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Egyptian regime warns against chaos

The surprise assault on Israel's embassy in Cairo has pushed Egypt's ruling military deeper into confrontation with a protest movement openly accusing the country's caretakers of trying to cling to the legacy of Hosni Mubarak rather than dismantle it.

A potentially destabilising showdown between the two rivals now seems increasingly likely.

Israel saw the rioting and break-in by protesters - who trashed offices and threw documents out of the window - in the context of its peace deal with Egypt.

It seemed an ominous sign of Egyptians' hatred of Israel unleashed and running wild. But Egypt's generals were just as much the target of the protesters.

The scene was a message to the military that while they may rule, they can not carry the power by intimidation that Mubarak did.

Protesters, and a growing part of the public, are becoming increasingly critical of a military they say is too close to the old regime, doing little to bring democracy and committing new abuses of its own.

"It is a conflict between a party that is trying to reproduce the old regime and a revolution that continues to press for its demands to be met," said protest leader Khaled Abdel-hamid.

The military has responded to the late Friday night attack on the Israeli embassy by warning that the country's entire stability is in danger.

In a statement read on state TV, the military and the civilian government said Egypt was passing through a crisis "that threatens the very body of the state".

The leadership vowed to use tough emergency laws that were the hated hallmark of Mubarak's 29-year regime and that the military had promised repeatedly to erase. "We are now somewhere between revolution and chaos, between toppling a regime and toppling the entire state," the government-owned Al-Ahram daily warned in a front page editorial that echoed the military's thinking.

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