Bouteflika death watch?

Arab leaders are notoriously cagey about their personal health, and right now, Algeria has not one but two top officials receiving treatment from French doctors amidst high levels of secrecy, says Le Figaro.

Yazid Zehrouni, 67, the minister of interior, has been in a French hospital since October, ostensibly for a kidney transplant. He has appeared on Algerian radio once to assuage rumors that he was dying. An even higher-ranking guest of French military doctors (remember, they also treated Mubarak and Arafat and most recently the greatest of all Arab leaders, Jacques Chirac) is President Bouteflika (68) himself, who checked in on November 26 to operate on an ulcer. He hasn't been heard from since despite assurances by his cabinet that he would return promptly. The Algerian press is wondering about all the secrecy if the operation was routine and there are reports that his convalescence could be extended.

One to watch.

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region,