Sunday, January 30, 2011

children of the high-born

Did you ever wonder what happened to Nicolae Ceausescu's children after the dictator and his wife were caught while fleeing, put against a wall, and shot on Christmas in 1989? The question has crossed my mind as I watch, with morbid fascination, what may be a minor-- or major-- implosion in Egypt. According to some sources, President Hosni Mubarak's sons may have fled Egypt for London, along with their families. The Egyptian government is denying this, however, so the truth remains obscure for the moment.

Ceausescu's children survived the Romanian Revolution. Eldest son Valentin has lived a life of science, generally disdaining politics. All the same, he was arrested during the revolution, then released months later. He is currently suing the Romanian government for the improper confiscation of many of his possessions (see here). Second son (and third child) Nicu was to have assumed his father's position; this obviously fell through with the advent of the revolution. He was arrested twice and sentenced to 20 years in prison the second time around; he ended up being released early, and died of cirrhosis in 1996, at age 45. The middle child and only daughter, Zoia, was a mathematician who also ended up being arrested and released as a consequence of the revolution. An avid smoker, she died in 2006 of lung cancer.

Saddam Hussein's two sons, Uday and Qusay, died in a hail of bullets during a 3-hour gunfight in July of 2003. Saddam himself was hanged in ignominious circumstances just after Christmas in 2006.

While it's tempting to say that it never ends well for dictators and their families, we have only to look at the long life of Fidel Castro and the generations-long stranglehold that the Kim dynasty has had on North Korea to prove otherwise. What will happen to the Mubaraks? At a guess, it's not going to end well for Hosni Mubarak, whose country is no longer as stable as Cuba or North Korea; but his family, if they have indeed fled the country, might be spared his fate. As for the Kim family... well, they're preparing for another transfer of power, and if Kim Jeong-eun is as nasty as he's been made out to be, then North Koreans have a long, bitter road ahead of them. If only they could see what's been happening in Egypt, Tunisia, and Algeria, and gain some sort of inspiration, however twisted, from that.



The Yalta Paradox said...

I think a better question is, what will happen to the Egyptians? If this goes the way of Romania and Mubarak is executed (or flees) there's a risk that those who take his place will be, well, if not worse, just as bad. Here's a piece I wrote on this

Kevin Kim said...

There's a great deal of discussion about what might fill the power vacuum over at my friend Malcolm Pollack's blog, here. (Scroll down for a quick tour.)

Thanks for the link to your article. I'll be sure to read it.