Husni Mubarak's visit to Washington requires some comment, though I suspect it is going to be more symbolic than substantive. It's true that Mubarak hasn't been here for five years — the second Bush term had some rough spots for Egyptian-US relations, but he has already met with President Obama twice, during the Cairo visit (though Mubarak did not attend "The speech") and the G8.
I sense that everyone on both sides sees this visit as having a fin du régime air to it, or at least fin du règne. Not only does it seem unlikely that Mubarak will run for another term in 2011 (when he will be 83), but there are those rumors that he is contemplating stepping down early. Remember he was scheduled to make this trip earlier, in May, but the death of his young grandson led to its cancellation; that death is said to sit heavily on the elder Mubarak.
Whatever his intentions, after nearly 30 years in power the sense of transition is clearly in the air. For what it's worth, note that Mubarak arrived in Washington on Saturday, and had no announced appointments yesterday. It sounds as if he is resting up. Today he meets with Secretary of State Clinton, National Security Advisor Jim Jones, and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair, as well as with American Jewish groups (interestingly including not just AIPAC but J Street and the ADL). Tomorrow he meets Obama.
Since most of the coverage of the visit is predictable, it may be a good time to note an interesting piece by Tarek Osman, "Egypt: the Blinkers of Expertise," which argues that conventional media and academic analysis tend to miss certain key developments in the country. It may be an appropriate commentary for the visit.