Mubarak said he wishes to die in Egypt. But, in the not so distant future, he may be advised to go abroad to avoid being brought to trial at home. Where would he go?
Stephen Kinzer, the award-winning foreign correspondent and author, asked this question in Saturday’s Daily Beast (February 12). He wrote:
“The dictator is riding out his resignation in his seaside retreat at Sharm el-Sheikh, but Egyptians won’t let him stay long. From Saudi Arabia to Britain to even Israel, Stephen Kinzer weighs Mubarak’s options for exile.”
Even Israel. There is no mention of Israel in the article. But it certainly is an intriguing idea. Sharm el-Sheikh is an Egyptian resort at the southern end of the Gulf of Aqaba. Eilat is an Israeli resort at the northern end.
In May, 1940, Churchill invited the Kaiser – England’s mortal enemy in WWI – to find refuge from the Nazis in England. The Kaiser refused. Would Mubarak refuse Netanyahu’s invitation?.
This is a short version of Kinzer’s article:
“It would be undignified for Mubarak to wander the earth like the deposed Shah of Iran, who after his fall in 1979 became an itinerant billionaire, landing first in Egypt, where President Anwar Sadat warmly welcomed him, and then on to progressively less friendly receptions in Morocco, Mexico, the Bahamas, and the United States, before returning to Egypt, where he died. Mubarak needs to find a place that will allow him to live well without worrying about possible distractions like lawsuits, extradition demands, mob attacks or assassins.
“The logical haven would be Saudi Arabia, which last month opened its doors to the deposed Tunisian leader, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. The al-Saud family has a record of offering refuge to colorful fugitives. The Ugandan dictator Idi Amin moved there after being overthrown in 1979 and stayed until his death 24 years later. Other guests have included the Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, the spectacularly corrupt former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, and the pro-Nazi prime minister of Iraq, Rashid Aali al-Gaylani, who fled to Berlin after being forced from power in 1941, was received by Hitler, and moved to Saudi Arabia after Hitler’s defeat.
“The Saudi option offers several advantages. Mubarak would be able to live among Saudi princes, many of whom are as corrupt as he is, and be safe from international arrest warrants. But Saudi Arabia is unpleasantly hot and can be boring. And there’s always the nightmare scenario – some would call it the dream scenario – that the al-Saud regime could fall, which would leave Mubarak dangerously exposed.
“Other alternatives in the neighborhood include the United Arab Emirates, where Saddam Hussein once considered seeking refuge, and Libya, whose dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, has a natural sympathy with long-serving Arab tyrants and who denounced anti-Mubarak protesters soon after they took to the streets last month. Mubarak, however, might see Libya as no more appealing than Saudi Arabia: too isolated and too close to home.
“The bloodthirsty Liberian leader, Charles Taylor, found temporary refuge in Nigeria, but the authorities there ultimately stopped protecting him. Jean-Claude ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier spent years in France, as have several notorious perpetrators of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, but the French have been embarrassed by a recent barrage of stories about their intimate ties to Arab dictators. They denied asylum to Ben Ali, and accepting Mubarak would undoubtedly set off a new wave of stories about their unsavory role in North Africa, something President Nicolas Sarkozy would prefer to avoid.
“A more likely choice is next-door Germany, where Mubarak has gone for medical treatment in the past. According to reports in the German press this week, President Obama has asked German leaders about their willingness to accept Mubarak, perhaps under the guise of an ‘extended health check.’ German politicians have said the idea is being considered. Germany is one of the world’s most cosmopolitan countries and has plenty of castles. A potential problem is the legal system, which is known for stubbornly resisting political interference. It might be difficult for a German leader to promise Mubarak long-term security from prosecution or extradition.”