The Egyptian defence minister Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi has warned that Egypt's ongoing political, economic and social crisis threatens the country's "security and stability" and may lead to the “collapse of the state.”
On 29 January the minister, who is also head of Egypt's military, renewed calls on all political parties to act to resolve the situation, as the country spirals deeper into lawlessness and violence. Some 50 people have been killed and over 600 injured since the second anniversary of the country's revolution on 25 January.
The main clashes have taken place in the Mediterranean city of Port Said, resulting in the deaths of over 40 people. The violence was triggered following a court’s decision to sentence 21 people to death for their involvement in the deaths of 74 fans of Cairo football club Ahly in last February's stadium disaster in Port Said. Three days before the highly-anticipated verdict was announced Egypt's Islamist president Mohamed Morsi decreed that the deceased fans would be listed as "official martyrs of the revolution".
Protesters in Suez continue to defy the 30-day curfew, from 21.00-06.00, imposed by Morsi on the Suez Canal cities of Suez, Port Said and Ismalia. The defence minister has called for peaceful protests and highlighted the difficult role currently being played by the army which "belongs to all Egyptians". He said that the deployment of the army in Port Said and Suez is intended to "protect vital and strategic targets, most importantly the Suez Canal, to which we will not allow any harm, and to assist the Interior ministry."
Meanwhile Morsi, who has called for “national dialogue”, is struggling to quell the violent protests that have erupted in Egypt’s major cities.
Although there has been violence in Cairo, resulting in the death of one man in the central Tahrir Square, no curfew has been imposed in the capital.