Just when it seemed the violence was easing in Egypt new clashes have erupted in southern Egypt. AFT is reporting that three people have been killed and 100 others were wounded. The latest violence comes after Vice President Omar Suleiman stated the uprising cannot continue to be tolerated. Suleiman promised the opposition during negotiations that the government would embark on a far-reaching set of reforms to include amending the constitution. The government also made pledges not to harass protesters and to investigate election fraud and official graft while hinting darkly at foreign influence in the protests.
Egypt could be on the verge of financial breakdown as large sections of its economic machinery are shut down by spreading strikes and workers' revolts against managements appointed by the Mubarak regime. The Obama administration is apparently readying the U.S. Navy in case military force is needed to keep the all important Suez Canal open for business. Debkafile is reporting the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group, which consists of six vessels, has taken the strategic point opposite Ismailia between the west bank of the Suez Canal and its eastern Sinai bank. Helicopters on some of their decks are there to transport 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 Suez Canal and its 120 mile supply route has for years served as a vitally important passageway for oil. World oil prices were trading at their highest level in three years this week amid the revolt in Egypt, which for decades has served as a major petroleum transit route. So it would make perfect sense that the U.S. military would take a vital interest in the free flow of traffic in the Suez Canal. It's also being reported that since the uprising began in Egypt two weeks ago, more than 1,000 Hamas terrorists have infiltrated North Sinai from the Gaza Strip and seized control of the region. They were followed by Al-Qaeda cells which redeployed from Iraq in the Gaza Strip. Hamas has established a command center in North Sinai for coordinating its operations with the Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.
The Egyptian crisis is far from over and many surprises remain to be seen. Will the United States military or the international community take control of the Suez canal? Will Hamas and Al-Qaeda take advantage of this crisis and set up shop in the Sinai? Stay tuned for further developments!
Saudi Arabia has threatened to prop up President Mubarak if the White House tries to force a swift change of regime in Egypt. In a testy personal telephone call on January 29, King Abdullah told President Obama not to humiliate Mr Mubarak and warned that he would step in to bankroll Egypt if the US withdrew its aid programme, worth $1.5 billion annually. America’s closest ally in the Gulf made clear that the Egyptian President must be allowed to stay on to oversee the transition towards peaceful democracy and then leave with dignity. “Mubarak and King Abdullah are not just allies, they are close friends, and the King is not about to see his friend cast aside and humiliated,” a senior source in the Saudi capital told The Times. Two sources confirmed details of the King’s call.