The riots that wracked Egypt for the past two days subsided this morning but they left behind a host of questions about the country's economic and political future.
President Anwar Sadat's government clearly made a clumsy political blunder in levying hefty price increases on basic commodities without making an effort to soften their impact, analysts agreed, but Sadat's rule does not appear to be in jeopardy.
The country's worst civil unrest in 25 years forced the government to rescind the price increases, and called into question Sadat's hold on the loyalty of his people. But hundreds of thousands of Egyptians who were caught up in the dissorders refused to take part inthem and there was no sign that the unrest spread into the ranks of the military.
The army was in control of Cairo and the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria tonight Paratroopers patrolled this capital where the nighttime curfew was reduced from 14 hours to 11 hours. Life in most of Egypt returned to near normal after at least 43 persons dead and more than 600 injured, according to official figures that might have been intentionally low.
There were conflicting reports on how many persons had been arrested, but informed sources said that those jailed were a number of leftist labor leaders and journalists. The government has blamed Communists for instigating the disorders.
The problem now confrontating the government is how to balance its economic and political imperatives.
The price increases and a reduction in the government's subsidy of such items as flour, cigarettes and cooking gas were imposed under international pressure from lenders and aid donors to reduce government expenditures and close a revenue gap of about $1.5 billion in the new budget.
But the package announced Monday by the team of economic specialists Sadat brought in last fall to clean Egypt's economic house had apparently not been analyzed for its political implications. It would have imposed an immediate burden on the country's masses, who are already living near the subsistence level, while offering them little in return, analysts said.
"It's the fault of the government that it raised the prices all at once and did not inform the people," a parliamentary deputy said, expressing a commonly held view.
Dr. Abdel Moneim Kaissouni, the deputy prime minister for economic and financial affairs, the chief architect of the economic program, offered his resignation after the riots broke out, but it was declined by premier Mamdouh Salem.
This was interpreted by diplomatic analysts as a sign that Sadat recognizes the need to make at least some concessions to the international bankers and aid-giving countries who are demanding reforms here. Egyptian journalists said they expect the program of price increased to be resubmitted, with modifications, in a gradual and less dramatic way, probably accompanied by staff new taxes on luxuries.
Although there have been indications for months that Egypt was seething with restlessness among the workers and students, Sadat has been saying that he did not expect any civil unrest.
Some diplomatic anaylsts believe that this was because the president has isolated himself among yes-men who tell him what he wants to hear, that is, the esteem in which he is held by the public.
One consequence of the withdrawal of the austerity program is likely to be an increase in Egypt's dependence on aid from foreign countries, especially the rich Arab states to whom Sadat has so often appealed in the past.
The budget and planning committee of the Parliament, which met with Kaissouni and other economic officials today, issued a statement saying the country needs $1.5 billion in additional foreign aid.
The committee appealed to the International Monetary Fund, which has been at the head of the outside forces demanding economic reform here, and to the United States and European and Arab countries for assistance.