Egyptian Defense Minister Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi warned Tuesday that Egypt could be facing collapse.
Al-Sisi explained that military units have been stationed in cities next to the Suez Canal, where riots have broken out, in order to protect the canal.
"The continuing conflict between political forces and their differences concerning the management of the country could lead to a collapse of the state and threaten future generations," Al-Sisi said in a speech to army cadets that was also quoted on the Egyptian military spokesman's Facebook page. Sisi said the country's economic, political and social challenges signify "a real threat to the security of Egypt and the cohesiveness of the Egyptian state".
Some see Sisi's statement as an attempt to remind Egyptians about the power of the military and as a veiled threat to opposition forces.
At least 52 people have been killed in riots that broke out a few days ago, at the two year anniversary of the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak. Many of the casualties were in the city of Suez, where the military was sent to quell the riots.
The situation worsened when a court sentenced to death 21 soccer fans who were found guilty of causing the riot in a stadium in Port Said last year, in which 74 people were killed.
Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi announced Sunday that he was placing three cities under curfew because of rioting – Port Said, Suez and Ismailiya. The curfew will be in force from 9:00 PM to 6:00 AM for the next 30 days, as part of a state of emergency declared in these cities.