President Hosni Mubarak has been at the top or near the top of the Egyptian pyramid since 1975, when he was appointed vice president by his friend and mentor, President Anwar Sadat. A fighter pilot, he was trained at the Soviet Air Force Academy at Bishkek in then-Soviet Kyrgyzstan. As chief of staff of the Egyptian Air Force in 1971, he bluffed his Soviet air force advisers into a humiliating defeat.
Behind an official wall of silence, Israel watched nervously Saturday as anti-government unrest worsened in Egypt, fearful that the violent and growing street protests could topple Israel's most important ally in the Arab world.
The Middle East peace process is beginning to look like the Theater of the Absurd. Absurdism posits that while meaning may well exist in the universe, human beings are incapable of finding it due to some form of mental limitation. In the Mideast, neither Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu nor the Palestinians' Mahmoud Abbas seems capable of crossing the Rubicon, or embarking on a course of action on which there is no going back.
President Obama's success in bringing Israelis and Palestinians together to discuss peace raised hopes that this long-standing conflict may be resolved. Everyone knows the issues are difficult, but what is less well known is how outside influences, notably the Arab lobby, can undermine the process.
"Sometime in the next 20, 30, 40 years" an Egyptian wag speculated some time ago, "Muba-rak may no longer be the president." Recent reports indicate, however, that Mr. Mubarak, 82 and in his 29th year of rule, is seriously ill, although official sources deny it. An Egypt without Mr. Mubarak is a potential nightmare, even if long anticipated.
U.S. and Western intelligence agencies assess that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is terminally ill, and the Obama administration is closely watching the expected transition of power.