Egyptian protesters stand on a police vehicle before they set it on fire in Cairo's Tahrir Square on January 28, 2013. Egypt's main opposition bloc rejected an invitation by President Mohamed Morsi for talks on the violence and political turmoil sweeping the country and instead called for fresh mass demonstrations. (Photo credit MAHMUD KHALED/AFP/Getty Images)
Sarah Lynch, Special for USA TODAY
CAIRO - Amid spiraling unrest that has left around 60 dead, Egypt's army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi said on the armed forces' Facebook page that the state could collapse if political catastrophe in Egypt continues.
"The continuation of the conflict between the different political forces and their differences over how the country should be run could lead to the collapse of the state and threaten future generations," he said.
The warning followed nationwide violence and unrest that began last Friday, the second anniversary of the uprising that ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak. Protesters last week demonstrated for change and against Muslim Brotherhood rule, marching across the country as deadly clashes erupted.
The violence spiraled out of control in various part of the country and flowed into a fifth day on Tuesday.
While the current situation puts pressure on the president, some analysts said the unrest is not enough to end the presidency of Mohamed Morsi.
"It will take much more serious events for him to step down other than the violence we're seeing at the moment," said Egyptian political analyst Mazen Hassan.
But recent events still risk disastrous consequences.
"All these events are hitting the Egyptian economy at a moment when the economy is already suffering from the impact of the revolution," said Mostafa Sayyed, a professor of political economy at Cairo University.
In Cairo overnight, mobs stormed the lobby of the Semiramis Intercontinental Cairo hotel, located near Tahrir Square, as clashes continued nearby between protesters and security forces. Masked attackers looted an ATM machine before civilians intervened and turned the criminals into the police, local press reported.
"EMERGENCY! WE ARE UNDER ATTACK! SEVERAL THUGS HAVE ENTERED THE SEMIRAMIS! SEND HELP," read a Twitter message posted by the hotel on the social networking site. Earlier Tweets advertised health club amenities and romantic choices for visitors on Valentine's Day.
"It's unfortunate because tourism is not going to rebound in Egypt if there is no safety, stability and security," said Cesare Rouchdy, regional director of marketing for Egypt's Four Seasons Hotels, one of which is located on the Nile in Cairo near the Semiramis Intercontinental. "These are the three important (factors)'S'es needed to stimulate tourism."
The industry, which employs many Egyptians and is the primary source of foreign currency, was hit hard over the past two years as many potential visitors avoided a weakened security situation, bouts of unrest, and political instability.
Foreign reserves dropped from $34 billion before the 2011 uprising to around $15 billion over the last two years, which is enough to cover only three months of imports. The Egyptian pound continues to hit record lows against the US dollar, foreign and domestic investments have drastically slowed, and Egypt has yet to receive an International Monetary Fund loan.
On Sunday President Morsi declared a state of emergency and 30-day curfew from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. for three cities along the Suez Canal - Ismailia, Suez and Port Said - that combined have seen the bulk of violence. Despite Morsi's efforts to quell unrest, however, thousands of protesters in broke the curfew Monday night, taking to the streets demanding the regulation be lifted.
"The pattern has been one of cyclical outbreaks of violence and protests," said analyst Michael Wahid Hanna of the Century Foundation, who is currently in Cairo. "It's hard to sustain these kinds of street clashes beyond a matter of days, but they keep occurring, and obviously the seeds of future clashes are being planted now, particularly in the canal cities."
At least six people were killed in Suez on Friday, and another 37 died in Port Said after clashes broke out there the following day. Anger bubbled over after an Egyptian court sentenced 21 to death on Saturday in connection with a fatal soccer brawl in which dozens died in Port Said last winter.
Police inability to deal with a situation that involves a broad-based outpouring of anger and violence at various points along the canal poses serious concerns for the government, Hanna said.
"It's hard to imagine Port Said being tamed, so to speak," he said. "Short of a major course correction, we will probably see more of this in the near future."
Morsi has called for national dialogue with the opposition, led by the Nation Salvation Front, a coalition of secular, liberal and leftist groups that formed last year. But the opposition rejected the invitation for talks, dismissing it as unserious.
"The opposition is trying to push to get as much as it can," said analyst Hassan. "But I think they might just miss the point where it is most suitable to stop and collect the prize of the pressure they are exerting because if the violence continues and they still insist on not participating in dialogue this might backfire against them as people see they are the ones not really willing to cooperate."