A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mubarak Postpones Trip Due to Grandson's Death

Husni Mubarak's May 26-27 trip to the US will be postponed because of the sudden death of his 12-year-old grandson, which I mentioned briefly in an earlier post. Another account here. It's certainly easy enough, when commenting on Middle Eastern rulers and their policies, to forget that they are also human beings, with families. (Okay, Saddam Hussein had a tendency to kill his own relatives, including both sons-in-law, but that's rare indeed.) I believe Mubarak had only two grandchildren, both through his elder son, ‘Ala', who chose to get rich as a businessman rather than enter politics. It's the younger son, Gamal, who's the anointed heir — and he only married a year or two ago, I believe.

The postponement of the trip will take a bit away from the sense of accellerated diplomacy on Arab-Israeli issues with the King ‘Abdullah II/Binyamin Netanyahu/Mubarak/Mahmud ‘Abbas parade now disrupted a bit. But Egypt and the US have plenty of channels for communication, and Mubarak's visits are more symbolic than anything else.

I've criticized Mubarak from time to time and made fun of his jet black hair (at age 81), but there's no proper response other than empathy when a man loses a young grandson. It's still not totally clear what the cause was: I've seen reports of food poisoning and others of some pre-existing condition. In any event, anyone who is a parent cannot help but offer condolence.

No comments: