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Political history of modern Egypt:

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Under the Ottoman Empire, Egypt was granted some autonomy because as long as taxes were paid, the Ottomans were content to let the Egyptians administer them. Nevertheless, the 17th and 18th centuries were ones of economic decline for Egypt. In 1798, the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte landed in Egypt and defeated the Egyptians on land at the battle of the Pyramids, but he was utterly defeated at sea by the British navy, which made him abandon his army and leave Egypt. Subsequently, British and Ottoman forces defeated the French army and forced them to surrender. In particular after the last quarter of 19 century, in Egypt began colonizing activities by Western European countries, while the reaction to such events occurred within “the Egyptian national movement.” With its history of five thousand years, Egypt is considered as the first modern state of the Arab world. Ottoman military representative Mehmet Ali Pasha takes a special place through his contribution to this process. He is seen as a statesman who carried important reforms, which can be compared even with the ones of Tanzimat. He managed to build Egypt as an independent state from the Ottoman Empire, standing on its own power. Gamal Abdel Nasser was the one who established the Republic of Egypt and ended the monarchy rule in Egypt following the Egyptian revolution in 1952. Egypt was ruled autocratically by three presidents over the following six decades, by Nasser from 1954 until his death in 1970, by Anwar Sadat from 1971 until his assassination 1981, and by Hosni Mubarak from 1981 until his resignation in the face of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
www.dx.doi.org/10.21113/iir.v6i1.231
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ILIRIA International Review Vol 6, No 1 (2016)
© FelixVerlag, Holzkirchen, Germany and Iliria College, Pristina, Kosovo
Abstract
Under the Ottoman Empire, Egypt was granted some auto-
nomy because as long as taxes were paid, the Ottomans were
content to let the Egyptians administer them. Nevertheless, the
17th and 18th centuries were ones of economic decline for Egypt.
In 1798, the French army led by Napoleon Bonaparte landed
in Egypt and defeated the Egyptians on land at the battle of the
Pyramids, but he was utterly defeated at sea by the British
navy, which made him abandon his army and leave Egypt.
Subsequently, British and Ottoman forces defeated the French
army and forced them to surrender.
In particular after the last quarter of 19 century, in Egypt
began colonizing activities by Western European countries,
while the reaction to such events occurred within “the
Egyptian national movement.”
With its history of five thousand years, Egypt is considered
as the first modern state of the Arab world. Ottoman military
representative Mehmet Ali Pasha takes a special place through
his contribution to this process. He is seen as a statesman who
carried important reforms, which can be compared even with
the ones of Tanzimat. He managed to build Egypt as an
independent state from the Ottoman Empire, standing on its
own power.
MA. Islam ISLAMI
Political history of modern Egypt
Islam Islami
MA. Islam ISLAMI
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Gamal Abdel Nasser was the one who established the Republic of Egypt
and ended the monarchy rule in Egypt following the Egyptian revolution
in 1952. Egypt was ruled autocratically by three presidents over the
following six decades, by Nasser from 1954 until his death in 1970, by
Anwar Sadat from 1971 until his assassination 1981, and by Hosni Mubarak
from 1981 until his resignation in the face of the 2011 Egyptian revolution.
Key Words: Egypt, Ottoman Empire, modern stare, Mehmet Ali Pasha,
Egyptian revolution
1. Egypt and Political History
Middle East countries, which today continue to exist as separate states,
were part of the Ottoman Empire until the First World War. But the
administration that the Ottoman Empire built in Egypt showed major
changes from the central administration. A structure was established in
Egypt, where local leaders were empowered by ceasing properties through
force and taking taxes from incomes of these properties, and in this way
they continued to maintain their power (Winter, 2001, p. 128).
In particular after the last quarter of 19th century, in Egypt began
colonizing activities by Western European countries, while the reaction to
such events occurred within “the Egyptian national movement.”
The European influence in Egypt, which began with Napoleon
Bonaparte’s campaign in the years 1798-1801 (Djurant, 2001, p. 404) and the
reforms undertaken by Mehmet Ali Pasha, who is regarded as the founder
of Egypt, opened the path to many changes that were about to happen
later.
After the occupation of Egypt by the British in 1882, the civic groups that
seek change tried to reflect their efforts with the concept of “Islamic Union
and the Islamic Resurrection” (Qevaqebi 2007, p. 49). With the spread of
European view, they sought to create a political movement against the
increase of mentioned view and lifestyle. Scholars such Jamaleddin
Afghani called for unity against what they called “British sortie” (Abduh,
1993, p.14). They started emphasizing of seeking reform in religion and
strong governance, thus assuming an important role in shaping the concept
of “Arab nationalism.” Thanks to the unity among minorities, Egypt had an
administration and consolidated prosperity compared with other Arab
countries because Egypt was homogeneous in terms of population. Ibn
Political history of modern Egypt
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Khaldun, in his sociological works emphasized this aspect by stressing that
in a society like that of Egypt, where there are no tribes of different
divisions, it is not necessary for the state to rely on the power of the tribes
to stand strong. Therefore, he believes it is easier to establish the state and
transfer into urban life (Ibn Khaldun, 2004, p. 121).
Passing under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, this did not stop Memluk
Movement in Egypt. Namely, although Egypt was under Ottoman
administration and the land of Egypt belonged to Sultan Osman, the real
direction was given to Memluk Begs. They, as local leaders, had taken over
responsibility for the use of land, tax collection and payment of vassalage
to the Sultan. But, on the other hand, they had continued maintenance of
political power. Memluks Begs in this period were part of many revolts
against the Sultan or different power rivalries (Husain, 2010, p 679).
Egypt was not facing any other foreign occupation since the time of
Yavuz Sultan Selim until 1798. However, since that date, the territories of
the Ottoman Empire started to be under the military, cultural, economic
and political influence of English and French imperialism. Indeed, one of
the most important reasons of Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt was to
prevent the British passage to India through the Red Sea (Winter, 2001, p.
42). Napoleon’s campaign in Egypt, which can be considered as the
beginning of the “French colonial movement” must be seen as the first
example of French influence in the fields of politics and culture in the
territories they
During the Egyptian campaign, Napoleon had attempted to commu-
icate directly with the people by his publishing his speech as booklets in
Arabic. Napoleon who took care to start the speech with “In the name of
God” or ‘Kelime-i Tawhid’, had often stressed that this was the way to win
the hearts of the Egyptians. In these booklets, he also levelled criticism
against the Memluks, trying thus to legitimize the French occupation. In
1801, the Ottoman and British forces put an end to the French occupation of
Egypt. Thus, in Egypt will start the period of the reign of Mehmet Ali
Pasha, who went there in the first half of 19th century, accompanied by the
Ottoman fleet, and managed to become one of the most influential people
in the history of Egypt. Mehmet Ali Pasha was given the title “Vali of
Egypt” by Sultan Osman in 1805, and in this way, Egypt was separated
from the administrative center of the Ottoman Empire. (Ozer, 2007, p. 78).
MA. Islam ISLAMI
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2. Monarchy Period
With its history of five thousand years, Egypt is considered as the first
modern state of the Arab world. Ottoman military representative Mehmet
Ali Pasha takes a special place through his contribution to this process. He
is seen as a statesman who carried important reforms, which can be
compared even with the ones of Tanzimat. He managed to build Egypt as
an independent state from the Ottoman Empire, standing on its own power
(Ozer, 2007, p. 96-102).
The big change that Egypt underwent in the 19th century cannot be
explained only by the influence of Mehmet Ali Pasha, because this period
for Egypt is filled with many different dimensions and implications.
However, under its foundation lie reforms and successes achieved by
Mehmet Ali Pasha, especially in the military field. In the early years of his
rule, Mehmet Ali Pasha was carefully keeping inseparable ties with the
Ottoman Empire, and thus, he achieved great successes in the name of
Sultan Osman. But the fact that since 1830s, Egypt of Mehmet Ali Pasha
was no longer an internal affair of the Ottoman Empire, brought the rivalry
of the “Great Powers” in the case of Egypt. Thus, Mehmet Ali Pasha begun
to deepen his power over the years 1831-1840 by looking for more
privileges for his sons by the Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, when
Mehmet Ali Pasha arrived in Egypt prevailed “Property System” and the
lands were sown and harvested by the villagers. In this period, about four-
fifths of the Arab population who constituted the majority of the Egyptian
population were peasants, who worked in the field of agriculture. Despite
improvements and corrections of legal terms, the application of the
‘"Private Property System” started in the half of 19th century (Gurbal, 2012,
p. 24-27).
Mehmet Ali Pasha, who was not of Arab origin, can be regarded as a
statesman with cosmopolitan views. Despite the lack of a stream that could
represent this nationalism, it is known that the first approaches of
nationalism in the Arab world began to be shaped in Egypt.
After the death of Mehmet Ali Pasha, Abbas Pasha (1848-1854), Said
Pasha (1854-1863) and Ismail Pasha (1863-1879) were appointed as Wali
(leader) of Egypt. From this period begins the process of debt of Egypt that
began with the arrival in office of Mehmet Ali Pasha’s son, Said Pasha
(1854-1863), who came to this post after Abbas Pasha, and who became
Political history of modern Egypt
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known especially for his new policies that were applied in 1861 (Emin,
2012, p. 17).
In 1882, Colonel Ahmet Arabi rose in revolt with his soldiers. Arabi
Pasha Movement was also supported by the reformist wing of Arab
intellectuals in Egypt and by the army officers. The Movement was also
supported by the dismissed workers who lost their jobs due to weakening
of economy, increase of taxes and undertaking of preventive measures. As
a result of the creation of nationalist consciousness in Egypt and the
organization on 9 September 1881, the gathered protesters in Abidin
square, stressed that they want the national parliament to convene and
remove the Minister of War Rifkin Pasha, who although was of Turkish
origin, he was doing injustice in favour of foreign officers who worked in
the Egyptian army. As a result of these events, the “Egypt issue” can be
regarded as a problematic case dealt by Ottoman Empire in the last
decades. In this context, on 24 October 1885, an agreement was concluded
between the Ottoman Empire and England in regards to the administration
of Egypt. Before discussing the issue of relocation, England had gained the
right to equal determination with the Ottoman Empire regarding the
adjustments to be made in Egypt (Cole, 2001, p. 154).
The First World War that started while these changes were taking place
in Egypt, may be regarded as a turning point for the development of the
“Egyptian National Movement.” But, the onset of the First World War in
1914 and the entry into the war of the Ottoman Empire alongside Germany,
made England to initially declare curfew in Egypt on 2 November 1914,
and after it openly declared of planning to put Egypt under own
management, it proclaimed a “Protectorate” on 18-19 November of the
same year. The Protectorate did not bring many changes in political terms,
it only legalized the regime that continued for almost 30 years (Mitchell,
2013, p.55). In such circumstances, Egypt was officially detached from the
Ottoman Empire, and during the World War I, Egypt was used as a
crossing area of allied troops from Asia to Europe and as a base for
Gallipoli and Palestinian fronts. In 1922, Britain declared it had ended its
protectorate in Egypt by recognizing the independence of this country. But,
the 1922 agreement shows that this Britain’s declaration was not reflected
in practice, because it continued its management indirectly because this
agreement allowed Britain to have the right of control and coordination of
the government establishment process in Egypt, and it also continued to
control the Suez Canal.
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In this context will start a power struggle between King Farouk, who
stood based on monarchical structure in Egypt and Wafd party, which
enjoyed wide support of the people and of Britain. Coming to power of
King Farouk was initially welcomed by Wafd party and “Muslim
Brotherhood”, which spread rapidly. Until that period, the language
spoken in the royal palace was Turkish, but with the ascendancy of King
Farouk in 1936, the spoken language was Arabic. During this period
between the two world wars, especially in the 30ies, a demographic growth
in the population of cities is marked, but on the other hand, the living
standards were declined. Capital landowners had secured the development
of Egyptian industry and central bank; the network of primary and
secondary schools expanded rapidly and established an “elite class with
qualified professions” coming out of the University of Cairo. This elite class
set on the side of the nationalist opposition, which emerged against the
British rule, and in cooperation with other social strata, presented their
platform for government support of new industries.
In 1936 was signed the “English-Egyptian agreement”, which was
considered as the biggest obstacle to the independence of Egypt. With this
agreement, Egypt won the right of a “Member State” in the
Commonwealth of Nations, while the institution called “British High
Commissioner” that Britain held Egypt under its supervision for a long
time, will now be named as “British Embassy.” In World War II, Egypt was
one of the important centres of wars, and cities like Cairo and Alexandria
were full of soldiers, spies, political prisoners and various functionaries.
Thus, on 4 February 1942, Britain’s ambassador to Egypt, Sir Miles
Lampson went accompanied with armoured vehicles to the royal palace of
King Farouk, and through an ultimatum, he asked the King to replace
Prime Minister Ali Mahir Pasha with Nahas Pasha.
In this period, with pro German declaration of other parties in the
country, England trusted only to Wafd party, and hence requested Nahas
Pasha to become prime minister. But the raiding of the palace and ensuring
King’s decision under threat of arms was described by Abdul Nasser as a
“national disgrace” and will therefore be crucial in the change of power in
1952. This will end the period of monarchy in Egypt (Nasir, 1996, p. 46).
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3. Period of Jamal Abdul Nasser
Similar as the Soviet Union, the United States as well initially had
difficulties in their position towards the “Free Officers” who came into
power through a coup in 1952, because such abrupt change that happened
in Egypt surprised both sides. Thus, the Soviet Union regarded the free
government officers as “a movement associated with the USA,” while
People’s Republic of China saw it as an “anti-revolutionary dictatorship.”
In such an environment, Nasser’s ruling in Egypt held in pragmatic
position the relations with the Soviet Union and other socialist countries.
On the other hand, due to colonizing experiences, Arab populists were
frustrated against Westerners. Another cause of resistance against
Westerners was the creation of the Israeli state and the appearance of the
Palestinian-Israeli problem (Said, 2002, p. 123).
The Soviet Union supported Egypt’s stance against England during the
years 1953-1954 and in January 1954, the Egyptian Minister of Defence paid
a long visit to the Soviet Union. Following these contacts, the Soviet Union
used for the first time the right of veto at the Security Council of the United
Nations regarding the use of Suez Canal by Israel. In this regard, the Soviet
Union continued to support the regime in Egypt and the relations
continued to grow until 1955.
The year of 1955 is considered as significant by the fact that in this
period, the Egyptian foreign policy has begun to accelerate. During the
Cold War, the formation of the Baghdad Pact accelerated the polarization
in the Arab world, consisting in important developments in the axis of the
West wing. Egypt did not attend the Baghdad Pact because it believed it
would neutralize the Arab Defence Agreement, signed in 1950. By accusing
Iraq of collaboration, Egypt supported movements for change of the regime
in this country (Alkaid, 2008, p. 36).
Baghdad Pact can be regarded as the event that brought Jamal Abdul
Nasser close with the Soviet Union. Iraq, defying Egypt’s commitments to
“Arab Protection System” took part in the Baghdad Pact, along with
Pakistan and Turkey, while Israel attacked military positions in Gaza on 28
February by killing 38 people. The third important event of 1955 was
Bandung Conference in April the same year, where Nasser had
participated (Said, 2002, p. 106).
The United States and England responded to the denial of Baghdad Pact
by Nasser and thus they withdrew financial support for the planned power
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plant that was planned to be built in Aswan. In response, Nasser’s
administration decided to “nationalize” the Suez Canal in July 1956. These
mutual reactions were followed by trade boycott imposed by Britain and
France (Ridvan, 1986, p. 63).
The attack conducted by Israel on 28 February 1955 in Gaza Strip, which
was under the supervision of the Egyptian military, forced Nasser’s
administration to buy weapons from the United States. But, the mere fact
that the existence and security of Israel was a key point of the US foreign
policy, made the US Senate to extend the procedures for the purchase of
weapons by Nasser and for this reason, his administration decided to buy
the weapons from Czechoslovakia on 27 September 1955.
The negotiations for the purchase of weapons by the Soviet Union had
started in 1953 and until the time when they were purchased, Egypt held
parallel talks with America, but then Secretary of State John Foster Dulles
conditioned Egypt to attend the West Axis in order to buy the weapons.
The year of 1958 can be considered as the year when the Russian-
Egyptian relations suffered rise and fall because in this year, Syria and
Egypt had decided to unify forming thus the United Arab State, and
Nasser’s influence over the Arabs had thus grown. On 14 July, a coup de etat
happened in Iraq bringing to power General Qasim Abdulkerim, and
putting into surface Iraq’s possible entry in this Union (Shadi, 2005, p. 23).
In April 1958, Nasser had his first visit to the Soviet Union where he was
received by the then Soviet president Nikita Hrushçev for 18 days. Thus,
the Soviet Union tried through Egypt to increase influence in the Middle
East, and therefore the good relations with Nasser were important. In
October 1958, the Chief of General Staff of Egypt Abdul Hakim Amir
visited Moscow. In this period, Nasser’s administration begun to seek debts
because the money had gone abroad, incomes were needed for investment.
Initially, it was thought that the funds for all the projects can be provided
by the US and the United Nations. Nasser was even chosen as “Man of the
Year” by Times magazine in 1956. But the developments at that time
enabled the Arab and Egyptian administrations to give more weight to
socialist practices in order to declare independence and develop economic
models (Fauzi, 1990, p.33).
Good relations with the United States began to break down with
assuming the role of a leader in the Arab world by Nasser. In April 1954,
the US decided to sell weapons to Iraq by intensifying thus its strategy on
this country. In this context, America instead of connecting with a
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nationalist leader like Nasser, it preferred to entrust the traditional elected
ones in Iraqi’s administration.
Egypt’s preferences and position began to shape when Nasser started to
develop good relations with the leaders of the Non-Aligned Movement
Countries like Jawaharlal Nehru and Josip Broz Tito. The period when the
Movement appeared and Nasser’s intention to benefit from joining this
Movement can be considered as an important development for Egypt’s
internal politics, as well as its access to Third World countries. From that
point, Egypt’s independent and impartial position and Nasser’s importance
in the international relations will increase especially in the late 60's. After
1959, Egypt began to pursue a more active policy in African politics by
supporting their wars and as a result, some twenty African countries
declared independence in 1961 (Hejkel, 2003, p. 18).
A series of preparatory meetings and conferences regarding the Non-
Aligned Movement Countries took place in Egypt. Cairo Conference in
1957-1958 was organized in the capacity of Bandung Conference
preparations, which opened at the University of Cairo on 26 December
1957. Number two of the regime, Anwar Sadat was also involved in the
organization of Cairo Conference, to which Nasser’s administration
dedicated a special significance. Unlike Bandung conference, the one in
Cairo was attended not only by representatives of states, but also by
representatives of opposition political movements in different countries.
In 1967, Egypt gradually withdrew its positions in Yemen after the
defeat in the armed Israeli-Arab conflict. Thus, Nasser’s influence in the
region was falling down, while regimes like those of Saudi Arabia and
Jordan have begun to shine. Along with the defeat, the closure of Suez
Canal would result in a huge loss of revenue for Egypt, and as option was
discussed even refining of Egypt’s petroleum in Aden. In continuation of
these events, Egypt entered a phase of re-definition of relations with all
Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia. But, the US ceased the economic
aid and grain export to Egypt, which prompted Egypt to ally with the
Soviet Union. In conclusion, during all his ruling Nasser did not only deal
with foreign policy, but was also involved in internal political problems in
the country apart from the problems of “Arab nationalism” and “Arab
Union.” After his death from a heart attack in 1970, his post was taken over
by Anwar Sadat (Hamood, 2000, p. 5).
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4. Period of Anwar Sadat
When Jamal Abdul Nasser died on 28 September 1970, he left behind a
crisis in the system, people who were morally degraded, a divided social
structure, while the most important thing was who would inherit his
power. Uncertainties regarding country’s administration caused divisions
among the people, and in order to avoid possible disturbances, compliant
to the constitution, Nasser’s deputy was supposed to be appointed. Hence,
his deputy Anwar Sadat took over the president’s chair, and his position
was approved by the people in the referendum held on 15 October 1970
(Sadat, 1979, p. 286).
Although he did not participate effectively during Nasser’s administration,
Anwar Sadat was the person who was mostly seen next to Abdul Nasser.
During the first heart attack that Nasser suffered in 1969, Sadat headed “the
Presidency of the Arab Socialists League “ and after his recovery, he was
appointed a vice chairman of the Arab Summit held in Rabat.
Anwar Sadat approved everything what Nasser did and thus he was
nicknamed as “Yes President.” However, despite this nickname, Sadat is
seen as a person who exerted pressure to achieve what he wanted. This
feature made him take over the post of the head of state despite all
objections (Emin, 2007, p. 101).
It can be assumed that opposition’s support to Sadat’s presidential
position was because he looked like a “weak man” because through his
behaviour, the opposition thought he would not behave as “the only man.”
Thus, the opposition thought it could realize its plans, and this was the
reason why they backed his candidacy. The clash between the Free Officers
and the elite representatives surrounding Sadat were more due to fears that
power could be accumulated only in the hand of one man, as it happened
in the period of Abdul Nasser. This because both groups tried to avoid the
fact that all the power was accumulated in Sadat’s hand, and wanted this
power to be shared among them.
During this process, Anwar Sadat received some critical decisions
regarding foreign policy, extending the ceasefire agreement with Israel
until February 1971, which ended in September 1970, and was signed in
1967 during the period of Abdul Nasser under the pretext that the country
was not yet able to fight. The point that most opposition rejected Anwar
Sadat’s approaches was his view that peace agreement between Egypt and
Israel can be signed. On 4 February 1971, in his address to the parliament,
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Sadat stated that if Israel would withdraw from Sinai Peninsula, the Suez
Canal could be reopened, and that a peace agreement could be signed with
Israel, and efforts could be made to also improve relations with the United
States. His speech was strongly opposed by the opposition. Such approach
rejected by the opposition, and supported by the United States, is also
important for the fact that he was the first president of an Arab state who
stated that a peace treaty can be signed with Israel (Sadat, 1978, p. 143).
Another element when opposition’s reactions against Sadat reached the
peak was the question of an alliance between Egypt, Syria and Lebanon.
While in Egypt prevailed the opinion that the alliance with Syria could last
only three years, ending in 1971, and by seeing the economic and political
situation in the country, began the preparations for an agreement between
the three countries. On 17 April1 1971, the delegations of the three
countries gathered in Benghazi in the presence of heads of states and
despite the stances of the opposition, Anwar Sadat along with other
presidents signed the Plan for proclamation of Federation of Arab
Republics. In order for the plan to apply, it should be first published in
several state bodies, and for this reason Sadat filed a request to the
Executive Council of the Arab Socialist League, but his request was
rejected. Such rejection implied a rejection by the highest state body. After
the rejection by the League of Arab Socialists, Sadat asked that the plan is
discussed in the Central Committee, but in this case, the discussions about
the plan did not end. Thus, in order to ensure acceptance of his plan, Sadat
tried to make some changes, and the most important one was that the
undertaken decisions are not empowered with majority vote of the
presidents, but by a unanimous vote. After making this change and his
discussion at the Central Committee, the Plan was unanimously accepted
on 19 April 1971.
Anwar Sadat waited for a convenient moment to eliminate the
opposition in order to overcome the difficult situation, and believing that
he enjoyed the necessary support in the domestic politics, he tried to make
some moves in foreign policy. At the meeting with the ambassador of the
Soviet Union, he stressed that the country cannot afford another battle for
power and for this reason, he had decided to dismiss Ali Sabri, who was
thought of enjoying the support of the Soviet Union. Hence, he asked the
Soviet Union not to perceive such move as a personal act or as an insult.
Anwar Sadat told the ambassador that after the dismissal of Ali Sabri, he
would show careful for maintaining good relations with the Soviet Union.
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In his speech on the occasion of 1st of May, Sadat noted that Ali Sabri and
his associates thought they inherited power from Abdul Nasser, which they
found as unacceptable, and accused Ali Sabri and his followers. On 2nd May
1971, Sadat discharged Ali Sabri of all duties, and as a next step, he
changed all representatives to the League of Arab Socialists. Thus, he
managed to eliminate the opposition and ensure the power he held until
his death. Sadat originally named the first day after such elimination- 15
May, as Audit Day and then renamed it as the Audit Revolutionary Day
making it a national holiday.
5. Period of Hosni Mubarak
After the death of Anwar Sadat resulting from an assassination attempt
in 1980 (Hamood, 1985, p. 9), Hosni Mubarak will take over the office.
Mubarak, who had undertaken to lead the country that was under siege,
thought that not only politically, but also economically there was a need to
make changes and reforms. Since these changes could harm the social
structure, Mubarak believed that liberal methods should be applied in the
economic and political life of Egypt. This period that coincided with the
dissolution of the Soviet Union and democratic movements in the world, in
Egypt as well consisted with political movement and demands for the
release of many prisoners from prison. In terms of human rights, Hosni
Mubarak’s period consisted in expansion of several rights compared to
previous regimes. In this context, Mubarak submitted few measures for
non-restriction of the right of media and requested reduction of controls in
this area, but the democratization process did not reach the appropriate
level (Emin, 2011, p. 39).
Mubarak’s period, which can be characterized as a period where state
pressure on the population continued with all its strength, is regarded as
his inconsistency with the world that was changing and with the new
global equilibrium, and therefore no radical steps were taken to meet the
demands for freedom of the people. Mubarak himself gave more
importance to the growth of his political power. In terms of foreign policy,
the period of Mubarak continued the positive policy line in favour of Israel
and the United States, launched during Anwar Sadat’s period, trying to
improve people’s negative image regarding this issue (Qamil, 2012, p. 267).
In the time context, Egypt is seen by the US as an actor which put under
control radical elements in the region, particularly Iran, and for this reason,
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it was a country with most donated military aid after Israel. This situation,
which in the case of Egypt could be considered a privilege, did not
continue in the period of Mubarak, and diplomatic crises experienced in
different cases, were a reason for the Egyptian-American strategic
partnership to suffer damage in certain cases.
In this regard, the US President George Bush, concerned on Mubarak’s
administration practices, in his address at the opening of Davos Forum in
2008, said that there will be a freezing between the two countries after
Mubarak’s reaction to US policies. Thus, the two billion dollar aid that the
US donated to Egypt since 1979, will shrink into 1.3 billion starting in 2009
(Hejqel, 2012, p. 268).
On the other hand, Mubarak’s administration despite the reactions in
the country, in 2005 elections had undertaken some legal regulations and
made several steps to improve the existing ones. In this period, Hosni
Mubarak, given the rights recognized in Article 189 of the constitution,
proposed constitutional amendment that presidential elections are held by
secret vote, and more than one candidate to take part in the elections. The
process of presidential elections with more than one candidate was applied
in Egypt after the amendment of point 76 of the constitution in 2005.
By this time, Egypt was led by a system where the parliament
nominated the presidential candidate and presented him to the people. But
the change of point 76 of the constitution made it possible that more than
one candidate could run in the presidential elections. This process was very
important, but it brought obstacles in the process of selection of candidates.
For example, the existing law provided that the candidate who will
participate in the 2011 elections should take at least 5% of the vote by the
parliament. Also, the current system also provided some other criteria
which resulted to be prohibitive for candidates who wanted to run as
independent candidates. For example, they were required to receive the
support of 65 MPs from the Parliament and from 25 representative of Shura
Parliament, as well as to ensure geographical representation and to also
receive the support of 10 of 14 members of the Council of Mayors.
Such legal regulations show that although “democratic reforms” for the
presidential elections were introduced by Mubarak since 2005, in fact, these
reforms bore difficulties for other presidential candidates. The
improvements of the legal aspect were initially welcomed by the US and
later by many other European countries. For example, the then High
Representative of the European Union Javier Solana speaking about the
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reforms undertaken by Hosni Mubarak, stressed that they should be
considered as an anticipation of the democratization process in the Middle
East (Siraxhudin, 2016, p. 388).
But the Egyptian people were not thinking like Mubarak and the US.
People thought that Mubarak made these steps only to strengthen his own
power. Also, Mubarak by noting that the “Muslim Brotherhood” was an
illegal structure came out against their candidacy proposal for president.
Thus, he tried to make it difficult the running for presidential elections of a
person enjoying international importance as Mohamed ElBaradei or other
potential candidates.
During such situation, ten candidates besides Mubarak ran for the
presidential elections held in Egypt on 7 September 2005. The election
results were announced on 9 September and Mubarak won 88.7% of the
votes of Egyptians, and was declared president for another six years. In the
1999 presidential elections, he won 93% of votes. Only 23% of the 31 million
voters took part in the presidential elections of 2005 and thus, they were
considered as elections that did not reflect the democratic results. This
figure shows that rules and democratic reform set only by Mubarak were
not evaluated the same by people.
After the 2005 presidential elections, the elections for 454 Members of
Parliament were also held in Egypt. The parliamentary elections, held in
three phases, ended in December and were held in a more democratic
environment than the presidential ones, concluding with the victory of the
party in power. Legally prohibited, the “Muslim Brotherhood” came out in
elections with independent candidates winning 88 MP seats in the
Parliament. Until this time, for about 30 years of his leadership, Hosni
Mubarak did not allow any possibility to the radical political movements.
Mubarak ruled the country with constantly declared state of emergency
and thus managed to keep the people away from the government. He
strengthened the intelligence service and other security elements to avoid
any potential coup, and in this context, in 2011 he did not appoint a vice
president, which was a constitutional commitment. Such a step taken by
Mubarak brought to mind the possibility of appointment to the post of his
son Jamal Mubarak, which caused discontent in the state’s bureaucratic
structure. Also, his application of policies in favour of the security of Israel,
his pro-Israeli approach and failure to develop a national policy on the
Palestine issue made the Egyptian people to turn against him.
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In the economic context, despite the failure in the political field, Egypt
has managed to increase per capita income in 2005-2010 during Mubarak’s
ruling, becoming thus the 26th most developed country in the world. But,
this growth in the national economy also brought other problems. The rich
had become richer, and the poor had become poorer, exceeding thus more
than half of Egypt’s population below the poverty line.
Hosni Mubarak’s period was a period that brought serious problems for
Egypt, because, as during the period of Anwar Sadat, in Mubarak’s ruling
as well, the application of liberal politics consisted in obtaining debts from
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, by making
Egypt thus a dependent country.
The state management by Hosni Mubarak had banned the establishment
of political parties with religious character, who through elements of the
state of emergency managed to hold under pressure the religious
movements, which caused concern among the people. This lack of
communication and the division between the people and their leadership
increased day by day, and began to directly affect the social life. Thus, in
January 2011, the protests started as a result of the aforementioned
circumstances, and people thought they could express their opinions only
by coming out in the streets. In order to face these protests, Omar Suleiman
was brought to the post of vice president, while Mubarak stated he would
participate in the upcoming presidential elections.
Mubarak, who realized he could no longer resist the pressure, since the
first day of the protest started to use the words that he “wanted to die in
Egypt” but the ban of opposition parties and youth movements was no
longer possible. Thus, on 11 February 2011, Mubarak announced his
resignation from office. People filed lawsuits in court against him for
violations of human rights, the bad administration of the country, the
oppression of people and the murder of 800 persons during 30 years of
Mubarak’s government. This included also his son Jamal Mubarak and
Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, who were also requested to be tried. In this
context, 84-year-old Hosni Mubarak, who tried to resist the protests
launched since January 2011, was found guilty of all charges starting from
the “Egyptian revolution” onwards, being sentenced to life imprisonment
(Shehib, 2011, p. 123).
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6. Conclusion
Egypt’s modern history is widely considered to begin in 1798, when
Napoleon Bonaparte showed up with a large army as part of the French
Revolutionary Wars. Egypt had at this point spent 350 years as a province
of the Ottoman Empire, ruled in a complicated arrangement.
The French were eventually forced to withdraw by a coalition of British
and Ottoman forces in 1801. However, in 1805, an Albanian officer in the
Ottoman Army named Mehmet Ali Pasha became governor. Based on what
the French had done, Mehmet Ali began modernizing Egypt, creating a
European-style bureaucracy, establishing a military based on Western lines,
building a navy, constructing arsenals for the manufacture of modern
weapons, building schools, and adopting a new cash crop-cotton for
Egyptian farmers to raise and sell to Europe, and particularly Britain. From
this point on, Egypt was more or less independent from the Sultan.
Over time, Egypt was two steps forward and one step back as far as its
independence from Constantinople was concerned, with the European
powers constantly trying to meddle in the country’s domestic affairs.
Unfortunately for Egypt, the rulers after Mehmet Ali had neither his
modernizing spirit, nor his military prowess, or his political skills, and
quickly fell prey to the schemes of the Europeans, of which the most
significant was the Suez Canal.
In 1936 was signed the “English-Egyptian agreement”, which was
considered as the biggest obstacle to the independence of Egypt. With this
agreement, Egypt won the right of a “Member State” in the
Commonwealth of Nations, while the institution called “British High
Commissioner” that Britain held Egypt under its supervision for a long
time, will now be named as “British Embassy.”
The Soviet Union supported Egypt’s stance against England during the
years 1953-1954 and in January 1954, the Egyptian Minister of Defence paid
a long visit to the Soviet Union. Following these contacts, the Soviet Union
used for the first time the right of veto at the Security Council of the United
Nations regarding the use of Suez Canal by Israel. In this regard, the Soviet
Union continued to support the regime in Egypt and the relations
continued to grow until 1955.
Nasser introduced a socialist regime and moved Egypt closer to the
Soviet Union. Under him, education and healthcare improved but it was a
repressive regime and the economy stagnated. However, Egypt was
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defeated by Israel in the Six Days War of 1967 and Nasser died in 1970. He
was replaced by Anwar Sadat who reversed the discredited socialist
policies and encouraged foreign investment. In 1978, Sadat made peace
with Israel by the Camp David Agreement. However he was assassinated
by extremists in 1981 and was replaced by Hosni Mubarak.
In 2011, after demonstrations in Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was forced to
resign and a new chapter in the history of Egypt began.
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... A majority of population, youth in particular, have had limited opportunity to participate in a political debate and share in the nation's wealth-despite the principles of social solidarity and equal opportunity being enshrined in the Constitution. In the 2017 Transparency International Corruption Perception Index, Egypt is ranked 117 out of 180 countries surveyed, The lack of government's legitimacy has traditionally been compensated by invoking the local form of pan-Arab nationalism (Vatikiotis 2010;Islami 2016;Hourany 2013), limiting human rights and pursuing overly harsh stance against political opposition, including the Muslim Brotherhood (Human Rights Watch 2016; Amnesty International 2017/2018). The most recent 2018 Human Rights Watch report reveals that human rights abuses have been markedly on rise. ...
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Recent political and legal developments within the Arab region have resurrected previously dormant historical debates and endowed them with a new life and vitality. The theory of exceptionality has been prominent within these debates, being repeatedly reasserted in different constitutional drafts, and even celebrated, as a means through which political authority maintain and secure ‘the public order’. Egypt long lasting rule relying on an emergency context has provided a worthy manifestation of how emergency rule have been installed in political and legal settings; and become presented as an only way to govern; in which it had been incorporated in different constitutions and manifested into a political exercise. We dedicate this article to witness these overlapping challenges to analyze why post-revolutionary regimes have failed to deliver a meaningful transformative constitutionalism that is based upon the principle of the rule of Law, and continued instead to rely on the emergency status as module of governance.
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25 Ocak 2011 tarihinde başlayan kitlesel halk hareketleri kısa bir süre içinde Mısır’ın tüm şehirlerine yayılmıştır. Başlayan kitlesel eylemler 30 yıldır iktidarda kalan Mübarek rejiminin sonunu hazırlamıştır. Tarihinde ilk defa demokratik seçimlerin yapılmasına imkân veren bu durum Müslüman Kardeşleri iktidara taşırken bölgesel ve küresel güçler Mısır’daki halk devrimine karşı tavır almıştır. Alınan bu karşı tavır ekonomik, siyasi ve toplumsal olarak bir bunalım sürecinin ardından askeri darbe ile sonuçlanmıştır. 3 Temmuz 2013 tarihinde gerçekleşen darbe Müslüman Kardeşler, 6 Nisan Hareketi ve Devrimci Sosyalistler gibi birçok kesimi siyasi yönetim mekanizmasının dışına itmiştir. Darbe sonrası iktidara gelen Sisi yönetimi ise Mısır’ın hem ekonomik hem de siyasi yönetim anlayışını batı bloğuyla uyum içinde yürütmeye çalışmıştır. Bu sürecin günümüzde devam ediyor olması Mısır’daki yönetimin meşruiyet açısından dayandığı temellerin önce bölgesel daha sonra ise küresel olduğunu göstermektedir. The mass people movements that began on 25 January 2011 in a short period of time spread to all cities of Egypt. The mass actions that started this year have prepared the end of the Mubarak regime in power. For the first time in the history of democratic elections, this situation has brought the Muslim Brotherhood to power, while regional and global powers have taken a stand against the popular revolution in Egypt. This counter-action has resulted in a military coup following an economic, political and social crisis. The coup, which took place on July 3, 2013, pushed many sections of the Muslim Brotherhood, the April 6 Movement and the Revolutionary Socialists out of the political government. The Sisi administration, which came to power after the coup, tried to work in harmony with the western block of Egypt's understanding of both economic and political management. The fact that this process continues in the present day shows that the foundations that the management of Egypt is based on in terms of legitimacy are firstly regional and then global.
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