Egypt’s economy close to meltdown. Military coup near
The biggest Arab country with a population of 82 million is on the verge of breakdown as large sections of is economic machinery are shut down by spreading strikes and workers' revolts against managements appointed by the Mubarak regime and Vice President Omar's Suleiman's leadership.
debkafile's sources report there are no trains since railway workers declared a general strike; the main state highways are barricaded by protesters. Egypt's 1,000-kilometer long Cairo-Aswan lifeline along the Nile was shut to traffic all day Wednesday, Feb. 9 with no sign that the army or security forces are willing or able to reopen it to traffic.
As protesters continue to pour into Cairo's Tahrir Square, blocked roads are preventing produce reaching shops and markets – or even the soldiers posted in the town centers. Men of the 2nd and 9th divisions on street duty in Cairo have had no food rations for 12 hours. The disruptions threaten Egyptian towns with dire food shortages.
The work forces of the big industrial complexes have downed tools and customs officers have stopped levying toll fees from the approximately 50 ships transiting the Suez Canal every day and netting the Egyptian treasury $3 billion a year, its main source of revenue. Around 1.300,000 foreign tourists have fled the country since the disorders began taking with them another major source of revenue.
The closure of schools was extended Wednesday after teachers refused to go back to classrooms until Mubarak was gone.
Egypt's foreign minister Abul Gheit said that the only way to save Egypt is for the army to step in. He rejected US demands for an immediate repeal of emergency law and accused Washington of trying to impose its will on Cairo and its advice was "unhelpful."
A high-ranking US source in Washington told debkafile's sources that the situation in Egypt is so appalling that a military takeover of the regime is no longer a threat but the only hope of rescuing Egypt from economic meltdown. Yet at this critical moment, he said, "the Egyptian army appears to have no figure capable of saving Egypt."
Tuesday, Feb. 8, debkafile reported:
A fresh surge of popular anti-Mubarak protest ripping across Egypt Tuesday, Feb. 8 has brought the country closer to a military coup to stem the anarchy than at any time since the street caught fire on Jan. 25.
Vice President Omar Suleiman warned a group of Egyptian news editors that the only choice is between a descent into further lawlessness and a military takeover in Cairo. The distinguished political pundit of the 1960s and 1970s Hasnin Heikal saw no other way out of the crisis but a government ruling by the army's bayonets.
The arrival of US naval, marine and air forces in the Suez Canal's Greater Bitter Lake indicated that the crisis was quickly swerving out of control.
debkafile's military sources report that the American force consists of the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group of six warships. Helicopters on some of their decks are there to carry and drop the 2,200 marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit which has been bolstered by two special operations battalions.
The flotilla has a rapid strike stealth submarine, the USS Scranton, which is designed to support special forces' operations.
The US strike force has taken up position at a strategic point opposite Ismailia between the west bank of the Suez Canal and its eastern Sinai bank. It is poised for rapid response in the event of the passage of about 40 percent of the world's marine freights through the Suez Canal being threatened or any other extreme occurrence warranting US military intervention.
For a few hours Tuesday, it looked as though Egypt was finally going back to normal after a two-week popular uprising. But then, suddenly, thousands again took to the streets and squares of Egyptian towns – from the Western desert on the Libyan border up to the northern Sinai town of El Arish in the east, recalling Hosni Mubarak's warning of chaos if he were to depart too soon.
They mounted their biggest demonstration of the campaign to oust Mubarak – in Cairo, Alexandria, the Delta Cities, the industrial belt around Mahalla-el-Kebir and the steel city of Heluan, shouting "Death to Mubarak!" and "Hang Mubarak!"
Although reforms and pay hikes have been pledged by the new Egyptian government, large groups of workers, mainly in Cairo, rebelled against state-appointed managements and set up "Revolutionary Committees" to run factories and other work places, including Egyptian state TV and Egypt's biggest weekly "Ros el-Yusuf."
The stock market and the pyramids remained closed and traffic blocked solid on the streets of Cairo.