In a scathing article by British journalist Robert Fisk titled "The Rotten State of Egypt is too Powerless and Corrupt to Act" published in the Independent on Wednesday, the seasoned Beirut-based reporter lashed out against the Egyptian regime in light of the recent assault on Gaza.

He opens his tirade with a sarcastic reference to the times of President Hosni Mubarak - "'La Vache Qui Rit', as he is still called in Cairo" - where the world is no longer worried about the anger of the Arab masses because you can always count on their governments to shut them down brutally and inhumanely.

He mentions the atrocities committed by policemen and the torture to which prisoners are subjected.

Throughout the article, Fisk attacks the subordination of Middle East rulers who continue to assume power when the final word is not theirs. Opening the Rafah crossing and breaking relations with Israel would lead to the immediate collapse of the Egyptian economy, he says.

"To admit that Egypt can't even open its sovereign border without permission from Washington tells you all you need to know about the powerlessness of the satraps that run the Middle East for us," he wrote.

However he emphasizes that true "disgrace" of Egypt is not its reaction to the Gaza slaughter, but rather the "corruption that has become embedded in an Egyptian society."

He says that in Egypt "the idea of service - health, education, genuine security for ordinary people - has simply ceased to exist" and the primary duty of the police is to protect the regime.

An Islamic "façade" as he mentioned was now common in all government institutions, even in hospitals where doctors would sometimes neglect their patients to pray in Ramadan.

He quotes Alaa Al-Aswani, who he said wrote eloquently "that the regime's 'martyrs' outnumber all the dead of Egypt's wars against Israel - victims of railway accidents, ferry sinkings, the collapse of city buildings, sickness, cancers and pesticide poisonings - all victims of the corruption and abuse of power."

Commenting on Hezbollah's Hassan Nasrallah's call on Egyptians to rise in their millions to open the Rafah border, Fisk says that they won't, lamenting Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit's feeble response that Nasrallah wishes to provoke "an anarchy similar to the one they created in their own country."

Fisk wraps up his impassioned attack with a reference to Mubarak's plan to hand over the presidency to his son Gamal and with a stab at the utter powerlessness of Egypt.

"Egypt's malaise is in many ways as dark as that of the Palestinians. Its impotence in the face of Gaza's suffering is a symbol of its own political sickness," he concludes.