History of modern Egypt


History of modern Egypt
History of Egypt

This article is part of a series
Prehistory
Ancient Egypt
Early Dynastic Period
Old Kingdom
First Intermediate Period
Middle Kingdom
Second Intermediate Period
New Kingdom
Third Intermediate Period
Late Period
Classical Antiquity
Achaemenid Egypt
Ptolemaic Egypt
Roman & Byzantine Egypt
Medieval Egypt
Fatimid Egypt
Ayyubid Egypt
Mamluk Egypt
Ottoman Egypt
French occupation
Egypt under Muhammad Ali
Modern Egypt
Khedivate of Egypt
Sultanate of Egypt
Kingdom of Egypt
Republic

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The definition of modern history has varied in accordance to different definitions of Modernity. Some scholars[1] date it as far back as 1517 with the Ottomans’ defeat of the Mamlūks in 1516–17. However, most scholars have agreed that Modern history of Egypt starts with Muhammad Ali's rule and his launching of Egypt's modernization project that involved building a new army and suggesting a new map for Egypt.[2] In 1882, the Khedivate of Egypt becomes part of the British sphere of influence in the region, a situation that conflicted with its position as an autonomous vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. The country became a British protectorate in 1914 and achieved independence in 1922.

Gamal Abdel Nasser established a one party state, known as the Republic of Egypt, following the 1952 Egyptian revolution. Egypt was ruled autocratically by three presidents over the following six decades, by Nasser from 1954 until his death in 1970, by Anwar Sadat from 1971 until his assassination 1981, and by Hosni Mubarak from 1981 until his resignation in the face of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.

As of February 2011, the country is under interim military rule.

Contents

British occupation

In 1882 opposition to European control led to growing tension amongst notable natives, the most dangerous opposition coming from the army. A large military demonstration in September 1881 forced the Khedive Tewfiq to dismiss his Prime Minister. In April 1882 France and Great Britain sent warships to Alexandria to bolster the Khedive amidst a turbulent climate, spreading fear of invasion throughout the country. Tawfiq moved to Alexandria for fear of his own safety as army officers led by Ahmed Urabi began to take control of the government. By June Egypt was in the hands of nationalists opposed to European domination of the country. A British naval bombardment of Alexandria had little effect on the opposition which led to the landing of a British expeditionary force at both ends of the Suez Canal in August 1882. The British succeeded in defeating the Egyptian Army at Tel El Kebir in September and took control of the country putting Tawfiq back in control. The purpose of the invasion had been to restore political stability to Egypt under a government of the Khedive and international controls which were in place to streamline Egyptian financing since 1876. It is unlikely that the British expected a long-term occupation from the outset, however Lord Cromer, Britain's Chief Representative in Egypt at the time, viewed Egypt's financial reforms as part of a long-term objective. Cromer took the view that political stability needed financial stability, and embarked on a programme of long term investment in Egypt's productive resources, above all in the cotton economy, the mainstay of the country's export earnings. In 1906 the Denshawai incident provoked a questioning of British rule in Egypt. British occupation ended nominally with the establishment of a protectorate and the installation of sultan Hussein Kamel in 1914, but British military presence in Egypt lasted until 1954.[citation needed]

Sultanate of Egypt

In 1914 as a result of the declaration of war with the Ottoman Empire, of which Egypt was nominally a part, Britain declared a Protectorate over Egypt and deposed the Khedive, replacing him with a family member who was made Sultan of Egypt by the British. A group known as the Wafd Delegation attended the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 to demand Egypt's independence. Included in the group was political leader, Saad Zaghlul, who would later become Prime Minister. When the group was arrested and deported to the island of Malta, a huge uprising occurred in Egypt.

Female nationalists demonstrating in Cairo, 1919.

From March to April 1919, there were mass demonstrations that became uprisings. This is known in Egypt as the 1919 Revolution. Almost daily demonstrations and unrest continued throughout Egypt for the remainder of the Spring. To the surprise of the British authorities, Egyptian women also demonstrated, led by Huda Sha‘rawi (1879–1947), who would become the leading feminist voice in Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. The first women’s demonstration was held on Sunday, March 16, 1919, and was followed by yet another one on Thursday, March 20, 1919. Egyptian women would continue to play an important and increasingly public nationalist role throughout the spring and summer of 1919 and beyond.[3] British suppression of the anticolonial riots led to the death of some 800 people. In November 1919, the Milner Commission was sent to Egypt by the British to attempt to resolve the situation. In 1920, Lord Milner submitted his report to Lord Curzon, the British Foreign Secretary, recommending that the protectorate should be replaced by a treaty of alliance. As a result, Curzon agreed to receive an Egyptian mission headed by Zaghlul and Adli Pasha to discuss the proposals. The mission arrived in London in June 1920 and the agreement was concluded in August 1920. In February 1921, the British Parliament approved the agreement and Egypt was asked to send another mission to London with full powers to conclude a definitive treaty. Adli Pasha led this mission, which arrived in June 1921. However, the Dominion delegates at the 1921 Imperial Conference had stressed the importance of maintaining control over the Suez Canal Zone and Curzon could not persuade his Cabinet colleagues to agree to any terms that Adli Pasha was prepared to accept. The mission returned to Egypt in disgust.

Kingdom of Egypt

In December 1921, the British authorities in Cairo imposed martial law and once again deported Zaghlul. Demonstrations again led to violence. In deference to the growing nationalism and at the suggestion of the High Commissioner, Lord Allenby, the UK unilaterally declared Egyptian independence on 28 February 1922, abolishing the protectorate and establishing an independent Kingdom of Egypt. Sarwat Pasha became prime minister. British influence, however, continued to dominate Egypt's political life and fostered fiscal, administrative, and governmental reforms. Britain retained control of the Canal Zone, Sudan and Egypt's external protection.

King Fuad died in 1936 and Farouk inherited the throne at the age of sixteen. Alarmed by Italy's recent invasion of Ethiopia, he signed the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty, requiring Britain to withdraw all troops from Egypt, except at the Suez Canal (agreed to be evacuated by 1949).

During World War II, British troops used Egypt as a base for Allied operations throughout the region. British troops were withdrawn to the Suez Canal area in 1947, but nationalist, anti-British feelings continued to grow after the war.

Republic of Egypt

Revolution of 1952

On 22–26 July 1952, a group of disaffected army officers (the "free officers") led by Lieutenant General Muhammad Naguib overthrew King Farouk, whom the military blamed for Egypt's poor performance in the 1948 war with Israel. Popular expectations for immediate reforms led to the workers' riots in Kafr Dawar on 12 August 1952, which resulted in two death sentences. Following a brief experiment with civilian rule, the Free Officers abrogated the 1953 constitution and declared Egypt a republic on 18 June 1953.

Nasser and Arab socialism

Nasser evolved into a charismatic leader, not only of Egypt but of the Arab world, promoting and implementing "Arab socialism."

When the United States held up military sales in reaction to Egyptian neutrality regarding the Soviet Union, Nasser concluded an arms deal with Czechoslovakia in September 1955.

When the US and the World Bank withdrew their offer to help finance the Aswan High Dam in mid-1956, Nasser nationalized the privately owned Suez Canal Company. The crisis that followed, exacerbated by growing tensions with Israel over guerrilla attacks from Gaza and Israeli reprisals, support for the FLN's war of liberation against the French in Algeria and against Britain's presence in the Arab world, resulted in the invasion of Egypt in October by France, Britain, and Israel This was called the Suez War.

In 1958 Egypt joined with the republic of Syria to form a state called the United Arab Republic. It existed until Syria's secession in 1961, although Egypt continued to be known as the UAR until 1971.

Nasser helped establish with India and Yugoslavia the Non-Aligned Movement of developing countries in September 1961, and continued to be a leading force in the movement until his death.

Nasser ruled as an autocrat but remained extremely popular within Egypt and throughout the Arab world. His willingness to stand up to the Western powers and to Israel won him support throughout the region. However, Nasser's foreign and military policies were central in provoking the Six Day War in 1967. This conflict saw the Egyptian, Syrian and Jordanian armed forces routed by the Israelis. Israel afterward occupied the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip from Egypt, Golan Heights from Syria, and West Bank and East Jerusalem from Jordan. This defeat was a severe blow to Nasser's prestige both at home and abroad. Following the defeat, Nasser made a dramatic offer to resign, which was only retracted in the face of mass demonstrations urging him to stay. The last three years of his control over Egypt were far more subdued.

Sadat era

October 1973 war

International Relations and the Camp David Accords

Celebrating the signing of the Camp David Accords: Menachem Begin, Jimmy Carter, Anwar Al Sadat.

In foreign relations Sadat also launched momentous change from the Nasser era. President Sadat shifted Egypt from a policy of confrontation with Israel to one of peaceful accommodation through negotiations. Following the Sinai Disengagement Agreements of 1974 and 1975, Sadat created a fresh opening for progress by his dramatic visit to Jerusalem in November 1977. This led to the invitation from President Jimmy Carter of the United States to President Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Begin to enter trilateral negotiations at Camp David.

The outcome was the historic Camp David accords, signed by Egypt and Israel and witnessed by the US on 17 September 1978. The accords led to the 26 March 1979, signing of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty, by which Egypt regained control of the Sinai in May 1982. Throughout this period, US–Egyptian relations steadily improved, and Egypt became one of America's largest recipients of foreign aid. Sadat's willingness to break ranks by making peace with Israel earned him the enmity of most other Arab states, however. In 1977, Egypt fought a short border war with Libya.

Domestic Policy and the Infitah

Sadat used his immense popularity with the Egyptian people to try to push through vast economic reforms that ended the socialistic controls of Nasserism. Sadat introduced greater political freedom and a new economic policy, the most important aspect of which was the infitah or "open door". This relaxed government controls over the economy and encouraged private investment. While the reforms created a wealthy and successful upper class and a small middle class, these reforms had little effect upon the average Egyptian who began to grow dissatisfied with Sadat's rule. In 1977, Infitah policies led to massive spontaneous riots ('Bread Riots') involving hundreds of thousands of Egyptians when the state announced that it was retiring subsidies on basic foodstuffs.

Liberalization also included the reinstitution of due process and the legal banning of torture. Sadat dismantled much of the existing political machine and brought to trial a number of former government officials accused of criminal excesses during the Nasser era. Sadat tried to expand participation in the political process in the mid-1970s but later abandoned this effort. In the last years of his life, Egypt was wracked by violence arising from discontent with Sadat's rule and sectarian tensions, and it experienced a renewed measure of repression including extra judicial arrests.

Another change Sadat made from the Nasser era was a bow towards the Islamic revival. Sadat loosened restrictions on the Muslim Brotherhood, allowing it to publish a monthly magazine, al-Dawa, which appeared regularly until September 1981 (although he did not allow the groups reconstitution.[4]

In the late 1970s, he began calling himself `The Believer President` and signing his name Mohammad Anwar Sadat.` He ordered Egypt's state-run television to interrupt programs with Salat (call to prayer) on the screen five times a day and to increase religious programming. Under his rule local officials banned the sale of alcohol except at places catering to foreign tourists in more than half of Egypt's 26 governorates. [5]

Mubarak era

On 6 October 1981, President Sadat was assassinated by Islamic extremists. Hosni Mubarak, Vice President since 1975 and air force commander during the October 1973 war, was elected President later that month. He was subsequently confirmed by popular referendum for three more 6-year terms, most recently in September 2005. The results of the referendums are however of questionable validity as they, with the exception of the one conducted in September 2005, listed only Mubarak as the sole candidate.

Mubarak maintained Egypt's commitment to the Camp David peace process, while at the same time re-establishing Egypt's position as an Arab leader. Egypt was readmitted to the Arab League in 1989. Egypt also has played a moderating role in such international forums as the UN and the Nonaligned Movement.

Modern day Cairo

From 1991, Mubarak undertook an ambitious domestic economic reform program to reduce the size of the public sector and expand the role of the private sector. During the 1990s, a series of International Monetary Fund arrangements, coupled with massive external debt relief resulting from Egypt's participation in the Gulf War coalition, helped Egypt improve its macroeconomic performance. The economy of Egypt flourished during the 1990s and 2000s. The Government of Egypt tamed inflation bringing it down from double-digit to a single digit. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita based on purchasing-power-parity (PPP) increased fourfold between 1981 and 2006, from US$ 1355 in 1981, to US$ 2525 in 1991, to US$ 3686 in 2001 and to an estimated US$ 4535 in 2006.

There was less progress in political reform. The November 2000 People's Assembly elections saw 34 members of the opposition win seats in the 454-seat assembly, facing a clear majority of 388 ultimately affiliated with the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). A constitutional amendment in May 2005 changed the presidential election to a multicandidate popular vote rather than a popular validation of a candidate nominated by the People’s Assembly and on 7 September Mubarak was elected for another six-year term with 87 percent of the popular vote, followed by a distant but strong showing by Ayman Nour, leader of the opposition Ghad Party and a well-known rights activist. Shortly after mounting an unprecedented presidential campaign, Nour was jailed on forgery charges critics called phony; he was released on 18 February 2009.[6] Brotherhood members were allowed to run for parliament in 2005 as independents, garnering 88 seats, or 20 percent of the People’s Assembly.

The opposition parties have been weak and divided and are not yet credible alternatives to the NDP. The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928, remains an illegal organization and may not be recognized as a political party (current Egyptian law prohibits the formation of political parties based on religion). Members are known publicly and openly speak their views. Members of the Brotherhood have been elected to the People's Assembly and local councils as independents. The Egyptian political opposition also includes groups and popular movements such as Kefaya and the April 6 Youth Movement, although they are somewhat less organized than officially registered political parties. Bloggers, or cyberactivists as Courtney C. Radsch terms them, have also played an important political opposition role, writing, organizing, and mobilizing public opposition.[7]

President Mubarak had tight, autocratic control over Egypt. A dramatic drop in support for Mubarak and his domestic economic reform program increased with surfacing news about his son Alaa being extremely corrupt and favored in government tenders and privatization. As Alaa started getting out of the picture by 2000, Mubarak’s second son Gamal started rising in the National Democratic Party and succeeded in getting a newer generation of neo-liberals into the party and eventually the government. Gamal Mubarak branched out with a few colleagues to set up Medinvest Associates Ltd., which manages a private equity fund, and to do some corporate finance consultancy work.[8]

2011 revolution and aftermath

Beginning on 25 January 2011, a series of street demonstrations, protests, and civil disobedience acts have taken place in Egypt, with organizers counting on the Tunisian uprising to inspire the crowds to mobilize. The demonstrations and riots were reported to have started over police brutality, state of emergency laws, unemployment, desire to raise the minimum wage, lack of housing, food inflation, corruption, lack of freedom of speech, and poor living conditions.[9] The protests' main goal was to oust President Hosni Mubarak's regime. On 11 February 2011, President Mubarak resigned, relinquishing power to an interim military authority.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Daly, M. W. Ed. The Cambridge History of Egypt. Volume 2. Modern Egypt From 1517 to the End of the Twentieth Century.
  2. ^ Biger, Gideon. "The First map of Modern Egypt Mohammed's Ali's Firman and the Map of 1841". Middle Eastern Studies Vol. 14, No. 3 (Oct., 1978), pp. 323-325.
  3. ^ Ziad Fahmy, Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011), 138-39.
  4. ^ p.103-4, Le Prophete et Pharaon by Kepel
  5. ^ Murphy, Caryle, Passion for Islam : Shaping the Modern Middle East: the Egyptian Experience, Simon and Schuster, 2002, p.36
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Arab Media & Society. Arabmediasociety.com. Retrieved on 2011-02-02.
  8. ^ Interview with MR. GAMAL MUBARAK Hairman Of Medinvest Associates Ltd. Winne.com (1999-01-14). Retrieved on 2011-02-02.
  9. ^ Jailan Zayan (2011-01-25). "AFP – Egypt braces for nationwide protests". AFP. http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hP30nA0bbEaHZKjlpUKhdHxoN8Cg?docId=CNG.95111380dfbe35f8a08d6124c5e915e8.71. Retrieved 2011-01-25. 
  10. ^ Whitlock, Craig (12 February 2011). "Mubarak resigns; hands power to military". The Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/11/AR2011021102386.html. 

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