Egypt / Politics /
Arabic: muhammad ¢aliyy
(1769-1849) Viceroy of Egypt from 1805 until 1848. He became the founder of the dynasty that would rule Egypt until 1952 (ending with King King Faruk).
Muhamamd Ali is noted for establishing the modern Egypt as an independent country. He was involved in several reform programs aiming at creating a modern Egyptian society after the European model.
Muhammad Ali reached his position by his own skills, and his position was under threat both from the Ottoman sultan as well as from Egyptian groups. The most important act to secure his position was to eliminate the Mamluks, the military elite which could have threatened his own position. He also managed to impose great control over other groups that in many respects had enjoyed great independence from the state earlier, like merchants and the Bedouins.
Among his most dramatic reforms was to expropriated land, and by 1815 most of the agricultural land had come into the hands of the state. This secured him great revenues.
He had the irrigation system improved and had new crops were introduced. Cotton is most notable here; today Egyptian cotton is considered to be of the very best quality.
There was also a program to introduce modern industrial production. This largely failed, both because Egypt lacked sources of power as well as a fit work force on all levels. The shortcomings were especially problematic on the management level.
In order to meet the needs of the modernized society, Muhammad Ali had schools started for educating engineers, doctors and other specialists.
Much of Muhammad Ali's reform programs were abandoned after his death. Some projects were not well established, while other reforms were abandoned due to lack of interest with his successors.
1769: Born in Kavala, Ottoman Empire (now in Greece), probably as of Albanian descent.
1787: Marries a member of the governor of Kavala's family.
1799: Is involved in the fighting of the Ottoman army in Egypt, facing the invading French troops of Napoleon.
1805: Is appointed viceroy of Egypt, with the title pasha.
1807: Defeats invading British troops.
1811: Has the military aristocracy of the Mamluks massacred, thereby securing his own power.
Launches a war on the Wahhabis of Arabia.
1818: Under the leadership of his adopted son, Ibrahim Pasha, the Wahhabis are defeated.
1820: Launches a campaign on Sudan, aiming at taking control of the country.
1821: Founds Khartoum, which would develop into modern Sudan's capital.
1824: Upon the request of Sultan Mahmud 2, Muhammad Ali sends troops to assist the Ottoman fight against the Greek uprising.
1831: Having been promised control over Syria for his assistance against the Greeks, but not recompensed, Muhammad Ali invades Syria and quickly take control over the most important cities.
1833: Muhammad Ali's forces threatens Constantinople, but the Ottomans receive aid from Russia. Yet, the sultan effectively recognizes Muhammad Ali as the sole ruler of Egypt.
1839: A new war breaks out between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire, but is in reality decided already with the battle at Nizip (now near the border of Syria and Turkey), where the Ottomans are decisively defeated.
1841: The war with the Ottoman Empire ends.
1848 July: Is removed from office because of senility. Ibrahim Pasha becomes regent, but when he dies in November Muhammad Ali's grandson Abbas 1 takes over.
1849 August 2: Dies in Alexandria.