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Egypt’s Next Administration: Mubarak the Son?

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s annual state of the nation speech has again provoked speculation about his successor. Unlike his predecessors Gamal ‘Abd A-Na’sr and Anwar Sadat, the 73-year-old Mubarak has not yet named the next Egyptian leader. Although Egypt displays more democratic leanings than any of its neighbors in the Arab world, most experts believe that Mubarak will be succeeded by his son, Gamal.

Unlike his father, Sadat and A-Na’sr, Gamal Mubarak is not a military man. According to the Washington Institute, his background is in economics. The younger Mubarak served as an executive of the Bank of America International in London from 1988 to 1994, and as executive director of the Egyptian MedInvest Associations Ltd., a financial services company.
In the late 1990s, Gamal Mubarak established two organizations, both of which embodied his economic views. The Future Generation Foundation is aimed at educating young Egyptians in the tenets of the “new economy”: computers, communications, marketing, and financial services. He later opened and headed an institute for economic research with academics from the free economy school of thought, according to Mu’stafa Al-Huseini (Rezgar website).

His activities confirm that Gamal Mubarak is a proponent of economic liberalism, democratization, and bureaucratic reform. In January 2001, while already a member of the General Secretariat of Egypt’s ruling NDP party, Mubarak argued that Egypt’s industry is held back by its current economic international agreements, including the cooperation agreements with other Arab nations. According to an article published on Islam Online, the young Mubarak cited that as a reason why Egypt should sign an agreement with the European Union.
In September 2002, the NDP (National Democratic Party) appointed Gamal as its secretary-general for policies — the party’s third most powerful position. Since then, Gamal has strengthened his authority within the party as well as externally. He has visited the United States for talks with high-ranking American officials several times since the beginning of 2003. After meetings with Condoleezza Rice and Vice-President Richard Cheney – described as unofficial talks — Mubarak had the Egyptian parliament pass three laws: the establishment of a national human rights committee; the abolishment of imprisonment with hard labor; and the abolishment of the State Security (military) Courts. Although not entirely implemented, those laws are cited as indications of his tendency towards Western values, or more accurately, towards cooperation with the United States.

While Gamal has stated on more than one occasion that he would not run for president, all signs indicate that his presidential campaign is well underway. During the past three years, Gamal has visited hundreds of small towns and villages, talking to local citizens and their leaders, promising a better future.

“The NDP wants to fight poverty, inflation and offer poor people the possibility to improve their standard of living,” Gamal Mubarak said at a news conference this month. Concerning regional peace initiatives, again demonstrating his economic-based orientation, affirmed that peace (with Israel) has translated into progress and development in Egypt.

Masrawy News website reported that last March, in speaking about the war in Iraq, Mubarak said that nations should reject war as a means of resolving disputes.