Egypt Under British Occupation


Just like other African countries that had been colonized, Egypt suffered greatly under the British rule. The British imperialists curtailed the fundamental freedoms of the local population and forced them into slaves. At that time, the economic and political systems in Egypt were placed under the control of the British troops that displaced the Ottoman rulers. However, after a long struggle between the locals and the British, the latter left Egypt in 1952, granting this country independence. The paper critically analyzes the motivation of the British invasion of Egypt, the struggles witnessed by the locals, the fight between the imperialists and the locals, and lastly, find the reasons that had led to Egypts independence.

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The Motivation of the British in Capturing Egypt

As one of the main producers of cotton in the world during the 17th and 18th centuries, Egypt attracted great attention from many European countries, which subsequently led to its colonization. Indeed, the British imperialists were attracted by the need for such a resource as cotton. During the Depression of 1873 and the American Civil War, Egypt had taken the opportunity to establish itself as one of the giants in cotton selling, thus taking over the global market by storm. As a result, the Egyptian government used the opportunity to borrow much money from the European countries to the point that they were unable to pay their debts. Consequently, in 1876, Egypt was declared a bankrupt country, which presented an opportunity for the European nations to conquer this nation. The occupation came after an agency, known as the Caisse de la Dette, was established specifically as a debt recovery agency against Egypt. Its main function was to check the incomes and expenditures of Egypt for the repayment of its debts.

As the result of the foreign intervention into the internal affairs of Egypt, the economic, social, and political systems of this country were compromised to the disadvantage of locals because the British military had interfered with virtually all aspects of Egyptian life. Specifically, the entry of the British forces in Egypt was opposed by Colonel Ahmad Urabi in 1881. This event came to be known as the Urabi revolt, a battle that had serious consequences for Egyptians. The British forces outnumbered the Egyptian military and established their control over the country. New legislations were passed by the British to govern the Egyptian population, which led to all administrative and government as well as ministerial positions being taken over by the British. Educational systems were highly affected as well, while the economy of Egypt was brought to a stall. Thus, Egypt eventually became a colony of the British in 1882.

The Agitations Against the British Rule in Egypt

The commencement of World War 1 in 1914 coincided with the declaration of Egypt as a British protectorate. The brutal command of the British forces, which caused Egyptians to live in slavery, led to great resentment among the locals who later began organizing revolts. The Egyptian people had been curtailed economically, and their life had become unbearable. For example, the British had taken over the cotton business. While the exports for the cash crop was nearly 90% of the total exports in Egypt, the revenuesd went directly into the British government accounts under the pretense of assisting Egypt in paying its debts. Moreover, the British officials started importing goods from their home country to Egypt, and they were sold at a very low price, thus ruining the market for the locally produced goods. This move pushed many Egyptian locals to work in the British-operated factories to earn money for their survival. However, the payment at these factories was minimal, thus making it very hard for the locals to survive. Such harsh conditions sparked the unanimous desire among the locals to revolt.

The spirit of nationalism began to grow in the hearts of the locals and led to the creation of political parties with the sole aim of championing the demands of Egyptians against the British rule. Thus, people of all walks of life, barring their social status, were willing to shed their blood for the sake of regaining their freedom. Upon this looming desire, the Egyptian Revolution began in 1919, and its only goal was to force the British administration to grant them independence. Egyptians also had a backing of other nations, with Woodrow Wilson, the US President at that time, expressing that it was the time for the Egyptian people to enjoy their right to self-determination. Wilson revealed that all people desired such a right and they ought not to be interfered in their struggle for it. These words gave many African nations, which were under colonization of other countries, the sense of hope for independence. Thus, Egypt grabbed this opportunity to push the British forces even harder. Saad Zhaghlul, the then former cabinet secretary for education and one of the renowned politicians in Egypt, organized a delegation of several Egyptian leaders in petitioning the office of the British High Commissioner to allow them to attend the Paris Peace Conference and present their case for independence. While Egyptians needed this move, it only brought misery to them as the British officials ordered the arrest of the revolutions leaders, including Zaghlul, their detention, and subsequent exile. The order was executed, and Zaghlul and his team were sent to exile, thus forcing their people to find another strategy of struggle.

As expected, the detention of the Egyptian nationalist leaders caused great havoc and unrest among their supporters, which led to several informal mobilizations against the colonialists. Many Egyptians, regardless of their social status, including students, peasants, farmers, professionals, the poor urban population, and civil servants declared demonstrations against the British. They destroyed railroads and caused great disruptions in the transportation sector. In 1922, following the unending protests, the British government was to grant Egypt a conditional independence. This meant that Egyptians had been allowed to have a constitutional monarchy. Even in the midst of this development, the British had already negotiated for their interests in the treaty by taking over the powers of control over the foreign policies of the country and its defense. In 1924, another welcoming development to the people of Egypt was witnessed with the adoption of the new constitution. As the result of this development, Zaghul, who had just returned from exile, took over leadership as the first prime minister of this country.

Egyptian Independence

With Egypts attainment of conditional independence and Zaghuls subsequent rise to power, political fluxes between the locals and the British continued. The latter had resumed sanctions against Egyptians, minting money from concessions with the then prime minister Zaghul. The unwillingness of the British to allow him to govern in peace caused him to resign and she died a few years later. Other nationalist parties started mushrooming, creating great fears among the British officials. This marked the beginning of a serious quest of the intention to reclaim Egypt away from the British rule. However, the two major parties, the Muslim Brotherhood and Wafd, which had controlled power in Egypt since 1924, lacked the strength to rid their country of the British occupation completely. A coup, organized by Gamal Abdel Nasser, one of the most experienced Egyptian Colonels, led to the final overthrow of the government. Subsequently, he led all Egyptians against the British to their dethroning in 1954. Gama Abdel Nasser, as the Prime Minister of Egypt, forced the British troops to withdraw, thus paving the way for the signing of the Anglo-Egyptian Treaty that later led to the countrys independence. The anticipated release of the Suez Canal by the Egyptian troops confirmed that indeed, the Egyptian locals were free to form a government of their choice and enact the laws they found suitable for them.

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From the above discussion, it is plausible to conclude that the British colonization of Egypt was majorly motivated by the need for taking over the cotton industry in Egypt. The British, who officially captured Egypt in 1882, claimed the economic, political, and social control of Egypt under the pretense of aiding the country in repaying its debts. However, the negative economic consequences united the people to rise and claim independence for their country. While the Egyptian nationalists were sent to exile as the result of a revolution, a conditional independence was given to Egypt in 1922, and Zaghul became the Prime Minister. The end of the British rule in Egypt came much later, in 1954.

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