Described by the New York Times as “anarchy,” protests in Ismailia, Port Said, and Suez continued today despite President Muhammad Morsi’s imposition of martial law and a state of emergency. Morsi’s requests to halt violent protests appeared ineffective against a backdrop of deeply rooted animosity towards the government.
Egypt’s top military officer, General Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi declared that “the state itself was in danger of collapse” due to the apparent inability of civilian leaders to restore order. In Port Said, the city declared “nominal independence” in protest of Morsi’s rule. Although there were no signs of an impending coup, Sisi indicated that the continuing disorder resulting from the highly-polarized political environment may “affect the stability of the state institutions,” which “is a dangerous matter that harms Egyptian national security.” In recent days, figures on all sides have traded accusations as to who bears greatest responsibility for the current unrest.
The deteriorating security situation beyond the focal points along the Suez Canal was highlighted when rioters looted the Semiramis InterContinental Hotel, a luxury hotel popular with tourists located near Tahrir Square. The looters were eventually driven out by police and demonstrators who were alerted to the attack by social media.