The Breakdown of Order Is Bigger Challenge to Military than the Islamists
The port of Domyat is the capital of Egypt's Damietta Governorate in Egypt. It is located at the point where the Nile intersects the Mediterranean Sea about 200 kilometers (120 miles) north of Cairo. Its population is roughly 1.5 million.
While Western eyes were focused this week on the results of Egypt's first parliamentary elections and the possibility of the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultraorthodox Salafite bloc taking two-thirds of the Lower House, no one took any notice of Domyat, although events there represent what is happening in all of Egypt's most important cities.
These events are recounted here by DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources in Cairo:
Domyat went on strike for a few days over the almost total breakdown of essential services and the food supply – largely as a result of neglect and because workers laid down tools over low salaries which were in arrears.
Armed gangs took advantage of the mayhem and moved in. No one knows where they came from or who controls them.
Gen. Sami Anan, the Egyptian chief of staff and the deputy chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces ruling the country in the interim, asked the 2nd Army, which is responsible for Domyat, to send two armored brigades to the city to restore order.
Families buying guns, setting up private militias
He was told the army, whose headquarters is in Ismailia, does not command two armored brigades and could therefore not guarantee to maintain order in the city.
And so, while the West was concerned with the content of Egypt's new constitution, and finding out who was to be the Muslim Brotherhood's coalition partner – the Salafites, the liberals or the generals – its cities were being overrun.
Our sources report that middle-class families in major cities like Cairo, Suez, Alexandria and Ismailia are getting together to buy guns to defend their families and neighborhoods against lawbreakers. In some places, they are forming militias to protect their lives and property.
The SCAF, which lacks the manpower to preserve law and order in the cities, began in desperation last week to pull back into Egypt the military units deployed in Sinai to guard the pipeline supplying gas to Israel and Jordan, secure strategic areas against the Hamas grab for control and combat al Qaeda and other terrorists.
The results were disastrous: The cities have descended into mayhem while Sinai thrives as never before as a hub for terrorist networks backing the crime gangs which control city districts, and for smuggling networks, which are free to move drugs, weapons, human traffic and counterfeit money.
In first stage of vote, liberals, not Salafis, came in second
According to our sources, the chances of central government collapsing in at least parts of Egypt are greater that those of the Muslim Brotherhood forming a coalition with the Salafites and imposing orthodox Sharia law.
Our sources update the voting figures in the first stages of Egypt's parliamentary election and find they have been much exaggerated in Western and Middle East media.
According to Egyptian analysts, the Muslim Brotherhood has indeed taken 66 of the 154 seats in the lower house. It is followed not by the Salafites, who garnered no more than 14 percent of the vote, but by the liberal party alliance which has come in second with a 25 percent showing.
The 45 "independent candidates" who won seats must also be taken into account. They are former Mubarak loyalists who served in the ousted political and economic establishments and comprise a large and powerful group of secular lawmakers.
But most Egyptians today are much less concerned with who will control parliament and government and far more anxious about the ability of the interim military regime to extinguish the lawless anarchy taking hold of the cities.
If the armed crime gangs' mounting strength is not curtailed soon, they will end up controlling Egypt's governing institutions and security agencies while isolating and shattering the Egyptian armed forces.