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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The army and external expansion in the power system in Egypt in the first half of the 19th century
Author:Stepniewska-Holzer, B.
Periodical:Africana Bulletin
Geographic term:Egypt
military history
Abstract:This paper examines the importance of the army in the power system in Egypt in the first half of the 19th century, during the reign of Pasha Muhammad Ali. In 1819 Muhammad Ali initiated a fundamental reform of the army and attempted to form a regular army, based on French models. Several military schools were established, a navy was formed, and common soldiers were provided through imports of slaves from the Sudan and the forced recruitment of Egyptian peasants. Just before 1840 the army numbered between 120,000 and 180,000 men. The Egyptian policy of power and expansion was directly related to the wish to gain independence from Turkey. The first target of Egypt's external expansion was Arabia. Then followed campaigns against the Sudan, Greece, and Syria. Egyptian rule in foreign territory showed a lack of flexibility. The Egyptian model of administration which was introduced was, as a rule, not adapted to local tradition. The Sudan and Syria were of the greatest importance for Egypt, since they supplied recruits for the Egyptian army. The most important negative aspects of Egyptian expansionist policy were the depopulation of villages, the decrease in agricultural production, and growing poverty in the countryside. The most important positive result of Egypt's militarization was its role as an incentive for State action with respect to the development of industry, education, and public health care. The instrumental role of the army in home politics is also stressed. Notes, ref.