Sunday, January 30, 2011

Egyptian Revolutions: a History

This is the third revolution in Egypt in the last 100 years.

The 1919 Revolution
Prior to the First World War Egypt was nominally part of the Ottoman Empire but was effectively controlled by England. Following the war England sought to absorb Egypt fully into their empire. In 1919, Egyptian nationalists tried to travel to the Paris Peace Conference to propose independence but were arrested by the British and imprisoned on Malta.

This caused a popular uprising in Egypt similar to what is happening today. Several weeks of mostly non-violent strikes and demonstrations shut down the country. The revolt joined Muslims and Copts, men and women.

Revolt and negotiations lasted until 1922 when the British accepted independence for Egypt and the establishment of a constitutional monarchy.

The 1952 Revolution
The monarchy was a bad idea as it quickly descended into corruption and petty excesses (think Hosni Mubarak in 2011). For the army, the last straw was its defeat at the hands of Israel in 1948.

Gamal Nasser and Anwar Sadat, among others, formed the Free Officers Movement. In 1952 the officers began a revolution. Really just a military coup. King Farouk abdicated, setting the state for a "republic" that was really just a different kind of monarchy where army officers would be "elected" president and rule for life.

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