The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

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.