The European Powers, including the United Kingdom, France, and Russia, asserted rights in the territory. With their less-informed and self-interested techniques, they hampered local and regional politics, interests, and concerns to control the Middle East, which would serve as a commercial and military base and access route to other regions.
In 1882, the British invaded Egypt primarily to secure the Suez Canal as a critical gateway to India and other South Asian countries. Although it was supposed to be a short-term occupation, it persisted until the early 1950s. The British decided it was vital to adjust the temporary nature of their occupation to safeguard their hold over Egypt as the Ottoman Empire aligned with Germany-Austria-Hungary. Britain made Egypt a protectorate of the Empire on December 18, 1914, deposing pro-Ottoman Khedive Abbas Hilmi and replacing him with a relative. Following the defeat and fall of the Ottoman Empire during World War I, several European powers claimed possession of the region of the Middle East.
The events that followed in Egypt after 1919 indicate how the First World War had a significant impact there as well. Political squabbles erupted between British and Egyptian nationalist politicians, kings, and other nationalists in the postwar years.
Allied forces’ hasty invasion of Egypt and conversion of the country into a military pedestal post during World Wardevastated and unsettled the local populace. The presence of a large number of Allied forces had several causes and repercussions in Egypt. Many soldiers, particularly Anzac troops from Australia and New Zealand, were involved in clashes with Egyptians in cities like Cairo, which were frequently fueled by alcohol and resulted in property damage. Thousands of troops protested prostitution, resulting in a plethora of (indecently paid) job options for other Egyptians and, as a result, widespread inflation in the Egyptian economy. Thousands of Egyptian males, particularly peasants (fellahin), were drafted into the Egyptian Labor Corps, often violently.
The treatment of laborers was usually deplorable. The migration of men from the countryside compounded the financial hardship caused by wartime inflation, increased unemployment, and a scarcity of staples such as bread and meals.
The Egyptian Revolution was prompted by the arrests of Egyptian nationalist politicians such as Saad Zaghloul and others who were drawing on both Egyptian nationalism and US President Woodrow Wilson’s promises of “self-determination” by British soldiers and exile to British-controlled Malta.
Egyptians of various religions and social classes banded together against the British, and their discontent was expressed in a variety of ways and places, including student protests, transport worker strikes supported by trade unions, riots in Cairo and other cities across the country, and a nationwide strike that paralyzed the country.
The presence of several hundred Egyptian women in the rallies spearheaded by the spouses of exiled Egyptian nationalist lawmakers Safiya Zaghloul, Mana Fahmi Wissa, and Huda Sha’arawi, was a crucial feature of the Egyptian Revolution. Women in Egypt resisted colonialism and prejudice Egyptian nationalism, or the desire to govern oneself, emerged in response to British rule in the early twentieth century. Wafd, the first significant nationalist party, was led by Saad Zaghloul. This men-led group battled for Egypt’s independence from Britain while also advocating for the advancement of women’s rights. The women refused to disperse despite British commands. This marked a shift in the regime and was viewed as a watershed moment in Egypt’s history, empowering women and strengthening Islamic women. Women also spoke up about the importance of improving women’s educational opportunities. They maintained that, in addition to being mothers and wives, they could perform vital societal roles. Women assisted in the organization of the developing movement against British rule when Zaghloul and his group were forced to flee Egypt. They joined strikes, protests, and marches in Cairo on March 15, 1919.
The violent confrontation between the peasants and the British in the countryside, which resulted in deaths on both sides and the British virtually losing control of most of Egypt, was one of the reasons for the revolution’s eventual wilting. The Egyptian nationalist MPs signed a letter putting off the rallies after their release and British permission to fly to Paris for the Peace Conference. One of the causes of the revolution’s final withering was the violent conflict between the peasants and the British in the countryside, which resulted in casualties on both sides and the British losing control of most of Egypt. Egyptian nationalist MPs wrote a letter postponing the rallies after their release and requesting permission from the British government to fly to Paris for the Peace Conference.
The British would not leave Egypt until after the Second World War and another Egyptian Revolution in 1952. The last British troops left in June 1956, however, they returned briefly during the Suez Crisis later that year. While the Egyptian Revolution of 1919 did not guarantee the country’s independence from foreign rule, it was a significant step in the right direction. After 1919, the British had to deal with Egyptian nationalist politicians and consider the strength of the country’s nationalism. Other anti-colonial uprisings in Africa and Asia were inspired by the Revolution.