. The editor of the opposition Al Dustour newspaper, Ibrahim Issa, has filed 20 suits against Mubarak that accuses him of corruption. Issa has already been sentenced to a year in jail for defaming the president.

"We are living in a police state, but this is like the last days of [Chilean dictator Augusto] Pinochet," Issa said. "Mubarak is always intimidating the Americans with the scarecrow of the Muslim Brotherhood and the Americans get intimidated. But let them wait for more repression from Mubarak and they will get Khomenei."

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