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|Subject: Muhammad Ali of Egypt 13/11/2010, 7:28 pm|| |
Muhammad Ali Pashaal-Mas'ud ibn Agha(Arabic: محمد علي باشا) (Mehmet Ali Pasha in Albanian; KavalalıMehmet Ali Paşa in Turkish) (4 March1769 – 2 August 1849) was an Albanianwho became Wāli, andself-declared Khedive of Egypt and Sudan. Though not a modern nationalist, heis regarded as the founder of modern Egypt because of the dramaticreforms in the military, economic and cultural spheres that he instituted. Healso ruled Levantineterritories outside Egypt.The dynasty that he established would rule Egypt and Sudan until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.
Muhammad or Mehmed
The spelling of Muhammad Ali's first namein both Arabic, and Ottoman Turkish was consistent: محمد (Muhammad). This is the name by which hewas known to his Egyptian subjects, and the name used uniformly in Egyptian,and Arab historical scholarship. However, given his original status as acommander in the Ottoman military, his first name is often rendered as Mehmed,or Mehmet, as this was the way in which his name was pronounced by his Albanianco-nationals and the Turkish-speaking leadership. Current English-languagehistorical scholarship is divided as to which is preferable, with the majorityopinion favoring the former. Typically, historians accentuating the Egyptiancharacter of his rule opt for 'Muhammad', whilst those accentuating the Ottomancharacter opt for 'Mehmed', or 'Mehmet'. This distinction is an issue for thosewriting in a Latin alphabet, but not in Arabic.
Muhammad Ali was born in Kavala, in the Ottoman province ofMacedonia (now a part of modern Greece) to Albanian parents. Accordingto the many French, English and other western journalists who interviewed him,and according to people who knew him, the only language he knew fluently wasAlbanian. He wasalso competent in Turkish. The sonof a tobacco and shipping merchant namedIbrahim Agha, his mother Zainab Agha was his uncle Husain Agha's daughter.Muhammad Ali was the nephew of the "Ayan of Kavalla"(Çorbaci) Husain Agha. When his father died at a young age, Muhammad was takenand raised by his uncle with his cousins. As a reward for Muhammad Ali's hard work,his uncle Çorbaci gave him the rank of "Bolukbashi"for the collection of taxes in the town of Kavala.
After his promising success in collectingtaxes, he gained Second Commander rank under his cousin Sarechesme Halil Aghain the Kavala Volunteer Contingent that was sent to re-occupy Egypt followingNapoleon'swithdrawal. He married Ali Agha's daughter, Emine Nosratli, a wealthy widow of Ali Bey. In 1801,this unit was sent, as part of a larger Ottoman force, to re-occupy Egypt followinga brief French occupation. The expedition landed at Aboukir in thespring of 1801.
The French withdrawal left a power vacuum in theOttoman province. Mamluk power hadbeen weakened, but not destroyed, and Ottoman forces clashed with the Mamluksfor power. Duringthis period of anarchy Muhammad Ali used his loyal Albanian troops to play bothsides, gaining power and prestige for himself. As theconflict drew on, the local populace grew weary of the power struggle. Led bythe ulema, a group ofprominent Egyptians demanded that the Wāli (governor), Ahmad Khurshid Pasha, step down and Muhammad Ali be installedas the new Wāli in 1805.
The Ottoman Sultan, Selim III, was notin a position to oppose Muhammad Ali’s ascension, thereby allowing Muhammad Alito set about consolidating his position. During the infighting between theOttomans and Mamluks between 1801 and 1805, Muhammad Ali had carefully acted togain the support of the general public. Byappearing as the champion of the people Muhammad Ali was able to forestallpopular opposition until he had consolidated power.
The Mamluks still posed the greatest threatto Muhammad Ali. They had controlled Egyptfor more than 600 years, and over that time they had extended their ruleextensively throughout Egypt.Muhammad Ali’s approach was to eliminate the Mamluk leadership, then moveagainst the rank and file. In 1811, Muhammad Ali invited the Mamluk leaders toa celebration held at the CairoCitadel in honor of his son, Tusun, who was being appointed to leada military expedition into Arabia.When the Mamluks arrived, they were trapped and killed. Afterthe leaders were killed, Muhammad Ali dispatched his army throughout Egypt to routthe remainder of the Mamluk forces.
Muhammad Ali transformed Egypt into a regional power which he saw as thenatural successor to the decaying Ottoman Empire.He summed up his vision for Egyptas follows:
"I am well aware that the (Ottoman)Empire is heading by the day toward destruction...On her ruins I will build avast kingdom... up to the Euphrates and the Tigris.".
Sultan Selim III had recognized the need toreform and modernize the Ottoman Empire alongEuropean lines to ensure that his state could compete. Selim III, however,faced stiff local opposition from an entrenched clergy and military apparatus.Consequently, Selim III was deposed and ultimately killed for his efforts.Muhammad Ali, too, recognized the need to modernize, and unlike Selim, he haddispatched his chief rival, giving him a free hand to mimic Selim’s attemptedreforms.
Muhammad Ali’s goal was to establish apowerful, European-style state. In orderto do that, he had to reorganize Egyptian society, streamline the economy,train a professional bureaucracy, and build a modern military.
His first task was to secure a revenuestream for Egypt.To accomplish this, Muhammad Ali ‘nationalized’ all the land of Egypt,thereby officially owning all the production of the land. He accomplished thestate annexation of property by raising taxes on the ‘tax-farmers’throughout Egypt.The new taxes were intentionally high and when the tax-farmers could not meetthe demanded payments, Muhammad Ali confiscated the lands.
In practice, Muhammad Ali’s land reformamounted to a monopoly on tradein Egypt.He required all producers to sell their goods to the state. The state in turnresold Egyptian goods, within Egyptand to foreign markets, and retained the surplus. The practice proved veryprofitable for Egyptwith the cultivation of long staple cotton. The new-found profits also extend down tothe individual farmers, as the average wage increased fourfold.
In addition to bolstering the agriculturalsector, Muhammad Ali built an industrial base for Egypt. His motivation for doing sowas primarily an effort to build a modern military. Consequently, he focused onweapons production. Factories based in Cairoproduced muskets and cannons. With a shipyard he builtin Alexandria, hebegan construction of a navy. By the end of the 1830s, Egypt’s warindustries had constructed nine 100-gun warships and were turning out 1,600muskets a month.
However, the industrial innovations werenot limited to weapons production. Muhammad Ali established a textile industryin an effort to compete with European industries and produce greater revenuesfor Egypt.While the textile industry was not successful, the entire endeavor employedtens of thousands of Egyptians.Additionally, by hiring European managers, he was able to introduce industrialtraining to the Egyptian population. To staff his new industries Muhammad Aliemployed a corvée laborsystem. The peasantry objected to these conscriptions and many ran away fromtheir villages to avoid being taken, sometimes fleeing as far away as Syria. A number of them maimed themselvesso as to be unsuitable for combat: common ways of self-maiming were blinding aneye with rat poison and cutting off a finger of the right hand, which usuallyworked the firing mechanism of a rifle.
Beyond building a functioning, industrialeconomy, Muhammad Ali also made an effort to train a professional military andbureaucracy. He sent promising citizens to Europe to study. Again the driving forcebehind the effort was to build a European-style army. Students were sent tostudy European languages, primarily French, so they could in turn translatemilitary manuals into Arabic. He then used both educated Egyptians and importedEuropean experts to establish schools and hospitals in Egypt. TheEuropean education also provided talented Egyptians with a means of socialmobility.
A byproduct of Muhammad Ali’s trainingprogram was the establishment of a professional bureaucracy.Establishing an efficient central bureaucracy was an essential prerequisite forthe success of Muhammad Ali’s other reforms. In the process of destroying theMamluks, the Wāli had to fill the governmental roles that the Mamluks hadpreviously filled. In doing so, Muhammad Ali kept all central authority forhimself. He partitioned Egyptinto ten provinces responsible for collecting taxes and maintaining order. MuhammadAli installed his sons in most key positions; however, his reforms did offerEgyptians opportunities beyond agriculture and industry.
In the 1820s, Muhammad Ali sent the firsteducational "mission" of Egyptian students to Europe.This contact resulted in literature that is considered the dawn of the Arabicliterary renaissance, known as the Nahda.
To support the modernization of industryand the military, Muhammad Ali set up a number of schools in various fieldswhere French texts were studied. Rifa'a al-Tahtawi supervised translations from French toArabic on topics ranging from sociology and history to military technology, andthese translations have been considered the second great translation movement,after the first from Greek into Arabic.
In 1835, his government founded the firstindigenous press in the Arab World, the Bulaq press. The Bulaq press published theofficial gazette of MuhammadAli's government.
Among his personal interests was theaccumulation and breeding of Arabian horses. Inhorses obtained as taxes and tribute,Muhammad Ali recognized the unique characteristics and careful attention tobloodlines of the horses bred by the Bedouin,particularly by the Anazeh in Syria andthose bred in the Nejd. While hisimmediate successor had minimal interest in the horse breeding program, hisgrandson, who became Abbas Ishared this interest and further built upon his work.
Though Muhammad Ali’s chief aim was toestablish a European-style military, and carve out a personal empire, he wagedwar initially on behalf of the Ottoman Sultan, Mahmud II, inArabia, and Greece. Subsequent thereto, he came into open conflict with theOttoman Empire.
His first military campaign was anexpedition into the Arabian Peninsula. The holy cities of Mecca, and Medina had been captured by the House of Saud, whohad recently embraced a form of Islam called Wahhabism. Armedwith their newfound religious zeal, the Muhammad ibn Saud began conqueringparts of Arabia. This Ottoman–Saudi War culminated in the capture of the Hejaz region from the Ottoman Empire in1803.
With the main Ottoman army tied up inEurope, Mahmud II turned to Muhammad Ali to recapture the Arabian territories.Muhammad Ali in turn appointed his son, Tusun, to lead amilitary expedition in 1811. The campaign was initially turned back in Arabia;however, a second attack was launched in 1812 that succeeded in recapturingHejaz.
While the campaign was successful, thepower of the Saudis was not broken. They continued to harass Ottoman andEgyptian forces from the central Nejdregion of the Peninsula. Consequently, Muhammad Ali dispatched another of hissons, Ibrahim, at the head of another army to finally rout the Saudis. After atwo-year campaign, the Saudis were crushed and most of the Saudi family wascaptured. The family leader, Abdullah ibn Saud,was sent to Istanbul, and executed.
Muhammad Ali next turned his attention tomilitary campaigns independent of the Porte, beginningwith Sudan which heviewed as a valuable addition resource of territory, gold, and slaves. Sudan atthe time had no real central authority and used primitive weaponry in itstribal infighting. In 1820 Muhammad Ali dispatched an army of 5,000 troopscommanded by his third son, Ismail, south into Sudan with the intent ofconquering the territory and subjugating it to his authority. Ali'stroops made headway into Sudan in 1821, but met with fierce resistance.Ultimately, the superiority of Egyptian troops and firearms ensured theconquest of Sudan. Ali now had an outpost from which he could expand to thesource of the Nile in Ethiopia, and Uganda. His administration captured slavesfrom the NubaMountains, and west and south Sudan, all incorporated into a footregiment known as the Gihadiya (pronounced Jihadiya innon-Egyptian Arabic). Ali's reign in Sudan, and that of his immediatesuccessors, is remembered in Sudan as brutal and heavy-handed, contributing tothe popular independence struggle of the self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad, in1881.
Furtherinformation: History of Sudan (1821–1885)
While Muhammad Ali was expanding hisauthority into Africa, the Ottoman Empire was being challenged by ethnicrebellions in its European territories. The rebellion in the Greekprovinces of the Ottoman Empire began in 1821. The Ottoman armyproved ineffectual in its attempts to put down the revolt as ethnic violencespread as far as Constantinople.With his own army proving ineffective, Sultan Mahmud II offered Muhammad Alithe island of Crete in exchangefor his support in putting down the revolt.
Muhammed Ali sent 16,000 soldiers, 100transports, and 63 escort vessels under command of his son, Ibrahim Pasha. Britain,France, and Russia intervened to protect the Greeks. On 20 October 1827 at the Navarino, while under the command of Muharram Bey, the Ottomanrepresentative, the entire Egyptian navy was sunk by the European Allied fleet,under the command of Admiral Edward Codrington(1770–1851). If the Porte was not inthe least prepared for this confrontation, Muhammad Ali was even less preparedfor the loss of his highly competent, expensively assembled and maintainednavy. With its fleet essentially destroyed, Egypt had no way to support itsforces in Greece and was forced to withdraw. Ultimately the campaign costMuhammad Ali his navy and had not yielded any tangible gains.
In compensation for this loss Muhammad Aliasked the Porte for the territory of Syria. The Ottomans were indifferent tothe request; the Sultan himself asked blandly what would happen if Syria wasgiven over and Muhammad Ali later deposed. But MuhammadAli was no longer willing to tolerate Ottoman indifference. To compensate forhis, and Egypt's, losses the wheels for the conquest of Syria were set inmotion.
Like other rulers of Egypt before him, Alidesired to control Biladal-Sham (the Levant), both for its strategic value and for its richnatural resources; nor was this a sudden, vindictive decision on the part ofthe Wāli since he had harbored this goal since his early years as Egypt'sunofficial ruler. For not only had Syria abundant natural resources, it alsohad a thriving international trading community with well developed marketsthroughout the Levant; inaddition, it would be a captivemarket for the goods now being produced in Egypt. Yet perhaps mostof all, Syria was desirable as a buffer state between Egypt and the OttomanSultan.
A new fleet was built, a new army wasraised and on 31 October 1831, under Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian invasion ofSyria initiated the First Turko-Egyptian War. For the sake of appearance on theworld stage, a pretext for the invasion was vital. Ultimately, the excuse forthe expedition was a quarrel with Abdullah Pasha of Acre. The Wālialleged that 6,000 fellahinhad fled to Acre to escape the draft, corvée, and taxes, and he wanted themback. (Seealso: 1834 Arab revolt in Palestine)
The Egyptians overran Syria easily withlittle resistance. Acre was captured after a six-month siege, which lasted from3 November 1831 to 27 May 1832. The Egyptian army marched north into Anatolia. At the Battle of Konya (21December 1832), Ibrahim Pasha soundly defeated the Ottoman army led by the sadrazam GrandVizier Reshid Pasha. There were now no military obstacles betweenIbrahim's forces and Constantinople itself.
Through the course of the campaign MuhammadAli paid particular focus to the European powers. Fearing another interventionthat would reverse all his gains, he proceeded slowly and cautiously. Forexample, Muhammad Ali continued the practice of using the sultan’s name atFriday prayers in the newly captured territories and continued to circulateOttoman coins instead of issuing new ones bearing his likeness. So longas Muhammad Ali’s march did not threaten to cause the complete collapse of theOttoman state, the powers in Europe remained as passive observers.
Despite this show, Muhammad Ali's goal wasnow to remove the current Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II andreplace him with the sultan's son, the infant Abdülmecid. Thispossibility so alarmed Mahmud II that he accepted Russia's offer of militaryaid resulting in the Treaty of Hünkâr İskelesi. Russia'sgain dismayed the British and French governments, resulting in their directintervention. From this position, the European powers brokered a negotiatedsolution in May 1833 known as the Convention of Kutahya.. Theterms of the peace were that Ali would withdraw his forces from Anatolia andreceive the territories of Crete(then known as Candia) and the Hijazas compensation, and Ibrahim Pasha would be appointed Wāli of Syria. The peaceagreement fell short, however, of granting Muhammad Ali an independent kingdomfor himself, leaving him wanting.
Sensing that Muhammad Ali was not contentwith his gains, the sultan attempted to preempt further action against theOttoman Empire by offering him hereditary rule in Egypt and Arabia if hewithdrew from Syria and Crete and renounced any desire for full independence. MuhammadAli rejected the offer, knowing that Mahmud could not force the Egyptianpresence from Syria and Crete.
On 25 May 1838, Muhammad Ali informedBritain, and France that he intended to declare independence from the OttomanEmpire. Thisaction was contrary to the desire of the European powers to maintain the statusquo within the Ottoman Empire. WithMuhammad Ali’s intentions clear, the European powers, particularly Russia,attempted to moderate the situation and prevent conflict. Within the Empire,however, both sides were gearing for war. Ibrahim already had a sizable forcein Syria. In Constantinople, the Ottoman commander, Hafiz Pasha, assured theSultan that he could defeat the Egyptian army.
When Mahmud II ordered his forces toadvance on the Syrian frontier, Ibrahim attacked and destroyed them at the Battle of Nezib (24June 1839) near Urfa. In an echo ofthe Battle of Konya, Constantinople was again left vulnerable to Ali's forces.A further blow to the Ottomans was the defection of their fleet to Muhammad Ali. MahmudII died almost immediately after the battle took place and was succeeded bysixteen-year-old Abdülmecid.At this point, Ali and Ibrahim began to argue about which course to follow;Ibrahim favored conquering the Ottoman capital and demanding the imperial seatwhile Muhammad Ali was inclined simply to demand numerous concessions ofterritory and political autonomy for himself and his family.
At this point the European powers againintervened (see Oriental Crisis of 1840). On 15 July 1840, the BritishGovernment, which had colluded with Austria, Prussia,and Russia to sign the Convention of London, offered Muhammad Alihereditary rule of Egypt as part of the Ottoman Empire if he withdrew from theSyrian hinterland and the coastal regions of Mount Lebanon. Muhammad Alihesitated, believing he had support from France. His hesitation proved costly;when French support failed to materialize, British naval forces moved againstSyria, and Alexandria. In theface of European military might, Muhammad Ali acquiesced.
After the British, andAustrian navies blockaded the Niledelta coastline, shelled Beirut (11 September 1840), and after Acrehad capitulated (3 November 1840), Muhammad Ali agreed to the terms of theConvention on 27 November 1840. These terms included renouncing his claims overCrete, and Hejaz and downsizing his navy, and his standing army to 18,000 men,provided that he and his descendants would enjoy hereditary ruleover Egypt and Sudan — an unheard-of status for an Ottoman viceroy.
After 1843, fast on the heels of the Syriandébâcle and the treaty of Balta Liman, which forced Egypt to tear down itsimport barriers and the government to give up its monopolies, Muhammad Ali'smind became increasingly clouded and tended towards paranoia. Whether it wasgenuine senility or the effects of the silver nitrate hehad been given years before to treat an attack of dysentery remains a subjectof debate.
In 1844 the tax receipts were in and SherifPasha, the head of the diwan al-maliyya (financial ministry), was too fearfulfor his life to tell the Wāli the news that Egyptian debt now stood at 80million francs (£2,400,000). Tax arrears came to 14,081,500 piastres out of atotal estimated tax of 75,227,500 pts. Timidlyhe approached Ibrahim Pasha with these facts, and together came up with areport and a plan. Anticipating his father's initial reaction, İbrahim arrangedfor Muhammad Ali's favorite daughter to break the news. It did little, if any,good. The resulting rage was far beyond what any had been expected, and it tooksix full days for a tenuous peace to take hold.
A year later while Ibrahim, progressivelycrippled by rheumatic pains and tuberculosis (he was beginning to cough upblood), was sent to Italy to take the waters, Muhammad Ali, in 1846, traveledto Constantinople. There he approached the Sultan, expressed his fears, andmade his peace, explaining: "[My son] Ibrahim is old and sick, [mygrandson] Abbas is indolent (happa), and then children will rule Egypt.How will they keep Egypt?" After hesecured hereditary rule for his family, the Wali ruled until 1848, whensenility made further governance by him impossible.
It soon came to the point where his son andheir, the mortally ailing Ibrahim, had no choice but to travel toConstantinople and request that the Sultan recognize him ruler of Egypt andSudan even though his father was still alive. However, on the ship returninghome, Ibrahim, gripped by fever and guilt, succumbed to seizures andhallucinations. He survived the journey but within six months was dead. He wassucceeded by his nephew (Tosun's son) Abbas I.
By this time Muhammad Ali had become so illand senile that he was not informed of his son's death. Lingering a few monthsmore, Muhammad Ali died at Ras el-Tin Palacein Alexandria on 2August 1849, and ultimately was buried in the imposing mosque he had commissioned in the Citadelof Cairo.
But the immediate reaction to his death wasnoticeably low key, thanks in no small part to the contempt the new wāli AbbasPasha had always felt towards his grandfather.
Eye-witness British council John Murray wrote:
... the ceremonial of the funeral was amost meagre, miserable affair; the [diplomatic] Consular was not invited toattend, and neither the shops nor the Public offices were closed -- in short, ageneral impression prevails that Abbas Pasha has shown a culpable lack ofrespect for the memory of his illustrious grandfather, in allowing hisobsequies to be conducted in so paltry a manner, and in neglecting to attendthem in person.
...[the] attachment and veneration of all classes in Egypt for the name ofMuhammad Ali are prouder obsequies than any of which it was in power of hissuccessor to confer. The old inhabitants remember and talk of the chaos andanarchy from which he rescued this country; the younger compare his energeticrule with the capricious, vacillating government of his successor; all classeswhether Turk, or Arab, not only feel, but do not hesitate to say openly thatthe prosperity of Egypt has died with Muhammad Ali...In truth my Lord, itcannot be denied, that Muhammad Ali, notwithstanding all his faults was a greatman.
- Order of the August Portrait of Ottoman Empire
- Order of Glory, 1st Class of Ottoman Empire
- Grand Cross of the Legion d'Honneur of France
The prevailing historical view of MuhammadAli is as the ‘Father of Modern Egypt', being the first ruler since the Ottomanconquest in 1517 to permanently divest the Porte of its power in Egypt. Whilefailing to achieve formal independence for Egypt during his lifetime, he wassuccessful in laying the foundation for a modern Egyptian state. In the processof building an army to defend and expand his realm, he built a centralbureaucracy, an educational system that allowed for social mobility, and aneconomic base that included an agricultural cash crop, cotton, andmilitary-based manufacturing. His efforts established his progeny as the rulersof Egypt and Sudan for nearly 150 years and, rendered Egypt a de factoindependent state.
Others, however, view him not as a builder,but rather as a conqueror. Of Albanian rather than Egyptian origin, throughouthis reign Turkish rather than Arabic was the official language of his court.Some argue that he exploited Egyptian manpower and resources for his ownpersonal ends, not Egyptian national ones, with the manpower requirements thathe placed on Egyptians being particularly onerous. Taken together in thislight, Muhammad Ali is cast by some as another in a long line of foreignconquerors dating back to the Persian occupation in 525 B.C.. Thisview, however, is at odds with the majority opinion of Egyptian, and Arab historians,and Egyptian public opinion