Egypt nears military coup. USS warships in Suez Canal

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report February 8, 2011, debka.com

USS Kearsarge with Marine helicopters

A fresh surge of popular anti-Mubarak protest ripping across Egypt Tuesday, Feb. 8 has brought the country closer to a military coup to stem the anarchy than at any time since the street caught fire on Jan. 25.

Vice President Omar Suleiman warned a group of Egyptian news editors that the only choice is between a descent into further lawlessness and a military takeover in Cairo. The distinguished political pundit of the 1960s and 1970s Hasnin Heikal saw no other way out of the crisis but a government ruling by the army’s bayonets.

The arrival of US naval, marine and air forces in the Suez Canal’s Greater Bitter Lake indicated that the crisis was quickly swerving out of control.

debkafile’s military sources report that the American force consists of the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group of six warships. Helicopters on some of their decks are there to carry and drop 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.

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