Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

II
Mohamed Ali Creates a State

Mohamed Ali was a natural consequence of Bonaparte. Without the Corsican artilleryman the Macedonian tobacco-merchant would perhaps have come to seek his fortune in Egypt, being already informed about Europe and the importance of international trade by his associate, the Marseilles business-man, Lion. He might have become rich, but he would probably not have created a state.

We need not linger over the manner of his rise to power, which was constantly favoured by the Expedition and its aftermath. He arrived in Egypt with a force of Albanians sent by the Sublime Porte in order to drive out the French, then acted as arbiter between the two great Mamelukes Alfi and Bardisi, who would never have allowed him to play such a part without the humiliating defeat of 1798. The newcomer found his path clear because the driving power of the Circassian 'samurai' was broken. Neither London nor Constantinople would have allowed Mohamed Ali's power to grow so rapidly had not Napoleon drawn to himself the entire attention of governments, armies and fleets.

But the following of Mohamed Ali on Bonaparte was not just a matter of circumstances. It can be traced also in the means by which the Albanian seized power, and in his methods such as an excess of centralization, state-capitalism, the conduct of war, his adventurous but realistic view of history, his imported but fervent patriotism.

At first glance the Viceroy's conquests and diplomatic activity seem to have little to do with Egypt. They appeared less inspired by national than by family considerations, tending particularly to bring pressure to bear on Sultan Mahmud in order to grasp the hereditary throne of Cairo. But the arrival of Egyptian ships in Navarino Harbour and Ibrahim's appearance on the Taurus none the less had a deep significance; they showed that Egypt, scarcely emerged from its ghetto, could suddenly play a preponderant role in the deliberations of the great Powers. We were speaking a few moments ago of

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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