A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Mubarak's Left Arm: is Something Wrong?

An additional note for Mubarak's 82nd birthday: Egyptian blogger Zeinobia asks an interesting question: in all the pictures of his summits at Sharm al-Sheikh, his left arm and hand appear to be in exactly the same position. Here are a couple of examples, but she has more at the link:

I don't know if this means anything, but the lack of public appearances, the cancellation of the Sarkozy visit, and the fact that, except for Netanyahu, he's limited his meetings to Arab leaders may suggest there's more to the speculation about his health than officialdom wants us to know. His surgery involved his gallbladder and intestines. What's with the left hand?

And now that I think about it, when he first got off the plane at Sharm after his return from Germany I remarked on the fact that he descended the steps without holding his wife's hand, commenting at the time that "He seems a little shaky on his feet in the video, but he's walking without aid (Suzanne not even holding his hand coming down the steps), so the more dire suspicions should be disproven."

On second thought, what if there is something wrong with the arm, so Suzanne couldn't hold it. On the other hand, at the top of the steps, he does move his left arm to adjust his jacket, so the whole arm is presumably not paralyzed. (Or, of course, he could have had a setback after he returned to Egypt. There were no photos for weeks after the arrival.)

Sorry to speculate on your birthday Mr. President, but a lot of people, not just Egyptians, are wondering about the succession, so your health is fair game for discussion.

Here's the video again:


A said...

He is moving his arm quite a lot there in the beginning, and using his hand a bit, although it hangs curiously limp afterwards. Perhaps some of his fingers might be paralyzed or something like that.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

Indeed. But perhaps something happened after he returned to Egypt. There were no pictures for a very long time.

A said...

Well, keep spreading the word, and they'll eventually be forced to release pictures of Mubarak armwrestling Omar Suleiman.

Speaking about Arab leaders in poor health: check out Qadhafi next time he's on tv. He seems to be pretty fit otherwise, and is still quite young. But sometimes half of his face sags, and his facial muscles are not very mobile.

The incoherent mumbling and stuttering, however, I think has always been there.

Michael Collins Dunn said...


He's not armwrestling Omar Suleiman yet, but he seems to have moved the hand at least a bit while meeting Abu Mazen, and also has returned to Cairo. Armwrestling next I guess. And I quoted you: