"The old man has become more aware than ever of his mortality," another
intelligence source said. "We can expect Gamal to assume a higher profile
over the next few weeks."
Mubarak, president since 1981, has long been threatened by ill health.
In September 2007, Mubarak canceled a scheduled tour of a Cairo factory amid
rumors that his health had deteriorated, Middle East Newsline reported. At one point, Egyptian opposition
sources asserted that Mubarak had died.
The sources said Mubarak, who has not appeared in public for months, has
been deemed to weak to travel. They said the president's physicians ruled
out a flight to Germany for medical tests this week.
The sources said Mubarak's deteriorating condition has accelerated
efforts to groom his son, Gamal, for succession. The 43-year-old Gamal has
been appointed the No. 2 figure in Egypt's ruling National Democratic Party
has undertaken sensitive diplomatic missions for his father in Europe and
the United States.
Mubarak has ordered a crackdown on the Islamic and Western-supported
opposition to facilitate the succession of his son. The Bush administration
has criticized the crackdown, and Congress was examining legislation that
would slash $200 million of the $1.3 billion in U.S. military aid unless
Cairo improved his human rights record and halted weapons smuggling from the
Sinai Peninsula to the Gaza Strip.
Egypt has insisted that it was arresting weapons smugglers and closing
tunnels that connect Sinai to the Gaza Strip. An Egyptian government report
relayed to Congress said Israeli soldiers were cooperating with Egyptian
smugglers who relay weapons and explosives to the Hamas regime.