Could Egypt fall apart?

Updated 8:44 AM EST, Thu January 31, 2013

Story highlights

Egypt's raging conflict "may lead to the collapse of the state," defense minister says

The remark is a warning that things are getting out of control, analysts say

But experts largely agree that the remark is "a bit over the top"

Egypt's government needs to build "confidence" among its people, Clinton says

The renewed bloodshed and defiant protests in Egypt prompts a provocative question: Could Egypt really collapse?

Just two years into a revolution that ignited during the Arab Spring, Egypt’s defense minister warned this week the raging conflict “may lead to the collapse of the state and threaten the future of our coming generations.”

READ: Egyptian secular, Islamist groups meet to try to end conflict

On Wednesday, analysts described that statement as overreaching, but none dismissed the severity of the country’s problems.

“His comments were a bit over the top,” said Joshua Stacher, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center of Scholars.

“It depends on what your definition of what ‘collapse’ is,” added Steven A. Cook, senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. “The economy is certainly in terrible shape.”

James Coyle, director of global education at Chapman University in California, said the comment by Defense Minister Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi was “a bit of an overreaction.”

READ: Official warns of Egypt’s collapse as protesters defy curfew order

“But five days of riots and tens of deaths and thousands of demonstrators still in Tahrir Square two years after the fall of (Hosni) Mubarak, I can understand why he would say it.”

Analysts agreed that the remarks should serve as an alarm.

“It was a warning to everybody – the opposition, the Brotherhood – that they’ve got to get their act together,” said CNN correspondent Ben Wedeman in Cairo. He was referring to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist party to which President Mohamed Morsy belongs.

READ: Demonstrators ignore curfew in restive Egyptian city

The military – the powerful bulwark for Egyptian secularism that temporarily governed the country after the revolution ousted longtime ruler Mubarak – is worried about civil war.

“This is a telegraphed message to everybody that this is getting out of control,” Wedeman said.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also addressed the defense minister’s warning of a collapse.

“I hope not,” she told CNN Tuesday. “That would lead to incredible chaos and violence on a scale that would be devastating for Egypt and the region.”