When dictators are overthrown they are typically either killed in short order (think Nicolae Ceauşescu) or they flee. Without too much statistical analysis, we can come up with deposed leaders that left their country for France (Baby Doc of Haiti) and Saudi Arabia (recently, Ben Ali from Tunisia).
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is in trouble. Given the ongoing protests against his government, we may be interested in finding out where, if forced, he would flee. We won’t attempt to make a judgement call on whether he will survive or explicitly find his travel plans since they presumably don’t exist directly in the open source.
In considering where Mubarak might go, we’ll use his patterns of communication and travel over the last 12 months as identified in Recorded Future to provide guidance.
- Hosni Mubarak had interactions with a large number of world leaders including Obama, Clinton, Merkel, Sarkozy, and Berlusconi.
- Mubarak also privately met with the head of Oman – Sultan Qaboos bin Said – during his visit to Egypt.
Inspecting the treemap of President Mubarak’s travel patterns over the last year, we find some interesting clues to where he might go if forced to leave Egypt:
- One of the highest momentum cities in the visualization is London. This comes with an interesting indicator on the Huffington Post: “It was reported two days ago that Gamal Mubarak, son of President Mubarak was heading to London with a big entourage and about 80 pieces of luggage along with his mother, Suzanne Mubarak, and high officials, though Egyptian sources dismiss the report as false.”
- Germany stands out in the above treemap, and we learn that Mubarak traveled there for cancer treatment in 2010. Would Germany have him back given that they provided him medical attention? Similarly, Mubarak also travelled to Paris for suspected health reasons.
- Italy has been called out as the strongest European connection for Egypt, and Mubarak seems to have a strong relationship with Berlusconi. Mubarak also stopped in Greece when returning from his last trip to Italy.
- Other web sources (not at all verified) suggest a strong relationship between Mubarak and the rulers of the UAE might make it a prime destination.
- Mubarak has travelled to a number of Arab nations like Libya, Jordan, Sudan, Algeria, but those places would be potentially unstable and not necessarily offer protection in the long run.
- Ben Ali, the former leader of Tunisia, recently fled to Saudi Arabia where Mubarak was for discussions in late 2009. The Egyptian president met with King Abdullah in mid-2010 in a peace summit, and the Saudi king very recently expressed his support for Mubarak. Supposedly this chant can be heard in Egypt right now: “Christian or Muslim it’s not important, similar poverty similar concerns! Hosni Mubarak, Hosni Mubarak, the plane is waiting, the plane is waiting. Saudi Arabia is not far!”
- Mubarak has also been in the US for peace summits and other political meetings, but the US seems an unlikely place to flee.
Hosni Mubarak has a much broader set of connections and travel patterns than Ben Ali of Tunisia, and potentially has more places to go should he be forced from Egypt. Still, the options seem limited if he wants to establish a long term place to stay.
Even if Mubarak has kept plenty of interactions with the US, France, UK, Germany, and others, it would seem unlikely that any of those countries would take him in although Italy may be an exception.
Saudi Arabia stands out as the strongest candidate given both its recent display of support as well as historical connections. The UAE and Oman might be other relatively safe places.
In the end, our bet is on Saudia Arabia.