Egypt in Transition

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

VI
The Arabi Revolt

The 1882 movement appears to contradict Isma'il's policies in every way. But from the point of view of welding Egypt into a unity, it completes it. It marks the bitter awakening of the national consciousness, but on the other hand it resulted in a transition from a tacit to an open colonization.

Under the Khedive the worst possible rift had shown itself between the two movements of the Egyptian revolution: modernization and nationalization; Egypt must become modern even at the price of ceasing to be Egypt. It was natural for the balance to swing sharply to the other extreme, for the unwary Isma'il to give rise to a strong counter-shock as a result of having tried to turn the Nile Valley into a European province. The wild enthusiasm for the foreigner was to be answered by a wave of hatred which could more accurately be called an attempt to retrieve the nation. No people would have passively watched the country being turned over to foreign moneygrabbers just when it was becoming a nation, even if the foreigners' presence spelt considerable enrichment for the country, even though the nationalist reaction might well serve as a pretext for foreign intervention and the setting up of colonial tyrannies.

Thus there emerged Arabi, Colonel Ahmed Arabi Pasha, 'El Wahid' (the Unique). We are too often misled by the picturesque and trivial appearance of the first 'colonels' revolution'. French historians in particular write with spiteful ill humour about an undertaking in which they see no more than a stupid invitation to the English to come and interfere. The ups and downs of the affair are of no great importance, but may be resumed briefly.

Stung by the favoured treatment given to Turkish and Circassian army staff-officers, and by the heavy dismissals they had to suffer at the hands of the European debt controllers, Arabi and the 'fellah' officers rose against the Khedive Tewfik, who was supported by the British. Between February 1879 and July 1882 they forced him to dismiss the Prime Minister, Nubar, who was Armenian, then to exile

-69-

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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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