Report: Egypt’s Mubarak dying of cancer

CAIRO, Egypt (UPI) — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is thought by intelligence agencies to be dying of cancer affecting his stomach and pancreas, The Washington Times reported.

U.S. and Western intelligence agencies, determining the 82-year-old leader was terminally ill, have been watching for a transition of power in the Middle Eastern nation that is a vital U.S. ally, the Times reported Monday.

Earlier this month, several newspapers in the region said Mubarak sought treatment at a French hospital, but a senior Egyptian government official interviewed by the Times said the accounts were “without any factual basis whatsoever.”

The Times said there were other indications Mubarak’s health is failing. In March, the Egyptian leader went to Germany for what was said to be gall bladder surgery.

Steven Cook, a senior fellow and Egyptian affairs specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations, told the Times people in Cairo “were mellow about the prospect of him being ill. Everyone understood the end was near; the estimates were 12 to 18 months.”

Egypt’s presidential elections are scheduled for September 2011.

“We know he is dying, but we don’t know when he will die,” a senior U.S. intelligence officer told the Times.

“You can be dying for a long time, by the way,” he said, citing former Cuban President Fidel Castro as an example. Castro has been in failing health for some time, yet recently was interviewed on a Cuban television show.