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Can the Egyptian army keep the peace?

CAIRO, Egypt — A warning from Egypt’s defense minister this week that the Egyptian state was near collapse raised a lot of eyebrows.

Were the country’s secretive generals readying for another coup?

With their economic and political interests now safeguarded under the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government, however, the army may prefer to steer the current political crisis from the sidelines, analysts say, rather than upend its status quo.

“Our role is to protect the property of the state and maintain security,” a high-ranking military official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told GlobalPost. He dismissed claims the army aims to seize power. “We’re doing what the government recommends.”

More than 50 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in a week of violent protests against the government of President Mohamed Morsi. Law and order have broken down in the Suez Canal town of Port Said, and armed gangs have looted an international hotel chain in the heart of Cairo.

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