The modern Egyptian military was founded by the Khedive Muhammad 'Ali, who ruled Egypt from 1805 to 1848. He sought to carve an independent realm out of the Ottoman Empire, and for this purpose he bought European weaponry and expertise and built an army that he used to defeat the Ottoman sultan and establish sway over Egypt, Syria, and parts of Arabia. European intervention on behalf of the sultan brought Muhammad 'Ali's dreams of an independent kingdom to an end and sharply curbed the size and independence of the Egyptian military. The armed force he had built then languished until Britain took control of Egypt in 1882.
The defense of Egypt, and especially the Suez Canal, was considered a vital imperial interest both in London and Simla, the seat of British colonial government in India. Consequently, there were always significant numbers of British regulars posted to Egypt, which made the development of indigenous Egyptian military forces less important to Britain than in its other Middle Eastern territories such as Transjordan and Iraq. T herefore, the British started their rule over Egypt by crushing the Egyptian officer corps to ensure its loyalty. They ousted most of the Turks who had previously dominated the officer ranks. Although Egyptians from the entire range of society received commissions, the very poorest fellahin (peasants) were excluded from officer billets. Nevertheless, the lowest classes of the fellahin filled Egypt's enlisted ranks, while most Egyptian officers came from the (slightly) better-off peasantry and the lower middle classes, creating severe social splits between the officers and their troops. Although the British provided the Egyptians with new military equipment and revamped Egypt's military doctrine along British lines, the presence of Imperial regulars made improving the Egyptian military a low priority, and throughout the period of British rule, the Egyptian army was relegated to internal-security