How Mubarak Lost Touch with Reality

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How Mubarak Lost Touch with Reality

Post by Strawberry on Tue Feb 15, 2011 11:09 pm

(Reuters) - Anyone wondering how veteran President Hosni Mubarak lost touch with Egyptian reality needs look no further than this Red Sea resort, where he took refuge after his overthrow last week by a popular uprising.

With its tidy rows of palm trees and wide streets, Sharm el-Sheikh looks more like a Florida suburb than the teeming, polluted industrial cities and crumbling rural villages where most ordinary Egyptians live.

Tourists sunbathe and drink beer openly in a sea breeze that residents say lured the 82-year-old Mubarak to spend more and more time here in the twilight of his 30-year rule, hobnobbing with foreign leaders or recovering from ailments.

His fondness for the remote town, symbolised by his retreat to Sharm el-Sheikh after he was ousted, were signs of his estrangement from Egypt's everyday problems.

"Mubarak wanted to try to avoid seeing or hearing what was happening in reality," Nabil Abdel Fattah, an analyst at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, said.

"This helped lead to a credibility gap between Mubarak and the new generations, especially in Cairo, Alexandria and cities in the Nile Delta like Mansoura."The security afforded by the sea and mountains at the southern tip of the Sinai Peninsula also made Sharm el-Sheikh a natural spot for Mubarak to host high-profile summits.

The city became a stage for years of fruitless Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The 2011 Arab Economic Summit was convened at the luxury resort near Mubarak's family villa less than a week before Egypt's demonstrations began.

Nowadays, local gossip has turned from spotting dignitaries such as Kofi Annan and Mahmoud Abbas -- one restaurant owner said he saw Mubarak himself driving alone about eight years ago -- to rumours about the deposed president's health.

Some residents, citing unsubstantiated media reports and local rumour, say Mubarak fell into a coma after the revolution, or became depressed and refused to take medicine.

Saudi-owned daily Asharq al-Awsat said on Tuesday Mubarak's health was deteriorating.

A military source told Reuters Mubarak was "breathing" but would give no details of his condition. Another source with links to the family said he was not well but did not elaborate.

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